Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Short Holiday Greeting and an Update on Us...

My apologies for not posting much lately.  The day after I made the Thanksgiving post a very dear friend who'd been fighting cancer for over a year took a bad turn and we lost her a few days later.  She'd been a part of mine and Helen's lives for over 25+ years and had been like a sister to both of us.  We've been trying to help her husband who is back up in Sacramento (we're down in the Monterey Bay area) from a distance as best we can.  We've been limited in what we could do because Helen just started working with the county and is on 6 months probation and cannot take time off at will, plus she had to finish final exams for her college courses.  Now she's fighting Bronchitis as well which has made things more awkward for us.  

Needless to say there hasn't been a lot of writing being done.  However, we are still releasing the anthology "The Vampyre Blogs - One Day At A Time" on January 5th (The Twelfth Night Of Christmas) as planned.  In the meantime, we want to wish each and everyone a very Merry Christmas...


A very Blessed Yule...
A joyous Hannukah...


A memorable Kwanzaa...

And in case I don't get to post again before the the year is out, we wish you all...


Keep writing dear friends.



Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thoughts of Gratitude This Thanksgiving Day...

When it comes to being thankful my first thought every day is about having Helen in my life.  She's  my wife, my heart's desire, my collaborator, and especially my best friend.  



But I have many other things I am grateful for starting with the day I was brought to Joyce and Gerard Krummenacker as a foster baby (the only one they ever kept), to this moment here before my computer.  Perhaps someday I'll share more of those personal tales, but on this day I simply want to focus on the past year. 

In October of 2016, I got the call for an interview with the County of Santa Cruz and a week later I was offered the job.  I was still attending classes at CSU Monterey Bay at the time and had to sacrifice my GPA by going down in flames in two of them gradewise.  I could have simply dropped those classes but at the time we were living in campus subsidized housing and I was under the  impression that I still had to be a full-time student to keep that place so I bit the bullet.  I later found out that our "Lease" would have still been honored all the way through to May of 2017, but no one had told us that.  Still, things worked out.  We found our current apartment in early January, and were offered to sign a lease the day we looked at it.  This was after putting in application after application and hoping to hear something on a number of other units, only to receive silence in return.  Not even a polite, "We've chosen other renters but thanks for applying."

I started my job on November 7th, 2016, got through my six months of probation and am solidly in with the county.  We've been able to get by on our own these last 12 months and have health insurance, dental, and a slowly building checking account.   Helen and I were finally feeling more stable for the first time in almost 10 years (another tale for another entry).

Then in the last month, after a succession of interviews and false starts, Helen landed her dream job as an Accounting Technician with the County of Santa Cruz.  Suddenly, the future looks more bright and hopeful for us than ever before.  We get to spend more time together since we work in the same building and take the long commute together every day.  We're also learning ways to avoid the heavier evening traffic by sometimes bringing dinner or a picnic with us so we can eat in peace.  By the time we hit the road an hour or so later, the majority of the uglier traffic is gone.  We even do some shopping sometimes and come home with plenty of time to kick back and enjoy ourselves.  Just last night, we stopped for pizza and then wandered down to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk area and walked along the pier.  There we met nice people, listened to the waves, and watched sea lions splashing in the dark waters below.  We used to do this a lot when we lived in Santa Cruz some five years ago.  Now we're able to do it again and its wonderful.


So much has changed.  We're actually looking to build a retirement - something we were never sure we'd ever be able to do down the road.   Plus, we're thinking of looking into getting a place in Santa Cruz again, which would cut down our commute considerably.  We'd thought about this before but just on my salary it would have been difficult.  But now, with her income we stand a real chance.

With fingers crossed, and a firm determination, this time next year we'll have even more to be thankful for.  In the meantime, we will finish getting our next book out on the 12th Night of Christmas (January 6th, 2018).  We have high hopes of one or two more releases next year as well, but we'll see how things go. 

In the meantime, thank you all for your continued support and visits, and may all who celebrate this day have a very Happy Thanksgiving...





