Sunday, April 26, 2015
...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
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...
(click on card to get a better look)
(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.
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
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!
Thursday, March 26, 2015
****My $.99 Cent Birthday Weekend Special Has Begun****
I'm celebrating my birthday by slashing the price of my e-books by 2/3rds starting tomorrow. Books 1 and 2 in my Para-Earth Series are each just $.99 cents at Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo and other locations.
So spread the word and take advantage of this opportunity to get your own e-copies of my 5-Star novels.
Within these pages you'll find ghosts, mystery, love, laughter and suspense unlike anything you've read before. You'll also find beings that are and are not of this world. You can also sample the first chapters of each book for free at Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Amazon.
Just click on the appropriate link below to get the version that's right for your e-reader, phone, or computer:
Nook, Apple and other readers (including PDF for just a regular laptop/desktop computer): https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/1383
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
I'm on Spring Break this week from the university and luckily none of my instructors loaded me down with extra work. So I have some time to myself, finally. I'll try and get some writing done this week, but for now I wish to share some of my thoughts about the future.
First off, "No one panic!" I'm not giving up on writing novels. Writing is my passion and to stop doing it would be like ripping out a huge part of who I am. Writing is not just something I do, it's who I am. So there is no way I'll ever stop. I'm even planning on getting some voice software like 'Dragon' so I can dictate my ideas to the computer on those days when the fibromyalgia is making it difficult to type.
But as for my university studies... I just don't know anymore. Most days it seems most of my instructors are talking about how we're being prepared to not only get a Bachelor's Degree but to pursue a Master's Degree. In fact, most of my classes seemed geared to doing just that and nothing else.
I entered university to gain more knowledge and skills to help in my quest for getting a job in Human Services. But instead I'm hearing (from the instructors mind you) that "These days a Bachelor's is the equivalent of what a High School Diploma was a few years ago. What you really need to do if you're going to get anywhere is pursue a Masters..." etc. Hearing things like this does not inspire me very much. I'm 50 years old, I cannot keep wracking up more student loan debt and do nothing but intern work for the next 4-5 years. PLUS... all this extra studies would take away from my writing and spending time with my wife.
Originally I started university so my wife and I could keep living in the off-campus housing that was inexpensive and an easy commute. But we've discovered this year that my wife is deathly allergic to certain plants in the area where we are living, and the pollens are out of control this year to the point other residents who have lived in this area for years are having troubles like never before. Now both my wife and I have asthma which is being exasperated by these conditions as well making life much harder for us both.
We've both started putting in applications for county jobs and I've got an interview for one county job next week. Yesterday we went to Santa Cruz to get job applications for Santa Cruz Metro, which has some nice job openings as well. We're both going to keep putting in for other decent paying jobs with benefits as well until either of us land something that pays good. We'll probably be moving before this year is over. We are going to try and stick near the water (we live near the Monterey/Santa Cruz Peninsula). But I don't think we can stick it out where we are for more than a year.
In the meantime, I've got 6-7 more weeks of class after this break is over. Don't know how much writing I'll be able to get done, so I'm going to say flat out that "The Door" will NOT be released in May as originally planned. I'm aiming for September to release it and then do a second release in December involving "The Vampyre Blogs".
At this point I'm undecided which tale of "The Vampyre Blogs" to release. I have a complete 1st draft of a novel and a novelette. Both are going to be getting proofread and edited during the next few weeks and will be more than ready to be released in December. The novelette is a Christmas story I posted on my other blog "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition" last year. I am planning on making illustrations for the story to make it more special in book form. The novel would be the normal style I've put out before.
I could use some feedback from you all on what you'd like to see come out first. So I'm attaching a link to a survey so you can help guide my decision:
That's all I have to say for now. I just want to say thank you all for continuing to read this blog and I look forward to hearing back from you soon. Take care and keep writing.
Monday, March 2, 2015
*A Quick Note*
I won't be on FB very much for the next two weeks. I have a 10-12 page advocacy paper due a week from this Friday, as well as a group presentation for another of my classes.
So I won't be around much, but I hope to visit from time to time until everything gets settled.
Needless to say, I won't be getting much of my own writing done either, so there won't be any updates on "The Door", so sorry to everyone who's waiting for word on that book.
All this being forced to put aside so much is making me have some serious second thoughts about the path I'm on at the university. Will be giving this a lot of thought in the next two weeks.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Don't trash that crappy first draft!
