A New Fantasy Experience

Posts tagged “indie

Patrons of Patreon

patreon covr pic 2a


Many moon cycles ago (alright, over a year ago), I took the plunge and created a page on Patreon. I was not hoping for much, perhaps an added tendril to pry through the murk of the internet and expose my writing to new eyes.  A writer is always hoping for new readers, even when we tell ourselves that we write mainly for our own amusement.  Sharing something that may bring a smile or some kind of entertainment or enjoyment to others is at the heart of it. Well, inspired by other artists, I dove into those murky internet waters.

I am posting to call attention to, and to thank, my first two patrons!

My first was my spirit sister and long time best friend, Khanada Taylor. She has helped me in so many ways throughout my life.  She inspires me to keep going and keep writing. She reads anything I give her and offers feedback and support.  Even when my words are sadly lacking or confusing. Her art has graced the covers and the pages of my stories for years, and I am truly grateful for all that she does.

My newest patron is Jennifer Proctor Hollar! For many years, and still in my heart, she’s my actual sister (in-law).  I do not get to speak with her often now, except on social media, but we keep up with each other’s lives in that same method. The internet can be a blessing sometimes.  She is an avid reader. I remember seeing her with a book always in hand.  We shared a love of fantasy stories and often were joined in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.  I certainly hope that I can bring some new amusement to her with my musings and chapters. Thank you for extending a hand and a vote of confidence that I might actually finish these adventures.

I am grateful to have such wonderful sisters beside me on this journey.

In gratitude,
R.L.Davis Hays

Fun with Free Art and Photos

For independent novelists, getting the things that we need to produce the best book is vital.  Getting the best things that we need for little to no money is, of course, desirable.  I had begun to think that I would never be able to get a photo-like cover that I liked unless I took the photo myself because of the very fact that I had no money to spend on a professional photographer, models, or even most stock photo sites.  My son takes photos that I have used in the past, but they entail a great deal of photoshop to make them not look like the places around my house.

I had about given up on finding photos for free on the internet that inspired me as a book cover for my fantasy series.  Then I found Unsplash and Pixabay.

Now, the photos on there are varied.  There are some that are very similar to ones I’ve seen on other sites.  Many lovely stock images of buildings, landscapes, skies, animals, and people.  I combed through their library over many tedious hours and found a few that sparked my interest.  The site says that the photos are for use for free and no credit to the photographer or contact with them is necessary, but I feel that giving credit where credit is due is important.

I picked several photos where I like certain elements and tried to keep the names of the artists with them in my computer.  Granted, I altered the ones that I used.  Heavily altered in some cases.  But, I am writing this blog to share with you the possibilities that are available on Unsplash or Pixabay, with a little help from photoshop.

Here are the original photos that I selected and downloaded for free on Pixabay and the altered finished cover for THE DAWNSTONE TALE.

This first one is an image offered by Pixabay contributor Thisismyurl aka. Christopher Ross.

U pixabay Thisismyurl Christopher Ross



I liked the lonely, resolute quality of the model’s pose, the fact that she was barefoot (which Lylith always is) and the red hair.




Her shape and wavy hair reminded me of my original Lylith model, Tara Cardinal (seen here in one of her photo-shoots shown on Model Mayhem.)


The Tower of Sunrise had to be typical enough not to be recognizable as a specific place on Earth, but strange enough that it would fit the way I saw it in my mind.  I chose an image by Pixabay graphic artist Mysticartdesign.

U pixabay mysticartdesign

Dissecting this ruin picture for the pieces that I needed, I then turned to a colorful background that would help give a sense of Jorthus.  I choose a rather popular shot of space (the Milky Way) that was available from Pexels on Pixabay. And flipped it!

After many hours (days) of fiddling with the pictures, I came up with:  Dst lylith cover 6x9


Unsplash Tomas Malik

For the second book in the series, I had a very Conan-style art cover for the first edition, but this time around I wanted to emphasize another of the central characters, Rachel, and keep the photo-e

sque look of the artwork.  I came across a rather serene and striking photo on Unsplash by a contributor named Tomas Malik.  It was simple yet seemed to say a lot about Rachel’s journey in this book.

The Convergence cover FULL 6x9 2019 KC

The color of the lake really caught my eye.  The lone figure, her bag beside her, and the cloud covered mountain all rang true to a feeling that I was relaying in Rachel’s arrival on Jorthus. So, I altered it!




