Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Thoughts On Collaboration...

This is a post I've been thinking about sharing for some time, but hadn't because I was actually a little afraid to talk about it.  When it comes to writing, the idea of collaborating with someone else filled me with both excitement and dread.  Especially dread because I am not always that confident in my skills and abilities.


Yet, I seem to be doing something right.  A number of people find this blog quite helpful and offer their own experiences which reflect many of my own.  Furthermore, until now writing has been a solitary activity.  I enjoy being the one to make decisions and not have to worry whether or not I offend someone else or hurt feelings.  Oh, I've bounced ideas off certain people I trust, like my wife Helen.  In her case, I do this quite often because I consider her much better read and more knowledgeable about science and logic than me.  But in the end, the final decisions have been all me.  So to surrender some of that control is a big step not only for me, but for any writer.

Yet, I've recently started working with not just one, but two different people on collaborations.  I've known and trust these two individuals implicitly, (especially since one of them is my wife Helen).  And already I've been learning a lot about collaborating and I've been finding the experience quite rewarding.


Working with another to create something new offers untold possibilities.  With the right person, the two of you can generate entirely new ideas that you might never have thought of on own.   Everyone walks their own path and has their own experiences and knowledge to draw upon.


In a good collaboration, it's not just sharing the work.  The two of you actually feed each others imagination.  You work (figuratively or literally) side by side, building and creating something new and exciting.  Everyone has walked their own path and has gained knowledge and life experience that they can share, adding a new melody to the piece in question.


And if you start feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the project, there's someone there to help pull out.     


A good collaboration, like the two I've been working on, has opened my eyes to untold possibilities.  I can see so many stories looming in the distance and am looking forward to working on them down the road.  But finding the right person to collaborate with... that's another thing entirely.  And I'll be dealing with that in my next post.  

So start giving the idea of collaboration some thought.  It does hold wonderful possibilities, but it can also bring about new headaches.  So beware!

Until next time, take care and keep writing.

*NOTE: I am not looking to collaborate with anyone else for the time being, so please don't ask.  I've been approached a number of times already and have politely refused.  If you're wondering why I've taken this attitude, wait for my next post and you'll learn more about me than you probably ever wanted to.*




Sunday, July 19, 2015

Cover Art For Books: Choosing What's Right Not Only For You But Your Audience

You've just about finished writing your novel and can see the finish line coming up in the distance.  But now you have a new concern to deal with, creating a cover for it.  But what kind of art should you use?  Should it be a photograph, cartoon, an image that evokes feelings from a favorite movie like having several people walking towards the reader like in "The Right Stuff"?  Should it just show an individual who appears in the story, or should it show a scene that's right out of the book?

So many questions, right?  And the answer is... I don't know.  Every author has to choose their own path or vision for their work.  It's not an easy thing to do either, I know this.  All I can say is know your audience and what captures their imagination.  Make sure the art speaks to them and makes them want to pick up your work.

But this can be difficult sometimes.  Tastes in art changes over the years so I thought it might be fun to demonstrate how the style of covers can change over time using one of the legendary Ray  Bradbury's most famous works, "Fahrenheit 451".  

Here is the original cover when the novel first came out.  Although somewhat cartoonish or simplistic, the image reflects the torment of the protagonist as he wrestles with his work as a 'fireman' who burns books for the good of society.  A part of him feels the loss and flames as ideas and words are consumed by the fires he helps create.


Now here we have another cover that was created depicting "The Hound" from the novel.  Although clearly the image depicts an animal at second glance we note the extra set of legs and are left wondering what part this creature plays in the novel.  Unless you're familiar with the story, you'd never know there was a 'Hound' in the book, but it was a mechanical device used for locating and hunting down 'criminal' elements.  Furthermore, it did not in the least look like an actual animal.  So although this cover would definitely catch the eye and make you wonder, it doesn't really say a lot about the story itself.  Again, keep in mind I'm speaking for myself in this entry, not any of you.



This next cover, obviously designed for the books 60th anniversary, is very simple but has good color and a clever image.  Fusing a 'book of matches' and an actual 'book' is quite clever and assumes the potential reader has some inkling of the story inside.  


This next image is both eye-catching and disturbing.  The artwork is something almost nightmarish to me, yet I can see how it works considering the society depicted in the story is rather warped and disturbing.  I can even appreciate the strange 'hound' figure which in some ways might have looked even better on the cover of an HP Lovecraft book.  And although effective, I'm not sure this would be a cover I'd want lying around when company comes over or if I had children.  


The next cover obviously harkens back to the original design, but with more color and was possibly aimed more at young boys.  Certainly it would catch a younger reader's eye and again it clearly hints at what can be found inside the pages.


I personally found the next cover very effective as we see an interpretation of what the fireman's gear might look like.  Plus the reflection of the burning books in the visor again clearly helps the prospective reader get an idea of the storyline.  Plus it keeps the red and yellow colors which hint at fire which is also seen quite frequently in a number of these covers.  


In this final image we see a dramatic scene of our protagonist in the middle of a conflagration.  We get a feeling of a fiery future and a clear sense of what a fireman does in that world. 


