the Unending Journey of the Wandering Author

A chronicle of the unending journey of the Wandering Author through life, with notes and observations made along the way. My readers should be aware I will not censor comments that disagree with me, but I do refuse to display comment spam or pointless, obscene rants. Humans may contact me at thewanderingauthor at yahoo dot com - I'll reply as I am able.

Location: New England, United States

I have always known I was meant to write, even when I was too young to know the word 'author'. When I learned that books were printed, I developed an interest in that as well. And I have always been a wanderer, at least in my mind. It's not the worst trait in an author. For more, read my writing; every author illuminates their heart and soul on the pages they write upon.

Monday, April 30, 2007

One Day Blog Silence


Friday, April 27, 2007

Urgent Information for Pet Owners

This post has been edited, to clarify or update certain information; added portions are highlighted in red.

If you have a pet, or know someone who has a pet, please take a moment to read this post. The pet food recall keeps widening, with a new announcement today! And there is no assurance the recalls are over. Many people think they've heard about this already, but many new foods have been recalled. Every pet owner needs to read the most up-to-date information!

While mostly wet food is affected, there are dry foods listed as well. The ASPCA recommends rejecting any food, even if it is not on the recalled list, if it contains any of the ingredients found to be contaminated to date. Personally, I think that is the safest course. I urge every concerned pet owner to at least read the ASPCA's FAQs on this subject. Some significant points include: their caution that it is not known if more ingredients are contaminated, the fact that even dogs seem to be affected, and their note that cats are especially sensitive to this danger.

Also, I won't name my vet, since he didn't agree to be quoted, but I've spoken with him on this subject. I have had good and bad experiences with vets; with good cause, I travel a significant extra distance to visit this particular vet. My three cats ate some of the recalled food; I had to have them tested. On my vet's recommendation, since he found one affected dog who almost 'slipped through the cracks', I had both blood and urine testing done. The tests came back with no indication of any damage. In spite of that, my vet explicitly and pointedly told me to continue monitoring them for any signs of illness. This may be partly an instinct for caution on his part - but I rely on his instincts to keep my cats healthy and safe.

Therefore, I'm posting links to some of the most important sites where you can learn more, and my own comments about those sites. I would prefer that you link to this post, since I intend to keep it as up-to-date as I can, but please, however you do it, get the word out!

Bookmark this post, send anyone you know who has pets here, steal my post - I hereby place the one post which includes this statement in the public domain - or create your own better version, but make sure every pet owner has access to this information. Kidney failure is a horrible way to die.

If you know of a resource you think I should add, please mention it in the comments. If you have a question, leave that too, and I'll try to find the answer for you. (I can't promise an answer, but any possibility an innocent animal might die of kidney failure is more than enough to guarantee I'll give it everything I have.)

American Veterinary Medical Association They're working harder than the FDA to provide up-to-date information. This is the main page, with links to a list of recalled foods, links to manufacturer's sites, and many other important resources. I highlight a few below.

AVMA: Recalled Products List This list is not guaranteed to be complete - I suggest every pet owner read their and the ASPCA's FAQs and the ingredients of their pet's food carefully. However, this list is far more up-to-date than the FDA's own site.

AVMA: Resources for Pet Owners A list of links to useful resources for pet owners.

ASPCA: Recall FAQ: Every pet owner should read, and take to heart, all the advice here.

ASPCA: List of Recalled Foods Another attempt to list every recalled brand and type of pet food. Again, it seems to be more up-to-date than the FDA. It is a very good idea to check this and the AVMA list at least daily.

ASPCA: Recall - Recent Updates If you're in a hurry, this lets you quickly scan the most recent news. Don't rely on it until you've checked the full list at least once.

FDA: Official Recall Information It is very clear the FDA is more concerned with protecting company profits than animals' lives - still, since they're so reluctant to release information, this may be the first place you'll learn an important detail.

FDA: (Outdated) List of Recalled Foods Although when I checked, the list did not include foods for which a recall had been announced on the date the list was supposedly updated, this is an additional list to double-check, just in case.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Visit the Gonzo Blog Carnival

I encourage everyone to go on over and visit the Gonzo Blog Carnival held today at Religion, Politics, and the Great Pumpkin. I entered one of my posts in the carnival, and there are a lot of other great posts, and blogs, to discover as well. So go enjoy (and then, if you feel inclined, come on back and enjoy the fiction posted below).


