How To Create a Video: 4 Tips

Yesterday, I published to YouTube, WRITE Club, a parody of the movie Fight Club.

My WRITE Club video is for writers, but I hope you non-writers will get a kick out of it too.

For personal use, video fills that gap between photograph albums and digital devices where photos are stored but never printed. For business use, videos can be remarkably effective in marketing and promotion.

To help you in creating videos, here are 4 tips. These easy steps will help you whether you're making a book trailer or a video scrapbook of your vacation. But, first, watch my video. I hope you like it and will click LIKE.

Joan's 4 Video Tips

1. Choose the way you will make your video.

You can make a video with a Smartphone, a video cam, various video editing software like Windows Movie Maker, iMovie for Mac, and a bunch of others. Just do an online search if you want to work this way.

Or you can take the easy way out and use a video design website. Very user-friendly and inexpensive. In fact, if you do an online search, you'll find a bunch of them. Register at all the video creator websites that offer free accounts.

Be sure and check out each website to see what you get at the basic free level. Then you can decide if you want to pay for an upgrade account. I primarily use Animoto and Vimeo, but I have accounts on most of the popular video design websites. For a small fee, you can upgrade either of these--and probably the others--to a Plus Membership which gives you added benefits or even the top level Pro Membership if you want to get serious about video design.

Right now, Vimeo, usually $9.95/month or $59.95/year, is having a sale. Here's a coupon code and link if you want to join Vimeo Plus. Save 5% on Vimeo Plus Annual! Use PROMOCODE: VIMEO5OFFSPRING. Ends 4/30.

I'd love to have a Pro account at Animoto and Vimeo, my two main sites, but I can't justify the cost because I'm a writer, not a video professional. So for my needs, the Plus upgrades work fine.

However, if you want to try a Pro upgrade, Vimeo is also offering 5% off to new users. Save 5% on Vimeo PRO! Use PROMOCODE: VIMEO5OFFSPRING. Ends 4/30.

So pick your websites to help you with video production and familiarize yourself with how they work. For me, Vimeo and Animoto are easiest, but you may like a different one. With all, you can upload to YouTube of course.

2. Organize the Video Components.

A video, like a movie, is made of these basic elements: visuals, sound, and story or message.

Many of these elements are created from photographs, video clips, and music tracks that you obtain on the internet. You can get some free of charge, and you can pay for them. In both cases, there are Terms of Service involved.

Be sure that you use only the images, photographs, video clips, and music that you have been licensed to use. This means you paid for it or received a license to use it from a free site or from the library available for registered users of websites like Animoto, Vimeo, etc. Most video design websites have libraries of images, video clips, and music available for registered users.

Always read the Terms of Service and do what they say in exchange for the license to use the file. For instance, if they say you must post a Copyright notice for a photograph and notify the photographer of any use, then do that.


These are the images and video clips you will use to tell your story. As mentioned above, you can obtain them from many sources. You can also upload your own images and video clips that you made or purchased/received free from various royalty-free websites.

Just do a search for "royalty-free photographs," or "royalty-free video clips," and you'll get a big list. In a future blog post, I'll give specific site suggestions for images, video clips, and music tracks.


Sound is the musical background and/or spoken narration. Again, Vimeo and Animoto and other similar websites offer their own libraries of sound clips. Again, you can do a search for royalty-free sound clips. These can range from inexpensive to very costly.

I'm a huge music lover so I spend a lot of time searching for the perfect music to help tell the story of my video. In some of my videos, I've used music from the respective libraries for registered users. In others, I've purchased music.

In my video for The Lingerie Covers, I purchased Suspicion, a music track written and produced by Skip Peck. I love all his music clips. When I bought the clip a couple of years ago, it wasn't that expensive. Now his work is usually more than $100.00 for most.

That's true of most of the music I've purchased including Mediterraneo by Ivan Paunovic which I used for Old Enough to Know Better. My favorite music composers are no longer affordable for me even though I make multiple use of my licensed music to split the expense among many projects.

For instance, I've used it as background music for the introduction and closings of all my audio books, and I use it for my videos. I've even put some of it on an iPod playlist that I listen to when I write. Once you "buy" it--license it is a better term--it's yours to use as long as you wish.

If you want spoken narration, then you can easily record the text if you have a good microphone and a computer/tablet, etc. Just write the script and read it. Of course, there's more that goes into good narration than just reading.

Make sure the recording is done without other noises intruding, without obvious clicks when the recording is started and stopped, without sibilant sounds on S's and so much more. This is why good narrators use sound editing software.

