Saturday, June 14, 2014

The President's Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy

(I’ve had a lot of personal deliberations this week that have taken up a lot--a lot-- of time, so I’ve not been able to produce something writing related. I got a kick out of seeing President George H. W. Bush celebrate his 90th (90th!) birthday by doing what every hale and hearty 90 year olds do...skydiving! That led to my memory of this book. Here's my review from June 2012.)

When summer rolls around, my reading habits, just like the style of movies released in theaters, change. Where the autumn and winter brings dense novels filled with allegory and nuance, the sunny days of summer demand more straight-forward, action-packed stories. For example, my two current fiction reads are Captain Blood and The Chase, the first historical Isaac Bell adventure by Clive Cussler.

The exception to this rule is history. Ever year, as my brain is basically blazing through adventure after adventure, I also look for the Big Book of History. Typically, I crack a thick biography of a president. In past years, I've read two David McCullough tomes (Truman, John Adams) and Robert Caro's Master of the Senate. It's a testament to the writing style of modern historical writers that these biographies, filled with stories I already know the ending to, read like novels. Dusty, dry, boring works these are not. They are engaging, insightful, and, heck, have a little bit of learning thrown in.

Imagine my happiness when my penchant for presidential biographical reading happened upon the new book by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity. Not only do you get one president, you get thirteen! The authors recount how, in the past sixty years, sitting presidents have asked for help from their predecessors. Naturally, and not surprisingly, it started with Harry Truman.

When he inherited the presidency after Franklin Roosevelt died, Truman was woefully under-informed on the demands of the office. His natural instincts and decisiveness enabled the man from Independence to maintain the country through the end of the war, but it was in the post-war world when he needed some help. A hunger crisis threatened Europe and, with it, a growing concern that the influence of Communist Russia would sweep through the battered continent. As partisan as Truman could be, he also knew that there was one man who not only knew what it was like to sit in the president's chair, but also grew to international fame as a humanitarian as he spearheaded the various hunger crises throughout Europe during World War I. It was this expertise Truman needed in 1946 and Hoover obliged.

With this bi-partisan union, the modern Presidents Club was born. Gibbs and Duffy, both of whom work for Time Magazine (she as the Executive Editor, he as the Washington Bureau Chief), bring all their gifts of journalistic writing to the exciting tale of this behind-the-scenes stories of the former presidents and what they've done on the public stage after they turned over the reigns of power. Along the way, they deliver a history of the past sixty  year through a unique prism. I know the general history of this era pretty well, but even I learned some great stuff.

  • For all of the help Hoover gave to Truman, Eisenhower was such a towering figure coming into the presidency that he felt no compunction to see the assistance of the former presidents.
  • Speaking of Eisenhower, I didn't realize how his influence extended to his two Democratic successors. JFK and LBJ both reached out to the former Republican president for his insight into the world situation and went out of their way to be seen conversing with Ike.
  • Ford and Carter didn't care for each other very much, but one thing linked them: their dislike of Nixon. But it wasn't until President Reagan sent all of his living predecessors (Nixon, Ford, Carter) to the funeral of the slain Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, that the two men were able to, without Nixon's presence (he stayed behind), bury the hatchet on the long plane ride back to America.
  • When George H. W. Bush lost in 1992, he was understandably bitter. The book details how he and Clinton ultimately reconciled and how the two men grew to respect and have genuine affection for each other.
  • Of all the scenes, however, for which I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall so that I could merely watch what unfolded, it has to be the one where Clinton gets lessons in how to salute the military officials from Reagan. Think about it and let it sink in.

There are so many little stories in this book that it makes for some highly entertaining reading. If anyone saw the congeniality last week when President Obama welcomed back George W. Bush for the unveiling of the former president's official portrait and were curious about all the smiles and laughter between the two men, I urge you to read this book and learn the secrets behind the Presidents Club. You will be surprised and you just might change your impressions on some of the men who have served as our presidents. I know I did.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Re-Make, Re-Model

I have a love/hate relationship with revisions.

