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Posts from the ‘Creativity’ Category

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

January 12, 2015

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CP Study

(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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2014: Lessons Learned and Wishes Granted

December 28, 2014

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(by Brooke Burgess)

Dearest Friends,

I hope your Holy-days find each of you in the midst of loved ones — feasting on all things homemade, gravy-soaked, and likely carbicidal — and looking back fondly on another cycle of us all whirling together around the Sun.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who downshifts into more reflective, contemplative gears upon December’s end. Seems to be par for the cultural course, right? One of the few rituals we all still embrace on some level.  And for me? The past 12 months have been unlike any other chunk of calendar to pass in…well…pretty much ever.

WARNING:  this will be long post. Like, TLDR-cubed kinda long.  And it may seem a smidgen mid-lifey.

But if you hang in there ’til the end?  If you tough it out, you may just find some diamonds in the dross.

Worse comes to absolute worst, there are some pretty pictures.

Alright.  Are you ready…?

TIME MACHINE GO!!!

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AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT…

December 7, 2014

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Happy December, kittens and cats!

With the Holy-days in full swing, it felt like high time for a wee creative break from all things bookish…you know…at least until the Boxing Day deals kick in.

I’ve been a fan of spoken word pieces for a few years now — good storytelling is good storytelling, and it ain’t useful being a slave to format or genre.  But truthfully?  I’ve never had to guts to perform one live.  Live audiences can be insanely hard to impress, particularly when you have a world champion spitting hot truth in your backyard.

Still, the itch remained.

Yup.

I’ve been quietly nurturing a vid channel for a while now; mostly it’s for short films and animations, trailers, and the odd caffeinated rant, and subscribers seem to dig it.  But now, thanks to some solitude, a little tech, WWW image searches, and a pair of mirrored shades..?

It time to get slammy.

There are currently three pieces live.  I hope to post a new one monthly throughout 2015.  Sure…I won’t be approaching Epic Rap Battle’s turf anytime soon…but, if this thing catches on, I’ll (eagerly) begin taking topic requests.  Huzzah.

Peace on Earth, and goodwill to Men…and Women…and furred and feathered friends.

BB

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THE REVIEWS ARE IN!!!

November 4, 2014

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CM Sweden

From the old guard of children’s literary journalism and reviews…

To mature readers yearning for the shadowy corners of childhood…

To young cubs getting their first taste of dark mystery and adventure…

It turns out that THE CAT’S MAW hit the haunting Halloween sweet spot!!

Adam CMaw

 

Burgess leaves readers clawing for the sequel.  Kids will enjoy it; adults will love it.”

~ KIRKUS Reviews

Bri and Me

If you (enjoy) being the first to know about something important, it’s high time you read this. Because this is important.’  ~ THE GUARDIAN (UK)

Cheryl Son


FIVE STARS
 a haunting fantasy not for the faint of heart.’

MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

CM Ardan

Cinematic…lyrical…and often extraordinary.”

~ SEAMUS CASHMAN

Nepali Maw
Delighted…heartbroken…terrified
~ BLOG LOUDLY
Marije
So now that the verdict is in from around our world and the depths of Shadowland? Here’s how you can help the cause, and join in the fabled feline fun:

 

IT IS HAPPENING AGAIN! 7 Must-haves for the TWIN PEAKS Revival on Showtime

October 7, 2014

brookeburgess

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(by Brooke Burgess)

I am full of secrets. It’s true. But there’s one thing about my journey as a storyteller that has never been a mystery:

Twin Peaks was (and is) one of my biggest creative influences. Ever.

