Wednesday, December 31, 2008

weirdest chat

Chatting is a useful tool for promoting books so I've had to learn the ropes. (Not to mention tear my hair out over technical glitches, but that's another story for another day...)

My very first chat occurred several years ago. I don't remember what the subject of the chat group was, if it even had one. Before long, I was communicating with some guy. Turned out he was interested in history too and we got onto the subject of the Old South and Gone With the Wind type stuff. That put me in nirvana since he obviously liked romance and literature too. I was ready to crawl through cyberspace to find this man-of-my destiny and dreams.

At which point he informed me his biggest fantasy was to dress up like a southern belle.

At which point I said "gotta go now, bye!" and dropped the connection faster than a hot potato. (A kilt I could go for but not a hoop dress with lacy petticoats.)

So do you remember your first chat? Or the weirdest one you ever had?

Afton Locke

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I made my own video trailer and you can too

When my erotic romance novel got accepted, I started making my promotion list and organized it from most important/likely I would accomplish down to the least. Making a video trailer was way toward the bottom since I figured I'd have to spend a lot of money paying some professional company to do it and I'm trying to be frugal with the ol' promo budget.

That changed when I read somewhere that Windows Media Maker could produce an adequate movie. Sure, it would be nice to hire actors and put them in a fancy set, but that costs money. (Unless your friends look good and can act.)

You can do a very nice movie with just still pictures. And if you want to stick some digital video clips in there, you can. My digital camera takes short digital video segments. You can use pictures you've taken yourself or go to royalty-free photo sites to buy inexpensive images. (I don't recommend grabbing pictures off other web sites and using them without permission.) There are also royalty-free music sites.

Windows Media Maker isn't hard to learn. Just read the Help files and play around with it. There are a lot of neat video and transition effects. Like Flash, it uses a timeline to show each frame. If you have audio/music, there's a separate layer for that.

Keep it short like around 1 minute and keep your text brief. Use enticing phrases to hook the reader. Don't try to get the whole plot in there.

I think it makes it more interesting to have some pictures of heroes and heroines, individually and/or embracing. But just because it's erotic romance doesn't mean it has to look like an x-rated movie. Often less is more.

Use colors, fonts, pictures, and music to match the tone and mood of your book.

Show your book cover so readers will recognize it later.
Show your web site URL. This will be easier for readers to remember and pull up later than detailed information like buy links, ISBN's, etc.

When it comes time to compile your movie, you may be shocked at the file size and might have to make it less complex. The file Windows Media Maker generates is *.wmv and plays with Windows Media Player.

Go to youtube and search on "erotic romance" to see a lot of great examples.

Promote your new video on various sites. Some just want a link. Others want the EMBED code. Just go to your entry on youtube and click the appropriate link to grab the code for your video.

Finally, check mine out at this link or see below:

Afton Locke
Unlock your darkest fantasies…
Cicada - available from EC - paranormal/BDSM erotic romance

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

best kiss

I'm on a classic literature kick so I spent 2008 interspersing Jane Austen novels with my other reaing. I got the BBC boxed set of DVDs to go with it because I'm visual.

Northanger Abbey ended up being the last one I watched even though it's the first one Austen wrote. This one had very haunting, evocative music. I wish there was a music CD of the soundtrack available, but I can't find any.

The movie features a spooky, castle-like abbey with very Gothic overtones. I just love Gothic. As a teenager, I devoured Victoria Holt novels.

The other Austen movies in the set had no kiss at the end or at least not any I remembered. As an erotic romance author, I felt sort of cheated after all that emotional buildup and wordplay without at least something physical.

This movie did not disappoint. The end showed the heroine against a backdrop of misty castle. The handsome hero appears out of the mist on horseback, dismounts, and kisses her. First, he grabs her face with his gloved hand. I must have replayed that scene countless times. (Am also thinking gloves can be quite erotic.)

