Monday, April 11, 2016

Fall Photo Shoot - Jenny Squires

LOL I almost forgot! We did a second outfit during that shoot in a separate park. It was probably a little too hot for the outfit we used.

Here"s the other set of photos we finished with Fall Photo Shoot - Jenny Squires.

Jenny Squires - Fall Photos

Last fall's photo shoot with Jenny Squires. Tried shooting these in the park with a look similar to Cher from Clueless. Pretty happy with the colors and the way they turned out. Odd thing I noticed while editing though. Some of the photos don"t appear quite as sharp, particularly around the eye areas. When I zoom in though, they were definitely photographed in focus. Usually it"s the opposite. The photograph may appear sharp, and once you zoom in you notice they"re not quite as sharp as your originally though. Very odd to say the least. Any else every notice anything similar?

Here's the set of photos we finished with Jenny Squires - Fall Photos.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Black and White Photo Shoot - Raye

So I've fallen massively behind on a lot of things. Most of my time lately has been going to Fit and Fashionable, and online magazine site I've been building on and off for the last year. I've finished the majority of the code with maybe a few tweaks left down the line. With that done I've been trying to get up articles, spending some time on writing up a web series, and I'm itching to get back to writing The Bewitching novels and responding to all of the kind comments I've gotten there.

I was finally able to replace the computer a few weeks ago, which will make video and photo editing a lot quicker also, something else I'd like to do along with the writing. I'm just completely burned out on programming. With that said, I finally found some time today to put up a photoshoot I did last fall with the lovely Raye. I still have a bunch of photos I have to get through from other shoots, but at least for now I'm happy I can put something else up. The shoot went amazingly well and it was great to work with a model who was extremely comfortable in front of the camera. I can't say enough nice things about working with her. Here's the set of photos we finished with Black and White Photo Shoot - Raye.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Red Rock Photo Shoot - Jenny Squires

So last month I took a trip to Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas to reshoot the cover for the second book I'd written The Bewitching - Midsummer Aine. Afterwards my model, Jenny Squires, and I decided to shoot a country-esque photo shoot while we were there. Here's what we finished with Red Rock Photo Shoot - Jenny Squires.

Huge thanks to her sister, Michelle Squires, for taking the time to do her hair!

Friday, April 3, 2015

It"s Been a Year...

As the title says it’s been a year since I’ve been able to find the time to update anything here. I’ll ignore that half of last year was wasted building projects for some I shouldn’t have. It’s probably also a bad thing that I’m a very hands on type of person who happens to be a bit OCD when it comes to my own projects.

I just can’t bring myself to grab someone else’s templates for web designs, or use stock photos for book covers and design projects. It feels like cheating to me, and trying to use someone else’s work as my own. Although I’ve also noticed that in everyone’s rush to get things done quickly, the quality of certain things is not something I’d feel comfortable using.

With that said, my new years resolution for 2015 was to stop working for free. It’s hard enough balancing time when you’re doing your own projects without payment and hoping they’ll pay off at a later date. It’s a risk creatives and entrepreneurs all take with their time.

For the last few years, I’ve taken those risks with time, but on projects other than my own. This not only put me further and further behind on finishing my own projects but I’ve also come to realize that for the many that ask others to invest their time, there’s very little incentive for them to put in any work of their own as they have their steady jobs with paychecks coming in. If the project fails, they’re still secure in their living. For those like myself though, the feeling’s completely different in ways I’m sure one can imagine.

With that said, here’s what’s been completed since I made that resolution, and what I have planned for the coming months:

Books and Writing

I finally finished the second Bewitching book at the end of January and I’m about to start the third book. I’m hoping to have the third book finished by the end of this year. So that’s the great news on that front, along with the fact that the first book is about to break a million reads. From what I’ve heard I also have both Bewitching books, and possibly my French Riviera story featured on Wattpad’s new After Dark app.

Hopefully I can also find the time to go through the first two books and re-edit them, fixing typos, etc. I’m really crossing my fingers that by the summer I can have them both cleaned up enough that I feel confident in self publishing them on Amazon.

I also had a few webisodes I’d like to write, which falls into the acting and filmmaking categories too. The one I’m most excited about an idea called On Set, and the second is a web series entitled Singlesville. I’m still bouncing around ideas for both, but I have a general concept in the direction I’d like to go with them. The biggest limiting factor though is knowing who’ll show up and who I can rely upon for shooting them. That makes them a bit difficult to write but I’ll figure it out….somehow.

