Category: About Writing



Okay, continuing with my adventures in recording audios, I left off last time with the image above. Now what you are seeing are the Blue Yeti Microphone, which had a huge amount of reviews over on Amazon. It’s a very versatile microphone in the respects that it can give you several options for picking up sound. It can do 360, if you want a room full of people involved (or to pick up background sound effects), it can do 2-way where you’re on one side of the mic and someone else is directly opposite you, while filtering out the sides somewhat. It also has a setting called Cardioid which is the one I use for audios, this allows you to not have to be directly in front of it at all times, so if you like to move a bit and perform as you record a scene, it catches everything you’re saying. These will plug into your computer’s USB port, so no special attachments. Also, the cord is very long (about 6-7 feet) so you have some freedom of where to set up to get away from your computer and not pick up sound from it.

Now I warn you in advance, this microphone costs at least $90-100+ depending on several factors. Number one are you buying a package deal where you also get a pop filter/professional foam windscreen that fits on top of the Blue Yeti for further filtering of noise. If you’re just getting the microphone go through the color selection. Believe it or not, which color you get it in can raise or lower the price a fair amount. Because I chose this blue color, I got mine for just under $105 instead of being charged $120 if I’d taken the Black or Silver.

Don’t ask me why color matters I have no idea. I just went with what was cheaper and it kind of reminded me of the color of the Tardis in Dr. Who… one of my all time fav shows.

Also, I warn you that this is NOT a small microphone. In its stand that comes with the microphone, this puppy is a full 1 foot tall and almost 3-4 inches wide at the base. The microphone itself can be  removed from the base and attached to a swing arm, but make sure the arm can handle the weight and stay in position. There are swing arms designed for the Blue Yeti, but that’s more money so go with what your budget will allow. Personally, I just keep mine on a bureau in a quiet corner of my room and record while standing and performing. Now when I say performing, I mean reading not singing. I like to add silent gestures as I record which allows me to get more emotion and emphasis to come across in the readings.

Next you’ll want closed over the ear headphones. In my case, they plug directly into the bottom of the Blue Yeti Microphone. This is a big plus in my book, because I could hear exactly how I sound over the mic as well as hear background noise that is being picked up. This in turn allowed me to turn things off, re-position the mic to cut down a lot of the noises it was picking up. And believe me, even in Cardioid mode, that mic will pick things up so pay attention to what you’re hearing. I don’t have a specific brand of headphones to recommend I’ve had this pair for 2 years already and with the way technology keeps changing, they are probably obsolete. But they’re great for my purposes.

Now comes the biggie, what audio recording system to use. In my case, I went with Audacity which is a free download (here’s the link: www.audacityteam.org/download/).

I highly recommend getting fully acquainted with this software and its many features. And believe me it has a lot! Now, if you’re like me (who is a complete audio neophyte) you may want to go over to YouTube and look up some videos to learn how to navigate and use Audacity to its fullest before launching into full-recording mode. If you’re already well-versed, I salute you and wonder where the hell were you when I was looking for advice.

I will go much deeper into the specific functions I use with Audacity in another post, but for now I wish to focus on the equipment I’m using. But one thing I will say about Audacity is that it has one particular function I’m very excited about.  Along the toolbar at the top of the screen of Audacity is a button titled Analyze. When you click on that, a pull down menu appears and one of the options is ACX Check, which will become your best friend/enemy. When you’ve got your recording done an think it’s ready to go, you will click on ACX Check and it will analyze your work and tell you whether or not it meets the technical sound requirements to be moved onto Audible.  If your recording doesn’t meet the standards, it will tell you why and what needs to be improved.

Now all of what I’ve covered today is strictly for recording inside your own home. If you can rent studio space, they’ll have all the equipment and soundproofing already covered (hopefully). I’ve never been to one, so I cannot say much on that front. But, recording audios in your own home can be done, but it will take some effort. I’ll cover what I did to prepare and get cleaner sounding recordings in the next two-three installments of this blog.

Until then, take care and keep writing/recording my friends…


As many of you have learned from my last post, my great adventure in audio recordings has begun. So far I have recorded only the one short story “Wolves and the Northern Lights”, which comes from our first anthology book “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”. But simply recording one story is a far cry from turning a full-length novel into an audiobook. However, that is indeed my long term goal. At this point, I’m keeping things simple for myself as I still get used to the equipment both for recording as well as editing to get the best sound quality for listeners.

