Tag Archives: fairy tale rants

Filming Podcast Videos and the Best Surprise Ever

In February 2015, I filmed my last Fairy Tale Rant. Episode 55. I promised that I would be back “in the Fall,” but I couldn’t make that happen. As much as I missed posting videos and video blogging, it just didn’t pay the bills. (I also wasn’t sure how to make a successful Patreon campaign for it–I’m currently looking into that.)

After meeting with a representative from Patreon over SFWA’s Nebula Awards Weekend, I tried watching the Rants from a different point of view. Even then, it was hard to see the forest for the trees. I was too close to the project. Since I flew directly to Kate Allie Reading EnchantedBaker’s house after the conference, I sat down with her girls–Lexie (16) and Allie (11)–and asked them to watch a few episodes and give me some feedback.

Allie didn’t just fall in love with the Rants, she fell for the entire Alethea Show. She watched other rants on her phone. I gave her the audiobook of Enchanted, which she immediately began to read ALONG WITH THE BOOK. (You know, like we used to do as kids, but we’ve gotten so old and jaded that we forgot how awesome that was.) She also took notes as she read, writing down her favorite quotes from the book.

And, somewhere around Chapter Seven, she asked if she could film a video with me.

One does not say no to such a dedicated fan.

But I will admit, I put her off for a while. As some of you know, on May 1st I sprained my right ankle so badly that I couldn’t walk for two weeks–two weeks that included both BEA and the Nebs. As soon as I got to Kate’s house afterward I started trying to walk with the boot, a slow and painful process. I have learned from experience that when I’m not “feeling it,” I can’t bring that into a performance, because my audience can absolutely tell. But I also couldn’t let Allie down. So, last Thursday afternoon after school, we shot some video for a Rant.

WPA 5-30-16I made it clear to Allie that SHE was the star of this one, and that I was just a guest on her show. She needed to put on the tiara and makeup. To frame the shot. To look into the green dot that was her “fairy audience.” To project. To do several dozen takes of the same thing, for one good edit.

Most of the things I have learned in my life, I have learned by doing. If nothing else, we were 1.) having fun, and 2.) Allie would be able to give me much more constructive feedback on my own Rant series.

She and Lexie left for their dad’s house on Friday, and I made it my goal to edit the video as a present for her when she got home. And I did. But I hadn’t posted it yet. (You can watch it here.)

Kate WinningNow…while all this was going on, Kate was prepping for a Date with Chris Pratt that she’d won, courtesy of Omaze. They called her the first night of the Nebs to tell her she was a finalist and invited her onto a Skype call…during which they sprang the news that she was a winner. (In case you missed it on The Today Show, you can watch that video here.)

She would have to fly out on May 31st for a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 studio tour and lunch with Chris Pratt on June 1st (which I imagine is happening RIGHT NOW). She could bring one person along with her…but she has two daughters! However, the rules said “13 and up,” so she had no choice but to take Lexie. Lexie, of course, knew none of this. So we surprised her on a video of her own, by telling her that Omaze wanted family reactions to Kate’s win. (Watch Lexie’s video here!)

So…I spent Friday morning editing Allie’s Fairy Tale Rant video.

On Friday night, Omaze called and told Kate that they’d like her to bring Allie along too.

Pretty sure Kate and I both cried at that news. Good tears. Because Allie really had been so awesome and mature about the whole situation–she totally deserved it.

We absolutely wanted to surprise Allie on video, just as we had with Lexie. But how were we to pull it off so that she didn’t suspect anything? Thanks to her Fairy Godmother Alethea, we already had the solution to that problem!

That’s right…I lied to my Fairy Goddaughter and told her we needed to reshoot the intro, just so we could get her reaction on tape.

What a wonderful moment — something I was so happy to be a part of! The Universe could not have given me a better gift. The Universe, and Omaze. And Chris Pratt. Thanks, you guys. This Fairy Godmother appreciates you more than you will ever know.

