Usefulness of video for social media in my work context #ADL310


Until I am at the point in my writing career where people are looking to me for guidance on writing and publishing, there won’t be much point in me putting up videos. Established, mega-successful writers like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling have millions of us wannabe writers poised to gobble up any crumb of advice they offer.

And that’s the thing about videos. They are a marvelous way of gathering knowledge. I sat in the lecture hall at The University of Massachusetts Lowell as Stephen King cussed and shared pearls of wisdom, then I listened in on a Master Class where Judy Reeves encouraged me to “just write.” All from the comfort of my living room.

And there is a plethora of other videos at my fingertips, most of which have something of interest or substance that I can take away and apply to my writing practice. Videos directed at writers are very useful, but watching them means I am not writing. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that in order to be a better writer, I have to write.


Julie S-A


SM&M Classmates’ Marvelous Module 5 Video Podcasts #ADL310



I’ve only been able to locate video podcasts on PodOmatic for five of my Social Media & More colleagues, but they’re good ones!

I am so impressed with each one of these videos, particularly since we’re all learning this new (and often obstinate) technology together – but alone.


– Julie S-A



Plenty of Pleasure with Plotagon! #ADL310


My first video for Module 5 of Social Media & More was a little short, so I thought I’d try another program and do another video.

One of the programs recommended was, but I found it to be frustrating to use, and the Help was not helpful.

Then I tried and it was fantastically fun and easy to use. Right away, I chose a scene and character and then launched into actions, sounds and my own dialogue! Granted, the speaking is rather stilted, but I was immediately gratified to watch my character moving about and saying my lines.

ImageUnfortunately, Plotagon productions can’t be uploaded to PodOmatic, (“PainOmatic,” right, Michele?), but I was able to share it on Twitter and I hope that will be acceptable.

You can find my wee movie at

Enjoy! (insert evil laugh here)

– Julie S-A



Sparkol VideoScribe – Oh What Fun It Is to Scribe! #ADL310


ImageThis week’s module in Social Media & More is Broadcast Yourself: Going Visual with Videos. I decided to try my hand at Sparkol VideoScribe. It is one of the programs recommended by our SM&M instructors, and it offers a free 7-day trial.

After an easy installation to my laptop, I watched several excellent step-by-step tutorials on and on YouTube, and did a few trial scribes before creating the masterpiece I eventually put up on PodOmatic. It was great fun to simply type in text, and then watch the magic of the hand printing my words. (I’ve always enjoyed videos of this sort, and wondered how they were created.)

VideoScribe offers a large onsite library of cartoon images (including this purple chicken chicken picture cropped I can’t get enough of) and soundtracks that are easily added to a project. The music is not tinny and electronic, as might be expected. The track I chose, “Ghostly,” sounds like real piano and gives my scribe just the sort of mood I was looking for.

I highly recommend Sparkol VideoScribe. It is user-friendly and a lot of fun. You can find my scribe, titled “The Blank Page,” at  .

Just look for the purple chicken.

chicken picture cropped

Julie S-A

Creative Writing Clip – Fun over Function #ADL310



Creative Writing  is an example of a video that is not particularly useful, but it is funny. And – at just under four minutes, it doesn’t even feel like a waste of time.

A fellow in a fake moustache stands in front of a small class on the “first day of Intro to Creative Writing.” Discussing the five most common types of conflict in literature, the moustachioed man begins writing on the chalkboard:

Man vs Nature

Man vs Man

Man vs Supernatural

Man vs Self

Man trying to have sex in space

The seven students in the class look confused and sometimes disgusted. When they try to contribute to the lesson, the “teacher” disregards what they say, and continues developing his “Man trying to have sex in space” story.

A few minutes later, the real teacher walks in and apologizes for being late. The educator impersonator tears off his moustache and takes his seat with the other students.

I searched “Creative Writing” on, hoping for writing tips. Instead I was treated to a short comedy clip, which was actually quite well done and refreshingly ridiculous.

– Julie S-A

Plotting? Pshaw! Stephen K doesn’t… #ADL310



I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King books, but I definitely tip my hat to his success. Stephen King On Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey, Lovecraft & More is a 55-minute talk the author gave at The University of Massachusetts Lowell.

When asked where he gets his story ideas, King, (after assuring us that, as far as he can recall, nothing traumatized him in his childhood), says that only 50% of the time does he even know. The rest he either can’t remember or can’t trace. When he has an idea for a new project, King tells himself the story when he’s lying in bed before going to sleep. “Give it time,” he says. “Sometimes a piece of grit becomes a pearl.”

Contrary to the repeated directives of my writing coaches, King does not plot or keep many notes; he works “story” and doesn’t know what will take place until it’s actually happening. Characters develop naturally, in the same way that our perceptions of people change as we get to know them better. King starts to see his characters’ interior lives and understands them. To do this, King says it is essential for an author to see how people are; look at their mannerisms. Characters will do their own thing, he says – if you let them. He also doesn’t know whether a book he starts will actually be finished.

King has seen “second- or third-rate fiction authors “winding up their characters and making them go through certain paces,” but he believes you shouldn’t force an idea to be anything it isn’t destined to be.

The wonder of the social media video is that my humble couch becomes a seat in a university lecture hall, and I reap all the benefits of the attendees, without the bother of having to drive home afterwards.

– Julie S-A


Videos for Writers – Judy Reeves – #ADL310



I struggle to include writing in my life when I don’t have course deadlines hanging over my head. Judy Reeves on Taking Pen in Hand – How to be a Writer Who Writes says that we have to make time for writing. We need to have a writing practice that is like meditation or yoga, centring us in the world, and bringing us to the place where we feel whole.

It is the daily attendance to this practice that will make us better writers. Don’t wait until you’re inspired, Reeves says. Sit and do the work. Find the time that works best for you, and put it in your calendar.  Don’t set your goals too high; even 10 or 15 minutes a day is helpful. You can start with a writing prompt, but where you go from there is limitless. Start the pen moving, surrender to the page, stop thinking, measuring, judging or evaluating. You want to get into that place where you’re outside yourself, writing the story that wants to be told. Don’t push that story away; write authentically. You need to tell your own story in your own voice.

Judy Reeves recommends tapping these free-write sessions to get the stuff we want and need for our stories. She challenges us to use our writing muscles: breath, heart, hands, saying, Let your breath support you; let your heartbeat give you a rhythm for it. If you do this every day, when you sit down at the page, your body will know; it will be ready to write, and your writing will come easier and get better.

This video of Ms. Reeves’ talk was very down-to-earth and effective. I felt like I had my own chair in the room, and came away thinking that perhaps there’s hope for me yet.


– Julie S-A