"" Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_8339780_put-emoticons-blogger.html WillowRaven Illustration & Design Plus: 2018

Saturday, November 3, 2018

BY RIGHT OF ARMS, book one of the Terra Rising series by JT Buckley (@AuthorJTBuckley), is on it's way to being a bestseller; PLUS: 5 Stars from Reader's Favorite Book Reviews

Available in ebookpaperback and hardcover.
JT Buckley, author of By Right of Arms, book one of Terra Rising, just told me yesterday we are this close to being able to claim the status of BESTSELLER. Isn't that awesome? So I thought I'd do my part to help get it there. 

If accomplished, I think By Right of Arms will be my first cover gracing a bestseller (not all of my authors keep me informed). 

Along with this news, JT shared an amazing review he received from Reader's Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest where By Right of Arms received 5 Stars, the highest score they bestow.

Check out what they had to say about By Right of Arms ... and more importantly ... about my contribution ... the score my cover earned ... I'm an artist ... of course, I'm gonna make it all about me, lol. 😜

But first, the book's blurb:

The Confederated Nations of Terra receive a shocking distress signal from out of system. Captain Aaron Richardson and the crew of the TNS Intrepid are horrified at what they find after responding to the distress call from Earth’s closest celestial neighbor, Alpha Centauri. What they discover launches them into a new universe of political and military intrigue. Using ancient legends, they forge Earth’s position in the Principean Empire and discover the secrets of Earth’s distant past. Thwarted at every turn by pirates, they must fight a race of aliens who are intent on killing all humans and destroying the Earth. Unable to do it alone, they must seek assistance of new allies to save their home.


Appearance: 5
The appearance of a book can make a significant impact on the experience of a reader, whose enjoyment is often enhanced by an enticing cover, an intriguing table of contents, interesting chapter headings, and when possible, eye-catching illustrations.

Plot: 5
The characters of a book should be well defined with strengths and flaws, and while they do not have to be likable, the reader does have to be able to form a connection with them. The tone should be consistent, the theme should be clear, and the plot should be original or told from a unique perspective. For informative books --those without plot and characters--this rating refers primarily to your concept and how well you presented it. 

Development: 5
Development refers to how effectively you told your story or discussed your topic. The dialogue should be realistic, the descriptions should be vivid, and the material should be concise and coherent. Organization is also a key factor, especially for informative books -- those without plot and characters. The order in which you tell your story or explain your topic and how smoothly it flows can have a huge impact on the reader's understanding and enjoyment of the material.

Formatting: 5
Formatting is the single most overlooked area by authors. The way in which you describe scenes, display dialogue and shift point of view can make or break your story. In addition, excessive grammatical errors and typos can give your book an amateurish feel and even put off readers completely.

Marketability: 5
Marketability refers to how effectively you wrote your book for your target audience. Authors may include content that is above or below the understanding of their target reader or includes concepts, opinions or language that can accidentally confuse or alienate some readers. Although by its nature this rating is very subjective, a very low rating here and poor reviews may indicate an issue with your book in this area.

Overall Opinion: 5
The overall starred rating takes into account all these elements and describes the overall reading experience of your reviewer. This is 5 the official Readers' Favorite review rating for your book.

Review:
Reviewed by Stephen Fisher for Readers' Favorite 

By Right of Arms by J.T. Buckley is a sci-fi space adventure that begins when a young lieutenant discovers a tight beam broadcasting a radio signal from outside our solar system. Alien contact from Alpha Centauri. The admiral in charge of Operation Outreach contacts Earth's most decorated captain, Aaron Richardson, and assigns him to take command of the Intrepid, the first spaceship with hyperdrive capability, to investigate. The captain then embarks on a mission with a handpicked crew to rescue a planet of humanoids from space pirates. Afterward, they discover pyramids and that the planet's ruler is half Terran. Queen Amalthia (Amy) and Aaron are immediately attracted to each other, but duty calls. Assuming the position of Primus, Richardson becomes the Chief Emissary and military leader of Earth's position in the new solar system.

