Category: About Writing



      As many of you know I’ve been working on “The Door” for the last four years. And looking back on that sentence I’m wishing I’d phrased it differently, because it makes me sound like someone who is the lamest handyman in creation. Hmm… there might be another blog post in that. I can see it now “Choosing Your Words Carefully”…

      Anyway, getting back to today’s topic, yes I’ve been working on that novel all this time and it still isn’t finished. In fact the closest I’ve gotten is halfway. Why? See below…

     But seriously, I was trying to put too much material and characters into the story. I had forgotten one of the cardinal rules I try to write by, which is “Keep It Simple Stupid”. When you have a story that already has a number of twists and turns built into it, DON’T MAKE IT MORE COMPLICATED! Secondly, if you are building a series you don’t have to introduce every bloody person who’s going to appear in it all at once! In fact, when you’re working on the first draft get the main story down on paper first. Then go back, read it, re-read it and then start a second draft. But above all get that 1st draft finished! All the extra layers and details you want to put to make things more real can come later.

     In my case, I was cluttering the story with scenes I thought were cool and would make people laugh or gasp. Plus I was bringing back secondary characters from the first two books, adding new ones I’d been dying to introduce, plot twists, you name it I was throwing it in. And time after time, the story kept getting too heavy and complicated for even me to follow.

     So finally, instead of simply going back and trying to simply remove scenes or fix things little by little (like I’d done a dozen times already) I found myself simply starting over and practically rewriting the book from the beginning. And guess what? It’s working.

 I’ve dropped God knows how many scenes I thought the story couldn’t live without, only to realize I was the only one who thought like that. I had to remind myself that as the storyteller I already  knew exactly where things were going, but what about the readers?

   I was forgetting just how important it is to stop and take a look at what you’ve done and try to see it through the eyes of a reader. Every story is a new journey to them. Oh you might be giving the readers familiar characters to follow on this new adventure, but it’s still your job is to keep this journey interesting. Do not overwhelm them with so much new stuff that they feel overwhelmed, especially when you have an ongoing series where there’s still so many stories that lie ahead. You have plenty of time to use a great many of those ideas bouncing around inside your head.

    So as I said earlier, I wound up removing a bunch of scenes from the plan and saved them on one of my many memory sticks. And I know I’m about to repeat myself, but we all need a reminder some days “Whatever you don’t use in your current story may be just perfect for another book down the road.”

     Now, getting back to the rewrite, the story has been trimmed down yet is still going to be exciting. Plus I’m making sure events in the previous books are still being felt, like having some of the cast who faced the nightmarish creature from “The Bridge” having troubles with PTSD. There really is so much already in store for the readers with this book that scaling things down has allowed me to really get the book back on track. Plus I’m finding it that much easier to write. I’m already over 50 pages into the story and on a roll.

     So if you’re finding yourself getting stuck time and again while working on just one story, taking a few steps back may be what you need to do to move forward. It’s not an easy thing to do, trust me on this. But it can sometimes make all the difference in the world to what you bring to your readers.

     Until next time, take care and keep writing!


     As usual I started experimenting with a basic quick sketch of what I had in mind. I knew right from the start that I wanted to incorporate the title into the image for this one, especially since it was our more traditional two word titles. Naturally I aimed for an actual door, knowing it would be fairly easy to incorporate the word “door” into the wood grain.

       From there I started testing out different color schemes for the wood grain itself. But then I started asking myself, how would a door that had been exposed to the elements for almost two centuries look? So I did some Googling, to find images to get a better idea of what such a door might look like. Here’s a few of the examples I found:

       So now I had a basis to build upon. Yet I also felt that whatever I created should have good strong colors that still gave that weathered yet somewhat foreboding feel. So I pulled out my soft pastels and started laying down some colors in order to start forming the palette I would use in the actual piece.  Of course I also incorporated lettering into the grain of the wood in order to help me build towards the full effect I was aiming for.

      Dark, sinister, ancient-looking yet eye-catching. Satisfied that this was what I want to aim for in the final rendition, I set about putting down the first layers for the actual cover.

       As things have progressed I added some stonework as well as ivy/vegetation to help add contrast as well as frame our sinister portal.  I also experimented with some photo-shopped lettering to get an idea of what the final product might look like on the actual book.