Web Design and Programming

I’ll likely be removing the web design and programming categories from this blog. It just doesn’t seem to fit with the more creative stuff. I’m thinking the best option will be to move them over to the BlackDoorMedia domain I own. While I’ve rethought the idea for that domain over and over again after some setbacks, I think it’d be best to go with the original concept I had for it. That includes offering video, photography, and web design services, along with tips for optimizing websites and building plugins. I’ll still be cross posting some of that here, but most of the programming information will be posted there.

Since I’ve finished the second Bewitching book back in January, I have used the break from writing to code a few plugins of my own. Anyone that’s frequented this site will notice the new share links. I removed Shareaholic share buttons due to the massive amount of code they used which slowed the site, along with a few other issues I had with them. The share buttons now are ones I created, that load along with the page. They’re also integrated with the Yoast plugin I use for images when shared to networks. Anyone sharing from here will notice the large images it now grabs for Facebook, Google+, etc. And best of all, it’s all written where one line of code will integrate all the files into the template once the folders loaded.

I’ve also taken the time to redo the SEO on this website and update it to HTML5, which I’ve held off on doing for a while. Finally, the largest part of the last month or two was spent building a slide show plugin for WordPress. While I liked a few of the plugins I had set up, some contained poorly written code, or were extremely bulky in the code they added. I’m hoping to turn the one I integrated directly into the template for this site into a plugin that uses multiple templates for other WordPress users after I work out a few small bugs.

On the “to do” I have to find some time to update The Bewitching website. Designing a nice looking, dark website is not easy, and I’m really not happy with how the current one looks. I’ll be doing that while also building the Black Door Media site.

Finally, I’d like to finish the Fit and Fashionable I started last year. The majority of the programming is done and uploaded, and there are several other updates already finished on the localhost. This is another one I’m looking forward to seeing finished, especially since it means I can interview some of my favorite Wattpad authors and friends.

Film/Acting and Photography

As I mentioned in the writing section, I have a few ideas for web series. I had already written several episodes of Singlesville a little over a year ago and then lost a bunch of the scripts when the computer I was using was stolen along with the backup drive. I’m kind of on the fence about trying to rewrite them, although I also have a few new ideas for it should I choose to pick it up again.

What I’m more excited for is writing On Set. I picture it being similar to The Office, but based on an indie filmmaker team, making it easy to switch out different actors for each episode each week depending on what they’re shooting. I had a great talk with someone last week about funny ideas, and that talk not only inspired a few more episode ideas but also a nice way the web series could be used as a marketing and advertising tool. Being shot like The Office would also make the work in post go a bit quicker.

I think the biggest obstacle I’ve come across with shooting any of these ideas tends to be getting people together to actually shoot the scenes. This also makes it difficult to write because you don’t want to write a significant character into the script and find out the person you’re thinking of casting can’t be relied upon. In which case I tend to start trying to limit who’s important in the story, and by the end the story feels so watered down that I lose interest. I’m hoping to find a nice, small group of people who maybe that won’t happen with so I can have several episodes on tape by the end of the summer.

For filming, I would also still would like to get the trailer shot for The Bewitching. Still waiting for schedules to clear up for that, but again crossing my fingers that it’ll be soon since the scripts already done.

Which leaves just the photography. I’ve already got several photo shoots edited which should be uploaded in the next week using the WordPress Slide Show plugin I designed. I wouldn’t mind shooting more during the year, particular themed shoots with costumes. I’ve always heard photographers make better filmmakers due to what’s learned with using the camera during the photo shoots. While photography isn’t what I’d like to solely focus on, I’ve definitely worked with some great models and would like to continue doing shoots between the rest of the things I’ve got planned.

It"s Been a Year...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wattpad Community and Etiquette

Wattpad for Writers and Readers, Tips for Etiquette

It’s been a busy last several weeks. I still have a lot more to do, but I wanted to give another shout out to Wattpad because of some of the amazing people I’ve met there and the opportunity Wattpad offers to writers. There are also a few things I noticed for those hoping to get more reads and followers. It might fall into the line of etiquette, or an unspoken case of courtesy and support for your fellow writers. It’s not much different than what I posted about recently in regards to Ben Affleck playing Batman and the support he found with Damon and Smith early on.

