Mucking With Canva: A sort of review

In the interest of writing something about writing that has some interest to readers… I’ve been mucking around with Canva with the idea of maybe designing my own book covers. I’d heard a bit about the program and decided to see if it was going to be ridiculously difficult.

I was never what I would call a visual artist. My drawing ability was primitive at best, as was any sculpting ability. I would up turning into a decent photographer, but I have to admit that my father is better than me at it.

Computer programs have become my friend when it comes to art. I’ve had some past success with Wonderdraft to help draw maps for possible future fantasy projects, so I won’t have to have someone to do that for me. I always thought maps helped make those books, so that was nice to see.

I have Canva both on my laptop and phone for my use. So far, I have been using the mobile app more because it’s pretty easy for me to just whip it out and begin tinkering around with it.

Canva allows you to make a wide variety of projects for either digital media (like wallpapers, Facebook covers, etc.) or print products (fliers, postcards, book covers). There are plenty of options on background, coloring, design elements, and other items out there. I just spent what I thought was going to be a few minutes whipping up a quick logo for a fictional soccer club and it took me 30 minutes to do so not because it was a difficult thing to do, but I was overwhelmed by the choices I had and all the options there were.

Mostly, however, I’m planning on using it for book covers. Again, you can spend forever trying on different fonts and pictures. I’m thinking that photos can go over some of the covers… or maybe I just want some other abstract graphics that might work out easier.

One of the things I haven’t figured out with this yet is if it allows me to design book dust covers, or if I’m going to have to jury-rig something like making most of one page white for me to do that. That would be fairly simple, although I’d be interested to see what sort of detail I’d have to put in it.

I eventually went for the Canva Pro setup, which makes sense since it costs about the same as a decent meal out one night a month ($14 or so). You have a lot more access to a wider variety of materials and templates out there, so there’s that.

I think one bit of evidence that I’m starting to like this program is that I spent a whole hour messing around with it regarding this new book jacket. I don’t know if I would ever design a book cover with mo help, but this might give me some options. I’m giving it a tentative five of five stars (I reserve the right to drop it to four stars if something doesn’t work out on me saving files, but so far so good.)

I’ll try not to make you wait for this so late on Sunday I promihahahah who am I kidding this will happen again.

Anyway, see you later this week. Take care of yourselves, everyone.

Getting To Work

Today’s featured photos was one of the Pexels photos that I found when I did a search for “Getting to Work.”

Yeah, I was surprised at the photo too. (Credit for this photo goes to Maggie Rivers. Check her out.)

Honestly, I’m a bit embarrassed to be posting this late on Sunday. I know I was getting more engagement on a Saturday post, but I let things sit until now. Partly that was because I was busy putting together a few things for my wife this weekend, but partly because I thought I was going to be writing something far more profound that what I’m about to do.

I’ve signed up with ConvertKit to see if I can get an email list going. I know some people have already used their email to subscribe to this blog, but my thinking is that I need to have something dedicated specifically to building that list and attracting readers to me, my past and future writings, and my blog. So, I’ve taken the plunge. and am going to start setting it up. I’ll probably wait a little bit before an official launch.

I’ll probably have some exclusive content, like fiction, poetry, or articles, I will be giving away exclusively for those who sign up. I’m still trying to get it all sorted in my head.

This week, I need to pump my writing back up. I wound up finishing some long delayed revision work on a project I’ve had on tap for a while.

Plans for the week

  1. Continue to set up the email list, especially this “landing page.”
  2. Look into Canva. I suck at designing things.
  3. Set up a query letter for my new project.
  4. Get more writing done.

Yup, it’s not much. But I might as well keep going and make more progress.

Writing Journal 4.27.2020: Down week as I try to read as much as write

Not much new news, so I will keep this short.


Had a slight drop in productivity this week as opposed to last, but not a disastrous amount, so I was happy for a small favor. I’ve been honestly a bit lethargic for the past couple of weeks. If there is someone who might be able to deal with being alone or not, it’s likely me, but not going to a library has been a bit tougher than I expected. The fact that our two dogs seem to want to hang out in my bed every evening is a bit endearing and annoying at the same time.


However, things are getting better. I’m wrapping up whatever there is left of the school year and afterward, I will be looking forward to reuniting with my wife on a more regular basis when I finish the move to Chariton, although the full transition is going to take a while.


I think it’s important that I need to do better to try and stick to a schedule. That can be sort of tough with two teens not on a regular schedule and people coming in at irregular hours to look at the old house.


I’m going to make every effort to read farther along in Lord of the Rings and do a first reaction to the next couple chapters. Wish me luck, and here are last week’s stats.


+6,048 words written.

Days writing: 4 of 7.

Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 45 total minutes.

Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.

Writing Statistics for 2019 in review

So, I wound up doing this last year around this time and it was interesting to see those numbers. I also did a first half of the year review back this summer, so I’ll likely review my activity for the second half of the year, the year in it’s entirety, and maybe try and do some comparisons to the last couple of years that I was using similar stats to see if there are any changes.

