Fun at the Southern Authors Expo!

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From SAE

The best part, by far, of being an author at a book signing is the people who drop by to chat—and not necessarily about my book.

It’s great to see a group of people whip out their phones to share pictures of—no, not their children—their cats! Occasionally, however, someone has a story of their own to tell.

Like one woman (not the one pictured above) who was describing to me at the Expo the way she can tell which one of her fur-babies is responsible for delivering a “present” to her. She has both a dog and a cat and can easily tell the difference when, say, a dead mouse appears out of nowhere.

When her cat makes such a delivery, there is a dead mouse on the floor. When her dog makes the same kind of delivery, there is a slobbery dead mouse on the floor. To her, it really is that simple.

But to hear and see her facial expressions as she told another story about a mouse was one of the highlights of the day.

She was at home relaxing in her bedroom one afternoon when out of nowhere a live mouse ran across the bed. She screamed, of course, and it was her dog who came to the rescue. A split second and one little squeak later there was another slobbery dead mouse on the bed. Of course the dog kept pawing at the mouse to get it to play some more, unlike her cat which apparently looses all interest once the poor little thing is dead.

I was glad to hear I’m not the only one who sometimes feels as though I live in a zoo. Gotta love those fur-babies!

Living to Tell the Story — FINALLY!

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The third murder board was a success! A couple of minor changes and the Mighty Little Man Book Trailer is done and on the Mighty Little Man YouTube Channel. I hope y’all enjoy it.

And please, please, please, share this on your Facebook page and ask your friends to do the same. We need to get the word out about Mighty Little Man. Help me share the true story of “a human-animal bond like no other!”

Also, you can see it if you come out to the Southern Authors Expo at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library on Saturday, March 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Enjoy!

Jonny and Mighty Little Man

Third time the charm?

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Skeleton Praying

So, I recovered from the bug and got back to work. I took the results from the first two murder boards and prepared a final version of the video. This one is down to just over a minute and a half. I sent it back for another murder board. Keep your fingers crossed!

Video Editing Takes FOREVER (And then – you die)

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Target

I spent hours and hours and hours editing this thing. I watched all kinds of “how to” videos to help. I even bought some training software to teach me the ropes … but never went through the training. I just figured stuff out “on the fly.”

I submitted the finished product to my publicist, Wendy at Wynsum, and her team for a “murder board.” That’s what we call it in the Air Force whenever we prepare a paper or a briefing or something and need to have it reviewed before it’s presented.

Oh boy! They murdered it alright. It was waaaaaaay too long (at two minutes and four seconds). The individual shots were too long, and some didn’t make sense to anyone but me. Even the voiceover wasn’t right even though he did exactly what I told him I wanted. I found out it was because, for our second “take,” I had him sitting too far away from the microphone. It sounded like he was reading something from a great distance away. Bummer.

But I had another problem, and I did it to myself. I was scheduled to appear at a book signing at the Blountsville Public Library in Blountsville, Alabama. I wanted to present the video there, even if it wasn’t in its final form, to make the event a very special one. But it was scheduled only three days away.  There was no time for another sit-down with my voiceover guy. What to do?

Wendy to the rescue! She got me hooked up with none other than Stuart Langston at WDRM (FM 102.1) in Decatur, Alabama. She was right — his voice is PERFECT! I wrote out the script and sent it to him. He sent back a couple of takes, but they weren’t quite right. So, he called from his studio and recorded everything with me listening over the phone. I was able to “direct” him right there on the spot. In ten minutes we had everything done.

I did a quick editing job to get the voiceover included, cut back on the length of some of the shots and included a few more, and submitted it to Wendy and her team for another murder board.

This one was only slightly better than the first. It was still too long at about one minute and fifty-three seconds. They didn’t like the beginning. They didn’t like the ending. But it was good enough to show at the book signing. Woohoo!

Then just hours before the book signing, I got sicker than I’ve been in 25 years. I got one of those 48-hour bugs with all the “unpleasantness” that goes with it. I had to cancel my appearance. I couldn’t believe it. After all that work, I wasn’t going to be able to show a darn thing! I think that made me even sicker.

