So Much Going On… But There Is News On The 1st Book

Good day one and all. It’s been a while since my last post, but there has been SOOOOO much going on.

First off, there is of course the pandemic. Here in California, I work for the county and am alternating between being a week in the office dealing with the public, and then spending the next week working from the safety of my home. So, my free time has gotten kind all… um…  Here, let me get the 10th Doctor to explain it to you all…

Okay, maybe he didn’t do a better job of explaining it, but you get the general idea. It’s been REALLY hectic lately.

Besides the pandemic and work, you’ve probably heard about the massive heatwave followed by raging forest fires that have been hitting California left and right. This meant, some power outtages, being on standby to possibly evacuate, and dealing with smoke-filled air (which for both me and my wife Helen is murder on our lungs, since we both suffer severe asthma – which can also be triggered by excessive heat). At this point, I’m presuming a lot of you are getting the picture of how life has been anything but normal for the past month or so.

So, what little time I have some days is usually divided up between any of the following:

  • Write
  • Edit
  • Record another audiobook (bet you didn’t know I’m a voice talent)
  • Work on a book cover (I’m also an artist, too)
  • Spending time with my better half
  • Simply trying to recuperate from everyday chaos
  • Taking care of everyday life business, pay bills, get the car repaired/maintained
  • Grocery or other shopping, etc

Now writing can consist of either a blog entry, actually writing a book, or a short story. I can usually do one of those, but not too much in a single day. Besides asthma, I have Fibromyalgia which means I have only so many spoons to use throughout the day before I’m totally exhausted.

With all that said, in spite of the most recent chaos, I have been making steady progress on the 2nd draft of the first book in “The Pass” saga. Currently, the 1st draft came in at around 61,000+ words. With the 2nd draft that will probably grow and shrink. Although, it’s mostly going to grow and probably come in around 65,000 words.

You see the biggest difference between 1st and 2nd drafts is adding, deleting, or even moving entire sections of the story from one spot to another. Why, you may be asking? Well, it depends on the author(s). For both me and Rich, the 1st draft is all about getting the entire idea down in a story format. Now some people, like my wife Helen, are the kind of authors who can really work an entire scene and even each sentence just right in her head, before she commits it to the computer. She may take a little longer to complete a 1st draft, but that sucker is going to be cleaner and more ready to print than most.  She usually only needs to do a bit of correcting and then send her stuff off to beta-readers. After she gets their input, she’ll put together a 2nd draft and is ready to publish.

Now in my case, I have a loose outline I’m working with which I use to guide the scenes as I’m creating each one. I also have a pretty good idea of the overall story and how it begins and ends, with a fair amount of the middle already planned. But I never have all of it planned out. I wind up listening to the characters as they come to life from the beginning, I get to know them better (and Rich has been finding this to be true as well) so some of what we planned doesn’t always make it into the story. Some characters can be very temperamental and have firm ideas of their own. In my case, a number of those ideas are better than what I had planned and I find myself scrapping mine and going with their suggestions.

So, like I said before, for me (and I believe Rich as well) a 1st draft is just getting the entire idea down period. It may not look pretty or always read all that well, but the story is there. The 2nd draft is where the next big of ‘magic’ occurs for me. Since it takes me some time to get a first draft completed, when I re-read it I find I’ve repeated the same idea/concept in more than one place. So here is where that deleting I mentioned earlier comes in. But now I have to decide where to leave the idea. Was it better in the first place I mentioned it, or in one of the later spots. Then there’s times where an entire scene would work better in another area of the book, so I’ll copy and move that scene to the new location. After which I’ll have to ‘stitch-up’ the area where I removed it, so that section flows properly. And of course, there are scenes that no longer make any sense at all and have to be removed entirely.

However, it’s also during the 2nd draft that I (or Rich) will come up with something new that would fit just right in the story, so then we’ll have to place it just right and possibly rework the scenes just before or after it to make things read smoother for the audience.

I know there are some folks who feel a 1st draft is all that’s needed and then go straight to publishing (especially if they self-publish). Some of them, like Helen are so good at writing they can pull it off and give you a great product. I am I one of those people?

Gee thanks Doctor, go ahead and spoil the surprise. I knew I shouldn’t have invited him into this conversation, he’s so opinionated.

Anyway, when all is said and done, we should have a completed 2nd draft ready for beta-readers before this year is out. After we hear back from those beta-readers and get an editor looking over it as well, then the real fun begins… Draft #3.

