The Best Book Trailers IN THE WORLD!

OK, so the title might be sli-i-ightly hyperbolic…

I have created book trailers for my novels The Artist and Sleep No More though, and I’ve been using them as Facebook adverts which have worked to boost sales so they can’t be that bad.

So I guess the title should probably have been:

Two Book Trailers That Can’t Be Terrible!

Although I think you’ll agree that wouldn’t be as catchy…

Anyway, without further ado, here are the book trailers:

The Artist Book Trailer

Sleep No More Book Trailer

I’ve resisted putting together any book trailers for a while, as I always thought they don’t really work.  It always seemed to be an odd idea to advertise writing on a page (or on a screen) by a theatrical audio/visual experience.

In saying that, I had some time to spare after using editing software to cut together my acting showreel so thought I’d experiment with different concepts and ideas for book trailers.  I found a huge range of royalty-free video clips and music clips online, which is incredible as it means you can essentially get professionally-produced videos and music absolutely free.

My aim was to make short trailers which would give an idea of the stories but without being too cluttered with specifics about them.  So basically the ‘feel’ of the books rather than a blow-by-blow description of them.

Anyway, feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.

If you like the book trailers then great, and if you don’t then I’ll take it on the chin as ‘constructive criticism’…

And if you really  like them, you can find out more about the novels themselves here on my imaginatively-titled ‘Books’ page.

 

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I’m not a technophobe – it all just scares me a bit…

Circuit Board

I’m not a fan of hand dryers.

Not that I like having wet hands or anything, but hand dryers – especially those new ones – annoy me.

You know the ones, they look a bit like a toaster with no sides and are mounted on the wall of every public toilet in the world.

It presents you with a bit of an odd choice a) wipe your hands on something that actually, y’know, dries them, or b) limp-wristedly drop your hands in and out of a machine that sounds vaguely like a scooter, and leaves your hands cold and moist.

This does seem to be a trend in society – overcomplicating things with technology and being preoccupied with ‘progress’. Although I am a bit confused as to why ‘progress’ always has to give me a headache.

Take your mobile phone. When was the last time you looked at it? Probably pretty recently, you may even be reading this on your mobile right now. Do you notice the one thing you’re not doing with your mobile right now?

Yup, making a phone call.

Around 90% of the time when I’m using my phone it’s for something other than making a phone call. I’ll go days without making or receiving one, but will use my phone to send emails, browse the internet, chuck a bird at a pig, etc. Occasionally I’ll use it to text too, but even that’s only on New Year’s Day at 12:01am.

Actually make that 12.45am, the network usually crashes until then.

Most phones now come with video calling capabilities too. When was the last time you actually saw someone using that, other than on the TV advert for it? Call me a traditionalist, but if I want to see someone when I talk to them, I’ll either go visit them or invite them round. There’s no need to involve Wi-Fi or Apple.
And they’ve developed a new way of typing on your mobile now too. This involves a circle on the face of the phone, which you slide your finger around in order to choose the specific letters you want. Sound familiar? It should do, it’s how we used to dial phones. So ‘progress’ here apparently reads ’stuff we did 20 years ago’.

Even kitchen appliances are getting in on the act – everything’s got a digital readout. Washing machines used to have a dial, now they have an in-built computer. The last one I bought had a thirty page manual. I wanted a clean shirt, not a certificate.

My favourite has to be the toaster I saw which had a digital display though. Surely if there’s one appliance that doesn’t need a hard drive it’s a toaster. What’s this even for? Syncing your phone to your breakfast?

The last time I went to buy a TV was ridiculous too – mainly because they getting ‘improved’. I needed to get a new one a while ago, and was asked what ‘refresh’ rate I was looking for, whether I needed a TV with Advanced Contrast Enhancer, and whether I needed an internet TV (and if so did I want it inbuilt or one where I needed a dongle)?

I eventually managed to sidestep all of the technological hieroglyphics and just bought a TV which looked pretty good and wasn’t too expensive.

Then I looked at the remote.

