Michael K. Hill

Writing, Movies, Pets, and more.

The book trailer…

Although I spent twenty-five years editing with Sony professional gear, all of that stuff is now obsolete. Millions of dollars of equipment rendered worthless by time.

The digital edit suite I worked in 1998.

This week I spent in the comfortable confines of my home video editing suite. It does everything the old one did, and more, for the cost of a PC, monitors, and software. Technology is amazing.

My home suite in 2019

The challenge:

Create a book trailer for A Different Time.

My first pass was a rough and unpolished draft, just hitting the key elements I wanted to convey. I tested it with my key demographics and the news wasn’t good. A bit boring.

But I had the basic pieces in place.

The first edit of the trailer

So I went back into the edit suite and over four days produced seven different versions of the trailer, before settling for the one I would use.

The key mistake I made in the first edit was jumping the viewer right into key information before they were prepared for it. I padded the first few seconds with a bit of VHS static, which is an important element in the novel.

I then added three images that represent the main characters and how their time is blending. Added sound effects, transitions, and then tightened it all up.

Here is the final cut…

The official book trailer for A Different Time

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. They are always much appreciated. Thank you to Noly at The Artsy Reader for all of her help, and thanks to Rachelle and Tiana. You guys are awesome.

I spent some time in the desert…

Congratulations to the beautiful brides.

Our daughter got married on May 19, and we gathered for the event in Nevada, then traveled to Arizona. The beauty of the American Southwest never fails to impress me.

Photograph by Nick Hill
Photography can’t capture the sheer magnitude.
On the canyon floor I glanced up and saw the passage of two billion years of time.
Photographs by Nick Hill
On the Colorado River.
My crew and the Grand Canyon.

I hope to revisit soon. Perhaps a book signing tour of the southwest? I hear Sedona, AZ is equally stunning. I’m ready.

Nice way to start the day…

I opened my email this morning and saw this link to a Tweet from one of my all-time favorite filmmakers. Aw, shucks, you’re pretty great too, Guillermo.

Of course, he wasn’t tweeting about me, but rather the monster artist, Mike Hill, the brilliant creature designer for del Toro’s Oscar-winning film, The Shape of Water.

His latest masterpiece is a recreation of Frankenstein’s monster.

Remarkable work by creature designer Mike Hill.

What I’m reading…Nobody Move

On May 18, 2019, my wife and I were en route to our daughter’s wedding, scheduled for the following day. Heavy rainstorms over the middle of U.S. caused major flight delays. We spent thirteen hours traveling from Hartford to Las Vegas. And in that time I completely consumed Nobody Move.

Publishing September 10, 2019

It’s a smart, tough, gritty, crime noir filled with a web of dangerous, fascinating, and memorable characters. It’s all very cinematic. 

Philip Elliott’s style blends the essence of Elmore Leonard and Raymond Chandler, adds a dash of Tarantino, and gives it a modern spin. It’s entertaining, well-paced, and enjoyable. Highly recommended.

It will publish in mid-September and will be sure to mention it again.

Oh, yeah, and the wedding went great. Aren’t they beautiful?

My beautiful daughter and my beautiful daughter-in-law.

A milestone…

I first used Grammarly in the summer of 2017. It became my first-pass editor, pointing out grammatical errors, passive verbs and lots of other things.

Each time I write a chapter, I run it through the software to see what gets flagged. Often a chapter goes through several times before it’s finished. 

I guess those words add up. Grammarly sent me a notice of a milestone.

I had passed the one million words mark. Who knew?

New Short Story

My story, Bats, has been published by Madness Muse Press. The anthology is called Narwhal’s Lament and features poetry and prose with an environmental theme.

Now available from Amazon.

The inspiration for the story came from my longtime friend, Tim Reed. 

He saw a video I shared on social media, of two bats circling my backyard in the twilight. I wrote, “My yard has a pair of bats who dance in the night sky every evening at dusk.”

That’s Tim on the left, from a few years ago.

Tim replied, “Sounds like a good opening line to a short story.”

Challenge accepted.

The idea remained in stasis while I finished the final revisions of my novel. As soon as that wrapped, I started writing Bats the next morning. Progress on it moved quickly. After a few revisions, I submitted it and was fortunate to have the story accepted by Madness Muse.

If you are interested in buying a copy of the anthology, it’s available at Amazon HERE.

The Cover

With the publication date locked, I need to get a finished cover design. Without it, all the promotional material is stalled: social media posts, pictures, ads, the book trailer, everything.

