The Bradford Bunch–ARC Giveaway

Posted in Romance on October 9th, 2007 by Cynthia Eden

Time for an ARC giveaway–head over to The Bradford Bunch for more details… (Oh, yeah, that’ s me–trying to be semi-mysterious.)

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How to Make a Trailer for Your Book

Posted in Romance on October 8th, 2007 by Cynthia Eden

(Using Windows Movie Maker)

A few weeks ago, I created a trailer for my upcoming Red Sage release, Secrets, Volume 21: Primal Heat. As promised, I’m now back (okay, a bit late) to tell everyone the steps I used for making the trailer.

So, if you’re a writer and you’d like to create a trailer or even a brief teaser for your next release, and you have WINDOWS MOVIE MAKER (it came pre-installed on my laptop and it’s a very easy program to use), then follow these steps:

(WARNING! THE FOLLOWING POST IS LONG! IF YOU ARE NOT INTERESTED IN THE STEPS FOR MAKING A TRAILER, THEN I WOULD JUST SUGGEST YOU SKIM ON DOWN AND READ THE NEXT POST ABOUT THE GHOST CHICKS!!)

1. Get pictures/images to use in your trailer. The most obvious image to use, of course, is your book cover. (I’d give the publisher a head’s up on this.) If you’d like to use particular parts of your cover in the trailer, say, a close-up of the couple or a big shot of the title, just open Adobe Photoshop–then open your cover image in Adobe Photoshop. Once the image is open, you can use the cropping tool to cut the photo for those close-ups.

Now, in order to get other photos, you will need to search online. You should look for royalty-free, stock images. The site I’ve used in the past is stock.xchng. If you’re using pics from shock.xchng, make CERTAIN you read the usage rules for each photo. Sometimes, the folks who posted the photos list specific usage requirements–and sometimes, they ask to be notified of the picture’s use.

If you don’t mind paying a small amount of money, you can check for stock images on stockxpert. I’ve found the prices on stockxpert to be very reasonable.

Perform keyword searches on these sites to find the images you want to use.

Or, if you’d like, you could always take your own photos (this would work particularly well for landscape type shots).

A note: Just make absolutely certain you are using royalty-free, stock images if you get them from the Internet. You CANNOT use pics of celebrities, etc.

2. Okay, you’ve got your photos–so you are now ready to begin. Open WINDOWS MOVIE MAKER.

3. At the top of the program, select: “File,” then “New project.”

4. There is a header on the left-hand side of the screen that says “Movie Tasks”–click on “Import pictures.” “Import pictures”will allow you to bring in all of the photos that you collected and have then in one nice, organized viewing space–a space that is going to lead you straight to the next step. (When importing pictures, a new window will open. Find the title of the photo that you want to import, then click “Import” to begin the process.)

5. Now, you will begin to organize the photos. Decide on the order you’d like your photos to appear. Don’t worry–you will add the text later. Right now, this is a photo-only layout. Click on an image, then drag the image to the bottom of the screen–there are large squares at the bottom of the screen–this is the storyboard area. Drag the pictures, one at a time, into the storyboard.

6. The photos are in place. It is now time to add the text. If you’d like to go ahead and add a title at the beginning of the movie, just go back up to “Movie Tasks” (on the left-hand side) and, beneath “#2 Edit Movie,” you will see the option of “Make titles or credits.” Just click that link and you will be lead through the title-making process.

If, instead of putting a title at the front of your movie, you would like to insert text either before of after a particular image, then FIRST click on the image (so that a black box appears around the image), THEN go back up and click “Make titles or credits.” Then you can select if you would like to put the title BEFORE the selected clip of AFTER it.

Let’s do an example. Say you want the text to go after your image. You would select “Add title after the selected clip on the storyboard.” Then, you would type in your text. But wait! You’re not done–b/c, you see, you have some options here. You may opt to change the title animation or the title font color by clicking the buttons beneath the text box. (You can also preview the different animations and fonts.) Cool, huh? When you are finished, select “done, add title to movie.”

Repeat this process as many times as necessary–you know, as many times as you need to add in your text. Play around with the different animations–see what you like and what you do not like.

7. You may opt to add movie credits. To add credits, got to “#2 Edit Movie” then “Make titles or credits,” and–finally, click “Add credits at the end of the movie.” Type in the text, one line at a time. Don’t forget to play with your animation options! When you’re finished, click “done, add title to movie.”

8. Okay, at this point, you should have your photos and your text arranged on the story board. If you want to change the arrangement of anything, just click and drag. You can also delete an item–just click on it and hit delete.

9. The fun part: video effects and transitions. First, let’s start with VIDEO EFFECTS. Again, you will go to “#2 Edit Movie”, then select “View video effects.” If you would like to use a particular effect on a photo (ex. “ease in”–one of my favorites), just click on the block for that effect and drag it down to the image or text block on the storyboard. When the gray star in the lower left corner of that block changes to blue, you will know that the video effect has been attached to that particular image or text. Again, experiment–see what you like and what you do not.

Let’s turn our attention to VIDEO TRANSITIONS. (“#2 Edit Movie” then “View video transitions”). This is the part where you create the flow for your trailer, the, ahem, transition work. To add a transition, just click on one of the transition effects (ex. Fade) that should have appeared (once you selected “View video transitions”), and drag that transition down to the SMALLER white and gray boxes between your images. These boxes will change to blue when a video transition has been successfully inserted.

Wanna see what you’ve got so far? Well, you should have a big TV type box on the right side of your screen. Press play and see what you think. If the trailer isn’t working for you–i.e., you don’t like what you’ve got–then delete and change!

