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Monday, March 31, 2014

Choosing Beta-Readers: Who? How? Why?

This week I got 8 people lined up as "Beta-Readers" for my second novel "THE SHIP".

For those not familiar with beta-readers, they are basically test readers for you book.  They will read the story and give you feedback on what they thought of it.  But what kind of feedback am I talking about?

Well this may vary from writer to writer.  For me I'm looking for the following feedback:

1-Did they like the story? (this is a given, I have to know whether or not the story is even working for my readers in the first place)
2-How was the pacing?  Did the story drag a lot, or was it too-fast paced and hard to keep up with?
3-Were the characters likable and did you come to care about them?  Did they intrigue you?  Did you want to see more of them in the future?  (I'm working on an ongoing series where I will rotate some of the cast from time to time)
4-Spelling errors?  (I've done my best but some things will still slip past me so a few more sets of eyes doesn't hurt)
5-Grammatical issues?  (I've chosen my team from a variety of people including a few authors and grammar nazis who will be more than willing to point out areas of concern)
6-Did the story flow well?  Were there areas where there were contradictions in who was where during an action sequence?  Was there an idea that got confused and hard to follow?
7-FINALLY: What did they think of the piece overall?

This is a lot of questions I know, but this is the book's testing ground.  One of your last chances to work out the bugs and iron out any problems before you unleash your work on the public.  And trust me, sometimes the public can be unforgiving and harsh.  Remember, most of them will be putting out money to buy your work, so make sure you strive to put out a really good product.  Your reputation is on the line whenever you put out a book.  Never slack off on quality or it'll hurt the sales of your next book.

As I mentioned earlier in this entry, I'm doing a series.  So one of the things I made sure to do was get at least a couple of beta-readers who did NOT read the first book.  People are not always going to buy your books in order, so make sure you keep each story neat and self-contained that anyone can jump into whatever part of your series they happen to spot.  Give enough references to past events from earlier books so intrigue them enough to maybe want to check out the earlier books, but not detract from the one in their hands at that moment.

Beta-Readers can help your work tremendously.  And like editors, you don't have to take EVERY suggestion they make to improve the book.  You want to keep faithful to your own vision, but weigh the pros and cons for each change.  Some may prove to be a master-stroke, while others may not.  After all beta-readers will not know your long-term vision for your book and have all the insights you do.  So be careful how you take their advice.

Finally, always be gracious even if they give advice you don't agree with. Remember, they're trying to help your book become something even better.

Until next time, take care and keep writing.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Creating A Fictional Setting...

"Welcome to Pointer, West Virginia"



For those who have never heard of this place, do not fret. It doesn't exist.  I made it up to be the setting for "The Vampyre Blogs".  A good setting is extremely important to any story.  Your story's setting can shape your character's personality depending on how long they've lived there.  For instance, if they've been there a short time there's the getting to know the place and the people.  Certain action sequences may take place in particular areas.  The town's history may come into play.  If they've lived there all their lives, they should know a lot of people, have a reputation (are they considered cool, friendly, or weird by the other people?  Etc., etc...)  Already you can see the importance of your setting and you should know the place at least in your own mind, so you can convey it to the readers.  I don't care if it's a real place here on Earth or another world.  You need to become familiar with where your story is taking place.

I've touched on settings for stories in the past, but "Pointer, West Virginia" is very different for me. You see, I've never been to West Virginia.  I do not have any personal knowledge of what the place is like.  I don't know how people talk there, what kind of accents they have, etc.  


Creating a fictional place doesn't have to be super complicated, but whatever setting you build has to be believable.  In my case, I like to blend a bit of reality into my settings.  When I created New Swindon in Connecticut, for my first book "The Bridge", I was familiar with the area where I placed it.  My grandmother had lived in Salisbury Connecticut for years and I became familiar with some of the other nearby towns.  I blended the characteristics of several of them to create New Swindon to make it seem more real and authentic.  I would refer to certain landmarks, roads and the things that actually do exist in real life.  This allowed me to make my town more believable and real.  

In my second soon-to-be-released book, "The Ship", I used an actual setting from real life that I was very familiar with.  However, I also took steps to make sure only my characters were fictional and that they blended right in with their real-life setting.  I had the knowledge of Santa Cruz and Seacliff to make this happen smoothly and very believable.  (Remember the old saying:  write what you know about).

So why am I using West Virginia, a place I've never been too, as the location for my third novel?  History!  West Virginia is steeped in it, especially when it comes to the Civil War, which is the time-frame my main character Nathaniel lived in.  So how did I approach this situation to so

So what did I do?  Simple, it was time for a little research on the internet and here is some of what I learned:

-West Virginia was created as a direct result of the Civil War.  Most of Virginia sided with the south during that turbulent time, except for the section now known as West Virginia.  They were not inclined to enforce slavery or returning runaway slaves, and decided to break off from the rest of Virginia.  There was a lot of tension when this happened, and there were a number of famous battles that took place within the newly formed state.


So right there I had a rich source of background to play with for my new novel.  However, I still had a number of obstacles to overcome for the story.  Where in West Virginia should I place my fictional town?  I checked over some county maps and saw where towns and cities were located and took notes.  I wanted an area that didn't already have an actual town, so I could refer to the real places as being nearby.  Plus I wanted a location that was near the disputed Virginia/West Virginia border.  There were some hostilities there, and I had planned for my town's history to include a bunch of raiders (southern sympathizers) who crossed the border and nearly wiped out Pointer's population in one terrible "Night Of Fire".  Could such a thing have happened?  Absolutely, because I checked up on atrocities that took place during the Civil War.  Both the North and South committed atrocities, some extremely barbaric.  So right there, I had foundation to create such a background history for the town.


I also, checked to find out what are the more prominent religions in the area, so I could populate the the town with a churches and denominations.  Plus I researched, what kinds of agriculture and commercial businesses are most prominent and where they are located in West Virginia.  

