Category: About Writing



Thank you cardFirst I’d like to thank all the guest bloggers, authors, and reviewers who were so kind to supply our blog with posts. It gave me some much needed time to get some rest and help family members who had suffered a terrible loss. It also allowed us to get back to work on our anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time” which will be coming out in early October, a perfect time for creepy stories and tales of encounters with strange beings. With only two stories left to be completed and edited, we will soon be lining up Beta-Readers and then doing our final edits.

Work has also been progressing on “The Door” latest full-length novel in the Para-Earth Series, and “The Pass” the first installment in a brand new series co-written with Richard Caminiti.

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In the meantime, I have been studying and purchasing the necessary equipment to begin audio-readings. As you can see below I’ve been slowly setting up a “Recording Studio” in our office/guest room.

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Now some of you may be asking “Why are you doing this? Don’t you have enough writing to do?” Well the answer is simply, a growing number of people have been telling us that they’d love to get our books but they prefer “Audiobooks” because they don’t always have time to sit and read. Or they lose track of the book they’re reading, etc-etc. This I can believe because I know a number of our co-workers are driving from over the hill from San Jose or Monterey, you name it. Plus, there are a number of folks who always have earbuds on and are not always listening to music.

“Why do it yourselves? Why not hire someone to do the reading and converting them into audiobooks?”

Once more I refer back to a number of folks who’ve actually heard me doing public speaking and reading aloud who insist I should be the one to do the audio-readings. And there are a number of readers who would prefer to hear the words spoken by the one who actually wrote them. This is a preference I share, I love hearing the author bringing their work to life because who understands the story better than they do?

As for how soon will any of our books be ready for audio? I’ll simply say that we’re just experimenting with audio-readings at this point. I’m going to try my hand at some classic short stories by others like HP Lovecraft and share them here and on YouTube to get feedback and maybe some tips from those who are more experienced in doing audiobooks. Furthermore, I want to know what it’s like doing audio recordings, who knows it may lead to a new character or even a storyline. After all they say write what you know, and drawing from life is always a much more satisfying for me when I’m creating a story.

Now if any of you are interested in hearing what happens on this little journey, I am planning on sharing in detail what I experience and learn as this adventure continues. I’ll be starting with the equipment and why some of it was chosen in an upcoming entry. And as I said before, I’ll be sharing some of the actual audio recordings for you all to get a taste of what the results are like.

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Again some of my first attempts will be short pieces by other authors some which are in the Public Domain. I’m choosing those first because there is a volunteer project called LibriVox which is similar to Project Gutenberg which takes books/stories in Public Domain and are making them available for free here on the internet. However, it’s much easier to reproduce typed words than it is to get audio versions and LibriVox depends on volunteer readers to record and submit works for public enjoyment, especially for those who are blind for instance.

So, that’s all I have to report for now. In the meantime we’ll finish getting the anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time” ready for release, as well as getting other writing projects closer to finished first drafts.

Until next time, keep writing!

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      Today we have the pleasure of welcoming Author Sheryl R. Hayes as our guest blogger who shares her insights about writing and tells us about her exciting debut book “Chaos Wolf”.  Take it away Sheryl…  

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Stringing Words Together To Create A Yarn

    Aside from using tools that are stick-shaped, you wouldnt think that theres much similarity between writing and knitting. Believe it or not, there are a lot of parallels.

      I have been a knitter and crocheter for about ten years, and creating costumes for the last six. I have been writing in some form or another for over twenty years, but started my novel about six years ago. My processes for writing a book and creating a costume are strikingly similar.

    I start by deciding on what I am going to make. Be it a Cruella De Vil or an urban fantasy novel about werewolves and vampires, I need that seed idea to nurture.

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    Next I figure out how I am going to do this. I study other costumes similar to what I want to do. I choose my yarn and pick out patterns to modify. I read other novels in my genre. I make up my characters and write my outline.

     You would assume this is where I dive in, but Im not quite there yet. If Im not sure if this will work, I make a few samples. Ill make what is called a swatch by knitting a four by four inch square. From that I will get an idea of how the finished project will look and can estimate how much yarn it will take. I will write a short story or a few scenes to get the feel for my characters. Once I feel comfortable, I begin the actual creation.

     Now begins the hard part. I begin the fabrication, which takes up the bulk of the work. At first its cheery because I am MAKING SOMETHING AWESOME. (Yes, I think about it in capital letters.) But as my fingers start to get sore and my brain stops providing the words, I start to wonder WHY DECIDED TO DO THIS and WILL I EVER FINISH???

     Then, I start noticing the errors. Plot holes appear in my beautiful prose. I discover on row ten that I knit row seven twice, or worse yet, dropped a stitch. Sometimes they are small holes that you can fix easily with a few stitches or a few words. Occasionally they are large holes that require you to rip parts out and, in a bad situation, start over. I pull the yarn off my needles, open a new file, and begin again. Lather, rinse, repeat until to my surprise, I have all the parts made. No more holes to fill. Now it is time to put it all together.