So what makes a kiss on the screen a really good kiss? Emotion and buildup play a part as well as how yummy the hero is. But the real key, I think, is the extent we can put ourself in the heroine's shoes and feel that kiss ourselves and the emotions that go with it. She's not being kissed. WE are. Otherwise, we just watch the kiss and think, so what? Or, even worse, how gross to see them slobber all over each other like that.

So what's the best kiss you ever watched or read about? Or (gasp) participated in?

Afton Locke

Monday, December 15, 2008

On the road again and again...

Share your driving-in-snow horror story but first read about mine:

Every winter I get the overwhelming urge to hibernate. Give me a book to read and some yarn to knit and I’m totally happy. (Come spring, I’m climbing the walls and desperately in need of a trip. Yeah, I’m more seasonal than a fashion catalog.) The idea of attending a social event in the middle of winter is less than thrilling, especially in the evening. It’s cold. It’s dark. Enough said.

The holiday party for my writing chapter rolled around, so I pushed myself to go. The weather report didn’t call for any bad weather, so I had no excuse not to.

I drove 40 minutes to be confronted with downtown parallel parking in a quaint, historic town. After driving out of the main thick of things, I managed to find a spot I could manage to pry my truck into. Next hurdle: the hostess’ house was above a store. Once a harried clerk led me through a maze of hallways and stairways, I finally arrived.

As soon as I did, I was glad I’d come. It was perfect. Beautiful historic home decorated with holiday cheer. All sorts of good food laid out. (Someone even put warning signs on the food with nuts in it, saving my allergic body much digestive misery.) Conversation was great. Several of my friends were there and I even made a new one.

There was just one teensy-weensy problem. It started snowing. Hard. No biggie, I thought. If it was supposed to be bad, the weather report would’ve said so. Besides, I had 4-wheel drive and had driven successfully before in snow. (One of those times was a fancy holiday party where I drove home in an elegant, backless evening dress with big furry snow boots on my feet and white knuckles on the steering wheel.) Thank goodness I wore something much more comfortable this time.

After a couple of hours it was still snowing, so I headed home around 5pm and faced the worst snow drive of my life. The snow froze to the road in a sheet of ice. No fluffy stuff blowing around. No Styrofoam-like stuff to plow through either. Not even slush. ICE.

The road I was on was closed from an accident. After waiting half an hour, I turned around and went the opposite direction I needed to go. At the next exit, I took a gas and potty break (2 excellent decisions) and got back in the right direction.

The interstate was so slick my 4WD didn’t do diddly squat. The car beside me lost control and the back end came flying toward me. Luckily, I was able to duck into the next lane. After that, I passed a motel exit and seriously considered it. No, I wanted to go home so I could get up bright and early the next day to write. If I don’t write in the morning, I don’t write at all.

Besides, horror of horrors, I had no reading material with me. I would’ve been bored silly. (In hindsight, I should’ve stopped so I could’ve been bored silly on a nice comfortable bed instead of strapped into the driver’s seat inhaling everybody’s carbon monoxide.)

When I got to the interchange for the exit I needed to get home, it was closed too. After at least half an hour of watching people slide, hearing them cuss, and getting nearly run over by fire engines, I took the road that looked open. Plan B: forget going home and stay with family members instead.

Barely two miles into it, THAT road closed. And I sat and sat for hours. I called everybody to let them know where I was and hoped I wouldn’t get the urge to pee too badly. Watching various male drivers run to the side of the road didn’t help. I have a bad back and sitting upright for hours without moving usually means I pay for it later. I couldn’t take a nap because every hour or so we had to put it into Drive and move a whole foot forward.

I finally arrived at Plan B house after 10:30pm for a grand total of 5 hours on the road. I saw one snow plow the whole night. Where were they???

From now on, if I plan to go to a party and see so much as one flake of snow -- I’m not going!

So share your driving-in-snow horror story!

Afton Locke
Unlock your darkest fantasies…
Cicada - Ellora's Cave - ISBN #9781419919411