Friday, August 19, 2011

Machinima Project Seeks Producers and Contributors

Machinima is animation using a game or virtual world engine to create real time action. My associate, Wayne Graves, produced a short series called AV451 for under $400 and poor equipment. Now, our goal now is to do the full-length film with hired talent and proper equipment to give it a crisper, more professional look. Backed by a quality animated film, we are gearing up to start a small online machinima community with writing classes and collaborative projects to further the art.

I am always intrigued with new, fresh ways of telling a story. The art of machinima has yet to really reach maturity, so it's almost an open field to play in. It's also relatively cheap to make. The film will be approximately the length of a long feature film at a fraction of the cost. And with online viewership through major machinima sites reaching into the high millions, the potential is exciting. Warner Brothers did a machinima series called "Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series," so you can be assured that Hollywood is paying attention.

To see how you can participate, go to:

We are further launching live-streaming online courses on the art and process of machinima film production, including the tools we use, tips and tricks, and anything else related to this project that can help others do the same, or do even better. Classes will be launched as the completed series and community is launched.We are also creating a behind-the-scenes looks and a "how-to" course through this process.

You can see series 1 at

Thanks for checking out our project. And please pass the good word!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Author's Ego vs Editor's License

As an author, I understand the pride that comes with every accomplished work. I also know the ego-bruising that comes with every rejection.  How many times has my precious creation been kicked to the curb or cut at the last minute by some editor's license to call the shots? Recently, I had an author brusquely remove her work from our publication because we couldn't run her story in the issue we had initially slotted it for.

As an editor, I find myself having to make the harsh calls for the sake of limited space or special feature. It is hard for me to notify writers, who have toiled day and night on their beloved story or poem, that I won't be able to include the work. Yes, on occasion, this is exactly the call I have to make. And of course, the ego-bruising begets reactionary lashing out by said author.

Let's be reasonable, people. If you're a writer, you seriously need to get used to what might feel like abuse but isn't. What is with this sense of entitlement? Being published is an honor and a privilege that many may never achieve! Take Kathryn Stockett, author of "The Help." She suffered over 60 rejections before some kind editor saw the value of her work. Now the book is slotted for feature film production. I can sit here all day and cite case after case of authors enduring the onslaught the slings and arrows of outrageous editorial license, but I don't see the need to beat that stale old nail into your heads any deeper. 

Last minute cuts, final rejections, even whittling down well-crafted writing so that it can fit into a column are all par for the course! Learn to take it on the chin with a modicum of grace! Don't throw a diva's snit--especially when you haven't reached that level of recognition as an author! And even then, behaving like a spoiled brat is in poor form. 

The best thing to do is lean forward and move on with your work. If you believe in your powers of creativity, you will get there! 

As for those authors who flipped their wigs because I couldn't print their stories, they have kicked a gift horse in the mouth. As a Managing Editor, I do call the harsh shots, but I am true to my word. If I say the work will be published, it will be--perhaps not in the issue at first intended, but I will always find a home for it down the line. Our magazine remains true to its mission to help writers showcase their  'wares'.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New! IdeaGems Magazine

For the past 6 years, I have been publishing a magazine with the title ADVENTURES FOR THE AVERAGE WOMAN, which was meant as a tongue-in-cheek commentary about how women often feel about themselves and their abilities. In truth, no woman should ever feel average, and several have expressed as much about our magazine’s title. So, in the spirit of respect for our readers’ and critics’ opinions, I am now going to adopt the title IDEAGEMS MAGAZINE.  It will still remain the showcase for all the undiscovered literary and artistic treasures out there.  Moreover, I am staying true to my mission to give writers their first break in the world of publishing.

THIS ISSUE features WOMEN IN THE RING with the motion photography of women boxers by Arthur Fink. Also featured is Arthur's book of beautiful images: DANCE! In addition, there is a colorful collection of mixed media by 92 year old artist, June Stevenson, reflecting her 70-year career. Then there is the Poetry and Painting section showing the skillful sketches of Gothra tribal women from Kerala, India, by award-wining artist, Sukesan Kanka, accompanied by the poignant poems of Hither Kusum. Beyond the glorious art, there is inspiring prose and poetry where we compare writers groups coast-to-coast.
As always, I am looking for fresh submissions for our future issues, for both seasonal themes (winter, spring, summer, and fall) and the TOUGH LIT series devoted to crime, dark fantasy, horror, sci-fi, gritty and edgy literature.