Part of me understands the need to revise, make something better and build upon the first draft. I know as well as anyone that most first passes aren’t very good – that through revision, you dust off the good pieces and start to put together a bigger, stronger work. You’re digging for gold, basically – through a lot of dirt and, well, other stuff.

The other part of me, the lazy little demon that sometimes appears on my shoulder, hates revisions. Hates rewrites. Hates notes. “But what you had was fiiiiine. Just print it out and you have a book. You’ll be done. You can work on something else.”

The little guy’s proposal is tempting, because like most writers, I have a ton of ideas or projects in the queue. Finishing Pete Fernandez book 3. That comic idea. The short stories I want to send around. But my #1-with-a-bullet-goal is finishing revisions on Down the Darkest Street so I can see that ship off. Then, and only then, can I sigh in relief and formally move on to something else. Just the facts.

And, let’s face it – if you don’t think revision is part of writing, you’re doing it wrong. Revision isn’t the cleanup after a party. It’s when the party really kicks into high gear.

I realize there’s an inevitable crash when you realize you have to revise – I mean, you just typed “THE END,” right? But the thing that keeps me going when revising is that I’m getting a chance to make my book better. That line that kind of irked me but I left because I wanted to finish the chapter? Now I can change it. That character that I really liked but sacrificed because I felt I needed to? Now I can revive them. That gaping plot hole I didn’t really notice?  I can drop a truckload of sand in it.

Revision is essential and it makes you better.

But like any writing, Your Mileage May Vary in terms of how you revise. I’m a bit of a process junkie – when I meet a writer for the first time, I usually ask them how they write. Do they outline? Do they just dive in and hope for the best? It’s kind of the same with revisions. I imagine some people just open the document, page one and start reading and changing stuff as they go. On the other end of the spectrum, there are probably people that make a plan of attack.

With writing (both starting and revising), I’m a bit in the middle. I like to outline a bit – it creates a safety net that lets me continue to sleep at night, while still leaving wiggle room for my characters to go off the rails and do what they want. If you’ve read Silent City, there’s a character that makes an unexpected (I hope) turn to the dark side toward the end. I did not know they were going to do that. But my outline was loose enough that I could pivot and see where it would go. It’s the same with revisions. Depending on the source of the notes – myself, my agent, beta reader – I usually make a list of the “big” changes I need to make. Then I warm myself up by doing the tiny stuff – typos, POV tweaks, consistency in details like weather and time of day. Once that’s done and I feel the engine is warm, I dive in for the big-ticket changes. The scary thing about these changes, at least to me on first realizing it has to be done, is that each one kind of requires a full re-read of the novel. It’s enough to make you go mad and give up. We’ve all thought about it, I’m sure. But if there’s one thing I’ve realized in this process is that the only way you’re going to get through it – and end up with a stronger, more readable book - is by breaking down the revisions into tiny, workable pieces.

For example, you have to cut out a character from a book. The character is all over the book and affects everyone in the novel. Sounds painful, right? It is, but it’s less painful if you just tag the pages where they show up – make a note of how to change each instance – and then plow through it. If you spend too much time looking at the big, scary change (and Lord knows I have), you’ll be frozen and unable to enact the tiny changes that make up the revisions your book needs.

My point is: treat revisions with as much reverence and import as you give the initial, exciting stages of creation. Think big and work small. Next thing you know, a few weeks have passed and you have a new draft.

Curious to hear how other fellow writers revise. I’m a process guy, remember?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Writing Backstory

by Holly West

So I was all set to write a post about how much I hated this week's Game of Thrones episode when I got a message from my friend Neliza Drew about an outline of my WIP I recently sent her. Then I thought, screw Game of Thrones, I'll write about this instead.

Now this is a typewriter.
Backstory. I'm not talking about character backstory here--although writing at least a few paragraphs about your character's origins and perhaps a timeline for them isn't a bad idea. I imagine that all the "pantsers" out there must do a little bit of this sort of work before beginning a novel in ernest.

