Author Tools, Writing Resources

Toolbox Tuesday- PicMonkey

As a creative person, I’ve had the opportunity to play with a lot of tools. Some are more like toys to me because they’re so much fun I get lost in the process of making something. I hope this will become a new column on my blog.

Since I first self-published last summer, I’ve added a lot more tools to my toolbox. Many of those were added out of necessity or because I wanted to be thrifty rather than hiring a graphic designer to create promo images or the like.

I’ve learned a lot in the last year, and I’d love to share some of these new tools and toys with you, hopefully on Tuesday, so you can take advantage of them as well. Today I’m going to talk about an easy-to-use and #free app for creating graphics.

My friends N.R. Walker and Jay Northcote turned me on to PicMonkey and helped me realize what a great tool this is. Within the matter of an hour, I was lost, totally sucked into this photo editing and graphics creating dream. It’s fairly easy to use and free too! There is also the Royale treatment that has a nominal monthly or yearly subscription fee. I haven’t tried the upgrade, but with the subscription, you get many more features that you get teased about while using the free version. Worth it, in my estimation. And if you find you use it, the cost to upgrade is very manageable, less than a cup of coffee.

PicMonkey has a very friendly user interface that allows graphics beginners to create lovely images. It uses PhotoShop-type devices, such as textures, overlays, and working in layers, without the complication of the Adobe powerhouse. I’ve made a lot of images using PicMonkey and they have several templates to help get you started, like the Facebook banner. You can also enter your own canvas dimensions. And the back button is a blessing. You can go back in time and fix things. I’m a mistake maker, so I love that part. And when you’re ready to save the image, you can do so in varying degrees of quality as well as different file formats.

10153669_836123033150138_8648090415994015924_n.jpg

Another thing you can do is open your own photos or photos you’ve bought the rights for and edit them. That’s how I created the cover for Bent Arrow and promotional images like the one below.

Bent Arrow TC

In this banner, I layered images, added font, and even added texture. You can create professional-looking images w/o going broke or crazy using PhotoShop. PhotoShop is a fantastic program, but honestly, for most it’s like buying a jet to travel to your job a mile from home. For most of what authors need as a quick tool to help get the word out about new reviews or specials, PicMonkey more than fits the bill.

The one thing I would caution if you are going to use this for cover creation or other images to be printed is to check the resolution of your photos. For print you need 300dpi for a clear image. The photo I started off with for Bent Arrow fit the bill, but I’ve created other images that needed to be reworked for print runs.

I’ve since moved over to a more advanced photo and graphics editor, but I will always use PicMonkey when I’m on the go. The nice thing about it is that it’s online. You can still use it on other computers if you are away from your own. There is talk about a mobile app. I think it would work great on an iPad. Not so sure about a phone.


 

Farm Fresh Square FB.pngJude Garrity visits the farmers market every Saturday. As an environmental engineering student, he’s curious about living off the grid and sustainable agriculture.

And one particular farmer.

Hudson Oliva has worked hard to support his commune, where queer people live without fear of harm or retribution. When Jude asks pointed questions about living there, Hudson realizes he needs to be honest about his home. Few people know what the farm is actually about, but Jude is insistent.

Jude moves to Kaleidoscope Gardens, however his sexual hang-ups make it hard to adjust. He’s an uptight virgin living among people who have sex freely and with multiple partners. When Jude finally loosens up, Hudson is flooded with emotions. Falling for Jude wasn’t part of Hudson’s life plan. But when vindictive rumors about the commune begin to spread, love might be all he has left.

 

 

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