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In the first half of this discussion I talked about collaborating with my wife Helen and how much of an impact she’s had on my writing.

Today I would like to introduce you all to my other cohort in crime, mischief, nonsense, lunacy, chaos, and other things too numerous to mention, as well as writing.

Rich Caminiti and I go back as far as Levittown Memorial High School (Go Panthers).  Mind you shortly after we graduated the school was closed.  Coincidence?  You decide.

I cannot count he number of hours Rich and I spent together both in and out of school.  We shared a number of interests such as science fiction, the paranormal, and a number of great friends.  He was also involved in the Nassau County Auxillary Police and still has his badge from those days.

But when I left Levittown, Long Island (New York State), in 1985 I lost touch with him an so many others.  So I was not there to watch him rise up through the ranks from police officer to Sergeant.  Nor was I around when he served as part of the Volunteer Fire Department as an EMT/Firefighter. I was also not around for when he began one of the most intriguing jobs he’s had, namely Paranormal Investigator (which he still does).   He’s seen and debunked a lot of things and helped to put people’s minds at rest, but he has also encountered phenomenon that is less easily explained and is a true believer in the paranormal.

So you can easily see why I felt so lucky and thrilled that thanks to FB, after 20+ years of being out of touch, to be in contact with him again.  Especially when we started to Skype and it felt like very little time had actually passed since the last time we got to sit down together.  Much had happened for each of us in those years, but the camaraderie we shared had not diminished in the slightest.  So when he asked me to take a look at a writing project he’d been working on and off for the last two decades, I was only too glad to say yes.

What I found was very much a rough first draft of a science fiction/time travel story.  There was a lot of setting the scene in the future, and technobabble, which made it a bit dry reading but there wa sa real story here.  I was able to see the story he wanted to tell and where he intended to take it.  In short, it had potential.  With a bit of reworking his story had legs and wanted to run.  So during some Skype sessions I gave him a lot of the same advice I’ve shared on this blog in the past and acted as a sounding board as he came up with new ideas and helped guide him to rework what he had.  The newer versions I and others have seen are a great improvement and he is extremely fired up to keep it going.

After seeing how far he was coming in such a short time, and because of our long friendship and shared interests, I was more than willing to agree to collaborate on a novel with him. I knew his strengths and insights, as well as how good we could work together.  And I enjoy our brainstorming sessions and how thoroughly he cares about accuracy when it comes to writing in a historical setting.  Which is what we’re doing currently.  “The Pass” will be our first joint project and will involve some interesting supernatural entities that one might not think of blending together for a piece.  But I assure you all, we’re being careful and making sure the beings we incorporate have reasons for being in this setting.  History and the supernatural will be meeting in this tale set during the waining years of the Civil War, but the battlefront will not be on fields of Gettysburg or Atlanta.  This story will be set on west coast and involve a famous pass who’s name is associated with people who tried to travel through it during a terrible winter back in the 1840’s.

We plan on keeping you all updated on our progress and I’ll be helping my partner create a blog of his own so you can all get to know him better.  He’s wealth of knowledge and is only too happy to share with others, which makes him an excellent storyteller, collaborator and very dear friend.

So there you have it folks.  Choosing to work with someone on a collaboration is not easy by any means.  But if you truly feel you can rely on the individual in question and that the two of you can really work as one, then give it a shot.

Until next time, take care and keep writing.


I have been having a tough time getting a completed 1st draft of “The Door” finished by the end of this month as I originally planned.  The story is coming along very nicely, however I had hoped to release it by late September/ mid-October, which is becoming less and less likely.

Furthermore, I had already planned on releasing “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” in December to catch the holiday crowds.  

So I would like to know how you would feel about a “Double-Release” in December?

I have been hearing from a number of people who have been clamoring for one or both books, and I’m perfectly at ease with the idea of releasing both at or around the same time.  

Furthermore, I want to let you all know that I’ve already got at least one other book lined up for the middle of next year, so you won’t have to wait long for another installment.  

Please leave your thoughts on this idea in the comment section below.  Your opinions are important to me, so please take advantage of this opportunity to express your feelings and wishes.  

Thank you.  

P. S.  The next entry will go back to talking about my collaborators and how I chose them.  Until then, keep writing.


After my first book “The Bridge” came out and the 4 and 5 star reviews started coming in, I got a lot of congratulations and support.  I also started seeing something else coming in… requests to work on collaborations.  This was both flattering and disconcerting to me.   I was still very new at this whole publishing business and wasn’t all that confident in my skills at that point.  I knew I needed more experience and didn’t want to wind up dragging someone else’s work down if I’d simply gotten lucky my first time out.  Especially since I was hearing some concerns about the editing in the first version and wound up redoing the book with extra help getting it in better shape.

