Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Today our Trade Paperback copies of "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" arrived.
For me this is the third time this has happened, but for my wife (and co-author) Helen, it was her first. So naturally, I gave the honors of opening the box and holding the first copy to her.
For anyone who hasn't had this pleasure yet, I hope you get to experience it. No matter how many books you write, seeing and holding them is something special.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Only 6 more days until Nathan and company arrive, just in time for Halloween!
It's been a long time in the making, but "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" is arriving in just 7 more days. But you don't have to wait to order your copy now. In fact you can pre-order the book and get 25% off the regular asking price. That's right, you can order an e-copy for just $2.99 (after October 28th, the price will be $3.99).
Furthermore, the book will be available in all e-reader formats such as Kindle, Nook, Sony, Apple, PDF, Kobo and others.
Signed trade paperback copies will also be available for $12.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling anywhere in the United States. Overseas mailing will cost slightly more. For anyone interested in getting a signed copy, please e-mail us at: http://allankrummenacker.wixsite.com/allan-krummenacker/contact
Here's a sneak peak inside the novel:
I skipped my last class and headed straight over to Nathan’s place. I knew he wasn’t going to be up yet, but I wanted to be there when he woke. Plus I wanted to see how his ‘guest’ was getting on.
I let myself in through the front door and started to head upstairs when I heard noises coming from down in the cellar. My first thought was, ‘He’s up already! Good, now he can tell me what the hell happened.’ So I made a beeline for the door in the kitchen that I’d seen him disappear through this morning.
As soon as I opened it the sounds were much louder. Someone was moving down there, but something wasn’t right. It didn’t sound like him moving around. Immediately, I had a bad feeling and my first impulse was to leave and get help. But then I remembered Nathan was down there, and he would be vulnerable at this time of day.
My protective instincts must’ve kicked in, because I raced down the stairs and spotted my godfather lying on a table in the center of the room. Standing over him was the guy from last night armed with a stake and hammer.
He had his back to me, so I took advantage of the situation and jumped him.
As expected, I took him by surprise and the stake wound up hitting the light hanging over the table. Out of the corner of my eye I could see our shadows as he tried to fight me off. A part of me kind of wished someone had been filming them, it looked pretty cool-not that I was enjoying myself at the time.
For a guy who’d nearly died the night before, he was pretty lively and strong. He wound up slamming me against the wall by launching himself backwards. I always wondered how characters in movies manage to stay on someone when that happened, and now I know. It’s called an adrenaline rush with good reason. This clown was trying to kill someone dear to me, and I wasn’t about to give up.
Unfortunately, he was bigger and outweighed me by a lot. After I hung on when he slammed me against the wall, he tried a new tactic. He fell backwards on purpose and landed right on top of me, hard! I think I must’ve blacked out, because the next thing I knew he had me tied to a chair and was staring straight into my eyes.
“I’m sorry, kid. I didn’t want to hurt you, but you’re obviously under his control,” he tells me. “But don’t worry, I’m gonna dust this blood-sucker and you’ll be all right. We both will. Now just sit tight and let me do what’s gotta be done, okay?”
I couldn’t believe it. Mr. Break-In was trying to be a hero. It was almost funny in a way. But I still couldn’t let him kill Nathan. “No, you don’t understand. He’s not a monster!” I tell him. “He’s a good man. I don’t know what happened between you two last night, but he didn’t kill you. He spared you and did everything he could to keep you alive!”
As soon as the words leave my lips, I realize all of this is true. Nathan could’ve ignored me when I begged him to stop. Instead he told me to get the blood I’d brought and started giving the guy a couple of transfusions. How could I…
“That’s what he’s been telling you, kid,” the guy yells. “He’s inside your head, just like he’s been in mine. I can still feel him, but I’m able to fight back. And once he’s dead, you’ll understand. You’ll be normal again.”
Before I can say anything else he whirls around and rams the stake right into Nathan’s chest.
My godfather doesn’t cry out. Nor does he gasp, or open his eyes, the way vampyres supposedly do in movies or books. But all those writers did get one thing right; he starts to crack and crumble right before my eyes.
For an instant I can’t speak. Time has slowed down as I see the cracking spread all over his skin. Soon his chest caves in on itself, with the sound of ancient paper crackling and breaking. Then his hands start to implode and turn into fine particles. Within moments there’s nothing left except his clothes and dust.
