• Art,  Personal

    Onward Into 2017

    …like a herd of geriatric turtles, as it happens. :) We were sidelined over the holidays by that horrible flu/chest infection thing that seemed to be sweeping the country, which put a damper on the holidays until well after New Years. Horrible stuff!

    I’ve very slowly been getting back into the swing of things with work, much more slowly than I’d anticipated which has meant the schedule backing up a bit. No writing done at all, and very little personal artwork. The image below is one of the more recent ones that I’ve done.

    I did chose two authors rather than one for the cover contest, as they were both interesting and diverse. I want to read each of them! Both authors have been contacted, and I hope to be able to start on covers as soon as possible.

    Hardly any gaming has been done (between being sick and trying to catch up on work). Some Overwatch, which I love madly and am also frustrated by. I keep thinking about going back to FFXIV, as it’s the only MMO that I can see myself doing instances and raids in, but I’ve been lazy.

    The cosplay projects sit half-completed, and my front room workroom is a disaster of scraps of fabric and leather, hot glue guns, rivets and lost pins (knock on wood, we haven’t stepped on any yet…but it’s going to happen).

    So, I suppose that’s it for the first two weeks of the new year…just trying to kick myself into gear.

     

  • Art

    Holiday 2016: Free Book Cover Art

    Book Cover Art
    Click for model credit – not available for cover

    As per my last post, I’m offering one free cover for a book, already published or not. This is my small way of saying thank you to the community of authors and fans that I so very much love being a part of, and it’s a very small way of making this horrible year suck just a little less horribly. This cover can be redeemed anytime in 2017 (after the first few months as I am completely booked!) and includes a POD cover as well as ebook cover. Examples of previous work can be found here.

    I’m looking for a story which features a diverse main character, by which I mean someone who is not white, straight, male, cis, whatever. Those stories exist by the millions and that’s fine…but there are other stories out there that deserve an audience.

    We all need heroes. As kids we need to see ourselves reflected in some sense in the media that we love, and those heroes can’t always be straight white males because that isn’t the world as it is. I was a girl in a small town, just about as wonderbread as they come, but I yearned for kickass stories about girls who had adventures, girls who were looking for Ms. Right rather than Mr. Right, girls who approached life like a goddamn boss. Sure, I had Podkayne…but there were few examples of female military heroes, older female starship captains and so on. I wanted an example of what the world might hold for someone past the Adventure Girl phase that didn’t involve falling in love and being a part of someone else’s story.

    Anyway, back to the actual point. :D Contact me and let me know about your story your main character, and what type of cover that you’re looking for, bonus points for throwing in a chapter or so. And Happy Holidays to you all.

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  • Art

    A Small Holiday Gift

    It’s no secret that 2016 has been a rough year for us all: in so very many ways the world got a bit worse. There are lines from a poem (What They Did Yesterday Afternoon) by the extremely wonderful poet Warshan Shire which describes this year perfectly:

    later that night
    i held an atlas in my lap
    ran my fingers across the whole world
    and whispered
    where does it hurt?

    it answered
    everywhere
    everywhere
    everywhere.

    Powerful stuff.

    Anyway, I think the only sane response to all this is to try to make the world a better place, each in our own small or larger ways, as we are able. Not in a hippy-dippy buying-the-world-a-coke kind of way, but in small acts that bring a little brightness back into the world. Feed some people. Spend some time talking to an older person who is lonely. Carry a sign. Donate a few bucks to an organisation who does good in the world.* Since I’m an artist, I can offer my art.

    Dreams are important. Positive role models are important. Being able to read a book or watch a movie and see a main character like yourself represented is important. Experiencing a story that draws you into someone’s world who may be very different from yourself is important because once you connect with them it is much harder to see them as “other,” as someone to be feared. Diverse characters are important.

    So what I’d like to do is offer a free book cover for one person with a story featuring a diverse main character. Yeah, full-on SJW stuff on my part…and why not? I’ve never seen being a social justice warrior as a bad thing. Goddamn right I’ll stand up for women, or people of colour, or LGBTQ folk because I’m a decent human being and not an asshat. Maybe I’m more of a social justice mage or priest, but whatevs…

    I’ll do a post tomorrow with the details. :)

     

    *A couple of organisations doing good things that I care about are Medecins Sans Frontieres and the ACLU.

     

  • Art,  Personal

    Baby Steps

    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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  • Art

    Book Cover Art: What Do You Look For?

    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.

  • Art

    Pre Designed Custom(ish) Book Covers

    As some of you know, I’m taking a bit of time off for personal reasons and decided to not schedule any new covers for awhile. I have a very long lead time and I didn’t want people to wait for two, three months and then be told that I wouldn’t be able to do their cover, so it was best just to finish the current cover schedule and then have some downtime.

    It’s not all going to be sloth and reruns of Grey’s Anatomy, though. :) I want to focus on doing as many predesigned cover designs as I can and work on building a more cohesive style. I mean, I enjoy doing covers in different styles for different genres, but I think it’s time to find out what I’m really good at doing, rather than being a somewhat competent jack-of-all-trades designer. It will probably focus on the genres that I enjoy reading, as they will be the ones that I understand the best: urban fantasy, dark fantasy, science fiction, horror, and so on. I would like to go back to learning 3D graphics as well, but pain and worry have made it really difficult to concentrate on anything, so we will see.

    I would like to ask: what do you look for in a predesigned cover? Have you purchased one, and why? How do you balance having something which is specific enough for your project with having the cost and time savings of a more instant design?

    What I’m thinking about is doing proper cover art with all of the time and detail that it involves and offering it semi-customisable in that I can switch out colour on hair and clothing, change fonts and so on. This would be at half my normal rate for that level of artwork, but I would skip the stress of piecing together exact clothing, precise background detail, etc. This will also allow me to have more freedom with style and detail.

    What are you looking for? General ideas? Wishlist (in a very general sense, of course)? What types of images have you just not been able to find on other predesigned sites? Let me know.

    Thanks. <3

    EDIT:
    The wonderful Alex Gregg responded on Twitter with a very good suggestion: premade covers for series, carrying the same models and look/feel across multiple books. Awesome idea, and this was the type of feedback that I was hoping to get.

  • Art

    braiiiiins

    Like an unlucky survivor of the zombie apocalypse I seem to have been pulled under and eaten by a massive amount of work lately. Everything else, including exercise, keeping the blog up and any writing have gone by the wayside. I think (fingers crossed) that I’m close to finally coming through the other side.

    I’ve been trying to get the time to work on some pre-designed book covers recently and will be adding more in the future. Not having an MMO that I’m excited about playing at the moment has done wonders for my productivity. :) I’ll add them to the Pinterest board as I do them, so check back if you’re interested in inexpensive covers that you can have now.

    This is the image from this morning: Save the cheerleader…oh no, crap, too late.

     

    Pre Designed Book Cover