The Making of a Blog Post Image

As anyone can tell you, and many people will, the featured image on a blog post can have a strong impact on how many people will read the post. I know it does for me. The problem becomes how do I stand out from others blogging about the same subject(s)?

When I started this blog, I simply used the book cover as the featured image. It was simple and easy. But a year ago I went back and took another look at my stats and views. They weren’t where I would have wanted them. So I made a few changes. And waited again.

Things improved somewhat. I had more followers but the views were still not what I would want them to be. So I took another approach to the featured images. Just using the cover wasn’t cutting it, and Instagram is full of posts that show someone’s phone or tablet with the book cover displayed. This left me thinking harder about Computer Generated Images (CGI).

CGI images are not photoshopped. They are rendered using special programs. This little animation is an example of what these programs can do. Pixar and others do a much better job than I can!

So, how do I create these images? Putting aside the technical details of setting up a scene, let’s look at these. I start by looking at the settings of the book. I use that them to inform my choice. I’m not looking for photorealism in my images. To be honest, one image could take several hours to render that way! But by aiming for a nice images without photorealism, I can cut that time down to just a few minutes.

So, I have a couple of general purposes scenes that I use. This is a single frame rendered using the same setup as in the animation above. While the animation took over 1 hour to render, this took less than 5 minutes. I only have to change the book cover and rerender it to create the new image. I tend to use it for stories that can’t be tied to one setting.

These four settings also fit that category. There’s a simple rustic table, a living room end table, a beach table, and a picnic table. Then you come to the ones that can easily catered for.

This scene was created especially for this series. All of the books are set in a vineyard. So using a Mediterranean setting seems appropriate, although the vineyards are on the west coast.

This series involves a family of business men. The fact that they are all Dragon Shifters just adds to the enjoyment. A desk for a setting seemed appropriate.

So there you have it! A different take on featured images and creating the settings for them. I’ll keep looking for new and interesting ways to display the books from now on!

Small Space Decorating

When I was a young girl, we lived in a 3 story house in town. My dad loved to decorate the house for Christmas as did my mom. We had lights in every window. My mom had some kind of decoration everywhere in the house that she could.

Run time forward to today. Hubby and I live in a small trailer. Neither one of us like cleaning so the size fits us just fine. However, I still like to decorate for the season. So I have had to adjust my decorating ideas to fit my space.

The Front Door

Most of us have lovely Christmas wreaths to hang of our front door. What about the other seasons?

This is a perfectly nice wreath for spring but it wasn’t quite what I wanted. So I tried making my own.

I took a basic woven wreath, covered it with ribbon. Then I used my Cricut to make the flowers to glue on. It ended up hanging on the inside of the door.

Again, I started with a basic woven wreath. Only this time I wound a pair of flower garlands around it. Simple but looks good. Something anyone can do.

The Dinner Table

Most people have something as a centerpiece and tablecloths are easy to change.

Last year my husband surprised me with a Crystal Swan and a Crystal set of candleholders. They are beautiful and so very versatile to decorate with. Both are available from Amazon.

It started with filling the swan with ornaments and using red candles at Christmas. Quick change of candle color and add flowers. At the same time I switched the table coverings. Chargers are inexpensive and another way to change the look. Chargers can also serve another purpose. If you have a messy eater, they will catch the food that otherwise would have dropped on the table. The final change is dinnerware. I actually have different sets for different seasons.

Look Around The House!

Take a look around your home. Are there any other places where a small decoration can go? I’m not talking about the massive displays of knickknacks that I remember as a child. Our one home had a build in book shelf that my mom filled with knickknacks. It was my task once a week to go through and dust all of them! In today’s fast paced world, that’s not going to happen.

However, there are other options. Take a look at these pictures. After the season, I pack them up and put them away. It keeps things around the house looking fresh.

Don’t let the fact that you don’t have as much room as others stop you from decorating and enjoying your space. It’s your home, make it reflect your family!

Care Packages from Grandma #SocialDistancing

In all the times you thought about care packages 📦 from home, did you ever expect to sending one with face masks 🎭? As luck would have it, neither of my daughters sews. So while I was making some for myself and hubby, I called the girls to see if they needed some. Net result was my sending care packages 📦 off by Priority Mail.

Now I realize that hugs are off limits right now, but please, keep in touch with your family and friends. More than once, we’ve gotten FaceTime calls from my oldest because Riley (granddaughter) was bored and wanted to talk to “PawPaw” and “MeMaw”. I’ve also gotten calls from from friends who are also stuck at home 🏡 and bored!

Today after finding out that said friends were still waiting to receive the fabric order to make a mask, we decided to grab a couple of the extras and take them down to Ted and Carol. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed the company. Yeah, the area is under a “safer at home” 🏡, but all of us needed that time together.

So please, Video chat with all the friends that you can, and for older people who maybe aren’t as technologically savvy, take the time to find a way to visit them outside.