Archive for the ‘cover art’ Category


Kids are visual creatures. They like to be entertained in every respect. As a child, I loved books with illustrations. When I morphed into reading chapter books as a young person I wanted the more complex stories, but I still wanted the imagery. I can remember really appreciating the authors who put ink illustrations in their chapter books. I have fond memories of poring over the minute squiggles and flourishes on the pages of Tove Jansson’s books.


Last year, I prepared to release my first book, my novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ The first book from The Chronicles of Aden Weaver. I realized there was no way the budget would stretch to illustrations, so I came up with an easy solution.

Here’s  a guide to creating your own pen and ink book illustrations:

Step One: Start with your characters.

First, you must have some form of cover art for your book which you have either paid for or otherwise have liberty to use. For my debut novel, I had the two main characters rendered artistically in digital form by my nephew.

I simply copied the character with a pencil.


Second attempt on Aden, for b&w illustration0002I wanted to introduce a new face. I took a photo of a statue of a giant which I found in a 1970’s magazine and copied the basic outline.

*Hot Tip: I use an automatic pencil, as they have the super fine leads. You want to do all the early stages on tracing paper.


I already had my protagonist, Aden Weaver, rendered in pencil from last year, but I needed to change his position for this book so I lifted him into the air. This gave me a new image to work with. As I pinned down the character’s positions, I switched from pencil to a fine permanent marker pen.

*Hot Tip: You’ll need to see every line. A fine nib is necessary. I use a Staedtler “Triplus fineliner.” Every line needs to be carefully but clearly distinct.


Step Two: Create the background and foreground

For this image, I decided to use one of a few special backdrops. A dear friend, Lyall Gardiner, had gifted me four of his ink/colour pencil backdrops before he passed. In A3, they’re enormous, so I selected elements from one image, the moon and wispy clouds and some of the looming shapes and traced them onto a more compacted A4 page.

You could use whatever you have to hand, interesting segments of your kids’ artwork, pieces of your own from childhood, or you could go wild and cut segments of out-of-date magazine pictures to create a montage/mosaic effect, etc. Use your imagination.


*Hot Tip: Take care not to tread on rights to intellectual property.


Step Three: Combine and Trace

The next part is to employ your artistic eye with placement. Arrange your characters on the background in a way that fits the “story” you want to tell. The great thing about using tracing paper is you can flip the characters over. I decided to “tell the story” of the Oni looming. However, I needed to flip our hero to have him face the giant. To do this, I simply turned the paper over and re-defined all the lines with pen on the reverse of the paper!


Step Four: Fill it in!

I took my taped-together tracing paper image and copied it onto thick art paper. I used permanent markers and filled in the picture. I thought in terms of light and shadow, silhouette, of how things look in the dark, not drawing to be realistic but to create pattern – effect through contrast. I left certain patches: one or two to be left white and at least a few to be painted black. They added impact.


The resulting image will be one of the two illustration plates for inside ‘The Sasori Empire.’ On Facebook, I shared it with the caption, ‘The horned face of the Oni appeared in the trunk, even more hideous than before, and a head of bark grew.’

Step Five: Copyright!

Make sure to add your name the copyright symbol and the year somewhere on your picture.

With a bit of effort, anyone can create at least a couple of illustrations to go inside their own book. These simple pen and inks are relatively easy, quick, and they’re super fun to do. You have the satisfaction of having made it yourself.

Have you ever tried your hand at your own illustrations?


Talk to you later

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol



The Holy Grail is to spend less time making the picture than it takes people to look at it. ~ Banksy



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Sturge-Weber Syndrome is a rare brain disorder. It is characterized by a port-wine birthmark. It can cause seizures, paralysis, stroke, blood clots, glaucoma, and a host of other problems. The Sturge-Weber Foundation is a place where parents can go to find information. ~ Robyn Campbell.


Since meeting writer, Robyn Campbell, through our “tribe,” Writing for Children, over on Wanatribe, we’ve learned about her brave son, Christopher, who lives with Sturge-Weber Syndrome, a rare brain disorder. Though doctors predicted Christopher would not make it to the age of two, he is twenty nine today.


