Saturday, January 31, 2015

Don't make your books into trailer trash

Welcome to Rachel Bostwick, the designer of all my book trailers and also an author in her own right, who's accepted my invitation to share some tips for authors on making pro book trailers.

Rachel's website

Graphic designer by day, aspiring novelist by night, R. L. Wicke explores the fullness of life set against the compelling beauty of a post-apocalyptic Earth. Her writing has been described as rich and filled with reverence for the characters who struggle and fight at the end of one world and the beginning of the next.

She lives in Amish Country, PA with her husband, a million cats, and four feral children. She seeks to help out fellow writers and lovers of fiction by offering her pro design skills and her natural talent for encouragement.

I need intro music for Rachel and she is just the right person to choose it. What would you like as your theme, Rachel, and why?

My husband would choose Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong by the Spin Doctors. He always gives me that wicked look in his eye when it comes on the radio. I would choose Hallelujah by the Newsboys – it’s about having faith when life gets tricky and it’s the one song that I’ve always felt was actually written for me.

The first trailer you made for me, One Sixth of a Gill keeps to your basic template ( which can be ordered from Rachel at fiverr for only $5 ).  

One Sixth of a Gill

Can you talk us through your creative process?
Well, working with you has been amazing, Jean, because as a photographer as well as a writer, you have an eye for beauty. 
(I'm blushing here but thank you for the compliments!)

I try to get a feeling for the tone of the book – is it funny or dramatic or sad or compelling or adventurous? Then I choose music and images that will communicate that directly to potential readers.

What can authors do to help you make more compelling trailers?
Communication is key. Tell me what feeling you want to pass on to the reader so I can work with the right ideas in mind. For example, yesterday a client told me that his book appeals to the Sex and the City crowd. That gave me the exact right idea for choosing music. But even simple things like 'My book is humorous and appeals to women in their twenties,' is helpful.

What makes your work more difficult?
The hardest thing to work with is images that are too small. I can have a basic book trailer done in a single day if I start with the right images. Free images of highest quality can be found on or on Better yet, if you want to make a striking impression, you can buy images on one of many stock photography sites out there. If you feel like that’s too much of a time investment, I am able to choose and even license professional images for you.

Authors can ask you to customize trailers for a few dollars more. In our work together, I’ve really appreciated the way you see the story and show it, using my images and your choice of musical theme. You were especially pleased with this trailer: why? 

Faithful through Hard Times

How did you get into making trailers?
I’ve been a professional graphic designer since my late teens, but I never did much video. When I decided to pursue writing, I made friends with many other authors and was exposed to some book trailers that I felt were poorly done. I started making my own for fun, just to inspire me in writing my drafts. A good friend mentioned that he thought it was something I could do professionally, so I started making them for friends, just to see if I could. And I could :)

Rachel's fivver link for trailer design
You’re a writer too. How do you combine working at home with looking after young children?
Flexibility is the key. My kids are young enough that they still need me all the time. I set my deadlines so that I always have extra time to put something off a day or two. I know that my time with my children is limited, so I try to make sure it’s always ‘yes’ to them and ‘later’ to work. I fail at that sometimes, but it’s my guiding principle.
Tell us about your own writing. 

I am currently penning the first novel in a young adult post-apocalyptic series, titled The 7th Judge, set a century in our future. Three decades past, mankind was wiped to near-extinction overnight by a fatal sleeping sickness. Now a thriving civilization blooms in the ruins of New York City. Lux is one of the Undergrounders, a single father trying to raise his daughter in one of the poverty-stricken subway barrios. When Lux is conscripted by law to be the consort of a high-ranking official, he becomes involved in a series of murders that threaten to shatter the tenuous peace of the Boroughs and destroy his new family.
amazon link
A prequel short story Fairy Tales for the Very Young set in the world of the 7th Judge was published in The Dragon’s Rocketship scifi anthology, The Ship’s Log, available here and a popular free story prequel, titled The Last Firefly and featuring Lux’s daughter, Summer, is available on my website here 

Another story I’m very proud of is Her Betrayer, a horror short with a twist.

What are your plans for 2015?
In the last half of 2014, I helped approximately 40 authors create gorgeous trailers for their books. I’d like to help at least a hundred in the new year! I’ve also added book covers, Kindle formatting, and Facebook banners to my Fiverr store, so I’m looking forward to helping my fellow writers make a great impression in the new year. 

Rachel's book jacket design service on fivver
I also hope to put the finishing touches on the first draft of The 7th Judge and have it professionally edited while raising each of my children to individual brilliance, helping my husband find his true calling in life, and becoming an independent millionaire who owns her own island castle paradise. But I’ll be perfectly satisfied just to keep my children safe and happy and get a little writing done on the side. 

