Saturday, December 29, 2012

Zegin's Universe

Mapping Zegin's Universe
My vacation week of writing was pretty successful.  I didn't crank out a full length novel but I did get over a significant hump I was having with Zegin's Abduction.  I would read through what I have done so far, feeling that something just wasn't right.  But I would go ahead and start writing.  Each writing session I would repeat.  Finally, after 3 sessions of writing I decided that I better do something.  After all, if I'm not feeling good with the story then the readers are not going to feel good with it either.

After some in-depth analysis, I finally determined that the story was just dragging.  I put on my editing hat and thought about those chunks of deleted scenes that get added as extras to the "Special Edition" DVDs of movies.  When I watch those I usually agree that they needed to be cut out of the movie to keep from slowing it down.  That's what I ended up doing with ZA.  I cut some major chunks out of it that just were not necessary.  Too much detail can detract from the story.  While it took some time and struggle to chop it up, it was well worth the time.  The story flows a lot better now and I feel better about writing it.  I'm enjoying the writing of the story. ;)

Another step I took was to produce a Zegin's Universe map - a graphical layout of the characters, places, things, organizations, and situations in the world of Zegin.  Since I'm developing a full set of short stories all based on this environment, the map is a great help in keeping everything straight.  I guess it's something that I learned as a programmer.  In order to develop a good application I need to have a road map of the functionality and a diagram of the database.  (Seems a lot of folks are interested in that too since a major portion of the hits to my site are from searches on Entity Relationship Diagrams.)  Sorry, I'll take the geek hat off and put the writer's cap back on.

If you're struggling with keeping details straight about your story (or series of stories) I highly recommend taking the time to build a map of the universe.  After all, isn't world/universe building half the fun of fiction writing?

Social Networking Progress
Wow!  Oh wait.  That's what I said last week.  I just can't help to be impressed with the growth of the statistics.

Klout Score: 44 (+1) Page Loads for the past month: 1025 (+9)
Twitter Followers: 362 (+133)
G+ Peeps Following: 163 (+63)

The Twitter and Google Plus followers have both made significant jumps.  While this is still just a few atoms in the bucket compared with the likes of Marissa Meyer, Stephen Ames Berry, or one of my favorites - David Brin - it's not a bad start for someone who hasn't published anything in the fiction market yet.  It does make for a good experiment and exercise in the value of social network marketing.  Especially with the huge growth of eBook sales and the fact that around one third of the entire world's population is now using the internet.  It will be interesting to see how the statistics improve once something is published.  In the meantime, I like to think that you're all enjoying my postings here and will continue to visit, and allow me to share my ride.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Yoplait   
I love Yoplait Yogurt!  It is soooo smooth and creamy.  I can have a nice satisfying treat without worrying about having to do an extra five minutes on the elliptical (which does feel like an extra lap around the sun by the way).  However, I have a major hate of the container!  Now I can understand some marketing person, or group, coming up with the decision to shape the container in a very appealing way.  Or maybe it's all scientific and the shape helps to keep all those "Live & Active Cultures" from escaping.  Regardless, I don't think there was much QA (Quality Assurance) testing or user testing involved.  I'm sure that the note taking ended before the last 5% of the yogurt eating activity was completed.

The first 95% of the event is pure pleasure.  The gentle fingernail scraping of the foil cap in a circular rotation of the container is a great endeavor for anyone that has engineering genes in their blood.  Removing the cap in a single fluid motion while retaining its flatness is a great accomplishment.  This allows for a complete removal of the sweet yogurt essence from the bottom of the cap in a single flick of the tongue.  Then the process of consuming heaping spoonfuls of the luscious, creamy, and flavorful yogurt is enough to make the eyes roll back and induce a catatonic state of yummyness. (Yes, I made up that word.)  The next process of scraping the inside of the container is also very satisfying.  The gentle scrape of the spoon as remnants of the yogurt are piled into tasteful lumps.  It is at this point that spoon licking begins.  Top, bottom, sides, and even the stem of the spoon are fair game for finding left over molecules of flavor.