One fine day, in October of 2014, WfC member, Teresa Robeson came up with the idea that we put together an anthology, to benefit the Sturge-Weber Foundation, and in that way, she started the conversation. Lynn Kelley, Catherine Johnson, myself and of course, Robyn, jumped aboard the project.


Robyn loved the idea. She said, ‘The seizures in Sturge-Weber kids are really mini strokes. I really hope that the research finds better treatment options. The slogan has always been, the stronger the wind, the tougher the trees.  Maybe folks will donate and at the very least maybe when they see a Sturge-Weber child or adult, maybe just maybe they won’t stare. 🙂 That’s worth it all.’

Her words galvanized our effort. As we worked on our stories, over the months, more and more writers came on board, from other areas, until we had eleven contributors.


In celebration of the fact that our anthology is soon to be released, I interviewed Robyn Campbell about her feelings and thoughts.

In your own words, what sort of book is KBAA?


First off, let me thank you Yvette, and all the contributors for over a year of solid work for the Kissed by an Angel Anthology. I feel so blessed to know all of you in such a personal way. This past year has been a struggle as doctors have tried to find the reason Christopher is having these latest problems. To me, Kissed by an Angel is a book of hope, magic, love, joy, and the belief that anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it. The stories are the best of the best. You writers are the best of the best. I will miss our family after the launch. That’s what it is, you know? We’re family.


Definitely! I’m grateful to have had something concrete to do, Robyn.

Tell us what this anthology means to you? How did you get involved?


The anthology means so many things on so many levels. This is our chance to do something for research. We know the gene that causes Sturge-Weber (GNAQ), so now we are chomping at the bit for better treatment options and dare I say it? A cure. I want to know that I had some say in this. That I made a difference toward finding a cure. It makes my heart cry to hear of these deaths from Sturge-Weber that we’ve heard about. It brings it too close to home. Way too close. I got involved after Lynn Kelley (who has worked on formatting and everything else, she needs a medal), Yvette Carol (that’s you), Teresa Robeson, and Catherine Johnson (our tribe) started tossing around the idea of doing an anthology to benefit the Foundation’s research. And may I say that Christopher just wants to give all of you a colossal smooch on the mouths. Well, except Erik. Haha Actually, Christopher loves Erik and his family. He KNOWS they pray for him. That means a lot to him. He prays for them and for Sam and for all of you.


Thank you, Christopher!

Robyn, your story starts the whole book. What is your story about and why did you choose to include it?


My story is titled Kissed By An Angel. It is real life turned into a fictional story. But it is very true. It’s about Christopher before he got his black belt. When he was having many seizures. Every day he would have seizures. All day long. He’d end up in the hospital. It was a trying time. Especially, because he was trying to test for that belt.

The anthology stories are about special powers of middle-graders. I wrestled with writing a story on magic. But it didn’t feel right to me. I always believed Christopher had his own special powers. So I decided to write the story that is in the anthology. It was hard. I cried so much while writing that first draft. All those memories came flooding to the surface. I wrote his neurologist into the story too. I dedicated it to Dr. D’Cruz. And to someone else. Shhh. I can’t say anymore. All of those seizures are why Christopher will always live with us on the farm. He will never drive. But he can read and write. He can do much more than doctors ever thought he would. I give all the credit to God. Christopher had a very special request of the authors in the anthology. That they all sign his copy. Poor Yvette lives in New Zealand. But they all agreed. He is so excited to get his anthology.

KBAA, cover art, 2015

Tell us a little about the idea of the charity initiative behind KBAA, with all proceeds to go to the Sturge-Weber Foundation, as a lot of people are unfamiliar with either the syndrome or the organisation.


The Sturge-Weber Foundation is a place where parents can go to find information. Karen Ball started it after her daughter was born with Sturge-Weber. She works tirelessly for the families. The foundation has research irons in the fire. We hope for better treatment options. 100% of the proceeds from the anthology goes to the Foundation. I will set Karen up with CreateSpace as soon as we’re finished with everything. That way, all money goes into the Foundation’s account. I’m super excited. I want this to be huge. I want this to help bring answers. Please buy a copy. It will be in print and ebook. Thank you, Yvette. For everything.