Now I know a lot of this sounds complicated and detailed, but I simply made a few notes to myself.  The object was to be able to make 'general references' to real aspects of the area, to make my fictional town blend in and seem more real.  That's all.  I won't be dedicating entire chapters to detailed descriptions, mostly it will be comments and points of reference made by the characters.  I even found where a community college is located in the county where I am placing my town, so one of the secondary characters can be an instructor there.  



I know a lot of my readers may have never stepped foot in West Virginia, but there will also be some how do live there and I want them to feel like I treated their state fairly.  I try to make the settings enjoyable and fun to think about.  Who knows, some people may even want to visit them one day to see what it's like for themselves.  It depends on the picture you paint, so to speak.  


A few of your might be asking, how much time did I spend on researching the area?  Well, I'd say I spent a total of maybe 10-12 hours over a several day period to get my vision for "Pointer".  I checked Google for images so I can describe buildings and streets, I checked maps for counties, I looked up the state's governing body and typical law enforcement agencies, as well as the average population of towns so I could populate mine with the right number of civil servants and local government.  

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, I checked out some of the state's history.  Again I didn't go into great detail, but simply made notes I could refer back to in order to make the town fit in and seem real.  Even the name of my fictional town comes from actual state history.  In May 1788 Fort Donally was attacked early in the morning hours by a group of indians led by Cornstalk.  The fort housed soldiers, wives and children.  One of the defenders who helped keep the gates blockaded and fired through a hole in the gate, was a slave named Dick Pointer.  For his courage and loyalty during the fight, he was given his freedom AND a piece of land with a cabin that people built just for him.  A rare honor at the time.  Upon his death in 1827 he was buried with military honors in Lewisburg West Virginia.




For my story, I'm going to have it that one of the children who saw him in action that day helped found my fictional town and named it after his hero.  A town named for a former slave would understandably be targeted by the raiders in my story and make it more believable.  

So there you have it.  Here's another one of my methods for making a believable fictional setting.  What are some of yours?  Please share in the comments below or give us links to a blog where you may have discussed your style of doing things.  

I hope this entry has helped some of you.  And as always, take care and keep writing.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Writing In The First Person Point Of View...

As most of you know by now, I've started work on my third novel.  What makes this book different though is the fact that I'm writing in the first person instead of the third person.  In the third person one tends to do a lot of "he said," "She smiled", etc.  Whereas the first person is a bit more personal in my opinion.  

Just about all writers like to let the audience inside their characters heads.  Some will do it in the "omniscient" style, where they let  reader see inside every characters head in the same scene all at once.  We're allowed to know what they're thinking, even if they don't share their thoughts with the other characters.  Or  the author will let you inside one character's head at a time.  This is called 'limited perspective' which is what I use a lot, where I only let you inside one character's mind at a time, even within the same scene.  But I'll indicate the 'change' of who's head you're inside of by putting a space break between paragraphs and clearly letting the audience know who's point of view we're now watching through.

However, in first person perspective, you get a narrator who tells the entire story.  You'll see a lot of "I said...", "I thought..." etc. etc.  While powerful, this point of view can be limiting since the audience can only know what the narrator knows.  We don't get inside the heads of the other characters to see what they're thinking, unless the author switches narrators between chapters.  This is kind of what I'm doing with "The Vampyre Blogs".  

Like a real blog, the entire book is made up of entries, only in this case they are created by the different characters.  Each speaking in the first person perspective.  Bram Stoker used this style in "Dracula" and it worked really well.  Since I'm doing a vampire piece, using the same style seemed only natural.

But what I didn't count on was how much fun I'm having with this style.  With each entry, I get to play with a new character.  Now, I took theater back in high school and had a blast with it.  I'm finding doing these 'blog entries' by different characters to be a lot like my theater experience.  I really get inside whichever character's entry I'm working on, and get to be them.  I really get a chance to see through their eyes and get to know them in a deeper way than I have with my characters in the past.  Then when I'm done with that entry, I get to take mentally shed that character and don another persona and repeat the process.  I sometimes feel like I'm doing a one man show in front of an audience.  Only I'm doing it from behind a computer screen instead of being on stage.

Now I know for a lot of writers, getting inside a character's head is normal.  I did it for my other novels, but as I mentioned just a little while ago, I feel like I'm getting to really know my characters more in depth than before.  Will I be able to keep going this deep when I return to the third person perspective?  I don't know, yet.  I hope so.  Because I'm really enjoying the experience.  Just so long as I don't get too caught up with them and lose myself so to speak.

This whole experience is a fascinating journey of discovery for me.  What have some of your experiences with writing and getting to know your characters been like gang?  I'd love to hear about it.  Please feel free to share your experiences with the rest of us in the comments section below.

I'm afraid this is all I have to share for now.  Take care and keep writing everyone!



  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Another New Post Over On "The Vampyre Blogs--Private Edition" Marisa's Back...

Over on "The Vampyre Blogs--Private Edition" young Marisa is back with a new entry.  Today she's talking about her Dad.  A simple everyday guy who is not a fireman, not a policeman, or an EMT.  He's just an ordinary fellow who manages to save a life.  Come on over and find out how he did it by clicking on the link below.  You'll be glad you did.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Work On "The Vampyre Blogs" Novel Has Begun...

I know, I know, I haven't even put out "The Ship" yet, and I'm already working on another book?  Well, I'm waiting for feedback from some of my beta-readers who are going over "The Ship" so there's not much I can do on that front at the moment.  And it felt so darn weird, sitting at my computer and not working on something, other than doing Facebook and games.

Besides, I've been getting a lot more views on "The Vampyre Blogs--Private Edition" blog sites that have been looking very encouraging.  I really hope my creating those sites will lead to me having a really good sized audience clamoring for the book when it finally comes out in December.  In this day and age of Indie Authors and self-publishing, one has to try and be inventive to build an audience for your work.  And I keep hearing over and over again about how important it is to get the word out about your works (both finished and in progress).

But what I really want to talk about today is my personal experiences in writing a book that is comprised of blog entries by various characters.  It's been hard to describe at times, when people ask me about it.  But today I finally came up with a good way to explain it.  Basically, each 'blog entry' is pretty much a short story in and of itself.  I'm just putting together a bunch of short stories in such a way that they tell a much larger tale.  And I'm finding it fascinating.

