"" Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_8339780_put-emoticons-blogger.html WillowRaven Illustration & Design Plus: 2017

Sunday, September 17, 2017

LAST REAL COWBOY ~ cover design for Kathleen Gibbs (@Kathygauthor) and 4RV Publishing (@4RV)

As the art director for 4RV Publishing, I get to work on all of the books that go through the publishing process in one fashion or another. This time, I created the cover and formatted the interior block (the text).

Historical Fictions are especially fun for me. I'm not much of a historian, myself. Something in my brain shuts off the minute history is presented in a textbook format. But, when history is fed to me in a narrative form, my brain soaks it up. Plus, being an artist, the whole visual panorama was just too enticing. Who doesn't want to visit the wild west and go on a cattle drive?

Now for the blurb:

In 1871, Jonathan Calhoun lives an unfulfilled life working for his father’s magazine company in New York City and attending pretentious social events with his fiancรฉe. Longing for one thrilling adventure in his life before he settles down, he jumps at the job opportunity at the Cripple Creek Cattle Ranch in Armadillo Flats, Texas. He soon realizes this venture might be more than he expected as he changes from an “Easterner” into a real cowboy.

Will he survive the challenges of the change?

Available in hardcover and paperback. ISBN-13 hardcover: 978-1-940310-61-9 ISBN-13 paperback: 978-1-940310-60-2
Buy your copy direct from the publisher for big discounts!
Facebook Fan Page

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


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.

*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.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

D. Hart St. Martin (@hartstm) & I are teaming up on more Lisen of Solsta books.

When D. Hart St. Martin contacted me the other day about needing book covers for the next two books in the Lisen of Solsta series, I was super excited. There are also plans of revisiting book 4's cover to better connect the series visually (after I finish book 5's cover). I was also surprised to realize we've been working together since August 2013. Isn't it crazy how fast time passes?

Since I am working on the cover for book five right now (title to be revealed). I can't show it off just yet. But, I think it's the perfect opportunity to reintroduce the first four books so everyone has a chance to grab their copies and get caught up before book five's release. It should be fun scrolling down memory lane today. :)                                                                  

Blurb for Fractured: (book 1)

Seventeen-year-old Lisen Holt realizes her life is Fractured after a sorcerer abducts her from a California beach and brings her back home to Garla, a world where treating men and women differently is unthinkable. Lisen awakens at Solsta Haven. has returned Lisen’s body to its true form, human-like, but like all male and female Garlans, she possesses a pouch similar to Earth’s marsupials. Eloise then restores Lisen’s memory of her life in Garla, but her earthly existence will remain a substantial influence which, though left behind, will never be forgotten.

Although she is Lisen of Solsta now, questions haunt her which Eloise refuses to answer. Who left her at Solsta? Why did Eloise send her to Earth? And what is so important about Lisen that Eloise felt it necessary to manipulate so much of her life? The answers will propel Lisen into a quest for a throne, a quest that will threaten to fracture her soul, and all that will stand between her and her birthright will be her matricidal twin brother.

Blurb for Tainted: (book 2)

In Fractured, Lisen Holt, Valley girl, beach lover, learned she doesn’t belong on Earth. Re-adapting to Garla, the place of her birth, proved difficult, but the greater challenge was learning that she is the Heir-Empir and must confront her brother for the throne. Witnessing her only friend’s murder, defending her own life with forbidden power, and succumbing to possession by her friend’s soul left Lisen fractured, with little hope she’d ever recover. 

The story grows darker in Tainted with Lisen and her guardian companion, Korin, traveling to the great desert of Thristas. They hope to find safety in the anonymity of the barren wilderness, out of the range of Garlan spies. There, Lisen learns the ways of Thristas and its fierce people who view Garla’s Empir as a tyrant. In an effort to prove their sincerity, Lisen and Korin participate in the Farii, the spring fertility ritual which changes everything for Lisen. She returns to Garla with a brilliant but damning plan that she believes will ensure her victory against her brother.

Blurb for Blooded: (book 3)

Racked by guilt after committing an act of vengeance at the end of Tainted, Lisen steps reluctantly into her role as Empir Ariannas in Blooded. 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. {Or so we thought, ๐Ÿ˜‰}

Blurb for Protector of Thristas:
(book 4)

Fifteen years after the One-Day War, Lisen, now Empir Ariannas, has developed into a just and capable leader. Together, she and Korin have created a union of two souls based on respect, commitment and love, and their family has grown. In addition to Rinli, their daughter who made her first appearance in Blooded, two more children have joined the family, completing their complement of three complicated adolescents.