Also be sure the "actor" you select--whether that's you or someone else--has a pleasing voice. For instance, with my pronounced southern drawl, I'd probably never read something myself. Every time I hear my voice, I cringe and think I need voice lessons. *g* But that's just me. My friend Elaine Chase who worked in radio and television has a wonderful voice. She should be doing audiobook narration.


This is any narration you may include, as mentioned above. It also refers to text that may be presented as image "signs" and as captions to images.

In most of the videos I create, I tell the story with pictures and music. Any text that can't be represented by a stock image, I display as a "sign." The sign is usually a digital illustration I've created. You can watch some of the videos I mention and see what I mean.

3. Be aware of time.

With video, short is better. In fact, if you can come in at 30-45 seconds, that's perfect. Up to 60 seconds is good. Anything above that needs to be really compelling or viewers won't hang in there to watch it to the end. This means your video should be about one small message or aspect rather than about the entire subject.

I struggle with this because I not only want to put across my message, but also I want to give credit for the photographs, music, etc. that I used to create the video. I edit tightly, but I'm still working on being succinct.

4. Know your video message.

Every good movie has a plot. So should every video. Before you start putting together images, music, etc., figure out what you want to say. This will be said with visuals, music, and narration/text.

So what do you want to say? In my humorous video, How To Recognize an Author, I wanted it to be something funny about writers so I "talked" about common myths and realities of being a writer. I combined images with captions, created signs, and chose a music track that sounded quirky.

In Scents and Sensuality, I wanted the video to be the book's blurb. I chose the music Suspicion by Skip Peck. It's sexy and whimsical at the same time so it was perfect for this romantic comedy. Later I changed the book cover art so I'll be editing this video when I have time.)

I'll be posting more about creating videos in the future. You'll find all of the posts under the Video label, under Something To Talk About on the right sidebar.

Takeaway Truth

We are a visual culture--an entertainment culture.  Add video to your skill set.

Thursday3Some: Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman

Today on Thursday3Some, I have Texas author Wareeze Woodson who is answering 3 questions about her book, Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman.

Wareeze was born in Texas and still lives here. She married her high school sweetheart, and they raised four children and now have grandchildren--all live within 70 miles of her. After all these years, she and her husband keep living their Happily Ever After.

Find Wareeze Woodson Online


When did you write Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman?

I wrote Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman last year. It was released May 2, 2013. It took about 8 months to complete.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

I read a story and didn’t like the ending so I wrote my own. I admire mothers who fight for their children against all odds. I wanted Laurel to be that kind of woman. She measures up to that standard.

Why do readers buy Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman?

I think they like the cover. It is very intriguing. Many readers like historical novels and have taken a chance on a debut, historical novel.

Buy Links


Takeaway Truth

For your reading pleasure, why not try a new author this weekend?

Happy U.S. Income Tax Day

Is your tax return ready to file? I mailed ours this past Saturday. That's always a pleasure/pain experience. Pleasure because it's finished for the year. Pain because, well, that's self-evident. No one likes paying taxes, but everyone likes to complain about it.

I don't mind paying my share because it means I actually made money! I DO mind politicians telling me that taxes won't increase when they do.

Joe Biden said: "No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised, whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax." NOT true. Plus, that statement insults the intelligence of taxpayers. Since I normally refrain from political statements, I'll now return to entertaining you.

Tax Day Humor

Here's a baker's dozen of witty pronouncements concerning income tax. Enjoy!

"It's income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta." ~ Dave Barry

"The taxpayer — that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination." ~ Ronald Reagan

"If the Lord loveth a cheerful giver, how he must hate the taxpayer!" ~ John Andrew Holmes

"The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax." ~ Albert Einstein

"The income tax has made liars out of more Americans than golf." ~ Will Rogers

"Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today." ~ Herman Wouk

"Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut save you thirty cents?" ~ Peg Bracken

"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors... and miss." ~ Robert Heinlein

"Another difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time the legislature meets." ~ Robert Quillen

"Capital punishment: The income tax." ~ Jeff Hayes

"The wages of sin are death, but after they take the taxes out, it's more like a tired feeling, really." ~ Paula Poundstone

"People try to live within their income so they can afford to pay taxes to a government that can't live within its income." ~ Robert Half

Takeaway Truth

Dear IRS, I am writing to you to cancel my subscription. Please remove my name from your mailing list. ~ Snoopy (Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz)

5 Computer Keyboards to Explore

I bought a new keyboard last month, and I love it. I thought I'd give you a list of keyboard options because a keyboard can be your best tech friend or your worst enemy if it hurts your body. There truly is a keyboard for every taste. Just know what fits you and look for it.

