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Friday, June 21, 2019

UNHOLY WARRIOR ~ cover art and design for Rebecka Jäger (@JagerWriter)

I love, love, LOVE, projects that allow me to explore themes outside my usual repertoire. Unholy Warrior, by Rebecka Jäger, blends magic, action, mythology, war, spies, and much, much more, all in the harsh, yet beautiful, setting of the Arctic. 

But I'm sure you'd rather read about Rebecka's pending book that my excitement over the art. So let me share the book's blurb and a little bit about the author...

Rebane Nordstrom, an expert sniper in the ranks of ODON, (an elite reconnaissance unit in frozen, post-apocalyptic Europe twenty-five years after the nuclear holocaust), doesn’t know how to give up ... ever.

Escaping prison and avoiding being blackmailed into becoming a double agent, Rebane realizes some enemies are too big and strong to be overcome alone. No woman is an island ... not even one as capable as Rebane Nordstrom. Help is around the corner, but sometimes, looks are deceiving. 

A desperate alliance between two women from the opposite sides of the war between the Russian Federation and the European Union is forged, and the totem animals and Gods of the North yield immense power for those who stop and pray. The extreme weather can wipe out entire armies and personified nature, magic, and omens shield Rebane from an overpowering and cruel enemy. 


“The future roots in the past and humanity may never learn. Aggression runs deep inside our genome. That’s what keeps us at the top of the food chain: as the ruling species which can kill and torture at will. Great gifts come with great responsibility—something we haven’t learned yet.”       —Rebecka Jäger

Rebecka Jäger was born in Northern Finland. She studied history at the University of Helsinki and screenwriting at Aalto University’s Department of Film, Television, and Scenography.

She wrote professional texts throughout her career but decided to learn the delicate art of writing fiction later on. She mastered the craft in different writer’s workshops—always keen to become a better writer.
Her work ranges from dystopian to historical and stays mostly within the thriller genre. She is a passionate hunter and musher. Arctic nature is a recurring theme in her writing.

The original artwork is also available as a wall print through my Imagekind gallery, sample below.

Be sure to connect with Rebecka Jäger on all her social networks and online activities (best way to get signed copies and news of the latest events and promotions):









Onto wrapping up the next book :-D
Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven



This post edited by Grammarly* ~ NOW FREE FOR CHROME USERS!

Grammarly.com
*Blurbs and quotes provided are not edited by WillowRaven but posted as provided by author/publisher.

*All art and designs in this post were created by myself unless otherwise noted even if some images have been replaced with newer ones to keep post current with my portfolio.

Monday, May 13, 2019

THE DRAGON SHIFTERS AT SOUTHGATE ~ cover art and design for Sherry Leclerc (@sleclercauthor) and Ternias Publishing (@terniaspublish)

First ... DRAGON ... Now that that's out of my system, lol ... I can tell you about my latest project.

It took me longer than expected (we had to move, which is always a pain, then I had an unexpected surgery) but I finally have the chance to show off Sherry Leclerc's latest book, book two of the Seers Series, The Dragon Shifters at Southgate.

First I'll share the book's blurb before posting the excellent review Literary Titan gave it, along with the award LT bestowed it, too.

Blurb: 
A Seer Champion sworn
to protect Southgate.

A Dragon Shifter Lord sworn
to protect his clan.

Can they join forces to defeat the evil
that threatens to lay waste to them all?
Seer Champion Talwyn Sevi must protect Southgate and its keystone against the evil forces that threaten to destroy them. Knowing she cannot do it alone, she seeks help from a group of reclusive Dragon Shifters. In return, she offers them information vital to their survival. Can Talwyn gain the Dragon Lord’s trust in time to save Southgate and the dragonkin?​



The Dragon Shifters at SouthgateBook 2 of The Seers Series is a creative piece of literature with an action-packed plot and well-developed characters in a world with a rich backstory. This book has an enthralling story line that constantly hints at something larger. The author’s writing style is simple, making it easily accessible by anyone, and her way of narrating the story naturally capture’s the reader’s interest.”
                                           ~Literary Titan Editorial Review


Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio (soon). ​​
The original artwork is also available as a wall prints through my Imagekind gallery, samples below.





Like the artwork? Think it would make a nice wall print? You're in luck. They can be found in my Imagekind gallery ...






Available in hardcoverpaperback, and ebook.
The original artwork is also available
as a wall print through my 
Imagekind gallery.
And while you're at it, don't forget to grab a copy of The Guardians of Eastgate, book one of the Seers Series - Second Edition.