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Three Stories & the Endless Hour Short Fiction Contest

I decided to write an entry for the Endless Hour Short Fiction Contest, but after I'd written my story, I wasn't satisfied. So I wrote another, which still didn't satisfy me, so I ended up writing, and submitting, a third.

I thought it would be interesting, even though the rules only allow one entry per person, to at least note the fact here that these three stories were all written in response to this contest, and inspired by the same photograph. So I've posted all three stories, and am listing them here, with links, in the order of my own personal preference.

Before I list the stories, though, let me note that I am posting my entry here, since several other entrants have posted theirs on their own blogs, and the rules don't seem to forbid it, but I strongly urge you to go over and read all the entries. There are some very good stories there, including some much better than my own.

Normally, I would wait until the contest ended to post my entry, but I did, since it seems to be permitted, make an exception in this case so I could post the three stories together. So by all means, read my stories, but please also visit The Clarity of Night and read the other very entertaining entries. Show some respect and share the love, in other words!

My submission and personal favourite: Unkind Truth

The first story I wrote, A Long, Long Time

And the story I like the least, The Best Revenge

I actually had an idea for a fourth story, involving a vampire, but it is very late and so that story may never be written. I did think it might be interesting to read and compare these stories, all by the same author, all written on the same day, and all inspired by the same photo, and yet all so different. I hope you enjoy them!

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Unkind Truth

Alex stood in the tiny cabin, staring at the spilled crumbs of what was once his grandmother's life. He'd always believed she died before his birth, but when he had to go through his mother's papers as she lay dying, he learned she lived until he was almost fourteen.

A frantic search through whatever records he could find revealed little else, but did lead him here. Grandma must have been deserted by everyone, not just her daughter. No one even bothered to wash up the last few dishes stacked in her sink.

A sad scent, the peculiar odor of an abandoned home, filled his nostrils as he sifted through the papers scattered across the floor. In his haste, some of them slipped from his fingers. He needed to understand the secret that haunted his family.

His eyes lit on a crumpled, worn photograph, of a girl with dark hair and a wry smile. Hours later, he found what he sought. A brittle document, with a picture of the same girl, pale and unsmiling, pasted above his grandmother's name, and a few particulars that revealed she'd been a prisoner at Dachau.

He crouched there, unmoving, for hours. So much made sense now, his grandmother's isolation, his mother's own strangeness, even her sardonic amusement and disgust at what he'd become. Still he crouched, until at last a single, hot tear dropped to the back of his hand, rolled across the swastika tattooed there, then was chased by another, and another...


A Long, Long Time

Helen stood before her sink, staring. She remembered stacking the dishes there, of course, but she'd always kept her kitchen clean and tidy. The dirt, the decay, the fallen curtain, all warned her it had been a long, long time since she was taken to the hospital. She rubbed her finger over a can of soup suddenly rough with rust.

She remembered the hospital well enough. All bright lights, sterile smells, and pushy nurses. After that, an endless succession of monotonous, meaningless days. They told her she could go home if she learned to walk again, but who could find the energy in such a place? The blandly awful food, the indifference, the dull walls all drained you. And the loneliness was worst of all.

Returning here was better, but birdsong and squirrel chatter couldn't quench the hunger those empty days had filled her with. She heard voices and turned toward them. She took a few steps, and saw a pair of teenage boys blinking in the dim light, shuffling their feet among her scattered papers. They stared at her, eyes wide.

"Hello, boys..." She broke off, startled.

Outside, panting, they huddled behind a wall, speaking in hushed tones of the strange woman who just walked through a wall of the deserted old cabin and spoke.

Helen stood where they left her, tears soaking her cheeks. Every now and then she moaned. "Come back! Please, come back!"

Despite her plea, it was a long, long time before anyone dared.


The Best Revenge

Maxwell smiled grimly as he climbed the steep track. He was panting a little before he spotted the ancient cabin, but he wasn't in bad shape for a man who'd retired ten years before. He'd left the force, yes, but a few of his cases hadn't left him.

He'd never forget the blood spattering that college girl's apartment. He worked so hard to find the killer it destroyed his marriage. When he succeeded, the man escaped prosecution on a technicality. Maxwell hadn't delivered justice then, and he'd needed ten years to find his quarry again, but today he would close that case.

He stepped out of the pines, opened the door, and darted inside. A dank, musty reek choked him. His Colt heavy in his hand, he turned slowly to study the fallen curtain. He glared at the rusty cans by the sink. He'd been so sure this was the end of the trail.

A board creaked, and he whirled to face a massive heap of quivering, panting flesh. A shotgun sagged in the man's hand. Maxwell quickly twisted it away.

