“Ark City Confidential” – The Book Trailer

To be perfectly honest, book trailers are a lot of fun but don’t really resonate with audiences the way movie trailers do. After all, using a visual medium to entice folks to watch…a visual medium is a no-brainer. The book trailer simply presents images that give a potential reader the added interest after seeing the book cover and reading the blurb.

It is for that reason that I have created my own for all of m traditionally published books. It just doesn’t make sense to pay for something that doesn’t yield great dividends. For me, it’s simply about maintaining the digital skills that this new world of publishing requires.

I use my own existing photos or take photos so that I don’t worry about copyright infringement. I’ve also located Kevin MacLeod’s website, Incompetech.com. A Scottish musician and composer, MacLeod offers a wide range of music royalty free as long as it is credited. A donation via Paypal is graciously accepted.

For the book trailer to “Ark City Confidential”, I started by searching for the music. Ten options presented themselves before I settled on one based on mood and tone as well as length. Then I wrote a script. Like an old college class I took over thirty years ago on writing television commercials, it would be necessary to match the sections of the script with visuals.

This is where the problem arose. This novel was a Prohibition-era crime story. There were no photos I could take locally that would present themselves ideally and I didn’t have any photos. Or did I? When my father passed away in 2012, my wife and I returned home with boxes of photo albums which turned into a nightmarish scanning project. My dad, who was nearly 90, pretty much grew up in the time period.

Then there were a few photos from the past 40 years that could be changed to black-and-white or sepia for effect. In essence, I used my family as representations of criminals in a book trailer. My grandfather, father, uncle, cousin, and even myself, all converted into 1930’s gangsters.

I think they would have been proud.

“Ark City Confidential” is available from The Wild Rose Press and on Amazon.

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Wow!

Today was the release date for my Prohibition-era crime novel, Ark City Confidential.

That was the first Wow!

From the time I announced signing a contract (on my birthday, no less) to the past six weeks of blog posts, cover reveals, teasers, info, and a book trailer, there has been an amazing response, a kind of enthusiastic encouragement mixed with anticipation.

That’s been an ongoing Wow!

But today: co-workers with hugs and pats on the back; messages from family locally and afar; comments from old friends and newer ones; and responses from Facebook friends I have not yet met. I think there is a realization that writers are not out to compete so much as succeed. Granted, every writer has a different definition of success. However, I take most of these comments to mean “Hey, you did it. You accomplished something. You should be proud of yourself.”

And I am. And that’s been the biggest Wow! of all.

“Ark City Confidential” – The Challenges of Historical Fiction

You currently know how to make a call and text and surf the internet on your smart phone; where to get a quick bite to eat; how to get cash expediently. You have myriad options for entertainment whether it is television through any source, the movies, or even a video arcade. Your grocery stores are Super stores which means you can buy whatever you need just about twenty-four hours a day.

If you are writing contemporary fiction, you already know what you need to know. However, if you try to write any kind of historical fiction, you may fall into some traps.

Now, by “historical fiction” I am basically referencing anything before this time, now. The Reagan administration from 1980-1988 could be considered as historical as the French Revolution or the Crusades. We truly have no idea how life was lived in those times, the basics of everyday life. The question arises: What do we need to know and what do we need to include in our stories?

I have always felt that the more detail you provide, the more of a trap you might fall into. There is the danger of becoming so enamored of your description that you take away from the story. You might also be providing the reader with the opportunity for the classic response “That’s not how it was!”

More importantly is the manner of writing given the fact you have a 20th century mindset. A couple of flappers from the 20’s are not “besties” and the court jester to the English king during the War of the Roses was not “ROFL”. While those may be obvious examples, there are the subtle nuances that make you who you are in today’s world that have to be eliminated when writing historical fiction.

While it was a challenge, “Ark City Confidential” takes place in a time period (1930’s Depression-era America) that had always been a source of fascination for me, even while growing up. The opportunity to learn more about the state that has been my home for over 20 years was a further reward. It is my hope that I have captured the era and the essence in service to an exciting crime story.

“Ark City Confidential” has its worldwide release one week from today, January 11, 2017. It will be available in paperback and on Kindle through The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

