Saturday, March 26, 2016

My Review of Ira Levin's "Son of Rosemary"


 

After getting my hands on the original "Rosemary's Baby", I was fascinated to see where Mr. Levin would take the characters after having left them untouched for almost 30 years. I was not disappointed.

This story takes up 34 years after the conclusion of the first novel. We find Rosemary waking up from a coma she had fallen into some 28 years earlier. Her last memories were of still living in the Bramford, and glancing at her son Andy who had recently celebrated his sixth birthday. From the other side of the walls, she could hear the coven chanting as usual then blackness.

She awakens in the year 1999, to learn that the coven had put her into a long-term care facility under the name of Rosemary Fountain (the last name of one of cults members). Realizing the coven had put her into a coma as they had her friend Hutch, she is outraged and fearful for what had become of her son Andy, whose father is Satan himself. 

She soon learns that Andy, has become a respected man of influence who is loved and reknowned around the world. Thanks to her own celebrity status as Rip Van Rosemary, the woman who woke up from a 28 year coma, she uses a television interview to reach out to Andy and let him know she's alive and well.

After a tearful reunion, she learns that the coven had told Andy she had died in an effort to raise him in their ways. But as Rosemary had hoped at the end of the first novel, his human half made him rebellious and he has been using his 'influences' to thwart his father's plans and machinations. Or so Andy says.

The story continues with Rosemary being both relieved and skeptical of her son's motives and actions, along with the God's Children organization he has formed to make changes towards peace and tolerance throughout the world. Yet in spite of all the good she sees he has done, something still does not feel right. Especially in those moments when his horns peek out (literally) and his eyes turn from hazel to "Tiger". Still she does her best to aid his more noble efforts, not realizing that they are both being manipulated to bring about the end of man on New Year's Eve at the stroke of midnight, when almost everyone in the world will light special candles provided by the God's Children network.

Many have criticized this book because of how the story ends...

****Warning Spoiler Alert--Do not read further unless you want to know what happens****

Satan reveals himself to have been in Rosemary and Andy's midst all the time. He even crucifies his son for rebelling against his plans thanks to his mother's influence. Yet at the moment of Satan's apparent triumph, Andy manages to send his mother back in time to before his birth and arrange her life in such a way that she and Guy (her husband) do not wind up moving to the Bramford, thus escaping the coven's trap.

The complaint with this angle is that Rosemary wakes up from this prolonged nightmare (i. e. "It was all a dream...").  Yet we are given definite hints that it wasn't and that a part of Rosemary does realize what her son had actually done and that her fondest wish that his human half won out in the end.

Like the first book there is not a lot of gore or outright horror, as seen in other Son of Satan works such as the "Omen" series. Instead, Mr. Levin sticks to the spirit of his original work and plays a psychological game with the readers and Rosemary, leaving us wondering until the end if Andy can be trusted or not. 

A brilliant effort by the man who also gave us "The Stepford Wives". 

Monday, March 21, 2016

My Review Of Daphne Du Maurier's "The Doll: The Lost Short Stories"



After reading Miss Du Maurier's classic "Rebecca" I set out to find more of her works, in particular I wanted to read some of her short works.  In "The Doll: THe Lost Short Stories" I found a treasure of tales which left me both fascinated and a bit disconcerted.  

One might easily wonder at how I reconcile those two emotions, but I can safely say I learned from the author herself.  In this collection of early works, we get to see the sharp insight Miss Du Maurier had to the minds of people.  Each story contained in this tome, involve people making bad choices in love and relationships, yet still pursuing objects of affection who are most definitely wrong for them.  Those they pursue are either disturbed, toxic, or playing games with the affections of others. 

Yet, Miss Du Maurier keeps our interest in each tale, as the reader finds themselves reflecting on their own relationships and behavior, or those of family and friends who they've watched go down similar paths.  Each story left me disconcerted in one way or another, which only served to demonstrate the keen insight of the author and the mastery of her craft.  To evoke such feeling and thoughts in the reader is truly a work of genius.  

I certainly look forward to reading more of her works, especially "The Birds" which the great Alfred Hitchcock brought to the screen starring the wonderful Miss Tippi Hedren. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

My Review of "Rosemary's Baby" the Novel...


I've waited to get my hands on this novel for some time and it was certainly worth the wait.
Keeping in mind that this book was written and set in 1967, this novel is tame in some respects compared to the gore and horror many authors and movies unleash on today's readers. But they are able to do so thanks to the efforts of Mr. Levin and other authors who broke ground and explored these mysteries and possibilities.

Rosemary Wodehouse and her husband Guy find themselves searching for a new home in New York City, so Guy can pursue his acting career on the stage, and soon find themselves with the opportunity to rent an apartment in the old Victorian building called "The Bramford" which has seen its share of notorious characters including a Devil worshipper who claimed to have summoned Satan himself some decades ago.

