Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: Movies

A montage of public events in Texas

What’s it Gonna Take?

By G. S. Norwood

With the number of new COVID-19 cases dropping, and Memorial Day in the rearview mirror, what’s it gonna take to get you out of the house and back into large entertainment venues this summer? I’m thinking specifically of movie theaters and concert halls, but that’s just me. What about sports arenas and churches? County fairs, rodeos, and festivals? Are you prepared to dive back into public pools and farmers’ markets? Just how comfortable are you going into public spaces, indoors or out, where a lot of people gather, with or without masks?

Montage of public events in Texas.
Texas, like the rest of the country, offers a variety of crowded events (see below for credits).

Let’s Take it For a Spin

My youngest granddaughter graduated from high school a couple of weekends ago. She was home-schooled, and the home school association that sponsored the graduation ceremony aligns with the evangelical Christian movement. All of which is to explain why I found myself in a crowd of happy people, celebrating their children’s rite of passage without a mask in sight, and—at a guess—not many vaccinated people in attendance.

But I love Warren’s daughter and her family. My granddaughter wanted me to be there. So I went. Never mind that, only a few months ago, the whole thing would have been a prime candidate for a super-spreader event. I decided to take my fully-vaccinated status, and the latest CDC guidelines, out for a spin.

Go Live? Or go Livestream?

But that was family, and I hadn’t seen any of them in quite a while. What’s it gonna take to get me out to an event that doesn’t involve relatives? Well . . . Maybe money?

Crowded concerts by The Dallas Winds.
Will you be ready to return to concerts like these at the Dallas Winds? (see below for credits).

July Fourth is a big day for the Dallas Winds. Every year, except for last year, we have a concert at Dallas’ Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Lots of patriotic music. Lots of fun. A giant flag drops from above the stage. CO2 cannons fire streamers into the air. A delightful guy in maybe the best Uncle Sam costume I’ve ever seen hands out flags to kids and grownups in the lobby. He used to do it on stilts. It’s a big, old fashioned celebration of patriotism and American music. The concert usually sells out the 2,061-seat house.

As Director of Concert Operations, I’ll be involved in it up to my eyebrows. It’s my job, and I’ll be paid for it. You can bet I’ll be there. But will you?

You will have the option to attend in person, whether the city limits us to no more than 500 socially distanced ticket holders, or lifts the limits and lets us sell the whole house. You’ll also have the option to purchase a pay-to-view livestream of the concert. Are streamer cannons and flag drops enough to get you out of your house after a year without the magic of a live concert? Or will you be content to sit back and watch it on a small screen at home?

200 piccolos and Uncle Sam on stilts join the Dallas Winds on July 4, 2016. (see below for credits).

Two Hours in the Dark With Your Dreams

Speaking of magic, what about movies? As much as I adore a live concert, my idea of the perfect getaway is to sit in the dark for a couple of hours, watching somebody else’s story unfold in front of me on a giant screen. With popcorn, of course. But I haven’t been to a movie theater since November 2019, when I went to see Knives Out.

Movie posters for “The Green Knight,” “Black Widow,” and “Knives Out.”
The author is looking forward to a return to movies in theaters (see below for credits).

Oh, I’ve watched feature films since then, but that was streaming video at home. I had to make my own popcorn and get my own soda refills. Didn’t have to gamble on having time to hit the restroom during the big fight sequence in the middle. I could pause the action for as long as I wanted, go to the bathroom, take the dogs out, maybe order a pizza and wait for delivery. And I was certainly not glued to my chair, bound by time limits to absorb the whole experience right now, the way you are in a movie theatre.

Cinemark is the dominant theater chain in my area. They’ve devoted a lot of their website to detailing the steps they take to make their theaters clean and safe for patrons. You want to check it out? There’s a banner at the top of every page you can click for more information. Or read it here.

Is it enough? Maybe. But maybe it will take all that plus Black Widow. Or The Green Knight. Will Dev Patel on a horse be enough to tempt me out of the house in the middle of the summer?

