Monday, May 30, 2011

Director John Botelho

I have a guest blogger today, Director John Botelho who has filmed three book trailers for me; Into the Basement, Blood Bar and the just released First to Die. He does such great work. I have people send me emails with questions every week so I thought what the heck, lets get John to explain his process a little bit. I've added the trailer at the bottom, enjoy!

O.K. Folks. Here are some answers to the many questions I have had about the "First to Die" book trailer. 

The trailer was shot on HD digital video with a Sony HDV 1080i/mini DV camera. We did have one back-up camera on the set for secondary shots and cross shooting, but we never used it. I felt that each clip should be simplistic to give the feeling of a documentary style film.

The set was located on a secluded ranch in Harper Texas. We shot from about 10PM till 12AM. There was no electricity on the set so we used numerous flash lights. Our cast and crew consisted of only nine people. Since it was such a small shoot, the cast doubled as set crew. 

The Cowboy/Hunter in the opening shots is Producer Tim Taylor. He showed up to the shoot wearing the best shoes and outfit for the project, so I chose him. 

The females vampires were: Jacy Vickers, Cori Taylor (Daughter of Tim Taylor), Deanna Brandt, and Ashley Wahrmund. Cori Taylor brought her Boyfriend Nik Tarsikes to the set, and we used him for our dead body in the foreground shot. Nik is the guy that does the death twitch at the end.... We loved it!!!

We used chocolate syrup for blood. I chose this because of the low light shots, and the film degradation technique I use in post production. The intestine strands used on the dead body were made by Production Assistant Sean McRea. He combined chocolate syrup and toilet paper to get the effect. YUM YUM!!!

Horror Writer Norm Applegate ran slate (or also know as a "clacker"), and Producer/Director Happy Gray was my Assistant Director. 

We averaged about three takes per shot and filmed less than 20 minutes of footage. Everything was shot in sequential order because we wanted the do the messy blood shots at the end (chocolate syrup dries fast and attracts Texas Fire Ants). 

The film was edited on a Apple Macintosh using IMovie HD 6.0.3 (we dislike the later versions so we use this older version). The entire piece (including the lettering) was purposely color degraded to give it a documentary/creepy feel. 

The two music pieces used in the film were taken from ILife Sound Effects and the background jungle noise was take from Skywalker Sound Effects (both applications are public domain and can be found in the IMovie media section). 

The vampiric scream was a "guttural style screech" I found on the internet. I filtered the sound and changed the pitch qualities thru the IMovie Audio FX application. The original pitch was low (it was performed by a male), so I had to bring it up to give it female qualities. I did not bring the pitch up too much because I still wanted to leave a hint of male masculinity.  

I hope that answers most question about the "First to Die" book trailer. If you have addition questions feel free to email us at


-J.L. Botelho

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

First to Die book trailer!

We filmed the trailer for "First to Die," Saturday night May 21, 2011 in the Hill Country of Texas just outside Kerrville.

A hunter tracks his prey, follows a blood trail and stumbles upon a nest of vampires feeding...never disturb an animal when it eats.

Available at, ebook $2.99.
First to Die

Sunday, May 22, 2011

4 Types of Reference Books You Didn’t Know You Need

I get these posts everyday, the one's that I think will help authors I'm reposting...

OK, it’s time to conduct an inventory of your reference library to ensure that you have a comprehensive collection at hand. Dictionary? Check. Thesaurus? Mm-hmm. Compendium of famous quotations? Right. Visual dictionary? (Silence.)
You’re telling me you don’t have a visual dictionary?
Before you get too self-conscious, I’ll let you off the hook: You don’t have to own your own visual dictionary. But you should know where to find this type of resource, and two others, at your local library, or you simply must do some online research and see what electronic simulacra you can discover.

