The Academic on Facebook Live #musicsunday

I’ve never heard of this band before but they’re my newest favorites. Here they are doing a Facebook Live event and taking advantage of the delay that comes with such things. I actually can’t figure out how it works or how they figured it out, but I love it just the same.

And I guess that’s the point. Enjoy!

We created a first-of-its-kind Facebook Live performance of our latest single, “Bear Claws,” using the audio/video time lag to create a mesmerizing visual loop sampler.

Here’s how: We rearranged each instrument on “Bear Claws” to fit Facebook Live’s delay, with each loop getting more complex, adding instruments, rhythms, and melodies. Additionally, by projecting the video live from a soundstage we created an infinite tunnel consisting of all the previously recorded loops.

‘Bear Claws’ is available everywhere now: http://smarturl.it/BearClaws
Watch the official video: https://youtu.be/hXoBj5HZ1hU
Tour dates: http://bandsintown.com/theacademic

Happy Book Birthday, Dax and Harlow!

Everything She Ever Wanted turns one today, and if there’s only one thing I’m posting about all day, it’s this.

One of the first teasers I made for Harlow

This day last year, I clicked Publish on the book that would feature my maiden name after establishing a different author name a year and a half earlier. Sometimes, it felt like I was starting from rock bottom, but I knew I had something that was really special. And other than missing an epilogue for that first edition, I’d never been more confident releasing a book.

One of the first ads I made with the original cover

So happy birthday, Harlow and Dax. This was a story that wrote itself, characters that came to me after I thought I’d lost my joy for writing – characters who came out fully formed right out of the gate with truths I would know so well because they were my own.

The audiobook is still undergoing Quality Control but I’m hoping it will be out soon on Audible. In the meantime, here’s a sample.

 

We Tell Lies For a Living

Yesterday, I came out of the house to find ashes falling from the sky. I don’t live in Northern California where the fires have ravaged thousands of acres and destroyed thousands of homes (and it’s still happening), but in Southern California, we had the Anaheim Hills fire yesterday that turned the sky this eerie shade of light brown and rained ashes.

It was the perfect time to stay indoors and write, or in my case, after my fingers got tired of typing and I’m still getting the hang of dictation, I got in bed and buried myself under the covers and read a book. One of them was The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman, a collection of essays and talks he’s compiled into a book. Some of them are familiar, maybe heard during one interview or another, while some are new.

I like how this quote encapsulates why someone like me writes, especially when times are tough and we need “hope or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort.”

But there’s another book that is totally captivating me right now and this one is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. It’s a story about a curmudgeonly old man named Ove who has stolen my heart. I’m listening to the audiobook and the narration is flawless. I laugh, I cry, and am so touched by this story that I am glad to read/listen to it before seeing any movie based on it, whether it’s one that you can stream on Netflix or the Hollywood version that will star Tom Hanks.

“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.”

“To love someone is like moving into a house,” Sonja used to say. “At first you fall in love in everything new, you wonder every morning that this is one’s own, as if they are afraid that someone will suddenly come tumbling through the door and say that there has been a serious mistake and that it simply was not meant to would live so fine. But as the years go by, the facade worn, the wood cracks here and there, and you start to love this house not so much for all the ways it is perfect in that for all the ways it is not. You become familiar with all its nooks and crannies. How to avoid that the key gets stuck in the lock if it is cold outside. Which floorboards have some give when you step on them, and exactly how to open the doors for them not to creak. That’s it, all the little secrets that make it your home.”
– Fredrik Backman , A Man Called Ove

Dirty John: Fact is Stranger Than Fiction

This has nothing to do with my writing or my books (thank goodness! A break from regularly scheduled programming!) but last Sunday, I saw that Los Angeles Times was featuring a 6-part serial called Dirty John and after reading the blurb, I had to check it out.

As I listened to the first part and then the second and third, I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I know the conclusion since it was in the news last year and promptly disappeared, the identity of the woman involved kept from the media, and as much as I wanted to post a comment about what I thought about the woman who fell in love with “Dirty John,” I had to stop myself numerous times.

It’s amazing what love can do to a person and what things we’re all willing to ignore despite all the glaring signs. Sometimes we even turn away from the people we’ve trusted all our lives just because we’d rather believe someone who makes our heart turn to mush. I’ve been there with the heart-turn-to-mush part where I’ve refused to see reason from anyone so I realized that it wasn’t my place to judge.