But now, considered a respectable/historic structure, Guy and Rosemary take a chance after seeing the apartment who's last elderly tenant who slipped into a coma and never recovered. The young couple soon get to meet other residents of the Bramford, including their odd next door neighbors the Castavets, an elderly and rather eccentric couple who take an unusual shine to them.

Shortly afterwards, things begin to happen. Guy is getting more roles and his star begins to rise in the theater world as well as drawing attention from Hollywood. Shortly after that, Rosemary finds herself pregnant after a very unusual dream where most of the other residents of the Bramford, including her new doctor, are wearing dark robes and chanting while Guy makes love to her... or was it him?

Most folks know the full story so I won't go any farther, but I will say Mr. Levin does a very good job of creating an atmosphere of suspicion and isolation, while still surrounded by the city of New York.

The ending actually took me by surprise because of the ray of hope that still burned in spite of the darkness that Rosemary finds herself surrounded by.

I look forward to finding the sequel "Son of Rosemary" to see what he did with it.

I also highly recommend this book to anyone who has even a passing fancy regarding the supernatural and black magic. Even though it may not hold a lot of surprises, the story does have a lot to keep the reader busy.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

My Review Of Ira Levin's Classic Novel "The Stepford Wives"


A few days ago, I managed to finally locate a copy of this book at my local used book store and immediately snatched it up.  Having seen both the original 1975 movie starring Katharine Ross, as well as the more recent Nicole Kidman version, I was eager to read the actual book that made the term Stepford Wives part of our everyday lexicon.

I'm going to assume that most people reading this blog already knows the story and how it ends.  If you haven't seen either movie I strongly recommend the 1975 version which is much closer to the book, and not read the rest of this entry until you have because it contains huge SPOILERS!

For those who are continuing to read this post you have been warned...

Mr. Levin once again presents us with an idyllic setting and situation, namely the homey little town of Stepford with its picturesque white picket fences and home town charms.  We meet Joanna Eberhart who has just moved here with her husband Walter and their two children Pete and Kim.  

We quickly learn that Joanna is a modern thinking woman of her time (early 1970's) and is a freelance photographer who has made good money selling her photos to various magazines.  Walter is a successful lawyer who wanted to move from the city and raise his family out in this charming place.

Through Joanna we are introduced to the various residents of Stepford whose female population seems to have a strong leaning towards housework.  On her first night Joanna spots her next-door neighbor who is putting out the garbage.  While this is not unusual in and of itself, the fact that the woman, who is backlit from the light from her open door, appears to be wearing nothing at all.  Even when she returns inside her house, Joanna can clearly see her neighbor's perfect curvy silhouette in the window as the woman continues to do the dishes still naked.  

We soon learn that most of the wives of Stepford are pretty much dedicated to being good housekeepers and making their husbands happy in every sense of the word.

Feeling out of step with the female 'crowd' Joanna is delighted to make friends with two other women who have only recently moved to Stepford; Charmaine and Bobbie.  Charmaine is a dedicated tennis player who has a clay court in her yard, while Bobbie is a strong woman with definite reservations about how the women of Stepford behave, vowing never to be like them.

After a weekend away with her husband, Charmaine proceeds to neglect Bobbie and Joanna who pay her a surprise visit to find she is having her tennis court ripped up to be replaced by a putting green for her husband.  Charmaine has also taken up housework with a vengeance and appears more full-figured than either Joanna or Bobbie remember.  Yet even more chilling are Charmaine's words when she is asked why, "Ed's a pretty wonderful guy, and I've been lazy and selfish..."  Such phrases like this are echoed repeatedly throughout the book by other wives as well.

As in his work "Rosemary's Baby" Mr. Levin uses the supporting cast of characters to present reasonable arguments that Joanna and Bobbie are just letting their imaginations run away with them.   He plants the seeds of doubt liberally, but never enough to be fully convincing.  Especially when Bobbie falls to the same fate as Charmaine, leaving Joanna more alone and afraid than ever before.

But the most terrifying part of this story for me was the knowledge that Walter, like so many other husbands, brought his family to Stepford for the sole purpose of having a 'sexy, obedient, fantasy' version made of his wife, knowing she'd be killed after the copy was ready.  

For me, it was the enormity of this betrayal that provides the true horror for this piece.  The idea that the patriarchal sense of entitlement was more important to these men, than the lives of the women they supposedly loved is inexcusable.

At the time this book was written (1972) the women's movement was still going strong, in spite of facing huge resistance.  Yet 40 years later, feminism is still trying to make progress while being attacked with a vengeance on a number of fronts.  Wanting true equality for all, regardless of sex, gender, skin color, or whatever, should not be a crime or something one needs to fight for.  It should be a right offered to everyone.  

Instead the struggle continues, which is why this book is still extremely relevant now.  Personally I feel this book should become required reading in high school/college in the hopes of opening more minds so that the future holds more opportunities and understanding for all.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Failed Experiment... Or Was It?