Oh it may be full of grammatical errors that would send your high school English teachers into hysterics but that's not reason enough to throw it away. And maybe the plot line may move like a 1920's Model T going backwards up the crooked mile, still is it truly worth destroying? And perhaps most of the characters may be as shallow as a puddle, and probably deserve to be drowned in one, but do not throw that draft away!
Instead I want you read every last word, even if it's hard as hell to get past the first few pages, keep reading! Do not stop until you've read the entire thing.
Why? I hear you ask.
Because, that shitty first draft may be the most important one you ever write.
I'm being serious here folks. And no I'm not going to be going on about how every journey in writing starts with a first draft, or something like that. What I am going to tell you is that first drafts, even the lamest ones, have value.
When I first started writing "The Door", it was going to be the second book in my Para-Earth series. Mainly because it was going take up exactly where the first book "The Bridge" left off. I thought there was no way I could possibly put another story in between the two, even though I really wanted to focus on the second lead couple (Cassandra Elliott, and Julie Cloudfoot) and their blossoming relationship. My original plan was to develop their growing love in the second book, but things were getting too complicated. Too many characters, too many subplots, I had to scale back. So after writing almost 70,000 words in "The Door", I said enough and set it aside. Instead, I followed some "bread crumbs" I'd left myself (see my blog entry from January 31st http://allankrummenacker.blogspot.com/2015/01/follow-breadcrumbs.html) back in "The Bridge" and found an opening.
I had clearly stated that a month had passed between the climactic battle and the events that happened in the epilogue. I had also sent Julie and Cassie over to the west coast. I had plenty of room for a story in between that would involve just the two of them, as well as leading them back to witness the events that took place during the epilogue of "The Bridge". Thus, "The Ship" was born.
But even after I finished "The Ship" and published it, I was not ready to back to "The Door". Instead, a new character had captured my imagination and I began work on "The Vampyre Blogs", hoping to release it next, before returning to "The Door".
However, after finishing the first draft of "The Vampyre Blogs" I realized I wanted to release it around Halloween and the time had passed. So I sent it off to my editor for corrections, even though it was a first draft. I know it will go through many more changes, but in the meantime, I needed to get back to "The Door" because it had to come before my vampyre's first tale. I needed to finish the underlying story arc that was running through my first two books. It's turn had come and I needed to finish it.
By this time it had been over two years since I last looked at it, so it was with experienced eyes that I pulled it out and started to look at the first few pages. Originally, I thought it would be easy to insert just a few scenes and continue the flow I had started, but it didn't work out that way.
Thanks to "The Ship" so many plans and ideas had to be scrapped. And my writing style had changed. A number of people told me how much my writing had 'matured' and now I could clearly see it for myself. So much had to be changed and rewritten. At times it almost seemed too much.
I began to doubt myself and wondered if I was really up to the challenge. Could I really make this story work? Time and again, I kept running up against ideas that no longer fit, and characters who needed to be removed from the story entirely. I began to question myself and ask, "Should I just trash this and start over from scratch?" But then I'd run across scenes that were perfectly fine and still flowed beautifully with the new stuff I was creating. In fact, it felt like what was I creating now was way better than what I'd originally done. And at the same time, the overall storyline was still following what I had wanted all along. In fact, I'd found ways to improve it.
But I was still running up against obstacles and areas where I just wasn't sure what to do.
Then by sheer chance, I was scrolling through the new draft which was being built on top of a duplicate file of the original first draft. But I overshot where I had left off and found a scene I had completely forgotten about. Pausing I re-read my words and was taken aback by the power of the scene and the beauty I'd created. This scene HAD to stay, I told myself. Then I began thinking, 'Are there other scenes like this one I've forgotten?'
So I did the unthinkable...
I stopped work on "The Door" and took a few steps back. Instead of writing, I decided to read every word and every page of the original first draft.
It hasn't been easy at times, but I've been unearthing scenes that to me are absolute treasures. I've also been cutting and removing other scenes and characters who no longer have any place in this book, but might be good for another story down the road. I've saved those sections and preserved them in a separate file folder. Those who've been following this blog know I always urge writers to do this. What may not be working in your current book, might be just the thing you need in another one down the road.
