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A fun and fulfilling collection of the most tangled, yet intriguing, tales one might want to read.  Miss Kings, a. k. a. the “Vampire Maman” has enchanted many with her blog “Vampire Maman, Musings of a ModernVampire Mom”.  It is a very popular blog, and where all the tales found in this collection originated.  Of course, while one could sift through her blog, it would take hours or possibly even days to find each of these tantalizingly delicious vignettes.

Each story stands on its own merit, yet are connected at the same time, as the author shares stories not only about her own long existence, but those of her brothers, children and family friends which include zombies, the occasional werewolf, ghosts, elder vampires, and more than a few ordinary humans.

Our dear Vampire Maman, weaves each tale in such a way to make us laugh, smile, feel a little remorse, or simply take a moment to appreciate those around us.  She brings wit and wisdom as well that is sure to keep the reader entertained as well as making us think.

All in all, it’s a wonderful collection that would be most welcome in many personal libraries, especially with Halloween just around the corner.

You can also find your own copy of “Morning at the Vineyard” on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.com/Morning-Vineyard-Collection-Tangled-Tales-ebook/dp/B00M4V1DGI/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=DBNVV3KF8Z4RBNJN4966

Also, if you’d like to find more stories by Miss Kings just click on the link below:

https://vampiremaman.com/


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That’s right folks, the proof copies of “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” arrived last night at our front door, and we couldn’t be more excited.

For those who don’t know what a “Proof” copy is,  they are a printed version of how the book currently looks, before an author gives the final OK, on a book to be sent for publishing.  This is the author(s) last chance to make sure the paragraphs are aligned correctly, the page breaks are clean, no words are being cut off, and to look for any final grammar issues in the text.

It also give the author a good idea of how the front and back covers look, and that the image or words are not being cut off.  In this case, we saw right away that there is an issue with the cover.  The image is supposed to be framed by a red border on all sides, but as you can see in this photo the image is touching the edge.  Naturally, we’ll need to move it over to the left slightly.

As for the interior, all seems well on that front.  The paragraphs and page breaks are in the right spots. But we’re still going to have our editor go over the entire thing one more time to make sure there are no grammar and punctuation issues that got past us, her, and our beta-readers who gave us some fabulous feedback on issues they noticed.

Depending on when these last corrections are finished, we’re aiming for a November release, or on Halloween itself. It all depends on how fast we can get things done.

Stay tuned and we’ll keep you all posted.  Thanks so much for all your continued support.  Until next time, stay well and keep writing!


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     With the voice of experience, Mr. Gaughran shares his many insights of the world of publishing, and in particular self-publishing.  With the advent of e-books, many writers and would-be writers have found themselves faced with the opportunity to finally put out that book they’d been thinking about for years.  Yet, they quickly find that the most daunting task, is not writing the book itself, but how to get it out to the public.  Should they go the tradition route of finding an agent, and then a publisher?  Can they deal with the countless rejections or avoid the scams that promise seeing their work in print, for a ‘nominal’ fee of course.

     Mr. Gaughran provides the reader with enough food for thought that would make a seven course meal look like an appetizer.  But he never gets preachy.  Instead he simply supplies the reader with tools and knowledge to navigate the world of Indie Publishing.  He provides solid advice about the importance of editing, proofreading, beta-reading, and revisions, before leading the reader down that final stretch of formatting your book for electronic and actual print.

     Even more importantly, he gives some sound advice on marketing and building an audience and how to get reviews and deal with criticism.  Writing is not an easy road to take, but Mr. Gaughran does his very best to provide the reader with as many tools and knowledge to help them navigate this journey from start to finish.

     I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to try their hand at the art of telling stories via the written or e-written word.


