Saturday, July 28, 2012

Creating Your Own Digital World

Y'know, I've been writing stories for a long time. But during all that time in creating larger than life characters, I never really focused on marketing them.

When I did decided that they needed to be displayed by some kind of media, I chose podcasting with my eye firmly on book trailers for the future.

Now, book trailers, I've found, can be done a number of ways.

Kelly Corrigan, writer of The Middle Place, did a six-minute public reading and put it up on youtube. It gave you a preview of the book and it got over 150,000 views.

Some have resorted to inter-cutting music with titles but with no voiceover. I've seen this done numerous times. I think Amanda Hocking has done this a couple of times.

But Scott Sigler, a regular on podiobooks, really opened it up when it came to hiring actors to act out a movie trailer version of the book.

While I would love to do the same thing I have a few things holding me back. No budget, no actors and no time.

So I began thinking, "Man, if I could only design everything like that game The Sims 3, it would be prefect."

I had worked with the game a couple of times, building sets and making short films of my family for my own amusement. I also got a hold of the PC game The Movies and toyed around with that.

Then a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon Moviestorm. It looks to me like they use the same physics engine like the last two games only this one is specifically for people who want to make short films or trailers.

So all of a sudden, it seems possible that in the very near future, I'll be creating Book Trailers made from digital characters. I used to love building sets, seeing all the pieces come together. I just hope they look as good as I imagined them.

The video above is the technical stuff.

Just look what happens when all the ingredients come together as someone recreates Jekyll and Hyde using this software.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Formatting Blues

Hey stranger. Come on in and sit down a spell. I got some things to tell you. I won't take much of your time. I imagine you're picturing a comforting man talking to you in a night club right about now. Maybe that man's voice is similar to Morgan Freeman's. But that's not important right now. What is important is that I have your attention.

You know as well as I do that whether you are an aspiring writer or a self-publisher there is one thing we all have to come to grips with at some point in our career; formatting.

It isn't pleasant and hardly anyone wants to spend time to get it right. I'm guilty of that myself. But, y'see, old Andy Dufrense never...


Sorry, I'll get back to this formatting business.

Y'see the thing is we rarely picture the part of formatting as one of our chief concerns. We are interested in writing. Because that's what we are: writers.

We tumble and toil with words all day. But in the end, we naively think the story itself will hold up the structure. Well, I'm here to tell you that just isn't true. Good formatting gives a perfect presentation to your story. It compliments it, you see.

Ordinarily I've experimented with file types such as Mobi., EPub or even PDF. But still I'd find glitches in the system.

One of the biggest regrets was releasing Wearing Donnie Torr as a Mobi file and not giving it a final proper scan through. People have commented that there are terrible formatting issues with it. Mostly that the font kept changing size. That gave me a bit of the blues.

I've read all the how to books on formatting until I was blue in the face. I was just about to make the leap to HTML coding.

Then I began to wonder if maybe I was going about this the wrong way. I've read hundreds of pages on what you SHOULD DO while formatting but it was never made quite that clear. I'm a visual person. So I sat down and started looking up formatting videos.

Wouldn't you know it? In just five minutes I found what I was looking for.

A video by C. J. Lyons on how to format your document so it will look more presentable on the amazon Kindle. I tinkered with one of my word documents and found out that it worked. The conversion to kindle was perfect.

This video was a much needed relief.

Now as soon as I find that original word document of Wearing Donnie Torr I'll make the changes and re-upload it to kindle and breathe a little easier.

Since this benefited me greatly, I'm considering checking out C. J. Lyons books. I suggest you do the same. I consider this video the one-stop shop for all my formatting woes.

In the meantime, here is the video for your viewing pleasure. Hope it helps you solve a case of formatting blues....

Get busy living or get busy dying...whoops...there I go again.


Saturday, July 7, 2012


I feel like I don't talk about bookstores enough. You guys know that I frequent them. I'm always willing to pick up books from Barnes and Noble, Goodwill or alleyway shops. I was heartbroken when Borders went packing.

But there is one bookstore that I love and that you should check out too. They're called Afterwords and they sell new and used books. I visited there a couple of times, mainly because my friend works there and he is very good about showing me around and reccomending some good titles. It's funny but, every time I dropped in, I'd have this sudden urge to pick up some of the titans; Hemingway, Harlan Ellison, H.G. Wells.

Its very cool and quiet and has a basement with wall to wall books.

Ray Bradbury always said that libraries helped raise him to his literary heights. For me, its bookstores.

23 East Illinois Street, Chicago, IL
(312) 464-1110

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Botanica Blues

Botanica Blues, penned by Tristan J. Tarwater, is a bleak yet poetic journey of Luis Quintana. Torn between his job and his family, this private eye is still haunted by his brush with a ritualistic mass murderer. For just 24 pages, this debut short story sure captured my attention. I had never read this author before and I wanted to start with this story. Tristan has a very clear voice with the main character. You feel as if you are sliding into a Lovecraft-type of madness as his story unfolds. The ending is equally shocking but very powerful. Now that I've had a glimpse of her writing style, I may pick up some of her other books. But I highly recommend this story to get you started.