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September 2011
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Brutus: Peace! count the clock.
Cassius: The clock has stricken three.

- Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

 

As writers, we should never feel bad when someone calls out an inaccuracy in our writing. Okay, maybe we can feel a little bad, but we should also take it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Even Shakespeare had his little slips, as shown in the above excerpt from his play, Julius Caesar. No doubt a few chuckles were shared by historians of the time over the great bard's anachronistic error in placing mechanical clocks in Roman times. But it should also serve to remind us that in the end, nobody is perfect, and even the most well-written manuscript might still contain a smattering of mistakes.

 

However, while anachronisms are considered to be errors in historical texts, they can be used to the author's advantage in other literary genres.

 

In Edgar Rice Burroughs' Princess of Mars series (1917), a confederate soldier is mysteriously swept from Earth and dropped on the surface of Mars to do battle with - and bring peace to - the various inhabitants of several hyper-advanced civilizations. And he does it all with a single action revolver and a sword. What's especially interesting about this is that these Martian races, which possess the technology to create massive flying airships and floating cities, fight with the same weaponry. This is a somewhat conceited anachronism, functioning under the idea that, should the human race come across another species, we'll at least be fairly comparable to them in regard to science and weaponry. Whether this was an honest assumption on the author's part or a proud expository on the present and possible accomplishments of humanity, it nevertheless makes for a great read.

 

Anachronisms can also add a sense of humor to your writing. For example, in Buster Keeton's The Three Ages there is a scene with a game of Stone Age baseball, and Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles featured Gucci saddlebags, a big band performance on the plains, and an automobile in the Old West. Unless you lost a funny bone at a young age, these are all pretty amusing instances of the future mingling with the past.

 

What about you? What kind of anachronisms have you noticed in popular media? Remember that anachronisms don't just have to be items from the future set in the past. Objects from the past can also be found anachronistically in the future. For example, a young man walking down the street with a full-blown handlebar moustache, three piece suit with tailcoats, bowler hat, and gold watch chain might seem a little out of place in this day and age. Or a street vendor using an abacus to calculate sales tax might appear a little strange, especially if a nearby vendor is using a calculator or even his cell phone to tally up a sale.

 

When is your anachronism?

 

Consider this: You are suddenly transported to a time and place at least 100 years from now. Whether it's in the past or in the future is up to you. Taken unawares, you find yourself in this day and age with only the objects in your pockets, purse, or bag. Stop right now and rummage around. What have you found? Now, using these objects, create a one-paragraph scenario wherein you use these objects to impress, convince, or converse with the people around you. Start with this line:

 

"I suddenly found myself..."

 

-Kristin

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.

 

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WordPlay: Welcome, Writers!

Do You Have Writer's Block?

2,926 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, authors, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, creativity, creativity, creativity, craft, craft, craft
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Taking Time Between Books?

Dwight Garner of The New York Times recently published an article discussing the pace some novelists take to write their next book. Is it wise to take years between books? For one thing, the author's appearance usually changes with age from book to book. It may sound like a trivial point, but in our present publishing reality where image is a key ingredient to breaking through an avalanche of offerings, a consistent image can lead to more sales.

 

Obviously, some of this is about personal style. There have always been prolific writers as well as slow-moving, blocked, gin-addled or silent ones. It's worth suggesting, though, that something more meaningful may be going on here; these long spans between books may indicate a desalinating tidal change in the place novelists occupy in our culture. Suddenly our important writers seem less like color commentators, sifting through the emotional, sexual and intellectual detritus of how we live today, and more like a mountaintop Moses, handing down the granite tablets every decade or so to a bemused and stooped populace.

 

You can read the entire article on The New York Times' website: Dear Important Novelists: Be Less Like Moses and More Like Howard Cosell

 

Marketing to Religious Groups

So, what do you do with a film that has broad appeal but is also infused with themes geared toward a religious audience? Well, if you're a studio, you create two separate marketing campaigns: one that will excite the average moviegoer and the other that strikes a chord with the average churchgoer. It's a strategy that could be adopted by independent filmmakers as well. If you have a movie that delves into religious themes, but doesn't focus on those themes, it still might be appropriate to bring your film to your local religious groups to ignite your word-of-mouth campaign.

 

Based on the life of Pennsylvania's Sam Childers, the R-rated "Machine Gun Preacher" tells the story of a former drug-addicted, Harley-riding thug whose religious conversion compels him to save children caught up in war in Sudan. Childers (played by Gerard Butler) is no run-of-the-mill Christian missionary. In addition to opening an orphanage, he takes up arms against Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army and travels into hostile territory to rescue children abducted by the sadistic militia...To help draw out religious audiences, Relativity crafted a "Machine Gun Preacher" poster framing Childers in a cross, cut different ads emphasizing his religious conversion, hired a marketing firm to work with pastors on movie-related sermons, and screened the film for church groups.

 

You can read the entire article on The Los Angeles Times' website: Spreading the good word on 'Machine Gun Preacher,' 'Dolphin Tale'

 

As David Bowie Once Said, "Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!"

Evolution is a principal built around survival. You must adapt to survive. If you're a band, it's more than just an adage. It's an event that has played out over and over again. With few exceptions, bands that have changed with the times have broken through the bounds of nostalgic gigs and appearances and actually built careers based on new releases and current material. In most cases, change is the essence of everlasting sales.


The Beatles set the standard for sonic evolution as a band. Not only were they one of the first groups in rock music history to radically evolve their sound, but it only took them about five years to do it. Starting out as a skiffle-influenced '60s pop band, a combination of the social upheaval of the late 1960s, manager Brian Epstein's death and experimentation with drugs led them to explore a multitude of genres and new studio technologies, in the process helping pioneer psychedelic rock.