But then the pain and frustration begins.  There's still yogurt under the lip of the container!  And regardless of how hard I try with the spoon, I can't get it all.  I pronounce curses of "may your blaster get jammed in a fight with a Bantherdog" toward the engineers who decided to put those four indentations at the top of the container - preventing me from getting a smooth spoon scooping of remaining yogurt.  I stick my tongue under the lip of the top and twirl the container in the hope to gold dig out the yogurt remnants, resulting in a small groove being cut into the tip of my tongue.  I realize that this is the same physics as a circular saw as I withdraw my tongue from the container.  But being tenacious, I go in for another lap around the rim, using less pressure to prevent loosing the tip of my tongue into the container.  And what's with that gap between the walls of the container and the base?  There's still yogurt sitting down there!  My tongue won't reach!  I bet Gene Simmons doesn't have this problem.  And the opening of the container is too small for me to fit my head into it!  The base appears to be welded on and thus prevents me from removing the bottom.  Then I notice the words on the side of the container - "PROTECT WILDLIFE CRUSH CUP BEFORE DISPOSAL".  What?  No comma?  And then I have visions of squirrels digging through the trash with little Yoplait containers stuck to their heads because they were digging for the last remaining bits of yogurt in the bottom.  Well, if the Yoplait folks would let me eat the last of the yogurt we wouldn't have this problem - would we!?!  I gladly crush the container before flinging it into the trash.

I pause to calm down and relax - then reach for a second container of Yoplait.  Yep.  It's a vicious cycle.

Enjoy reading (and your yogurt). ;)


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Writing Week Progress

Baby Steps
I'm making progress this week, aside from the up-cropping of dealing with a auto insurance claim, de-icing the driveway, working on taxes, watching it snow, etc.  I'm actually getting some writing done and taking steps toward getting the first story out on Amazon.  Once I'm done with this posting I'm back to focusing on "Zegin's Abduction".

Zegin's Infection is still out with the editor.  I'm hoping she's done soon but

[The books on my writing desk]
I'm trying not to bug her with a status
email.  I'm expecting to have to do some rewriting and editing, and then get it back to her for review.  Meanwhile, I might have found a cover artist.  Thanks to a friend and coworker, this gent came highly recommended.  I reviewed his website and I liked what I saw.  We've discussed pricing and the concept/theme for the art.   I'm not naming names or providing links yet, until we have a successful release.  I don't think it's necessary to put the added pressure on the editor & artist until the work is done.  If it turns out good, I'll be singing their praises. ;)  Okay, maybe not singing - I don't want to scare the readers away.

I also managed to get two submissions out.  "The Wings of Leonardo" has been sent to Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show and "Invis" has been sent to Daily Science Fiction.  I'm a glutton for punishment.  This is my 5th submission to DSF and my 2nd to IMS.  I figure if I keep trying eventually I'll get one.  I've been spoiled by my non-fiction writing.  It's a whole new ballgame now. ;)

Wow!  I guess the last blog posting was a hit.  The statistics for this week have shown a major jump.  My wife says it's because I mentioned her.  ;)  Could be.  Everyone loves a good story, especially real life.  Some of this stuff you just can't make up.  (see below)

Here are the stats:

Klout Score: 43 (+3) Page Loads for the past month: 1016 (+221)
Twitter Followers: 229 (+95)
G+ Peeps Following: 100 (+10)

Aside from crediting my blog postings I also feel that this has to do with my involvement with several G+ communities, and my Twitter etiquette.  I rarely re-tweet unless I feel it is worthy, I personally thank those who follow me, and my postings are real - not a stream of constant advertising.  I do announce my blog postings and my milestones (submissions, rejections, etc.).  But I only do it once per platform.  (Oh I do wish someone would come up with a nice tool for posting to both Twitter and G+ at the same time.)

Topless in the Grocery Store
Several days ago I made a run to the local grocery store/pharmacy to pick up a prescription for my mom.  While waiting for the pharmacist to come to the counter I notice the sign that says, "Get your flu shot today!"  So, my thinking is that it IS that time of year, my wife has been reminding me how I got nailed by the flu last year (she didn't), and since the grocery store is promoting flu shots then I might as well get one. 

