Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cannibal Island - Book Trailer

I know. I know. You don't have to say it. The book trailer is supposed to come AFTER the book is published. But I couldn't wait. In fact, the way things are moving along, it may be another year or more before it's published. Perish the thought!) It's just the overachiever in me that makes me do these things. I like to get my ducks in row - just in case.

Actually, this is a pretty primitive example of the high quality book trailers currently out there. But it was relatively simple to create and produce, limited only by the producer's imagination and the resources available - and there are lots of them.

First off, I downloaded the free version of Windows Movie Maker and spent a little time collecting royalty-free graphics, photos, and audio. If you're needing a soundtrack or background audio, a site known as Incompetech can fix you up with free audio clips, and there is a plethora of them from which to select. There's no membership fee, nothing. I'm sure you can find just the right soundtrack for your own trailer, should you decide to make one. Also, Wikipedia Commons has millions of graphics and photos you can use with no fee and no copyright infringement issues. It's all out there for the taking, mixing together, and putting into a completed video of your own.

So, take a look and let me know what you think. And, if you're an agent in search of an exciting, boy-centric, steampunk adventure with exotic ports, danger, intrigue and a touch of romance and humor, your cabin awaits on The Seahorse for a 70,000-word voyage from England to Peru and the uncharted island where the Inca gold has been hidden for the last three centuries. There's even a cute little monkey to accompany you on your adventure and help out when necessary. But keep a close lookout for that blasted dirigible that's been following us since we steamed past Portsmouth. I think it's that oily-haired Hans Von Hisle!

If you have any trouble viewing the trailer on this site, you can click HERE to go directly to the Youtube version. It seems to load quicker with no interruptions along the way.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Page Turners...

We've spoken before of the importance of opening lines. Today we're going to turn everything on its head and discuss the importance of ending lines, specifically the ending of a chapter. Obviously, the purpose of the opening line is to get the reader's attention and create enough interest to encourage them to read on. The ending of a chapter serves the same goal, i.e., to put the reader in a position, by your choice of words, that it's next to impossible for them not to read more. In other words, keep them turning pages to find out what happens next.

The film industry used this "cliffhanger" technique quite successfully during the fifties and sixties when the serials were popular, encouraging their young viewers to return to the theater the following week, spend their money on a ticket and gorge themselves with sweet and salty treats from the snack bar. They're using this technique today when creating their movie trailers. And writers have been using the old make-them-want-more writing trick for even longer.

Below is a short excerpt from my yet-to-be-published middle grade novel, Cannibal Island. It's perhaps not the best example or the most dramatic example, but it was handy and easy to get to. Plus, there are no copyright issues involved.

This is the last few paragraphs from chapter one...

     Fate led me to a small enterprise in the nearby town of Southampton. Less than an hour after entering the Emporium of Nautical Charts, I found myself in the employ of Thomas Willoughby, proprietor. Although a bit eccentric, Mr. Willoughby had a reputation as an expert in charting and navigation. He also had a tendency to fall asleep at his desk in the afternoon.

     At first, the work was new and interesting. However, as time passed, the familiar surroundings and the dusty smell of old charts became tiring and monotonous. I grew bored with the tedium. After a childhood of travel, and the new clue my father had discovered regarding the location of the mysterious disk, I craved adventure on a larger scale than I was finding at Mr. Willoughby’s small shop.

     When the tiny silver bell on the front door announced a visitor that gray winter morning, fate again stepped in and steered my future in a new direction.

     A chill wind rustled the charts on my desk as the stranger entered.

As always, your comments are welcomed. Perhaps we can have a contest for chapter endings in the near future. I'll base that decision on the number of comments received on this post.  

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Winner Announcement!

The results are in, and you have decided.

Chris Guise is the official winner of the Hook Me competition. Thanks for your patience while we worked out the tie and figured out what to do about it, and for my recent disappearance while taking care of line edits from an agent expressing interest in my MG steampunk adventure.

Stay tuned, because there's more stuff on the way.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Don't pay the ransom - I've escaped!

Your patience with me is greatly appreciated. I have been waist deep in editing a 55,000 word middle grade steampunk novel that has morphed into 70,000. I just finished the final edits and sent it back to the agent I've been working with for the past three months. No offer of representation yet, but I'm hoping this one will be irresistible.

Meanwhile, back to the tie-breaker for our contest. I've given this some thought, and I think the best option is to post the two top entries and have another voting session on just those two. Hopefully, we'll end up with something other than a tie. I've posted them below, along with a new voting booth, so vote away. Voting will end Sunday, March 7, 2010 at 9:00 pm CST.

Entry 7


Outside the state hospital, the dead gathered.  They peered up at my caged window even when I chose not to look out.
“Tomlinson, Francis?”
I nodded and continued lacing my boots.
“Here are the medications the doctor ordered.  Now please remember to take them everyday so we don’t have another episode.  Ok?”
“Yes, I will.”  No, I won’t.
She ran a scanner over my wrist.  It beeped, confirming I was one of the watched.  Not everyone had chips in them, just a lucky few.
“This is your sixth time here, young lady.  How about we try not to make it a seventh?  You’re running out of chances to obey the directive.  Surgery is next.”
“But I like it here.”
The lanky woman handed me a paper bag of the possessions I’d had three days ago when the police dropped me off.  The carton of orange juice was ruined and all the items in my wallet had been removed and carefully put back.
“I’m sure you don’t.  The hallucinations should all be gone.  If you continue to take your medications you won’t be bothered by them again and neither will anyone else.  Do you understand?” 

I did, but it changed nothing.

Entry 19


I walked into math class and scoped out the sub.

Easy prey.

What little life this loser had was about to get a whole lot worse.

Mrs. Billet, our math teacher, had finally had her kid and was home changing diapers for a month.  We were on our second sub of the week, and Foster F. Finkman made it his job to upset subs.

I was his partner in crime.

Mr. Thompson was the victim of a bad brown toupee.  It looked like Grunt, my guinea pig.  This teacher wannabe was somewhere between thirty and fifty, had braces and breath that would kill a camel.  I'd had him as a sub since kindergarten, and he hadn't changed a bit.  Except for the braces.

Toupee Thompson knew all of us at Harly Middle School by name.  It isn't a big school, since Harly, Oklahoma isn't a big town.  So when Camel Slayer noticed Finkman was new, the sub flashed a silvery smile and squeaked, "What's your name, young man?"

Finkman stood and squeaked back, "Foster Florentine Finkman.  And I hope you don't mind me asking, but is that your real hair?"