Ravven's Glass: Blog
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Ravven, Books and Other Writing

I Forgot

November 2nd, 2016 by

Actually, I have done a few things recently. I did this, which I don’t think entirely sucks.

 

Art by Ravven

This and That

November 2nd, 2016 by

It’s been a while since I last wrote anything, as I’ve been feeling…not good? Off-kilter and rudderless, not quite enough to be thinking breakdown, but definitely not normal.

Yeah, yeah, I know…as if I was ever normal. :D

What I always was, though, was full of plans and ideas and projects that I wanted to do, a thousand and one things that I was in the middle of, or planning, or had dropped to make way for new ideas. What I am at the moment is stagnant, kind of like someone in a fairy tale who sat down to sleep in a wood and never woke up, grown over with brambles and blanketed with fallen leaves. It’s not pleasant, but I don’t know how to get out of it.

It’s November, time for NaNoWriMo, and I have several projects that I’d worked hard to clear some space for, and I’ve done nothing but panic every time I sit down to write. No exaggeration, actual panic as though someone had reached a hand into my chest and squeezed. Horrible.

It’s the same with everything else, it’s all coming out broken or I get breathless at the thought of starting. I hate it, but I’m really not sure what I should do. Bah.

I haven’t been doing a lot of gaming recently due to the need to give my hands a chance to recover. The doctor thinks it has something to do with lupus, but I’ve lived with that for a long time and I think she’s mistaken. There’s a definite connection to repetitive stress from gaming, also making it difficult to lift anything. I’m still subbed to FFXIV, and really want to get back into the swing of instances and so on, but can’t face it right now.

One surprising thing that I’ve really been enjoying is Overwatch. Granted I’m no longer a kid with fast-twitch reflexes, but the strategy of it all is fascinating. I’ve actually been watching some of the World Cup matches and enjoying it, and watching e-sports was always something that I would rather have pried the eyes out of my head rather than watch. Go figure.

So that’s it, I suppose, that’s where I am this month. Stuck like a character in a fairytale who got lost in the woods and slept for a few years, or a century.

State of the Game

September 29th, 2016 by

FFXIV

I’ve been an MMO serial monogamist for years. I get passionate about a game, either brand-new or one that I have played off and on for years, play the hell out of it, and then sneak off for the stereotypical pack of cigarettes in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. It’s probably a character flaw.

Legion was one of the best Warcraft expansions that I’ve ever seen, and everything was a huge amount of fun. I reached cap on my hunter and then…just kind of gradually petered out. I suppose it’s my usual performance for Warcraft xpacs, mainly due to the fact that I don’t raid (which makes it all seem a bit pointless). Raiding definitely falls into that second-job territory, and although I’m a bit ambivalent about committing to raiding at all in any game due to the time suck factor, if I did it would be in FFXIV as I think the content is more interesting.

Playing at all with the ongoing problems in my hands, wrists and lower arms has been tough. I’ve done a lot of fishing in FFXIV as a result – it’s the only thing that I can do with minimum stress on tendons. Boo suck.

Recently I started playing Overwatch, which I haven’t played since beta. I suck, but I’m having a lot of fun. At my age, my reflexes will never be able to compete with teen FPS players. Should I be playing on teams that I won’t be able to give my best to? I must be a bad person because I am, and I enjoy it. I keep voice chat off as I’ve no desire to be cursed at by eleven-year-olds of course…they can all kiss my ass. Yeah, I’m a bad person. :)

Halloween is coming up and in October I plan to dive back in to The Secret World, longtime love and the absolute queen of horror games. I used to be religious about buying and loving all new issues, but as content got less and less forgiving for solo-only players it got tougher to justify. It’s a shame. Tokyo was such a slog as a solo player that I haven’t played much since.

That’s pretty much it. I’m a lonely MMO vagrant, just looking for companions along the way.

Baby Steps

September 14th, 2016 by

This story starts with a hangover. More accurately, it starts with the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 and the documentary on it that Phil chose for us to watch, which made me sad and angry and sad all over again which led to a few strong drinks and finished with initiating a re-watch of Firefly (which I’ve seen so many times that I reserve it for those times when I am very, very sad). I woke with the mother of all hangovers which lasted for more than two days.

We were talking about the various 9/11 memorials, all of the various things to fill the space at Ground Zero and to me all of them are small, low to the ground. It’s as though we no longer want to hold our heads up. None of them replace what was lost, and I think that is incredibly sad. We should have decided to build the biggest, tallest building in the world, set a new record, put one finger up against hatred and ignorance that went all the way up to the sky. Sheath that fucker in red, white and blue glass, make it the shiniest goddamned building in the world.

It may surprise those who know me that I am very patriotic in a way…I love the country that I was born to. I love what we stood for, what I was told America was all about when I was a child. I believed in our goodness and our bravery. And you know what? I hate feeling guilty for that now.

The swing to the far right over the last decade or so has changed us so profoundly that I’m not sure if we can ever get back again. The decent, salt of the earth people that I grew up believing in have been replaced by the Tea Party, the deep corruption in our government, and the rabid bigotry and hatred of Donald Trump and his supporters. I can’t say that I believe in America without somehow feeling as though I’m aligning myself with the dregs of humanity, flying their freak flag of hate loud and proud. I am instead silent, and sad.

Anyway…back to the mother of all hangovers, the very Kali of alcohol-induced regret.

I’ve taken some baby steps back to my art, trying to find the enjoyment in it that I used to have. And so each morning I’ve been doing a speedpaint type of thing (except, you know, not really painting). One project per morning, finish by lunch no matter what. These were the first two days (the sci fi one really needs more detail work, which I will do because I can’t bear to leave it like this).