       And since the actual door was intended to open into a family crypt built into a hillside, I decided to get clever and incorporate the letters T. H. E. along with a date to represent the first of the Elliott family who passed through the door (still alive at the time) but never came out. In fact, his body was never found by those who came to investigate… mwahahahah.

       Um… sorry about that. I’m supposed to be talking about book covers not promoting the story.

       Anyway, using the initials this way I managed to get the words “The Door” clearly incorporated into the artwork, with room for our names. Though I may have to extend the bottom a bit more to keep within the restrictions about lettering getting too close to the edges.

       Clearly the above image is not nearly finished. The door itself still needs to be more weathered, and the vegetation needs to be made to look more sinister and eerie. Plus the door itself could use a hand and a lock, don’t you think? But you get the general idea from this and where it’s headed.

        So to clarify, if you set out to try and design your own book cover be prepared.  You’ll need to know the image requirements of whatever self-publishing company you’re using. Test the image out on prospective readers, get feedback. You may also need to do some or as much research as you did for your manuscript for accurate details to incorporate into the cover. And of course, make it eye-catching, intriguing, and alluring. Remember your cover is part of that first introduction to the reader. give them something that makes them want to pick up your book and start leafing through it. Because you may have one of the best stories in town, but if the package doesn’t promise what your story can deliver, it won’t even get a second glance.

       Until next time, take care and keep writing.


When it came time to work on the cover for “The Vampyre Blogs – I: Coming Home” I was finding myself coming up against a wall as far as cover art ideas went.  The other books had been relatively easy because of their two word titles: “The Bridge” and “The Ship”. But this time the title was much longer, so I needed to come up with something different.

Since we were using the word ‘blogs’ as part of the title, I thought about incorporating a computer or laptop into the picture.  So I experimented with Adobe Photoshop and came up with this image:

While very effective in many respects, some people told me they missed seeing my original artwork on the cover. Many said it helped make our books stand out more.  So I began wracking my brains for a a new cover style and wasn’t coming up with much. Mind you, at this point we had not even started writing the novel and decided not to worry about it.  I figured once the story was written I’d get some inspiration from what we created and borrow from a scene in the story.

Eventually we completed the first draft and started work on a second one and I still hadn’t come up with any solid ideas for the cover.  I’d considered showing the interior of a coffin with a laptop resting on top of the occupant who was typing on it.  The logo I created for the original image could stay and I thought that would be great.   However, my skills at designing and creating a convincing laptop in soft pastel was not up to snuff.  Furthermore, our vampyre does not use a coffin at all, so I scrapped that idea.

Finally, Helen suggested the idea of a room in the old manor that belongs to our vampyre, and to have a laptop amidst all the antique furnishings and cobwebs.  Alas, my skills at making a decent-looking computer had not improved as much as I’d have liked so that held me back.  However, another thought did occur to me.  What if I created an image where we are looking out of one of the windows of the old manor and seeing a shadowy figure (our vampyre) on the night he finally comes home to stay.

I quickly began sketching and testing out a color palette for the view outside the window. Since he was coming home during the autumn I figured lots of leaves on the ground would be appropriate, so I whipped out my reds and golds pastels and set to work. As soon as I got the image started I knew I was onto something. Looking over the story I reminded myself that we’d established there was a small family cemetery out back, and it occurred to me that would be the first place Nathan (our vampyre) would go upon deciding to come home for good. And because people associate coffins with vampires, I threw in the shadow stretching from behind him to help prospective readers make the connection of what he was right away.

 

As view outside the window evolved, I still had to decide whose room the window belonged to. To create a touching contrast to the little cemetery and shadow, by making it the room of his little sister who he adored with all his heart. So I researched some toys a little girl might have back in the 1860’s and put them in front of a window.

After I got the image just the way I wanted, I had to decide on how to present the title and our names. First I tried putting the lettering on top of the image as seen below:

I didn’t really care for this as I really wanted the image to be seen, so I went for borders on the top and bottom of the image and placed the words there instead.

  As you can see I wound up having to put borders on the sides as well, because too much of the image was being cut off in those locations.

Up until this point all the books were novels, but Helen and I decided to try a collection of short stories involving characters from our Para-Earth Series. Most of the collection focuses on the characters from “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”, however there are a few that also feature some familiar faces from “The Bridge” and “The Ship”. Of course when dealing with multiple stories, we had to come up with a whole new concept for cover art.