When most people talk about an experiment failing, we all get a particular image in our heads...


But, not all experiments take place inside a cartoon or a lab.  Some experiments take place in our writing.  Time and again writers struggle to make a scene or idea work with varying results.  Sometimes we get great results, other times we have to take a step back and have a think...


In any case, it's important to realize that no matter how many times you try to write a book, scene, character, or whatever... you learn from the experience.  The piece may not work out the way you had hoped but you gained knowledge, namely what didn't work.

Recently, in an effort to jump start "The Door" (which had been languishing for months in Limbo because I couldn't come up with a clear path of where to take the story next) I introduced one of up my upcoming characters from another novel which is part of my Para-Earth Series.  Specifically, I brought in Nathaniel Stewart, a human who entered one of the numerous Para-Earths and came back a vampyre.  I had planned on unleashing him on the world in his own book "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home".  I was able to justify doing this because I had written a six part short story over on my other site "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition" where I had Nathan meet Veronica, Julie, Roy and Jason in the past.  Having mixed the characters once before, it seemed only natural that Nathan could show up again in these people's lives.  

The results were very promising.  I began coming up with new scenes and situations that really got the storyline of "The Door" moving again.  Within a few weeks I'd added almost 40,000 words to what I'd already done and the story just kept on growing.  

And that's when I realized I'd made a mistake...


The story was getting TOO big.  By 80,000 words I still wasn't even halfway to reaching the climactic battle I had planned.  In fact, I couldn't even see the finish line looming anywhere on the horizon, period.  Something had to be done. 

I kicked around the idea of breaking the book up into two installments, but the story had gotten too convoluted to risk such a move.  I could also aim for one mega-book, but the story was getting too complex even for me to follow at times.  Something or someone had to go!

After looking over the piece and seeing where Nathan had come into play I began to ask myself, could another 'existing' character serve the same purpose?  Did Nathan have to be the one dealing with this scene?  And every time I asked myself this, the answer came back the same, "Yes, someone else could fill that role.  In fact, this would beef up that character's part in the book..."

So after having gone to so much trouble introducing Nathan into the story, I removed him.


Now some people would say that I sure wasted a lot of time going down this path.  But they'd be wrong.  As I said before, I only removed Nathan,  I didn't remove the more important scenes which I'd created for him that were moving the story forward.  By removing just the scenes where he was interacting with other characters, had a lot of dialogue, and other small bit parts, I wound up losing almost 20,000 words from the first draft.  And now the story is moving forward a good pace with a tighter plotline.  

Furthermore, I've freed up "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" to be released this October.  Had I kept Nathan in "The Door" I would've had to hold back on release Nathan's book.  As it is, I have a good release schedule in place for both books.  

So while the experiment of bringing in Nathan didn't work out completely, it wasn't a total failure either.  And this is something we all have to learn as writers.  We have to try different avenues to get a story to work or get past a serious case of writer's block.  In some cases we may abandon a project entirely, but certain ideas, characters, or plotlines can be resurrected in a brand new piece.  It's all a matter of trial and error.  

Remember...


And sometimes those outcomes can lead to even better stories.

So until next time, take care and keep writing.




Sunday, February 7, 2016

Update On My Collaboration Project...

As you may recall, a while back I revealed that I had begun not one but two collaboration projects.  One is with my wife Helen and the other is with my high school friend and author Rich Caminiti. Working with my wife has not been a problem since she's always been my confidant, science advisor, etc.  

But working with an old friend like Rich... that presented me with some challenges that both thrilled and worried me.  


The biggest concern I had was the fact that he looks to me for guidance in many ways since this is his first full-fledged novel, whereas I already have two under my belt.  He had tried one before but due to the fact that it involves time-travel and altering an individual's personal history, it presented him with a lot of issues that he is still working out.  I've seen the early versions and I think the story has a lot of potential and will be a great read when the time comes.  But before going back to it, he wanted to try his hand at another writing project first, to get more experience and knowledge about the process of creating a novel and getting story-line worked out into a logical and easy to read format.

In some ways I found being in the role of a mentor as well as co-author a little daunting, but I've known him for so long that I trusted in both of us to come to agreements and be open to each others ideas and suggestions.  However, we can both be almost too agreeable, which presented pitfalls of another kind such as trying to fit too many ideas into one story and the main plot becomes muddied and convoluted.  

Luckily, this has not been the case.  We talk every week and discuss ideas and really give a lot of thought to each one to see if it can actually fit into the main story.  If the idea doesn't fit, we'll work and rework it until it does fit or set it aside for another story entirely.  (Remember that file folder I keep on my computer where discarded ideas go, that's where they land up.  Just because the idea doesn't work here, it can work elsewhere or even be the basis for a brand new story.)



As for where Rich and I are at right now, the above image gives you an idea of our thought processes. We have plenty of ideas and red-herrings to throw at the audience, but also a solid progression to the final climactic scene.  

