April 30th, 2013 by Ravven
In the end it was difficult to choose a winner in our NaNoWriMo first time authors giveaway. All of the entries were amazing – I could see them all as published novels, and wished that I could read each of them in their entirety. With five of us voting, we had two votes each for A Grimm Legacy by Janna Jennings and Impervious by Seth Swanson, as well as one vote for one of the other writers with a great story…so difficult to choose! We called it a split decision between the main two and decided that we would read fulls from both and choose a final winner from there. Both Janna and Seth will receive covers and feedback on their stories.
And what stories they are. Two very different books, but both great reads. I was really looking forward to the moments that I could steal to curl up with them and if I’d actually bought them I would have considered it money well spent. You are all in for a treat!
April 25th, 2013 by Ravven
Very glad to be able to post this: the cover for the new Morgan Sisters novel, The Temporal Stone by Suzy Turner, one of my very most favourite authors!
It’s been a couple of months since Emma and Lana entered the Praxos Academy and life has been hectic ever since. What with regular A level classes combined with learning all about the supernatural world, control classes, self defence and fight night, the girls are constantly busy.
But when their world seems to stop right in front of them, they and their fellow Watchers, have a huge mystery to solve. A mystery which will lead them on a long road trip across south west England where they will meet all kinds of strange creatures, some intent on causing harm and others desperate to put a stop to the problem.
The Temporal Stone is the second full length novel in The Morgan Sisters series. The first book is entitled The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw. There is also a free novella, Daisy Madigan’s Paradise.
April 23rd, 2013 by Ravven
Currently I am finishing all current cover commissions and then taking a hiatus of sorts, so I won’t be taking on any new cover work for the next couple of months. I am currently working on edits for The Clockwork Bluebird, as well as finishing The Tatterdemalion Dancer. I’m also taking some time to rest and recharge and do some art for myself. The problem with deciding to do something that you love professionally is that you lose a bit of the joy of sheer wild-assed creation, which I’m currently trying to regain. I love all my authors, though, and will miss you all very much!
I also want to think about a change to the way that I do covers. Unique stock is difficult to come by and with the growth of self-publishing there are a lot of covers out there all using the same stock models. What I want to do is shoot my own stock and offer bespoke covers that will be truly unique to your project.
That’s the plan, anyway. In the meantime I’m going to be working on getting my happy thoughts back. Like Tootle’s marbles, they’ve somehow gone missing. :)
April 21st, 2013 by Ravven
This blog began as a personal account of my move to the UK. Originally using Graymatter (which corrupted), then Livejournal (which I outgrew), then WordPress.com to a final self-hosted WordPress, it’s been through a number of changes, most of which have something to do with pretension and the amount of work involved.
I loved writing small anecdotes about my experiences in England, how it differed from what I expected and how I felt at home. Since most of my expectations were based on research done on BBC America (so I could start to understand the accents better) and shows such as The Royle Family and Coupling, I suppose it differed quite a bit from what I expected. I wrote about how strange it feels, both nice and uncomfortable, to have total strangers in shops call you Love and Sweetness and Duck. I wrote about food, and how quaint everything was.* As my career progressed I wrote about the differences in the workplace, and specifically with tech teams, between the two countries. Slang and the misunderstandings that occur therefrom. (I still cannot hear someone use the word fag, as in “I’m stepping out back for a quick fag” without my shoulders tightening up. Interesting image though, thanks.)
It was a small blog, with short entries written without much thought – feelings and funny stories. It didn’t try to be pretentious.
Then I got into MMOs (damn you, Phil!) and slowly it became a gamer blog. The problem with that is that you start with personal stories and then other gamers start reading it. You like that, so you try to add more content. This is fine if you are good at reviewing, or you’re a theorycrafter, but to be honest I’m not. I’ll keep up with gaming news and the latest developments in game but I’m not really a min-maxer. I’ll look up the current build-of-the-month and religiously apply that, but that is other people’s work. It is part of the reason I no longer play EVE – you really have to know what you’re doing, and how the stats on everything associated with your ship works. You use spreadsheets to figure it all out…and that bores me to tears.