     Once I have all my pieces in place and all my prose written, I work on assembling the finished product. I start sewing pieces together to create the base of the costume. I pick any accessories that I need to add that finishing polish. I send my writing out to editors and beta readers to find out what needs to be rewritten to make the prose sing. Ill hire a cover artist and write the bits and pieces that will be used to promote the book.

     And when Im done with all the knitting and the typing, I have something I am proud to show off to the world.

Bio:

     Sheryl R. Hayes can be found untangling plot threads or the yarn her cats have been playing with. In addition to writing, she is a cosplayer focusing on knit and crochet costumes and works full time at a Bay Area water company. You can follow her at her blog http://www.sherylrhayes.com, on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/sherylrhayes, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sherylreneehayes

Chaos Wolf:

Bitten by a werewolf. Taught by a vampire. At this rate, shes going to start a war.

     Literature major Jordan Abbey ordered a double mocha latte, but it wasn’t supposed to come with a side order bite by a love-sick werewolf. When a vampire comes to her rescue, gut instinct tells her he has questionable motives. But hes the only one she can trust to help get in touch with her inner animal.

     Within a week, her smart mouth lands her in trouble with the hostile alpha of the local pack and the stiff-necked vampire elder. She now has less than a moon cycle to master shape changing… or else. And the besotted werewolf who started this whole mess is stalking Jordan and killing her friends. He won’t take no for an answer.

     In the Northern California town of Rancho Robles where the children of the Wolf and the Bat share an uneasy coexistence, one woman makes an epic mess of the status quo.

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Chaos Wolf Excerpt:

     He gestured toward the couch. “Would you like tea, coffee, or soda?”

    “Soda, please.” Although she wasn’t thirsty, accepting what he offered seemed the polite thing to do. She sat down on the leather couch and rested her elbows on her knees. “Don’t you only drink… um

     “Blood?” Montgomery finished the question for her. “No.” He stepped into the kitchenette. “I can and do drink and eat other things. It’s kind of like eating junk food. There’s no nutritional value. I enjoy the flavors and textures. I don’t like to do it too often, though.”

     Jordan tilted her head to one side. “Why not?”

    His lip curled into a half smile. “I can’t digest matter like when I was mortal,” he explained. “I have to purge it in a different way.”

    She blinked, puzzling it out. Understanding dawned on her face. “Oh… Oh!”

    One red-and-silver can in hand, Montgomery stepped out of the kitchenette. “When I last saw you, you were hightailing it out of here, never to return.” He gave her the soda and took a seat in the chair sitting at a right angle to the couch. “What happened?”

    Jordan stared down at the soda and rubbed her thumb over the frosty top. “After I left, I went home. I didn’t tell anyone about you.” She gestured in Montgomery’s direction. “I went out to try to forget what happened. When I came back, I found out my roommate’s boyfriend had been mauled to death.”

    Montgomery stiffened. “Did you see the werewolf?”

    “No,” Jordan said. “I didn’t even think he was real until” She paused and shivered, sloshing the soda in the can. “All I could think about was finding you.”

     Montgomery’s lips moved to form a curse. “Did you come directly here?” He stood up and crossed the small space separating the chair and the couch. “Focus. It’s important. Do you think you were followed?”

     “No. The police took me and Molly to the station. We’re not allowed to go back to our apartment until sometime tomorrow after the super gets someone in to” Jordan’s voice broke. She swallowed. “Clean up. I spent two hours getting on and off buses to make sure I wasn’t followed.”

     Montgomery sat down on the couch. “Good thinking. If the werewolf was following you by scent, that should have thrown him off your trail. If he was tracking you by sight, you would have spotted him. Or he would have broken in here by now. You’ve been lucky.”

    “Lucky?” Jordan’s shoulders tightened and her fist clenched, denting the can inward. “I’m being stalked by something out of a horror film and you think I’m lucky?”

     “Yes,” Montgomery countered. “If you had been there instead of your friend, the werewolf would have finished what he started.”

     “Finished what he started?” Jordan put the soda on the table unopened. “You make it sound like he let me live.”

     “He did,” Montgomery stated, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

     She stared at him with an open mouth. All the movies and books she had seen taught that a werewolf would rip out her throat as soon as look at her. The female victim never survived the attack. “But why?”

     “You haven’t figured it out yet?” Montgomery appeared nonplussed by her reaction. “He wasn’t trying to make a meal out of you, Jordan. He was claiming you as his mate.”

Universal Book Link: https://www.books2read.com/chaos-wolf

 Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B2RTFCV/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1


 In my last entry I explained how I had settled on the idea of Parallel Realities for the premise of my series.  But what could I do with it that was new and different? Well as Doctor Who would say, “This is where things get a bit tricky.”

