A Change in Direction

For the past several years, I’ve been languishing in a disorganized online menagerie of social media and websites. This site has suffered as a result, particularly my blog. After returning from my trip to Europe (about which more blog posts will come soon!), I decided to bid Facebook farewell and put my energy here. I have mixed feelings about this decision, of course. On the one hand, I have a network of fine friends with whom I have maintained varying levels of communication, and I suspect that I’ll fall out of touch with more than a few of them. On the other hand, I have also realized that the cost of using Facebook outweighs its benefits.

I plan on reorganizing this site slightly so that the blog comes to the foreground. I’ll ensure that the links to my books remain easily available, of course. Stay tuned!

Amazon Tidbits

There’s a countdown deal for “The Soul Thief” on Amazon right now!

The Soul Thief

For those who’re subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, both this and “The God of Battles” are free to read.

The God of Battles


Film, Books, and Some Thoughts

My wonderful actors, my sound man and I spent a few hours this last Monday shooting some pickup shots. They are meant to correct some errors in footage as well as provide improved continuity, and I think the shots are working very well. There’s still a lot of work to do, though. After I finish my initial edits, I will send the project to my color-correction software, where I will fix the color of each shot so they blend with each other well. After that, I will apply a ‘look’ to each scene, paying particular attention to the scenes shot in the Meadow, as they must have an Otherworldly feeling to them.

After color work is more-or-less done, I send the project back to my editing software and apply my special effects. Sometimes I think I bit off more than I should have, but I still believe this will result in a decent film. And Angela Cooper, half-gypsy shaman and brilliant psychiatrist, would probably agree!

Then on to the sound: first, apply filters to the sound so it doesn’t seem boxy or fake, as well as fix a few sequences where there’s too much background noise. Then I will edit for consistent volume.

Next, music: I will score the short film (it’s looking to be about 12 minutes all told). I’ve already begun work on “Angela’s Theme”, which I think has the feel that I want in it. After that’s composed, played, mixed and mastered, I will create the titles and credits, including my “Dancing Goat Studios” logo and title, which I hope you’ll enjoy 🙂

Then, if it seems good enough, I will limit my screenings to private showings for the moment while I submit to various festivals. If it’s turned down, after six months or so I will put it up on YouTube. If it’s accepted by a festival, it goes on YouTube after that festival has shown my film.

Like I said, it’s a lot of work. But I’m enjoying it!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’m working on “The Diamond Angel.” I ran into some complications with the plot, but once those are resolved I plan on building my first draft over the next several months. It’s entirely possible that I’ll have something resembling such a draft by April or so. Then it’s on to revision after revision! Alpha readers! Beta readings for the writing group! Once it’s in good enough shape, it’s off to the editors. While all this is going on, I am commissioning a book cover from a fine artist I know. It ought to be gorgeous if her other work is any indication.

Which leads me to some thoughts: the original reason I embarked on this filmmaking project was to promote my novels. I wanted something that would draw readers in, and I wanted something more than a simple book trailer. I had no idea I would enjoy the art of filmmaking so much. Consequently, I am finding that the writing has slowed down quite a bit, which is troublesome to me as I enjoy it as well. So I’m pledging to myself, with all of you as my witness, that I will get back into the swing of writing immediately so that I may meet the goals of the schedule I’ve outlined above.


Amidst the Fire

In the midst of the fires rampaging across Trinity County, I could have decided not to focus on art. However, this would have been a mistake; doing art is a relief from stress, and the less stressed I am, the more helpful I can be.

Therefore, I would like to report that we’ve rehearsed a number of times for the new short film, “Straja,” featuring Dr. Angela Cooper and a deeply conflicted patient. This film is set on both earth (at the patient’s home) and in the Otherworld, and is shaping up very nicely. It will include special effects (primarily green screen work) and is going to be a blast to shoot.

Meanwhile, “Falling Rock” is in post-production, and though there may be a delay I am still aiming for a September release. I’ll post updates as they occur!

The Medium is a Message

Early this year I decided to produce a book trailer for “The Soul Thief.” My motivation was purely commercial: I wanted to experiment with promotional tools, and this was one that I thought I should use. I had no strong compulsion to work with video tools, no desire to explore visual storytelling, and absolutely no inkling of how much I would enjoy making that video.

It was fun.

In fact, it was so much fun that I began to consider doing more video work. At first, I considered just making a series of book trailers, using special effects and, perhaps, a limited amount of footage with actors. Then I shot that footage with actors, and my world turned upside down. Here were people, real flesh and blood people, playing the parts of my characters. I had to have more.

I spoke with a friend who had been making a short film of his own. He became excited when I told him I was considering getting into filmmaking in a limited way, and he urged me to skip the pretense and make films, period.