 

You can read the entire article on Paste Magazine's website: Eight Shifts in Musical Style That Worked

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - September 23, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - September 16, 2011

1,752 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, marketing, marketing, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, promotion, promotion, writing, writing, religion, religion, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers
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Write It Down!

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 29, 2011

I took a yoga class a few days ago, and in the last (i.e. the best!) part of class, when you just lie there and relax, I was suddenly struck by an idea for a scene to include in the novel I'm writing. The timing was unfortunate, but I couldn't help when I came up with the idea! As soon as the class was over, I literally ran to the front desk and asked for a piece of paper so I could write it down.


Now this may seem a little extreme, but I've learned from experience that no matter how much I think I'm going to remember something I want to include later in a book, I never do. Here are some of my typical forgetful predicaments, which you may have experienced yourself:


  • If I come up with a great idea in the middle of the night, I won't remember it in the morning.


  • If I come up with the idea at a yoga class, inevitably I'll run into someone I know on the walk home and start chatting, or I'll stop at the grocery store, and boom, I've forgotten all about it.


  • If I come up with it when I'm out with friends, forget it.


That's why I (and you) should always WRITE IDEAS DOWN.


I usually keep a little notebook in my purse and a set of sticky notes by my bed and also in my car. If I find myself without anything to take notes on, I send myself a text message. In fact, I sent myself a text message the other day to write this blog post, and I completely forgot about it until I just saw it on my phone!


You may come up with the best line of your entire book while you're shopping this weekend. If so, what are you going to do about it?


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Catching the Vanishing Idea

Do You Have Writer's Block?

2,474 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, ideas, ideas, writers, writers, writing, writing, creativity, creativity, craft, craft
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I have a habit of leaning over to my wife during a movie and whispering what I believe the twist in the story will be. I'm right about 80 percent of the time. When my wife asks me how I knew, my answer varies, but it generally has to do with the most logical way to resolve the conflict or the foreshadowing event really gave only one way to go with the story.


Here's the thing: knowing the ending beforehand usually doesn't determine if I like the story or not. If the writing is unpredictable, I don't mind a predictable plot. To me, clichéd characters and uninspired dialogue are far worse sins than plot twists you can see coming a mile away. In genre fiction - which I enjoy - the same plot devices are repurposed over and over again. It doesn't mean the writer is lazy or not creative; it usually means the writer is a student of the genre. He or she has learned from years of reading and loving these stories how to craft a plot in such a way to follow certain guideposts and fulfill expectations established in the genre.


It's my opinion that being predictable isn't always bad. In fact, I think stepping too far out of the norm can ruin a story. It's our nature as writers to want to do something that's never been done before. But doing that means it may be harder to find an audience for your story, since people gravitate toward the familiar. I think a greater challenge for writers is to take the familiar and make it your own. Shakespeare didn't invent the story of forbidden love that ends in tragedy, but it's hard to think of that storyline without thinking of Romeo and Juliet. Many of today's romance novels mimic Shakespeare's classic tale, and some are extremely popular in their own right.


Being predictable isn't always a bad thing. The trick is to put just enough of your own style into a familiar plot to create a story that will both satisfy the readers' expectations and let them see their favorite genre in a whole new light.


-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Use Emotion to Propel Your Story

Your Story's Inciting Incident

2,477 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, writers, writing, story, storytelling, craft
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Use Twitter to Promote Your New Book (or Other Product) - Michael Hyatt

 

Twitter can be a confusing tool to use for authors. Michael Hyatt gives some tips to help clear up some of that confusion.

 

Can You Be A Writer Without Being A Reader? - GalleyCat

 

The best advice I ever got on how to become a writer was delivered in one word: read.

 

Film

 

A Brand New Writing Technique (They Don't Happen Often!) - Projector Films

 

Can you really invent new ways to write? Filmmaker Tim Clague seems to think you can.

 

Breaking the Fourth Wall -a Moon Brothers film

 

How did John Hughes do it in Ferris Bueller's Day Off? It's supposed to be the biggest no-no in storytelling.

 

Music

 

Should Musicians Convert Fans of Facebook Pages to Profile Subscribers? - Hypebot

 

The Subscribe button is just one of many new changes appearing on Facebook recently. Can it benefit musicians?

 

Becoming a Session Player - Music Coaching

 

Spend any amount of time in a city with big studios and you're likely to hear that the best musicians in music are session players.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - September 20, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - September 13, 2011 Edition

1,427 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, filmmaking, filmmaking, promotion, promotion, writers, writers, writing, writing, facebook, facebook, twitter, twitter, musicians, musicians, screenwriting, screenwriting, filmmakers, filmmakers
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If you are going to blog (and please tell me you are), you have to understand one thing first: you are a leader. You have the authority to be heard. What you say matters. I don't tell you these things because I know you personally or I think you need a pick-me-up, nor is it my habit to give pep talks to complete strangers. I tell you this because if you're going to blog, you have to do it as a leader, which is to say someone who is worth following.


Too many times I visit a blog only to find a post that is written without confidence. There's no conviction behind the sentiment of the post. Don't be afraid to stand behind what you write. Think of your blog as your own personal Opinion/Editorial section of the web. All your posts are opinion pieces, and you have to focus on speaking your mind rather than worrying about pleasing everyone. 


Mike Lupica, George Will, Dave Barry, and Frank Rich are just a few writers who have been incredibly successful expressing their opinions with authority. Whether or not you agree with them, you know where they stand on certain topics. They all have different styles, but they are all leaders with their own points of view. True, they are not bloggers, but I think that's only because they began their careers before the age of blogging. I use them as examples because they exude the spirit of what blogging should be: heavy doses of boldness and good writing.