Blurb:

An ancient evil threatens the realm of Sterrenvar. A race of people called the seers had appointed themselves Guardians of the Realm, guarding the safety of their world and all the people in it.

Maelona Sima is one of four seer champions tasked with protecting the four keystones from being breached by evil forces, thus leaving an immeasurable magical force free to be used against the realm’s inhabitants. Yet Maelona is more than a seer. She is unique in her world, and she is the best hope of survival for the people of Sterrenvar…the very people who once hunted down and killed many of the seer people out of fear and mistrust.

Protecting the keystones is the first line of defense against the evil sorcerer who wishes to enslave the realm. Can Maelona, the guardian of the keystone at Eastgate, and her friends Blaez, a wolf shifter, and Gareth, a human prince, bring together their peoples to save Eastgate from destruction in this first book of the Seers series?



Available in hardcoverpaperback, and ebook.
The original artwork is also available as a wall print through my 
Imagekind gallery.

Be sure to connect with Sherry Leclerc on all her social networks and online activities (best way to get signed copies and news of the latest promotions):







Onto wrapping up the next book :-D
Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven

http://WillowRaven.weebly.com


This post edited by Grammarly* ~ NOW FREE FOR CHROME USERS!

Grammarly.com
*Blurbs and quotes provided are not edited by WillowRaven but posted as provided by author/publisher.

*All art and designs in this post were created by myself unless otherwise noted even if some images have been replaced with newer ones to keep post current with my portfolio.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

SUBLIMATION; cover art and design for CD/album by A Little Fire Scarecrow (Coraline Ada Ehmke @CoralineAda)

Available widely on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Google Play soon.
Title treatment may be different when purchased.
I'm excited to share my latest project with all of you. Unlike most of my commissions, the cover art and design for Sublimation, an album by A Little Fire Scarecrow, (AKA Coraline Ada Ehmke, @CoralineAda on Twitter) will be available for purchase soon.

I met Coraline on Twitter, which is how I meet most of my clients. We got to talking about her art needs for her newest album. After a bit of back and forth, I learned she had sketched something that captures the emotions that inspired this album. Using her sketch as a guide, I set to recreating my own interpretation of it. (See below.)

*Title treatment may be different when purchased. Client had a different aesthetic and you wanted to match an existing brand-look. The client gets what the client wants, of course, but I was given permission to show my version, as well, in my folio and promos. Thanks, Coraline :).

Here's a closer look at the art, minus title treatment:




bio: A Little Fire Scarecrow is a recording project by Coraline Ada Ehmke, a transgender musician who writes, records, and produces from her home studio in Chicago. Coraline sings, plays bass, guitar, keyboards, and a variety of folk instruments, and her music features occasional contributions from Kevin Chatham (bass) and Alva Snædís (guitar and bass).

Coraline believes that music is literature. Every song is a story told in words and sounds, the music painting a landscape, creating a sense of space and place. Her style encompasses rich layers superimposed on each other to create a distinctive, other-worldly quality. She draws inspiration from Legendary Pink Dots, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Swans, Gary Numan, and a number of post-rock, chamber psych, and old-school goth artists.

original sketch by Coraline Ada Ehmke
Coraline has released several albums, all available widely on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Google Play. You can hear samples and get links to listen or buy at alittlefirescarecrow.com. She is also co-author (with Naomi Freeman) of the book The Compassionate Coder, a guide to practicing empathy as a software developer. You can learn more about the book at compassionatecoder.com. Visit Coraline's website to learn more about this diverse creative.

Be sure to follow Coraline online to keep track of news and special events:












Onto wrapping up the next book :-D
Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven

http://WillowRaven.weebly.com


This post edited by Grammarly* ~ NOW FREE FOR CHROME USERS!

Grammarly.com
*Blurbs and quotes provided are not edited by WillowRaven but posted as provided by author/publisher.

*All art and designs in this post were created by myself unless otherwise noted even if some images have been replaced with newer ones to keep post current with my portfolio.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The best way to protect yourself and your freelance business in a Paypal dispute ...

It's not easy, but there is 'seller-protection' if you use Paypal to invoice your clients for art, design, editing, or any other service. It's not easy, but if you are prepared and persistent, you can win a dispute if you're in the right and can prove it.

The easiest way is to avoid disputes all together and keep clients happy, which isn't always possible. In general, though, most of the clients you'll run into are good people and will work with you if there is a delay that couldn't be helped (don't get me wrong ... I've missed deadlines and have justifiably refunded disputes I am to blame for ... this is not what today's topic is about). 

