I’m a firm believer that nothing happens by chance and that the people who cross my path are there for a reason.
Towards the beginning of my blogging experience I joined forums and voraciously read comments, posts and anything else people wrote. I jumped from site to site and blog to blog trying to “feel” the whole experience so that I could develop my own blog into something worthy of reading. I also was desperately seeking approval by my family, but that explanation will have to wait for another post.
During this internet cruise, I joined a forum for authors because if truth be told, I have two chapters written of a book that is still patiently waiting for me to complete. Being amongst the “real” authors was inspiring and insightful. I felt very at home and lingered in that community longer each day than I stayed at any other location.
One of the authors I met was a man named Tim King. The same photo you will find on his books is the profile photo he uses around the internet.
I can go to my BlogFrog community, see him and read his ever thoughtful and thought provoking interactions.
He is also supportive on my Facebook and also makes comments on my blog.
So I sent Tim the interview questions and he generously offered his book as the giveaway. Some time during the last week the package came with the book and when I sat down to finally try to catch up emails, I noticed the box and that it looked a little fat. Upon opening it, I found not just one giveaway book called Love Through The Eyes of An Idiot, but also a personally inscribed book for me, a different book for another giveaway, and a religious book that is focused “on the Lord’s relationship with us and our relationships with one another.”
I sat staring at all the books with a grateful heart that Tim has crossed my path and that I can call him my friend. His thoughtful gestures and empathetic words during a time when I am still raw with the pain of losing Dad have truly touched me. Thank you Tim for your all your kindnesses.
It is my pleasure today to post a wonderful interview of the very talented, intelligent, witty and thoughtful author, Tim King.
1. How long have you been a published author?
- Well, I’ve been writing and sharing what I write since the mid-’90’s. That’s what I think being a published author is all about. It’s funny, many authors seem to feel that being published is about status, about being accepted by the industry, about being part of the “in” club, because they struggle for years to “get published.” But that’s not what being published ought to be about. Publishing your work ought to be about sharing it with the world and making a difference.
So my own road to publishing my first fiction book was as nontraditional as my views on the publishing industry. I first decided I wanted to write a novel, a romance, when a personal experience inspired me. I wanted to portray what I think is the true meaning of love and marriage. At the time, I was working full-time developing computer software. I wrote technical documentation as part of my job, and editorials and commentary for fun. I also loved science fiction, especially the work of Stanislaw Lem, which I still admire. But I quickly discovered that I knew very little about writing fiction, and even less about writing romance. So I put that novel back on the shelf and started writing short stories, so I could learn how.
Some of those short stories I managed to publish in online publications. But it wasn’t until I published the first installment of The Conscience of Abe’s Turn, about 2 years ago, that I had a fiction book to my name. Abe’s Turn is a character-driven drama series about the dangers of political power, a labor of love that I want to continue at some point, because those characters hold a special place in my heart. But it’s a little alternative, even for me.
2. Do you still work in the computer software industry?
- Yes. At this point, I’m pretty much just writing to make ends meet until my software-development career takes off. Seriously, though,writing books and writing software, you almost can’t tell the two apart. Both teem with creativity, depression, and Dilbertesque incompetence. And both give opportunities to express oneself.
It’s easy to see how to express oneself writing fiction. But most people don’t think of writing software as self-expression, because software is just numbers, just codes in a computer. But no matter what you do, whether writing or software or fixing cars or stocking store shelves, if it’s to have personal meaning, you have to invest part of yourself in it. And many software developers invest themselves in their software. I certainly did. And when you do that, even software becomes an expression of yourself, of your personality and values. Anymore, though, when I write software, I do it for the money, and I write prose for self-expression. Ironically, I find that I can now accomplish the former better than ever, and that I long for the latter now more than ever.
I sometimes wonder if a part of a software-developer dies when he starts coding just for the money. That’s why I never want to write just for the money or just for the fame– or just to “get published,” which is a phrase you hear a lot among aspiring authors. I wonder if a part of a writer dies when he begins to write just for best-seller status. I want to write what excites my passion, in order to make a difference.