I’ve seen less complicated boiler instructions (just…). There was a button for everything – the weirdest one had a big heart on it which worryingly has no effect on the TV at all. (Was it just a thank you from Sony..?)

No wonder old people get so confused with this stuff – it took me a week to work out that the Exit, Return, Home and Back buttons essentially all did the same thing.

Last but not least are electric toothbrushes. A toothbrush is essentially a stick with bristles on, that you rub onto your teeth. How can you possibly complicate that? You don’t need much in the way of qualifications to use a toothbrush (a hand, an arm, some teeth), and it’s not the most strenuous of activities. Men especially have been practicing that motion for years.

Ahem.

I do think there have been incredible changes in technology – if it wasn’t for Twitter I wouldn’t know what was going on in the world half the time – but for the normal, day to day things, I reckon we can live without the complications.

Especially if they make a stupid noise and don’t dry my hands properly.

 

The Dangers of Social Media

keyboard

Ever felt like your every move is being watched?

Unless you’re wanted by the police, then probably not, although if you knew how easy it was to do then maybe you’d be more concerned about it…

The proliferation of social media – both the platforms we use and the frequency with which we use them – is quickly resulting in people we barely know being able to find out huge amounts of information about us.  We’ve all been warned about identity theft and putting our personal details online ad nauseum, and due to cases such as the ‘twitter joke trial’ we’re probably more wary of the content we post, but what about other, seemingly more innocent information?

For instance, it might seem harmless enough to post a picture on Facebook, but think about what that picture might tell the person looking at it.

Where are you – is your location tagged in any way?

When was it taken – are you telling the world that you’re on a luxury holiday right now and that your mansion is probably empty?

What are you doing – is it telling the world something about yourself you’d rather they didn’t know?

Written comments can also give away more than we want them to.  A lot of people – myself included – post about their frustrations with public transport, which in itself might sound pretty innocuous.  But, for arguments sake, let’s say somebody does want to find out more about you.  They might note the various times you post those comments and whether there’s a pattern there, which would give information on what time you leave the house and return home.  And if you often mention a particular train station or bus stop this could even give information about the area in which you live or work.

One of the most potentially harmful ‘improvements’ that has been introduced to social media is that of location services.  We can tell the world exactly where we are at any given time.

Stop and think about that for a second.

We post up to date, accurate and almost real-time information about where we are and what we’re doing.

In no other context would we ever do this, and in no other context would this information be so freely available and open to abuse.

This might all sound paranoid or far-fetched, but a very real picture of our lives and daily habits can be built up in a fairly short space of time – why else would advertisers pay huge sums of money to find out this information?

And think about passwords.  They are often hastily requested at the point of signing up for something.  They have to be memorable and specific to us, and what is likely to meet this criteria?  The names of the things and people most important to us.  And how could someone ascertain what/who those things are?  By looking at what/who we mention the majority of the time.

A lot of passwords seemingly boost security now by asking for both words and numbers.  Ok, so now that you’ve mentioned your spouse a hundred times, I’ll just try using their name and their date of birth (which they have helpfully provided on their information page) when trying to access your account.  It’ll take three minutes instead of two, so not much of a security boost.

Not that I necessarily practice what I preach here – as an actor and comedian, I’ve got online resumes posted all over the place, which is probably even worse.  Not only might people be able to find out personal information about me, but they can also quite easily discover what I look like, how tall I am, what I weigh.

Taken to it’s extreme – as I admittedly do in my crime novel The Artist – this gives a kidnapper everything they’d need to know to both find and subdue someone.

A scary thought and, given the amount of people using social media and the statistical probability that some of those people may not have the most innocent of intentions, probably not as extreme as it might at first appear.

Now I’m not suggesting that we all stop using social media – far from it, I’m starting to rely more on Twitter to tell me what’s going on in the world than the actual news.  But at the same time I don’t think it’d be a bad thing if we were all more mindful about what information we’re putting out into the world.  One piece of information might be harmless, but the aggregate effect of all those little pieces might have some unpleasant side-effects.

Oh, and before you ask, yes, I do appreciate the irony of me writing about putting too much information online, and then putting it online…