This is the first book where I've tried using the first-person point of view.  I've always been a little leery of doing this because I keep in mind that whichever character is telling the story, we only get to see what goes on inside their head.  They don't know exactly what's happening inside the minds of the other characters.  But, by following Bram Stoker's example of using journal and letters, I am having a blast getting all the different characters thoughts and opinions about what is going on in and around their lives.

I'm actually finding this format rather easy to work with and very exciting.  I just hope the audience finds it as enjoyable and interesting.  I just finished the first entry in the novel and it came to just over 1000 words.  How long will the book be in the end?  I'm not sure, but I'm hoping to keep it under 80,000 for a change.  It will be easier to manage the edits and rewrites, so I should be able to keep to my scheduled release of December later this year.

I'll follow up again soon and let you all know what other discoveries I'm making as I continue the tale.  

Until next time, take care and keep writing!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

New Entry On "The Vampyre Blogs--Private Edition"

I changed the name of my vampyre blog, because the name would be exactly the same as the book's title.  I wanted to keep the two similar but not identical.  Some people might get confused, so I decided to add the words "Private Edition" which is actually appropriate.  Since none of the entries appearing on that blog will be showing up in the actual novel, it seemed appropriate.

Readers just wind up getting a bit of free background info on the characters, as well as scenes that can be considered free short-stories.  

I've already decided that since that blog has already had over 400 views in the month and a half that it was put up, I will continue to keep it going even after the novel comes out in December of this year.  I find I enjoy doing these little shorts about my vampyre and the people who's lives touch his.

I also plan on doing more novels with him, if the first one does well.  

So in the meantime, come see what's been happening at his dance club "The Crypt".  There's always something going on down there, be it big or small.  The doors are open, and you're invited...

http://thevampyreblogs.blogspot.com/2014/02/nathaniels-blog-january-7th-20-night-at.html


Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Flare"

The word "Flare" has many meanings such as style, finesse, a signaling device, but for the last two days it's had a different meaning for me.  Those, like myself, who suffer from Fibromyalgia know it to mean an exacerbation of symptoms.  

There is a serious rise in pain and sensitivity levels.  My aches go way beyond the norm.  Even the simplest tasks can set off a pain reaction.  While picking up a cup of tea, I feel my hand ache in ways it shouldn't.  But I'll be damned if I let  the pain get in my way, I NEED my morning tea.  But it's usually one of the earliest signals that tells me I may be in for a bad time.

Fatigue is another major issue.  I feel wrung out and exhausted even after a good night's sleep.  One would think I'd just completed a marathon instead of just having done a few simple chores around the house.  For the rest of the day I not good for much else.  I feel weak and unsteady.  My hand will tremble with the effort of just picking up an object.  

Clumsiness and inability to judge distance or proximity is another issue.  As I leave a room I can clearly see the doorway.  Yet somehow, some way, my shoulder will still manage to hit door, or the doorway itself as I pass through.  Or I will misjudge a table or other object in the room or lying on the floor and trip over it.  Some days it feels like I am trying to navigate a minefield and I'm stepping on every hidden trap.  I've been known to trip over my own feet quite often during these episodes.

My head does not feel well either.  It feels stuffed with cotton or wool.  I do not mean in the sense of when you have a cold and your head feels all stuffed up.  No, this is different.  It is difficult to think clearly.  The simplest tasks I've done a million times before, I have to sometimes stop and think about how to do.  My flow of creativity becomes a trickle.  Not that I have the energy to actually work on any creative projects.

I am in "Flare" now.  I've been able to accomplish very little today.  But I do not seek pity, only understanding.  Fibromyalgia is one of the many "Invisible Illnesses".  It is with me every day of my life, but to others I look very healthy.  They cannot see the pain I contend with every day.  Most days the levels are very low, and I can overlook or ignore them for the most part.  Other days, I'm more aware of it and just try to watch myself.  But then there are the times like today when all I can do is be gentle and patient with myself because there's not much else I can do. 

Going into "Flare" can be frustrating, especially on those occasions when I had plans to be with family or friends, but must bow out or change what we do at the last minute.  Those who know me best and are aware of my condition are more than understanding.  However, employers, co-workers or strangers are not as understanding.  The world can be vicious without really meaning to be to those with invisible conditions.  Perhaps more patience and empathy is something we all need to have because we don't know what battles or sufferings other people are going through.  Especially when we can't see those struggles because they are invisible to us.

How long this particular "Flare" will last, I have no idea.  It may be just today and I will be much better on the morrow.  Or it may decide to stick around for a week or two, possibly a month.  I pray not, because there are things I need and want to get done.  I do not like being tired, sore, clumsy and fuzzy-brained.   But if it does last longer than a couple of days I will be kind and forgiving to myself.  For it will pass, it always does.  

I will call it quits here, because I'm feeling very tired just from thinking and typing up this entry.  Yeah, some days it's that bad., and today is one of them.     

Sunday, February 9, 2014

New Entry Over On "The Vampyre Blogs". Nathaniel Through His Godson's Eyes...