Thank you, Robyn!


The anthology is due for release Dec 13. In the meantime, to whet your appetites, here’s a cover reveal for the anthology. Ta da!

Our hope is that we have given people a simple way of helping an awesome charity. Spend a few dollars on a really great book you can read with your kids this Christmas. 100% of the money goes straight to the coffers of the The Sturge-Weber Foundation.

Easy as!


Yvette Carol


‘Every story started with just an idea in someone’s head. Isn’t that a fantastic concept?’ Bob Mayer

Here’s what other contributors are saying:

Robyn Campbell –

Sharon Mayhew –

Theresa Milstein –

Erik Weibelg –

Vivian Kirkfield –

Ellen Leventhal –




Indie authors usually hire freelance online editors, formatters, book cover artists and designers. Everyone has their ‘go-to’ people. Over the years, I’ve compiled lists of links and names for when the time came to put out my first book.

Yet, I had no idea truly, even though my Indie friends had warned me, of what actually goes into producing your own book. The list of jobs is as long as your arm and nothing happens in a straight line from A to B. You go back over your tracks again and again. The line is more like a fabulously complicated squiggle.

First, I sent my novel to a professional editor in the States. Then upon putting in her edits, I discovered minor errors everywhere and realized I’d need to get some proof-readers on board. Luckily for me, two other Indie author friends came to my rescue. However, time was running out and the list of jobs still needing to be done, and people to be contacted, and all the different strings that come with Independent publishing was beginning to feel like too much for me.


Once the copy itself was clean, the next step needed to be contemplated. Coincidentally the very next day, I read in the local newspaper that a small book publisher, Book Print, had opened up within ten minutes drive of my house. Their books were of a high standard.

I can’t even tell you the relief of handing the clean copy over to the professionals. It immediately gave me confidence that my precious baby I’ve worked on the last ten years was going to be a quality product in presentation as well as content.


These young guys were amazing. They handled the formatting, the layout, the digital files for both CreateSpace and Kindle Direct, the bookmarks to go with the launch, special cards to go inside the front cover with which I can number the books I sign, and most importantly, the cover design!


My nephew, Simon Kingi, had created the imagery for the cover. As a perfectionist, he had applied himself to the cover art by asking lots of questions over the weeks about our hero, Aden Weaver’s character.

Simon’s illustration of Aden Weaver is an admirable work of art, the expression, the choice of light and shade, say so much. We can see, looking at this boy, that he has the promise of a leader, the potential to save an empire. However, at the same time, we see someone burdened by the past. He’s somehow conflicted. Not fully grown yet. He’s hero potential, but he’s got a way to go. To get all of that meaning out of a single standing figure, that’s real art.

The next trick I needed to pull off was how to adequately showcase this artwork on the cover of the book.

I worked with the jacket designer at Bookprint, the wonderful Steve Parker, for at least a couple of weeks over the look of the cover. My directive was that it needed to be so stunning that even the great director, Peter Jackson, would be stopped in his tracks!

These days, young people especially, are driven by visual impact. They’re so spoiled with images drenched in colour and intensity, that to arrest their attention even for a minute from their digital devices is a colossal task. Every time Steve sent me a cover option, I would remind him of this fact. We need to ‘go big or go home!’


So on the cover we deepened the black to give that sense of impending danger. We placed Aden Weaver between the black shade and the blue to give the question through symbolism – will he turn towards the light or the dark?

We added a green spine (which is transparent so you can see the forest continuing from front to back), green signifying fertility, youth, growth and promise. At the lower end of the spine, we added the symbol I’d drawn of the seal of the Order of Twenty-four which has significance, and is a recurring visual motif throughout the book as well.

The designer came up with the great suggestion of overlaying the tip of the sword in Aden’s hand over the top of the letter ‘O’ in the word ‘Or’in’ in the title. To me, this spoke of the danger the Or’in represents.


