Another Healing

Another Healing

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Making of the Silver Pearl Book Trailer

The new and improved book trailer for Silver Pearl is now up on YouTube! (Okay, it's just slightly tweaked, but whatever.)

You can go to my YouTube Channel HERE

I thought I'd share a little behind the scenes look at how I made this one.

My first step when I make a trailer is to write the script -- in other words, the words. It looks like a poem when I've finished, just scribbles in a notebook. Then next to each line, I jot down what photos I want to use with it. I decided when I first started making trailers that I would only use my own photos because I didn't want to have to deal with buying other people's and worrying about copyright laws. This isn't really a problem for me, because I have hundreds of photos on my computer -- my own personal stock photo collection. For years, I've never gone anywhere without a camera, and the things I like to photograph lend themselves to the things I like to write, so it's surprisingly easy to find photos that evoke the feelings I want to show in the trailer. None of my trailers have any real people in them. I think in some ways, it's more powerful to evoke a mood and let the viewers' imaginations fill the rest in.

Once I have my script, I make a list of photos I need to take for this particular project and then do a photo shoot. For Silver Pearl, I only needed three new images.

One was easy -- I needed photos of a pearl. I used one of my earrings and a red washcloth for a nice background and to hide the post. The next was easy, too. I needed a photo of a van. We have one in our garage, and it was already dirty and scary looking. I shot a close up of the sliding door, which is unique to vans, and fit with the line about Joel being dragged inside

The last image was a lot harder. I wanted some photos of arrows. I didn't have any arrows lying around, but my father-in-law is a hunter, and he lent me a couple. He wanted to loan me a bow, too, but I explained that didn't need one. Fortunately, he knows me well enough not to think I'd completely lost my mind. I picked a couple serious looking arrows meant for deer hunting, which was close enough to unicorn hunting for me, and headed home.

My next problem was how to photograph them. My first thought was to stick them in the ground, but that wouldn't really be dramatic enough since you wouldn't see the arrowhead. Not only that, but there was snow on the ground, and my story doesn't take place in the winter. So I decided to photograph them in the air. I got my camera ready and threw an arrow into the sky. Obvious problem -- it was going away from me, and I wanted it coming it at me. Second problem -- it fell faster than I could focus.

So I got my teenage daughter to help. She's used to her mother doing some pretty strange things in the name of art, but this took the cake.

"You want me to throw arrows at you?"

"Well, not at me, kind of over me."

"You do know the wind's blowing, right?"

I nodded.

"And if you go in the emergency room with a arrow sticking out of you, I'm going to end up in jail and you're going to end up in a psychiatric ward, right?"

I envisioned calling my publisher to explain and bail us out. For a moment, I hesitated, then I told her to go ahead and throw the arrows.

It was a little scary, considering I was using a telephoto lens and it made the arrows look a lot bigger and closer. But I got half a dozen good shots and did not have to do the final edits for the story from a padded cell.

Once I had all my shots, I put them together in a file and worked on each one -- cropping and adjusting the color balance and that kind of thing. My father had a dark room when I was a kid, so I learned how to do all that a long time ago. Doing it on a computer is so much easier. I really changed up some of the photos a lot to give them the mood I wanted, especially the shots of the "hidden meadow," which were taken in normal daylight that didn't show any mystery.

Then, finally, I uploaded them all into Windows Movie Maker and dragged them onto the timeline in the right order. Then I typed in the text, deciding whether to go on the image, or before it. Then I put in transitions -- in this case, all fades -- between each photo. Then I added effects -- in this case, all zooms. I wanted to keep this video very clean and simple and not flashy. This part takes hours of tiny tweaking to get everything to happen at the right time and not have titles coming in on top of each other.

Finally, the music. Again, I have to be really careful to find music that is free and available to be used for commercial purposes as long as I give proper credit. I go into the process with just a general idea of what I want, and a pretty clear idea of what I don't want. I simply listen to a lot of selections. When I hear the right one, I know it. I heard this piece by Tom Fahy and didn't have to listen to any others. I downloaded it, added it to the timeline, and that was pretty much it.

Some trivia: the shot of the moon through the dead tree limbs I took one day hiking in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom -- a wild, rugged part of the state. I also got the photo of the path later that same day. The shot of the moon in the dark over the water is a place where my husband and I stopped to eat some subs we'd just bought near the Lamoille River on our way to visit his parents for the evening. The two waterfall shots came from a hike I did in the White Mountains of New Hampshire a few years ago. The shot of the pretty green mountain is interesting. It's called Camel's Hump, and it is one of the Green Mountains here in Vermont. I originally took this shot as a possibility for the cover of my novel Notice. It didn't get used, but I really like it, so I slipped it in here. I had a hard time not getting any power lines in the photo. I was pulled off on the side of a very busy road when I took it. See what a dangerous business writing can be?