3. Where do you feel most inspired to write? Where do you write?
- Frequently, in my living room, because the couch is comfortable. But I write on my laptop, so I can pack up my virtual office and take it with me anywhere there’s a WiFi connection. Sometimes, I’ll move to another room in the house for some peace and quiet or a change of pace. Frequently, I’ll go to an Internet café, or head down to the library, or even sit on a park bench on a sunny day.
Writing is much more than inspiration, though. You do need emotional energy, but you also need discipline. If you simply wait for inspiration to strike, it never will. Sometimes, you just have to sit down and start writing. And that can be the hardest part about being a writer.
4. How long does it take you to write a book?
- Once I figure out what I want to write, I can go from blank page to finished manuscript in a few months. With each new book I write, I try to refine my writing process to write more that works the first time, and less that I need to rewrite later. But the initial plotting still stymies me sometimes. I’ve been spending a lot of time marketing my last book, while I’m trying to plot out my next book. I’m not sure that’s not such a bad trade-off, because it does take a lot of effort to market a book once it’s written, much more than most people realize.
5. Do you self-publish? If so….How do you advertise? What important lessons did you learn about both?
- I don’t use Lulu or CreateSpace or a subsidy press, but I do run my own publishing company. That is, I take responsibility for the whole of the publishing process, from line-editing to layout and cover art, managing ISBN’s to printing and distribution, marketing to taxes. So I’m indie-published, yes. But if there’s a difference between “self-publishing” and “indie-publishing,” that’s probably it: whether you’re running your own publishing company as a business model, or whether you’re simply paying someone to get your book out there.
I decided to go indie, because I knew from the start that I didn’t want to write for the mass market. “Mass market” to me says “lowest common denominator.” Some years ago, when I worked in a cubicle farm, I sometimes listened to music softly, with the permission of my cubicle neighbors. But one day, I put on a Karen Carpenter tape–this is back in the days before CD’s. And my cubicle neighbor asked if I could put on something else, because the sound of Karen Carpenter singing sends him into an involuntary spastic conniption. I chuckled, and I changed the tape, but I didn’t truly understand how he felt… until I heard Lady Gaga.
Lowest common denominator. Please switch to a different station before my head explodes. (I also can’t stand Yellowtail wine or watered-down beer.) As a writer, I never wanted to be part of that scene, and if I tried, I’d be miserable. But the mainstream book industry builds its entire business model around the lowest common denominator and the mass market. So I needed to be able to customize my business model to work with a smaller number of hard-won fans, and that’s why I went indie.
I know others have been able to get similar models to work. I hope I can get it to work.
Running a publishing company requires some business skills. I’m still experimenting with different kinds of advertising. Marketing fiction is way harder and more expensive than you think. But my biggest successes have come through sharing publicity and credit with other bloggers and indie authors. That’s the opposite of the traditional, mainstream wisdom, so no surprise there. And even when you hit upon a success, it takes way more work than you think to take advantage of it. That’s the part that often stymies me, and if I ultimately fail, I suspect that will be my downfall, that I couldn’t find the time or energy to take advantage of the clear opportunities that were available to me.
6. What kind of books do you read?
- My reading interests span the spectrum. When it comes to fiction and memoirs, my tastes cut across genres, but I prefer stories with deep characters and uplifting themes that explore the human condition. I also read a broad array of non-fiction and watch a lot of documentaries, in order to expose myself to new ideas and different models of understanding humanity.
