CWILL BC stands in solidarity

CWILL BC denounces the acts of injustice, violence, and racism that have been committed against persons of colour, especially Black and Indigenous peoples of Canada. We stand in solidarity with them, and endorse the statements issued by The Writers’ Union of Canada, CANSCAIP, the Association of Canadian Publishers, the Canadian Authors Association and other organizations who have vocalized support, protested, and taken action to bring an end to prevalent and systematic racism.

As writers and illustrators who often work directly with children in schools and libraries, we realize the power that our work holds. Children’s books can offer hope to the youngest members of society, and can positively promote and effect change. Our members strive to provide diverse and fair representation in our work; this has always been a priority for us, and we will continue to make it so. Finally, we encourage, support, and celebrate the creators and stories that reflect diversity in our communities.

Posted in CWILL BC news & events | 1 Comment

Danielle R. Graham’s debut historical novel All We Left Behind

Human beings throughout history have always turned to art, music, philosophy and literature to understand and record our world. Art is how we process and document the human experience. And the arts are a source of hope during times of transition and uncertainty, like what we are experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, many artists and authors have had projects and appearances cancelled due to venue closures and restrictions on travelling and social gatherings, right at a time when people may need the arts the most.

Of course, creative people do quickly find other ways to share their content with live-streamed, one-person concerts from their home, drive-by window art galleries, and online story times, but the shift away from in-person events has been a challenge for artists who rely on audiences, visitors or readers.

If you have a favourite author, musician or artist you would like to champion, or if you are a patron of the arts, there are still many ways to support the arts during physical distancing.

  • Tell two people about a movie or song or book you liked, and hopefully they will tell two people so word can spread from there. Or “like” and share the artist’s social media posts to increase visibility.
  • Write reviews on book retailer sites and Goodreads.
  • Leave comments on a musician’s performance page.
  • Buy a work of art directly from an artist or commission a painting or sculpture to be delivered to you.
  • Order music and merchandise like t-shirts or posters from your favourite band or musician.
  • Start a virtual book club. Book clubs are moving to video conferencing social apps and most books are available to purchase from retailers or to borrow from the library as a digital eBook. You don’t even need an e-reader. Any computer or tablet can read eBooks with apps from iBooks, KOBO, Nook, and Amazon Kindle. Many book retailers and indie shops are also offering delivery or curbside pickup for paperback orders too.
  • Sign up for a virtual guitar lesson or art class.
  • Request that your public library purchase your favourite books for their digital catalogue — many people are surprised to learn that the Canada Council for the Arts pays public lending rights to Canadian authors for every copy of their books found in libraries across Canada — so ordering and borrowing an e-Book from your public library is another way to support authors.
  • If you are a teacher, introduce students to the work of artists and musicians online and ask them to write comments, invite them as a paid speaker to your virtual classroom, or assign a book you think is important to the reading list.

I’m sure there are more ideas to add to the list, but it’s a start.

The release date of my debut historical novel, All We Left Behind, is May 5th.
The timing of the release landing during a pandemic is both unfortunate and serendipitous at the same time.

For me, art, literature, philosophy and history have always been so important and intertwining. My two personal creative inspirations for my novel are my grandfather William Aldcorn, who was a Canadian spitfire pilot shot down during the war, and my nephews’ ninety-eight year old great-grandfather Ted Tadayuki Kadohama, who was born in Ladner BC and interned during the war.

More than 22,000 Japanese Canadians from British Columbia were treated as enemy aliens — forced by government orders to evacuate the coast and to surrender their properties and belongings. Most were sent to internment camps, highway work camps or to work as farm hands out of province. After the war ended, these Canadians — who had committed no crime — were still prevented by the government from returning home for another four years. Many never returned.

For many young people today, WWII probably seems like something that happened such a long time ago, in places they have never been to, and to people they didn’t know. The truth is, the tragic events surrounding WWII happened to people I knew, and they happened right outside our own front doors.

More than one million Canadians served in WWII, more than 40,000 were killed, and 9,000 were captured and taken prisoner of war. Food was rationed, factories were shut down or repurposed to make supplies for the war effort, nighttime quarantines and blackouts were in effect, lives at home were put on hold and lives sent overseas were lost.

