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Tools to make an awesome #lowbudget #video for #socialmedia!

Recently I signed up my indie publishing company, Dark Helix Press, to be a vendor at FIYAHCON, a virtual convention centering the perspectives and celebrating the contributions of BIPOC in speculative fiction. (I’ll be speaking about publishing there too, will release details when I have them.)

At FIYAHCON the vendors are setting up a virtual table on a platform called AirMeet which I have never used before. One of the items I needed to upload was a video and I don’t have any book trailers for Dark Helix Press. In the past I made a book trailer for The Undead Sorceress which was ok, but with new tools available, making a trailer now is much faster than ever before! The concept of making a trailer is the same to make any video for social media, once you learn how to make on video, it’s a skill which can be used for lots of creative fun!

The trailer I made below took about three hours, because I was fiddling with fonts/colors/layout and made some custom graphics for the Dark Helix Press Threadless Shop merchandise because I wanted “clean cut” items that would “pop out.” I had to use a graphic editor to do that (did it quick and dirty with the free Paint.net graphic program) because video programs have limited graphics editing capabilities. Note I had $0 budget, but the video looks pretty good for zero dollars!

Steps used to make a book trailer:

  1. List out what you want to put in each “slide” which is really a short video. Pretend it’s a PowerPoint and on each slide think about what message or text you want to convey.
  2. Find videos for each slide. There are a couple of sites you can download free videos, such as Pexels, Pixabay, Mixkit, etc. We used Pixabay.
    • For one video we wanted 14 seconds, but the shot we downloaded was 10 seconds, so we extended the video time by slowing down the speed of the footage.
  3. If you are adding extra graphics to the video, you will need to clean up with a graphics editor such as Paint.net, Krita, Adobe Photoshop, etc. We used Paint.net.
  4. Pick a program to compile the videos – Canva, Filmgora, iMovie, etc. We used Canva.
  5. Upload the videos into the program, add text, music (we used the music provided in the program) and graphics.
  6. In some of the programs you can modify the layout and animate the graphics/fonts.
  7. Upload onto Youtube and publish.
    • Read carefully on the sites where you gathered graphics, videos and music. Some of the licenses ask for attribution in lieu of payment and there may be restrictions on use.

I hope this information was useful to you! After you do it once, the subsequent videos will be easier next time!

Being Inspired by ND Jones’ #African #Fantasy #Romance #Writing! @ndjonesauthor #writinglife #publishing #AfricanAmerican

For episode 22 of The Artsy Raven podcast, I interviewed ND Jones, a USA Best-selling author who has written multiple African fantasy romance series. It was really inspiring to listen to someone has achieved so much on their own and even got her whole family involved! She’s written over twelve books and even started a company which involves her daughter doing graphic design work and her son creating a RPG game based on her work.

One of the reasons why she started writing was because there was a void in the market with positive, sexy, and three-dimensional African American characters as soul mates, friends, and lovers, so she took on that challenge herself. Her book covers look super awesome with strong females on them and I had a good time talking to her about her projects. Although I don’t write fantasy romance, I would like to write more and complete more projects. I have problems finishing things and would like to be like ND Jones when I grow up!

ND is also giving away two e-books (she reads from one of them in the podcast) and a $10USD Amazon gift card to two winners. King Sumo link here: https://kingsumo.com/g/tw9ne1/nd-jones-e-book-and-amazon-gift-card-giveaway-august-16-28-2021-2-winners

Spotify episode link: https://open.spotify.com/episode/4AcPxpL3lpVQQDnGKBXyGS

Youtube episode link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nlcJUicKFE&feature=youtu.be

The Artsy Raven August newsletter is out and we have links to over 40 free fantasy books! Check it out here.

Have a great day!

Talking about #bullying, #Antibullying resources, #Ebook + #Amazon #giftcard #free draw! #kingsumo #giveaway

In the latest podcast episode of the Artsy Raven, I interviewed fifteen year old Rutendo Alyssa-Joy Mushonga. She wrote a book about the bullying she experienced throughout her life, in Zimbabwe and in Alberta, where she currently resides. It was a difficult conversation to have and we did speak longer than planned, because I was so astonished by the trauma and situations she had to go through. Technology is great, but it also leads to cyber bullying which she experienced first hand. With the help of her awesome mother, she published A Farewell to the War Within: A battle with reality this year to share with others what she had experienced and what she has learned.

We are giving away a copy of her ebook and a $10USD Amazon giftcard via a King Sumo raffle Aug 1-14, 2021. Click here to enter.

Spotify podcast link: https://open.spotify.com/episode/7H4UCN7UTnovqO3z5hfCMR

Youtube podcast link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTw6OW_QDvM&feature=youtu.be

Hre is a small list of resources available about bullying which are helpful to parents and caregivers:

Hope that everyone is having a great weekend and enjoying time with family and friends since things are opening up!

