Wanderings

Anything you dream is fiction,
and anything you accomplish is science,
the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.
- Ray Bradbury
September 30th, 2004

On Ben Klibreck

I submitted “On Ben Klibreck” to SDO Ghost today. I reread the guidelines and I probably missed the next issue which is Tomorrow Morning – stupid me. I hope that the editor doesn’t hold it until January. I wonder if there is much of a market for Ghost Fiction other than SDO Ghost. $5 a story isn’t much of a market for 5,000 words.

I wrote 3500 words today from about 1:30pm to 3:45pm. I had the opening part finished and I had written part of the ending (I find it easier if I have a “target”). The rest was all fresh stuff, but this kind of story writes itself. My only regret is that I did not use more Scottish dialect. I was afraid of sounding phony.

Update: SDO Ghost’s cutoff date was two weeks ago – me stupid.






September 30th, 2004

Gracie Update

As we speak, Gracie is going in to have her broken jaw wired. She has improved greatly over the last few days. Last night she jumped on the bed and slept in between Erica and me. She was the only one who got any sleep. Although she doesn’t smell of infection any more, her breath stinks to high heaven and she rolled over to face me every time I flipped her towards Erica.






September 29th, 2004

End of Month Rush

It’s September 29th and I have a story to finish for SDO Ghost by tomorrow. I’ve written a Scottish Ghost story. It is not a Spec-Fic story as much as it is a classical tale of a ghost, the devil and a fight in the world between ours and the next. I won’t be able to have Carlos proof it so, if I finish it, it goes out unedited before 4pm tomorrow.

AnotherRealm.com has a 9/30 deadline, but they won’t respond until 2005. I don’t like the three month wait. I waited 4 months last time for them reject “Perfect Gold” – one of my better ones. I might send them one of my stinkeroos.

I modified “Please Wash Your Hands” just a little and entered it into the AR flash contest yesterday.

“Speed Trap” went out to ASIM with joke ending. I have a reference number #3504 if you want to check it.

I am still amazed that SamsDot bought “Frogs in Aspic” for the kids magazine. It isn’t even spec-fic and it’s not even a kid’s story.






September 29th, 2004

Physics News Update 2004 Index

Physics News Update 2004 Index


I spent two days doing little else but reading these short news items and then trying to read the original articles. All the cool stuff that makes writing Science Fiction so much fun. There are one or two stories ideas on every line.






September 29th, 2004

PollingReport.com – Public Opinion Online

PollingReport.com – Public Opinion Online

I check this every morning to see how things are going. It took a long time to find a site that does summaries of polls. Reading this is like riding a roller coaster.






September 27th, 2004

Gracie home for a while

Gracie, the kitten, is doing very well, so far. She came home friday night, a very sick cat. She has a feeding tube (See picture in post below.) Every few hours, I have to warm and squeeze 40CC of gruel into the tube. Twice a day she gets an antibiotic and 3 times a day, she gets heavy duty pain meds. Her broken face is a mess and she can’t breath through her nose. Her left eye is good, but the right eye still has a blown pupil. The right out was out of its socket when she got to the animal hospital a week ago. At least they didn’t cut it out and there is a chance that it will come back.

During the weekend, Gracie slowly improved. She got up from her little nest in the bedroom and made it to the bathroom where we keep the litter box. She came all the way downstairs once, while I was supposed to be watching her and Erica found her at the back door, looking out through the screen.

She sat each night in a nest in the living room watching TV with us (Mostly she just slept.) She snores loudly now as she tries to breath through her nose. This is a good thing. She jumped into a windowsill and watched the birds in the trees. She is very sick and very weak, but she is getting 175 CC of food everyday, and she is trying to clean herself.

She still smells of infection and puss, mucous and serum are still draining from her face. There is an awful cut on her chin and her teeth aren’t straight. The cat orthopedic dentist will look at her this morning.

Erica took her down to Oradell Animal Hospital this morning and I am waiting to hear the latest news.






September 27th, 2004

Another Sale to SamsDot – and a reject

Tyree Campbell bought “Frogs in Aspic” a strange little story about eating frogs for “Kidvisions”. This was its first time submitted. It pays $1, which is fine because this piece is very odd and has no Spec-Fic elements at all. This is the 5th sale to SamsDotPublishing.com.

On the other extreme, I was rejected on “Please Wash Your Hands” for the 11th time. The 840 words piece is too political and has only a punchline for a plot. I will watch AnotheRealm.com for an appropriate flash contest.






September 25th, 2004

Cat pics

Here are a few cat pics. These prove that I am losing control of this blog.