So what is our project?  It's a paranormal/historical piece which begins in a snowy winter in 1846 and culminates in a dangerous race against time to thwart the most diabolical plot to cripple the Union Army in 1863-4.  No, you won't find Abraham Lincoln fighting werewolves or General Grant taking on rampaging hordes of zombie leprechauns (Yeah, I know that last one is pretty far out there but some of the things that Hollywood comes out with sometimes is pretty far out there too, folks).

However it does involve actual historical events and figures, as well as a healthy dose of the supernatural and mythological beings from not one but at least three different cultures.  These cultures include: Native American, Chinese, and even some European mythos.


Yeah, I know it sounds bizarre but I'm being serious here, folks.  Without giving too much away, let me just ask you to think about what was happening in America back in the mid-1800's.  We had an influx of Chinese/Asian immigrants during the California Gold Rush, and the expansion of the railroads.  On the East Coast, we were getting immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Italy etc. due to the Great Potato Famine, unstable regimes, and other events.  With all these different cultures coming to America, they brought religion, ideas, food, cultures, etc.  So why not a bit of supernatural concepts or beings as well?  When looked at in that light, the concept is not so far-fetched is it?

However, it took me and Rich several months to reconcile these ideas and actually formulate a solid workable concept that, based on where we were having the story take place, actually works.  We both did extensive historical research on a number of fronts including the Opium Wars in China, events and historical figures involved in the Civil War, Native American tribes located west of the Sierras, as well as San Francisco here in California.  

Sharing what we learned through, weekly Skype sessions, we slowly pieced together how the story we wanted to tell could take place and blend into the time period and connect with the turbulence of the Civil War.  We also drew upon another event from 1846 which led to the title of our project "The Pass".  

This is part of what makes our collaboration work.  Sharing the job of research, ideas, facts, thoughts and hashing things out 'together' to make a cohesive concept.  There is give and take, as well as turning to each other when one of us hits a mental roadblock or cannot see a way forward.  We're there for each other and offer as much support and friendship as possible.  

So that's what collaboration looks like for us.  How far have we gotten with the story and how are handling the writing portion? 

Well stay tuned.  I'm hoping to explore that area in my next installment.  Until then, take care and keep writing everyone.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Damaged...But Not Tainted


Well, my first week of working for the county started out good and ended with a release... from employment.  I had to step down and leave due to a health issue from a previous employer that dogs my every step... Asthma!  Some years ago I worked in a building that had a very bad ventilation system, which even may have contained toxic molds.  


I tried to fight and argue, but the company insisted there was nothing wrong with their system.  "We've had it tested..." I was told repeatedly.  I even asked to see the test results and specifically know what kind of airborne things they had tested for.  They told me that wasn't possible and it was company privilege.  Finally, I was told that if I wanted to get a test done of my own I'd have to pay for it, AND I'd have to get their approval to allow the people who would do the test permission to enter the building in the first place.  

Really fair and independent, right?

At the time I was too sick to fight 'city hall' and wound up leaving.  But the damage to my lungs remained.  I've gotten better with time, but they've never healed completely and probably never will.  

Fast forward to this week.  We began orientation in a building that I had no problem with.  In fact I felt rather safe there.  But the actual training was taking place in another location which I did not enter until yesterday.  My lungs felt itchy, but I figured I would tough things out.  After all I was only supposed to be there for 12 weeks (that's what we were told in orientation).  Unfortunately, reality stepped in and said we'd be there at least 17 weeks, with the strong possibility that after that this building is where we'd be assigned.

Still I kept quiet.  But then we went on a tour and when I reached the areas where we'd be working I felt much worse.  I continued throughout the day in the hopes that maybe it wouldn't be so bad, but those of you with asthma know what it's like.  It doesn't get easier in a place that's triggering you off.  If it had truly been only 12 weeks, I might've been able to stick it out.  I was willing to try, but when I heard this might be were I'd be staying (and no there was not a way to make sure I'd be located somewhere else after the training) I had to make a decision.  

I couldn't risk being stuck in the same type of situation that damaged me in the first place, so today I tendered my resignation.  


As you can imagine, I felt completely lost and gutted by this decision.  I felt like I let so many people down, but what choice did I have.  I spoke with my better half first and she told me to quit.  She could hear the breathing problems over the phone.  

By the end of the day I asked the trainers if this was the only facility where this kind of training took place.  They confirmed that it was and then said, "Why do you ask?  Is there something wrong, you don't look all right."  I told them my problem and they were very sympathetic but explained that indeed their hands were tied.  

So I came home last night and spoke with Helen who told me not to go back.  So this morning I put on my 'big boy' pants and made the phone call to resign.  Now I had a special ID badge that I wanted to get back to them and the person I spoke with told me to take it to office where Orientation had taken place and sign the forms for my resignation.