But the sort of backstory I'm talking about is, if you're writing a mystery, what actually happened vs. what happens in the pages of your book. Presumably, you've got a protagonist, who, for whatever reason, is searching for the truth. As the writer, you can't just lay everything out on the page for everyone to see, otherwise it's not a mystery.

This has happened to me twice now (with the forthcoming Mistress of Lies and with my current WIP), so I'm thinking it might be a pattern: here I am happily plotting my novel, when I reach a point where the story just isn't flowing. Things are fuzzy, I don't feel like writing, I start doing work avoidance activities like re-arranging my bookshelves and testing my pens to see which ones still have ink. Stuff that needs to be done, sure, but not right this minute. It's a classic sign that something's not right in my writing world.

This period of insanely clean toilets and immaculately dusted knick-knacks lasted over three weeks.

What got me writing again was realizing that I didn't have a clear idea of what had happened leading up to (and to some extent, during) the story I was actually writing. What, in fact, was the mystery my protagonist was trying to solve? I had a vague idea that it involved the discovery of a large amount of vintage champagne and someone trying to double cross someone else, but that was it, and it certainly wasn't enough to drive the plot I was trying to suss out.

I went back to the beginning and wrote the alternate story--that is, the story of what happened that led to my victim's killing. Most of those details won't make it into the book, except in drips and drabs. But knowing exactly what happened before my book starts is the key to me figuring out how to best tell the story.

As I said, this topic might apply mostly to traditional mysteries. One of these days, I'll learn how to write a crime novel that isn't a mystery and then I'll have to come up with a whole different formula. Yes, I said formula. I like formulas. You should know this about me by now.

Thus, my questions for you are: For those who don't outline, how much "pre-writing" do you do on a novel? Also, what did you think about this week's episode of Game of Thrones?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Goldfish Heist. Free taste, free ebook.

By Jay Stringer

Laid up with a bad back today, I almost forgot it was my turn here at DSD. I'm going to repost a story. This is called The Goldfish Heist, and it was my calling-card for a while. I entered a competition  in the Scotsman newspaper and got to meet Ian Rankin off the back of this. It's the title story in The Goldfish Heist & Other Stories, a collection I put together myself for kindle. To match this free taste, I'm making the whole collection free Wednesday-Sunday. 

The Goldfish Heist.