 

You want proof?  These things I tell you will be true:

  • I watched the whole series when it aired. Live. Yes…yes I am dating myself, but this old Owl is not what he seems.
  • I saw the feature film – the much maligned, yet now overwhelmingly respected slice of suburban horror, Fire Walk With Me (FWWM) – six (6) times in the theatre. At least one of those viewings was sober. Honest.
  • I’ve since owned every available edition of the pilot, collected series, and film (except for Japanese laserdisc. I know, I know…slacker).
  • The TWIN PEAKS Entire Mystery BluRay is on my Christmas list. If Santa doesn’t love me, I will steal a player just to see the 90min of delected scenes from FWWM, which I have signed four petitions to help bring to life.
  • I wrote an award-winning Fringe Festival play in 1996 whose climax paid direct homage to a scene from the film. People gasped in horror. There was weeping, and much gnashing of teeth. I was happy.
  • David Lynch’s obsession with creating mood and tension and surreal ‘hyper-reality’ states with audio became my own. I did my darnedest to slip some of his tricks into early game work at Electronic Arts.  Maybe you should try hunting down one of these
  • I attended the 1998 Twin Peaks Fan Festival in North Bend, WA. I had donuts, cherry pie, and many a mug of coffee. Oh…and I spent a whole night with this man from another place, learning to speak backwards.
  • BROKEN SAINTS, in many ways, was a 10-hr homage to Mark Frost’s serialized storytelling chops, and Lynch’s A/V style. If you think that’s an exaggeration, then you haven’t seen the intro to this.
  • My new children’s fiction books – THE SHADOWLAND SAGA – are structured like a limited run TV series peppered with quirky characters, absurd humour, a layered mystery, and chilling otherworldly dreamscapes. The first book (The Cat’s Maw) has no fewer than three nods to Peaks dialogue. And yes..there will be a contest.

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THE CAT’S MAW = THE CAT’S MEOW!!!

October 2, 2014

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Reading great stories. #catsmaw #shadowland @brokensaint

A photo posted by NazimaA (@nazima.a) on

The new book has climbed to #63 on GOODREAD.com’s ‘TOP 100 CHILDREN’S BOOKS TO READ IN A LIFETIME‘, as voted by readers like you <3

 

Angkitty

 

What are you waiting for?  GET YOURS TODAY =)))

A BOOK IS BORN! Now it’s YOUR turn…

September 23, 2014

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(By Brooke Burgess)

So…it seems that a book has been written.

Awesome. Strike one off the bucket list. :D

But this is only the beginning – just the first in a five-volume children’s contemporary fantasy/mystery/adventure epic – and I need your help to keep this particular ball of cat-loving string rolling.

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I’m about to start Book 2 in earnest (title to be revealed early 2015). The plot’s been in stone for some time now, the chapters are outlined, and the prologue is already written*!

But Book 1 in The Shadowland SagaThe Cat’s Mawneeds to leave its firm paw-print in the literary world in order to get more young readers, scary mystery lovers, and feline fanatics clamouring for what comes next.

Here’s what you can do to put some catnip in this old kitty’s bowl:

  • BUY IT: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500971650 the print version — complete with the new cover embedded above, more than 20 original illustrations, and an exclusive BOOK 2 sneak-peek – is available now in Amazon’s North American shops, and will be up in European ones early October. Expect the Kindle, iBooks, and other E-versions before Hallowe’en — I’ll be sure to list them all here!.
  • REVIEW IT: if you really, really want to help Billy and his feline friends? Then write a gushing, heartfelt, and passionate review! You don’t have to buy the book if you can’t afford it. If you make a good case and promise a timely review on multiple sites? Then I will send you a PDF version of the final. That’s right — just commit to posting some kind words on AMAZON, Goodreads, your blog or Tumblr, on Pinterest or on Facebook…heck, even with graffiti. Word of mouth is the single BEST way for people to discover things, and you were all the FIRST to experience this story.
  • REQUEST IT: Ask your local bookstore, library, or specialty shop to carry The Cat’s Maw. It will appear on major distributor lists (Ingrams, etc) soon, and that’s how the literary gatekeepers find what to buy. The more you ask for it (ANYWHERE in the world), the faster folks can experience the story the way it was meant to experienced…curled up under a thick blanket with a cup of cocoa on a blustery autumn night.
  • FAN IT: Want to take things a step further? Then get involved! Why not make a fan page if you’re inspired? Or create some original artwork? Or do your own audiobook recording! Wanna hold readings at your school or library, screen the trailer, and have discussion groups? Go for it! Try to solve the mysteries of The Shadowland together…and maybe you’ll be rewarded for your efforts when a contest or two arrives to test you in the future.