When it comes to writing, or most artistic and creative endeavors for that matter, it’s a struggle for many of us who aren’t making enough to live solely off of our creative work. We have jobs we have to work, maybe we have kids, and then we have to make time to actually produce something creatively to even have a chance of someday being able devote more hours to what we love. Trying to find the time to also support other artists can be difficult, especially with something such as writing where you have to read the work they’re putting out to comment on it.

But if you can find even a bit of time each week for a bit of professional courtesy it can go a long way. There are many ways to do this, and some only take a few seconds of time. Let’s go through some of the ways you can support your favorite artists, and why you should. We’ll use Wattpad as an example since they’ve been so great and I’d like to support them for the support they’ve given me. Although, keep in mind that these ideas can be used in other areas if you’re a bit creative and understand the sites you’re on.

Getting more Fans and Reads on Wattpad

1) A few months back I noticed one of the volunteers on Wattpad posting about the voting system and how many people were unaware of it, or rarely used it. Voting on Wattpad is one of the simplest ways to show support for your favorite writers. Voting on the work of others can also help you get noticed. To vote on the Wattpad app you merely click the star on top of the screen of the chapter you’re reading. On the website you’ll notice the star on the top right of every page. Something I don’t think many people are aware of is the fact that the votes count per chapter. If the story has multiple chapters as many do, the votes count for each chapter, not the story as a whole.

Us writers notice votes, and we appreciate them! Imagine spending all your time and effort writing a great story. While you might get a lot of reads, if no one’s voting it’s discouraging. You might think no one likes your story. On the other hand, if everyone’s voting for your chapters it encourages the writer to keep going. How terrible would it be to read a great story and the writer quits writing half way through because he’s not seeing votes. He might think everyone hates it, and thus there’s no point in continuing. Not only that it, your votes help the writer’s ranking, which means more readers, more encouragement, and they’re more likely to continue the story.

And here’s a bit of a secret, your votes also help in getting you noticed! As a writer on Wattpad, I do go through the people voting, and when I have time I check out their profiles. While I don’t have a lot of time to read, if something catches my eye I try to at least read a chapter or two and give a vote or two in return. At the very least I’ll add their to my reading list so those that view my profile may catch it and read it themselves. It’s a way for me to help support those who are supporting me, and hopefully we both benefit.

2) Commenting on Wattpad works very similarly to voting! If you get a chance, and are enjoying a story, leave a comment. Again, you’re encouraging a writer. Also, myself and many others on Wattpad notice comments more than votes. We’re more likely to check out your profiles and leave a comment of our own to help you out, much like I mentioned doing with voting.

You may also notice that most writers on Wattpad, especially the popular ones, comment back and try to return the favor on your stories. That’s part of the great community Wattpad has, and part of being successful at finding readers. It has to do with building relationships. People are more likely to support you, or notice you, when you comment or speak with them. It’s a two-way street of support. For someone like me who tends to read in spurts and gets really busy, comments stand out more than anything. I also feel as if I have a higher obligation to respond to comments than votes because someone took the time to comment. They deserve that same time in return. I’m sure there are many that feel the same. If you Google Vin Diesel and Facebook, there’s an interesting article on how he had one of the largest groups of followers on Facebook because he took the time to interact with the fans who made him such a big name. Wattpad is no different, regardless of how popular you are at the moment.

3) Follow your favorite writers on Wattpad! I’m not really sure where this would fall. Sometimes it’s as effective as commenting, and other times it ranks slightly lower than commenting but still better than voting. I usually try to check out followers as much as I check out comments. Although there have been times I’ve picked up so many followers at once I fell behind and it slides off my plate, unlike comments that I always try to respond to even when it takes me awhile to actually do it.

One thing I’ve noticed is that unless you’re following some of your favorite writers, you won’t always notice new stories they post, or maybe a follow-up book to one they’re writing. Following them keeps you up to date, so you can see all the new stuff they’re adding, or maybe a second book of your favorite story. There have been times I’ve gotten votes and comments and checked out profiles to find they had great stories of their own. In such cases I give them a follow, and usually they do the same in return. Even if they don’t, it’s a nice way to show your support for them. It can also help them acquire readers from those going through your list of followers. Again, supporting each other is the name of the game!

