Tag: Confessions of a Podcast Goddess

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“Ready, Aim, Podcast!”

August 23, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

by Jina Bacarr

Does size matter?

When conference goers at the recent Romance Writers of America convention in Dallas, Texas talked shop, the question “Does size matter?” came up at frequent intervals, especially at the Passionate Ink luncheon (RWA Chapter of erotica authors).

They were comparing megapixels.

Megapixels? What the heck is a megapixel? you ask. With the explosion of digital cameras available on the market, it’s a hot topic and one you can’t ignore when choosing a camera. My first digital camera was a cumbersome Sony 1.3 megapixel, which used 3 ½ inch floppies to record pictures. Imagine stuffing your purse with twenty floppies. Not fun. Now I use a Canon PowerShot SD600 that’s small and light and weighs less than six ounces. I love it.

So what is a megapixel? Here’s my interpretation: Digital camera images are made up of rows of colored dots, something like the Impressionist painting style known as Pointillism. These colored dots make up a canvas or rectangular grid that gives you the whole picture when you look at it from a distance. If you’ve ever stared at an Impressionist painting in a museum, you know what I mean. Up close, it resembles a bunch of colorful dots (black was not included in the Impressionist palette), but viewed from far away it becomes a breathtaking panorama of the artist’s vision.

When you shoot a picture with your digital camera, you are the artist and these same dots are called “pixels.” Each pixel used in a digital camera is either red, green or blue (usually with twice as many green pixels). How many dots or pixels are on a page? Rows and rows, like wildflowers swaying in a field. For example, an picture of you at the RWA conference on a web page might be made up of 500 rows each with 400 pixels in each row. The total number of pixels is 200,000. That’s a lot of wildflowers.

According to experts, these pixels contain a number of different brightness values, usually 256 in screen displays (I prefer 1024) or 4096 in camera images. Because digital camera images are generally larger than this, we talk about their sizes in terms of Megapixels (Mp). 1 Mp = 1 million pixels. So the 200,000 pixel image of the hunk you want to use for the hero in your next book is 0.2 Mp.

Want to make your pictures smaller? This is one time it’s easier to drop a few pounds, I mean, pixels, than it is to gain them back. To increase the pixels or dots, you have to guess the values of the extra pixels you need. Some software programs claim to do this, but like fad diets, they’re not always successful.

So, how many pixels do you need? If you’re buying a camera to view your pictures on your web page, you’ll need fewer pixels–1.3 will suffice. If you want to print them on standard 4×6 prints or make postcards of your latest bookcover, you’ll need at least 1.5-2.3 Mp; for enlargements of 8×10 for your author head shot for your press kit, you’ll need 4-5 Mp.

Although I primarily use my Canon Powershot for my website images and video, I bought a 6 Mp because I wanted the option of changing the size of the images. I usually shoot 1600 by 1200 so I can reduce and crop to a smaller size.

Now if could just figure out how to drop 5 pixels, I mean pounds, with the click of a mouse…

Jina Bacarr spent many hours studying the size of…hmm…pixels in Impressionist paintings for her latest Spice book, NAUGHTY PARIS, a time travel about the raucous and erotic world of 1889 Paris.

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Location, location, location…

June 23, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

Planes, trains, and–

When you read this, I’ll be in sunny Venice, Italy, where I’ve been invited to speak at the historic La Biennale arts festival regarding my books, The Japanese Art of Sex and The Blonde Geisha (they’ve both been translated into Italian) about–you guessed it, sex! I’ll be taking lots of pix and shooting video of the festival to turn into video podcasts when I return home.

So, how do you podcast on location when you’re a one-woman crew?
Here are my Top 10 Tips for Podcasting on Location:

1. Get a digital camera with video capabilities. Most 5- to 7-megapixel point-and-shoot cameras are not made to film long videos, but they work well for short filming. One-to-three minute segments work great, but don’t worry about the length when you’re “in the moment.” Just shoot it!! You can always edit yourself hanging over the Eiffel Tower later at home.

2. A digital audio recorder is perfect to record your thoughts, observations, and interview interesting people you meet on your trip.
3. Always carry a backup battery pack for your digital camera (about $30) since many digital cameras don’t give you much warning when the charge is low; also, carry extra AA batteries for your digital audio recorder.

4. Learn how to use the “10-second delay” feature on your camera to shoot pix of yourself alone or with interesting people in the shot. Warning–do NOT leave the camera where a thief can grab it or a bystander can knock it over (you don’t want your $350 camera floating down the Nile).

5. Practice holding your camera in front of you to frame the shot so you can video yourself. It looks weird to passers-by (who often stop to try to figure out what the heck you’re doing), but if you’re podcasting solo, you want to video yourself “in action” to add the personal touch to your on-location podcast.