Finding your leader within isn't easy. It will take you numerous posts and countless weeks before you?re likely to feel comfortable expressing yourself without apologies. But once you do, that's when you will find a following. Good luck and happy blogging!


-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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A Closer Look at John Green's Marketing Efforts

Blog About What You Know - Books!

2,087 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, marketing, marketing, blog, blog, promotion, promotion, blogging, blogging, blogs, blogs, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers, branding, branding, opinion, opinion
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Writer's block: noun, a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece


That's what Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines as "writer's block." For writers, however, it's an excruciatingly frustrating condition. Where once you were wandering happily through a richly detailed world full of interesting characters and elaborate plotlines, a dirty brick wall has descended about two inches from your figurative nose and brought your creative process to a grinding halt.

 

For writers, this wall may be anything from a flimsy screen that can be punched through easily to an insurmountable impasse that has been collecting moss for years - except for that one spot where a head has repeatedly been smacked against it. No matter what, though, if you write, you've hit this wall before. And that's the purpose of this blog series, "WordPlay": whether it's a wall or the waterless desert of your exhausted imagination, we'll find ways to tap the well, break the barrier, and bring you back to the bountiful world of your creativity.

 

Sometimes one of the most effective approaches to revitalizing a stagnant story is by ignoring it completely. If you're stuck in a plot rut or a character is fading before your very eyes, let it go. Stop digging yourself deeper into the muck. Instead, take yourself outside of your story and concentrate on finding your inner inspiration. Below is an exercise to work some neglected brain muscles and stimulate a couple creative thoughts outside of your manuscript mire:

 

"Paint me a picture"

 

Sometimes we completely forget to bring a camera with us, even if we know we're going someplace we'd really like to remember. Instead of capturing these moments in a snapshot, pick one or two of the following prompts and paint a quick "word picture." Don't feel like it has to be real! It's just as fun to make it up:

 

  • A house by the sea...
  • A child laughing...
  • Umbrellas in a rain-drenched city...
  • A dog leaping into a lake...
  • A couple strolling down a street...
  • A flock of birds at sunset...
  • A field of wildflowers on fire...

 

See you next time!

 

-Kristin

 

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.

 

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Do You Have Writer's Block?

Unblocking Writer's Block

1,870 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, block, block, writers, writers, writing, writing, craft, craft, writer's, writer's, exercises, exercises
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Feeling Emotional About Structure

Story consultant Jen Grisanti has a great piece in the Huffington Post about the struggle of finding that perfect balance between emotion and structure in a story. She approaches it as someone who has a background in television and film, but the discussion is also relevant to authors. When writing, should an author adhere to the rules of structure at the expense of emotional opportunities? Or, is structure secondary to emotion?


In The Help, I wasn't sure who the protagonist was: Skeeter or Abelene. It was Skeeter who had the early goal in the story, but it was Abelene whom we empathized with. Truthfully, it didn't matter so much as I sat watching the film with my mom and my sister, enjoying the feeling of empowerment from the story.

 

You can read the entire article on the Huffington Post: Emotion vs. Structure: What Is More Important?

 

It's All About the Character Actors

I've noticed over my many years on this planet that people will often have their favorite leading man and woman working in Hollywood. Many times, if you ask two people to name their favourite, they will give the name of two different actors. Strangely enough, if you ask them to name their favorite character actor, you're likely to get the same handful of names over and over again. Character actors are the added ingredient that can make a bad film good or a good film great.


"You can have a weak, utterly bad script, and a good cast will turn it into a good picture," the director John Ford said. That's why, while the studios picked the stars, he chose the lived-in faces and unmelodious voices that define his work as much as the mesas of his westerns and the towering figure of John Wayne. The film critic Tag Gallagher nicely observed that Ford's films, like those of Howard Hawks, could be described as "a series of skits by character actors" and much the same can be said of the movies of Judd Apatow, a difference being that some of his favorites, including Seth Rogen, Jason Segal and Jonah Hill, broke out early from the ranks of bit players to become supporting players, headliners, even stars.

 

You can read the entire article on The New York Times' website: The Name Might Escape, Not the Work


The Resurrection of the Grateful Dead Brand

The Grateful Dead originated the jam band genre, and in the spirit of their "doing it for the love of music" attitude, they always kept a firm grip on their image. They entered very few commercial ventures and their fans seemed to gravitate towards their independent nature. But things have changed recently. The surviving members of the band have loosened their grip and expanded the commercial use of the Grateful Dead brand. But they aren't doing it for the money.


It's all in an effort to raise the Dead's profile among younger folks who may have no idea that Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia flavor is named after a real person. "The band wants to turn on that 18- to 25-year-old audience," says Mark Pinkus, the keeper of the Dead's legacy at Warner Music Group's Rhino Entertainment. Or to put it in the Dead's vernacular, "What we've generated - this energy, this music - is never supposed to end with the last note," says the Dead's Mickey Hart. "We hope our legacy goes on with that power intact."

 

You can read the entire article The Los Angeles Times' website: Leaving its skull and roses stamp on snowboards and more


-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - September 16, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - September 9, 2011

1,745 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, music, music, writing, writing, films, films, acting, acting, actors, actors, musicians, musicians, craft, craft, filmmakers, filmmakers
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With everything on your plate to get the word out about your book, getting a photo taken might be pretty far down on your list - if it's even on your list at all. But to do a good job marketing, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have a professional, high-resolution headshot.

 

If you want to promote your book, you're going to have to reach out to people who have no idea who you are, such as the press or reviewers. Many of these people will ask you for a photo, or they're going to look for one on your website or LinkedIn. And if there is nothing there, or if all you have posted is a grainy shot of you at a barbeque, it could create the impression that you're not professional or that you're not a serious writer.