Just put up a new entry over on my Wordpress version of "The Vampyre Blogs".  
Today, I have my vampire's godson talking about him.  I thought it might be nice for all of you to see Nathaniel, through the eyes of someone who's known him for years.  
Nathaniel's been in a kind of dark mood on his entries, but he's not always like that.    He's rather a fun fellow, just kind of shy.
So why not come over and see a different side of the man who's walked this earth for over a 150 years.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Review of John Wyndham's "The Midwich Cuckoos" aka "The Village of the Damned"

 
MY RATING:  5  STARS OUT OF 5
I was very excited to finally get my hands on a copy of this book after seeing the 1960 movie "Village of the Damned" that was made based upon it. My wait was not in vain. While the movie followed the storyline and even small details very faithfully, actually reading the story was much more fulfilling.
I can understand the changing of the title, since not many are all that familiar with cuckoos aside from cuckoo clocks. In real life, cuckoo birds are rather parasitic in their behavior. A mother cuckoo will lay her egg in the nest of another bird (who is not a cuckoo) and leave it among the other eggs already there, and take off. The cuckoo's egg will usually be similar in size and coloring so the foster-mother will not notice the additional egg and will care for it. Unfortunately, the cuckoo egg will hatch way before the other eggs, producing a very demanding chick who will constantly want to be fed and cared for. While the foster mother is away, the chick will evict other eggs or even other chicks when they finally hatch. The cuckoo chick will run the mother ragged to satisfy its own needs. Yes, nature can be cruel and even ugly sometimes.
In this novel, Mr. Wyndham applies this same principle to humans. In the village of Midwich the "Dayout' occurs. The entire village falls unconscious for hours only to awaken confused and uneasy. Soon it is learned that every girl and woman of child-bearing age is pregnant. The stigma of unmarried mothers as well as the accusations of infidelity runs rampant. The women are on put on spot for quite a while unable to defend themselves.
Mr. Wyndham questions a number of society's expectations of women and moral behavior within this book which I personally liked. At another point in the story one of the lead male characters talks about women he went to school with. He laments that there were young ladies who were extremely intelligent and had great future prospects, who wound up marrying and losing their chance to fully explore their full potential.
Eventually, the story raises other questions after the 'children' are born.  Namely the demands of motherhood, such as breast-feeding. In one scene a woman begins to breast-feed her newborn 'child' in public (remember this book came out in 1957, and there's still a lot of arguments about breast-feeding in public today). The woman feels humiliated but explains angrily that she cannot help herself. The child demands it. Soon other strange compulsions arise from the other children born as a result of the Dayout.
Nature vs nurture comes into question as well. The 'Children' do not demonstrate affection or much feelings, except when threatened or angered. They have no problem being housed together away from their families when the chance arises. No matter how much kindness or affection has been given them, there is no affection offered in return.
Before long it becomes apparent these children are much more than human and they soon make it clear their long term goal is to supplant all normal humans in time. Plus they have the psychic powers to do it, which they demonstrate more and more. Even to the point of planes flying far overhead, suddenly dropping out of the sky. The pilots do not necessarily eject either folks. This is a blatant warning to those in authority not to try attacking from a distance or from above.
The book is a fascinating read and raises a lot of interesting questions. It is a classic and thoroughly worth reading. I highly recommend it.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/5284559-allan-krummenacker">View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

New Entry Over On "The Vampyre Blogs"

There's a new entry over on the "The Vampyre Blogs".

Nathaniel is back and sharing a letter he received from his father.  Come on over and take a look.  This is one time when you're encouraged to take a  look at someone else's mail.

http://thevampyreblogs.blogspot.com/2014/02/nathaniels-blog-letter-from-my-father.html

Saturday, February 1, 2014

2nd Drafts, How I Handle Them...

As of today I'm already a third of the way through the 2nd draft of "The Ship".  Progress has been good and I've been pleased with how things are going.  There will probably be a 3rd draft as well.  What happens after that?  Well, that's a tale for another entry.

Today I wish to discuss how I deal with a 2nd drafts.  I handle 3rd and 4th drafts the same way, so don't expect any blog entries on those.  It's the same process all over again to try catch whatever I missed on the previous draft.  

Like many authors, I've been learning a lot of things on my own.  There's no exact set of rules for how to do  write and create a book, though many people have tried to explain it.  Every author is going to handle things differently, whether its how they create a story (with an outline, flying by the seat of your pants, etc.) to editing, proofreading, whatever.  Different things work for different people.

In my case how I handle dealing with 2nd drafts is pretty straightforward.  After I complete the first draft on my computer and save it.  I will then save it again using the "Save As" function and labeling it differently.  In this case "The Ship 2nd Draft".  From there I will begin going over the entire story, page by page.  I already know what the current word count is (139,806 in this case).  I know this is one of the things I want to change about the book.  I also want to keep track of the pacing of the story, as well as watch out for ideas or concepts being repeated unnecessarily.

I proceed to go over the story line by line.  As I go along I try to keep an eye out for excess verbage such as "he/she said" because it's usually pretty easy to tell who was speaking.  Another thing I watch out for are sentences beginning with "now" or "but".  Sometimes I'll use them unnecessarily, and also, if used too often they can be a little jarring to the eyes of the reader. 

Another thing I'll be looking for as I go along is how well I phrased certain ideas.  Does it read smoothly or is there something not quite right.  I may rewrite a paragraph or line and make it more easy to understand and pleasing to the eye.

As I mentioned earlier, I'll also be keeping an eye out for plot points or ideas being repeated in two or more areas of the novel.  I don't know about you, but I spend weeks or even months writing a novel.  So I sometimes I forget what I wrote a few weeks back and wind up repeating myself later in the story.  This happened a lot in my first novel "The Bridge".  However, I seem to have gotten better about it, because I haven't been finding that happening as often in "The Ship".  

Finally, one other thing I'll do as I go along is see if every scene, or even characters, are really relevant to the story.  I have removed characters, or even entire scenes, more than once from my stories.  I'll do this because either the character or subplot is not really needed, or they feel really out of place and don't belong in this particular story.  

I've also removed lengthy scenes and simplified them because I plan on using the much longer version as the basis for a follow up short story, or another novel entirely.  Certain references that appear in "The Ship" will be expanded upon in a collection of short stories I'm planning on doing down the road.

So that's an overview of how I handle 2nd, 3rd and 4th drafts.  All of these things help to cut down the word count as well as allow me to tighten the story up and improve the overall piece.  Mind you, I still plan on getting the book edited by others.  I'm just particular about getting the entire story down and told in a certain way before I let anyone else even get a glimpse of it.  

As I said at the beginning, how I handle drafts and rewrites may not be the same as other people.  What's your way of dealing with 2nd drafts and rewrites?  Enquiring writing minds would like to know, so please share your thoughts in the comments section below, this way we can all benefit and learn from each other.  