Saturday, November 18, 2017

New Thoughts and Insights About Collaborating...

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.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Another Option For Those Writing On A Budget

    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...



    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.


     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.


     Rich

Saturday, October 28, 2017

An Early Halloween Treat...



A Halloween Tale is now available for perusal over at my other blog: The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition. Come on over and enjoy a brief scare by clicking on the link below...

Friday, October 20, 2017

Adventures with Computers Part II...



We're going to continue our discussion about adventures with computers.

When last I posted, I had just finished telling you all about the events involving the death of my little blue laptop and our desktop, and how we had just gotten around replacing them with refurbished computers.  In both cases, neither the new laptop nor the desktop had MS Office which meant no word processing program, excel, etc.  And since we were still on a budget purchasing would be more than a minor inconvenience at this point.  So what to do?

Well, Helen had told me about WPS Office, a system that she had downloaded onto her laptop a year ago which is fully compatible with MS Office while costing $0.00 to download.  There is one caveat however, every time you open a file in WPS Office you have to put up with a 5 second ad before proceeding.  Right off the bat I was like, "I can handle a 5 second ad, and if that's all sign me up."  But then a second thought occurred to me.   How how well would the files from that system would work for submitting finished books and stories to Createspace and Smashwords.  


Both of those publishing systems have strict and specific submission guidelines, for those who haven't used either yet.  In the case of Createspace, they insist on submissions being in PDF so right there I had a major concern.  However, my worries were quickly relieved when I saw that as part of their Word Processing program, there is an option to save your work as a PDF.  This was a big relief.  Furthermore, you can also save your documents as Word .doc or .docx.  Word .doc is the big requirement for Smashwords, so again a big plus.  And of course the price was right, so I went ahead and downloaded the system.

Navigating WPS Word is very easy.  The layout is very similar to the MS Word program most of us are already familiar with. 



Your cut/paste, fonts, sizing, and other favorites are all there at the top just as usual.  The exact order they appear may not be identical but a minimum of patience is all that I found to be needed.   You'll also find your little symbol buttons for save, print, go back, go forward, available as well.  Of course, to save your file in a specific format you'll need to click on the W Writer box and select Save As... which will give you a number of options including Export to PDF, MS Word .doc, MS Word .dot, and MS Word .docx.  Which basically covers your submission needs for both Createspace and Smashwords, as I explained earlier.  

The system is nearly identical to MS Office in all the respects for my needs.  Someone else may have encountered issues I'm not aware of, if you have and are reading this please share those concerns with the rest of us down in the comments section.  The reason I put this blog together to share personal knowledge and experiences in my writing journey, not just mine but yours as well my friends.  So please don't hesitate to share yours or even some concerns you may have.  If I don't know the answer, chances are another reader might have it.  

Now as for the other programs offered under WPS Office, I haven't worked with many of them yet but Helen has with great success.  From what she's told me the spreadsheet and Powerpoint are on par with MS 365 Office.  If you choose to go for the WPS Office remember you can download the free version which also comes with 1 GB of Cloud space, or you can upgrade to Premium (which removes ads) has advanced features, including document collaboration.  There is also a Professional Version and a Student Version.  I don't know too much about those last two versions so I cannot say much about them.  As I said earlier I myself stuck to the free download which is serving me just fine as I already share collaboration documents through Google Docs, and of course have Cloud storage space there.  So if you find yourself in a situation like mine, hopefully this is a viable alternative for you.  I still love MS Office, but until I get some other things taken care of like dental work, I have to watch my pennies for a while

 
Regardless of what Office system you use, remember to back-up your files.  I do so on Google Docs, Cloud, and on Flash Drives.  You never can have too much back-up for your work!  All of these saved hours and months of writing projects when my laptop and desktop died, I didn't lose a single sentence, word or period.

I want to finish by saying I haven't actually submitted anything to Createspace or Smashwords since starting with the WPS Office system, but trial runs where I submit a file to get a preview on Createspace has met with the same success I've experienced using MS Office.  Once our latest project "The Vampyre Blogs - One Day At A Time" is submitted, I'll let you all know how things went.  

