Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Spotlight & Review: Book Brush

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What is Book Brush?

“Book Brush makes it simple for authors to make advertising and social media images. No more struggling with converting a book from a 2d image to a 3d image. Book Brush can also be used by Bloggers to easily create images for their blog posts and giveaways! Here are some of the features you will love….

— Book Brush can create ads with 3D cover images (30+ templates) in minutes

— Book Brush will let you choose pre-made templates for Amazon ads, BookBub ads, Facebook ads, and more…

… which you can create with over 1 million royalty-free images and book stamps

— Book Brush has a Video Creator to easily create Video Effects behind a Promotional Image.”

Review

Book Brush is a web-based home for design tools for authors and promoters of books. The site claims to make it easy to create 3D book covers, ads, and other bookish promotional materials, either custom sized or pre-sized for various social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Book Bub, Twitter, and Amazon.

I’d say the easiest thing to do on the site is to take a book cover photo and create a 3D image as a hardcover book, paperback, or even displayed on a digital device like a phone, tablet, or reader. This will be most useful to independently published authors, especially those whose books may only be available in digital format. Here are a couple of examples I created for my recent read, Katherine Reay’s The Printed Letter Bookshop:

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Beyond creating 3D book covers, Book Brush has its limitations and frustrations, so my own experimentation had mixed results. The available community templates are relatively few, and while you may find more using their filter search, the images are still limited and often too generic or unrealistic looking to yield high-quality results. Another thing I found very frustrating is that your chosen design elements aren’t automatically resized for the selected ad/image size. Background images need to be hand-manipulated to fit the frame.

Oh, and there’s another snag I encountered: When saving to my computer, Book Brush didn’t allow me to bring up my folders and see where files were being saved. It seemed to want to default to opening my creation with a chosen application, so I typically saved from within my image viewer software.

Here are more results from my experimentation: Pictured first is the graphic I feel turned out best for me, but I ended up having to use a 2D book cover because the 3D options were limited (maybe opening or displayed at the wrong angle, for instance) and produced results I didn’t like. Next is an image with a decent result, but you can see the limitations it would have if used on a site like Instagram — it likely wouldn’t hold up well in comparison to other user real-life photo creations.

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Below are a few examples of stuff that I would say turned out less than satisfactory. Using design software or curating a bookstagram photo, a skilled designer or photographer should be able to achieve results similar to mine or better, doing all Book Brush can do and more. Admittedly, design software costs good money. However, given all Book Brush’s current limitations, especially for amateurs like me, I think there are better resources out there for folks unskilled in graphic design.

 

Finally, Video Creation is still in Beta, and it shows. As is, you are to create video by taking your book or other image and adding an “effect” that you can only find via search. It’s like a shot in the dark, trying to dream up words to describe effects rather than being able to browse available options. You are to put the two elements together, play with the image transparency level, and then choose a video length. Definitely not a feature worth paying for at this time.

There are both free and paid account options and a 30 day money-back guarantee on the paid option. Still, I’d recommend caution, as even the paid account has limits to how many designs you can download per month. I’m not even certain I can specify what that is; I only know that I saw my own “credits” go from five to empty as I was struggling to download created videos.

To conclude, if you are an indie author and are looking for a tool to help you promote your work, I would suggest you do the requisite homework and test-drive Book Brush to compare it with Canva and other similar design sites. If you want to use the site for anything more than 3D cover creation on a free account, I would warn you to keep your expectations low.

— Dawn Teresa

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Book Brush for providing this opportunity. Opinions are 100% my own and are NOT influenced by monetary compensation.

Music Video: “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin ft. Pat Barrett


“We all have a picture of who we think God is. When we get down to the foundation of what we believe, the truth is that God is exactly who He says He is – a good, good Father.”


 

Click thru below to download at iTunes.

“Good Good Father”

(Written by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown)

iTunes


 

Win a trip to see Chris Tomlin at Worship Night in America!