Now as I said at the beginning of this entry, I'm speaking mostly for myself.  Choosing the art for the cover of your book is entirely up to you.  The content, the colors, the message your trying to get across is all on the writer.  It's your baby, but it is also important to keep in mind how potential readers may react to that image so know your audiences tastes.  Remember you want them to pick your book out of a sea of choices available to them, both online and in an brick and mortar store. 

Also, keep in mind to not have the cover depict something that does not actually appear or happen in the book, because then the buyer is going to feel cheated.  I've seen many books over the years where that happened and felt exactly that way.  As good as the story might have been, I felt betrayed and had a bitter taste left in my mouth which made me gun-shy about picking up another work by that particular author.

I would suggest beta-testing your cover choices with your audience.  Get feedback on that image just as you would on the story itself.  Remember, that book cover is the handshake that introduces your work to potential readers.  Entice them, pique their interest, but don't betray their trust.  What is on that cover should show up somewhere in the book, whether it's a panoramic view of the world the story is taking place on, a moment of adventure, or an image of your heroes/villains.  Play fair and get those readers to pick up your book and leave them wanting your next one.

Until next time, take care and keep writing.




Monday, July 13, 2015

Life's Been Getting In The Way Again...


I swear there are days I wish signs like this would appear so I can prepare myself...

I'm sure the image above speaks volumes of what's been happening with me in the last week or so.  Too many distractions and problems to deal with and very little of me to go around.  I won't go into great detail but I had a financial crisis thanks to my old health insurance (no I wasn't sick or injured it was a premiums issue) that is finally getting resolved.  My finances are very thin at the moment but will improve shortly so now I can breathe a little easier again.  

I also wound up making a major decision on the university front.  I've changed my major from Collaborative Health and Human Services to aiming for a Business Degree.  I'm leaning towards Marketing because there's a much better demand for that field, as well as getting better ideas of how to market my own works in time.  


So slowly but surely I've been weathering the storms that have been hitting me left and right.  But all this chaos also slowed down my writing considerably.  Just dealing with all this nonsense left me physically and emotionally drained to the point I had very little left in the tank. 

Plus I was having a really hard time trying to decide where to take the next scene in the story.  I had several options but none of them were really going anywhere.  They seemed more like unnecessary side streets that did not lend enough to the main story.  

Finally I did the one thing I keep reminding everyone else to do...


Instead of trying to force the story along I listened to what my characters were saying.  They told me where they needed to be in the next scene and I went with their idea.  Suddenly, the story is moving forward again and new tension is building as a result, adding new excitement and mystery to the piece.  So tomorrow, I think I can really settle in and do some serious work on the novel.  I really want to get this first draft completed before the end of the summer so I can get the 2nd draft and editing under way.  Then after a third and maybe fourth rewrite, I'll unleash it on some beta-readers.  I'm still planning on trying to get "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" out by Christmas as well, but we'll see how things are going.

For now I just need some down time to recover from all this recent stress.  But I feel like on my path again.  That's all for now.  Take care everyone and remember to keep writing.




Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Trying Not To Lose Your Way When Writing...

Wait I'm the one writing this story!  How did I wind up here?



Did you ever lose track of where the book/story you were writing was headed?  If the answer is no, then all I have to say is, "I hate you, now will you teach me your ways oh Master Jedi?"

Okay, all kidding aside, this happened to me just recently, and the sad thing was I didn't even realize that I'd lost my plot until I was about third of the way through the first draft. Now, I don't know if it happened because I was writing part of a series and was trying to remember details from the previous books, or because I got too caught up in the characters (both old and new), but I still managed to lose my original plot which was quite embarrassing.  I mean I could've sworn I left on the kitchen table next to my keys, but when I went back the plot wasn't there.  Neither were my keys for that matter, but I'm going to worry about that later, first things first.

Up until the point where I realized I'd lost the plot, I thought the story was moving along just perfectly.   New characters were being introduced in just the right time and place, fallout from the big final battle from the first book were being addressed, issues of love an coming out to family were being covered, etc.   Yet somehow, the new threat to the characters had somehow fallen off the radar for the most part.  There was a distinct lack of growing menace for the audience to see coming that the characters were completely unaware of...


There very little hint of the approaching storm that was looming on the horizon, which left the reader with a severe lack of growing tension.  This was especially frustrating to me since some of the new characters were in league with my main villain.  Furthermore, the villain of the piece had appeared in both the previous books as as added menace.  There is a huge mystery surrounding him and this story was to be the BIG REVEAL!  We'd learn not only his secrets but that of several others, including that of a ghostly figure who watches over Cassandra, one of my main characters.

Even more irritating to me was the fact that I have this huge climactic battle that will take the readers to places and introduce concepts you never saw coming!  But I still lost that air of growing tension and menace.  Plus, the path the story was on seemed to be veering further away from my intended goal.  Luckily I knew exactly what to do.  After all, this is my story and I was the one in control of where it needed to head.  The path was mine to alter and move as I saw fit...


So what did I do?  Did I go back and dump most of what I'd already written?  The answer to both those questions is a simple 'no'.  There were a lot of interesting scenes taking place that had a good amount of tension and intrigue that simply needed a little tweaking or an added cutaway scene.  That's right, all I had to do was cut away from an existing scene and slip in another one involving my "Big Baddie" which clearly had some connection to what was happening in the existing scene.