I can’t remember exactly what happened next but I think I screamed and tried going after the guy with the stake. I kept trying to undo the ropes around my wrists and ankles, while cursing my head off at him.
The jerk just stares at me in complete shock and keeps trying to tell me that we’re both free.
But I don’t listen. Instead, I just lose it. Finally, he gives up and shouts something about sending the cops and a straightjacket for me and takes off. My mouth is still running with every curse word it knows, while tears are streaming down my face. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was crying. I’d just lost someone as dear as my parents and little brother.
I cried and screamed myself hoarse for God knows how long before I finally got control of myself. When I did, my only thought was getting out of there. I was sure Dad or Dr. Jack would be coming by sooner or later, but I couldn’t wait that long.
Once again I went after the ropes, but Ass-Hat knew his stuff; they weren’t loosening at all. As I struggled I noticed the chair was a bit wobbly. It occurred to me that if the chair broke, I might find it easier to free myself. So I tried rocking and shifting, hoping something would break. Eventually, something did - namely the two legs on the left side.
From my point of view, all I saw was the world tilting sideways slowly, then rapidly. I braced myself for a hard landing but instead I hit soft dirt, much to my relief. Then I noticed I was still going down. My shoulder was sinking into the dirt as if it were quicksand. Panic took hold as I struggled desperately to free myself from the chair, but only the two legs had broken. My hands and body were still firmly tied to it. I was going to sink into the floor, and there was nothing I could do.
The soil was just starting to touch my cheek when a hand grabbed my shoulder… from inside the ground!
-end of preview-
We hope that wets all your appetites. You can get a different peak inside the novel at the following links:
Nook, Apple, Sony, PDF and other e-readers please use this link:
We hope you enjoy what you've seen here and ask that you please not only grab your own copy, but spread the word as well. Helen and I thank you all for your support and wish you a very Happy Halloween season. Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Helen has been a major force behind my entire Para-Earth Series since the days before I first started to actually write "The Bridge". She's been my confidante, grammar checker, science expert, adviser, and so much more. So without further ado, allow me to let her take over today's blog and answer some questions that we've encountered recently.
Allan has already published 2 books. Why are you now a co-author on his latest?
He’s been doing fine writing on his own, I agree. I always did give him some input and advice on the other books, but while I’ve helped bring in science fiction angles and suggested some ways to improve character development, the other books were all his plots and his writing.
This one is still his plot, but there’s a specific character in it who helps explain some of the scientific elements and who was entirely my creation. We talked a lot about the relationship between my character and the main character, and developed a history together. Then Allan placed him in the rough draft, and asked me to look over all the scenes with him and make adjustments. At first, I didn’t want to touch it too much, because the novels were so much his thing, but there were areas where I really wanted to rewrite most of the scene and… he loved it. I added things that weren’t there, digressions into biology, a non-American viewpoint, and other things that helped.
Developing the relationship between the two characters: let me guess, you created a love interest for your husband’s lead character?
I think The Professor and Nathan would be VERY surprised to have someone take them for lovers. Hopefully The Professor will be very charming to the readers, but he won’t charm most of them *that way*. He’s sort of a bit Professor Challenger-ish, a bit Doctor Who-ish: a sage and a mentor who has oodles of personality.
Is he based on you?
Not much. He’s actually a figure from a dream. When Allan and I were first discussing his ideas for this series and I was giving him feedback and suggestions, I had a dream which had me having the actual viewpoint of Ronnie, the policewoman in the first novel. She went to respond to a call and found a dead man in an upstairs study and another man examining the body. She warned him to stop and he backed away to the window, then did a backflip out of it and ran. Later, he came to the police with a story about invading monsters and a plan to stop them. I was intrigued by him and worked on developing him.
Will you be participating in more of these novels?
Definitely. I’ll be helping with the second part of The Vampire Blogs, probably with a greater role in the plotting and scene development. We’ve also started on a full collaboration, working title The Misty Mountains, set in Santa Cruz again. On that, I’ve been doing at least half of it, I think, and more of the plot development. It’s also going to be far more science fiction than paranormal. The Professor is a major character in that one, along with Johnny and Michelle from The Ship. He’ll be using a different name in that one, so I’m calling him The Professor now to alert people that he basically never uses his real name.
I’ve also been writing a story about a prior adventure of his called Cretaceous Lark.
Why are you skewing things to science fiction? Don’t you like paranormal?