Second half of 2019:

  • Jul:
    • Words: 3,465
    • Revise/Plan: 1,650
    • DWGM: 80%
  • Aug:
    • Words: 5,258
    • Revise/Plan: 1,290
    • DWGM: 82%
  • Sep:
    • Words: 38,711
    • Revise/Plan: 180
    • DWGM: 100%
  • Oct:
    • Words: 29,405
    • Revise/Plan: 1,260
    • DWGM: 94%
  • Nov:
    • Words: 10,474
    • Revise/Plan: 480
    • DWGM: 94%
  • Dec:
    • Words: 29,530
    • Revise/Plan: 510
    • DWGM: 79%
  • 2nd:
    • Words (total): 117,843
    • Words (avg.): 19,641
    • Revise/Plan (total): 5,370
    • Revise/Plan (avg.) 895
    • DWGM (avg.): 88%

And, the stats from 2019 as a whole:

  • 2019:
    • Words (total): 193,881
    • Words (avg.) 16,157
    • Revise/Plan (total): 8,865
    • Revise/Plan (avg.): 739
    • DWGM (avg.): 78%

So, how does this compare to the totals I saw the past couple of years? It’s definitely an improvement over last year, which was the first year that I used this format to track my progress.

  • 2018:
    • Words (total): 53,878
    • Words (avg.): 4,490
    • Revisions (total): 8,955
    • Revisions (avg.): 746
    • DWGM (avg.): 52%

As you can see, I did a much better job at reaching my writing quotas than last year. I wrote more words overall (even though a good portion of that is fan fiction, it’s still fiction, folks), only had a slight drop in revisions and planning, but, again, I made my quotas on a much more consistent basis than before.


So, I felt good about how my work output grew since the beginning of 2018. I might actually start developing some consistency if I don’t look out. 🙂


We’ll see how 2020 goes.

Life Changes IRL: An update

Well, I think part of the reason that I decided to take something of a writing pause is that things have been going on in real life (IRL) that have been a bit of a distraction. The biggest one of those distractions has been where my family will be living in the near future.

Normally, I don’t talk about my personal life here on the blog, but this is big news for me, and represents something of a crossroads for my family. So, I think I need to share it here.

My wife Laura has been busy with a lot of things over the past couple of years – running her own business, a close run for local political office, and, as always, volunteering in our community. However, one of her personal ambitions has been to be in city management. She worked in solid waste management for several years (long story) and had always wanted to move up the municipal ladder.

This month, we got the news that a city in south central Iowa has offered to make her their city manager. She’s going to start next month. I can’t tell you how proud I am of her, and it’s just the latest of many great accomplishments my wife has made in her life.

What it means is that there is now a countdown to my time in Muscatine. I’ve lived here for more than 30 years, and I will be moving away within a year, after our second and last kid graduates from high school here. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to handle it.

One of the strange things is that I won’t be a couple dozen blocks from the Mississippi River, one of the biggest natural features in my life. I’ve lived next to this river for 40 years (10 of those in Clinton) and I’m not sure how that will affect my head space. Somehow big bodies of water keep me centered, keep me at peace. I think that’s one of the reasons why I started Project C, this poetry collection. Many of the poems and writings I’ve put together as part of that collection have to do with life on the river. Some part of me thinks that I’ll feel like a refugee in the middle of Iowa. But, it’s a lovely town, and the people there want my wife to work for them. I can drive on over to rivers and lakes if I want to. It’s not like I stop at the Mississippi every day… but it was nice to know it was there.

Of course, I’ll miss my wife for the year that she’ll split time between there and here. But I’m used to that – we carried on a long-distance relationship during my and her years in college before getting married. We managed that without Skype, without Facebook, without even email or cheap long distance calling. I probably kept up my writing skills with the letters I sent her during those years. A year will go like a breeze.

As I go into a new adventure, I’m not forgetting my writing by any means. I’ll be away from the fellow writers I met at Writers on the Avenue here in Muscatine and the Midwest Writing Center in the Quad Cities, but I’m hopeful I can find other fellow writers in the area, especially being closer to the Des Moines area.

It’s a new and exciting adventure, and I usually do my best writing when I’m feeling good about things. All I know is that wherever I live with my wife, that’s going to be home to me. And I’ll keep writing, landbound or not.

Some Pictures Of The New Library In My Town Because Why Not

In a post just a bit ago, I talked about my background with libraries and the fact that my hometown has moved its library into a new building. I took the time yesterday to tour the place with my daughter. First impressions; very airy and bright, with plenty of places to sit and read. And, I managed to figure out the automatic checkout as well.


I think I promised to take some pictures of the new place when I got there. Well, here they are. Enjoy. I personally am looking forward to more reading and book fines in the times to come. 🙂

WOTA wants your poems!

Don’t usually do this, but I wanted to help out my local writing group. 🙂

Writers on the Avenue

Writers on the Avenue is holding a poetry contest for residents of Muscatine and adjacent counties, with prizes available in three categories: adult, teen (13-17), and youth (12 and under). The first prize in the adult category is $25. The deadline for submission is March 30, 2018.

Send 5 poems or up to 5 pages of unpublished work along with a cover sheet listing your name, mailing address, phone number, email address, category, and titles or first line(s) of poems to this email address, or mail to WOTA Poetry Contest, 2614 Imperial Oaks Drive, Muscatine, IA 52761. There is no entry fee.

All entries will be considered for publication in a winners’ anthology tentatively titled  From River to River. Complete contest rules are listed below.

If you are not a resident eligible for the contest, but would still like to submit your work for consideration for the anthology, or…

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