      We all know that a lot of choices are man-made, but events are also a major player in our world and our lives.  There’s an old school of thought that says, for whatever choices we make another alternate timeline exists where a version of ourselves exists who follows the path not taken.  I began pondering this concept and asked myself, “What if not just choice could lead to a parallel reality?  What if events that didn’t happen in our reality, did happen in another reality?  And what might be the consequences and effects of that event?”  This idea really intrigued me and I began to think about the concept on a much LARGER and OLDER scale…

      Current theory says that that moon we all know and love was made as a result of an event that took place in Earth’s very early childhood, long before the first dinosaurs or any life-forms evolved.  At the time our planet was much bigger than we know it to be now and it was hot and molten.  Then another planet crashed into our world and literally knocked the stuffing out of us.  Debris was scattered into space and floated there for centuries while the two worlds slowly fused into the size and shape we know now.  As for the debris, caught in the new Earth’s gravity it circled around our world and slowly coalesced and formed the moon we all know and love.  This also explains why moon rocks brought back by our visits showed the same compositions as are found here on Earth.

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      With this thought in mind, suddenly all the beings and entities I had been thinking about writing suddenly became more real to me.  They weren’t aliens from other worlds, or magical demons from other dimensions, they were Earth beings.  Just not from this reality.  They came from alternate Earths where either the creation of the moon or some other kind of cosmic event (an asteroid that missed us in this reality, actually struck and brought some microbes, or some other kind of calamity) changed that other Earth’s development which in turn altered what kind of life might or might not evolve.  I quickly realized that the possibilities were endless and that I wouldn’t have to limit myself to just one alternate version of Earth.  I’d have dozens or hundreds available for storylines…  In that moment I came up with the phrase Para-Earths.

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      Of course this led to new questions I needed to answer such as how do these beings slip out of their versions of Earth and into ours?  Do people from our Earth wind up slipping into those alternate earths?  Are the beings from these Para-Earths malevolent, friendly, or simply following basic instinct like herbivores and carnivores, etc.
      As for the how they manage to intrude into our reality I propose thinking of reality as a tree with loads of branches.  If you actually look closely you will find that branches of course give birth to new branches and in turn to the same, and so on.  Yet a number of these branches will rub up against each other at one time or another. 

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     Now if you picture Earth as we know it to be one branch, and one of those Para-Earths as another branch, they too can brush up against each other and a doorway opens between the two.  In my writings, this is a naturally occurring phenomenon that occurs every so often.  The reason no one notices is that it doesn’t always happen when someone’s around to see it, from either this Earth or the Para-Earth that is brushing up against us.  Sort of like the old “If a tree falls down in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise?” concept.  Even though no one witnessed it, the event happens.  But occasionally someone is there and they see something strange in the woods or out of the corner of their eye.  However, the timing of the opening can be short or long so by the time that person who saw something out of the corner of their eye can turn to focus the event is already over.  Other times, they stare and stare, or maybe they walk towards it and suddenly the doorway closes and they’re left wondering if they need glasses or to stop drinking.
      My first two stories (“The Bridge” and “The Ship”) focused on two occasions when many years ago two openings lasted long enough for strange beings from two different Para-Earths entered our world and got stuck here. 

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        In the third installment “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”, two new dimensions were added to the mix.  First I invited my wife Helen, who knows much more about actual science and science-fiction than me (and who had also helped me develop a number of the characters and concepts introduced in “The Bridge” and “The Ship” to actually join me in writing the story.  The second dimension that was added to the endeavor was to focus on a man from our Earth being the one who intruded into a Para-Earth and the consequences of his being there for that world as well as his own. 

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    Of course there are many more stories to come.  Even now Helen and I are currently putting the finishing touches on our first anthology that mainly focuses on characters from “The Vampyre Blogs”, but also re-introduces a couple of characters from “The Bridge” and “The Ship”.  The collection will be the first of what we hope will be many and is currently titled “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At A Time”.  And for those who are wondering, yes we are planning on a major crossover where all these characters comed together and many secrets are revealed.  

     We’re also working on at least 4-5 full-length novels, several of which are already under way.  And we have countless ideas for many more.  In time, depending on how popular the series becomes, we may invite other authors to join in and help expand the series, just as HP Lovecraft gave permission to fellow authors like August Derleth, Robert Bloch and others to expand and build upon his Cthulhu Mythos. (Note: to this day, his Cthulhu mythos is still being expanded by modern writers long after his passing back in 1937). 

     As for how many of these Para-Earths exist alongside our own, we don’t know.  Nor do we know all the different life-forms that may be encountered in the stories down the road, for not all of them have presented themselves to us, much less shared their secrets.  What we do know is that some can exist in this reality, or try to, but don’t always succeed.  Think about all those articles that appear in news feeds about the remains of ‘monsters’ being found.  Suddenly all those stories take on entirely new implications, don’t they?

         

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      In the meantime, Helen and I hope you enjoy the stories we’ve already put before you.  Let each tale open your imagination and fill it with wonder.  There are rules and science behind a lot of the lifeforms you will encounter in these books, and we will do our best to explain them.  In fact, we will be eventually adding another section to the blog called “Encyclopedia Para-Earth” or something along those lines where Helen will go into the science aspects of our series, exploring certain creatures we use and their real-life counterparts from the real world.
      We’d also like you all to keep in mind that not every Para-Earth being we introduce to you and our characters will be hostile. Some are simply strangers in a strange world, and just because their appearance may be monstrous, does not mean they are.  In some cases, you may find yourselves being introduced to lifeforms that have become the stuff of legends in our reality.   So strap in and join the adventure, you never know who or what you might meet along the way.
      Until next time, keep writing!

