Tag Archives: post

Using Canva to Design Your Own Book Covers

Some time ago, Hugh Howey wrote about canva.com, a tool authors could use to create book covers for their Kindle and other e-book releases. (The site offers plenty of templates for other online uses, as well.)

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you already know: cover art is the big hold-up on pretty much all of my e-books (not to mention the print versions). And if you’ve tried creating a cover on your own, you know the complications go far beyond coming up with an image to represent your story – there’s also sizing, resolution, thumbnails and more to consider.

Canva eliminates about 95% of these worries. Work with their premade templates for font placement and selection ideas, drop in your cover art (easily created with Pixlr and a few copyright-free art searches) and click “download.” You’ll be stunned at what you can create. For example. see the comparisons below: the covers I originally posted for PIC, Mousewings and POST, compared to their Canva-created replacements. (Click on each thumbnail for a full image; if you want to make a purchase, use the links on the right-hand side of the blog)

Evidenced by the above, even the least graphically gifted among us can create something worth showing of with Canva. Think you’ll give it a try? Leave a link to your designs in the comments!

The 99 Report: Gun Discussion

http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductDetails/p220-carry.aspx

From http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductDetails/p220-carry.aspx.

Just finished up a discussion with the ever-delightful Allie McNeil (@watergatesummer) over on her podcast/internet radio show, “The 99 Report.”  Check it out if you have the time – I call in about 8 minutes into the broadcast and we chat for the full show.

There’s a brief technical mishap midway through, but we got things back up and running within a few minutes, so don’t let that put you off the rest of the show.

Take a listen – we discuss gun violence, Gabby Giffords and her new SuperPAC, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Breaking Bad, Columbine, my award-winning first play (1999’s POST), connections between art and violence, conversations on twitter and more.

Sunday and Monday: Kindle Select Promo Days!

Cover art for PLAYING IT COOL

This Sunday and Monday (September 16th and 17th, 2012) you can download my first Edinburgh Fringe play, Playing it Cool for free on Amazon. (Apologies to those who’ve been patient since Friday night – a glitch in scheduling meant the promo didn’t go live as planned on Saturday).

Playing it Cool (a snappy romantic comedy) was written in 2003, and was my first produced play since 1999’s POST (a surreal tale about gun violence).

If you don’t own a Kindle and want to check out the play,  you can download apps for almost any platform on Amazon’s home page.

And as I said last time:

Playing it Cool is a one-act play about two friends, subtext and communication. It’s a two-hander that takes place in an apartment and a cafe, so might be of interest for those looking for audition scenes to read with a partner.

No big monologues here, I’m afraid, although both my later Fringe plays, Stuck Up A Tree and Mousewings (particularly Mousewings) will deliver on that front.

I’m listing Playing it Cool with Kindle Select for at least 90 days, so if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, make sure to put it on your list for a free read.”

Reviews of Playing It Cool:

Playing it Cool may not be the most ambitious play, addressing only a single issue. However, it contains much humour and is very well written. It will be very interesting to see a longer and more intricate play from the very promising Rachel Lynn Brody, at some time soon.”

– Philip Fisher, The British Theatre Guide, regarding the play’s premiere.

If you want to find out about awesome stuff like this ahead of time, subscribe to my Mailchimp mailing list. I won’t send stuff often, and won’t sell your email info, but I can promise at least a few promos ahead of the curve. And who knows what else.

But first, download Playing It Cool.

A Grand Design – Cover Art Input Needed

Last week, I announced my intention of publishing my produced plays, to date, on Amazon. Given that the plays are in performance-script stage, and putting them together is largely a matter of technicalities, I started planning my cover design – because that’s really what I need at this point.

I spent a few minutes discussing my ideas with a co-worker (happy to name him/link to his tumblr if he sees this and would like, but also want to respect his privacy) and his perspective as a graphic designer was (as the opinions of graphic designers always are) quite useful.

Basically, he confirmed my feelings: my produced plays should have a unified look, which meant a unified design that can stretch across multiple plays (while also separating them from my other fiction).

