Book Trailer II

Well, the ordeal of producing a book trailer is almost over.  The trailer for “Sea-Change” is essentially finished–complete with background music.  Since the project had to be done “on the cheap,” I had to play all the roles in the project, some of which were not roles where my previous experiences had taken me.  I decided to use  MS Movie Maker mostly because it was available as preinstalled software.  For me, it was a good choice because I didn’t want to spend a lot of time learning the intricacies of complex video software, and I found it easy to use, with enough functionality for my simple production.

The next phase was writing a simple script which featured important key words and phrases, one at a time, to instill a sense of drama and anticipation leading to a brief plot summary, devoid of “spoilers.”  The last key word was “transformation” which I felt needed an animated sequence.  This proved to be the most difficult part.  For about two seconds of animation I had to make thirty frames with the action progressing to a conclusion by the end of the thirtieth frame with an exciting transition to yet another animated sequence displaying the plot summary.

I avoided serious “spoilers” by using text mostly from the back cover of the book.  I’m now in negotiations to obtain permission to use the music I added as background for the 43.77 seconds of action in the trailer.  Waiting to hear.

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George Washington on Party Politics

The following is an exerpt from Washington’s Farewell Address 1796:


I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with
particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations.
Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn
manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root
in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in
all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those
of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their
worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit
of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries
has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But
this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and
miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and
repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of
some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns
this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless
ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of
the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise
people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public
administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false
alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally
riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption,
which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels
of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to
the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the
administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty.
This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical
cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of
party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it
is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain
there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there
being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public
opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a
uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of
warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country
should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine
themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the
exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of
encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and
thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just
estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in
the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The
necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing
and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the
guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by
experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own
eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the
opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional
powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the
way which the Constitution designates. But let there
be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the
instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are
destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any
partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

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Now Showing: “Book Trailers”

For those of us who are fortunate/unfortunate enough to be self-publishing, figuring out the marketing can be a real challenge.  I feel like I don’t have time to write anymore, what with press releases, email notices, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, group postings, blog interviews, etc.  And just when I thought I was beginning to get the upper hand on all this, along comes a new marketing device: the book trailer!  So now I find myself having to learn how to make a short “movie” that will make people want to read my book.  I’m just beginning the process and it already looks daunting.  Take something as simple as background music for a one-minute feature; its a nightmare of copyright entanglements and legal uncertianties.

I’m beginning the process of developing a “trailer” for my recently released fantasy novella “Sea-Change” and I will be providing future updates on progress as well as commentary on what works and what does not.

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Book out at last

The poetry book, Seasons of the Mind, 2nd Edition by Wayne Howard, is now out and available at Lulu and at Amazon.  Only the marketing is left.  Now I can concentrate on editing the novella, Sea-change.  It should be available before the end of the year.  Writing continues on Starcrossed Legacy, but I think it will some major rewriting, especially in the first couple of chapters.

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Are some banks too big to succeed?

We all know that many in the political arena believe that there are some institutions, manufacturing and financial, that are “too big to fail,” but in the case of some banks (e.g. Bank of America, J. P. Morgan Chase), they may be too big to succeed. I have been hearing stories of seemingly straightforward transactions that are botched or not otherwise completed successfully. Mortgage applications on the west coast that dissappear into a “black hole” in a state more than a thousand miles away with the resultant collapse of the property sales contract (in property transactions timing is everything); refinancing papers that disappear for weeks.

A common thread seems to be a total lack of information (even the local branch managers seem to be unable to check the status of any of these processes) about where the loan or refinancing applicant stands and a total disregard for timely action. For these “too big” banks, it would seem that the only thing that matters is loaning money to each other, not to their depositors. The local branch associates are usually helpful in the initial stages but once the transaction is set up the paperwork moves to a location often far from the point of origin. Since banks susposedly make money by loaning money to other people this seems like a crazy way to do business. Deals that aren’t completed bring no money into the bank’s coffers, but apparantly they feel that they don’t need it (“too big to fail” remember?)

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Did BP fail to account for overpressured sand?

A thought occured to me that the blowout preventers that failed in the BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster might have been insufficiently robust for an unexpected overpressured sand horizon. Since overpressured zones in the Gulf are not that uncommon, it would be strange if such an occurance were not anticipated. One would expect that maybe the number of overpressured horizons would increase as one moves further offshore.

Granted that many overpressured zones are shales with little porosity and permeability and thus can be handled with little extra difficulty. But at that depth (about 5000 feet water) it seems that the extra precautions wold have been worth it ( if it was indeed the failure of BP to anticipate an overpressured sand).

Just a thought and no way to prove it.

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Iceland and greenhouse gasses

The recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland have pointed up just how critical getting a handle on greenhouse emissions is. Typically volcanos inject large amounts of CO2 and other gasses into the atmosphere during eruptions, sometimes dwarfing the rather puny efforts made thus far to reduce the man-made contribution. The really scary part is the large positve feedback potential from methane released from thawing permfrost and decomposing methane hydrates in the ocean bottoms as the climate continues to warm.

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Blogging for money–a boon or a trap?

Due to the economy and the need to generate money quickly, I turned to blogging for money by writing regularly on green business matters in the Portland area. The problem with this sort of sideline is that is pays very little considering the amount of work that goes into preparing each article. There is the research, fact checking, interviewing, writing and posting to be done for each offering–not to mention the time spent trying to find appropriate photos that can be used without copyright violations.

The trap comes with the fact that the more you post the more money I earn, and so the time that I could be spnding on potentially more lucrative projects is not available.

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Green Primrose Paths

Now that green is “in” and everyone wants to do it and be a part of the revolution, the hucksters are out in force blasting us with information that can best be described as “the good, the bad and the ugly.” The good thing about the internet is that it provides us with access to a lot of good information and good ideas, but at the same time ovewhelms us with ideas that are in some cases just bad ideas, and in other cases just plan ugly ideas designed to fleece the unwary.

As a case in point, I recently ran across a press release from a “green energy” company touting a scheme to recover energy from the warm air exhaust streams from air conditioning systems. This is a scheme akin to perpetual motion in that work has to be done by the AC system to produce the cooling at the condenser and the flow of air carries away the waste heat. Capping that air stream to run turbin would create a back pressure that would cause the AC system to do more work for the same amount of cooling and the energy gained at the turbin would always be less than the extra energy to power the AC system.

A bad idea, but plastered all over the internet. The press release repeated over and over on site after site without any critical review. This company as far as I can tell (they’re not big on details) consists of the CEO, a patent attorney and a very good huckster.

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Writers’ conferences

I just returned from a three day marathon of pitching, networking and attending workshops at the Willamette Writers annual conference. The pitches were moderately successful even though I had to pitch from the seat of my pants because the agents that were taking what I was prepared to pitch were not available (I registered rather late). The workshops were great for the most part, but by the end of the third day my eyes had glazed over and I was moving like a zombie.

It’s definitely an experience I would reccomend to any aspiring writer.

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