6. Shoot anything that looks interesting–you can always erase it (though I don’t recommend it–it may look better on your computer screen than on the small camera screen) and edit the best parts together at home.
7. Memory cards–stock up!! They’re lower in price than they’ve ever been. I use 2-Gig cards, but 1-Gig cards work okay, too. I carry post-its with me and put the “full” memory card into a snack-size plastic bag with a post-it containing short notes of what I shot with the date, place, etc..
8. No one’s face is exactly symmetrical, so know your best side. Practice shooting video of yourself with your camera to find your best side.
9. Unless you carry your own lighting (imagine getting lighting equipment through security at the airport), be aware of the light source when you’re videoing yourself. I shoot “test” footage first to check the lighting. Also, learn how to use the lighting settings on your camera.
10. Make-up isn’t just for celebs–apply neutral foundation and neutral eye shadows plus black mascara (be careful not to get that “raccoon” look) for your close-up. Outline your lips with a lip pencil or brush and use lip gloss so your mouth doesn’t “disappear” when you speak. You want the camera to capture your perfect Kodak smile!
That’s it!! I’ll be posting more info about my adventures in Italy at La Biennale arts festival when I return!

Until then, ciao, ciao!

Tune in soon for Part 5 of Confessions of a Podcast Goddess, when I’ll be talking about my adventures inVenice, Italy speaking at La Biennale arts festival.

Jina Bacarr is the author of The Blonde Geisha and coming in July 2007, Naughty Paris. Jina writes erotic adventure for Spice Books. “Get Caught in the Act!”

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Confessions of a Podcast Goddess

May 17, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

Part 3: “Girls Just Want to Have Podcasts”

by Jina Bacarr

When podcasting burst onto the scene, they said it was a man’s world. The stats backed it up: “Wired magazine noted that at last week’s [November 2005] Portable Media Expo in Ontario, 15 percent of the 2,000 attendees were female and that users of Yahoo’s new podcasting directory were 85 percent male.” OC Register

Not anymore. Girls rule the airwaves with podcasts featuring women hosts talking about everything from caring for your animals to astronomy.

So what are you going to talk about? Here at OCC, we have published authors as well as pre-published. How about a show with a writing theme? Good start, but to gain a following you must give listeners and viewers a “hook” for your podcast. For example, romancenovel.tv interviews romance authors, including Nora Roberts, Rebecca York, and Christina Dodd, while Grammar Girl’s podcasts consist of five minutes of grammar tips each week.

I write erotic fiction so my podcasts, both audio and video, have a sexy theme. This often leads to my podcasts getting “banned” from video sites because they assume I’m promoting . This recently happened to me on Google Video re: a PSA (Public Service Announcement) podcast I did a few months ago in response to a letter “Dear Abby” received from a mother who was concerned her teen daughter was reading “trashy” romance novels.

In my video podcast, “Dear Jina”– An erotic fiction writer speaks out about what teens are reading, I talk about how romance novels reflect a positive attitude toward sex for teens. My video has received nearly 15,000 hits, but someone took offense and complained, so Google de-activated it, deciding it was “.” After a few anxious emails back and forth to Google, the problem was resolved and my video is once again “live,” but you have to be prepared for anything in podcasting.

For my audio podcasts, I want my podcasts to reflect a certain sophistication. I decided on “In the Zone with Jina Bacarr: Hot topics with a cool point of view” because it doesn’t limit what I can discuss. So far, I’ve talked about the sensual world of the geisha (I get email from listeners who tell me they’ll never look at a geisha in the same way again after hearing they don’t wear panties), strippers and the art of the tease, the history of erotic fiction from the Greeks to Fanny Hill to Spice Books from Harlequin.

I also record audio podcasts for OCC each month. I call it Romancing The O.C. I talk about our upcoming meeting, guests, local authors, book signings, contests, as well as conduct author interviews.

I always end my podcast with my sign-off: “And don’t forget, put a little romance in your life. Read a romance novel.” That’s important. Come up with a slogan that reflects your show and your personality. And don’t worry about the length of your podcast. It can be five minutes or thirty minutes, but the longer the podcast the more megabytes it will take up on your computer hard drive and your website. You can also “park it” on video sharing sites like Google and Daily Motion [we’ll talk about these sites in future blogs].

So, what’s your podcast about? Book reviews, writing tips, interviews? Do you have an interesting hobby that plays into your writing like Debbie Macomber and her love of knitting? Do you love to travel then use your experiences in your books? Are you a techie with weekly tips to help writers? The possibilities are as endless as words in a dictionary. Pick out what interests you and people will be talking about…your podcast!

Tune in next month for Part 4 of Confessions of Podcast Goddess when I’ll be talking about shooting video on location–I’ll be in Venice, Italy speaking at La Biennale arts festival.

Jina Bacarr is the author of The Blonde Geisha and coming in July 2007, Naughty Paris. Jina writes erotic adventure for Spice Books. “Get Caught in the Act!”

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April 19, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as
Part Two: Audio 101: Do I really sound like that?

Squeaky, screechy, and scratchy.