When Allan and I were first discussing the Para-Earth idea, we talked about how the thing that made H. P. Lovecraft’s writings so fascinating was that he gave his horror a science fiction spin. It made it much easier for me to believe. I like reading stories with ghosts and vampires, but the fact is, it tends to increase my awareness that I am reading fiction. When I read stories like “The Colour Out of Space” or “Beyond Ultraviolet”, I was genuinely scared. So we agreed the foundational idea would be science-based. But Allan isn’t confident about science. He loves that I am bringing it in. On the other hand, while I like ghost stories, I don’t think I’ve ever written one. That’s a bit outside my comfort zone. But I have an idea for Alex and The Professor and a ghost that I’d love for Allan to help me with. So basically, we each tend to develop ideas in our strong area and need the other to help build in the other direction.
Do you find it easy to work together, or do you tend to argue?
Easy. I love his ability to pace writing and keep you wanting more, and he’s a fan of my ability to cut through to the meat of a scene. I rely on him to know if something works from the point of view of a reader, and he trusts me to make words sing. Our differences make us better together.
What’s the process like for you, writing together?
Well, with the first book of The Vampire Blogs, as I say, he wrote the first draft and then I took my seat in the writer’s chair and reworked scenes. Plus I kind of demanded he rewrite one area because he forgot two characters were in the scene. But with The Misty Mountains, we talk about what we want to do in advance, and then I wrote the opening and passed it along for him to fill in the first part of the next scene, then we actually wrote some portions in real time together, each at our own computer at a shared file and writing dialog and actions in response, like we were basically improvising as actors, but with writing. Another couple of scenes cutting to minor characters I wrote, and asked him to polish one because it was more in line with his area of knowledge. We have a lot of fun, like when we used to play Dungeons and Dragons together.
What should people know about The Vampire Blogs?
It’s a very funny book, with a lot of heart. Sure, there’s a terrible monster and suspenseful stuff-- but I think people are going to smile a lot. And this is really a regular thing for us. There’s so much to stress about in the real world, fiction should, on balance, make you feel good.
Well, that's all I have for now, except for repeating the announcement that "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" will be released on October 28th, just in time for the Halloween weekend, so keep your eyes open for the links to the various sites where you can get your copy. We'll be posting them soon.
Until next time, as Allan always says in this blog, take care and keep writing.
Monday, October 17, 2016
'The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" will be released on October 28th!
That's right folks. Halloween will be arriving a few days early this year, so get ready to grab your own copy of the next installment of the Para-Earth Series. The book will be available in Trade Paperback, Kindle, Nook, Apple, and all other e-readers.
Within these pages of this novel you'll meet a whole new breed of vampire who drinks blood, needs to sleep in the ground, avoids sunlight (because he'll start to sparkle as in slowly spontaneously combusting), and cannot eat garlic. He's also one of the best people you'd ever want to have on your side in a bad situation.
"My name is Nathaniel Eoghan Stewart, in the Spring of 1862 I joined the Union army to help end slavery and preserve our country. As I left, I promised my family I wouldn't let the war change me... but I was wrong, so very wrong..."
Keep watching this page for more entries from some of the other characters you'll be meeting in this the first novel co-written with my wife Helen, who has been an integral part of the science side of the Para-Earth Series since it all began.
If you'd like to learn more about the characters, we have a collection of short stories over on our blog titled "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition" (note: None of the short stories appear in the book itself. What you will be getting in the book is a brand new full-length adventure).
Below is the link to the first blog entry, where you will meet Nathan. From there, you can read the rest in order by clicking the word "Newer" at the bottom of the page or check out the Archives section located to the right of the entry.
I hope you enjoy what you find there, and look forward to the novel itself which contains the occasional reference to some of these short stories.
Saturday, October 1, 2016
A fun and fulfilling collection of the most tangled, yet intriguing, tales one might want to read. Miss Kings, a. k. a. the “Vampire Maman” has enchanted many with her blog “Vampire Maman, Musings of a ModernVampire Mom”. It is a very popular blog, and where all the tales found in this collection originated. Of course, while one could sift through her blog, it would take hours or possibly even days to find each of these tantalizingly delicious vignettes.
Each story stands on its own merit, yet are connected at the same time, as the author shares stories not only about her own long existence, but those of her brothers, children and family friends which include zombies, the occasional werewolf, ghosts, elder vampires, and more than a few ordinary humans.
