Monday, June 25, 2012

"Seized" trailer, guest blogs, and let's hope Nike doesn't sue me.

First -- as Paul Harvey used to say -- it's time for News!

I finished the trailer for Seized last night and uploaded it to YouTube.  You can watch it right here!  Just look to the left and click the arrow on the owl's forehead.

This isn't my first foray into video editing -- I taught video production at the college level (for one brief, shining moment) -- but this was my first attempt at digital video editing.  I think the trailer turned out okay.  But I am here to tell you that Windows Live Movie Maker is not exactly a robust editing platform -- there's no audio meter, no shuttle for advancing the movie frame-by-frame (or whatever the digital equivalent is), no apparent way to lengthen the timing of a wipe, and the list goes on.  I may have to sink some actual cash into a real video editing program, if only to keep from tearing my hair out the next time I make a trailer.  Software suggestions?  Thanks in advance!

Also, I managed a hat trick this week in terms of guest blog posts.  On Thursday, my home office was featured (with a photo shoot and everything!) at the Indie Exchange.  Also on Thursday, the first of two articles I wrote on how to write a fake newspaper story the right way was published at Indies Unlimited.  I'm quite proud of that one, as it allowed me to link both halves of my writing brain -- the creative left side and the journalistic right side. (The second article, on writing a fake broadcast news story, will run this coming Thursday.)  And then on Friday, Adventures in the Czech Republic posted my tale of how I came to write The Maidens' War.  Stop by and read 'em, if you like, and feel free to post a comment.  The blog owners will be grateful.

***
Now, on to the meat of this week's post.  (In case you're keeping track, this is not the rant I was going to write a while back.  This is, in fact, a whole different rant.)  I wrote the original version of this post for the Kevinswatch message board a few days ago.  It's directed at anybody who has a book sitting in the drawer and who feels like a loser because it's never been published.

I've heard of, and talked to, so many people who apparently would rather beat themselves up for being a failure than put in the work required to turn their ideas into something. I know, I know: what's on paper isn't what was in your head, the plot is derivative, the characters are wooden, the whole thing lays your soul too bare. All of that, except the last, can be learned. Getting what's in your head down on paper just takes practice -- that old "apply the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair" thing. Plotting can be taught (and as more than one author has said, there are only a certain number of plots in the world anyhow -- so of course yours is derivative, duh). There are tricks to bringing characters alive. You can learn them by reading Writer's Digest magazine, by taking classes, by trolling the web for writing blogs -- and then practicing. There are online critique groups. You can even find editorial help for your book online.

You can't even use "no one will ever publish this" as an excuse any more -- not since the advent of Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords.com and B&N's PubIt. Smashwords puts out a free style guide -- just follow the directions and upload your file, and poof! You're published. Want a paperback you can hold in your hand? Lulu and/or CreateSpace will be happy to help you. You can even buy one of their packages and they'll do your formatting and cover design for you. Not only that, but now you're an indie author! We are hip, hot and happening!  And we are happy to welcome you.

So it's not the mechanics -- not any more. It's the "I'm not worthy" crap that stops people from reaching their dreams.  Biology isn't destiny, and neither are life circumstances.  We had a story posted at the Watch about a young man who came up through the New York City social services system and is now a published author. It's not where you've been; it's where you're going.

And the "I'm laying my soul bare" thing? I hate to break this to you, but: you are not the only human being who has ever had the feelings you're writing about; you are not the only human being who has ever written about those feelings; and you are not the only human being who has ever shared them publicly. Maybe your words are destined to help somebody. Maybe your words are the one thing that will kick them in the ass and make them do what they need to do. Maybe your withholding your words from the world is actually hurting that person. Puts a different spin on that book in the drawer, doesn't it?


Don't tell me it can't happen. You never know when, or how, your words will come back to you. Back when I was a reporter, I found myself sitting in a county council meeting in West Virginia one day and heard a guy in the audience quote from a news story I'd written and that had aired on our radio station that morning. The guy had freaking memorized my story and was quoting it as a challenge to the board members. I don't even remember what the topic was; I just remember the weird feeling of hearing somebody I had never met quote something I had written.

Seriously, stop beating yourself up. You're not a failure. Just get it done already.
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