Monthly Archives: July 2013

Publishing Options

Out of the plethora of publishing options available today, we’ve ranked three that fit the best.

Our Gabby Wells novel series is about a teen sleuth who, along with solving mysteries, must also deal with the high demands of her faith.  These stories are not written in a preachy sort of way. Though most people will probably categorize it as Catholic or Christian fiction, we would categorize it as fiction about a character that happens to be Catholic.

Because of her beliefs, her faith journey is part of her life and adds a higher level of dramatic tension to the series.  Not only must she try and solve the mystery before her, but how she solves it can have eternal consequences.

Most people will probably try to pigeon hole this type of story into the Young Adult Christian fiction or Young Adult Catholic fiction category even though I feel it is far more universal than that.

Maybe I’m just being too optimistic.

bookpublishing

This will be a five book series, not a one-off novel, so we have to look at the big picture of how best to publish them over the next 5-10 years.  At this point we have ranked these three publishing options:

  1. Established Publisher – An established publisher, either mainstream or Christian based, would give us access to resources that would be costly to do otherwise, especially editing.
  2. Create our own Imprint – since we hope that this series will be larger than a simple self-published title, having an imprint of our own, thereby establishing ourselves as our own publisher, would give us direct access to the same printing companies that publishers access today.  This would add a level of professional credibility to our product and allow us to adjust to the growth potential with each book.
  3. Self-Publish – using something like CreateSpace or some other low-cost self-publishing option, we could publish the series this way.  I’ve read a lot of books created using this method and the quality of the printing is excellent.  And the out-of-pocket costs are minimal. There is, however, a lot more time required to develop all of the material required, formatting the various publication options (print, ebook, etc.), cover photos, etc.  Plus, we’d have to be extra careful about rights ownership using such methods.

Option one is our preference, of course, because it’s a shortcut to getting out a quality product.  I have no problem surrendering a portion of my royalties to a company that helps make the end product the best it can be.

So, we’ll see what happens.  Who knows, things may change.  But, this is where we stand at the moment.

I’d love to hear about your publishing experiences. Care to share?

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Book Cover Photo Shoot

A few days ago we setup a green screen in my living room and shot some potential book cover shots for the five books in the Gabby Wells series.

DC-PhotoShoot02.2

DC fooling around.

I’m fortunate to have a photogenic daughter who also happens to have been instrumental in development of the Gabby Wells character.  So, it seemed only right to use her for the covers.  She did a wonderful job putting up with all of my odd pose requests and we’ll be showing the outcome of the photo shoot in future blogs.

Enjoy!

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Podcast 01 – Author Kari Burke

Welcome to my first podcast!

During these podcasts we’ll have interviews with people in various areas of the publishing and entertainment industry, including both Christian and secular artists.

I’m very excited to have Kari Burke with us on our first show.  She’s a Catholic writer whose pro-life book The Life I Dreamed deals with the challenges of living your faith during difficult times.

Kari-Podcast2

You can purchase Kari’s book on Amazon as well as stop by and read her blog.

Take a listen to our show and let us know what you think in the Comments section.  Enjoy!

(Running Time 27:47)

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Writing Tips

I’ve been writing in one form or another for almost 30 years.  I’d like to share some tips that I use to help me get from the blank page to a finished story.