Until next time, take care and keep writing.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

First Draft Completed, Next Up Proofreading and Starting the Second Draft...

Yesterday I finished the 1st draft of my second novel "The Ship".  The word count came in at 139, 345.  A bit high I admit, but a damn sight better than what my first novel "The Bridge" came in at.  That sucker wound up in 195,000 words.  Man did that puppy need some serious editing and rewriting.  I finally got it down to 102,000 words before I finally released it.  Yeah, I practically took a chainsaw to that sucker. 

So what's my next step?  

First up is PROOFREADING!  I've been lucky enough to have a trusted beta-reader who has been checking my spelling, punctuation, etc. the entire time that I've been writing "The Ship".  I kept all the corrected pages she sent back and am going through them and making the corrections already.   So far, 166 of the 525 pages have been fixed on that front.  It's been going pretty fast, but she told me a while back that she was finding a lot fewer mistakes in my writing this time around and that my style had matured.  I was very glad to hear this.  I have been trying very hard to do a better job this time around, so it's good to hear my efforts are showing.  

After the proofreading, I intend to start a second draft.  How will this be different than the proofreading? Simple, once the grammatical errors are fixed I can re-read the story myself and start looking for unnecessary repetition of ideas/concepts, simplifying concepts, expanding on thoughts where it might help the reader, eliminating scenes or characters who do not really make a serious impact on the plot, etc.

When I write a first draft, it's simply to get the entire story told.  Only then can I go back and look at it from a reader's perspective and see if it's all making sense.  I'll also study the pacing, the details, are the characters actions logical and  if not is there a reason, etc.  Automatically, a lot of the repairs and adjustments I make will start cutting down the word count.  

After I've completed the 2nd draft, I may unleash it on a few 'trustworthy' beta-readers to get their impressions.and feedback.  From there a 3rd draft will be made incorporating some, but not necessarily all, their ideas. Why won't I use all of it, because I'm already plotting the next story in the series.  Some of what they talk about, might be things needed to help set the stage for the next book.  They will have no idea of this, but I do and I'm not sharing that info just yet.  I don't want to spoil the next book in the series for them.

As you can see, finishing a first draft is a huge accomplishment, but the work is just beginning.  There's so much more to be done, before I release the book in its final form to the public.  There is a lot to think about in creating your novel.  NEVER publish your first draft and say "It's perfect as it is!"  You will regret it.  Take the time to go over it and have others add their input.  But choose those editors, beta-readers, and proofreaders carefully.  You could wind up with a bunch of "Yes-Men" who offer only praise and no solid advice.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have more proofreading to do.  Until next time... keep writing.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Kickstarter Is Dead...Long Live The Kickstarter!

Well, I just got the official word from Kickstarter that my crowd-funding project failed.  No surprise really, not since I told everyone I considered it over already a few days ago. Will I try another Kickstarter down the road?  Quite likely.  It was a good experience I felt.  Also, I got a number of good compliments on the video I made for it, which also pleases me.

For those who don't know, I began running a Vlog (video blog) about a year or two ago, but haven't touched it in a long time.  I may start creating more videos just for giggles.  I've had several comedic ideas in mind for some time, but just haven't had the time or inclination to get out and shoot some new material.  For the most part, I tried to make my videos informative (usually about writing or being creative).  But when I look back on what I did in the past, they were very informative, but static.  A guy sitting there and talking at you.  Whereas my Kickstarter video I put a lot more thought into angles, a bit of a script, and even a few visual effects.  Nothing by Hollywood's standards, but it was definitely more fun to watch.  If I could add some more comedy touches to it, I might have something a bit more fun for people to watch.

The few where I did add comedy were my most popular videos in the past.  And I've often been told I have a good sense of timing and comedy, so we'll see.  I've already got one idea for a Christmas video to a very amusing song which I definitely want to put together for this coming December.

But I digress.  I learned a lot from my Kickstarter experience and will probably employ it again down the road.  One of the things I learned was to be more careful about the timing.  Starting one up around Christmas was a BIG mistake.  A number of people wanted to contribute, but times are still hard and they didn't have much to spare and I understood this.  That was my bad and it won't happen again.

Do I recommend Kickstarter or crowd-sourcing to other writers and other creative minds who are trying to raise money to help finance a project.  Absolutely YES!  It's worth a shot and the most you'll lose out on is time, but you will gain insight about your idea.  Was my book a bad idea?  Not in the least.  I know a lot of people are out there chomping at the bit to get their hands on it when I release the book.  Some of you may be saying, "If that's the case why didn't any of them help fund your Kickstarter?" Once more I point to TIMING!  Even when the book comes out, they may not be able to buy it right away, depending on their finances.  But they will buy it eventually.

I've noticed books with artwork do pretty well on Kickstarter (children's books, comics, original artwork books, etc).  I think partly because the contributors can see more of what they're money would be going into, plus a lot of artists can offer original pages or images as part of the rewards they offer contributors.

All I had to offer were copies of my book in various formats (Nook, Kindle, PDF, signed paperback copies, 1st editions, and even the artwork that became the book's cover).

Also, keep in mind the levels you make available for people to contribute.  Don't just aim really high, aim low too.  My goal was $600, if I had 300 people give at $1, then another 60 give $5, I would've made it.  Remember, it's a bit of a numbers game.  Not everyone will be able to donate a huge amount, but a large number of small ones can take far enough to hit your goal.  Just make sure you get the word out there.  Kickstarter isn't going to spread the word for you.  That's YOUR job!

I know this is a lot to take in, but that's why I'm posting it here.  So you can refer back to it again and again.  Part of my creating this blog was so others could learn what worked and what didn't as I travel this road to become a well known author.  There's still a lot of the journey ahead of me, so stay with me.  There's still a lot more experiences I have to share with you.

And remember, if you go the crowd-sourcing way keep in mind the time of year.  You may not want to start one around April 15th when people may be having to find money to pay the Tax Man and whatnot.  Think about what may be going on in the lives of others.  Now the the major holidays over may be a good time to start putting your project together and getting it out there.  Will I re-release my project again?  Possibly.  But it won't be a for a few months if I do.  I've pushed the release date back to late May to try and get "THE SHIP" out there as the perfect time for a nice book to read during the summer, which is when the story is taking place.  They say timing is everything.