You can find our books at these online stores:

Amazon: The Para-Earth Book Series

AmazonUK: Para-Earths UK

Smashwords (Nook, Apple, Sony, Kobo, PDF): Para-Earths

Barnes and Noble: The Para-Earths Series


Having just recently passed the 5 year anniversary mark of the release of our first book “The Bridge”, we thought it might be nice to share with you all just how this journey began.  Where did the ideas for the Para-Earth Series come from?  Who and what inspired the concept?  And finally, for those who haven’t had the opportunity to actually read any of the books but are curious to know more, what IS a Para-Earth?  To answer all these questions, let’s begin with a familiar opening from a very familiar television show from the 1960’s…

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“Submitted for your approval…” these are the opening words written and spoken for the Twilight Zone by its creator Rod Serling.  In that place, people found themselves facing death, adventure, revelation, terror, or even worse… themselves.   So in the spirit of the late Mr. Serling, today’s entry is submitted for the approval of all our readers (whoever and wherever you may come from) as I guide you through the process of how the Para-Earth Series came into being.

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     In the early 1900’s Mr. Howard Phillip Lovecraft (often referred to as HP Lovecraft) created a series of stories that would come to be known as the Cthulhu Mythos.  In these tales, the audience was introduced to beings from not only outer space, and some cases out of time.  Some of these creatures were here on Earth long before man ever took his first breath.  Yet as familiar as the names of Great Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, Nyarlothep and others, these were actually only a part of his fantastic imagination.

     Wizards, alchemy and magic also played a large part of his writings. So did tales where human nature reverting to something more primitive and sinister, without help or influence from Cthulhu and his kin.

     Mr. Lovecraft also dabbled in tales of science such as the ultraviolet wave machine that revealed things of such malice and horror that it was only by the saving grace of a barrier neither we nor they saw, that kept us safe.

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       Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, more well-known for his famous detective Sherlock Holmes, also dabbled in tales of the incredible.  In one story he created a jungle in the air where beings existed among the clouds (mind you this was the time of bi-planes and early mono-planes when aviation was still taking its early steps into adulthood).  In this setting, many of these creatures were merely curious, while others seemed almost playful.  But like any jungle, this setting had predators.  Luckily these ‘air jungles’ were in pockets scattered above us, which was why most flying machines of his day passed untouched and safe.  But occasionally… well you get the idea.

     All of these stories, along with many others were floating in my head when I first conceived my fictional reality.  I knew I wanted to create something that had numerous possibilities for expansion, yet still have a thread that connected all the stories that were to come.  There were to be intrusions into our reality, but why and where from eluded me.

     My brain kept going back to Mr. Lovecraft’s tale of the ultraviolet wave machine that revealed beings existing side-by-side to us, just out of sight by laws of reality we never suspected.  This held a lot of promise, but I felt as if I were intruding upon the works of a great man who cast a shadow as large, or even larger, than Great Cthulhu himself.

    Then I read an introduction in one of the Lovecraft collection of stories, by Robert Bloch, another great writer I truly admire.  I quickly learned that Mr. Bloch was not only a contemporary of Lovecraft, but a friend.  And in this introduction he extrapolated upon the various aspects of Lovecraft’s own life and how they became part of his writing world.  One of those aspects was dreams.

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     In that instant, I thought about some dreams of my own.

      Now I don’t know if I’m an ‘experienced dreamer’ like Lovecraft’s Randolph Carter or just an average one.  But time and again there are certain types of dreams we all seem to share at some point.  Those are dreams where we are living a very different life from the one we know in our waking hours. In these dreams, family and friends are readily recognizable to us.  We’ll even meet some who were merely part of our childhood, and long since parted ways.  Yet in these dreams they can show up and we know everything about them as if we never parted. In fact, an entire life’s history is known to us in these dreams where we are single, married to our real-life partners, or to someone you never would have thought of as a love interest.  In other cases you might be in love or married to someone you’ve never even met, but in that dream and in that moment, you know everything about them.  Then we wake up, back in our beds in this reality.  Naturally the dreams fade from memory and we’re sometimes left with feelings of having lost something, while at the same time we wonder, ‘Where did all of that come from?  Was it the burrito?  The pizza and the late night talk show circuit?’

 

      In my case I began to wonder if maybe it was something more…

    The realism in those dreams, at least in my case, were so remarkable that I could wake up with a feeling of having had a breathtaking experience, or even a terrifying one.  Sights and even touch seemed so real to the point that if something unexpected or unnerving happens I would react physically and jolt myself awake.