Well, I braced myself for the experience and went to Personnel and told them the purpose for my visit.  The folks that greeted me were very sorry and asked if I wouldn't mind talking with one of the higher ranking personnel staff.  I agreed and was shown in to an office where a very nice woman sat me down and talked with me about the situation.  She was very sweet and sympathetic and then asked me a particular question that floored me.  It was "Would you want to come back and work with the county again?  In a a different position and location of course?"  

Naturally I gave her a resounding and enthusiastic "YES!"  

She smiled and told me to keep watching the employment board online and if I saw some positions I qualified for, to try for them.  I took this to mean that the fact that I got on with them in the first place, meant that they considered me the kind of person they wanted in their employ.  


I spent the rest of the morning getting myself back to full-time status as a student at the University and so I could get my full financial aid package, as well as preserve our current residence for possibly the summer if nothing else happens on the work front.

Where do I go from here?  Attend classes, try and get something part-time either at the college or nearby and keep putting in applications for State and County work, as well as write.  In short I move forward and keep trying.

At least now I know that I do appeal to employers and can land something.  Parts of me are damaged, but I'm not tainted.  There's no cloud or stain that tells people I'm "Unemployable", and that means a lot.

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

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hey Allan Why So Quiet Lately?


How come no new posts lately Allan?  Have you given up Blogging?  Is everything all right with you?

These are the questions I've been hearing a lot lately, and with good reason.  With the holidays over and I have Winter Break from University, a lot of you were expecting more frequent posts here.  Well, so was I.  But then life got in the way and hasn't stopped yet.  

What do I mean by that?  Well let me take a moment to gather my thoughts and I'll explain...


After my last post, there was of course the holidays to contend with.  Both my wife Helen and I were in heavy demand so naturally I didn't have a lot of time to even think about blogging.  What time I had available to write I spent working on "The Door", focusing on the confrontation scene I mentioned in the last entry.  

However, even that got derailed by events that began shortly after the new year began. I started getting requests for job interviews which took up more of my time as I prepped and primped to make a good impression.  Then early last week, I got an offer with the County of Monterey, which I have accepted.  

DRAMATIC PAUSE:


The job in question is full-time, which of course means I cannot take a full class load at CSU Monterey Bay, which led to a new crisis.  Helen and I live in off campus-housing, which requires I be enrolled as a full-time student.  We don't have the money or resources to move right away, so I had to put together an appeal to allow us to stay where we are until our lease runs out in May, which would put us in a better position to move then as well as still permit me to take a couple of classes. 

I should be hearing an answer on our appeal late this week/early next week.  In the meantime, we've been exploring back-up possibilities of where to move (which would be really stressful and difficult) in the meantime.  

We have some possibilities in mind, but would really rather not be forced to move at this time as I still have to get past the 'Probation Period' with the county.  They could decide I'm not working out and dump me, in which case I'd simply go back to being a full-time student if no other work offers show up.

All this worrying and running around has taken up most of my time this month and I'm simply praying at this point that we'll be given to okay to stay until the end of the lease and not have our lives disrupted even more.  

So keep your fingers crossed for us that things work out and I can settle into the new job and juggle the classes I'm still taking with time for more writing.

I'll post again later this week or early next week with an update, so stay tuned... and keep writing.






Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Finding My Way Back To "The Door"

As you all know, for the past couple of months, I was pulled away from my writing by all the demands of my classes at the California State University of Monterey Bay.  But now all of that is over, until next semester begins late next month/early February when it all starts up again... possibly, things may change before then.  I'm up for a couple of job interviews which could change everything.

In any case, you'd think I would be eager to jump back into my writing right?  Yes and no.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm still in love with writing, but trying to awaken my muse has been hard.  Being away from my writing for so long left me drained emotionally and mentally on the creative front.  Plus there's been other things I had to deal with which also got pushed aside thanks to all the schoolwork.

Luckily a lot of that is done and I have more time to get back to writing, only I found I was stuck staring at "The Door" and not being able to do anything with it.  

(NOTE: This is NOT the final design for the bookcover... still working on it)

Now before anyone mentions plotting, let me explain that I've always known where the final confrontation was going to take place and who'd be there.  I could clearly see each of the characters who needed to be there having their own special moment.  I even knew why they were there, but I couldn't figure out what they'd be doing DURING the fight.  Most of the scenes I was picturing were aftermath moments, or pauses when the action moved elsewhere, so they had to be on hand.  But what were they doing while the action was happening was puzzling me.  

I tried turning it over again and again in my mind only to realize I was once more dealing with a mental version of my old nemesis the Rubik's Cube.  Only this time it was more intimidating than ever before...


I began to feel like I'd never solve this problem.  Again and again I'd start thinking I had the solution, because I could see the goal in the distance.  I'd even make good progress towards getting there, but then I'd find myself hitting another wall.  It was like wandering through the most frustrating maze I'd ever encountered.


Then yesterday, the breakthrough finally hit me.  I needed to work on the final battle FIRST and then let the rest of the story follow.  I had to place every character I wanted into that scene and find out for myself what they could/would/and finally did in that climactic moment.  Only then could I justify to myself as well as the reader, why they needed to be in this story in the first place.  