In a few other areas all I need to do is remind people that 'certain people' aren't who they appear to be and are actually in league with the villain.  This part is a little trickier because I added a number of new characters and I'm trying to keep the identity of the 'traitor' hidden from all.  This can be a challenge at times since I'm keeping everyone wondering who the double-agent really is.  Some writers like to make it obvious, while others like to keep the audience guessing.  I side with the latter, but even if people figure out who it is I still have a major surprise for them regarding that person.

But enough of that, I'm starting to lose the point of this entry.  It's very easy to lose your way while writing.  The characters and what's going on in their lives can become so interesting at times that we get swept up in those parts of the stories just s easily as our readers can.  But every so often you need to stop and read everything you've written up to that point and see if there are any problems.  Some writers will plow on ahead and complete an entire first draft and then go over it to look for issues, which is perfectly acceptable too.  There is no one right way, there are multiple ones.  The main thing point is to make sure you didn't lose your plot somewhere along the way.  And if you did, make sure you correct it and get things back on track.  Don't just do a first draft and declare your work done and rush to publish it as is.  You'll regret it later.

Until next time, take care and keep writing everyone.

PS: I found my keys, they were in my pocket all long.  Now if I could just remember where I put my glasses...













Saturday, June 27, 2015

*ATTN: ALL KINDLE USERS, BOOK 2 IN MY PARA-EARTH SERIES IS FREE UNTIL MIDNIGHT MONDAY JUNE 29TH*

That's right, my second novel "The Ship" is now free for for all Kindle users. 



This 5-star paranormal/mystery continues the story of Cassandra Elliot and Julie Cloudfoot, the two young women who fought alongside Alex and Veronica in my first novel "The Bridge"


These two young ladies have fallen in love and have come to Santa Cruz to see if their new relationship can work, as well as bury Julie's uncle who had been guarding the bridge as part of his duties as the family shaman.


But there are new problems. Julie is finding out that the shaman mantle has been passed to her, but she things there is nothing to guard against as the being that had lain hidden inside the bridge is no more. However, another evil from another para-earth has arisen and has marked Cassandra is its target.


Now the two will have to fight against a new threat that threatens to tear apart them apart before they fully begin.


Once again ghosts, psychics, and shamans await you in this new story, along with a terrifying ghost ship and a familiar white-haired villain from "The Bridge"


So click on the link below and grab your copy now. And don't forget to spread the word to everyone you know so they can take advantage too:


http://www.amazon.com/The-Ship-Every-navigator-Para-Earth-ebook/dp/B00K3A7XG6/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1VQJ8YHE6VPSKFT1TWKV

Monday, June 22, 2015

And Now For Something Completely Different...An Explanation About Why I Enrolled in Kindle Unlimited!



Some months back, I talked about Kindle Select and Kindle Unlimited and how I did not feel comfortable about having my e-books available exclusively in Kindle form.  For those unfamiliar with what was discussed, here's  a quick explanation.  In order to be part of Kindle Select and Kindle Unlimited, your book cannot be available in any other e-book format (Nook, Sony, Apple, etc.).  This of course means your the e-version of your book cannot be up for sale through Smashwords, Nook, and other e-formats.  This did not rub me the right way at the time, but since then there as been no activity for either of my books through Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, or other outlets besides Amazon in spite of a lot of promoting on my part.

But then another disturbing trend began to appear.  I started seeing my books selling on Amazon and I began hoping this meant a growing trend in sales.  However, there was a problem.  In spite of the sales I was not seeing any royalties, which puzzled me greatly.  After waiting a few days and seeing this continue to happen, I delved further into the matter and discovered that ALL the recent sales were returned either the same day or the next day.  Wondering how this could be happening I quickly learned that a number of individuals have been purchasing e-books, reading them in one day, and then returning them for a full refund.  In short, turning Amazon into a sort of  'library' where they could get a good read and then return the book without paying a cent in the end.



Now, I fully understand that sometimes people can buy a book that turns out to be nothing of what they expected and would like their money back.  This is something Amazon and other companies do allow.  However, to abuse this privilege and claim 'It's my money and I'm entitled to a refund...' repeatedly is a real problem.  Every author I've seen on Amazon makes a portion of their book available for free so prospective buyers can get an idea if the book is something they'd like to read.  I myself make about 16% of my book available as a sample so people can decide if this is something they want to buy or not.  Yet, a number of people have instead turned Amazon into a revolving library that they don't have to pay for.

Having lost out on a number of sales, I decided that if my book was going to be treated as if it was part of a library, I wanted to get something for my efforts.  So with no sales happening on all other fronts, I took my books down and enrolled them exclusively with KS and KU.  Now once you've enrolled in KS, your book is also available in KU where you earn money every time your book is borrowed and people read it.  However, starting July 1st, this is changing to paying the authors for every page read, which benefits those who right longer books instead of putting out a bunch of really short works which had been the case before.  

Now I've only joined recently and have yet to see much activity, but I'm hopeful.  I think a lot of people have held back because I advertised a "FREE" weekend where almost 400 people grabbed their own Kindle copy of "The Bridge".  This coming weekend, I'll be offering "The Ship" for free as well.  From there, we'll see how the 'borrowing' goes and if there's any increase in paid sales.   I'm hoping that all these giveaways will increase the reviews for both books that will lead to actual purchases or paid borrows through KU. 