The shot looking down on a lake is actually in Acadia National Park in Maine. The barn is on our family farm, as is the shot of my mother's irises. The apple blossom buds are from the trees on my front yard. The "hidden meadow" is also my front yard. The starbursts are from a day I was fooling around with a new filter. The close up of the pine needles is in front of my neighbor's barn -- the nice out of focus dark background is the wall. And the owl is a Barred Owl, which I took through my kitchen window a few years ago.

So all these photos were taken over the course of probably five years and in three different states, and some of them at grave personal risk to the author. In a lot of ways, they are much harder than writing the story. But I love making book trailers -- they combine writing and photography and music, all of which are really important to me. In some ways, they feel like little mini works of art in themselves. Do they help sell my stories? I hope so. In any case, they are loads of fun to make.

For purchase information about Silver Pearl, click HERE

Friday, February 21, 2014

Midwinter Wierdness

What do you get when you have two foot snowbanks along the roads and then it rains all day?

The roads turn into rivers. Well, the main roads, that is. The side roads become tributaries. Driving home today was a bit like white water canoeing, the rapids being the potholes. Until I turned onto our dirt road. What do you get when you put water on a snow-packed road? Ice. Hence, driving to my house was like a bobsled run. Going uphill.

("She rounds the bend, look at the height she gets on the side! Now she's straightening out, really feeling the track! It's a clean run! Her best time yet! It's a gold medal for M. Raiya!")

I mean, really! Who needs to go to Sochi when you can white water canoe and bobsled on your way home from work?

Okay, I'm losing it a little. But it's Friday and I've got a whole week and two days off from school, so I'm entitled! Plus, I've got a new story idea. I think it's going to be called Natural Instincts. Two pages into it and it's fun so far!

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Morning sun on bright, puffy white snow. Doesn't get much prettier than this! (Though I wouldn't mind flowers and hummingbirds right about now.)

Busy, busy reworking my other book trailers now before I post them to my YouTube Channel. Stay tuned... I might be making a few new ones!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Another Healing Book Trailer

The book trailer is now posted on YouTube! Follow the link below:


Another Healing can be pre-ordered now from my author page at Dreamspinner press HERE

It will be available March 10th in paperback or eBook formats, and the first twenty paperback copies will be autographed!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Another Healing -- the Cover!

And here it is -- the cover!

I have to say, this is pretty darn amazing. It was created by Brooke Albrecht, who actually made three based on my suggestions, and I picked this one, after a little doctoring. It really captures the mystery and mood of the book and I couldn't be more excited about it.

And for a link to my page at Dreamspinner Press, where you can read all about me and preorder your copy of Another Healing, either as a paperback or an ebook, click HERE

Release day is March 10, less than a month away!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

On a Happier Note...

I'm very pleased to announce that I just signed a contract for The Dragon and the Palm Tree with Torquere Press. I'm quite in love with this Varian and Josh tale. It will be released on May 28, 2014. If you have a fear of flying or are freaked out by airports (like me) this story is for you!

And I signed a renewal contract for The Dragon and His Knight. So now's the chance to catch up on all the titles in the Notice Series -- they're all available.

They should be read in this order:

The Dragon and the Mistletoe
The Dragon and His Knight
Origins (in the Shifting Steam Anthology)
A Sky Full of Wings
Night of Ceremony

Then you'll be ready for The Dragon and the Palm Tree. So excited!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Trying to Make Sense

You know, it's a really cool feeling to get a stack of vellum sheets in the mail with the instructions to autograph them for inclusion in the first twenty copies of my novel to sell. My novel, in print. Next month.

So why do I burst into tears?

Lots of reasons.

In the last six months, I've been to three funerals for members of my family. Two of them were children.

How can I understand why one man lives to be over eighty, and one doesn't quite make it to eighteen, and one only lives for one hour? Yes, one hour!  All three touched me deeply. One was like a father to me, one was a young man whom love for my daughter had brought into my family, and one was a great nephew whom I only knew as a wiggle in my niece's tummy.

And my mother is fading into the grasp of Alzheimer's and my real father has incurable cancer.

So that's probably why my next two releases are all about death and pain and ghosts. But they're also about healing and love and peace.

I'm going to sign those twenty copies: M. Raiya. May healing always surround you.

But I'll probably keep crying for a long time.