1. Visual Dictionaries

The four books listed here are all superior guides to the names of physical objects and their components. Does a scene in your novel require you to distinguish the parts of a plane? Do you need to know the difference in home construction between a rafter and a joist? What is the base of a horse’s neck called? A visual dictionary knows all:

2. Guides to Symbolism

These five volumes, and others, will enlighten you about the religious, mythological, and folkloric significance of symbols. Perhaps you want to strew visual metaphors throughout your novel. Or you want to avoid cliched occult symbols in your supernatural thriller, and want to find something unusual. Or you want to make sure your medieval mystery accurately describes a cross without anachronistic errors. Follow the signs to these sources about symbology:

3. Guides to Hierarchies

Do you know the order of succession among Cabinet officials in the United States in case the president, vice president, and Speaker of the House are all incapacitated? Is a battalion bigger, or smaller, than a regiment? What’s higher up the taxonomic scale — a phylum, or a family? The Order of Things: How Everything in the World Is Organized into Hierarchies, Structures, and Pecking Orders, Barbara Ann Kipfer, will set you straight.

4. Reverse Dictionaries

Flip Dictionary, Barbara Ann Kipfer, is the best of the class of reference books known as reverse dictionaries, for when you know how to describe something but can’t think of the word. One of the qualities that set it apart is the numerous charts and tables that group things by subject. The Describer’s Dictionary: A Treasury of Terms & Literary Quotations, David Grambs, is a similar work that’ll help you transfer a word from the tip of your tongue to paper or the computer screen.
by Mark Nichol

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Amazon e-books now outselling print books

Saw this today and had to post it. 
From my observations, ebooks are vastly outselling my paperbacks. I wonder how the publishers are reacting to this. Is their revenue down because the price point is less than paperbacks? Personally I haven't purchased a paperback in over a year.
This is a huge plus for the indie author/publisher. I've said it before, if your not selling ebooks on Amazon you are missing it. I know some indie authors sell their books through their website but Amazon is the premier internet outlet for books. 
I like Smashwords, it reminds me of Apple and Starbucks in culture and attitude but unfortunately they are just not that popular and yet their business model makes sense. As ebooks grow in sales, Smashwords will too, they have a solid position. They sell ebooks in formats for most readers. 

Amazon, Smashwords, B&N Nook, Apple's iPad, exciting time for indie authors and customers...lower prices!

(CNN) -- As further proof of how digital media dominate today's entertainment, Amazon announced Thursday that its customers now buy more e-books for its Kindle device than all print books -- hardcover and paperback -- combined.
Given that people seem to spend more and more of their time peering at glowing electronic screens, this was probably bound to happen.
Still, the swiftness of this sea change -- three-and-a-half years after the Kindle hit the market -- appeared to catch even Amazon by surprise.
"Customers are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books. We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly -- we've been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, in a statement.
Amazon introduced the Kindle e-reader in November 2007. By July 2010, Kindle book sales had surpassed hardcover book sales, and six months later, Kindle books overtook paperback books to become the most popular format on, the online retailer said.
Of course, these stats only represent sales of books on, the only place consumers can buy e-books for the Kindle. When sales of books from other websites and brick-and-mortar stores are factored in, e-books still represent a small minority of all titles purchased, although some analysts predict they could reach 20% within a year or two.
The growth of electronic books has been a bright spot in an otherwise struggling publishing industry. Sales revenue from e-books were up 145.7% in March of this year compared with March 2010, according to the Association of American Publishers. At the same time, adult hardcover sales increased 6%, while mass market books -- less-expensive paperbacks -- grew by 1.2%.
Consumers wanting to read books electronically can now choose from many competing devices, including Sony's Reader, Barnes & Noble's Nook, and a variety of touchscreen tablets, including Apple's iPad.
Amazon has repeatedly slashed the price of its Kindle e-reader, which now costs $139 (or $114 for a model loaded with on-screen ads.) The Web retailer said it has sold more than three times as many Kindle books so far in 2011 as it did during the same period in 2010.

Novel by Norm Applegate:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Adverbs: How often do you use them?