 

Those impressions might not be true at all, but with a lot of the people you'll be contacting, you only get one chance to impress and convince them you're worth paying attention to. When you're marketing your book, it's almost like you're running for office: You need to look your best and present an image that makes people want to learn more about you and what you have to offer.

 

Just like a great cover might get a reader to pick up your book, a great headshot might encourage a conference organizer to invite you as a speaker or a local TV show to bring you on as a guest or a popular blog to interview you, etc., etc., etc.

 

You get the picture. Now get the picture taken!

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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So You've Published Your Book - Now What?

 

Grab Readers' Attention with Your Hook

2,928 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, promotion, promotions, branding
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Recently, I got notes from an editor that suggested making some fairly major changes to my manuscript. They were so extensive that I went through the typical stages associated with editorial comments: anger, denial, depression, acceptance, and surrender. The last stage was promptly followed by ten days of rewriting that resulted in a much better manuscript.

 

 

I started the rewrites by going through the notes and finding the most logical place to start. One would think that starting with the first change would be the best strategy, but as I went through the notes, I realized that starting with the last suggested change actually made the most sense. Why? Because the last change addressed the ending of the book.

 

 

I liked the ending as I had written it. In fact, I thought the ending was perfect, and frankly, I was a bit jolted by the editor's suggestion that I basically ditch it and come up with an entirely different ending. I struggled with the idea of rewriting it. I was so convinced I was right, I balked at first. I confided in a person whose opinion I trust that I thought the editor was wrong. To my utter horror, this person told me he agreed with the editor.

 

 

So, when I began the rewriting process, I decided to start with the ending because I was so attached to it. I knew if I could do the impossible and part with my version of the ending, the other changes would be a piece of cake. I nervously stared at the blinking cursor on the screen and eventually tapped out a few words. I stopped, took a deep breath, and continued. By the end of the first day, I had an entirely new ending, and it was better than the one I loved so dearly.

 

 

By tackling the toughest task first, I showed myself that I could reimagine my story. If you're staring at notes from an advance reader or editor, and you're not sure where to begin, start with the change you don't want to do. If you can let go of something you felt you couldn't possibly change, making the other changes will be a breeze.

 

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

 

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Use Two Brains for Writing and Rewriting

 

AAUGH! Rewrites!

2,593 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, authors, editing, editing, editing, editing, writers, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, writing, craft, craft, craft, craft
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

 

Books/Publishing

 

 

How to Secure Raving Endorsements for Your Product or Service - Michael Hyatt

 

The first step is asking. It's also the hardest. Michael Hyatt shares his best tips for getting endorsements. 

 

 

LeVar Burton Reveals Reading Rainbow Follow-Up - GalleyCat

 

Is an updated version of the show that taught a generation to love books in the works?                         

 

 

Film

 

 

Brad Pitt Believes Age of Filmmaking Dominated by Big Studios is Over - newKerala.com

 

The man who conquered the studio system sees the future of film belonging to the independent filmmaker.                              

 

 

How to Apply "Show, Don't Tell" in Screenplays - Filmmaking Stuff

 

It's the one piece of advice that drives beginning writers crazy. Screenwriter Jurgen Wolff explains how to apply it to your screenplay.     

 

 

Music

 

 

Copyright is Valuable - 'The Birthday Song' earns $2 Million a year in royalties - artists house music

 

Time to dust off that Happy Tuesday song and start collecting royalties.         

 

 

New Instrument Alert: Björk's Gameleste - Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise

 

Sometimes you've just got to go that extra mile, like creating a new musical instrument to get the sound you want.

 

 

-Richard

 

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - September 13, 2011 Edition

 

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - September 6, 2011 Edition

 

1,935 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, book, book, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, indie, indie, endorsements, endorsements, reading, reading, musicians, musicians, screenwriting, screenwriting, filmmakers, filmmakers
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In my post titled The Benefits of Vlogging, I wrote about bestselling author John Green's personal video strategy. It's a key component to his brand and one of the reasons he sells so many books. It's one of the reasons, but not the only reason. If you examine John Green's history, you can see that he actually has a multifaceted marketing strategy. Here are what I see as the keys to Green's success:


  • He's an excellent writer. Green has received accolades for his books from both inside the industry and customers. Writing matters. Reviews matter. As an independent author, you can pursue reviews from bloggers and readers. I've often asked people who've told me they've enjoyed my books to write a review on the retailer's website.
  • He has more than one title. Green has written or cowritten five books, and he has another that will be released next year. I've talked about the power of multiples before on this blog. The more titles you publish, the more copies of each title you tend to sell. The momentum of one helps the momentum of the others.
  • He has an active blog. If you are a frequent reader of my posts, you may be sick of me preaching about the importance of blogging, but I feel too strongly about it to stop telling you to blog. Green has an active blog on Tumblr.
  • He's involved in social media. Green is extremely active on Twitter. He has more than one million followers, and he has tweeted over 7,000 times. He's making and maintaining connections with readers on a personal level.
  • He's a vlogging dynamo. Green is a prolific vlogger. He pumps out video after video. His brand is personal, fluid, and alive.
  • He doesn't do it alone. Green has a vlogging partner, his brother. Together, they've created an enormous catalog of videos, and they've kept John Green the bestselling author in the rotation. There is nothing stale about Green's brand, thanks in large part to his partner.


As you can see, nothing that John Green does defies logic. He's not spending enormous amounts of money marketing his brand. He hasn't invented a new method for marketing his brand. He's doing what's always worked: he's putting the time and effort in to building a solid brand. His brand sells books because he keeps his brand active. Which of these strategies will you apply to your marketing efforts?


-Richard


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.



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The Benefits of Vlogging

 

The Power of Multiple Titles

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Is That Pesky Day Job Holding You Back?

