Month: February 2015

Body Language and Writing

Updated 08/16/15

Years ago, my family owned a small business. As any small business person will tell you, customer service is important. Not only did I try to meet our customers needs, I made sure to smile and say thank you. I engaged in small talk and stayed involved with community events.

Our customers were as varied as the products we sold. Most were likable but there were those couple of people who just didn’t make me feel all warm and toasty. I thought I’d managed to hide those feelings only to come to the realization I hadn’t been successful.

After paying for his purchase, the customer lingered, wanting to talk. At some point in the conversation he asked whether he smelled bad. I assured him that he didn’t. He then went on to ask why I kept backing away from him. The truth was that while he didn’t smell bad and there was a counter between us, I felt like my space was being invaded. While my words and facial expression (smile) said one thing, my body language (unconsciously moving away) told the truth of how I felt.

she sat he stoodI have been reading  She Sat He Stood: What Do Your Characters Do While They Talk? by Ginger Hanson.  She points out the importance of studying body language and how our subconscious actions can reveal our true feelings. We can apply this to knowledge when writing dialogue.  She also covers the use of settings and props. Having purchased several writers handbooks and being unable to finish reading them, I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed this one.  Hanson offers a variety of helpful suggestions without putting the reader to sleep.

If you think you could use a little help with dialogue/body language, click the cover image. At only 99 cents, you can’t beat it!

If reading another writing advice book doesn’t appeal to you:

You might try watching old movies.   I find that black and white movies work quite well because there are less visual distractions.  Black & White Movie Nightwatch and learnMake sure to grab a pen and paper to take notes, otherwise, it becomes too easy to get lost in the film. Study the interaction between the actors.  She (feeling vulnerable) might turn away and hug herself.  He (feeling agitated) might lean on a balcony railing while taking a deep drag on his cigarette. The important thing is to recognize the actions the actors use to convey their characters’ feelings. This is ultimately what we as writers are trying to do – show not tell.

Have you stumbled across a tip or technique that has improved your writing?  If so, please share.

 

 

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Book Trailers – What Do You Think?

This post first appeared on my previous blog in August, 2013.   (Updated: May 18, 2016)

Bing Images: Monday Movie Madness @ North Channel 750 x 937 · jpeg · hcpl.net

Bing Images:
Monday Movie Madness @ North Channel
750 x 937 · jpeg · hcpl.net

As a writer of young adult fiction, I was interested in having a book trailer.  I have teen-aged children so I see daily how much they are on their computers – whether on social media sites or watching videos/listening to music from sites like YouTube.  I did the research – looking at the pros and cons of book trailers and found it to be inconclusive.  Some people raved about it – others not so much.   I realize that books aren’t movies but movie trailers entice me – offering tantalizing glimpses at the product being sold.  The same goes for deodorant or cleaning products.  We see the commercial and BAM! – we decide we need to buy the advertised product.   We are visual people and a book trailer is nothing more than a commercial meant to entice potential buyers.

I spent hours looking for production companies and realized that one of the companies I most liked was out of my price range.   My first choice was a company out of Atlanta, GA called Book Candy Studios.  Wow!  Their trailers are awesome!  But awesome comes with a price tag of about $1,000.00.  As a self published author, I don’t have access to a marketing department or unlimited funds.  I have to decide where I’m going to get the most bang for my buck. If I had an extra grand in my budget, I’d have chosen them.   Their link:  Book Candy Studios   UPDATE:  Book Candy Studios now offers trailer packages starting at $599.00.   For those authors interested in a more budget friendly option that still offers the excitement and feel of a cinematic trailer, the Book Candy Nibble is worth checking out.

My next choice was a company called Ghostwriter Extraordinaire. They offer packages that range from $99.00 to $199.00 which I thought was very reasonable.  In fact this was the company that I initially decided to use. You can check out their videos at:  Ghostwriter Extraordinaire

If your budget permits, Red 14 Films offers cinematic quality trailers and even if you can’t afford to purchase one, they are worth watching.

