"" Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_8339780_put-emoticons-blogger.html WillowRaven Illustration & Design Plus: June 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cloud Runner gets Jinxed!

I first introduced Cloud Runner in September of last year, but the actual work was created almost two years ago. Over time, many people have expressed enjoying the piece, but Jack Tyler (AKA: Blimprider), one of my  fellow-members on Steampunk Empire, took it one step further ... 

Jack was inspired to expand upon a passing character in volume I of his Beyond the Rails series (part of The Blimprider Chronicles), and focus an entire volume on the exploits of Abigail 'Jinx' Jenkins; a woman of "ambiguous morals," whose "motivations are less than clear." Jack plans to take his character and readers, "on the ride of a lifetime." So from this day on, the Cloud Runner is also to be known as Jinxed.

Jack sent me a mini-blurb to post until the final blurb is ready. The final blurb will be on the Jinxed page on my website for those reading this in the future.


Life in the African colonies was a difficult proposition in 1884, and the crew of the Kestrel had long faced a dangerous life on the far edge of the harsh environment. They could little imagine how much more dangerous it would become when an old acquaintance returns with an unbelievable story.

I also had fun creating Jack's logo for his writing. It will appear in one of four formats in, on, and in relation to his writing. I had fun with them, too. I can safely say my most-fun logo creations to date. I created six variations for his business use, three in color and three in b/w:

Keep an eye out for this series. Plans to release volume II before Christmas and volume III next summer promised to keep us entertained for quite some time. :D

Start the adventure with volume I ...

Jack Tyler can be found hanging out at S.W.A.G. & SPE:

Onto wrapping up the next book :D

Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven


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

Thursday, June 5, 2014

How do I, as a freelance artist, help to protect my industry?

On a weekly basis, I am exposed to many forms of project proposals that are simply damaging to the commercial artists' industry, specifically that of book illustrators and cover artists. There isn't much I, as an individual, can do to safeguard my industry. But if more artists took a stand, attitudes toward artists and the value of their work would improve, as well as our rates.

Over the last half-century, the accepted rates a commercial book cover artist or book illustrator could expect has dropped considerably, for many reasons. One is the advent of stock imagery and graphic designers taking on the role cover artists were traditionally hired to do. A designer can photo-manipulate stock images much faster, and at less cost, than a cover artist or illustrator can create an original artwork. This means a designer can afford to charge less than a cover artist. And given the opportunity, most authors and publishers would opt to pay a lower rate for their book cover than a higher price. It's just basic math.

How do some projects further damage the commercial art industry?

Some prospective clients request free samples or mockups based on their particular project description. What they are  doing is asking an artist to work for free, even if they don't realize it, more so if the client is asking several artists for free mockups, where only one artist will 'win' the job ... a form of crowdsourcing.

Many of those willing to pay an artist outright are only willing to offer ridiculously low payment for artwork, some even wanting to own the full rights to the image. When I say ridiculous, I mean at a fraction of accepted fair rates, not just for the commercial arts industry, but for ANY work.

Of course, at least the above is willing to pay something. Far too many authors and publishers think offering an artist nothing more than 'credit' or 'exposure' is an some honor; an 'honor' that manipulates many desperate artists and dupes them into doing free work.

Even if an artist does not portray themselves as desperate (or even think of themselves in that way), any artist willing to put hours of work and expensive art tools and supplies toward a project that they have not been, and may not be, paid for, is acting desperate.  When they could devote their training and energies toward a paid commission, and participates in a contest or bidding war or other SPEC project, is either desperate, a hobbyist, a newbie, or has no respect for the craft or industry as a whole.

Most who facilitate such activities are unaware of the harm it does to my industry. How could they be unless they are the one being affected by the continually depreciating value of book cover art?

So ... How do I, as a freelance artist, help to protect my industry?

  • I don't add to the growing depreciation of my industry by participating in project bidding, commercial contests, or crowdsourcing.
  • I prove my obligation to protect my industry by not participating in activities designed to manipulate artists into working for free. It's degrading to my craft.
  • Whenever possible, I explain to the project creator why I am withdrawing myself from the activity, explaining it's not meant to be a rejection of their book or project or them, but a personal stand against whatever depreciating practice the project is perpetuating.

What can one do instead of offering artistic services or free?

  • If an artist's portfolio stands up well enough for any prospective client to be able to see what my capabilities as an artist are, it's more likely to eliminating the need for said client to desire a free sample before making a decision to hire.
  • Don't be a desperate artist. Leave desperate acts to those that are, indeed, desperate.

Onto wrapping up the next book :D

Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven


This post edited by*: Seven errors were remedied.

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

Monday, June 2, 2014

'Rumspringa' ... cover art and design for Shakuita Johnson (@sljay1184)

Rumspringa ...

I grew up among the Pennsylvania Dutch folk, complete with horse-drawn buggies, covered bridges, and hex signs on barns, and still find this Amish rite of passage mysterious and somewhat romantic.

Rumspringa, sometimes spelled Rumschpringe or Rumshpringa, means running or jumping around and is used to describe the time of adolescence in the Amish community. It begins around fourteen and ends around sixteen or seventeen, when the teen makes the ultimate decision as to whether to be baptised into the faith or choose to 'live among the English.'

During this period, teens are permitted to date (with the intent of finding a spouse), and the average rigid life of the Amish is a bit more relaxed. Offenses that would usually result in shunning are likely to be overlooked or treated with less severity, at this time. Defying one's parents, 'dressing English,' smoking, drinking alcohol, even owning a car and traveling outside the community for a year is common.

