Sunday, 10 March 2019

Revenge of the Living Ted by Barry Hutchison

Short version - fantastic!

In Revenge of the Living Ted, the balance is just right: a belter of a story with jokes placed perfectly so they never hinder the action. Lee Cosgrove's illustrations reflect the silly insanity of text making it a great match. The characters are spot on with Lisa Marie as the courageous geeky girl and Vernon, her slightly dim sidekick step-bro who often proves he isn't so stupid after all. Add a bully, a mad scientist and an army of twisted teddies and you're laughing all the way to the end

Revenge of the Living Ted is a sequel to Night of the Living Ted, but it stands perfectly well on its own. I know, because I haven't read the first - something I plan to rectify ASAP.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Publication Day and my Online Book Launch

Today is the day that Buttercup goes live. I decided to do a short video blog about this. After a few false starts I realised I didn't quite know what to say on an online book launch, so started over, let the camera roll and tried to be as genuine and honest about why Buttercup Sunshine is so close to my heart and why a real-life book launch would be too difficult for this particular book.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Unboxing Buttercup

My author copies of Buttercup Sunshine and the Zombies of Dooooom arrived today. It's great to see the final product. Exciting too because I'm currently doing the final illustrations for book 2, Buttercup Sunshine and the House on Hangman's Hill, due out next April.

Here's a little authortube thing.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Back to work

I've had fun playing with authortube vids and uploading a couple to YouTube, but I was amazed at just how long the whole thing took.

1. Recording
First of all is the recording itself - actually, there is a more important stage before that, but you don't realise that until you've tried recording and utterly messed it up. Then you realise that stage one is actually...

1. Thinking of what you want to say.
I spent soooooo long on this bit, usually because I'd go off at tangents and end up way off topic. I tend to ramble - which is why blogging suits me because I can backtrack and edit as much as I like. Once I thought I knew what I want to say, then it's time to record.

2. Recording (again)
Talking to a camera is tough. I record sound separately so I'm constantly starting and stopping both, then realising that I've forgotten what I meant to say and have to start again. Yes, I can edit and chop, but doing it every sentence is a pain and doesn't look natural. Better to have as much as possible in each take and fit them together.

3. Editing.
Assuming it's all gone right, the editing is next. I use Shotcut to edit because it's open source, but I encountered a couple of bugs if I tried to cut the sound and video separately. There was one time where I just couldn't get the sound to sync with the video and had to start over.

4. Uploading.
The easy part. Except I had to create a thumbnail to go with it, so that was another twenty minutes in Photoshop.

All in all, doing a couple of author vids was a lot of fun but it really cut into writing time. One video took almost an entire Sunday by time I'd got everything the way I wanted and finally uploaded it. For me, that's just too demanding on my time. I work full time and like to do at least some family things on a weekend, so the remaining time I have is kind of precious. Do I want to be a YouTube star, or a writer?

Writer. Every time.

If I find a way to do vids in a shorter time, I might give it another go. But for now, I'm heading back to writing to play with my current WIP.


Monday, 2 July 2018

Chapter One of Buttercup Sunshine and the Zombies of Dooooom

That's right, in my second YouTube vlog you can have a taster of Buttercup Sunshine and the Zombies of Dooooom. A full reading with pictures. Share and enjoy!

Monday, 25 June 2018

New attempt at a vlog

I thought I'd have another go at a YouTube vlog. This time I tried to keep a few things in mind:

  • I want it to appeal to people who might be interested in my books, so comedy horror fans and young writers!
  • I want the fun factor - my favourite vloggers are entertaining.
  • I want to offer something. If you're good enough to tune it, what do you get out of it?
  • I want to keep it short - I tend to watch vlogs in bite sized chunks. 

It took a few goes. Things I found difficult:
  • Looking at the camera rather than the screen (otherwise you don't make eye contact)
  • Not mumbling (it's hard not to be self conscious when talking to a camera on your own)
  • Remembering what I was going to say (it's not like I have a script)
  • Not going off on a tangent (too easy to ramble on about other stuff)
  • Keeping my own accent (I have a habit of doing a really bad American voice)
  • Uploading it (and not feeling, oh no this is terrible)
But I managed to do it, edit it and even make a little thumbnail. The moment it was up, I really wanted to delete it and do it all over again, but instead, I'm going to think about the next one and try to see if I can keep this thing going. The best vloggers vlog regularly - probably the reason they are the best - just like the best writers write regularly.

Here's the result. It's cheesy and embarrassing but kind of fun... enjoy.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Writing Day and my first writing vlog

I set myself a bit of a writing challenge yesterday - a Writing Day to see how much I can get through in one day without it impacting too much on other things. I completed my Buttercup #2 edits on Saturday and I don't have another project on the go, so there was nothing to lose. Besides, I wanted something to keep me busy today.

I started the day without much of a plan. I knew I wanted to write about a ghost and the basic premise but not much more than that.

I decided to use Google Docs for this rather than Word so I can take it out with me. As it turned out, I didn't do much on the go but it's nice to know you've got the manuscript wherever you go. (The down side of course, is Word is just way, waaaayyyyyy faster.)

I did two writing sprints early in the morning letting the idea find its feet. After 2,000 I took the dog out which got my thinking about the next scenes, came back and did another quick sprint then the world of Sunday took over - shopping, cooking, washing and ironing (we usually share this, but my wife is otherwhere this weekend).

Ploting or Pantsing

Around the 5,000 word mark I realised that the idea might work. So here comes the argument between plotting and pantsing. I could easily have spent today plotting this idea to the Nth degree, but sometimes putting too much focus on the big picture doesn't allow for the development of the more subtle points that happen within chapters, the stuff you can't plan until you're actually writing it that has massive impact on the way the journey flows. So, although I always say I'm a plotter, it's certainly been interesting to just dive in and see what happens. But it's early days. Chances are, if I get through a first draft I'm going to have to fix a whole load of things at the end. We'll see.

Vlogging and YouTube

Another part of the challenge was to record the day and make the leap into the world of Vlogging. I've kept a blog for years, but I've only played a little with YouTube - but over the past few weeks I realised that I do more research on YouTube than anything else. When I was looking at Chromebooks vs laptops - YouTube. When I was learning how to use Scrivener - YouTube. Plotting - YouTube. I still read blogs, but they don't pull you in the same way that video does. The other main thing YouTube has in its favour is the way you can't help but bounce from one vlog to another. Which is precisely how I ended watching so many writing vlogs, and there is so much great stuff out there.

Of course, when it comes to doing it myself, it's a different story. I don't think I'm particularly camera friendly. I mess up my words, my accent is quite broad and if I try to soften it I sound weird. But what the hell... I decided to give it a go.

The result... well, it wasn't that fantastic. Why? Well once I put it out there, I quickly realised that the target audience for my video was different to the target audience for my books and this whole website bloggy type thing.

But, it was a fun learning curve. I still intend to vlog, but I think I'm going to start with something unique to me, something that I know well enough to talk about and that fits with the audience that I want to share ideas with - so stay tuned.

As for my Writing Day, I managed a total of 6,200 words.