“Big man, how can I tell if a goldfish is dead?”
“What’s it doing?”
“Well, it’s just sort of lying there.”
“Where is it?”
“Um, it’s in my hand.”
“Yes, it’s dead.”
These are the conversations you have with Cal when he’s high. He’s high most of the time.
Answering the phone got me a lot of dirty looks in the library, but it was raining outside and I didn’t want to get wet. I stayed in my seat, counting the looks I was getting from the bookish types. None of them would have the balls to call me on it, but they’d blog about it later.
Callum is the son of Mike Gibson, my boss.
Not a man to mess with.
“Okay, where are you?” Fixing Cal’s messes was my main preoccupation.
“I’m at my Da’s house.”
Damn it. Why did I answer the phone? Why does it have to be my problem?
“Where’s your dad?”
“He’s at work, I think, I don’t know.”
Here’s the problem: Mike Gibson, loan shark, filth merchant and owner of baseball bats, doesn’t own any goldfish.
He does have a prized collection of Koi Carp.
“Cal, have you killed one of your dad’s fish?”
“When you say it like that, it sounds bad.”
“Okay, sorry, but is one of your dads special fish now dead?”
“Umm. Yes.”
“When is your dad due home?”
“I don’t know, soon maybe. Joe, I’m cold.”
Oh god. Don’t ask.
“Cal, are you in the pond?”
Why did I answer the phone?
“I’m on my way.”
Cal, cold and shivering, was sat on the wooden deck chair in the garden, feet in the pond. Skinny little bastard, his skin was pale and his eyes sunken. He was wearing football shorts and a faded t-shirt, and he was blaring out tinny annoying music on his mobile phone.
I asked him what time his dad had left. I didn’t ask him why he’d picked up the fish, it’s pointless asking a smackhead why they’ve done something stupid. They’ll give you an answer but it wont be anything that helps.
“Uh, I don’t know, man. Like, a while ago.”
His favourite baseball bat had gone from his collection in the kitchen; that meant he was out collecting.
“See, I was thinking,” Cal said. “That maybe if we killed all of them others, like, da’ wouldn’t notice that this one was dead.”
He offered up the dead fish to me like a peace offering.
“I’m not touching that thing.” I brushed his hand aside and the fish flopped onto the patio.
“Cal, are you trying to tell me, you’ve killed one of your dads prized pets, and the only way you can think to make it better is to kill all of his other pets?”
“Well, I mean, we could fix it like a burglary, aye? Someone comes over the back wall, nicks some stuff, tv an’ shite. They killed the fish on the way out. To make a point, like.”
He stood there, grinning.
“What kind of a point is that then, to kill some fish?”
“I don’t know, burglars, man. They do crazy shit all the time.”
He had me there, I suppose.
“Look, Cal, you’re not going to do any good here. Get a shower and sleep it off.”
Why did I pick up the phone? Now this was on me.
Well, time to share.
“Baz, mate.” Barry had answered on the twelfth ring. He had a new girlfriend and, at any other time, it was funny how much touching they were doing. “Look, can you just put that girl down for five minutes? I need your help. What do you know about Koi Carp?”
Barry turned up 15 minutes later, with the lazy grin of sex. He had his laptop tucked under his arm, and a litre of vodka, ‘just in case’.
I took him straight out to the back patio. He nudged the dead fish with his foot.
“This is not good,” he said. “I think that one was Gibby’s best fish.”
“He had a favourite?”
“Yeah, well, its the same colours as Dundee United. He liked that one most.”
We both talked for a few minutes about all the fanciful acts of violence we could try out on Cal, but that wasn’t getting us anywhere near safe.
“You never seen what happened to the last person to mess with his fish, did you?” Barry scratched his chin and laughed as he told me.
“His name was Dave something, I forget his second name. He makes a whistling noises when he talks, because of the amount of damage Gibby done to his jaw.”
“Why did he mess with the fish?”
“Oh, it was accident. He was painting the wall back there, and some of his paint got into the water. Hate to think what he’d do to someone who messed with the fish on purpose. Where were you when Cal was doing this, anyway? Aren’t you meant to be baby sitting the wee shite?”
What could I say?
“I was in the library reading some big textbook about psychology,” is not something they’d want to hear. If they knew I was putting myself through open university to become a teacher, they’d look at me as if I’d just told them I was gay. And that wasn’t going to be happening either.
“I was getting laid,” is what I said.
Barry grinned and scratched his crotch. “Me too,” he said.
“So how much do these things cost?”
I was knelt over Barry as he searched the internet for information.
“Apparently,” he said, “ the word ‘koi’ actually means ‘carp’. So we really sound dumb when we call them ‘koi carp’.”
“I don’t care how dumb we sound. I want to know how much they cost.”
“It doesn’t really say. I guess it varies, there’s a lot of different kinds. I mean, these little ones on this site, they cost less than a tenner.”
“And Gibby’s carp?”
“They look like....ah.”
He shut down the lid on his laptop and reached for the vodka.