So I started looking at the published plays I own. Here. Have a look:

 

(And yes, that is my foot in the corner.)

 

So, these plays. I could talk about these plays a LOT. Like seeing David Tennant for the first time in PUSH UP, and thinking, “Man, he just LEAPS out from every single other person on the stage.” Or how much it meant when Jo Clifford, who was my MFA supervisor in Edinburgh, personally addressed a copy of EVERY ONE to me. Each of the other plays has its own story; if people want to read, I’m happy to blog them in the lean times. Or maybe they deserve their own book.

Anyway. So, having studied the plays, here were my thoughts:

1. Samuel French and the Marlowe both demand that the reader know the playwright before purchasing. The newest of the plays, Ali Smith’s The Seer, was probably a well-performed piece, the play’s blank title and lack of imagery doesn’t really speak to me; I saw it (probably reviewed it) but the blank cover doesn’t give me any kind of aide memoire. I don’t remember much about The Seer, or ever feel inclined to pick it up. No good for a newish playwright, then.

2. The black-and-imagery with the colored spine of the NHB releases speaks most strongly to me as a reader. The images are evocative. They feature live performance stills – and this is where my plan to use these as the template falls down. I don’t have live performance shots of all these productions. I could do video capture stills, but…

3. A number of plays (Clifford’s is just an example) featured imagery rather than literal representation of events portrayed in the script; Yazmin Reza’s DESOLATION is another example of this. (Reza, for those who don’t make the immediate connection, also wrote ART). THE NIGHT SHIFT by Mark Murphy is somewhere between items (2) and (3), with a stylized image that evokes the mood and staging of the play, if not the literal photos one might expect to see.

Where did all this bring me?

The following four versions of an image. Your thoughts would be much appreciated. I’ve settled on the basic elements: the lefthand colorbar and wash over the rest of the image (color will probably change from one play to the next) and the representational photography, but the way those are used, the photograph itself, the fonts that the play names (which, for those who want to know are POST, Playing it Cool, Stuck Up A Tree and Mousewings)…those are all open for discussion.

But I’m trying to make a basic template. And I’d appreciate your input. Here’s what my ideas amounted to on Thursday night:

Please share this on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit…anywhere you think might be useful. Opinions on this one are crowd-sourced. Let me know what you think, and know your thoughts are appreciated.

Guns, America, Anonymity, Sad Panda

If you have a minute, download this PDF from the Brady Bill website and read the stories. Obviously, the site has an agenda and the document is inherently political, but…read the stories. You don’t have to read all of them; the document is 62 pages long.

It’s a list of mass shootings in America. Since 2005. I’ve dipped into it a few times now. Whatever your politics, whatever your beliefs, it is a stunning and upsetting document that bears witness to a lot of deaths that could have been prevented.

*

I had a conversation with the twitter rep for AMC movie theaters earlier this evening. The news reported that costumes and fake weapons had been banned from theaters. Now, call me a geek (no really, do) but…I don’t remember any incidents wherein a Guy Dressed Up Like Aragorn stabbed a Guy Dressed Up Like Harry Potter as the two fandoms jockeyed for places in line. Having attended exactly one midnight showing in my life (for The Two Towers, in Edinburgh)…well, can I just say that contrary to the belief claimed by AMC’s twitter rep, that the lack of costumes would contribute to their patrons’ feeling safer…are you kidding me?

We talked. A lot. He clarified the company’s position: fake weapons were banned (you know what? Fine. I’ll give them a fake weapons ban. Even though fake weapons don’t generally, you know, shoot people), but costumes were actually not. Just, you know, masks. And things that cover your faces. If you don’t want to link through to their statement, I’ve copied the full text below:

“Statement About Aurora Incident (updated 2pm CDT)

3rd update: July 21, 2012, 5 p.m. CDT Contrary to media reports, costumes are not banned, but we will not admit guests with face-concealing masks and we will not allow fake weapons in the buildings. We want all our guests to feel comfortable at our theatres and we will be closely monitoring

*********************

2nd update: July 21, 2012, 2 p.m. CDT Kansas City, Mo. – AMC Theatres is deeply saddened by the Aurora tragedy. Movie going is part of our social fabric and this senseless act shakes us to our core. We’re reinforcing our security procedures with our theatre teams, which we cannot discuss in detail for obvious, safety reasons. Local law enforcement agencies, our landlords and their and our local security teams are stepping up nationwide to ensure we provide the safest environment possible for our guests. We couldn’t be more grateful for their collective support.