Now the sixteen-year-out Rinli prepares to take on the mantle of Protector of Thristas, a title destined for her in the treaty that ended the war. The Empirs of Garla have carried this title for hundreds of years, and Lisen anticipates changes once she hands this single title on to Rinli at the girl’s investiture. But the prophecy of Mantar’s Child, upon which Lisen and Korin depended in the treaty negotiations fifteen years earlier, refuses to remain but a convenient myth, and with the advent of the fulfillment of the prophecy, an epic begins. 

Although Protector of Thristas includes the familiar faces and settings of the young adult Lisen of Solsta trilogy, it begins a new adventure for an older and often wiser Lisen and her allies. Looking at their world through their matured eyes, the book takes on the heroic tragedy that the trilogy could only hint at. Return to Garla. Enter its mystical environs for a new encounter with Lisen and her world’s gender-free culture. The adventure awaits. 

Stay tuned here for the cover reveal of books five and six, and the redress of book four's cover. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Author bio:

D. Hart St. Martin lives in a small college community in Southern California. She is retired from “gainful” employment and now writes anything and everything she wants, including a fantasy series called Lisen of Solsta. She is owned by one cat, Calypso, who reminds her daily that she is common and of little use save for the food and treats she provides but who occasionally appreciates her abject humility in her supreme presence. 

For more information about Ms. St. Martin’s work and for updates and publication information, please visit Ms. St. Martin’s web site at dhartstmartin.weebly.com.

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

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


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.

*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, August 4, 2017

Author beware: 'Custom Cover Design' does not mean 'Original Cover Art'. {revisited}

Due to a question asked me on Twitter many times, I've refreshed and republished this post twice. The original article was also posted on the 4RV Publishing Blog.on 12/09/12. Most recent edit of this post: 08/03/17.

You've decided you want a unique book cover for your book but you don't want it to look like every other book on the shelf or web browser....

You hop on Twitter or Facebook and put some feelers out, searching for a cover artist or designer. You get dozens and dozens of responses, from both amateurs and professionals, regardless of whether you request a cover artist or a cover designer. How do you know you are going to get what you want and that it's unique?

A cover designer may or may not be trained for what you are looking for. On the flip side, a cover artist may not have any design skills.

First, before you put out those feelers and start interviewing artists, learning a few key terms and phrases will narrow your request which will help attract the right type of artist and aid in your decision.

This design utilized a legally-obtained
photo as the basis for the illustration.
1- cover designer

Designers are trained in typesetting, photo-manipulation, and formatting (among other fun stuff) often with a lean towards advertising and product packaging. Though not typical, some designers are skilled photographers and/or traditional artists (meaning the have drawing and/or painting skills). 

It's socially accepted among designers, once an image is altered it is a "new work," and by law, that is true. All it takes are three, distinct changes. Not all designers are ethical about what constitutes as "distinct" and how many changes they should make or where they grab their root images from, though. 

Designers also tend to include the commercial rights to the end product because, technically, they don't own the original elements that created the product anyway. They are essentially just transferring the license they hopefully paid for in the beginning.

Manipulated parts of stock photos could potentially be used on another book cover or product. If you want something more original, tell the cover designer not to use stock imagery, or you need to verify the designer is skilled enough to make the manipulated image look original. Manipulation that creates originality ensures making the image both legal and unique. 

2- cover artist

In years past, publishers hired a cover artist to do the visual aspect of the artwork and a cover designer to do the typesetting and formatting (putting it all together).

In today's tough job market, more and more designers are adopting the task of providing the cover image as well as the cover design, all under one job.

A majority of publishers have found it more cost-effective to have their in-house designers provide the visual rather than outsource the art to a cover artist. Publishers only commission an artist if their design team doesn't have the desired look or skill set.

On that same note, more and more illustrators or cover artists are tackling the job of cover design as a means of ensuring their own marketability by adding a skill set. It's good to note, cover artists tend to retain the copyright of the artwork, only transferring commercial rights for use on or in the product in which the art was created for (in this case the book). Artists sometimes offer extended or full rights for a higher price, but this should never be expected.

It is prudent to verify, before trusting your book to anyone, that the person you hire is trained and skilled to do what you want for your cover. After all, your cover will be your primary, strongest marketing tool and should work toward your book's success.

This design utilized artwork legally-obtained 
by the artist as the central element of the design.

3- custom vs original

Many designers and websites that boast cheap 'custom' cover designs or art can be misleading. Again, let's look at the laws regarding art.

By law, if an image (art or design), is altered in three ways, it is a "new work." If an artist or designer manipulates two or more images by combining a figure from one and changing the color of something from another, then adding an element from a third, all they have to do is add text. Voila! By law, that is a "custom cover." That may be acceptable to you, and that is OK.