So it’s still not done. But I won’t give up! I really want to show it at my table during the Southern Authors Expo at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library on Saturday, March 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Don’t worry.  I’m hanging tough!

How Olympic Runner Derek Redmond Helped with the Production …

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Olympic Runner

Derek Redmond and his Dad at 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona. Photo by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

I can’t believe I’m actually going to admit this, but one of the shots I did for the book trailer for Mighty Little Man involved a very sad shot of me sitting on the floor in the kitchen. I was actually teary-eyed. I wanted to include that shot because, well, it really happened. It’s in the book.

To get myself ready, I watched the YouTube video of that Olympic runner who pulled his hamstring during his race for the Gold Medal. His father runs out on the track and helps him to the finish line while Josh Groban sings You Raise Me Up. It worked. The tears came, and the shot was done.

The last shots I took for the Mighty Little Man book trailer were in the ‘Cuda. Hey, any excuse to drive her, right? Oh yeah! Got a couple of good close-ups of shifting gears and stuff to make it look like I was in a hurry to get Little Man to the hospital (in reality, I broke all kinds of rules during that first trip to the emergency vet clinic).

Then I ran into another problem. Although I found the PERFECT tunes to go along with my idea for the video, I wanted another one for a different mood about halfway through. I simply did not like anything I found. And the voiceover didn’t match otherwise. So I had to get the guy who works for Caroline to come back and redo some of the phrases.

Another hour or so and it was done! Getting pumped!

Oh, and get this. I’m going to have my own table at the Southern Authors Expo at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library on Saturday, March 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wow! There’s a lot going on…

“Directing” Dr. Gandy — Yeah, right!

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Little Man had to go see Dr. Gandy at Catisfaction for some real blood work, so I got the idea to try to recreate some shots to make them look like they were happening in “real time” like it was when Little Man’s terrible ordeal started. I called ahead and “warned” Dr. Gandy, and Kristee told her to get “all dolled up” for her big moments. We scheduled Little Man as her last patient of the day, just in case.

That’s when I realized an important limitation of my new GoPro: There’s no viewer. There’s also no zoom capability. You just have to sort of point it at the scene and hope for the best. But as far as sound goes, it picks up EVERYTHING!

Trying to “direct” Dr. Gandy was an adventure. At one point, I wanted to her to run into the lab and say, “I need a sample!” My instructions were clear: no smiling and no looking into the camera. So what did she do? She strolled in like she was walking along the beach with a Grinch-like grin on her face and looked DIRECTLY into the camera! Then she threw her hands up over her face and said, “I can’t do it! I can’t do it!”

Check it out:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmH7rrcJjmg

We laughed our butts off. At least I have some good stuff for the blooper reel!

I did manage to get some good shots while she took an actual sample of Little Man’s blood. If you can’t see her face during some of the shots in the final production, it’s because she can’t be serious for the camera even if her life depends on it. She was smiling the whole time! Little Man just lay there as if to say, “Y’all are embarrassing me.”

Dr. Gandy is the best vet I know, but she’ll never win an Oscar.

Stay tuned!

Action!

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I have so many thoughts about the potential book trailer I can barely sleep at night. I wrote out a script of what I want a narrator to say. I also gathered up some photos I want to include and downloaded several short video shots of Little Man playing, snoozing, and cuddling that I had taken before Christmas with my old camcorder. Gonna make him a star!

But I realized today I have a problem: no narrator. When I mentioned this to Caroline, she had a most interesting suggestion. There’s a guy who works for her at the Harley place who has experience as a DJ. She said he has the perfect voice. So I called him up, and he came over.

We spent more than two hours recording each phrase, one at a time. It was hilarious trying to get him to “de-Southernize” and also not sound like he was introducing a stripper at a night club. When it was all done, it actually sounded pretty good!

But I’m starting to realize the work has only begun. I still have to find music, like a soundtrack, to use for the background, and I still have to shoot more video shots. Most of the pics I want to use were taken with different cameras and don’t fit the computer screen very well, so I’ve been digging around on YouTube for “how to” videos relating to my video-editing software.

What have I gotten myself into?

On top of that, I’m going to be featured in the Southern Authors Expo at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library on Saturday, March 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.!