Monday, December 27, 2010

By the way, I’ve signed with a new publisher!

Remember last summer when I posted about VerveStar? (July 11, 2010) They’re a highly-rated international PR firm now branching out into more comprehensive media services and publishing. I met one of the partners, Miranda Spigener, while they were doing some contract work for my previous publisher. Later I did a bit of work for them on their new website,, which is still being renovated, and was thoroughly impressed by their capabilities and operations. So when they approached me about taking over the Ammanon series, it was, like, are you kidding? I’m there!

VerveStar has a radically different approach. Actually, it’s the way it should’ve always been. Sort of an “Ah-hah!” moment in the literary industry. As recognized leaders in the PR world, the VerveStar partners understand that it’s publicity that moves the market. Obviously, you can’t sell it if nobody knows about it, right? Therefore, VerveStar is developing the publishing around the publicity...the way most businesses have done for years!

It only makes sense to build a campaign around the author and his book, and then publish in the wake of that in-place and ongoing publicity. This will provide authors with a much better outcome than the hap-hazard, largely do-it-yourself marketing programs of today’s publishing houses. VerveStar believes that the first and final product needs to be the publicity, not the book. They are publicists first, publishers second.

Think about it. Why do it any other way?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Music I Write By: Soundtracks and Genre Collections

If you’re a fantasy writer, there’s a treasure trove of music from the movie industry to move your story lines. The stirring themes from Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Narnia, Superman and way too many others can keep the creative juices flowing. But here’s a caveat: interspersed with the main themes are lengthy passages of two-note monotony. Behind the action on the screen it imbues an intense atmosphere. By itself, it imbues intense boredom. Or extreme depression. Batman is a prime example. (BTW: the soundtrack with the least waste music I’ve found so far is Avatar.)

Then there are the wild back-ups for scenes of conflict, like wars, etc. Unless you happen to be constructing a battle scene yourself, it’s big-time disruptive. You know what would be perfect? (I can’t believe they never do this!) Make an album of the main themes performed as complete individual works and LOSE the endless background stuff! I’ve seen formats that come close, which brings me to the next thing: genre collections.

The best examples in my library are Music from the Science Fiction Movies and The Fantasy Album. But they’re not perfect. “Dual of The Fates” from Star Wars I – The Phantom Menace will completely blow your train of thought. And you may not get it back until Track 10: “The Search for Spock.”

Better by far is the second one, which features suites from Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Mummies 1 and 2, etc. Great stuff with very little scene filler. I’m sure there’s more like that out there, but I haven’t found them yet.

Yes, I know. The best of all worlds is to burn your own collections. I’ve tried that. Recently I downloaded several tracks and still haven’t been able to locate them on my computer, much less drop them on a CD. Trying to figure it out takes long, fruitless hours of frustration, even with help from Mumbai. Used to be I could transfer selections from CD to cassette, but that wonderful all-purpose stereo system just sank into the tar pits with the rest of the dinosaurs.

Now before I leave this series of articles, I’ve just gotta ask one question: would anybody else love to hear Susan Boyle’s sweet, lyrical voice doing “I See You” from Avatar instead of the rock version?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Music I write by: Mythos

Mythos offers a smorgasbord for the imagination. This Canadian duo of Bob D’Eith (keyboards) and Paul Schmidt (guitar) knows how to combine an exciting beat with mysterious melodies and soaring vocals - great background for creating the fantasyscapes of your stories. It’s even better if you have a cup of chai to go with it.

But while it’s great food for creativity, the Mythos repertoire is uneven. One must be careful about album selections.

My first Mythos CD, Reality of a Dreamer, thrilled me with its breathless, haunting quality and emotional involvement. I went on to Purity and then to Eternity (which, by the way, features a “Kyrie Eléison” that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck - way more than in church). But somewhere along the line they introduced a trumpet with one of those attachments that makes it sound like a drugged bumblebee. I hate that. It’s a thin, bitingly nasal sound. It has its place in the Big Bands of the 40s or in jazz combos, I suppose, but PLEASE don’t assault my ears with it while I’m composing dialog in classical English! Fortunately, it’s only here and there amongst the titles, so I’m learning to live with it.

Then came Mythos ‘N D J Cosmo. The titles immediately appealed to me: “The Heart of the Ocean” (Titanic), “Unchained Melody,” “Send Me an Angel,” etc. But once past the exquisite first seconds allowed on the samples, it burst into dizzy, double-time electronic reverberations and totally fractured the melody. So be warned.

After writing the above, a new Mythos CD I’d ordered arrived. It must be one of their earlier ones because it’s entitled simply Mythos. And it’s everything that drew me to them in the first place. Fantastic!

Check them out here: Mythos CDs