4) So far we’ve talked about supporting each other on Wattpad, but Wattpad needs some love too! They’ve created this great site that allows us to post our stories and hopefully get noticed. The very least we can do is to help them get noticed in return. Social media’s a great way to do this, and it can help us too! Sharing your stories on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr, Blogger, and other social media is a great way to help people find your story and Wattpad’s website. You can also share the stories of your favorite authors on these sites to help them out too.

Don’t be afraid to also shoot Wattpad follows and likes to show your support. Remember, liking and sharing stories on Facebook and Google Plus, or retweeting from Twitter takes very little time and helps everyone out since it shows up in your feed for other people to find. If you can’t find time to read and vote to show your support, this is likely the easiest and fastest way to show support for those with little time. As I just found out today, Wattpad has a few social media sites for sharing that I wasn’t aware of. For those looking to help support Wattpad, here are the sites I’m aware of as of today: Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. If anyone’s aware of them having a Google Plus page, feel free to let me know in the comments as I know it’s a great ranking builder for the search engines. I’d like to show my support to them there if I can beside just posting links there back to their website.

That’s everything I can think of off the top of my head. If anyone has any other tips for supporting each other feel, free to mention so in the comments below. Remember, every one of us and Wattpad are bound to do better when we support each other. I know some people tend to be fearful of others getting ahead of them in the rankings, but by doing so you’re only hurting yourself. You’re walling yourself off from a wonderful community of people who help one another. When you’re part of the community, even if someone beats you in the rankings, or even in getting published, you never know if they might return that favor of support by recommending someone take a look at your works. And that is the benefit behind supporting each other in our goals to be artists. Making a living off of writing or creative pursuits is tough enough, why not help one another out and lighten the load.

Also note, I’m not recommending voting for the sake of voting, or following just for the sake of getting a follow back. I have noticed there are people who tend to do that and it doesn’t help anyone if no one is reading. Take the time to actually read a bit, even if it’s a little. If you really enjoy a story, vote, share, and consider a comment. If you don’t like it, be a part of the community by commenting and helping the author out. Don’t be harsh but be constructive (and it might be a good idea to ask if they want a critique first too! Some people don’t). Remember, the intention behind everything should come from genuinely wanting to be a part of the community, and not just following the above tips to get your own readers. I think for the most part, a lot of us there can tell when it’s genuine and when it’s not.

Speaking of support, what type of hypocrite would I be if I didn’t support some of my favorite Wattpadders myself. So here’s my list, in no particular order, of those you might want to check out on Wattpad for their great stories and because they have been so generous in showing their support to others.

  • LittleCinnamon – One of my favorite writers on Wattpad. Her Playing Dead story recently hit number one, and her Dark Sanctuary stories are great too! Super supportive and a must check out! I can guarantee you won’t be wasting your time!
  • KeepAustinWeird – Another one of my favorite writers from Wattpad who’s amazingly supportive. I love her Sinners and Saints story. Definitely recommend checking out her Maggie Moon story also, which is her main focus.
  • SeriousMoonlight – Just recently came across her work after she commented on my story. Great story with Something Lost, and her second Something Found novels. Highly recommend for those who like romance stories!
  • HisGorgeousChaos – She’s been extremely supportive with voting. Her story Breath Me Fire had a really interesting start and I hope she continues it. Shoot her some encouragement!
  • kchandok – Another one who’s been so kind in voting. Hasn’t written anything of her own yet but has an interesting profile where she mentioned considering it. Someone shoot her some inspiration and see if she’ll start.
  • SamanthaCTallon – Just came across her work after she commented. Bunch of stories on her page, and from what I can see they’re really good! All lengths of stories too depending on how your time is!
  • iriniheart – A young writer on Wattpad and one of my first readers. I think she may have taken down a few stories but her Bad Dreams book is still up. At such a young age, there’s no telling where some encouragement can take her.
  • sydhud5 – Another young writer on Wattpad. Extremely imaginative stories and currently ranked #80 in Historical Fiction. Definitely worth a look-see and some well deserved encouragement.
  • GeMiniMeG92 – Some very interesting romance stories to find here. If you like hot and steamy these are the stories to read.
  • MartyCat – Two stories here. For those who like Harry Potter fanfiction there’s Cracking Severus Snape. I glanced through her Princess Choice story and liked it. Interesting plot and a really nice writing style.
  • xxSMxx – Another really creative writer on Wattpad with quite a few stories to choose from. A great variety too so you’re sure to find something you like.
  • NowonMai – A very interesting writing style in both stories. The Calm and The Wild is the longer story, although I’m also really liking what I’m seeing in Midnight. Can’t wait to see where it goes from what I’ve skimmed.
  • TrailsInTheSky – One of my favorite supporters. It’s a little tough for me to read since his stories are in Spanish, but he’s ranking in Mystery/Thriller and Horror for his story Death Symphony. Definitely worth a read!
  • bri1019 – Recently read through what she had for her story Summerlyn. Really great writing style and story. She’s also got Essence which I haven’t had time to look through but has a very interesting premise.
  • niamhisnowhere – Just one story here that’s a poem. I thought it was really well written. Hopefully she’ll add more in the future as I think there’s a lot of potential there.
  • MrsJessicaHoran – Several short stories here, perfect for those who don’t have a lot of time and like stories aimed at teens. Looks like they’re fanfiction so if those are stories you enjoy, you definitely may want to take a read.
  • OwensMartin – Haven’t had a lot of time to check out his stuff, but what I have looked through looks really good. Great writing style, and I always see him in threads having interesting discussion when I browse them. Really can’t understand why he hasn’t gotten more reads, as they would seem well deserved.
  • Mrs_Manhunter_Jonzz – Another writer with a bunch of really interesting stories in the range of super heros and DC comics fanfiction. I definitely think at the very least a lot of younger readers would really enjoy these, and she as some more mature content too. Very creative indeed!
Wattpad Community and Etiquette