  1. Writers Write: Writers are compelled to write.  So, if you want to be a writer, write. I’ve come across a lot of people who like the idea of being a writer, but rarely have the discipline it be one.  It’s the difference between the people who want to lose weight and those that actually do.  Be a writer.
  2. Experiment: Approach writing as an experiment.  Have a goal and give it a shot.  This alleviates the pressure of being perfect.  If the experiment turns ugly, that’s okay.  You’ll be a better writer for having tried and learning what not to do allows you to something great later on.
  3. Know the End:  Some people write intuitively and see where the story takes them, but I never start a project without knowing how it ends.  Everything you write should be in service to the ending. If you go down creative tangents, make sure they augment the end.  The more satisfying the end, the more it will resonate with the reader after they’re done.
  4. Writers Block: I have found that I get writers block when I don’t know where the story is going.  I’ve either written myself into a corner or went down a direction that led to a dead end.  Either way, I need a GPS to get me back on track.  To get passed this, my GPS reminds me…
  5. Anything Can Happen:  Whenever I get stuck, I always remember the phrase “anything can happen.”  This frees me from whatever preconceived ideas that are keeping me from moving forward and allows me to indulge in an infinite number of “what ifs.”  Some of the best plot twists I’ve ever devised came from telling myself that “anything can happen.”
  6. Finish the 1st Draft: The hardest draft of any project is the first one.  “Writing is Rewriting” so know you have numerous rewrites in your future.  Don’t worry about making the first draft perfect.  It won’t be.  Ever.  Just get the story out of your head and onto the paper.  You can’t fix a blank page.  You can always fix a first draft.
  7. Close Enough:  If you can’t find the right word, don’t let it stop you. To keep momentum going I simply put the word in question in parenthesis and move on.  For example, I could write “The dog ran up to the porch (breathing quickly).” The next time I edit it, I see the parenthesis and know what I meant to say, replacing it with the word I originally wanted to use; “The dog ran up to the porch panting.”  Inspiration is a rare event.  Don’t let a word here or there stop you from getting it from your head to the paper.

Those are a few tips I’ve learned over time to help me get my thoughts onto paper.  Please share any tips you may have in the comments section.

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Platform

Platform, by Michael Hyatt, is one of the most helpful books I’ve read in a long time. It guides you throw the process of creating a compelling product and how to use proven strategies to promote that product in the numerous social media outlets available to you.

platformThe “Platform” refers to rising you above the marketing noise in order to make you and your product more visible to potential customers.

What is amazing about Platform is how the advice and tools can be applied to anything you are trying to do, no matter the product or scope.

Most helpful of all is that each chapter offers specific tips to achieve, which often include tangible tasks that guide you toward that goal.

So, it not only gives you an idea of what to do, but tasks or suggestions on how to do it.

In the few short weeks since I’ve read the book, I’ve already starting putting many of his suggestions into practice, with positive results. And the baseline by which I will consider my goals a success have been raised dramatically because, with Hyatt’s book, I feel those new goals are achievable using his advice as a guide.

As our products evolve and change over time, I know I’ll be revisiting Platform quite often to look for more ways to rise above the noise.

This is a must have book in todays ultra-busy online world.  If you want to stand out in a massive online crowd, Platform is the best place to start.

You can read more about the book and the author on his excellent website.

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Gabby Wells Trailer

One of the benefits of having worked in the entertainment industry in a variety of different positions is knowing how to create and edit a trailer.

GW-TrailerScript

After mulling numerous ways to use a trailer to promote the first Gabby Wells book, we decided to use the hand-held camera/docu-drama approach. This should give it a sense of urgency and realistic look.

GW-TrailerScript2

We plan on shooting the trailer in a few months, when the weather gets a little cooler. Since it’s in the 90s and feels like a billion degrees down here in Florida, waiting a month or so is definitely the right decision.

We’ll share the script and behind-the-scenes pics and videos on the trailer creation when we get to that part of the process.

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Editing in Reverse

One of the best editing advices I’ve ever heard was this…

Edit your story in reverse.

pencil2What does that mean?  Start with the last chapter and go backwards.  The early chapters have invariably been reread and edited far more than the later chapters, but, in a good novel, ever chapter has to be good.  So, give those later chapters a fresh look by starting with them.

I tried this recently on the latest round of edits on our Gabby Wells: Water & Blood novel and it was a tremendous help.  I was amazed at how many tweaks needed to be made by using this very simple technique.

Granted, reading the story that way made me feel like the main character in Memento, but it is a great approach.

BTW – I searched and searched and could not find the book or website where I read that advice.  I wanted to give that person credit.  So, whoever you are, thanks!

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The Price of Independence

Today is not about fireworks or hot dogs or apple pie.  Like any great moment, it is about sacrifice.

When this country decided to leave the restricted confines of the British empire, 56 men signed a document declaring our independence.

Declaration

These 56 men “mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”  Read those words again.

