Jonathan Grave’s Arsenal

By John Gilstrap
My next book, Damage Control, hits the stands on June 5.  In this edition of the Jonathan Grave thriller series, Jonathan steps into a trap when he and Boxers travel to Mexico to rescue a busload of missionaries from the hands of a drug cartel.  Someone in Washington betrays him on what should have been a routine ransom drop-off, and the result is a lot of dead hostages and kidnappers.  As Jonathan and Boxers escape with the lone survivor, the cartel and their sponsors in Washington move heaven and earth to stop him.  Publishers Weekly gave the book a glowing review, and I’m pleased to report that my publisher, Kensington, is pulling out some new stops in the promotion department.
One of the coolest things I’ve been asked to do is a video blog that brings readers deeper into Jonathan’s world.  I’m calling it “Jonathan Grave’s Arsenal.”  In two-minute segments, I’ll give overviews and demonstrations of the weapons Jonathan has at his disposal.  So far, I’ve completed videos highlighting Heckler and Koch’s 5.56 mm HK416 (designated the M27 by the US Marines), the Colt Model 1911 .45 caliber pistol, and the Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun.  By the time I’m done, the series will cover, at a minimum, the 7.62 mm HK 417 and the amazing 4.6 mm HK MP7.  I’d like to do some episodes on explosives, too, but I haven’t yet figured out the logistics of that, what with all those pesky ATF rules.
While I’ve written a few movies over the past decade or so, I haven’t actually shot one in a long time.  The last time I edited a film, I used a home version of a Moviola, literally cutting the film and splicing it with tape. 
When first approached about this video blog thing, I had no idea how I was going to do it.  Sure, I have a digital camera that shoots video, but I’d never actually shot video with it.  Plus, since talking heads are boring—and, in my case, shiny—I knew I’d want to do cutaways.
Well, lo and behold, my Windows 7 program comes complete with Microsoft Movie Maker, an editing program that is way more powerful than I would have imagined.  More than adequate for my needs.  You simply drag the segments you want to work with to the work window, and you can make precise cuts. 
With the first episode in the can, as it were, my next challenge was figuring out what the hell to do with the 60MB files.  They’d choke anybody’s email server.  Enter:  For $149 a year, you can email an unlimited number of HUGE files to people.  The Kensington team is thrilled with the results.
My only frustration—and I’m turning to you dear Killzoners for help—is how to do voiceovers in Movie Maker.  From what I can tell, on the digital recording, the audio track and the video track are all together.  Is this correct?
Jonathan Grave’s Arsenal” will be exclusive to Barnes & Noble for the first few weeks of its existence, but then I’ll add it to my website and upload it to YouTube.
I feel a new obsession coming on.  I deeply don’t need another obsession.

14 thoughts on “Jonathan Grave’s Arsenal

  1. This sounds like a really cool endevor John. It sounds like once you figure that last piece of the puzzle you’re going to have a lot of fun with it.

    Good luck.

  2. Can’t wait to see these videos. You’re right, video making can grow into a new passion very easily.

    You can do voiceovers in Movie Maker, but it’s a work-around. If you add music to a video, the music file sits above the video clips on your timeline. It’s a seperate (green) track.

    In Movie Maker, this “music” track is your only seperate track. If you record your voiceovers in a seperate file, These can be added to your video in the same way. Just drag the recording files into the music track. Movie maker can’t tell if it’s music or narration.

    The catch is if you want both music and voiceovers. In this case, you add one or the other to the music track, edit your video to your heart’s content, then save it as a movie file.

    Then when you open it in Movie Maker again, your music track will be part of the video soundtrack, leaving the music track open. Drag and drop your voiceovers into their positions above the timeline, save the video again, and this time you’ll have both.

    When you outgrow Movie Maker, I highly recomend Sony’s Vegas Movie Studio software. For around $90 it is vastly superior to MM and has multiple sound tracks.

    Hope this makes sense. If not, email me at and I’ll be glad to help further.


  3. I understand obsessions better than anyone; hence why I have over 300 pairs of stilettos. I am hoping to start video blogging too, but like you; not really sure how to go about it. Hopefully after a glass of wine I can figure it out. Or maybe that should be I’ll figure it out and then have a glass of wine.
    OAN: I took a picture with you at Festival of the Book and would like to use it on my blog and would like permission. Don’t worry, there is no shine, unless you count from my butterfly belt. Thanks a bunch for being so accomadating to Austin Camacho’s friend.

  4. You can also upload the video onto and direct people to watch it there. I don’t know much about it, but when I shot a cooking promo with MSNBC the video director preferred to youtube. I think he found it more professional and the quality of video better, but don’t quote me on that.

    That way, you can just send people a link to the video, if and when, you do e-mail blasts.

    Victoria Allman
    author of: SEAsoned: a Chef’s Journey with Her Captain

  5. *perks*

    June 5th? Be right back . . .

    ::scampers off to Amazon::

    Whew! Can’t wait to see the vids and I’ve learned a thing or two about the magic computer box sitting on my desk. I will be checking out MM. I’ve always wanted to do some short vids for my toy business.

    Happy T minus 18 to drop day!


  6. My tech writing company does training videos. We use and love something called Camtasia from TechSmith. You can get a free trial.

    You can add as many separate tracks as you want, and you can do a lot of other cool things like incorporate slide decks and interactivity or do noise cancellation of individual tracks. Yes, it costs $300 new, but we find it’s more than worth it and very, very easy to learn. Did I mention the FREE trial? If you have your videos pretty much ready, you can probably complete them with Camtasia before the trial runs out.


  7. Looking forward to seeing those videos John. Very cool.

    I do a fair amount of filming and editing for my church and have fallen in love with a program called Adobe Premiere. In my Audiobook business I use Adobe Audition. These are of course professional software, but there is a free 30 trial (get the Adobe Production Premium set). Currently making a green-screen movie with lots of custom sound track stuff and multiple video layers and this software is a dream.

    Downside is that its also $1899, unless you can get the education license which runs $450. Luckily my wife’s a teacher.

    By the way folks, get Damage Control, its good…way good. It left me exhausted in the studio after all that combat and running.

  8. Congratulations, John. Great success with the release of your new book. Regarding your boom videos, you should develop some friends at one of those Maryland-based installations. I’m looking forward to Damage Control.

  9. Congrats on the videos, John. Looking forward to seeing them in action. I can’t wait to get into these Jonathan Graves adventures.

    I used MM to put my Book Trailer together – loved it. Thanks to Dave Williams for the voice-over tutorial.

    I haven’t read the Jonathan Graves series yet, but I plan to. I chose IN THE AFTER from FRESH KILLS as one of my three short stories to analyze for a workshop I’m currently attending online. If the action with Graves is anything like what happened in the Emerson household that night I know I’m going to love it.

    You’re a great writer, John. Congrats on the new release.


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