Posts Tagged ‘Caveman of Computing’

slinking cat in storm
creeps beneath the bed to hide —
“There you are, Wednesday!”

So that’s the kind of day it’s been, this first day of May, off-and-on thunderstorms as we look forward to a very warm next few days.  Wednesday is in the kitchen now, eyeing her dinner — mine comes later.   Then as it happens I’ll probably be away from computers the next couple of days — some new equipment coming into the computer cave among other things, nothing fancy, just backup stuff after a virus scare two weeks back.

So life continues, students away from the local campus anticipating Summer Session to come next week.  A few new submissions to round out April.  Some time to read — finished TORN REALITIES (except the Clive Barker, which I’m saving) and am getting back to NEW DAWN FADES where I left it off, I don’t remember when.  I wrote two new short poems today (three counting the one above), yesterday I sent proof corrections for my poem reprint in THE SPIRIT OF POE.

A new book arrived today to read, MORTICIAN DIARIES (“Tales from Behind the Funeral Parlor Curtain”).  And, more thunder coming, Wednesday’s back you-know-where.

No, no, these aren’t the “Gun Girls” (see May 13). But it was kind of strange. Last June I had sent a story, “Girls Gone Dead,” a sort of takeoff on the Girls Gone Wild videos sometimes advertised on late-night TV but with zombies, to Post-Mortem Press for a projected DEAD SOULS anthology. Themes, revolving around the idea of a loved one becoming a zombie, were to include “[d]ealing with the dead, the impact of the dead, and the spiritual implications of being ‘walking dead'” though other interpretations would be okay too. So, okay, this story dealt more with friendship, sticking together, and professional relationships (it’s told from the point of view of the photographer/director), but, hey, it was worth a shot.

Still, no great surprise when I happened to bumble across Post-Mortem on Facebook with a list of final acceptances for DEAD SOULS with no “Girls Gone Dead” on it. I marked the MS “presumed rejected,” not having actually gotten a formal rejection letter, checked market lists but found no likely places to send it on to right then, put it back in the file cabinet (remember, I’m the Caveman of Computing, I still do some things with physical manilla folders), and that was that.

Except that it wasn’t. Yesterday afternoon, checking my email at the library after this month’s writers critique group meeting, I found an email from Post-Mortem Press. “Your story has been selected,” it said, “to appear in Post Mortem Press’ newest anthology of short fiction, NEW DAWN FADES, with an introduction by New York Times Bestselling Author Joe Schreiber.” As publisher Eric Beebe went on to explain, “We initially opened for one book, DEAD SOULS, and received several hundred submissions. Being unwilling to turn away so many good stories, I decided it was better to publish a second book.” NEW DAWN FADES is expected to be out “in late 2011 or early 2012.”

The moral: You can’t keep a good zombie (or zombie story) down.

One of resident cave cat Wednesday’s favorite pastimes is lounging on top of a two-foot eight-inch high box she considers her High Throne, originally a shipping carton for a replacement refrigerator door gasket but, for nearly the past year, a more or less permanent piece of living room furniture.  Cats, however, dote on novelty and when earlier this week some computer equipment arrived in its own box (placed temporarily in front of the TV nearer the front door) Wednesday laid claim.

The question then was, is it safe finally to throw away her High Throne?  No, she still uses that at night as a favorite early sleeping-off-supper location (as opposed to her favorite later sleeping-off-supper location, the bed).  But when I would come home the last couple of days, she was always on the newer, if lower box.  But then yesterday after I’d petted her hello and gone to the kitchen to do some work there, I noticed she moved immediately to her High Throne, so I’ve now concluded  (however self-flatteringly)  that she really still prefers it, but when she hears me on the front porch she moves to the other one nearer the door to greet me when I come in and/or get petted quicker.

A True Story:  Many years ago the cat of the time, Vanessa, was always sitting on the floor just inside the door to meet me when I got home from work. Granted that meant her supper would be served soon, but I wondered at times if she really waited there all afternoon, or knew how to tell time, or what, until one day when for some reason I’d tiptoed onto the porch or otherwise made less noise coming home than usual.  When I then made the noise of putting my key in the lock, and doing so could see through the window in the upper part of the door, I saw her streaking out of the hall into the living room so, when I opened the door . . . there she was, sitting on the floor just inside the door as if she had been there all afternoon.