#Op-ed “Selling #Diversity to the Reluctant” published @medium – people are scared about being cancelled

Recently I finished an op-ed piece and sent it around to major media outlets. It wasn’t picked up by anyone. Naively I thought that since the piece was about a small press publishing a book by Asian writers and finding it difficult to gather in-depth book reviews, this would be an interesting read since a lot of diversity articles only talk about the good things about why it’s needed or negative experiences. The experience I had was a good one, but in the op-ed I wanted to highlight the fact that people are scared about being cancelled, so they can’t comment on anything, which makes it difficult to move forward. Everyone says they want diverse books, but is this really true? Or are they saying this because it sounds like the right thing to say?

The link to the op-ed piece is here: https://jfgarrard.medium.com/selling-diversity-to-the-reluctant-ce80b5e0ccd8

I emailed The Idea Shop and Josh (One Man Podcast) to make sure they were ok with me mentioning their names in the op-ed and they were both cool. I spoke to Josh on his One Man Podcast about a bunch of stuff and when COVID restrictions are lifted more we will meet in person!

As a writer, I wonder about why this piece was rejected. If you are a successful op-ed writer, perhaps you can send me some tips!

Generally, the message in this piece was: sometimes it’s best just to sit down to have a cup of tea and eat together to build relationships going forward. Basically instead of preaching diversity, let’s talk about what we have in common and be friends!

#HappyPrideMonth, talking to #comedian #JoshWilliams and #Youtube link for #Belief #booklaunch! #LGBTQ #ArtsyRaven #onemanpodcast #writing #publishing

June is Pride Month and on the Artsy Raven podcast we are releasing episodes featuring a LGBTQ author every Sunday. More details available in our June newsletter (click here), including which episode to listen to which has a submission call for short stories. It was great to talk to these authors who all generously shared their challenges and struggles, but despite all this, they all remain optimistic and achieved their goals!

At the end of May we had a book launch for Belief, an anthology featuring Asian authors. I was happy that my 3-tiered cake didn’t fall down and it was a lot of fun baking, even though I’ve lost my sense of smell and taste after the COVID vaccine. Since I take care of my 105-year-old grandma, I get tested for COVID every week and it’s been negative. Anyhow, we recorded the Belief event which can be watched on Youtube here. More details about the book here.

Comedian Josh Williams and I talked a little bit about Belief and other things in life on his One Man Podcast, click here. His podcast is a casual conversation and somehow I impressed him with my talk about the radioactive sandwiches I fed people when I worked in Nuclear Medicine!

I’ve been trying to do more writing by doing writing sprints with an indie author group every Sunday night, but it’s been slow. My brain is still split on weekdays because of virtual school and I can’t write one sentence without the kraken (my child) demanding something. I’m not sure at what age human children become more useful!

For more detailed Artsy Raven podcast episode summaries, they are posted on Patreon and Ko-fi every Sunday.

Stay safe until next time!

#AsianHeritageMonth #Asian #Author #Readings and #Interviews! #canlit #Belief @ricepapermag @darkhelixpress

May is Asian Heritage month and this year on the Artsy Raven I interviewed a few of the authors from the Belief anthology, a book which has been getting some PR on Canadian radio stations. This is the first book I’ve ever done marketing and interviews via radio stations so I’m not sure what the ROI is on doing this, we will see! Visit the book page to see the radio interviews and other media links, including The Richard Crouse Show on Newstalk 1010 and THE RAW MIKE RICHARDS SHOW on SAUGA 960 AM: http://www.darkhelixpress.com/acww/belief/

Every week in May I’m dropping an interview with a Belief author and they read their piece from the anthology as well. It’s really great to hear the authors read from pieces which we have been editing for a few months and they give life to their words! Check out the Artsy Raven podcast page for dates of when the episodes will be released: https://jfgarrard.com/arpodcast/

The podcast pace hasn’t been too bad, I am not an exhausted pigeon yet! Until next time!

Learning from a Master #Storyteller and sign up for free #literary events in May! #CoreyRosen #The Moth #BATSImprov #LiterASIAN #writinglife

Today I released one of my favorite podcast episodes (I love all my guests of course) featuring Corey Rosen, an improv artist and “master storyteller.”  He is the San Francisco host of “The Moth” a story telling competition and he wrote a book on how to tell stories recently. In the Moth events you have 5 minutes to tell a story and then get judged: https://themoth.org/storytellers/corey-rosen. One day I’ll work up the courage to participate! Meanwhile listen to Corey on the podcast episode and scribble down his tips because he was very generous in sharing different techniques about storytelling!

