Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Out and About

This past month I left my office to attend various events covering genres and technology and media I don’t know much about.


First was the Jewish Literature for Children Western Regional Conference, a one-day event in LA, on Not Your Parents’ Comics: Graphic Literature for Today’s Readers. Among the speakers was Sid Jacobson, who has spent more than half a century writing and producing comic books for the Pentagon (soldiers’ manuals,) comics geeks, and now is writing award-winning graphic biographies for children, on subjects ranging from Anne Frank to Che Guevara to Vlad the Impaler.

Graphic books are not just created by author-illustrators. Jacobson writes and Ernie Colón draws the pictures. Something for us writers-only to consider. The conference also featured education specialist Anastasia Betts who gave a great talk about how teachers are using graphic literature to advance visual and verbal literacy and supplement the curriculum. (See her website for all this and more.)


Then, a couple of weeks later I went to the newly expanded Flintridge Bookstore in La Cañada (near LA) to see a demonstration of the ESPRESSO BOOK MACHINE! ( There aren’t many of these around, and most are owned by university presses. This Rube Goldberg-type machine is a wondrous

sight. You put your files into a computer at one end, press a button, and watch through the glass panels as wheels turn, flaps open and close, a glue pot dribbles – and a bound book comes out the other end! Amazing.

Right now, the machine can do text and black and white illustrations, but stay tuned. Before long it will handle color and large format and anything else you want. Want to resuscitate your out-of-print darlings? To publish your niche-market blockbuster? You can do it in a couple of hours! You don’t need to live near LA either. Grant Paules, espresso book genius, can work with you at any distance.


Lastly, this month saw the premiere of my first-ever book trailer. Full disclosure: it’s for a middle-grade novel, All the World’s A Stage: A Novel in Five Acts, but I plan to exploit this medium for my future nonfiction books as well. Researching the whole thing was soooo much fun! I watched dozens of book trailers and decided that less is decidedly more.

Next, I wrote a script that is just over one minute. Working with my illustrious friend, Christopher (Kit) Gray, documentary video editor, ( we found the perfect copyright-free Elizabethan music. ( Then I asked another friend, David Burston, an English actor, to narrate the script. Finally, Kit put it all together, using Thomas Cox’s cover and interior artwork. It was ever so much fun sitting at the editing deck watching Kit tweak the sound and images to create a gem that I’ve not yet tired of watching. School Library Journal even featured it as its Book Trailer of the Week.

I’m finally entering the 21st century (just climbed onto facebook,) and it’s an exciting place for authors as well as readers.


Barbara Kerley said...

Hi Gretchen -- Great post! Thanks for being our investigative reporter.

I loved your book trailer. In what ways do you plan to use it to let folks know about your book?

Gretchen Woelfle said...

Thanks Barbara. I put my trailer on youtube, teachertube, my website, my publisher's website, and on the blog interviews I'm doing for the book. There are Oscars (called Mobies) for trailers and probably some more awards I don't know about. I'll include it in my school talks as well. Evidently librarians love them for book talks with kids.