My novel is about two people separated by time. She lives in California, near the Giant Sequoia forest in 1989. He’s across the river from New York City in 2019.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve worked on the cover. I’m not a graphic designer, but I’ve done a few professional jobs and know my way around Photoshop. I tried several different designs with no luck, but the image I came up with that clicked for me, was a composite of two photographs. The first by a fantastic photographer, Zetong Li, of a majestic forest of Sequoias.

The second was a striking image by another brilliant photographer, Burst, looking straight up at a cluster of skyscrapers vanishing into fog. I manipulated the images, accentuating the height, and intensifying the colors.

My cover art.

I next started experimenting with different fonts trying to find one that worked for the title. My design PC has over 10,000 fonts available. But you can’t install that many, or the poor thing couldn’t run. Still, with about 200 to choose from, I failed to find anything that popped.

I realized the smart thing to do would be to hire a professional for the job. So I did.

Zenon Slawinski is a graphic designer from Virginia with a long list of credits, including many book cover designs. You can check out his amazing portfolio HERE.

My concern about the cover is I want it to appeal to both male and female readers. I didn’t want a font style that might repel one or the other. Zenon set to work and within two days I had about a dozen proofs to look through.

On Friday I put out the call to my friends, family, folks on my mailing list, and my beta readers, to ask for help narrowing down the many options Zenon has provided me. The feedback already has been tremendous.

I will be meeting with him again on Monday and narrowing the choices down to just a couple variations. I’ll have an official cover reveal when it’s finalized. If you’re curious to see the variations or to participate in the process, please sign up for the newsletter with the form above. Your contact information will never be shared with anyone.

Big news…

My debut novel, A Different Time, will publish July 2, 2019.

I’m simultaneously thrilled and petrified.

So, how did it happen?

The process began October 23, 2014 (my Dad’s birthday).

My daughter had produced a year-long photography project taking a different photo every day. When it was finished she showed it to me. It was so cool looking through the images, making connections between the locations and the people. That was when the idea popped.

But because I wanted the main characters to be able to interact with each other, I changed the medium from photography to videotape.

I jotted down some quick notes and scanned them into my files. I’m a digital pack-rat when it comes to my writing. I save everything.

My original chicken-scratch that became my debut novel.

It was an interesting idea, but I was busy running The Gamers Box and I wasn’t writing regularly. So it remained in my IDEA FOLDER on Evernote, for almost two years.

In the summer of 2016, after working on several non-fiction projects, I participated in the inaugural creativity sprint Write Like You’re Alive, hosted by Zoetic Press. It was a month-long challenge to try and create something new every day for 31 days. Halfway through the event, I was running out of ideas. So I blew the digital dust off my original note from 2014, and turned it into a short story called, “What Time Is It?”

By the end of the month, I’d created 21 new pieces, including stories, poems, and photographs. The editors from Zoetic Press selected “What Time Is It?” to include in their anthology.


The 2016 anthology published by Zoetic Press

It can be downloaded for free. HERE

The process of creative writing for a solid month was invigorating. I decided to collect the best material written during that period and published it in May of 2017 as Anansi and Beyond: Short Stories, Magic, & Nightmares.

My first published collection of short stories.


In November of 2017, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month. After spending some time considering what story I wanted to tell, I decided to expand “What Time Is It?” into novel-length. I wrote the first draft of the manuscript from November 1 to December 6, 2017.

The revisions began January 2, 2018 and finished March 11, 2018.

Then I handed it off to my brilliant editor, Dave Taylor, from ThEditors, to work his magic. He turned in his notes on May 14th.

On June 13, 2018, I had my final draft.

Then began the long process of pitching the book to agents and publishers. Nine months later and now the light at the end of this long process is finally visible.

Over the next eight weeks or so, I’ll post the work happening behind the scenes and keep you in the loop as we countdown the launch. Thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm. It means everything.

Take 3

Welcome to the latest version of the website.

I wanted to build something more streamlined and decided to remove all the old comedy stuff. If you’re looking for clips from Tonight @ 11:30 or Rit & Mike’s Comedy Funhouse, sadly they are gone, faded away into the ether of cyberspace.

Rit in the old writing office.

This new site will focus more on my writing and publishing, all the activities with The Movie Bunker, and our houseful of rescued pets.

The Movie Bunker
Johnny
My current writing space.

Welcome!

Anthologies Available

Write Like You’re Alive – 2018

For the last three years, the great folks at Zoetic Press have hosted a creativity sprint for writers, poets, and photographers from around the world, called Write Like You’re Alive.


Write Like You’re Alive – 2016

Over a one-month period, daily creative output is requested. When it’s over, editors select work to be published in an anthology.

I’ve participated in each one and have had my work included in each edition. They can be downloaded for free. HERE

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