The Green Knight releases on July 30, 2021. (see below for credits).

What’s it Gonna Take?

2020 was the year of the introvert. We all got to stay home, deal with work remotely, and insulate ourselves from the pandemic craziness outside. But things are opening up again now. Although only 35% of people in Texas are fully vaccinated, we’re going to have to go back out there sooner or later. You tell me. What’s it gonna take?

IMAGE CREDITS:

We have lots of thanks to share, this week. Both videos come from the YouTube channels of their originators. The Dallas Winds and the World Record for Most Piccolos Playing “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” and The Green Knight Official Trailer in HD from A24. Much obliged!

All image montages were assembled by Jan S. Gephardt.

Crowded Texas Venues

Many thanks to The Dallas Morning News, for both the photo of the Dallas Cowboys game from 2019, by photographer Tom Fox, and the Shed at the Dallas Farmers Market, by photographer Ron Baselice. We thank Second Baptist Church’s Facebook Page and Wide Open Country for the photo of people at a service. Our gratitude goes to Texas Hill Country for the photo of rides at a county fair after dark, and Travel Texas for the undated photo of the unidentified barrel racer. Thanks also to The Dallas Observer and photographer Brian Maschino for the photo from the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Dallas Winds at the Meyerson

Many thanks to The Dallas Winds for the image of their logo, the photo of the crowd listening to a fanfare at the Meyerson, and the “Star Spangled Spectacular” concert (also used in a previous post). The photo of a Dallas Winds audience is courtesy of Culture Pass: Dallas Culture. We thank you all.

Three Movie Posters

Our deepest gratitude goes to Amazon for the posters for the movies Knives Out and Black Widow. The not-at-all-green poster image for The Green Knight is straight from A24, the studio itself. We are grateful to all!

Shady and Ace

Hints and glimpses

To anyone who asks, “Can you tell me about your book?” I can only offer hints and glimpses. Of course, that’s all any of us can offer, short of a full read.

But which hints and glimpses?

It becomes marketing

It becomes marketing, whether we authors and our might-be-readers care to think of it that way or not.

The quote from Cassandra Clare reads, “I thought . . . that we could at least talk about books.”
(PictureQuotes)

We not only want to give the asker a good idea of what our story’s about—we want them to think it’s interesting. That it could be a fun and fulfilling read.

That they really need to read it (buy it) right now.

So the hints and glimpses can’t be any old snippets. We want to give our might-be-readers the good stuff. The most intriguing glimpses. The best provocative hints to pique their curiosity. We want to give clues to “What kind of story is this?” To make our ideal readers sit up and think, “Oh, that sounds promising!”

And then, crucially, to click through and make it their own.

What goes into good hints and glimpses?

Oh, man, if we could formulate that and bottle it, no ad campaign would ever fail again! The fact is, no one quite knows. Each book is different. Each reader is different. The variables go fractal real fast.

It’s not that people haven’t tried. For instance, I’ve gotten some helpful guidelines from teachers such as Bryan Cohen (full disclosure: I’ve only taken his free “Challenge” courses so far). Alex Wong has some good suggestions. And I’ve heard great things about Robert J. Ryan’s guidelines from trusted friends in the business.

But after a while no formula, if followed too closely, yields fresh results. Every blurb, every tagline, every story sentence will start to sound the same. It’s kinda like watching too many movie trailers in a row, when they’re all built on the same structure.

(Auralnauts)

Wait. Nostalgia moment! Remember movies? In, like, theaters? With surround-sound and a huge screen and sometimes even kinetic effects built into the seats? *Sigh!* Will there be any movie-theater survivors after Covid-19?

Visual + verbal cues

I’ve been thinking about this question of what makes for good hints and glimpses, a lot recently. My design work over the last couple of weeks for Weird Sisters Publishing focused on ways to create a single image that might rouse someone’s curiosity about one of our stories.

