Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Life is What Happens When You're Making Other Plans!

Life has been crazy lately.  What else is new, right?  Between work, weather, moving, schooling, family, and everything else - the writing has taken a back seat for awhile.  (Sigh.)

Even though I'm currently not actively writing, I'm still writing!  At least in my head.  I still come up with ideas, formulate plots, create scenes, and build characters.  I can't help it!  I have new short stories to write and new scenes to add to my everlasting book project.  I will say that my iPhone has been a great help.  I've been using an application called "Writing Toolkit" for keeping track of characters, plots, and story ideas.  DocsToGo has also been a good addition to my iPhone.  I keep my stories there for reference.

Being a writer is in my being.  I sometimes become frustrated that others don't always understand that.  I wrote when I was young, I wrote songs when I was a performing musician, and I still write.  I've tried to analyze why.  The only conclusion that I've come to is the aspect of always wanting to create something.  Which is also why I'm a programmer.  I've always stated that I'm a lifer instead of a jobber.  I code because it's a part of me.  I write because it's a part of me.  I find satisfaction with giving life to software applications.  I find satisfaction with giving life to characters, scenes, and stories.  When I say, "Hey, check this out!" with a cool piece of code, and someone else agrees that it's pretty cool - it makes me feel good.  When someone reads one of my stories and I get a favorable response - I glow for a long time!

Quite a while back, I wrote a story called "Freedom From Paradise".  I used a few of my friends as primary characters in the story, projected in a new future situation.  In a sense it was just an exercise in characterization and dialog.  I gave one of my friends a copy of the story when it was completed.  Several weeks later he went camping with his friends and family and the story was read aloud at their campfire one night.  I heard from multiple people about their enjoyment of the story.  That was one of my favorite moments about being a writer.

Then there's the time I wrote an article for Computerworld Magazine, comparing Windows 95 versus OS/2.  That was one of the most scariest times of my life as a writer.  Thousands of hate emails from the OS/2 community for giving Windows 95 a half star lead.  But, in afterthought, it made an impact and I did my part in relaying a truthful comparison.

I guess I'm starting to babble here.  Overall, just because I currently don't have time to write, I'm still writing.  Because - I'm a writer!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Software Development Life Cycle

When I'm not coming up with story ideas, writing short stories, or working on my current novel - I'm usually working in the computer and wireless technologies industry.  A significant part of my work history has to do with programming and the development of software.  Some of this geeky influence can be seen in my fiction writing as well.
As a programmer and developer, I've always been a big advocate of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).  It's a very fundamental aspect of designing applications.  Just as a house builder has to go through the proper planing steps and put together a blueprint for the desired product - a software developer needs to put forth a blueprint as well.

One of my claims to fame, or lack thereof, has been my paper/guidelines on the SDLC.  I wish I could count the amount of email and thanks I've received for this small contribution to the programming community.  The world of programming has been major blessing to me throughout my career in the computer industry and as a freelance writer.  I felt that if I could give anything back to the community, it would be through my brief, but handy, guide to the SDLC.

So, I've re-posted this paper as a page on this site.  Feel free to use and abuse it as much as you want.  If you have any comments or decide that this has helped you so much that you want to contribute to my financial life style, I'm always open for discussions. ;)  Now all I need is a Story Development Life Cycle guide.


Monday, October 4, 2010

What and How to Read?

   Lots of Books

Today I visited one of my favorite book stores - Half Price Books.  Normally I check out the computer books, the software, videos, and the science fiction books.  This time I also took a look at the books on writing.  Wow!  So many books about how to write books.  I was overwhelmed.  I looked at many of the titles with the expectation that I would end up walking out with one or two in my arms.  However, after about a half hour of exploring, I came away empty handed.  Why?  Well, with all the great expertise, recommendations, and guidance on how to write the next great novel, I came away with the same conclusion that I have always had.  If you want to be a writer - read!  Nowhere else can you get a great education on how to be a writer than by reading books by other great writers.
Don't get me wrong!  I own some great books about writing:
  • The Little Brown Handbook by H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron
  • Novelist's Boot Camp by Todd A. Stone
  • The Writer's Home Companion by Joan Bolker, ED.D.
  • Strunk and White's The Elements of Style
  • Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
  • Writing Science Fiction That Sells by Ben Bova
All of these are great books to have sitting by my writing desk.  However, it still boils down to three things - reading, reading, and more reading.  Not just reading like you're out in the lounge chair with a cool glass of sweet tea off to side, which is okay for enjoyment.  But, read the structure of the story.  How does the author start the book?  What keeps you interested after you get past the intro?  How are the characters defined?  How is the dialog between the characters handled?  What about what the characters are thinking?  Are the sentences short and to the point, or complex?  How is the punctuation handled?  These are the things I start to examine when I want to know how to write.