 

The dream of most writers is to write and do nothing more in the way of work. In fact, "working" can be torturous at times. We want to write. That's all we want to do. Trust me, I know. The act of focusing on tasks that don't involve your current book approaches the realm of the impossible. We aren't bad people. This writing thing is just hard to shake. The question all writers face at some point is whether they should quit their day jobs to write. Writer's Digest recently covered that very topic.

 

 

Any type of self-employment can be a lonesome pursuit without the companionship of co-workers and others for your daily fix of human contact. But writing is, almost by definition, a solo endeavor, and doing it full time can leave you feeling isolated. Online interaction has, to some extent, become many self-employed writers' stand-in for face-to-face contact. But it's satisfying only to a point. Seidel recommends joining a local writing group, getting involved in community activities and treating yourself and a friend to lunch once or twice a week.

 

 

You can read the entire article on the Writer's Digest website: 10 Questions Writers Must Ask Before Quitting Their Day Job

 

 

An Indie Film Debate

 

I draw your attention to the somewhat heated exchange of articles in the Los Angeles Times by two film reviewers for no other reason than it highlights an age-old debate between Hollywood and filmmakers outside of the Hollywood system. Which group makes more important films? On one side you have Stephen Farber, a proponent of studio films, and on the other you have Mark Olsen, champion of the independent film. Here is a sample of what Olsen had to say.

 

 

Films such as the Sundance Film Festival breakout "Pariah" and John Sayles' historical drama "Amigo" are recent examples of politically committed, culturally connected films that do not pander or patronize, unlike "The Help" or "The Whistleblower," to use another film that Farber holds up as unfairly bashed by critics and on which he quotes me specifically.

 

 

You can read the entire article on The Los Angeles Times' website: Counterpoint: Why aim for the middle?

 

From the Man Who Coined the Word "Grunge"

 

Mark Arm, the front man for the band Mudhoneys, isn't just your everyday alternative rocker. He was instrumental in moving the Seattle music scene to the forefront of the alternative music category in late 80s and early 90s. In fact, Arm is credited with being the first to call their brand of music "grunge." Nirvana and Pearl Jam are two of the bands synonymous with the grunge sound, but it could be said that without Arm, grunge wouldn't be grunge.

 

 

To Mudhoney frontman Mark Arm, nothing is as preposterous as the notion that he's iconic. "I would be a narcissistic fool to think like that," Arm told Rolling Stone backstage at last weekend's Pearl Jam anniversary festival PJ20. But in addition to opening the main stage each night - a test run of sorts for their opening slot on Pearl Jam's upcoming tour of Canada - they served as a reminder that before Cobain, Vedder or Cornell, there were four ratty dudes from Bellevue who set the mold for a slacker movement.

 

 

You can read the entire article on Rolling Stone's website: Mudhoney's Mark Arm on Grunge's Legacy

 

 

-Richard

 

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - September 9, 2011

 

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - September 2, 2011

 

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It happens to all of us. Sometimes, no matter how motivated we are to work, we hit a wall and don't know what to write next. Or we know what we want to write but for whatever reason we struggle to get it on paper. When this happens to me, I have a few tactics for working around it:

 

  1. I go back and edit what I've already written.
  2. I use ALL CAPS to mark places where I need to write a new section, literally filling a few lines with something like WRITE A SCENE HERE ABOUT XX. Then I move on.
  3. If I come up with an idea for something to write but there's not a place for it in the book just yet, I write it in a new document named "To add in later." When writer's block hits, I reference this document to see if I can insert any of the ideas into what I've already written, or to see if I can create a new scene that includes them. To keep this list fresh, I carry sticky notes with me at all times and constantly make notes to myself, including when I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea. When I forget my sticky notes, I send myself text messages.

 

 

Clearing time in your schedule and mustering the creative energy to write on a regular basis isn't easy, so when you get stuck during these times it can be extremely frustrating. However, you can still be productive if you're willing to be flexible with how you work. The above tricks help me combat the occasional bout of writer's block, so I hope you find them useful. It may be in a roundabout way, but at least I'm being productive, which means my book is one step closer to completion.

 

What are your tactics for overcoming writer's block?

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Unblocking Writer's Block

Overwriting? Just Say It!

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I have a problem. I was supposed to write this blog post two hours ago. I sat down with my coffee, turned the computer on, and opened up a new document. Then I opened up my internet browser and totally lost track of time visiting three or four news and sports sites. Distraction, thy name is the Internet.

 

There is just so much to see and so many people to talk to online these days that it's hard to walk away. It's a time killer and sadly, in my case, it's a word killer. I often neglect time I've set aside for writing to surf the web, and I usually leave the computer at the end of the day feeling like a unproductive schlub. So to overcome my weakness for the World Wide Web, here are a few things I use to remove the temptation:

 

  1. Leave - I go to a nearby coffee shop or bookstore without my laptop. I take a pen and notebook with me and write the old-fashioned way. If I'm editing, I'll print off pages and take those with me. It feels very liberating at times to not have that glowing computer screen looking back at me. The drawback is that my handwriting is terrible. It can take me some time to decipher my own writing when I'm keying in my day's work at the end of the day.
  2. Disconnect - I have both a wireless and hard-wired connection in my house. Depending on which setup I'm using at the time, if I find myself browsing the internet I simply disconnect from it. Sure, it's easy to reconnect, but the most distracting thing about the Internet is that it's a seamless transition to get online. If I throw a seam in there, I'm less likely to do it.
  3. Schedule research time - My excuse for needing the Internet is that I use it for research for my books. I write fiction, but even fiction requires authenticity. Breaking away from my writing to look up information I need for a book leads to seeing what's happening on Facebook, which leads to clicking on the news items my friends have put on their walls, which leads to...you get the point. If I allow myself to interrupt writing to go online for any reason, it could be deadly to my writing schedule. The answer? Jot down research topics as I write and set aside a block of time later to do the online research. 