So until next time, take care and keep writing everyone.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

****SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING MY SECOND NOVEL "THE SHIP"****

Greetings everyone.  I wish to make a couple of announcements.  


First, after careful consideration and evaluating where things are at, I've decided to aim for releasing the book in time for June. This way people can enjoy it as part of their Summer reading.
As a result of this decision I'm declaring the Kickstarter a failure and ended.  Mind you, I am not angry or upset by this. In fact I think it may be a blessing in disguise.  I will have more time to rework the book and possibly have some Beta-testers read it to get a better idea how my unpaid team and I do at getting it edited as best we can. If there still seem to be a lot of problems, then I may try another Kickstarter or find another way to raise the money for a professional editor.
I'd like to take this moment to thank everyone who did pledge to the Kickstarter.  The Kickstarter was not going to succeed, but I do appreciate your belief in me and your support.
Remember "THE SHIP" is still coming. I am not giving up on it. I'm just giving myself more time and breathing space to get it in the best shape possible. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks.
ALSO: I will be appearing in an anthology being printed over in England soon, so I'll keep you all appraised about that as I hear more on that front.
On a final note, I will also be releasing another book later this year. "THE VAMPYRE BLOGS" which is destined for a Christmas release, since that will be the time frame of the story.  In the meantime, you can read entries by the characters on my blog that is dedicated to that novel. Keep in mind, the entries you read online will NOT be appearing in the novel. They are merely to help prospective readers become a little more familiar with the characters and their histories, before the book comes out.   After all, I can only fit so much into one book. (grin)
Thanks for your attention and support. Take care and keep writing everyone.

Friday, January 3, 2014

One Week Left In My Kickstarter...

Well gang, I've got one week left in my Kickstarter for getting "The Ship" professionally edited. Right now it's sitting at 55% funded. $330.00 have been pledged, but there's still another $270.00 needed to make the goal.
Will it happen? I don't know. If it doesn't, then it's back to the drawing board and try to do the best I can with my backup team and the release date will be pushed back again. Not my favorite option, but whatever will be, will be.
If you want to make a pledge there's still 7 days left. No monies change hands unless the goal is met. Remember, pledging is like reserving your own copy of the book. Everyone who pledges will be receiving either an e-version or a paperback depending on the level you can pledge.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why The New Blog?

Before I get into promoting my new blog, I thought I should explain myself to you all.  The reason why I've created "The Vampire Blogs" was simple.  It's part experiment, and part story building.  With the popularity of vampires in books, it was only a matter of time before I found myself getting drawn in, although I had sworn to avoid the genre.  Yet, like any writer, I couldn't help speculating on  "Well, if I did a vampire story, I'd make it more original and do this, this and this..."  Naturally, an idea came and began to snowball on me.

I wanted to keep most if not all the typical strengths and weaknesses of the traditional vampire, while at the same time making such a being fit into my Para-Earth Series world.  The being I would have a reasonable explanation for the various abilities such as shape-shifting, turning into mist, etc.   I would also give him a few new traits that fit with the being I had made him out of.  I won't go into any more details at this point, because I don't want to spoil things for the readers of the novel when it comes out.

So, I created Nathaniel and made him into a vampire.  Is he good or bad?  Well, I'll let you all find out over at the other blog and in the book.  He's human, let's say that much.  He can be good or bad like any person.  It all depends on how he's treated and if he's pushed too far.

Still, none of this answers the original question of why I created an actual blog for a novel that isn't going to be ready until December.  The answer is very simple.  I wanted to see if I could generate a lot of interest for the book, by giving my prospective audience and chance to get to know some of the characters in advance.  To let the readers inside these people's heads and know where they're coming from and what kind of lives they've led.  Remember, like in any book, these lives are going to be turned upside down and forever changed by the end of the novel.  Whether these changes are going to be for good or for bad, only time and the novel will tell.

But there was also a secondary purpose for creating the blog.  It is going to help me as a writer to get to know these characters as well.  I'll have time to really figure out who they are, what events have shaped them, and what are their hopes and dreams.  I've encountered so many people who always wanted to know more about certain characters in books we've both read, but sadly the authors don't always have the time to give us more.  Unless the writer is doing a long series, there are always so many unanswered questions about the people we meet within the pages of those books.  Maybe the author doesn't even have all the answers, I know I didn't sometimes.  So this time, I hope to have those answers and can share them in advance with all of you. 

Whether or not this experiment is a success or failure, time will tell.  But you're all invited to come along for the ride and see what happens.  Please leave feedback here or over at  "The Vampire Blogs", because I'm looking forward to hearing people's thoughts on what they are seeing.

I just finished putting up a new entry there today, where my lead character "Nathaniel Steward" has just finished his first entry.  Come and meet the vampire who I hope will capture your hearts and minds...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Monday, December 30, 2013

Musings About 2013 And This Author's Hopes For 2014...

Well, 2013 was a rollercoaster of a year for me.  There were some great highs but an awful lot of lows that really made this a tough one for me.  

Losing my father-in-law was probably the hardest thing to go through.  I looked up to that man so much and he gave me such great advice and encouragement.  To watch him fight the good fight and then lose to something other than the cancer, was gut-wrenching.  However, to see my wife's family pull together and know I was a part of them, helped a lot.  As did this Christmas.  This was the first one without him and was going to be especially hard for my mother-in-law.  Helen (my wife) and I had her and my brother-in-law over here for the holiday where we decked out the place and managed to create a magical Christmas in which it felt like he was right there with us the whole time.  We all felt his presence, and that made me feel so much better. 