It also made me realize just how fact can be so much stranger than fiction it’s unbelievable. I mean, I could NOT write this story at all, not even as a fictional story especially if I’d end up subjecting the heroine to a lot of ridicule and judgment from readers until she snaps out of it. But it happens all the time in real life and this story proves it. The heart wants what it wants until one day if she’s lucky, it gets overruled by common sense – and save her life.

If you haven’t listened to the podcast or read it, I highly recommend it. The reporting and production are excellent.

It also concludes tomorrow, so like me, if you catch up on the first five episodes, we’ll be waiting with bated breath… together!

Writing for Joy… and Hope

While trying to find the words to write in the aftermath of last night’s deadly shooting in Las Vegas, Facebook reminded me that this day last year I released this book trailer of the first book that would feature my maiden name instead of my older author name. Even I wasn’t used to seeing Liz Durano on the trailer but I had just written a story that made me happy from the inside out and it wouldn’t have mattered what name I used although “Durano” is the surname most people in my life know me as and deep inside, I wanted my family to be proud of at least one thing I created.

I never wavered with the way Dax and Harlow’s story was told (except maybe for the lack of an epilogue for the first edition – sorry about that), the characters’ ages or what they went through whether it would be triggering for readers or not. This was a book that wrote itself from April 29 until August because unknown to me then, I was desperate to find my joy and I realized later on that I found it through writing stories like Dax and Harlow’s.

This morning was one of those days when I wasn’t sure about joy anymore or why I should even write. After the events of last night when I went to bed learning there’d been only two casualties then to waking up this morning and finding that number reach 50, I found myself sitting in front of my laptop wondering why I should even write in the midst of all the hopelessness. Where can I even find it when I’m feeling so hopeless? But then, maybe that is the reason to write, too, to find joy… and most of all, hope shining brightly against the backdrop of fear and hopelessness.

Today, my thoughts are with Las Vegas and everyone affected. I could watch the clips and hear the sounds again and again all over social media, or I could start writing my characters’ stories and find hope again and again and again.

Love you all,
Liz

Still Caffeinated for #nationalcoffeeday

I had a large cup of coffee later in the afternoon and so I’m still wired at almost 11:00 p.m. PST, so what’s a girl to do?

She makes book covers, that’s what… or at least, one cover.

It’s supposed to be for someone’s book that I decided to do for fun, to see if I could interpret her description of a bacteria that a woman created that came out wrong (thanks to a colleague who tampered with it) and now, instead of eating oil spills, it’s eating everything else on the planet. Or something like that.

She was looking for ways to make her current cover better in an author’s forum so instead of suggesting she tweak this or that (the others already took care of that), I decided to give myself the challenge to create one for her book. I didn’t intend for her to buy it; it’s more to show her a different option as she was hiring the same Fiverr guy who created her first few covers that weren’t a hit among forum members nor with would-be readers. I also needed the distraction from writing Jordan’s story. Somehow I’m still stuck at 27K words and it’s down the wire.

There are three stock images that make up the book cover on the left and I probably spent three hours on it when I planned on spending an hour only. I ended up going back to it and changing the background so the one with the red font on the right only has one background image and is more in line with what a premade cover should be. It’s a bit more generic. The only reason the gun is cut off to the left is that if the author were to do Amazon marketing ads, the cover could get rejected for “promoting violence.”

Twenty years ago, I learned graphic design with Adobe products and there’s a reason why I paid for the whole suite back in the day and had the CDs. But none of those CD’s or their activation codes work on my new laptop and the only option is a monthly subscription. Enter Pixelmator which is for Mac only and ten times cheaper, and it can do almost 90% what Photoshop can. I also no longer do graphic design so Pixelmator does what I need.

The author actually liked the concept of the green one with the bacteria and wanted the PSD files for it so she could tweak it for herself. But I can’t give the image away or even sell it so it can be tweaked because the standard license allows me only to sell the finished product. If I sold her the PSD files to tweak, then I’d need an extended license. This is important for me to know because that means technically I can’t tweak existing pre-made covers that I buy… and neither can authors who buy premade covers thinking they can tweak a thing or two. Yikes!

Anyway, it’s something I need to consider – making covers to sell. The left one actually isn’t bad although it’s tough to sell it as a premade because… come on, bacteria in the background? They look like giant worms haha

Okay, I’m going back to writing.