Tag Archives: Lords of Askalon

The Lords of Askalon…Now Available!!!

It’s finally here, everyone!  So excited to announce the release of The Lords of Askalon, Book II in the Silesia Trilogy!  The ebook is available today on Smashwords!  The Kindle version should be out tomorrow and the paperback will follow shortly!

A few words of thanks are in order…

To my amazing husband and kids for being so enthusiastic and supportive of this project!

To J. Leigh Bralick, my SisterMuse, my beta reader, and my cover designer!  You are a treasure…and it is so much fun to collaborate with you!

To my parents, who always encouraged me to meet any challenge with chin up and a smile…thank you for giving me the confidence to follow my dreams!

And finally…a huge thank you to all my readers and fans who have waited so patiently!

The Lords of Askalon


How to Make a Book Trailer

As promised, here’s my post on how to make a book trailer!  I hope you’ve had a chance to view my Lords of Askalon trailer on the SisterMuses YouTube channel, but if not, here it is again…


So, now that you’ve finished watching it, I’ll explain how I put this trailer together so you can make one for your own project.  It was so much fun to do – and if you hit a writing roadblock or mental wall, doing something that uses a different part of the creative brain can be very helpful!

I followed just eight simple steps to put this together.  And be aware that steps 2-4 may happen in a different order than that in which I present them here – I just set things out this way for clarity.  But we all know that a creative endeavor is very rarely a linear process!

1. Fire up your movie making software.

I used Windows Live Movie Maker.  If you have a Mac, just use the equivalent movie producing software.

You’ll notice that you have a lot of different options – different fades or animations, different visual effects, adjusting the time allotted for each frame, etc.  Take a few moments to orient yourself to the software if you’ve never used it before.  We’ll come back to these in a later step, once you actually have content.

2. Decide on the feel (mood) you want for your trailer.

There are a couple of factors to consider in this step:

  • the mood of your story: tragic, heroic, contemplative, etc.
  • the angle of your pitch to your audience (what do you want to highlight about your story?)

Why is this step critical?  You have to identify the mood to be able to choose the right…you guessed it…mood music.  And mood images, for that matter.  So really do take some time to think about this.  In my case, Lords of Askalon is a high-action novel, but there is a significant contemplative thread woven into the story.  I really wanted to emphasize both of these, and that helped me to choose the right music.

3. Consider how to present your novel in images.

Now that you’ve decided on a mood for your trailer, you can start thinking about the visuals.  Consider your story in terms of its high points.  Try to identify the most significant plot points, twists, or turning points.   Consider also the key moments for your main character.  I suggest using the third approach, because a good story will be both plot and character driven.

For a two-minute trailer, 10 images is really the maximum you can include and still give each image justice.  You could certainly do fewer than 10, with more time spent on each frame.  So now that you have a general idea what plot or character points you want to use to convey your story, start searching for some images.

I used Foter for my image search.  Foter is a huge collection of free, royalty-free stock images.  These images are licensed under the Creative Commons license and you can download as many as you like.  Let me just offer a few words of advice:

  • DO look at the permissions given for each image.  There are different levels of licenses under the Creative Commons umbrella.  The most liberal of these is the attribution-only license (indicated by the letters CC-BY).  All that’s required here is that you acknowledge the artist – I do this in a credits page at the end of the trailer.
  • It’s probably safest to look for images that offer a commercial license.  There’s not a great deal of explanation on what constitutes commercial and non-commercial usage.  You could probably make the case that you’re not charging for the book trailer, so that’s non-commerical use, but you are promoting something you hope people will buy…so…to be prudent, you might just want to go with images that have commercial permissions.

You can also look at Flickr for Creative Commons images and browse by license type if you want, but Foter brings together Creative Commons images from a number of sources, including Flickr.

Look for high-impact, high quality images that convey both the mood and the moments of your story.  And sometimes you have to do a lot of searching to find the right images!  This step can take some time, so be patient.

4. Add your text.

This shouldn’t be too hard to do once you find your images.  And it is a fantastic exercise in high-impact language.  I tried to use powerful, mood-based words (i.e., “crouches”) as I presented the story.  You don’t need to get into insane detail – in fact, that’s really impossible.  Remember, you want to give your reader a glimpse of the story on the levels of mood and plot.  Tweak, tweak, and tweak some more until you get just the right flavor!

5. Add your music.

Finding free music is much trickier than finding free images.  You can find stock music in many different places, but if you want to make a trailer for free, your options are limited.  I found my track at Royalty Free Kings.  They had several tracks available for free – most of them pared down slightly from the full version.  They have a lot of music available for purchase as well.

Moby (yes, the band) has a free music section of their website for music that they wrote for film.  You just need to sign up and then you can browse and download what you like for your project.

You can Google “royalty free music” for some other options as well.  Freestockmusic.com has some free cinematic music, for instance.  AudioMicro also offers film music, but I didn’t find anything free when I hopped over to check it out quickly just now.

6. Play around with the effects.

Now that you have your pictures, text, and music, you can play around with the different tools and effects to finalize your project.  Make sure you have your credits pages (photos and music) and a link to your website at the end so people can navigate to find your work!

7. Beta test your trailer!

Try to have a few kind friends view your trailer and give you feedback before you offer it for general consumption.  I subjected my husband and my kids to my trailer (more times than they’d like to count, actually), and made J. Leigh and our mom watch it too!  They all gave me valuable feedback.  When you beta test, ask your viewers if

  • it made a strong impression on them
  • they enjoyed it
  • it made them want to read your book
  • if there is anything they would change to improve points 1-3

Tweak your trailer if necessary.