As for the scenes I'm keeping, I am breathing a sigh of relief. Some of them are better than I anything I might have tried to replace them with. New ideas and ways to move the story forward are opening up to me. But I still have to finish re-reading that 'shitty first draft' before I start writing new scenes.
There are more scenes and ideas I've forgotten about, of that I'm sure. I may not want to keep all of them, but I suspect even if I don't keep any of it, they will give me knew ideas. So don't give up completely on that first draft. Save it, learn from it, and build from it. You might even want to preserve certain scenes from it.
All stories start with a first draft that can be more than a little rough around the edges. But without a first draft, you can't begin your story.
Until next time, take care of yourselves my friends, and keep writing.
Friday, February 6, 2015
How are things coming along with your next novel, "The Door"?
I've been hearing that a fair amount lately and I can tell you that last weekend I added another 2000 words to it. This brought the total word count to just shy of 19,000. A pretty good number, don't you think? I'm proud of it.
Unfortunately when Sunday arrived so did something else, my Fibromyalgia.
It flared up with a vengeance and at first I wasn't even really sure it was the Fibro acting up. I thought I might be coming down with a bug a or something. But as the day progressed and became Monday I knew better. There were no other flu or cold symptoms, just fatigue, pain and severe clumsiness which erupted when I least expected it.
So I was forced to take a few steps back and slow down on what I could do. I knew from experience that I'd have to budget my time and energies so as not to wipe myself out each day. I stuck to the most important tasks such as attending classes and doing homework, as well as taking care of the usual tasks around the house. Normally this would have allowed me to have some energies to call upon for being creative. However, life had other ideas.
Almost every day there was some new crisis for me to contend with that I had to use what little reserves I had available, which left me severely depleted and frustrated.
Even typing this entry is taking a bit out of me, but I felt it was important enough to let you all know what's been happening. I hope to get at least some writing done this weekend, but that partly depends on how much schoolwork is dumped on me before today is out.
However I remain optimistic that I can make some kind of progress on the story. I don't know how much, but damn it I need a little victory like that sometimes. I'm surprised the Fibro is being so relentless this time, usually it calms down in a few days, but I seem to be in 'Flare' which may last a couple of weeks.
So please bear with me if I don't post as much, I'm trying to save what energies I have to do the most necessary things. I'll be okay in the end, I always am. I only ask for your patience.
Thanks again and please take care of yourselves and keep writing.
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Recently I went through another bout of Writer's Block.
Actually, I hit this particular wall some months ago. It was while I was still working on the original 1st draft of "The Door" when I encountered the block and it was a doozy. No matter what direction I tried to take the novel in, things just seemed to get more complicated and confusing. Too many characters, too many plot points and subplots going.
In the end I wound up working on "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" story. I had a pretty clear vision of where I wanted to go with that one so I worked on it instead. I did this partly in the hopes of having a breakthrough with where I'd left off with "The Door", but in the end I never got past it.
Even when I completed the first draft for "The Vampyre Blogs" I wasn't any closer to getting past my block with "The Door". Now anyone who's dealt with a severe case of Writer's Block will tell you that it can be a real pain in the butt. Especially when you can't seem to find a way around the bugger. No matter which way you turn, forward, left, or right, you can't seem to get past it.
Well, I finally decided to go back the way I came and see if I could find another method by going over my old tracks (or in this case my previous novels).
This actually worked for me because "The Door" was directly connected to my two previous novels "The Bridge" and "The Ship". Most of the same characters were involved so I had something to work with. While going over the previous books I started to notice little details I had just thrown in here and there for flavor or setting. And it was there I found that I had inadvertently left a trail of breadcrumbs that I could follow, which I did. Soon I saw a whole new direction that I could take "The Door" in that I had never even considered before. What made it even better was the fact that it was a path that was very clear, at least from a writer's point of view. I could plan out little twists and turns to take the reader on, while at the same time still see exactly where things should land up.
Again these details seemed minor when I first put them into the previous novels, but now they were giving new life to the story and it was exhilarating. Who might have known who? Was one of the breadcrumbs I'd left behind in the first story. The audience knew a relationship had existed between these two characters, but the 'leads' in my story were totally unaware of the connection. Upon realizing this I got an idea of how that information could be learned, prompting whole new scenes and plots for "The Door".
Another little crumb came from yet another 1st draft that I plan on getting back to next year. A portrait that hangs in one room was to play a part in that story. But then it occurred to me that the portrait could be used now in a way no one would've expected. An alteration was made to it that will become a huge revelation for my heroes in "The Door".