On this occasion Helen asked to be the one to take up the challenge and I agreed, especially after I heard what she had in mind. Instead of a single image, she was planning on doing a number of small pieces that would capture scenes from some of the stories in the collection. Originally the idea was to go with eight images, but due to time and life demands she completed four and we went with those.

We thought about using these on the front cover:

Then the other two on the back:

However, once more once we started putting the lettering over the images, things weren’t working. Dark letters blended in too much, and lighter ones were too startling. So we went with all four, sandwiched between a green border with the lettering:

Again this left the images clean and easy to see, while also keeping the lettering away from the edges without being cut off as had happened on “The Bridge” and “The Ship”. I also really liked this concept as it allowed us to give visual glimpses of what the reader would encounter in the collection.

We’ve already decided to keep doing multiple image covers for future short story collections which we already have under way. But that’s a tale for another entry.

Keeping with creating your own cover art, we recently got back to work on our novel “The Door”, which is a sequel to both “The Bridge” and “The Door”, and focuses on the cast of characters from those books. With this in mind, I knew we’d want to keep the cover for the latest installment in the same style as those two books. So I began sketching and experimenting with designs….

TO BE CONTINUED…


As some of you may or may not know, besides being an author I’m also an artist.  I work mainly with soft pastels and charcoal, and have designed and painted the covers for three of our books. Now I  do not consider myself a ‘professional’ cover designer, but I’ve also seen artwork on books that many times had very little to do with what goes on in the story. And as one of the two authors who knows the story inside and out, and as an artist who had taken awards in various art shows over the years, I felt I was qualified enough to give it a shot. Especially when I had a specific image in mind that would incorporate the title of the book into the artwork itself. “It should be a piece of cake,” I told myself.

I suspect a number of you already have an idea of what came next. Our old friend the “Learning Curve” decided to make his presence known.

First there were the experimental designs

I knew right from the start that I liked the title being part of the bridge’s stonework, but the upper half was not quite right. After getting feedback from friends and prospective readers I refined the design into a scene that was straight from the story itself.

This early version with some of the coloring added was well-received by viewers and I continued to flesh out the design.

At this point I found myself at a loss as to what to put in for the background in the distance. Again I drew upon the story itself and added a storm and some shadowy trees which surround the bridge on all sides.

This image was very popular among those polled and of course became the cover for the book. But not before Mr. Learning Curve made his presence known once more. After all my efforts of finding the right image and getting it committed to paper, I still needed to get it photographed and submitted to not one but three different self-publishing routes (Createspace, Smashwords, and Kindle).

To make matters worse, I did not have the money to hire a professional photographer who would already know how to light the image, keep the colors true and rich, and finally format it for submission. Instead I had to do all the photographing, cropping, and then get an image program called GIMP which allowed me to do some serious touching up of the image. It also allowed me to resize and rework the pixels of the piece so that the final image to meet the requirements of  Createspace, Smashwords, and Kindle.

But even then there was a few more things to do. For one thing I had to put my name and whatnot on the image, which I did through GIMP.

Then I tried uploading things and… got rejected. The lettering of the words “The Bridge” was too close to the edge and could wind up being cut off. What to do? Simple, I went back to GIMP and added a black border all around the image. I made sure it was wide enough to protect the image.

This met not only the requirements of the publishing programs, but also helped the image to really pop out at the reader.  In fact I was told by more than one person that the unique artwork and style were big reasons why they picked the book up in the first place. They also told me, they had not been disappointed with the story.

So with all this experience the next book should have been easy, right? Actually it was.  Once more I started with a rough idea, making sure to incorporate the title into the image…

Developed it some more…

Started fine-tuning it…

Too busy in the middle area, so I revised it some more…

Then finalized, with matching computer lettering…

Of course once again, the lettering was too close to the edges so a border was required.

Again, I used GIMP for get the pixels to the right level as well as enhancing colors.

So by now I was an old pro at this right? WRONG! Up until now I’d been able to incorporate the title into the cover image. But now I  began work on a new book “The Vampyre Blogs: Coming Home”, and there was no way I was going to be able to fit all that into the image. Or could I?

