A New Fantasy Experience

Posts tagged “literature

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






NEW from Dellani!

The Maker – Book 3 in the Lone Wolf Series by Dellani Oakes


If anyone had asked Wil VanLipsig where he’d be in five years, he surely wouldn’t have said he’d be fighting the ultimate evil on an unknown planet in a lost galaxy. Fighting a war, probably. Killing off insurgents, righting political wrongs, following another man’s agenda, decidedly. Funny how life throws things in our paths that we must overcome. Wil is no different. With the help of his wife, Matilda, their good friends and benevolent aliens, they battle the Kahlea’s slaves, wondering when the Grand Master himself will arrive. What’s next for this tiny, insignificant oddment of miners and marines? Travel to the forgotten world of Shakazan and find out!

The Maker is Book Three in the Lone Wolf Series, with more to come. The story is far from being told.


Wil dragged Matilda back down the tunnel. Roaring, Surau rushed them from the rear. Ben and Marc took shots at him, but they didn’t have time to aim carefully. The shots went wild, zinging around the tunnel dangerously. They holstered their weapons and provided a meat shield for Matilda. Wil ran, dragging her down the tunnel.

They encountered nothing until they got to the first junction, where the metal passage intersected with the stone tunnels. Instead of being empty as it had been, they found themselves facing tall, dark humanoids. These carried lethal looking spears and didn’t appear angry, just startled. Raising their spears threateningly, the dark men charged the group.

Finding the way blocked, the unlucky humans veered off down the metal passage, footsteps echoing hollowly as they ran. Matilda tripped over her skirt, as it wrapped around her legs. Taking one set of claws, she slashed a portion of it away, freeing her feet to run more efficiently. Wil’s grip on her arm was painful, bruising her skin, leaving her muscles feeling numb. She did her best to keep up, but his legs were far longer than hers, his stamina greater. The passage grew increasingly dim as they went further in. They had never been so far from Sentience and her repaired networks before. They initiated their Kindred suits as the air around them thinned and grew stale.

The dark men surged down the tunnel after them, their numbers overwhelming. Ben and Marc formed a wall, with Wil directly behind them. He tried to contact the ship to teleport them out, but there was too much interference. Backing slowly as the men advanced, Marc picked off two with carefully aimed shots. Ben joined him, taking out a couple more. Their weapons were set to stun, but to the dark men, their comrades appeared to be dead.

Instead of stopping, the men grew more determined, advancing rapidly. As one, they suddenly lunged forward, making a grab for the small, retreating party of humans. One grabbed Marc, who crushed the dark man’s skull with a blow from his gun butt.

Another held Ben, who summarily broke his arm, yanking it from the socket. The dark man screamed in pain as Ben’s blow to his head killed him. Wil kicked a third in the teeth, before aiming down the tunnel, targeting the leader. His kill shot was true.

The dark men stopped advancing as their leader’s head exploded. With a mighty roar, they made a last, monumental attempt to grapple with the humans. Wil pressed his wife behind him, trying again to contact the ship. There was a crackle of static and a faint acknowledgment from Hammer.

“Smith, get us the hell out of here!” Wil roared into his com.

The dark men gathered their dwindling numbers, preparing for a final assault. Growling angrily, they reformed their ranks around the fallen, glaring at the humans with hatred.

Wil shouted to his wife, “Run, Matilda! We’ll catch up to you! Run! Run!”

Matilda hesitated a moment. The passageway was dark, she could feel it surround her. Even the Kindred suit couldn’t compensate for the complete lack of light. Her nightmares came back, freezing her in place.

“Wil, I can’t! I can’t see a thing! Oh, God, Wil, I’m so scared!”

“Babe, it’s okay. Hammer has us. He’ll get us out of here. Please, keep going a little longer.”

Hesitantly, she picked her way along, the floor sagging beneath her feet. The ceiling was partially collapsed, filled with so much rubble, she had to stoop to move. The others were engaged in combat, she could hear it. All her instincts screamed at her to go back, to fight beside her mate.

Wil’s voice echoed down the passage, “Run!”

One of the dark men broke through their line, scrabbling over the stones, nearly on top of her. Matilda knew Wil was aiming at him. Flattening herself against the wall, she pressed back as far as she could.

“Now!” she screamed. “You have a clear shot!”

The weapon fired as she ducked, turning further away, sensing the electromagnetic pulse from Wil’s gun, hit the dark man in the back, hurling him toward her. She tried to dodge him, but a hand shot out from his dying body, clutching at her flowing dress, dragging her with him. The floor collapsed beneath their combined weight. The man fell like an anchor into the nothingness below her. Kicking wildly, Matilda struggled for a hand hold, screaming hysterically.

Wil heard her scream, felt the give in the floor and ran full speed down the passage. The ceiling collided with this forehead, the sides of the passage snagged his clothing. “I’m coming! I’m coming! Hang on!”

“Wil! Oh, Wil! I’m falling! Wil!” A scream ripped from her throat, fading away as she fell.

Wil reached for her a second too late. He saw her dropping into the bottomless pit. His cry of despair turned into a howl of grief. A moment later, the men found themselves on the bridge of Hammer. Matilda wasn’t with them. Wil lay on the floor, still as death.

“Oh, God,” he whispered. “Oh, God! No!”


Dellani Oakes is a Tennessean by birth, a Floridian by a quirk of fate. She resides in a town south of Daytona Beach where her constantly changing household usually has at least one grown child in it. Dellani loves science fiction and grew up reading the greats. She always felt something was missing from their story lines—a little romance. Taking that idea to heart, she began her Lone Wolf Series, incorporating all she loved about sci-fi, but adding a strong romantic bond between Wil and Matilda.

Dellani is an avid writer, but when she’s not writing, she’s reading anything she can get her hands on. She leads a small writers group through the Council on Aging, enjoying her time away from home. She also hosts two blog talk radio shows a month, Dellani’s Tea Time – Every 2nd Monday of the month, and What’s Write for Me – every 4th Wednesday. She and her co-host, Christina Giguere, interview other authors.


The Maker – Book Three is ready for pre-order and will be available May 15, 2017