So right there, an unfinished subplot along with an innocuous piece of setting suddenly provided me with the means to start racing along with the story once more. I still have a ways to go, but at least I feel more on course with the book.
Now this does not necessarily work with all cases of Writer's Block, but you can add it to your writer's toolbox. And it doesn't necessarily have to involve other works you've got going. There might be a piece of scenery or a character quirk inside the story you're working on. Look around see what you've done, you never know when you'll find you accidentally left a trail of breadcrumbs in your wake that might lead to a breakthrough in your story.
So until next time, take care and keep writing.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
This week I started a new semester of classes over at the California State University at Monterey Bay (CSUMB). I'll be going here for at least another four semesters after this one. I try to keep to just 12 units at a time which allows my wife and I to qualify for campus housing. CSUMB has what they call East Campus Housing which is more like a duplex than an apartment. Being a family we have the place to ourselves rather than having to share our space with others.
The rent is reasonable and our gas, electric and cable are all included. So you can understand my wanting to stick around here for a few more years while my wife Helen (who just earned her Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics) finds work and we can start building up our savings again. BTW, if anyone knows any good job openings for a Mathematics wiz in California please let me know. She's sending out resumes and applications like crazy and is eager to find more opportunities.
Anyway, what does all this have to do with anything. Well, taking classes eats into my writing time so I may not be as productive some days as I'd like. However, I'm going to try and keep things going as much as possible. I will be aiming for at least two blog entries a month, but I'm hoping to do more. Especially when one of my classes is a Professional Writing course.
Before anyone gets excited, I'm not talking professional writing for novels, or short stories. This writing class is about writing in a 'professional' environment such as business, non-profit agencies, and professional journal magazines.
However, I'm finding the class and what I will be facing rather interesting. Although the tools of the trade are very similar (good grammar, formatting, editing, research, etc.) one must use a different type of mindset. For instance, I'm going to have to choose a topic and do research on it (sounds familiar so far, right?). But I have to use peer-review journal articles, respected websites (no wikipedia), as well as non-fiction books. From there I have to create a proposal letter, an oral presentation, then a 10-12 advocacy report (single-spaced). This paper will involve a lot of research and rehashing of information that has already been done on the topic while also trying to add some new insight about the topic. I will have to use the APA style formatting that is required of professionals, as well as have certain number of citations and a reference page. After that I have to create a "Letter of Appeal" calling for action/support. Then in the final steps I will have to condense my 12 page report into a one page Executive Summary. I will also have to create a e-portfolio and visual presentation for the class.
I am also expected to have a separate blog just for my class and create 15 blog entries over the course of the semester talking about my topic, or my class itself.
Doesn't sound like too much for one semester right?
But never fear, I'm not going to let it get to me. Instead I'm actually gaining ideas for blog entries about the differences between the types of writing and how I have to change gears mentally from one to the other.
I'll also be posting about my work on the novels and what's going on in my head. I won't be neglecting those kinds of entries.
So stay tuned, have a great weekend, and keep writing.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Hello everyone, today I want to give you all a little insight into how things are going with my latest novel.
Some of you may know that I had started working on "The Door" some time back, but then set it aside to work on "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home". I did this originally, because I'd hoped to get the vampyre book out last October, but of course that didn't happen. My classes at CSU Monterey Bay got crazy with the workload so I couldn't finish in time.
Now, the vampyre book is set around October so I wanted to keep with the whole Halloween timing, so after finishing the 1st draft I've set it aside and gone back to "The Door". This is actually beneficial since "The Door" will temporarily wrap things up for the heroes of my first two novels "The Bridge" and "The Ship". So by going back to "The Door" I can have a sort of trilogy to put out as a box set come Christmastime.
With this in mind I dove back into my first draft of "The Door" which was about 2/3's done. And below you'll see how I felt about this at first...
But then something happened. I'd forgotten where I started that book out and who was where when I completed my second novel "The Ship". Originally I just had Alex and Veronica in the scene at the end of "The Bridge", but at the end of my second novel "The Ship" I had my other two major characters Julie and Cassandra showing up on the scene seconds later.
Now, I figured adding Cassie and Julie would be easy and I wouldn't have to change too much of the scene I'd written for "The Door". Oh there might be a few details here and there, but nothing too major, right? That's what I kept telling myself two weeks ago...