Maybe another war like WWII would never happen again, but tragedies that strike and impact the entire world can and do happen — we are living through an example of that right now with the pandemic.

Not unlike the pandemic that has swept the world, World War II brought fear and disruption. But when the world is full of uncertainty, we can choose to react to that with fear or hope — just as the main characters in the book had to do. One of the quotes in the book is by the philosopher Albert Camus, which is particularly poignant today.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

— Albert Camus

With the world slowing down and taking a breather for this pandemic, the hectic component of our lives is removed and many of us find that we are inevitably drawn back to art, music, philosophy and literature. Maybe the experience of self-isolating is a reminder to return to a greater appreciation of what is truly important, to reconnect with our compassion, to re-harmonize through the rhythm of quiet creativity, to heal ourselves and the planet, and to ultimately make the world a better place.

To everyone who opens up the vulnerable part of their soul to create the art, to everyone who hears, sees, feels and becomes transformed by the art, and to everyone who deeply understands the human value of supporting the art, I thank you.

Please take care and be kind to one another. And maybe create some art to brighten someone’s day.

Danielle R. Graham is a family therapist and author from Steveston B.C.


Readers adore All We Left Behind

“As heartwarming as it is heartbreaking.”
Mark Sakamoto, author of Forgiveness, winner of CBC Canada Reads

“Heart-wrenching. Emotional. A powerful story of wartime love and devotion.”
Glynis Peters, author of The Secret Orphan

“A story crying out to be told”
Mary Martel, Netgalley

“From the very first chapter, I was hooked”
Whitney Wenthold, Netgalley

“This is another WWII novel with a bit of a twist… a story of friendship, love, heartbreak and so much more”
Pam, Netgalley

“Fabulous, gripping historical fiction…I am glad that I was able to come away from this novel learning something new about this time in history”
Rachel Fox, Netgalley

Gripping from start to finish…A must read for WWII fiction fans!”
Sydney Long, Goodreads

“An amazing story that will stick with me…historic fiction done right”
Stephanie Showmaker, Netgalley

“Historical fiction at its best”
Abby Siverman, Netgalley

Posted in books/writing, CWILL BC news & events, latest news, new publications, novels | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

New release: The Guardians of Zoone by Lee Edward Fodi

Congratulations to Lee Edward Fodi on the release of The Guardians of Zoone (HarperCollinsPublishers, 2020), sequel to The Secret of Zoone:

“Worlds of adventure await in this action-packed sequel to The Secret of Zoone, where it’s up to Ozzie Sparks, a blue skyger, a purple-haired princess, and one very overprepared aunt to save the multiverse from an evil robot overlord.

Ozzie Sparks’s life went from normal to out of this world—literally—when he traveled to the station of Zoone, saved the multiverse, and somehow managed to find his way home to his Aunt Temperance. He’d like nothing more than to go back right away, but the portal is stubbornly closed.

Until Zoone comes to him. But his friends Fidget and Tug aren’t dropping in for a friendly visit. An evil overlord and his army of automatons have taken over Zoone, and it’s up to Ozzie, Fidget, Tug, and Ozzie’s usually very normal aunt to defeat them and save the station (again).

Fans of adventures like The Unwanteds and The Glass Sentence will be swept away by the second book in Lee Edward Födi’s fantastically fun multiversal series.



Posted in CWILL BC news & events, juvenile fiction, latest news, new publications | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Join the launch of the Jigsaw Puzzle King

Gina McMurchy-Barber is launching her latest book, The Jigsaw Puzzle King!
January 19 @ 2:30 pm
Guildford Library
10105 – 105 Ave, Surrey
Everyone welcome! The library is easy to get to from Hwy 1,
or Skytrain to Surrey and bus along 104 Ave.

About the book, from the publisher, Dundurn Press:

Being yourself isn’t always easy.

When you’re new in school, all you want is to fit in. When eleven-year-old Warren and his family move to a new city, his twin brother, who has Down syndrome, attracts too much attention for Warren’s liking. Bennie’s different and doesn’t care about it. But while Bennie may be oblivious to those who are curious or uneasy with him, Warren notices every smirk, comment, and sideways glance.

