Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Trailer for Mariposa

I finished up the book trailer for my novel yesterday and I'm going to post it here.  For the interested indie writer type, I had played around with animoto.com, and it was okay.  It's certainly a great starter program to give you a feel for what you could do.  But I was disappointed in how little I could edit it-- I couldn't write more than a few words per slide/image and I couldn't vary length of the pans and/or change the "flash" that happened with teach picture.  I wanted to figure out how to do something different and I knew that there must be some kind of software available on PC that I could use.  I mean, people make them all the time, and not everyone has an Apple PC.  (They are rumored to have one of the easiest, best video editing programs, but I haven't used it.)

So I finally found the simple Windows Movie Maker that's already on my PC.  It's actually pretty easy to use and customize.  I would recommend it for anyone trying to make something like a book trailer if you have good images & a great cover.  You can then get the music at a few sources.  I got mine at audiomicro.com and it wasn't too expensive.  Considering how much it costs to get a book trailer made when you get a pro to do it, the DIY cost is minimal here.  The extra graphics in my video that are not from my cover somehow are from Dreamstime.com.  I bought a subscription plan a while ago and can download 25 pictures a day.  I don't really recommend that for someone doing one video, though, because I'm finding that I am not downloading pictures, and so a lot of those days go to waste.  Just buy a one time something because you don't want too many pictures other than your cover in your video.

Anyway, that's the DIY details.  And here is my gorgeous video, which I am very proud of.

Friday, July 18, 2014

FINALLY! My whole, glorious cover

Mariposa, A Love Story.

I started writing this novel a really long time ago.  I can't tell you exactly when I started really trying to work on it but I can say that the first line of the novel came to me when I still lived in San Antonio.  And just like that, Meg was in my head.  She was remarkably patient, because in the meantime, I wrote my dissertation (which took forever too, but that's another story).  I had twin kiddos who I have kept fed & mostly entertained for 9 years now.  And we've been living in Shreveport for 7 of those years.  So it's been...well. An epic journey.  

Meg's voice is cheerful, even when she's at her lowest. There is a moment in the novel where she has seen something unsee-able, something that is so horrific (that was a spooky scene to write, by the way, and I'm still not entirely sure about it, but it comes from a real life ghost haunting in San Antonio, so I just write 'em like I sees 'em) where Meg cannot be cheerful.  But that's pretty much it.  Every other time you get into her head, she tries to see things in a positive light.  She's different from other ghosts, and you just want to hang out with her, drink mojitos and eat Mexican food.  Meg would definitely appreciate a mojito offering now & then.

But in the scene represented on the cover, she's not exactly in the best mood.  She's saving people she dearly loves, and she has come to kick wolfish a** and chew bubblegum, but she's all out of bubblegum. Actually, as I've pointed out before, the scene is a mural that is on the side of a bookstore (an actual place in San Antonio!).  But it also depicts real action in the novel's climactic battle with evil.  The wolves are the bad guys, and they are not easy to fight. I mean, how DO you kill vampiric ghost wolves?  They're already dead!! We might be all ready for the zombie apocalypse, but what happens when you're surrounded by these guys? 

Then there are those little dark shadows behind Meg.  They represent several of the people Meg is there to save, and who are fighting with her.  You'll meet them eventually.  They're pretty amazing, and tough, themselves.  I really like the greenish touch of the wall, and the way the light plays on Meg's face.  It's like she's holding the power to change the world in her hands (and technically, she is).  The dripping title is neat, too, since the mural is "guerilla art" that turns up almost overnight on the bookstore all.  I just love this art. I've had it on my computer desktop now for weeks and it just doesn't get old. 

So enough talky-talk, right?  Here is my glorious cover.  It's so pretty.  It is everything I wanted in a cover, and Lawrence Mann did a brilliant job interpreting my sad little sketch into this.  In a few days, I'll post the book trailer I made using this, too.  It's pretty neat, as well.  But I gotta spread out the wealth.

Ta da! Here it is!  Finally!   Tell me you love it too. 
Also, if you came here via the cover reveal, come say hi on Facebook, too:  https://www.facebook.com/kimwellswrites

Patience is not my strong suit, + Shadows Burned In

I am not generally patient when it comes to certain things.  I don't wait very well for Christmas presents or birthday presents.  I don't like dropping hints & waiting to see if my husband or family will get me a special something.  I usually just get something I really want for myself and am done with it.

Waiting for movies I want to see is similar.  I usually get so frustrated with the waiting that I just put it entirely out of my head because it's going to make me cranky.

My blog tour cover reveal is supposed to happen today, and I'm up and at 'em early this morning and not entirely sure how it works.  I will reveal the rest of the cover sometime today, no matter what happens, because I've been building up to it and it would just be weird to not go with it now.

