"" Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_8339780_put-emoticons-blogger.html WillowRaven Illustration & Design Plus: May 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

'Blooded' claims Indie Reader Discovery Award!

I'm excited to announce that the third novel in the Young Adult SFF Lisen of Solsta series, Blooded has won the Indie Reader Discovery Award, just as the first two books in the series, Fractured and Tainted, did.

Blurb:

Racked by guilt after committing an act of vengeance at the end of Tainted, Lisen steps reluctantly into her role as Empir Ariannas inBlooded. In order to face the resulting personal devastation alone, she must harden her soul. When Lisen is kidnapped, she and her captain reunite briefly. But Korin cannot bring himself to reveal the consequences of their moment of passion in the Farii to her, leaving Lisen blind to the truth as the two of them once again glance off one another unable to admit their feelings.

Will Korin relent and reveal the secret he’s hidden from her? Will Lisen learn how to forgive herself for her self-perceived sins? Will she discover in her friends a sense of the family support she once felt on Earth? Will she ever feel anything but alone again? Or will the nightmare of reality overwhelm her as the story concludes in this final volume? In a story that brings traitors to justice and two opposing lands to an inevitable confrontation, Blooded completes the Lisen of Solsta trilogy.

IndieReader review:
*****
IR Verdict: Through relatable and flawed characters, rich world-building, and the exploration of profound themes through captivating prose, St. Martin has again created a gripping work of fantasy sure to resonate with readers of all ages.

Read the full review on the IndieReader.com website: http://indiereader.com/2015/04/blooded/

And don't forget to grab the whole series:







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!


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

Thursday, May 28, 2015

PURE MAGIC, a Black Dog novel by Rachel Neumeier (@RachelNeumeier) ~ cover art & design

Rachel Neumeier, one of my favorite clients, and more prolific authors I work with, just shared her publishing schedule with me for her Black Dog book series. I think it was a subtle way of her letting me know my job is secure for a while, lol. 

The first book in the series, Black Dog, wasn't dressed by me (before Rachel and I met), and is available through Amazon. (Plans for the future redressing of book one have been discussed.) With that in mind, I went to work on Black Dog Short Stories, the second book in the series, comprised of four short stories featuring the characters from Black Dog (find out more about book II here). 

If I am understanding the list Rachael sent me, the series will alternate as: novel, short stories, novel, short stories II, novel, short stories III, etc.

Pure Magic is the third book in the series, making it a novel (an epic 120K word novel). 

Back cover text:

Following the defeat of their deadly enemy Malvern Vonhausel, Alejandro and Natividad – and their human brother, Miguel – have begun to feel that, against all odds, they may have succeeded in making a new home for themselves among the black dogs of Dimilioc.  But keeping that home safe involves challenges they never anticipated.  It’s bad enough that stray black dogs, taking advantage of Dimilioc’s weakness, are appearing everywhere; much worse are powerful rivals who would tear Dimilioc down entirely and claim Dimilioc’s authority for their own.
Then Dimilioc is shaken by the arrival of someone unexpected:  Justin, who is both Pure and male; who is at once wholly ignorant of traditional Pure magic, yet uniquely talented; and who becomes immediately both a source of contention within and a potential asset for all of Dimilioc.
Then, as it becomes clear that Dimilioc has an unexpected and much more serious enemy, Natividad decides that, whatever the cost, both she and Dimilioc are going to need every asset they can gather.  If Dimilioc black dogs won’t risk Natividad in battle, if Justin won’t help Dimilioc, if everyone won’t pull together voluntarily – then Natividad has a plan …
And before I forget, remember to track Rachel down on Twitter and bookmark her website :D 






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

"Return to Dune Towers" writing challenge - submission by SL Thomson (@she_reads)

I often wonder how I got along without Twitter before, well, Twitter.   :D

 SL Thomson (@she_reads) has submitted a short for my Return to Dune Towers artwork and my visual writing prompt challenge. Check it out ...



The sun breaks in the distance 
The first rays of hope
The journey's been far
You're at the end of your rope

You see in your mind
The Task laid ahead
You remember the torture
The screams of the dead

How you survived 
Is anyone's guess
Alone in this world
A beautiful mess

Where did you come from
You're all alone
Far from your Kingdom
Cast from your throne

There's a tree on the horizon
You're almost done
A new city to conquer
A place to call home


You are alone

Avaena arrived on the desert world of Koorvas weary, hungry and alone. The battle on her home star had been raging for weeks and now in utter chaos, the once beautiful star was in ruins. A dark shell in the cosmos, death and destruction gutted the very life force from the powerful star. She and a handful of fugitives managed to access the world portal before it collapsed. But something was terribly wrong. This was not the sister star they were trying to make it to. This was a barren place. Where were the others?