They were willing to give up their lives.  Signing that document was an act of treason.  Punishable by death.  How many of us would sign such a document in the hopes of the idea of liberty?  Not actual liberty, but for the concept of true freedom?

They were willing to give up their fortunes.  Many of them had numerous holdings in the United Kingdom.  Signing that document was zeroing out the balance sheet.  They were losing it all.  How many of us would give up all that we own for the promise of something never tried?

They were willing to risk their sacred honor.  These were men who understood the power of the Exodus, the price of servitude and the sacred nature to freely worship God.  How many of us would risk our souls to provide a place where God can be adored by everyone?

These brave men and this brave nation was willing to give up everything in order to implement a government that had never existed in human history.  A government of the people, for the people and by the people.  A nation self-governed.

Not a monarchy where the leaders rule the citizens. Not a theocracy where the government determines our faith, but a place where any faith can be practiced both in private and public life. A nation of individual opportunity, of individual achievement and individual responsibility.

These men were patriots.  They all paid a price.  Some were even martyrs for the cause.  Here are some examples:

  • Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
  • Nine of them died of wounds or hardships caused by the Revolutionary War.
  • Two had their sons die in the Revolutionary War and another had two sons captured.
  • Five of them were captured by the British and tortured before they died.

Today is a day of celebration.  So, enjoy the hot dogs and fireworks and apple pie.

But, above all else, be thankful for the sacrifice paid by those 56 men who risked everything to change the world.

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From Screenplay to Novel

The differences between a screenplay and a novel are equivalent to the differences between a blueprint and a finished building.

Over time, screenplays have come to be structured in a very specific way so that each page equals approximately one minute of screen time.  And the three act screenplay structure, where major events happen at 30 minutes, 60 minutes and 90 minutes (assuming its a 120 minute movie), is a proven model.

But a screenplay is not a finished product.  It’s a blueprint.  A plan.  A goal.

Filmmaking is a collaborative process and the screenwriters job is to take a reading experience and present it as a potential visual experience.  It is then the directors job to take the story and show it in anyway they see fit.  They can change the story or locations or dialogue or roles and the writer often has no say in the process.

book-screenplay

A novel, however, is the finished product.  It is complete with sights and sounds and characters and depth.  It is not an outline of a world that could have been, but an emersion of a world that is.

Adapting a screenplay, therefore, is much harder than one might think.  It’s not simply taking a screenplay structure and putting it into a novel structure.  It’s more akin to taking an outline and expanding it into a novel.

Having adapted two seasons of Gabby Wells scripts (13 episodes each) into the first two Gabby Wells novels, I’ve learned quite a few things about the process.  Here are some tips.

Screenplays move at an accelerated pace.  They have to.  For a half-hour TV show, for example, you only have 25 pages of mostly white space to weave all of the twists and turns together.

  • TIP ONE: Take a step back, read each scene and jot down what is happening, who it’s happening to and why it is necessary.  Don’t get more specific than that.

How a story unfolds in a screenplay is often not the way you would reveal it in a novel.

When you’re done, you will have a high level look at how the story evolves.  You will quickly find what are the core components that must stay and other things which can be cut.  You’ll find some consistent themes you may be able to link together and others you may want to either discard or expand upon.

  • TIP TWO:  Take the time to decide what you have to add to the story that occurs prior to the screenplay.  What are the holes?  What’s missing… history, motivation, character drivers, etc?

Since screenplays are intended to be movies, the writer doesn’t have to invest a lot of time defining the world the story takes place in because that will be done visually.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Actors, as well, can bring their own personas to a role and you may not have to expound on it in the movie.  For example, if Bruce Willis is a hitman in a film, you just believe he’s a hitman. You don’t really need to know why, you just need to know what he’s supposed to do and what’s getting in the way.

In a novel, however, you may need those thousand words to make the story in the screenplay make sense.  You will need to explain why the hitman is a hitman because you won’t have Bruce Willis’ persona to provide you a shortcut.

So, identify where the holes are in the story and determine how you will fill in the gap.

Those are just two tips I’ve learned so far.  I’ll share more in the future.

Have you ever adapted a screenplay into a novel?  I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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