Mr. Buckley does an outstanding job of moving this stellar intergalactic adventure along as more worlds and governments become involved from both solar systems. When Amy was first introduced, I was reminded a little of a cross between Star Wars and Avatar because of her pale blue skin, as well as the armored marines. Throw in some soldiers with Jedi type skills, but that's where any similarities stop. J.T. creates interstellar romances amidst governments and more worlds, complete with an Emperor, villains, and traitors. After all of the preliminary background and plots were set, the pages began turning faster and faster with the various trials and tribulations of the many heroes in the story. No science fiction can be complete without paying attention to the details of space travel, navigation, and combat sequences. By Right of Arms delivers on all levels. Bravo!



MORE REVIEWS:
Devotees of old-style space adventure should like this novel. - Piers Anthony

BY RIGHT OF ARMS, by J. T. Buckley, is a well-plotted action novel set in the future when space travel, trade, and war are common. Mr. Buckley has an easy-to-read style that helps the reader deal with the many different celestial locations, empires, and space pirates. This book is interesting and well worth reading. Judge, 22nd Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

To keep track of JT Buckley and all of his writing news and events, be sure to bookmark, follow, like, etc ...

Website   Twitter   Facebook   Google   Goodreads   Amazon






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, November 1, 2018

PAHUTCHAE'S POUCH ~ Cover Art and Design for vehoae and 4RV Publishing (@4RV)

Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy historical fiction projects? Actually, I think I just like portraying different times, worlds, and cultures. They've always fascinated me. Probably the same reason why I enjoy science fiction and fantasy, too.

Pahutchae's Pouch, available through 4RV Publishing (as well as most physical and online retailers) is my second cover for vehoae. The first book, Conscience Breaching Social Amnesia, though nonfiction, was fun, too (see below). 

To make this project even more special, vehoae wrote a wonderful testimonial for me...

“My books have been immeasurably enhanced by Aidana’s innate design talent. It is a distinct privilege to share my admiration for her with others. Her designs continue to be a blessing as I market my work. God be with you, Aidana."  ~  vehoae

Wasn't that so nice of her?

Rather than boring you further, though, I present the blurb:

Pahutchae’s Pouch is a compelling, fictional history of people and events from 1783 to 2017. The story relates the interaction and intertwining of descendants from Pahutchae, an Ioway Indian, and Johann Sordenauer from Hamburg, Germany. Oil, murder, love, a concealed treaty with American Indians, and international and national, political intrigue make Pahutchae’s Pouch the quintessential page-turner.


























You can learn more about vehoae and her writing by connecting with her online:



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








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.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Black Dog Short Stories III ~ Cover art and Design for Rachel Neumeier (@RachelNeumeier)

I'm loving that I have a new cover and design to show off for Rachel Neumeier's latest release in the Black Dog world of fiction, Black Dog Short Stories III

Like the other BDSS collections, it's a gathering of four, short fiction stories for the ebook version and eight stories (I & II, then it will be III & IV) for the print versions. I know it's kinda normal to think your latest work is the best yet, I think in this case, I really mean it... lol

Originally, the plans for the visual to represent the third (& fourth) Black Dog collection of shorts wasn't going to feature the namesake figure at all. However, I talked Rachel into letting me include him discreetly, and I'm so glad I did, because my mind SAW & KNEW he was prowling just out of view long before Rachel said yes. I may be getting a little attached to this series, lol. Ya think?

My favorite part of the scene? Hard to say with this one because I love sunsets, graveyards, and creepy trees, but this time, it's probably the CAR... 

I'm not a big car person, but there is something about the classic, muscle cars that make my head turn every time. Maybe it's because my first car was an old, fully-manual Mustang. I still wish I had that car, too. But if I had my pick, it would be the red baby on this cover (1971 Hemi Cuda), for sure! (Sorry old, blue Mustang).

Blurbs for the four stories in BDSS III:

Baptism by Fire
If you've read SHADOW TWIN, you may be wondering what Cassie wasn't telling Miguel during their text exchanges. It turns out that while Miguel and the rest dealt with disaster out west, quite a lot was going on back home ...