Aboard her veer, she started the journey toward something small in the distance. Her veer would hopefully make the distance, it's power supply was not at capacity. The sand beneath here looked deep and hot. Avaena was angry that her life had been turned upside down in a matter of days. Now she was alone, wandering on an unfamiliar planet, about to face Hanas know what. She sent a silent prayer to Hanas for protection. Her creator had never forsaken her. Blessing her with special gifts, rare talents and beauty, Avaena was powerful and dangerous. 

A single bloody tear dripped down her face. Angrily, she swiped it away. The blood touched the sand behind her, turning into a small diamond. Avaena never noticed. She was far too busy trying to make out what was now looking like trees in the distance and the thing hovering in the air beyond it. Closing her eyes for a moment brought back flashes of fire, screams of pain, Powerful remnants of dark magic and blood. So much blood. 

There would be more. There was no time for rest, no time for tears. She would make this place her home for now. The utter dominion of this barren place would undoubtedly bring more loss. A tearing down to build up in her own image. A blank canvas to create her kingdom until her star was ready to once again receive her back home. The citizens of Koorvas had no idea of the tragedy that was coming for them. Why had Avaena returned to Dune Towers?

© SL Thomson

Wanna participate in the challenge? If so write a short for this artwork, and I'll post it with links to your website and/or network profiles.  

Visual writing prompt: http://willowraven.weebly.com/return-to-dune-towers.html Write a short for this & I'll post it w link to you :-D 

Be sure to connect with  SL Thomson on Twitter or on her blog, She Reads.







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


Sunday, May 24, 2015

WillowRaven ~ 2015 VidFolio ... And how to make your own video for free on YouTube.


As a freelancer, including for those of us in publishing (artists, authors, etc), finding free promotional tools that provide professional results for our crafts can be a challenge; and all too often, we over-think how we can accomplish what we want. Such was the case when I went to update my VidFolio on YouTube, which I also post to my website, blog, and social networks to promote my book cover art, illustration & design services.

My old video/slideshow software simply became too expensive to pay for the subscription year after year, so I spent HOURS searching the web for a free slideshow-to-video creation software that also allowed me to incorporate music that not only enhances my slideshow, but also expresses aspects of my personality. Should be hundreds ... thousands of options out there. Right?

Half the links upon a Google search come up either duds or so full of adware-filled downloads I didn't want to risk it. The two I did trust enough to download simply didn't work. After spending more time troubleshooting (because freeware rarely can afford lots of tech support), I had an aggravation-induced thought ... Maybe YouTube itself has a software they recommend, or a way to make videos. Sure enough they do! Now, why didn't I think of that before?

Keeping in mind that I tend to prefer simplified applications, allowing the art to be the primary visual, there are many advanced options to choose from right on YouTube's website. I only wanted images and music with a controllable slide-changing speed, but there are all sorts of visual effects and even video-editing options, like sepia tone and soft-focus blurs to choose from in the advanced settings. I did fancy it up a bit by selecting a checkboard transition style ... At least, I think that's fancy, lol.

Here is where you go to create a slideshow video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/upload

I do have one tip to make video/slideshow creation a touch easier, though. I had to start fresh three times because I wasn't aware how easy it was to make my experience harder than it had to be, lol.

If the images you intend to use in your slideshow are not already in an album of their own, with no extra images you don't want in your video, and need to be uploaded from your computer, which in turn, are also scattered in different folders or are in folders overloaded with unwanted images, I recommend copying the desired images all into their own folder before starting then upload them all at once and to their own album. That made my third attempt take just a few minutes. The first two attempts were spent trying to siphon through folders then deleting accidental duplicates and unwanteds.

But after the desired images are uploaded, all you have to do is rearrange the images in the order of your choosing, then move to step two and add music from their many options, set a speed close to the song length, and finish the set-up. Then TADA! You now have a slideshow you can either enhance with advanced options or publish to you page, then where-ever else you like.

And not only do I now have a free, new VidFolio to show off my services, it even a better quality video. My paid-for software images were converted to video as low rez, meaning if authors wanted to go full-scene to closer view my work, it would look horrible. And the audio recorded horribly, regardless how good my audio file was, and I spent a lot of time recording and re-recording to avoid lags and skips. I had no such problems with the YouTube application. So not only did I get a free application, it gave me a better result than before.

All in all ... I am one happy freelancer who has written a blog post to remind myself not to overthink things and to look at the source for a solution, first, and only when that fails, to flex my research muscles looking for the little extra tools I need as a freelancer.







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

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tutorial: How to preserve RGB color settings when creating a PDF straight from Photoshop.


