Friday, August 12, 2016
I was making my way back to "The Crypt", after having visited my family's plot tonight. Everything was just as I'd left it a few months ago. Except for the weeds which I made short work of. And of course the flowers needed a little freshening up, so I circled the graves and released some of my green mist, which brought them back into a healthy bloom.
Went inside the mansion briefly because I thought I saw a figure at one of the windows. A small figure... holding a... never mind. I didn't find anyone inside, so I headed back towards town.
Naturally, my thoughts drifted to the days of my youth, before I left for the war. Unfortunately, not all my memories were happy ones. Mind you I have a lot of good memories, but there are a few involving my father that still sting from time to time. He loved me, of that I have no doubts. Heaven knows he told me and showed me enough times, but there were some days when I could see and sense his disappointment in me. I wasn't always the son he really wanted me to be, but I had limitations that he couldn't understand at the time. Of course, I no longer suffer those problems these days, but it would've been nice to let him see how far I'd come.
I had just reached the downtown area of Pointer, when I spotted a figure carrying a guitar case I knew only too well. It was young Teddy and he was looking pretty down as he walked. Concerned I started to quicken my pace, only to be passed by a car which pulled up next to my young friend. Immediately, a man got out of the car and started scolding my young friend rather vociferously.
Even though they're a fair distance from where I'm standing, my hearing is exceptionally keen and I hear everything as if I was standing right there with them.
"I told you it could wait until tomorrow," the older man says in a very annoyed voice. "But, no, you have to make a scene."
"You were already making a scene by yelling at me in front of everyone, Dad!" Ted shot back.
I wince at that. Family arguments have never been my favorite thing to walk in on, much less be a part of. I consider taking a different route home at that point but then Ted's father says, "I told you not bother with getting a guitar months ago. It's not going to win you any scholarships for college. Now if you'd get into football like I keep telling you..."
"That's a made up thing, and even if it was real, only girls and women get it," his father yells, cutting him off.
That tore it for me. Suddenly, the scenery on either side of me blurs and in the blink of an eye I find myself standing next Ted and his father.
Luckily the two are so focused on each other neither even notice that I've suddenly appeared on the scene. "Good evening, gentlemen," I say clearing my throat meaningfully to get their attention.
Ted reacts first. "Oh, hello, Mr. Backman. I was just coming to return the guitar you loaned me," he says in a quiet voice.
"Whatever for? Don't tell me you've given up playing? You're really good," I tell him, mainly because it's true. But I also know what playing music does for him. It gives him a way of forgetting about his Fibromyalgia for a while. Everyone who fights a daily battle like his needs a coping mechanism and I don't want to see him lose this particular one.
"He's not going to have time to be playing music," his father replies, before Ted can speak. "I appreciate the fact that you let him practice with that thing, but it's not helping."
"Not helping?" I repeat curiously. "From what Ted has told me in the past, it helps him deal with his condition..."
"He doesn't have a condition, he's just too lazy and delicate," his father cuts in again.
I nod and reply, "It's my understanding he has Fibromyalgia. Is that not the case?"
"Fibromyalgia, if it exists at all..."
"For crying out loud, Dad. Mom has it, you said so yourself," Ted exclaims.
"Of course she has, but it's a condition women get, not men!" his father explodes.
"I have it," I say quietly. "In fact I've had it all my life, even when I was little. Growing pains they called it. Told me I'd grow out of it, but I never did. It's been my constant companion every day of my life."
Ted's father studies me for a moment and then says, "You don't look like your sick or in any pain."
"Looks can be deceiving," I reply cryptically and take a step towards him.
****TO BE CONTINUED****
Sunday, June 19, 2016
We finally got him, hallelujah! After all these years we finally got Uncle Nate but good, and he never saw it coming. It all happened over at The Crypt, the nightclub Uncle Nate owns downtown, which is located in the basement of a big old building he bought back during the Great Depression.
This didn't come as a surprise to me and I told him so. "I remember all the stories you've told us about how Uncle Nate stood in as a second father for your after granddad died. Uncle Nate has also acted like a father figure to me whenever you were stationed overseas during your stint in the army."
"That's true," Dad nodded and then looked at me, "But did you know he's also been a father figure to a great many other people?"
"Of course I know, I hang out with a number of them like Jack, Tom, and..."
"I don't mean just here in Pointer, Brian," he interrupted me. "I mean elsewhere. There are a lot of families here in the United States, as well as across the sea who he's watched over and been second father to as well. And they don't get to see him nearly as often as we do. But they stay in touch with him all the same."
"What do you have in mind?" asked Mom at that point, with a knowing look on her face.