To keep things manageable for myself, I’m planning on recording the rest of the 25+ stories from the anthology, as well as slowly begin recording it’s predecessor “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.  Like the anthology, that novel is mainly comprised of blog, e-journal, and e-diary entries from various characters in the book.  And I plan on doing different voices for the authors of each entry, in an effort to bring the entire story and cast more to life for you all.

I have already started compiling what I call my “Voice Library”, which currently contains over 140 different voices (most based on actors and characters from movies, television, and even cartoons). I’ve always been a vocal mimic since childhood, and am taking great joy in finding a constructive outlet for all those years of trying to amuse myself and friends. I may share some brief recordings here, featuring some of the voices so you can get a better idea of just how versatile I can be.

But with all that said, the main topic I’d like to share with you all how I’ve been able to make all this happen. I know many of you might be wondering if I rent time at a local recording studio, or did I set up my own inside my home? If I’m doing it at home (which I am), how much special equipment did I have to buy? Did I have to soundproof an entire room? Who is doing the editing of my recordings? Will they be available through Amazon’s Audible program? If they will be available through Audible, how did I submit my work to them? What are their requirements, etc.?

Okay, let’s begin with how I got started down this particular path. As I’ve mentioned in a post last August when I first began thinking about this, I had been asked many times if any of our books were available in audio. Whenever I said I’d been thinking about it, but couldn’t decide on a reader I would be told “You should do it yourself! You’ve got a great voice…” So that of course got me thinking.

I did wind up trying a few samples back then, but I wasn’t happy with the quality of the recordings and kind of went off the idea a bit.

Then Helen not only began but finished her first solo novel. Besides listening and helping beta-read for her, I wound up doing the cover art for her. Then we had to focus on marketing the book to build up interest. So besides promoting the book on blogs, FB, Twitter, etc. but I wound up creating my very 1st book trailer. Anyone wanting to see the results can click on this YouTube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNoPA_ytUvc.

While not 100% perfect, I was quite happy with the results, especially the voice-over you hear in the trailer. Shortly afterwards we held a book launch party for her novel “Forever’s Too Long”. During the party I did something I’ve been thinking about for some time but never tried, namely loud readings using the voices of character’s appear in the scene for those who attended. Their responses were much more positive than I’d expected.

As a result, I finally decided to go ahead and begin doing audio readings. But first I had to start gathering the right equipment for such an undertaking.

TO BE CONTINUED….


Okay, here it is folks. My first full-scale attempt at doing an audio recording of one of the short stories from our anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”. 

This particular tale features our vampyre Nathan, talking about Alaska and what it’s like to have shape-shifting powers.

*NOTE: Do not click on this image, link to audio is provided further down*

Please feel free to leave some comments below or at YouTube to let me know how I did. I’m hoping to fine tune my skills before trying for a full-scale audiobook version of the anthology and our full-length novels in the future.

FYI, I’ll be putting together a rather lengthy blog entry in the near future (possibly complete with videos including Blooper outtakes) demonstrating what lengths I go to get a good sound quality within the confines of my own home. I think I’ll be able to give you all a few good chuckles as well as useful information.

Just click on the link below to begin listening:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Mxg1nIibXI&t=32s

In the meantime keep writing my friends.


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Every so often we come to a realization that something we’ve been doing hasn’t been working as well as we’d hoped. Admitting you didn’t do something right the first time is not a sign of weakness, it actually shows growth. Learning from your mistakes is just as important as getting things right the first time.

Recently, during a book release party (for someone else) a mutual friend who is a librarian started talking to me about the Para-Earths series. She’s watched trends and keeps a close eye on what’s popular in the industry and she pointed out to me that the Para-Earths might actually do better aimed at a Young Adult (YA) audience. This would still make the books quite available to the adult crowd of course, while opening the series to more readers.

I gave this a lot of thought, especially after several others readily agreed with her. So I spent the next week or doing some serious research into YA books. To my surprise, what I found there really made me rethink my marketing strategy when it came to part of our Para-Earth Series.

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In “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”, two seventeen-year old girls who played a very big part in the story. Now the entire story is told in the same style as Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” where various characters tell part of the story, allowing the author to use the first person perspective, while giving multiple points of view at the same time.

However, the fact that we had two young characters did not necessarily qualify the book itself to be considered YA, did it? Well, when I went back over the book and carefully looked over the number of entries by each character I found that those two young ladies made up a large majority of the entries.  Plus their experiences carried most of the story as well. I then checked with several other readers who loved the book who confirmed that they felt the story was mostly centered around Lisa and Marisa (the young ladies in question).

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This left me with a lot more thinking to do. Despite receiving 4 and 5 star reviews, both “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” and its companion anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”, have not performed as well as “The Bridge” and “The Ship” in overall sales. So the question for me now became “Have I been marketing these incorrectly the whole time?” The answer seems to be a resounding YES!

