A Teller of Short Stories June 23, 2014 – Posted in: Book, Fiction, Real life, Short Story, Zombie – Tags: H.D. Timmons, Kernersville, North Carolina, self-publishing, short story, Tom Zombie, zombie
June 2014 —
Local man fulfills a childhood dream with his series of self-published short stories
By Wendy Freeman Davis
Kernersville News Features & News Editor
A Kernersville man is turning his interest in writing into a series of self-published short stories with an unusual protagonist, named Tom Zombie.
For as long as H.D. Timmons, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., can remember, art and writing have been a big part of his life. Today, he is a creative director for a marketing firm, having decided long ago that graphic arts and visual communications was the career path he wanted to pursue, but writing remained an interest.
“Ever since I can remember I would always draw pictures. I’d play outside with the other kids on the block, but often I was usually content to stay indoors and draw. In elementary school, however, I would relish the opportunities the teachers gave us to write compositions. It gave me the freedom to create something from nothing, and provided greater satisfaction than with my drawing. So, later in my academic career I gravitated toward being on the school’s literary magazine staff and the school newspaper, taking creative writing classes, and keeping my art ability as a personal, private activity,” said Timmons. “When I began looking into college choices I had originally wanted to take a path towards journalism, but opted to pursue graphic design, studying visual communications at the Art Institute of Atlanta because I reasoned that I could make a better living as a designer. I’ve had a career in the creative design field for nearly thirty years.”
After art school, Timmons stayed in Georgia where he worked in a design studio for a number of years before moving on to corporate marketing departments. He moved to Greensboro in 2001 after accepting a creative director position and then to Kernersville when the economy turned sour.
“My wife (Rose) and I were looking to downsize when the economy was at its rockiest and we found the perfect neighborhood in Kernersville, and have really loved its quaint community atmosphere,” explained Timmons.
While working in graphic design and marketing fulfilled Timmons’ career aspirations, writing has never been far from his thoughts, not when he was a child and not now as an adult.
“When I was very young I envisioned my future adult self as an author, sitting in my library typing out my next novel. That was back when I thought the electric typewriter would never be an antique. But I became a graphic designer, and now it seems like my current adult self is summoning my writer alter ego to emerge to fulfill that childhood dream,” said Timmons.
Over the years Timmons has written poems, song lyrics, scripts, and stories that have never been read by anyone but himself. Many of his stories are still unfinished for now, and he has sent several treatments (story ideas) to agents and publishers, only to receive his fair share of rejection letters and polite notes stating, “We’re not taking on new authors at this time,” or “It’s not what we’re looking for. Best of luck in your publishing endeavors.”
Timmons said he discovered self-publishing websites like Smashwords and Feedbooks in 2011 and the whole process looked simple enough, but he was reluctant, like many aspiring authors, to delve into that world.
“My goal was always to pursue legitimate publishing routes. Self-publishing seemed to be more of me saying I’m worthy of being published rather than publishing experts deeming me worthy. There was added trepidation in pursuing self-publishing because I might not always put a comma in the right place or I may commit some other technical sin, but I resolved to not let that keep me from writing a story,” Timmons said.
However, Timmons reasoned that life’s too short to let something like a comma stand in the way of his dream. That’s not to say he doesn’t still hope to be published through a traditional publishing house one day, but for now, he is “perfectly happy being a self-publishing newbie to follow the path blazed by some phenomenal self-published authors.” He continued.
“I further reasoned that it was the readers that I wanted to reach, so why not go straight to them? I decided to test the waters by offering several short stories online for free, and the response I got was very favorable, so I will keep writing stories.”
Which brings us to Tom “Zombie” Dexter.
“The character of Tom Zombie is from a short story series I’m writing about a virus-stricken ex-cop struggling for redemption from his past actions, while the world is in the throes of a zombie pandemic. The tagline I’ve used is ‘Adversity can create an unlikely hero,’” explained Timmons.
Sometimes writers go where their thoughts and characters take them. That’s exactly what happened with Timmons and his Tom Zombie series.
“I actually didn’t set out to write a zombie story, but the opening sentences that I used for the first installment, Zombie City, came to me while I was cutting the grass. At first, I didn’t know what to do with it, but after kicking it around in my head for a few days I kept adding to it and it surprisingly led me in the zombie direction. It’s been a pretty fun experience and gives me the opportunity to build a readership base. It also helps that as a graphic designer I can design my own covers,” he said.
So far, Timmons had written three installments and one vignette in his Tom Zombie series. He offered the first as a free introductory download and before long it had reached nearly 18,000 global downloads on Feedbooks. Not too shabby, said Timmons.
“My goal with this series was to not make it a typical zombie gore fest, yet still have the elements that zombie fans would like. Each installment is designed to be a quick, entertaining read that hopefully keeps the reader wanting more. So far, there are a lot of loyal readers emailing me about how much they enjoy it. Many are in the UK,” he continued.
Timmons has also written five other short story e-books entitled Savage, The Dirt Eaters, The Hog Killin’, Stages of Invisibility, and The Time Traveler’s Lament.
Where does Timmons get his inspiration?
“Sometimes I will wake up and write down a whole story concept based on a dream I had. It’s rare, but it happens. Other times I will see a picture, hear a news story, a name, a word, or something just plain interesting to me that will spark an idea. For example, my short story entitled The Dirt Eaters was based on an NPR story about such an eating disorder,” explained Timmons. “Some stories start out as just a title that came to me and I build the story around that, as with my short story Savage, which a few readers have said reminded them of something Stephen King would write. I couldn’t ask for more encouragement or inspiration than that.”
What has Timmons enjoyed most about his writing?
“My stories often take on a life of their own and I get an adrenaline rush at discovering a new story twist that even I never saw coming, and I think, ‘I can’t wait for the reader to get to this part!’ What I enjoy the most though is getting feedback from people who like my work. They are the ones I’m writing for, so it’s an absolute thrill when I can connect with them.”
What does Timmons envision for his future as a writer?
“I picture myself walking through an airport one day where someone will come up to me and ask, ‘Hey, aren’t you that guy that wrote that thing?’ After I confirm that I am that guy the person will unabashedly comment, ‘I hated it’ or ‘I loved it.’ Either comment will be fine with me because they’ve at least read it and I will be able to ask questions in return so that I may grow as an author. I am still learning the ins and outs of the ever expanding sea of self-publishing and hope to connect with, and learn from, others who have successfully navigated the waters. My ultimate goal is to publish printed novels, spending the next half of my life making a living writing stories. It would be a childhood dream come true.”
Timmons’ stories are only available as e-books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Feedbooks and other sites. His personal website www.hdtimmons.com has a more complete list of where to find his books and how you can connect with him.