Adverbs are to verbs as adjectives are to nouns: 

They modify action words. However, they can also support other parts of speech, such as adjectives and other adverbs, as well as clauses and even entire sentences.
When writers want to add to detail in the form of answers to questions such as “Who?” “When?” and “Where?” (as well as “how much?”), they reach for adverbs.
Most adverbs end in -ly, but note that some adjectives do, too. You can tell the difference by the root word: Seriously (from serious) is an adverb, buttimely (from time) is an adjective. Others end in the related forms -ways (such as sideways) and -wise (like otherwise) or consist of nouns preceded by a- (akin, for example). Others, known as comparative and superlative adverbs, end respectively in -er or -est (for instance, faster and fastest).
But adverbs, unlike other parts of speech, are diverse and flexible in their function, even in the same position: “He has arrived, obviously,” for example, is subtly distinct in meaning from “He has arrived obviously.” And they can be found anywhere in a sentence: “Slowly, he opened the door,” “He slowly opened the door,” and “He opened the door slowly” all mean the same thing. (An adverb can, of course, also immediately follow a verb: “He then walked quickly toward the lamp.”)
Adverbs, like adjectives, have gotten a bad rap for their cluttering qualities. They are ever so useful, and so applicable and adaptable that writers often employ them mindlessly and indiscriminately. But which of the three adverbs in the preceding phrase (not only mindlessly and indiscriminately but alsooften) must I mercilessly vaporize with the Delete key?
Don’t hesitate to apply one or more adverbs within a sentence if they serve a purpose, but do hesitate before you cast them among your prose with Brysonian abandon. Bill Bryson, the exhaustively (and exhaustingly) amusing author of The Mother Tongue: English & How It Got That Way and other books on language, as well as volumes on history, science, and more, never met an adverb he didn’t like, but he’s earned the right to break the rules.
Consider this sentence from his latest work, At Home: A Short History of Private Life: “Eventually even he admitted that mostly he wished to build it simply for the slightly strange pleasure of making something really quite enormous.” Out of context, it may seem quite indulgent, but this is Bryson’s voice, a voice that would be fatally muted by this Hemingwayesque excision of the sentence’s adverbs: “Even he admitted that he wished to build it for the pleasure of making something enormous.”
Admonishments to avoid adverbs (and adjectives) are often misconstrued: They are not to be avoided, but they are best not employed merely to prop up weak nouns and listless sentences.
From Daily Writing Tips

Norm Applegate author of:
Into the Basement
First to Die

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First, Second or Third Person...

I read this article in Daily Writing Thought it was simple and might be of interest to some. I write in the third person. It feels comfortable to me and I like reading books in the third person. So here's some thoughts around storytelling.
Before writers can share their stories, they have to decide what type of storyteller they’re going to hire for a particular gig. Here are the job candidates:
First Person
For this narrator, it’s all “Me,” “Me,” “Me.” (Or, more precisely, “I,” “I,” “I.”) But it’s not that simple. The first-person narrator can be integral to the story, in which case they know only what they observe or discover. Alternatively, they can be a minor character, which may actually free them up to know more than the major players. The first person might also be once or twice removed from the story: They heard it from a friend or a friend of a friend (or some other indirect source).
But keep in mind before you hire this applicant that it’s a challenge to keep the first-person narrator from telling too much, and that such a person is subjective and therefore unreliable. (Actually, that can be a good thing, dramatically speaking.)
First person is an effective device especially for action-oriented genre fiction: detective stories, thrillers, and the like, because this type of narration keeps the reader close to the action and privy to the cogitations of the protagonist, who is usually trying to solve a mystery or foil a plot.
Second Person
The second person (“You”) doesn’t get much work. You might think second person is the most engaging type of narrative, because it puts the reader in the thick of the action, but the device gets old quickly. However, it can be used incidentally, in a prologue or in one or more asides, cued by the first-person or third-person narrator.
Third Person
This narrative device (“He,” “She,” “They”) is the most common, for good reason(s): The third-person narrator is an objective observer who describes and interprets the characters and their actions, thoughts and feelings, and motivations without direct knowledge. (That objectively doesn’t always prevent the narrator from making satirical or otherwise judgmental observations, however.)
But before you leap up and cast this role, there’s one more decision to make: Is this narrator omniscient, meaning they know all, or are they, like the characters, limited in their knowledge? Beyond that, is the third person partisan about the proceedings, or neutral? Consider, too, that just like a first-person narrator, the third person might be unreliable: An observer, whether they have limited or unlimited access to knowing what the heck’s going on, may have a mischievous streak and decide to deceive the reader.
Regardless of who you hire, one more issue needs to be resolved: tense. Will the narrator describe occurrences in the present (“I steal over to the sofa and make sure the gun appears to have fallen out of her hand”), or in the past (“I stole over to the sofa and made sure the gun appeared to have fallen out of her hand.”)? Just as with second person, a little present-tense narration goes a long way, but a short short story can be effective in that form, or you can introduce present tense in digestible morsels in a longer work, such as when a character is recalling an incident.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Jeff Beck a sold out show!

