Archive for the ‘Patrick Carman’ category

3:15 by Patrick Carman

March 25th, 2011

Patrick Carman impresses me with constantly trying to push the ways that traditional paper books interact with digital technology. (See me rant and rave like a fanboy for Skeleton Creek here.)

The new book-ish creation is 3:15, a collection of stories that are in smart phone app format.

So cool!

Here are links to both the Apple and Android app store versions.

I’ll give you my reactions as I experience it:

The app layout looks great and professional, very akin to a Kindle/nook app layout (and what I would expect a Shelfari app to look like if they ever got around to it (hint hint)).

I downloaded the app from the store for free. It then showed me a selection of stories to read. I clicked on the first story and it brought me back to the app store to download it. (I wonder why the download redundancy…) I am appreciative that it doesn’t change too much of my phone’s settings.

Nice. 3:15 is the first app listed on my phone. Yay, alphabetical order!

I like the swiping to change the pages, but I miss the Kindle tap on the side to flip pages. When the phone goes into standby, it messes with where I left off and resets to the first page. A couple of times while I was swiping it scrolled the opposite direction.

There’s also random red letters. I would initially think these were formatting errors, yet I know it’s Patrick Carman and suspect it’s a code.

I got to the end of the story and a video started to automatically load. It had trouble loading; I don’t know if it was my phone that was slow, my network, or other people using server bandwidth for the streaming video.

The Listen Read Watch buttons were a little misleading – I thought I had the option of listening to the story or reading it. The buttons are more of a progression, not nonlinear options.

The story is great, an eerie tale of a delivery boy tasked with carrying out a dying man’s final wish. The boy does not and… I don’t know what happens next because the video won’t load. Buried Treasure is the free story, so I wonder if the ones you pay for load better.

Video took a while, but is SO worth it. Very professional film quality. Nicely done, PC Studios!

Obviously this is brand new and I’m excited for what Patrick Carman has to offer. I’m sure the glitches in the app will work themselves out. (Well, the software techs will work them out. We don’t want a Ghost in the Machine, right?) The key is that the writing is solid and enjoyable.

The first story is written by Paul Chandler, author of Peeper. 3:15 looks to be a promising short story anthology. One is A Night on the Dredge. Fun stuff.

The Crossbones by Patrick Carman

September 15th, 2010

Sarah Fincher goes on a road trip.

The characters from Skeleton Creek get to branch out from their small town and explore some of the haunted places around the United States. Ryan has found a piece of paper with a series of clues on it and he sends Sarah thousands of miles to go find out more information about the different locations.

The Crossbones is different than the first book. Students, let’s make that clear. There are videos and the journal, but the focus in book three is more on uncovering The Crossbones’ secrets. There is one part where I did jump, even though I was sitting in the library, but the action here is more of a National Treasure variety. (Although being stuck in an underground tunnel with a potential killer is right up there with being stuck underground with a ghost. Both are situations I’d rather not be in.)

Book three is also different because they have a new person playing the part of Sarah. That’s my guess, since she’s no longer on camera and her voice is different. The videos are also more professional looking, which I think takes away from the realism. Sarah’s talented, but I liked it when she was dropping the camera on the dredge floor. That’s no knock on Jeffrey Townsend – the videos look great; it’s just a style thing for me. Most of the passwords on the site now link to three types of video: footage from Sarah, a polished documentary, and rough reel-to-reel film from a member of the Crossbones.

The places that Sarah visits are real, which is great because students can research the history if they want to learn more. There’s even a map of the trip that she takes, in case you want to plan a family vacation around centuries-old conspiracies.

The main mystery, when solved, was an, “Oh. I didn’t know that.” moment for me. The real kicker was discovering the hierarchy of the secret society and wondering how involved Ryan’s family is in it.

The Crossbones is different, but it’s still a good read. It could be read as a standalone novel, but I think you need the first two books to truly connect with the characters.

Personal note: Ryan has to drive a minivan that leaks oil and has bad tires. I’ve done that and can relate. A funny comment in one of the videos is a Crossbones member talking about how it wasn’t until Andrew Jackson that they found a president they liked.

Want to be a Tracker?

June 28th, 2010

Do you think you have what it takes to become a Tracker? Are you one of the few who can read between the lines of code and see danger where others exist in comfortable ignorance?

