Book of Constants second edition: excerpt

Tomorrow through Sunday, Book of Constants will be free to download. In expectation of the second edition we have reworked the excerpt, which we originally published in July 2013.

ZD-002: Book of Constants
A short story by C.E. Alexander
List price: $0.99
Promotional giveaway: September 10-14, 2014
ASIN: B00E1X3H5C
Book trailer
Literary, General Detective, Short Story
Purchasing link

We settle in a new town by misstep. I bring only my camera and some frames of captured sky. My son Kobe has a book he will not read out loud, and a stuffed frog his mother found while buying antiques. He seems to understand it, that she could rarely leave the house and that this toy was out of the ordinary. We had to name it for him, so I call it Cucumbers. Continue reading

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Promotional trailer: Book of Constants

After months of delays large and small, we present the Book of Constants promotional trailer:

The purchasing link is here. Read the short story excerpt here.

About the process

We dusted off our copies of Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12 (video editing) and Audacity (free sound editing and recording). We wanted to maintain an ethic similar to that of our trailer for The Music and the Spires, respecting that TMATS is an anthology of short stories and Book of Constants is a novella. To this end, we perused archive.org again for video footage, limiting the material to one primary clip (the street scene in turn-of-century Palestine) and two secondary clips (the first a railroad documentary from Thomas Edison’s stock, and the second, a scene from The Golem, which, at an initial glimpse, resembles two men disposing of a corpse; remember that BOC is at its core a murder mystery).

For sheer beauty and impact, we opted for the grizzly bear shots and a delectable composition by Francesca Mountfort. The name of the track is Nana, which she recorded under her Nervous Doll Dancing alias. She adapted it from Manuel De Falla’s suite for piano and cello; find a more literal interpretation of the piece here. As an editorial aside, the original is pretty enough, but Mountfort’s version is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard.

But in practical terms the trailer was becoming a little too luxurious. The novella follows an unwitting rookie detective on his first murder investigation, which from the beginning is sloppy, chaotic and conflicted in interest. The police scanner footage helped dial the gorgeousness back a little, and personal tragedy on behalf of the film editor/sound engineer suspended the project for months. I feared that the project’s momentum was lost but indeed the opposite was true. We resumed in early 2014 and–after a few mock-ups–finished the editing in a single take.

I always cringe at title cards in the first trailer, but the team insisted on some kind of literal connection back to the book. After some fairly lively negotiation, we agreed that I would narrate the story’s opening sentences. I am not an actor by any means, nor do any of us own the proper equipment. This way my wife would give me voice-acting prompts and I would hurry to the bedroom to record on my iPhone (I would have choked if I had tried to narrate while anyone else listened). Outtakes of these DIY sessions pick up the sound of me scratching at my clothes, bouncing my knee, cursing like a thug and falling prey to all manner of facial tics. At last, we settled on a take that didn’t sound like a vocoder.

In an unexpected 4-1 defeat, I lost the sound engineering vote. “Nana” truly became a background score, with the static, clamor, confusion and emergency protocol of police scanner recordings mixed in loudly and prominently. Moreover, the new audio track was 2:06 in length, while the video feed was 1:54. We had twelve extra seconds of sound, and were forced to add two more, wholly unnecessary title cards. I kept any subsequent remarks to myself.

Here it is: B-list acting, tragic animal husbandry and all. In spite of the setbacks I love this film. We hope you enjoy.

–C.E. Alexander
March 8, 2014

Reviews

Our favorite reader of all time (Dave K.) writes us about Book of Constants and My Wounded Specular:

The stories are, of course, great. Very deep, but subtly so. They’re the kinds of stories that teachers refer to in Philosopy classes. Like for instance, the way that past and present are like specular reflections of each other. (I admit I had to look up what specular meant.) And they both worked together really well, both being about how the past and future interact. I loved the idea that fortune telling would be the big taboo for C8s–and the bit about [SPOILER REMOVED!] was striking, and creepy. And it resounded with Vincent’s mute son as well–that he was the one that revealed the secret–or at least brought it to light–the actual revelation having to be done by Vincent himself (shades of Oedipus there!). And that his only word was Yes. There’s really a lot for a reader to dig into in these. And they’re touching too. Very cool.