A big shout out to Jeff Beck. His Saturday night performance at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater was awesome. His band included Jason Robello on keyboards, Rhonda Smith on bass and drummer Narada Michael Walden. The opening act was no slouch, Taylor Brant a 20-year-old guitarist from Texas. This kid is the next Johnny Winter.

Playing for about an hour and a half, Beck covered some great songs, “Big Block, Corpus Christi Carol, Two Rivers, Over the Rainbow, and People get Ready.” He didn’t talk a lot, but did mention he has stayed away from Hendrix too long then broke out into “Little Wing.” Terrific to hear another great guitarist cover a Hendrix tune. 

Beck wore a black suit jacket and matching pants, looked like some yellow markings along the seam. He got rid of the jacket and was bare armed. Apparently this is his trademark.

Beck honored us with his version of the Beatles, “A Day in the Life,” Muddy Waters (“Rollin’ and Tumblin”), and Les Paul (“How High the Moon”). The encore was Sly and the Family Stone’s “I Want to Take You Higher.” He brought the opening act, guitarist Taylor Bryant out for the final song and the two of them were in guitar heaven, blasting notes at each other.

The highlight for me was when Beck played the classic jazz/ rock Billy Cobham hit called “Stratus,” one of my favorite songs.

Jeff Beck…what a great show. I want to see him again!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Smashwords author/publisher alert

I got excited when I received this email the other day.  
Smashwords announced a distribution agreement with ScrollMotion today (May 4) that will 
make Smashwords Premium Catalog ebooks available for sale as single-book apps 
in the major app marketplaces including Apple, Android, Windows Phone 7 and HP's 

Read the full blog post with all details here:

Opt in is automatic.  The conversion of your ebook into an app is completely 
free to you.  In the past, authors would often have to pay thousands of dollars 
to have their books converted into apps.

You'll earn 60% of the list price, same as with all Smashwords retailers.

If you wish to opt out (which I *do not* recommend), visit your Smashwords Dashboard 
at  We will commence shipments on Friday.

If you want your book(s) distributed as apps, you don't have to do anything other 
than ensure your book is accepted into the Premium Catalog.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jeff Beck…Saturday night…Ruth Eckard Hall…Clearwater FL.

Jeff Beck…Saturday night…Ruth Eckard Hall…Clearwater FL. 

Yup…I’ll be there, very excited. I saw Eric Clapton earlier this year in Vegas but Beck I’ve followed since he released the Truth album in 1968. It’s the last night of his tour. The band is taking sometime off and starting up again in June.

Let’s talk about the band. Tal Wilkenfeld, the young female bass player is not with him. When I heard this I was disappointed. However, Rhonda Smith, the new bass player is a Canadian (Yeah) won a June in Canada and has performed with: Chaka Khan, Beyonce, T. I., Erykah Badu, Patti Austin, Patrice Rushen, Brenda Russell, Lee Ritenour, Larry Graham, Patti Labelle, Little Richard, Justin Timberlake, Najee, Candy Dulfer, Kirk Whalum and George Clinton. Pretty impressive!

The drummer, Narada Michael Walden, is a Grammy and Emmy winning producer and musician. He played with Jeff Beck back in 1976 on the Wired album.  He replaced Billy Cobham (I’m a drummer, he’s one of my favorites) in the Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin.

The keyboard player, Jason Rebello has been playing with Beck since 2006.

Jeff Beck - One of three noted guitarists, with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, to have played with The Yardbirds, Beck also formed The Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice. He was ranked 14th in Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"and the magazine has described him as "one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock". He was also ranked fourth greatest rock guitarist of all time in Digital Dream MSNBC has called him a "guitarist's guitarist".