Finn, Emily, Lewis, and Adam need your help. Check in an hour and 45 minutes to see four missions. You’ll need your research skills in addition to twitch reflexes for success. Will you network with other Trackers or do you think you can take on the best of the Internet by yourself?

Trackers by Patrick Carman

June 28th, 2010

Students know how much I enjoyed Skeleton Creek and Ghost in the Machine. Back in 2008, before the books came out, I had heard about the mix of video and print and knew it was going to be a hit at our school. I feel like Patrick Carman took a risk with the format of Skeleton Creek and now people are copying the pioneer.

What I love to see is an author that continues to improve throughout their career. Trackers is proof that Carman still takes his craft seriously.

This is a caution to students, though – don’t sit down expecting ghosts to jump out at you. I did and it took me a couple of videos to realize that Trackers has a different tone. It’s the story of a high tech team of teenagers that get caught up in an Internet crime scheme that is much larger than they can handle individually. Patrick Carman’s research/previous knowledge concerning technology is appreciated and it comes out in realistic dialogue between characters (and great passwords for the videos – the majority are computing superstars like Babbage and The Woz).

Trackers takes on a neo-noir feel. Much like detective stories from the 30s and 40s, main character Adam doesn’t know who to trust (one character, Lazlo, shares a name with someone from Casablanca). His confusion grows when he’s distracted by a beautiful girl who quickly betrays him. The focus of the book is figuring out who is tracking the Trackers and what they can do to reverse the situation.

So, instead of being afraid that Joe Bush is going to stalk you from the dredge, you’re now more paranoid about going online. If you liked the movie Eagle Eye, Trackers should already be in your queue.

It’s told in an interrogation format, so the whole time you’re trying to figure out who has brought Adam in for questioning. This is book one and obviously so (well, besides it saying that on the cover), but in great Carman style he leaves you hanging at the end of the book.

Online supplemental materials are becoming a requirement for books, especially teen ones. Many have games associated with them, like P.J. Haarsma’s Rings of Orbis game (Haarsma is another digital pioneer, an author who also creates his own tech content). Patrick Carman understands technology, especially engaging technology, and offers the videos but also a very challenging Glyphmaster game. You try and organize the icons to spell a sentence. I found myself saying, “Just one more round.” My recommendation is to make it a Facebook game.

Librarians, you need Trackers. Kids will read it. But what was awesome is that he included a transcript of each video in the back of the book. This helps students who are reading in class. You can’t interrupt silent reading with a video of Finn crashing on a ramp at the local skateboarding hangout. Now students can get the info and watch the video later. Many of mine had to come in at lunch and hope the district Internet filter hadn’t blocked the Skeleton Creek site. This streamlining of the experience is one sign that the author is growing and improving.

And, like any book that involves Jeffrey Townsend, I stay up too late wanting to keep reading.

The alternative reality missions are releasing later today. While I read the book, I had my laptop next to me so I could look up any sites mentioned. I hope to see more from the missions. I can easily see the lines of fiction blurring under Patrick Carman’s expert use of media.

Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman

September 3rd, 2009

I must be honest and admit that I am a huge fan of Skeleton Creek and, as such, have high expectations for the sequel.

To talk about the sequel, though, I’m going to need to talk about some details from Skeleton Creek. To avoid ruining the surprises, I’m going to place a giant picture of a crow here to warn you of spoilers.

Spoiler Alert!
I see Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman as an alternate ending to the first book.

Carman gained a huge amount of respect from me by how he left Ryan and Sarah in the dredge in the first book. To think that they would be trapped there forever left me in the same level of awe as when Anthony Horowitz shot Alex Rider at the end of Scorpia (and we knew that he was moving on to the Raven’s Gate series, so we thought that was the end of Alex…Ark Angel and Snakehead took some effort to exceed that feeling of “wow”).
Update: I just talked with a teacher at lunch. She laughed with excitement to hear that Ryan and Sarah had made it. I guess I have too much English teacher running through my blood; I enjoy it when characters die.

Frankly, I was disappointed to see Ryan’s name on the journal.

But then I realized that there were so many questions left unanswered: who’s left of the Crossbones, what’s up with the alchemy, and will Ryan and Sarah ever hook up?

It was in the quest to find those answers that I really enjoyed Ghost in the Machine. This book takes on more of a murder mystery/conspiracy theory style to it.