Ollie on the couch hugging Erica and her quilt project.:

Another:

Here is weird Max



And Faffrd, the giant Maine Coon cat



And lastly Gracie herself. I didn’t show her face which is so much hamburger.







September 23rd, 2004

Gracie update

I am surprised and pleased that so many of you have expressed you concern for my kitten Gracie.

Erica went down to NJ to see her last night. Gracie is quiet and not so panicky. She was curled up – just like a cat – which means that she is making herself comfortable. The bone specialist says that her jaw is broken, but it is in a good position and will heal by itself without surgery. The broken palette will heal as well. The damaged eye is still uncertain. She still cannot see well out of the other eye.

They gave her plasma and her blood count is better. She still oozes blood and serum and now there is the scent of infection. They have changed her antibiotics to help fight the infection.

I hope that they can fight the sepsis and that she heals quickly. She was always a well fed cat, insisting to be fed first, so I hope that she has lots of reserves and is able to pull out of this. They have a feeding tube in and are giving her liquid food through it. I hope she doesn’t get accustomed to this. Once the other cats see this, they’ll all want it.

Her odds if survival are still less than half, but the doctors at Oradell have expressed their pleasure at being able to help such a nice cat (they don’t know the little demon like I do). I think that most times the owners put an animal in this condition out of its misery. I believe that the cat wants to live and can stand a little pain and discomfort for the chance to attack me again when I am trying to sleep.

Ollie, the other kitten, is frantic looking for his best friend. He follows me around mewing plantively. He is very lonely. I have been playing “Chase the Stick” with him indoors. This is his favorite game, but we usually only play it outdoors. Ollie does not leave us alone. When we watch TV he insists on sitting on the middle of the quilt Erica is making, and in bed at night, he sits on my stomach or between my legs. He is used to sleeping on the couch, curled up with Gracie.






September 23rd, 2004

Smeerp Lite started

I began work on Smeep Lite, a PHP slush management system that I will give away for free. I am trying to make it so you can just edit a config file, drop the php modules on your website and take off. No MySQL required and no programming.

I have made it so an editor can just drop files into the “uploads” directory and they magically appear in the system. Authors can add files using a simple form and then use another form to find out the status of their story.

I am hoping that publishers will be so happy with the Lite version that they will go for the rich feature set of the Smeerp system.

I will put it on the smeerp site as soon as it is stable and most of the functionality is complete.






September 21st, 2004

Bad Weekend

It has been a very poor weekend for me. None of this is Spec-Fiction related so please move on if you are bored with my personal life.

I let the cats out Sunday and one of them did not come back. I went out at 8PM to go to my usually Sunday night poker and my kitten Gracie was lying in the middle of road in a puddle of blood. I stopped the car picked her up and she was still alive. She was panting, but otherwise seemed to be unconscious. She had been hit in the face and here eye was out of the socket and her jaw was broken. She bled all over the front seat of the truck as I brought her at 90 MPH to the pet emergency room nearby.

The next day I had my first colonoscopy. It was not a pleasant thing and I was not in the mood for it. I was pumped up with air so the doctor could get around inside me. He had trouble at one corner and kept pumping air and asking the nurse to press on me. I have terrible cramps now and a headache from the sedative.

Gracie, the kitten, is stable and in pain, but she might live. They might even save her eye. Erica drove her down to a big animal Hospital in NJ where they will operate and set her jaw, if she lives through the next few days. The cost will be about $5,000. It’s a lot for a cat that I got from the pound, but you get attached to these little furry things. It means putting off retiring for six months or more.

The day the cat got hit, I went to pick up the stuff you have to drink before the colonoscopy. At the drugstore, I bought a pink collar with a bell for the kitten so I could find her easily. She runs off and refuses to come back into the house. When I bought it, I had the thought that I she would die in this collar. I’ve buried too many of my furry friends over the year and I sometimes have depressing thoughts about them. They live for such a short time.






September 17th, 2004

Writer’s Trunk

In a previous post, I wrote about the death of a microwave and the rediscovery of my “Treasure Chest”. I stopped writing when I got married in 1973 due to the pressures of finding a job. I stopped reading books then and didn’t start again until 25 years later when I finally learned to tune out the TV shows and concentrate on a book. (I still find this hard sometimes.)

The treasure chest contained notebooks and writing files dating from around 1966 to 1973. In an inventory page from about 1970 I found that I had written 76 stories, 29 poems and 7 one act plays. There were also two dozen notebooks with journal entries. I am frustrated with these because I did not see these as journals and rarely dated them. They are ramblings and discussions of writing, personal issues and quite a bit of philosophizing. The later is painful to read sometimes. The notebooks contain dozens of story fragments, bits and pieces of poems, and pages of mathematics where I worked out my own version of general relativity.