A small percentage of teens decide never to return to Amish life.

With such an exotic tradition within such a secretive community in this modern age, it's not hard to understand how Shakuita Johnson could spin a supernatural tale of fantasy focused around Rumspringa ... A ceremony where teens, instead of leaving for a year to sow their oats, come together to be tested in their abilities to control the natural elements, earth, air, fire, and water, and have their lead element declared on their 16th birthday.

As happens with some of my favorite projects, the cover for Rumspringa started with a project outline and morphed into something completely different before it was done. My favorite part? It's hard to say. I was a real challenge to represent the basic elements in a way no one has seen in a movie or on a book before. I also spent a lot of time on the horse and buggy. Maybe it was the moon? lol. What's your favorite part?

Shakuita tells me release has been delayed because her story has taken on a life of its own, as did its cover. Maybe the two are connected? lol

Once she gets me a blurb, I'll share it :D


Here's the promised blurb ...

What would you do for love? Would you sit by and let it pass you by, or would you grab onto it no matter the cost? Would you break the rules and leave everyone else behind so guarantee your own happiness?

Sy Cole wants what all sixteen-year-old girls in her coven want. To master one of the four elements, move out of her parents' home, and into her new one with her chosen husband. It seemed all that was within her grasp, when it was brutally snatched away.

Instead of sitting by and letting her life be dictated, she acted. When faced with having to choose family over love, she chose love. She took control of her life and went on a journey that would turn all she knew and was always told upside down.

On the run and looking over her shoulder Sy, along with her love Jamie, look for the only people she believes can help them now…her brothers.

Join Sy as she undergoes the ceremony that changes her life forever. Whether it's for good or bad is still to be determined.

Don't forget to connect with Shakuita on her website and Twitter:


Shakuita Johnson


Onto wrapping up the next book :D

Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven


This post edited by*:

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

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Authors ... Get a professional edit for FREE!

Some of you may have notice that I passively promote Grammarly at the bottom of my blog posts. Some may also wonder why a book cover artist, not a writer, promotes a writing tool for authors, lol. 

It's simple ... I use Grammarly. I'm an artist who doesn't want to look like a total moron to my main clientele ... Authors. At least, that's why I started using and promoting Grammarly.

Now that I've got 500+ books under my belt, and lots of experience working with new and not-so-new authors and editors, I've learned the second biggest detriment to a book's success is poor editing (poor cover art being the biggest).

For authors going the traditional route, if a manuscript is poorly edited, it's not going to be contracted. Yes, trad PHs include editing as part of the deal, but they have to pay their editors approximately $45/hr. If they foresee more than 'X' amount of hours is needed to get a manuscript ready or publication, what they really see is the fat check they need to pay out in advance, before the book ever sees the light of day and can start recouping costs in royalties. The story may be hot, but poor grammar will kill it before it has a chance to thrive.

Indie authors have different reasons for needing a professionally edited manuscript. True they don't need to impress an acquisition's editor, but they have the toughest crowd of all ... The readers. 

Self-published books, although more acceptable than 10-20 years ago, still fight an uphill battle for acceptance. Most of the publishing industry, including the booksellers, still frown on self-published books and deservedly so. The vast majority of self-published books are poorly designed, edited, and written.

Now, there are  hundreds of thousands of self-published books each year ... 75% of all books are self-published. Authors desiring the control self-publishing offers, yet still wanting to present a well-written, professionally edited book, would usually have to pay $1500-$2500 for a standard-sized novel (50,000 words). The more that editor has to do, the more you, the author has to invest.

Considering that you also need to pay for a cover artist and/or a designer, you are looking at another $500 - $2500 in artistic services. And since most writers don't have the skills need to create their own visual marketing tools, saving on editing costs is usually the safer route. But, the manuscript still needs a proper edit... Grammarly has the best solution.

The software has several writing styles to choose from, as well since there is a big difference between technical writing, general writing, and creative writing. It even had an add-in for Microsoft Office Word, allowing one to have the power of Grammarly right in the document. And if you don't use Word, but free software like OpenOffice or LibraOffice, you can use their online editor by just signing in. :D

4,000,000 (yes, million) people trust Grammarly to prepare their manuscripts from 250 different grammatical errors. It works as well for articles, reports, and even emails to insure we all don't look like idiots in this world of international, online communication. My thirteen year old son even uses it for his school work. It's really helped to improve his writing because it doesn't do the work for him, it points out the errors and gives a mini-lesson as to why it's wrong, then he edits and re-scans or errors. It even points out wordiness, synonyms, passive voice, and even looks for plagiarism.

People who can benefit from using Grammarly :

Students and Academia
Proofread essays and academic papers
Polish emails, memos and proposals
Job Applicants
Edit resumes and cover letters
Authors and Writers
Proofread editorial copy, blog posts, and stories
English Learners and Native Speakers
Spell check, improve text and writing skills
Medical and Technical Writers
Grammar check medical reports, product descriptions and white papers

Grammarly has been featured in:

Grammarly also fits all budgets...

From emails, to business proposals, to social media updates, most people write every day. Grammarly can help. Choose from our monthly, quarterly, and annual subscription plans.

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Check out Grammarly to improve your writing, today. :D

Onto wrapping up the next book :D

Until next time ...
Aidana WillowRaven


This post edited by*:

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