My debut novel "The Bridge" came out and 1477 copies were grabbed up.  Most of these were thanks to free e-book giveaways (about 1370) by my count.  Was it worth doing that?  I think so, because as a 1st time author I needed to get my product and my name out there.  I'm hoping this will translate to a large number of people willing to actually buy the second book when it comes out in March 2014.  Because I won't be doing free promo-giveaways again because in order to do that, I'd have to first release the book to Amazon only for 3 months.  That would leave all my Nook, Apple and Sony e-reader fans waiting on the sidelines.  I don't like that idea, it seems unfair to my audience and I cannot operate that way.  I care about the people that are interested in reading my work.

Foolish? Maybe.  Idealistic?  Certainly.  But that's couple of things that make me who I am.

For 2014 I'm hoping to put out at least 2 new books.  "The Ship" of course in March.  Then I'll be introducing a new set of characters and their first story in December.  "The Vampire Blogs" will be my first Christmas story.  My protagonist will be a blood-sucker with most, if not all, the usual powers and weaknesses and no sparkling.  He will also be a good-guy.  I have plans of starting a blog dedicated to events in his and the other characters lives before the book actually comes out to give the audience sneak preview into the workings of their minds and how life shapes their personalities.  Please let me know if you like this idea in the comments section below.  Most of what will be shown in the blog will probably not show up in the book, so these 'blog' entries will be an added treat for my readers. 

Depending on my schedule in the coming months, I might have a third book come out which will involve Alex, Veronica, Cassie and Julie once again and take up where both "The Bridge" and "The Ship" leave off.  Little hint for everyone about the final scene coming up in "The Ship".  Hee-hee...

I will be attending more classes at my local Community College starting in Feb., with the hopes of entering University in the Fall of 2014.  We'll see how everything goes and how life is treating me.  The amount of free time I have will have a definite impact on how much writing I get done.  So keep your fingers crossed for me.  I'm dedicated to getting "The Ship" and "The Vampire Blogs" out for certain.

Other goals and dreams for 2014 involve spending more time with my wife and hoping our financial situation improves so we can get out and try more things.  Kayaking, Parasailing, Ballroom Dance and other activities have long been on our list of what we'd like to try or do more of.  We'll see how things go.

So, as 2013 comes to a close, I pray the coming months are kind and treat you all even better than the last 12 have.  More writing tips will be coming soon so stay tuned.  In the meantime, if you must travel please be safe and stay well.  

HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL... and keep writing.

Friday, December 27, 2013

My Kickstarter Is Not Looking Well, But "THE SHIP" Will Still Be Coming In...

Well, with 2 weeks left, it looks like my Kickstarter is going to fail.  Really bad timing on my part I'm afraid.  I've gotten a number of compliments on the video I did for it.  But, it just wasn't the right time to do something like this.

So what's going to happen if it fails?  Simple, I've assembled some more people I can trust to help me edit the upcoming book ourselves.  My current Beta-readers are telling me they've seen a big improvement in my writing style compared to my first novel.  They say I've matured and the editing problems they've seen are much fewer.  I seemed to have learned a lot from my first go and they are still reading the first draft.  So, that says a lot I think.

One of them is a published author and is going to come and stay with us in January and we're really going to go over the entire 2nd book and do some serious editing together.  I hope the final result will be really pleasing to all.

To the editor I had lined up, all I can say is.  We'll see what happens on the next one.  I still want to work with you, but finances are just not going to let it happen just yet.  Fingers crossed that the efforts me and my team put in help to make "The Ship" a big success.

In the meantime, here's the link for the Kickstarter.  After all there's still 2 weeks left.  If it happens great, if it doesn't, at least you all know I have a back up plan.  Enjoy the holiday season everyone.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/975056676/editing-my-2nd-novel-the-ship


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Boxing Day!

HAPPY BOXING DAY!!!! Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. If Santa left you a nice new Nook, Sony, Laptop, or other nice new toy that allows you to read e-books, here's another gift you can give yourself.
My paranormal/mystery "THE BRIDGE" is still on .99 Cents on Smashwords. Grab a copy for yourself so you can be ready when the sequel "THE SHIP" comes out in Feb/Mar 2014.
However, if Santa left you a new Kindle, you can get the book at Amazon for .99 Cents as well using this link:
Happy Holidays and enjoy yourselves.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Simple Update and Some Words of Peace and Happiness To All...

"HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL"

     No updates on Kickstarters, or discount books today gang.  Just a few thoughts on this holiday season.

     This will be our first Christmas without my father-in-law, and I'll admit a part of me is a bit apprehensive about it.  But not all that much really.  There is still going to be the family gathering this weekend, where I will see a lot of familiar faces and a few new additions.  My wife's 'not-so-little cousins' have been growing their families and I will be meeting some of those children for the first time.  There will also be others I have not seen in a long while whose presence will be very welcome.  
   
     Although a lot has changed, the love and closeness we all share will still be there, a lot of this came from my father-in-law.  So in his own way, he will be there too.  And I'm really looking forward to that.  

     I know the holidays can be a rough time for those who've lost someone due to their passing, or just because of distance.  But remember, every person who touches your life with love leaves a bit of themselves with you that cannot be taken away.  That part is yours to keep always.  It's there to help you in good and bad times.  An old joke that still makes you smile, a gift that was given that you still have, or more importantly fond memories.  

   Memories are something we make with others that will always be with us.  Nothing take those away.  We may not always be able to think about them on the spot, because of life's craziness.  But they are there and keep a part of us warm at all times.  

    So this holiday season, try to make a lot more memories... really good ones.  Share love, a laugh, a thought, a dream.  These are gifts not only to yourself but others and can be the most treasured thing you could ever give.

    I don't know if I'll get a chance to do another post before Christmas or not, but there will be more before this year is over.  I'll probably be talking about writing and some new developments on the horizon at that time.  

     Until then, enjoy the holiday season and may you all have blast building some great memories of the season to carry with you always.

    Your friend,

    Allan Krummenacker




Thursday, December 12, 2013

Update On My Kickstarter...

SEASONS GREETINGS EVERYONE!

First off, I hope you are all finding many ways of enjoying the holiday season.  I know things get hectic around this time of year and stressful.  So I hope all of you are finding joy and comfort in family, friends, cartoons, music, etc.