Warren is weary of flip-flopping between trying to be just like everyone else and being the protective brother of a boy with special needs. Sometimes he thinks his life would be easier if he had no brother. But what he really needs is to stop worrying about what other people think.

Posted in activities for kids, book launches, CWILL BC news & events, latest news, libraries & librarians | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Writing & Illustrating Kids Books: The Inside Story


Interested in writing or illustrating books for young readers?

Join six professional children’s authors and illustrators at this FREE event at the Vancouver Public Library to find out how they broke into this exciting and competitive field and built their careers.

This is your opportunity to questions and get practical information on topics such as how to improve your writing, how to find a publisher and submit your work, what agents do, what to look for in a book contract, and what the financial rewards are.

The featured speakers include authors and illustrators of picture books, middle grade books, and YA novels:

~ Ellen Schwarz
~ Pam Withers
~ Glen Huser
~ K.A. Wiggens
~ Carol Watterson
~ Cynthia Nugent

Meet the creators in person at 6:30 PM and get a book signed!

The event is at the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, 350 West Georgia St. Montalbano Family Theatre, Level 8.

Posted in books/writing, CWILL BC news & events, Get Started/Kid's Books panel, getting published, latest news, libraries & librarians, literacy, literary events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make a simple book trailer


Written by Pam Withers
Author of 19 young-adult adventure novels,

We all know that book trailers are the latest thing. They boost book sales, impress publishers (as long as they look professional) and connect with audiences (especially young audiences). But if you don’t make them yourself, it’s pretty hard to justify the cost of $200 and up. And even if you want to subcontract the work to a professional, the more you prepare, the less it will cost you.

If you’d like to create a simple one for close-to-free, but you have no experience with manipulating photos, presentations, sound or video, you CAN. Just follow this step-by-step guide.

All you need is a book summary (the paragraph that appears on the back cover of your book) and a laptop. Ready?

  1. Create a Word file, and label it “[booktitle]trailer.” If you don’t know how to do this, check out
  2. Create a photo file, and label it “[booktitle]trailerphotos.” (Ditto for instructions.)
  1. Lift or type your back-cover paragraph into your Word file, then edit it until it’s a teaser (enticing readers to want to read it) rather than a summary, and under 100 words.

Decide if you want to kick off with a catchy phrase regarding the topic or essence of the story, or just, “Author So-and-So presents…” I opted for the former on my Drone Chase trailer (“Teens with drones vs. poachers in the woods”), the latter on my Stowaway trailer (Pam Withers and Dundurn Press present…”). Short, choppy sentences work well.



My Stowaway trailer is here:

At the time of posting this article (Nov. 2019), my Drone Chase trailer is not yet publicly posted. If it’s still not posted when you read this (you’ll know if you google “YouTube” and “Pam Withers” and “Drone Chase”), all you have to do is email me at: withers (at) to request access to it“Drone trailer please” — and I will send it to you within 24 hours. That way, you can follow both of my examples while reading the instructions.



Stowaway back-cover copy:

Owen’s plan to sail away on an adventure puts him on a collision course with some very dangerous people.

When Owen’s parents leave him on his own for a week, the sixteen-year-old gets bored and hatches a crazy idea: sneak onto the yacht that’s visiting the sleepy Pacific Coast island where he lives and stow away on an adventure! Once on board the vessel, Owen quickly finds out this is anything but innocent fun. The ship is packed with teenagers from Central America, and it looks like Owen has stumbled into a people-smuggling operation.

Complications pile up and as things head from bad to worse, a haunting incident from Owen’s past tightens its grip on him. There’s only one way to break free and make his way home. Owen and the first mate, Arturo ― a former street kid ― must work together to commandeer the boat and win the trust of those on board. But who’s friend and who’s foe in the shifting tides? [165 words]

Edited for trailer:

16-year-old Owen is on his own when a mysterious yacht appears in the bay. He sneaks aboard looking for adventure. What he finds is a people smuggling operation. To make matters worse, pirates terrorize the ship, storms rock the seas and Owen is haunted by an incident from his past. Owen and the first mate, Arturo, must work together to commandeer the boat, escape the evil captain and free everyone aboard. Find out who prevails. [75 words]



