When Can You Call Yourself a Writer or Artist—Comfortably?

“The artist finds a greater pleasure in painting than in having completed the picture.” — Lucius Seneca.


by veggiegretz

by veggiegretz

Do you dream of people buying your art masterpieces or reading your bestseller or attending your sold-out performance? Or do you picture the Most Creative Teacher of the Year Award resting on your mantle?

You’ve purchased the beret and the smock or the getup of your craft. You look marvelous. Then it comes time to study the craft. You realize it encompasses so much than you thought. Maybe God hasn’t called you to the craft.

Don’t get discouraged. Your desire may need to mature a bit. It did for me.

You’ll know you’re on the right track: 

  1. When you connect to everything you do through the perspective of your craft.
by vilhelm

by vilhelm

I’m a writer. My husband looks at the price and functionality in buying a tractor for our garden. I look at its seat and visualize my grandsons riding on Grandpa’s lap. I imagine their smiles and excitement. I picture them telling their children stories about Grandpa taking them for tractor rides. I see everything through story.

An artist told me her artist’s eye never shuts down. While she reads a novel, she sees paintings.

A creative preschool teacher looks at a toilet paper roll and pictures hundreds of uses for it as a craft or a learning tool.

  1. When you care less and less about fame-filled success.


I want my novels to sell, yes, but am I seeking fame as a bestselling author? No. I just want to write stories that will touch others as the stories have touched me. Through my relationship with God, I believe this is where I should be.

Two artists told me how the economy has made it tough for them. For one, it’s few people signing up for her art classes. For the other, it’s few sales. In their success slumps, did they quit offering art classes or stop painting? No.

  1. When you jump on opportunities to learn something new about your craft.


You actually practice what you learn from conferences and workshops you attend. Your bookshelf lined with books on your craft has expanded to two shelves. And you’ve read the books.

You spend time perusing the works of your betters, soaking in how they create something marvelous. You no longer care about looking marvelous.


  • Call yourself a writer or an artist when you view the world through your craft’s perspective.
    click to tweet
  • Call yourself a writer or an artist when you care more about the craft than the fame.
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  • Call yourself a writer or an artist when you dig deep into learning your craft.
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What made you comfortable to call yourself a writer or artist?

How to Entice Your Readers to Read the Next Sentence…and the Next

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”  — Albert Einstein

Powerful Backload Photo by pdimages

Powerful Backload
Photo by pdimages

Do many of your sentences and paragraphs end with words, such as “his,” “it,” “with,” or “was”? If yes, you’ve left your reader with a dull word. It gives him little motivation to move on to the next sentence.

This doesn’t mean your reader won’t read on, but wouldn’t you like to entice your reader into reading your next sentence?


  • Entice your reader to read on by ending each sentence with a power word. 
    click to tweet

A power word:

  • Is tied to the meaning of a sentence or paragraph.
  • Leaves the reader with what you want him to feel.
  • Leads the reader to the next sentence.
by Irish_Eyes

by Irish_Eyes

Example 1:


Barbara clamped her mouth shut, unwilling to rile a man who carried a rifle under his arm and a hunting knife strapped to his leg.


Barbara clamped her mouth shut, unwilling to rile a man armed with a rifle and a hunting knife with a twelve-inch blade.

The first version leaves the reader with the man’s leg. If the sentence was about his wounded leg, “leg” might be appropriate to backload. But it’s about Barbara’s fear of his dangerous look. A knife scares me more than a rifle does. And the blade of a big knife is even scarier. So, I chose blade over leg, rifle, or knife.

Example 2:


He was still dead, no matter how long she stared at him.


No matter how long she stared at him, he was still dead.

The first sentence leaves the reader with a boring pronoun. “Him” tells us nothing about the sentence. The second version’s “dead” gives us the finality of the situation. Hopefully, the reader will want to know what she’s going to do now.

by calgrin

by calgrin

Example 3:

Backloaded (first this time):

“She splayed her arms over her paper-covered desk and knocked her head on the piles. This was all Jason’s fault. Jason needed space? Right. What he needed was freedom to date that woman with a waist the size of his muscular neck.” (From Calculated Risk by Zoe M. McCarthy)

See how each last word tells something about the heroine, Cisney, or her ex-boyfriend, Jason?