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      I then began to wonder aloud about the theory of parallel realities.  One school of thought is that for every choice we don’t make here, it’s made elsewhere.  So I began to wonder, what if a part of our mind (which is still vastly uncharted) had slipped over to one of those parallel worlds and we were inside the version of ourselves that lived there.  This would explain why we seem to have a full set of memories in the dream and know those who appear, even though in ‘the real world’ we’ve never met those people.  In short, what if we were getting a chance to see and know what had happened if we had made those other choices.

     At this point, my imagination was really getting fired up.  Some kind of parallel reality setting held a lot of possibilities for me.  However, it is also an area that has been explored so many times in books, short stories, movies and TV.  What could I bring that would be knew and fascinating for readers?  If I were to aim in this direction it had to be something new and different, something audiences had never encountered before.

TO BE CONTINUED…

In the meantime you can find our books at these online stores:

Amazon: The Para-Earth Book Series

AmazonUK: Para-Earths UK

Smashwords (Nook, Apple, Sony, Kobo, PDF): Para-Earths

Barnes and Noble: The Para-Earths Series

 

 


I’m letting one of my co-authors take the helm here at the blog today.  So allow me to introduce one of my oldest friends and partner-in-crime Rich Caminiti, as he shares with you his own wisdom about writing on a budget.  Take it away, Rich…

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    Welcome my friends, and thank you to Allan for letting me write my piece for you. In his last musing, he spoke of his computer woes not only about his desktop but his laptop as well.

      Well, I too seem to have shared the same fate. But wait, I’m getting to my point! I had to wait and pick up a new laptop which some of you may have seen my post about setting it up. (To a computer technician, to get this perfected to our satisfaction takes forever!)

     When Allan needed Microsoft Office I surmise and Helen had told him about WPS Office which cost him nothing. A very excellent deal! Five second ad and all.

     I also told my cohort that I could give him Office 2016 Pro for free, he thought about it for not even a moment and said that he wished to use WPS Office. While appreciative of my offer, he did not want to advertise something that he didn’t use himself. That’s integrity. So, I offered up an alternative to him that would forego the nag screen (the ad screen). That alternative is called OpenOffice.

    When OpenOffice was created by Sun Inc., for those who remember, it was pretty much to get back at Microsoft. It appears the two were in a battle about Sun Java and Microsoft machine Java. Well, MS won the day. So Sun went about creating OpenOffice. It not only could open MS Word doc’s, excel and PowerPoint files, but edit them and save them in the same format as well.

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     So you want to write and you can’t afford MS Office, either go with WPS Office, or OpenOffice, and you wont go wrong. Take a look at the screen shot I’ve included above. You’ll see almost all the functions of MS Word. Meanwhile, take a peek at the program!

     Thank you all and keep writing my friends.

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Sorry for the delay in posting this second section, but I’ve been having issues with the Kindle version of my first novel “The Bridge”.  Amazon has been alerted to the problem and are working hard with me to get the problem resolved.  I’ll be creating another post here sharing what happened and how we got things resolved shortly.

In the meantime, back to our discussion about working and juggling multiple stories…

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So where was I?  Oh yes, why finding that I could work on multiple stories was such a big deal for me.  Anyone who is creative will tell you that when you have that creative mindset going it gives them a surge of satisfaction that’s like no other.  Our minds love to be active and focused on something.  But for artists, writers, musicians, anyone who’s got a creative mind, not having the brain working on something can be frustrating.  You start to feel stale, or like you’re not doing your part somehow.  This is a big part of why writer’s block of any kind, can be so frustrating.  We get that adrenaline rush and excitement when we’re creating, so to find ourselves stuck can actually be devastating over time.  The more you’re in a rut the angry you become with yourself.  So in my case, having multiple stories to work on means I’ve always got something to keep the old noggin busy and have that adrenaline flowing.

Plus there’s a genuine excitement to coming up with a new idea/concept, new characters, and situations. Mind you, you can get too caught up with generating new ideas and scenes without getting anything down on paper or your computer.  Even if you do manage to get the ideas down if you’re too busy just creating and generating, you may find you wound up doing nothing with all those fantastic ideas and have nothing to show for it in the end.  So watch yourselves.  Been there and done that, so I know of what I speak.

Furthermore, finishing a piece can be every bit as exciting as creating so don’t deny yourselves that pleasure.  Even if it’s just a short story, completing one can really raise you spirits and keep the creative juices flowing.

Why do I keep harping on keeping those creative juices flowing?  Because in my case, any victory is important.  As someone who suffers from Fibromyalgia, I can tell you any victory, however small helps.  It can be a daily battle to accomplish even the smallest tasks during a Flare-Up, and keeping your spirits up while fighting great pain is essential.  So every victory, no matter how small, counts.

Brain Firing

But just as important is the fact that we’re training our brains to think and operate a certain way.  When I hit a roadblock on a piece, working on something else for a while actually gives one part of my brain time to rest.  I’m not worrying about the story I’m stuck on, I’m problem-solving another one.  Then when I go back to the piece I’d been stuck on I come at it with fresh eyes and a more open mind.  I’ll look back to see where I got bogged down.  And since my brain has been solving other problems, my mental muscles are up for the challenge and may come up with something totally new that blows the writer’s block away.