1. My first choice is the one I just bought. It's the Adesso Tru-Form Pro Contoured Ergonomic Keyboard with TouchPad (PCK-308UB). I did an in-depth search for this keyboard because I wanted one with an on-board mouse, but I also wanted one that was ergonomically designed and was multimedia. I've got so many muscle spasms and nerve problems in my neck and shoulders from a couple of decades of reaching for that dang mouse, and conventional keyboards make my wrists hurt.

I read a lot of reviews of the Adesso keyboard I bought, and many were negative. However, Amazon had a refurbished one at a very low price. The keyboard looked to be exactly what I wanted so I decided to take a chance on it, and I'm glad I did.

2. This is another Adesso. It's the Adesso® EasyTouch 132 Florescent 4X Size Print Yellow Multimedia Desktop Keyboard. Yes, it really is florescent yellow. It's designed for someone whose who has visual impairment with large black print on bright yellow keys.

3. If you have perpetually cold hands or must work in a cold office, the V8 Tools Heated Computer Keyboard is for you. It's a heated computer keyboard with a 3 Step Switch: Heat off, Low heat--85 degrees F. which is normal hand temperature, and High heat--95-100 degrees F., normal body temperature.

4. If you sneak into your office to type at night when everyone is asleep, then you might love the Slim Acrylic Illuminated Backlit USB Keyboard by MODTEK. This particular one isn't multimedia, but there are lighted keyboards that are so just look for them.

5. If you're trying to teach your elementary school age children about keyboarding, this one, the Learningboard Usb White Keyboard -Based Mnemonic System, will help you with that plus help in teaching phonics. Pretty cool--and cute--keyboard.

Takeaway Truth

There are many well-designed keyboards on the market. Don't settle for the standard one that came with your computer when another might suit your needs far better.

Organization and Creativity

I've accomplished some of my major goals for April. I filed homestead exemption on our new home, filed my tax return, and completed filing the mountain of papers that had accumulated since moving.

Feeling, oh, so virtuous, in completing these tasks, I decided to apply some of that energy to organizing my business so I could accomplish more.  

Verna Gibson wrote: "Early in my career I felt that organization would destroy my creativity. Whereas now, I feel the opposite. Discipline is the concrete that allows you to be creative."

There's a lot of truth in this. When my office is in chaos, my brain is chaotic. I work best when everything is in its proper place, and I can find something without digging through stacks of paper or file drawers or closets.

Besides, when everything is organized, I feel as if I'm super efficient and can handle anything. Is your writing world in chaos? Try cleaning up the clutter and getting organized.

Takeaway Truth

Need to accomplish more? Get organized. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday3Some: Ill Conceived by L. C. Hayden

Today on Thursday3Some, I have award-winning author L. C. Hayden who is answering 3 questions about her book, Ill Conceived.

L. C. Hayden, author of the popular Harry Bronson Mystery series, has introduced a new series based on a Lake Tahoe reporter, Aimee Brent. The first book is Ill Conceived.

L. C. has received several awards and was an Agatha Award Finalist for Best Novel. Her books have hit the Kindle Best Seller List several times and the Barnes & Nobel Top Ten Best Seller List. She's a popular speaker and presents workshops and speaks to clubs. She's even been hired by major cruise lines to speak about writing while cruising all over the world.(Now, that's one lucky writer!)

Find L. C. Hayden Online


When did you write Ill Conceived?

The book was released in December 2013.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

Even though my Harry Bronson series is very popular, I wanted to write another series. I wanted Aimee Brent to be very different than Bronson. The spark came from creating a completely different character.

Why do readers buy Ill Conceived?

Readers always know that my books will deliver a roller coaster ride with a surprise ending. Readers delight in trying to figure out who the culprit is.

Buy Ill Conceived


Takeaway Truth

Thank goodness the weekend is almost here! Grab a good book and prepare for some fun reading.

How to Write True Crime by JoAnne Myers

Today, we're having coffee with author JoAnne Myers. Of course, I'm having my coffee at my desk in Houston, and JoAnne is having hers in Ohio where she makes her home.

JoAnne Myers worked in the blue-collar industry most of her life. Now, besides writing, she also paints. When not busy with hobbies, working outside the home, or volunteering in her community, she spends time with her family and her dogs, Jasmine and Scooter, because she believes in family values and following one's dreams.

Find JoAnne Myers Online

Email: joannetucker98 at yahoo dot com

JoAnne's Book: The Crime of the Century

Based on a true crime, the book is a detailed account of finding justice for the victims and the tale of one man’s perseverance to gain his freedom from death row.

Now here's JoAnne to tell us about...