Our dear Vampire Maman, weaves each tale in such a way to make us laugh, smile, feel a little remorse, or simply take a moment to appreciate those around us. She brings wit and wisdom as well that is sure to keep the reader entertained as well as making us think.
All in all, it’s a wonderful collection that would be most welcome in many personal libraries, especially with Halloween just around the corner.
You can also find your own copy of "Morning at the Vineyard" on Amazon at:
Also, if you'd like to find more stories by Miss Kings just click on the link below:
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
With the voice of experience, Mr. Gaughran shares his many insights of the world of publishing, and in particular self-publishing. With the advent of e-books, many writers and would-be writers have found themselves faced with the opportunity to finally put out that book they’d been thinking about for years. Yet, they quickly find that the most daunting task, is not writing the book itself, but how to get it out to the public. Should they go the tradition route of finding an agent, and then a publisher? Can they deal with the countless rejections or avoid the scams that promise seeing their work in print, for a ‘nominal’ fee of course.
Mr. Gaughran provides the reader with enough food for thought that would make a seven course meal look like an appetizer. But he never gets preachy. Instead he simply supplies the reader with tools and knowledge to navigate the world of Indie Publishing. He provides solid advice about the importance of editing, proofreading, beta-reading, and revisions, before leading the reader down that final stretch of formatting your book for electronic and actual print.
Even more importantly, he gives some sound advice on marketing and building an audience and how to get reviews and deal with criticism. Writing is not an easy road to take, but Mr. Gaughran does his very best to provide the reader with as many tools and knowledge to help them navigate this journey from start to finish.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to try their hand at the art of telling stories via the written or e-written word.
Saturday, August 13, 2016
In spite of all the excitement of the anticipated release of "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home", this October, I keep hearing people ask 'Whatever happened to "The Door"? Are you going to finish that story? I want to know what happened next with Alex, Veronica, Julie, and Cassandra.'
Now I hear the rest of you asking, "Why is it taking so long?" Well the answer is quite simple, I've spent the last 24 months with a serious case of 'too many ideas'. What does that look like you ask? Here let me show you...
For those who are still wonder the answer is a resounding "YES!" I am currently working on that story as we speak. In fact I've been working on it for quite a while... a really long while... like over two years... (groan)
All right knock it off Roscoe! I don't need to hear more laughs coming from the peanut gallery. Sheesh.
Now I hear the rest of you asking, "Why is it taking so long?" Well the answer is quite simple, I've spent the last 24 months with a serious case of 'too many ideas'. What does that look like you ask? Here let me show you...
You see one of the biggest problems I've had was that I kept getting new scenes going that seemed to help move the plot along just great. But after a while these ideas either wound up derailing the main plot of the story, and eventually I'd wind up hitting the well-known wall called "Writers Block". In some cases I wound up backpedaling and removing the new scene entirely and found myself stuck once again trying to figure out what I could do to move the story forward again. In the case of "The Door" this kept happening over and over again, which left me both frustrated and stuck.
Now some people will point out that maybe I should have used an outline and stuck with it before I started writing the story. While this idea has merit, there are several problems when it comes to me and outlines. I have certain ideas and scenes so well plotted out that to wind up not using them seems unthinkable. A cardinal sin, a betrayal of all I've dedicated my life to in fact...
However, my characters have this annoying tendency to not tell me their whole life stories until I'm already writing their current adventure. Soon, they start developing in ways I never thought of or having ideas of their own, which I wind up finding far more satisfying than what I had planned for them. So what happens...
They suddenly veer right with the story, while I had planned on having them go to the left. This happens repeatedly, but most of the time the story winds up much better than what I had originally planned. So these days I use what I call a 'loose' outline. There are certain scenes and ideas that I am certain must happen, and have other areas where I'm still not sure how I want to proceed. So I move forward with what I've got and let the characters help me develop those sections.
For the most part this has worked great. However, in the case of "The Door" I had a number of scenes that were so solid, there was no way in the world I was not going to use them. I had them carved in stone, period. Unfortunately trying to lead the characters and the story up to those moments began to become a problem. So I kept trying new ideas to allow me to keep those scenes because they were too 'precious' to lose, "Gollum, Gollum.... we wants those scenes... they must happen... we can't give them up... Gollum, Gollum"
Cough! Sorry about that. Now you know how a writer's mind works some days. Anyway, some of the things I tried to keep those scenes involved a number of tactics, including adding new characters like my vampyre Nathan (my star of "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition"). His short-lived involvement with my existing characters allowed me to come up with a whole new host of scenes that really moved the story along. However, it came with a price. The word count skyrocketed, because of having to introduce him to the characters one by one, new scenes just for him, along with other new characters, etc. and the story was becoming unwieldy. So in the end I had to do this...
