Thursday, August 30, 2012

Weather And Writing (And Breaking The Rules)

In light of my current stuck-at-home status due to Hurricane Isaac and related flooding, I thought I'd talk weather over at Sleuths, Spies and Alibis.

Come on over! I'm cooking up weather-related mystery plots... 

P.S.: This is an old picture, from a blizzard when I lived in Colorado. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

What Would You Pack If You Had To Make a Run For It?

Quietude on the blog here, as I moved house last week, cleaned and painted the old digs to hand over the keys, and readied for Isaac.

Tropical-Storm-That-Might-Become-A-Hurricane Isaac that is. All this moving, (un)packing, and being confronted with the stuff we own made me wish I owned less...

And of course we have to ready our important things, just in case we're ordered to evacuate. To me, that list of stuff is pretty short. Photo albums, kids and cats (see adorable picture) is what I care most about. Plus my trusty old netbook.

How about you? What would you grab if you had to make a run for it?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Interview, And The Drinks Are On Me

It feels like I've been talking a lot about myself this week, but I hope you'll come check out Laura Golden's blog for her interview with me. Come say hi, and admire Laura's blog (it's really pretty...) She has her own middle-grade out in 2013 called Every Day After--hurray for her.

My interview is part of a big blog tour of all the faculty coming to Southern Breeze's fall conference, so check out some of the upcoming posts and blogs...

And come to Birmingham in October! We'll have loads of fun, and if you tell me about your kidlit work-in-progress, I'll buy you a soda. 

Happy Friday, all.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How To Make An Author Video When You're Not A Techie

"We'd like you to make an author video." This was in an email my editor sent me a few weeks ago. And my response was a cheerful, "Sure!"

Of course, I wasn't all that sure. I mean, an author video--that meant I had to videotape myself. And to be honest, I'm the type of person who tries to avoid cameras at all cost. The isolation and ability to wear yoga pants all day are big perks to authorhood in my book.

Not that I couldn't have seen this coming--I mean, Harper had listed an author video as part of their marketing plan. Anyway, I made a quick video. Edited it on my basic editing software, the stuff that was already on my computer. Only it looked... Well, pretty terrible.

So I made a better video. And I thought I'd share with you what I learned, so you can be awesome right out the gate.

1. Yes, you need an author video

Maybe your publisher didn't ask you for it, but an author interview is a great tool in telling the world about the great book you wrote. If you're an indie writer: what a great tool to promote your work, right? Especially if you're a middle-grade writer, like me. Author videos allow librarians, teachers and parents to hear you talk about the story, and why kids should read it.

2. Watch some examples

The best way to decide what you want your video to look like is to watch other writers strut their stuff. Some look at the camera, some don't. Some look like they had a stylist, and some look like they just fell out of bed. Just search for 'author video' on Youtube, and it'll toss you examples. I've pasted mine below, but you can do much better.

3. State your talking points

What do you want to say about your book? If someone were to interview you, what do you wish they would ask? Unless you're Stephen King, try to find a good way to introduce yourself and the book. Keep it to the most important stuff. You really don't want your video to run much longer than three minutes.

4. Write a script

Think about how your video will play out. Imagine what slides you'll use (for questions), and what you'll say.

5. Buy some software, if you can afford it

I started my video on Moviemaker, but it's pretty limited in its templates. I tried freeware, and even considered (briefly, until I saw the pricetag) buying a Mac.

Bottom line: unless you're a techie, you want to buy some software with templates. This blog, my website, the video--they're all built with them. Templates are your friend--look for video editing software that gives you sound effects if possible. You'll want to be able to adjust the sound, so look for that function. I made my video with Pinnacle (which set me back $80), but there are several alternatives for about the same price.

6. Shoot lots of video

Unless you're Oprah, you probably need a little warm up time in front of the camera. Videotape yourself answering the same question five times--your software will allow you to edit it. You can use a basic camera; just make sure your sound quality holds up. Shooting outside may be a bit ambitious...

7. Get images and music

Make sure you own the rights to whatever images and music you use... Buy what you need, or ask friends (my Paris pictures were graciously donated by my sister).

8. Have fun

So maybe seeing yourself on video is not your favorite thing in the world. But enjoy the creative process! Play around with your slides, transitions, and other effects. Make sure they fit the mood/message of your book.

I hope this is helpful for you fellow authors! Here's my video; let me know when you make yours, and I'll post it here on the blog with your permission.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Look, I'm On The Small Screen!

Okay, so that doesn't quite mean I'm on TV or anything (I wish). But I made an author video, and the kind people at Harper put an ad up at Shelf Awareness for Double Vision that links to it.

You can see the video to the right, so you can watch me babble about the book.

Later this week, I'll share with you (since many of you are writers) how I managed to make this video, despite my infamous dinosaur status.

Let me know what you think of the video! And be kind, since I'm not Julia Roberts or anything...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Conference Lessons Learned From #LA12SCBWI : A Writerly Wednesday Post

I'm back from L.A., where I attended SCBWI's summer conference. Talk about a whirlwind visit--and I didn't even get to eat at In&Out, or do any other Cali-type things, other than spend an hour in gridlock traffic.

But I had fun anyway. I was inspired by all the talented writers and illustrators, keynote speakers, and awesome hotel food. I made new friends. Told everyone about my book, and they graciously listened. Good stuff.

And then there were a few lessons I learned, which I thought I'd share with you fellow writerly people. In case you have conference on your calendar.

1. Get your friends' contact information
There were more than 1200 people at this conference--believe it or not, it's very easy to completely miss each other. Especially if you only know a person from web contact, and all you have to go on is a profile pic.

2. Bring tissues
The SCBWI organizers know how to pick their keynotes... I fogged up (read: tried to cover up my tears) during several keynotes, and you will too. No matter how hardcore you think you are.

3. Bring breakfast bars
L.A. is expensive, and a girl's gotta eat. Unless you like dropping enough money to feed your family for a few days on eggs and bacon, bring a box or two of granola bars. The kind with chocolate and nuts are recommended by the YA Sleuth.

4. Don't be a snob
I briefly talked to a few people (who shall remain anonymous) who were only there to suck up to the big shot attendees and ignored their fellow little people (that would be me). Don't be that guy. Little people will grow big, and they'll remember you...

5. Go
I always debate whether to go to one of these conventions, but then when I do, I wonder what I was moaning about. The inspiration is worth the cost, and then some--if you can afford it. If your budget doesn't allow, see about organizing a day-long powwow with your writer crew.

How 'bout you, fellow writers? Anything you've learned from conference visits?

Follow along with the MIDNIGHT AT THE BARCLAY HOTEL blog tour!

I'm so excited for the Aug. 25th release if MIDNIGHT AT THE BARCLAY HOTEL...!  If you want to join the fun, follow along with the bl...