This morning, I wanted to share the cover.

This afternoon, I pick up the box of a hundred copies. And in the early evening, my friends and family will gather with me for the launch.


I feel poised, ready to share my vision with the world.

How about you? Have you ever put on a book launch? How did you present your debut?


Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol


Go now and live, choose magic over predictability. Choose potential over safety. ~ Jeanette LeBlanc

It’s true what they say, ‘work hard enough and dreams really do come true.’


Book covers are funny things. They say, that whether browsing in a book store or skimming the options on, the instinctive impulse to buy is stimulated by the visual impact of the cover. I think the jacket created for Butterfly Hollow, by my friend, Maria Toth, is particularly striking. Does it arrest us? Yes, it does. I find when I’m shopping at book fairs, that whether I pause or not comes down to the imagery on the cover.

A good cover sells.

However, it’s not the only factor in my decision to buy. That would come down to cover, back cover blurb, and first couple of paragraphs on the first page, in that order. For me, personally, because the cover is so important, I wanted to get my first one just right.

In the last issue of my Newsletter, I shared a great blog post over on Writers in the Storm, which was about the science of colours and how the colours we choose for our book covers affect the buyers.


You are constructing the Neverland of your choice, whether your setting looks like Hogwart’s school for wizards, or New York City. Set the parameters to match the boundaries of your heart. –Jane Yolen

As I’ve worked on ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ I wondered sometimes what the cover would look like. I’ve collected blog posts and articles on trends in fantasy covers and various ideas as to what sells and  what doesn’t. For a first-timer like myself, when it comes to creating the imagery for the cover, it’s actually quite an intimidating job.

The all-important debut cover essentially introduces you the writer, and your brand, to the world.

But when it came down to it, for me personally, it was about following “the parameters of my heart” as Yolen put it so eloquently.

Although I’m not against using stock photography for a cover one day, this project needed the human touch. This book required choosing the right person for the job.

As I completed the final edits of my book, I was very happy to coax my incredibly talented nephew, Simon Kingi, out of his early retirement to do the artwork for the cover. I knew I could trust him to do my vision justice.


Since that fateful day, Si and I have communicated back and forth quite a lot over the development and direction of the image of the book’s central character, Aden Weaver. If any of the readers here know Si personally, they would attest to the fact that any sort of sustained conversation with this guy is hard to get. The art part was a bonus. 🙂

The first image Si sent me, from the moment I set eyes on it, my breath was taken away, and I loved my hero, Aden Weaver.

However, I had to send that version back, because of the fairy wings. Aden is a shape-shifter with dragonfly wings not those of a fairy. Also, Si had him wearing heavy boots, which looked like they would make flying difficult.

The dagger in Aden’s hand does not appear in the story in any form. However, a large curved and engraved knife belonging to the Sasori warriors does feature prominently. I took a bit of artistic licence and encouraged Si to make the blade in Aden’s hand into the Sasori weapon.


So the next image from Si, he had changed the fairy wings to dragonfly wings. And the short dagger had been replaced by an engraved, curved blade.

I thought these wings were spectacularly rendered and beautiful, however, in the half-mast position, the image didn’t inspire me.

Also, I preferred the ephemeral colours of the fairy wings which more approximated dragonfly wings in my mind’s eye. I had to reluctantly send him back.


The next image I got from Si, he’d hit it out of the ballpark.

Now we had Aden! Seeing my beloved character and his mentor come to life on the screen before me – gosh, what a thrill, what a victory – it really was a wonderful moment I’ll never forget.

The photos offered here don’t do him justice. They are obviously just samples, little teasers. I’m attempting to fill the gap while I wait for the final version of the book cover from the printers, which I’m assured is coming soon.


Last week, Si and I started communicating about the baddie, our villain of the piece, Chief Wako, but soon realized we were running out of time. The book launch party is set for September 19th. I don’t want to rush anything at this late stage. Everything about this project, I want to be of a quality that reflects the years of focus that have gone into its creation.