Drone Chase back-cover copy:

When his orphan bear cub goes missing, 16-year-old drone enthusiast Ray McLellan decides to use his airborne spying skills to find it. Little does he know that the evil bear-poaching gang operating in the surrounding forest has drones too—and a cold welcome for those who would attempt to take them down. [52 words]

Edited for trailer:

Teens with drones vs. poachers in the woods. A new adventure novel by Pam Withers. Ray has just moved to a small town. He lacks his schoolmates’ outdoor skills and their respect. When an orphan bear cub goes missing, he decides to use his drones to find it despite poachers in the forest. But they have drones too – and no time for nosy teens. Can Ray use his drone-smarts to find his cub, expose what’s going on and prove himself? The Drone Chase by Pam Withers. [86 words]


  1. Now divide the teaser paragraph into “stanzas,” or short lines like it’s a poem. These will be your “frames” (typically one photo or video per frame) and the rule is no more than 10 frames — plus two frames for the opening (first) and credits (last). Also, no more than 10 words per frame. It’s called the 10X10 rule! Way fewer than 10 words per frame is best. Why? Ever watched a foreign movie with English subtitles and gotten annoyed because you couldn’t finish reading the subtitles before the screen flashed on to the next one? Also, it’s generally agreed that today’s viewers have no patience for trailers more than 90 seconds long (30 to 60 is even better). You’re right, one of my frames below contains 11 words, but hey, I figure the world’s not going to end for that misdemeanor.



15 stanzas including opening and closing lines (I did this one before I read about the 10X10 rule.)


Stowaway by Pam Withers [4 words]

Pam Withers and Dundurn Press present [6 words]

16-year-old Owen is on his own [8 words]

when a mysterious yacht appears in the bay. [8 words]

He sneaks aboard looking for adventure. [6 words]

What he finds is a people smuggling operation. [8 words]

To make matters worse, pirates terrorize the ship, [8 words]

storms rock the seas [4 words]

and Owen is haunted by an incident from his past. [10 words]

Owen and the first mate, Arturo, must work together [9 words]

to commandeer the boat, [4 words]

escape the evil captain [4 words]

and free everyone aboard. [4 words]

Find out who prevails. [4 words]

Stowaway by Pam Withers / nominated for a Red Maple award / Now available at Indigo and Amazon



10 stanzas plus opening and finishing lines = 12


Teens with drones vs. poachers in the woods. [8 words]

A new adventure novel by Pam Withers. [7 words]

Ray has just moved to a small town. [8 words]

He lacks his schoolmates’ outdoor skills [6 words]

and their respect. [3 words]

When an orphan bear cub goes missing [7 words]

he decides to use his drones to find it [9 words]

despite poachers in the forest. [5 words]

But they have drones too – and no time for nosy teens. [11 words]

Can Ray use his drone-smarts to find his cub, [10 words]

expose what’s going on and prove himself? [7 words]

Drone Chase by Pam Withers [6 words] [Don’t forget to include your website and credit your publisher somewhere, too!]


  1. Voila! You’re well on your way. Now, label each of those stanzas by letters of the alphabet. So per Example 2, mine are a) teens with drones…, b) a new adventure…, c) etc., d, e, f, g, h, I, j, k, l, m. That’s so you can label potential photos for those lines accordingly, in a moment.


  1. Now, open up (It’s a Google site, so you don’t need to create an account if you already have a Google account.) This is your easy-as-pie template. There are other templates for book trailers out there, and I’ve tried some, but I have found this to be the easiest. Go to “start from scratch,” and pull down the word “video.” It takes a while for the site to process it; be patient. Next it asks you to name your file. So, type in something like “[Booktitle].” Then it asks you to pick a template. If one of its template offerings really turns you on, click on it. Otherwise, I suggest “Hero’s Journey.” It doesn’t really matter what you pick because you’re mostly going to ignore its suggestions and build your own from here on.


  1. You now have a string of frames in front of you, and some of them have suggestions like “call to adventure,” “challenge,” “climax” and so on. Ignore these, and just make sure you have the exact number of frames as you have stanzas, plus two for the opening and the final credits. You can add more by pushing the plus sign in front of the first frame on the lower string of frames. You can delete by right-clicking on any of the lower string of frames.