The pharmacist comes to the counter and I give him the prescription and I ask for a flu shot.  I pay for the chemicals and he then instructs me to wait in the seating area.  The seating area is actually more of a small corridor to the side of the pharmacy and has 4 chairs and a free blood pressure testing chair, which if I had been using, would indicate a sudden rise in my pressure.  I just realized that I requested a flu shot and I'm wearing a long sleeve white shirt, a tie, and a long sleeve pull over sweater.  Unfortunately, I didn't outline this flow like I do with my stories.

The pharmacist comes out with his little plastic tray of chemicals, syringes, and swabs.  And he's putting on his ultra thin latex gloves.  Then he states those words that I knew were coming, "I'm going to need an exposed shoulder."  My heart rate and blood pressure rises as I realize that I now need to remove the top half of my clothing. 

I reply with a laugh, "I guess I didn't think this through when I put on all these clothes." 

The pharmacist doesn't even crack a smile as he waits patiently for me to get ready.  Is there a job requirement that states that pharmacists should not have a sense of humor?  I briefly consider asking, "How many pharmacists does it take to change a light bulb," but then I re-consider.  (Just one, but he has to do it for ten days, three times a day.)

With my shirts off, calmly sitting, and waiting for one of my close friends to walk by - the pharmacist quickly makes the poke and is done before I can even think about saying ouch.  I thank him for the shot as I try to figure out how to gracefully tuck in a long sleeve white shirt without undoing my belt and pants.  (It's not easy, but doable.)  I consider asking for a shoe horn but I manage to get it done.

With my composure re-gained and mom's prescription in hand, I make a quick exit from the store.  On the way back home I think about the difference between standing in a grocery store with my shirt off and standing on a warm sandy beach next to the ocean.  In the store I dreaded being seen by any of my friends or associates while if I was on the beach I would proudly suck in the gut and strut on down to the water.  Amazing, what a difference in the venue can make!

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Preparing for my Week of Writing

I'm looking forward to next week!  I'll be taking a vacation and spending a significant portion of it writing.  My current goals for that week are:
- Finish Zegin's Abduction.
- Submit some of my short stories.
- Decide on an artist for the Zegin series covers.
- Work on my novel.
- Write a blog update.
- Marketing (improve my stats).
- If the edit comes back for Zegin's Infection, apply the edits and get it ready for publishing.
-  And of course, do some reading.
(Thanks for the pic, James!)

That accounts for half of my week.  For the other half, I plan on some activities with my friends.  If the weather permits, maybe even a hike.  Gotta sharpen the saw if I want to keep cutting through my tasks. ;)

Updated Statistics
I'm seeing some nice progress on my socializing statistics.  I'm finding that with more Twitter follows and followers the flow of messages becomes huge.  There's no way to digest all that information.  However, every now and then something stands out.  I actually bought a eBook from Amazon based on the twitter posting from the author.  I checked out his profile, then his web site.  I was so intrigued that I bought the book.  It's called "The Pyramid Legacy" by Clive Eaton.  You can find his site here: I've not started reading it yet.  It's next in line after I finish "7th Sigma" by Steven Gould. 

Here are the latest stats:

Klout Score: 40 (+1) Page Loads for the past month: 795 (+145)
Twitter Followers: 134 (+18)
G+ Peeps Following: 90 (+6)

With the introduction of Google Communities this week, I expect that the G+ stats are going to start picking up.  Especially, if I can find the time to participate in some of the discussions.  Since this is a new feature, I'm expecting that there will be a lot of groups that start up but then falter off.  I currently belong to 5 writing related groups.  I would prefer to knock that down to 2 or 3.  I'll save that listing for my next posting.

