Tag Archive: stories



Don’t trash that crappy first draft!

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

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

Why? I hear you ask.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I did the unthinkable…

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

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

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

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

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

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


Book review time again.  Today I wanted to share with you my review on what I consider one of THE best  collections of vampire stories ever compiled.  It covers some of the earliest vampire tales known and finishes with more modern ones from the 1980’s.  With the many takes on vampires we see these days from Anne Rice to Stephanie Meyer, I thought it might be interesting for you all to check out some other takes on the vampire genre done by other authors over the decades.  So without further ado, allow me to introduce you all to…

 



THE PENGUIN BOOK OF VAMPIRE STORIES is one of the best anthologies I’ve ever found. Part of the reason is that it covers authors who’ve touched on this subject as far back as 1816 and goes up to 1984. There are a number of familiar names in this book like Clark Ashton Smith, Sheridan Le Fanu, Tanith Lee, and August Derleth to name just a few. But what fascinates me the most is seeing how the vampire legend is explored. We meet the legendary “Varney The Vampire”, the seductive and dangerous “Carmilla”, as well as Stoker’s missing chapter from Dracula which was released as a short story several years after the novel itself was published. I understand in some later printings, it was put back into the novel where it belonged. Alas my copy of Dracula is one of the ones without it, so finding this missing chapter in this collection was a treat for me.

 

The first 2 installments in this collection: “Fragment of a Novel” (1816) and “The Vampyre” (1819) were of particular interest to me since their creation were the direct result of a bet made between the poet Percy Shelley, his wife Mary, Lord Byron and John Polidori. The four were spending a summer together and during a particularly boring rainy night they all agreed to a little contest. Each was to create a full length horror story within a certain amount of time. These 2 stories were the entries by Byron and Polidori respectively. Neither is fully finished. In fact Mary Shelley was the only one to complete her story the legendary “Frankenstein”. 

 

Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” is another brilliant piece in this collection. Published in 1872, it predates Stoker’s more famous “Dracula” by a few decades. Considered a ‘lesbian’ vampire story since both the victims and the antagonist are women. But it’s here where we really find one of the first demonstrations of the sensuous behavior that has been built upon by so many modern writers of vampire fiction. Yet, it is not love or real affection. I’ll quote a passage from the story so you can see what I mean.

 

“…the vampire is prone to be fascinated with an engrossing vehemence, resembling passion

of love, by particular persons. In pursuit of these it will exercise inexhaustible patience and

stratagem, for access to a particular object may be obstructed in a hundred ways. It will

never desist until it has satiated its passion, and drained the very life of its coveted victim.

But it will, in these cases, husband and protract its murderous enjoyment with the refinement

of an epicure, and heighten it by the gradual approaches of an artful courtship. In these cases

it seems to yearn for something like sympathy and consent. In ordinary ones it goes direct to

its object, overpowers with violence, and strangles and exhausts often at a single feast…”

 

So here we see that alluring nature that is so eroticized these days. But clearly in this passage we see that clearly there is no real affection for the victim at all. It’s fascinating to see how one idea is singled out and made romantic, while the consequences are ignored these days. However, I cannot criticize modern writers for this. Every author wants to put a different spin on an old legend and this can be seen throughout this collection.

 

We have “Luella Miller” by Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman in 1902. No blood letting here, but the title character definitely has a kind of vampiric nature, willing or otherwise. She is almost a sympathetic character in some ways. 

 

Later we find C. L. Moore’s “Shambleau” in 1933, where the author takes us on a science fiction journey to another planet where we meet a vampire-like being, who also shares some resemblance to the legendary Medusa of ancient Greece.

 

There’s also the legendary Fritz Lieber’s offering “The Girl With The Hungry Eyes” from 1949. Or August Derleth’s 1939 “Drifting Snow” where we meet a pair of Snow Vampires. 

 

For almost a century authors have been putting their own spin on this famous myth and many will continue for years to come, myself included. 

 

I give this collection a full 5 STAR rating and highly recommend it to any fan of the genre.


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.

 

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