Princess Allie — I love you and miss you and hope you are having the time of your life! I can’t wait to see you in Florida next month!! xox

Lazy Mermaid…Lazy Writing

Alethea MermaidSo…I have this HUGE issue with lazy writing.

It is so annoying to me when an author works to set up a convoluted setting or plot line at the beginning of his or her story, and then instead of following the thread logically through to the end, makes up something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT and solves the problem with that instead.

Anton Chekhov said: “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

His comment was more about including extraneous information. From my perspective, it should also apply the other way around…if you include the gun. USE THE GUN. Don’t have the murder victim hanged in the end for no good reason.

There’s a book that’s a PERFECT example of this that I use to illustrate such lazy writing when I’m at conferences. I won’t name names here…but suffice it to say, it was a romance about a shapeshifter in love with a rich mogul. The shapshifter is invited to her new boyfriend’s private island, where his maid has picked out a swimsuit for our heroine, sight unseen. The suit is a size six and fits like a glove.

I threw the book across the room and never picked it up again. (Except to donate it to Goodwill.)

It stretches believability enough that a woman could pick out a bathing suit for another woman…I have enough trouble picking out my OWN swimsuits, thank you very much. But the author (and her editor) missed a FABULOUS opportunity: If your main character is a shapeshifter, it would be a much more fun (and sympathetic) scene if the bathing suit was horrible…and the woman shifted herself so that it fit perfectly.

If that had happened, I would have loved this author forever! Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

In my course of doing the Fairy Tale Rant series on YouTube, I’ve begin to realize that some of these “lazy storytelling” problems have been with us since the time of fairy tales.

Below is one such example of lazy writing…or at least, I think so. I have a friend who disagrees. What do you think? How would YOU have ended this one?

(PS: The reason I titled this post “lazy mermaid” is because I MEANT to do a mermaid movie review, but I didn’t write it up last night like I was supposed to. So expect that to drop in some other time this month…xox Alethea)

Star of the Really Small Screen

Princess Alethea Rants "The Giant & The Tailor"Good morning, everyone!

I have a new Fairy Tale Rant up on Youtube this morning. Check it out! http://youtu.be/fwqmrUjlRLoEpisode 27: In Which Princess Alethea Rants about the Grimms’ fairy tale “The Giant & The Tailor” (2:58)

Can you believe I’m on Episode 27 already? How time flies…

Back in February, I talked here about some of the basics of vlogging I learned by trial and error. Vlogging really lends itself well to “learning by doing.” As you learn and grow on your vlog, your audience learns and grows with you.

I’ve also learned about new opportunities in vlogging…I mean, if you have the skills, use them, right?

Instagram now has a way for you to post a video instead of just pictures…I think this was a response to the Vine program (which I’m not familiar with, but I do know Instagram!). I tried this out on the day of World Book Night, since it was a lovely day outside and I was already dressed like a princess. I just said something like, “Happy World Book Night, and happy birthday Shakespeare!” — that 10 second video then got posted to Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook…where it was seen by all my friends & fans, and then was shared by the World Book Night folks.

Score one for exposure!

There’s also a new platform called Patreon — a new way for folks to become Patrons of the Arts. I’m still diving into it, but you can put up *something* every *however often*, like a piece of art or a song or a video or a podcast. People then pledge (like PBS!) to donate $X for each *something* that you do.

Here’s the link to may latest video on Patreon if you want to check out the platform: http://www.patreon.com/creation?hid=406789&rf=83064

So far, I only have one patron donating $1 per video…but we all have to start somewhere. And if eventually I can get a little Flip camera to help film my videos in different locations (and on something sturdier like A TRIPOD), then hooray! For now, it’s just another place I’m seeding myself to be discovered.

Do you guys play around with different social media? I just love to experiment to see how I can work them into what I’ve already got going. I know of places like Reddit and StumbledUpon, but I’m not as familiar with how they work. Anyone have any insight on those?

