02 February 2021

Do You See Me Now?

I am a full-time freelance writer/editor with a part-time job as marketing director for a professional orchestra. During the pandemic, the orchestra has had no live performances, so I’ve had nothing to promote.

During this downtime, I’ve been informally tasked with two projects:
  1. To refresh and update my knowledge of databases, to specifically learn how to use Microsoft Access, and, ultimately, to develop a database for in-house use. 
  2. To learn video editing, specifically for creating social media posts.

As fascinating as databases can be, I find discussing them to be a snooze inducer.


Prior to the end of travel as we know it, I thrice attended the annual Digital Boot Camp for the Arts, a multi-day conference in New York, to learn how arts organizations use digital media to successfully promote their venues and their events. Digital media includes websites, direct email, and all forms of social media.

Each time I’ve returned with a wealth of information, much of it beyond our organization’s capabilities. Even so, by adapting concepts I learned at the conference I’ve been able to expand and improve the organization’s use of social media.

One tip that was repeated by multiple speakers over multiple conferences, and backed up by various formal and anecdotal studies, is that video on social media attracts more attention and delivers more results than static words and pictures.

I heard the message. I comprehended the message. And I continued creating static social media posts.

This is my comfort zone. I’ve spent my entire career working with static media: books, flyers, magazines, postcards, posters, and more. Since joining the orchestra’s staff in 2005, I’ve written many radio commercials and television commercials, but I’ve left the bulk of the actual production to others.

Prior to the pandemic, I had toyed with creating video posts for social media, but my trio of efforts were, to be kind to myself, amateurish and inadequate. Recently, though, having made significant progress on the database and having to rely on others before I can progress much further, I’ve turned my attention to video editing.

I have two video-editing programs: Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Premiere Rush. Pro is the high-end version of the program; Rush is the low-end. My initial efforts with video editing were done with Pro, and that is likely part of the reason they were less than ideal. So, about a week ago (as I write this), I read the instructions for Rush, worked through some of the tutorials, and decided it was time for a live project.

Only I didn’t have any.

I did have a JPG of the cover The Great Filling Station Holdup, edited by Josh Pachter and forthcoming from Down & Out Books, so I created a brief, silent video promoting my story “Tampico Trauma” and uploaded it to Facebook.

I’ve created several videos since then—for Black Cat Mystery Magazine 7, Black Cat Mystery Magazine 8, Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir vol. 1, and The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods. Along the way, I’ve learned to add background music and I’ve learned how to upload videos to Blogspot, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. (All of these and possibly more can be viewed on my YouTube channel.)

My most complex video to date is “Michael Bracken 2020 Unmasked,” in which I provide information about every short story I had published in 2020.

I still have much to learn. How to capture and include high-quality live-action video and how to record and include voice-over narration are among the next steps in the learning process.

With luck and determination, by the time the orchestra returns to live performances, I may be able to create professional-quality promotional videos. Until then, I’m having fun creating videos for my various writing and editing projects.

Black Cat Mystery Magazine #8, released in January, features new stories from D.V. Bennett, Jon Matthew Farber, John M. Floyd, Barb Goffman, John Hegenberger, M.A. Monnin, and Elizabeth Zelvin, and a classic reprint by Donald Barr Chidsey.

Coming February 22: “Tampico Trauma” in The Great Filling Station Holdup: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Jimmy Buffet, edited by Josh Pachter and published by Down & Out Books.


  1. Interesting piece- the Eyes of Texas video has particularly nice music.

  2. Michael, excellent post and thanks for the short tutorial. I will now put my 14-year old grandson to work after I show him your videos. Last year, he had to do a book report for school and make a video to go with the report, so he took "Black Friday" from my 9 Holiday Burglars Mysteries paperback and disassembled a well-known video game to make a video for his book report. Of course, any video he makes for me will have to stay out of anyone else's copyright material. I'll keep an eye on him.

  3. I’ve been enjoying the videos, Michael, and I’m glad to know know the story behind them — and honored that you picked TBOBW to start with!


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