But in the meantime, this morning, how about a blog post of another sort?

A book review of a friend's book. When I first read it, I thought it looked a bit like it was going to be a ghost story, like mine.  It's really not as much about "real" ghosts as my novel.  The ghosts here are more metaphoric than literal.  More realism, fewer creepy ghosts who trap you in their worst moment.

Shadow's Burned In by Chris Porteau is a great read.  I would compare this author's voice to Stephen King's in stories like "The Body" or "Shawshank Redemption." The voice is clear and engaging and I read this book in almost one full sitting.  There are well drawn, growing characters throughout, great pacing, an interesting world that's just a little different from ours but also just the same. I loved the depiction of the house's voice, which the protagonist "hears" in her head.

Even thought it's not technically a "ghost story" like my novel, there's still a great touch of spooky in it, and overall, a thoughtful exploration of why we tell the stories we tell.   This is Chris' first novel and I know he's going to be featured in a great short-story collection that is coming out soon, too.   And the best thing of all is that it's only .99 cents on Amazon right now!  Go grab a copy and enjoy a coming of age story that is a little bit set in the now, a little bit in the future, and a little bit in a past that many of us could probably identify with readily.  It's going to be out in paperback soon, too, for those of you who like a physical book in your hands, and when that happens, I'll come back and update this review with a link.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Last tease before the big reveal!

Today, gentle readers, you are in for a real "having stuck with my lame minor teases earlier" treat.

Meg.  Oh yeah.  Meg is my primary protagonist.  She is a ghost.  She is murdered in a triple homicide, robbery gone wrong, early in the novel.  Then she has to figure out what she's supposed to do next.  A couple of friendly guide-types let her know she needs to go on a quest, of sorts, and she gets to meet several of San Antonio's most notorious ghosts, before the big climactic EPIC battle with good & evil at the end of the novel.  There is a reason she's holding a butterfly here, but you're just gonna have to read the novel to find out.  November isn't THAT long to wait, is it?

When I told Lawrence about what Meg looked like, I sent him some model sketches.  She has this body type, this hair, this complexion.  She has wise, Athena-like grey eyes.  When I got the artwork back, I didn't realize how much Meg looks like me when I was younger, and/or my daughter when she's older.  I guess authors do that-- they tend to put a little bit of themselves in a novel or two.  At least this is my first one and I can get that out of my system.  In most important, other ways, Meg is not me at all.  Other than the fact that she is a waitress when we first meet her, her character is not even close.

Fun fact: I named her after a sister that I had who died before I was born, whose name was Margaret. My family called her Peggy, instead of Meg, but I honestly can say that if I have a guardian angel in my life, I've always imagined it was her.  She seems to do best with things like grabbing a kid right before they fall to serious injury and turning it into just a mild bruise & scare.  It's a small touch to put her in my book, but I liked doing it.  Maybe Meg is what Peggy would have looked like if she'd gotten to grow up.  That's a warm, fuzzy thought. Maybe when we die, even if we die younger than this, we get to be our ideal, perfect selves when we are a ghost.  Well.  Except for the creepy ones.  But perhaps those creepy, scary, ugly ghosts are acting out THEIR perfect, what they truly are, selves too. Some people's inner selves are NOT pretty.  They are vengeful, angry, filled with blood and insanity.  And they are gonna grab you and.... well.  Ghosts, you know?  Unpredictable.  One minute you're minding your own business, next thing you're up to your elbows in ectoplasm.

A little bit of ghost philosophy for your morning.

One perk to knowing a writer is they might put you in their book.  That, of course, is also a danger.  Don't make us mad, cause you might end up the bad guy, too. There are certain elements of the bad guy that certain guys I've dated might recognize, actually, as traits they shared.  Mwah ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaa.   The power.  The infinite power.

But enough with the talky-talk.  Let's get to our final cover tease-peek.

Meg Murray, the Mariposa spirit.  In person.  About to kick some bad-guy behind.  Will she win the battle? Will she figure out what she needs to know?  Will love conquer death itself?   Maybe.  Just maybe.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cover Tease 3: WOLF!!!!

My illustrator pointed out that I really wasn't showing you much with my little teases.  It's been really hard to show you any of the major points of the gorgeous cover to my book because I want the "BIG REVEAL" on Friday to be really exciting.

I'm terrible at teasing.  I really just want to show you the whole thing.

So today, I'm going to give you something significant.  A wolf.  This wolf is also a ghost.  And maybe a little bit of a vampiric creature.  This is one of the SERIOUSLY bad guys in my novel.  I love the way Lawrence made it look ghosty but also wolfish.