TO BE CONTINUED…


With 2018 drawing to a close, I’m sure a lot of us are reflecting on what’s happened in each of our lives as well as wondering about what 2019 holds. For me 2018 was a strange year of revelations, new opportunities, as well as upheavals. Two bouts with bronchitis, the second one becoming pneumonia, really took a lot out of me and my vacation time from work. I was supposed to be off this last week and not returning until January 2nd.

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Our 1st anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time” had been slated to be released in late September/early October but didn’t see the light of day until early this month (not a great time to push a new book, not when the big publishers are pushing a bunch of titles they’ve been holding back in time for the holidays). However, things will pick up. I know this from past experience, so I’m not too worried.

However, the big question of course is what can you all expect from us in the coming year? Well, quite a lot. Firstly, we’ve been gathering our thoughts on a number of writing topics to share here on the blog. We’ve got plenty of insights from our adventures to share with you all, so we hope you’ll still be checking in regularly and re-sharing our posts with others.

The Pass

Secondly, there are things that have been happening behind the scenes we haven’t shared with you yet such as what’s been happening with the collaborations. As you know, my high school friend Rich Caminit and I have been working by e-mail and Skype on a project involving Chinese vampires and actual historical events. I am happy to announce that the first draft of our collaboration “The Pass” is nearing completion as I write this post. Part of the reason the project has taken so long is the fact that the story was becoming more and more lengthy and farther removed from the Para-Earths vision Helen and I created. So, we decided to make “The Pass” the first in a new paranormal/historical set of books we are considering calling “The Paranormal History Series” (tell us what you think in the comment section below please). Furthermore, we decided to break the story up into two books because it was getting so long. We’d already found the perfect cliffhanger for the end of the “The Pass”, as well as a startling beginning for the second part of the story which will culminate in a battle scene of epic proportions.

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Thirdly, Helen and I have embarked on yet another new series that she is taking the lead writing role on, called “The Forever Detective Series”. The first book is “Forever’s Too Long”. Set in the late 1940s, the detective, a former policeman and officer has opened his business as a private investigator to find out that the cases he’s working on are leading somewhere there is no coming back from. She’s already written over 19,000 words of the first book and we have already started building a website for it over at https://foreverdetective.com/. Mind you the site is still under construction, but if you click on the “Blog” tab you’ll find some interesting background information about her leading man. And there will be a lot more coming soon to that site, so you might want to bookmark it. Her current goal is to have the book out by summer so stay tuned. She’s a lot faster writer than I am so the likelihood of it being out on time is very good.

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Finally, I want to let you all know that the long-awaited sequel to “The Bridge” and “The Ship” is once more fully under way. “The Door” takes up where both those books ended in a hospital where the wail of an infant leads Alex Hill, Veronica Ross, Cassandra Elliott, and Julianna Cloudfoot to face old and new threats from the realms of two different Para-Earths. Part of the reason this book has taken so long to write was the simple fact that I had a good idea of what I wanted the main story to be, but not a clear vision of how it should unfold. This is what led to our branching off and doing “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” tale, which was more clear and complete in my mind.

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That book also allowed me to find the missing pathways I needed to get “The Door” back on track with new characters and scenes that will “bridge the gap” (please excuse the pun) between the first two books and “The Vampyre Blogs” part of our Para-Earth Series. The story that will be unfolding in “The Door” will start the beginning of bringing the casts between all three books together creating opportunities for many more stories down the road, including one that will bring Alex face-to-face with the nightmare dwelling that nearly destroyed him in every sense of the word. I am of course referring to “Harlequin House”.

As you can see, there’s a lot coming your way in 2019 and beyond. We hope you’ll keep joining us for the ride ahead. It will probably have more twists and turns than a roller-coaster, and I hope will be just as exciting.

New Year 2019

Until time, we wish you all a very Happy New Year, and urge you all to keep writing!

 


And I’m back, sort of.

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Okay, I’m still a bit unwell, but finally on the mend. In the meantime let’s continue with that discussion about some of the things I learned putting together our first anthology.

First off it was somewhat easier than creating an entire novel. With a novel you have to keep track of so many things like character development, interactions, subplots, pace of the story, etc.  Now with an anthology, you still have a lot of stories to contend with but each one is self-contained and has its own beginning and end. You don’t have to be worried about how they fit into the main tale. Plus you can have a greater variety of characters and give each tale a flavor all its own. Sounds pretty easy so far right? Well, here’s where things started to get a little more complicated for me.

