Tag Archive: collaboration



 

Pondering the future

In the last two years, so much has been changing for me when it comes to writing.  For starts, I completed my first collaborative work with my wife Helen, which became “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.  As I’ve said in previous entries, she has been my sounding board, my adviser on both science and science fiction, my rock, and my inspiration.

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Shortly before work was completed on the “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”, a friend from high school days, Rich Caminiti, asked me to look at a piece he’d been working on for a number of years.  I read what he had done and quickly saw he was in the same boat I had been back in 2009-2011.  A story idea which needed some serious direction, scene cutting/editing, a little more cohesive connection between ideas… but a SOLID concept.  As we talked more, he asked me to help be his mentor and after having read my first two books he wished to know if we could work on a project together and I agreed.  Like Helen, Rich is a huge knowledge of science fiction as well as computers and actual science, so I found the idea very appealing.  After a few sessions of kicking around ideas a joke was made about vampires in the old west.  But not just any old vampires, oh no.  We started thinking about Chiangshi, or Chinese “Hopping” vampires.  We had some serious laughs, but for me history repeated itself.

Taking a few steps back to four years ago, I had sworn I would never do a vampire story unless I could introduce a whole new angle to the idea, that also allowed my creation to be highly recognizable as such a creature.  Furthermore, any vampire of mine would have to be science fiction based and be able to fit into my Para-Earth series.  Yet at the same time such a being needed to have typical vampire powers such as being able to shape-shift, turn to mist, and be strong.  But it would also have many of the usual limitations and needs such as avoiding sunlight for extended periods, sleep in the ground and of course drink blood.

Clearly this was a tall order and probably out of my league.  Yet no sooner had I said this to myself, when the beginnings of an idea began to germinate in the back of my mind and soon Nathaniel Eoghan Steward was born.  But even then I had to consult with my wife Helen to help me decide on what kind of life-form could turn an ordinary man into such a being.  But she quickly thought up several possibilities based on actual life-forms that actually exist in today’s world that would suit the purpose and we were off and running.

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Now we fast-forward to two years ago with me and Rich joking about Chinese vampires in the old west and once more the seeds of an idea began to take root.  Drawing upon his knowledge of history and the Civil War, we soon came up with a working idea of espionage and the seemingly supernatural working together towards the last year and a half of the Civil War.  We were even able to pull in some Native American lore and actual historic events to create “The Pass”, which is still under construction at the writing of this entry.

At first, in spite of Rich’s hopefulness that this could become part of the Para-Earth series, I hesitated.  Not because I was possessive of the series, but I simply was unable to see how the story could be incorporated into the overall concept.  The tale we were creating seemed so much more fantasy/horror, and I could not see how it could be incorporated into the Science Fiction aspect of the series.  Then about a week ago, while taking my usual hour long drive to work (which is when I do a lot of ‘braining’ for various story ideas) a thought struck me that made the entire story itself come together in a way I hadn’t seen before.  This brainstorm also allowed it to fit perfectly into the Para-Earth series, allowing me to take a step I had planned long ago for the series.  Adding another new writer to it.

You see, long ago I had been inspired by HP Lovecraft who of course created the Cthulhu Mythos which continues to grow to this day long after his passing.  While still alive, Mr. Lovecraft allowed and even invited other authors to build upon his mythos and help expand it.  Some of those who joined in were August Derleth, Robert Bloch, and others.  And as I mentioned before, modern day writers, including Stephen King, have continued adding to the mythos and bringing new life to it.

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So when I began the Para-Earth series, I knew right off the bat I had created something with near limitless story possibilities, more than I alone could ever cover.  Therefore, I planned that as the series progressed to allow others, who proved their writing skills and ability to stick close to my vision, to help expand and build upon the series.  To date, I’ve only allowed my wife Helen and Rich to be part of the writing for the series. However, in the years to come I hope to invite more writers join us.  But that is something for another entry.  At the moment, the three of us have our hands full with several stories currently under way and more to be started, which I will cover in the next installment of this lengthy entry.

Until then, take care and keep writing my friends.


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.


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….

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