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READ WRITE INSPIRE. Welcome to my Words, a place devoted to making Reading and Writing for children more Inspired.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Trail Blazing ~ An Introduction to Book Trailers

First cab off my rank at this year's CYA Conference in Brisbane, was an Introduction to Book Trailers by exciting Children's Author and Presenter Tristan Bancks.

 I'd been hearing plenty of who ha recently about the necessity of creating Book Trailers, and having viewed a few, was naturally curious as to what all the furore was about. Tristan presented a very straightforward over view of the importance, creation and role of Book Trailers for we literary folk. Here are some of the main points to consider if you are contemplating this form of promotion.

A Book Trailer should be all about bringing a story alive Visually.

It is essentially  an Animated Blurb of your book; the vehicle with which a story is brought alive visually.

They can be about YOU or YOUR BOOK. You may not have a published work to share yet but could just share yourself.

Tristan's Intro trailer featuring Max Slater HuntsThe Cool

Book Trailers should include:

- An Introduction: in order to connect authors with their reading audience.
- Snap shots of the story
- A Teaser of things to come
- Emotional Triggers
- Restraint

Book Trailers must be:

- No more than 1 minute in duration to be really effective. 30 seconds is ideal.
- Be Short, Pithy, Precise and Polished. Tristan's Short is Good, Long is Bad Popcorn Theory summed up Book Trailer viewer psyche  ~ Buy a small popcorn and eat it fast...

Elements of a Book Trailer:

- Sound + Effects + Music
- Imagery (use of Black & white vs colour, the Kens Burns effect; using movement within still imagery, stills, film format or book covers)
- Transitions from one scene to another. Sews the film together.
- Titles
- Voice Overs
- Illustrations

Book Trailers are essentially VISUAL and ORAL so Voice Overs are crucial as opposed to just having text on your trailer.

Things to Keep in Mind when making a Book Trailer:

- Make the trailer better than the book.
- Try to visualise it before you start.
- Try to think of something unique that could possibly go viral. This is especially important with kids as it increases popularity, exposure and longevity of your trailer.
- Write a script.
- Plan a vision board after gathering images.*

* Take pictures or video yourself. And always get the rights or permission for any sound or images you use. Your Book Trailer may be removed out of circulation if you infringe on copyright laws. There are a wealth of sites from which you can obtain royalty free music and pictures for example; Flickr, Sound Book, Google Images and so on.

Ways to Create Book Trailers (for free):

- Use your contacts especially regarding imagery, and music composition
- Commission students to design and create for you as part of their creative assignments and IT studies.
- Set up Competitions for trailer design.
- Do it yourself. Anyone with a modicum of common sense (including yours truly) can usually find their way around iMovie and Windows Movie Maker editing programs with relative ease.
- Enlist the professional expertise of your publisher for an even more polished look.

Get it to the People by:

- Posting on your Blog or Website
- Social media sites such as Facebook
- YouTube
- TeacherTube (if you are serious about reaching a wider and  more children orientated market)

Will they work?

They jury is still divided over this one. A Book Trailer is simply another form of promoting your book. After the initial razzle dazzle of your launch has faded, many publishers simply can not invest in long term publicity for either you or your book. It's something you, as an author, must learn to keep in perpetual motion for as long as possible in order to reap maximum potential and exposure. A Book Trailer may help you maintain this forward motion.

While your Book Trailer might not gain a million views instantly or even over hundred, it is still beneficial when used in conjunction with such things as book launches, author presentations and workshops, all of which help serve the generation of a few dollars and help show your audience another dimension of yourself and your capabilities.

Of course, the slicker your production, the more clever your presentation, then the better the results all round.

Tristan stressed that it is not 100% necessary to do everything to promote your work. If rambling on via your Blog or on Facebook is more your thing rather than specialising in visual creativity, then stick with that. In other words, do whatever comes most naturally to YOU.

Tristan's Top Tips on Book Trailers:

* Keep it Simple   *  Keep it Short    * Be Innovative (and not too complex)

Check out this cool Book Trailer of Tristan's for an example of a dinky DIY.

Book Trailer for Nit Boy featuring animation

There are literally billions of trailers for books out there, some disturbingly brilliant, others laughably lame. Have a look and see what might work for your genre. If it is your thing, why not give it a try? I'm just waiting for an excuse...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

That was then. This is how...I've changed?

Does time really have the restorative abilities to salve all hurts, tame desires, or alter one's beliefs? Can time really change a person? Or is it what transpires within the passing of time that causes change? That which we call, ageing? The answers to these philosophical musings will not be found here. I barely realise there's been a passing of years; too busy barrelling head on into tomorrow to register now properly, let alone thank yesterday for all that it provided. That was then, this is now, but there once was a time.....

About two decades ago.....

* I shared my zeal for life and empty ramblings, taste in music and love of the sun, with friends on the beach, by the bar, in the night club or in a letter. We roamed in loud, raucous, carefree groups. We laughed and cried...together.