No, that’s not the name of a new animated cartoon series, it’s what can flush your podcast–audio or video–down the toilet in ten seconds flat. You’ll lose your audience before you have one if they can’t hear or understand you because of poor quality audio. Think of it this way: How many times have you wanted to dump an entire giant box of popcorn on the person behind you because they wouldn’t stop crunching throughout the entire film? More than likely it ruined the film for you because you couldn’t hear half of what was happening on the screen.

First rule in podcasting: Make sure they can hear you.

I learned this lesson the hard way.

The unidirectional mike I bought was cool, but the computer connection was wrong (the salesman sold me mono instead of stereo). I bought an adapter plug, but my troubles weren’t over. When I recorded my voice, I heard crackly static that made me sound like an old radio serial. A cheap sound card was the culprit, I found out, but not before I went crazy pushing every button and sliding every bar on my sound mixer trying to get rid of the “noise.” I had to have a new sound card installed, but it was worth it. I had cool, clear sound.

Now for the fun part: Recording my podcast!

You create that important first impression with your voice and make the audience want to hear more. You want your voice image to be natural. Don’t focus on your “low, husky” voice or try to be sultry à la Jessica Rabbit. Be aware that speaking at the very bottom of your pitch range can result in voice problems from the strain. At the other end of the spectrum, when you’re under stress, such as a first date or recording your first podcast, very often “singsong” or whine patterns from your childhood show up in your voice.

To improve your voice, focus on the bridge and sides of your nose down to and around your lips. This area is called the “mask” by voice experts because in ancient Greece stage actors spoke through masks which covered this part of their faces and amplified their voices. By producing sound through this part of your face, your voice will open up and become flexible, giving your voice expression and warmth. Speaking through the mask gives your voice a resonance that will seduce as well as impress your audience into coming back for more!

Bonus tip: Practice by reading out loud to the man in your life from your favorite sexy novel and don’t forget the sensual sound effects. I call it Instant Foreplay. Here’s a video podcast I made on the subject:

Tune in next month for Part 3 of Confessions of Podcast Goddess!

Jina Bacarr is the author of The Blonde Geisha and coming in July 2007, Naughty Paris. Jina writes erotic adventure for Spice Books. “Get Caught in the Act.”

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Confessions of a Podcast Goddess

March 20, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

Confessions of a Podcast Goddess

by Jina Bacarr

Before iPods ruled the planet, FM radio rocked the late night airwaves. Raw, sexy, unscripted. I know. I lived it when I was on air at a popular music station. From the bewitching hour to four a.m., I’d sit in a glass control booth in a strip mall where everyone who walked by could watch the DJ live on-the-air playing what the radio station dubbed “young and beautiful music.” It got weird at times when the bar in the mall closed at two a.m. and a drunk or two tapped on the glass window requesting I play “Last Dance.” I’d smile and continue queuing up the music while I read the news or gave the weather report in my husky, sexy voice: “Overcast with rain, high of sixty-nine” has a whole new meaning when you deliver it in low, breathy tones.

Needless to say, the station got calls. Lots of calls. Most were positive, some weren’t, but in the end sex sells, even radio commercial spots. The account exec told me our Arbitron numbers went up twenty-five percent in the first few months I was on the air. Every time my voice went lower, our numbers went higher. I didn’t know it then, but my gig behind the microphone set the stage for what was to come later in my writing career.

Along the yellow brick road to podcasting, I met up with a few tin men, more wolves than lions, and a scarecrow or two who had no heart. It’s been a bumpy road at best: I’ve been a shopaholic teen in radio commercials, traded sex toy stories with a female radio host in Canada, hosted my own show on Internet radio about the “wild side” of books, and discussed size with an LA radio talk show host usually known for his raucous political agenda.

Then I decided to go it alone as a podcaster. It couldn’t be too difficult, right? A podcast is simply an RSS feed of audio content distributed automatically by subscription or downloaded online through your website or podcast sites. It’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. According to recent estimates, there are 20,000 plus podcasts online and listed in directories. Is anybody listening? You bet. Bridge Ratings reports that 8.4 million Americans tuned into at least one podcast by the end of 2006, and by 2010 that number is estimated to reach 60 million. Who listens to podcasts? According to Forrester Research, the fastest growing audience for podcasts is adults 25 to 44.

With my radio background, I was convinced I could do it. I purchased recording/editing software, a good microphone (you want your audience to hear you clearly), and a comfy pair of headsets. I was ready to sail the airwaves talking about my favorite subject.


Oh, what fools we writers be…

Tune in next month for Part Two of Confessions of a Podcast Goddess…

Jina Bacarr is the author of The Blonde Geisha and coming in July 2007, Naughty Paris. Jina writes erotic adventure for Spice Books. “Get Caught in the Act.”

Check out Jina’s video podcast promo for “Confessions of a Podcast Goddess” at Daily Motion.

Click here to listen to Jina’s audio podcast preview of the OCC RWA meeting for April.

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