DIY PR: Learn How to Write (Press Releases)

You know how to write! Of course you do! You can put letters in order and they form words others can read. Writing to get someone else interested in what you’re doing is more than that. It’s presentation, it’s word choice, it’s grammar and punctuation and spelling, it’s being descriptive while being succinct. And it’s important.

1. Spelling Counts. So Do Grammar and Punctuation. 

Thank God for the backspace key.

That means spell things correctly, have your commas and semi-colons in the right places and craft your words with careful thought and consideration. Don’t take shortcuts, and do have someone proofread. Have them do it twice. Then you should do it twice, no matter how smart you are, or how often you’ve done this, because you are not perfect. Case in point, I titled yesterday’s post DYI instead of DIY at first and didn’t notice until someone else pointed it out. Doh! Look at every word and dissect it to make certain it’s correct! Personally, I draft my important emails and press releases in a word doc program first — no chance of hitting send too soon!

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Now or Never

A week ago Friday (meaning, two Fridays ago, if I said that right) , I was laid off from my day job. Hold the ‘I’m sorry’s until the end, though. It’s actually rather a good thing.

It’s no secret I’ve also been work on and for Phoenix Online Studios, as both a designer and the PR Director. Though we’re working on our first commercial game right now, this work is so far unpaid. And in my case, until the lay off, it was also only part-time. No easy thing, and it made for long days, but it’s doing what I love and working towards making it my career. The news that I was going to be attending the Game Developers Conference (GDC) with some other team members in March came in just a week or so before I was laid off. My pass was purchased, my plane ticket was bought, and my time off request was submitted.

Then I was laid off, and it could not have come at a better time.

Usually that would sound a little crazy, but here’s the thing: I’ve always done my best to be practical. I’ve been safe, I’ve made thought-out decisions, I’ve tried to put myself in a good position for my present and future. But at the same time, I’m not a person who can put aside my passion for practicality. I was an English major in college, with a last minute added-on Philosophy minor. I’ve worked temp jobs and low-paying fulltime jobs, which while they were enough to pay my rent, go out a bit, and enjoy life, have not left me rolling in spare cash for the future. Savings have been hard to build up and hold onto. I’m not a frivolous spender, but nor am I a penny-pincher. I can’t buy into the idea of not enjoying life now in order to save for someday. I know it’s a good practical move, I know there’s nothing wrong and plenty right with saving for the future, but I know I’d be miserable if I weren’t enjoying myself now. In my heart, I’ve always been a dreamer and I’ve always wanted to follow those. I’ve done my best to balance the impracticality of crazy dreams with the practicality of a secure lifestyle based in facts, numbers, and realism — I even blogged about it!

Let's do this.

Maybe it was always going to come to a point where the center could not hold. My plan has long been to transition into working for Phoenix fulltime at some point, but maybe that point was never going to be fluid and risk-free. And you know? It shouldn’t be, either. This is, finally, for me, now or never. This is as safe as this risk can get — now I can focus my efforts on making sure this game is as good as it can be, and sells as well as it possibly can. Thanks to having a wonderful group of people supporting and surrounding me, I’m able to do this, and to them I am immensely and eternally grateful for that. But even without that, I’ve reached the point where I would take that leap right now regardless. I have to.

When I was in high school, I always told myself “I’ll be damned if I don’t follow my dreams.” So here I am. It’s now or never.

For the Thrill of It

I love this.

The last week has been fantastic. Busy, cramped, a ton to do and a ton going on, but dammit I love it. Everything’s in the moment and happening fast and it’s fantastic.

We launched our Cognition Kickstarter six days ago with a $25,000 goal. Right now we have $14,045 pledged to us already. Already! We have 36 more days yet to go! We’ve been blown away by how fast that number has risen and how high. While we picked our goal amount with care, going for something significant, ambitious, but that we were confident was possible, this has still been an unexpected show of generosity and support that just warms the heart and feels…well, yeah, fantastic!