In spite of all the excitement of “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” being released this October, I keep hearing people ask “Whatever happened to “The Door”?  Are you going to finish that storyline with Alex, Veronica, Julie and Cassandra?”  Of course I’m pleased to tell you all the answer is a resounding YES!  I am working on it as we speak in fact.  In fact I’ve been working on it for quite a while… a really long while… like over two years…. (groan)
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“What happened?” I hear you ask.  Well it’s quite simple.  I’ve spent the last 24 months with a serious case of too many ideas.  What does that look like you ask?  Here, let me show you.
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I keep getting new scenes going that help move the story along but after a while these new ideas wind up derailing the main plot of the story and I have to pull them out again.  And when that happens I end up hitting the infamous “Writer’s Block” and find myself unable to move the story forward.  This has happened a number of times.  Of course, some people will suggest that you have an outline to follow and stick to it.  This is a great idea, but unfortunately in my case, a number of my characters wind up with ideas of their own that are often way better than what I had planned in my outline and things end up going in a completely different direction.  And quite often those new directions are way better than what I had originally had in mind.  So I mainly work with a ‘loose’ outline.  There are some scenes and ideas that I have nailed down for sure, and then areas where I’m still finding a direction to head in.
However, in the case of “The Door” I had a number of scenes that were so solid there was nothing that could make me budge from using them…  and I wound up hitting wall after wall.  I’d go as far as to introduce new characters such as my vampyre Nathan, who makes his debut in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”, at one point.  By adding him I created a bunch of new scenes that really helped the plot along, but also wound up sending the word count skyrocketing.  How did this happen?  By adding Nathan I had to introduce him to the audience, then the other characters, blah-blah-blah… too many words.  But by keeping certain scenes he inspired and giving those scenes to existing characters, I moved the story along much quicker and made those characters more interesting.
Furthermore, when I write a story keeps evolving.  I have a good idea where it begins and ends, but the in between stuff gets fuzzy sometimes.  As I mentioned earlier, my characters sometimes go off in better directions than what I had planned which leads to other problems.  Remember how I mentioned I had certain scenes planned for the story that I was going to use no matter what?  Well, some of those became stumbling blocks and it took me the longest time to come to terms with the fact that they no longer fit the story as it was developing and I had to edit them out…
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For me this was hard, because I really fell in love with those planned scenes.  However, as I’ve told many other writers, those scenes will not go to waste.  Instead, I saved them in another file folder on my computer where they will one day see the light of day in another book, where they will fit in just perfectly.
So what shape is “The Door” in now?  Much trimmer and faster-paced than in its previous incarnations.  The story is tense, exciting, full of mystery, with a growing sense of menace that I hope will keep you all on the edge of your seats to the very end.  Certain friends you’ve met before are starting to have an air of menace about them, and will make you wonder if they can still be trusted.  While newer characters will keep you guessing about their allegiances until the very end.
At this point the story is sitting at 50,000 words, and will probably wind up at about 110,000 or less by the time I’m finished.  Many unanswered questions from the first two books “The Bridge” and “The Ship” will be answered.  Furthermore, the fallout from the battle scene with the police at the end of “The Bridge” will be playing a key part in this novel.  I hope to have a completed first draft before the end of the year.
Finally, I’m also working on two collaborations as well.  One is with my wife Helen who co-authored “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.  The other is “The Pass” with one of my best friends from high school Richard Caminiti.   He and I hope to have a completed first draft by the end of this year or early next year.
I’m also hoping to have each of them do some blog entries here so you can find out their thoughts on writing and having to put up with me.
Until next time, take care and keep writing my friends.

Today I was in one of my moods regarding creativity and decided to share another side of myself.  As many of you know,  I not only write, but I’m also an artist who specializes in soft pastels and charcoal.  I know I’ve shown some of my book covers, but today I felt like sharing some of the other works I’ve come up with over the years.

This first piece is a soft pastel which was inspired by a song by Nina Gordon, “Tonight and the rest of my Life”.  Her we have an angelic figure who holds a universe in her arms and behind her you can make out large fingers which in turn cradle her.

This piece was coming along beautifully until it came time to do the face.  I couldn’t find the right one to use, or get the angles right.  Then my wife stepped in and posed her head just right, and from then on the painting seemed to come alive.  It held even more meaning than before to me as I retouched areas and strove to finish it with great love and affection, for now it showed how much she means to me and how she holds MY universe in her arms, forever and always.