Now normally I don't usually work this way.  I've always used a loose outline, like in this case, and knew where I was going and led the characters to that moment.  Plus, I still needed to see what that final confrontation was going to look like for myself.



Immediately, I looked back at my own works "The Bridge" and "The Ship" and re-read the final battle scenes for each of them.  I quickly realized I had a tendency to go for some pretty impressive battles, that seemed almost impossible for any person to win.  But that's always been my philosophy in writing.  The more daunting the odds, the more impressive the heroes are for overcoming them.  

I would have to go big for this third installment, but not just in size.  I had to deliver something new and special for the readers.  I'd given them glimpses into some of the Para-Earths where my previous antagonists came from.  This time I needed to show the readers WHY some of these being needed to be kept out of our world!  

At that moment, I knew what I needed to do... it was time to open "The Door" and let the nightmares from one of those other places come through.   With a threat of this magnitude in mind, I now know exactly how important it will be to have "All hands on deck", as well as how to utilize each and every character in that scene.

So there you have it folks, once again I say "There is no one specific to write a story".   We each may have our own special methods of writing, but sometimes even those techniques may not always be enough.  There will be days when we need to discover and add new tools to our already impressive arsenal.  


I'm very eager and excited to get back to the story now.  I know that working that final confrontation is going to make how I continue to write certain characters in earlier sections of the book much easier. I already knew their motivations for the most part, but I suspect I'll have better insight into their personalities because I'll have a more clear idea of just how far their willing to go for their ultimate goals.

Remember everyone, stories can take many paths.  But in the end its the writer to must choose or forge the right one that will best serve the purpose in the end.


Until next time, take care and keep writing.





I





Friday, December 18, 2015

From Novel To Film - When Are Changes Acceptable?

This is a tricky topic to cover, because as with any form of art the old saying of "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" truly is the rule. Speaking ONLY for myself, it comes down to have characters been cut out?  Were certain scenes reworked to blend into one?  Was the flavor or message of the story lost or enhanced?

Given the holiday season, I decided to focus on one Christmas movie that I consider a true classic, which definitely took some artistic liberties, yet managed to enhance the story in my opinion.  The movie in question is the 1951 version of  "A Christmas Carol" starring the legendary actor Alistair Sims as Ebenezer Scrooge.



Now before I continue, let me assure you all that I have actually read the original story in Mr. Dickens own words many times before and am familiar with what was actually in the novella itself.  And I can safely say his original story was carefully kept intact in this film adaptation.  However, certain additions were made by the producers which for me, enhanced the story and made Scrooge's transition from tight-fisted miser, to a good and generous soul all the more believable.  

The first change I will address was during the visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past, actually a number of the changes took place in this section of the film, but helped make the mood of the piece more poignant.  It is mentioned in the novella, that Scrooge's little sister died giving birth to his nephew Fred, who we meet early in both pieces and his harshly dismissed by his uncle.  Fred even points out that as far as he knows the two have never quarreled and he is continuously puzzled by Scrooge's attitude towards him.  In Mr. Dickens version there is the subtle hint that Scrooge resents his nephew's existence since it meant his sister (who Scrooge dearly loved) lost her life.



In the film the producers added Fran's death scene with Scrooge at her bedside.  In the scene elderly Scrooge sees his younger self leave the room after he believed his sister had passed away and heard his newborn nephew crying.  We see there the anger in his younger self  that is the birth of his resentment.  But after his younger self leaves, Scrooge sees and hears his sister speak once more begging him to take care of and watch out for her son.  Elderly Scrooge is devastated by this knowledge and the scene marks a powerful beginning of his change towards not only his nephew but his own behavior towards the world as a whole.

The producers added yet more past story, by showing us how Scrooge met his partner Jacob Marley as young men, and even further on as their greed made them more powerful men in the community.  But then there was another scene added which takes place shortly after we see Scrooge's former fiancee talking about Scrooge working in his office while his partner lies on his deathbed (this part of the story comes straight from Mr. Dickens work).  


But then the producers added a new scene where we see Scrooge at Marley's bedside, and Marley tries to warn him that they had been wrong in how they behaved all these years.  Naturally, Scrooge does not understand and takes none of his dying partner's words to heart.  This scene actually enhances the original scene of Marley;s ghost coming back to try and warn Scrooge to change his ways earlier in the film.

All of these added scenes help to enhance Scrooge's transformation towards the end of the film, and make Mr. Simms performance of the miser's delight of finding he was still alive and had a chance to redeem himself all the more poignant.


As you can clearly see, for me these changes only enhanced the film and the original story.  Mind you, I am also a great fan of the George C. Scott version as well, which did the novella many great justices, which I may touch on in another entry. 