Still the requests for collaborating kept appearing every so often.  When “The Ship” (my 2nd novel) came out the requests started in again.  By this time I was more confident in my skills, I’d learned a lot after “The Bridge” and had gone out of my way to make sure “The Ship” was in even better shape.

Still I wasn’t feeling comfortable with the idea of collaborating with anyone… except possibly my wife Helen, who had been my science expert and sounding board for both books.  Furthermore, back when I was still working on “The Bridge” she had a dream and was seeing through the eyes of one of my characters Police Sergeant Veronica Ross.  In the dream Helen/Veronica had come across a murder scene and found a strange older man examining the corpse.  She got a good look at the fellow and was able to give me a good description of him; fifties, curly hair slightly graying, glasses, shortish, and just a little heavyset.  However, she knew he wasn’t a police officer but an intruder, so she drew her weapon and told him to ‘freeze’.  Instead he looked up at her and put his finger to his lips, and then did a flip out the window.  Rushing to the window Helen/Veronica saw they were on the second floor of a house and the man landed nimbly on the ground and took off with a speed and agility that belied his appearance.

Another thing she told me was the fact that she just knew this guy was not a villain, but someone who knew about the ‘Para-Earths’ and that he would be a valuable character to introduce down the road.  I readily agreed, but felt awkward about using this fellow she nicknamed ‘The Professor’.  Eventually he was given a real name of Otto Hoffstadter and I had hopes of bringing him in ‘”The Door”.  However, when I started working on “The Door” the story wasn’t coming along very well and I started working on another story with a whole new set of characters which became “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” (which will be out this December).  As that story came developed, Helen asked me if it were possible that my vampyre Nathaniel might have met Otto.  I nearly jumped for joy at that point.  The personality she’d developed for Otto was the perfect match up for Nathaniel, so I established a history between the two and incorporated Otto into that book instead of “The Door”.

Even as I wrote “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” and used Otto, I kept checking with her about how my interpretation of Otto, was I using him right and getting the personality down right?  She gave me honest feedback and I made changes, but as I did so it occurred to me that I might need her even more in the sequel story.  I also decided I wanted to use Otto in another book that continues the story of two secondary characters from “The Ship” (Johnny Cloudfoot and his girlfriend Michelle).  By this time, I knew I wanted to work WITH Helen on both of those stories.  Besides, being my sounding board for ideas, she’d also been acting as my science consultant.  Her knowledge of scientific facts has been a huge asset to my writing.

But most important of all, I knew we could work together quite easily.  We’ve worked in companies together in the past and always made a great team.  I know some people were like “How could you work in the same place with your spouse?  I’d go crazy.  Going to work gives me a break from mine and I need it…”  However, Helen and I actually love spending as much time together, even if it’s at a job.  So working on a collaboration actually feels like the most natural thing for us.  I still plan to work on some books and stories on my own, but I’ll also be helping her with some original tales of her own that are set in my Para-Earth Series.  She knows these realities as well as I do and has some great ideas that I want to see become a reality.  I’ll be introducing some of her work here and over on “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition” blog soon.

However, she is not the only person I’m working with.  The other, was a very dear friend from high school who approached me to look over a story he’d been working on for the last twenty years.  Naturally I was flattered by his request, but I was still a little unsure about my own level of skills. Doing a blog about writing was one thing and working with Helen was another.  But this was a whole new kettle of fish and I really needed to think about it…

TO BE CONTINUED IN MY NEXT ENTRY….


Screenshot 2015-08-09 07.56.08

“The Ship” hit #1 on Amazon U. K.’s Bestseller list.  

AND

aed89-screenshot2b2015-08-082b21-01-12

ON AMAZON U. S. BESTSELLER’S LIST

And there’s still time to get a copy for yourself or a friend.  Click on the link below and then share this entry with everyone you know so they can take advantage too.

Amazon US Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Ship-Every-needs-navigator-Para-Earth-ebook/dp/B00K3A7XG6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon UK Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ship-Every-needs-navigator-Para-Earth-ebook/dp/B00K3A7XG6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

NOTE: This free giveaway ends at midnight Sunday August 9th so act quickly and thank you for all your support.

****FREE THIS WEEKEND ONLY****


“THE SHIP” 

Book 2 in my Para-Earth Series is free for all Kindle Users from now until midnight tomorrow, so grab a copy and spread the word to everyone you know.  