In fact, if you look closely at the castle on the mountainside, you may recognize other parts of the ruins from Mysticartdesign.  The planet looming in the sky, Jorthus’ sister-world of Quorrelles, was a pure product of photoshop.








The third book cover in the series, THE EXCURSION, is the result of my son’s photo safari in a construction zone near our house.



He even graciously posed for me with one of his many swords.

Again, I wanted to keep a single main figure as a brand or style for the covers.


Excursion 6x9 332 nook

Since this is a blog about the fabulous convenience of image sharing sites like Unsplash and Pixabay, I will mention that the silhouetted horses were plucked and altered from several images on Unsplash and are varied and vast.

Not that I couldn’t have used pictures of my own horses that I took in high school, but those would have entailed scanning and rotoscope on a large scale and I just didn’t have time or energy for that. So (again) after many days on photoshop, I had an image that I think not only relayed a feeling of the journey described in the story, but matched the look and feel of the other two.

In conclusion, I found the selection and quality of pictures available on Pixabay and Unsplash excellent and highly recommend checking them out! – R.L.

Find out more about Jorthus or the books by R L Davis Hays at www.rldavishays.webs.com.

#photos #art #Pixabay #Unsplash #Jorthus







Independent Artists need love too

Having just wrapped up a very long serial “short story”, I have a moment to step back and decide what to blog on next here at Cereal Authors. Usually the topics involve writing, reading, or the like; however, I have been wanting to touch on something for a long time:  The support and respect of artists.

I’m not here to condemn or remonstrate anyone. But, many artists (writers are included in this as writing is an art) feel undervalued in society as a whole. I speak with many on a near daily basis and the general consensus is that the hours and effort we put into our work is not always valued the same as, say, a factory made item at a store. There is the common meme  of the coffee cup price compared to an ebook price. Which one took longer and was harder to make? Let’s guess.

But, like I said, this blog is not to place blame on the consumer. No. I want to take this opportunity to celebrate the artists! Specifically, the ones I know, and who have few outlets for advertising or voice.

Aside from the wonderful writers here (all talented and hard working), I would like to draw some attention to other craftsmen in my midst. Please visit their pages, sites, or stores and give them a like or two or a share, even if you can’t afford to give them an income. 🙂

First, we have Myriad Fae Creations.


If you appreciate hand sculpted trinkets, costume pieces, whimsical soaps, faeries and the like, please visit her website, Facebook page, and Ebay offerings.  The creator is Kate Elizabeth Davis, a multi-media artist. She has been constructing fantastic works of her imagination since she was a child. I know because I grew up with her! Yes, she is my sister and she credits me as part of Myriad Fae because of my sketched cards, but I’m not playing favorites. Her work speaks for itself (and when the work happens to be a puppet made for a stage production, then it actually CAN speak for itself).

Second, I share with you Einini Glassworks.

https://scontent-mia1-2.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/553203_327447853980448_1117475337_n.jpg?oh=ead011529a67d4e5aed420c1eaf52d32&oe=59153E59 Just breathe elinni blue

A wife and husband team who create beauty and elegance in glass and stone. Brian Ellis is the stained glass artist and Heidi Ellis is the mosaic artist. Together, they have a variety to offer. Stained glass items including suncatchers, votive candle holders, and Tiffany reproduction lamps, as well as mosaic glass tile artwork including panels, candleholders, mirrors, tables and picture frames. Check out their items on Facebook, Etsy, or their website.

If you are more into 2D wall hanging art, our third artist is Harriet Duncan.

https://i1.wp.com/www.harrietduncan.com/assets/fine_art/Dicksee_Chick_120dpi.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/www.harrietduncan.com/assets/photography/Colony-Winter-Park.jpgNo automatic alt text available.

She is an award-winning photographer, graphic and fine artist who produces unique photography and fine art, documenting old Florida and other places, near & far. She has a flair for the eccentric and nostalgic. Her art draws on her bohemian roots and blends art deco with a Gauguin aspect for an intoxicating visual brew that one can best enjoy on a beach at sunset. Please explore her world on Facebook or her website.

This is just a sampling of the talent and hard work that can be found out there, waiting and eager to please some interested art appreciator. There are thousands. They create, display, and imagine in the hopes that something they found beautiful can gain a home with someone else that finds it beautiful, too.

Thank you for your time.