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Posts from the ‘Advice’ Category

AUTHOR INTERVIEW w/BLOGS of a BLONDE BOOKIE!

February 6, 2016

brookeburgess

Hey friends — hope that 2016 finds you all happy and healthy and diving into fresh creative ventures!

Thought I’d share a snippet from a recent interview with a cool book blogger that just got posted. We cover lots of ground (yeah, I’m not just pimping this time :P), so be sure to click through to the full meal deal at the bottom of this post!

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YOUR CAT IS GORGEOUS! SO TELL US BROOKE, WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?

I just kinda stumbled into it by following the path of least resistance. I used to get in trouble in school for daydreaming, scribbling poetry, and writing short stories. That graduated into crafting tabletop role-playing campaigns and videogame concepts. My grades in English and Creative Writing remained strong throughout university, and as a part-time actor (yes…I dabbled) I began to write scripts for self-produced Fringe Festival plays.

With a few awards under my belt and an offer to write and produce big titles for an AAA videogame company, I guess that’s when it started to feel like being a ‘writer’ was a real thing.

WOW! THOSE ARE TRULY HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENTS. THE STUFF THAT WRITERS DREAM ABOUT. WITH ALL THAT IN YOUR WHEELHOUSE, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?

I hate to choose between my ‘children’, as even some of the shortest pieces inspired some pride, and seemed to make a memorable impact. But I would have to say that the 3 YEARS spent writing and producing the world’s first ‘Motion Comic Epic’ – BROKEN SAINTS (www.brokensaints.com) — garnered the most acclaim/awards, and reached a worldwide audience on the web that was hungry for smart, scary, and (dare I say it) spiritual storytelling.

BROKEN SAINTS LOOKS AMAZING! I JUST MAY BECOME A HUGE FAN. SO WITH ALL YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?

The isolation. It’s an incredibly lonely profession, and it’s often harder for writers vs other artists to connect ‘in the flesh’ with their audience. Musicians and actors and dancers do live performances. Painters and visual artists can do gallery showings. But poor writers work in a vacuum by comparison, so we have to have a lot of faith that our stories aren’t just pebbles getting tossed in the big, black Ocean…

Click here the rest of the interview.

PATTERNS = Memos from the Muse

September 15, 2015

brookeburgess

Apologies for the sparse posting this summer, my friends. Work, travel, and Life got in the way (as they so often do), but I intend to hop back on the blog-horse for regular features and updates over the next 6 months at least. As always, your patience with my scheduling weirdness is infinitely appreciated. And speaking of weird…

In my creative and my personal life, I see patterns. 

Something as seemingly random as a rush hour commute with all-green-light intersections takes on prophetic business meaning. Pairs of butterflies circling the deck every morning for a week becomes a relationship omen. Monthly jolts awake after the same bonkers dream, only to see the same goddamn numbers glaring back at me:

(And the less a superstitious double-Gemini says about the thrice-annual shit-show of Mercury Retrograde, the better — back up those files and don’t sign contracts for a month, kiddos…the pattern of ‘Karmic fun’ starts tomorrow!)

Sure. It could just be my monkey brain’s way of making some desperate sense out of absurd, everyday, garden-variety chaos. But what fun is that? Especially when some of the greatest creative and scientific minds in history were/are ardent believers that recognizing patterns and potential connections between objects and events was the key to attaining higher knowledge and artistic excellence???

And that brings us to today’s topic: MEMOS from the MUSE.

Over the past six months or so, a common theme has reared its strange and fantastical head in the stuff I’ve been working on, as well as projects I’ve been brought in to help shape: the WHIMSICAL. The damn term keeps popping up in personal writings, in random conversations, highlighted in reference material, or even blurted out during conference calls. And it always came, it would seem, with the same qualifier: DARK.

How can you NOT smell a pattern like that? If the Muse keeps tickling your brain-balls, then it only makes sense to hear Her out over rib-eyes and a nice cab-merlot, amirite?

So I do what I like to call ‘tracing it back‘.

Follow the breadcrumbs of influence. Find the Alpha of the thought that’s recurring, which might help you predict the Omega of the path that you’re on — IE: the end result of the pattern — what it’s been trying to tell you from the start.

I recalled the shows and movies and books I loved as a kid.

I pondered the stuff I’m drawn to, and the tales I’m now driven to tell.

I revisited the last studio gig I agreed to, and the direction I gave to the team:

The music on that Hellboy 2 short is by my genius composer cousin, Tobias Tinker. We’d been making musical magic together for 7 years…and then that was that. I went off on walkabouts. He made more cool shit.

Last month, I flew my weary ass to his home in Berlin to see if our mutually-creative fires could be rekindled. It only occurs to me now that another 7 years had passed since our last big jam. And there we were, discussing the score on a massive (and massively daunting) audiobook project

‘What’s the vibe you’re after?’ he asked.

Dark, of course,’ I said, ‘but there’s something else…’

I sat up, and I think I felt the ghost of a gear click into place as I spoke the word. And then, in one afternoon, we built the following piece around our masterful narrator‘s silky boom:

A pained music box. Flourishes of harp. Mysterious choir. Moody strings.

WHIMSY.

A month later, I couldn’t help but smirk when discussing part of a (secret = SHHH!) reality TV project’s score with its producers. There was a scene near the end that needed a special sonic touch —  ‘heavier’ than the rest of the program, but still retaining a hint of playfulness and ‘hope’.  I referred the editor to a section from Howard Shore’s score for The Fellowship of the Ring.  

You can probably guess what two words were exchanged. 😉

That brings us to just last week. A designer on a seriously epic (and another SECRET!!!) game thingie asked me for input on the soundtrack.

Let me say this — if you were privy to the IP in question and what these cats have planned for it? Then you’d barf up the same goddamn tags I’ve been chucking since springtime. But that might mean very little to someone not lost in the vortex of signs and symbols…you know…like yours truly.

Thankfully, since I’d been bashing my head on this whimsy trip for months (nay, a lifetime!), there was an easier way to communicate. To share the PATTERN, whispered long ago through the Chaos by the Muse…

To be useful in this moment.

Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away = bombs of whimsy, yo!

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen = fanciful theatricality and fairytale decadence to legendary excess!!

The Dark Crystal = ground zero for ‘dark whimsy’ from my childhood!!!

So…

What are some of YOUR dark and whimsical favourites?

And what patterns have played a role in YOUR creative and personal lives?

Sound off in the Comments…right below the kitten in a top hat…

Because WHIMSY!

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Vulnerability = The Key

May 21, 2015

brookeburgess

After the annual silent retreat, I can’t help but feel sensitive. Intensely aware. Exposed, even…

And this is a GOOD thing.

I was going do a follow-up post about dropping facades, strapping Ego down to the examination table, and embracing the countless creative rewards that come hand-in-hand with embracing vulnerability. I really was.

But then I read insightful, frank, and deliciously open piece from one of my fellow OM’ers and, well…I’ll let her take it from here.

Thanks for putting my thoughts into words, Jo — see you in the ether.

Let’s get vulnerable.

Let's get vulnerable.

READY? AIM! BRAIN BULLETS FIRED!

March 9, 2015

brookeburgess

Got a story to share with the world?

Join the freakin’ club.

Stats show that over 15 million ISBNs (book registry #’s) were created last year alone. That’s up from the LOW 6-figures just five years ago. The market is officially flooded, my friends. Tsunami’ed, even.

And with that knowledge comes the demoralizing realization that the lion’s share of folks will NOT be willing to take an impulse deep-dive into uncharted waters. That’s why we like sequels. And reboots. And re-tellings. Because people’s most valuable commodity is time, so they’d much rather play it safe and invest this precious resource in what they know.  

It’s like buying stock. In Apple.  Even if you think the new watch is bullshit. At least it’s familiar bullshit.

$10K+??? Totally reasonable...like Scientology.

$10K+??? Totally realistic…like Scientology levels of reasonable

So then…how can the little guy (ie: the independent author) chip away at well-established and deeply-entrenched mindshare (in this case, Big 5-published IPs)? What can we do to turn the tide as Amazon ‘free days’ go flaccid, cheap eBooks glut the market, and mainstream media channels — newspapers, review blogs, and core book sites — crinkle their collective noses at anything beyond their immediate (ahem…payola’ed) gaze?

A BAG FULL OF BRAIN-BULLETS

Enter the ‘meme’.

Coolcat Maw

If you’ve written a cool story, chances are that it’s chock full of interesting ideas. Pithy observations. Humorous tangents. Snappy dialogue. The whole damn gamut. And if these snippets are crisp enough, while still maintaining the core brand message with a complementary image?