8. Publish!

You’re ready to post your video!  Set up a YouTube channel for yourself, post it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your website/blog, Pinterest, reading boards like Goodreads and Shelfari…everywhere you have an online presence!

That’s it, folks!  I hope you have as much fun putting your trailers together as I did!  And please come back and post a link to your trailer in the comments section so we can all see what you’ve put together!

Happy directing!!!

SK


Lords of Askalon Book Trailer

I’m so excited to share this with you!  Here is the book trailer for The Lords of Askalon!  Tomorrow, I’ll be doing a step-by-step tutorial on how to create a book trailer like this for your own work!

Enjoy!


Writerly Recipes: Cinnamon-Lime Sweet Tea

It’s Sunday (and that’s my fun day)…and I finished The Lords of Askalon  on Friday – which means that I’m on target for its release on October 4!  What do these two things have in common?  It’s time for a celebration!!!  I thought I’d share with you a ridiculously easy and supremely tasty recipe today, for those times when a straight-up cup of tea just won’t do the trick.  (And if tea’s not, well, your cup of tea, this might change your mind).

No, it’s not a writing post.  But tea and writing mix beautifully, don’t you think?

Enjoy!!!

Cinnamon-Lime Sweet Tea

6 cups water

1/3 cup sugar

Zest and juice of 2 limes

2 cinnamon sticks

3 black tea bags – I love Twinings Lady Gray, but you could use English Breakfast or Earl Gray or your favorite black tea

Bring water, sugar, lime zest and juice, and cinnamon sticks to a boil in a large saucepan.  Stir to dissolve sugar.  Remove from heat and add tea bags.  Let tea steep for 15 minutes.  Remove tea bags and let mixture stand until it is room temperature, about an hour.  Strain mixture into a pitcher and refrigerate until cold.  Serve over ice.

(Adapted from the Spiced Thyme and Lime Iced Tea recipe by Giada de Laurentiis)

 


When the Going Gets Tough….

Bother.

It’s hard to write about not following your own advice, isn’t it?

In the last post, I made very true remarks about the importance and necessity of daily writing.  Slogging ahead.  No matter what.  Right?

Well…I got off my routine.  I realized that my July 4 deadline for Lords of Askalon was incompatible with producing a quality product.  Could I get it written?  Yes.  Would it be worth much? Probably not.  Leaving myself no time to work it over, to edit, to mull, to contemplate, to tweak…not good.  I think this really hit me when Brandon Sanderson tweeted that he planned 9 revisions for his new book.  Nine.  And he’s Brandon Sanderson.  And I wasn’t going to give myself time for one?

So there’s the reason for the new release date.  But on to the inevitable, awful consequence of this decision: I stopped writing.  I got caught up in other things.  Meaningful and necessary things, to be sure, but not writing things.  I let myself get caught, too, by the self-criticism monster that paralyzes all it touches.

The horror.

Today, for example, when I opened up my manuscript and got ready to write, I caught sight of the last scene I had written.  I promptly closed the window and wrote a journal entry instead.

One could make the argument that any writing is better than no writing, and I think there’s something to that.  But I don’t particularly have writer’s block…my huge and beautiful butcher-paper outline of this novel is pinned to the wall right beside me.  I know where I need to go, what I need to write.  But that last scene is so…flat.  Ugh.

Having a clear plot outline isn’t the same as having a strong sense of the characters, of their purpose, of the dynamics that guide their interaction.

Before I can come back to the story, I need to establish those things clearly for myself.  And work out nagging details like timeline issues.  For me, simply pushing through won’t do the job.  Will that method get the plot written?  Yes, probably.  But it will be as lifeless and sketchy as the outline on my wall.

So sometimes, when the going gets tough and your narrative feels flat, it pays to take a step back and consider a few things about the deeper structure of your story in general, and the characters inhabiting your world in particular.  Ask yourself:

  • Do you really know your characters?
  • What are their personal conflicts? (A character’s personal conflict is not necessarily the overarching conflict of the book.)
  • What drives your characters in their interactions with other major/minor characters?
  • How do these interactions meaningfully reveal their character arc?
  • How does each character arc intersect with the plot?  What events need to happen for that character to develop?

Once you find the answers to these questions and have a clear sense of each character’s purpose and role, you’ll see the life flowing back into your bloodless plot structure.

So…I’m off to reacquaint myself with my characters.  How will you move your story forward today?


NaNoWriMo 2011: Day 1

So.

How did your NaNoWriMo Day 1 go? 🙂

I logged 883 words today.  I didn’t think I’d get 1 written…so I’m fairly pleased.  But I did fall short of my 2K word goal…guess I’ll have to catch up later on in the month.

As so often happens when you have a project you absolutely need/want/must work on, life seems to pull out all the stops.  Obligations, issues, potty training disasters (x2)…all can put writing at the bottom of the to-do list, where it so often stays.  Then you wake up one winter morning and realize that NaNoWriMo was over a month ago…and you have nothing written whatsoever.

I was determined…absolutely determined…not to let Day 1 get past me without at least something to show for it.  With the day I’ve had, I would have settled for 10 words.  But I set the timer for 30 minutes, told the kids to blitz clean their room, sat the baby in her high chair with some of those strange dissolving vegetable puffs for a snack, turned on my iTunes Writing Mix, and blasted out 883 words.

The buzzer went off, and reality promptly dropped the anvil right back on my head.  But it’s all good.

I got 883 words done.

Ohhhhhhh yeahhhhh.

🙂

Bring it.

(Head on over here to read the synopsis of The Lords of Askalon.)