Click on the photo below for details!

Win a Flyaway to see Chris Tomlin at Worship Night In America


See Chris and Pat share the story behind the song.


More about Chris Tomlin

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More about Pat Barrett

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Kids Corner: Read a Chapter, Save a Tree with T. A. Barron

May 5th marks the release of the second installment in the Atlantis Saga by T. A. Barron, best-selling author of The Merlin Saga.

T. A. Barron is a staunch conservationist. Atlantis in Peril, like many of his works, has a thematic focus on nature preservation. Celebrate Earth Day with T. A. Barron! Barron is working with PlantABillion.org to help restore the world’s forest ecosystems.  For each free download of the first chapter of Atlantis in Peril, they will plant a tree! So, do your part to help Mother Earth — and help yourself to a good read!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD CHAPTER ONE AND PLANT A TREE! 

If you like to start at the beginning, that’s okay, there is also a free prequel to the series available on T. A. Barron’s website called Never Again: The Origin of Grukarr. To download the prequel, which examines the history of the villain of Atlantis Rising (Book 1), all you need to do is visit the above link and share the news with your friends on social media. For those who prefer print to e-books: Never Again: The Origin of Grukarr is included in the back of the paperback release of Atlantis Rising.

So there you have it! Lots of options for good reading! And, more importantly, an opportunity to help plant a tree with the click of a mouse!

Atlantis Plant a Tree


Winnie the Pooh Banned? Oh, Bother!

Banned Books Week (September 21 – 27th)

Established by the American Library Association, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read. Go here to read more and see the list of the 10 most challenged titles of 2013.

While we never approve of censorship and book banning, because an individual should always have the right to choose his/her own reading material, oftentimes we can glance at the list of challenged books and at least see what some may find objectionable.

Tonight, I am flummoxed. In fact, I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. Let me rephrase: “There’s a rumbly in my tumbly,” and it’s not because I’m hungry! That’s right, that willy, nilly, silly ol’ bear, Winnie the Pooh, is on the list of most challenged classics! What in the name of the Hundred Acre Wood? Have you lost your mind?

To find out why this loveable treasure has been challenged, go to the Reading Rainbow blog.

— Dawn Teresa

Kids Corner: Get Ready for T.A. Barron’s Atlantis Saga With a Free Prequel

Never Again - Barron cover

I’m reading Atlantis Rising, the first in a new series by T.A. Barron, best-selling author of The Merlin Saga. To celebrate the upcoming release of Atlantis Rising in paperback, T. A. Barron has made available on his website a free prequel short story called Never Again: The Origin of Grukarr. To download the prequel, which examines the history of the novel’s villain, all you need to do is visit the link above and share the news with your friends on social media.

Check out the video playlist below for a book trailer and three other short video clips with the author. At just over 4 minutes, this brief playlist  will spark your interest in trying this new series. As I mentioned, I’ve already started Atlantis Rising. I was hooked by the first chapter, and these videos make me even more excited to continue my reading! But I’m going to wait to read the prequel until I’ve finished Atlantis Rising.

Some good news for those who prefer print to e-books: Never Again: The Origin of Grukarr is included in the back of the paperback release of Atlantis Rising.


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Eating My Own Words: It’s Not “About Me”

I’m doing this for me.

Yep. Once upon a time, that’s what I said about my blog. When starting out, faced with “serious doubts about there being an audience who would care to read my blog,” I resolved to make an effort. Despite misgivings, in spite of myself, I was going to do this thing. For me. I was “going to enjoy writing about books for the sake of nurturing my own love of the written word.” 

I’ve learned a lot in the process of writing this blog. And though it may have taken some time to open my eyes to its purpose, I’m not too proud to admit that I was wrong. So here I am, eating my own words. It’s not about me. It was never about me.