RGB Color Blend Settings - file I want for print
CMYK Color Blend Settings - file I don't like for print
Personally, I prefer color richness and vibrancy over muted tones and create covers with that in mind. Even softer images in cooler tones need to have a certain amount of contrast for me to be happy with a visual. Because of this, I prefer RGB color settings over CMYK color settings.

However, I started noticing discrepancies between jpegs provided and approved of by authors and the muted output in the PDFs I was providing to authors, but this only happened with certain projects. Then I realized the muted PDFs were the ones coming out of Photoshop directly, rather than the ones coming out of InDesign.

Ideally, a cover is formatted in InDesign, but some printers, like CreateSpace, don't provide cover templates in an InDesign format, only in PDF or PNG format, which means it will be formatted in Photoshop and the PDF needed for upload to CreateSpace will be 'saved as' in Photoshop vs 'printed as' a postscript file, then converted to PDF in Acrobat distiller.

What this means is, when a cover is formatted in InDesign, then converted to a PDF, the color attributes will carry over to the PDF, or a warning will pop-up, explaining the color transparency space doesn't match. However, when saving to PDF straight from Photoshop, unless you direct the output settings in a specific way, RBG color settings will switch to CMYK settings in the final file. This comparison shows the difference in output.

So after fighting with this for many hours, I figured out how to save my Photoshop to PDF setting and keep my RGB color in the final output file.

The cover is finished and ready for conversion. Now what?

Save as PDF:
  • as a copy checked
  • layers unchecked
  • ICC profile sRGB checked
  • Save
Next window:
  • View PDF after saving
Output settings: 
  • PDF/X-1a2001 (modified)
  • PDF/X-1a2001 
  • first switch to 'no conversion'
  • then switch to 'include destination profile'
  • switch back to 'convert to destination' profile
  • (this sequence allows the middle window to activate)
  • select 'Adobe RGB 1998' in middle window
  • finally, reset PDF/X-1a2001 above because it will change during the previous steps
  • save preset
Save

Now you have a PDF that looks as crisp and vibrant as the original RGB artwork created in Photoshop.

Hopes this tutorial has helped.





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!


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

Sunday, May 10, 2015

'If I had a nickel' ... But what do you do if you're an author who can't afford to pay for an artist or designer?

Reworking of an older personal image, Snowbird. ~  It's hot & humid today & sitting in a snow-covered clearing w/ a friendly dragon as snowflake wings & garment allow the crisp air to keep skin cool looks like a welcome fantasy about now. Nothing to do w/ today's post other than to comfort me as I vent. lol

If I had a nickel for every time I've sent the following email response or one similar:

I thank you for considering me as a potential cover artist and designer for your book cover, but I am not in a position to accept a project under those parameters, and even if I were, it would be unethical, as an experienced, established professional, to take such projects aware from artists who are in more need of portfolio work, like students and unpublished artists or hobbyists.

Good luck with your book.

(c) WillowRaven
Above is my small way of protecting the book illustration and design industry by turning down certain types of projects, and telling clients why. If more professional artists and designers responded to contest proposals and freebie projects, in the same way, we'd find better clients and less devaluation of artwork in general.

Maybe I should back up a bit to illustrate the type of email or contact I'm responding to before judgments are made about my snobbish response to a potential client in today's economy.

I won't quote any specific email because I'm not trying to humiliate or embarrass anyone. But initial contact usually starts out something like this ...

Twitter/Facebook/some other social network:

Looking for an artist (or 'designer' or 'illustrator'). Please 'contact' me via {insert email addy or instructions to private message for more information) to discuss cover art/design for my novel."

I respond with something like: "Hello. I'd love to further discuss your project needs at your convenience. In the meantime, feel free to browse my webfoliohttp://willowraven.weebly.com" or something similar.

The email or message I receive next usually contains a lengthy description of the book and how it's likely to 'be REALLY big'. Then phrases like 'quid pro quo' or 'invaluable publicity' or 'pro bono' start entering the description in relation to compensation or the lack thereof.

The idea that placing the artist's name on the copyright page (which legally, would be required anyway), or giving them a mention on a website or in the book replaces payment is sadly misguided. Most professional artists have families, expenses, and bills, (just like everyone else has) and rely on monetary compensation to continue doing what they love as their means of livelihood. Too many skilled, well-trained artists and designed are forced to work 'real jobs' just to make ends meat. Or even worse, feel they have to compete in contests or work for rates way below accepted industry standards.

But what do you do if you're an author who can't afford to pay for an artist or designer? 

Well, unless trained/skilled in art and/or design, I don't recommend doing it yourself. I equally don't recommend contacting established professionals asking for a handout or a ridiculously insulting rate. However, I'm not unsympathetic. There are options for cover art and design on a tight budget that I recommend to authors after such proposals.