How do wolves figure in? you may be asking.

MURDER. Ghosts.  Wolves.  Magic.  Scary ghosts that make you want to hide under the covers.  Love. Sweetness.  The sights and sounds of San Antonio.  A goddess and a special "trickster" figure.

A couple of my readers have said that maybe we could have a sequel to this book because of some of the elements at the end.  I love a good ambiguous ending so we kind of have a little of that.  And there were several characters whose back stories didn't quite fit the main story line.  It may be that eventually we go with a collection of short stories that explain some of those.  It would be fun to revisit a few of my ghosts, and maybe a few we didn't get to meet.  San Antonio does have this creepy haunted insane asylum. . . .we might just have to go visit it one of these days.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tease 2: More Cover Peeks

My BIG COVER REVEAL will be this Friday, the 18th.

The thing about my cover is that it's this custom piece of amazing artwork that I knew I needed because of how important the art is in the story's progression.  The cover, then, is a great hint at the layers of detail and the underlying themes of the novel.

So how about for today's sneak peak, I give you a little big of description from when we first hear about the mural?  This is the co-protagonist, and she's opening her bookstore early in the morning, when this happens:

I’m a little distracted by trying to be distracted away from my insane not-a-crush, but as I walk towards the front flat part of my building where the front door with its amazing glass paned door is, I notice some color out of the corner of my eye where color is not supposed to be. Red, lots of it, and I am sighing, thinking it’s going to be gang tagging graffiti and that maybe my reprieve from the gang bangers ignoring my building (except for a few small ones) might finally have expired. I am already thinking about where I’ll need to go to get paint remover safe enough for my light brown antique stone facade and, as I walk around the corner to the one side of the three-sided building that has the least amount of windows to see how much damage has been done, I am stopped in my tracks by what is there on my wall. 
Someone is painting the beginning tentative sketch-lines for some kind of graffiti-art mural on my wall. The corner closest to the front door is the part that has all the red on it, and the part that caught my eye. There are some loose, sketchy outlines that I can’t quite make out yet. But the red which has caught my eye is a cloud, a swirling typhoon, of red winged butterflies spiraling upwards. They arc upwards in a moving pattern around a dark silhouette of a woman’s body, like they are dancing and weaving around her as they flutter in increasingly wide spirals up to as high as one could reach on the wall without a major ladder (probably hard to drag along on a commando style mural painting gig). I can’t see her face— it is entirely shadowed. I wonder if it will stay that way. There are hundreds of various sized butterflies swirling up from this body, which somehow looks like she’s standing strong and firm amidst all the wing movement and change around her.

So that's part of the description.  It's pretty interesting, huh?  This, of course, was something that my awesome cover artist Lawrence Mann had as part of his inspiration for his artwork.  I even rewrote a little of my initial description (there's more to it, of course, than what's here) so that it matched what he came up with.  All part of the great collaboration of creativity.

The part that I'm showing you here is not mentioned in this description at all.  How do you think it will work in?  Of course you have no idea.  (She laughs an evil laugh).  The mural is an important part of the book, not just a character detail.  I already know I need to add a bit to the final discussion of the mural once my developmental editor gets back to me on the first draft because I remembered after I gave the draft to him that I had meant to do something about the importance of the artist who draws this mural on my co-protagonists' wall, which I forgot to do in the excitement of wrapping up the story finally.  It's just a short detail, and it's one of those things that sometimes you just read right through without thinking about it, but all of the little details help build the world around the characters in such a way that I believe makes you want more.

Some writers are very light on scenery and details like this, and that's cool.  It's one way of doing it.  But I like richness-- description of food, drinks, what music is playing, of clothing, of the quality of the light as my character looks out of a window thinking about the sticky situation she is in.  It's all about this:  write the book you want to read, yourself.  I can't wait to share the rest of the cover with you, and eventually the whole book.  It's going to be a wild and bumpy ride.  But there WILL be pumpkin empaƱadas and coffee. Can't wait!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tease 1: Cover Reveal

I just cannot wait until I get to show you my cover for my book, Mariposa:  A Love Story.  The manuscript is currently in the capable hands of my developmental editor, where he is undoubtedly finding any serious problems that my love for the story made me miss.  I'm sure there are going to be some, and can even think of a few already now that I'm not playing with it every day. I'll fix them later.

But in the meantime:  my book cover is all done.