Writing True Crime
by JoAnne Myers

First you must pick an interesting crime. I specialize in homicides in my home state of Ohio. Routinely reading newspapers will help the writer find murder cases. Find a homicide that has numerous good elements that will hold one’s interest.


Next you must start the investigation of your chosen crime. To find my information, I read newspaper reports of the homicide. I searched court documents for witness reports, and courtroom testimony. I interviewed witnesses. Persons that either were present when the crime occurred, or had after-the-fact information.


Try to locate the victim’s family members, and see if they want their side of the story told. If the case goes to trial, the Defense’s job is to discredit the victim. To portray the deceased as the “bad guy.” This type of mud slinging does not sit well with loved ones of the victim. Give them a chance to speak for the deceased.

Anyone that was involved with the case, will have something of interest to report. Don’t forget to locate the reports of the arresting officers and the homicide detectives. Try to locate the coroner's report, any eyewitness, or persons who reported hearing an altercation or gunshots.

Keep Up

Keep abreast of updates, and read everything that was written about the case. Build a relationship with the law enforcement officials who are involved in the case. I personally live in a very small town, where most people know each another, and many have relatives or close friends that are involved with law enforcement. Attend the trial and speak to everyone you can about the criminal, the victim, prosecution witnesses, and defense witnesses.

Tell the Story

Last but not least, sit down and write. Tell the story of the crime. Hopefully you will find most of the information you need in your copious notes. If not, go back and get the answers you need. Never throw away any notes or information concerning the case. Not even after the trial is over, and the story is written.

Most convicted felons apply for numerous appeals, which take years to dissolve. Some cases never seem to end. The Crime of the Century was such a case. When the accused was found guilty and sent to prison, he and his attorneys, who always believed him innocent, continued fighting for his freedom. That blessed event came after the convicted spent five years on death row. He was cleared with DNA evidence, but it still took nearly thirty years to find the true killers.

The most important thing to remember, if you want your true crime book to be compelling and believable, is to be honest and objective in relating the facts of the case.

Buy Links

Amazon Kindle

Amazon: Paperback Edition

Black Rose Writing

B&N: Paperback Edition

Takeaway Truth

Truth is stranger than fiction which is why true crime captivates readers.

Lone Star Writing Competition 2014 Now Open

Writers, start your engines... or whatever is the appropriate command for entering contest.

The 22nd Annual Lone Star Writing Competition, sponsored by Northwest Houston RWA©, is now open.

This year, a Romance Novella category, to include all sub-genres of romance, has been added.

What Makes This Contest Different

The Lone Star Writing Competition is one of the few contests where each first round entry is judged by 2 published authors plus 1 unpublished author. The Finalists’ entries will be judged by 3 industry professionals, agents, editors, and Epublishers.

  • Entry fee: $25
  • Deadline: June 8, 2014, midnight CDT
  • Finalists announced: August 18, 2014
  • Winners announced: October 4, 2014, at Lone Star Conference in Houston, TX.

For The Rules, click here.

For the Entry Form, click here.

Final Judges

Contemporary Series: rica Thompson, coordinator
  • Agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
  • Editor: Piya Campana, Harlequin
  • Epublisher Tara Gelsomino, Crimson Romance

Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal: Emmly Jane, coordinator
  • Editor Junessa Viloria, Random House
  • Editor Brenda Chin, ImaJinn Books
  • Epublisher Chris Keeslar, Boroughs Publishing Group

Historical / Regency: Christiana Tegethoff, coordinator
  • Agent Holly Lorincz, MacGregor Literary Agency
  • Epublisher Allison Byers, The Wild Rose Press
  • Epublisher Debby Gilbert, Soul Mate Publishing

Inspirational: Anna Katherine Lanier, coordinator
  • Agent Kimberly Shumate, Living Word Literary Agency
  • Editor Raela Schoenherr, Bethany House Publishers
  • Epublisher Nicola Martinez, Pelican Book Group

Romance Novella: Ruth Kenjura, coordinator
  • Editor Lauren Plude, Grand Central Publishing
  • Epublisher Alycia Tornetta, Entangled
  • Epublisher Cindy Davis, The Wild Rose Press

Romantic Suspense: Robin Sweet, coordinator
  • Agent Jessica Alvarez, BookEnds, LLC
  • Editor Alicia Condon, Brava (Kensington)
  • Epublisher Char Chaffin, Soul Mate Publishing

Single Title: Sarah Andre, coordinator
  • Agent Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, Foreword Literary Agency
  • Editor - Katherine Pelz, Berkley Publishing Group (Penguin Group)
  • Epublisher Pat van Wie, BelleBooks

Young Adult: J.D. Faver, coordinator
  • Agent Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency
  • Editor Niki Flowers, BelleBooks Inc.
  • Editor Annie Stone, Harlequin Teen

Need a specific answer or further information? Contact Contest Coordinator Patti Macdonald by email: PattiAnnMacdonald at gmail dot com.