There were companies that offered videos at a cost somewhere between the above mentioned companies.  There were also companies that offered trailers for very nominal fees.

During my search, I found an article about making your own book trailer.  I wish I could remember the blog it was featured on, but try as I might, I can’t find it.  I have searched the web looking for the particular post with no luck.  The article suggested using Microsoft PowerPoint or Microsoft Movie Maker.  It also suggested using an online video maker like Animoto.

I decided to give it a try.  At the worst, I would have lost the time I spent trying to make the trailer.  At best, I’d be happy with the product and would have saved a little money.  I choose to use Animoto.  After playing around on their site, I decided to purchase one of their upgraded options.  I’m glad I did.   It took a little time to come up with my “script” because the video maker limits the number of characters on any given frame.  Then there were the pictures.  I knew how I wanted the video to “feel.”  Fortunately, my sister owns a great camera and was willing to help me get the photos I wanted.  If you’re not much of a photographer, you can find images at iStock or Shutterstock.  Animoto has a good selection of background music and I felt like the piece I selected helped set the tone for the video.

So this is the book trailer I created using Animoto’s video maker.  Take a look – it may be something you’d like to try:

Since making this book trailer, I have made three others.  I’m not at all convinced that they’ve helped with my sales but I have enjoyed creating them.

Post Updated: February 17, 2015.

Author Interview – Pagadala Vijay Kumar

Photo0840PagadalaVijay Kumar is a writer living in Secunderabab which is located in the Indian state of Telangana.  He is an indie author and three of his books are available on Amazon.

Below is our interview.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, writing a fiction’s easier than describing self. Right from my teenage, I wrote poetry, short stories and recorded few thoughts that’s elaborated and translated into my novels now. Few years ago, I worked at night. While on nightshifts, in the spare time wrote, edited, proofed and my drafts are recently published as novels. Unknowingly, diverse hobbies and interests forced me to study, research and understand few subjects.

Each writer has their own unique process.  Tell us about yours.

I prefer the process of analyzing the common aspects of the people, their psychology and behaviour. The reality that’s never bother to think or discuss. I work on the complicity of the subject and write in simple and easy words.

When it comes to a new novel, what/who usually shows up first? The idea for the story or the characters?

Usually, plot and the main character describe the flow connecting a scene or a memory. I prefer a new theme with a strong subject, love, romance and intriguing characters exploring the facts. Love to cast the strong contemporary woman and society.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on their meaning or because you like how it sounds?  What other things do you consider when naming your characters?

A good question, few readers asked the same question earlier. I like unique names for my characters and so design my own list of nomenclature, the names have no actual meaning, but should hold the characteristic to remember by the readers.

Book covers are important.  They should catch a potential readers attention.  Tell us a little about your cover – Who designed it?   Do you think it captures the “feel” of your story?

Title_Cover_5_x_8Yes, book covers are important and they should go with the storyline, a situation or griping scene to attract the book lovers. I design my titles, covers and they go by the genre. The back matter also should support the title and image/s for a perfect book cover.

Your current work in progress – Care to share a couple of sentences?

My third novel’s based on the hotel business, two broken families and a innovative software’s application to help the people of the society.

Are they too homeless, or searching for the address or a she’s hunting for the customers by taking advantage of her beautiful daughter?  She’s beautiful and walked elegantly and did not exhibit the signs or acts of a prostitute. He remembered the words ‘a person who knows to adjust in situations will survive till last. . .”

He marked it as an act of a winning and challenged the killer by escaping, besides saving his life. In return didn’t revenge him or informed the police. Later, he’s habituated of escaping and staying alert most of the time. He loved the game of chase of death and winning, this concept was not understood by the boss or his gang. . .”