I decided to spend a little extra and get a custom cover, because there is a very important element of artwork within the story.  I remember when I came up with the idea for the mural in the novel's plot line-- it is a crucial part of one of the main characters' storylines. Andrew & I were talking about it one day and it just grew into this amazing vision of power & loveliness. And when the time came for me to start contemplating book covers, I knew I had to have the mural as my cover.  There are a lot of great freelance artists out there designing book covers for indie writers and I liked a lot of what I saw, but nothing really said MY cover.  Until.

I found Lawrence Mann's work on the Internet by searching google for "amazingly cool cover artists."  Hey, if you ask correctly, Google will return the right results.  I loved his image of a mermaid in that you can see here:  http://www.lawrencemann.co.uk/portfolio/item/a-mermaids-tale/.

I knew he had to do my cover.

He asked me to describe what I wanted, and to send him a sketch.  Very nicely, he told me that it didn't have to be very good.  Luckily for him, I could handle "not very good".  I sent him the vision I had in my head of a flat mural, and a lot of samples of other murals in the universe. I even sent him a picture of the building in San Antonio that I have imagined as my characters' bookstore so he could envision where the mural would be.  Every time I pass this building when I'm home in TX I gaze longingly at it, dreaming of a day when it can be mine. It's in downtown San Antonio, just a few blocks from the Alamo, and it has been empty ever since I can remember.

I can admit that I honestly didn't do a good job at all with my art. I can imagine he got a pretty good moment of laughing out of it.  :)  It got the basic outlines of what I was looking for, but I knew there was no way I could do it justice.

He came up with an amazing version of my mural.  To say it is way better than anything I ever imagined is to completely downplay how brilliant, how beautiful, and just perfect what he came up with is. I even rewrote parts of the novel's description of it so that the novel would mesh better with his art.  And it has enriched my story, immeasurably.

I am going to reveal the ENTIRE cover to you as part of one of Sage's Blog Tours cover reveal on July 18th.  But today, I think I'll give you a teeny, tiny little sneak peak.

And here it is.  Obviously, with the title being Mariposa, there's at least ONE butterfly.  Want to guess what else there will be?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Trailer: Chimera

One of my friends has an awesome YA novel, the first of a series, called Chimera.  While I've been practicing getting ready to blast my book stuff out into the reader-verse, I offered to make her a book trailer for her book, too.  To practice, to get my money's worth on the video creation software, etc.

This is the video I made for her.  I'm thinking this might be a good little freelance thing I could do for people. Book trailers are one of those things we never realized we need but suddenly, everyone has.  This one made my 9 year old daughter say "OOOOH.  I really want to read that book."


You can get her novel via her website, http://lauraalford.com/ Check it out here:


Saturday, July 5, 2014

A (SRSLY) glowing review

Here is one of the ways the Internet has changed the world.  One of the good ways.

I'm reading a short story collection that I quite like.  I'm five stories into it and not at all bored, which usually happens to me with short story collections.  I think because traditional publishers find writers who are writing the same thing in their short stories as what they write in their long ones, and they just don't offer anything new, and they all fade into a sameness that becomes tiresome.  I almost always read maybe the one story by that one author I wanted to read and the collection goes on the shelf.  But this collection, every story is exciting and fresh and sometimes quite, tear-wrenchingly beautiful (I'm looking at you Peralta).

And I can, if I choose, comment directly to EACH. ONE. OF. THOSE. AUTHORS.  And I'm already friends on Facebook with a lot of them because I have been following this crowd around, hoping to pick their brains, already.  But this level of creativity, this excitement in reading something:

I don't remember the last time I felt this way. As both a writer and a reader.  

Maybe, maybe it was in creative writing class 20something years ago, when we shared our stories and critiques.  But this, my friends, this is new and amazing.  Indie publishing and self-publishing gets a bad rap sometimes because yes, there is some crap out there.  And there are people pulling in at least six figures on Bigfoot erotica.  I'm not judging that (in fact, I wish I could find a crazy niche I could write that would bring me that much money but alas, I get too embarrassed, even with a pen name.  Dang Victorian Literature.).

But there are also beautiful, unique voices that are doing fresh, interesting stuff.  They haven't fallen into a rut, they haven't been forced by publishers to write the same novel over & over again.  This is exciting, and I'm really hoping I can claim my own little piece of land out here on this new, amazing frontier.

If you like sci-fi and speculative writing and you have a Kindle, go get this short story collection.  Seriously. You can read it on your phone, for Pete's Sake.  GET IT!  Seriously. I recommend it, and can't wait to keep reading!  Let me add:  SERIOUSLY.  I can't say that word often enough.  (SRSLY!)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dangerous Thoughts

Writers write.  Duh.  Mostly at home, or coffee shops, or what-have-you.  Mostly unsupervised by anyone else.  Anyone else who would say "stop that.  You're eating too much.  Go take a walk, you lazy slob!  Hemingway stood up to write, you know!?"