This next piece was inspired by Holts’ “The Planets Suite”.  Many of us has heard the “Mars, Bringer of War” with its powerful ominous tones, but there are a number of other songs on the album that brings the almost all the planets of our solar system into new and even playful ideas.  Having played violin in school for a number of years (no I did not ever play Holts’ music unfortunately) I often found myself drawn into the music as it filled my head with all sorts of wondrous images.  So in this piece I tried to capture those moments and feelings in my work.  I like to think I succeeded.

Mind you, I do not specialize simply in cosmic inspired artwork.  I’m one of those artists who simply paints whatever catches their fancy.  Take this Pink Iris for instance.  This lovely blossom was growing in our backyard one year and I was totally captivated by how the sun was catching it in just the right way that it seemed to glow.  I immediately set up my easel outside and pulled out my pastels and went to work.  In one hour I was done.  This is probably one of the fastest pieces I’ve ever created, and I was very pleased with the results.

Finally, I wanted to share one of my charcoal pieces.  This Spotted Owl, I created from looking at various photos of owls and I came up with this fine, slightly scowling, fellow.  While by no means my best charcoal piece, it gives you an idea of some of the effects I’ve been able to achieve in that medium.  I was particularly proud of the feathering effects I was able to capture in this piece.

So what does all this have to do with writing?  Sometimes an image can give birth to a story, and vice versa.  Both inspiration and creativity can take so many forms and need to be expressed in different ways.  In my case, I’ve been able to blend the two into my books and enjoy every minute of it, even during the more ‘difficult’ times.  They can be a struggle, but they usually lead to some fine results one can be proud of.

If anyone would like to see more of my artwork, you can go to this link at Fine Art America, where prints, pillows, duvets, towels, and so many other items can be purchased with the images beautifully imprinted on them:

http://fineartamerica.com/artists/allan+krummenacker

I’ll be sharing more images here as I get better quality photos, as well as continuing my posts about my adventures in writing.  I must say even after being an Indie Author for 3 years now, I’m still on a learning curve.  Is that true for others as well?  Let us know by leaving your thoughts in the comment section below.

Thanks again for tuning.  Until next time, take care and keep writing.


We’ve all been there, slaving away at a story and finding yourself getting more lost or frustrated with where it’s going.  Even if you have a well planned outline to guide you, there’s always a scene or situation that arises that leaves you flummoxed and frustrated.  You can’t seem to move the story or yourself forward for one reason or another.  What do you do?

Well, in my case I get up and walk away from the story and I mean in every sense of the word.  Step away from your computer and do other things.  “But for how long?” I hear you ask.  My answer is simply this, “As long as it takes.”

“But I can’t stop writing, I’ve got so many ideas in my head…”

GREAT!  Go work on one of those instead.  I’m not saying stop writing by any means.  What I’m suggesting is that you let your brain work on other projects, or activities such as go bowling…

Take a nice long walk…

Go someplace…

In short do whatever else you enjoy or have been thinking about doing and have put off.  Let your mind wander and experience something other than trying to figure out your story.  Brains need downtime or something new to work on in order to keep them working right.  Or like I said before, work on some other stories or ideas not connected to your work in progress.

Sometimes I find working on an entirely different project makes me feel better about having been stuck on the one I’ve stepped away from.  I actually relax and feel the same passion and satisfaction from using my creative side.

In my case, I’ve been working on “The Door” for almost two years now and still haven’t finished a 1st draft yet.  Why?  Because I kept hitting various roadblocks.

And each time I hit one, I’d bang my head against it for days before finally walking away.  Then after a while (i. e.  a few  days, weeks, or even months) I’d come back to it with a new idea and started making progress again.  But then I hit another obstacle and had to walk away again.  It’s not that I don’t like the story, I love it!  It’s crucial to furthering my Para-Earth Series, which may have been part of the problem.  I was trying to put TOO much into the story and kept getting myself bogged down, or losing sight of the plot.  Within the last year I tried introducing new characters who would appear in later books (such as my vampyre Nathan) which helped open new avenues and scenes, but the story began getting too long and convoluted.  I was losing sight of the main characters for “The Door” (Alex, Veronica, Cassandra, Julie).  So I pulled him back out of the book.  But some of the scenes his presence inspired remained because they were useful.