  • “Piles” points to Cisney’s disordered desk and life.
  • “Fault” points to how she feels about Jason in her predicament.
  • “Space” points to the excuse of someone who’s at fault.
  • “Muscular neck” leaves the reader with the feeling of a powerful person hurting vulnerable Cisney. Hopefully, the reader will want to know what Nick, who’s on his way to her office, is like in contrast.

Suppose I’d written the paragraph this way:

She splayed her arms over her paper-covered desk and knocked her head on it. The fault was Jason’s. Space was what Jason wanted? Right. What he needed was freedom to date that woman with the small waist.

“It,” “Jason’s,” “wanted,” and “waist” don’t link to Cisney’s life, how she’s feeling, or anything about Jason.


  • End each sentence with a power word, leaving the reader with a sense of its message.
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How might using backloading improve a sentence in your work?

3 Steps to Create Mantras That Keep You Out of the Mire and Moving Forward

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  — Philippians 4:8

by o0o0xmods0o0o

by o0o0xmods0o0o

You want to stay focused on that “excellent or praiseworthy” thing you know you should be doing or thinking about, but your mind would rather flit to anything but.

Do you have a mantra? I’m talking about mantra in the sense of an instrument of focus, a set of words spoken frequently to get you to focus on your “excellent or praiseworthy” task or thinking.


  • Create several mantras to propel forward the “excellent or praiseworthy” tasks in your week.
    click to tweet

recite-13688--770466689-1rsv240Example 1: Anytime a thought enters my mind that I know is detrimental to others or to me, my mantra is: “I will not receive that.” When I whip out this mantra, counting on God’s help, the undesirable thought always leaves me.

Example 2: When I want  to take a little detour before starting the goal I set for the morning, my mantra is: “First things first, always.” Then I promise myself I can take the detour when the goal is checked off my schedule.

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Example 3: On the other hand, a relaxing or fun activity between your goal-oriented tasks is important and fruitful. You may need a mantra to pull away from the mound of work. You might borrow the old saw, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Just replace Jack with your name.


  • Have fun with these 3 simple steps to create mantras that will keep you moving forward.
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Step 1: Identify what usually prevents you from doing or thinking what’s “excellent or praiseworthy.”

Step 2: If someone else repeatedly used your tactics, what would you say (or want to say) to them?

Suppose your problem is dragging your feet in entering your workspace. You might want to say to your invisible twin: “Go into your office, turn your light on, and plant your derrière into your chair, bud.”

Step 3: Shorten it. Make it catchy to you. Repeatable.

ChairYou might rewrite it to:  “Take a day off on your day off.” Or perhaps for a rhyme: “Derrière in the chair.” If necessary, add the “bud.”

You might want to rewrite the adage, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Possibly, “Rest or be dull at best.”



  • Your mantras can pull you out of the sludge of unhelpful thoughts and unfruitful tasks.
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What are mantras you use to keep you from the mire of unfruitfulness?

If Your Hero Doesn’t Smell, You May Have a Senseless Novel

“There are three schoolmasters for everybody that will employ them – the senses, intelligent companions, and books.”  — Henry Ward Beecher.

by mimiliz

by mimiliz

Do your hero and heroine seldom smell scents, taste flavors, hear sounds, see settings, or touch people and things? If so, you risk readers feeling like your characters live in a vacuum.

As a writer, I know I’m to connect my characters to their surroundings through their God given senses. BUT, I’ve learned there’s an art to it.


  • Don’t dump odors, tastes, sounds, sights, and touches into your scenes.
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  • Weave the five senses into the context of the surroundings and actions of the scene.
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Let’s look at what I mean through examples.

Dumped Aroma

As they walked through the park, Mark turned to Sandy. “Why didn’t you support me when I told the police I was with you.”

“Because I thought they’d say all wives say that.” Was that chocolate she smelled?

“Well, I wish my wife had told the truth and said I was with her.”

The chocolate scent drops in from nowhere and jars readers from the conversation.

Crafted Scent

by jmiltenburg

by jmiltenburg

“Kenn had the group laughing as they settled down, but it was the sweet haze of Christy’s lavender perfume that finally brought him down into the circle, right beside her, calm and eager.” —Hearts Crossing Ranch by Tanya Hanson

The scent of Christy’s perfume is integral to the action here, drawing Kenn to sit near her.



Crafted Sight and Touch

“Our kickstands flew up, and we rode down Highway 129 wrapped in the beauty of a cotton-candy pink sunset. It was cooling-off time in the mountains and instead of sweltering, we stayed comfortable in our jackets and helmets.” —The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots by Karla Akins

Can you see the sunset? Though we aren’t shown what’s happening to their skin, I can imagine the coolness on their faces and how comfortably warm their skin is inside their jackets.

