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My First Review On Amazon January 16, 2013

Posted by Tom Wells in News, Publications, Tom's Posts.
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Mother02Since offering my short story, Mother, is available for free on Amazon downloads from kindle are high (at least their high for a new author publishing for myself).  There has been over 150 free purchases in the month of December alone.  Mother is a short story written a couple of years ago and after it was completed, I wrote a follow along novel that incorporates Mother as the second chapter. So I am hoping that people who have read my short story will be interested in the full length novel where the story of what happens next is explored in detail. I could have solicited my friends and family to log onto Amazon and review my story, but I have stayed silent and waited to see if I have caught the attention of people who have probably come across my story by chance and read it out of curiosity.

And now someone has, giving the story a five-star rating and making me feel like it was enjoyed.  Hopefully I’ll get more like this.  I am encouraged as I take one last weekend this week to final edit my follow along novel to Mother and submit it for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Entry for this year opened on January 14th and I hope they have not topped out on their maximum 10,000 entries by the time I finish my edits a few days from now. Maybe the first judges will like my pitch enough to send me on to the next level, maybe the next line of judges will send me into the semi-finals, and getting even that far would be amazing.  Yet even if I do not place at all, I still have my first five-star review and that is a winner for me.

 

My Android Failed Me January 10, 2013

Posted by Tom Wells in Introductions.
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It was an experiment that lasted just over a year, but my Android as a writing assistant has now been retired. At least 40% of my writing happens on the go. I am always looking for new ways to take it with me. The difficulties with this is both having a reliable writing platform and updating my original files at home. For the past year I tried using my smart-phone to do the work using a laptop dock that turned my phone into an Android based computer. The theory worked, but it was hard to maintain and sync with my home files. Also, word processing apps for the Android OS are a long way from being seriously useful.

I had a love-hate relationship with my Android. I loved the touch screen interface on my phone, however for some shortsighted presumably cost saving reason, Motorola did not give their laptop dock a touch screen. Failure number One. I loved the portability. My phone was always there in my pocket, ready to go and to start writing, I just pulled out my phone and docked it into the specialty laptop and away I went. The weakness in the design was that I had to peel off the phone protector so it could fit in the dock. That gets old quick. Failure number Two. Then there was my hate-hate relationship with all of the word editing applications for Android. None of them can be called a word processor. None of them play nice with Microsoft Word in a natural way and none of them are Scrivener, which is a serious writing platform available for both Windows and Mac, but not for Android. Failure number Three.

The smart phone is a revolution in communication devices. Text messages, e-mail, instant chat and good old-fashioned phone conversations are all a breeze on these things. I can keep in touch with the office in real-time via e-mail. However for security reasons, instant email from the office means setting up my phone with data encryption to keep my office safer from hackers. That special encryption really wreaks havoc with file transfers from my phone to my desktop.

Now with Windows 8 I have gone back to the PC format for travel. And with the new Skydrive by Microsoft (their next generation for cloud based file management) I can have a copy of my stories on my Desktop and my laptop and both files are kept synced with the master file stored on the Skydrive. I type here and save and the Skydrive updates. I write there and the Skydrive updates. I don’t have to copy or paste or update briefcases or anything else. I just open my files and edit. Plus for safety sake, I have 3 copies of my work. Plus if I have a flash of inspiration away from my personal computers, I can log onto the Skydrive from any internet based machine and edit a file and those edits are automatically synced with my personal computers.

My Android is still my communications device. The Star Wars nerd in me considers it to be my protocol droid. And my laptop is back, fulfilling the role of my astromech Swiss army knife of computing. And my writing is re-infused. I can expand on a thought much easier now. At my work-desk, if a thought comes to me, I open the internet and go to the Skydrive. On the go, I can open my laptop/tablet combo and do the same. And at home it all stays current without my having to manually sync or copy files.

While the Android experiment in writing mobility ultimately failed, it did help open my eyes to the touch revolution that is changing personal computing. A personal touch has been restored to our devices and I like that kind of evolution.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’s Reflection December 24, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in Tom's Posts.
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Merry Christmas. As a father of two, I get to enjoy some of the best things about this time of the year. I also become extra emotional when holiday movies get sentimental. The time with my family is put into an extra amount of appreciation when thinking of the terrible year this will be for some of the parents in Connecticut. If you’re a parent like me, you’ve been hugging your kids at least a little extra these days.

As I write this, Christmas is tomorrow and there is an electricity of anticipation in the air around our home. For us, the big event starts this evening when we go out for sushi before going to a Christmas Eve mass. Then we’ll cruise some neighborhoods for their light shows and return to open a gift each. The kids will spend the next few hours trying to go to sleep while my wife and I try to patiently wait for our chance to play Santa. My twelve-year-old daughter likes to still believe in Santa like she wants to believe that there are fairies and magic in the world. I can tell that her logical side knows differently, but her optimism still lets her consciously keep these things real to her. She makes me wonder if Santa really exists and that his magic includes planting the illusion that us parents are the ones delivering his gifts while he stealthily continues to fulfill his legacy.

As for me and writing, it’s been a year of testing my ability to stay on task while outside forces have interrupted the positive flow of the year before. I am still at it though and I of course am resolving to put even more energy into my writing in the coming year. So rather than dwelling on what has stalled my writing, I’m going back to the story I’ve been working on today.

