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The Town from Hell: Part 3

This is the final installment of my fake picture book about the town from hell, Winthrop.

DAB Page 9 DAB Page 10

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If you want to find out the huge secret the townspeople are hiding, check out the real book, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell. It was given a 5-star review from InD’Tale magazine and is up for a RONE award.

The Town from Hell: Part 2

The continuing saga of my fake picture book about the town from hell, Winthrop.

DAB Page 5 DAB Page 6

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The next blog will finish the Town from Hell picture book. If you like the artwork, visit T.W.Kirchner Art & Books to see more.

The Town from Hell

What would a town from hell be like? It wouldn’t be a good vacation spot for sure. In my YA supernatural/horror book, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell, Winthrop is the town from hell. It’s a fictional town in the middle of the desert where the book’s protagonist couple go on vacation, and their experience is far from pleasant. For fun, I used a 6- by 6-inch watercolor pad and created a picture book of Winthrop. I’ll post the fake picture book in three consecutive blogs.

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What’s living in Winthrop? More than visitors realize…

Try Before You Buy

Wattpad is an interesting website that allows you to read part or all of a book without spending any money. As a writer and a reader, I created my free account, posted some of my work, and built a library of other authors’ works. Some of my posted work in available on Amazon while others are only manuscripts that I hope to have published one day. Check out the Wattpad site and see what you think.

From Roaming the Streets to the Town from Hell

Entering a town from hell might seem like a bad thing, unless you’re Siren, the cat. She is the featured “Kirchner Zoo” member whose picture appears on my young adult, supernatural/horror book, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell. Her story ends happily. You’ll have to read Town from Hell to see if my characters Racer and Arloe are as lucky.

“What a difference a year makes” is a statement that is especially true for this cover cat. A year ago, Siren braved the Kirchner Zoo backyard, roaming with ferocious beasts—not an exaggeration for a 7-pound cat—to tear into our garbage bags to feed herself and her unborn kittens. Skin and bones with a dragging belly, Siren had no collar or microchip, and nobody claimed her through ads and posters. Fortunately, through the persistence of my daughter and the help of friends, Mary and Patience, Siren’s four kittens were born healthy in a comfortable and dry room while rain poured outside.

I could say Siren is one lucky cat, but it’s more accurate to say that we’re the lucky family because she chose us. If you check out my other books, the Pirates Off series and The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich series, the author bio always features at least one of my furry kids, and sometimes, they turn up as characters in the book as well.

Siren small
Siren courtesy of Jelly Bean Photos

Kitten Doctor small (1)

Kitten Odysseus small

Kitten Sir Pounce small

Pepper cat 2

Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell Book Tour

It’s official–Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell, a young adult horror/supernatural book, is available on Amazon and making the rounds on Bewitching Book Tours. Visit the tour and sign up to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Some of the stops feature interviews and a sample from the book. The trailer for Town from Hell, which is on YouTube, was the subject of my previous blog on ‘How To Make a Low Budget Book Trailer.’

Town from Hell Button 300 x 225[1]

How to Make a Low Budget Book Trailer Part 4: The Completed Project

The book trailer is completed for my Young Adult horror/supernatural Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell. The book will be published in April 2015 and available on Amazon. Since I shot all my own video and only purchased two audio files from iStockphoto, which were one credit each, the cost came in around $10.

The desert scenes were actually shot in the Nevada desert, although the ‘Winthrop’ and ‘Welcome to Nevada’ signs were added in Photoshop. The coyote howls were captured at a golf course, the wooden planks were at Bonnie Springs Ranch, and most of the other scenes were shot at home. View the video on YouTube.

Differences from the Original Layout

In the first part of the series, How to Make a Low Budget Book Trailer: Step by Step, I showed how I created a storyboard before shooting the video. Most of the ideas from the storyboard were shot as scenes in the final version; however, after having friends view the first version of the trailer, one scene that confused them was deleted. The handwritten notes from Racer and Arloe were replaced by boots and backpacks sitting next to a door. Also the scene with a door, which would have had Blue’s symbol emblazoned on it, was replaced by a treasure chest—possibly hiding a body—watch the trailer to find out.

Special or Not-so Special Effects

I created a burning symbol in Photoshop that glows within Racer’s tattoo on his bicep. The original tattoo wasn’t very good, so I worked on it to get a better version. The flaming symbol isn’t perfect, but I think it portrays what I was getting at. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. I’ve had mixed reviews on it so far. It gives me incentive to work on my Photoshop skills.