Wah hoo!  That's what is so cool about it.  But seriously, my behind is going to get huge if I'm not careful.
Have you SEEN these things?

They are my kryptonite.  Seriously.  I could lie on the floor and eat these all day while pretending to think up ideas for my next book.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Trailer Learning Curve

So one of the things that an indy book really needs is a book trailer.  Some of my friends have awesome ones, for example, this one from Susan Kaye Quinn is like a movie:

It's amazing, and really draws you into a great trilogy.  She has several great series and books out, mostly in the YA genre, so go check her out.

My skill level of book trailer creation is not nearly on that level.  However, I think it's a skill set that I am pretty well matched at learning because of my years of webpage development, and my eye for cool.  Yes.  I said I have an eye for cool.  It's true!

Yesterday, I played around with a Pro version of Animoto and found it very easy to use, very beginner user-friendly.  There aren't as many options as I would like, personally, and I am probably going to look towards a different program, eventually.  But I highly recommend the site for people who are just getting started making a book trailer, who have a really awesome cover that they can use in their video.

Another thing that you'll need if you're going to do a book trailer is a great blurb.  At first, my book blurb wasn't quite right.  A friend and fellow indy writer, Samuel Peralta, who has short stories in two current collections, tweaked my writing a little bit and made it PERFECT.
This is what I have now:

Murdered, then trapped between worlds as a ghost, Meg is surrounded by other lost souls, some seeking to make peace with their past, while others… others fear a killer in the netherworld, who feeds on what ghosts most treasure: memories. As the killer grows stronger, he begins to threaten both the dead and the living, including Meg’s grieving step daughter.  Now a dead woman must fight the battle of her life, for the sake of her friends and family, and find out for herself if love can indeed be stronger than death.

Those short story book collections, which both Peralta & Quinn have stories in, by the way, are below:


So once I had the blurb, and my book cover (which you will get to see in due time, gentle readers) I had to supplement a couple of graphics that needed to go in there.  The graphics website Dreamstime.com has professional grade photography and illustrations that you can pay as low as a dollar for using, copyright fairly, in your video.  There are other commercial sites out there, and I'm not going to link to them all right now.  This is just the one I used yesterday.  And I don't get anything from the link, but I found the quality to be very good.

Anyway.  Now I'm all excited by doing this and offered some of my other indy friends that I would make them a video.  I made one for my friend Laura Alford for her novel Chimera today.  It's not ready for the public yet, but I have to say, I even impressed myself.  I'll share the video once Laura & I finish tweaking the details.

Sometimes I realize that my ability to find "other things" to do than writing can be a drawback.  I should be working on my second novel but I really like playing with pretty explosions and music and cool graphics, too.  So, still, indy writing is all about networking, and helping each other out.  Maybe I am not a big fish in even a small pond yet (I'm more a beginner guppy level) but I will grow, and eventually, you'll be looking at links to MY novels on Amazon.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Horrible Working Conditions

Just took a sort of "stealth selfie" of my "office" right now.  It's actually just starting to get a little too hot to sit out here, but this has been where I've been doing about half of my work today.  Not bad, huh?

Mark Twain contest

It was very short notice so I grabbed a short story that I had written a while ago to enter, but I entered the Mark Twain Royal Nonesuch contest yesterday.  I doubt my little story will win but it was worth a shot and stranger things have happened.  If I had seen the entry info sooner, I might have been able to write something especially for the contest.  I don't really do outright humor writing, normally, but I often have a sort of twisty sense of humor within the story.

I once wrote a story about a girl who was driving a secluded road and hit a deer.  While she was sitting there, in despair (this was before cell phones, by the way, so she had no way to contact help) in the fog, this car full of dudes dressed in KKK outfits came riding up to the rescue.  Her choices were limited, and she was kind of trapped.  What would YOU do? That "Flannery O'Connor" sort of twist went over pretty well in my creative writing course at the time.  Hmmm.  I wonder if I have that story squirreled away somewhere.

Life was different, gentle reader, before the Internet & computers saved everything for us.

Anyway.  Today's work schedule includes more research on proper promotion of my novel when it gets back from beta readers & the developmental editor.  I have a few feelers out with questions, but I am a little bit stuck with "what to do."  So perhaps I will try to get started writing the new novel.  I wish I knew the title, but I never do come up with those until later in the game.  Right now it's called "The Midwife novel" because, well, one of the characters in it is a midwife who is later accused of being a witch.  Here's the  Pinterest folder for the research, should you be so inclined to check it out.  And this is one of the pins, which captures a character's vibe quite nicely: