Tag Archive: writing



      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…  

Sheryl R Hayes Author Photo

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.

Cruella De Vil

    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.

ChaosWolfFinal-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700

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

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Calling-All-Authors

 

Running a blog can be tiring work…  and running a second one:

“The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition” link: https://thevampyreblogs.wordpress.com/)

can be exhausting

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So having guest bloggers who wish to get exposed to a wider audience is a real plus, plus it gives our readers a better idea of what other books and authors are out there.  So if you’re interested in doing a guest post about writing, or wish promote your work here on this blog, please let us know in the comment section below.

Or you can e-mail us at: allan.krummenacker@gmail.com.  Tell us about yourself and what you’d like to share and how soon you’d like the post to run.  We’ll do our best to accommodate your needs and if we can’t we’ll let you know.   Keep in mind NO PORNOGRAPHY.  We have readers from many age ranges and backgrounds so we need to keep things within certain limits.  Heavy romance with sexual tones is one thing, but straight out porn is a no go.

Looking forward to hearing back from you all soon.  Until then, take care and keep writing!


Yesterday I had an epiphany about my writing and the entire Para-Earth Series… it’s been a collaboration all along.  From “The Bridge” to “The Ship” to “The Vampyre Blogs -Coming Home”, the entire journey has been one gigantic collaboration with my wife/best friend Helen.  And I am planning on putting her name on the first two books.

Why didn’t I do this sooner?  And how did I not realize it was a collaboration all along?  Because I thought a collaboration strictly meant two people were doing the actual writing, but that’s not the only way a collaboration works.  Ideas, suggestions, helping shape characters, plot, settings, events… all of that goes into a collaboration as well.

So even though I did all the writing in “The Bridge” and “The Ship”, Helen gave me so much guidance like helping shape the characters personalities, questioning their actions, being my sounding-board for ideas I had but didn’t know where to go with them until she suggested details or options I never considered which suddenly put the story back on track again… you name it.  To me, she has been just as much a part of those books as I’ve been.

Now, some of you might be wondering how did this realization come to me?  Well, it had been bouncing around in my mind for some weeks now but yesterday is when it finally clicked into place for me.  As many of you should know by now, Helen just recently got offered a job at Santa Cruz County.  Well, yesterday was her Orientation Day and she officially starts work on Monday as an Accounting Technician (I’m so proud).

Well, when my day ended we were driving home and I started sharing with her that I was working on a new short story for our other blog “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition” (where we post brand new short stories involving characters from our book “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” Link: https://thevampyreblogs.blogspot.com/   *NOTE: Characters from “The Bridge” and “The Ship” have also appeared there and will be showing up again soon so keep an on that site).   Some time ago I had decided that Lisa (one of the main characters) was a gifted psychic.

*Note: Lisa is often mistaken for a Goth, but she merely loves old clothing styles and vibrant colors.  She’s actually into clothing design and cool make-up, including special effects*

Mind you she is not nearly as strong as Alex, Cassandra, or the Baby from “The Bridge” and “The Ship”.  Lisa’s talents show up in the form of glimpses into the near future in dreams, as well as being sensitive to strong emotions both past and present, but she’s only starting to realize it.

Anyway,  I was working on a short story with her that takes place between the end of “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” and its sequel “The Vampyre Blogs – Family Ties” which is currently  being written along with several other projects.

*SPOILERS FOR THE SHORT STORY AHEAD: Lisa’s been having dreams where she senses the danger from the first book is not completely over and that more darkness lies ahead for not only her and those she loves, but the entire town where she and Nathan live.  But that was as far as I had gotten when Helen suddenly sprang to life and suggested a scene in the waking world that indicates there is indeed a threat.  A certain modern-day life form, that is similar to the Para-Earth life-form that makes our character Nathan a vampyre, are fleeing the area.  Upon seeing this, Lisa realizes there is something coming prompting her to see if Nathan has returned or not.  This will tie into the opening scene of the 2nd novel in the Vampyre Blogs section of the Para-Earth Series.

END OF SPOILERS:

As soon as Helen made this suggestion the rest of the story came to me in a wave.  I could clearly see the path forward and immediately asked her to help give more life to the characters of Lisa and her best friend Marisa who also will appear in the story.  She naturally agreed, having taken a crack at writing both girls recently for a story in our upcoming anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At A Time” coming in January 2018.