I stopped writing about games because I couldn’t move to that next level and be a “proper” game blogger. And this blog, which I’ve kept for over a decade, has fallen into disrepair. Things are dusty, and there are spiderwebs on the ceiling.
So I’m going to go back to what my flighty goldfish mind does best…writing about this and that. There will be nothing of consequence aside from the occasional rant, and most probably nothing of interest to see here. You have been warned.
*I have been forbidden to use the word “quaint” when referring to anything in the UK. Evidently they find that offensive. :)
April 5th, 2013 by Ravven
Or, How I Learned to Channel My Inner Barbarella
Jett: In And Out In Outer Space was one of the covers that I had the most fun doing. It needed to convey both sci-fi and erotica, as well as a sense of fun. Barbarella was one of the initial images that the author had sent, and it seemed perfect both in style and that very tongue-in-cheek sexiness that we wanted to convey. I’ll never be one millionth of the artist that Frank Frazetta was, of course, but it was fun to try a cover in that style.
Reds, golds, tons of rich colour. Big phallic guns – or in our case a 50s style rocket ship. Tentacles. Alien sex, oh my! Did I mention how much fun I had while doing this cover? :)
This is our Jett.
I thought it might be interesting to add some images to show how stock photography changes during the creation of a cover, when a model goes from being a bland stock image to being a representation of a character. The girl that we picked had the right attitude, but needed flesh and softness and lushness. Boobs were enlarged, as were hips and thighs. The waist was nipped in.
Ah, if I could only do this in reverse in real life! :)
A lot of work on done on her face to make her less angular, open the eyes and add a fuller, more lush mouth. Tons of copper hair was added, and Jett was born.
March 31st, 2013 by Ravven
As I’ve posted before, I’m not a fan of super-accurate, extremely literal covers. As a reader, they don’t necessarily draw me in, and as an artist I find it difficult to retain the utmost level of creativity when trying to portrary characters exactly in a precise replica of a scene. Mortality by Kellie Sheridan has always been one of my favourite covers, in part down to Kellie’s original vision for the cover (duality, girl/zombie reflection) and willingness to have a very subjective cover. It’s a very good book which I enjoyed enormously (even though the end really threw me for a loop) and it’s been getting great reviews.
One of the most recent reviews really described exactly what we were going for in the cover, and why a subjective cover can be a lot more powerful than a more literal one. Dani of Refracted Light writes a great review of the book, and had this to say about the cover:
I’d like to imagine that I’m above being influenced by a pretty, pretty, oh-so-pretty cover, but the truth is, I’m not. I’m susceptible to awesome, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Truthfully, upon spying this cover in my inbox for a cover reveal this past December, I just knew I had to read it based on the cover alone. (Because that always ends well, right? But…) What does the cover mean? Are these two separate girls? The same girl? Is it a literal representation of a character(s) or is figuratively showing the duality of an individual? Is it more complicated than that? I had to know.
FYI, I’m not giving you any answers in regard to those questions, but justsoyaknow, in relation to the story, the cover is pretty brilliant, and even better, the story between the covers lives up to the pretty. Er. Kinda. I mean zombie stories aren’t pretty…but I think you get my drift.
All of my favourite covers have had that exact effect on me. What does it mean? It’s pretty, and I’m drawn to that…but what does it mean? A cover has to clearly communicate genre and the main themes of the book in order to prevent readers from being unfairly disappointed, misled or confused. But they should leave room for magic as well – it should make you feel something rather than just conveying what colour hair and eyes the character has and what she wears. Who cares? What I want to know is how she feels, or how she is changed by the events in the book.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the cover should convey one of the main themes of the book without spelling it out. It should entice and intrigue. It should be a mystery that the potential reader has to answer by buying the book.