Me & Murray, the Giant Trevaly
Getting a big catch rather than
being one. HI 1992


* We immerse ourselves in individual, insular enjoyment; trainloads at a time, delirious with devices. We ignore our parents' advice and talk happily and randomly to strangers, often faceless and faraway, as though our own existence depended on it. Real life risk and adventures exchanged in furtive one liners in cyber space using words without vowels.

Wind in my hair, water in my shoes.
It's been a lovely cruise - Jimmy Buffet


* The best part of my day was rushing out to the beach after work to bask in the sunshine beneath slapping coconut palm fronds and read a book, for the rest of the daylight hours.


* I read in snatches and get text reminders of when I'm due for a check up at the sun clinic.


* I drank more bourbon, was young, dumb and full of fun, and was careful about how long it took to get ready to go out.


* I drink more coffee, am prone to loud bouts of shouting, which goes largely unnoticed, and am careful to remember to put shoes on before going out.

Anatola, Turkey July 1993
Yes, a lot has transpired since the heady, salad days of my youth on Hamilton Island: before I left to discover cheap Bulgarian red, the Internet, bidets and the truth about the Bermuda Triangle. But has it transformed me into someone different? Possibly the stint in the Bermuda Triangle, but probably not.

Traipsing around the world has more likely strengthen my resolve, sharpened my senses, and fine tuned my desires. That is to say, time has only cemented what was and is, me. I'm no more smarter, nor no more cynical than I was twenty years ago. Just a little more resigned and given to winking with an 'ah yes' expression to other peoples' affirmations. I'm still prone to bouts of idiocy and wanting to dance and sing out loud; I just channel it into Wiggles songs now. And move with more caution.

So after spending precious seconds agonising over whether or not to say Yes, to invite the past into the present, I have finally deduced that it is better to be laughed at and laugh with those that remotely know you or otherwise in this life because I'm not sure if they'll have Face Book in the next one. After all,

Today is just the Tomorrow you were worried about Yesterday.

Monday, 12 September 2011

My Apprenticeship

As they roll up the banners for another year, after a month during which nearly every Children's Literary Festival and Writing Festival took place, as the buzz within and around me slowly dissipates into the stratosphere, I reflect on what was another sublime cluster of highs in My Writer's Story. I prefer story to journey because I have always felt life, while an incredible trip at times, is broken into equally as incredible chapters.

The latest chapter featured my attendance at this year's CYA Conference for Children and Young Adult Writers and Illustrators. The one day, all you can fit in conference for Alligators (grown up writers) was a phenomenal program of success stories, informative sessions, hands on workshops and master classes. Perhaps the highlight of the day for many an aspiring writer or illustrator was the opportunity to pitch their manuscripts and artwork face to face with industry representatives from such  renowned publishing houses as Walker Books, Harper Collins, Random House, Hootenanny Books and literary agents including Jacinta di Mase.

Fellow emerging writers, Karen Tyrrel, Picture Book 3rd place winner, Renee Taprell & Charmaine Clancy
I will not recount each sterling bit of advice I was exposed to. It would take until the next conference to list it all. But here are some of the pearls I managed to sneak away with:

Tristan Bancks  ~ Anyone can make a Book Trailer. Keep it pithy, pacey and polished.

Aleesah Darlison ~ On creating a Picture Book, Story = Words + Art. Keep it real, think carefully about your characters, don't make life easy for them and Read and Write with your target audience in mind.

Julie Fison ~ On writing engaging Adventure Books, write what you know, who you are, what matters to you. And to exercise patience. Write, wait, write, wait, polish, polish, polish. Persist and market yourself.

Sue Whiting ~ Write what makes your heart sing. Be true to yourself, don't be a faker. Versatility may be a marketing nightmare in the publishing world but is not always a negative. Make sure the next book you write is better than the last...

Michael Gerard Bauer getting serious
about humour
Karen Guinn Robertson ~ You don't need to be a techno whizz kid to publish your work on E Books and create fantastic Book Apps to enjoy the all important freedom and power of Global Marketing.

Michael Gerard Bauer ~ Reminded us that if you can laugh at something bigger, and more overwhelming than you, then it has not and can not, overcome you. Humour is serious business in writing and comedy is a funny way of being serious.

Amanda Ashby ~ Illustrated that TV is not just a necessary evil but can be a Writer's best friend. (had to pop out for my pitching session but completely captivated by Amanda's passion and enthusiasm on this subject.)

What did I gain from the Conference?
The crystal clear realisation that I am proud of what I do, the industry I have ingratiated myself into, the people I know, the skills I have, the knowledge I continue to amass, and the reasons I persist. It is an Apprenticeship of sorts. I'm continually learning my trade, improving on my craft, expanding my potential. The CYA Conference serves to cement these affirmations and provide invaluable information, feedback and contacts.