I hear you. Yes, you. You’re giving me the what for. “Sure, woman,” you scoff. “Sure it’s not about you! I’ve seen all your tweets and Facebook posts. Your Pinterest pins, your Amazon and Goodreads reviews. Don’t tell me it’s not about you! If you think that’s not self-promotion, you’ve got another think coming….”

You’re right. I’m trying my darndest to draw traffic to the site. I want people to read my reviews. I want to promote my blog. I want hits. I want people to listen to me. But it’s not for me that I want these things. When I read a special book that brings me joy, I want other readers to know that joy. When a book brings me to tears, I want others to sniffle, dab at their eyes, and rub their noses with the backs of their hands. Heck, I want folks to sob and cry on the very pages in the very places where I did. I want them to laugh at the jokes I thought were funny. I want people to feel and experience what I did. But if not to validate myself, then why?

Spotlight with BookThe answer is simple. I want to say thank you. I want to give back. Another human being poured herself into the book. Gave of himself to make me happy. To allow me to dream or to explore. To help me to feel and to give words to my unspoken feelings. To remind me that heroes still exist. That love never dies. That truth is not a lie.

Yes. Books do all these things and more. And when I read a good one, I benefit from the experience in so many ways. Books have given me so much. Sometimes when I’m broken, they put me back together by keeping me in touch with my own humanity. And though I may be a glutton, I’m not a monster. So after sampling — devouring — a book, I’ll not merely lick my lips, wipe my chin, and look for the next tasty tidbit.

Grateful creatures give thanks. Recognize blessings. Repay debts. It’s only right that I give back in the best way I know how. That’s what this blog is about. So, dear reader, whenever you hear me calling out, “Look at me! Look at me!”, I’m really saying, “Thank you, dear Author, for the beauty I just received. Please accept my sincere gratitude!”

— Dawn Teresa

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Gratitude Begets Gratitude: Count Your Book Blessings

This post is inspired by Dove Promises. Not only are these things yummy, but they come wrapped in little messages. Sometimes they make me smile and other times give me pause, but somehow, I always manage to get one that speaks to me. For instance, I might be feeling burnt out at work when I happen upon one that says, “You have permission to do nothing.” (I quickly showed that one to the boss!)

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Today I unwrapped a philosophical gem about gratitude:

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.

Gratitude begets gratitude.

Count your blessings and you’ll be rewarded with even more favor.

So simple. And yet, so under-practiced. We are quick to list our gripes and complaints. We indulge in our own private — or sometimes very public — gripe fest in a misguided belief that this kind of venting does our souls good. I’ve found, though, that hate breeds more hate and anger more anger, till I”m consumed by an ever-growing darkness that burns my heart like a ball of fire. Rather than fan the flames that lash our hurting hearts, we should snuff out the sooty candle of ungratefulness. For we’ll only find our way out of the darkness of despair if we grab hold of a light that shines clean and bright: Thankfulness. 

I can hear you asking, “How is she going to tie this in to ReadLove ?”

I’m going to count my book blessings:

FrancesI’m Grateful For:

The loveable little badger who helped spark my love of reading.

Green Eggs and Ham

 

 

 

Authors like Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein who taught me that poetry could be fun.

 

ACPL

Libraries and summer reading programs. And my librarian mother who made my annual participation obligatory.

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

 

The first time I realized a movie was based on a book. And not only was the book enjoyable, it had a SEQUEL.

 

 

Bard

 

 

The Bard and his Prince of Denmark for knocking my socks off. And for giving voice to existential questions in a measure still unequaled.

 

 

Charon Dore

 

Dante Alighieri and Gustave Doré for their unrivaled, uncompromising depiction of the wages of sin.

 

Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Brontë for braving a literary world dominated by men and proving that women could produce good art. And Jane Eyre for proving that life imitates art by bringing my very own Rochester into my life.


What are you thankful for? Share your thoughts in the comments!

*Please note I have not been paid or contacted by Dove Chocolates to advertise their product with this post. My love for these chocolates is genuine.
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