I don't know if this approach will help or hurt, but sometimes you have to try something different. As for those who do not have a Kindle, I do have e-copies of my books in E-Pub and PDF formats and will sell them to you personally.  The price is the same as at Amazon $2.99.  

*Final note: Amazon has been starting to flag and shut down some of these serial-returners.  But there are a great number of them out there and decent authors are suffering for it.  Hopefully an answer will present itself and I can put my novels out there in other formats for you all.  In the meantime, my contract with KS and KU is only for three months.  If I don't like what happens I may pull the books out and put them back up on Smashwords and other places, we'll see.  

I hope my experiences here are providing you all with insights of what to watch out for as you decide what format to put your own books in.  There are many pitfalls and unforeseen issues, but hopefully being warned about what could happen will help you navigate and avoid them.

Until next time, take care and keep writing.





Saturday, June 20, 2015

FREE For All Kindle Users - This Weekend Only (June 20-21st, 2015)

*FREE TODAY AND TOMORROW FOR AMAZON KINDLE*




"The Bridge", book one in the Para-Earth Series for FREE for ALL Kindle users through Amazon.


That's right, you can enjoy this 4 and 5 star tale for FREE. This paranormal/mystery will introduce you to ghosts, psychics, and a whole new vision of parallel realities unlike anything you've ever read before.


So grab a copy for yourself and tell everyone you know so they can take advantage of this 2-day opportunity, they'll thank you for it.


Book 2 in this series will be available for FREE next weekend so you'll have plenty of time to enjoy "The Bridge" and see what happens next.


Click on the link below and enjoy yourselves everyone:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Bridge-Para-Earth-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B00B86DR9G/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0XQ3F748RYGVT4VFBH5E

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"The Ship", Book 2 of the Para-Earth Series, Is Now FREE On Kindle Unlimited!

*IN CASE ONE BOOK WASN'T ENOUGH, HERE'S ANOTHER SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR KINDLE UNLIMITED SUBSCRIBERS*




That's right Kindle Unlimited subscribers can now get "The Ship", book two int he Para-Earth Series for FREE through Amazon.  This book has been given 5-star reviews and is available to you now through Kindle Unlimited.

This paranormal/mystery continues the story of Cassandra and Julie, two young women who fought alongside Alex and Veronica in my first novel "The Bridge".  The two have fallen in love and have come to Santa Cruz to see if their new relationship can work, as well as bury Julie's uncle who had been guarding the bridge as part of his duties as the family shaman.

But there are new problems. Julie is finding out that the shaman mantle has been passed to her, but she things there is nothing to guard against as the being that had lain hidden inside the bridge is no more. However, another evil from another para-earth has arisen and has marked Cassandra is its target.
Now the two will have to fight against a new threat that threatens to tear apart them apart before they fully begin.
Once again ghosts, psychics, and shamans await you in this new story, along with a terrifying ghost ship and a familiar white-haired villain from "The Bridge".
So why not check it out today and enjoy a really exciting summer read. And remember, you can find book one in the series "The Bridge" which is also FREE to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
Click on this link to start reading: 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

"The Bridge" Book One In My Para-Earth Series Is Available For Free On Kindle Unlimited...

*Special announcement for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers*

You can now get "The Bridge", book on in the Para-Earth Series for FREE through Amazon.  That's right, you can enjoy this 4 and 5 star tale for free as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.  This paranormal/mystery will introduce you to ghosts, psychics, and a whole new vision of parallel realities unlike anything you've ever read before.


So why not check it out today and enjoy a really exciting summer read. Plus when you're done you'll find book 2 in the series, "The Ship", is also available through Kindle Unlimited.




Just click on the link below to get started and please help spread the word to everyone you know.  Thank you and happy reading everyone...


http://www.amazon.com/The-Bridge-Para-Earth-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B00B86DR9G/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0TXXNAMPAYHW47GCQ7C1

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Move Along, Move Along...

The band called the All-American Rejects, wrote a song called "Move Along" which has always stuck with me.  It did so even more when I saw the video which at one point involves a member of the band falling backwards into what appears to be an empty swimming pool.  But just as he's in mid-air, the scene shifts to a side view where we see a bunch of hands rise up out of the empty pool to catch and support him.  

That's what a lot of you have been doing for me since my last entry and I want to say a huge "THANK YOU!"  So many of you encouraged me saying, "You'll find a way forward..." or  "Are you absolutely sure there's no way to unite the two ideas, it sounds awesome?" These comments came to me here, on FB and over on Google+.  

After reading all this feedback and dwelling on the problem I finally realized I was dealing with another "Rubik's Cube" (For those not familiar with what I mean by this, here's a link to an entry I did a while back about writing and Rubik's Cubes: Writing and Rubik's Cubes).  


So I took a few steps back and gave the problem some thought...


Okay, I gave it a LOT of thought...

Eventually, I came to a realization...  I thought I had only two paths because both led to storylines that I already had planned.  In short, I had become paralyzed by my own vision of what I wanted to have happen in my series.  But those stories had not been written yet, nor were they cast in stone.  I was still in command.  The Para-Earth Series was mine to create, and design however I wanted.  The important thing was to make the journey interesting and entertaining for my readers, which many of you have told me repeatedly I do very well.   