So what to do about this? Was it too late to try and re-market the books as YA instead of simply a mature audience?

TO BE CONTINUED…


Well, maybe you don’t ask. But now you want to know, because once you fall in love with a book, you want more like it.

Review it! Many online stores and book sites allow readers to post reviews. A person is more likely to take a chance on a book that 50 people say they loved than 5 people say they do.

Recommend it! Readers have friends who read, and you likely have an idea of their tastes. A recommendation makes a person more likely to find out more about an unknown book. Some authors, such as J.K. Rowling, got further by word of mouth recommendations and kids buying it for their friends, than by traditional marketing methods.

Gift it! I’ve been running a special– the book retails at $12 each, but I’ve been running a 2 for $20 special via direct sales. It encourages people to either buy an extra as a present for a friend or talk them into buying one too and splitting the savings. And I’d never ask this, but two of my buyers spontaneously paid extra, so that someone who wanted it but couldn’t afford it could have a copy.

Speaking of buying direct– when I purchase a crate of books and sell them directly to people at list price, I get more of a share than the royalties if you buy from retailers. I imagine it works the same way for other authors. So don’t think you’re shorting us if you want a signed copy.

You’re also not wasting our time if you contact us with questions or wanting to share your thoughts. Art is about communication, and as FUN as it is for me to write Rafael Jones, I’m not just doing it for myself. Hearing from readers is very motivational. There’s a button to send me an email, or just use the comment area. I love you so much just for being interested enough in my work to come here.


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So, one of the first things I often hear from people when they hear I have a book coming out is, “Who’s your publisher?”

There’s long been a stigma to self-publishing, and until recently, it was deserved. A writer had to buy a few thousand copies to get it printed at reasonable rates and generally did so as a pet project. Anyone who wanted to reach a wide audience and to possibly make money had to find a publisher who thought their work was high enough quality to invest in. It would go through rounds of editing before ever going to the shops. A real publisher meant the writer had talent. Self-publishing just meant they had money.

But.

That was then. This is now. Everyone knows there have been radical changes in how books are sold.There are many formats besides paper. Bookstore chains have collapsed or moved to online only. Publishing houses rise and fall, to the point where there are few one has heard of. But more has happened behind the scenes. Publishers tend not to invest in writers who aren’t celebrities. Instead, even authors who have turned a modest profit on multiple books are asked to shoulder the burden of “typesetting fees”. The manuscript is rarely put through an editing process. What most publishers look for is one thing: marketability. They are looking for a trendy subject, a sexy concept, and work that fits neatly into a hot genre or niche market.

Allan and I worked together on his first project to create something ended up combining thriller, paranormal investigation, police procedural,science fiction, horror, and strongly featured a lesbian couple. It didn’t fit neatly into a genre and as Allan researched the market and the experience of other writers, he realized how much things had changed.

With print on demand technology, works can be published with little more investment than the blood, sweat, and tears of the writer. Not relying on a publisher who doesn’t want to pay an editor to proofread the material, error checking is done by volunteers, and by several read-throughs by the author who is deeply committed to putting out a quality product. A publisher wants to sell a book and if the reader is dissatisfied, it means little. You’ll buy another author next time. The writer, on the other hand, has to deliver great work if they want readers to love their book and look for more by them.

In short, I don’t believe publishers care as much about quality as marketing at this point. And while anyone can self-publish a book these days, it’s not a warning sign that it was unpublishable by other means, because print-on-demand is great for giving an author more control, a greater profit share, and a way to reach a large audience, hence it is the first choice rather than last resort. Allan and I have chosen this route and advise others to do the same.

Interestingly, the publishing houses track print-on-demand sales. If an author makes themselves into hot property, then they may be offered a favorable contract that will help them get into more brick-and-mortar stores. Ultimately– the fate of writers is in the hands of the readers. Thank you for thinking of me!

-by Helen Krummenacker


These days, books as well as movies are often advertised with trailers that use images and sound to give you an idea of the flavor of the book, as well as sharing information about genre, storyline, and availability.

Allan Krummenacker was a huge help with this, doing the actual production based on music and images I chose, and a few finds of his own, but I especially like his vocal work– since the book is almost entirely first person narration, I decided to script the trailer that way, so he’s giving the voice of Rafael Jones.

