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.