Then they are primed for your arsenal.

With a Google Image search and a virtual armoury of free (and idiot-proof) text generators, you’ll soon have an album full of unique promos for your book, blog post, screenplay, comic, or marketing blurb. And this ‘ammunition’ can be fired at so many willing targets. Facebook. Twitter. Tumblr. G+. Reddit. Imgur. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Hell, you could even throw Yahoo a bone.

It’s as if media dashboards like HootSuite were made for this — to scattershot your creative brain bullets far and wide, scoring as many flesh wounds and critical hits as you can with daily firings.

Because the rules have changed, writerly friends.

The language of the Web has evolved to favour the visual.

And as indie authors..?

We’d be fools not to learn how to speak it.

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CASE STUDY: Of Games and (going with your) Guts

January 12, 2015

brookeburgess

(by Brooke Burgess)

Happy New Year, kittens and cats!  With 2015 well underway, I find myself shifting gears out of (fiscal) necessity. It happens. The Beast must be fed, and those games and gadgets and goodies aren’t gonna buy themselves, right? Pity.

Most of us don’t have the luxury of making the things we want to make most the time. Instead, our stars tend to align in service of other masters.  That’s where the term ‘service work’ comes from — it’s your focus and sweat, in varying measures of servitude. So all you can do is cross your fingers, twiddle your rosaries, and pray for decent pay, benevolent bosses, and a pinch of artistic satisfaction after the dice are rolled. I’ve just been lucky to get a few more sevens than snake-eyes.

Somehow — whilst chiseling away at the narrative marble to carve out screenplays, a book, a few comics (animated and otherwise), and potentially cool stuff that never saw the light of day — I’ve been able to fashion a (nearly) functional balance between passion projects and rewarding contracts. Writing and narrative design. Animation. Interactive stuff. You can even scope some of it here.

And I’m about to start work on another one, helmed by one of my fav’ game industry pals. We first collaborated on a pretty cool Japanese co-produced PS2 launch game. This was easily one of the most rewarding and educational experiences of my professional life; the scope was massive, the timeline tight, and the team endlessly ambitious. 15 years on, and things have come full circle in many ways. Colour me optimistic.

 

But it doesn’t always work out so smoothly. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that I swore I’d never work on a game contract again.

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ON WRITING: 7 TIPS FROM THE ROOKIE TRENCHES

September 1, 2014

brookeburgess

(by Brooke Burgess)

Thanks in great part to your pom-pom waving and flashflood of generosity, my first children’s fiction novel — The Cat’s Maw — is complete. It’s in the final stage of layout approvals, and I’m taking care to tweak for optimal print and eBook display whilst squashing any lingering typo bugs. (If you’re a reviewer, and simply can’t wait until the galleys are ready, then feel free to ping me for a ‘99.5% final’ PDF.)

As a debuting indie author every day is a school day, so I’m passing on seven of the tastiest morsels of knowledge gleaned thus far (some bits most certainly culled from the Journals of Duh).

At the very least, you won’t be in utter darkness after your stab at NaNoWriMo this November 😀

CM2 Pimp

 

DIGITAL NOMAD, YO (You can write anywhere)

It’s a brave new world, my friends.

You don’t need a penthouse office. You don’t a need a big-screen, quantum-powered desktop. You don’t a suburban castle with moat filled with craft brew and a 2.3 car garage.

You…can…write…anywhere.

I’m all about ‘setting’ when it comes to getting into the scribing mood, so I needed somewhere special – and specifically feline – to tackle the first volume in The Shadowland Saga. And since ancient Egypt was a little outside the budget, a remote corner of Southeast Asia proved the next best base of operations. $500/month for a bungalow, a scooter, and three tasty squares a day?  Sign me up, slappy.

But this wasn’t just any old fiscally responsible nook — this was a remote jungle island teeming with CATS – a tiny Muslim fishing community with no natural predators (even the cobras fear kitty here!) and a respect for all things fierce and four-footed.

May I say it again:  have WIFI, will travel…and you can too!

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GIVING AWAY THE COW (Free reads = free advertising)

In April of this year, I began teasing chapters from an early edit of the book on WATTPAD – considered the social network for writers and readers of all ages. Billing the tale as the opening shot in a ‘contemporary fantasy-adventure epic’, I posted the first 6 chapters and crossed my fingers for a response…

Two months later, I was asked to feature the story in its entirety. In less that 8 weeks, the response has been astounding: chapter reads have topped 140K, along with a tsunami of ‘Likes’, shares, reading-list adds, and passionate comments and questions from an engaged and faithful audience.

Am I worried that posting content for free will dilute book sales come November?  Not so much, considering that this exercise has helped to build great early buzz between readers of my genre. Not to mention the fact that the official eBook and print versions will have exclusive content that’ll get the hardcore faithful twitching like a dignified kitty after catnip tea. 😉

It really is a brilliant time for aspiring authors to chart a course and steer their own damn ships.

Enter the Shadowlands...

COMING SOON (Book Trailers are a thing)

It’s seems illogical – how can you cut a promo with audio and compelling visuals for a work that’s meant to exist solely in a reader’s mind? Still, in recent years, it seems that book trailers have progressed from a rarity to the norm in mainstream publishing. The goal is to sell the feeling of the story in a bite-sized chunk of AV goodness to a literary audience.

The Cat’s Maw is a dark feline fairytale with fantasy, mystery, and adventure elements for brave young readers – think ‘middle grade’ (9-12yrs) — and for all you creepy kids at heart.

I think we pulled it off, don’t you?

 

This 90sec piece features the haunting narration of Michael Dobson (Transformers, Batman: Black and White, Broken Saints), a chilling score by Tobias Tinker (Broken Saints, I Am Legend shorts, Hellboy 2 shorts), and original art by Sara Machajewski, Welkyna, David Cameron Sloan and more.

It was conceived and designed to set stage for the mysterious saga to come by teasing a major piece of its mythology puzzle — trust me, once you’ve read Book I, you’ll see exactly how potent this bit of promo is.  🙂

 

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10 WAYS THAT MEDITATION IS LIKE WRITING

May 22, 2014

brookeburgess

(by Brooke Burgess)

Long time, no post!  But rest assured, dear friends…I’ve been busy, albeit quiet.

And quiet is the operative term.

After receiving some helpful (and surprisingly glowing) beta reader feedback on my first novel, I completed a round of draft revisions in April and the work is currently under agent and publisher review.  Then, struggling to exercise the patience of the proverbial saints, I felt the call for another adventure in Silence.

Enter the Silence

I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that a strong first draft of a 230-page children’s fantasy novel was completed in less that ten weeks.  I give a newfound commitment to meditative practice the lion’s share of the credit.  So, with pre-publishing edits on the first book looming, the second book in the Shadowland Saga fully outlined (title TBA soon!), and following a slow recovery from some tropical nastiness (dengue fever and Giardia parasites = good times!), the twin batteries of intuition and mindfulness were in desperate need of a recharge.

The last meditation retreat in September stirred up some long-buried emotions.  But it also rewarded me with renewed clarity, increased mental fortitude, and a powerful set of tools to apply to life and to the creative process.  And with another block of 17hr days filled with deep sits, contemplative footsteps, and radiant Metta, it quickly became clear how many parallels there are between meditation and writing.

Off the top of my (currently empty) head, here are 10 that stand out:

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WORDSMITHS: 5 WAYS TO SHARPEN YOUR EDIT

January 7, 2014

brookeburgess

I’m about to edit a book. Seems like a straightforward mission statement, right? But for me, the prose editing process generates a special, singular kind of fear. I’ll get to that in a second.

When you’re launching an initial assault on the blank page, there’s a leap-into-the-void, roll-the-goddamn-dice, what’s-the-worst-that-can-happen? kinda quality to the whole thing. That’s why I actually enjoyed the NaNoWriMo exercise – you show up, put your head down, and commit to your daily word count. That’s it. So, if your outline was strong enough, and your characters were clearly defined, and you respected your narrative roadmap (no matter how many shortcuts or off-road excursions you indulged in along the way), you’re gonna end up with something. And, unless you’re a complete tool, said thing will resemble an actual ‘story’, with words and paragraphs and dialogue and chapters and a beginning, middle, and end. Groovy.

But then comes the hard part. You see, in keeping with my oft-stated transmedia philosophy, Storytelling (on singular or multiple platforms) is akin to the mining, cutting, and polishing of a precious gem. Writing in prose has only reaffirmed that for me. The story outline is where one surveys the land and takes soil samples. The first draft is digging and sifting until you find the raw stone. Which makes the hardest part – the detailed cutting and polishing phases, which give the stone its unique beauty and shine — the edit.

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