“What is it?”
“They look like the top breed, the real showy ones.”
“What we talking, twenty five? Forty?”
“You know when you visit a car showroom, and all the fiestas have prices on them, but, say, an Aston Martin doesn’t? None of these websites are listing a price for Gibby’s koi.”
I took a long pull from the bottle, before letting out a long sigh that turned into a swear word.
“Where can we get one?”
Barry lifted the lid on his laptop and did another search.
“Dobbies, in Paisley.”
Paisley? Why the hell did I answer the phone?
We parked up out of sight from the front door. Barry’s Fiesta is a better getaway vehicle than the number nine bus. Inside my coat I had a plastic bag full of water, the way you carry goldfish. It was a cold and heavy against my side. We walked around the garden bits first, playing it about as casual as you can when you’re thinking of stealing an expensive goldfish. They had wooden patio furniture of the same sort found in Mike Gibson’s garden, but I doubt he got it there. They also had some fun gnomes, the sort of garden ornaments that everyone wants, but nobody will admit. And some of those strange statues you can buy to put in a pond.
“You ever seen the point of these?” I asked Barry.
“The fountains?”
“Well not so much that. You want a fountain, that’s fine. But why would anyone want a wee little naked boy holding the fountain?”
“Its not a boy, its a cherub, or a fairy, or something. Like in a fairy tale.”
“You’re telling me you don’t look at that, and see nothing but a statue of a naked little boy?”
“Well, now that you say it. Damn, Joe, now that’s all that I can see.”
We found the place where they kept the fish, an aquarium section that was both too warm and too damp. Tanks full of goldfish, tropical fish and stupid plastic castles.
And a big fake pool full of Koi.
“Anyone of those look like the one we need?”
“Easy way to find out,” said Barry as he pulled the dead fish out of his coat.
I’d wondered what the smell was.
We knelt close to the waters surface and compared the Koi to the smelly thing in Barry’s hand. There was one that was the right colours, but the patterns were different.
“That’s not going to matter,” I said when Barry mentioned the difference. “ I mean, its not as if he’s going to pick it out of the pool and fuss it. It just needs to look close enough from a distance.”
“What do you think? I drop this one in, we pick up the live one, and then on the way out tell them one of their fish looks ill?”
“I don’t know, I can’t see a way of getting that fish picked up without drawing attention. We’d need a diversion.”
“What kind of diversion can we create in a garden centre? A runaway lawnmower?”
“Lets try the honest way.” I called over someone in the shops uniform. A gormless looking kid with spiky blonde hair and blood shot eyes.
“How much is the Carp?” I asked.
“Koi,” said Barry.
“Depends, there’s a couple of rare breeds in there. Which one?”
“That one with the tangerine bits on it, the fat one.”
The kid stooped low to look at the fish we were pointing at, then straightened up with a grin.
“That’s the rare one. A hundred, pal.”
It was the way he said it, that’s what annoyed me most. Like he knew we couldn’t afford that. If Gibson was going to be paying me back, a hundred quid would be no problem. But out of my own pocket? No chance.
“Any chance of a student discount?”
Barry flashed his student ID, 5 years out of date.
The blonde kid shrugged a refusal.
“Expensive, these carp.” I said.
“Koi.” The kid said.
We got the distraction we needed when I broke the kids nose with the heel of my fist. While I pushed him face first through the nearest tank, asking him how much the goldfish in it cost, and if the plastic castle came free with them, Barry slipped about in the pool and picked up the koi.
We got it into my bag of water before dropping it, and ran out through the main entrance. Laughing at all the stunned shoppers, frozen in the act with their potted plants and miniature plastic wheelbarrows.
Back at Gibson’s house, Cal opened he front door. He was washed and alert.
“What ye got, man?”
We pushed past him and through to the garden, where I opened my coat and tipped the bag upside down into the pond.
The koi, fat, tangerine and lifeless, floated on the surface.
“Fuck.” I managed to say it calmly enough. “You put the wrong one in the bag.”
“No, that’s the right one. It must’ve died in the bag. I guess we needed a special tank to carry it in, or something.”
“Well I would’ve thought that was obvious,” said Cal.
I stood and breathed slowly for a moment. Then went with the only option left.
“Barry, load the television, DVD player, and anything else you fancy into the car. We’re going to make this look like someone broke in, and killed the carp to make a point.”
Cal laughed and started to help, picking up fish.
Once we were finished, and Barry had gone, I dialled a number into my phone.
“Mike? It’s Joe Pepper. Listen, you’ve been robbed. Sorry man, the bastards killed your fish. What? Yeah, sorry. Cal tried to stop them, wee trooper, but they set about him.”
I hit Cal hard enough to bruise. And again.
It felt good.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Many Deaths and Redemption of Tom Cruise