Kindle Upgrade
I gotta admit - my wife has good taste!  Not just because she married me.  (Okay, well, that took some convincing.)  I've been planning on replacing my 2 year old Kindle with the new Kindle Paperwhite device.  Just for reading.  I had a couple coupons from my Best Buy Rewards membership (every geek has this) and the price was good.  As is normally the case, my wife decided to join me (to prevent me from walking out with more electronics than I can fit into the car).  As a man, I tend to shop the man's way.  Walk in the door, walk straight to the item I want to purchase, buy the item, and walk out.  This process started correctly.  We walked in and walked straight to the Kindle Paperwhite display.  A sales clerk came over and I stated that I wanted one of these!  (Men don't describe.  We point at the item and grunt!)  As I started to approach the register I hear this sweet voice in my ear, "Ooo, this is pretty!"  For a split second I was disoriented, thinking that I had somehow ended up in a jewelery store, and that my wife was admiring a nice multifaceted rock of highly expensive qualities.  When I came to my senses I walked over to see what the excitement was about.

"Look at the colors!" she stated.  "The screen is amazing!"  I knew she was hooked.  It was the Kindle Fire HD.  It was twice the price of the Paperwhite but could do movies, pictures, music, games, applications, and dishes.  (  I think I fell in love all over again with her, right there in the store.  "So, you're recommending that I spend twice as much as I intended?"  I was making sure that I wasn't dreaming.  She laughed and agreed that it was unusual.  The rest of the process continued as normal.  We bought the device, added a cover, and left.  When we got home it finally occurred to me that I should've walked her down the iPad isle.  That's okay though.  I'm very pleased with the Kindle Fire HD.  It's an awesome device for less than half the price of an iPad mini.

So, if you know of any great Android apps for writers, shoot me an email.

That my progress thus far.  Keep on writing folks.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Building Character

Character Interview
There's a recommendation, from another writer, that stuck with me a long time ago.  (I just wish I could remember who it was.)  It was, that if you wanted to have an interesting character for your story, you need to give your character a background.  One of the methods for doing that was to interview your character.

One of the recommended methods was to have a friend or family member actually present questions to you, while you "play" the role of your character.  I've always wanted to try that.  I'm just afraid my wife would think I'm loonier than I already am if I ask her to interview my lead character.

However, that doesn't stop me from doing a on-line, blogger, interview of the character from my series of stories about Zegin Thomaz - Spaceship Troubleshooter.  In fact, I think I see him now, walking over to a ship at the Cydonia Starport.

"Hey, excuse me.  Can I talk with you a few minutes?"

Zegin stops and turns, "Who me?  You want to talk with me?"

"Um, yes.  I understand that you're Zegin Thomaz, the local starship troubleshooter," I politely state while walking over to him.

"Yes, that's correct," he replies while looking puzzled.  "You need some work done?"

"No, not really.  Though my wife says I need some work done.  But, that's a different matter."  I notice that he's not laughing.  Straight to the point then, "I'm a writer and I keep a blog site on the uniweb.  I think my readers might be interested in you and the work you do."

"Me?  Why would they be interested in me?"  Now he really looks puzzled.

"Well, you seem to be fairly famous here on Cydonia.  The locals and even some of the visiting ship Captains have some interesting stories to tell about you and your expertise."

"Really?  Humm.  Well, I just fix ships and get them on their way.  Unless you're referring to that incident down at the Yeoman's Pub a few months ago.  You know, it really wasn't a big deal and..."

I interrupt him, "Not about that actually.  I just wanted to hear a little about your background, in case, um - some of my readers want to pursue the same career."  Then I add, "But, some other time I would like to hear about that incident.  It did make a bit of a splash on the local net."

"Ah, good.  I am a bit tired of talking about that.  Well," pausing and scratching his head.  "I do have a job that I'm on my way to.  I spose I have a few minutes for a couple questions."

"Excellent!  First, how did you get started?  Why spaceship troubleshooting?" I asked.

"That's two questions!" he laughs.  "Well, it started with my interest in computers.  My mom usually likes to tell the story of how I reprogrammed our home controller to tap into the systems at HoloVid Networks.  I was 11."

"You used your home environmental computer system to break into an media network station?  What for?"

"I was 11.  I just had to find and watch the new episodes of The Skragglers before everyone else.  Then I would tell everyone at school what it was about before they could watch it the next night."

"That's pretty good."  I could tell he was proud of that.  "So, how did that lead up to you being a shooter?  That's what they call you, correct?"

"Yep.  I'm a shooter.  Well, I got speed tracked through school.  Basically, someone wanted to put me to work as soon as they could.  By the time I was 16, I was working for Stellar Naval Systems."

"Wow!"  I was impressed!  "You were working for SNS at the ripe old age of 16.  What were you working on?"

"Well, officially, I was writing navigational prediction routines for their star-ship Folding drives.  I was able to extend their exit points another 500 parsecs."

"That's pretty impressive.  And unofficially?" 

Zegin looks around then continues, "Umm, well, I really can't discuss that.  Not here."

I look around too, just in case.  "So, how long were you with SNS?"

"Seven years."

"So, you were 23 when you left.  Why did you leave?"

"That's when I met Reb.  They wanted to turn me and she convinced me that it wasn't a good idea."

"Turn you?  I don't understand."

"Yea, from civil duty to recruited."

"Ah. Okay.  When you left..." I started to ask.

Zegin interrupted, "It's great answering your questions for your readers and all, but, I need to get back to this job.  Maybe we can continue this another time, when I'm not quite as busy?"

"Of course.  I feel we're just barely scratching the surface of Zegin Thomaz.  I'm sure my readers will appreciate it.  Thank you for your time and I'll be in touch to schedule another interview."  I held out my hand.

Zegin gave it a firm shake and added, "No problem, um, Mr..."

"Timothy.  Timothy Trimble.  You can send me a comms via my site, timothytrimble dot com." I added.

"Will do. Have a good afternoon."

That quickly, Zegin was heading off to one of the star freighters parked at the port.

Well, how was that for a quick interview?  Would you believe this was all just straight stream of consciousness typing?  No planned dialog or scripting.   Just from this few brief minutes of writing, I'm already formulating more of a background for Zegin.  Now, I will admit, that I've done a lot of pondering about Zegin, his role as a "Shooter", and his relationship with Reb (his wife).  However, I've not really fleshed out his schooling and employment history.  Thanks to this little exercise, I now have some of that, and I've sparked a few ideas for more stories - especially about that little incident at the Yeoman's Pub. ;)

Feel free to drop me a note here or via twitter (@timothytrimble) and let me know what you thought of this little exercise.

Updated Statistics

Here are my latest statistics in just a little over a week since the last posting:

Klout Score: 39 (holding steady) Page Loads for the past month: 650 (+39)
Twitter Followers: 116 (+33)
G+ Peeps Following: 84 (holding)

I've not been doing much on promotion via Google Plus and it shows.  For the time being, most of my focus has been on improving my Twitter stats.  I'm also a believer in quality postings.  I'm not one for re-tweeting every little promotion that comes along, unless it's something that impresses me.  I prefer to post things that are happening with me and my writing - real postings with very little advertising.  Which is how I like my TV.

Zegin's Infection
I found a professional editor and she's currently reviewing my first Zegin story.  I'm also on the hunt for an artist to do the cover art.  I'm aiming for a high quality, professional release, of this story as my introduction into the science fiction market.  Got any leads on a sci-fi cover artist?

That's my progress thus far.  Come back for some more Zegin soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jezi's Delima Submitted

New Stats

It's been 9 days since my last posting and it looks like I'm making progress.  Here are the latest statistics in my social media marketing promotions:

Klout Score: 39 (+2) Page Loads for the past month: 611 (-29)
Twitter Followers: 83 (+13)
G+ Peeps Following: 84 (+2)

Overall, good improvements.  Nothing to really write home about but still a move in the right direction.  I've been focusing a lot on following others on Twitter and it's been paying off in obtaining new followers.  I think that if I can continue to keep the blog fresh, let everyone know what kind of progress I'm making as an author, and post my ongoing statistics - it should pay off in gaining a larger audience.
An Editor

I think I might have found a professional editor this week.  After making some postings on a couple groups on LinkedIn, there were some good responses.  I specifically wanted to get someone with some Science Fiction experience since that's the market that I'm aiming for.  I'm currently discussing a review of one of my stories with the editor via email.  I'll let you all know how that goes.

A Submission

I'm pretty happy with the story that I submitted to the Writer's On the Sound writers' conference last month.  It didn't win any awards but I still think it's a strong short story.  One of my favorite markets that I've been reading a lot of is the Daily Science Fiction site.  They send out a short science fiction story every day via email.  I've learned of some pretty cool authors there during the time that I've been reading.  Which I think has been around 2 years now.  Anyway, I submitted Jezi's Delima to them today with the hope that they like it enough to publish it.  I'm tracking my submission via Duotrope.  I highly recommend any author who wants to get published to use Duotrope for finding their market and then for tracking their submissions.  It's a great service!

As soon as I find out the results of my submission I'll posted it here for all to see.

More Writing

I'm targeting my series of short stories about Zegin (Super Geek Spaceship Troubleshooter) for the Amazon eBook market.  The first story (Zegin's Infection) was written several years ago and I've had some great feedback from various readers (Thanks Chris).  I'm now working on Zegin's Abduction and I hope to have it completed by the end of this week.  With edits from a professional editor and some professional cover art work, I hope that I can start to establish a quality set of stories available as eBooks for expanding my fan base and market.  I'll keep you all posted on the progress.

Who knows!  Maybe I'll be able to speak about my success next year at the Edmonds Writer's On the Sound Conference.  ;)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Starting Snapshot

Social Channel Marketing
Now that I've had a month to think about everything I learned from the Write On The Sound writers' conference in Edmonds, I've been slowly formulating the approach that I'm wanting to take as a writer.  The market is undergoing significant changes.  Traditional print media is rapidly being supplemented by eBooks and online content.  Along with that, the use of social media marketing is having a huge impact.  So, I've been examining the approach that I want to take.

Thus far, I've been able to stay away from Facebook.  While I know a lot of people have used FB for their promotions and marketing, I still hesitate to go there.  Instead, I'm going to continue with the blogging and use Twitter & Google Plus as my channels for marketing my writing.  Since I'm still in the infancy of my transition to fiction, I felt this would be a good time to do a snapshot of impact.  Thus far, here are my current statistics:

Klout Score : 37  (A bit better than my initial starting score of 20) Page Loads for Oct. : 640  (Mostly from searches for ERD. Guess a lot of folks need that.)
Twitter Followers : 67 (Just starting to focus on this.)
G+ Peeps that have me in their circles : 82

Almost embarrassing!  Well, it has been 6 years since my last book was published and I'm focusing on fiction as a new market.  I guess these types of stats are to be expected when I'm just starting in a new market.  Since all of my published work has been in the non-fiction technical field, I'm sure there's confusion about my intended audience as well.  I don't know if this will ever change.  I'm a geek in the computer industry who also happens to write science fiction.  I figure if Wil Wheaton can find success as a techno geek/writer/actor then maybe there's some hope for me as a writer. ;)

Goal Setting
Another thing that WOTS impressed upon me was the need to set some goals.  Being a writer is not just about writing.  People have to be able to read what is being written.  That means finding a channel for my writing, getting the word out, and making sure that my writing is of high quality.  With these in mind, I've set my current goals as:
  1. Expand my audience via social media marketing (Twitter, Google Plus, Blogger, Word of Mouth).
  2. Write more!
  3. Find an editor to work with.
  4. Write more!
  5. Find a graphics artist for quality cover art.
  6. Write some more! 
  7. Track my ideas.
  8. Sample/publish some writing.
  9. Publish
Now these are not necessarily in any specific order.  Some do have to occur before others.  But, I can work on many of these at the same time.

Do I have ideas?  Tons!  I'm always amazed by the writers who say that they can't think of any new stories.  I don't have that problem.  I have the opposite problem - too many ideas and not enough time to write.  I've already built a small catalog of short stories and I have a novel in the works.  Plus a bunch of ideas that I've not fleshed out yet.