I took him back out of the story (as most of you know from previous entries). However, a number of the scenes he inspired were kept. I simply gave his actions to existing secondary characters instead, allowing me to build up their appearance time in the story thus making them more interesting. This also allowed me to cut down the word count considerably to something much more manageable, as well as quicken the pace of the story overall.
Still I kept hitting a few more walls. Finally, I set the story aside entirely and focused my energies on "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home", and two collaboration projects I have going. This allowed me to keep being creative, and not feel guilty about neglecting this book. More importantly, it also gave me the chance to come back to "The Door" with a fresh pair of eyes and a more open mind.
Upon re-reading what I'd done, I soon saw that certain subplots needed to go, while others needed to be built upon and expanded. I also realized that some of those 'precious scenes' I thought the book could never do without, no longer fit this story. So I removed them from the mix as well.
The result was losing about 40,000 words, while introducing a more coherent and cohesive storyline that is now moving along very nicely. Tensions are rising, mysteries deepening, the air is filling with impending danger for certain characters, while fallout from "The Bridge" is being addressed leading to unanswered questions to be addressed.
In short, "The Door" is on its way folks. I hope to release it in May of next year, or possibly sooner. We'll see. Part of this will depend on how much time my studies at university take up. Classes start the week after next, so I'm trying to get a lot done between now and then. Furthermore, I'll be expending a lot of energy promoting and marketing "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" in October. Then of course the holidays will arrive and life will get in the way.
But rest assured, "The Door" is coming. It's taken the long way around to arrive, but its on the way. Sometimes, writing is a race where you sprint and other times you have to pace yourself and move slower than you'd like. Rest assured though, that even when you're moving slower, you ARE making progress.
So until next time, take care and keep writing my friends.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Today I was in one of my moods regarding creativity and decided to share another side of myself. As many of you know, I not only write, but I'm also an artist who specializes in soft pastels and charcoal. I know I've shown some of my book covers, but today I felt like sharing some of the other works I've come up with over the years.
This first piece is a soft pastel which was inspired by a song by Nina Gordon, "Tonight and the rest of my Life". Her we have an angelic figure who holds a universe in her arms and behind her you can make out large fingers which in turn cradle her.
This piece was coming along beautifully until it came time to do the face. I couldn't find the right one to use, or get the angles right. Then my wife stepped in and posed her head just right, and from then on the painting seemed to come alive. It held even more meaning than before to me as I retouched areas and strove to finish it with great love and affection, for now it showed how much she means to me and how she holds MY universe in her arms, forever and always.
This next piece was inspired by Holts' "The Planets Suite". Many of us has heard the "Mars, Bringer of War" with its powerful ominous tones, but there are a number of other songs on the album that brings the almost all the planets of our solar system into new and even playful ideas. Having played violin in school for a number of years (no I did not ever play Holts' music unfortunately) I often found myself drawn into the music as it filled my head with all sorts of wondrous images. So in this piece I tried to capture those moments and feelings in my work. I like to think I succeeded.
Mind you, I do not specialize simply in cosmic inspired artwork. I'm one of those artists who simply paints whatever catches their fancy. Take this Pink Iris for instance. This lovely blossom was growing in our backyard one year and I was totally captivated by how the sun was catching it in just the right way that it seemed to glow. I immediately set up my easel outside and pulled out my pastels and went to work. In one hour I was done. This is probably one of the fastest pieces I've ever created, and I was very pleased with the results.
Finally, I wanted to share one of my charcoal pieces. This Spotted Owl, I created from looking at various photos of owls and I came up with this fine, slightly scowling, fellow. While by no means my best charcoal piece, it gives you an idea of some of the effects I've been able to achieve in that medium. I was particularly proud of the feathering effects I was able to capture in this piece.
So what does all this have to do with writing? Sometimes an image can give birth to a story, and vice versa. Both inspiration and creativity can take so many forms and need to be expressed in different ways. In my case, I've been able to blend the two into my books and enjoy every minute of it, even during the more 'difficult' times. They can be a struggle, but they usually lead to some fine results one can be proud of.