Crafted Sound and Sight

by Du Boix

by Du Boix

“Jack stood at the admitting desk, dressed in coat and tie even at this awful time of morning, tapping his foot in a heavy rhythm, glancing first at his watch then at the clock on the wall then back to his watch. Tap, tap, tap. Glance. Tap.” —The Rising by Lynn Chandler Willis

We learn much about Detective Ellie Saunder’s supervisor from what  Ellie sees and hears. His coat and tie are his personal uniform, and that he’s impatient she’s late.

Crafted Touch

“Air-conditioning kissed her overheated skin while she let the door slam behind her.” —Mended Heart by Mary Manners

This sense of touch went well with the heated encounter she’d just had with the hero in the hot stairwell.

Senses can be metaphorical.

by FidlerJan

by FidlerJan

Crafted Taste

“Brody clamped his lips. Deserved or not, he would not have taken those words from any other man. He swallowed them along with the bitter taste of his pride. For Megan.” —Masquerade Marriage by Anne Greene

I can see Brody’s lips curl as if he’s bitten into a lemon.


  • Weave the five senses into the context of the surroundings and actions of the scene.
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What example of connecting readers to their surroundings through the five senses have you enjoyed?

How Important Is Story—Do Movie Ratings Shed Some Light?

“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”  — Ursula K. LeGuin

by mconnors

by mconnors

Have you wondered why in the past few years many movies have received critics’ Rotten Tomatoes ratings of less than 30%?

I’ve noticed I easily “fall asleep” during some movies, yet easily stay engaged in some films that aren’t as well done. I’ve been asking the question: Why is that?

I’ve realized my “sleep meter” is driven by the amount of story present in a film. I need story.

Here are qualities that raise the dial on my sleep meter. Keep in mind: I don’t intend to drift off. And I like movies in some of these genres that have story.

by Edalisse

by Edalisse

Zoe’s ZZZzzzzz Ratings

  • Putting tights and capes on men, coloring their skin green, and having them fight evil in a few situations, isn’t enough story. ZZZzzzzz.
  • Relying on spectacular special effects is interesting for a while. Often the show starts out with an interesting premise and effects and then sags to a series of special effects. Not enough story. ZZZzzzzz
  • Filling a couple of hours with vehicle chases; mile-high exploding structures; sword, Uzi, and karate battles; empty curses; and gallons of blood seldom sport this introduction: Based on a true story. Story being the key word. ZZZzzzzz
  • Experiencing one rowdy party after another, bodily noises, and nights of ogling and scoring leaves the heart’s dial on zero. Lacks relationship story. ZZZzzzzz

I know why I drift off, but critics seem to think little of the current movies as well.  Look at the ratings below from this week’s movies in theaters. Not too unlike last month’s ratings. Note the two above 90% under Critics. One was based on a true story and the other was a family movie.



16% 67%
17% 69%
21% 83%
25% 48%
31% 54%
34% 52%
49% 63%
56% 73%
57% 62%
74% 62%
75% 90%
76% 78%
89% 89%
92% 90%
96% 91%

This week the critics considered 60% of the movies splats. The average percent of critics liking the movies in that 60% was 34%.

by Schick

by Schick

In general, audience ratings moved with the critics. When critics’ percentages are low, audiences’ are also relatively low, and vice versa. The audiences’ percentages of liking movies will be higher than critics’ because people attend movies of the types they like. For example people who like chases, bombs, battles, and blood will go to that type of movie and usually like it better than general audiences.

I usually suspect a movie is good if at least 80% of the audience likes it. In the table, that happened only four times, and that’s from audiences tending to be heavy on viewers who like the types of these movies.

I’d like to know if in general critics’ low ratings are caused mainly by substandard:

  • acting, directing, filming, or special effects;
  • humor, romance, or suspense; or
  • stories that fail to touch people’s emotions?

Could it be:


  • Too many of today’s moviemakers direct their creativity to everything except good stories?
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Why do you think movie critics are giving so many low ratings?

2 Seldom Recognized Habits That Rob From Your Creative Work

“Compared with what we ought to be, we are but half-awake.”  —William James

by hotblack

by hotblack

If we realized we had these habits we wouldn’t allow them to rob our creative work. But they’re so subtle most of us are unaware we partake in them to some degree.

