Christmas Jar – Review

Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 5.59.31 PMThis year another 50 Christmas films will release in theaters and on TV. Only the exceptional films, with top cast members, typically make it to the silver screen with the remainder landing on the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime. Many have tired of watching overused plotlines while continuing to watch with the hope of catching a glimpse of the true Christmas spirit.

There is only one film that I’ve screened this year that is worthy of the silver screen because it truly demonstrates grace, mercy, and redemption. The film is Christmas Jar, based on the New York Times Bestseller novel by Jason F. Wright. The film will be in theaters for one night only as a special Fathom Events program on November 4th.

The story is about Hope Jensen, a reporter who uncovers the secret behind the Christmas jars that are filled with money and anonymously left at the doors of people in need. The story follows Hope’s investigation into the jar that she received after her loss from an apartment break-in. Her attempts to capture the story behind the jar unravels into a series of events that lead to a heartfelt Christmas moment that is sure to inspire even the coldest of hearts toward the true meaning of Christmas.

The story opens with a couple of sad tearful moments and closes with the audience wiping away tears of joy. The film makes such a great impact that you might find yourself putting a Christmas Jar together with your family to give someone in your own neighborhood.

The story stars Jeni Ross (Titans, Suits, Taken) as Hope. She does a wonderful job playing a newbie journalist trying to get a shot at being a professional writer. During the investigation of her newsworthy story, she slowly falls in love with the generous and anonymous family, forcing her to decide between a future as a journalist and her moral values.

The film will make a great night out for the entire family that is looking to instill a little Christmas spirit in their lives. Tickets can be purchased here.

In theaters Nov. 4, ONE NIGHT ONLY.

Creative Ad Creation with Book Brush

Have you ever wanted to focus your time on creativity, using an intuitive online software system to build ads and promotional materials quickly?

I had the opportunity to try Book Brush and found it to be simple to use after the first ten minutes of dabbling with it. Book Brush is similar to Canva and Adobe Spark in that all three online software packages allow you to quickly build social media ads, blog and email headers, and promotional memes with ease. The biggest difference is that Book Brush is focused on helping authors.

Here is a sample promotion I built for my novel.

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It took me about three minutes to create the above promotional piece. I then spent another handful of minutes clicking on other templates for Facebook Ads, Pinterest posts, Instagram stories, email headers, etc. Within 10-15 minutes I had created a dozen various size ads.

The software allows you to swap out different book images, backgrounds, text containers and fonts, and buttons for use with online links. The process is very simple to use. The first step is selecting an ad size. You then choose a background followed by placing an image of your book.

Before placing the book, you have to upload your cover. Once it’s in the system, you select which direction you want it to face, whether or not it’s a 3D image, hardback or soft cover, positioned on a smartphone or tablet, or one of the other numerous choices. This is done with a simple click to select your product pose followed by another click to apply your cover image.

Typing text comes next. The system simplifies the process for those who just want to type and click. However, for those who want far more control, the system gives you about a dozen adjustable options. I found it easy to select a recommended standard and then tweak it to my satisfaction, rather than starting from scratch with a 100% custom idea.

Book Brush also has a Facebook Group of authors that use the software. They are there to help answer questions and share ideas with each other. Based on the comments, I’d say the group is very friendly and supportive of each other. So, if you’re an author, you might want to consider the great support system Book Brush has put in place for you.

For those who aren’t authors, the system is easy to use for creating an ad or promotional piece. The monthly fee is low and includes the license for supplied pictures. You can also upload your own pictures with ease.

The only downside of the system is a handful of things that are not intuitive, but I’ll assume that the folks at Book Brush will get to those areas soon, especially since they have consistently worked on improvements and additional functionality. In the meantime, make sure you save your work before clicking on a button that will take you from the workspace because you won’t be able to get back to it without losing your work.

© 2019 CJ Powers

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hopes that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Three Creative Journals Worth Exploring

I recently received three journals from the Ellie Claire imprint and was very impressed by the quality of the books. Not only do the books lay flat for the writer, but they use a very high grade of paper for those of us who like to sketch with ink. I even used watercolor markers without worrying about bleed through on a subsequent page.

fc3755_8ed06bba0d37467e94c4bd607ce3b518_mv2The Illuminate Your Story Journal had quotes and scriptures salted throughout the book. After every couple of writing pages, the book instructs the writer with how to create illuminated letters used in ancient times. The steps were easy to follow and helped me build my bullet journal lettering vocabulary of styles and fonts. Based on the book and my new abilities, the art of illumination is certainly not lost today, as I once thought.

The hard cover was designed to last a lifetime and is rugged enough to survive more drops than I’d make. The texture and embossing of the book are also of a high quality, making you feel like you own something worthy of your words. The artistic value is amazing and the elastic band to hold the book closed helps protect the pages when the book takes a tumble. The book also has a place saving ribbon and a pocket for collected ideas in the back.

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fc3755_0695f523a03a4f5fabd6f848fdb42986_mv2The Faith and Lettering book is a little larger in size and offers lessons on typography. It only took me a few minutes to understand one of the designs and immediately start using it in my daily business notes. The book also gives professional tips on how to draw flourishes, arrows, and banners.

One of the most fun aspects of the book is the training pages that encompass line art, a graphic, banner, and a mixture of type fonts using a decorative verse. The page shows the final work, provides a lightly traceable version for practice, and gives enough space for a couple efforts of your own.

Not only did I have fun practicing the various styles combined with imagery, but I found myself having memorized the verse just from the writing process. I also had the imagery of it ingrained in my brain so I could review it in my mind’s eye whenever I chose. Prior to doodling in this journal, I had no idea how quickly memorization could happen as a result of this artistic process.

fc3755_92690eef39404e29ac5d755c19f85c77_mv2The Illustrated Word was the third book I reviewed. It took me back in time to the art of the Renaissance. This coloring journal had numerous illustrations ready for my choice colors. It also had a fully colored segment on the opposite page to see what the artist thought to use as an appropriate color palette.

The book had far more pages for writing than the other books and included a full-color illustration on every spread from the Museum of the Bible archives. The artistry illustrated from hundreds of years ago was amazing, and the intricate handwritten words brought an understanding of the importance of words to bear.

All three books were masterfully crafted and raised my interest in the Ellie Claire imprint. I went to EllieClaire.com to see the hundred plus additional artistic products, most of which are worth far more than its price tag.

So, check out the three new journals and let me know how much you enjoy them.

Copyright 2018 by CJ Powers
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hopes that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”