Monthly Archives: December 2017

Waiting for a Sign? — Post by Mary C. Findley

 

his sign 12 28 2017

Many people know that I’ve spent the last two years not writing much of anything. A few blog posts, some editing work, but the only publications in those two years have been volume 5 of our homeschool curriculum, Conflict of the Ages V: The Ancient World, Student and Teacher Editions and the summary version, Under the Sun: A Traditional View of Ancient History. That’s not much production for two years. I plinked away at some works in progress, but accomplished very little.

In October, however, I received as a gift some great images from a stock image site called Neostock, and got inspired to create an urban fantasy cover, possibly to sell as a premade, since I’m also a designer. Three Neostock images appear on this cover. The more I talked about the idea behind it with author friends, the more inspired I got to write the story myself.

So I began to work on that story, with the working title, His Sign, and by the end of October I had over 10,000 words. I was very excited to be writing again. How many believers are “waiting for a sign” about how to serve God? This is the story, partly allegory, partly urban fantasy, of one man’s journey after getting a sign he couldn’t ignore. You’ll find a pinch of C.S. Lewis, a sprinkling of Frank Peretti, a dash of Pilgrim’s Progress, and a lot of intent to be faithful to the Scriptures rolled into an offering to readers looking for something different in Christian books.

I was encouraged enough to believe the dam of my writer’s block had broken. Here I am, almost at the end of December, and I have over 30,000 words in His Sign after taking a break for NaNoWriMo and getting in over 30,000 words for that, too. I wanted to finish something to publish by year’s end, and I may still do that. In the meantime, here is a snippet. I’d love to know what you think of this, since it’s sort of a departure from what I normally write, but, I hope, a product of God’s grace and for His glory.

At the moment when Drew Goddard disengaged the gun’s clip, the window and a fair portion of the wall exploded inward. It seemed to his sleep-deprived mind that it didn’t so much explode as liquefy, like a melding but inwardly-expanding bubble containing colors and shapes he recognized as bricklike, woodlike, and even wallpaper and glasslike.

Drew fell backwards off the chair as a … thing … hurled itself at him. A bizarre memory of electron microscope images of dust mites or some such creature became reality, but in gigantic size, a translucent bluish entity with clawed limbs, more like something composed of energy than matter.

fractal-2387459

But it never reached him. His apartment door smashed open and he had a vision of black tactical gear and a waterfall of golden brown hair lunging between Drew and the creature. As the woman spun and unstrapped a handgun Drew couldn’t shake the impression that something like four tattered wasp wings sprouted from her back.

A shriek that seemed to span dimensions ripped its way out of the bluish energy beast. The “gun” the woman held spurted golden beams and the creature responded much as Drew’s apartment wall and window had — bubbling and melding and, after a moment, bursting. A blue hazy glowing cloud settled over the room and Drew frantically brushed at himself to get the reside off in case it was — What? Radioactive? Poisonous? Magic charm cursed? He felt justified when the woman seemed to be madly doing the same thing before turning to face Drew.

And the book is now live! Print edition also available!

Amazon worldlink:  myBook.to/His_Sign
All other ebook sites: books2read.com/His-sign1-wait-is-over

 

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Filed under Excerpts from our Fiction Books, Publishing, Writing

Review of Lumen5 by Mary C. Findley

Lumen5 is an online video creation package we are currently subscribing to. For many years we hoped that we could quickly and easily create videos based on our blog and our books. We have purchased equipment and programs and tried free and paid services to do our video work. People often pay more attention to videos than the printed word. We wanted to reach as broad an audience as possible.

The problem was that “quickly and easily” part. We tried voice recordings. We tried live capture “talking head” videos. We tried greenscreening. (Yes, one wall of our garage is painted green.) We tried just capturing cooking adventures, backyard hummingbirds, and learning 3D programs. Every step of the way we hit snags and things took longer and longer while the message still wasn’t getting out.

That’s what we have always wanted, you see. To get the message of the truth of God’s Word out to as many people as possible. We have blog views from all over the world. People in maybe 20 countries have bought our books. But we want to get the message to more people, always.

Enter Lumen5. It’s a website where you can plug in the URL of a blog post or a few paragraphs of text, and the program will attempt to sort them into a maximum of about 40 screens of about 140 characters (roughly a 5 minute limit) each and pick out appropriate video and images. Its choices are sometimes downright weird but doing your own searches among their hefty collection of images and footage is easy and modifying the text position and style is also simple.

You can’t really create a video of substance in 5 minutes but you sure can in about an hour. All the visuals are public domain or Creative Commons licensed. You can add in your own visuals as long as they meet the specs.

Videos:
– filetypes: mp4, mov, gif
– maximum duration: 20 seconds
– maximum filesize: 50 MB
– minimum resolution: 480px by 480px
– framerate: 24-30fps (we don’t currently support 60fps)
– preferred MP4 video codec: H.264
– preferred MP4 audio codec: AAC

Our system may support other codecs, but we recommend H.264 and AAC. H.264 supports 8bit color depth. We don’t support alpha channels, green screens/chromakey, or masks.

Images:
1920 x 1080px.
– filetypes: jpg, png, bmp, webp
– maximum filesize: 50 MB
– minimum resolution: 480px by 480px

Right now there are limits, like only about 5 fonts. But they have a facebook community page where they are very responsive to questions, complaints, and kudos. They are working to add more options.

The free version has reduced size videos but everything else seems to work. There is a $50 monthly subscription option for larger video dimensions that can be put up into subscription services.

I see this as a way to teach all kinds of skills, to create book trailers, to advertise pretty much anything. At this point we are happily seeing what we can do with the program. It looks good. Many people are already selling promos, including major companies. Others create cat advice videos, corporate training, and a little of everything. And people are paying for these videos. It’s exciting to think that soon they might be paying for ours.

 

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Filed under Bible Teaching, Excerpts from our Fiction Books, Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books, Publishing, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging