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.