And please, please, PLEASE — don’t be shy. If you have ANY questions or comments, feel free to get in touch — that’s what the magic of the Interwebs is for!

FYI: I’ll be following up soon with a beefy article featuring many of the things I discovered were part of the process after the book was written. It’s boggling. Speaking with other self-published authors, I was both surprised and a little dismayed by how unprepared most writers were when it came to having a savvy marketing, promotional, and press strategy in place for their books by the time launch week came around. So maybe, just maybe, you can learn from our mistakes ;-)

More soon from the Shadowland, dear friends — thanks in advance for anything you can do to help.

With continued warmth and respect,

BB

ON WRITING: 7 TIPS FROM THE ROOKIE TRENCHES

September 1, 2014

brookeburgess

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(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 :D

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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GOT TIME FOR A QUICKIE?

July 31, 2014

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(by Brooke Burgess)

Hey, blog-friends!  I just realized that the last post was over a month ago, so it’s high time to send a ping from this quiet corner of the globe.  We’ll keep the vast swaths of text to a minimum this time, and go oldschool, bullet-point, link-o-rama on your eyeholes:

  • the PUBSLUSH crowdfunding campaign for Book 2 in The Shadowland Saga just hit its trigger minimum with 3 days left! Big thanks to the generous folks who chipped in the kitty (heh). Oh, and you’ve still got time to help out, snarf exclusives,  and support children’s literacy while you’re at it :)
  • Meawhile, The Cat’s Maw just cracked 50K chapter reads and 1000 upvotes on WATTPAD.  The story’s about 3/5 revealed (I just posted Chapter XIII: Of Blood and Basements), so feel free to che-che-check it!
  • Finishing up a hush-hush ‘adult’ novella that might make you blush a shade…or fifty. Pen-name in full effect on this one, but it won’t be Marquis De Sade-style torture to sleuth it out…
  • Annnnd…with illustrations beginning to pop-up for the first book’s interior, I’ve bitten the proverbial bullet and joined the ranks of PINTEREST weirdness.  Just getting the hang o’ things, but expect to see stuff from cult flicks and TV, comics, books…oh…and kitties!!! :D
  • In a stalky mood? I lurk ‘n’ post near-daily on Crackbook and Twitter — also getting a wee bit GIF-happy (with admittedly emo short-story and poetry snippets) on Tumblr. Don’t be a (virtual) stranger!
  • Rumblings of ‘movement’ on a genre script that’s been in dev for a while. Perhaps a director announcement soon…?
  • With another COMICON in the (funny) books, I couldn’t help but have some YouTube flashbacks.

All for now, folks. Hope you’re having suitably brilliant and beautiful summers, no matter where on Earth the sun may find you.

<3

CMCoverTiger

 

BOOK 2 ‘KICKSTARTER’ IS LIVE!!!

June 19, 2014

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Chapter2

(by Brooke Burgess) With a personal ‘patronage drive’ around my birthday, the funding for Book 1 in the new children’s fantasy series — The Shadowland Saga — was raised in less than 10 DAYS!  Now, it’s time to sound the call beyond my walls and reach out to lovers of literature, classic children’s stories, and…CATS! Enter PUBSLUSH — the ‘Kickstarter’ for books:

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With this 40-DAY exclusive crowdfunding campaign:

  • I’ll be raising all costs (layout, illustration, editing, audio, etc) for BOOK 2, and beyond!
  • There will be more REWARDS for contributions, including $10 and $25 levels!
  • You’ll be able to contribute with SECURE VISA/MC donations!
  • 5% of every $ goes to Pubslush’s CHILDREN’S LITERACY charity!
  • See DAILY TRACKING for goals, rewards, and compaign updates!
  • ‘Stretch Goals’ for localized versions, and much, much more!
  • Easy SHARING to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and all your social media!

At the very least, please take a few minutes to check out the campaign page. It’s got fresh content — project background, an interview, even a live chapter sample! — and, by clicking ‘I’M INTERESTED!’, you help build buzz on their main hub for the project.

And…for all of you who sent such generous and supportive gifts my way already?

Here’s a sassy Q&A follow-up, just for you <3

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