I saw The Edge of Tomorrow over the weekend. It was a hell of an entertaining movie; a big, Summer, make things go boom movie with intelligence. Before I get into Tom Cruise and this movie here's a couple of stray thoughts about it.

  • Bill Paxton has a small but memorable role. He's not an actor you expect scenery chewing from but here he does. Clearly he's having fun with a role that he's played variations of before. 
  • I didn't realize that Christopher McQuarrie was a credit screenwriter until the credits were running. I love his work and wish I had know ahead of time.
  • The ending sucks. This is an extension of a bad re-writer process and not an indicator of the movie that came before. But you should know that the last 5 minutes or so really are kind of terrible.
  • I have read other books published by Haikasoru but not the one that this is based on, All You Need is Kill. Now I want to. Especially to see how the book ends. 

What struck me the most was how perfect Tom Cruise was for the role and now was the perfect time for it. 

Tom Cruise was, for a long time, a top leading man and one of Hollywood's (if not *the*) best bankable stars. He was on fire and everyone loved him.  Then something happened. He got divorced, he jumped on Oprah's couch, he became regarded as almost strange. In short, his star fell. He still appeared in big movies that did well but things weren't the same. Could his image be rehabilitated? I think The Edge of Tomorrow is partly a commentary on Tom Cruise's career, and partly a front row seat to his redemption.

Tom Cruise's character is a media relations officer who, in the beginning, is smug, arrogant, cocky, and confident. He's Jerry McGuire and other characters he's played before. He's in his zone selling the public on the war and the upcoming invasion. We, the viewers, have a distaste for these moments. They conjure for us images of talking heads on our own televisions. Plus, we no longer like Tom Cruise the actor  as we once did so our reaction is to call bullshit because we can smell and taste the bullshit spin coming from him. It's a great synergy of character and actor. We hate the character, and because we don't like the actor, it doubles down on the bet.

What really makes this character interesting is that he's a coward. Because of his position in the military he's not had any proper combat training. But it goes beyond that, he doesn't want to fight and will do anything to keep from having to do so. This adds a layer of depth to the character. This is the subtle trap being laid by the film and by Cruise. Because he can act, and this gives him something to work with.

But at this point in the movie we aren't on the characters side and we still don't like Cruise. There is a perverse joy in seeing him killed over and over and over and over again. As the repetitive deaths occur two things happen. The first is that he uses his time wisely by trying to learn and get better. The second is kind of like a Cool Hand Luke moment. You know when Luke is fighting Dragline and refuses to stay down. That moment when the blood lust of the crowd starts to wane and the excitement of what they were seeing dies. This happens too with the many deaths of Cruise's character.

Further adding to the Tom Cruise commentary running through the film are visual nods to his movies. Leaving base on a motorcycle evokes Top Gun. A later moment, when he is strapped to a cot and, in an attempt to escape, flips the cot over leaving himself suspended just above the floor, invokes Mission Impossible. These moments are stripped of the importance that they had in the earlier movies. I'll be curious to watch the movie again to see if there are any other references to past Cruise movies.

Throughout all of this Cruise wins the audience back. He's been rebuilt before our very eyes and we remember all of those things that we loved about him as he displays them for us. This is the trap laid for the audience. A big budget action movie where we think we know what is going to happen (and perhaps don't expect too much), a hero that's a coward, a waning star saying "let me prove it to you" and then that triumphant moment when he does. All of his star power is beaming in the flawed final moments of the film.

I don't know what's next for Cruise. He's not a young man anymore but still has a lot to offer. I hope that The Edge of Tomorrow will see him transition to the next, and perhaps more interesting, phase in his career.

Just my thoughts coming out of the movie. If you've seen it, please jump in.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Homemade Book Trailer 101

By Kristi Belcamino

I have no clue whether book trailers help sell books or not, but I do know they are super fun to make. It was totally awesome to make a mini movie that conveys the mood and atmosphere of my book,  BLESSED ARE THE DEAD.

Confession—making book trailers is addicting and a huge time suck. You have been warned.