Yeah, the fun never ends when it comes to writing, but if you want to put out a good product, you take the time and get it done right. At this point we are looking at a possible September release, or possibly sooner around summer, you never know. But we’re not making any promises about an earlier release. We want this book to be the best and most exciting read for you all, so please be patient. Snippets from the book will be showing up on the main website, as well as on FB and we’ll keep you informed of when that happens.

In more good news, the 1st draft of the 2nd book is mostly complete at this time and will be getting the 2nd draft treatment early next year, which means you won’t have to wait too long between books. And as I mentioned earlier, there is talk of audiobooks already in the works. I’ve already narrated one of my wife Helen’s books (which involves a detective and vampires in 1940’s New York) which is now available over on Audible at this link:

“Forever’s Too Long” – Audible

You can sample my narration there and get a taste of what’s to come. Mind you, I won’t be narrating “The Pass” all by myself. Oh no, Rich, possibly our illustrator Gabrielle Callan, and a few others will hopefully be lending their voices to bring the story to Audible.

So as you can see, there’s a lot coming your way. But as with any project it takes time. But I hope this entry has helped give you all a better idea of what’s going on in the background for Rich, Gabrielle, and myself.  But rest assured, you will all be getting a chance to take you first steps into “The Pass” within the next twelve months.

Until next time, stay safe and happy reading everyone.

 

Collaborations: What Do They Look Like? How Do I Make Mine Work? – Part II

Now in Rich’s case, the biggest challenge the two of us faced was the distance between us.  Now, I’m not talking about ideas or suggestions, we’re actually pretty good on that front.  I’m talking physical, geographical distance.  Rich lives over in North Carolina, whereas I live on west coast of California.  So how do we make our collaboration work? Simple use the following:

                                                    

Rich and I Skype on a bi-weekly basis, sharing ideas we’ve come up with and give each other feedback on what the other has added to the story.  Then through Dropbox, we shared the document, going in whenever we have a chance and add new scenes, ideas, etc.  However, we always read what the other has added first.  We’ve gotten into the habit of hi-lighting new sections in different colors so we both know who added new material.  This way each of us has a good idea of the feel and mood of a particular scene before adding our own touches to it.

Now for the most part this has been relatively easy because we each created certain characters for this book, and they fall mostly under the respective creator’s control.  Plus there are many scenes where these characters are not in the same scene, allowing each of us to add to the overall story by having each character learn more information about the greater mystery and threat, which will bring everyone together in the end.

However, we also borrow each other’s characters for certain scenes we’ve discussed on Skype to consult  on whether or not the character’s behaviors are consistent.  Admittedly, this kind of system means it takes us a while to get a story completed, but at the beginning of all this Rich was working full-time, and I had been studying at university, so neither of us have all the time in the world to simply sit and write.

These days I’m working full-time and Rich is semi-retired and working part-time. So we still have the ‘time to write’ issue come up for us.  Especially when one of us is hitting everyone’s ‘favorite’ (said sarcastically) problem Writer’s Block.

NOTE: Honestly this is not what actually happens, but it bloody well feels like it sometimes.

When this happens to one of us, then our Skype sessions and e-mails become a great asset.  We help each other out by figuring out where the blockage is coming from, does an area need to be rewritten or cut out, etc.  For us, the old adage of “two heads are better than one” really gives us an advantage.  Plus, we are very much on the same page for where this story is heading overall.  But at the same time, by not always telling the other what we’ve got planned in a scene, it allows both the other author the surprise and excitement the reader will enjoy, as well as firing up the imagination to build upon this new material.

Now recently, we’ve added Google Docs to our arsenal. Why we did this is because Google Docs has a couple of features that really makes our collaboration that much easier. For one thing, unlike in Dropbox, we can both be in the document at the same time. Why is this helpful? Because we can see what each other is doing in ‘Real Time’, something we couldn’t do in Dropbox.  Google Docs will let us know who else is in the file and even show us what they are typing right before our eyes. Another nice feature with Google Docs is that when you first open the file, it will let you know that changes were made recently, and will also take you to a lists of where those changes were made. This makes it really easy to see what’s been happening much faster than scrolling through a couple of hundred pages and hoping to find what the new additions/corrections were.

Questions?

Well, leave them in comments section below and I’ll try and answer them in the next installment.  Until then, take care and keep writing.

Collaborations: What Do They Look Like? How Do I Make Mine Work? – Part 1

Welcome to the blog folks.

Rich has been hounding me to finally post something here, so thanks to the current “Shelter In Place” order here in California, I finally have a chance to catch my breath and speak to you all.