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Like a novel, an anthology does need to have a certain feeling of cohesiveness to it. There must be some facet or factor that makes the reader feel like the stories all belong together in that one volume. This is of course fairly easy to do when you’re dealing with a bunch of stories by various authors dealing with the same subject matter. “The Penguin Book of Vampires” is a great example. It contains dozens of authors within its pages with each one using an actual vampire character or a variation on that theme.

Another simple method of dealing with this cohesive problem is to do an anthology that contains works by the same author. One of my favorite authors is the legendary Isaac Asimov, a prolific writer beyond compare.

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Throwing a collection of his works together should be easy right? Wrong! While known for his volume of work in the field of science-fiction, Mr. Asimov also wrote mysteries, as well a huge body of non-fiction. So here you have to ask yourself what kind of anthology would you want? Do you want to have a sampling from different areas of his works to showcase just how versatile he was? Or would you rather want to focus on just one genre of his work at a time? Considering the volume of work the man left behind, most anthology creators have chosen the latter. This was especially true when he was still with us.

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In the case of his mystery sleuths “The Black Widowers”, the publishers gathered all his published tales with these characters who solve puzzles and mysteries while sitting in a restaurant. The publishers also got Mr. Asimov to create an introduction to each collection (there were 5 all together), as well, but they didn’t stop there. Mr. Asimov provided some brand new tales that had never been published to make each collection more special. Furthermore, he add afterthoughts to every story giving the readers new insights to his characters as well as how he came up with the puzzles.

From there I started looking through the other anthologies by various authors (HP Lovecraft, sci-fi and horror collections) in our personal library to see what was done in those cases. And guess what I discovered, each collection had an Introduction/Preface depending on if the works were all the same author or by various authors. Furthermore, just about every tale in each anthology also had some thoughts at the beginning or end of it talking about the author, or thoughts they’d had on the work. Quite different than just having an “About the Author” at the end of your novel. Naturally we had hour work cut out for us, but there was still the issue of a feeling of connection between the stories.  Did we have one or not?

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To answer this question I found myself going back to the original source for many of the stories in our anthology, our online blog “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition”.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 


Last night Helen and I finished the final story for our upcoming anthology!

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Thank you!  Thank you!  You’re all being too kind.  But today’s post is not to talk about the anthology itself, as much as what went into making it.  How did it differ from writing full-length novels?  Was it easier?  Was it harder? What was the process like?  Where did we get all the stories for it, etc.?

Well, for starters, coming up with a decent number of stories was and wasn’t hard really.  Helen had been writing stories long before e-books and well before I tried my hand at penning a tale.  I can easily say I learned so much from her earlier attempts at getting published, and let me tell you she got damn close to seeing some of her work in print.  But, that’s a tale for another entry.

What I want to say is that I learned a lot about what to expect when I decided to try  going the traditional published route.  Although in my case, I started shortly after the birth of e-publishing and after 2-3 years of trying to get an agent to represent and hearing over and over again “You’ve got something here, but you crossed several genres and I wouldn’t know what publishing house to try and sell it to.”

You see, at that time (and this still seems to hold true today) publishers don’t like to take risks on unknown authors or mixed genres. They want a straight up “Mystery”, “Thriller”, “Horror”, “Science Fiction”, etc.  They’re not keen on trying to sell a book that crosses multiple genres like the Para-Earth Series which we classify as “Paranormal/Sci-Fi”.

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Now some of you may be pointing out that they do it more often these days, but most of those authors are well-known like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, J. K. Rowling, etc. who all have proven sales track records.

Anyway, getting back to how our upcoming anthology came to be a reality.

During that 2-3 years I tried to get published the traditional way, more stories were taking shape.  New characters and ideas were forming.  One of them was vampire I called Nathan Eoghan (pronounced Ewan) Steward.  I swore I’d never do a vampire character, unless I could introduce new angle or angles to the character.  Yet I still wanted to keep a lot of the traditional trademark strengths and weaknesses people have come and know and recognize.