"I think you already know, my dear," he replied and then proceeded to outline the plan.
It took us a week to get in touch with all the people we knew about, and another week for them to contact others we were unaware of. But soon enough we had a solid list of who could come for the planned gathering.
The only thing missing was the guest of honor himself. That became my job. Luckily, I knew an easy way to get Uncle Nate to come to town. I simply sent him an e-mail saying there were reports that the town council was thinking of trying to put his family manor up for sale, again. They've discussed this several times in the past, but never made any headway. Mostly because Uncle Nate would show up and pay a 'visit' to certain parties that always led to the motion being shot down.
Admittedly, this could be considered a little underhanded, but at least it would bring him running when the time was right. And sure enough he did.
In the e-mail I told him a bunch of us were meeting down in The Crypt this Sunday night to see what action we were going to take and that his presence and advice would be greatly appreciated. Naturally we all knew he wouldn't show up until the evening, or even if he was already at the club, he'd be in the lower sub-basement resting. In either case we'd be able to set things up for the party without his knowing.
As it turned out we got there way before he did and decorated the place in record time. With so many people it was really easy. Communications were a little hard sometimes between us and some of our visitors from overseas, but there was always someone who spoke both languages to help bridge the gap.
In any case, we were more than prepared for Uncle Nate when he entered the club that night. All the lights were off, of course so he couldn't see us. But we could see him just fine as he opened the door and stood silhouetted from behind by the moonlight.
As he stepped into the room the lights came on and all three hundred of us greeted him wildly.
There were many others present but one man stood out in particular, in spite of his small stature. He arrived a little late once the party was in full swing, but when he entered the room fell silent. The white hair, the round thick glasses, and the cigar in his hand made him very easy to recognize. At least one person murmured, "Oh my God..."
At which point the fellow shook his head and said in his famous gravelly voice, "Not really, but close enough."
The place exploded with laughter, and Uncle Nate suddenly appeared at Mr. Burns' side and embraced him warmly. Mr. Burns was accompanied by his son Ronnie and daughter Sandra, along with their spouses. Mr. Burns shared some stories with us about his early days in vaudeville, and how he met Uncle Nate who had inadvertently demonstrated some of his powers without meaning to. Mr. Burns also proceeded to give us a song or two with Uncle Nate on the piano.
Being it was Father's Day, Uncle Nate didn't let us forget to celebrate all the other fathers in the room and those who were soon-to-be-fathers. It was obvious he was touched by all we'd done, and it thrilled him to no end that so many had come all this way for the occasion.
Towards the end of the evening Dad took me aside and thanked me for all I'd done to help make this happen. "It's amazing isn't it, that all these people are just a part of Uncle Nate's Extended Family. There are still so many more out there."
"How did he get to know them all?" I asked curiously.
"The same way he got to know ours," Dad smiled, "It just started out with a person or two here and there who learned his secret, and found a deep friendship with him. As those people began families, he was there for them and soon their children would learn about our godfather, and ask him to help watch over the next generation as he had for them."
Startled I looked at my father, "Uncle Nate is your godfather too?"
Dad nodded. "He's been godfather to a great many people in this room. We're just lucky to see him more often because this is his hometown and we help watch over his family's estate. He's been a part of our family for generations. He watched over my mother, her father, her grandfather and so on all the way back to the end of the Civil War. And he has every intention of continuing to watch over all of us for a long time to come"
I found this a great comfort as I stared out at the crowded floor. It's good to know that when I have a son or a daughter, he'll be here to help watch over my kids as well.
Now, Uncle Nate is raises his glass in a toast saying, "I want to thank you all for including me in this Father's Day celebration. But I also ask you all to remember your own fathers, and stepfathers, mothers, stepmothers, brothers, sisters, friends and neighbors who've also filled the role of a father figure in yours or another person's life. For their efforts help shape the people we become in the long run, and their legacy leaves in each one of us. Happy Father's Day everyone..."
Sunday, May 22, 2016
The 2nd draft of "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" is now completed.
That's right folks, the 2nd draft is now officially done and I couldn't be happier. I know this book has been a long time in the making, but Helen and I have wanted to get the story just right. We take a lot of pride in delivering a quality book to our readers. Of course, the book is not quite done yet.
Starting this week, we'll begin the loud readings with our editor to make sure the grammar and punctuation is right. But possibly even more important, we'll be making sure the story sounds right. if the words used are not flowing the right way. We've both read books where 'odd' wording can disrupt our enjoyment of a story, sometimes at a crucial point and ruin the enjoyment of the piece. So we'll be spending the next couple of weeks getting things just right.