So, y’know, there’s that. 🙂

On top of that, we’re releasing Episode 4 of The Silver Lining on Sunday and there’s a lot to be done. The game to finalize and polish and test, but that’s not my role. Mine, right now, is Public Relations. And damned if I don’t love it during release week and the weeks that follow. The fast pace, emails flying in and out, talking with press contacts, arranging interviews, doing interviews, answering questions, posting to the websites, it’s thrilling and I’m good at it. And that feels fantastic, too.

If I ever doubt it, times like this reaffirm for me that yes, yes this is what I want to do. Create things, tell a story, put my heart into it, and tell the world about it.

Photo Challenge: Hidden, The Neverending Story, and Cognition

Photo Challenge catch-up continues! This past Friday had the prompt “Hidden.” The very open-ended themes have been really fun, and I love perusing the photos posted to see what kinds of interpretations people have, in addition to just enjoying some great photography.

And this week I found two inspiring photos! One for nostalgia’s sake, and one that’s giving me ideas for the next section of Ghostlight.

First up, this photo by Stir immediately reminded me of one of my favorite childhood movies: The Neverending Story.

Aww, cute doggy!
...oh god, no! No, bad doggie, back! Ahh!

Now I’m sure Stir’s dog is just lovely, but regardless you can see the resemblance in the staging. There is a shot where the G’mork is a little more hidden behind some shrubs and such, I think, but the image below is the best approximation I could find with a quick image search.

G’mork. Even his name is harsh and a little frightening. A huge, vicious, murderous direwolf (he’s not called that in the book or the movie, but he’s the best candidate to imagine such a creature in my mind), who nearly stops the one boy who can save Fantasia (Fantastica in the book). And why? Pretty much just because. One website I happened across while searching for an image called him a Nietzschian character, and that’s pretty on the money. He claims to be a servant of the power behind the Nothing, but this power is the lack of belief in fantasies and stories on the behalf of humankind. As near as I can tell, that quite literally makes the G’mork the product of someone’s nightmare, and I can attest to him being one of the creatures I imagined in the darkness of the far side of my bed at night as a child.

So this relentless beast, as black as the space where his soul never was, wants to destroy the world. To throw it into nothingness, bleakness, where’s there no such thing as hope. Even if it means his own destruction along with it, it seems.

Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying, then?
G’mork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.
Atreyu: What is the Nothing?
G’mork: It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it.
Atreyu: But why?
G’mork: Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control… has the power!
Atreyu: Who are you really?
G’mork: I am the servant of the power behind the Nothing.

So it’s all about power, as it usually is with villains, and obtaining that power through Machiavellian-Nihilistic means. The authority he answers to isn’t just The Nothing–it iS nothing, it’s specifically a lack of something, an empty space where something should be or once was.

This, and how the story turns out, is why I very much disagree with the idea that it is better to be feared than loved. Fear is an emptiness, and love is filling. You can never make everyone love, no, but nor can you make everyone fear you. And those who have love, and therefore hope, will always fight back.

It would be fascinating to read more about G’mork. His life, the nightmare that spawned him, how he came to be where and who he is. Even if his motives are at their base very simple–power and control through despair and fear–we get the implication of a much more complex character as he states what he does and whom he serves.

And that animatronic G’mork is more terrifying than a CGI one could ever be, at least by current standards.

The second inspiring image was this fog-drenched photo posted by three sticks of watusi. This one is inspiring me specifically for my next chapter of Ghostlight, so I’ll plan to post that chapter (or part of it) here when I’ve written it.

Now time for some shameless self promotion!

I’ve written before about Phoenix Online, the independent game studio I work for in my free time. This past weekend, we announced the development of our first commercial game, Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller. An adventure game of the supernatural detective variety, it’s about an FBI Agent in Boston who’s hunting down serial killers with her ability of postcognition: one touch and she can see the past of an object, find clues no one else can, and see secrets no one wants known. Now someone is leaving specifically leaving clues that only she can find. Who knows her secret, and what do they want?

We’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the development of the game, offering some really fun rewards for pledges, and it’s going great! As of today we’ve raised over $10,000! But our goal is $25,000, and we only receive the funding if we hit that goal. Every dollar helps, and we all greatly appreciate donations or even just helping us spread the word. If you can do either, thank you very much in advance for supporting our project and our dreams!