As you all know by now, I’m working with Rich on “The Pass”. What you may not know is that I’m also collaborating with my wife Helen on another series. And believe me, both series are quite unique. But first, I’d like to start off with talking about “The Pass” and my association with Rich.

To start off I went to high school with Rich some 30+ years ago.

Note: for the sake of privacy, I left out the clipboard showing his name and arrest number.

Just kidding! It’s not really a mug shot, but I couldn’t resist using this photo because the expression on his face is so serious. Of course I’m going to get an earful later for this, but that’s what friends are for, right?

After leaving Long Island back in the mid-80’s I kind of lost track of some of my old friends, like Rich back there. So when I finally got onto Facebook and found him I was more than delighted to catch up with him. By this time I had already published 2 novels with my wife Helen in our “Para-Earth” series (more about that later). Upon hearing this Rich asked if I’d look over a story for a book he’d been working on for a number of years. I agreed. I knew he was a longtime sci fi, fantasy, horror, etc fan like me and I was eager to see what he had come up with.

As he himself told me in advance, and so did his wife, the writing was ‘dry’. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t necessarily grab the reader right away. But I saw exactly what he was aiming for, namely introducing the reader into the sci fi world he had envisioned. I also saw that he had something really interesting that had a lot of potential, it just needed some fine-tuning to make it grab the reader’s attention quickly and hold onto it.

So we began focusing on writing style and storytelling. During one of our chats he asked if we could do a project together, not the one he was working on, but something new and original. We kicked around a number of ideas and then joked about a supernatural piece in the old west. Without giving too much away, from this jovial talk the seeds of “The Pass” was born.

As for my other collaboration, let me introduce you all to my wife of, coming up to 31 years next month, Helen.

Note: DEFINITELY NOT A MUG SHOT!

I met Helen many moons ago at a Doctor Who Fan Club meeting and quickly became friends. In time feelings developed and we drew more and more close, till eventually… well you can figure out the rest for yourselves.

Anyway, over the years Helen helped broaden my range of reading material beyond horror and some science fiction. In time, she began to start up writing on her own and began a series of both dark fantasy and science fiction short stories. She even submitted a number of them and was almost accepted several times, unfortunately the age of e-books was taking its first steps and a number of the magazines she had aimed at closed down. Between that the low pay for short stories, she put aside her stories and we focused on fandom in general.

Then in the late 2008, I had been working in real estate when the bubble burst leaving us struggling to keep things going. During this time, I had started experimenting with some writing of my own, based on re-telling some storylines from the original 1960’s show “Dark Shadows”. Due to constraints and the unpredictability of the shows’ lifespan, the writers at the time had been working on the fly, so there were inconsistencies that were never fully resolved. So like any other fan-boy, I started playing around with fixing those holes. At the same time I also started adding new storylines that drifted farther and farther away from the Dark Shadows setting entirely. Realizing this I repopulated the stories I’d created with original characters and “The Bridge” was born. This became the first installment of what we came to call the “Para-Earths” series.

From the name, many will deduce that the series involves parallel realities, and you’d be right. But unlike most parallel reality stories that involve twists in human history such as (a person marries someone else, or the British won the Revolution, etc.) we took things in a totally new direction. Encounters with parallel versions of Earth where evolution took a completely different turn. The result is a paranormal/science fiction series containing mystery, psychics, ghosts, and creatures some have described as Lovecraftian.

At this point, most of the writing was being done by me, but Helen had a lot of input and influence on characters, their personalities and ways of thinking, that totally reshaped my original vision. After a number of rejections from agents and publishers (who were even more reluctant than in the past to take on an unknown author), I took the plunge and tried the Independent Author route with Createspace and Smashwords. The first book received a number of 4 and 5 star reviews that can be found on Amazon and Smashwords as well as Goodreads.

She continued to advise and help me develop the second book in the series “The Ship” which also met with more very favorable reviews.

At this point I decided to work on a vampire-type of character, but one that wasn’t supernatural but rather science-fiction based and in keeping with our alternate Earths concept where a man from this reality, landed up in one of those alternate Para-Earths and came back changed. This time Helen began writing alongside me and we came up with a storyline that led to “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”, which became our first Young Adult novel.

We’ve continued together and produced an anthology based on our vampire character and his friends/family, called “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”.

So what does this have to do with a blog entry about collaborations? Everything! In Helen’s case, I literally get to work side-by-side with her. But with Rich being on the other side of the country, things had to be handled in a much different way.

And I’ll go into more details in the next post, so stay tuned and thanks for being here.

A word from Co-Author Allan Krummenacker

This page is under construction, but we urge you to keep checking back to read updates!! 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.