Another thing to look for is the voice of the author.  Some are very detailed, like Tom Clancy.  He could spend an entire chapter on the details of how to listen for submarines.  Others give you just enough to let the imagination run wild.  I like how Orson Scott Card gets into the mind and feelings of his characters.

So, while my time at the book store was enjoyable, I guess it would have been better spent just reading.  Back to The Rock Rats!  (Thanks Ben.)

(Library image courtesy of -Marcus- via

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Wings of Leonardo

I've always been fascinated with Leonardo daVinci.  His ability to think outside of the box and to create new ideas was amazing.  But, what if he had the ability to peer into the future, to see the results of his creations?  That is the thought behind my latest short story, The Wings of Leonardo.  I came up with the idea last week, spent the week writing it, then did the edit and first submission today.  Whew!

One of my problems is that I always have too many ideas.  Even this morning, as I woke up, I came up with a new idea for a story dealing with time travel.  I'll chew on it for awhile, flesh it out, and keep it on the back burner for when I find time to actually work on it.  As I tell my wife - too much to do, not enough Tim!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Control Z is my savior!  I've been working on a new short story called "The Wings of Leonardo".  I was using yWriter5 software on my laptop and I was in the heat of creativity.  The thought juices were flowing and the synapses were firing in perfect harmony.  In the middle of a major paragraph, with a total word count of over 1000, everything became highlighted and disappeared.  I was devastated!  I stared at the blank box for what seemed like an eternity.  Normally I use a usb mouse with my laptop.  Not this time - in my rush to crank out some content during my lunch break, I only grabbed my laptop.  No power cable, no mouse.  That was my mistake.  I have an awesome laptop.  A Toshiba.  However, I'm not a fan of the track pad.  It's very sensitive.  While in the middle of madly typing away, a stray thumb - yes, a stray, since I wouldn't in my right mind completely delete my story on purpose - decided to hit the track pad in a way that caused all of my text to be highlighted.  This happened so quickly, that my other fingers (which were behaving themselves) were madly typing away.  This immediately caused the highlighted story to be replaced by the newly entered characters.  Thus, the full disappearance of my story. 

After the initial shock washed over my entire mental being, a very well known set of keys suddenly came to mind - CTRL & Z!  I quickly entered the magical keys, not knowing if yWriter5 had the intelligence to know what to do with them.  Success!  I was so happy to see my story reappear that I almost got up to do a dance around the conference room.  Which would have been very embarrassing if one of my work mates had walked by.  Getting my senses, I followed up with a nice Alt-S, to save.  Whew!

Now wouldn't it be nice if we had a Ctrl-Z for those real-life slips, mistakes, and faux pas?  "Yes dear, those pants do seem a little tighter than they used to be."  Oooops - Ctrl-Z!  Whew - saved.  "Hey boss, my favorite show is on tonight.  So, I'll get that report to you tomorrow afternoon instead of the morning."  Ctrl-Z!  Job saved!

Is it too much to ask to have a nice 5 second Ctrl-Z?  Anything over 5 seconds would mean that you were either too slow, too drunk, or too stupid to figure out how to get out of your sticky situation.  In that case all bets are off, and you have to deal with the consequences.  Besides, if you drop a nice luscious chocolate on the floor - don't you get 5 seconds to recover it before it's polluted beyond being edible?  (Crawling babies have no time limits, by the way.)  Any time past 5 seconds makes it totally inedible.  Makes perfect sense to me.