***

Bigfoot
Something near Dimilioc is killing livestock and leaving strange tracks. It's probably not Bigfoot ... but it might be something even more surprising, and much scarier.

***

Tommy
A year ago, Thaddeus chose to spare the life of a young black dog kid in Chicago -- he even invited the boy to make his way to Dimilioc. It was a memorable incident. Certainly for the kid, who did not forget about that invitation.

***

Errand of Mercy
Ezekiel never makes friends with anyone. Certainly not outside Dimilioc. Yet an unexpected call for help sparks an equally unexpected urge to go far out his way to lend a hand ...

***

Keep track of familiar characters and get to know new ones in the latest Black Dog collection!



I know the print version won't be ready for a while, so the titles for BDSS IV aren't available yet, but I wanted to show off the full scene. Don't wait for collection IV, though, when III is available now in ebook! 

Be sure to connect with Rachel Neumeier 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, September 6, 2018

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 three times. The original article was also posted on the 4RV Publishing Blog.on 12/09/12. Most recent edit of this post: 09/06/18.

Watercolor, acrylics, and color pencil,
traditional art style.

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 an 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 for
the background, supporting 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 they 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. 


Watercolor and color pencil, traditional art style.
2- cover artist

In years past, publishers hired a cover artist to do the visual and cover designer to do the typesetting and formatting aspects (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 (usually a stock photo or stop illustration) 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.

Pencil and charcoal, traditional art style.

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.


Digital painting.
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? If they do design, they may also provide formatting, and maybe even ebook coding. Ask LOTS OF QUESTIONS.

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.

I hope this has made the process a little clearer. If you have any questions, hit me up on my Twitter page.

Don't forget to follow the above authors on Twitter: Tobin MarksSara Fower Kjeldsen, Beverly Stowe McClure, Lucretia T Knight, Ingrid Kern.

*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

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, August 17, 2018

A book cover is an ad. The art and title need to work together to compel the readers to read the blurb. They need to tell: Who, What, When & Where; or it fails, no matter how big a following or marketing budget the author has. Today's featured cover fail: THE ROOSTER BAR BY @JohnGrisham & @randomhouse #AmWriting #WritingTips #CoverArt

All of the covers in this post are my art & design except for this one.
I normally focus my posts on promoting my latest commision, helping the author to create some buzz in a huge sea of both traditionally and indie published books. 

Today, however, I want to point out how big publishers can and are getting lazy with their primary marketing tool, the cover, and why it's not a trend indie authors want to follow, no matter how well the big-six, bestsellers do. 

Today's primary example of what's wrong with recent cover trends with the big-six is John Grisham's The Rooster Bar, published by Random House. Knowing the authors rarely have input on their covers, the publisher did a huge disservice to such an amazing author, one that makes them tons of money.

In my experienced opinion, the cover is an epic fail, and it's not the first time in recent months I've seen such a lazy, cheap, ineffective cover coming from a major publisher for a bestselling author. And the frightening fallout of this is indie authors in the same genre will attempt to mimic or follow the bad trend because, 'It's working for John Grisham, it will work with my book.' WRONG... Let me emphasize that better ... DO NOT DO SOMETHING THIS AMAZINGLY STUPID TO YOUR BOOK COVER.

Now let me explain why this is such a bad cover for this book. Part of my job is knowing the readers my client is targeting. Knowing John Grisham's work, he tends to write thrillers in a few different styles (some are law or crime thrillers, others are western thrillers, just to name a few). this cover tells me nothing if I didn't already know what Grisham writes. The only part of this cover that tells me it might be a modern-day thriller, is the tiny print under 'Bar'.

As stated in the heading, a book cover is an ad. The art and title need to work together to compel the reader to read the blurb. They need to tell: Who, What, When & Where; or it fails, no matter how big a following or marketing budget the author has. In this example, Random House is counting on John Grisham's existing fanbase to buy the book simply because his name is on it. But what if you don't have his huge fanbase, and worse, still, if you do have an existing fanbase, but an aging one, wouldn't you want to attract new readers, who don't already know you?