While I tend to enjoy a good fictional story more than a good non-fiction book, ironically, I find the non-fiction helps me appreciate the fiction all that much more. Because non-fiction provides a framework of understanding in which to comprehend and create fiction. For example, this past spring I read Lies MyTeacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, by James W. Loewen, In it, he talks about native American culture, before the Europeans and the European-American conflict, and highlights numerous little-known facts and story threads of that conflict. Then just recently, I read Holly Lisle’s 2006 fantasy epic Talyn. It could have been written as a sequel to Loewen’s book, because the fictional societies Holly portrays so aptly demonstrate a number of Loewen’s points. Holly’s heroine, Talyn, is a Tonk soldier, living in a society in some ways reminiscent of native American culture. The Tonks’ adversaries are the Eastils, who come with some of the same attitudes that the 18’th-century Europeans came with. I’m sorry I waited so long to read Talyn. But on the other hand, I’m glad I waited until after I had read Loewen’s book, because the one helped me to appreciate the other.
And then occasionally I’ll read a non-fiction book that excites me as much as a good fictional story. I recently read a pre-publication copy of a small book my pastor, John P. Lathrop, has been working on, a collection of sermons and essays. It reminded me why I like his teaching style, cerebral, full of substance, light on the clichés, thought-provoking and inspiring. He was looking for a publishing option for the manuscript, entitled The Power and Practice of the Church, so I hemmed and hawed about it, because I don’t publish other authors’ books, because I’m not set up for it and it could even be a conflict of interest, and then I jumped at the opportunity. The book looks good, too, after we got done with the cover and layout, and should be hitting Amazon and BN.com soon.
7. Who is your favorite author?
- I have a number of favorite historical authors, including Mark Twain and Robert Heinlein, and Stanislaw Lem, who just passed away a few years ago. Throughout my younger years, I was a huge science-fiction fan, and it wasn’t until the 21’st century that I started getting into romance novels. My favorite contemporary author, though, is Holly Lisle. I mentioned reading her book Talyn. Before Talyn, my all-time favorite novel was Heinlein’s SF classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Now, I think, that may have changed; Talyn might me my new all-time favorite. It’ll take a few more years of reflection and rereading before I’ll know for sure. But I’ve even had dreams based around Talyn. That’s a powerful omen.
In the meantime, I haven’t yet read everything Holly has ever written– I haven’t read everything any individual author has ever written. But I’m still making my way through Holly’s back-list, as many of her books as I can get a hold of. And she’s never let me down: I’ve always enjoyed her stories. Like me, her interests run across genres, and her writing crosses genres. Talyn is not just a fantasy epic; it’s a fantasy-romance-adventure. Her other back-titles include romantic suspense, juvenile fantasy, and science-fiction. Most of them unfortunately are now out of print. (But that’s a different story.) So I have to get them off the used market.
8. Do you have hobbies other than writing?
- I actually consider writing a second career now, rather than a hobby, though I think writing is a wonderful hobby for someone to pursue. I’ve been pursuing fiction for almost 8 years now, and writing non-fiction for years more. But I’ve been playing music for almost 35 years, since I was a boy in the mid-’70’s. I started with the piano. Then one day when I was 12, I picked up a guitar and started noodling on it. Then one day when I was 16, I was jamming with a friend, and I picked up his bass and started plucking on it. And I’m still plucking on my bass, which is my musical forte.
(I didn’t mean that to be pun, I swear.)
(But you’ll notice, I didn’t delete it and rephrase.)
As a boy, I enjoyed playing music, reading books, building electronic gadgets, and programming my first home computers. And watching TV. Of these, music is the only one that has remained only a hobby, a pure passion, something I do for the sheer love of it, regardless of the fame or money in it (or lack thereof). And at this point, I think it will probably remain as such
9. What kind of music do you play on the bass guitar?
- I mostly play at a local church on Sunday and a local synagogue some Saturdays. Two completely different styles of music. On Saturday, we do a lot of ethnic Jewish tunes. On Sunday, contemporary christian. But, you know, I can appreciate them both. I guess my taste in music is analogous to my taste in fiction: I don’t really identify with any given genre or style of music. But there are certain musical characteristics that captivate me and excite me. I enjoy complex, interweaving parts; the ebb and flow, dissonance and consonance, tension and resolution of a song; varied chord sequences; lyrics with imaginative metaphors and deep meaning, rather than just strings of clichés. One of my rituals is to make fun of banal, four-chord songs–and there are a lot of them in worship music, as in pop music–by playing the bass line to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” over at least one verse of each.