You’ve determined your creative work is what you’re supposed to be doing. For me, that was seeking God’s will and following His lead over many years of growth.

Now, be careful not to let these 2 habits rob from your creative work.

1.  Do you have the habit of being true to yourself, when it’s a false self you’re being true to?

by krosseel

by krosseel

The world says push the limits on morality and good taste. It challenges us to shock people into noticing us. It whispers in our ears, “Life is all about you and getting ahead.” The questions below may help detect whether the subtle whispers have drawn you away from important work waiting within your true self.

  • Do you let the  values or methods of creative friends in your field influence your work so they’ll accept you?
  • Do you want to do something noble in your work, but you think you’ll be ridiculed for being outdated?
  • Are you a plotter, but you believe most people think it’s better to be a free-spirited, seat-of-the-pants artist? Or vice versa?


  • Are you robbing excellence from your creative work by emulating the wrong people?
    click to tweet


2.  Do you have the habit of thinking society needs you elsewhere?

This could be misplaced duty. The good, but not the best, use of your time.

A robbing activity is NOT an obvious procrastination activity. Or one necessary to take care of family. This is an activity you’re subtly lured into performing.

Image courtesy of Stoonn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stoonn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • It’s an activity you’re good at. You’d pick you to do it every time, even if it keeps another person from doing it and growing.
  • It’s an activity that seems so right you’ve never bothered weighing the cost of what it’s doing to your creative work.

The following questions may help. For me, they may arise while talking to God to discern if He’s nudging me to perform the activity outside my creative work.


  • Does the activity need to be performed at all?
  • Are you the best person to perform the activity?
  • Are you the only person who can perform the activity?
  • Are you an obstacle for the person meant to perform the activity?
  • Is it right to perform the activity, but you’re spending more time on it than necessary?
  • Is this activity worth relegating your creative work to hobby status?


  • Are subtle, misguided attractions reeling you into activities that rob progress on your creative work?
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What other robbers steal from your creative work?

How to Salvage Your Sagging Creative Work with Spontaneous Absurdity

“All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.”

 —Henry Miller

by Earl53

by Earl53

Sometimes a project droops like one of Dali’s clocks. Can you salvage the painting, the scene, or the children’s activity?

When your creative work slumps, do something spontaneously absurd to it.

No. Don’t throw or destroy your work. Ask, “With my creativity still intact, but my internal editor turned off, what would I like to do right now to this work?” Then do it.

You may be surprised that your work improves three-fold.

See what I mean in these fictitious examples of Spontaneous Absurdity.

Example 1

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The work: Wade paints a jade-green rubber tree houseplant. He’s eager to add the pièce de résistance: the new yellow shoot.

Sinking Realization: Wade paints the yellow budding leaf and steps back. Humpf. It’s still a rubber tree houseplant. Even he can resist this pièce.

Spontaneous Absurdity: How about a plant from another planet? While the paint is wet, Wade recreates the shoot into a corkscrew that ends in a burst of fuchsia.


Example 2

Ending of Jeanne’s Novel:

Arthur took Megan into his arms, lowered his head, and kissed her. Her heart pounded. She’d spend her life with this handsome man.

Jeanne’s Critique Partner’s Note: Something’s missing. Actually, a lot.

Spontaneous Absurdity: Okay. How about this for something!

Image courtesy of pat138241 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of pat138241 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Arthur led Meghan through the downpour into the summerhouse. He drew her to him and cupped her head, a drop of water threatening to fall from the curl hanging over his forehead.

Goosebumps prickled Meghan’s arms. Would he finally kiss her?

As he lowered his lips toward hers, she placed her fingertips to his pursed lips. “I’ve called you Arthur from the beginning. The name is so formal, don’t you think? Now that you seem about to press your lips to mine, may I call you Art?”

He grinned and rubbed his nose against hers. “Only if I may call you Meg.” The drop fell from his curl and ran down her cheek like a tear. “Don’t cry, Meghan. I won’t call you Meg.”

She fluttered her lashes. “You see, Meg is the name of our neighbor’s pet skunk. But you may shorten my name to Han.”

He brushed her lips with his, sending tingles up her neck.

“Okay. Then you may shorten Arthur to Hur. I like that better than Art.”

She giggled. “How delightful. Hur and Han. What an interesting beginning to our relationship, Hur.”

“No, lovely Han. This is an interesting beginning to our relationship.” He sank his lips onto hers.