Send comments and submissions to: Be sure to check out our submission guidelines on our website: and look for up-coming special themes.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Helpful (and Humorous) Sites on Social Media and the Perils of Facebook

My struggles with social networking for business and ensuing discussions with colleagues and associates has prompted social-media-savvy Dan Mesnik to offer up some very helpful websites. Here are the links:

These primarily focus on Facebook for all its pluses and minuses, but they shed good light on the importance of social media. (Even our politicians have FB and Twitter accounts, whether they really know how to use them or not. Then again, they can afford to hire staff that know how. See: )

Basically, an author, filmmaker, or business (especially an up-and-comer)  will be hard-pressed to succeed without signing on with social media. But, what are the risks for hacking and identity theft? 

I recently received emails from a stand-up comedian and poet I occasionally work with. Porcupine Smith (yes, that's his real name) reported that because of Facebook, someone hacked and 'took over' both his Facebook and related email account. Porc found it impossible to contact anyone at Facebook or his email provider to report the incidence, for Facebook has no help desk number to call, only a hard-to-find 'report an incident' function on its site. Frustrated beyond belief, Porc wound up shutting down his Facebook page and lost 1200 'friends' on his network. For a performer and writer, this has critical impact. Even mega 'dot coms' like Amazon, eBay, and PayPal have a customer service number! So does AOL! Why is it that the social media sites don't offer live voice or live chat troubleshooting services? Probably because members are not PAYING customers. 

Knock on wood, nothing major has happened to this social media user's accounts, save the occasional spam and 'spoofing' of my screen name. In those events, I immediately change my password and report the incident via email to the spoof and spam report centers of my email providers. Whenever I get spammed on FB, I hit their 'report spam' button and remove the offending 'friend' and their posts or tagged photos. Does it really do anything? I can't say, but I know that to let it discourage and defeat me isn't the answer.

Facebook, like any enormous beast, has its nature. If we're to be in bed with it, we'd better learn to live with it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Should We Pay for 'Enhanced' Social Networking?

I must admit, the advent of the World Wide Web has opened up an entire 'metaverse' of possibilities for film, television, and print media previously unknown or experienced. The challenges of riding the waves across the seas of cyberspace are often beyond my skill set. (I still haven't figured out how to effectively create and embed a favicon!) The learning curve can be very steep, but it is necessary for authors, screenwriters, and producers to grab their self-promotional surf boards and hit the tip. (OKay, I admit I'm just a highway surfer here, but the analogy still serves.) 

It may seemI am repeating myself from previous blog entries, but the issue of understanding how to make the most and best use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Plaxo, Blogger, Posterous, Tumblr... (the list goes on and on)... is one of several key steps to success that I find puzzling. I am overwhelmed by the amount of information that I must process on a daily basis. How do I navigate through it all? To go and read about how to do it just adds to my piles of 'to dos'! I am drowning in TMI (too much information)!

So, I decided to jump in to sink or swim. I sign up for and try almost anything with a 'Let's throw it against the wall and see if it sticks' frame of mind. Lately, I renewed my interest in Plaxo. I had an old account, so I went in and updated my profile. Within a day, I got messages on my Facebook page from other entrepreneurs about the benefits of Plaxo. (This stuff spreads like wildfire.) I honestly replied that I found the 'new and improved' Plaxo extremely limited, user unfriendly, and overly solicitous about my paying to upgrade for 'enhanced' services. Most disappointing of all, I would click on the link to my Plaxo public profile so that I could post it on my About.Me page (among others). Only my old profile with its out-of-date information could be seen. I feel that I speak for many when I say, "I DON'T HAVE THE FRIGGIN' TIME FOR THIS!" Plaxo is not on my faves' list.

My recent experience with Plaxo brings me to the question of cost and the reality that many free social networking and profile posting services (including IMDb Pro and LinkedIn) charge to bring a member's profile and network to the 'next level.' Is it worth it?

Three years ago, I spent quite a bit on 'enhanced' services to promote my book, my websites, my film projects, my company, and myself. At the end of the day, I felt that, for the expense, they produced little to nothing. Granted, paid subscriptions did gain me access to information that I might not have been aware of or been able to uncover on my own, AND it did lead to some good contacts, even potential investors. Still, nothing came of it to get my work noticed or produced. Truly, the best way for that to happen is to pick up the phone, pound pavement, and meet agents, producers, and investors face-to-face. Well, at least the expense for enhanced services was tax-deductible.

The economy the way it is, I've had to seriously 'dial back' and am totally dependent on the freebies on the Web. I am certain that many independents can relate. Thank goodness there's still plenty of free services out there (even with their annoying demands for my email address to send me solicitous junkmail). I would still encourage independent authors, filmmakers, producers, and small business owners to get on the stick and learn to ride the swells of social networking. If you don't know how, take a course. I am sure there are thousands available on the World Wide Web. Just Google 'how to learn how to social network'!