But then I found the book was almost 70,000 words long, even with Nathan and company’s removal, so I set the book aside again and worked on “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” getting it ready to be released this October.

Now, with “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” in the hands of beta-readers who I won’t hear back from until next month, I found myself coming back to “The Door”.

What happened next?  I’ll tell you in my next entry.

Until then, take care and keep writing…


        Welcome back to another installment of collaborations: what do they look like and how do I make mine work?  Okay, actually, I’m continuing the discussion from last time.  After all, this is supposed to be a blog, not an ongoing saga.  I also want to apologize for any strange grammar or punctuation errors in this entry because I’m using Dragon instead of actually typing on a keyboard.

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WRONG DRAGON! SORRY DIDN’T MEAN TO WAKE YOU UP, SIR.  PLEASE JUST GO BACK TO SLEEP!

           Whew!  Anyway, I’ll be sharing my adventures with Dragon Speaking Naturally software, and learning how to use it, in another blog entry,  For now I’m going to continue to share my experiences with collaborations

           Now, last time I talked about my collaboration with my old friend Rich Caminiti, today I’m going to be discussing my other collaboration with my wife Helen.  First off, unlike with Rich, I am able to work with my wife, face-to-face.

         Being able to spend time with each other in real life instead of waiting to go on Skype to plot or give feedback like I do with Rich.  This gives a whole new dynamic to our collaboration since we don’t always have to be at our computers to work on the story.  Instead, we could be driving someplace or having dinner at a restaurant and will be discussing ideas and scenes for the story.  Being able to operate like this gives us a distinct advantage to rework a scene before we actually put it to paper.  We get the chance to work out the dynamics between the characters, feelings, emotions, reactions and have a more clear idea of how we want a scene to read.

            Does this automatically mean that we have every scene worked out perfectly?  Absolutely not.  In fact, we will rework a scene time and again until we find a version that we both really like that works.  Even then we will occasionally go back to that scene and rework it with new elements that we hadn’t thought of before to improve it.

            Furthermore, we may not always agree on exactly how we want a scene to play out.  There might be elements that one of us thinks would work better in a later point in the story.  In cases like this, it’s much easier to have the other person there with you to work out those differences and come up with a common solution that we can both live with.  Another benefit is on occasion someone might forget a detail or plan that we decided to use in a scene a few days before.  This actually happens quite often due to my fibromyalgia.  I get the infamous “brain-fog” and forget things.  Luckily, Helen is always around to help me remember what I forgot what we had planned for a scene and proceed to fix it.  I often refer to her as my spare brain in these cases, since they happen rather often to me.

The Authors

            As you can see, we rely on each other quite often which makes our collaboration work even better.  Mind you, we don’t always work on the project together at the same exact time.  In fact, since she’s a bit of a night owl, I’ll find that she’s been in the story working on it during the night while I was asleep.  This is actually a lot of fun for me, because then I get to see all this new material as if I was the reader and now I get to react to it.  And of course will be times when I’m working on the story when she doesn’t know what and when she goes in show find what I’ve written and then it will be her turn to react and come up with a new scene or response.  In a way to sort of the game of role-playing for us except that were actually putting together a story for others to read and enjoy.

            Now as I said in the previous entry, Rich and I also take turns working on different scenes as well and we get the same effect.  But with Helen, I get to see the reactions on her face and get her input and feedback a lot sooner which gives me a great deal of pleasure.

            So as you can see both collaborations share a lot of similarities but there are also a number of differences.  And there are number of ways that you can make a collaboration work, it’s all in how you and your cohort approach things.  Most of the time you’ll find there is always a way to make it work, it’s mostly a question of what method is going to work best for the two of you.

            And that’s all I have to say for now folks, so until next time, take care enjoy the summer and keep writing.

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As you all know by now, I’ve been working on not one but two different collaborations.  The first is “The Pass” a historical/fantasy piece I started writing with a fellow I went to high school with some 30 years ago, Richard Caminiti. (for the sake of privacy, I left the clipboard showing his name and arrest number from this particular police photo out – JUST KIDDING!)  Actually it’s not really a mug shot, but I couldn’t resist using this shot 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?