Example 3

by dave

by dave

Angela’s Preschool Activity: “Cut lips like this example and paste them to your Valentine for a kiss.”

Preschoolers: “Mommy says I’m left-handed. I can’t use these scissors.” “I need help. I can’t cut around the bumps.” “I have only one lip. Sniff. By accident.”

Spontaneous Absurdity: Angela extracts her Red Rumba lipstick from her purse and a tissue. She zips from child to child, smoothing on lipstick to their puckered lips, and then wipes the lipstick clean for the next child. “Kiss your valentine as many times as you wish.”


  • Spontaneous absurdity can salvage your ailing creative work.
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What bit of spontaneous absurdity improved your creative work?

A Fun Way to Liven Up Your Scene’s Dialog

“Find the “hook” or the zinger in every sentence, and have characters react to that.”        —Susan May Warren


You want your dialog to be real, meaningful, and hold your readers’ interest.

Here’s what Susan May Warren calls her “super-secret Susie hint to writing great dialogue” that I learned in one of her Deep Thinker’s Retreats.

Include a zinger in conversations.

You can learn how to write zingers in Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck’s writing reference, From the Inside…Out.

Below are examples from 4 novels to show you what a zinger is and how to use it.

Zinger 1

—from Wish You Were Here by Beth K. Vogt

by gracey

by gracey


“Uh, is that the dress?”

Was he choking back a laugh? Confirmation the dress was a nightmare.

“Yes. Please, no comment.” Allison ran her hands along the flowing skirt as if she could tame it. Not going to happen.

“It’s impressive.”

Allison blew a wisp of hair out of her eyes. “Are you kidding me? I look like the Bridal Fashion Disaster Barbie.”


Suppose this ended with, “I wish that were true.” Wouldn’t that have killed the conflict, and the fun?

Zinger 2

—from The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck


“Tell me,” she whispered. “Does he?”

“Have a mistress?”

She gazed into his eyes. He couldn’t…it would crush her. Her fingernails dug into his arm.


“Yes. So goes the word around town. But you should find out the truth yourself, Emily. You know how gossip gets all twisted and maligned.”

“No, no.” She jutted backward, shaking her head, her dark eyes narrowing. “You’re a liar, Daniel Ludlow. I don’t believe you.”


What if Emily had simply said, “I don’t believe you.” We wouldn’t know how hurt she is. Calling Daniel a liar shows what “kill the messenger” means. She zinged Daniel and raised the conflict.

Zinger 3

—from Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones


“Maggie, tonight is a very special night.”

Uh-oh. Here come the dreamy eyes again.

“I care so much about you. And recently I realized those feelings have grown into something more. I’m crazy about your laugh, your smile, your sense of adventure. I want to tell you that I—”

“Boy, am I tired.”


Zing!  Did Maggie’s last words wake you up? Suppose Maggie had said, “Please. Not tonight, John.” We might prepare to read through a laborious letdown.

Zinger 4

—from Nothing but Trouble by Susan May Warren


by Kandi

by Kandi

PJ reached the second fence and didn’t care in the least that she ripped out the backside of the jumpsuit. She landed with another whump while the goat shoved his nose between the chain links, mawing. Good thing Billie filled up on Ernie’s tulips or tomatoes or whatever, or she’d be goat fodder by now.

Pizza Guy landed beside her. “You have a fan club.” He held out his hand to pull her up.

She swatted it away. “It’s not funny. She could have eaten me.”

“Oh yeah, goats are known predators. Right up there with mountain lions and wildebeests.”


What if Pizza Guy had said, “The goat wouldn’t have eaten you.” He’d seem bland, unable to banter.


  • Study these zingers and learn how to hook your audience with dialog.
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What zinger have you used in dialog?

How to Create Step-by-Step a Simple, but Cheap Book Trailer

Releases Feb. 21, 2014

Releases Feb. 21, 2014

When Christine Lindsay said she was willing to write a how-to post for making book trailers, I jumped on her offer. The trailer to her first novel, Shadowed in Silk intrigued me so much that I bought the book. Her new release is Londonderry Dreaming. Enjoy her article.

<< >>

HOW to create step-by-step

           a  simple, but cheap book trailer

So you’ve written a book and it’s time to do those  MILLIONS  of things you need to do to market. I kid you not…millions is not much of an exaggeration. That’s just how it feels when you are MARKETING YOUR BOOK.

