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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 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.