 

The internet brings us news instantaneously. It connects us with old friends and fans. It sparks revolutions. It's hard to resist something that powerful. But do your writing a favor: whenever possible, eliminate it as a temptation altogether.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Are Writing Rituals Good or Bad?

Is Writing a Talent or a Skill?

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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

7 Ways Successful Creatives Think Differently than Unsuccessful Ones - Michael Hyatt

According to Hyatt, successful people usually achieve success in seven steps.

 

The Shortest Story Ever - PWxyz

PWxyz has put together a list of shorter-than-short short stories. How short? Here's one by Ernest Hemingway: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

 

Film

 

DSLR Filmmaking: Fad or the Future of Cinema? - Fotorater

Sure, they shoot beautiful footage, but does the DSLR still camera design make it an impractical filmmaking tool?

 

Fix Your Movie in Previsualization -Filmmaking Stuff

Why fix it in post when you can save yourself the headache by working out all the details before you shoot?

 

Music

 

The Flaming Lips Record Six-Hour Song - Pitchfork

Wow! Talk about jam bands. It sounds crazy, but they're actually doing it for charity.

 

How Much Is the Music Industry Really Worth? Try $168 Billion... - digital music news

That is a lot of cabbage. The surprising thing about the figure is that it includes music instrument sales.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - September 6, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - August 30, 2011 Edition

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If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know I think it's important to have your own blog to build your brand. But you shouldn't just limit yourself to writing on your own blog. You should be writing on other blogs and websites as well. There is little to no pay involved, but it is still of great value to you. Why? Because those blogs have a built-in audience and an established track record that can help your credibility as a writer.

 

Here are a few blogs with information from their sites. Start investigating and look for opportunities to contribute to their communities. Look them over, read a few of their posts, and see if they're the right place or places for you.

 

  • Digital Journal: Today, DigitalJournal.com is a social news site powered by people just like you. Made up of professional journalists, citizen journalists, bloggers, passionate writers and regular Joes and Janes, DigitalJournal.com covers news and issues of the day. Contributors are known as "Digital Journalists" and they work 24-7 to offer news from multiple perspectives, while special attention is placed on quality and accuracy.

  • About.com: Every month, About.com Guides and contributors create content that helps 75 million visitors in their moment of need. They offer solutions and create community experiences on everything from health care and parenting issues to travel, cooking, technology, hobbies and more. You could be one of them!

  • Blogcritics.org: Are you a writer? Would you like to reach a large and growing audience and join a community of fellow writers? Then Blogcritics - Technorati's magazine of reviews, interviews, and opinion - may be for you. Blogcritics.org is an online magazine covering everything from music, books, film, TV, video, politics, culture, sports, gaming, science, and technology, to celebrity and the internet. We're interested in original reviews, news, and commentary on any of these subjects, or most anything else interesting and well-written. Articles must be in English, and we suggest that you try to contribute at least once a week - the more you contribute, the more you get back.

  • eHow.com: Demand Media provides informative articles and videos to eHow.com. Thanks to the rich and extensive articles, videos, innovative tools and an active community, eHow.com has become one of the most visited websites in the United States and around the world. As an eHow.com writer, you can play an instrumental role in ensuring millions of people have answers to their questions and help with their projects.

 

These websites and others are available to writers to help give them exposure. When you're an author trying to sell a book, you need all the exposure you can get. None of us have enough time in the day as it is, but if you commit yourself to contributing to sites like these and helping others on a regular basis, you will eventually get that exposure you need to help build your brand.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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The Benefits of Vlogging

The 5-Minute Guide to Promoting Your Book with Article Marketing

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2

The number one objection I hear from authors when I suggest they create and maintain a blog is that they think they are too boring to have a blog. But I am here to tell you that there is no one more boring than me. I put the "yay" in "stay-at-home." Nothing thrills me more than a night in my easy chair, falling asleep to a bad movie my wife and I have rented.

 

Yet I have been consistently blogging since April 2008, in addition to two inconsistent years before that. I discovered somewhere along the way that people don't visit my blog because I'm a particularly interesting person; they visit it because we share some of the same passions. For example, I regularly make observations on pop culture that sometimes spark debate. 

 

The key to bringing in traffic to my blog - and yours - is the volume of original content. You have to write post after post after post to accumulate a history of search-term-worthy material to bring in views on a regular basis. In short, visitors will forgive your lifestyle, or lack thereof, but they won't forgive a lack of credibility. Credibility in the blogging world is tied to consistency and original content.

 

You may be just as boring as me, but we're fortunate that the world is far from boring. There are plenty of topics out there for you to comment on, and these posts can form the foundation for your blog. In the beginning, whenever it feels like your blogging is an exercise in futility, banish that feeling! Don't give up on your blog if it fails to bring in traffic within the first weeks or months. Keep at it for no other reason than to accumulate that original content that will give your blog - and your brand - credibility.

 

Good luck and happy blogging!

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Pop Culture and Your Blog: Should You Care?

Bloggers, Ask Yourselves These Five Questions

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Is the Book Better, or Is Film Just the Wrong Medium for Some Stories?

It's been said over and over again: "The book is better than the movie." Part of the reason is because the book had a fan base before the film was even a thought. After all, Hollywood rarely buys the film rights to unpopular books to bring to the big screen. That fan base feels protective of their much-beloved book and declares it the winner of the two versions. But, it could also be said that some books just aren't suited for film adaptations. Rachel Deahl takes on the topic on PWxyz.       