Simon and I abandoned the idea of including Chief Wako on the cover. We agreed it was better to have Aden on the cover, alone with his miniature friend, pet fruit fly, Geo.

My intuition is that the readers are being introduced to this character for the first time, anyway. It’s like a first date. They want to really look at Aden and study him and get to know to him from a safe distance. So it is appropriate that only Aden, and Geo, appear on the cover.

We’ve left Si’s initial workings of the baddie, Chief Wako, aside for when it comes to working on the sequel. Although I did use Si’s concept of Wako to come up with a pen and ink drawing for inside the book. (Which I’ll detail in a separate blog post).


The resulting illustration is okay. I’m the first to admit that Simon’s Wako is far more handsome than mine!


Si, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. You’ve got a gift.

I’ll be forever grateful to you for taking the time out of your busy life to breathe life into this character for me. As in times of ancient Egypt, when the scribes were nothing without the designers, and the designers were nothing without the scribes, my story has become animated through the magic of your images. Thank you. May you be blessed with a dozen roasts on-the-spit cooked to perfection, and with a thousand healthy camels.

Well done, my nephew! Extra chicken wings for you at the launch…and a gift is coming your way, of course!


The countdown has begun. Eight days and counting until  the day of my book launch on the 19th. Therefore, I’ll be adding extra posts and updates throughout the coming week. As soon as I have a copy of the final version of the cover, I’ll post it as a “cover reveal” here on my blog, too.

Stay tuned! There sure is a lot of excitement going on around this here neck of the woods.

It’s true what they say, ‘work hard enough and dreams really do come true.’

What about you, what are you working on that means the most to you? Have you crafted your own book cover?


Keep Creating!

Talk soon,

Yvette K. Carol


Awaken to the brilliance in ordinary moments. – Jeanette LeBlanc

The term hero was applied from earliest times to one possessed with superhuman strength and courage and favoured by the gods. Later the word applied to those valiant in battle, noble in their aims and chivalrous in their actions. -Julie Piggott, Japanese Mythology

In the last issue of my Newsletter, I said I’d been asked to do the cover art for an anthology of children’s stories called, Kissed By An Angel. This wonderful book, which my friends and I are working on, is due out soon. It has been put together to benefit the Sturge-weber Foundation.


I didn’t know if I could still draw or paint. On my journey to picking up the paintbrushes again, after a ten year absence, I took photos of every step along the way. The resulting photo essay went into my Newsletter.

KBAA cover, 200 dpi

One of my good friends suggested I share the essay here. I was going to do just that. However, a week has gone by, as it often does between blog posts, and I’ve done a second illustration since then. So, my idea is to use the same format with new imagery. Everyone wins!

The story I have in the Kissed By An Angel, anthology is called, ‘Grandpa & Loor.’ My main character’s evocative name was chosen by author, Robyn Campbell’s son, Christopher, who lives with Sturge-weber syndrome.

A Photo Essay for ‘Grandpa & Loor’…

A few years back, I tried using computer software to “draw” but I didn’t take to it. I simply prefer pencils, erasers, pens, colour pencils, and paints. I’m old school. So, bear with me. For some people, this might be a trip down memory lane.


First, I had to work up a sketch I liked. I borrowed the man’s expression from an old photo of my boys’ father and aged him by adding wrinkles, I borrowed the idea for the hair out of a Santa book from the ’70’s. I was seeking with this illustration to express how we caregivers and parents of special children feel about them, and how they feel toward us. Once I was happy with it on a feeling level, I had a pencil template.

Grandpa & Loor

I painted the background over with a pale wash of pink.

First wash, G&L

Next, I applied the first coat of watercolour. At this stage, I made a timeline of the process, by taking this snap when I started.

I gave each area a slightly different shade, in order to alter the end look. The lesson I’ve taken from training in oil portraiture is to build layers. That’s where you get your depth.

At that stage, I added the second layer to the characters, according to what I thought the colours might be later.

second wash, G&L0003
As I got onto the third coat, I started to use three or more variations of the shades and add areas of light and dark.

third wash, G&L0004
The fourth layer always makes the tones more solid and real.