Like a lot of writers published by an indie press, I couldn’t afford to pay HUNDREDS of dollars for an expert to create my trailer. I took my artistic genes that show up in my literary art, and put them to work designing my own visual marketing tool by using what I had FREE at hand—my Microsoft Pictures Manager which came with my program, and Microsoft Movie Maker. For Mac users, you probably received iMovie with your Mac purchase. It appears to do much of the same things as Microsoft Movie Maker.

No one knows your book better than you anyway, so start now . . . and visualize your story.

The first trailer I made for Shadowed in Silk, cost me over $400
I worked on it in the evenings for about 4 months.

My second trailer for Captured by Moonlight, cost me about $100,
and required only a few weeks of evenings to create.

My latest trailer for Londonderry Dreaming, cost me only $85
and I sewed the thing up in a few hours.

Below is the first trailer I made, for Shadowed in Silk and Captured by Moonlight. I’d like to point out what I discovered by accident—what really works !!!

Basically . . . what I learned the hard way.

                             And most importantly what I learned about

TONE  and emotion

Click here to view the trailer for Shadowed in Silk.

What I learned from my mistakes in this trailer: 

  • At a minute and 41 seconds, it was too long. I now aim to keep my trailers just over ONE minute.
  • At the start, I tried to show the somberness of my characters’ situations by casting them in sepia-like tones. Finding historical photos is hard, and expensive. I ended up using the WW1 photo, but it is rough and grainy, and the difference in the tone bothers me.
  • So I adjusted the timing of the music to coincide with the vibrant slide of The Golden Temple so that the trailer makes a complete change when the watcher is  swept away  to India.

What I’m proud of in this trailer:


  • The way the word India pops out in vibrant turquoise, changing the entire TONE and giving the viewer the emotional sensation of going somewhere exotic and warm.
  • I’m proud of the way the Animation of the slide matches the action in the photo. This can be seen in the slide of the airplane. The tilting animation of the slide gives the impression of the plane soaring.
  • The way the light flashes on one of the last slides, with the caption The Twilight of the Raj. The sun-flash is centered to land on the water, so it almost looks natural. Watch the trailer again if you missed that. In the Animation section of Windows Movie Maker, you can set the caption with the sunburst where you want it to land.

Play around with your movie-making program. You will find that sometimes your movie theme is hidden within its tricks, the same way that your story sometimes tells you how it should be written.

Below is my second trailer. It cost a THIRD of what the first trailer did, and took a THIRD of the time.  Click here to the watch trailer for

Captured by Moonlight.

Let’s start with what I’m proud over in this trailer:

  • The slide of the Indian arches in royal blue is actually a photo that I used in the trailer for Shadowed in Silk. Since I had already paid for the license I changed its tone to blue by using Microsoft Windows Picture Manager.

A-Book Trailer Workshop # 1

Hint *  Keep all the photos you buy. You never know how you can adjust the color, crop them, use part of them in something else—another trailer or even a book cover.

  • I like the slide with Laine with her 1920′s hairstyle, where the sun-flashes with the caption “But never again”.  That little flash shows emotion, and the spunkiness of my heroine. Watch the Captured by Moonlight trailer again to see how the sunburst of the caption matches the tilting animation of the photo so that it appears as if she is lifting her head in defiance.


  • Match the animations of each photo to the action. Eg. in the photo of the palm trees, the animation moves upward as the eye travels up the tall trees. And in the photo of the young Indian man, the slide animation tilts so that appears as if he is romantically turning his head.·
  • In the Captured by Moonlight trailer, I kept the same  TONE  in all slides, deep royal blues, primary reds and yellows, emerald greens, and crisp photos.

What I didn’t like:

  • The house in the slide where Laine never expected to see Laine again, was too modern.                       

Hint *  Remember you can always crop a photo to highlight only what you want. Use only the eyes of your character, or a portion of a face. 

A-Adam closeup

Use whatever will convey the emotion you want to convey. Instead of painting your story in words, you are now painting with images and color . . . 

. . . and  MUSIC

You worked so hard to give your reader an emotional experience  in your writing. In a trailer you can use music, the universal language to express emotion. Unlike written text, that must go from the eye . . . to the brain . . . and then to the heart, music missed a step. Music  goes straight from the ear to the heart.

Please view the latest book trailer for my new release

Londonderry Dreaming.

You will notice that I used all the animations from the first two trailers, but the Text Format (the way the text comes onto the slide)  is different. Not as many sunbursts in this one, but the sliding of pale blue and sandy beige that reminded me of a wave washing in on a beach. That fit the emotional tone of my book, since the romantic scene takes place on the rugged Irish coastline.