The moral, one must observe one’s cat closely.

(And then, today, a new replacement printer arrived.  With a choice of two new boxes now temporarily on the floor, Wednesday is enjoying her early sleeping-off-supper nap on . . . her High Throne!)

Last night their were no storms, but a little before 11 p.m. (I’m sort of guessing having not been paying much attention — in fact, I was in the middle of emailing something when it happened) the power went out anyway.  Total dark!  (It’s amazing how much light comes in through the windows from streetlights, neighbors’ houses, etc.)  There not being much else to do at that point, the electric lantern having been found and lit, the cave cat petted, I got a flashlight, put on my shoes, and went for a walk.

Traffic on the main road gave some light, though the traffic signal was out at the corner.  Moving away from that “civilization” I climbed a hill and, off to the side of a darkened house, gazed at a just-beginning-to-wane moon illuminating the sky’s few sparse clouds.  Werewolves, no doubt, were just starting to change back (a check of the calendar today confirms that, indeed, the night before that had been the full moon).  Other than this the twinkling of fireflies was all to be seen.

Calmness and beauty  and almost complete dark — a good night for vampires!

Back home, I went to bed.  What else to do?  Though I knew from the subject line of an unopened email that something good would await in the morning — and that, too, with vampires.

So at 5 a.m. or so power came back on — I got up and turned off things I hadn’t been able to the night before, then went back to sleep.  Then later this morning amidst other duties I got to the email.  Another story, “A Cup Full of Tears,” has been accepted by Post Mortem Press for their upcoming book, MON COEUR MORT.  The guidelines for this were for “paranormal romance and/or horror fiction associated with a broken heart.”  The description continues, “[I]t is our goal to break free of the current trend in paranormal romance by remembering that genre fiction is lurid and disturbing at its core.”  And if that weren’t enough, how could my inner Gomez Addams have resisted submitting to a book with its title in French!

“A Cup Full of Tears” is a very short tale about a vampire who preys not just for blood, but to gain a new lover.  She seems most persuasive, or is it more that her victime de la nuit happens to be caught at a vulnerable  moment?

For this and more, publisher Eric Beebe is aiming for a late July/early August release for  MON COEUR MORT.  More news here as it happens.

Has it been dug up again?  Every ten years, in Fall-Winter 1991 in HAUNTS, in 2001 in my collection STRANGE MISTRESSES:  TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE (cf. image to right), and now scheduled for August 2011 in SORCEROUS SIGNALS a story of mine, “When Cats Are Away,” has a way of appearing.  This will be its first electronic version, but this latest acceptance by WolfSinger Publications will also have it see light in SORCEROUS SIGNALS’ print companion (also including  THE LORELEI SIGNAL for that quarter) MYSTIC SIGNALS.  This is the third of four stories I wrote in my earlier days featuring Tana the thief and the troubles that beset a working girl, especially in terms of a certain magician.

My work has tended to get a bit darker since and maybe my humor a little quirkier, but in her way I think Tana wears well.  And it’s in her nature that when least expected she’d pop up anew.

Speaking of cats, it’s a warm summer evening and what better time for a small lagniappe (noting that lagniappes are defined as small, but for the right person perhaps large in value?) so herewith another cat, one right now sleeping off her after-supper.  The poem appeared under the  shortened title “The Poet’s Cat” with an illustration by Marge Simon in January’s BEYOND CENTAURI (Sam’s Dot Publications), a rather neat, well-produced magazine aimed at younger readers — i.e. good stories but without “bad” words — and should still be available as a back issue.


Beastie girl,
purring charm,
gray-coated fanged wonder
worming her way into visitors’ hearts,
monopolizing beds, sofas,
object of her owner’s thanks,
receiving toys, brushings,
food ready when she is,
sharp-clawed, parasitic,
vampiress in fur.

Should you wish to meet the poem’s subject, click “Wednesday” under PAGES on the right.

This comes a day late, a thunderstorm having knocked the electricity out for about five hours earlier yesterday evening (this being written somewhat after midnight) — five hours in the dark, reliving the pioneer days of our caveman ancestors, the cave cat and I huddled around a battery lantern.  Well, think of it as a fire.  I did make one foray outside when the rain slacked off, seeing several large limbs down, at least one road blocked, one business’s sign blown up and over its roof and into the alley behind, but no real damage at least to my property that can’t be cleaned up.  Pizza for dinner, bought frozen at a grocery just outside the “dark zone,” then cooked at home over the gas oven campfire.