Maybe you’ve followed my “creating a cover with . . .” posts. (for Deep Ellum Pawn with Chaz Kemp, for The Other Side of Fear with Lucy A. Synk, and most recently for Deep Ellum Blues, once again with Chaz).

If so, you’ll recognize some of the elements I used: developmental images from Chaz augmented the messages of words and cover art, as in this one for Deep Ellum Pawn.

The picture shows a Hell Hound next to the cover of “Deep Ellum Pawn,” with the words: “The Golden Fiddle is back. The Hell Hounds are Ms. Eddy’s problem now.”
(Deep Ellum Pawn artwork ©2019 by Chaz Kemp)

Likewise, you may recognize Mudcat from the cover-creation post for Deep Ellum Blues.

This picture shows Mudcat playing his tobacco-burst Strat next to the cover of “Deep Ellum Blues,” with the words, “Will Ms. Eddy intervene when an old adversary threatens a young musician in Deep Ellum?”
(Deep Ellum Blues artwork ©2020 by Chaz Kemp)

Chaz Kemp creates his images purely digitally, building up the image in layers. This makes it easier to change the sizes and positions of the elements in the composition. It also makes it possible to use the developmental images for purposes such as the blog posts and ads.

New visuals for the XK9s

But both of our XK9 cover artists, Jody A. Lee for What’s Bred in the Bone, and Lucy A. Synk, for The Other Side of Fear, are painters. They might make sketches beforehand (see the cover-creation post about Lucy’s work). They also may go back into the image with Photoshop to adjust small aspects. But they don’t produce the same kind of digital images in layers.

It makes the sketching and developmental phases more crucial! I can hardly wait to tell the story of how Jody and I worked together on the cover for A Bone to Pick.

It also creates a need for a different kind of character-developmental image. Lucy and I have been working on a series of “Pack portraits.” These are individual images of each XK9 in the Orangeboro Pack. I plan to use them for a variety of things, including “Character Profile” blog posts in the future.

This is a screen-capture of the sign-up form, which features Lucy’s painting of XK9 Petunia at the top with the words, “Join the Pack!” There’s an actual sign-up form you can use at the bottom of this page if you’d like to receive my monthly newsletter.
(Artwork © 2020 by Lucy A Synk; form by ConvertKit)

But you might already have spotted XK9 Petunia Yeller-Melody on my newsletter subscription form (sign up at the bottom of this post, to get first looks at things like the cover artwork Jody just delivered for A Bone to Pick!)

Incorporating covers with characters

Here’s what I put together for What’s Bred in the Bone. It uses Jody’s cover, Lucy’s “running Rex” image, and a tagline built from successful Amazon ads.

A full-body image of Rex gallops toward the cover of “What’s Bred in the Bone.” Below, the text reads, “In his quest to share an important clue with human investigators, XK9 Rex lands himself and his Packmates in mortal danger. How can he save them?”
(What’s Bred in the Bone artwork ©2019 by Jody A. Lee and ©2020 by Lucy A. Synk)

Finally, here’s the picture for The Other Side of Fear. All the artwork here is Lucy’s. The tagline is taken from a successful Amazon ad. Since then, I’ve rewritten the book description. Read it on multiple platforms.

In this picture, XK9 Shady play-bows next to the cover of “The Other Side of Fear” and the words, “A voyage of self-discovery with an uplifted sapient police dog, “The Other Side of Fear” is a science fiction novella set just before the events in the XK9 “Bones” Trilogy.”
(All artwork for The Other Side of Fear is © 2020 by Lucy A. Synk)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look “under the hood” at some of the ways we at Weird Sisters Publishing develop our pictures and messages. Please sign up for my newsletter if you’d like to receive monthly “insider scoops” and first looks at new projects and art.

IMAGE CREDITS

Many thanks to PictureQuotes for the Cassandra Clare quote, and to Auralnauts, for the “How to make a Blockbuster Movie Trailer” video. Weird Sisters Publishing and I are deeply grateful to Chaz Kemp, Jody A. Lee, and Lucy A. Synk for all the wonderful pictures they’ve blessed us with.

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