Now, this has been just one of many examples of how a collaboration can work when it comes to writing.  I have many more to share, including one with my other Collaborator Rich Caminit which I will share in my next post.  Plus others that I will continue to share down the road.  For now, I’m going to leave you all for now, before this entry turns into the length of a novella.  But please give thoughts to other forms of collaboration you may have encountered and please share them with all of us in the comment section below.  As I’ve already said, collaborations take many forms and the roles each collaborator takes is not simply one but many, and this is why I feel collaborations are something that should sometimes be embraced whole-heartedly.

And on a final note, don’t be afraid to share the credit for a project.  As Samuel Goldwyn the great movie producer once said…

When someone does something good, applaud! You will make two people happy.

Until next time, take care and keep writing my friends.


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…

3e335-keyboard

    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.

open office word

     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.

3681e-20150816_1859422b252822529

Rich


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…

silhouette of a man juggling in spiral form

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…

Shut-up-and-take-my-money

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.


With the holidays coming fast, I thought now was the perfect time to cover a topic I’d hinted at many times: Print books vs. E-books.

I will be the first to say that when e-readers came out I was more than a little skeptical.  I really didn’t think they would take off the way they had.  Online newspapers I could see, because for one thing it was a great way of lessening the amount of paper going into landfills (in spite of the fact that me and great number of people out there try to recycle).  However, I also saw it as a chance for less trees to be cut down because let’s face it, a number of them were being taken down in spite of all the paper recycling (yes I’m very much into ‘green’ living and recycling).  But I digress.  At the time I really did not see a lot of benefit coming from making books electronically available.

Besides, I was already in love with bookstores.  They’re like a magnets to me and my wife Helen.  And the books inside are like mint to a cat (catnip for those who don’t get the reference), we go bonkers over books.  So you can understand why the concept of electronic books did not really capture my fancy… at first.

However, things began to change when I tried my hand at writing.  I went the traditional route, looking for an agent, getting rejected, and so on and so forth for three years.  During that time I was told time and again I had something unique and interesting (i. e. my Para-Earth Series), BUT it was too unique.  I had crossed too many genres to the point that even agents who were interested had no idea who to try and sell the idea to.  Most publishers have been quite strict about genres and from what I understand still are.  So I had to take a few steps back and have a really long think about what to do.

I could go back and whittle certain elements out and make the story a more traditional horror, or a mystery, a paranormal tale, or a work of pure science fiction.  But none of that appealed to me.  The people who had read or heard about what I was creating were fascinated BECAUSE I had created something entirely new and different.  To lose any of those elements would be tantamount to killing the entire series before it began.

Meanwhile, Helen and other writer friends had been talking about going the independent author route and use Createspace or some other print/electronic publishing system.  I’d be responsible for my own marketing, but as I found out through research, most traditionally published authors were responsible for their own marketing these days as well.  Unless you had the power of Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, or some other mega-star author, most publishers don’t help out as much as they used to.

So I took the plunge and “The Bridge” saw the light of day.  As expected, I soon found e-sales rocketing while traditional paperbacks were only so-so.  This disappointed me in some ways, but I found the benefit of still having paperbacks available a benefit.  Because there are no substitutes for owning a SIGNED edition of a book in the eyes of even the most devoted e-reader fan.

Still I did not invest in any e-readers.  Oh from time to time I thought about it, just to see how my own works appeared so I could see if the formatting held up to the transition (I’m very particular about my work looking right for my readers).  But I still bought paperbacks and haunted used bookstores left and right.

Then last Christmas something unexpected happened.  Helen and I were given a Kindle by her mother as a gift.

Helen took to it right away for its photographic capabilities, while I was pleased but slightly hesitant.  I guess a part of me was afraid just touching it would lead to me falling out of love with my beloved books.  But over time I found the internet function useful, but still I resisted trying to read a book on it.  The screen ‘felt’ too small and I didn’t like not being able to see how much was left to read in each volume.  (I’ve since learned how to know the # of pages left)  But still, I held back.

Then some of my fellow writers online were offering free copies of their books for an honest review in return.  Some had done this for me and I wanted to return the favor.  Plus, with our finances being so tight, a free-read seemed acceptable.  (also in one or two cases, they only had e-versions of their books) So I began downloading a couple of freebies and proceeded to read.

I soon became quite comfortable with using the Kindle and even found my reading speed increasing, much to my surprise.  Eventually I started actually buying some new e-books every so often.

Now, I suspect you’re all thinking “That does it! He’s hooked. Good-bye paper, HELLO Electronic!”