I had hopes of finding gems, but after reading some of the stuff, I’ve changed my mind. I was a high school student although well read and full of interesting ideas, I did not know enough to write a saleable story. I am a little less honest in my story telling now and I lie to the reader in order to develop a good line. In these stories from the 1960’s I was hopelessly involved with the concepts and was working out personal issues in them. I never stepped back and looked at the story as craft. My characters always behaved exactly as I thought that I would behave. They were entirely too much about me.

The poems, on the other hand, are much better than I remember. The plays, though, tend to monologues where the characters explain things to the audience.

I produced three “albums” in 1968 and 1969. These are 12 “song” booklets with stories and poems with a prologue and epilogue, each about 60 typewritten pages. This is based on the idea of a music album. These are, by far, the best of that time with complete short stories with real plots and the best of my poems. There is very little Spec-Fic in them. I found SF hard to write well. My usual very short, freeform plots about emotional conflicts did not lend themselves to the highly structured nature of SF stories.

The few Spec-Fic stories that I found are not that good. I found a 9K story about an Egyptian tomb written in the style of Lovecraft. It is tedious and I think I found it that way then, since I never bothered to type it. I found several fragments of SF. There were two about spiders. These both go back to a dream about finding huge spiders in a cave and the dream stems from a time when I explored the cellars below an abandoned Dog Racing Track and huge brown jumping spiders kept falling on me. One story is about a Big Game hunter bringing exotic animals back from a distant planet. The other is about mutant spiders in a subway under a nuked NY. Spiders are scary and good subject matter for a story. These were concept stories and a conflict was never worked out other than the general danger of having huge very smart spiders around. If I can think of a good plot twist, they might make it into my story list.

The strangest thing is that I as I wrote in my journals, I talked about my father. Now that he is dead and there are 35 years between the time that I wrote these things and now, they seem eerie and very scary to read. My father is a character in some of the plays and sometimes I explain in the journal entries the difference between my father and myself.

The lasting impression from perusing my old box is that I was very serious about writing. I can’t believe that I just dropped such a large part of my life. The volume of words indicates that I spent a good deal of time writing. There is an empty ream box in the chest of “Erasable Bond� paper that I used for writing. I remember going to the stationery store once and deciding to spring for the whole ream because the 100 sheet packages didn’t last long. I also remember buying my second ream box of paper. That means that I typed at least 300 and more pages of stuff. I made carbons copies of most things. I threw out my old typewriter this weekend. I should not have, but it’s gone now.

After I married, I worked 40-50 hours a week and went to college four nights a week. I then started on my MBA at night and I taught college classes two nights a week and sometimes weekends. I kept very busy for 25 years. By the time I had more time to myself, personal computers were around and I programmed for fun until 1995. It took the World Wide Web to get me back into exposition.

Looking back at this blog, these writings are very similar to the kind of stuff in my notebooks from 1969. They are ramblings about things that concern me without any regard as to what you, gentle reader, would find interesting.

My friend, if you find these pages, I would ask for your indulgence. I don’t know what I want to do with this blog. I never thought about it before. I guess that I just want to document my SF wandering thoughts. Hence the name of the blog – SF Wanderings.






September 15th, 2004

StrangeTales.net back to static

The CMS system “postNuke” flunked my test. It turned out to be a real pain to modify and create new templates. I used a system called Mambo on my site WWW.GeoffHartwell.com. This is a band site for a local Blues guy. The problem with Mambo is that I can’t figure a way to expand it without programming. I’d like to add a calendar and a photo gallery, but the “news article” approach to the Mambo doesn’t seem to relate much to what I am trying to do.

What I woud like is a module that can imbed the output of another app in a DIV.

Hey hold on!!!! Keith you are talking geekspeek! Shut up!

Anyway, Mambo lets me change the CSS styles and I can change colors and such, even if I don’t have too much control over the structure.

On the plus side, I used a weird set of arty letters to spell out strange tales.

On the negative side, I lost the Osama betting file when I deleted the programs. I’m not getting many hits on www.strangetales.net/osama anyway. I restored as much as I could.






September 10th, 2004

Anonymous Site started

I’ve set up my website StrangeTales.net as a sort of zine/blog/portal using a “Content Management System” called postNuke. I don’t know what I will do with it yet. If it works out, I’ll continue the experiment at other sites.

For now I am using it to publish my unpublishable stories. I have been trying to keep my name off of the site, perhaps to make it less of an ego trip. If I am going to self-publish, I am not going to advertise who I am.

The next step is to figure out how to modify the templates on the site so that I can create a more interesting look an feel.