I know there's a lot going on for everyone at this time, which means I screwed up.  This was definitely not the right time of year to have started my Kickstarter.  Unfortunately, three's not turning back because once a Kickstarter's been stared you can't hit a pause button and then restart it at a later date.  Once it's been set in motion you have to let it run its full course regardless of whether or not it looks like it will succeed.

In my case, the Kickstarter is not doing well and looks like it might fail.  I set mine to run 45 days, and with a third of that time already gone I've gotten only 2 pledges totally $30.  My goal for funding the editing job for the "The Ship" is $600.00.  Again, I've only got myself to blame if it fails.  A part of me knew darn well that the holidays are a tough time of year for everyone.  I'm a full believer in families coming first, especially at this time of the year.

However, I'm not despairing just yet.  I've still got 29 days left in my Kickstarter, which means it does not come to an end until January 11th.  With that in mind, I'm still hopeful that I can reach my goal.

I'm just glad that no actual money has changed hands.  That's the way it works with Kickstarters.  Pledged money is only collected at the end of the time frame, and ONLY if the goal is met.  If there aren't enough pledges then no one is out of pocket.  No money is collected and the person who created the project has to go back to the drawing board.  I learned this only recently myself, when I pledged $5.00 to a project that failed to make its goal.  Nothing was charged to my card and all I lost out on was a project gift for supporting them.  

That's one of the nice things about Kickstarter gifts, you get at least something for your investment.  In my case, a pledge is basically placing an advanced order for a copy of the book in the format of your choice.

In case anyone does wish to donate, even just a little to my project, here's a list of the gifts I have for you:  

$2.00 - an advanced PDF copy of the book, several weeks before it is made available to the general public.  This format is great for people without e-readers, because you can read it on your laptop or desktop computer (just make sure your unit can actually read PDF files first though).

$5.00 - 1st edition e-copy of the book in whatever e-reader format you need (Kindle, Sony, Nook, Apple, etc.)

$10.00 - first edition Trade Paperback copy of the book.

$25.00 - signed first edition Trade Paperback copy of the book, plus an e-copy in the e-reader format of your choice (Kindle, Sony, Nook, Apple, etc.)

*There are higher levels of pledges offered which you can find on the Kickstarter page itself if you're interested, I just wanted to post the simpler easier ones here.

I know there will be folks out there who wish to help, but can't even afford to spare $5 or $2, and I say "God bless you and thanks for thinking of me".  If you still want to help, then please just spread the word about my Kickstarter to others and that in itself could wind up making a huge difference.  

The link to the Kickstarter us just below.  Thank you all for reading and sticking with me, and let me finish by simply saying "HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you and yours!"  Enjoy the season and stay safe.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Writing and Rubik's Cubes...

Okay fellow writers, here's a question for you all.  How many of  you find yourselves working and reworking a scene because something just isn't right?  In your mind, you know what you'd like to happen, but something just doesn't seem to be working right.  You make a change here, then a slight a tweek there and suddenly everything goes KAFLOOEY!    You suddenly hit a dead end, or the entire plot has taken a detour to No-wheres-ville.  When this happens to me, I get the same feelings I had whenever I tried to solve a Rubik's Cube.  I know all the parts and where I think they should go, but they're just not in the right spot.  And trying to get them in their proper place can be a nightmare some days.

Now this has happened to me on a number of occasions.  Some people tell me to have an outline, but that never works for me.  Why?  Because my characters start going in other directions by saying or doing things I hadn't originally planned.  Admittedly I let them get away with it, but only if what they're doing seems to be working better than what I originally planned.  Sometimes this works, but not always.  When it doesn't I do one of two things:  I'll delete it completely and try again OR  I'll save the scene in a separate folder on my computer.  You never know when an unused scene can be useful later in your present story, or could wind up being perfect for another book entirely.

Personally, I kind of like it when I can just delete the scene because then I get to point and laugh at my characters saying, "See?  I told you this wasn't going to work... NEENER-NEENER."   Unfortunately, I tend to do this out loud and get some really strange looks from anyone within a 30 foot radius.    It's at this point my unseen characters got to point and laugh right back at me, which is really annoying because they know I still need them and can't kill them off.  Damn, my creations can be annoying at times.

Anyway, getting back to my original point.  Writing a scene can be quite frustrating and difficult at times.  But, there are many ways   of tackling this problem:
-You might change who's in the scene, keep the ones who are most poignant and add someone else from the cast.  This can change the tension levels and the entire feel of the moment.
-Change the location where the action is happening.  Maybe the setting is the problem and you can get more out of a different location.
-Is a major piece of information about to be revealed in this scene?   If so how much of it do you really have to unveil at this moment?  Maybe you should only reveal a portion of the information.  You can whet the appetite of both the characters and the audience with this method.  By doing this your characters can go off half-cocked, which can make for some very interesting scenes as they make any number of mistakes or jump to wrong conclusions.  I personally like this because the character who isn't perfect, and learns from their mistakes, is someone the audience can really relate to sometimes.  On the other hand the characters can aware that something is still missing and we can follow their efforts to learn more which can lead to some very tense and exciting scenes as well.

So, don't be afraid to tear apart a scene that's frustrating you.   Try some really different ways of reworking it.  And if you find yourself still hitting a wall, ask yourself  if the scene is truly relevant in that particular point of the story.  Maybe it can be replaced by an entirely different scene that can serve a similar purpose.    Who knows, you may wind up with something that opens new avenues for your plot that are even more interesting than what you originally had in mind.

What other methods or tricks have you come up with?  I'm sure everyone reading this would be  interested because we're all trying learn from one another when it comes to writing.  So please leave your experiences and suggestions down in the comments section below.

And for the record,I did finally defeat the dreaded Rubik's Cube.  Mind you I did not remove the decals and change them around (which is something my wife did when she was kid).  Nor did I take the cube apart and reassemble it so the colors matched up.  What did I do?  Simple, I spray painted the entire thing silver and used it for a paperweight.  A very creative solution, don't you think?