Collaborations: What Do They Look Like? How Do I Make Mine Work? – Part 1

Welcome to the blog folks.
Rich has been hounding me to finally post something here, so thanks to the current “Shelter In Place” order here in California, I finally have a chance to catch my breath and speak to you all.
As you all know by now, I’m working with Rich on “The Pass”. What you may not know is that I’m also collaborating with my wife Helen on another series. And believe me, both series are quite unique. But first, I’d like to start off with talking about “The Pass” and my association with Rich.
To start off I went to high school with Rich some 30+ years ago.  

Note: for the sake of privacy, I left out the clipboard showing his name and arrest number.

Just kidding! It’s not really a mug shot, but I couldn’t resist using this photo because the expression on his face is so serious.  Of course I’m going to get an earful later for this, but that’s what friends are for, right?

After leaving Long Island back in the mid-80’s I kind of lost track of some of my old friends, like Rich back there. So when I finally got onto Facebook and found him I was more than delighted to catch up with him. By this time I had already published 2 novels with my wife Helen in our “Para-Earth” series (more about that later). Upon hearing this Rich asked if I’d look over a story for a book he’d been working on for a number of years. I agreed. I knew he was a longtime sci fi, fantasy, horror, etc fan like me and I was eager to see what he had come up with. 

As he himself told me in advance, and so did his wife, the writing was ‘dry’. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t necessarily grab the reader right away. But I saw exactly what he was aiming for, namely introducing the reader into the sci fi world he had envisioned. I also saw that he had something really interesting that had a lot of potential, it just needed some fine-tuning to make it grab the reader’s attention quickly and hold onto it.

So we began focusing on writing style and storytelling. During one of our chats he asked if we could do a project together, not the one he was working on, but something new and original. We kicked around a number of ideas and then joked about a supernatural piece in the old west. Without giving too much away, from this jovial talk the seeds of “The Pass” was born. 

As for my other collaboration, let me introduce you all to my wife of, coming up to 31 years next month, Helen. 

I met Helen many moons ago at a Doctor Who Fan Club meeting and quickly became friends. In time feelings developed and we drew more and more close, till eventually… well you can figure out the rest for yourselves.
Anyway, over the years Helen helped broaden my range of reading material beyond horror and some science fiction. In time, she began to start up writing on her own and began a series of both dark fantasy and science fiction short stories. She even submitted a number of them and was almost accepted several times, unfortunately the age of e-books was taking its first steps and a number of the magazines she had aimed at closed down. Between that the low pay for short stories, she put aside her stories and we focused on fandom in general.
Then in the late 2008, I had been working in real estate when the bubble burst leaving us struggling to keep things going. During this time, I had started experimenting with some writing of my own, based on re-telling some storylines from the original 1960’s show “Dark Shadows”.  Due to constraints and the unpredictability of the shows’ lifespan, the writers at the time had been working on the fly, so there were inconsistencies that were never fully resolved. So like any other fan-boy, I started playing around with fixing those holes. At the same time I also started adding new storylines that drifted farther and farther away from the Dark Shadows setting entirely. Realizing this I repopulated the stories I’d created with original characters and “The Bridge” was born. This became the first installment of what we came to call the “Para-Earths” series.
From the name, many will deduce that the series involves parallel realities, and you’d be right. But unlike most parallel reality stories that involve twists in human history such as (a person marries someone else, or the British won the Revolution, etc.) we took things in a totally new direction. Encounters with parallel versions of Earth where evolution took a completely different turn. The result is a paranormal/science fiction series containing mystery, psychics, ghosts, and creatures some have described as Lovecraftian.
At this point, most of the writing was being done by me, but Helen had a lot of input and influence on characters, their personalities and ways of thinking, that totally reshaped my original vision. After a number of rejections from agents and publishers (who were even more reluctant than in the past to take on an unknown author), I took the plunge and tried the Independent Author route with Createspace and Smashwords. The first book received a number of 4 and 5 star reviews that can be found on Amazon and Smashwords as well as Goodreads.
She continued to advise and help me develop the second book in the series “The Ship” which also met with more very favorable reviews.
At this point I decided to work on a vampire-type of character, but one that wasn’t supernatural but rather science-fiction based and in keeping with our alternate Earths concept where a man from this reality, landed up in one of those alternate Para-Earths and came back changed. This time Helen began writing alongside me and we came up with a storyline that led to “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”, which became our first Young Adult novel.
We’ve continued together and produced an anthology based on our vampire character and his friends/family, called “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”. 
So what does this have to do with a blog entry about collaborations? Everything! In Helen’s case, I literally get to work side-by-side with her. But with Rich being on the other side of the country, things had to be handled in a much different way.
And I’ll go into more details in the next post, so stay tuned and thanks for being here.


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