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Reflections on Resolutions

It was about a year ago that I composed a document: 2010 Writing Goals. I had never been much for New Year’s resolutions relating to diet or lifestyle or anything, really. But by the end of last year, I had started blogging and had published a book “Kansas Two-Step” on lulu.com, had gotten rather quaint business cards from VistaPrint, and felt that in some small way I was making progress and wanted to continue to encourage my own growth as a writer.
After printing up this document, I taped it to a shelf above my computer so that I could simply look up and refresh my waning memory. Well, it’s a year later and I am taking account of my efforts.
EDIT
I wanted to work on editing four novels. I did a fifth and sixth draft of “The .9 MM Solution” and a fourth and fifth draft of “Swansong”. Both were NaNoWriMo efforts. I did not get started on “Weekend Getaways, or Adventures in Contract Killing” (my transgressive novel) or “The Stooges” (another NaNoWriMo effort).
COMPLETE
I wanted to complete a first draft on two recent efforts: “The Last Road” (a literary piece about a widower’s cross-country adventure) and “All Day Long I Biddy Biddy Bum” (another even darker transgressive piece). The only NEW writing efforts were “Professor thug” (this year’s NaNoWriMo) and “Unemployed and Dangerous: A Trilogy of Transgressive Novellas”. After being terminated from my job of thirteen years, I had a lot of understandable anger which I filtered into these works. EXTREMELY dark in nature, they are not something I want to present to my 80+ year old parents as an example of my efforts. However, they do stand on their own as strong, well-defined pieces.
ACCOMPLISH
Multiple things on this section. No luck yet with finding an agent although I gave a four-week exclusive to Jessica Regel of the Jean V Naggar Literary Agency. Even though that did not turn out the way I wanted, it was a very good step.
As for networking efforts, I got onto Facebook and actively sought out people with the additional repercussion of contact relatives that I either hadn’t talked to in years or had allowed my efforts to lapse. Bonus points for that.
I did get two more books onto Lulu: “Quick” and the aforementioned “Unemployed and Dangerous”. In doing so I continued learning formatting and cover art (thanking my wife/my editor for the photo on “Quick”).
I started initial research on web sites and my brother-in-law (a talented software engineer who also happened to inspire “The .9 mm Solution”) offered his assistance.
Not on the original list was attending Writer’s conferences but I did go to the KWA Scene Conference here in Wichita as well as a seminar by Gordon Kessler earlier in the year. I also learned how to make small movies on Windows Movie Maker. I’m working on a book trailer, just to develop my skills. In the meantime, I did a project for the family for Christmas that was highly entertaining, especially if you know my family.
And finally, there was blogging. I may not have presented as many articles as I desired but I did what time would allow. And I also avidly followed other writers whose efforts seem somewhat similar to mine: refreshing commentary on their lives as writers.
Jennifer Neri (http://jenniferneri.wordpress.com/), a writer from Canada who shared her experiences with motherhood over the past year and still had time to pass on significant motivational comments.
Lawrence Estrey (http://lawrenceez.wordpress.com/), a writer and photographer and IT kind of guy from north of London who writes psychological thrillers, takes very moving photos, and has impressive feedback regarding storage systems and photo editing software.
Ryan David Jahn (http://gunsandverbs.wordpress.com/), a crime writer from Los Angeles, whose novel “Acts of Violence” won the Crime Writer’s Association Dagger award and yet talks about day-to-day life and his impressions of the minutiae as though they should be considered more strongly than the greater events.
Teresa Frohock (http://frohock.wordpress.com/), a dark fantasy and horror writer who gleefully advised her readers of her representation by Weronika Janczuk of D4EO and then of her sale of her book “Miserere: An Autumn Tale” while those of us who read her blog gleefully cheered alongside her.
I wish I could say that I follow more blogs regularly but Time is a beast with wings hovering over my life as a husband and homeowner and employee.
Overall, I would say that I got through nearly half of my goals, some to differing degrees than others. It is not measured as SUCCESS/FAILURE or PASS/FAIL but rather as another chapter on a long road. At some point within the next couple of days I will create a new document and tape it to the shelf above me. And I will proceed and continue and persevere and think and create.
And write.

Book Covers

I’ve done a great deal of experimenting when it comes to my three works that are “published”. I have them on Lulu.com and in the Kindle store. I am working on getting them on Pubit from Barnes & Noble. I’m learning how to make book trailers. This was all above and beyond the writing and editing process.

“Kansas Two-Step” was a novella I wrote during my breaks and lunches on one-subject notebooks by hand at an old job. When I first decided to put it on Lulu, I decided to take the picture myself for the cover since I didn’t want to get into any rights issues. Digital cameras can be wonderful tools. I initially thought it might be too dark of a cover but since it deals with pornography and murder it suited the subject. (By the way, those are my ostrich skin boots.)

“Quick” is an older piece, written at a time when I was trying to jump-start my writing. It was written in that fashion, one chapter a night after dinner with a couple of glasses of wine. No outline. What you would call guerrilla writing. I knew I wanted to convey the essence of speed, since the beginning of the story is the main character (Jamie Quick) leaving the scene of a bungled robbery that turned into murder. The thing with digital cameras is that you can’t take a blurry picture. UNLESS your wife leans very far forward in the passenger seat, almost pressing the camera to the windshield and quickly tries to snap passing vehicles. (This was on Highway 11 in Oklahoma on the way to our cabin in Kaw City, OK.)

After being unceremoniously dispatched from my place of employment after thirteen years, I wrote a series of very dark transgressive novellas. Unintentionally, there was one in first person, one in second person, one in third person. They were so dark that my wife had to do a double take to make sure I hadn’t gone off the deep end. I had not. the writing was excellent therapy. I used a different template from Lulu.com than I had used on either of the first two and was able to create a diverse imagery that I hope creates a sense of the stories.

All of this was within the last eighteen months. There is no sense of perfection here whatsoever. I know there are people out there far better adept at the digital technology. My efforts ARE enough to give me a sign of encouragement that I can learn and develop and grow. I will not be (nor can I afford to be) the grumpy old dude who wishes things were the way they used to be.

As long as I continue to read blogs and follow those writer’s adventures in the New Digital World of Writing; as long as I keep my mind open to possibilities that the technology affords; as long as I keep the brain in creative overdrive, I will eventually meet my goals.