By this time, I had already been blogging for several years and had learned from other writers the concept of giving sneak peeks into upcoming works, and even sharing short stories.  This is done to introduce characters and concepts to prospective readers and build a demand for them.  So, after creating a vampire character that would fit nicely into our paranormal/sci-fi concept, I began doing short stories with Nathan over on a new blog called “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition”.    Over the course of 3 years we had a number of tales about Nathan and introduced a number of his friends who appeared with him in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.  And we’re still making new stories.  And that presented a problem, how many people want to wade through 4-5 years of blog posts to read all those stories?  Furthermore, most of those tales are rough 1st drafts and it shows.

During this time, I noticed some of my fellow authors who had created short stories on their blogs were bundling them into anthologies and that got us thinking.  With all the stories we’d already created, why couldn’t we create an anthology centered around all those stories on the blog?  While it sounded nice and easy, it also didn’t feel completely right to me.  While having all those earlier stories put into a more convenient format, shouldn’t we give the readers more?  Shouldn’t there be new never before seen stories in the collection?  Furthermore, should the stories not be just about Nathan but his friends, and even characters from our first two novels “The Bridge” and “The Ship”?

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This led to Helen coming up with the idea of recycling some of her earlier works which were firmly established in the realm of the macabre.  With a little reworking and adding scenes, she felt a number of those pieces could easily fit in with our Para-Earth Series, while also giving those unread tales a chance to finally see the light of day.

*Now I want to pause and say one thing.  Remember how I told you all, many posts ago, never to toss out your unfinished works, or fragments because you never knew when they might fit into some new idea/concept?  This is a perfect example of why you do that.  You just never know when that day might come.*

So right there, we had some brand new stories to slip into the anthology.  But we didn’t stop there, we went ahead and created several more brand new stories just for the collection itself.  The result?  One third of the tales appearing in this anthology are completely brand new.

Plus, we also added an afterthought following each story, sharing some of the who, what, where, and how each tale came into existence.  We thought it only right to share some of what the writing process can be like and hopefully inspire others to take that next step in whatever creative endeavors they are involved in.

Now, seeing how long this entry is getting and knowing there’s still a lot more to share, I’m going to end this one here.  I know I covered a lot of background areas today and haven’t really gotten to more of the technical and details of actually what went into the building of the anthology.  But rest assured that will be covered in the next installment.

Until then take care and keep writing everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Words of wisdom from a very wise man and great writer Seumas Gallacher.

Seumas Gallacher

…blasphemy?… heresy?… ravings of a mad writer?… signs of an author finally succumbing to the madness that years of tilting at imaginary characters bring?… that this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler should posit that the purpose of creative writing is NOT to achieve perfection?… p’raps, Mabel, but just hold on a minute with that frantic phone call to the lunatic asylum to come and cart me away… in a lifetime of reading, my choices of literature have been as broad as can be… Steinbeck, O’Hara, Ruark, Christie, Dickens, Eco, Fitzgerald, Child, Austen, Churchill, Burns, Chaucer… an endless list of library index heroes… every name there acknowledged as classic in his or her own metier, regardless of genre… sparkling storytellers all… but equally, I have noted in many instances, flaws, sum’times, in their narratives… incomplete closure on certain endings… use of language occasionally misplaced… part of that may be attributed to…

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Thank you cardFirst I’d like to thank all the guest bloggers, authors, and reviewers who were so kind to supply our blog with posts. It gave me some much needed time to get some rest and help family members who had suffered a terrible loss. It also allowed us to get back to work on our anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time” which will be coming out in early October, a perfect time for creepy stories and tales of encounters with strange beings. With only two stories left to be completed and edited, we will soon be lining up Beta-Readers and then doing our final edits.

Work has also been progressing on “The Door” latest full-length novel in the Para-Earth Series, and “The Pass” the first installment in a brand new series co-written with Richard Caminiti.

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In the meantime, I have been studying and purchasing the necessary equipment to begin audio-readings. As you can see below I’ve been slowly setting up a “Recording Studio” in our office/guest room.

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Now some of you may be asking “Why are you doing this? Don’t you have enough writing to do?” Well the answer is simply, a growing number of people have been telling us that they’d love to get our books but they prefer “Audiobooks” because they don’t always have time to sit and read. Or they lose track of the book they’re reading, etc-etc. This I can believe because I know a number of our co-workers are driving from over the hill from San Jose or Monterey, you name it. Plus, there are a number of folks who always have earbuds on and are not always listening to music.