So instead of choosing either of the two paths I had before me, I did something else...


I grabbed the road I was already on and took it in a whole new direction which allowed me to marry the two ideas and make them work.  It took a lot of thinking on my part but I've done it.  The mysterious carnival people and Nathaniel will be appearing in "The Door".  There will still be many unanswered questions about both, but in Nathaniel's case a lot of those will be answered in December.  As for the strange people from the carnival, their time is coming as well.  You will see more of them in upcoming books before meeting them personally.  But meet them you will my friends.  They're story may actually become an anthology of short stories written from the point of view of one who will join their ranks because it will be the only place he can be safe.  You will also learn how the carnival's origins are connected to the ghostly Brandon, who watches over Cassandra, and will have all his secrets revealed in "The Door".

There are plenty of surprises in store for you all within the pages of this novel in progress.  So stay tuned.  

But for now I want to say, "Thank you everyone, for supporting and believing in me and my abilities as a writer."  I will always do my best to create stories that will take you places you never expected, and make you laugh and even cry along the way.  But always, I'll try to deliver a good product that leaves you feeling elated and full of wonder at the end.

Until next time... take care of yourselves and keep writing.

And one more thing.  For those who are interested in checking out the music video for "Move Along" I'm adding the link just below.  I find the song very helpful and uplifting at times and I hope you do as well.  Enjoy...



Saturday, May 16, 2015

What to do? What to do?

University is done so I'm free to write once more, my computer is running nicely, and I'm full of ideas.  "So what's the problem?" I hear you ask.  Well... remember that blog entry I recently did about a certain 'whale' I had to let get away... (For those who missed that entry here's the link: http://allankrummenacker.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-tale-of-whale-who-got-away.html).  Well, I'm finding myself in the same position once again.  And since it's happening in the here and now, I thought I'd share my thought processes and reasoning with you all, in the hopes it might help you should you find yourself in a similar dilemma.


So I stand at a crossroads, trying to weigh my options about whether or not to cut a scene I truly love and think is totally amazing?  I have this wonderful scene where one of my four lead characters is involved in a wreck down in the subway tunnels of New York City.  She was targeted by a mysterious stalker who has been following her through "The Bridge" and "The Ship" and is now finally making his move.  But even after slaughtering an entire train of people, he manages to incapacitate her only to lose her to a mysterious 'carnival troupe' whose old-fashioned train and cars are somehow appears on the scene inside those same subway tunnels.  Driven off before he can take his prize, the mysterious folks of the 'carnival' take his prey to safety under the watchful eye of the girl's ghostly ancestor.  Sounds great right?  Plus it raises so many questions like "Why would an old-fashioned circus train (without animals) be traveling on the subway lines in the first place?"  Furthermore, we would've seen these strange folks who look more like relics from an old-fashioned "Freak Show" demonstrate unusual abilities and talents.  

So why would I want to remove such a powerful and intriguing scene?  Because this would be the only time they show up in the book.  I didn't have anything else for them to do later on.  Furthermore, they would not show up again until 2-3 books from now.  What good would that do my audience?  I'd be leaving everyone hanging and I don't like that idea.  Oh I could easily beef up their role and have them reappear several times in this book, working behind the scenes to aid our heroes, but it would wind up being a more complicated story to follow, unless I was very careful.

That is one path at this crossroads that I could follow.  The other path, would lead directly into my next novel "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home".  How would this happen you may ask.  The answer is simple.  Last December, I wrote a short story in my other blog "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition".  It was a six part story (I prefer to use small installments on blogs) which added up to a novelette which I may release one day down the road.  Within that story I took several characters who appear in my first two books  (namely Veronica, Julie, Roy and Julie's uncle Jason) and set the clock back some fifteen years ago.  In that story they met two men who aided them in finding a very young Julie who had become lost in a snowstorm and was menaced by a strange creature.  One of the two men was Nathaniel Steward, my vampyre, who as you all know will have his own book coming out this December.  Since he is already known to several of the characters in "The Door", I started thinking about introducing him in this novel to play a supporting role to my heroes.  This made more and more sense to me since I could see him helping from the shadows at times, as well as having a scene in the epilogue which would lead him directly into his own story.  This is something I've done in the previous two books.  I always have a plot that leads directly into the next book, so this idea makes more and more sense to me.

However if I used Nathaniel it would mean...

...cutting the train scene beneath the streets of New York City.

Why is this so hard?  Because I put so much research into laying that scene out.  I checked time tables, routes, where the nearest hospital would be in relation to where I had the action taking place... the works.  Yet, try as I might, I could never reconcile those mysterious carnival people with the rest of the story.  

You see, I actually started "The Door" two years ago BEFORE I started "The Ship".  However, I kept running up against problem after problem with the story.  Which was why I put it aside and decided to explore what happened to Cassie and Julie over in Santa Cruz.  That story came fast and easy by comparison and produced good results.  But even after coming back to "The Door" with a whole new load of information from what happened in "The Ship", I still couldn't really see a clear path forward.  
But then I thought of Nathaniel and things seem to be clicking into place.   Not everything is perfect mind you.  By adding him in I have to create entire new scenes, but I feel like the road is a little more clear for where the story should go.  