But for now, I would like to hear your opinions on when is it okay to take artistic liberties with an established piece of literature.  It could be your own work and how you would envision it being turned to film.  We all know that time constraints and costs motivates a lot film-makers so changes are bound to happen.  But if you had a hand in the screenplay, would you allow or make changes or shortcuts, and if so how would you keep the feeling and main plot of the story alive?

I look forward to seeing what you all have to say.  Until next time, take care and as always... Keep Writing!



  

Monday, December 7, 2015

****ANOTHER 5 Star Review for "THE SHIP****

A PAGE TURNER  

5.0 out of 5 stars

ByJohn Maberryon December 5, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified

A good follow up to The Bridge, also by this author. A little slow and moderately confusing at the start with a "Family History" that functions as a prologue but isn't 100% tied into the rest of the story. But other than that it moves along keeping interest and the virtual pages of a Kindle turning.

Cassandra from The Bridge is fully developed as the protagonist and her relationship with Julie, another character from the earlier book is a central feature. Together with a whole host of other characters they battle supernatural forces, some of which are associated with the ones from the earlier book.

While you can read this one without having read it's predecessor, I recommend reading the other one first. If you're into fantasy, paranormal mild horror and a little romance thrown in, you will like this book. I did.


*Available now for just $1.49*

For Kindle click on this link:


For Nook, Samsung, Apple, PDF and other E-readers click on this link:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tonight It Begins...

For all those who celebrate this holiday I wish you every joy and happiness...


May the blessings of this season bring you close to those you love, and success in the year to come.


A HAPPY AND BLESSED CHANUKKAH TO YOU ALL MY FRIENDS!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Gift Ideas For Under The Tree

****LOOKING FOR A GIFT FOR THAT PARANORMAL/MYSTERY READER IN YOUR LIFE****



Psychics, ghosts, and beings that are/and are not from this world await you within the pages of these 5-star stories

Signed copies of books I and II in the "Para-Earth" series are just $10.00 each, plus $5.00 shipping and handling anywhere in the United States. (For overseas shipping will be more of course, and will depend on the destination).  These books are trade paperback sized and will look great on any bookshelf.

*I accept Paypal, checks, or money orders*

Just tell me which title(s) you want and if they're to be signed and personalized. (Some people prefer just signed, which is why I ask).

You can contact me by leaving a message below or by e-mailing me at:

allan.krummenacker@gmail.com

Please note: Normal mailing time is 5-9 days, so order soon to get it in time for Christmas.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

There Are Only So Many Hours In the Day and Only So Much Of Me To Spread Around...

Last time I talked about knowing when to release your book, which also meant knowing when NOT to release your book.  Today I'm here to tell you I'm really glad I am not releasing anything at this time.  Why?  See the image below...


That's me right now.  Last week I had a major mid-term for Pre-Calculus, which is a class I'm still struggling with.  I study more hours for that class and I'm still not fully getting the concepts, so I study even more to try and learn them with only so much success.  I've also got two other classes I have to keep up with, along with doing hours of "Service Learning" which is basically volunteer work over at a local high school.  I have to do write-ups about my experiences at my Service Learning Site as well.  Finally, I'm also working on a major final paper for my third class, so in short I'm running on fumes most of the time.

This week I'm taking two county exams (one in Santa Cruz tomorrow, and then another on Friday for Monterey County).  Plus I've got morning appointments on Tues and Thurs, and I'm doing more Service Learning on Wednesday.  All this is happening around my classes.  



So all of this leads very little... aw hell, I'm not going to lie.  I haven't had ANY time to write or promote anything lately.  And it's not going to get better any time soon.  I may not be able to do any serious writing until shortly before/after Christmas.  

There were a number of people who told me I was making the right decision in not releasing "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" or trying to rush it to be ready.  To you I say, a huge "Thank you!"  You were absolutely right, and I'm glad I didn't push things because I would've either had a nervous breakdown or delivered a very poor product. 

It's been so busy, I've hardly had any time to even think about stories or plot points.  The only thing I've been able to give even the remotest attention to has been the collaboration I'm working on with my friend and fellow author Rich Caminiti.



  We're working on a tale together that involves vampires, the Civil War, and a being from Native American folklore.  An unusual blend, you say?  Well, you're right.  But it's shaping up to be a well crafted tale, in spite of the strange elements we're cobbling together.  For the vampires we're working with are not of western or European stock.  That's all I'll say for now.  

I'll try to keep the posts coming here and focus on aspects of writing and the creative process, but I can't guarantee how frequently they'll show up.  I created this post just to keep you all in the loop as to what's going on with me and why I've been a bit quiet lately.  There's just a few more weeks to the semester, but then the holidays hit.  So I'll be a bit busy with that as well.  But I'll do my best not to neglect any of you or this blog.  

So for now, I'm going to sit here and try to catch up with my thoughts.


As always, take care of yourselves, and keep writing.






Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Possibly The Hardest Part About Publishing A Book Is...