Today's topic examples one of the other kinds of client; the kind that thinks it's ok to hire someone then turn around, and for whatever reason, go back on the deal and file a dispute with Paypal, resulting in their getting their money back after the provider has done his or her part.. a disturbing trend I am seeing more and more in the publishing community.

The following scenario happened to me this week and I'm sharing it with you today in hopes it may help you protect yourself from unfair or unethical clients in the future.

On March 24th, I was contacted via Twitter DM about a potential book cover art commission. So far, a normal exchange. After extensive messaging back and forth (all of which I saved a copy for the client's file), I had enough information to put together an itemized quote via a Paypal invoice. The client agreed to the terms on the invoice and paid the negotiated 50% in advance with a hard deadline of April 15th, 2019. 

On April 12th, a Friday, I had a draft ready for feedback. We discussed what more I needed to do over the weekend. Otherwise, he seemed happy with where the work was heading so I set myself the goal of finishing the final painting by Monday, the 15th. This means ... STAY OFFLINE AND PAINT, PAINT, PAINT.

Monday morning rolls around and I log onto Twitter and see several messages came in on Sunday. I send him a message requesting final materials he had yet to provide (back cover blurb, formatted text page count, paper color of choice, so I could download the cover template and submit the final files for upload by the end of the day, materials he knew from day one would be needed.

He fires back ... "I'm done with you. I hired another artist yesterday."

I tried to politely deescalate the situation, reminded him the deadline was the 15th, not 14th, and asked why he hired someone else knowing I was almost done. After several rude comments, he informed me that he was not only not going to pay the remainder of what he owes me, but he was going to file a dispute with Paypal to get his full deposit back.

At first, the powers that be sided with him. I appealed the decision, submitting my proof. They sided with him again, I called back within minutes of receiving notice and re-opened the appeal and re-sent my proof. Believe it or not, they sided with the buyer a third time. I called back last night, spoke with someone again, and had the Paypal Agent read from the files submitted the agreed-to date in the transcript and the invoice and the mistaken date the client mentions in the tirade of abusive comments he'd sent me on the morning of the 15th. I also had him recognize the return policy also on the invoice.

In the end, Paypal sided with me because I forced them to pay attention to the agreed-to dates detailed both on the invoice and in the Twitter DM transcript. But I wouldn't have had the tools to fight with had I been vague on the invoice and not vigilantly kept all communications. Persistane is also a big factor. If you are in the right ... KEEP FIGHTING.

Paypal has returned the funds to my account, and I doubt the client will ever pay me the remaining balance he owes, and I'm stuck with an artwork I likely won't be able to sell, but for now, a battle has been won. (If you'd like to see the art, visit my website.)

Why not the war? Because this is not the first run-in I've had with an author who feels they can abuse a freelancer. Christmas before-last, I had an author not only push me into a crazy deadline, but she received her files, uploaded her book to Amazon, then claimed to Paypal she never received the art. Even though I provided links to the book posted on Amazon with my name on the copyright page as the cover artist, they still sided with the buyer. The author used the stolen money to buy a billboard ad. That was my son's Christmas money. One reason why I've gotten more diligent with the recording of details.

In closing ... be prepared, be fair. If it's your fault, suck it up if the client can't or isn't willing to work it out. If it's them being unethical, fight and don't let them get away with it. Even if they win in the end, make a noise.








Onto wrapping up the next book :-D
Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven

http://WillowRaven.weebly.com


This post edited by Grammarly* ~ NOW FREE FOR CHROME USERS!

Grammarly.com
*Blurbs and quotes provided are not edited by WillowRaven but posted as provided by author/publisher.

*All art and designs in this post were created by myself unless otherwise noted even if some images have been replaced with newer ones to keep post current with my portfolio.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Tutorial: How to retouch photos ... From Snapshot to Glamour/Silver-Screen Shot

Some really bad, supposedly professional, photos come to me for retouching. It's craziness. I've seen better pictures taken with a camera phone and some sensible prep, like decent lighting and making sure you're wearing contrasting colors and standing against a nice background (nice doesn't necessarily mean 'pretty', I like textured surfaces, like the brick in today's example), even if plain.

However, ever notice how the new digital cameras and phones seem to expose and enhance those little flaws we all have, rather than hide them, like wrinkles, blemishes, uneven skin tones, etc.? But who can afford a professional photo these days with retouching starting at $45/hr?