If you’d like to change the timing of your show, go to the top of the screen. Select, “Edit” then “Select All.” Next, click “Tools” (again, at the top of your screen). From the “Tools” drop-down menu, you will need to click “Options.” The options button will open a new screen for you. You can edit the picture and transition duration from this screen. Don’t forget to hit “Ok!”

Tip: I think one of the trickiest things to do with this program is to add text onto your image (not before it or after, but, literally, onto the image). I do this AFTER I’m finished with all of my other work, because if you go back and change something before this particular point in the storyboard, it will screw up the timing and the text you’ve inserted will appear at the wrong point.

10. So, at this point, you should pretty much have your trailer done. Save the project. Just go to “File” (top of the screen), then choose “Save project as.” Give the project a fitting title, then save that puppy!

11. If you’d like to add music to your trailer or teaser, well, this is the music adding point. As with pictures, you have to be very careful about the music you use. You cannot use your favorite song that plays on the radio all the time–there are huge legal issues with doing something like that! You need to look for royalty-free music. For my Secrets trailer, I used music from Accent Music Productions. I emailed them first and told them my intended use of the music. I got a good response back from them, paid what I felt was a very reasonable fee, and then I had my music! I originally saved the music to my desktop. When I was ready to add the music to my project, I went back to the left side of my project screen (Movie Tasks), and, under item “#1 Capture Video,” I clicked “Import Audio or Music.” Then I just selected my file and imported it so that it would appear under my “collection” in the middle of the screen.

12. The adding music moment. I tried to find music that matched up with the length of my trailer–I think a close match works easier. To put the music onto your trailer, go to the bottom of your screen (the storyboard) and click “Show Timeline.” Instead of your storyboard, you will now see the timeline. The second level of the timeline is for audio or music. Simply click on the music/audio file that you previously moved into your collection and drag it down to the timeline (the audio section). If the music isn’t quite long enough to match your timeline, click and add it again–then you can “shorten” the music by clicking in the music box and dragging (a red arrow will appear).

13. Before we say this baby is done, play it to see what you think. Go back to storyboard view. Then, go up to the top of the screen, select “Play” then “Play storyboard.” What do you think? Edit and change as necessary.

14. When you think you’re done… Under “Movie Tasks” select “#3 Finish Movie” then “Save to my computer.” Follow the instructions as they appear on the screens. Note: When you get to the second screen (Movie Setting) select “Best fit to file size” then change file size to 10 MB. Previously, I’d said to use “Best Quality for playback on my computer”–but that was wrong! Sorry! My bad! The best rendering will come from “Best fit to file size” then the 10 MB selection.  Continue following the instructions, then–BAM! You’re done!

15. You’ve saved your file and can now upload it to YouTube or MySpace or any other online video site you’d like. If you choose to upload to YouTube and then want to display the YouTube version on your site, YouTube will provide you with the code you need to imbed on your website. So, that will be a simple matter of copying and pasting.

A few final notes: You can also edit the length of your clips from the “timeline” view–just be careful! To edit here, click on the image you want and adjust as necessary. There are “Movie Making Tips” at the bottom of the “Movie Tasks” box–these tips are very helpful. And…be careful about the photos and music you use–when in doubt, email the site you that you wish to obtain the music or images from–double-check! Make certain your items are royalty free and that you are in compliance with the regulations listed on the sites.

Good luck! And, hopefully, I didn’t leave out any necessary steps… If I did, email me.

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The Ghost Chicks

Posted in Romance on October 6th, 2007 by Cynthia Eden

Today at my local RWA meeting, we had some truly phenomenal guest speakers:  The Ghost Chicks! Tara and Lorrie (the Ghost Chicks in question) are certified paranormal investigators. They told my group about their experiences with paranormal phenomenon, particularly their encounters at The Myrtles Plantation–“One of America’s Most Haunted Homes.”

After their talk about the plantation, I wasn’t certain if I should pack my bags and immediately book a stay at the plantation (so that I could try to observe some of the supernatural occurrences for myself) or if I should stay far, far away from the place. I’m still debating that one!

The Ghost Chicks brought some of their equipment with them (oh, yeah, these ladies were definitely giving me story ideas), and it was interesting to learn about the use of cell sensors and K2 meters. The Chicks told my group about the importance of using hand-held recorders–they said it was always a good idea to record the questions because, at the time, while you may not hear a response, if you listen later, you could hear some sort of answer (not necessarily talking a clear voice hear, but perhaps knocking that shouldn’t be present).

Here are some other tidbits from the discussion:

The Chicks said that when a paranormal event is occurring, the temperature may drop–or it may rise. I thought this was interesting, because I’d heard of the drop before–but the rise in temp was new for me.

People who have a strong encounter with the paranormal often become sick after the event–folks might develop a metallic taste in their mouths, they may vomit, or they may suffer from headaches.

The Chicks said they made a habit of carrying extra batteries to the various haunted locations because the energy present at those sites drains the batteries faster.

I really enjoyed their talk (they made me want to go home and tune in for a Ghost Hunter episode!).   Now, I’m certain I can use all of the great info I’ve now obtained in a book…

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My First Widget

Posted in Romance on October 4th, 2007 by Cynthia Eden

I can’t help it–I had to post because I think the widget–well, she’s cool:

Get this widget!

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Over at Magical Musings

Posted in Romance on October 3rd, 2007 by Cynthia Eden

I’m guest blogging over at Magical Musings today–one of my absolute favorite spots on the Web. If you get a chance, come by, leave a comment–and you might just win the $10 Amazon.com gift certificate that I’m giving away. (Wow–lately, I seem to love giving those away!)

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