Designs like this tend to be a cost-effective way to dress a book. However, many authors want a more detailed, story-relevant cover, that does not include mixing existing stock imagery. If you are in that group, be sure to hire someone who ensures the art is original, not simply custom. You'll likely pay more, but as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

How does one recognize the difference between cover art and cover design when looking through portfolios?

A book's cover artwork should be able to stand alone and still tell a story, related more closely to an illustration (a term usually reserved for interior images). A design, though it may look amazing and fit with the title and cover text, if presented alone, it would just be a great visual. The only way the image makes sense is if accompanied by the text.

Does the portfolio show heavy use of photographs? If so, were they taken by the designer or a hired photographer? Or are they stock? Most importantly, make sure they were not just grabbed from an internet search or someone's Instagram or Flickr account.

Or, if you are looking for artwork, does the artist also do the design aspect of the cover (title treatment, bylines, etc)? Or will you need to hire a separate person to prep the file for print? If the person does do their own design work, how well do their designs complement the artworks?

These are all questions that should be asked and answered before money changes hands. Make sure all is in writing, whether it's email or chat window (where a copy can be retained). Phone agreements are not legally binding and also don't provide a record to refer back to later.

If anybody has questions as to what is considered original vs custom, or the difference between cover design & cover art, please leave a comment or contact me via the links in my signature below.

*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.

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


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, July 28, 2017

SHADOW TWIN (a BLACK DOG novel) ~ book cover art & design for Rachel Neumeier (@RachelNeumeier)

(Easier to read blurb below.)

Rachel Neumeier & I have hit a milestone. We've worked on FIVE books together. I only have one other author ahead of her by one book (hint to Rachel* Are you going to take that lying down? Let's get started on the next project before he does, lol.)

When I first started working with Rachel, she commissioned me to create the cover for a collection of short stories that take place in her Black Dog world, introduced to her readers in her first book, Black Dog, which was still under contract with the original publisher. We wouldn't be able re-do that cover until the contract ran its course.

We planned out which of the four stories she wanted to me to represent on the cover. Library Work (here on the left) was the story we decided to visualize for Black Dog Short Stories (only available in ebook) The collection was gathered as a compliment to the printed novels of the series. That's how our friendship started. 

Right on the heels of Black Dog Short Stories, I started work on Pure Magic, the second full novel in the series and the first time we get to see my visualization of Rachel's 'black dog'. 

Technically, there was another book cover project after Pure Magic. It was for a book unrelated to the Black Dog series. And even though that project was completed, a publisher ended up wanting that manuscript and they put their own cover on it. So for now, we're either holding on to that cover for use when her contract expires or, there was mention of maybe using it for a novella related to that novel. Sort of a spin-off. We'll see.

Since we can't officially count that other project, the next time we teamed up was for the second collection of short stories that take place in the Black Dog world. This time, though, the plan was to present the cover on two variations/formats of the book. Unlike with the first collection, where there wasn't really enough to warrant a print version, with this second collection added to the first, there was now enough to publish in both print and ebook formats. So two variations of the same cover were created. One for print (Black Dog Short Stories I & II), as a compilation of all eight short stories, and one for the second collection of shorts as an e-book (Black Dog Short Stories II).

Sometime after Pure Magic, we discovered the rights to Black Dog were back in Rachel's hands, so we re-dressed Black Dog so the series would look more consistent aside the other books. 

And finally, we come back to Rachel's latest project and the third novel in the Black Dog series, Shadow Twin

Believe it or not, I think this cover was more challenging than all of the others. Not because there were more elements, but because there were fewer. Plus, the scene depended heavily on mood rather than action or narrative. Effectively lighting a dark setting and still be able to see the key elements can be tricky. So, without further teasing, here's the blurb for Shadow Twin.

After everything she's seen, Natividad was sure Ezekiel could take care of himself. Under any circumstances. Against any enemy. Whether he was temporarily exiled from Dimilioc or not. Then the link between them, forged when she absorbed a trace of Ezekiel's shadow, makes it clear she was wrong.

She knows Ezekiel isn't dead. She knows he must have met an enemy he couldn't defeat alone. And she knows she has to rescue him, no matter the cost.

* * *

Miguel's brother is a black dog and his sister is Pure, but Miguel himself is only human. That has its downsides for anyone living among the Dimilioc wolves, but at least an ordinary human has a chance to think problems through, his mind unclouded by black dog rage.

But when Miguel and Natividad and the wolves of Dimilioc have no choice but to walk into a trap, even human ingenuity may not be able to get them out again...

