Herding Cats & Burning Soup’s monthly blog challenge for May is “organize.” This one is a tough one for me. I’m organized…and I’m not. I could do better at organizing, but who has the time? Actually, that’s a bad excuse. Prioritizing my organizing helps me to get the job done. I’m better at prioritizing than organizing, and even with electronic calendars and reminders, I still use paper checklists. My current checklist is: drips plants, spray statues, white jeans, video footage, fairy jar, and organized blog. At first glance (or even second), my list may seem insane, but I know the codes.
Before I break down my list of items for you, I’ll explain “prioritizing my organizing.” Many things can be organized or re-organized from time to time such as my purse, tennis bag, art desk, pantry, etc. Of course, it’s impossible to organize everything in one day, so I put unorganized items on a Things to Do list (once the chaos disturbs me enough). I choose a few tasks per day to accomplish and cross them off the list. Usually, by having the list stare me in the face on the kitchen counter, I will get everything completed by the end of the week. The time of day, amount of energy I have, and amount of time I have to complete the organization all fall into play to prioritize the list.
Drips plants. I live in a desert. Plants require a drip/sprinkler system unless you grow cactus. I have three new pots with flowers that require drip lines. Time required to complete the task – 10 minutes. Obviously, this isn’t a nighttime project.
Spray statues. I’ve had some outdoor bunny/raccoon/squirrel statues that my dogs (as puppies) turned into apocalyptic zombies. I’ve hidden the statues’ flaws (missing feet, missing eyes, missing ears—you get the picture) for years behind flowers. I recently bought a tub of air-dry clay for $6 and fixed all the statues’ flaws I also re-painted them. Now, I just need to spray them with an acrylic sealer. Time of day to spray – obviously daytime but not when it’s not 100 degrees. Time to complete the task – 3 minutes (2 minutes to shake the can, 1 to spray. Repeat.) It’s only taken 10 years to get to this project.
White jeans – I need to hem a new pair of jeans. I’m not the best at sewing, so I need a lot of time and patience. Time required – should be 15 minutes, but we shall see.
Video footage – I need some video footage of gross bugs to complete my book trailer for Kiss from Hell. Yes, you read that correctly. I even went to a pet store and asked the manager if they had any bugs in the back. You read that correctly, too. Who knew they used frozen stuff for the reptiles? Frozen bugs won’t work. I need squirmy, slimy critters scurrying around. I plan to call my brother in law and see if he’ll get some bug footage. He came through with the awesome cemetery footage for The Zombie Next Door trailer. Purchasing video footage online is expensive. Calling my bro-in-law is free. Time to complete the task – 15 minutes. With a three-hour time difference, I have to time the call correctly.
Fairy jar – Pinterest is evil. I have pinned so many fun projects to try. I actually made a fairy jar already, and it turned out pretty good. If you get the automatic turn on/off battery operated tealights, they make fun nightlights. I told my neighbor I’d make one for her two girls. I think they’d like it. Finding a good jar is the biggest issue with that one. I’d say it takes an hour to complete because of waiting for the glue/paint to dry.
Organized blog – Here it is–completed. It jumped to the top of the list when I knew what I was going to type. I can cross it off my list. If you’d like to join the Herding Cats & Burning Soup blog challenge, the rest of the monthly prompts are:
What You Love Most Art combines a furry friend and the things you love the most into a watercolor painting. Visit my website for more information WhatYouLoveMost.com. Dixie is pictured with Western boots and a cowboy hat, music, softballs, and a horseshoe. Each painting is unique. T-shirts are also available.
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.
What’s living in Winthrop? More than visitors realize…
Francois l’Olonnais, a 1600s French buccaneer, has long since gone off to a different realm, but he didn’t leave pirating behind. Being a ghost is merely a speed bump on an already dark and potholed road to hell. Along the way, he decides to become a mentor so his legacy will continue…”Or something stupid like that” as Tommy Klopt his protégé says in the adventure Pirates Off the Wall.
With the ghost lingering around and getting them into more trouble, Tommy Klopt and the rest of his family, Captain Hoody (his dad), and brothers Connor and Dillon have a hard time retiring from the pirating business.
The ghost has an ever-watchful eye on the Klopts, and sometimes, he uses his persuasive charm to ward off threats made to them:
L’Olonnais pulled his cutlass from its sheath. “Oui, Capitaine Hoods’ list of wrongdoings is quite long, but so is my cutlass. ‘Tis long and sharp. I’d say it could dispense with your head in one swipe…possibly deux.” He sneered. “And don’t even think about shooting me. I am already dead.”
When negotiating doesn’t work, such as with ghost pirate, Captain Mignard, he’s ready to duel.
Lost in Translation
Most of the time, the ghost lets the Klopts find their own way out of sticky situations—at times because he can’t help given his ghostly restrictions. The French pirate’s warnings aren’t always crystal clear and are a constant source of frustration for Tommy and especially Connor.
“’Tis not what I desire, but what you desire that I bear news about.”
“Beware of the living, not the driftwood.”
“You can trick people into believing you are who you tell them you are.”
Connor sums up l’Olonnais in his own special way: “He’s a nut case, and we don’t need him screwing up our already screwed-up lives again.”
Captains Don’t See Eye to Eye
Hoody is not intimidated by l’Olonnais although the pirate used him as shark bait, lost him in a card game, and sent him on a one-way cruise to Iceland. L’Olonnais refers to Hoody as l’idiot. He uses threats, but they bounce off Hoody such as:
L’Olonnais’ nostrils flared, and he gritted his teeth. “Oui, I have my cutlass, and ‘tis sharp enough to cut your head off.” His dark eyes were intently fixed on Hoody.
Hoody remains mild-mannered and gets right to the point when he deals with the ghost:
Hoody shook his head. “Speaking of things that aren’t obvious, why are you back? You have your cutlass. Shouldn’t you be lounging around on your ship waiting to terrorize unsuspecting children?”
Pirates and Sea Witches Can’t Be Trusted
The sea witch Volange adds to the Klopts’ problems. She’s beautiful, spiteful and powerful, which makes l’Olonnais avoid her and Mignard sorry he ever crossed her. Volange turned Mignard’s redhaired girlfriend, Cosette, into a ship’s figurehead for 100 years.
Tommy strikes a bargain with the aqua-eyed sea witch to save Cosette, despite his disdain for Mignard. This actually pleases Volange, but it doesn’t mean she plays fair.
The sea witch grinned. “Yes, I will bring Cosette to life again. I promise.”
That guarantee definitely came with fine print. As Tommy learns, a deal is a deal no matter how screwed up it is. The deal with Volange sends the Klopts on their way to Scotland with Cosette. She may not be a ship’s figurehead, at least for the time being, but she’s not quite her normal self. The Klopts success in Scotland will determine her fate.
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.
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!