This is how I feel now...
I swear it feels like I'm rewriting just about every sentence, every word, even the commas and periods! Why? Because I wanted to have my four main characters back together right away and so did my audience. In doing this, I changed the entire dynamics and course of events that followed. The main story is following close to the original plan, but the dialogue and actions changed dramatically.
Furthermore, I've also had to remove other characters and events I had planned from later parts of the book as well, because they don't fit anymore. Yet, I'm not disappointed or sorry to see them go. The story I has had it going originally was becoming too complicated. I needed to simplify things a bit. Plus, thanks to "The Ship" I was able to introduce certain new characters there who would be appearing in this third installment, thus simplifying some of the upcoming scenes.
There's still plenty of intrigue and mystery in store for my readers with "The Door". But it's taking a slightly different form than what I'd originally envisioned, which in my opinion is for the better. There's still a long haul ahead, but sometimes you need to walk away from a book you're working on in order to get new ideas and a fresh perspective.
But if you do this, be prepared to be flexible and ready to jettison parts or even entire ideas, chapters, or characters from the story. DO NOT DELETE them though. Save those fragments and put them in special file on your computer. Just because they're no longer useful for this story, you might find they have a life of their own that may give birth to a whole new idea down the road.
Rewriting may not always be fun, in fact it can be downright infuriating at times. However, it can be a very effective tool to help you create a much better product for your audience.
Until next time, take care and keep writing.
Thursday, January 1, 2015
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!
If you're reading this I'll take it that you survived 2014 and are a glutton for punishment because you're still reading what I have to say here. Bless your hearts.
With that said, I'm going to try and start the year off on a good note here by posting the opening section of "The Door", which will be the third book in my Para-Earth Series. This time Alex, Veronica, Cassie and Julie are back together to face threats old and new.
The white-haired man known only as Z has returned, along with the fragment of the creature our heroes helped destroy in "The Bridge". For those who read book 2 "The Ship" we saw Z and his companion help protect Cassandra from the threat that arose from the deeps, but it wasn't out of kindness. He has plans of his own for her and now they're about to bear fruit.
But the girl is guarded by her friends Alex and Veronica, as well as her lover Julie. Plus of course there's the ghostly Brandon who has watched over the girl since the day she was born. However, Z has allies of his own. Betrayal and danger await from the most unexpected quarters.
With all that said, allow me to post the first preliminary sketch for the cover, along with the opening sequence of "The Door". I hope you enjoy, but remember one thing, 'You enter at your own risk...'
The door stood in a hillside near an open field. Grass and weeds had long ago swallowed the stonework that surrounded it, leaving just the portal itself visible. The dark wood looked strange and sinister. In the grain one could almost see contorted faces crying out for release.
Few people came here, if ever. But now tall figure appeared with a long cape of jet black approached. He had long white hair and wore a black frock coat. He strode up to the door and halted. After studying the vegetation around the edges, his eyes fixed on the portal itself. A smile slowly crept over his hawkish features as he turned away.
Strolling along the slope he continued to study the plants along the way. The changes he’d noticed around the doorway were getting more prominent the further he moved away from the portal. Eventually he reached one section where the flora had become almost sinister in appearance. “Oh yes,” he whispered and listened closely to the silence that seemed to have settled in this area.
Suddenly, his cape began to billow and flap even though there was no wind.
The man stiffened and leapt some fifty feet straight up. The folds of his cloak spreading like gigantic bat wings as he descended onto a thick branch of a neighboring tree. Landing with the grace of an eagle, he bent his head and stared downwards.
Smoke-like hands had shot out of hillside itself, reaching and grasping at the space he’d just vacated. With growing satisfaction he watched the ghostly appendages waved about in an almost pitiful manner, knowing their quarry had eluded them yet again. Finally, they slowly sank back into the dried leaves that covered the ground, and disappeared from sight.
Stepping off the branch he landed nimbly and proceeded to move away just in case the offending appendages tried to make another attempt to accost him. But nothing happened, much to his delight.
His cape fluttered briefly in the still air.
“Yes, they have become much weaker,” he murmured as if answering a question only he could hear. “We’ll start keeping closer tabs on the girl.”
Once more the black fabric moved of its own accord as if in response.