Much love to you all — have a great day! xox

Alethea Mermaid



The Princess and the Vlog

Snow White Fairy Tale RantYesterday marks the release of the 17th Episode of my Fairy Tale Rants Vlog (Video Blog) on YouTube.

17 episodes…in US time, that could be an entire season of a TV show. (In UK time, it could be two seasons.) It feels like I’ve been doing this forever, and it feels like I just started yesterday. No, I’m not Viralnova Internet Famous yet, but it’s only a matter of time for these things. As they say, the key is Content, Content, Content. Post regular content on a regular basis, and the fans will find you.

I guess we’ll see, right? I’ll be sure to let you all know when exactly that happens. 🙂

In the meantime, I thought I’d share with you some things that I’ve learned about my video blogging experience.

Camera and Microphone: Let’s be honest, I don’t have a huge budget. But I do have a Powerbook with a pretty fabulous webcam and decent microphone, so I use what I’ve got. TIPS: If you project, like me, it’s best to go in to iMovie (or your preferred editing software) before you edit and adjust the volume down so you’re not blasting away your audience. I’ve also learned to make sure that the camera is on a steady surface–the auto-stabilization option in YouTube won’t quite do what you want it to do. The most flattering angle is the selfie angle–high up, looking down on your face. But be careful the audience isn’t looking down your SHIRT.

Lights: Lighting is pretty darned important. I’ve found that the best angle is when I’m facing a daylit window, but the webcam is facing me. Not too sunny, or I get washed out–but with the blinds drawn it gives a nice, even light. Filming at night is the toughest–I just haven’t found a good combination of ceiling lights/floor lamps that don’t cast all kinds of creepy shadows.

EScreen shot 2013-11-05 at 3.31.39 PM.pngditing: I use iMovie, which is pretty user friendly…and if you have any questions, just Google them! There is a YouTube tutorial for EVERYTHING YOU COULD POSSIBLY NEED. The more editing you do, the more you learn. I added a ton to my bag of tricks by putting together my own audiobook trailer just for giggles…I highly recommend it.

Check out some popular video blogs (like John Green’s Mental Floss, or the very fun Lizzie Bennet Diaries) and you’ll see that the most engaging style involves not just choppy jump cuts, but anticipated jump cuts, where the subject of the vlog appears all over the screen…as if he’s having a dialogue between his Smeagol/Gollum self. You may think it sounds nuts, but give some of them a watch and you’ll see. Don’t leave extraneous pauses in your video, even if they’re half a second long. Those half-seconds add up.

Timing: Try to keep your videos to about five minutes or less. Like JK Rowling, the more popular you become, the longer your vlog posts can get, but your audience most appreciates the bite-sized snack version…and it encourages them to click or subscribe for more.

Consistency: It’s okay to miss a week. No one’s going to kill you. But don’t make it a regular thing. I’ve missed two out of the last 19 weeks…one was right at the beginning and one was in the wake of a funeral, for which I asked my viewers to please forgive me. What this means: You will begin to realize that as much as you might want to be in full makeup and costume, it doesn’t always happen. It’s about CONTENT, remember? I’ve done rants without costumes and I even did a rant with no makeup on (yeeeeeah). But you know what? That no-makeup vlog entry is one of the ones with the most hits.

Be Expressive: What I learned while doing podcasts was not to be afraid of my own voice–to go over the top when assuming character voices. What I’ve learned while vlogging is not to be afraid of my own face. It’s true: the more I act like a complete Muppet, the more entertaining the vlog is to watch. So get into what you’re saying, feel the passion, get expressive. And enjoy it! Because your fans can tell.

The Many Faces of Alethea

With that, I urge you all to please check out Episode 17: “Princess Alethea Rants About Rapunzel” if you haven’t yet and let me know what you think.

And if you like it, please share! xox