  1. Okay, on frame No. 1 (the large one above the lower string of frames), push the plus sign in the middle of the frame, and it will ask you to click on text, photo, video or icon. Click on text. It will give you a space to insert your text, and of course you are going to copy and paste in your first stanza there. In my first example, that’s “Stowaway by Pam Withers.” In my second example, it’s “Teens with drones vs. poachers in the woods.” You have only two choices for text size, so once the phrase is copied in, you can use either the plus or minus signs to change the text size. (You don’t need to save each frame as you go. The three dots in a circle on the upper righthand corner of each frame do that for you. Also, it is being autosaved.)


  1. Now carry on and insert text into ALL the other frames, till all your stanzas are cut and pasted in, and you have roughly 10 frames and no more than 10 words per frame. Plus two frames for the opening and the final credits, perhaps. Again, to delete a frame, right-click on where it’s represented in the bottom lineup of frames, and it gives you the option of delete (and asks you again to make sure). To add, again, press the plus sign in front of the bottom lineup of frames.


  1. Hey, now you’ve got your text input, and the really fun part begins! Go back to your list of stanzas in the Word file, and start brainstorming how you want to illustrate those lines. See my example notes below, while referring back to my actual trailers; jot down your own thoughts about how to illustrate your “stanzas.”



Brainstorming photo ideas

Stowaway by Pam Withers [book cover]

Pam Withers and Dundurn Press present [just the words]

16-year-old Owen is on his own [yacht in a spooky or intriguing setting]

When a mysterious yacht appears in the bay [same one?]

He sneaks aboard looking for adventure [yacht leaving bay]

What he finds is a people smuggling operation [jungle-like setting? Hispanic-looking illegal immigrants?]

To make matters worse, pirates terrorize the ship [pirate flag]

Storms rock the seas [stormy sea]

And Owen is haunted by an incident from his past [underwater shot]

Owen and the first mate, Arturo, must work together [silhouette of a teen that’s ominous]

To commandeer the boat [ship’s wheel]

Escape the evil captain [same one]

And free everyone aboard [illegal immigrant rescue operation]

Find out who prevails [book cover]

Stowaway by Pam Withers / nominated for a Red Maple award / Now available at Indigo and Amazon



Brainstorming photo ideas

Teens with drones vs. poachers in the woods. [Definitely a video of a teen operating a simple drone. This being a high-action novel, I need some actual action, even though moving video shots ($10 to $75 minimum) cost more than a “still” stock photo (not difficult to find for free). The teen in the story is 16 and Caucasian, so that will exclude some shots I will find. It would be okay to have just a hand operating a drone, but I think it would be more effective to have a teen in the foreground, perhaps turned away so we can’t see his face, because too many shots showing his face will have viewers thinking, “That’s not the same person as the one in the other frame.” Or “That guy is more than 16.” Also, you have to be a little careful of the surrounding scene, as my story is set in northern British Columbia, where there are no palm trees or mosques or skyscrapers, as some photos will depict.

A new adventure novel by Pam Withers. [just something that says “outdoorsy.”]

Ray has just moved to a small town. [teen who looks a little unhappy or like a loner]

He lacks his schoolmates’ outdoor skills [camping scene?]

and their respect [photo that implies he’s feeling shunned, and preferably in outdoorsy setting]

When an orphan bear cub goes missing [cute photo of bear cub, preferably a grizzly]

he decides to use his drones to find it [drone stock photo can be a still photo, not video]

despite poachers in the forest. [ideally, a few shadowy-looking men in the woods, not identifiable. And the woods need to have the kind of trees in northern BC if I’m being authentic]

But they have drones too – and no time for nosy teens. [a drone that looks kind of intimidating]

Can Ray use his drone-smarts to find his cub, [drone shot]

expose what’s going on and prove himself? [grizzly cub in cage looking sad, or empty cage the size of a small bear, or a closeup of a lock on a cage]

The Drone Chase by Pam Withers [This is where my actual book cover will go, once it’s designed and released to me. I’m working ahead 😊, which is why it is not yet posted at the time I’ve posted this article.]