Rachel, thank you so much for joining me on my blog and for making these wonderful trailers for my books. Good luck with all your projects!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Princess' 9th Birthday Celebration

9 years ago today, a puppy was born on a farm in the Pyrenees. 

For some reason, her choosing fell through. She was still playing with her siblings when someone on her breeder’s waiting list phoned for news of the next litter and said ‘We’ll take her.’ 
Jean and Blanche's family at the Neouvielle kennels
The masters-to-be drove for 5 hours to fetch her and 5 hours home. Then they suffered hours of Béarnaise folk songs howled until no-one could bear any more and a compromise on sleeping-place was negotiated (the puppy chose her place and the people got some sleep). And so Blanche-Neige de Néouvielle arrived like an avalanche into our lives.  

You always think that having had dogs prepares you for the next one. It doesn’t. If you’re lucky enough to have known the friendship of an old dog, you are doubly unprepared for the next puppy, lulled into a false sense of expertise. It’s like childbirth; if anyone remembered what it was really like, no-one would do it twice. And with giant dogs, everything is bigger.

Blanche is the only dog I’ve known who didn’t just devour books; she chose them by sniffing along the bookshelves. She had a penchant for Terry Pratchett but if she could sniff out a book one of us was currently reading, and chew the last pages up on the lawn before we finished it, she was in ecstasy. Just when we’d established some basic principles of living together, we collected her friend, Bételgeuse de la Plaine d'Astrée. And that’s when the fun really began. You’ll note that the humans look much younger in the early photos.


Official Photo - John with the puppies 2006
Before allowing us to take her puppy away, Blanche’s breeder, Nadine, asked us, ‘What sort of life are you offering her?’ I’ve written about Nadine and her Pyreneans, in The Dog who cries Wolf (One Sixth of a Gill) and she can be fierce on her dogs’ behalf.

I can answer Nadine now; this is the life Blanche has offered us, for 9 crazy years.

We prepared for our puppy.

Daiquiri preparing to train her 4th and 5th Pyrenean Mountain Dogs
The puppy had things to learn too.

So that's a cat!
Like most aristocratic demoiselles, Blanche went to finishing school in Switzerland. Here she says thank you to top dog trainer Michel Hasbrouck, at the end of 2 days of Dressage Tendresse (I translated his bestseller into English as Gentle Dog Training)
Blanche and Michel
The only time I've ever dressed up a dog was when Arsenal reached the Champions' League Final and I became over-excited.
Thierry Blanche Henry
The dynamic duo grew up together... and grew... up. 

... finishing at 50kg and 70kg. Weighing a 6 month old male Pyrenean is fun.           

The games Bétel invented with Blanche lived on after we lost him to health problems and visitors can still enjoy being ambushed by white lightning. She hides behind the hedge then surprise-bombs them.

In her middle years Blanche perfected her modelling skills for my istock portfolio and can be found on many leaflets and websites, the face of pet care and dog training, both on her own and with her friend Lou.

When I told John my idea for this shoot, his get-out clause was 'You'll never get the dog to do it.' Blanche gave an Oscar-winning performance and I love this family portrait. She was actually obeying a long down-stay but the expression shows total immersion in the role. This photo features in a French article about homeless people and their dogs 

Blanche has welcomed two shelter dogs into her life, always confident in her relationship with us. We've holidayed together and we've grieved together. A year ago she had a stomach torsion, an emergency which is usually fatal. The operation was successful, despite her trashing her stitches and her cage the next day at the vet's, and refusing to eat until I was summoned to take charge. 

Blanche and Sherlock on holiday, Lac Ste Croix
She has a BIG character and an even bigger sense of fun.She inspired the character of Snow in Someone to Look Up To and committed some of the funny crimes attributed to Sirius. On one occasion, Bétel barked in the middle of the night to alert me; I threw on my dressing-gown, expecting burglars, and I found the door to the spare bedroom ajar. Blanche was curled up on the sofa in there, tucking into a box of dog treats she'd filched from the wardrobe. She still tests me out and she's still happy when I win. Dogs!

Her latest modelling credits include the book trailer for One Sixth of a Gill which also includes some of her photos; and a cameo role in the trailer for Someone to Look Up To, acting Sirius' brother. If Belle in the famous film can be played by a male, I don't see why my star actress can't change gender if required.

She is even going to be a pin-up girl. The 1st edition of the new International Magazine for Pyrs will be printed in March - with Blanche and Bétel featuring on the cover. You can see Blanche. The beautiful male featured on the left is called Romeo.

The magazine will also feature Someone to Look Up To in serial form. Check it out!

Subscribe to Pyr International Magazine

Happy 9th birthday, princess.

Among top dog books since 2013. 
'A wonderful dog story'

Amazon link