However, knowing us humans, we would tend to start to abuse our Ctrl-Z.  "No, I'm not going to mow the grass!"  Ctrl-Z!  "What makes you think I care about the grass?"  Ctrl-Z!  "No, you go mow the grass!"  Ctrl-Z!  Then when we feel we've gotten it out of our system, "Yes dear, I'll go cut the grass now."  I could also see lawyers trying to figure out how to make a new plea in 5 seconds or less.

So, maybe it's good we're limited to the real Ctrl-Z's in our lives - "I'm sorry.  I love you.  Yes, I'm listening," seem to work pretty well.  Then there's the silent Ctrl-Z that I like to use - a hug!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Garar's Secret

In a single morning, I came up with a short flash fiction piece, wrote it, and then submitted it to Daily Science Fiction.  It was rejected.  So, what the hey, I figured I would post it here for everyone's enjoyment.  Feel free to comment.  Be brutal or be kind - I can take it.  Thanks for reading.

Garar's Secret
[Image courtesy of Dan via]
I remember the days when there used to be water everywhere.  There were lakes, rivers, and streams.  We would drink from the trees and play in the river.  The river would flow high enough that I could actually lift my feet from the bottom.  The trees were many then.  You would have been proud to see them.  So tall that they would almost disappear into the sky.  They would reach the clouds and feed the river with sweet, crystal clear, water.  Everyone was so happy back then.  Sometimes, when I look up into the clear sky, I can imagine the white globs of cotton slowly streaming across.  The trees would seem to tug at the puffy whites, drinking the floating moisture, and then pour it out into the rivers and streams.  I could almost see their leaves stretch a little further as a cloud would move past.  They so wanted to drink of the clouds.  I know that you could be like that.  Be able to drink from the clouds. 

It seems so long ago.  Now the clouds are gone.  The Olders refuse to tell me why.  I try to ask them about why the clouds are gone, and why the trees all died.  I'm sorry.  I don't want to make you sad.  It's just that the Olders look down on me and tell me to not dwell on the past.  To only focus on the future.  They point to the night stars and talk about how the fuel will carry us there.  Carry us to where the planets have abundant water.  But, I figured it out.  I know what they did!  The Olders took all the water to make their fuel.  They tell us that our planet is dying and that we need to leave.  I know they made our planet die by taking too much water.  Taking the clouds away.  Making the trees die.  They yell at me, "Garar go away!  Go play in your cave!  Leave us alone and let us work!"

So, I do my own work.  I'll play in my cave.  Deep in my cave, where the Olders cannot find me.  Where the Olders cannot find you.  My tree that I've raised from a tiny seed.  When I found you, you were just a dot on the edge of the dried out river.  I would talk to you after my portion of water. I watched you grow and I gave you a portion of my water.  And now look at you!  Your leaves are so beautiful.  I love how you reach up your leaves when I breathe upon you.

Before long, I will take you to the water.  When the Olders have gone.  They say they cannot take everyone.  So, I will stay with you.  You will soon see the water.  It is deep in the planet, in the caverns.  It is beautiful.  There is so much that it almost floats in the air.  I can smell it when I go there to gather portions for the Olders.  Soon, they will be gone.  I will carry you there and plant you by the water. And you will be able to breathe the water in the air.  I will bring my friends.  I will show them how we can all breathe to you and we will become your cloud.  I understand you.  You need water and planet to grow.  We too need water and planet to live.  You will grow and provide more water.  Your seeds I will take to the surface.  Once the Olders are gone.  Then I can point to the stars in the sky and yell at them, "Olders, go away!  Go play in your stars!  Leave us alone and let us play!"  Yes, my dear tree of water and life.  You will see.

Copyright (c) 2010, Timothy Trimble

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Classic or ePublishing?

There was an excellent posting on Gizmodo today, on why best selling authors are making the move to epublishers.  It's a hot debate that's been discussed in many writing forums, blogs, and magazines for quite a while.  However, I think the tide has turned.  With the Nook, Kindle, iPad, and the soon to be seen flood of tablet devices by the end of this year - it's clear that the use of paper based reading is on the way out.

In a way, it makes me sad.  There's something special about the feel of paper on the fingers.  The sense of progress being made, as a page is turned, to reveal the unfolding of the story - is hard to replace.  Although the convenience of pulling out your iPad, opening up iBook, and instantly be back at where you left off, has a great appeal.  Let's face it!  We're a society of instant.  Instant news, instant entertainment, and instant productivity.  But, that's another article I'll write about in the future.

From the angle of being a writer and looking for the best platform to distribute on, the article on Gizmodo carries a lot of weight.  I love the idea of having my work-in-progress book being picked up by Tor or one of the major publishing houses.  What I don't like is the idea of finishing the book, doing the edits, and then waiting 6 to 18 months before it comes out in print.  I'm sure most other authors feel the same way.

This has also given birth to a new type of publisher - the ePublisher!  They take your work, have you do the required edits, they package up the publication in an electronic format, and then they distribute to multiple outlets - those being Apple, Amazon, Sony, etc.  There's less risk to the publisher and lower cost for distribution.  The author gets a higher royalty rate, quicker distribution to market, and more exposure.

Are agents and classic publishing houses going to jump on-board?  Or are they going to be like the record publishers who have been slow to accept that the markets for CD's are being replaced by electronic distribution?  This is yet to be answered.

I, for one, am excited about the prospect of seeing my stories distributed via electronic media.  I'm one of those consumers who has already purchased books for my iPhone with the Kindle application.  However, plant me down in a comfortable lounge chair, in the shade, on a nice summer afternoon - what will I be reading?  A paper based book!  There's just something about being in a relaxing environment and reading a hard bound book.  But, if I'm sitting in the break room at work?  I'll be reading the news or a book on my iPhone.
[Image provided by Tina Phillips via]

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Foundation

Pouring a foundation
I've been writing fiction since I was a kid.  I never really did anything with the stories.  My idea of publishing at the time was to bind the hand written note paper with string, add covers stripped off an old 3-ring binder, write a fancy title on the cover in black marker, and then pass it around to my friends at school.  I actually still remember a few of the stories.  One was about a boy who shrunk down so small that he was able to meet people who lived on a planet the size of a molecule.  Another was about a treasure hunter who found a space ship under the ocean.  These always had leanings into science fiction.  I think it was due to my fascination with science itself and my early exposure to H.G. Wells and Andre Norton.

Back then, I never really had an interest in becoming a published writer.  Once I learned how to play guitar, nothing else mattered.  If I had stuck with the writing, my approach would have been to just start submitting my stories to some of the popular magazines.  Asimov's Science Fiction, Amazing Stories, and Fantasy & Science Fiction were the ones on the shelves at the time.  Once anyone got published there, it was just a matter of continuing the writing and submissions.  I think I missed the boat back then.

Today, my interest is back on the fiction writing.  I've managed to get a couple computer books under my belt, a few technical writing projects, and a whole slew of magazine articles - all having to do with non-fiction technology topics.  All the while, the stories are still sitting in the back of my head, asking to be set free.

With my new found writing focus, comes the realization of how it has to be done in today's world.  The paper based trades are slowly fading into electronic media.  Web sites, eBooks, eReaders, and hand-held media are becoming the standard for publishing.  If any author wants to get any kind of recognition for their writing, it's not just a matter of writing and submitting (while that might still work for some).  Now, an author needs to have a web presence - a web page, a blog, a twitter account, a Facebook site, and it looks like Ping (from Apple) is going to be the next big thing.  Basically, good author marketing requires a foundation in electronic media space - a presence.

So, I'm setting the main cornerstones into place.  This posting marks the beginning of my author based web site.  I'm not going the route of Facebook or MySpace.  I just don't feel that I need to play in that space in order to get exposure as a writer.  A publisher might tell me differently in the future.  I guess I'll play that tune when it comes.  For the time being, I'll maintain the web site, make some twitters here and there, and then write, submit, write, submit, write, and submit. Overall, I'm in this for my personal enjoyment - I love creating and telling stories.  If I can get those stories out, share them with a greater market, and possibly make a few credits in the process - then I'll be a happy camper.

Soon, this blogger space will become a part of  My old and un-maintained site will eventually go away.  And hopefully, this will be the start of a very enjoyable ride.  Feel free to hop on for the ride.  Let me know what you think.

Timothy Trimble