If anyone would like to see more of my artwork, you can go to this link at Fine Art America, where prints, pillows, duvets, towels, and so many other items can be purchased with the images beautifully imprinted on them:
I'll be sharing more images here as I get better quality photos, as well as continuing my posts about my adventures in writing. I must say even after being an Indie Author for 3 years now, I'm still on a learning curve. Is that true for others as well? Let us know by leaving your thoughts in the comment section below.
Thanks again for tuning. Until next time, take care and keep writing.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
We've all been there, slaving away at a story and finding yourself getting more lost or frustrated with where it's going. Even if you have a well planned outline to guide you, there's always a scene or situation that arises that leaves you flummoxed and frustrated. You can't seem to move the story or yourself forward for one reason or another. What do you do?
Well, in my case I get up and walk away from the story and I mean in every sense of the word. Step away from your computer and do other things. "But for how long?" I hear you ask. My answer is simply this, "As long as it takes."
"But I can't stop writing, I've got so many ideas in my head..."
GREAT! Go work on one of those instead. I'm not saying stop writing by any means. What I'm suggesting is that you let your brain work on other projects, or activities such as go bowling...
Take a nice long walk...
In short do whatever else you enjoy or have been thinking about doing and have put off. Let your mind wander and experience something other than trying to figure out your story. Brains need downtime or something new to work on in order to keep them working right. Or like I said before, work on some other stories or ideas not connected to your work in progress.
Sometimes I find working on an entirely different project makes me feel better about having been stuck on the one I've stepped away from. I actually relax and feel the same passion and satisfaction from using my creative side.
In my case, I've been working on "The Door" for almost two years now and still haven't finished a 1st draft yet. Why? Because I kept hitting various roadblocks.
And each time I hit one, I'd bang my head against it for days before finally walking away. Then after a while (i. e. a few days, weeks, or even months) I'd come back to it with a new idea and started making progress again. But then I hit another obstacle and had to walk away again. It's not that I don't like the story, I love it! It's crucial to furthering my Para-Earth Series, which may have been part of the problem. I was trying to put TOO much into the story and kept getting myself bogged down, or losing sight of the plot. Within the last year I tried introducing new characters who would appear in later books (such as my vampyre Nathan) which helped open new avenues and scenes, but the story began getting too long and convoluted. I was losing sight of the main characters for "The Door" (Alex, Veronica, Cassandra, Julie). So I pulled him back out of the book. But some of the scenes his presence inspired remained because they were useful.
But then I found the book was almost 70,000 words long, even with Nathan and company's removal, so I set the book aside again and worked on "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" getting it ready to be released this October.
Now, with "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" in the hands of beta-readers who I won't hear back from until next month, I found myself coming back to "The Door".
What happened next? I'll tell you in my next entry.
Until then, take care and keep writing...
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Welcome back to another installment of collaborations: what do they look like and how do I make mine work? Okay, actually, I’m continuing the discussion from last time. After all, this is supposed to be a blog, not an ongoing saga. I also want to apologize for any strange grammar or punctuation errors in this entry because I’m using Dragon instead of actually typing on a keyboard.
WRONG DRAGON! SORRY DIDN'T MEAN TO WAKE YOU UP, SIR. PLEASE JUST GO BACK TO SLEEP!
Whew! Anyway, I'll be sharing my adventures with Dragon Speaking Naturally software, and learning how to use it, in another blog entry, For now I’m going to continue to share my experiences with collaborations
Now, last time I talked about my collaboration with my old friend Rich Caminiti, today I’m going to be discussing my other collaboration with my wife Helen. First off, unlike with Rich, I am able to work with my wife, face-to-face.
Being able to spend time with each other in real life instead of waiting to go on Skype to plot or give feedback like I do with Rich. This gives a whole new dynamic to our collaboration since we don’t always have to be at our computers to work on the story. Instead, we could be driving someplace or having dinner at a restaurant and will be discussing ideas and scenes for the story. Being able to operate like this gives us a distinct advantage to rework a scene before we actually put it to paper. We get the chance to work out the dynamics between the characters, feelings, emotions, reactions and have a more clear idea of how we want a scene to read.
Does this automatically mean that we have every scene worked out perfectly? Absolutely not. In fact, we will rework a scene time and again until we find a version that we both really like that works. Even then we will occasionally go back to that scene and rework it with new elements that we hadn’t thought of before to improve it.