Book of Constants excerpt

ZD-002: Book of Constants
A short story by C.E. Alexander
Price: $0.99
ASIN: B00E1X3H5C
Literary, General Detective, Short Story
Purchasing link

We settle in a new town by misstep. I bring only my camera and her bits of captured sky. My son Kobe has a book he will not read out loud, and a stuffed frog his mother found while buying antiques. He seems to understand it, that she could rarely leave the house and that this toy was out of the ordinary. We had to name it for him, so I call it Cucumbers. Continue reading

The covers that weren’t

A rough sketch of the book cover motifs for three of our four upcoming titles. Now that a third-party service will be designing all four covers, we can refer to these as covers that weren’t.

Credits:
Design: C.E. Alexander
Photography: C.E. Alexander
Intellectual property research: C.E. Alexander
Legal inquiries: C.E. Alexander

Three Covers rotated

Book of Constants: a middle-aged widower and his son relocate to a small development in rural Wyoming. Within weeks of moving he is urged to lead a murder investigation, his first act as law enforcement. (July 20)

My Wounded Specular: a young man–suffering from apparent and severe amnesia–places himself in the care of a much older woman. She seems also to struggle with her memory, although she can cite future events with precise detail. (August 20)

The Shallow Cittern: our first horror story. In post-National Assembly Cuba, a new, mysterious, possibly artificial language has complicated the transition efforts. (September 20)

Bar Juchne: a grief-stricken woman leaves her husband for the physician who tended to her dying mother. Her idea of home security has unexpected results. (October 20)

For those ready to read, might we suggest C.E. Alexander’s fiction debut, The Music and the Spires?

Franz Reichelt’s Eiffel Tower jump

There’s not much we can tell you that you can’t divine from the clip. On February 4, 1912, Austrian-born French parachutist Franz Reichelt attempted a jump from the first deck of the Eiffel Tower. The experimental parachute failed to deploy, and Reichelt fell 57 meters to his death.

The footage is gorgeous and exquisitely lit. Just be aware, any readers with less-than-iron constitutions will want to skydive from this film at about the 1:19 mark.

Find our first book trailer here. William Ryan Fritch contributed previously unreleased “Ledabella” to this found footage of Soviet Russia, early aviation pioneers, and, purportedly, the captain of the Titanic. Ledabella is a character from C.E. Alexander’s The Music and the Spires. As we peruse possible footage for trailer #2–promoting Book of Constants, Bar Juchne and My Wounded Specular–we’re sharing some of the highlights.

Jack Johnson vs. James J. Jeffries (1910)

The boxing newsreel: you can’t browse old black-and-white footage for a minute without running into one. Turn-of-the-century prizefighting predated the fifteen round limit and, largely, the padded glove mandate. Bouts turned savage, like the April 6, 1893 Andy Bowen/Jack Burke contest, a seven-hour ordeal spanning 111 rounds, during which Burke broke every bone in each hand. Bowen would be killed in a subsequent match with Kid Lavigne.

The 1910 Jack Johnson/James Jeffries newsreel is fascinating for historical reasons, but it is simply beautiful watching on its own. Shots of 1910-era Reno are amazing, and the images of crews building a wood-framed stadium in expectation of the fight are jaw dropping (the promoter invested $120,000…in gold). Jeffries came out of retirement and lost 110 pounds during training. That proved a fateful number as temperatures soared to 110F, and the bout came nowhere close to its 45-round limit. Johnson knocked down the challenger twice in the fifteenth round, and Jeffries’ handlers stopped the fight.

If you haven’t yet seen our trailer for C.E. Alexander’s The music and the spires, you can do so here. The promotional film for short stories Book of Constants, Bar Juchne and My Wounded Specular is coming soon. In case you were wondering about all of these scratchy old videos.