Until then, use whatever you feel comfortable with as far as "Office" systems go.  If you're on a budget like me, I think you will be rather pleased with trying WPS Office.  You can find it by simply Googling WPS Office.  

That's all I have for now.  Until next time, take care and keep writing.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Adventures With Computers...

Guess what?


September has been quite the month for me and Helen.  Some of you may remember that about a month ago, my little blue laptop became... 'unreliable' to the point I dared not risk any of our stories on it.  So it was sent to the wayside, leaving only our desktop (which I could not bring to work of course) and Helen's laptop which she needs on a daily basis for her online college classes.  This put a serious dent in my ability to write or even be online as often as I wished, much less getting much writing done except on weekends.  

We also had expenses to take care of, like college books for Helen which took priority over replacing my laptop.  Finally, things were looking up just on the eve of my weeklong vacation at the beginning of September when illness and car troubles reared their ugly heads and forced us to push the laptop purchase back even further.  After getting the car situation squared away (over the course of most of my vacation), our desktop computer joined the little blue laptop by giving up the ghost.  



This left us with just Helen's laptop and my Kindle and little else.  Finally about a week ago, our finances were stable enough for us to purchase a refurbished desktop and a refurbished laptop together for about $300.00 (thank you Amazon, you guys are a God-send).  However, the delivery time for each computer was about another week or so, which meant I was still cut off from real productivity.  This led to a decision about pushing back the release date of our upcoming anthology book.  We had hoped to have the book ready for beta-readers by now, but with the delays in writing and the upcoming holidays, finding readers who have the time to even look at the book will be difficult.  Furthermore, the earliest we could get the book out would be a week or two before Christmas which is not a good time for indie authors to sell unless they have a huge fan base already.  It's around Christmas the the big publishers make a massive push and getting your own book noticed at this time is a nightmare.  

However, early January is an ideal time for new indie books because the holiday obligations are over and people have lots of lovely gift certificate cards they want to use on Amazon, B and N, etc.  


With this in mind, we still wanted to catch some of the holiday spirit and have decided to release "The Vampyre Blogs: One Day At A Time" on January 5th, which happens to be Twelfth Night (or the 12th Day of Christmas).  This works great for us in a number of ways, especially since the first story in that anthology takes place around New Years Day (or on Twelfth Night itself, Helen has plans for a story that may be finished in time to add to the anthology... we'll see).

There has been one other thing that forced us to push the release date of the book, namely getting used to the new computers.  Since both are refurbished, this means that all programs were erased from the hard drives and one is mostly left with whatever operating system remains.  This meant, no MS Office (i. e. Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.), very basic Anti-Virus protection, or other special programs a writer might really want/need.  

Now, being that we are on a budget decisions had to be made about what to load up onto our new computers.  How did we handle that?  You'll find out in our next post, but the word "FREE" figures heavily into the solution.

Until then, take care and keep writing my friends...






Thursday, September 7, 2017

1st Sneak Peek Into Our Upcoming Anthology..

The long wait to replace my now deceased laptop has unfortunately been extended due to circumstances beyond my control like, car registration, car repairs, books for my wife's college classes, etc.  Luckily I am on vacation this week, or rather a 'stay-cation' and am working hard to get our upcoming anthology edited and ready for beta-reading.  We hope to have this process completed by the end of this month.

     In the meantime, with our time and resources being a little limited, we decided to offer the first sneak peek into the anthology itself.  We hope this peek will intrigue and delight you all, since it will be the first of several leading up to the day of the book's release.

So without further ado, here is a snippet from the first of the twenty plus tales that will appear in the collection we call:  "The Vampyre Blogs - One Day At a Time":

FROM THE DESK OF CAPTAIN BRIAN WESTON OF THE UNION ARMY – June 30th, 1863 

“A Letter To My Wife”




     My Beloved Madeleine,

     I know you have been troubled by how distracted I seemed last we were together. I know I told you it was simply the weight of being responsible for not one but two companies of men. But with our division on the eve of what may possibly be the biggest battle we’ve faced to date, I feel it only right to explain myself in case I fail to return, especially with the approach of our firstborn mere months away. I want our baby to know that my thoughts were never far from home, nor was there a mistress or dalliance that had captured my heart. There has only been you and no other. 

     Actually, it is an old friend, whose unexpected return one cold night in January, who has occupied so much of my mind. Of course, you will correctly surmise that I am referring to young Nathaniel Stewart. After believing him lost at Mary’s Heights, his sudden reappearance weeks later raised more than a few eyebrows and murmurings among the men. But then it became clear he had come back to us not as a deserter, but as a hero. 

     Why did I not mention that last fact to you earlier? I have been under orders from the President himself to be remain silent on the matter, but with the war so unpredictable, and having recently just escaped death thanks to young Nathan, I feel it only right that you know everything. 

      As I already indicated, it began early this year, January 2nd. Night had fallen and my men had already turned in for the night when a carriage arrived. It had been stopped at the gate and then sent right through, which is highly irregular. Even Colonel ----, had not been notified of the late arrival, nor was he summoned to the meeting that followed. Instead our late night visitors came straight to my quarters.

     Being a soldier, I am accustomed to being awoken at odd times, but upon seeing who my visitors were, I was so taken aback, I almost forgot to snap to attention. Discovering the President himself in your office wishing to speak to you, is not a position a mere captain is used to finding himself in. Even more shocking was finding a member of my company, and long time friend whom I believed had perished at Marye’s Heights, standing next to such our Commander in Chief.

     “Nathan?” I breathed, before finally remembering my place and greeted the President smartly. 
    
    “At ease, Captain,” my superior instructed. “This meeting is of course not a social call, but a matter of great delicacy. It will help decide the fate of this young man.” 

     My legs nearly failed me. Seeing Nathan alive after nearly a month’s unexplained absence, I had feared that I would have to brand him a coward and order a firing squad come morning. 

     You know of course from long habit that in spite of the almost decade difference in our ages, I look upon Nathan as a younger brother. Perhaps, it was losing my own sibling, that I sought to fill the gap in my life created by his passing and Nathan was a good fit. Plus it was because of me he was able to join our company, in spite of his young age and sometimes questionable health.  So you can understand how the very thought of having to order his execution for desertion clutched my heart with an icy vengeance...





Saturday, August 26, 2017

****Brand New 5-STAR Review Over On Amazon****

5.0 out of 5 stars 

"Favorite read this summer"

BySimoneon August 16, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition


Favorite read this summer! Filled with murder mysteries and British wittiness that kept me laughing all throughout the adventure. Haven't found a book with good dialogue and a sense of humor for a while.
Overall, I'm pleased with the mix of romance + adventure + mystique put together in 'The Bridge'.
Happy to see that there are writers who still put so much time and effort in to character development and story.



Want to see more? Just click on the link below to read more reviews about "The Bridge" and the other books in our Para-Earth Series:

Amazon: 

AmazonUK: 

Amazon Canada:

Barnes and Noble:

Smashwords (for Nook, Sony, Apple, PDF, Kobo, and other formats):

Saturday, July 15, 2017

THE PARA-EARTH SERIES… WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD? - Part II

         Hello everyone… when last I left you, I had promised to discuss some of the writing projects currently under way in the Para-Earth Series, and that is exactly what I intend to cover in this entry.
          Currently there not one, not two but over seven books under construction so to speak.  


          Each is at a different stage of development as far as length, but all are still only 1st drafts.  So there’s still a lot more to do on them, but progress is being made. 

I’ll start with the book that will be released this coming November/December.  This one focuses mainly on my vampyre Nathan and his friends.  Before I released the first full-length novel starring Nathan last year, he and his friends had been the focus of a blog I started back in 2014 appropriately called “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition” (You can click this link to see the latest story: http://thevampyreblogs.blogspot.com/).  