Furthermore, we may not always agree on exactly how we want a scene to play out. There might be elements that one of us thinks would work better in a later point in the story. In cases like this, it’s much easier to have the other person there with you to work out those differences and come up with a common solution that we can both live with. Another benefit is on occasion someone might forget a detail or plan that we decided to use in a scene a few days before. This actually happens quite often due to my fibromyalgia. I get the infamous "brain-fog" and forget things. Luckily, Helen is always around to help me remember what I forgot what we had planned for a scene and proceed to fix it. I often refer to her as my spare brain in these cases, since they happen rather often to me.
As you can see, we rely on each other quite often which makes our collaboration work even better. Mind you, we don’t always work on the project together at the same exact time. In fact, since she’s a bit of a night owl, I’ll find that she’s been in the story working on it during the night while I was asleep. This is actually a lot of fun for me, because then I get to see all this new material as if I was the reader and now I get to react to it. And of course will be times when I’m working on the story when she doesn’t know what and when she goes in show find what I’ve written and then it will be her turn to react and come up with a new scene or response. In a way to sort of the game of role-playing for us except that were actually putting together a story for others to read and enjoy.
Now as I said in the previous entry, Rich and I take turns working on different scenes as well and we get the same effect. But with Helen, I get to see the reactions on her face and get her input and feedback a lot sooner which gives me a great deal of pleasure.
So as you can see both collaborations share a lot of similarities but there are also a number of differences. And there are number of ways that you can make a collaboration work, it’s all in how you and your cohort approach things. Most of the time you’ll find there is always a way to make it work, it’s mostly a question of what method is going to work best for the two of you.
And that’s all I have to say for now folks, so until next time, take care enjoy the summer and keep writing.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
As you all know by now, I've been working on not one but two different collaborations. The first is "The Pass" a historical/fantasy piece with a fellow I went to high school with some 30 years ago, Richard Caminiti. (for the sake of privacy, I left the clipboard showing his name and arrest number from this police photo out - JUST KIDDING!) Actually it's not really a mug shot, but I couldn't resist using this shot because the expression on his face is so serious. Of course I'm going to get an earful later for this, but that's what friends are for, right?
The other is another installment in my Para-Earth Series, titled "The Misty Mountains", with my wife Helen Krummenacker. Note: DEFINITELY NOT A MUG SHOT!
Okay, now that I got that bit of silliness out of my system, lets get back to today's topic namely the discussing more challenges one faces with a collaboration.
Now in Rich's case, the biggest challenge the two of us faced was the distance between us. Now, I'm not talking about ideas or suggestions, we're actually pretty good on that front. I'm talking physical, geographical distance. Rich lives over in North Carolina, whereas I live on west coast of California. So how do we make our collaboration work? Simple use the following:
Rich and I Skype on a weekly basis, sharing ideas we've come up with and give each other feedback on what the other has added to the story that week. Then through Dropbox, we share the document, going in whenever we have a chance and add new scenes, ideas, etc. However, we always read what the other has added first. We've gotten into the habit of hi-lighting new sections in different colors so we both know who added new material. This way each of us has a good idea of the feel and mood of a particular scene before adding our own touches to it.
Now for the most part this has been relatively easy because we each created certain characters for this book, and they fall mostly under the respective creator's control. Plus there are many scenes where these characters are not in the same scene, allowing each of us to add to the overall story by having each one learn more information about the greater mystery and threat, which will bring everyone together in the end.
However, we also borrow each other's characters for certain scenes we've discussed on Skype and consult back and forth on whether or not the characters behaviors are consistent. Admittedly, this kind of system means it takes us a while to get a story completed, but Rich works full-time, and I've been studying at university, so neither of us have all the time in the world to simply sit and write. Plus there are times where one or the other of us is hitting a wall and needs help. This is where our Skype sessions and e-mails become a great asset. We can help each other out by figuring out where the blockage is coming from, does an area need to be rewritten or cut out, etc. For us, the old adage of "two heads are better than one" really gives us an advantage. Plus, we are very much on the same page for where this story is heading overall. But at the same time, by not always telling the other what we've got planned in a scene, it allows both the other author the surprise and excitement the reader will enjoy, as well as firing up the imagination to build upon this new material.
Again, this is where our weekly Skype sessions come in extremely handy. We can congratulate or raise questions if something in the scene did not seem to make sense, and together we can correct and move things forward. Both Rich and I are very agreeable, but we also trust one another to raise questions or concerns about certain points and whether or not it is working for this particular story. We are already planning on more collaborations and sometimes remove a section to be used in a later work. After all, you can only cram so many ideas into one book without confusing the hell out of the reader, so we try to be careful about that.