And news waiting to be told!  A story of mine has been accepted by editor Julie Ann Dawson for AMERICA THE HORRIFIC:  TALES OF HORROR FROM AMERICAN MYTH AND LEGEND.  To quote the guidelines, “A group of strangers becomes stranded at a bus terminal during a freak storm [ah, now — coincidence?  My comment].  To pass the time, the bus driver starts telling the story of a local legend …”  And on it goes, with stories that focus on American legends, folklore, and myth.  “We want horror stories in the classic horror style that rely on mood, setting, and … a firm sense of place.”  Examples cited include actual legends (e.g.,  the Jersey Devil) or legends made up (the Blair Witch Project), but each one unique to the place it is set in.

The writer’s challenge on something like this, at least in my opinion, is to figure out a legend or place that will be recognizable when you tell the tale — almost obvious — yet will be one just enough off the track that other writers will not have thought of it.  In my case I chose what really amounts to a science fiction theme for a story I call “The Country Doctor.”  And where is it set?  Well, that would be telling.

Of other news, yesterday’s activities included proofreading a .pdf copy of my story “Leaves” for the upcoming JACK-O’-SPEC anthology (see Jan. 8, below), edited by Karen A. Romanko.  This is to be a collection of Halloween stories and poems and is, it would seem, on its way to being available well in time for the holiday.

Then, finally, speaking of Myths and Legends outside of America, blundering about the internet earlier, what should I come upon but a PUBLISHERS WEEKLY pre-publication review of RAPUNZEL’S DAUGHTERS AND OTHER TALES (see posts for Mar. 2, Jan. 5), scheduled for publication this July by Pink Narcissus Press.  “What happens after the ‘happily ever after’”of some of our most familiar fairy tales?  My dog in this fight, well, it’s cited in the review so, if you wish, just press here to see (it’s the one mentioned first!).

Resident cave cat Wednesday greeted me this morning with her usual request for breakfast.  She’s fed twice a day but does most of her serious eating at night.  However, this time she’d scarcely touched her supper.

This isn’t unusual.  Most likely she’d caught a mouse sometime last night.  She eats her kills, as a cave cat should, and it’s an older house, subject to mice during Mouse Season, generally spring and fall at this latitude.  If she’d made any noise I’d slept right through it, just as the usual noises of plumbing, wind against windows, etc., aren’t anything to wake anyone up.  In fact, one of the fun things in the morning is to find the occasional cat toy far away from where it had been the previous night, and toss it back into her usual play area.

Last night, however, I’d watched the movie PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.  This is one of those BLAIR WITCH-style pseudo-documentaries like CLOVERFIELD or [REC], this time with a couple who set up a camera to capture evidence of Mysterious Happenings in their home at night.  Bad idea!  It’s not a bad movie (though not among the best of its kind, in my opinion), it has creepy moments, but it’s occurred to me how much of what happens in the movie — sounds of things crashing in other rooms, the bedroom door opening and closing seemingly by itself — even the strange. moving lump that gets under the bedclothes — could be explained if they’d had a cat.

Otherwise it’s been a slow week, mid-March, rainy today, a perfect day for finishing doing the income tax. I’ve read through a contract,  been paid for a story, wrote a new poem during the past week, another interview maybe next week.  It looks at the moment as if my poetry book VAMPS will be late, as publication dates sometimes get pushed around.  But that’s part of the “business.”

For now though, since I’ve been thinking about cats, a poem I had published in HAZARD CAT on August 24, 2010:


slinking cat’s wet cough
presages hairball but where —
foot put in shoe knows

The snows are over, at least for the moment.  The ice gone.  The weather not warm, but such rain as there has been has come down all water, at least for this weekend.  Friday I went to a poetry reading — a member in my writer’s group, Virginia Thomas, was one of the featured readers so I and another member/poet, Frida Westford, went to local Rachel’s Coffeehouse for a listen as well as to read a few of our own at the following “Open Mic” session.  The theme for the readings was “Love” so, announcing first that vampires need love too, I read five selections from my upcoming VAMPS collection.