For more information on this series or any of Rachel Neumeier's books, connect with her online:

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


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, July 8, 2017


I work with a lot of new and not-so-new writers, and I hear about all sorts of tools and sites they find helpful all of the time. Here are a few I hear are really helpful. And even though I'm not a writer myself, I find them useful, too. (When one works with writers, one should try not to look too illiterate, lol.)

I know as an artist, ideas and inspiration strike when they want where they want. Not always when we are at the desk or drawing table. The LiveScribe 3 smartpen uses Bluetooth technology to send your sketches and ideas to your smartphone or tablet. When combined with the LiveScribe notebooks they create a special pattern on the paper and record your pen strokes. And to go a step cooler ... the pen also takes dictation!!! The pen records audio with a built-in microphone. (I wish I had this when I was in college.) Check it out ...

Grammarly is used by my whole family. For me, it helps me think more about what I'm writing than worrying about looking illiterate. Grammarly can be used as a free extension for Chrome, Safari, or Firefox web browsers (I use it for every blog post), or the online text editor. Grammarly Premium, a paid service, checks for a broader range of errors, detects plagiarism, detecting passive voice, and offers style and vocabulary enhancements.

In today's market, we all have to self-promote to some extent, even authors and artists with big-time agents and houses. But unless you went to business school for marketing, you're likely to feel lost as to how to write good content. Even authors can find it a challenge because content writing is not the same as novel or story writing. Content helps with organization, ideas, and more. Though they were designed with big companies in mind, there is a lot of benefit for the little-guy, too.

4 Twords
'Twords is the web app that nudges you to write.'  Track your writing: Build a graph of your writing progress and identify your best days over time. Learn stuff: Practice styles, techniques, and tone with writing prompts. Get support. Help your friends reach their writing goals as they encourage you to finish yours. At the very least, try the free trial. ๐Ÿ˜€
Another software syncing tool that helps us creator-types ......take advantage of when inspiration strikes anywhere. Evernote lets you capture, nurture, and share your ideas across any device. Organize your life, be more productive, and take better notes.

So what ya waiting on? Got to finishing that book so I can do the rest :D

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


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, July 1, 2017

A FAMILY FOR LEONA by Beverly Stowe McClure (@beverlymcclure) takes GOLD in the 2017 Children's Literary Classics Book Awards

I just got the exciting news and had to talk about it and show off the book and cover, again.  A Family for Leona is a middle-grade historical fiction novel all ages will love. And it's taken the GOLD!!!

Excerpt from the awards site:

The 2017 Literary Classics International Book Award recipients have been announced. Selected from submissions by entrants around the globe, these distinguished honorees are recognized for their contributions to the craft of writing, illustrating, and publishing exceptional literature for a youth audience. In this highly competitive industry these books represent the foremost in literature in their respective categories.

The competition this year was tremendous and we congratulate all honorees for their outstanding and inspiring work.  All Silver, Gold and Top Honors award recipients will be invited to attend a writers’ conference, awards ceremony, formal gala, and other related events in Rapid City, South Dakota, to be held in conjunction with the Great American Book Festival, Labor Day Weekend, 2017.


A Family for Leona  
Beverly Stowe McClure
4RV Publishing LLC

The Literary Classics judging committee is comprised of experts with backgrounds in publishing, writing, editing, design, illustration, and book reviewing.

Available in both paperback and hardcover, A Family for Leona is a true Beverly Stowe McClure tale, it runs the gamut of emotions while exploring an amazing story.

Blurb for A Family for Leona ...

Ten-year-old Leona Chapter doesn’t understand why her papa left his six children at the Brooklyn Home for Homeless Children after their mother’s death in 1921. Each day she prays he’ll return and take his children home. God, however, isn’t listening. Her brothers and sisters are either adopted or run away, leaving only Leona and Baby Mildred in the orphanage. Leona promises she and Mildred will be together for always. A promise she cannot keep, for Leona, along with her friend Noah, who she defends from the bullies Hiram and Jehu, and several other orphans, are soon on a train headed to Texas, while her sister stays at the orphanage. Leona vows she’ll go back to Brooklyn, the first chance she gets.

A couple other 4RV books Beverly has written have won Children's Literary Classics Awards, too: Life on Hold (Silver in 2013) and Star of the Team (Gold in 2015).

Needless to say, I love working with Beverly and her characters. I can't wait to see what we are doing next. 

Be sure to visit the 4RV Publishing website and bookstore (in the tweens & teens section) for your discounted copy today. Also available on Amazon at a slightly higher retail price. (Bulk and wholesale orders must be made through 4RV directly.) The full collection of Beverly Stowe McClures works with 4RV Publishing ...

4RV books Aidana WillowRaven created the covers for.

To connect online with Beverly and learn about her other books:

Twitter       Website       Google+       Facebook       Blogger

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


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.