Knowing when to release your book to the public


Every writer, dreams about this day.  The moment your latest work is about to be unleashed.  You've worked long and hard for it and the day has finally come.  You've shed blood (preferably not someone esle's), sweat  (and boy didn't you look hot at that moment), and more than a few tears (I'm not even going to try and make a joke on this one, I know damn well I've shed more than few in frustration, or because I wrote a section that moved me enough to shed them).  So you're all set and ready for your book's release, but in the back of your mind you have to keep asking "Is my work truly ready to be released?" 

Is it?

In my case the answer was a resounding "NOT EVEN CLOSE!"



So, as a result of this fact, I've decided not to release my next work "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" until further notice.

How and why did this happen?  The answer is simple.  In spite of my best efforts I could not give my project the full attention and care it needs to be ready.  For those who don't already know, I am currently attending university over in Monterey, California.  I am currently studying Business Administration, with a focus on Marketing as my goal.  However, there have been ever increasing and demands by my classes which makes giving any attention to my writing, almost impossible at this point and time.  In fact, I'm only third of the way through the 2nd draft of the book.  

Furthermore, I still have to have that draft edited and cleaned up before I can try to locate beta-readers to give me feedback.  Originally, I had hoped to have the book already in their hands at this point, but it didn't happen.  And I';m certainly not going to ask people to sign up at this point, not with the holidays coming hard and fast on us all.  Most folks will have family gatherings to plan for, travel itineraries to arrange and a host of cooking and decorating jobs to do.

Furthermore, there's still one final thing I like to do before declaring a book ready to be released and that is to read it aloud with someone who is a good listener and can hear where there might be an issue with the writing.  This takes a long time to do in my case, because I do it via Skype with my editor.  Even though she's gone over the drafts I've sent and everything looks right, she and I like to read it out loud to each other to make sure everything it reads correctly if someone was doing an audio recording of the work.  
  

An idea that sounded great in my head, or a turn of phrase that both of us thought was really cool, may not come across the same way as planned, which is why we do this.  I know a lot of authors do loud readings of their works and believe me, this may take time but it is TOTALLY worth it.

Why am I so picky about this?  Simple, I released my first novel "The Bridge" too quickly (and had to do subsequent re-releases after a number of errors were discovered).  It was an amateur mistake to make, and even though I was forgiven for it (because, I WAS an amateur at the time) I felt I let myself and lot of others down.  So  I made it my policy to not release a book that has not been thoroughly vetted.  I want people to get their monies worth and be able to enjoy a really nice finished product.

So when is a good time to release your work, some of you may be asking?  Well, here's my answer.  Three to six months after you've got it FULLY finished.  Your cover's ready, it's been looked over for editing issues with a fine-tooth comb, you have a 'Proof-copy' which you've gone through with as keen an eye as possible, etc.  

"Well if I have it all set to go, why wait a couple of months?  Shouldn't I get it out right away?"

Well, that's up to you.  But in my opinion ask yourself some questions.  Is it the right time of year for your story?  Does your tale take place around a holiday?  If  so which one?  Are we getting close to tax season?  If so, you might want to hold off until after everyone's finished stressing because they might need a good read to unwind after all that.  They may not have the time to even give your book a passing glance, much less buy it.

Picking the right moment to release your work can sometimes make or break your sales of the book.  So choose wisely.


I know we're all eager to get our work out there, but sometimes hitting that "Pause" button is necessary for the sake of success.  There might be other issues you forgot to take into account such as, marketing.  What is your marketing plan?  Have you been getting the word out about your project?  Do you have a budget for marketing?  How do you plan to get the most exposure for the book?  Have you been building up a sense of anticipation among prospective readers?  If not, then hit that button.  You're not ready.

I promise to discuss marketing in another entry in the near future.  For now I want to close this entry out with the following.  

My plans for having something published in December at this point is to possibly release a novelette that appeared on one of my other blogs called: "The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition".  It appeared in six installments, but has never been released as a whole book.  It's a holiday piece that takes place fifteen years before the events in "The Bridge" and involves several characters from that novel, along with my vampyre Nathan.  If I do release that novelette, I will make it available in ALL e-book formats: Kindle, Nook, Sony, Apple, etc.  I might also do a printed version, but I'll want to see what kind of demand there is for it first.

After that, I'm hoping to release "The Door" mid-2016, and finally finish Alex, Veronica, Julie and Cassie's current story arc.  I'm not done with those characters by any means.  I have plenty of stories in mind that will involve them, so don't worry.  As for "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home", that will be released around Halloween 2016.  By then it will be in fighting shape, and the time of year will be perfect for a a vampyre story.

I hope today's entry gave you all food for thought.  Timing your release and making sure the product is as good as it can be is crucial to your book's success.  Don't skimp or rush things.  You put a lot of work into that story, so make sure it's in the best shape it can be so it can earn the recognition and praise it deserves.  Until next time, I'll be planning and plotting my own course.  So take care of yourselves and keep writing!