10. Ever been in a band?
- Some years ago, a few of us had an eclectic christian-alternative band called “Priority One.” During that time, I bought most of the music equipment I still use today. I also developed a lot of the creative values I still have today. The bass lines that I develop now reflect the songs I wrote back then for Priority One. And during those days, that’s when I truly began to appreciate the diversity of sounds and styles that the electric bass can generate. Bass is not just about playing the bottom note, because a creative bassist can add fills up and down the neck, leads in the upper registers, meaty chords in the middle. And I began to appreciate the power behind the instrument. Most people don’t realize that more than any other instrument, the bass sets the tone for the entire musical piece. You can keep the drums, guitar, keys, everything the same, but change the bass line, and you can change the entire feel of the music
11. What is next on your horizon?
- Over the summer, I spent a lot of time and mental focus doing software development. And now that the summer is over, I have a few book ideas on the back burner, but I’m mostly working on the next Ardor Point novel, currently untitled, about a young woman and her newlywed husband, who get hit by an economic depression: he loses his job and falls into a deep psychological depression; meanwhile, she constantly tries to fix his mood, and when that doesn’t work,she blows off steam by buying stuff she doesn’t need– not a useful habit to have when you’re on a limited budget. And not a fun way to get into a new marriage, either. She wrestles with their relationship, finally discovering a source of hope that breathes new life into it.
12. What else would you like everyone to know about you?
- If you’re into ebooks, I have some free short ebooks you can download. And I hope and plan to release more of those as well. They’re on my website, at http://www.jtimothyking.com/free-ebooks. And I also post free stories on my “Stories” blog http://stories.JTimothyKing.com/ (although I’ve been lax about writing new stuff over the summer–that software thing again).
(That URL will redirect you to my Facebook page.)
Name of books written with URL to buy them:
The Conscience of Abe’s Turn http://abesturn.com/series
Love through the Eyes of an Idiot: A True Story of Finding the Secret of Love, Sex, and Romance http://www.loveidiotbook.com/
From the Ashes of Courage http://ardorpoint.com/books/1
Thank you Tim so much for such a wonderful interview!
Now it is time to giveaway a copy of Love Through The Eyes of An Idiot to one of my readers and riters!
Make sure you complete both of the Mandatory Entries and leave a SEPARATE comment for each entry.
1. (1 entry) Publicly Follow on Google The Redhead Riter and leave a comment telling me are already a follower or that you are a new follower now.
2. (1 entry) Visit Tim’s Blog and leave me a comment telling me something you learned.
1. (2 entries) “Like” Tim King on Facebook
2. (2 entries) Follow @JTimothyKing on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JTimothyKing
3. (1 entries) “Like” The Redhead Riter on Facebook
4. (1 entry) Follow @RedheadRiter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TheRedheadRiter
5. (1 entry per Tweet) Tweet about this giveaway using the tweet below…(can be done 3 times per day with at least 2 hours between each tweet. Please leave a link to your tweet EACH time)
“RT ? #giveaway #win I want to win Tim King’s Love Through The Eyes of an Idiot EASY ENTRY at http://TheRedheadRiter.blogspot.com ENDS 11/21”
6. (1 entry) Fave me on Technorati
7. (20 entries) Buy one of Tim’s books and let me know which one you purchased.
7. (20 maximum – 1 entry for each comment on non-giveaway post) Leave me a new comment on a “Non-Giveaway” post on TheRedheadRiter (http://theredheadriter.com) then come back and leave the name of the post. All the little square pictures above my header are linked to posts too.
Giveaway is open to U.S. Residents Only, 18+ years old.
Giveaway ends November 12, 2010 at 11:59 p.m.
I will use Random.org to choose the winner.