There are still the suspenseful videos. In fact, I don’t think I learned from my experience of sitting alone in the dark with my MacBook watching the videos for the first book. One in particular, where a character is breaking into someone’s house in the middle of the night, has the whole Rear Window/Disturbia “No! Get out of the house!” vibe to it.

What makes the experience work is that Patrick Carman is a talented screenwriter on top of novel author. His choice of director doesn’t hurt, either.

One part that I liked is a scene where they parody the creepy videos (and an Internet trend) to release some stress during the investigation. Even though I saw the joke coming, it still made me crack up.

It’s a great book that students will enjoy. I don’t see anything wrong with students watching the book’s videos during lunch in the library. The screaming heads may be disruptive to a silent reading program, but I have seen groups of students get behind the first book and catch up on the videos during their off hours. (And I think that’s one of the concepts that I appreciate about Patrick Carman’s experiment. These students are using their own free time to explore more of the story.)

I’m an official fan now. We have a Patrick Carman category on the site.

Inside Access: Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman

July 9th, 2009

If you liked Skeleton Creek, the creepy immersive technology ghost story book, then I’m guessing you’ll like Ghost in the Machine. (‘Ghost in the Machine’ is a programming term for when code goes wrong and it looks like everything you’ve done is right. Future Professionals will remember what my previous major was in college.)

What’s great is that Patrick Carman is giving a lot of behind-the-scenes access to the work in progress.

Check out the Back Lot to be able to follow the actors, director, and the rest of the crew on Twitter and the main blog to follow the big updates about the project.

Be in the sequel to Skeleton Creek!

April 27th, 2009

Did you like Skeleton Creek? (Creepy, right?) In October Ghost in the Machine is coming out. I’m very excited.

Yes. How does that book have a sequel? Perhaps it’s a companion book.

But would you like to be one of the video stars in the book? Patrick Carman’s studio will be holding auditions on May 1. Click on the link for more information.

Choose whether you want to read for the guy script or the girl script and it will open the audition PDF file. Videotape your audition and put it on YouTube following their directions.

Even if you don’t want to audition, it’s still pretty fun to read parts of the script ahead of time.

I can’t find where to audition as the bearded librarian…

Hear from Jeffrey Townsend, director of Skeleton Creek

February 20th, 2009

If you remember, Skeleton Creek has quite a bit of spooky videos important to the plotline. Hear from Jeffrey Townsend on Monday, February 23 at 4:30pm on his Internet broadcasting channel. Click here to visit the channel.

Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman – Only if you don’t want to sleep tonight

January 23rd, 2009

I’m watching the final video and it’s cool to finally see Ryan, the narrator. Skeleton Creek is a stepping stone to change how stories are told.

This is not an ordinary YA book. Sure, you’ve got the boy and girl who have been forbidden to see each other. You have the adults who have no clue/you can’t trust. But the execution of these elements is what’s beautiful from Patrick Carman.

Have you seen his virtual touring? Intriguing…

Skeleton Creek is set up in part as Ryan’s journal. It’s from here that you see his thoughts and feelings on the situation. There is some plot, but for the most part it is character development as we see him interact with the people around him while he’s injured.

The creepier parts of the book, for me, were the online videos hosted at (if you have an ARC, it’s not I freaked out that I might miss some videos.) The craziest video is the last video, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Showing some of the earlier videos to students and staff made them jump. Mission accomplished.

The premise is that there’s a land-based dredge used in a small town to dig for gold. One of the workers may have gotten caught in the gears and could be the cause of the Old Joe Bush ghost stories. Ryan and Sarah are trying to investigate the dredge, but Ryan is seriously injured.

What’s crazy is that with so many sites out there and with the ability to put anything online, we don’t know how much is history and how much is Carman’s story. (Unless you use

It’s for that reason that I jumped at the videos (picture no soundtrack but only frogs, wood creaking, and trickling water). I love the ending, but you can’t skip to it. The only hang-up that I can think of would be if your school has a silent reading time and you’re not able to get to the computer to watch the videos. You can still piece together what happened from the journal, but you definitely can’t miss the first and last videos.

Update: One of the Science teachers took home my copy of the book over the weekend. She was just going to read a couple of entries and then spend the rest of the weekend working on grades. Instead, she read the whole book.

This is a must-have for your library when it hits in February.