As you can tell, I've pretty much made up my mind where I'm going.  It's just really hard to let go of that "train wreck scene".  But I'm going to anyway.  I thought about combining Nathaniel and the carnival people, and have him appear on board that mysterious train, but his presence there is too much of a coincidence.  It makes more sense to have him appear at Jason's old house since he has a history with the deceased and has come to pay his respects.  Plus it gives me more room to have him interact with Julie who has known him since she was little and is now wondering why he hasn't aged  at all in fifteen years.  Will she learn the truth that her late uncle knew about Nathan's true nature?  If she does how will she react to this revelation?  And what part will he play in this story before all is said and done?  You'll have to wait and see.

And for that matter so will I.  The thing about writing is sometimes there's not a road or path before us.  So we writers have to make one ourselves, one that is right for us and our creations, which makes the journey so much more interesting.  So until next time, take care of yourselves and keep creating those roads that have not yet been traveled my friends.



  P. S. : If any of you missed that short story involving Nathan, Julie, Jason, Veronica and Roy, here's the links:







Sunday, May 3, 2015

Update On My Business Cards...

I'm sure most of you will remember that I got some business cards for "The Vampyre Blogs" which I will be releasing in December of this year.  I know a lot of people wished me luck and were curious to find out whether or not I've seen any difference in the traffic to the ongoing blog that goes by the same name.


So today I'm taking the opportunity to tell you what's happened in the two weeks since the cards arrived.  As you can guess, I began handing out cards up at the university the very next day.  I left some lying around in the coffee shop area, as well as in the lounge where students hang out to be found by anyone who happened to sit down in either of those areas.  I also handed cards out personally in my classes saying, "Here's some free reading you can enjoy during the summer break, especially if you like vampires..."  

Very few people declined, while others asked for extra cards.  They became even more excited when I explained that what they would find at the blog site were basically short stories by the characters who would appear in the novel itself.  You should've seen the smiles on their faces widen when I assured them that the book was going to be a brand new story in and of itself and not a compilation of  the short stories they'd be finding on the site.  One person smiled and shook her head saying, "Too bad you went with vampires and not zombies..."  At that point I smiled back and told her, "Well, actually there will be a type of zombie involved that the vampyre  will be battling..."  and that was as far as I got because she was already trying to bring up the blog site. 

As for actual views on the site, in the two weeks since I first started handing out the cards I have seen an increase in the traffic already.  Normally the site averaged around 200-225 views  per month.  April ended with 340+ views and this month is coming along nicely as well.  There would be days in which no one would visit the site, but now I'm seeing double-digits on practically a daily basis.  Whether or not this will  continue, I cannot say.  But I'll keep posting new material and updating you all again in the near future.  

I've also created a FB page for "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition" site which has already broken the 100 mark for likes and followers.  I've been posting the links to the earliest entries on the blog since there are over 40 short stories to be found there.  I'm also giving everyone some insight into what thoughts were in my head when I made each post.  This is something I do not do on the blog site itself, since I try to let my 'Characters' do all the posting there so they can share their thoughts and experiences.  

If you're on FB and would like to check it out here's the FB page link:


My next step will be to start mailing out small stacks of the cards to friends who offered to hand them out to family, friends, and  coworkers.  I'll be making a list of all the people who offer to hand them out for me, so when the book comes out I can give them a signed paperback copy as a way of saying "Thanks for all your support and help."  If anyone here would like to volunteer to distribute my cards, please let me know, I'll be happy to add you to the list and get a stack out to you.

Remember, getting the word out about your books is sometimes way harder than actually writing the story.  So make sure you start letting people know about your book, a few months before it actually comes out.  But make sure it's a book that you've actually got done, and not one your thinking about writing one day.  People hear that kind of thing all the time and think, "Yeah, right.  You're going to write a book, I'll believe it when I see it."  Let them know it's done and is just going through some final editing.  Maybe even show them some cover art so they can see you ARE serious.  Which reminds me, I need to get my art easel set up.  I've got the first drafts done, but no cover yet.  

So until next time, take care and keep writing everyone. 






Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Tale of the Whale Who Got Away...

...Or making hard choices while revising your novel


Whenever I write a novel, or short story, so many ideas come to me that I immediately write down as I'm going on along.  I have so much fun with my characters I sometimes wonder if I'm getting enough interesting scenes into the story.  I start to worry that I'm having too much of a good time listening to my characters bantering back and forth to make them feel more real and alive, that I start to wonder whether or not there's enough action going on in the book.  When that happens I start coming up with more  scenes that help get the readers' pulses pounding.  

But then when I go back to start the second draft I look back over the entire story and find that word count is much higher than I originally planned.  I try to aim no higher than 120,000 words, which by industry standards is still pretty long for a novel.  Mind you, even though I'm an independent author and don't have to abide by what most publishers want, I try to keep within certain guidelines such as length.  Why do I do this?  Because, I don't want to wind up boring my audience by not letting them get to the final climactic scene.  If you take too long letting all the events you've been building up to finally happen, you could start losing their interest.  PLUS... you could wind up using too many good ideas and confusing them along the way.  