*And remember the book will be available on June 1st, but you can still pre-order an e-copy at the following links:

Nook:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/forevers-too-long-helen-krummenacker/1131555250?ean=2940163217083

Amazon: 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RSGKTDF

AmazonUK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07RSGKTDF

AmazonCA:

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07RSGKTDF

AmazonAU:

https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07RSGKTDF

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/938589

Also there will be signed trade paperback copies available upon request. Simply leave a comment in the section below, or e-mail me at: 

helenkrummenacker@gmail.com


Today I’m following up on a topic I brought up in a previous entry where I talked about having started all over on “The Door”. Originally this story was meant to be the 3rd novel in our Para-Earth Series, only I kept hitting one wall after another with “The Door” and not getting much farther with the story. It got so bad I realized way too much time was passing without a new book being released, so Helen and I went to work on “The Vampyre Blogs” books because we had a clearer vision of those stories.

But even during that interim, I’d go back to “The Door” and new progress would be made, but then another wall or distraction would come along. That is until recently when I’ve gone back to it with a vengeance and have been making some serious progress. The story is moving along nicely but there have been a few bumps in the road. Most of those difficulties I’ve been encountering lately have come from new shapes and directions the story is heading in. But there were a number of scenes I had already written or planned that I couldn’t seem to let go of. I thought the story couldn’t work without them and kept trying to make them fit. Only to wind up finding myself hitting another of those damn walls.

So what was the problem?

I was trying to stuff those ‘precious’ scenes into the story, even though they weren’t needed anymore. It’s not that the scenes weren’t any good. Some of them were quite tense, exciting, and even funny. But there were problems with a number of them. For instance, one of my bugaboos when it comes to writing is that events or actions by the characters have to make sense. If one of them starts acting really stupid without a good reason, it drives me crazy. And as things were going, I was having a number of them behave in ways that made no sense. Oh I did try to rework the scene again and again to try and make it fit, but in the end the idea/scene really didn’t belong anymore. And in the end, all I’d wound up doing was wasting a lot of time and energy without making any really progress with the story. So it was time to do the unthinkable…

I cut them out. As soon as I did, real progress started happening once more. Admittedly some those scenes that got cut had some good drama to them, but I already had a slew of good scenes that not only come together well but flow so perfectly.  Furthermore, those scenes I removed will not really be missed. Especially, since I’m planning on building short stories around them instead.

Remember my golden rule, just because you remove it doesn’t mean you trash it. Always save those scenes, you never know when they might be perfect for another project..

However I will tell you right now, it’s not always easy to let an idea go. As I said earlier, I’ve been working on this book for over 4 years. I know the characters and I know where I want things to lead to, but in between there is so much that needs to happen. Unfortunately, I was trying to throw in too much.

So I’ve been taking several steps back with “The Door”. I’ve been really thinking about behaviors, actions and making sure everything makes sense. For instance, Alex has been out of action in the hospital for a month after the battle in “The Bridge” (the first book in our series). But what has been happening with Veronica and her fellow police officers in that time period?

Originally I had an idea involving many of the officers who’d been involved at the battle at the bridge suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of fighting something that was right out of a nightmare. Plus they lost several of their own people during the course of the fight. But who could they turn to for counseling? I had planned for Alex to come to everyone’s the rescue after he got released from the hospital. But upon giving it some serious thought I asked myself “Does this really make sense? A whole month passing and no one tried to help the officers? Why didn’t Veronica do something about it, these are her coworkers and she’s smart? Plus she recently met people in the first book who’d helped Alex with his PTSD as a result of a horrifying paranormal experience he’d had as a teenager. Wouldn’t she reach out to those same folks to help her coworkers?” The answer of course was HELL YES! So that’s exactly what I’m doing.

And guess what? It’s working.

Plus, there’s still plenty of action and mysteries that Alex is still badly needed to help with. For one thing the police need to be sure that the creature and its protector, Cyrus Graham, didn’t leave any other nasty surprises behind. And Alex is the only one the spirits of past victims are willing to reach out to.

But delving into those mysteries will lead to new questions regarding to Cassandra’s family history and another threat that has stalked her throughout the second book “The Ship”.  There are also revelations that will be uncovered that will link all these people to our vampyre Nathan (from “The Vampyre Blogs” portion of our series) creating new questions slowly bringing all the characters together for future tales.

However, most of this could not have happened had I not been willing to let go of scenes/ideas I didn’t think the story could live without. Sometimes you have to make those tough choices for the good of not only the story that you’re working on, but future ones as well. It’s a tough balancing act deciding what to keep and what to let go. However, if you find yourself hitting wall after wall it may be time to make those tough calls.

Have any of you had similar experiences? How did you deal with it? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

Until next time, take care and keep 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.

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