To be surrounded by such an intoxicating sea of aspiring and inspiring writers, illustrators and industry personnel, all of whom continually over awe me with their genuine warmth, skills and interest, only fuels my passion to push on.

Where am I now?
Meeting some of the first time delegates, I was reminded of myself less than a year ago. Then, I was almost too shy, too embarrassed, too modest, too ill equipped to blurt on about my writing apprenticeship. Now, I confidently answer the question, 'So, what do you do?' with 'I'm a children's author.'
It says so on my card.

I'm no longer a first year Apprentice. There's still plenty to learn, to fine tune. There are still plenty of chapters to journey through. Personally I can't wait.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Random Acts of Publicity # 2

Couldn't resist squeezing in another RAP before it ends this week. In order to add a little Aussie flavour to the mix, I've chosen one of my all time favourite children's picture books, "Dimity Dumpty The Story of Humpty's Little Sister" by renowned Australian author and illustrator, Bob Graham. He really needs no introduction having written and illustrated dozens of children's books, earning him multiple awards and literary acclaim. His latest book, "April Underhill, Tooth Fairy" was short listed for the 2011 Prime Minister's Literary Awards.

I love this gorgeous picture book for so many reasons. Here are just some of them:

1.) It's always nice to see you own name in print even if it is just the title of someone else's book.

2.) Bob Graham is home grown Aussie talent.

3.) Dimity Dumpty unashamedly features chickens. I love chickens.

4.) The expiry date on the Humpty's travelling 'egg carton' caravan holds special significance for me. It's the birth date of my daughter.

5.) Dominic Dumpty, Dimity's father, made her a little silver flute. I still have my silver flute, but play with less finesse than Dimity D.

6.) Hot chocolate is one of my favourite beverages and is used beautifully to describe the sweet pleasantness of Dimity's flute playing.

7.) The simple illustrations are brimming with clever detail, colour and subtle visual narrative, which evokes all the charm and thrills of life as a circus carney.

8.) Dimity Dumpty is a jolly expansion on the well known traditional nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty, high lighting the story of Humpty's lesser known, shy, yet resourceful little sister, his family's involvement in the world of a travelling circus and some of Humpty's own more dubious short comings. Fortunately for Humpty, both he and Dimity, live to fulfil each of their own dreams much to the delight of all around them.
Bob Graham
Bob Graham's Dimity Dumpty may not need extra plugging but it certainly deserves its place on our bookshelf. What about yours?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Random Acts of Publicity 2011

I'm a firm believer in Support the Supporters and what better way to apply this belief than in this week's Random Acts of Publicity 2011 event hosted by
Darcy Pattison .

The idea is simple, promote a friend's (latest) book or even you favourite book by blogging about it, talking about it, reviewing it and of course encouraging others to READ it.

There is a veritable plethora of superb children's books, including picture books, crafted by skilled and gifted authors and illustrators, all worthy of mention but for me to list them all would bust my blog. So I decided to think on a local scale and am proud to beat the drum for fellow Gold Coast Children's Author and Illustrator Angela Sunde and her debut children's book, POND MAGIC.

Pond Magic is a humorous little tale fresh from the Aussie Chomps Series by Penguin that is so incredibly popular with kids. It's bursting with originality, the scent of garlic, handsome princes and the sort of pre-teen angst that is definitely not assuaged by having your face turn green. A modern, french stylised fairy tale, well worth having a taste of.

I can't wait to consume more from this talented writer. C'est magnifique Angela.

And viva la RAP.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

7th Katheen Julia Bates Writing for Children Competition

I don't know if it's that time of year or if the stars just happen to be in good alignment. The air is thick with the Literary Festival, Writing Conference, and Award Vibe. It's as challenging to cope with as a lungful of wattle blossom but every bit as beautiful to behold and far more exciting to be part of.

So what better way to launch myself into this weekend's CYA Conference for Children's Writers and Illustrators than by being Short Listed in the 7th KATHLEEN JULIA BATES WRITING FOR CHILDREN MEMORIAL COMPETITION with my Picture Book entry 'Rainforest Magic'?
The competition is conducted by Di Bates of Enterprising Words in conjunction with their popular and invaluable e-zine publication, Buzz Words Magazine. It's an absolute honour to have my manuscript judged as worthy of a Top Ten Placing in this year's comp. Plus it fills me with enough warm fuzzies to approach my CYA Pitch with a winning smile...well at least on the inside.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Marshall Allan Hill Children's Writing Award

Thrilled to discover that one of my short stories for children was shortlisted for the Marshall Allan Hill Children's Writing Award 2011 Competition. This annual award is conducted by Jelli Beanz Publishing who focus on short stories and poetry especially for children.

"Voice of Winston", is a humourous little tale about one girl surmounting her fears in the pool with the help of an over talkative mozzie. It didn't quite win this year but has given me plenty of warm fuzzy feelings to 'just keep swimming.'

Keep an eye out on my Kool Kidz page for it some time soon!