  1. Now, remember that photo file you set up, “[booktitle]trailerphotos”? Get that up on your screen but minimize it for the moment. And go to, which is where you can find FREE stock photos. Not moving videos (which we’ll come back to), but “still” shots. There are lots of sites that advertise free stock photos, but many of these sites are a mix of free and not-free, some require you to pay a monthly or annual fee, and some have so few photos that you’ll have a hard time finding what you want. Further, some have better search engines than others, so typing in “blond couple” might bring you just blonds, or just couples, while other sites will actually deliver you only blond-couple photos. When I asked for “parkour” shots from one, it gave me skateboard and gymnast shots only. So, I like it when I can shorten my search by sticking with a site that has put more effort into how it searches for your request.

When I can’t find what I want at unsplash, the others I try (knowing I’ll probably need to pay upwards of $10 per shot, and/or sign up for a membership), include (in order of my preference):,, GettyImages, Shutterstock, adobestock, istock, fotosearch, pexels, rawpixel, reshot. If none of those produce what I want, I’m being too picky, but there also exist these sites: megapixl, 123rf, gratisography, pixabay, stockvault, picjumbo, picwizard, morguefile. If you’re going to do a LOT of work involving stock photos, for instance buying more than 10 $40-shots per year from one particular place, you can get a special deal from the salespeople sometimes, for instance at alamy ($400/year minimum).

Now, if you’re going for moving shots, as in stock video, as I did for my Stowaway trailer, again there are lots of companies, but I think by far the best is envato (which costs about $21 per month, and you can cancel your membership at any time), also called videohive. Some of the stock photo companies listed above also do video, like Pixabay and Pexels. And there are Videvo, Videezy, Life of Vids, Distill, Splitshire, Clipstill, Stock Footage 4 Free, Vidsplay and Artgrid. But seriously, envato/videohive is sooo good. Just watch the price; some are hundreds of dollars. They list different prices for different uses. You pay the “website” fee. Having paid for videos on all my Stowaway trailer frames, I spent around $175. On Drone Chase, I used only one video shot, and still-shots for all other frames. The video cost me $30, and all but one still-shot were free.

Whether using video or stock photos, if you’ve chosen one that costs money, don’t pay for it yet! Instead, download the “preview,” which will have a “watermark” or some such on it to prevent you from actually using it before you replace it with the paid version. (If you’re looking at my Drone Chase trailer before it’s posted, you’ll see two with watermarks.)

At this point I will insert feedback from a friend who made a trailer following my directions: “I decided I’d like a video for my opening, bought one and then found that the adobe site couldn’t use it, as it was a slightly bigger file than they allowed. Luckily it wasn’t expensive. Probably someone with more savvy than me could alter it to make it usable, but I couldn’t.” To that I want to add, yes, the same happened to me. I uploaded it onto my YouTube site, which automatically converted it to an M4 format that my site could allow, but to be honest, I then hired someone* at $50 an hour to make sure it got downloaded and inserted properly. I could have just opted for a different video, but I really liked this one and was annoyed since I had already paid for it.


  1. Okay, now let’s go find photos! It’s so fun shopping around, you can spend days at it. Or you can keep reminding yourself not to be too picky, and find them all in an hour! In any case, whenever you find a photo that might work for one of your stanzas, you click on it, then click on “download free,” and file it (left click) in your “[booktitle]photos” file.


(My friend’s feedback: “In the end, I didn’t use a photo file at all. Just downloaded the photos from Unsplash and used the Upload Photos button to get them in place from my downloads.”)


But here’s the BIG time-saver I’ve learned. When you’re poised to file it with the exact name that unsplash has given it (for instance, brandon-morgan-3qucB7U2l7I-unsplash), PRECEDE that name with the letter of the stanza it’s targeted to illustrate (a,b,c, etc.) and then ADD the photographer’s name (if it’s not already in the line) AND the stock photography company (if it’s not in the line) AND the price (if there’s a price), AND finally, something to remind you what the photo is of (“lightning on highway”). Of course, if it’s labelled unsplash, you know it’s free. (I love unsplash.)

So, for example, you might file something as


and another as


The latter is interpreted as stanza b, Alamy’s reference number of DET3N1, and the photographer’s name (whom you’ll include on your credits page at the end), Givaga. When it comes to making a final selection for that frame, you will know at a glance if it costs money and how much. Again, if it’s a photo that costs money, there will be a brand watermark on it until you go back and pay for what you want, and redownload it. But in the meantime, you’ll get a good look at how it might work in your trailer. (Again, if it’s unsplash, you have none of those worries.)

Why all this complicated file naming? Because it means you won’t “lose track” of where you got a photo. You’ll know when it comes time to finalize a deal (by copying and pasting the core part of the file name into google – in the Alamy photo example above, “DET3N1 Alamy”), which company you got it from, whether you need to redownload after paying, and which photographer to credit. I learned all this the hard way. So, you’re welcome!

Finally, when you find several photos for a stanza line that you can’t decide between, that’s fine! Just mark them all with the stanza’s letter at the front, and in your file of photos, they’ll line up exactly in line: one a, three b options, two c options, etc. And if you end up not using one of the c options for c, but find it would work nicely for stanza f, then just rename it with the f in front and it will line up for you again! (How swift is that?!)

My friend’s input: “I understood your instructions about adding the letter of the frame you were working with, etc., to make choosing the right photo easier, but I ended up using my phone to take a picture of each one as I downloaded it, then just scrolled through my phone to choose and each had the photographer’s name on it, so they were easy to find.” Yes, but not all photo services have the name of the photographer on the file, so check first.


  1. Okay, back to Yes, you guessed it, when you get your lineup of frames with text in them already, one by one you’re going to click on the plus sign in the center of the big frame, then hit “photo” this time (unless you’re downloading a video), then hit “upload photo,” then hit the appropriate photo in your photo file. And hey – you now have a frame with both text and photo!

Maybe you can’t decide between two “b” options, so you hit the plus sign on the lower strip of frames below, then copy and paste stanza “b” into this new empty frame, and upload the other “b” option. There they stand, two frames with the same text but different photos. Leave them in till you decide which to delete. Ask others’ opinions. Weigh the cost. Oh, by the way, once in a while spark.adobe will tell you that a photo you’re trying to upload doesn’t work. Wrong format or size or whatever. Well, there are lots of other options out there, and you know how to go and get them. This same thing happens with attempted video uploads too (even more often), so don’t take it personally. Just go find another. Or, like I said, hire a pro* or try uploading it to your YouTube account instead.

My friend’s feedback regarding the final frame: “I had trouble with the credits page. I didn’t need both text boxes, but either one or the other kept reappearing, even if I changed the one my info was in. So, in the end, I hid it.”


  1. Music: The site lets you listen to and then choose one of several music-background options, or download your own. I tried downloading some I’d purchased from a different site, only to learn it was too large a file to upload. I chose other music. (Luckily, I had not wasted much money, and will have a pro* help me adapt it for a future trailer.)


My friend’s feedback: “I had to go in to Safari because I couldn’t download the music. Had to change the playback permission setting.” On one of my trailers, I used (click on “popular files”). Like with photos that cost money, you can download a preview version before paying for it. Instead of a “watermark,” it has an annoying voice that coos “audiojungle” every few seconds to ensure you don’t actually post it before paying for an uninterrupted version. For free music, read this:



  1. At any point during your creative process here, you can look at the top bar and opt to “Preview” (see what it looks like so far), “share” (get a friend’s opinion by typing in her email address under “invite”), or “download” (save).


  1. When you’re all finished, you’ll want to upload it to your social media, and/or establish your own youtube page. Sorry, I’m no expert on those processes. But maybe you’ll hire a pro*, ask a friend, or do it easily after reading something like this:


  1. Finally, if you’re happy with what you’ve put together, but want a professional* to “finish it off,” or add more bells and whistles, guess what? You’ve saved yourself scads of money because he or she can take and run with something that you’ve already put the majority of the work into. (Nor do they need to charge you for the time it takes them to read your book. After all, who knows the plot and characters better than you?) Personally, I did that with my Stowaway trailer, and have someone to recommend:


*Craig McNicoll at:

I chose the videos and wrote the text and he took it from there, adding one video and trimming the text a little, while also advising me on social media strategies in general.


Photo at top by Avel Chuklanov, unsplash

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