D-Day is April 15, 2024

The process of launching The Sower of Black Field feels a lot like managing the European Theater of Operations. Here’s the latest in early March.

I’m finding that organizing promotion around a book launch involves many pieces and moving parts. The press release is ready, and last-minute tweaks are being made to the print and digital ePub files for the novel itself.

The audiobook recording is underway! This process started a little later than expected, but it’s been well worth the wait. I’m working with Joanna Teljeur, a veteran audiobook narrator. When I was searching for candidates I knew that I was asking for a tall order. In the typical fiction story, the cast of characters share the same origin, and nothing is lost if they all sound alike. That’s not the case in The Sower. This is about an American living behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany, and if our ears can’t discern the Pennsylvania native from the Bavarians, that’s a problem. (Add to that a Russian laborer stumbling through a foreign language and the arrival of American soldiers who hail from New York!) Having a command of accents—especially a German accent—is essential for this project. Joanna is knocking that out of the park. As an actress, she is giving each character a distinct vibe. We can hear the difference between lines spoken by Fr. Paul Böhminghaus, Wilhelm Seiz, Helene Heidl, her son Klaus, his sweet brother Hans, and other German characters, which I feel is vital for this novel. The dynamic push and pull between all these personalities is what drives the momentum of the story. On top of all that, a mixture of foreign names and titles peppers the prose, which intimidated many a narrator. I had only two candidates submit audition files, and I’m over the moon that Joanna was willing to take on such a challenging task!

Another exciting development: Mindstir Media, the company I’m working with to publish and promote this book, is currently producing a book trailer. My brother Sean writes screenplays in his free time. Over Christmas break, we collaborated on a script and hunted down the materials and music that would bring the vision to life. We zeroed in on the primary conflict of the novel—the climactic 48-hour ultimatum that occurs in the third act of the book. This was a challenge because we have to use stock video and imagery, and the story we’re dealing with is confined to the German home front. The typical WWII military imagery doesn’t fit with the context. In a couple cases we had to rely upon Midjourney to generate graphics that worked with the concept. (One of those stills is the featured image for this post.)  Many thanks to our father Gary for advising and assisting with research!

AI was a lifesaver in yet another way. The book trailer is written from Fr. Viktor’s point of view, and the voiceover is a brief monologue of our famous relative meditating on the nightmare he’s facing in the third act of the story. This necessitated some dramatic voice acting, specifically with a male voice. Amazingly, I was able to do the voiceover, and then synthesize it with a voice-to-voice AI generator at elevenlabs.io to create Fr. Viktor’s monologue. Imagine that!

We had one more stroke of amazing luck in creating the trailer video. We reached out to friends in the town of Schwarzenfeld, who kindly contributed beautiful drone flyover footage of the Miesberg church and monastery—the location where Fr. Viktor entrenched himself behind enemy lines and weathered the storm of National Socialism until the American arrival. My gratitude goes out to Tobias Reitmeier from Schwarzenfeld’s office of Öffentlichkeitsarbeit und Tourismus (Public Relations and Tourism) for providing access and permission. This footage will be featured in the opening of the trailer.

At the time of this writing, Mindstir’s team is putting the finishing touches on the trailer video. This will launch on Mindstir Media’s YouTube channel on April 15, along with all the other pieces and parts of this mammoth production.

In the coming weeks, we will also be launching social media channels and planning a virtual book tour. Want to stay informed of developments? Join the mailing list and I’ll zip you an email when I have something to share. I promise that you won’t be overwhelmed with non-relevant content. (As I juggle a flourishing career, family, and oversight of this massive book launch project, I simply don’t have time to serve up junk! And, I’m well aware that you’re all busy people too. If I have something to say, it’s worth writing—and worth knowing.)