“Why do it yourselves? Why not hire someone to do the reading and converting them into audiobooks?”

Once more I refer back to a number of folks who’ve actually heard me doing public speaking and reading aloud who insist I should be the one to do the audio-readings. And there are a number of readers who would prefer to hear the words spoken by the one who actually wrote them. This is a preference I share, I love hearing the author bringing their work to life because who understands the story better than they do?

As for how soon will any of our books be ready for audio? I’ll simply say that we’re just experimenting with audio-readings at this point. I’m going to try my hand at some classic short stories by others like HP Lovecraft and share them here and on YouTube to get feedback and maybe some tips from those who are more experienced in doing audiobooks. Furthermore, I want to know what it’s like doing audio recordings, who knows it may lead to a new character or even a storyline. After all they say write what you know, and drawing from life is always a much more satisfying for me when I’m creating a story.

Now if any of you are interested in hearing what happens on this little journey, I am planning on sharing in detail what I experience and learn as this adventure continues. I’ll be starting with the equipment and why some of it was chosen in an upcoming entry. And as I said before, I’ll be sharing some of the actual audio recordings for you all to get a taste of what the results are like.

Minions

Again some of my first attempts will be short pieces by other authors some which are in the Public Domain. I’m choosing those first because there is a volunteer project called LibriVox which is similar to Project Gutenberg which takes books/stories in Public Domain and are making them available for free here on the internet. However, it’s much easier to reproduce typed words than it is to get audio versions and LibriVox depends on volunteer readers to record and submit works for public enjoyment, especially for those who are blind for instance.

So, that’s all I have to report for now. In the meantime we’ll finish getting the anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time” ready for release, as well as getting other writing projects closer to finished first drafts.

Until next time, keep writing!


      Today we have the pleasure of welcoming Author Sheryl R. Hayes as our guest blogger who shares her insights about writing and tells us about her exciting debut book “Chaos Wolf”.  Take it away Sheryl…  

Sheryl R Hayes Author Photo

Stringing Words Together To Create A Yarn

    Aside from using tools that are stick-shaped, you wouldnt think that theres much similarity between writing and knitting. Believe it or not, there are a lot of parallels.

      I have been a knitter and crocheter for about ten years, and creating costumes for the last six. I have been writing in some form or another for over twenty years, but started my novel about six years ago. My processes for writing a book and creating a costume are strikingly similar.

    I start by deciding on what I am going to make. Be it a Cruella De Vil or an urban fantasy novel about werewolves and vampires, I need that seed idea to nurture.

Cruella De Vil

    Next I figure out how I am going to do this. I study other costumes similar to what I want to do. I choose my yarn and pick out patterns to modify. I read other novels in my genre. I make up my characters and write my outline.

     You would assume this is where I dive in, but Im not quite there yet. If Im not sure if this will work, I make a few samples. Ill make what is called a swatch by knitting a four by four inch square. From that I will get an idea of how the finished project will look and can estimate how much yarn it will take. I will write a short story or a few scenes to get the feel for my characters. Once I feel comfortable, I begin the actual creation.

     Now begins the hard part. I begin the fabrication, which takes up the bulk of the work. At first its cheery because I am MAKING SOMETHING AWESOME. (Yes, I think about it in capital letters.) But as my fingers start to get sore and my brain stops providing the words, I start to wonder WHY DECIDED TO DO THIS and WILL I EVER FINISH???

     Then, I start noticing the errors. Plot holes appear in my beautiful prose. I discover on row ten that I knit row seven twice, or worse yet, dropped a stitch. Sometimes they are small holes that you can fix easily with a few stitches or a few words. Occasionally they are large holes that require you to rip parts out and, in a bad situation, start over. I pull the yarn off my needles, open a new file, and begin again. Lather, rinse, repeat until to my surprise, I have all the parts made. No more holes to fill. Now it is time to put it all together.

     Once I have all my pieces in place and all my prose written, I work on assembling the finished product. I start sewing pieces together to create the base of the costume. I pick any accessories that I need to add that finishing polish. I send my writing out to editors and beta readers to find out what needs to be rewritten to make the prose sing. Ill hire a cover artist and write the bits and pieces that will be used to promote the book.