To prove my point, I called my seventeen-year-old son into the room. I put my finger over that tiny line under 'Bar' and asked him if he was familiar with the author and his work. He said no (and my teen loves to read -- his personal library fills every bit of space on a 6' tall bookshelf). Next, I asked him if he could tell by the cover what genre the book was or what it's about. He responds, "It's something about a bar in a city." That's it, no clue as to genre or plot. Knowing he likes action, suspense, and thrillers, I asked him if he'd be interested in hearing more about the book or if he'd like to read the blurb... "Nah, looks boring." and he walks away. My point is, this cover just lost one millennial in under ten seconds, how many more is the publisher ignoring because they are not familiar enough with the author to know it's likely a kick-ass thriller that they'd tell their buddies on Snapchat to read it if the visual doesn't say, "Hey, I'm one of the 1-3 genres you like to read," and do it before they scroll down or swipe their smartphone? 

At a glance, can you tell me the genre?
As a book cover artist and designer, I have to know not only what readers, as a whole, are drawn to; but also the different visual nuances from genre to genre. I need to know what will encourage readers to pick my client's book over another book. I need to know who the target audience is and sometimes the age group or demographic. 

Over the years, I've also learned the title and blurb has to do the same thing, only with words, but that cover has less than ten seconds, tops, to make the reader bother to read the blurb. 


This symbiotic relationship between cover art, title, and blurb, all have one goal ... to compel the reader to want more ... to buy and read the book. 

Once in a while, one of my authors struggles with this symbiosis, wanting a cryptic visual or handing me a vague and confusing blurb. This, inevitably, fails to entice the typically, lazy reader. 


At a glance, can you tell the genre?
While it's true a book's blurb should not give away the whole story to the potential buyer, who on average spends maybe one minute considering a book (if that) before moving to the next, that first glance has to convey a lot. If the cover is the bait; the blurb has to be the hook.


Remember elementary school English classes and how teachers tirelessly drilled in the next set of words: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How? Just as that process works for writing anything from an essay to a novel, that same mantra can be applied to your book's cover; just on an abbreviated, visual level.


Keep in mind, you don't need to answer all of the Ws with each element of the cover (imagery, title, blurb). Save all of that for the story. But those three are your book's holy trinity when it comes to marketing your book. As a group, they need to address a modified version of the W's in a matter of seconds ...



'Who's the target audience?' 



At a glance, can you tell the genre?
I know it's trendy to not want to be boxed in by genre stereotypes. But don't fall into that trap, especially if you are an indie author.



'What's the conflict or challenge?'



Is there a battle or suspenseful situation? That would be an ideal visual for the cover over something vague.



'When and Where are we going to be taken?'



Did I forget Why and How? Actually, I didn't forget. They get the why and how only if they buy and read the book. ;P


A book cover's an ad. The art and title need to work together to compel the readers to read the blurb. They need to tell: Who, What, When & Where; or it fails, no matter how big a following or marketing budget the author has.  #AmWriting #WritingTips








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


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, June 28, 2018

A FAMILY FOR LEONA, by Beverly Stowe McClure (@beverlymcclure) & 4RV Publishing (@4RV), has won 1st place in the 2018 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards Historical Fiction category!

Published by and available at 4RV Publishing
Some very exciting news came my way a few days ago from one of my favorite authors. A Family for Leona, by Beverly Stowe McClure (published by 4RV Publishing), has taken FIRST PLACE in the 2018 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards under the Historical Fiction category. And guess who created the cover art? Yep: yours truly. 😀 Isn't that awesome?

The contest is sponsored by Story Monsters LLC, which is home to the award-winning Story Monsters Ink® magazine, the literary resource for teachers, librarians, and parents — selected by School Library Journal as one of the best magazines for kids and teens. 

They also help authors of all genres strive for excellence through their marketing and publicity services, Dragonfly Book Awards contests, Story Monsters Approved! awards program, and opportunities to connect with schools and the media.

Not sure where I can fit another award seal, lol, but there's no reason I can't show it here. (The gold seal you see on the cover right now is 2017's Children's Literary Classics Award -- Their top honor.) 










Blurb:

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.




Be sure to check out these other great books from Beverly and 4RV Publishing







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.