So now we drift over to another set of questions, such as what about my other collaboration?
How does a writing with the person I'm living with work for a joint project? Do you agree on everything? Are your writing styles compatible? How do you find a mutual voice you can agree on? What do you do to avoid hurt feelings?
I'll cover these and other issues in my next installment. Until then, take care and keep writing.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
As a writer, I try to avoid talking about choices made by other writers in regards to where they decide to take characters or storylines. I know how much thought must go into each story idea and how it grows, develops, and takes final form. I also understand how certain decisions are in the end solely up to the author.
When J. K. Rowling published the seventh book in the "Harry Potter" Series, I was very one of those readers who was screaming and jumping up and down in a rage at the loss of certain characters (I won't mention names as there might actually be readers of this blog who have not read her series), because I felt their deaths served no real purpose to the main story itself, especially since some of them took place off camera. Since then, even the author herself has admitted regret in some of the choices she made.
However, all those characters were her own creation and she had full control to do with them as she pleased. Whereas, figures like Captain America and Superman, have been handed off time and again to new writers at their respective company's behest. But sometimes, certain decisions are made or ideas proposed that are so far out, that one wonders who gave the "Okay" for them in the first place. Especially when those decisions leaves the fans wondering what purpose did it serve?
Superman, who has been one of the longest running characters in existence, had always lived by certain rules and tried to uphold them in even his darkest moments, had his nature changed in Zach Snyder's "Man of Steel", which left a sour taste in the mouths of a large part of the audience. Having a long-time hero violate their own code of not killing, was more a shocking disappointment than anything. But, Mr. Snyder wanted to take the character in new direction, making his world darker and more gritty, which was a total 180 from the bright colors and hopeful ideals Superman had always represented in the comics.
Now several years later, after a disappointing continuation of that dark world Mr. Snyder's version of Superman exists in ("Batman Vs. Superman"), we have Marvel Comics publishing a storyline where on of their most iconic characters Captain America, who many have looked to for hope and inspiration, is and has always been a deep undercover agent for Hydra (an offshoot branch of the Nazis back in World War II). This new concept and 'retconning' of Cap's stories over the last 70 years, seems like a slap in the face to readers and fans worldwide.
While Cap has gone down some dark roads at times, the idea that he was actually working for such a diabolically evil organization all this time seems like nothing more than a cheap gimmick by the parent company to sell more books. Unfortunately, I fear it may have just the opposite effect. Marvel higher-ups seem be banking on dragging the story out for a number of issues that will keep the readers coming back for more in order to find the real truth behind this supposed betrayal of everything Captain America has come to represent.
Of course, longtime comic book fans know that sooner or later this whole storyline will be retconned or weeded out when another writer takes over the book down the road, but still it seems to make little sense to even do it in the first place. This fascination some people have of "dirtying up" iconic heroes who have inspired children for decades, is quite frankly bewildering to me. I see no reason for it.
Yet at the same time, I can understand the allure (from a writer's standpoint) of putting your own spin and touch on characters you've read about for years. So-called Fanfictions do it all the time. People insert favorite characters and sometimes themselves, into dark or unusual stories and taking them places one would never expect. This to me is normal. I did it myself for newsletters, and just for fun, among some of the science fiction fan clubs I've belonged to over the years. But those stories were always for a specific audience, not for the general public. And this is where I have to question the wisdom of decisions like making Superman darker, or muddying Captain America.
The challenge of taking characters to dark places can be exciting, but if you want them to still shine or be even greater beacons of hope than ever before, you better have one helluva finish for that storyline. At present, I'm not sure what Marvel's writers have planned and will be sitting on the sidelines to wait and see what they do. Based on interviews with the editor and writers, I don't have a lot of confidence at this point, but then again writers, like magicians, never shows you what they have planned. They lie and use misdirection constantly in the hopes of giving you a breathtaking finish that leaves you spellbound and wanting more.
I pray Marvel does have something spectacular in mind, because if they don't, I fear they will have destroyed an iconic character who was created by two Jewish men (Jack Kirby: born Jacob Kurtzberg, and Joe Simon; born Hymie Simon) in 1941, who wanted to create a beacon of hope and justice to a world that needed one more than ever.