In my case, my first drafts usually come in at about 130-160,000 words.  So I often wind up with plenty of trimming to do, which I actually don't mind.  A fair amount of those excess words come from scenes where I repeat the same idea that I used earlier or later in the book, in which case I get to decide where in the story it works best and delete the other sections where it appears.    Other times I'll find a scene that while extremely interesting and exciting, does not really add anything to the main story.  In fact, it serves more as a distraction than anything else.

That's what happened with the fellow in this photo...


This is a whale skeleton located at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz, a location I used in my second novel "The Ship".  As you can imagine it's quite large and has been out in the sun and rain for many years.  But where it was located, really got my imagination going.  You  see, this fellow stands not more than fifteen yards away from a cliff that looks out onto the ocean.  Mind you, there is a fence so no one falls in, which is a good thing because it's a sheer drop down onto some nasty rocks far below.  
In fact I was standing one windy day looking out at the waves when I heard a metal creaking noise behind me.  Immediately my imagination went into overdrive and I could see clearly in my mind that the whale skeleton, perched on its metal poles, had begun to move.  I'll admit that I quickly whirled around and saw that it of course had not moved.  And while I stared at it, half expecting it to do so, I heard the sound again.  This time I realized it was coming from the de-salinazation plant off to my left.  But still, the idea of the bones moving and coming to life was stuck in my head and I knew I just had to use it in a story.  Especially when I went to leave and took one final photo and wound up with this image


My mind was on fire.  I kept picturing those bony jaws clamping down on someone and shaking them like a dog chewing on an old shoe.  I had already begun work on "The Ship" and had been working on a scene that took place at Long Marine Lab, so I immediately added to the scene.  I'd created a nosy reporter who was following Cassandra, my billionaire heiress, and her new love-interest Julie Cloudfoot around and decided to have the reporter be the victim.  She was a tabloid journalist who was going to expose Cassie's coming out of the closet unless Cassie bought the photos showing her and Julie kissing on the beach and other places.  But one of my other antagonists intercepted the journalist near the fence overlooking the ocean after the woman had issued her 'business offer' to Cassie who had just left.  My villain had not wanted Cassie threatened and used some of his abilities to animate the skeleton and killed the journalist.  It was a fascinating scene that I really loved, especially after the journalist was dead and the whale skeleton flung her lifeless body over the cliff and into the sea.

 Yet, when I started the second draft I saw how crowded the book already was with characters who really mattered.  Plus, there were already so many good scenes that were more relevant, that this scene became a distraction.  So I copied and pasted it into a separate file where I keep other fragments of work, and saved it.  (Does this sound familiar to everyone?  It should, I keep telling you all to save any scenes you remove from your stories because they might prove useful in another story with other characters)


So the other day I came across these photos of the whale skeleton again and started thinking about how I had to let that scene go.  I still wanted to use it in another story, but I couldn't imagine how I'd make it happen.  Julie and Cassie, along with most of my characters were back on the East Coast and I had practically no one left out in Santa Cruz, then I remembered Julie's younger brother Johnny.  Johnny had been introduced in "The Ship" and had played several crucial roles in that book.  By the end of the story he was still out here in Santa Cruz, because he was a student studying marine biology and sometimes helped out at Long Marine Lab as part of his studies.  He also had gotten a girlfriend named Michelle who had a secret or two of her own (those who've read "The Ship" know what I'm talking about... hint-hint).  So now I'm starting to think about their story and I'm planning on recycling the whale skeleton scene with a new villain and victim.  The overall tale itself will be a love-story in the vein of Beauty and the Beast, only I'll be reversing the sexes and making it more of a Handsome and the Beast tale.  That will probably see the light of day in 2016 or 2017 depending on how much writing I can do and how fast I get things done.  

So now you understand why I keep telling you all to save scenes that you need to remove from one story.  They can come in handy down the road with a bit of reworking.  It's been almost w years since I wrote and removed that scene and I had no idea if and when it might prove useful.  But now I have the characters and a storyline where it can come into play.  There are countless other pieces of story I have saved that I will be sorting through which might come in handy too.  I'll have to root through them and see what I've got.  But I'll keep you posted.

You can find out other interesting things about what went on when I wrote "The Ship" on the new Facebook Page I made for that book.  You can find it at:


That's al;l I have for today.  Until next time, take care everyone, and keep writing.



Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Cards Have Arrived...

Last week I talked about getting business cards to help market my other blog site "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition".  Yesterday, the cards arrived and here is what they look like...


Front
(click on card to get a better look)


The front view contains information about me, the blog site and where to find it, along with my e-mail and a little note at the bottom letting people know the site is a precursor to the book which will be coming out in December of this year.

Back
(click on card to get a better look)

The back view talks about the novel itself.  The title of the book and it's release date is clear and visible in the center, with a quote from Nathaniel above it.  Underneath the title, is another note that explains that "The Vampyre Blogs" is part of my Para-Earth series and that other books are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online outlets.

"So what happens next?", I hear you ask.  This is where the fun begins.  I will be distributing these cards to everyone I know in my college classes.  University and college campuses have a lot of vampire fans, so it's the obvious first line of attack.  I will give them not just one card, but several so they can share the info with family and friends who also like vampires.  