This 5-star paranormal/mystery continues the story of Cassandra Elliot and Julie Cloudfoot, who fought alongside Alex and Veronica in my first novel “The Bridge”

As a result of their previous adventure, these two young ladies have fallen in love and have come to Santa Cruz to see if their new relationship can work, as well as bury Julie’s uncle who had been guarding the bridge as part of his duties as the family shaman.

But there are new problems. Julie is finding out that the shaman mantle has been passed to her, but she things there is nothing to guard against as the being that had lain hidden inside the bridge is no more. However, another evil from another para-earth has arisen and has marked Cassandra is its target.

Now the two will have to fight against a new threat that threatens to tear apart them apart before they fully begin.

Once again ghosts, psychics, and shamans await you in this new story, along with a terrifying ghost ship and a familiar white-haired villain from “The Bridge”

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Ship-Every-needs-navigator-Para-Earth-ebook/dp/B00K3A7XG6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ship-Every-needs-navigator-Para-Earth-ebook/dp/B00K3A7XG6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8


Summer is slowly drawing to a close, especially for me. University will be starting up on the 24th, and I had 2 FREE days left to use over on Amazon Select, so YOU get a treat.

Book 2 in my Para-Earth Series will be available for ALL Kindle users this weekend (Aug. 8-9).

Book Synopsis:

This 5-star paranormal/mystery continues the story of Cassandra Elliot and Julie Cloudfoot, the two young women who fought alongside Alex and Veronica in my first novel “The Bridge”

These two young ladies have fallen in love and have come to Santa Cruz to see if their new relationship can work, as well as bury Julie’s uncle who had been guarding the bridge as part of his duties as the family shaman.

But there are new problems. Julie is finding out that the shaman mantle has been passed to her, but she things there is nothing to guard against as the being that had lain hidden inside the bridge is no more. However, another evil from another para-earth has arisen and has marked Cassandra is its target.

Now the two will have to fight against a new threat that threatens to tear apart them apart before they fully begin.

Once again ghosts, psychics, and shamans await you in this new story, along with a terrifying ghost ship and a familiar white-haired villain from “The Bridge”

Remember, Book 3 “The Door” is coming soon and the events in this story will have a direct effect on what comes. So don’t miss out. So spread the word and be ready to take advantage of this giveaway.

My Thoughts On Collaboration…


This is a post I’ve been thinking about sharing for some time, but hadn’t because I was actually a little afraid to talk about it.  When it comes to writing, the idea of collaborating with someone else filled me with both excitement and dread.  Especially dread because I am not always that confident in my skills and abilities.

Yet, I seem to be doing something right.  A number of people find this blog quite helpful and offer their own experiences which reflect many of my own.  Furthermore, until now writing has been a solitary activity.  I enjoy being the one to make decisions and not have to worry whether or not I offend someone else or hurt feelings.  Oh, I’ve bounced ideas off certain people I trust, like my wife Helen.  In her case, I do this quite often because I consider her much better read and more knowledgeable about science and logic than me.  But in the end, the final decisions have been all me.  So to surrender some of that control is a big step not only for me, but for any writer.

Yet, I’ve recently started working with not just one, but two different people on collaborations.  I’ve known and trust these two individuals implicitly, (especially since one of them is my wife Helen).  And already I’ve been learning a lot about collaborating and I’ve been finding the experience quite rewarding.

Working with another to create something new offers untold possibilities.  With the right person, the two of you can generate entirely new ideas that you might never have thought of on own.   Everyone walks their own path and has their own experiences and knowledge to draw upon.

In a good collaboration, it’s not just sharing the work.  The two of you actually feed each others imagination.  You work (figuratively or literally) side by side, building and creating something new and exciting.  Everyone has walked their own path and has gained knowledge and life experience that they can share, adding a new melody to the piece in question.

And if you start feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the project, there’s someone there to help pull out.

A good collaboration, like the two I’ve been working on, has opened my eyes to untold possibilities.  I can see so many stories looming in the distance and am looking forward to working on them down the road.  But finding the right person to collaborate with… that’s another thing entirely.  And I’ll be dealing with that in my next post.

So start giving the idea of collaboration some thought.  It does hold wonderful possibilities, but it can also bring about new headaches.  So beware!

Until next time, take care and keep writing.

*NOTE: I am not looking to collaborate with anyone else for the time being, so please don’t ask.  I’ve been approached a number of times already and have politely refused.  If you’re wondering why I’ve taken this attitude, wait for my next post and you’ll learn more about me than you probably ever wanted to.*


You’ve just about finished writing your novel and can see the finish line coming up in the distance.  But now you have a new concern to deal with, creating a cover for it.  But what kind of art should you use?  Should it be a photograph, cartoon, an image that evokes feelings from a favorite movie like having several people walking towards the reader like in “The Right Stuff”?  Should it just show an individual who appears in the story, or should it show a scene that’s right out of the book?