Hey, pimpage is pimpage, however local (interesting to watch the spellchecker red line “pimpage” 🙂 )  Should some buy the book when it comes out — or maybe to whet appetites for now — the titles I read were “Midnight Snack” ( “… lady vampire licks her lips …”), “The Aeronaut” (“Of course she stays inside/ by day …”), “Fast Operator” (“That is, sure, rough sex/ was his bread and butter …”) , “Strange Date” (“… she noticed them growing, the points on those two teeth …”), and “To Kill a Vampire” (“… I might remind:  You asked me in …”).

Also I finished a new story last week, “The Match Game,” based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Little Match Girl” — but with zombies.

The second day of the Great Midwest and East Coast Winter Storm has ended with the computer cave surrounded by ice but otherwise doing well.  Monday night had brought freezing rain with the result that Tuesday dawned to a fairyland of white, ice encasing trees, branches, buildings, and more to the point coating sidewalks and front steps.  All was slick, one could not leave one’s home, but here in the cave supplies had been brought in and all was well.  Then Tuesday night brought sleet and light snow — areas to north were *much* more hard hit — which meant more white today, but much of Tuesday’s ice shattered and broken.  The ground now has more of a pebble-like texture, topped by crunchy snow.  Walking is possible — I took a jaunt to the Goodwill this p.m. just for the exercise (picked up a set of Alfred Hitchcock DVDs while I was there).  Cave Cat Wednesday’s litter box got its weekly refilling, contributing to the sand on the front walk for yet better footing….

For today’s lagniappe, herewith a poem for winter from 2005, originally published by Sam’s Dot in the anthology PANIC.  So pour a hot drink of choice and enjoy!


You know
how snow
blankets sound,
makes all white,
deadens sight,
blinding in sun –
silent –
new snow falls
covering steps
left behind.
Masking all.
Where is home?
Wind whistles now,
cold seeps
freezing bone,
shadows long,
lost — a patchwork
of woods, hollows,
Quiet, white.
Heart beats then,
fear sets in.
Attempts to flee.
Heaped drifts
inhibit flight,
tangled steps,
falling –
knees sinking –
and cloud
brings the night.

Then, mail service also on time today — and speaking of Sam’s Dot — the January 2011 issue of BEYOND CENTAURI arrived with a poem of mine, “The Poet’s Cat,” with art by Marge Simon.  This one you’ll have to buy for yourself though.

I started as a technical writer in the dinosaur days of computers.  Great hulking beasts that took up most of the room, with card punches, line printers, consoles, tape decks …

Those were ugly times.

But then we went to terminals, keyboards — still hooked up to the Beast in the Basement, but small enough themselves to fit on an office desk.

Now we have whole computers that small and smaller. hooked up to others at will on the internet (back in  the day, we discussed the potential of the then-new Arpanet for academic research — one prescient fellow concluded that it would come, but would be powered by sites for gambling and pornography).  My first was a KayPro 1, still stand-alone back then, with a CP/M operating system.

I’ve since gone through DOS and am now in Windows.  The current Cave Computer is actually three machines, only one of which is on-line.  I do most of my writing off-line with WordStar 6.0, a wonderful still text-based word processor, on 3 1/2″ disks, converting that to .rtf (preferably) when it’s time to send work out.  The third computer’s a backup computer. used mostly at one time for translating work to and from 4 1/4″ disks — from back in the mastodon days of computing.

The world has changed much, but here in the cave the old caveman virtues of thrift and simplicity — and continuing to put the bulk of one’s effort into the writing itself — still have their place.  Thus this cave site, as no -frills as still can be decently possible, some might say to the point of ugliness, but nevertheless, I hope, with its rewards.  A story or a poem, perhaps, every month or so just to keep folks coming back.  A bit on my own doings once in a while.  I am a professional short story writer and poet, working mostly on the darker sides of fantasy and science fiction, occasionally mystery,   with two collections as of this writing, STRANGE MISTRESSES: TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE and DARKER LOVES: TALES OF MYSTERY AND REGRET, published by Dark Regions Press, a chapbook novella called THE GARDEN from Damnation Books, and three or four hundred stories and poems in various magazines and anthologies.  Book covers — once I can figure out how — will probably be displayed somewhere on this page.


But above all I will try to keep these simple, because no one said that caveman computing was going to be pretty.

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