Sunday, September 21, 2014

A New Video, At Last

I finally dug out some of the footage I shot and made myself sit down and do the post-production. And here is the result.

I had a lot of fun using Apple Motion to make this one. Now it's time for some more serious video: the miniatures projects my wife created in front of my cameras. Time to break out my narrator's voice.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Brick Wall

I haven't been able to write anything of substance for quite awhile. I'm not sure why, although home life has been hectic. But then, it usually is, and I went through a pretty long period where I was writing productively every day.

I could make excuses. I have a deck to build, and I'm building a camping trailer with my wife. The latter needs to be ready for camping (though not necessarily done) by the end of October, and the former needs to be done before it snows (and who knows when that will be). My stove and clothes washer are out of order and I can't afford to have someone else fix them, so it's up to me. And on and on.

But I'm not going to make excuses. The fact is that there have been many times when I could have found the time to write, and I haven't. I kept myself busy with other things that I could pretend were more important, and when I did sit down to write, I couldn't get myself moving on it.

But rather than sit around waiting for the muse, I've decided to take some steps to push myself in the right direction. The other day I was walking the stacks at the library, looking for inspiration. I found a book of myths, and thought that might spark an idea for a short story. But before I even opened the book, I happened to be listening to an old Dragnet episode on Netflix (I listen while I do dishes and sort laundry—the hazards of working at home) and I had one of those "what if" moments.

My idea has nothing to do with the plot of the episode; it was just one phone call about a bank robbery that Joe Friday answered. But I thought to myself "what if the motive for that robbery was not money?" If I write the story, you'll know the details.

Then, on the very next episode, there was another phone call, about a bank manager who was being threatened over the phone by a woman who said she had a gun aimed at the manager and would shoot if he didn't hand over money. Something one of the officers in the station said to Friday suggested another story. So we'll see where that one goes.

What I've really been bad about is editing video. I have a fair amount of footage I've already shot, but I don't seem to have the brain to organize it right now. That might be a better winter project.

As far as songs are concerned, I haven't written one since I Guess I Learn To Live Without You. But I'm starting another session of Pat Pattison's online class on Coursera, and that usually gets my juices flowing. I'm also taking a jazz improv class, which scares the life out of me, but that can be a good thing.

But I don't think I want to wait until then. I think it's time to just play around with rhythms and chords and scales until something talks to me.

I need to get back into the habit of writing every day.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Book I’m Not Going To Write

I had started a book entitled How To Make Videos That Don’t Suck, and had gotten as far as the outline, when I did a little search for books with a similar title. And what did I find? How To Shoot Video That Doesn't Suckby Steve Stockman. Well, there goes that title.

And, actually, there goes that outline, because he has covered a lot of the topics I was going to cover, and done them very well from what I’ve read so far. Does this mean I’ve given up on writing a how-to book for YouTubers? No, not really. I think I can contribute some different perspectives that Mr. Stockman’s book doesn’t cover if I think about it enough.

But meanwhile, while I’m cooking my idea, if you want your online video not to suck, I’d recommend taking a look at Mr. Stockman’s book.

It’s the one I should have written a long time ago. I’m glad that someone did.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Word of Warning

I received a message on my cell phone from a company called Book Whirl, wanting to talk to me about my book. The message didn’t say which book. I only found out who was calling by doing a reverse phone lookup, followed by some Internet research. This company purports to offer book marketing services, though their Website is so full of bad writing that it’s hard to believe that they could be the least bit effective.

And reliable? Consider that their first contact with me was made as a cold call to a number that is on the federal Do Not Call List. I think they got my phone number through the whois entry for the family publishing Website; it's the only place I can think of where they could have obtained it. This is a very aggressive tactic, and not indicative of a reputable company. It’s hard to believe that a marketing service that does not respect Do Not Call has a legal “opt-in” list of email addresses, though they claim to have just that.

Not that I can afford to pay for book marketing services, but if you hear from the folks at Book Whirls, I’d say “no, thank you.”

And then tell them not to call you back.