Does it always work?  No.  I may have to come back to a piece multiple times before finding the way forward, but it does happen.

Mind you, at this stage of my writing career, there is one drawback to working on multiple projects, it takes me a long time to get one completely finished.  Yet, there is a bright side to this.  You see, several of the works I’m currently involved with are over halfway done already.  And since I don’t like to release more than one book at a time, this means I will soon have a number of finished works that I can parcel out over a period of  2-3 times a year.  This of course satisfies the readers’ cravings for more…

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While at the same time I get breathing space to build up more pieces for later release.  For me, this is one of the biggest benefits of working multiple stories.  In the short term it can seem a bit of a slow process, but when looked at in a bigger picture, it means you’re building a reserve for yourself that can help keep your audience happy and allow yourself some breathing room during those slow productive periods.

Well, that’s all I have to say for now.  Until next time, take care and keep writing my friends.


When I started out on this writing journey, I never saw myself as someone who could a whole bunch of writing projects going at the same time.  That kind of thing was reserved for some of the great prolific authors like Isaac Asimov, who was notorious for working on multiple projects on a regular basis.  The man insisted on having a portable typewriter or two wherever he went.  And if he couldn’t get his hands on a typewriter, he’d pull out a pad of paper and a bunch of pencils/pens and wrote the old fashion way, long hand.

But me, I could never picture myself even thinking about working on more than one story at a time.  In fact, the very first novel I started working on was set in the early 1800’s and I had gotten about 2/3’s of the way through the tale when my wife pointed out that a historical piece would be harder to market.  On hearing this, I gave it some thought and put the story aside and began a whole new piece which eventually turned into my first published novel “The Bridge”.

After finishing that book, I thought about going back to the piece from the 1800’s, but wound up moving forward with my current characters, one of which had connections to the family who were featured in my unfinished work.  However, moving forward was still difficult.   I was taking college classes which of course made excessive demands on my time.  But that was only natural.  School had to come first, however when we moved to Marina so Helen could attend CSU Monterey Bay, I took two years off from studies and focused more on my writing.  Which in turn led to my finally finishing “The Ship” which I released back in 2014.

From there I began work on a third book with those characters, which is still underway at this point and time.  What happened?  I was having difficulties in building the story, things were getting too complicated.  Too many characters, too many ideas, it was turning into something too unwieldy.  Yet I still wanted to be writing, so I wound up putting it aside and started up “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.

With that book I had a more clear idea of where I wanted things to go, who the characters were, and how it would end.  Plus, I had a co-author, namely my wife Helen who had been my consultant on the first two books.  Mind you it still took another 2 years before this book was ready to for release, however I didn’t mind it so much.  Why?  Because I had started up another blog, called The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition  https://thevampyreblogs.wordpress.com/, where I was regularly writing short stories involving different characters who were to appear in the novel.  The idea behind this was to  build an audience for the book before it was released and create a loyal following.  Yet by doing this, something wonderful happened.

I wound up training my brain to think about more than one story at a time.  Writing all those shorts, was a great exercise and now I find myself thinking about multiple storylines on a regular basis.  Now why is this such a big deal to me?  I’ll tell you in my next entry.

I know, I know, I’m cutting things off just when things are getting even more interesting, but this post is getting pretty long and I still have much to say.   So please be patient and I WILL have the 2nd installment up in a week.  Until then, take care and keep writing my friends.


Well, we’re mostly settled into our new place, so the dust is slowly settling from all of that.

 

 Well mostly settled.

 Still unpacking and organizing where we want things to go and how, but that’s just normal after a move.

But sometimes figuring out how to organize your story and where you want certain events or revelations to go can also be pretty tricky.  It can even lead to problems I’d never thought about, like Writer’s Block.  Or, as it was with me recently,  STEALTH WRITER’S BLOCK!

Now what I mean by that is a kind of Writer’s Block you aren’t even aware of.  To give you an example, this is what happened to me.  I had finished a particular scene in my current novel and had moved way beyond it with the rest of the story.   But for some odd reason, I kept finding myself going back to that scene and wondering about it.  It would happen every so often then I’d get back to where I actually left off writing.  But soon enough I was back to that scene again.  And slowly my whole writing process came to grinding halt as I kept studying that scene and dwelling on it.  It took me a week or more to realize what had happened and that I needed to fix that scene in some way to make the rest of the book make more sense and feel complete.

At this point you can see what I called it “Stealth Writer’s Block”, and I had a bad case of it.  I kept turning that one scene over and over in my mind, like I was working on a Rubik’s Cube.  I got so desperate I turned to a Magic Eight Ball and started juggling it just for giggles.  Giggling at this point is not a good sign.  If you find yourself suffering from this, please see a doctor at once.  Preferably “Doctor Who”.

 

 Ah, much better…

Seriously, I find watching something I really enjoy sometimes helps me get past writer’s block.  It allows my mind to wander, while being entertained.  A part of my brain analyzes the story I’m watching and breaks down its pacing, plots, subplots, characterization, etc., while the rest of my mind is being entertained.  Then I’ll compare what I’ve analyzed with the scene I’m stuck on and poof, inspiration hits or in this case insight.

After watching my shows and sorting through my musings, I finally realized what was wrong with the scene, nothing.  It was fine as it stood, it even worked well with the overall feel of the novel.  So what was bothering me about it, you ask?  I could expand and change it ever so slightly to important provide foreshadowing for events coming later in the novel.

So I went back and made the adjustments I envisioned and cranked out between 3000-7000 words in a couple of days.  I even cut down the overall word-count for the novel at this point leaving myself room for extra scenes I had in mind for the climactic final battle.  For those who are wondering why I’m worried about word-count I’ll address that in one of my upcoming blogs.  It is something all writers have to be aware of when you are creating the final version of your work which you intend to send to agents or publishers.

Now I have my book back on track and its looking much better.  The story seems more gripping and the overall flow feels more natural to me.  So beware of the dreaded “Stealth Writer’s Block”, it may appear at any time.  It may even have its claws sunk into you at this moment, if it does I have this advice.  Take two episodes of whatever is your favorite show and then call your manuscript in the morning.  Once it shows up for breakfast give it a really good going over and see if any tweaking might be needed.

Until next time, keep writing.


Having finally gotten moved out of my old apartment at CSUMB, and into a new one, I can finally start getting back to regular postings here.  I’m not taking any classes this semester either which also frees me up to do more writing in the future.  And let me tell you all, I’ve been feeling the itch something fierce.  Some days I think of myself as a parent whose been neglecting his kids, and I’ve hated it.  But this doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking and plotting like crazy.  Once I get going again, which will be soon, look out.  I’ve got plot twists and turns that will make a game of Twister played by a bunch of octopuses, look boring.

However, I haven’t only been thinking about story ideas, I’ve been thinking about some of my recent experiences with one of my collaborations.  Those who’ve been regular readers have already been introduced to my high school buddy and partner in crime Rich Caminiti.  

We’ve been working on an unusual story that involves certain historic events in the 1800’s and mixing mythical beings from not one but several cultures.  While this may sound complicated, the way we’ve been working the story all of this makes sense and will take the reader on one of the wildest adventures you’ve ever read.

But how we’ve gotten this far is the real topic today.  Our collaboration has been one of friendship, respect, consideration, and trust.  Rich and I are able to raise questions about ideas the other has come up with, without fearing for our friendship.  But how we approach these things is the key.  Being the more experienced writer, I’m more used to scrapping ideas or changing things in mid-stream if it’s not working for the story.  However, not every idea has to be scrapped.  Sometimes they just have to be approached in a different way.

Recently, Rich was designing a scene where our two male protagonist characters (he created one, while I gave life to the other) were having a heated discussion about how to tackle facing an enemy that seemed unstoppable.  I was not keen on this concept at first because it seemed to be a cliche namely “Two alpha males butting heads, but their friendship will survive… yadda- yadda…”

Now as a rule, I try to avoid cliches.  In fact I may set up scenes that seem like they’re going down a familiar path and then stand it on its head and shock the reader with something very different.  I was almost tempted to talk him out of using the scene, but held my tongue because he’d worked so hard and was so keen on the idea.  So I kept my own counsel for a while and my mind kept going back to the problem.  Finally, I started thinking about the situation from the point of view of the “Alpha” I had created.  It occurred to me that what was troubling me with this scene was the fact that my character does not have an “Ego” per se.  He’s not really human so he does not always act or react the way one would expect.  Yet by the same token, he has been a leader of packs before.  Many times in fact.  But he has also relinquished that role because he knows when the pack is relying too much on him, instead of its own kind.

With this in mind I saw the scene Rich had created with new eyes.  The two alphas are surrounded by officers and soldiers who are waiting to be told how to take on their enemy.  My alpha who I call “Hunter” is already held in high esteem by these men and knows they are looking towards him.  But deep down he feels his cohort is better suited to lead this ‘pack’ and allows the tension to grow so that his comrade will be seen in a new light.

When I suggested this angle to Rich his face lit up as we Skype’d.  The whole scene took on a new meaning and direction that he absolutely loved and started running with it.  Hunter’s decision not to be leader becomes even more poignant when it is revealed that he needs his friend to lead the charge on one front, while he takes on the enemy on another front in a battle that will literally shake the heavens.

I love working with Rich for many reasons.  He’s created some excellent scenes that I’ve been able to build upon and vice versa.  Our collaboration is unusual in the fact that we each work on different sections of the story, while keeping one another posted on what’s happening so the other can refer back to those events or have characters react to them.

We also discuss scenes where our characters are together and plot out how to have things unfold then one will write the scene and allow the other to make adjustments for dialogue or behavior that is more fitting for certain characters.  This of course means it takes us longer to finish a story, but the results have been really impressive.  We each bring certain strengths to our endeavor such as his expertise in military manuevers, weapons, chain of command, historical facts, etc.  While I focus on more of the paranormal, or unusual, personalities, behaviors, and making stories go in unexpected directions.  Together we are a stylish team…

Um… well sort of stylish I guess.