Have a merry Christmas and here’s to a great New Year!

Of Course, A Rejection Can Be Just That December 12, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in News, Tom's Posts.
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“Your story has been judged and did not place in the 4th quarter of the Writers of the Future contest.”

That’s when a rejection is just a rejection. It can be disappointing, but I have to remind myself that I am not writing to win a contest. I’m writing to tell stories.

To get better at telling those stories, I have signed up for a workshop in Provo UT next year. It is being put on by author David Farland who just happens to be the current judge for the Writers of the Future contest and the same guy that has rejected my most recent entry. I figure who better to learn more about story telling from than the man who has been judging my work.

When is a rejection not so much of a rejection November 22, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in News, Submissions, Tom's Posts.
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I recently heard back on a story I had sent in knowing it had one fatal flaw for the publication, length.

“I must apologize for having held onto this story for such a long time. It truly tempted me, but, although I’ve kept fiddling with the idea of running it, the story is just too long (over double our maximum length) for use in Spaceports & Spidersilk. If you ever write anything shorter that might work for us, I’d very much like to read it.”

The story is Saturn Station Remote. It’s a story about what happens to magicians when our technology has taken us well beyond the point when magic seems special. I’m going to have to do some searching for the right publication to send this story to next. I appreciate the nod from SPACEPORTS & SPIDERSILK
however. It has been good to hear a positive reading of my writing.

One Small Step For Architect November 2, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in News.
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Today I’ve taken one small step in my architecture career and one giant leap in the State bureaucracy. Three months ago I was asked to become a Supervising Architect (see, The Plan Is There Is No Plan).  Since then there have been two exams taken, paper trails laid down, interviews, and yet more paper filed on my behalf.  In the end, I can now remove the caveat, “Acting” from my title and consider myself a Supervising Architect in charge of a small unit of 8 professionals, 5 of whom are fellow licensed architects. We design buildings for schools, the DMV, our Highway Patrol, our Department of Transportation and more.

New Pre-School Building In Southern California

I get to write more now than I did before the promotion, unfortunately, most of that writing is in memo form. And the meetings I have to go to, oh my gosh some of this stuff has to stop so people can get their work done.  However I am also not bringing home drafting work for the nights and weekends so my creative writing is also picking back up.  I’d like to talk about the stories I’ve been typing up, but I can’t enter them into the some contests if I have given away a clue of who wrote them publicly.  My next step is to start marketing other short stories again.

Expanding My Universe October 13, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in Tom's Posts.
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I write within a universe I am slowly building.  Today I’ve added more detail about a favorite setting, Saturn Station. This is a place that exists in my stories The Leaving and Saturn Station Remote and I’m certain it will be in other future stories. I’ve added it to my Encyclopedia of the Future, which is my depository for expanded information on the places I have imagined.

A New Venue For Fall of the Faithful October 8, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in Introductions.
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Fall of the Faithful was my first Honorable Mention with the Writer’s of the Future and this month the story has found a new home in the final Anthology by Jake Johnson. Jake’s Monthly – The Final Anthology is available now at Smashwords where I recommend you go to now and support this young man’s great efforts.  As a reminder, his first anthology, Jake’s Monthly – Science Fiction Anthology is a place where you can see two of my other short stories.

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Story In For The Fourth Quarter. September 30, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in News, Submissions, Tom's Posts.
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Well, I did it.  I was able to submit a story to the Writers of the Future Contest.  It is my first entry in six months and a relief to have made it. At work, I have completed my deadlines and I continue to move through the maze of bureaucracy that comes with my management’s desire to promote me. I have taken a promotional exam and have been ranked one, which is just a first step to completing my promotion. Next will come interviews with all of the Rank One applicants. In the mean time, I am finding more time to write as is evidenced by my ability to enter this quarter. I have a book that needs final editing. That will be my next focus along with finding out which of my recently started short story ideas rises to the top for submission in the next contest quarter. It will be interesting to find out which one takes shape first.  That is part of the fun of writing fiction for me. There are adventures that have been molded in my head for years, and there are adventures that just unfold as they are typed, almost as if they are stories I am reading that were written by others.

Last look at the Space Shuttle Endeavour September 21, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in News, Tom's Posts.
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Today was probably the last time I will see the Space Shuttle in the air. Below is the Shuttle Endeavour as it flew past my cubicle window on its way to its permanent home in Los Angeles:

Space Shuttle Endeavor Over Sacramento CA

The shuttle created quite a commotion as it flew over Sacramento. It was a throwback to the days of old when our space program generated excitement. When you look at the full resolution version of the picture above you see people on the rooftop of the glass California Teachers Retirement building and on top of the adjacent parking garage.  All over the city people crowded on the roof tops in the same way so they could see the low fly over of this piece of space history.

The excitement this generated in sleepy Sacramento had me wondering what else NASA could do to generate excitement in the space program. Can they find a way to brighten the International Space Station to track as it crosses over in the night sky? Maybe they should be conducting parachute drops of the Orion crew capsule closer to where the people are:

 Wouldn’t this be fun to go see the Orion “tested” in an open field somewhere near your own town.  There wouldn’t be much science involved, but the Shuttle didn’t need to fly up to Sacramento and San Francisco from Edwards Air Force Base “on its way” to LA International.  The excitement and interest generated would be worth it though.