Before you begin:

Google will be your best friend in making a video trailer. I suggest you start by watching other book trailers to get ideas. Think about what mood and feeling you want to convey about your book in the trailer.

As far as how to make the trailer, you will need some type of movie-making program. Most Macs come with IMovie, which is what I used. I watched a few tutorials, but mainly learned how to use it by playing around with it.

One last note: Try to keep your book trailer under two minutes. People become quickly bored if it is any longer than that.

Here are the four steps to making a book trailer:


Use your shortest blurb (for instance, your back cover copy) as a starting point to come up with the text for you book trailer.

In my case, I started with this:

When she was a little girl her sister was kidnapped and murdered. Twenty years later, Gabriella Giovanni spends her days on the crime beat flitting in and out of other people’s nightmares and walking away unscathed. Until one day, everything changes. A little girl disappears. Gabriella’s investigation into the girl’s disappearance leads her to a convicted kidnapper who reels her in with tails of his exploits as a long-time serial killer. He promises to reveal his secrets to her alone. Gabriella’s hunt spirals into obsession when she suspects he also may have killed her sister. Gabriella will risk her life to garner justice for the dead.


The first thing I did was decide on about five to seven images I wanted that would best convey the mood and atmosphere of my book. In my case I chose: a little girl, a cemetery, a prison scene, a San Francisco scene, etc.

I did buy two images from Istock, but there are many royalty-free images available online, such as through CreativeCommons. For the other images, I used own photographs and filmed a small video segment (swing in park/girl’s shoe) on my phone.

 Once I found the images I wanted to use, I played with breaking down the text (from above) to match my images.

I broke it down into 14 “scenes” if you will. For several scenes, as you will see in the video below, I used black background.


I was lucky enough to have the music written and recorded specifically for my book trailer, but you can download royalty-free music that conveys the mood you are trying to convey. After I added the music to my video, I went back and adjusted the images to coordinate with the music.


At the end of the trailer I included some information, such as the book title, when it will be out, how to find more and blurbs from two authors.

And here is my book trailer for Blessed are the Dead:

P.S. Full Blown Promo here:

My book, Blessed are the Dead, comes out on Tuesday, June 10th! If you think you might like it, you can order it early. Pre-orders matter a lot!

Here is what some of my favorite authors have said about it:
“… a crime novel so skillfully executed that it’s hard to believe it’s her debut … The plot is as suspenseful as they come. And the gritty prose, distinguished by short, muscular sentences, is truly first-rate.”
—Bruce DeSilva, Edgar-award winning author of the Mulligan crime novels.
“Kristi Belcamino uses her newsroom background to grand effect in this crackling, savvy debut. Insider know-how and deft detail make every page come alive — and those pages fly by as the story reaches out and grabs you by the heart. Blessed are the Dead is a great read, Gabriella Giovanni is a one-of-a-kind character, and Kristi Belcamino is a writer to watch.”
—David Corbett, award-winning author of DO THEY KNOW I’M RUNNING?
“A fast-paced and remarkably assured debut, featuring an immensely likeable protagonist and a reporter’s eye for detail. Belcamino puts her experience on the crime beat to good use, creating the kind of villain who’ll lurk in your nightmares long after the book ends. Double-check your locks before you crack this one open!”
— Owen Laukkanen, author of THE PROFESSIONALS
 “BLESSED ARE THE DEAD is a remarkable debut that drags you to the edge of your seat with compelling characters, dark secrets and a deadly killer. Belcamino knows the ins and outs of the newspaper game and writes like a seasoned pro. She’s created a protagonist in Gabriella Giovanni that has the makings of a character fans will be following for years to come – flawed, emotional and relatable. A must-read.”
- Alex Segura, acclaimed author of SILENT CITY
“BLESSED ARE THE DEAD is a fast-paced, suspenseful read. Savvy San Francisco reporter Gabriella Giovanni is tough, vulnerable and complex — a terrific new series character.”
– Alison Gaylin, USA Today Bestselling Author of the Brenna Spector series