My new book is out! The teenage characters in Siege dodge ghosts and smugglers during a War of 1812 re-enactment summer camp at Old Fort Erie, Ontario. For several months in the real War of 1812 (which actually ended in 1815), Fort Erie was occupied by US soldiers. One of the biggest and deadliest battles of the war occurred there in August 2014. (Siege is a short easy-to-read novel in the Orca Currents series for ages 10-14). (Review)
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Two hundred years ago, in July 1814, American troops attacked Fort Erie (in what was then British Upper Canada). The British surrendered with only a few shots fired (the fort’s commander was later court-martialled for giving up too easily). The British withdrew from the fort, but made plans to get the fort back. In early August, they set up camp outside the fort, just out of reach of the fort’s guns.
After dark, on August 15, 1814, about 2,400 British soldiers, Canadian militia and First Nations allies attacked. Under the cover of darkness and the heavy gun smoke that hung over the surrounding field, the British stormed the walls of the fort and captured the northeast bastion. Within the fort, the Americans turned a cannon around and fired at the British on top the bastion. The British turned one of the captured cannons and fired back. As this close-range cannon battle raged, a spark found its way to the powder magazine under the bastion. The explosion killed 400 men (mostly British and Canadians) and turned the tide of the battle in favour of the Americans.
The British retreated from the fort (with almost the entire column that had attacked the bastion, wiped out), but continued their siege for days. By the time the siege ended on September 17, 3,500 men were killed, wounded, or missing. It was the most devastating and prolonged battle of the war.
Today, Old Fort Erie is a museum, which I visited last fall to research the setting of my new novel Siege (for readers approx. ages 10-14), which will be out October 1. This coming weekend (August 9-10, 2014) hundreds of re-enactors from both Canada and the U.S. will be gathering at the fort to commemorate the 200-year anniversary of the siege. It promises to be the largest War of 1812 re-enactment in Canada. Unfortunately, I won’t be at the re-enactment, but I’ll be imagining the characters of my novel on top the fort’s walls in the middle of the musket and cannon smoke.
Yesterday I had fun experimenting with animoto.com to create my first book trailer. What do you think?
You can read more about the novel, Manga Touch, here. Thinking of trying animoto.com yourself? I found it easy and fun to use. You can upload photos of your own or select from photos animoto provides. The same goes for music. Creating a short 30 second movie is free. You can try out a longer one for $3, or make as many longer ones as you like for $30/year. I wanted to include quite a few images, so I went for the $3 test run.
It took fellow author, Lois Peterson, about 1/2 an hour to create her first book trailer with animoto (check out Lois’ book trailer for The Ballad of Knuckles McGraw here). She recommends collecting all the photos you want to use in a separate file and preparing your script ahead of time to speed this up. I did all this, but it still took me several hours to finalize my video (okay, I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I kept redoing it).
One draw-back to using animoto.com is you don’t have any control over the effects. You basically insert your photos and music and press “finalize.” Once the movie has been processed, you can edit it, but if you like the way the movie turned out and just want to change one photo or a few words of text, you can’t do this without the whole thing being reprocessed (the special effects and timing of images with the music will be slightly different each time you redo it). I also had trouble uploading the video directly to my blog (but this may have been a problem with WordPress, not animoto). It uploaded to Youtube easily, and I routed it here from there. I haven’t tried any other movie-making programs or sites, so I can’t compare animoto to them, but animoto was easy enough to get me started, and creating a “mini movie” was a fun new (for me) way to summarize a book. Who knows? I may just have to make a book trailer for every one of my books…