But I'm not stopping there.  I'll be leaving small stacks in places where students hang out, like at the coffee shops and library.  I'll also be keeping a bunch on me whenever I go out and give some to co-workers (current and former) as well as anyone who shows interest in our conversations about vampires.  

I'm also asking friends on Facebook if any of them would like to have some of these cards to spread around to their friends and coworkers.  I'll be mailing them the cards and putting their names on a list of people who will get a free paperback copy of the book when it comes out in December.  If anyone reading this blog is interested in taking advantage of that offer, please let me know in comments below or e-mail me.  

I want "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" to flourish and become a highly anticipated release.  So any and all help is greatly appreciated.  

Remember, the site itself contains short stories done in blog entry form, by various characters who appear in the novel.  However, NONE of those entries will appear in the book.  I'm not just going to re-package the blog site.  Instead, you'll be getting a brand new novel-length adventure.  The stories on the blog site is simply is 'bonus' material for all my visitors.  A little taste of what's to come.

I can't stress enough the importance of getting the word out about any novel/short story is for every author.  It doesn't matter if your an unknown or Stephen King.  If people don't know about your work, you'll be lucky to sell just one copy.  I have no idea how well this line of attack will work, but I'm going to give it one hell of a shot.  

Until next time... take care and keep writing.









Saturday, April 11, 2015

I'm About to Try Something New to Grow My Audience...

Building an audience and marketing yourself...

These six words strike fear and terror into the hearts of almost every new author I meet. 


It also has the same effect on some of the more experienced authors I know as well.  Why?  Because there isn't a 'silver bullet' that will solve the problem for you.  There are so many different methods out there to try and raise audience awareness of your work and who you are.    Plus there's no guarantee which method is going to be the right one for you.  So you have keep trying and trying until you find one that works.  This is especially hard if you don't have a good budget to work with.  Many sites will promote your books for a fee.  Oh there are some that will do it for free, but the results vary from author to author.  

You can also hire a publicity group to try and build hype, but even then you have to be careful.  The words "Buyer beware" applies to hiring someone else to promote your work.  There have been a number of scams out there where new authors have gotten burned, so be careful how and where you spend your money.  Talk with other authors who have a good track record and ask them who they used or believe to be trustworthy.

It's important to try and build an audience in advance of your book coming out.  This way you have at least a base group of people interested in checking out your work and buying it.  Remember, this is what readers face when they go into a bookstore or library...


This is also what they see in their mind when they're shopping online for something to read.  

There are so many choices out there, so they need our help.  They need to know a bit about your work in advance so they can narrow their search down. 

But how do you find those readers?  By helping them find you.  How?  Well, blogging helps.  It get's people familiar with who you are and your style of writing.  You can share thoughts and insights about the writing process so they get to know you a bit more and what to expect in your book.  Sharing snippets from your work is always a good thing too.  It gives you a chance to hook them in advance so they're all ready to grab that book as soon as it comes out.



This brings me to today's topic.  As many of you know, I'm working on my first vampyre book.  It will be part of my Para-Earth Series.  In it you will meet a Union soldier from the Civil War who was blown into one of those strange Para-Earths and managed to find his way back to this world.  But the experience changed him in more ways than one...  I've been chronicling some of his adventures along with those of other characters who will be appearing in the novel.  All of the entries on the blog are basically short stories so the readers can meet and learn about the characters before the actual book comes out.  I've also made it plain to the readers that the entries they are reading are supplemental material and will NOT appear in the novel itself.  The novel will be a complete long brand new adventure in and of itself.  And I've been getting more and more positive responses along with more followers.  But that hasn't been enough for me.  I want more people reading that blog and spreading the word.  The question is how to make that happen?

Well, I thought about my target audience, namely fans of vampires and where might I find them?  Since I'm attending university, I realized the populace of any community college or university will surely have a large audience into vampires.  But how to get the word out?  My solution... business cards.  I've ordered some and will be sharing them here on the blog as soon as they come in.  After that I will be dispersing them among classmates and leaving them all around the campus for people to find.  After all, most colleges will have a Student Hall or Union building, plus there are the cafeterias as well.  Not to mention dozens of coffee shops, laundromats, etc.  Basically any place where people congregate or have to sit down and need something to look at is a good place to leave or hand the cards out.



Plus, I'm already asking Facebook friends if any of them would like me to mail a stack of cards to them to hand out.  Many are already saying "Yes".  And I make that same request here as well.  If any of you would like me to send you some of the cards to distribute to friends, family, co-workers, etc.  just let me know.  As soon as I've got the cards I'll be asking for addresses and mailing them out to you.

How well will this work?  I don't know.  But the cards will be directing people to the blog itself so they have something to read in advance while the book is being prepped for its December release.  

If you'd like to check that blog out for yourself here's the link: http://thevampyreblogs.blogspot.com/ 

 I hope you find what you read fun and exciting.  I have high hopes for Nathaniel (my vampyre) and company.  They will not be a one shot deal.  I'm going to be making more novels about him as well as my other characters who will sometimes overlap with him.  

That's all I have for now.  I hope you find this idea interesting and I promise to keep you all informed on how things go.  How will I know if this effort is succeeding?  Well, the number new readers on the blog will be a big indication, so I'll be keeping an eye on it once the cards start going out.

Until next time, take care and keep writing!