Anyway, the thing is with collaborations its important not to get too wedded to certain ideas.  You’re a team.  The story is what’s important.  Check your egos at the door.  And if there’s something you don’t agree on, let it simmer.  Explore and examine the issue from multiple angles and take a variety of approaches.  Maybe in the end it does need to go, but maybe not.  Be ready to compromise without being a doormat.  You’re a team.  Work as one and be prepared to work and rework the story, just like you would one you did completely on your own.

When I write with Rich, or my wife Helen, I want them to shine just as much if not more than me.  I want their contributions and inspirations to be seen and applauded.  Just because I’ve got more stuff out there than they have, doesn’t mean I have all the answers because I don’t.  But I’m more than willing to be taught by them, as they are to learn from me as we continue our writing journey together.

That’s all I’ve got to say for this entry.  If you’ve had any experiences with collaborations and wish to share them, please put them in the comment section below.  We’re all here to learn from one another.

Until next time, take care and keep writing.


When I last posted I had shared how Helen and I received a Kindle Fire for Christmas back in 2015 and that I had started learning more about how to use it and to download books.  Again, many of you thought, “That’s it we’ve lost him.  Good-bye paper, hello electronic…”  But that did not come to pass. It took me a little while to get used to the page turning abilities and how many paragraphs there are on an e-page (usually less than in a typical printed book from what I can tell).  The simple swiping of the pages on the Kindle really threw me for a long while, because I’d accidentally go to far and would then have to slowly swipe back to get to where I needed to be.  Then recently I learned there was a simple App already on the Kindle that when used would simulate the turning of a SINGLE page and even had the sound effect of a paper page turning which solved that problem for me.

Yet, I still enjoyed pulling out my paperbacks and hardback copies of books.  As a writer, its much more satisfying to smell a book, and feel the cover in your hands, as well as actually be able to put your signature inside a physical book.  But as the days have drawn on and Helen and I have had to start packing in anticipation of moving to a new place, I really took notice of how many books we had.

Every bibliophile reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about.  You find sometimes you have more (heavy) boxes of books than you do most other things as you pack.  Plus you find yourself wondering, “Am I really going to re-read or need ALL of these?”  This question came up several times… okay I lie, it came up a LOT of times in the last few weeks.  Part of the solution for us was to sell some of our less desired collection to book stores for “Store Credit”.  Yes, the collection will expand once more in the near future MWAHAHAHAH!  But in the meantime it meant less boxes for us to take with us.  Yet, we still found we had more than we actually had room for.  The solution to our problem came in the form of our recently acquired Kindle.  Many of the larger books in our collection were anthologies which were rather heavy in some cases.  Now, in case you haven’t heard, both Helen and I suffer from Fibromyalgia which means we’re in pain and our muscles do not always act the way we wish them to.  On some days, holding one of those heavier volumes could be more of a discomfort than a pleasure as we tried to forget our physical pain.  So we replaced most of those books with e-book versions, allowing us to keep the stories we loved but manage them more comfortably.

I believe most of you can already see where this is going.

Also, during the recent holiday season I had heard that famous song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams on the radio which brought a new thought to mind.  There is the passage, “There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmasses long, long ago…” which had always struck a chord with me.  Why ghost stories at Christmas?  I already knew from my mother who had been born and raised in England that this was a tradition back there, that stretched long before Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”.  So I began researching and found that this was indeed true and even learned there were collections of Christmas Ghost Stories out there.  Many of them were out of print, BUT could be obtained for the Kindle.  So I wound up getting several collections really cheap on Amazon (free or for just .99 cents) and have been enjoying tales from famous writers such as Algernon Blackwood, M. R. James, Ambrose Pierce, and many many others )who I’ll be covering in future entries).

However in the case of Mr. Blackwood, I got a collection of ALL his works in one volume.  Now let me tell you this is a BIG collection, which would’ve translated into either a book with very tiny print or a really large and heavy book which may have wreaked havoc on my Fibromyalgia.  So getting it in e-book form was just right for me.

Yet when I take a bath or am relaxing on break at work, I love to pull out a lightweight hardcover or paperback and enjoy myself.  Having a Kindle has not ended my love of reading, but merely allowed me to have another avenue to enjoy books with less strain.

So as you can see, I have learned to use my Kindle as a tool.  It permits me to deal with my physical limitations, while also allowing me to see how the latest book I’m putting out appears to e-reader fans.  I get to see firsthand how the layout is looking for myself and make whatever adjustments are needed before releasing the story for others to enjoy.  In fact, I order physical proof copies, as well as electronic ones, because I want to make sure my readers are getting a good product that they can be proud to own and feel like they got their money’s worth.

As you can see, for me there is no Print vs E-book struggle.  It all depends on how you choose to build and maintain your collection.

That’s all for now.  So until next time my friends, take care and keep writing.

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