     And when Im done with all the knitting and the typing, I have something I am proud to show off to the world.

Bio:

     Sheryl R. Hayes can be found untangling plot threads or the yarn her cats have been playing with. In addition to writing, she is a cosplayer focusing on knit and crochet costumes and works full time at a Bay Area water company. You can follow her at her blog http://www.sherylrhayes.com, on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/sherylrhayes, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sherylreneehayes

Chaos Wolf:

Bitten by a werewolf. Taught by a vampire. At this rate, shes going to start a war.

     Literature major Jordan Abbey ordered a double mocha latte, but it wasn’t supposed to come with a side order bite by a love-sick werewolf. When a vampire comes to her rescue, gut instinct tells her he has questionable motives. But hes the only one she can trust to help get in touch with her inner animal.

     Within a week, her smart mouth lands her in trouble with the hostile alpha of the local pack and the stiff-necked vampire elder. She now has less than a moon cycle to master shape changing… or else. And the besotted werewolf who started this whole mess is stalking Jordan and killing her friends. He won’t take no for an answer.

     In the Northern California town of Rancho Robles where the children of the Wolf and the Bat share an uneasy coexistence, one woman makes an epic mess of the status quo.

ChaosWolfFinal-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700

Chaos Wolf Excerpt:

     He gestured toward the couch. “Would you like tea, coffee, or soda?”

    “Soda, please.” Although she wasn’t thirsty, accepting what he offered seemed the polite thing to do. She sat down on the leather couch and rested her elbows on her knees. “Don’t you only drink… um

     “Blood?” Montgomery finished the question for her. “No.” He stepped into the kitchenette. “I can and do drink and eat other things. It’s kind of like eating junk food. There’s no nutritional value. I enjoy the flavors and textures. I don’t like to do it too often, though.”

     Jordan tilted her head to one side. “Why not?”

    His lip curled into a half smile. “I can’t digest matter like when I was mortal,” he explained. “I have to purge it in a different way.”

    She blinked, puzzling it out. Understanding dawned on her face. “Oh… Oh!”

    One red-and-silver can in hand, Montgomery stepped out of the kitchenette. “When I last saw you, you were hightailing it out of here, never to return.” He gave her the soda and took a seat in the chair sitting at a right angle to the couch. “What happened?”

    Jordan stared down at the soda and rubbed her thumb over the frosty top. “After I left, I went home. I didn’t tell anyone about you.” She gestured in Montgomery’s direction. “I went out to try to forget what happened. When I came back, I found out my roommate’s boyfriend had been mauled to death.”

    Montgomery stiffened. “Did you see the werewolf?”

    “No,” Jordan said. “I didn’t even think he was real until” She paused and shivered, sloshing the soda in the can. “All I could think about was finding you.”

     Montgomery’s lips moved to form a curse. “Did you come directly here?” He stood up and crossed the small space separating the chair and the couch. “Focus. It’s important. Do you think you were followed?”

     “No. The police took me and Molly to the station. We’re not allowed to go back to our apartment until sometime tomorrow after the super gets someone in to” Jordan’s voice broke. She swallowed. “Clean up. I spent two hours getting on and off buses to make sure I wasn’t followed.”

     Montgomery sat down on the couch. “Good thinking. If the werewolf was following you by scent, that should have thrown him off your trail. If he was tracking you by sight, you would have spotted him. Or he would have broken in here by now. You’ve been lucky.”

    “Lucky?” Jordan’s shoulders tightened and her fist clenched, denting the can inward. “I’m being stalked by something out of a horror film and you think I’m lucky?”

     “Yes,” Montgomery countered. “If you had been there instead of your friend, the werewolf would have finished what he started.”

     “Finished what he started?” Jordan put the soda on the table unopened. “You make it sound like he let me live.”

     “He did,” Montgomery stated, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

     She stared at him with an open mouth. All the movies and books she had seen taught that a werewolf would rip out her throat as soon as look at her. The female victim never survived the attack. “But why?”

     “You haven’t figured it out yet?” Montgomery appeared nonplussed by her reaction. “He wasn’t trying to make a meal out of you, Jordan. He was claiming you as his mate.”

Universal Book Link: https://www.books2read.com/chaos-wolf

 Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B2RTFCV/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

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