 

Even if great books fail as movies more often than they succeed, don't most readers have a secret urge to see their favorite books on the screen? I know I do. I think making The Catcher In the Rye is a terrible idea, but that doesn't mean I don't want to see what someone might do with it. I know, deep down, that a screen version of Holden Caulfield will be reductive and disappointing and miss the mark - his facial expressions won't match, his prep school scarf will look too much like something stolen off the set of Harry Potter, his repeated use of the word 'phony' will make me cringe - but I've already started thinking about who should be cast.

 

You can read the entire article on PWxyz: Is the Screen Always Worse Than the Page?

 

How Would Classic Films Change If They Were Made Today?

A few years ago, I watched a Jimmy Stewart film from the 40s, and I was struck by how obsolete one particular scene had become. He was on the phone with someone, and they said they would be right over. Twenty seconds later, the person knocked on the door. Stewart answered the door and delivered his line, "What did you do, call from the car?" It was a joke that would have fallen flat today because what was an outrageous idea in the 1940s is a reality today. The Los Angeles Times recently looked at classic directors and how technology would force them to do things differently if they were around today.                

 

"Double Indemnity" (1944): With cellphone records and embedded GPS, it would take Edward G. Robinson's claims adjuster all of 10 minutes to figure out that Walter (Fred MacMurray) and Phyllis (Barbara Stanwyck) were having an affair in Wilder's film noir about a life insurance scam. And the plot to make it look like hubby fell from the train? I'm betting that once Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner builds up enough speed to break your neck in a fall between San Diego and Los Angeles, its doors can't be opened for that fatal shove.

 

You can read the entire article on the Los Angeles Times' website: Where would Alfred Hitchcock be with today's technology?

 

That's Entertainment...Or Is It?

What is entertainment? It's a question in the music business that a select number of executives at record labels used to get to decide. Now, in this age of digital devices and direct distribution by artists, who gets to decide what entertainment is? Is it the consumer? Is it the blogger? Is it the artist with money enough to wage a marketing coup across multiple media platforms? Who is really in charge of our tastes in music today? It's an interesting debate kicked off by singer/actress Rona Topaz.  

 

I recently had a falling out with a Facebook "friend" over the subject matter which forms the basis of this article. It all started with my misinterpretation of their comments - I thought she was lamenting her lack of success as a professional singer - but when I commiserated with her she turned on me and accused me of always playing the victim. However, what I actually claimed was that artists are constantly at the mercy of their fans and the multitude of human beings who decide which acts to book, whose recordings to download, etc.

 

You can read the entire article on Croy Music Miscellany: What is entertainment?

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - September 2, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - August 26, 2011

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Look Who's Talking

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 8, 2011

First-time novelists often have trouble with dialogue. A common problem is that the characters all sound the same, so the readers have a hard time telling them apart. As a result, the readers get confused, annoyed, distracted, or all of the above - none of which you want to happen.

 

If you want your readers to become invested in your characters, you need to bring those characters to life - and dialogue presents a wonderful opportunity to do just that! So when your characters speak, have them make an impression. Are they sarcastic? Jaded? Bitter? Happy? Sad? Pessimistic? Optimistic? Loyal? Funny? Do they use their hands a lot when they speak? Do they lower their voice when they gossip? Do they chew gum? Do they have a particular gesture or body tic that gives away what they're feeling?

 

You may have heard the expression "show, don't tell," and this is a great example of that. Don't tell us what the characters are like, let them show us.

 

Think about the people in your life who are closest to you. I'm guessing you can often tell what they're feeling just by their body language. If you can put that level of perception into your dialogue, your readers will come to see your characters as real people, not just words on a page. And if you do this well, eventually you'll be able to write a line and either think to yourself, "This sounds just like something Sally Smith would say or do," or "Sally Smith would never say or do such a thing," in which case, delete and try again.

 

When the characters begin speaking to you, they begin to take on a life of their own, and the story starts to write itself. And when that happens, you're on your way to producing a great novel.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Taking a Character from Good to Bad

Use Emotion to Propel Your Story

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As much as we proclaim it to be, writing shouldn't be a totally solitary exercise. Yes, those hours you sit tapping away at your keyboard should probably be done in solitude, but let's face it: the act of writing is only a tiny portion of the entire process of writing a book. 

 

The fact of the matter is writers are never "off the clock." I am always watching the world around me for drops of inspiration. It's not a conscious choice; I do it without knowing it. I may see something happen, then start up a conversation about it sometime later with my wife, and then suddenly realize there's a story there. I didn't realize it on my own. I realized it through a back-and-forth interaction I shared with my wife. I observe the event differently with her input and it becomes altogether compelling and magical.

 

Having a sounding board in your life makes it so much easier to be a writer, not just for developing ideas, but also for developing your writing itself. For years, I was silent about my writing. I was too embarrassed to let people know it was my passion, and that it was something I really wanted to do with my life. I wrote in true solitude, and as a result, I didn't grow very much as a writer. When my mother finally discovered my writing while cleaning my room one day, I was forced to leave my self-imposed solitary confinement, and, as a result, I was able to get a different perspective on my writing. I started growing as a writer.

 

We writers shouldn't shut ourselves in a room and expect to be struck by inspiration. It could happen, but I think it's more likely that you'll be inspired and will grow as a writer by living your life and discussing your latest projects with others. You have an entire world of sounding boards out there - use them!

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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It's Never Too Early to Get a Little Help from Your Friends

The First 5 Weeks of a Manuscript - Week 5

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0

Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Literature IQ: Test Your Knowledge with These Quizzes - PWxyz

Do you know your literature? Here's your chance to test yourself in the privacy of your own home.