Stuff that I'll be promoting soon:

Zegin's Infection - Short story in the Zegin series
Zegin's Kidnapping - Short story in the Zegin series
Invis - Short story
The Wings of Leonardo - Short story
Jezi's Delima - Short story
Trans Op - Novel, in process

Ideas on the drawing board:

Markers - Novel
Flyer - Short story
No Home On Earth - Novel

Yes, I have a lot on the plate.  I guess this would be a good snapshot of how I'm starting.  It'll be interesting to come back and look at this in a year to see where I'm at.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Write on the Sound!


Last weekend I had the great privilege of attending the "Write on the Sound" writers' conference in Edmonds, Washington.  It made my head spin with the wealth of information presented.  The view from the location was amazing (of course) and I got to rub elbows with a lot of writers, editors, and various industry folks.

To provide an full overview of the weekend would just be too much to cover here.  I guess I'm just not enough of a journalist.  But overall, I came away with the following jewels of wisdom:

"I am a writer and I'm proud of it!"  The first thing we had to do was to proclaim this openly and verbally.  Though I would've liked to have stated, "I'm a struggling writer and I'm proud of it!" ;)

Not everyone is going to understand what it means to be a writer.  Don't be discouraged when your closest friends or family members don't read your latest creations.  The need to write and create comes from within.  Recognize that and be willing to strengthen the creative self.

The industry is undergoing major changes!  I thought that if I even mentioned electronic publishing or that I would have been kicked out.  It was a pleasant surprise to hear that so many authors are moving in that direction.  Even the Editors are embracing the movement.  However, the big warning from almost everyone was, "Garbage in equals garbage sales!"  In order to be successful at self publishing on electronic media, an author still needs to utilize a professional editor and artist for the cover (and internal illustrations if needed).  Readers will not put up with shoddy work, poor grammar, spelling errors, or in-consistent story flow.  It still takes a bit of an investment to make it all work and to be successful at it.  Point noted!

Those who self publish also need to be good at formatting their work for use on the various platforms.  Several of the sessions I attended actually went into the details on how to format the project for uploading to the various media outlets.  I'm sure glad that I'm computer savvy.  There were a lot of glazed over eyes during those sessions.  Along with those topics were the discussions of how important social marketing is.  How to use Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, and other processes for promoting your work, while at the same time not letting it dominate your time and take away from writing.     

Out of all the sessions that I attended, I think the most enjoyment and beneficial aspects were from hearing how everyone else got started and what they were doing to be successful at writing.  Almost every session was presented by an author who was finding success in both "New York" style publishing and "ePublishing".  Even the Keynote speaker, Carla Neggers (over 60 books), gave us a little insight on how she got started.

Was it worth the time and cost?  Totally!  I highly recommend a writing conference to any budding writer.  It was a great boost to my confidence and gave me a lot of great ideas.

Desk Pictures?

Speaking of good ideas, I guess my request for pictures of the desks of published authors fell on blind eyes.  No one responded!  I guess maybe most authors feel that their desks are a secret ingredient to successful writing?  Well, if I do manage to get some pictures, I'll be sure to share them here.

Now to get to all those "To Do" items I came up with during the conference.

Keep writing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Yeah! An Office!

Not a Man Cave!
I finally have an office for writing!  I'm not quite sure that I really know how to act.  My youngest son recently moved out and his bedroom has become my (our) new office.  Now, I've had home offices before.  But that was when I was in the consulting business and was working from home.  It's not quite the same since those offices always had that "I should be working and not writing" feel to them.  This time it's different.  I have a full time job somewhere else.  So, when I come home to my office, I can actually think about writing.  (Which is what I'm doing now.)

I also mentioned that it's our office, since my wife now has a desk here too.  Though her computing time is usually spent with emails, shopping on-line, or playing a game.  Which I love about her by the way, especially since she's married to a computer geek/programmer/gamer/writer.  She's currently wrapped up with Civilization V.  Which I'm afraid to even try for fear that the next few months will just vanish without any writing done and all I'll have to show for it are conquests over virtual countries.  (We won't talk about my current diversions into Minecraft.)

Time to Spread Out
One of the first things I decided to do for my office was to get a new desk.  I absolutely hate it when I'm writing/programming/computing and there's not enough desk space.  Before I decided on what I wanted, I tried a Google search to see what desk arrangement other writer's were using.  Basically, I came away empty handed.  Almost all of the search results showed the desks of famous writers from the past.  Which was quite interesting since it highlighted that most of these famous writers didn't need much space at all.  It actually made me think a bit about what I really wanted.  It was also interesting to see the changes in writing technology.  Most of the desks had manual word processors (paper and pens/pencils) or typewriters.  Nowhere did I see an iPad or a laptop computer!  How did these people ever do it?

Disheartened that I wouldn't be able to find a modern day configuration that I could mimic from another author, the wife and I set out on a gas consuming search for the right arrangement that would suit my needs.  After multiple stops at various major office supply stores and a few find everything here stores, we ended up making the pilgrimage to Ikea.  Okay, maybe there's no moral significance, but it was a trip outside of our local area.  I kind of knew in the back of my mind that I should have just started there anyway.

After 3k+ new steps on my FitBit, and a much lighter wallet, I now have a desk configuration that gives me enough room for all my books, gear, and accessories.  I basically bought a single corner desktop (seen in the pic) and a separate student size desk.  I attached the student desk as a extension off the right of the corner desk.  This gives me plenty of room for my books, printer, and accessories.  Plus I still have plenty of room for my monitors, laptop, Kindle, and lots of desk space for books, papers, and research materials.

This still leaves me with an uncanny desire to find out what other writers are using and what recommendations they have for an efficient work space and writing environment. 

So, here's my request.  If you don't mind, shoot me an email with a picture of your work space and why it works for you.  My only requirement is that you're a published author.  (I do appreciate all the struggling writers out there as well, but this is so we can see what the pros are using.)  In my next posting here I'll show as many of the pictures that I have room for and the descriptions of why it works.  This is your chance to actually have an impact on the Google search results for those other future authors who are looking for the best desk arrangement for their writing. ;)

You can send your picture and description to IAm at timothytrimble dot com.  (Put that together into the right format please.)  I look forward to seeing what you're using.

Write On The Sound
 By the way, I'll be attending the Edmonds Writer's Conference this coming weekend.  This will be my first live (non-virtual) writing conference.  I hope to come away with more enthusiasm for writing and hopefully with a little more knowledge about the industry.  While I'm sure this year's conference is most likely sold out, feel free to check out the site and maybe make arrangements for attending next year.  It's hard to beat scenery of the beautiful Northwest and the city of Edmonds!
Write On The Sound!

Thanks again for reading.  Come back soon to check out what's new.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Entity Relationship Diagram

I'm happy to report that my Manta Ray project now has a completed Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD).  I'm a big believer in having a good database design before any code gets written.  While I do have a rough draft of specifications for the project (in pen on paper, I hate to admit), I felt it was best to just jump straight into the database design after I did the proof of concept for the websocket connectivity.
  (Thanks to for the erd shot)

One of the primary reasons for doing the database design at this stage of the project, is that it forces me to think through what information is needed and why.  Even though I had a rough sketch of the data structure, I actually ended up tossing a couple tables away and adding a few different ones.  Then, while staring at the ERD, I mentally went through some functionality scenarios to see if the design would match what is needed in the project.  I made a few more fields, cleaned up a relationship, and then printed out my hard copy - which ended up being 4 pages. 

It's very easy to just dive in and start writing code, especially if you're excited about a cool idea, or new project.  But, many a project has ended up dead from discouragement and frustration, due to poor design.  Rapid development environments are great to have (FileMaker, Visual Studio, etc.), however they also tend to promote poor design during the "I gotta get it done" rush.  If you want to know how I really feel about this, just read my FileMaker Pro Design & Scripting for Dummies book - the chapter on Designing a Good FileMaker Application.

My next step could go in one of several directions.  Since this is an entertainment product, I need a good back story.  Thus the fun of being a writer AND a software developer. ;)  I also need to start working on the database management interface for actually creating the virtual universe and its various components.  Each component of the virtual universe is going to need descriptions and attributes.  Again, more writing to be done.

Completed: Proof of concept for websockets connectivity
Completed: Database design
Next: Back story
Next: Database Management UI

codito ergo sum