“Yes, keeping watch over her would be difficult for us. The son of Jerome has been watching her more closely than ever after that business on the other side of the continent. But I have other allies who will keep us apprised of her movements,” he told his garment. “They are already in position as a matter of fact. Thanks to them I know Cassandra is in Connecticut right now, visiting the very friends who helped kill your parent.”
This time the ebony shroud did not move.
He was not surprised. The being was primitive in many ways. Loyalty to its progenitor was not part of the creature’s nature. Then again, it wasn’t his either. After all he did share a lineage with his intended target. He’d even orchestrated her birth, but only to make sure the bloodline was as close and true to that of the original ‘key’.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
First off, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year's Eve. We've gotten through another year, and I hope that whatever you do to celebrate tonight, please be safe.
This past year has been another interesting one, especially with the release of the second novel in my Para-Earth Series. "The Ship" has gotten a number of 5 star reviews and has been hailed as better its predecessor "The Bridge". Although both are connected, each novel stands on its own and can be sampled for free at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. For those wondering, I've made the first 30 pages of each novel available for sampling (that's right, I don't skimp).
I also created a new blog titled "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition" (link: http://thevampyreblogs.blogspot.com/), which serves as a preview of my next venture into the Para-Earth Series. On this blog you can meet my first vampyre character, who shares many strengths and weakness of the creatures of legend, but is decidedly NOT undead. I've been posting short story entries on that blog to help introduce him and several other characters who will appear in the novel itself. However, none of the entries on the blog will be appearing in the novel.
Looking forward to the coming year, one of my goals is to release book #3 "The Door" which will reunite the characters from my first 2 books as well as placing them all in new dangers from old foes they thought vanquished. Underlying mysteries and loose threads from the first two novels will also be addressed as one character's entire life will be explained and changed forever. I'm hoping to release "The Door" towards the end of May.
Also planned for release in October/December of 2015, will be "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home", the first in that part of my Para-Earth Series. *Note: I will continue to also release short stories which will act as supplemental material, on the blog site itself.*
I am also currently trying to decide whether or not to try placing "The Bridge" and/or "The Ship" into the Kindle Unlimited program. Neither has been doing very well in sales for the past few months in spite of all my advertising. A part of me is getting the impression that people are unwilling to take a risk on a little-known author. Whereas in the Kindle Unlimited program, people can 'borrow' as many e-books as they like for a set yearly fee. The author's get a percentage every time their book is 'borrowed' earning more money and gaining new readers.
But the downside would be I'd have to remove the books I place into the program from Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and other non-kindle places. So I really could use some feedback from all of you as to whether or not I should take such a drastic step. Therefore I ask you all to leave your thoughts and feelings in the comment section below. You are my audience and are very important to me. I don't want any of you getting short-changed because of any decision I make.
I'd also like to hear from any authors who are already in the program and wish to share their experiences.
Anyway, this is all I have to say for now as we all get ready to close out 2014. I look forward to hearing from you all in 2015 as I continue to share my knowledge and experiences on this winding road of book publishing.
Take care, stay safe and keep writing everyone.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
What's in a name? A novella or novelette is just a short story that is rather long and falls short of a full-length novel right? Well according to my research, this is only partly correct.
Length or word count, is the key to what defines a short story, a novelette, a novella and of course a novel. I admit I was rather surprised to see that there was a difference between a novella and a novelette. I always presumed they were just interchangeable terms for the same kind of extremely long short story.
Why was I even interested in finding out about all this in the first place you may be asking yourself. Well I'll tell you. If you hadn't heard already, I decided to do a short story that involved my vampyre character Nathaniel Steward (who will be getting his first full-length novel around October 2015) and several of my characters from my first novel "The Bridge". I did this because I was hearing from more and more readers about how they'd missed Veronica, her boss Roy and a few others who did not appear in my 2nd novel "The Ship".
Now I had already been thinking about doing a short story for Nathan, to help fill my ongoing short tales involving him over at my other blog "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition." The entire purpose of that blog is to build an audience for Nathan in advance so I could hopefully have a large group of people eagerly awaiting the release of his first novel. After all, unless you have a name like Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, or J. K. Rowling, you really have to work to get your name and novels known to more people.