The man squinted. When he thrust his head forward to peer into Maxwell's face, his breath stank worse than he did.

"Maxwell? Is that you? I thought...." He broke off, wheezing helplessly.

"I was going to shoot you. But I've changed my mind."

The man whimpered.

Maxwell stepped back outside. "Of course, I might change it again." He started down the path, whistling. Death was too good for him.


Monday, April 23, 2007

What Caused the Virginia Tech Shooting?

Variations of this question have been asked in the media ever since the news broke, yet not once have they considered the one obvious cause. Before I point out the Emperor's shocking and in this case pornographic nudity, let me briefly dispose of some of the more idiotic aspects of what some segments of the media have suggested. First. they insist on looking for his "reason" as if they're going to find some answer that makes sense to everyone.

I hope you can agree that any "reason" for such a massacre will, by definition, not make sense. If something like that can make sense to you, you scare me. It's that simple. There are no reasons for something like that. I understand those who must evaluate others' potential for such violence need to learn all they can, but why would the rest of us even want to understand something so shocking, so alien to the rest of us (I hope).

It offends me suggestions have been made this happened either because of his race or nationality, or because of hints he may have been diagnosed with autism. None of those have anything to do with it. Blaming one individual's actions on any group is a terrible and a foolish idea. Yet some insist on pointing to incidental characteristics to provide an "explanation".

If such comments have merit, why, when "normal" white Americans commit such crimes, isn't it suggested it was because they were a normal white American? Such red herrings are dragged out whenever possible simply because bigotry is always seeking excuses to justify itself. It is time everyone, and especially those in the media, learned that lesson, stopped adding fuel to the fires of bigotry, and tried sticking to relevant facts instead.

While less repulsive, the suggestion that he was bullied has no more merit. Many people are bullied, some much worse than anything hinted at in this case, and yet never decide to randomly shoot as many people as they can. For the ultimate proof, look at one of the victims, Liviu Librescu. This man, a Holocaust survivor, endured tragedies and terrors so great, just contemplating his childhood is enough to wake nightmares.

Yet, with such a background, what was his choice? To, instead of killing the innocent, sacrifice his own life to protect as many as he could. If his experiences did not drive him to commit mass murder, then his example should forever silence the whining of those who say "you drove me to it" as they slaughter random victims and those whose "offences" were much less than murder.

Why did the shooter do it? Although many of those who have done the same thing before probably had similar motives, he was extremely open about it. He sent a package containing his "reasons" to NBC. He wanted people to question what they'd done. He wanted them to feel the guilt for his crimes. And he wanted the media to look for and publicize "his side of the story". He wanted them to promote him as a "martyr".

In other words, he was a spoiled little brat who decided he'd "show everybody", no matter what the cost. He considered those who "celebrated" Hitler's birthday with a massacre to be "martyrs", and he considered that he was one, too. Perhaps the media coverage of the murders at Columbine High helped shape such an arrogant attitude. Certainly, he expected and wanted media coverage himself.

And, what did the media do? They claimed they had no choice, that it was "breaking news", and so they aired his repulsive and obscene rants. They gave him exactly what he wanted. In a sense, they repaid him for providing them with a big story by giving him what he implicitly asked for in return. They may not have driven him to it, but they probably encouraged his attitude, and they certainly rewarded his actions.

Whoever the next shooter is, the media coverage of this story has no doubt encouraged them to continue thinking everyone else is "driving them to it". It has reinforced their belief they will become a "martyr". And it has shown them that, if they want the world to hear "their side", the media will give them just that. Although every individual is responsible for whatever they decide to do, in many ways the media is responsible for encouraging further shootings.

What could they have done differently? They could have covered "breaking news" by ignoring the whining self-proclaimed martyr who caused so much pain and loss, and focusing attention on those who deserve it instead. Yes, most if not all of you have heard of Liviu Librescu, but why haven't you heard more about him than about the shooter? His example, of decency and self-sacrifice in the face of hatred and tragedy, is one worth paying attention to.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Child Without A Voice - Update - What's Needed

I posted recently about a project to help a four year old boy who cannot talk, due to apraxia. Many of my readers volunteered to help, and I'm grateful for that. I wanted to let you know how things are going so far, and what more you could do to help if you're willing.

First of all, I understand it takes time to write a story, and you need to do a good job, so this book will sell. But I also wanted you to understand how urgent this is: if you read Anna's most recent post, her county has decided they "don't have the money" to give her son even the minimal services he was getting. This is a boy who tries to say something, then hits himself in the head because he hears it come out wrong! But I'm not going to waste time discussing the cruelty of that decision - it's much more important to do something as quickly as we can.

First of all, those who have offered to write stories, there is no specific deadline. Write them as you can, then send them to me. As soon as I'm able, I publish the book, and, if enough additional stories come in, I'll publish a second volume. If by some miracle, we bring in enough money to give Alexander (Red) everything he needs and money is still coming in, well, there must be other kids out there like him.

I understand this is a difficult subject, but I'm simply asking that you send in your stories as soon as you finish them. In addition, I'd really appreciate it if all of my readers would let as many writers as possible know about this. That will cost you no money and little effort. The more people we have trying, the sooner we can start raising money. Susan Abraham, in the comments to the original post, kindly offered to put a button like the one I have up on her own blog. If any of you are willing to do this, I can send you the link and code (for Blogger at least).

If someone knows how to adapt the code for other blogs, that would be helpful. And the image isn't displaying as clearly as I'd hoped. I tried creating an actual size image instead of having it resized, but that turned out worse. So, if someone knows more about web graphics than I do (I'm more used to print), a better button, or at least some advice, would really help as well.

If any of you know a good artist, I want to create the best book cover I possibly can, and I could use a lot of help there. Finally, I still need legal help. Jason was kind enough to make a suggestion, in the comments to the original post. His idea was to simply have every writer sign over all rights to Anna, so she could just sell the book and get the money.

If we can't do anything else, and Anna agrees, this is a possibility. I didn't consider it originally for several reasons. First, I suspect Anna would then have to pay taxes on the income from the book, and keep all the paperwork. I was hoping to spare her that. I'm not a lawyer, but I was hoping there was some option similar to the funds banks set up after a family has a bad fire.

Another reason I didn't consider this is because I felt it might be harder to sell the book, if the proceeds aren't going to a "real" charity. Personally, I don't care if Anna and her family get every cent; I'm sure she'll use the money to help Red. If there's a little left over, so what. But some people might not be as likely to buy the book - I felt if it was set up so any surplus went to, say, an organisation that helps kids with apraxia, they'd be more likely to buy it.

For that matter, if you sell a book saying you're raising funds for something or other, and don't have a "real" charity set up, I don't know if you can be charged with fraud. So one way or another, I've got to make sure this works from a legal standpoint. If any of you know someone with a blawg, please point them here, or consider writing a post about this.

The Copyright issue is another problem. I didn't consider having everyone assign all rights because I know many writers would balk at that. At this point, I don't even care, which will tell anyone who knows me just how determined I am to get this done. But, that isn't the problem anyhow. There are standard agreements that assign rights for a single project while allowing the author to keep other rights.

The problem is, we have volunteer writers from several countries already, and I don't know if those standard agreements cover this situation. This is the Internet! These situations are going to keep coming up; I should think some enterprising lawyer would like to blaze a trail here! It was also suggested that I contact a law school, to see if I can persuade them to help me pro bono (lawyerspeak for no charge); I'm going to start that process, but I suspect there might be looong formalities involved.

Thanks to all of you who have helped, and are helping, I really appreciate it. I just really want to do everything possible to make this work, and work with as few delays as possible. If you have ideas, suggestions, comments, please share them. The only thing that is important right now is getting Alexander the help he needs as quickly as we can. If you think I'm being an idiot, point it out! I'd rather find a way to do this right away than have anyone spare my feelings.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007


I want to apologise to everyone for the long delay in posting. Originally, I wanted to leave the previous post on top for a while, to get exposure. I intended to announce the winner of the Wandering Author Longer Fiction Contest on the first of April. But, before I did that, I wanted to create a nice, visible button to link to the most recent post in my efforts to help Anna's son, Red.

Naturally, I got sick. A sinus infection with an absolutely overwhelming headache morphed into a fever and bronchitis. I'd visit a few blogs, comment, trying to work up to writing a post here, but every time I was too worn out to manage much. I will be announcing the winner of my fiction contest shortly, and I will be posting again on the "A Child Without A Voice" project. I just wanted to get this quick update up to let everyone know the reason for my long silence.

I will also replace the button I created with another, equally visible but hopefully of better quality. Please, if you want to leave comments on the project, go to the most recent post (which the button will always link to, even if that post is still on top) and leave your comment there. I am considering creating a short post, dated prior to the start of this blog, just to hold links to all the posts related to this project. Or creating a special section in the sidebar.

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