 

Urban Writing Myths and the New Renaissance - Let's Get Digital

How solitary is writing for a living? Sometimes it takes a village to write a bestseller.                   

 

Film

 

Rob Spence Implants a Bionic Camcorder in His Eye - Videomaker

This filmmaker is taking a tragedy and turning it into innovative, voyeuristic filmmaking.                            

 

Time Lapse of a Television Editor - Filmmaker IQ

How to edit a one-hour TV show - a 25-day process in a three-minute video  

 

Music

 

How to Sell & License Cover Songs, YouTube, Pomplamoose & More - Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Bob Baker looks at the issue of recording and posting videos of cover songs on YouTube.     

 

VIDEO: Pink Floyd: Journey To The Dark Side Of The Moon - Mojo

A video history of one of the most commercially successful bands of all time. What was their secret to success?

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - August 30, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - August 23, 2011 Edition

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Self-Published with a Twist

In a deal that some have called weird, Simon & Schuster has signed a distribution deal with self-published author John Locke to distribute the print versions of his eBooks. Locke will retain the eBook rights to his books, and his self-publishing imprint will be listed as the publisher of the print versions. It's a deal that displays Locke's talent as a writer and marketer, and it also shows the strength of the independent publishing industry.     

 

Rather than abandoning the indie path, John Locke has leveraged his huge self-publishing sales to strike a highly unusual print deal. It's extremely rare for a publisher - especially a major player like Simon & Schuster - to sign a "print only" deal of any kind. Normally, a print deal will involve the publisher licensing the rights to sell your book, for which they pay you royalties (and often an advance on royalties) in return. This is very different. Essentially, as Mike Shatzkin points out, John Locke is hiring Simon & Schuster to distribute the books.

 

You can read the entire article on Let's Get Digital: John Locke Signs Print Distribution Deal With Simon & Schuster

 

The Ever-Expanding Budgets of Hollywood Films

It costs a lot to make studio films. We've gone from millions to tens of millions to a couple hundred million to produce film over the last 40 years. For example, the French Connection in 1971 cost $1.8 million to make. The Quantum of Solace James Bond instalment cost $200 million to make in 2008. One would expect a rise in production costs due to inflation and the changing value of the dollar, but 90% seems a bit drastic. Variety offered one explanation for the inflated budgets.               

 

There are many explanations for this escalation, but, as one veteran producer puts it, "It all comes down to the attitude and experience of the filmmaker." The filmmakers who came into prominence in the '70s had worked in live television or on Broadway and understood the rigors of decision-making. Steven Spielberg testifies that the most valuable element in his cinematic education was directing series television in his early days at Universal. Today's young filmmakers, lacking that experience, preside over sprawling production schedules. They need more time to shoot and to edit, and then often go back for re-shoots.

 

You can read the entire article on Variety's website: 'Alien' territory: an economics lesson

 

 

The Revolution Began with Nothing but a Hound Dog

Many credit Elvis Presley for making rock 'n' roll music a mainstream genre. It had been roaring across the airwaves years before Presley walked into Sun Studios to cut his first record, but his snarling lip and wiggling hips electrified a generation like never before. He made numerous television appearances, bringing his special brand of music to large audiences, but on the Milton Berle show in June 1956, Elvis shocked a nation of parents while suggestively swinging his hips to Jerry Leiber's song You Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog and unofficially started a rock 'n' roll revolution.

 

 

Nowadays it's hard to imagine how shocked and offended a large segment of middle-class America, not to mention the traditional songwriting establishment, was by Jerry Leiber's slangy, ungrammatical lyric to his writing partner Mike Stoller's rough-hewn blues melody. In a Rodgers and Hammerstein world, this wasn't polished songwriting, sniffed the guardians of polite pop culture; it was musical barbarism, its sinister, possibly lewd hidden meanings flaunted by a gyrating star who in 1956 seemed as dangerously compelling as a sexy alien who had just dropped down to Earth from outer space.

 

 

You can read the entire article on The New York Times' website: Igniting a Revolution, Starting with 'Hound Dog'

 

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - August 26, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - August 19, 2011

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1

I blogged a few weeks ago about a particular grammar pet peeve of mine, and I have a new one: capitalizing words that shouldn't be capitalized. Unfortunately, I see this a lot. Here are some typical examples of mistakes authors often make, both in their books and their marketing communications:

 

  • He's the Vice President of a big company.
  • I'm going to give a presentation at my local Library.
  • I'm very proud of being an Author.
  • Having a Business degree helps with book Marketing.
  • My book is coming out next Summer.

 

To the trained eye, the capitalized words above scream "amateur" and are a huge distraction. They also make me want to put down whatever I'm reading and never pick it up again. If it's a book, that means I won't recommend it because I won't finish it. If the errors are on the author's website, bio, or other marketing materials, it stops me from picking up the book at all. And that is unfortunate, because the story could be great!

 

The basic rules of capitalization are very simple:

 

  • Only proper nouns (cities, states, people, companies, etc.) are capitalized.
  • Titles are capitalized only when they come directly before a person's name (e.g. "I saw President Obama on television last night," but "Barack Obama is the president of the United States").
  • College degrees are not capitalized, and neither are majors, except for languages (e.g. "I have a bachelor's degree in English and a master's in business").
  • Generic departments and functions at companies are not capitalized (e.g. "He works in the marketing department, and she helps out with accounting").
  • Seasons of the year are not capitalized.

 

If you think about the above rules, you may remember learning them in elementary school, which is where we learned a lot of life's important lessons. When it comes to grammar, sometimes it's important to go back to the basics.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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The Plural of Book is Not Book's

Solving the Mystery of Lie vs. Lay

4,666 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, authors, authors, writers, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, writing, craft, craft, craft, craft, grammar, grammar, grammar, grammar

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