Learning to Bookbrush

by Lisa Zanyk

Each of us could identify at least one “Covid blessing;” the unexpected, surprisingly-realised gifts arising out of this stupid situation we’re in. Covid blessings may help to alleviate the tendency to despair and allow moments of gratitude.

One of the many Covid blessings given to me – and I suspect I am not alone in this – is greater opportunity to participate in OIW meetings.

I have been a member of OIW for many years, avidly following the activities of the organization and its members of many varied skills and genres. I only occasionally attended OIW meetings in person because I was frequently doing theatre rehearsals on the same evening -- often in an adjoining room at the same community centre. I did attend a particularly memorable Christmas dinner at a pub in the market, at which I had the luck to be squished into a booth with the likes of Mike Heenan and other entertaining and candid OIW tablemates. Who could not have fun amid the company of a bunch of writers engaged in a competition of wit?

That was long before Covid had been invented.

Now I find myself more involved than before and enjoying it (and suddenly again overcommitted.)

Meeting “on Zoom” has become both the blessing and the curse of Covid. By now, we each have our system, our repertoire of zoom settings and clicks, and our groups with whom we do video or no video. And Zoom is an opportunity to attend events we were previously unable to get to - -because now we don’t have to go out in the dark, park the car, or wear pants.

I was invited to observe an OIW board meeting on the possibility of contributing a bit of help to our overworked Communications Director, Tamara Miller. The virtual meeting was entertaining and friendly, a candid gathering of our board who are becoming accustomed to meeting with each other by Zoom. I was welcomed and respectfully took in ideas; and noted other newcomers offering to participate on the board.

A week later, along with about 30 other OIW members, I participated in the OIW regular monthly meeting, meetings that have traditionally included a guest speaker or workshop related to writing interests of the membership. Members of the board articulated with delight that guest speakers no longer need to be limited to geographical proximity.

The feature presentation was a demonstration by Kathleen Sweeney, of Book Brush ( Book Brush is an online design software and platform for fast and easy do-it- your self design for ads, social media postings and numerous other applications, including cover design, specifically for books and their authors.

Following a brief introductory housekeeping meeting and a deservedly enthusiastic introduction of Ms. Sweeney, there ensued an everything-you-need-to-know-in-under-an-hour training session on how to use Book Brush and what you can do with it. The possibilities were astounding as a whole new world opened up to independent writers. Gone are the days of hiring designers and negotiating images and fonts; and struggling with Word and Photoshop to piece together cover designs, posters and ads.

A subscription to Book Brush for a year is no more than the typical cost of a single cover design and promotional materials. For authors who might do more than one book in a year, it could be well worth the investment. The full session given by Kathleen Sweeney is here, for those who wish to check it our or refresh the session.

The ongoing good news is that OIW meetings are back in full swing and will remain available virtually until such time as large-group in-person gatherings are possible again.

Members are invited to recommend guest speakers and presentations, that would be of benefit and interest to OIW participants.

Contact Susan with your thoughts.

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