The chip’s encoded with a unique number; programmed to multiply itself when a new record’s appended. It’s a simple synchronization of a bandwidth, converting into a transreceiver signal using with the chip already aligned in the mobile, automobiles, or any mobile vehicle. . .”

Writers tend to spend a lot of time alone.   When it comes to socializing, do you prefer a small group of close friends or large and rowdy party?

Nowadays, I avoid socializing with friends and social networking too. They distract, deviate my ideas and thoughts.

At the end of your life, when it is all said and done, what would you want your tombstone to read?

“ Every life has a purpose, live and show it to the world. ”

Thanks for stopping by and meeting Vijay.  If you are interested in connecting with him on Facebook, click here .

 

Finding the Perfect Social Media Fit

Social media is the ultimate equalizer.While I’m not a social media guru, I’ve tried to educate myself.  I’ve listened to podcasts and read e-books/blog posts.  I’ve found that there’s a lot of competing voices, offering multiple strategies.  It’s been a challenge trying to sift through the various suggestions.

Below is a summary of my social media experiences:

Twitter – I’ve learned that Twitter is great as long as you aren’t spamming the Twittersphere with loads of self promotion.  I think this advice is accurate.  I catch myself scrolling past those writers who are continually hawking their books.  On the other hand, when I see an author who shares quality content, I’m all about liking and retweeting.  I can’t afford to purchase everyone’s books, but I try to be supportive and share the love.

Facebook –  There has been a lot of uproar over the change in Facebook algorithms.  This change has meant that our posts are less likely to be seen.  Some writers have decided it’s not worth their time/effort anymore.  They are choosing to focus on Instagram or their personal website, etc.   As for me – what can I say?  I don’t love my Facebook Author Page.  This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I tend to be relatively quiet on my personal page.   BUT – I can see my daily interactions, likes and numbers reached and I am convinced that of all the different social media sites I’ve used, my Facebook Author Page has led to more sales.  (Whether this changes over the next year is to be still to be seen.)

Blogging – After attending a writers conference last year, I came away convinced that I had made a huge mistake by using blogger.  If I was serious about my writing, then I needed to look like a pro and having .blogspot following my name didn’t look professional.  Never-mind, that I had a .com website – one that displayed my blog feed.   I jumped ship – diving headfirst into WordPress.  I let my website go, transferring the .com over to my WordPress blog. However, I have since realized that when I jumped, I left the majority of my followers on the good ship Blogger.  It has been a challenge, building up an audience again.  To be honest, I’m not sure making the switch was worth it.

Pinterest – Not everyone is convinced that a writer needs a pinterest board.  I certainly wasn’t.  However, I decided to give it a try.  With fingers crossed, I set up my page.  I don’t have a lot of followers but I’ve created boards that feature my books, trailers, etc.  I’ve also added boards featuring images of interesting faces and exotic places – things that might inspire a new story.  What I like about Pinterest is this – people who check out my pinterest page should come away from it feeling like they know a little more about me than those following me on other sites.

Summary –  While using social media is necessary to building our author platform, I’ve come to the realization that there isn’t a one-stop-fits-all plan out there.  What works for one author might not work for another.   No matter what options we choose, consistency is key.   It takes time to get our name out there and to build a true following.

What about you?  Are you still searching for the right fit?  Or have you found something that works?

The Winter Blues

It happens every year about this time.  I enter a phase I can only describe as the winter blues.   I realize that there are some people who have been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I haven’t.  I love three of the four seasons – with summer being my favorite.  It’s winter that brings me down.  The grey skies.  The cold wind.  It’s enough to bring out my inner bear.  Give me a cave and I’d hibernate.

beach

North Topsail Beach

I’ve considered hitting the tanning bed – and I would if I didn’t worry about wrinkles and skin cancer.   Besides, it’s not a tan I want – it’s the warm weather I crave.  The sunshine.  The feel of the sand beneath my feet – especially after a long day at work.  Spring can’t get here quick enough.