Stephen Sottong

Stephen Sottong

writer, beekeeper, webmaster, programmer

Welcome. I'm a retired engineering librarian whose current passion is writing fiction and science-fiction. I live in lovely Humboldt County in northern California behind the Redwood Curtain. The area has the tallest trees in the world and some of the most stunning scenery imaginable.

In addition to writing, I maintain web pages for non-profit organizations.

You can , and you might also want to read my Blog


Volume 29 cover
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Writing After Retirement cover
The Remnant cover
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Writing

I've been writing since I was about ten. In my professional life, I was required to write for scholarly journals in order to get tenure. The texts are dry and dated. Don't bother looking for them. Only since retirement have I been able to pursue writing fiction full time.

My story "Planetary Scouts" won a third place in the 2013 Writers of the Future contest. Being chosen as one of the top three stories from a field that is estimated at a thousand or more international entries is a singular honor. My thanks to the judges. Writers of the Future Vol. XXIX is available in print and ebook at Barnes & Noble and Amazon and Kobo.

I wrote one of the chapters in the book Writing After Retirement an anthology of tips and tricks for older writers. My chapter covers both voice in writing and the setup of your writing area. It's available on Amazon Kindle and trade paperback, Barnes and Noble in both electronic and paper form, and Kobo in both formats.

Fog was awarded best fiction in the 2016 edition of the Toyon. In September of 2013 Dinner Date was published on Everydayfiction.com. The flash piece "Friends" appears in the anthology 100 Worlds and online at Digital Fiction Pub. "Escort" is in the anthology Sex Droids and Their Cyborg Toys. "Aftermath" appeared in The Were-Traveler.

A few of my works have been published locally. One of my flash fiction was a finalist in the North Coast Journal's competition in 2012 (search for Harry) and a sequel to Harry in 2013 (search for Lois) and 2014 (search for Encounter), and Visitation and Orbit in 2015. One of my Sci-Fi stories is available in Noyo River Review.

And finally, my novel with an alternate view of the Rapture and Tribulation, The Remnant is now available on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Kobo. Unlike The Leftovers, The Remnant takes the timeline and the standard characters of the rapture and tribulation seriously and unlike the Left Behind series, The Remnant presents realistic, non-stereotyped characters in those situations.

Writers of the Future acceptance

Beekeeping

You might not think of insects as complex, interesting creatures, but bees definitely are. We've kept hives for the last seven years and the more I learn about them, the more I realize there is to learn about them. These social creatures have a complex life cycle and a range of behaviors that are still being discovered and investigated. Bees are industrious and gentle if not provoked.

If you go into beekeeping just for the honey, you'll end up with some of the most expensive honey you've ever tasted. It will probably also be the most exquisite honey you've ever tasted since it will be fresh and unprocessed. If you decide to take up beekeeping it should be because you are fascinated with the insects and want to ensure local pollination. The honey (if you get any) is a side benefit. In 2012, July was heavily overcast, so we didn't get a honey harvest; however, we did get lots of raspberries, apples, veggies and flowers.

Hobby beekeeping is becoming more popular so it should be easy to find other beekeepers in your area or local groups that encourage beekeeping. If beekeeping is still illegal in your city, petition to have the ordinances revised. Eureka recently passed an excellent beekeeping ordinance and we have the permit number 1 for our hives.


Web Pages

I started designing and coding web pages in 1995. As a way to summarize my knowledge and provide a learning tool for colleagues, I designed an HTML tutorial. Later, I added a Cascading Style Sheet tutorial. I've been attempting to keep them up-to-date. The latest version of the tutorials reflect HTML 5 and CSS 3. You can learn enough from these tutorials to design and implement simple web pages.


Programming

Programming computers has always been a part of my career. I don't do much these days, but three programs I wrote which have proven very useful are linked here. They will work with versions of Windows from 2000 through 10 in both 32 and 64 bit varieties. They may still work with Windows 98, but I no longer have a way to test them on that platform. You are free to download and use them at your own risk. Both the Clipboard Expander and the Exit Windows program have been recently updated to correct an occasional problem with the icons not appearing in the tray.

The Clipboard Expander gives you access to the last 20 unique text clips (without formatting) copied to the Windows Clipboard. It also has an archive of 10 clips which are always available. Since it works through the Windows Clipboard, it can be used with all programs. Double-click its icon in the tray and select your clip to replace the current clip in the Clipboard. Clips can be edited or removed and are saved at shutdown.

The Exit Windows program places an icon in the system tray. Double click it and you will close Windows according to the method you have chosen (i.e. shutdown, reboot, hibernate, etc.). The program also allows timed shutdowns and gives you the option to run a program before shutdown. There is also a toggle to put the monitor in power saver mode or invoke the screen saver. New in version 7.3 is a right-double-click to sleep and a separate sleep program that works in Vista/8.

Windows 7 and 8 now let you completely rid your computer of Internet Explorer. Unlike WinXP, Win7/8 actually gets rid of the IEXPLORE.EXE file. This works fine for all programs that are well behaved and invoke the default web browser to take you to web sites. However, some programs invoke IE directly. For these, I've created a dummy version of IEXPLORE.EXE. This version redirects attempts to invoke IE to the default browser. NOTE: some anti-spyware programs will classify this program as a Trojan, so you will have to manually make an exception for it. Windows 10 does not give you the ability to remove the MircosoftEdge browser; however, you can go to the SystemApps directory under the Windows directory and rename the MicrosoftEdge directory to disable it.

If you do not have any other programs installed that use Visual Basic 6, you will need to also download the runtime setup.

These files use the old style help files. From Vista onward, Windows does not ship with support for these files; however, you can download the proper files here to provide support, except for Windows 10. There you need to replace the winhelp32.exe in the Windows directory with this file which is the help file from WinXP. You may need to install and use Unlocker to remove the original file.


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