Takeaway Truth

Take advantage of this chance to get your work in front of credible judges.

People Watching in the Time Dilation Field

I just returned from the Time Dilation Field--you know, the post office? As I stood in line, I composed this blog post about how to describe characters because people watching gives you great examples as foundations.

If you ever have trouble visualizing a character, just go stand in line somewhere and open your eyes, ears, and nose to the people around you.

People Watching

People watching is a learned skill, and it can make creating characters so easy that it feels like you're cheating. Involve not just vision but your other senses like hearing and smelling when you're people watching. You'll end up with a character who'll jump off the page because he or she seems so real.

This morning as I stood in line at the post office, I couldn't help but notice the man in front of me. His smell hit me first. He reeked of stale cigarettes. To say he smelled like a dirty ashtray would be spot on. I stood as far from him as possible which gave me the opportunity to study him visually as well.

Description Facts

He was a big man. Probably 6'4" tall with a build that seemed more lean than bulky. His shoes were brand new and of the horribly expensive NAME BRAND variety. They probably cost as much or more than I spend on groceries in two weeks. His watch was expensive also--NAME BRAND but with a black leather strap rather than the expected stainless bracelet that you more commonly see with that brand. (Was it a knock off? Possibly.)

He wore black sweats--jacket and pants--and they weren't new. In fact, they were stretched and faded a bit and covered with "pills," those little balls of fiber that develop in the washing and drying process.

First Draft Description

He was a tall man dressed in faded black sweats, but his shoes were new.

That would give the reader a basic picture, but it wouldn't give a hint of the character's circumstances as well. Good descriptions should convey more than the way a person looks.

Better Description

He was tall with broad shoulders, but he had the rangy lean body of a runner. Maybe that's what he was since he wore running shoes that probably had set him back a couple of hundred bucks. The shoes contrasted sharply with his clothes--a pair of old black sweats covered with little fuzz balls from too many cycles in the washer and dryer. When the wind changed, I nearly gagged as the smell of stale cigarettes wafted from him. This guy was no runner. He wouldn't have the lung capacity for it.

Here's One For You To Use

A baby cried behind me. I, along with others, turned to see what poor mom was stuck in line with a baby. My gaze came to a screeching halt on the young woman directly behind me. She was in her twenties and was about 5' tall. She had huge boobs--completely overwhelming the rest of her body-- and they were displayed prominently in a low, scoop-neck, blue t-shirt.

Black stars of varying sizes were tattooed across her left breast. A man's name was tattooed on her right breast. In large flowing black script.

I wanted to look longer to see what the name was, but staring is rude plus I didn't want her to think I was some perv. Instead, I looked at the other people in line because their reactions to her appearance were priceless. Every man and woman stared at her then quickly their gazes would dart away, then back, away, back.

Maybe they were all like me, curious to know whose name she deemed so important that she had to have it emblazoned on her breast. She seemed completely oblivious to the attention she was drawing, and I found that in itself interesting.

That young woman is a candidate for great characterization. You can describe her not only physically, but also her demeanor, the reactions of people around her, and how she responds to those reactions.

That kind of description is a perfect platform for a writer to dive into a bit of backstory about a character who fairly shouts, "Look at me."

Why does she want to be the center of attention? If the character isn't a main character, and you don't need to give the reader that intimate look at her motivations, you can still make her a compelling character who will interest the reader and keep him glued to the story.

Sound: Example from Suburbia

Here's an example of how listening to someone can help you create a character. Sunday afternoon, darling hubby and I were at Walmart. As we left the store, a young man shouting into a cell phone passed us. He was nearly foaming at the mouth, he was so angry. Literally, spit was flying. He was an attractive young man--tall, lean, but white-faced in anger. I would have expected his face to be red.

Here's what he said:

You f***ing bitch. You think you can f***ing do this? You f***ing think again. I f***ing own you, you f***ing bitch.

Wow! Suburbia isn't what it used to be. This guy didn't care that people were walking back and forth, including children, and staring at him. He was still shouting and cursing when I reached the car.

Need an unhinged psychotic character? He'd be the role model for sure. Think about the woman on the receiving end of this phone call. What kind of woman has such low self-esteem that she'd even be with a jerk like that?

Takeaway Truth

Use real people to improve your characterization skills. Make notes when you can. Really look at people. Listen to how they talk. See their physical habits of movement as they stand around or talk to others. Note how they smell. All that will help you create characters who seem real.