  • One is contacting your local university art department. The students are almost always in need of examples of published works, vs mock examples that don't really prove they can translate a literary concept or work with an author (who thinks and communicates very differently that an art instructor who's trained to convey project parameters). 
  • Another is having a contest, but to be ethical, only allow non-published artists and designers to participate. Published artists have an unfair advantage non-published artists don't. 

(c) WillowRaven
I KNOW every author wants the best cover possible for his/her book, even if the budget is just $0-$50. However, there are ethical ways to go about paying less than accepted industry rates or paying just one artist's work when dozens worked for nothing simply because they had less experience or were almost as good as the 'winner'.

On that same note, don't let artists and designers who are willing to devalue themselves, or lynch less experienced artists in their profession for their own personal gain, to trick you out of giving fresh-starters a chance. You can have a contest that supports artists or one that hurts them. Don't worry, I have a post planned for artists to realize when they need to bow-out of projects, too.

The blame for the current trend of authors wanting free art isn't all to be placed on the authors. Artists have helped to create the problem as well by giving into desperation in a tight economy and greed by taking jobs from less established artists when they can get higher budget jobs just as easily. If you are one of those artists, I'll scold you later (lol).

If you can't afford an established artist, make it clear you are looking for unpublished artists to respond to your project request. And make it clear in the initial tweet or post. Don't drag them into responding via email or private message, only for them to learn later, after time and effort have been spent to make contact by the pro, that there is no money at the end of the road. They could have been using that time and energy on a paying project.

Target your search for an artist in the same way you target your audience when promoting your eventual book. Things will go much smoother for all involved if you do.

Well, I guess that's a big enough soapbox for one post. If you are reading this, I'd really like to hear your take on the topic in the comments below.





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!


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

Friday, May 8, 2015

'Behind Those Eyes' ~ cover art and design for Amanda Green (@AmandaGreenUK)

Some projects resonate with me more than others. I assume it's the same way with most artists and authors. When one does, it shows up in my work, which may explain why this cover has a bit of a different look for me. More of an edge that was TOTALLY unplanned.

Luckily for me, Amanda liked it in the first draft, even though it wasn't precisely what we had outlined in our project planning live chat.

Behind Those Eyes is actually to be a second edition. New cover, revised text.

So without further ado ...

blurb:

Two homeless men, a successful brother and sister, a woman falling in love, a man with family problems, a policeman and a whole lot of twists in this 'sliding doors' style novella.
It’s a story about people and adversity, love, friendship and stigma.
Will you work out what they have in common?

reviews:

5*  “In style this is one of those stories I used to seek out on the New Yorker website. It's rough, with a shot of reality and definitely makes you stop to think a lot ... her observations seem authentic and much more local.” 
~Ilze Powell on Goodreads.com
5* “... Unable to put it down. I totally got the humanity of it too… a fantastic read with excellently true to life characters.”
~Hamble O’Mara on Amazon.co.uk

5* “... For where some writers might choose this difficult topic to teach or preach you showed us the heart of the matter from the inside out and back again!”
~Paula Rose Michelson on Amazon.com

5* “The highest point of this novella, for me, is that the author gives a voice to people who are mostly unheard, unseen, or rejected, silenced”

~Renata Barcelos on Amazon.co.uk 

Be sure to find Amanda online to stay updated:







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!


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

Saturday, May 2, 2015

"Return to Dune Towers" writing challenge - submission by Doc Wallace (@drerwallace)

 Another awesome submission for the Return to Dune Towers writing challenge ...

Visual writing prompt: http://willowraven.weebly.com/return-to-dune-towers.html Write a short for this & I'll post it w link to you:-D 



Dune Queen


Worldly beauty on hover slab
You brighten our desert, otherwise drab
Atreides Queen with eyes of Spice
E'en gazing on you from afar is nice.



To Air Pad Hangar in early morn'
Frown on face, you look forlorn.
You search for Paul, for Muad'Dib
You engage in speech, renownedly glib!



Sand Worm West they saw him go
You thank them and step on up to flow
The hover slab good for eight hours charge
Before it needs another recharge.



You know the desert better than most
All others see is sand, coast to coast
But certain dunes don't drift at all
You recognize them and follow to the wall.



Secret Password given, they let you in
Hover slab primed & ready for sin.
There is Paul, he smiles at you.
One sweet hug, and your day's now thru.

--Doc Wallace © 2015


Be sure to connect with Doc on twitter :D

Want to take the challenge, too? Write a short for this artwork, and I'll post it with links to your website and/or network profiles. :-D








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