Book Trailers in 6 Easy Steps

Are you looking for new ways to market your book? Would you like to share your story with a wider audience? Have you wanted to make a book trailer but thought it was too expensive or complicated? Lots of authors find the idea of making a book trailer daunting. But with just a few simple tools, and programs like Animoto or IMovie, you too can make book trailers that shine.

Step 1: Think of your elevator pitch. How can you condense your story into just a few sentences? Write them out.

Step 2: Download IMovie, other movie making software, or subscribe to a service with built in templates like Animoto which is just $8.00 a month.

Step 3: Make a file of photos that convey the mood of your book.

Step 4: Begin to add photos and captions to the templates.

Step 5: Watch your movie, make changes to scenes that feel off.

Step 6: Share on social media.

Here’s my first attempt with an Animoto template.

I like how it conveys the book in a gentle way. However, it didn’t have quite the excitement I wanted.

So with my second novel, I went back to the drawing board. How?

  1. I took my book cover  and cropped a a few elements to make multiple images like  this:

    2.  I browsed through the Animoto templates. I watched dozens until I found one that felt right for me.

    3. I began to drop in photos with captions, watching the video multiple times with the preview button until it felt right.animotoedit

Here is the final product.

I was pretty jazzed about how it came out. Not to mention how friggin’ fun it was to create in a new medium.

I hope you all enjoy making book trailers a much as I did!

Sugar Purge: Week 2

Okay, I’ll admit it, I fell off the wagon this last week. There were all of these maple-topped, fluffy, deep-fried donuts in the break room. For free! So I ate one.  Or two. Or…

But that wasn’t where my cheat began, oh no. It started during recess when that one pound Dove Valentine heart began to call to me. She kept saying, “Come on. I’m the finest chocolate. You won’t gain a pound. Or feel any effect. I promise.”

So I cracked open the box, unwrapped the foil, and took a bite. Feeling, well,  heaven. My heart slowed, the world looked prettier, and my breathing calmed as the creamy milk chocolate slid down my throat. Then another. Yum! And a third. A fourth. Before I knew it, half the heart was gone.


And my gut was killing me.

But did I stop there? Oh no. The next day I did the same thing. During recess. At lunch. And after school. Until all I had was an empty wrapper.


And more joint pain. Lethargy. Stomach aches.  Depression.

Friday I decided to go cold turkey again, and have avoided sugar for two days now. Feeling better, I’ll try to say no, but when it’s right in front of you and work is stressing you out, man oh man, is it hard.

But my health is worth it.


Why Do You Write?

Why do you write? Is it because you have stories struggling to the surface of your churning consciousness? Is it that you have memories you’d like to purge? Or is it that you believe, like I do, that art can be a tremendous force for good in the world?

We see so many horrors every day. The murders and cruelty. The bullying. The disdain for those who are different from ourselves leading to divisiveness. Sometimes the news of the world can be overwhelming. I, for one, need to combat these sad aspects of the human experience with joyful expression.

So I write.

Every day I go to a place in my mind and pretend to be a child of eleven, or thirteen, or seventeen. And I try to remember what I was dealing with at that time. What did I want? Which dreams excited my growing psyche? What confused me and made me wish there were mentors guiding my decisions.

Then I become that child and set off on an adventure, hoping to empower my readers. Trying to send a message that each one is absolutely unique with talents they will continually discover. Like I do as my fingers dance over the keys.

That’s why I write.

How about you?


Closing the Core Wound

What is your wound? Do you have a phrase that plays in your head that blocks success and joy?  Do doubts plague your days keeping you forever wondering if life will ever get easy? I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by life  when I recently attended a workshop titled, “Core Wound Healing” at the Conscious Life Expo in Los Angeles that challenged the attendees to answer just these questions.

What lead me to this course? Well, like most people, I’ve got a lot on my plate. I’m a full time teacher, novelist, blogger, mother, and gym rat who loves every role I fill. Still I often feel like no matter how many novels I write, miles I run, love I send, or papers I grade, it’s never enough. And recently my school had instituted new programs that I had never heard of, much less used before, that I was expected to implement.


So saying that I was feeling overwhelmed would be an understatement. And the real disappointment was that I’d come to view all these former joy-producing parts of my life as chores on an endless check-off list. I had begun hating my life and every aspect of it

Honesty, I walked into  Mark and Shannon Grainger’s workshop full of doubt. I mean, seriously, how is some married couple supposed to help me with a life that was spinning out of control? They couldn’t whisk away that pile of papers waiting to be graded or finish Artania 4 with a magic wand. Still I was impressed by their resume as  inspirational speakers that help their clients overcome negative core beliefs, so decided to give it a try.

After introductions, the first thing Mark and Shannon did was to pass out a handout titled “The 5 Basic Core Wounds.” Shannon then explained that she believes everyone has at least one of these core wounds that manifest as a negative mantra in our minds. These include,”I am imperfect, I have no value, I don’t deserve love, I’m not seen, and I’m not enough.”

I quickly realized what mine was. My whole life I’ve felt like now matter how hard I try, I’m never enough. I remembered being in second grade and having to stay after school for daydreaming, how Mom asked me why I couldn’t be like other kids. I’d felt such shame  knowing I could never measure up to the ones who found it easy to focus in class. The ones who weren’t staring out the window turning clouds into creatures. But I tried. Scrunching my face up in concentration as I practiced row after row of addition facts. Still I kept daydreaming and never got the grades I wanted although I tried really hard to be like other kids. As I grew I got better at waiting to see those creations in the clouds and even got into college, graduated, got married, had two wonderful kids. Still, I found that no matter how many times I volunteered for my kids’ schools, how fast I ran on the treadmill or how many words I typed on the keyboard, it never seemed like enough. In fact, the more I did, the harder I was on myself.