So many questions, right?  And the answer is… I don’t know.  Every author has to choose their own path or vision for their work.  It’s not an easy thing to do either, I know this.  All I can say is know your audience and what captures their imagination.  Make sure the art speaks to them and makes them want to pick up your work.

But this can be difficult sometimes.  Tastes in art changes over the years so I thought it might be fun to demonstrate how the style of covers can change over time using one of the legendary Ray  Bradbury’s most famous works, “Fahrenheit 451”.

Here is the original cover when the novel first came out.  Although somewhat cartoonish or simplistic, the image reflects the torment of the protagonist as he wrestles with his work as a ‘fireman’ who burns books for the good of society.  A part of him feels the loss and flames as ideas and words are consumed by the fires he helps create.

Now here we have another cover that was created depicting “The Hound” from the novel.  Although clearly the image depicts an animal at second glance we note the extra set of legs and are left wondering what part this creature plays in the novel.  Unless you’re familiar with the story, you’d never know there was a ‘Hound’ in the book, but it was a mechanical device used for locating and hunting down ‘criminal’ elements.  Furthermore, it did not in the least look like an actual animal.  So although this cover would definitely catch the eye and make you wonder, it doesn’t really say a lot about the story itself.  Again, keep in mind I’m speaking for myself in this entry, not any of you.

This next cover, obviously designed for the books 60th anniversary, is very simple but has good color and a clever image.  Fusing a ‘book of matches’ and an actual ‘book’ is quite clever and assumes the potential reader has some inkling of the story inside.

This next image is both eye-catching and disturbing.  The artwork is something almost nightmarish to me, yet I can see how it works considering the society depicted in the story is rather warped and disturbing.  I can even appreciate the strange ‘hound’ figure which in some ways might have looked even better on the cover of an HP Lovecraft book.  And although effective, I’m not sure this would be a cover I’d want lying around when company comes over or if I had children.

The next cover obviously harkens back to the original design, but with more color and was possibly aimed more at young boys.  Certainly it would catch a younger reader’s eye and again it clearly hints at what can be found inside the pages.

I personally found the next cover very effective as we see an interpretation of what the fireman’s gear might look like.  Plus the reflection of the burning books in the visor again clearly helps the prospective reader get an idea of the storyline.  Plus it keeps the red and yellow colors which hint at fire which is also seen quite frequently in a number of these covers.

In this final image we see a dramatic scene of our protagonist in the middle of a conflagration.  We get a feeling of a fiery future and a clear sense of what a fireman does in that world.

Now as I said at the beginning of this entry, I’m speaking mostly for myself.  Choosing the art for the cover of your book is entirely up to you.  The content, the colors, the message your trying to get across is all on the writer.  It’s your baby, but it is also important to keep in mind how potential readers may react to that image so know your audiences tastes.  Remember you want them to pick your book out of a sea of choices available to them, both online and in an brick and mortar store.

Also, keep in mind to not have the cover depict something that does not actually appear or happen in the book, because then the buyer is going to feel cheated.  I’ve seen many books over the years where that happened and felt exactly that way.  As good as the story might have been, I felt betrayed and had a bitter taste left in my mouth which made me gun-shy about picking up another work by that particular author.

I would suggest beta-testing your cover choices with your audience.  Get feedback on that image just as you would on the story itself.  Remember, that book cover is the handshake that introduces your work to potential readers.  Entice them, pique their interest, but don’t betray their trust.  What is on that cover should show up somewhere in the book, whether it’s a panoramic view of the world the story is taking place on, a moment of adventure, or an image of your heroes/villains.  Play fair and get those readers to pick up your book and leave them wanting your next one.

Until next time, take care and keep writing.


I swear there are days I wish signs like this would appear so I can prepare myself…

I’m sure the image above speaks volumes of what’s been happening with me in the last week or so.  Too many distractions and problems to deal with and very little of me to go around.  I won’t go into great detail but I had a financial crisis thanks to my old health insurance (no I wasn’t sick or injured it was a premiums issue) that is finally getting resolved.  My finances are very thin at the moment but will improve shortly so now I can breathe a little easier again.

I also wound up making a major decision on the university front.  I’ve changed my major from Collaborative Health and Human Services to aiming for a Business Degree.  I’m leaning towards Marketing because there’s a much better demand for that field, as well as getting better ideas of how to market my own works in time.