So, back to square ONE. No one knows your story better than you. You already have the mental images.

What   TONE   are you looking for?

Below are step-by-step instructions on how to use Windows Movie Maker to create your own trailer.

      1.   Scour the stock photo sites for the pictures you want. There are several reputable sites, as well as a number of places you can find free photos. I found free pictures on the Morgue File, and I have purchased licensing from iStock, Shutterstock, etc.

*  Be very careful to purchase the licensing, or be sure your photo is really free before you use it.

Images are like words, and are copyrightable.

2.   Create light-boxes on those stock sites. These are places where you can save photos you are considering. Pick lots of photos. Then, narrow things down from there.

*  Have your trusted critique partner look over your photo and music choices before you purchase.

Here are a few of the photos I chose for Londonderry Dreaming. Crisp tones, and colors, greens–emerald and lime, the sandy beige of a beach, sky blue, and azure sea, all taken from the front cover of my book which was designed by the publisher, Pelican Books. You will notice that the first slide is a cropped version of the front cover of this book. Horizontal rectangles fit the movie slide shape.

A-pic monkey # 1

3.   At the same time you are looking at photos on the stock sites, also look for your music on audio stock sites. I found music for all three of my trailers on iStock.

*  Your music selection will not be the correct length. You will need a music specialist. I am blessed that my son is a music major from Briercrest Bible College. But your worship pastor at church probably has the same education, or knows of someone who can edit your music to the correct length.

4.   After you buy your photos, arrange them in the order you want. Now compose captions for each slide. I do this on an ordinary word document, and send that file to my critique partner. This is where your writer skills come in. You have to tell the essence of your story in a series of captions.

Now, open up Windows Movie Maker on your PC

5.   Insert whatever picture you want to use for your Title slide. For my Title slide for my latest book, I cropped the photo of my front cover to fit the horizontal rectangle shape of the movie slides.

A-Book Trailer title

6.   Insert the rest of your photos in order by using the Add Photos & Video button on the HOME section on the main bar.

*  Notice that each second is measured on the movie maker by the number of times the slide appears.

A-Slide Seconds in Movie Maker

7.   After you have inserted all your photos, you can insert the text by going into the Captions menu. This will bring up a text box, and you can choose the color, size and font you prefer.

A-Text Formatting and Duration
A-India8.   In the Text Tools (on the upper bar) you will find Format choices. This is how your text will come onto the screen. In the first two of my trailers, you’ll remember some text came on with a sunburst, or came from either side, or as in the word India came outward until it disappeared. Text Tools Format is where you can choose your special effect.

A-Text Formatting

9.   Choose the animation of each of your photos, including the Title slide, in Animations on the top tool bar. On the far side of the Animation selections you will see an arrow for the full menu. Pull this down to get the full range of special effects. You can make your photos tilt, zoom in or out, come from the side, etc.

A-Animations of slide

*  For your first attempt, you’ll need to play around. Making Shadowed in Silk, I made about 3 trailers until I felt I knew what the program could do. Save your file at the far left corner in Home.

10.   By now you will notice that all of your slides are 7 seconds long. You can see this by the 7 slides in a row. You can shorten, or lengthen the duration, but more likely shorten your slides by going into 2 different spots. Text Tools and then into Text Duration to select the length. To shorten the length of the photos, go to Video Tools and Duration.

*  I vary the lengths of my slides–longer for those slides that have more text, and shorter for those captions where I want a little punch. There are some spots in a trailer where I want to move faster than others.

11.   These are the basic tools that I have used. There are more advanced special effects, but I found I didn’t need much else. Once you master the animations and text tools, then it is time to insert your Music.

*  In the MUSIC TOOLS you will find spots where you can start your music, or have it come and grow louder, or go quiet as it nears the end of your trailer.

12.   When you are happy with your trailer, and you are sure it is time for your final save, it is now time for your FINAL SAVE in PREPARATION FOR POSTING TO YOUTUBE.  In the upper right hand corner you will see where to do that. I usually take the recommended version. This will take a few minutes.

A-Final Save for Youtube

When you have a completely saved movie, it is time to post that on YOUTUBE. Create an account with Youtube at no cost, and post your movie. This will usually take a little while, 20 minutes to an hour. If it takes longer, you may need to delete it and start over again.