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Flawed Artists - The Power of Insecurity

Artists can be said to have many flaws. One of the greatest is sometimes said to be insecurity. It reminds me of a quote I’ve seen that pops up every now and again. It goes along the lines of stating that those who know the least speak the loudest, and those who are the most qualified keep quiet because they question themselves and the world. I think it may be safe to say that the more we learn about life, or our various pursuits, the more the wisest among us realize how little we actually know. This in turn leads to insecurity in life.

If we look at some of the greatest artists that have ever lived, many in their interviews mention their insecurities over their own work. Old interviews or memoirs of past film stars such as James Dean and Marilyn Monroe show a deep insecurity of their abilities. Some of the most talented writers, actors, and artists I’ve met always seem to think their work is terrible. Those artists I’ve met who talk about their brilliance or incredible talent leave me to wonder if they’re seeing something I’m not when I’ve watched what they’ve done. In most cases, not all but most, I’m left shaking my head wondering what type of inflated ego must possess them to think they are as talented as they seem to believe.

The sad fact I’ve read about most industries, both in the arts and other areas of life, is that confidence will help one achieve more than actual skill and talent. There was an actor turned casting director who wrote a book I had read several years back who had mentioned the same. Those who came in and gave terrible reads but held their heads high and pumped their fists at the end fared far better than those who gave moving auditions but chastised themselves at the end.

The most he could make of the situation was that the casting directors knew little of acting and based their casting decisions on the reaction of the actors when the audition was over. If the actor was excited it must have meant they did an amazing job. If the actor was tough on themselves it must mean they did something wrong. That was the thought process of the many casting directors he worked with.

While it’s sad that our reactions to our own work may weigh more heavily than the actual skill level of the work we do, I do believe that those who are insecure about their work possess the most potential and have a powerful tool in their hands. In life, it is those of us who are most insecure that will continue to strive to learn and improve. No matter what level we achieve we will always feel as if something is missing. As long as that feeling burns inside of us, as long as we continue to search for that missing piece to make us feel complete, improvement will come. That’s when great artists and great art are born.

It is those artists that feel as if they’ve mastered their craft with supreme talent, those that feel they may be a “gift from god” that will stagnate. These artists have achieved their best work, and there’s nothing more to come from them. What reason is there to strive for something more if one already feels like they’ve arrived?

It is that feeling of insecurity that is the most powerful tool one can possess, regardless of the struggles that may come with it. So take heed my insecure friends because it is you who will create art and achieve great things. It is each one of you who will do ten times what the over-confident cannot, that will bring substance to a world filled only with meaningless flare. That substance is what gets remembered for all time, where the rest merely get their 15 minutes.

Flawed Artists - The Power of Insecurity