Then comes the 2nd to last stage of the work... beta-reading. We'll be looking for beta-readers to check out the nearly finished product and give us feedback so we can make whatever final changes are needed. Those beta-readers will also receive a free copy of the final version in either paperback or e-book form (their choice), as well as a mention in the Acknowledgements page of the book.
So unless there's a major disruption at some point, our plans to release the book this October is looking great.
Stay tuned for more updates as well as new stories from Nathan and company. With university over for this semester, we hope to be adding new tales of adventure very soon.
Thanks again for all your patience and support.
Allan and Helen Krummenacker
Friday, April 29, 2016
I couldn't make out the man's face, or his upper torso, because he was literally buried under a huge pile of crumpled papers. I didn't know whether to laugh or scream. It looked so comical, but there was also the very real possibility that this man was injured or worse.
But then I heard the faint sound of snoring, coming from deep inside the mountain of paper, and breathed a faint sigh of relief.
Yet in spite of my attempt to be quiet, the unseen figure heard me because the legs flinched and the pile moved slightly, but not enough to uncover the man himself.
Not that it mattered because he spoke at that moment saying, "Writer at work... no disturbing the creative process..."
"Yeah right," I shot back with a huge grin, "You're getting high off the ink fumes again, Uncle Nathan."
An arm shot out of the pile, pointing an accusing finger at me. "Hey, I thought we agreed you were going to drop the 'uncle' part."
That made me wince as I nodded, "Yes, we did. Sorry, I forgot."
"Well don't let it happen again," the finger shook at me. "Now be a dear and help me out from under all this."
Taking the extended hand I pulled Nathan out from the pile and then proceeded to help brush him off. "What were you doing under all that garbage?" I asked.
"Trying to overcome a serious case of the dreaded 'Writer's Block'," he replied with a yawn. "I've been trying to get past it for a week now. I thought burying myself under all my failed attempts might allow me to sort through them mentally, so I could find a way forward finally."
"And instead you wound up falling asleep," I pointed out.
Drawing himself up to his full 5' 7", which is only an inch taller than me, he said in a dignified voice, "For your information I was meditating."
"Really?" I replied looking absolutely fascinated, "I always thought people who were meditating chanted 'Om'. I never heard of anyone using snoring instead. Must be a New Age thing."
Nathan made a face at me and then surveyed the clutter around us and shook his head. "Unfortunately, whatever I was doing didn't help. I'm still stuck."
"Maybe you should get white board and try jotting down some steps," I suggested.
"I don't do white boards," he shook his head, "The pen fumes give me a headache. Although I do have a blackboard in another room, but that hasn't been helping much either."
"Let me take a look, maybe I can come up with a suggestion," I offered.
"Trust me you don't want to go inside that room," Nathan told me. "I went a little overboard in there."
I rolled my eyes at him. "You haven't seen some of my friends' bedrooms. Trust me I can handle any mess you've got."
"Okay," he said with a shrug. "Just remember, I did warn you."
With that he led me out of the room with the papers and we headed down the hallway to a closed door. "You're sure you want to go in there?"
"Yes," I sighed in exasperation, "I'm a big girl, now open it."
Nodding, he pushed the door open and I walked inside.
For a moment I thought I'd stepped into the opening of one of my father's favorite shows...
The entire room, save the floor, had been covered in blackboard paint, turning all the walls and even the ceiling into gigantic, fully usable, blackboards. And every one of them was covered in writing. I kept expecting Bart Simpson to step out of the corner at any second. The only thing that saved me from that idea was the fact that none of the sentences or drawings were being repeated. In fact, the room was starting to remind me of my physics teacher's classroom. There were always notes, calculations, and other scribbles all over every blackboard in the place.
But now my eyes were really taking in the actual words and I could see Nathan was indeed dealing with a very involved scene. "How many characters are in this thing?" I asked finally.
"Too many," he sighed, "I'd brought one character from another part of my series into this one because the plot wasn't going anywhere at first. But one I brought him in, the ideas came pouring out of me. Things were going great, but then I started noticing the word count and realized, the book was going to be much longer than I'd originally pictured."
"How much longer?" I asked staring up at the notes he'd left on the ceiling.
"I was already 70,000 words into the story, and I still hadn't reached the halfway point," he answered looking around dismally. "I've spent so much time getting everyone acquainted, and then exploring how complicated their relations might be, that things kind of stalled in the main story line itself."
I nodded and studied the walls some more and could see just how complicated things were. "Had you thought about breaking it up into two books?"
"Yeah, but that would screw up the actual plot and I don't think my readers would appreciate it," Nathan replied. "And quite frankly, I wouldn't be happy about doing that either. It would ruin the flow of the story."