With only the above-mentioned tools, I was able to create my trailers, and with each attempt, I grow more inventive. I will probably be looking at purchasing a better program for greater effects in future trailers, but I am quite pleased with the low cost of what Windows Movie Trailer could do for me. A program that came with my Windows program.

*  I hope this has been helpful, and will inspire you to create something for yourself that will not cost you a great deal.


  • No one knows your book better than you. Visualize your story and make your own book trailer.
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A-Christine Lindsay Author picABOUT CHRISTINE LINDSAY

Christine Lindsay was born in Ireland, and is proud of the fact that she was once patted on the head by Prince Philip when she was a baby. Her great grandfather, and her grandfather—yes father and son—were both riveters on the building of the Titanic. Tongue in cheek, Christine states that as a family they accept no responsibility for the sinking of that great ship.

It was stories of her ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India that inspired her Multi-award-winning, historical series Twilight of the British Raj. Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and Christine is currently writing the final installment of that series called Veiled at Midnight to be released August 2014.

Londonderry Dreaming, Christine’s romance novella set in N. Ireland releases Feb. 21, 2014.

Aside from being a busy writer and speaker, Christine is also VP of Christian Authors’ Network. She makes her home in British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada with her husband and their grown up family. Her cat Scottie is chief editor on all Christine’s books.


Please drop by Christine’s blog site www.christinelindsay.org or follow her on Twitter and be her friend on Pinterest , Facebook  and  Goodreads

Will the Opening Line of Your Non-fiction, Fiction, or Presentation Grab Your Audience?

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” —Plato

by Melodi2

by Melodi2

Why should I care about what you have to say? Sounds rude, doesn’t it? But that’s what many people in your audience think when they approach your work.

So, how much time do you spend on the opening of your speech, sermon, non-fiction book, children’s book, play, activity, novel, song, blog, or magazine article?

Study these first lines quoted from various types of writing. Notice how they set the tone, attitude, purpose, or genre of the work.


  • by Andalusia

    by Andalusia

    “The water was so hot, it was almost burning my face—but I could barely feel it.” —Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money by Dave Ramsey

  • “The Kings Gambit, the darling of the romantics, is a swashbuckling opening synonymous with attack, sacrifice, and an exciting open game.” —Modern Chess Openings by Walter Korn


  • “Presumption is one grand snare of the devil, in which many of the children of men are taken.” —Sermons of John Wesley – Sermon 86: “A Call to Backsliders”
  • “My fellow Americans, I come before you tonight as a candidate for the vice presidency and as a man whose honesty and integrity has been questioned.”  — United States Senator, Richard Nixon’s “Checkers” speech

Picture Books

  • “The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another his mother called him ‘WILD THING!’ and Max said ‘I’LL EAT YOU UP!’ so he was sent to bed without eating anything.” (3 pages before a period) —Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    “Chimps don’t wear glasses and zebras don’t cook and you won’t see a kangaroo reading a book.” (3 pages before a period)  —Chimps Don’t Wear Glasses by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Joe Mathieu


Children’s Books

  • “There was nothing Otis Spofford liked better than stirring up a little excitement.” —Otis Spofford by Beverly Cleary
  • “A wild, ringing neigh shrilled up from the hold of the Spanish galleon.” —Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

Young Adult Fiction

  • “There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.” Holes by Louis Sachar
  • “One year ago my mom got traded in for a newer model.” So Not Happening by Jenny B. Jones


  • “She didn’t know how far she’d driven—all she knew was that it wasn’t far enough.” Abomination by Colleen Coble
  • “He always said if I left he would kill me, but there are far worse fates than death.” Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes

Short Stories 

  • Image courtesy of Pong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image courtesy of Pong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    “With the many interruptions to her already loaded schedule, when would she find the time to kill Rita?” —“Plotting Murder” by Zoe M. McCarthy

  • “A steady ticking awakened Murdoch.” —“The Ticker” by Dori Renner in Writer’s Digest, July/August 2013


  • “One day, a funny thing happened: An unknown, frustrated writer named Joe Hill got an envelope in the mail.” —“The Once and Future King” by Zachary Petit in Writer’s Digest, July/August 2013
  • “Here’s an oxymoron for you: Cancer = Renewal.” —“An Unexpected Gift” by Nina Fuller in WHOA Magazine for Women, Spring 2012


  • Study the first lines of these writings and learn how to hook your audience.
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Which, if any, of these first lines made you want to read or hear the work? Why?


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