For you do-it-yourselfers, here is a brief tutorial of how a little time in Photoshop can take your snapshot (on the left) to the glamour/silver-screen shot photos on the right. {Thanks to Vivian Zabel for letting me use the bio-pic I refined for her latest book, Burnt Offering for this tutorial.}


The first thing I did was crop in closer on Vivian's face. Her position in the photo is a bit too low, creating the illusion that the viewer is looking down on her rather than at her. 

The second step was to bump the brightness/contrast settings (found under the Image tab to 0 brightness - 100 contrast. Doing so did emphasize the shadows and wrinkles a little, but remember, we're going to smooth those out.

I use a few different Photoshop filter programs, but for this project, I used PhotoDonut. Once exporting the cropped, higher-contrast image into PhotoDonut, I chose a filter called Nice Skin. After saving it, I placed it over the pre-filtered image and set the transparency to 70%. This dampened the glowy-dreamy-soft effect a little and allowed some of the defining lines to still show through, as in, the edges of her eyes, lips, cheekbones, and chin. 

I created a 'composite' layer above it all with keycode ctrl-shift-alt-e. On that layer, I added a mask so I could erase the softened eyes without messing with the layer itself since the eyes in the unfiltered version are much sharper. Remember, we only want to soften the skin.

After making a new composite layer, I made a copy of it, then used the patch tool (looks like a knee patch, found under the healing tool, which looks like a bandage) to grab and clone out harsher areas and blend with favored areas. In this case, shadows under the chin and around the neck.

Once everything is the way I like it, I create a final composite layer, make a b/w layer, and adjust the brightness/contrast of the b/w layer to 25/30. 

Feel free to comment or contact me with any questions. But before I close, I'd like to thank Vivian for letting me use her photo for this tutorial. And be sure to check out her book, Burnt Offering.

Vivian Zabel:
Available in hardcover & paperback
through 4RV Publishing & most
physical & online retailers.
Throughout history, almost every people/nation worshiped idols at one time or another. During the 8th Century BCE, King Ahaz of Judah followed pagan worship by offering burnt offerings of children, his and others, to Moleck. Pressure on the king’s subjects provided many offerings and over-zealous action to find more sacrifices on the part of his advisors and nobles.

After viewing the brutal offering of the king’s infant son, Hadara could never forget the baby’s screams, the sight of the tiny body turning crisp, the smell of burning flesh. She sent her son and his family to Egypt so they would be safe. But, the question remained: Should she endanger herself and the rest her household to help other mothers and their children escape from Moleck’s fire?








Onto wrapping up the next book :-D
Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven

http://WillowRaven.weebly.com


This post edited by Grammarly* ~ NOW FREE FOR CHROME USERS!

Grammarly.com
*Blurbs and quotes provided are not edited by WillowRaven but posted as provided by author/publisher.

*All art and designs in this post were created by myself unless otherwise noted even if some images have been replaced with newer ones to keep post current with my portfolio.

BURNT OFFERING; cover art and design for historical fiction novel by Vivian Zabel (@VivianZabel) & 4RV Publishing (@4RV)

So much has been going on for the last several months (moving, holidays, four minor surgeries, life in general), I haven't posted anything new for some time.

As a result, I find myself itching to get back into my normal groove. What better way than to announce the completion of my latest project ... cover art and design for the historical fiction novel ... Burnt Offering by Vivian Zabel (published by 4RV Publishing).

Is there anything more fun than portraying a horrifying deity and the terrifying reality of what humanity is capable of doing in the name of religion? Or is that just me?

Blurb:

Throughout history, almost every people/nation worshiped idols at one time or another. During the 8th Century BCE, King Ahaz of Judah followed pagan worship by offering burnt offerings of children, his and others, to Moleck. Pressure on the king’s subjects provided many offerings and over-zealous action to find more sacrifices on the part of his advisors and nobles.

After viewing the brutal offering of the king’s infant son, Hadara could never forget the baby’s screams, the sight of the tiny body turning crisp, the smell of burning flesh. She sent her son and his family to Egypt so they would be safe. But, the question remained: Should she endanger herself and the rest her household to help other mothers and their children escape from Moleck’s fire?

Available in hardcover & paperback through 4RV Publishing & most physical & online retailers.


Be sure to follow Vivian Zabel and 4RV Publishing online to keep track of release dates and special events:







Onto wrapping up the next book :-D
Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven

http://WillowRaven.weebly.com


This post edited by Grammarly* ~ NOW FREE FOR CHROME USERS!

Grammarly.com
*Blurbs and quotes provided are not edited by WillowRaven but posted as provided by author/publisher.

*All art and designs in this post were created by myself unless otherwise noted even if some images have been replaced with newer ones to keep post current with my portfolio.