The Final Installment

Overall, I’m happy with the final trailer and the fact it is completed weeks before Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell is for sale on Amazon. Hopefully, it will stir up interest about what’s going on in Winthrop and what Sheriff Blue really is. As I bring this series in my blog to a close, I hope that any or all of it has helped inspire you to try making a trailer. Good luck with your endeavor!

How to Make a Low Budget Book Trailer Part 3: The Finishing Touches

This is the final part in my blog series How to Make a Low Budget Book Trailer. With only one scene left to shoot, I put all the other scenes, music and sounds for my young adult, horror/supernatural book trailer Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell into Movie Maker. I manipulated several pictures in Photoshop to take the place of video I couldn’t shoot.

Special Effects with One Photo

By using photos, it was possible to create an illusion that I wanted but couldn’t acquire as video. The version of Photoshop I work with doesn’t have any video editing capabilities. I’m not an expert with the software, but I still am able to manipulate photographs after some trial and error.
The first picture is of the Nevada desert, which is exactly where my characters are traveling to. Anyone else looking at the video probably couldn’t tell where the location is, so I added a ‘Welcome to Nevada’ sign using Photoshop. It worked better for me to take the sign from a different picture and move it to the desert picture.

The second picture is also the Nevada desert. I wanted to let the viewer know that the characters had arrived at my fictional town, Winthrop, so I added the ‘Winthrop, NV’ sign. The sign is about as dilapidated as the rest of the town, and it should just say ‘Welcome to Hell’, but hopefully, the text I chose for the trailer will convey that.

Creating a Scene with Multiple Photos

I used the same technique that I used in my book trailer The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich: The Zombie Next Door and placed several photographs together in Movie Maker. Each picture varies slightly to create motion. In Zombie, an angel statue turns into a gargoyle. For this video, the tattoo on my main character’s bicep has a symbol animate inside of his tattoo. The tattoo remains the same, but the symbol turns red and has tiny flames dance around the lines.

I took a picture of a bicep and added the tattoo. I drew the tattoo freehand in black pen and colored it in Photoshop before I added it to the arm. Once the two pictures were merged, I created the symbol as the top layer and played with different aspects to get the ‘flaming’ effect. I strung 10 slightly changed pictures together, repeating three of the brightest patterns, so it appears as though the symbol flickers. Each picture is only set for a duration of .2 or .25. You have to play with the duration to see what works for your material.

Arm small

arm n tattoo small

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Welcome to NV 5 small

I still have a little work to do before I post the trailer on YouTube, but I’m happy with the way it’s coming along. The budget for this video was very low. I only purchased two audio files from iStockphoto, which were one credit each. I’m not sure what a credit is worth now because they switched to a new credit system, but audio from many sites can usually be obtained for under $10. I’ll post the link to the trailer when it’s finally complete. Good luck with your trailer!

How to Make a Low Budget Book Trailer Part 2: Laying Out the Scenes

This is the second part in my blog series How to Make a Low Budget Book Trailer. In this series, I will go over how I complete each step of my young adult, horror/supernatural book trailer for Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell. At this point, I shot some new video, searched through old video, and took pictures to begin to build the trailer in the film editing software I use, Movie Maker.

If You Don’t Have All the Needed Video

My roughly sketched out storyboard lays out how I envision the initial video. Some footage I decided to use, such as desert scenes, footsteps on squeaky floorboards, and a thunderstorm, was already in my library. After opening a new Movie Maker project, I added that footage first in the order it appears on the storyboard. I edited each section of video by cropping the length to six seconds and changing the brightness and tone, which is under the visual effects tab.

To fill in the gaps where I don’t have the right footage yet, I snapped pictures to use as placeholders. For instance, the opening scene will show a table with two handwritten notes, signed by my two main characters Racer and Arloe. I took a picture of two pieces of paper and added it to Movie Maker. The duration can be set on photos as well as videos, so I set the photo’s duration to six seconds. When I get the proper video, I’ll just replace the photo in Movie Maker. By using a placeholder, I can see how the scenes flow together and where I will add text.

The Second Step is Adding Music and Sound Effects

As soon as I get all the video and placeholders into Movie Maker, I will work on finding sounds or music to add to it. There are three ways I’ve acquired sound in the past:

  • Using the natural background noise of the video
  • Stripping audio from another video by using Audacity software
  • Purchasing sounds/music from online suppliers which is generally cheaper than video

In my book trailer, The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich: The Zombie Next Door, I used all three methods. The footsteps crunching leaves in the graveyard scene and the thunder occurring after the lighting is natural background noise. The wolf howling during the full moon and the doorbell ringing was stripped from different video I’d taken. All the music and the noise of the candle cracking were purchased.