Now, four months later, I’ve just wrapped up production of my first short film, “Falling Rock.” This film is not part of my “Gypsy Dreamwalker” series; it stands alone, a dark little story involving two brothers, a form of resolution, and a nasty twist at the end. If all goes well and the footage isn’t completely unusable (so far, it looks quite good), I will edit it, score it, and screen it by September. If it’s particularly good I may submit it to festivals; if my camera work isn’t up to par (by my standards), I will release it to YouTube, and I’ll be sure to post a link!

However, Angela fans rejoice: I will soon be shooting a “Gypsy Dreamwalker” tale, starring Dr. Angela Cooper and a small (miniscule?) cast. It will be a short film, and I plan on starting production in a couple of months if all goes well.

Review: The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a deeply immersive story. The setting and characters possess a texture that I rarely find in “fantasy” fiction. The titular characters are, naturally (supernaturally?), extraordinary, but they are immediately relatable because of the author’s attention to detail and the unique voices she gave them. About the only thing I can critique is the ending, which seemed somehow abrupt. It certainly completed the story, but I wanted a little bit more.

All in all, this is well worth the read. Prepare to linger over this one!

View all my reviews

Review: The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide: Part One Making the Extreme No Budget Film

The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide: Part One Making the Extreme No Budget Film
The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide: Part One Making the Extreme No Budget Film by Kelley Baker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Aside from laugh-out-loud, brutal comments on some of the foibles of modern filmmakers, this book is stuffed full of practical advice. Written by someone who has been in the trenches for many years, it’s a welcome addition to any aspiring filmmaker’s shelf, but it’s especially useful for those of us who are operating on a shoestring budget. The numerous, dated references to (non-digital) film don’t detract from the work. Rather, they offer insight into the problem-solving skills that are generally useful in this work.

“Hire a publicist? You have got to be f***ing kidding me! I’m making a movie here.”
– Kelley Baker, “The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide Part One: Making The Extreme No Budget Film”

View all my reviews

Review: The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer

The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer
The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nanotechnological mythmaking

Starting out as a “conventional” dystopian cyberpunk novel, the story began to acquire a mythic depth as the key characters of Nell, Miranda and Hackworth entered the stage. I was swept inexorably into the parallel story lines of Nell and Princess Nell, each of which illuminated and impelled the other. This is a fantastic story that repays careful attention. If you buy the Kindle edition, be sure to include the audio book, which is narrated beautifully.

View all my reviews

No rest for the wicked


An explorer on an archaeological dig

About this time last year I was building toward the release of “The Soul Thief.” However, I was also working on its sequel, the just-published “The God of Battles,” and this year is no different, as I’m hard at work on the next story. It’s actually going to be a series of stories, acting as a “bridge” between Book Two and the final novel in the trilogy, tentatively entitled “The Lady of Light.”

I had started the stories as novellas, as I could not see how each one could fit within a shorter format. However, as work progressed, I realized that I did not want a long break between the Books. These “bridge” stories do not put Angela and her pals front-and center, after all, and they are ultimately the stars of this series. I’ve decided, therefore, to release the next stories as a short-story collection. I have considered publishing the stories in small groups, perhaps purely in e-book form as a serial. Once they’re all done, an omnibus in both e-book and print editions would complete the bridge.

The next story’s working title is “The Explorer.” I might wind up with a more imaginative title, but as the name suggests it is about an explorer. ‘Nuff said!

“The God of Battles” is alive!

The God of Battles cover image“The God of Battles” is available in paperback and Kindle editions worldwide! The second installment in the “Gypsy Dreamwalker” series, this continues the story of Angela and Cassandra begun in the first book, “The Soul Thief,” which garnered rave reviews on Amazon.com and Goodreads.

For those living in northern California, stop by Tammie’s Books in of “The God of Battles”of both novels, as well as “Poems de Terre,” the poetry collection I co-authored with my partner, Rachel Anderson. For everyone else, you can find my Amazon author page here:

Dave Menefee’s author page

From the back cover of “The God of Battles”:

War is Hell. Especially when it’s a War in Heaven.

Dr. Angela Cooper, half-Romani psychiatrist and psychic healer, is opening a mental health clinic in Oakland. Specializing in patients with PTSD, she wishes to use her healing talent to make her part of the world a better place. When she meets Simon Fenway, a traumatized war vet, she learns that the world has other ideas.

“Your power awakens many sleeping things.”

So warns the spirit of her dead Teacher. Soon, old Romani sorcery and reawakened antediluvian spirits embroil her in an Otherworldly War between godlike powers that threatens to spill over onto Earth. Is Angela ready to enter the battlefield of the mind to save her patient?