Artsy Raven ep 7 Corey Rosen Anchor FM/Spotify link: https://anchor.fm/jf-garrard
Artsy Raven ep 7 Corey Rosen Youtube video: https://youtu.be/3vN_u3KaZwY

For the entire month of May, LiterASIAN 2021 festival is happening! Lots of free events for writers and readers alike, everyone welcomed! Event schedule and signup links here: https://literasian.com/2021-event-schedule/

On May 8, 3pm EST, I’m participating in a panel to talk about self-publishing with Jackie Lau, Diana Morita Cole, Diana Ng, and Cynda Yeasting. We will be doing a short reading and then discussing our techniques on how we self-published our works and how it’s different from traditional publishing. Register here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WVpNDY3kRgWR_ZICIFx3vg

Belief review on the #RawMikeRichards Show with @TheIdeaShopca this morning! Some thoughts…#Toronto #Vancouver #canlit #youtube #soundcloud

This morning we woke up early to listen to “The Raw Mike Richards Show” on Sauga 960am which caters mainly to the Toronto area. Once a month, The Idea Shop goes onto the show to promote the latest book releases in the Canadian market.

To be honest I was a bit nervous about what people would think about the book because although I think it’s fantastic, I’m also the gardener who helped plant the flowers, so my perspective is biased!

It was wonderful to listen to the opinion that the stories were like a “box of chocolates” which cheered up the readers during COVID and also brought up memories of the host (Mike Richards) being close to an Asian family in the town they grew up in. Canada’s strength lies in diversity and the ability for people to work together to transform society for the better.

Have a listen to the audio here: https://soundcloud.com/ideashop/reading-is-beliving-the-idea-shop-april-2021

Youtube video here:https://youtu.be/Tq-o_7RnXkg

Have a great day, good luck hunting for the COVID vaccine and stay safe!

FoodSanity – #BettyCrocker #RedVelvet #cake mix with icing #review. #COVIDbaking

Recently I saw a Betty Crocker Red Velvet cupcake mix selling on Amazon (couldn’t find at supermarket though) which came with icing, all in one box. I thought I would give this a try since it sounded so convenient.

It surprised me that the box made less cake than the usual box mixes. Instead of 24 cupcakes, you get 12. There are two bags of icing in the box for frosting. To make the cake mix taste better, I made some adjustments – 1) added one more egg, 2) used unsalted butter versus oil, 3) used milk versus water and 4) added a teaspoon of vanilla.

With the cake mix I made 6 Elmo cupcakes (used gel coloring to dye one bag of icing red) and 3 fancy tiered adult cakes. I lost some icing because of the piping process and would have liked more icing. I only took a picture of 4 Elmo cupcakes because 2 of them didn’t turn out as nice. Since I made this around Easter, I added m & m chocolate eggs and fruit to decorate the adult cakes. I think the cakes turned out well and made great Instagram pics!

Food score:

Sight (20/20): A little frosting and color makes all cakes pretty!

Availability (10/20): You can only order from Amazon, I couldn’t find this set at my supermarket. It was also hard to find the red velvet Betty Crocker mix or the cream cheese frosting in the supermarket as well, though there are other brands available. The common flavors of vanilla or chocolate cake mix and frosting are easier to find.

Smell (20/20): Smells like cake while baking!

Taste (18/20): The cake itself wasn’t very sweet, but the icing was, so the flavors balance. This is cake mix so it’s not going to be as good as the cakes from fancy pastry stores!

Touch (20/20): The cakes were springy when done, baked perfectly! Icing was sticky, which is normal.

Overall score: 88/100

Would I order again? Yes! Recently I have been making smaller batches when baking since I can’t share with office folks because of COVID. Making an equivalent of 24 cupcakes would have been a lot, while 12 was just enough to share with a few other people.

Price point note – this box was around $4 Cdn for 12 cupcakes and frosting, or about $0.33/cupcake. For normal size box and frosting, it would have cost around $3.50 for red velvet cake mix, $3.50 for frosting or about $0.29/cupcake for 24 cupcakes. The normal box is cheaper overall, but for some reason it is difficult to find the red velvet box mix and cream cheese frosting in Canada. I really miss crossing the border to visit the US to buy things at their grocery stores!

#EdSeaward #ArtsyRaven #podcast out and draw for two #Amazon #giftcards April 4-9 on #kingsumo

Happy Easter Sunday!

Ed Seaward’s interview and reading with the Artsy Raven is now live. He is the happiest person I know and yet his latest book Fair, is about the violent life on the LA streets. He was a screenwriter, worked in the energy field and now retired from “real work” but is writing novels. He has a lot of good advice to give writers and I consider him a great mentor. Check out our episode below to gain some of his wisdom.

In addition, he is giving copies of Fair along with a $10 USD Amazon gift card. Two winners will each receive one e-book and one Amazon gift card. Enter between April 4-9, 2021, winners will be contacted via e-mail!

Enter here: https://kingsumo.com/g/eyskok/ed-seawards-fair-e-book-and-amazon-gift-card-giveaways-2-winners