Soldier The Princess In The Tower

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Book Cover Art: What Do You Look For?

September 9th, 2016 by

Wow, two posts in a day – that has to be some kind of record.

After making the last post, I walked into town to buy lunch and run errands. The whole way I was thinking about what I did want to see, and want to create, in book covers. You see, I didn’t want it to seem as though I was biting the hand that feeds me as it were. I love these books, both as a genre and as something produced out of love and hard work by a community of amazing people. I’m coming at it from both the viewpoint of a reader/fan and also from the perspective of someone who helps in some small part to get these books out there.

I want to be better. I want new ideas, new styles, the next trend. I want covers that make people get grabby hands when they see them. And yeah, I know that I sound like I’m channelling Michael Wincott in The Crow, but you get the idea. :D

I want you all to be able to look me straight in the eye and say ARE WE HAVING FUN OR WHAT?!?

Ahem…

Anyway, I wanted to ask: What do you want in a cover? What makes great cover art? What catches your eye as a reader, as an author, as a book blogger?

This is my list:

  1. Action poses. I am sick to death of pretty models standing there like that one stick of celery they ate yesterday just isn’t going to hold those cheekbones up anymore. I want models who look muscular enough to kick some ass who are…well, kicking ass. Rather than holding a sword or gun limply (or worse, like they’re going to lick it seductively at any moment), I want to see a dynamic body that practically bursts off the cover. I want intensity, I want life.
  2. Better stock (i.e., non-fashion stock). I want those kickass models in the right clothing, as it is hella difficult to fit the right armor or clothing to an action pose. The deviantART community is a very good example of the stock that I would love to see commercially. You’ll find tons of gorgeous models who have made or had made for them great cosplay outfits, and they’re shot with exactly the right poses. And (cry!!!) I can’t risk using them professionally. But this is what I would like to see.
  3. Diversity. Hey, what can I say…I’m a social justice warrior from way back. (Or perhaps a social justice mage, but I diverge.) Not only do I want to use diverse models, I want to be able to do covers with diverse cultural influences. For instance, I lived in Los Angeles for many years, I was born in Queen of Angels hospital and will always love the city – but in order to properly “feel” like Los Angeles you need the cultural aspects of the Hispanic community alongside the dreams of stardom and the gritty neon griminess of it all. That is real.
  4. New perspectives. Personally, I feel that I’ve done too many images where the model is dominant to the rest of the image. Lots and lots of pretty girls, close up, looking at the camera. I’d like to pull back, I’d like to shake it up a bit. But perhaps I’m in danger of following my own taste when that doesn’t reflect mainstream readers.

So what do you think? What really pulls you in?

Disorder. Chaos. Anarchy. Now that’s fun.

Lists and Terror

September 9th, 2016 by

I’m a great list maker and planner. As you can see from my previous New Years Eve resolutions, however, I’m not always a successful completer of lists. Nevertheless (refusing to learn from past failures) I now have a list of projects that I want to work on as time opens up prior to the end of the year:

1: Art. New Styles. New Skillz.

As a book cover artist I get a bit tired of doing the same type of covers, and I’m sure that readers must get tired of seeing the same types of covers over and over again. This has led to some of the stress over the past year and dissatisfaction with work. I know authors, with everything riding on the success or failure of a new book, want something that they know readers in the past have liked. I know that, and I do understand it…but each time I get a brief for an urban fantasy cover that needs a tough-but-beautiful heroine with great hair wearing leather and jeans, standing in an urban landscape with magic effects on her hands or on her weapon of choice I feel tired. That’s not to say that I don’t love the hell out of that type of book, I really do love me a kickass female hero. And yet…I think we can all do something a bit different.

Part of the problem is stock. Most commercial stock images are outtakes from fashion or advertising shoots, modelling portfolio shots and so on. The models are pretty, but there are a lot of “model-y” poses (as one would expect). Action shots are really, really difficult to find and it’s even more difficult to find ones that haven’t already been used since everyone else is looking for those as well.

Now, lacking the finances to set up a studio again and shoot my own models, I’ve been looking at CGI models for bodies and costume. I’ve used a lot of these in the past, and when paired with a real model’s face and hair it’s difficult to tell that they were digital, especially when overpainted. This is one option for more interesting model shots with more life and action to them. Acquiring the 3D modelling skills needed to create the figures, skin them, and light them properly is a bit more difficult, more of a high learning curve.

So, that’s one thing.

2: Writing = Panic Mode.

For several years now I’ve been trying to clear the spare time to do some writing. The Clockwork Bluebird, my first project, needs re-working with a new ending and I have the sequel partially written. I have other projects (very different ones!) also pulling at me for attention. I am, I GODDAMN AM, going to devote some time to these so that I can get enough momentum going in order to not fall by the wayside in despair after I go back to work after the holidays. I’ll probably never be a great writer, maybe not even a good and professional one…but I think I could not embarrass myself. I want the chance to try, anyway. I want to tell these stories as best as I can.

  1. The Tatterdemalion Dancer. Clockpunk-fantasy sequel, underground carnival which is also a war between the Fae courts. A Goose Girl/Red Shoes mashup. :D
  2. A twisted Alice tale of madness: Suckerpunch meets Alice in Wonderland.
  3. My pooka story.

That shit is hella scary.

3. The Rest.

Other projects include work on the various cosplay outfits that I have littering the front room, which I’ve turned into a workroom. I want to put more time into my photography (and as a side note be able to use more of my own shots rather than having to buy so much stock!).

So…yeah. The list. Lists are terrifying.

 

Postscript: A video which captures The Tatterdemalion Dancer perfectly. <3

LE CIRQUE FEERIQUE Reel from Company XIV on Vimeo.

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