To find out, you’ll have to tune in next week when I complete this two-part entry.  Please understand I’m not just doing things this way because I’m hoping to really boost my numbers.  This topic is lengthy and I don’t want one entry to become as long as the classic “War and Peace”.  So please sit tight and I’ll be back next weekend or sooner to finish my tale about print vs electronic and what the results turned out to be.

Until then, take care and keep writing!


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)
SMLXL

“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.
SMXLL

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…
SLXLM

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.

Always Writing…


Recently I was on one of the buses that I regularly take to get to my university.  As I was riding I was taking in the scenery and smiling to myself.  A girl who had taken the seat next to me noticed and said I must be having a good day.  I responded by telling her I was observing the scenery and thinking about some of the trees.  In particular I drew her attention to the Spanish Moss growing on several of the trees.

“Is that what’s growing on them?  I’ve heard of Spanish Moss but I never saw it before,” she told me.

I nodded and replied, “Now picture that stuff moving on its own, maybe reaching down and grabbing a someone as they’re walking by.”

That freaked her out a bit as she looked at me with wide eyes and said, “That’s creepy!  You must be into horror movies and such.”

At that point I explained that I was an author who had two books out already and a third coming in December.  From there she relaxed and I told her about my Para-Earth Series.  By the time we arrived at the university she said, “I always wondered how writers come up with so many ideas.  You must be thinking about stuff all the time.”

Smiling I said, “That’s true.  Even when I’m not physically writing, I’m always writing.”  As soon as I said this I started really thinking about what I’d just said and realized how true it was.

While I can’t speak for other writers, I can safely say that no matter what I’m doing at any given time my mind is always pondering story plots, new characters, places, what if situations, you name it.  I could be bowling….

And find myself thinking about what goes on behind the scene where the machinery is gathering up the pins and resetting them.  (Note: I have actually been behind that area thanks to my older brother Ernest who worked on the machines.  He took me back there with him a few times to show me what he did)  After thinking about it, I pictured various scenarios like when the pins are brought down by the machine, what if a human arm was set upright among them?  Or what if the machine where your ball comes back instead you get around bomb with a fuse lit. What would you do?  How did it get there?  What’s going on?

Other times I could be wandering among the trees and just listening to the sounds of the leaves rustling under my feet.  I also try to make a mental note of what the air smells like at that moment and how peaceful the area is around me.  In moments like that, I’m trying to take a mental photo of  everything I’m seeing and feeling, so I can try and rebuild it with words for a scene in a story.  And then I find myself asking what might happen in such a scene?  Will a unicorn show up among the trees?  Or will a strange little figure appear from inside a tree and start talking to one of the woodland animals or a child who happens to be in the neighborhood.

Ideas sometimes come when you least expect it.  Even when you’re just kicking back and maybe shooting a game of pool to pass the time, a thought or an image may come that sets your mind on fire. Sometimes it might even be the atmosphere of your surroundings that may be the spark that sets you mind alight with ideas and possibilities.

As writers, our minds are always working on ideas or stories, even when we’re not aware of it.  And i find this idea to be a great comfort to me.  There are times when the old “Writer’s Block” comes to visit and I find myself staring at my computer screen for hours or even days.  I want to write something but nothing comes.  On days like that I’ll try working through the block, or exercising, or bouncing ideas off other people… all to no avail.

But then I’ll decide to get out and about for a while.  Sometimes I’ll go to a mall, or do some shopping, or wander down by the beach.  I don’t always find the answers I’m seeking and after a while may even stop trying.  However, I do so knowing that sooner or later, something is going to fire my imagination up and I’ll be ready to get back on my computer and finish the story I’d been working on.  Why?  Because I’m always writing… even when I don’t realize it.  I hope the same is true for all of you.

Until next time, take care and keep writing everyone!


Don’t trash that crappy first draft!

Oh it may be full of grammatical errors that would send your high school English teachers into hysterics but that’s not reason enough to throw it away.  And maybe the plot line may move like a 1920’s Model T going backwards up the crooked mile, still is it truly worth destroying?  And perhaps most of the characters may be as shallow as a puddle, and probably deserve to be drowned in one, but do not throw that draft away!

Instead I want you read every last word, even if it’s hard as hell to get past the first few pages, keep reading!  Do not stop until you’ve read the entire thing.

Why? I hear you ask.

Because, that shitty first draft may be the most important one you ever write.

I’m being serious here folks.  And no I’m not going to be going on about how every journey in writing starts with a first draft, or something like that.  What I am going to tell you is that first drafts, even the lamest ones, have value.

When I first started writing “The Door”, it was going to be the second book in my Para-Earth series.  Mainly because it was going take up exactly where the first book “The Bridge” left off.  I thought there was no way I could possibly put another story in between the two, even though I really wanted to focus on the second lead couple (Cassandra Elliott, and Julie Cloudfoot) and their blossoming relationship.  My original plan was to develop their growing love in the second book, but things were getting too complicated.  Too many characters, too many subplots, I had to scale back.  So after writing almost 70,000 words in “The Door”, I said enough and set it aside.  Instead, I followed some “bread crumbs” I’d left myself (see my blog entry from January 31st https://akrummenacker.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/follow-the-breadcrumbs/) back in “The Bridge” and found an opening.

I had clearly stated that a month had passed between the climactic battle and the events that happened in the epilogue.  I had also sent Julie and Cassie over to the west coast.  I had plenty of room for a story in between that would involve just the two of them, as well as leading them back to witness the events that took place during the epilogue of “The Bridge”.  Thus, “The Ship” was born.

But even after I finished “The Ship” and published it, I was not ready to back to “The Door”.  Instead,  a new character had captured my imagination and I began work on “The Vampyre Blogs”, hoping to release it next, before returning to “The Door”.

However, after finishing the first draft of “The Vampyre Blogs” I realized I wanted to release it around Halloween and the time had passed.  So I sent it off to my editor for corrections, even though it was a first draft.  I know it will go through many more changes, but in the meantime, I needed to get back to “The Door” because it had to come before my vampyre’s first tale.  I needed to finish the underlying story arc that was running through my first two books.  It’s turn had come and I needed to finish it.

By this time it had been over two years since I last looked at it, so it was with experienced eyes that I pulled it out and started to look at the first few pages.  Originally, I thought it would be easy to insert just a few scenes and continue the flow I had started, but it didn’t work out that way.

Thanks to “The Ship” so many plans and ideas had to be scrapped.  And my writing style had changed.  A number of people told me how much my writing had ‘matured’ and now I could clearly see it for myself.  So much had to be changed and rewritten.  At times it almost seemed too much.

I began to doubt myself and wondered if I was really up to the challenge.  Could I really make this story work?  Time and again, I kept running up against ideas that no longer fit, and characters who needed to be removed from the story entirely.  I began to question myself and ask, “Should I just trash this and start over from scratch?”  But then I’d run across scenes that were perfectly fine and still flowed beautifully with the new stuff I was creating.   In fact, it felt like what was I creating now was way better than what I’d originally done.  And at the same time, the overall storyline was still following what I had wanted all along.  In fact, I’d found ways to improve it.

But I was still running up against obstacles and areas where I just wasn’t sure what to do.

Then by sheer chance, I was scrolling through the new draft which was being built on top of a duplicate file of the original first draft.  But I overshot where I had left off and found a scene I had completely forgotten about.  Pausing I re-read my words and was taken aback by the power of the scene and the beauty I’d created.  This scene HAD to stay, I told myself.  Then I began thinking, ‘Are there other scenes like this one I’ve forgotten?’

So I did the unthinkable…

I stopped work on “The Door” and took a few steps back.  Instead of writing, I decided to read every word and every page of the original first draft.

It hasn’t been easy at times, but I’ve been unearthing scenes that to me are absolute treasures.  I’ve also been cutting and removing other scenes and characters who no longer have any place in this book, but might be good for another story down the road.  I’ve saved those sections and preserved them in a separate file folder.  Those who’ve been following this blog know I always urge writers to do this.  What may not be working in your current book, might be just the thing you need in another one down the road.

As for the scenes I’m keeping, I am breathing a sigh of relief.  Some of them are better than I anything I might have tried to replace them with.  New ideas and ways to move the story forward are opening up to me.  But I still have to finish re-reading that ‘shitty first draft’ before I start writing new scenes.

There are more scenes and ideas I’ve forgotten about, of that I’m sure.  I may not want to keep all of them, but I suspect even if I don’t keep any of it, they will give me knew ideas.  So don’t give up completely on that first draft.  Save it, learn from it, and build from it.  You might even want to preserve certain scenes from it.

All stories start with a first draft that can be more than a little rough around the edges.  But without a first draft, you can’t begin your story.

Until next time, take care of yourselves my friends, and keep writing.

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