Thursday Thrills!

I know.  You can barely contain your excitement for today’s post.  I apologize if I’m responsible for keeping you up all night, tossing and turning, checking the clock every thirty seconds in hopes that it was morning so you could finally tune in and see who won the contest and what the surprise is 🙂

But you can stop champing at the bit.  The big moment has arrived….  Who knew Thursday could be this thrilling?

First, I am pleased to announce the winner of Monday’s Picture Book Game Contest!

(Drum roll please… Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!)

And the winner is…. Jenny!

Congratulations, Jenny, come on down!

Let’s show Jenny her prize.  In addition to the SLHill title of her choice, personally signed in any way she’d like, Jenny wins the admiration of her puzzle-solving peers, and the opportunity to have her name up in pink on this blog!  YAY, JENNY!!!  

(Jenny, please use the “email me” button in the right margin of the blog to let me know which book you’d like, how you want it signed, and what your mailing address is.  Well done!)

I think our other finalists deserve a moment of recognition for their stellar attempts, don’t you?  So we will celebrate them in runner-up orange:  Yay, Megan, Teri, and Diane!  Excellent work!

To everyone else, good try and don’t worry… there will be other opportunities to win soon.  You know perfectly well that I can’t resist making up contests 🙂

Now, for the surprise.  Really, could this day get any better?

The book trailer for April Fool, Phyllis! is at last up and running on YouTube!  Here’s the link:

April Fool, Phyllis! – Children’s Picture Book Trailer

Please turn the sound up so you can hear the catchy tune that goes with it (although I should warn you – if you’re like me, it’s liable to get stuck in your head for weeks :))

Please feel free to click “like” and share the link with every single person you know – I want to go viral 🙂  Wouldn’t that be awesome?  Probably there should be a book trailer award for homemade imovie trailers – like an Academy Award – only instead of the Oscar it could be the Phyllis… 🙂

Enjoy, everyone!  And don’t forget to join me here at 10:30 for The Writer’s Club where this morning’s topic will be… anything you feel like talking about!

Snow Day!

Breaking news:  we are having our first official snow day of the year!  And it is actually snowing (which is not always the case – in these days of doppler radar (don’t you love it when I use technical terms I don’t really know the meanings of?) the school districts have been known to jump the gun with a little too much enthusiasm.)

I love snow days!

I’m no longer a kid (I know that comes as a shock :)) and I don’t attend school, so snow days shouldn’t be that different from regular days.  I still have plenty of work to do.

But somehow, snow days are still great.  The kids can sleep late and have a fun-filled, relaxing day.  We can have a fire in the fireplace before evening – so cozy:)  There’s an almost lazy feel to the day because if the school buses can’t venture out then I am certainly not going to endanger society by taking the Dog Mobile out of the garage!  So, no errands.  And something about being holed up, warm and dry, while the snow falls peacefully outside is very conducive to writing stories.  At least for me.  As long as I don’t get side-tracked into reading stories instead 🙂

Aside from writing, I have a special project for today.  I’m almost finished with the book trailer for April Fool, Phyllis!  I know you’ve all been counting the minutes until you can see it, so this is surely thrilling news 🙂  It just needs some more of that nit-picky tweaking I’m so not fond of, and then it needs some complimentary music.  Anyone have any ideas?  I’m open to suggestion.  I can’t wait until it’s completely done and I can share it with you!

Also, I hope you all noticed the totally cool count-down thingy on the right side of the blog page.  It’s counting down to the release of April Fool, Phyllis!  So fun, don’t you think?

In other news, I have allowed myself to be talked into joining Month of Poetry.  Yes, it’s true.  My apologies to all the real poets out there.  I wrote my first Haiku poem yesterday.  It was not good.  Maybe today I’ll try a limerick…  There once was a dog on the hill/who loved to chase after a squirrel…  Maybe not.

But I’m thinking of dogs and squirrels because, at this very moment, Jemma is climbing a tree.  I am not making this up.  A squirrel ran up it (well, let’s be honest – she chased it there) and she’s doing her darndest to get up after it.  Four sets of claws are doggedly (:)) clinging to bark, and it is obvious she intends to catch that squirrel by sheer force of will.  Oops.  Sliding.  If only I’d been a little quicker with the camera!  Story idea here?

So it’s time to get to work (as soon as I take dem dogs for a snowy walk and give the squirrels a little break!)  I hope I’ll have the new trailer to share with you by Monday.

Have a great weekend, and if you live around here, happy snow day!

Technology 101: Book Trailers

I told you I was off to work on the book trailer for April Fool, Phyllis!, and I am.  But let me assure you, it is uphill work!

I read an article or a blog post somewhere (sorry, no idea where) which described people as falling into one of two categories: digital natives and digital immigrants.  My children are digital natives – they have grown up with computers and other electronic devices of all kinds and seem to have an innate understanding of how they function.  They also have no fear whatsoever of experimenting with said devices to see what they can do.  I, on the other hand, am most definitely a digital immigrant.  Technology of all kinds eludes me.  I require large amounts of handholding to try anything beyond Microsoft Word, and I am afraid to experiment lest I cause my computer to spontaneously combust, thereby costing me my ability to check my email 4,000 times a day and play Sporcle.

So you can see how creating a book trailer could be uphill work!

There are some famous authors out there whose publishing houses get their book trailers made by professionals.  I am not one of them.  There are other slightly less famous authors out there who do well enough to pay a professional to make book trailers for them.  I am not one of them either.

I use imovie and badger my computer-savvy children with endless questions until I hack my way through the trailer.  Possibly not the most efficient or popular method, but it gets the job done.  If you’re interested in viewing my hack jobs thus far, please click this link: SLHILLYouTubeChannel

(While you’re there, please feel free to subscribe to my channel, “like” the trailers, and/or write glowing reviews marveling over the creative and technological genius clearly at work behind both books and trailers :))

This is how it works.  I turn on imovie (I can do this because all I have to do is click on it.)  Then I can’t remember what to do next, so I shriek loudly, “HELP!” at which point one of my long-suffering children comes to my aid.  This happens a few more times while I import images and color blocks for text.  This is followed by a long period of pondering exactly how I want to use the images and what I want the trailer to accomplish.  Some confuse this period with daydreaming or playing TextTwist, but I promise you, it is all about intense thinking.

Once I decide where I’m headed, I just have to put it all together.  This, unfortunately, is a very nit-picky job requiring A LOT of patience, a commodity of which I am in short supply.  I am frequently forced to sustain myself with oatmeal raisin cookies and excessive caffeine in order to soldier on through.  I then make everyone in the house watch the result numerous times and give feedback, which is followed by more tweaking and the members of my household becoming mysteriously hard to locate.

But when at last the trailer is done, I love having it.

Opinions vary as to whether book trailers are useful in any way, but here is my theory: in this day and age of online shopping, consumers looking for books are not in a position to pick them up and leaf through them to get a feel for what the books are like.  A book trailer gives you a little of that experience.  Ideally, a person looking to buy your book can click on the trailer and get an experience similar to holding it and skimming through it in the book store.  I think that’s helpful, especially with picture books where the art plays such an important role.  So that is why I make them.

What are your thoughts on book trailers?  Do you watch them?  Do you find them helpful?  Do they influence your decision to buy or not to buy?

And now, back to work.  I’ll let you know when this one is done, but don’t hold your breath.  Any spontaneous and completely unsolicited mailings of sustaining cookies and/or chocolate will be much appreciated!