The purpose of the blog was to introduce readers to Nathan and company in a series of blog, e-diary, and e-journal entries and raise interest for the novel.  After three years there are now over 50 different stories of varying lengths that have appeared on the blog.  However, this also means that there are a lot of pages for a newcomer to try and scroll through to find the earliest tales or even the beginning of the more lengthy tales which can stretch from one to six separate entries. 

          This has been a common lament that has reached our ears.  So just in time for the holidays, Helen and I have been gathering some of the earlier entries and are putting them into the first of what we hope will be a number of anthologies.  Mind you, this anthology will NOT just contain old stories.  Brand new tales are being added that have never appeared on the blog before, giving the readers something more to enjoy besides the convenience of accessing the earliest tales.  Some will be written solely by me or Helen, while others will be a joint venture, so you’ll be getting a taste of both our combined and individual styles.  Furthermore, as in the novel, the entries will be written from the points of views of various characters who appeared in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” 


And as I mentioned earlier, we are planning more anthologies involving other never-before-seen tales of Para-Earth encounters starring characters from “The Bridge” and “The Ship” as well as brand new characters who may become part of our growing cast.  The first of that anthology will hopefully be coming in 2018, we’ll keep you posted on that front.

In the meantime, what other projects do we have that are currently in the works?

Well, the long awaited sequel to “The Bridge” and “The Ship”, currently titled "The Door"...


 ...stars Alex Hill, Veronica Ross, Cassandra Elliott and Julianna Cloudfoot is currently weighing in at 60,000 words.  This one has been a long project for me because I’ve been expanding the cast and finding the weight cumbersome at times.  As in previous novels, I’ve tried to keep a mystery going, while also playing fair and giving hints to the audience as to what’s really going on.  Furthermore, this book will address certain unanswered questions from the first two books about the mysterious white-haired man who has plans for Cassandra.  As well as provide more insight into Rachel’s baby.  It will also open the eyes of certain characters into past experiences they’ve had and even begin the first major crossover between this part of the series and the Vampyre Blogs characters.

I’m hoping to have the first draft completed and the second under way by the end of this year.  From there my goal is to release it mid or late 2018.  I will make sure the release date will not interfere or overlap with the Para-Earth anthology mentioned earlier.  I like to give each installment its moment in the spotlight, as well as release books more frequently than I have in the past. 

Of course, working with two other authors is also allowing the series to build up a reserve of books to make future releases more regular and frequent (a goal I’ve been hoping to see come true for a long time).

The next novel(s) to be released after that will hopefully be “The Pass” and “The Vampyre Blogs – Family Ties”.  Both books are currently under way, with “The Pass” being the more advanced of the two. 

As I mentioned in the previous entry, “The Pass” takes place during the Civil War.  Espionage, intrigue, paranormal, and Para-Earth all come together in this epic tale that draws upon actual historical events to make the tale even more exciting.  My partner Rich has been dutifully scouring history books and maps to make sure timelines, maps, modes of travel and how long the journey from the east coast to the west (before the Trans-Continental railroad was available) are completely accurate. 


While most of the characters are original, certain historical figures will be appearing in the book as well as a ‘cameo’ by our favorite vampyre (whose origins are also directly connected with the Civil War).  

But wait there are still more projects in the works, which I will cover in my next entry.   Until then, take care and keep writing my friends.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

THE PARA-EARTH SERIES… WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?


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.


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.


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.
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. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

PICK THIS UP IF YOU LIKE VAMPIRES!

NEW 4 STAR REVIEW OVER ON AMAZON FOR OUR LATEST RELEASE... 



PICK THIS UP IF YOU LIKE VAMPIRES!
By Da Man on June 15, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Do not pick this book up if you think you know everything about vampires! It will completely change your thinking about them...

Click on the link below to see the rest of the review and what others have been saying:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Thoughts About Working on Multiple Books At the Same Time - Part II

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…


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.


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...


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.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Thoughts About Working On Multiple Books At the Same Time...

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, http://thevampyreblogs.blogspot.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.