So slowly but surely I’ve been weathering the storms that have been hitting me left and right.  But all this chaos also slowed down my writing considerably.  Just dealing with all this nonsense left me physically and emotionally drained to the point I had very little left in the tank.

Plus I was having a really hard time trying to decide where to take the next scene in the story.  I had several options but none of them were really going anywhere.  They seemed more like unnecessary side streets that did not lend enough to the main story.

Finally I did the one thing I keep reminding everyone else to do…

Instead of trying to force the story along I listened to what my characters were saying.  They told me where they needed to be in the next scene and I went with their idea.  Suddenly, the story is moving forward again and new tension is building as a result, adding new excitement and mystery to the piece.  So tomorrow, I think I can really settle in and do some serious work on the novel.  I really want to get this first draft completed before the end of the summer so I can get the 2nd draft and editing under way.  Then after a third and maybe fourth rewrite, I’ll unleash it on some beta-readers.  I’m still planning on trying to get “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” out by Christmas as well, but we’ll see how things are going.

For now I just need some down time to recover from all this recent stress.  But I feel like on my path again.  That’s all for now.  Take care everyone and remember to keep writing.


Wait I’m the one writing this story!  How did I wind up here?

Did you ever lose track of where the book/story you were writing was headed?  If the answer is no, then all I have to say is, “I hate you, now will you teach me your ways oh Master Jedi?”

Okay, all kidding aside, this happened to me just recently, and the sad thing was I didn’t even realize that I’d lost my plot until I was about third of the way through the first draft. Now, I don’t know if it happened because I was writing part of a series and was trying to remember details from the previous books, or because I got too caught up in the characters (both old and new), but I still managed to lose my original plot which was quite embarrassing.  I mean I could’ve sworn I left on the kitchen table next to my keys, but when I went back the plot wasn’t there.  Neither were my keys for that matter, but I’m going to worry about that later, first things first.

Up until the point where I realized I’d lost the plot, I thought the story was moving along just perfectly.   New characters were being introduced in just the right time and place, fallout from the big final battle from the first book were being addressed, issues of love an coming out to family were being covered, etc.   Yet somehow, the new threat to the characters had somehow fallen off the radar for the most part.  There was a distinct lack of growing menace for the audience to see coming that the characters were completely unaware of…

There very little hint of the approaching storm that was looming on the horizon, which left the reader with a severe lack of growing tension.  This was especially frustrating to me since some of the new characters were in league with my main villain.  Furthermore, the villain of the piece had appeared in both the previous books as as added menace.  There is a huge mystery surrounding him and this story was to be the BIG REVEAL!  We’d learn not only his secrets but that of several others, including that of a ghostly figure who watches over Cassandra, one of my main characters.

Even more irritating to me was the fact that I have this huge climactic battle that will take the readers to places and introduce concepts you never saw coming!  But I still lost that air of growing tension and menace.  Plus, the path the story was on seemed to be veering further away from my intended goal.  Luckily I knew exactly what to do.  After all, this is my story and I was the one in control of where it needed to head.  The path was mine to alter and move as I saw fit…

So what did I do?  Did I go back and dump most of what I’d already written?  The answer to both those questions is a simple ‘no’.  There were a lot of interesting scenes taking place that had a good amount of tension and intrigue that simply needed a little tweaking or an added cutaway scene.  That’s right, all I had to do was cut away from an existing scene and slip in another one involving my “Big Baddie” which clearly had some connection to what was happening in the existing scene.

In a few other areas all I need to do is remind people that ‘certain people’ aren’t who they appear to be and are actually in league with the villain.  This part is a little trickier because I added a number of new characters and I’m trying to keep the identity of the ‘traitor’ hidden from all.  This can be a challenge at times since I’m keeping everyone wondering who the double-agent really is.  Some writers like to make it obvious, while others like to keep the audience guessing.  I side with the latter, but even if people figure out who it is I still have a major surprise for them regarding that person.

But enough of that, I’m starting to lose the point of this entry.  It’s very easy to lose your way while writing.  The characters and what’s going on in their lives can become so interesting at times that we get swept up in those parts of the stories just s easily as our readers can.  But every so often you need to stop and read everything you’ve written up to that point and see if there are any problems.  Some writers will plow on ahead and complete an entire first draft and then go over it to look for issues, which is perfectly acceptable too.  There is no one right way, there are multiple ones.  The main thing point is to make sure you didn’t lose your plot somewhere along the way.  And if you did, make sure you correct it and get things back on track.  Don’t just do a first draft and declare your work done and rush to publish it as is.  You’ll regret it later.

Until next time, take care and keep writing everyone.

PS: I found my keys, they were in my pocket all long.  Now if I could just remember where I put my glasses…

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