At this time, our show schedules circuit-wide will not change. We will not allow any guests into our theatres in costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable and we will not permit face-covering masks or fake weapons inside our buildings. If guests wish to exchange or refund any tickets, we will honor our existing policy and do as our guests wish. We are taking necessary precautions to ensure our guests who wish to enjoy a movie this weekend can do so with as much peace of mind as possible in these circumstances.

*********************

ORIGINAL STATEMENT: We are terribly saddened by the random act of violence in Aurora and our thoughts are with the victims and their families. For the safety and security of our guests and associates, we are actively working with local law enforcement in communities throughout the nation and under the circumstances, we are reaching out to all of our theatres to review our safety and security procedures. Being a safe place in the community for all our guests is a top priority at AMC and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

 

Okay. Interesting proposition. So I ask them: What about a woman who wears a veil or hijab? Would she be refused entry to the theater? At this point, the twitter rep, Shane, said he would look into the situation; reporting back, he said that veils were not included in the theater’s ban on movie-going attire.

I asked for clarification regarding the wearing of hijabs, because issues about veils and other body-coverings have increasingly become an issue in Western European countries over the last decade or so (France being the topmost example in my mind).

At this point, Shane said that AMC was really just asking their customers to use their best judgement. But that wasn’t what AMC was doing, I pointed out. AMC was saying “no fake weapons and no face masks.” Maybe the better policy would be to have a policy of allowing customers to use their best judgement?

*

It sounds as though I’m picking on AMC here, as if they could be at fault for an act of horrifying, senseless violence that took place on their property. As if they could have forseen it. And that is not my intention. The next question I asked was a bit broader:

Were guns permitted in AMC theaters?

Absolutely not.

At this point, one of my twitter followers chimed in to mention that actually, many citizens are able to get concealed carry permits. In this case, how would the theater know that the moviegoer had a concealed weapon? Pat-downs? Searches? Metal detectors?

The thoughts in my head:

– We didn’t have these things in school when I was growing up. Then we had Columbine.

– We didn’t have them in airports – just X-ray machines – when I was growing up. Then we had 9/11.

– If the MPAA thinks they’re losing money to piracy, wait until they start losing money to I don’t want to go through a metal detector every time I go to the movies.

This blog entry rambles. Time to draw it to a close.

My thoughts and gratitude go out to those on social media whose lives have been touched by this tragedy, who have taken The Aurora Incident, as AMC’s website calls it, as an opportunity for dialogue and communication. Both are good things. My heart is with the people who were just out to enjoy a movie they wanted to love – and whose lives were irrevocably altered (or worse, ended) in this morning’s early hours.

Peace and love, friends. Stay safe.

Selecting Not To Select Kindle Select

I re-joined the gym yesterday. I’ve gone twice so far. I feel unbelievably good for having done so. It’s not going to be cheap, so if you feel like supporting my good health habits, start saving your pennies for a copy of Hot Mess, releasing later in March.Speaking of which.
I’ve been involved with a couple of e-publishing projects in the last month or so, and have been trying to get a good idea of exactly what the costs and benefits to the independent author are when using e-distribution; read on for my thoughts on the matter and details of HOT MESS’ release.

Theatre, Theater, Theatre, THEATER.

It’s sweltering in New York City, but over in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is about to begin. This three-week theater extravaganza holds a special place in my heart, as it was in Edinburgh that my plays Playing It Cool, Stuck Up A Tree, and Mousewings had their world premieres. In honor of the festival, here’s lots of theater-related news:

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