"I can understand that," I told him, "How important is the character you brought in to the story. Is he vital? Or was he just a plot device to help things along?"
"Plot device," he answered, "Why? Do you think I should remove him entirely? He did help inspire a lot of new scenes that got the story going again."
"Yeah, but you still wound up hitting a wall and a huge word count," I pointed out. "Can any of the previously existing characters still serve the same function to keep those ideas in place?"
Nathan's brow furrowed as he thought about it. "Actually, they could. And a huge part of the word count comes from the character I introduced interacting with the others."
"And if you took him back out entirely, would that help the word count?"
"Let's find out," Nathan replied and led me back to the room where I'd found him.
Opening up his laptop, he pulled up two chairs so we could sit side by side. Then his fingers began flying over the keyboard in a blur.
Now, I consider myself a fast typist, but believe me when I say, I'm like a tortoise in slow motion, compared to Nathan. I'm almost surprised the computer itself can keep up with him.
Within half an hour, we've removed all references to the character he'd added and reallocated the plot devices he'd helped inspire, to some of the supporting cast who already existed in the story. And sure enough, we'd lopped off over 30,000 words from the story, making it sleeker and faster paced.
By the time we were done, Nathan was looking much happier when we stepped away from the computer and headed downstairs. "That was a huge help, Lisa. Thank you so much."
I waved my hand and said, "It wasn't that big a deal."
"I beg to differ," he insisted, "Look, even after publishing a dozen books, I'm still learning about writing. There's no one straightforward path that anyone can take. It's a learning process that never ends. A writer is always discovering something new they'd never thought about before. The same thing holds true for artists who sculpt or paint. In spite of all the techniques you know, you always find some new trick or effect you've never tried before that gives your piece a whole new look."
That made me think, about my own artwork and special effects make-up I'd been working with, and I realized he was right. Creativity is a never ending learning process. You always want to try not to simply copy what you've done before, but create something new and original that makes people smile and stare in wonder at your work.
****A quick note from the author: The basis for this entry came from a recent experience of my own. As many of you know, I had planned to bring Nathan into the novel "The Door" which stars several of my other main characters. I'd been having trouble moving the plot along and had decided to bring him in to help open up new avenues and it worked. However, the length of the book was becoming too unwieldy and I was finding myself being sidetracked by too many new ideas. So I sat back and re-examined the story and found that much of what Nathan was doing in the story, could be done by existing supporting cast members, so I decided to remove him entirely from the piece.
Now, many of you may find this disappointing because you were eager to see him in a full-length novel before this year was out.
Well then you'll be pleased to hear that this will still happen. "The Door" is still not finished, but "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" is nearing the end of it's 2nd revision (which is why I haven't been posting here more frequently, it's been a very time consuming process). Next month I'll be sending it out to beta-readers, and based on the feedback we get, I will do a 3rd/final revision and release the book in October. So we're just 5 months away from Nathan's debut novel. As for "The Door", if it's ready in time, I'll release it in December or early next year.
So keep visiting, more short stories are coming soon. In fact, you'll soon be reading entries by my wife, Helen, who is co-authoring the "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" with me. I think you'll like what she has in store for you all.
Thanks again for all your patience and support.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
I interrupt this story line with a request for help from you the readers.
The second draft of "The Vampyre Blogs - Coming Home" is over halfway done. I'll be sending it to my proofreader/editor for a good vetting by the end of the month (provided all goes well).
In the meantime, I'm facing a dilemma regarding the book's cover. I've completed the artwork seen here:
As you can tell I did not incorporate the title into the image this time, because I just couldn't make it work with the scene I'd pictured. I had tried spelling it out in the tree branches but it looked more confusing and hard to read. So I experimented with a letter-box version seen here:
From there I tried black lettering over the image, which I think is a bit hard to read...
Finally I went with white lettering over the image...
For myself, I've preferred the red letter-box version since the red helps bring out the colors of the artwork itself.
But I want to hear from you before I make a final decision. Please leave your responses in the comment section below and I will announce the results during the finale of the current short story.
Thanks for all your patience and support. The novel WILL be out this October just in time for you to add it to your spooky Halloween reads.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
It's been a while since I last wrote anything here, but that was mostly because I haven't seen Nathan since just after New Year's Day. Dad told me Nathan had gone off to Europe for a couple of months and that he'd be back around June. But the fact that none of us had gotten a phone call or e-mail, made me start to worry. I began to think that telling Nathan I was in love with him during my Sweet Sixteen party had scared him off or something.