I have already determined which background sounds I’m keeping and which need to be turned off for each section of video in the new trailer. By the next blog, I’ll have hopefully shot the video I’m lacking and gotten my sounds and music together.

Saving the Text and Special Effects for Last

Text can be added in Movie Maker with many options including font size, color, and duration on screen. The text will be lines I’ve chosen from the manuscript, which will introduce the characters and set up the story. Making sure the text is easy to see and on screen long enough to read takes a lot of testing.

The hardest part of the trailer will be adding special effects. I am not an expert at Photoshop, but I use it every so often. In The Zombie Next Door trailer, I used Photoshop to make the gravestone with the angel on top. I also used it to change the angel into the gargoyle and make the voodoo doll wink. All of it was done with photos and not video.

For this trailer, I’m going to create a tattoo on a picture of a bicep I took and make the tattoo’s outlines turn into dancing flames–hopefully. I also want to create a welcome sign for my fictional town, Winthrop. I will use a photo of a desert landscape and add the sign. I hope to have the “before and after” pictures for the next blog.

How to Make a Low Budget Book Trailer: Step by Step

In my other blog series, Creating a Low-budget Book Trailer: The First Steps, I went over the process I used to create my middle grade and young adult book trailers for under $40. This blog will go through the step-by-step process for my new book trailer from the original ideas to the final product and all the changes in between. Do not confuse low budget with easy. To create a decent book trailer that is one to two minutes long, you will have to invest a good deal of time. Are you ready?

Keep in Mind

I am not a professional videographer, and I do not put together book trailers for a living. I am not promoting any software or companies that sell audio or video. I am just an author on a really tight advertising budget, passing along tips to fellow authors. Even if you don’t find my book trailers as wonderful as I’d like you to, you may be able to pick up a useful tip or two to make an even more fabulous one of your own.

Although I have books published, the trailer I’m going to create will be for a manuscript that isn’t published. Why would I go through the trouble? The reason is simple: I want to be prepared. Hopefully, my agent/publisher will want to publish the book, and when/if I get the thumbs up, I can start promoting it to build interest.

Key Points of the Book Trailer

My manuscript, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell, is a young adult, horror, supernatural adventure. It’s suspenseful and has some gross scenes. I want those points to come across in my trailer without giving too much away. The quick synopsis is: two 17-year-olds are very much and love and decide to run away just for the summer to escape their meddling parents. The juvenile delinquent Racer and college-bound Arloe are as opposite as their families. They go off the grid exactly like they planned to a remote town and wind up in a nightmare. Of course, their parents can’t help them because they have no clue where the teens went.

Show and Tell

I picked out a few scenes from the manuscript that would set up the story and let the viewer know the teens didn’t arrive at a pleasant place. On a sheet of paper divided into 10 sections, I roughly (as in Pictionary drawings) sketched my ideas for the scenes. I am very visual, so this helps me a lot. It took a few days to decide what to use; I didn’t zoom through it in five minutes.
Creating House rough sketch

I copy and pasted lines from the manuscript into another document. I chose short lines that I thought were interesting, informative, and would introduce my main characters, Racer, Arloe, and Sheriff Blue. Again, it was a time-consuming process. For the next blog, I’ll match the scenes with the lines. Examples of lines:

• Our parents will never find us—I made sure of that.
• Everyone we’d met in Winthrop had a name from the book of nursery rhymes. It was all too weird, and I couldn’t get out of town fast enough.
• “Jack hid bodies!”
I stared at the frozen face of a middle-aged man. His blue lips had frozen squashed against the clear plastic that encased his body, and his pale, lifeless eyes had partially rolled back in their sockets. “I think Jack is a body.”
• “We’ll never get out of here. Things are roaming all over this place.”
“What kind of thing is Blue exactly?”

Just like a manuscript, this is a first draft, but it gives me a starting point. From here, I’ll work on tightening the sentences, finding music and sounds to enhance the scenes and figure out where I’ll shoot or acquire my envisioned video and stills. I recently found this blog by author Kate Bloomfield that also has helpful tips, and I think her trailer is well done.

Check back on my blog to see how the trailer for Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell is coming along.