The other is another installment in my Para-Earth Series, titled “The Misty Mountains”, with my wife  Helen Krummenacker.  Note: DEFINITELY NOT A MUG SHOT!

Okay, now that I got that bit of silliness out of my system, lets get back to today’s topic namely the discussing more challenges one faces with a collaboration.

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

 

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

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

However, we also borrow each other’s characters for certain scenes we’ve discussed on Skype and consult back and forth on whether or not the characters behaviors are consistent.  Admittedly, this kind of system means it takes us a while to get a story completed, but Rich works full-time, and I’ve been studying at university, so neither of us have all the time in the world to simply sit and write.  Plus there are times where one or the other of us is hitting a wall and needs help.  This is where our Skype sessions and e-mails become a great asset.  We can help each other out by figuring out where the blockage is coming from, does an area need to be rewritten or cut out, etc.  For us, the old adage of “two heads are better than one” really gives us an advantage.  Plus, we are very much on the same page for where this story is heading overall.  But at the same time, by not always telling the other what we’ve got planned in a scene, it allows both the other author the surprise and excitement the reader will enjoy, as well as firing up the imagination to build upon this new material.

Again, this is where our weekly Skype sessions come in extremely handy.  We can congratulate or raise questions if something in the scene did not seem to make sense, and together we can correct and move things forward.  Both Rich and I are very agreeable, but we also trust one another to raise questions or concerns about certain points and whether or not it is working for this particular story.  We are already planning on more collaborations and sometimes remove a section to be used in a later work.  After all, you can only cram so many ideas into one book without confusing the hell out of the reader, so we try to be careful about that.

So now we drift over to another set of questions, such as what about my other collaboration?

How does a writing with the person I’m living with work for a joint project?  Do you agree on everything?  Are your writing styles compatible?  How do you find a mutual voice you can agree on?  What do you do to avoid hurt feelings?

I’ll cover these and other issues in my next installment.  Until then, take care and keep writing.


This wonderful little piece that shares my feelings on this creature, comes from my good friend and very talented author Aurora Jean Alexander. I highly recommend checking out her site for more shorts and poems, you’ll be glad you did.

Writer's Treasure Chest

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It’s an animal, a predator, hidden and smart

It’s scary, strange and to catch it is hard.

It has legs, but no feelers, no fur and no wings

It envelops prey, it bites and sometimes stings.

**

It has no tongue and doesn’t have teeth

But it has pincers and poison underneath.

You find it in forests, in basements in corners around

It does scare you sometimes, but not with sound.

**

Superstition says seeing it in the morning makes the day bad

But meeting it at night should make you feel glad.

Some of them are useful, and some are dangerous to see

depending where you live, you better flee.

**

Some are as tiny as dust you don’t know they are there.

But some others are huge, these are the ones that scare.

Some live in holes and await there their prey

Some others build webs, where they…

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I got permission of my fellow author and friend Joe Hinojosa this beautiful short story he posted recently. Joe has authored a number of short stories that I’ve enjoyed tremendously but this one made me smile and cry at the same time. He’s a wonderful author and I hope you enjoy this tale of his as much as I did.

So without further ado, allow me to present “The Storyteller”…

Joe Hinojosa

Glenda listened as her great-granddaughter Emily spoke excitedly about her latest accomplishment, securing the movie rights to a book she never heard of before. That was her thing, the reason she woke up in the morning, the reason she went to work as a lawyer for a movie studio. She loved the thrill of competition, thrived in it, excelled in an industry more concerned for making money than for its workers. She reveled in making obscure writers famous, at having that immediate financial impact to make their lives that much better.

Glenda’s granddaughter rolled her eyes, and Glenda struggled not to do the same. At almost a hundred years old, she had lived a long life, though not necessarily a fulfilling one. There wasn’t anything she felt particularly excited about. She did what needed to be done, what she had to do in order to keep her family alive. There…

View original post 1,226 more words

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