The thought got so strong that I barely ate any dinner and headed off for a walk as soon as the sun went down. Of course I headed downtown and eventually found myself staring up at the building that housed "The Crypt". Being a Sunday night, the club was closed, yet I spotted lights on in a couple of the third floor windows.
I knew Nathan rented out some of the rooms up there as studios to local artists, musicians, and dancers. But last I heard, none of the rooms were currently being used. Curious, I decided to head inside and check things out.
Pulling out the set of keys that Nathan had given me as part of my birthday gift last December, I unlocked the main doors and let myself in. Like most older buildings around here there was a short flight of steps that led to a lobby that felt right out of a 1940's Noir film.
Naturally the area was empty, but it was also very silent. After standing and listening near the main stairs that led to the upper floors, I decided that whoever was up there was not a musician or dancer. It could have been one of the artists, or... it was Nathan himself.
That last thought got my feet moving.
Taking the steps two-at-time, reached the second floor within seconds. Pausing at the landing I didn't see any signs of life anywhere. There were no lights coming from underneath any of the doors in that hallway, nor was there any sounds of music or movement.
But that made sense. After all I saw the lights on the third floor. So I started on the next flight of steps then stopped about halfway up. If whoever was up there wasn't Nathan or any of his 'renters' I could be busting in on someone who didn't belong here, like a prowler or some gang-bangers.
Carefully I pulled out my cellphone and made sure it was in Silent Mode. Then I put it in my hand with a finger over the 9 key, in case there was trouble. Bracing myself, I continued up the rest of the steps as quietly as possible. When I reached the landing I carefully peaked around the corner.
It was empty and I noted that several doors were open, including one or two which had lights on in them.
I waited but didn't hear any sound, nor did I spot any shadows moving in the lit rooms. Feeling a little more confident I headed down the hallway. I was wearing sneakers instead of my usual Goth-style boots, which muffled my footsteps.
Soon I reached the first open door and peaked inside. At first it didn't seem like anything was out of place nor was there anyone in sight. But then I noticed a man's shoes and ankles speaking out from behind the desk. It appeared that whoever they belonged to was stretched out on the floor.
"Hello?" I called gently but received no answer.
Drawing a little closer I could see more of the man's lower legs. He was definitely laid out on the floor and not moving.
I began to shake a little at that point. Whoever it was could be asleep, but on the floor? That didn't seem right at all. Bracing myself I moved closer until I was able to just peer over the desk to see the rest of the figure.
Yet in spite of all my precautions, I couldn't help but gasp at what I saw.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Greetings dear readers. I know its already 2/3rs of the way through January and there's been no new posts here, which of course has prompted a number of questions such as "Are we getting any new stories?", "Tell us you your still writing about these characters...", "The book is still coming later this year, right?"and even "Are you planning on keeping this blog going?"
So many questions, but luckily I have a simple answer for all of them:
The blog is continuing and new stories are coming. The book is still on schedule to be released around Sept/Oct of this year.
The reason why I haven't been posting anything new lately has been because of a little thing called
I had really hoped that during the winter break from university I'd have a chance to catch up on my writing and get a bunch of stories lined up. As it turns out, life had other plans for me. Between the holidays and having family visiting, December and early January were quite busy.
Then as things started to quiet down I got a job offer, which I have accepted, with the County of Monterey. This will be a full-time job which means I can only take 6 units of school at a time. However, in order to keep my current housing situation here at campus I need to be full-time. I still have a lease here that lasts until the end of May, so my wife and I have sent an appeal to allow us to stay until then while we arrange for new housing elsewhere. If that is accepted, we'll be okay. Otherwise, we'll have to scramble and find a new place much sooner.
I should have answer by this weekend or early next week. If our appeal is refused... things could get complicated for a while. So please bear with me and I'll fill you all in as soon as I have an answer and know what the next few months have in store for us.
Also, if you don't mind, keep your fingers crossed for us as well...
We need all the luck we can get right now.
In the meantime, know that Nathan has been kept busy elsewhere. I have been working on "The Door" which comes out before "The Vampyre Blogs-Coming Home", and will guest star Nathan along with the characters from my first two books "The Bridge" and "The Ship".
"The Door" will wrap up those storylines, as well as reveal more of Nathan's past experiences that have been hinted at in several entries here and will be well-worth checking out.
So stay tuned and thank you for your continued patience. I'm eager to get back to more stories involving Nathan, Marisa, Lisa and everyone else. And believe me all of them have been clamouring inside my head with story ideas they want to see written next as well.
I might have to have them draw straws to see who gets their story told first.
That's all I have for now. Until next time my friends...