So then it occurred to me that since Veronica and company live in Connecticut, it gets awfully snowy up there which would be a great setting for a Christmas tale. However, I realized I had to be careful not to let any short story interfere with the current storyline running between "The Bridge", "The Ship" (my second novel), and my upcoming novel "The Door" which I hope to release in May 2015. So how could I do a crossover with these characters?
The answer was simple. Since Nathan is already over a hundred and fifty years old, he has a lot of room for past history. Whereas Veronica, and her boss Roy Petersen, are 45 and 60 respectively, in the novels. So of course they also had room for untold encounters with various people. So there was plenty of room for these three to have met some time int he past... and thus my story was born.
So I set my story to take place in 1999, which allowed me to bring back another beloved character Jason Cloudfoot, as well as his niece Julie De Luca-Cloudfoot who continues to play a major roll in the novels. Only in this tale, we would get to meet Julie as a little girl who is just starting to demonstrate some of the shamanic powers that define her today.
Now I had my cast, a setting, a time frame and an idea. What happened next is what always happens to me when I write. My short story kept growing and growing. I kept getting more twists and turns to throw in and the ideas kept flowing. Before long my word count grew and grew. When I finally finished my 'short story' was weighing in at 13,700 words, which came out to be twenty-five single spaced pages.
I really had to sit back and wonder at that. Had I actually created a novella instead of a short story? So I did my research and learned the average length of a short story was considered to be around 7,000 words.
Obviously I had almost double that number so I checked further. This was when I learned that a novelette was not the same as a novella. The word count for a novelette ranged between 7000 and 20,000 words (which is where my tale fell into). Looking ahead I discovered that a novella averaged in 20,000-50,000 words. Anything beyond that was of course considered a full-length novel.
So why does any of this matter? So what if I wrote a novelette instead of a short story? Simple, the difference comes in when you try to publish the piece and market it to your readers. Tell people you're offering a short story and they say, "Oh how nice... and you want how much for it? It's just a short story. I want to get my money's worth..."
But once you tell them its small novel of sorts, then they might become more willing to spend a bit more to read your tale. I've seen people offering short stories that are less than a 1,000 words long for $2.99 or $3.99, and wonder why they're not getting many takers.
You have to offer the audience substance and value for their money. So labeling your work properly is very important.
Well, that's all I have for you today. If anyone would like to see what a 'novelette' looks like here are the links to all the installments of my winter holiday tale below. I broke it up into six parts so more people could enjoy the story without needing an e-reader:
"Home For Christmas: A Para-Earth Holiday Tale"
Until next time my friends, enjoy the holidays and keep writing...
Thursday, December 25, 2014
****MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE****
Both my books "The Bridge" and "The Ship" are 1/2 off from now until January 2nd, 2015. So take advantage and grab some 5-star tales for you new Kindle, Nook, I-Pad, I-Book etc.
Each novel is only a $1.49 instead of the usual $2.99. So you can get both books for the price of one. Enjoy and spread the word to everyone you know. Book 3 will be coming out in mid-2015, followed by my first vampyre novel in late October.
Apple and other readers (including PDF for just a regular laptop/desktop computer): https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/1383
Monday, December 22, 2014
I had planned on releasing a special short story on Christmas Day for all my readers. The original idea had been to make it available for FREE on Smashwords, so everyone could have something to download on their new Nooks, Kindles, I-Pads, etc. Unfortunately, due to a heavy last minute "cram-everything-into-the-last-few-weeks-of-the-semester" by my professors at the university, I never got to do a cover and several other things that needed to be done to the story before it could go up on Smashwords.
So instead, I've been releasing the story in chapters on my other blog "The Vampyre Blogs - Special Edition".
What makes this story so special is that it involves not only my vampyre character Nathaniel, but several other familiar faces from my first published novel "The Bridge". I also set the story sixteen years in the past so as not to conflict with the events that took place in "The Bridge".
I'll continue to release more chapters each day up until Christmas where the story will reach its climax. Depending on the response I get, I hope to do the same thing next year with a brand new story.
At the same time, I'll be releasing the current story in its entirety for Kindle, Nook, and other e-books with but with an original artwork cover, proper editing, and possibly some illustrations (fingers crossed).
In the meantime, let the holiday reading begin. I'm providing links to Parts I and II just below. Tomorrow I'll post the link for part III and so on until Christmas day. I hope you all take advantage and enjoy the story. Please leave feedback here or over at "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition".so I know what you all thought of the story and your opinions on my releasing it installments.