“Now I want you to write about a time your core wound impacted your life,” Mark instructed and our pens scratched furiously over paper.

It was about then I began to feel a little better.

Over the next hour we engaged in meditations, journaling, and group sharing to turn our thinking around. During meditation I forced myself to stay awake and focus on what I wanted. I would  bring back the fun I used to find in my work. As the minutes passed, I found myself envisioning more and more joy. I imagined joking with my students, hugging my beautiful kids, and going to wondrous places in my mind that filled page after page. Toward the end we were asked to create “I am” statements.

I am enough.  I thought, remembering.

I’d forgotten for a while that life is a journey, not a destination and that each step on the path has its own unique joy.

After the class I sat in a cafe and switched on my computer as the screen lit up with the crazy cloud creatures of my imagination. And smiled.

I am a writer and a mom and a teacher and a friend and a dancer and a freaking gym rat.

And I am ever so thankful.

Super Mario Brother Dances to Artania

Does reading excite you? Does it make you want to recreate scenes of flying, dueling or trekking? Do you sometimes find yourself acting out the adventures in your living room? We often find inspiration to create in new ways when we read. With animated results.

super mar

I’m the kind of person who puts myself in the stories I read. In my mind, I’m flying with Harry Potter on a Nimbus 2000, helping  Dalgleish solve the murder, or learning to grok from Valentine Michael Smith. And I’ll admit, there are times I’ve been so excited by a book that I recited some of the dialogue or acted out the scenes at home. My neighbors might giggle at my silly antics, but that expression is invigorating, giving rise to all kinds of ideas that I use in my novels.

So the next time you find yourself reading a passage that sparks your creativity, go ahead. Paint. Leap. Sculpt. Act. Sing. Play. Or dance.

Who knows you might just surprise yourself. Like this guy.

Super Mario Dances


Book Review: Martin’s Big Words — Teach Peace Now’s Post

~ The Power of Words ~ It is impossible to listen to the news and not be struck by the way words are being used to cover up hateful actions and outright lies by our leaders and politicians. Words are powerful as Martin Luther King knew. The 2002 Caldecott Honor children’s picture book Martin’s Big…

via Book Review: Martin’s Big Words — Teach Peace Now

A Child’s Compassion

I’d been doing class meetings for several years and was pretty proud of the results. Bullying was down and my fifth graders were using assertive language. Still nothing could prepare me for the class meeting I had one day.

Now I work in a community with gangs, poverty, and drug abuse. And like many teachers I don’t want to know every sad story. Some are so heartbreaking it makes it hard to teach. But this one year I had students facing extreme challenges that were effecting everyone. One little girl had gone from Student of the Month to a gossipy taunting bully. Another joined in on the bullying while her  grades kept dropping until she was two years below where she’d been before.

I wondered why?

The school counselor and their parents soon answered these questions. The girl who had become a bully had recently walked in to find a family member hanging from the ceiling, the victim of suicide. That compounded with a single parent household and other relatives in gangs made her so angry she lashed out at whoever was nearby.

The second girl had a father who’d been arrested for gang activity in a loud raid on her home. His arrest was in the papers and she was so ashamed that she could barely focus in school. She often started to cry in the middle of class and asked to be excused. I tried my best to comfort her or distract her with a joke or interesting work.But when a child is missing her Daddy there is little a teacher can do.

Neither of these girls shared their pain with their classmates. Both were too ashamed.

One day the tension felt high so I called a class meeting. I cautioned the kids about the rules saying that this was private, not something to gossip about. We could share with our parents but not on the playground. Then like I often do, I started it off with acknowledging how proud I was to be their teacher, how honored I was to be part of their lives, and how much they meant to me.

I smiled at the girl whose father had been arrested and passed her the talking stick. She whispered in my ear, “I want to share about my dad. What do you think?” I told her it was up to her.

She turned the talking stick over in her hands as she spoke. “I know  I’ve been fighting with some of you guys. I’m sorry. But it’s because I’ve had hard stuff to deal with. My dad got arrested and I don’t know when he’s coming home.”

We all chanted, “Thank you for sharing as she started to cry in the arms of the child next to her.

I acknowledged her for being so brave before the girl who found the deceased family member had a turn. She looked at her sobbing friend with wide eyes and shared. “I haven’t been acting great. But it’s because I had a loss of my cousin.”

What happened next gave me chills. Three more children shared how a parent was in jail and how that loss haunted them. Other children tearfully shared their parents’ divorce and how lonely they felt. But as we went around the circle so many of these ten year-olds told their grieving classmates how sorry they were. Time and again I heard, “I’m sorry for your loss and I’m here for you.”

We passed the talking stick around multiple times that day and each time we did a new child revealed loss or pain. Each time we did his/her classmates spoke up in loving support.

And when we were finally done I held the talking stick and said, “We’ve discovered  something very special today. That we all have sad things to deal with. Things that are out of our control. But we also have this amazing communityto support and help us. I am so proud of how brave and kind all of many of you were. When you’re sad, remember this support and let it hold you up.”