At that point, I switched from water colour to gouache, and started using the fine tipped brushes.


I made the shadows more convincing.

And, just like that, in the twinkling of a back-breaking eye, I had finally crossed the finish line, thirteen hours later!

Since then, I’ve had three hours sleep.

And yet, I feel victorious. Art is magical, isn’t it?

What sort of art do you do in your life? What’s important to you creatively? Tell me in the comments….


Keep Creating!

Talk soon,

Yvette K. Carol


“Rainer Maria Rilke saw artists as bees gathering experience from the material world and then returning with it to “the great golden hive of the Invisible.” ~ PJ Reece

A long time ago, in a land far away, I liked to sketch and paint. In this land, I illustrated my own children’s stories. You can see some of these paintings on the side panel. However, sketching and painting take time. As life moves on and brings more responsibilities, it becomes harder to indulge one’s creative sides.


When I started writing The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, in 2005, I attended a writing workshop taught by award-winning author, Kate de Goldi. I showed her one of my hand-illustrated manuscripts.

Kate was blunt. “You need to choose whether you want to be an illustrator, or a writer, and really focus on that.”

I wanted to be a writer. Letting go of illustrating freed up my time, which was at a premium with children underfoot and in my hair. Here I am, with my first book in The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, series coming up for release.


At the same time, another amazing project is coming to fruition.

A year ago exactly, some of my writer friends and I, gathered together to support our dear friend and colleague, author, Robyn Campbell, in her on-going efforts to raise awareness about Sturge-Weber Syndrome. We decided to write an anthology of short stories. Our concept was to write about gifted children. The book is called, Kissed By An Angel, and the proceeds will go to benefit the Sturge-Weber Foundation.

The launch date for Kissed By An Angel, is set for mid-September (TBC). Catherine, another contributor, also wrote about it in her post, Anthology Illustration.

Some of the writers in the group asked me if I would do the cover. I thought, Can I? I didn’t know. I hadn’t touched a pencil or paintbrush in years and besides, I might have gotten rusty. Nevertheless, I brought out all my art materials. I literally had to dust them off!


I made four sketches and the KBAA collective of writers chose one, which most importantly also got the seal of approval from Christopher, Robyn’s son, who has Sturge-Weber.

Doing artwork however, as previously stated, takes time! Back in the day, I sat down and worked for hours on end. Move on a decade, and the sketch for the cover lay among the tissues on the kitchen table for days while the kids had flu. I’d draw one stroke, then dash away to blow someone’s nose, come back to the piece, draw a line, then race off to take someone a drink, come back, do another line, etc.

In the background, I still hadn’t finished putting in the edits to my own book. I got overwhelmed.

Friends suggested wisely, that you need to prioritise at times like these.

I made two things the top priorities: to finish putting the proof-reader’s edits into my novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and to do the cover for the Kissed By An Angel, anthology.

I sat down at my computer with the proof-reader’s notes and stayed at my post until the pile whittled down to nil at eleven o’clock last night. Then, I posted the manuscript to a friend, who’s going to make the final check for typos.

Yes! The satisfaction of ticking off that box!


Although it was late and I was tired, I looked at the art supplies on the bench, and the template for the KBAA cover, and I felt this real wave of enthusiasm to get started. I applied the first background wash of watercolour. I didn’t go to bed till 1.30 a.m. yet I sprang up at six this morning! I’ll paint the next layers with water colour and add the bright gouache today.

This is what I have so far for the cover of KBAA.

KBAA, cover art, 2015

Getting to do something different creatively, to draw and paint, I realized is like taking a vacation.

It’s an artistic absence that is good for the soul. I’ve had about five hours sleep, and yet I feel utterly refreshed, energised and alive. I have a new skip in my step.

There is energy to be found in doing what you love.

There is definite wisdom in Kate’s advice, to focus on mastering one talent at a time. And there’s also something to be said for taking a break from focus and mastery, and allowing oneself to play and have fun!

One needs to be replenished in order to be fruitful.


The whole anthology has such poignancy and meaning for all of us. It’s an honour to be involved. And when you’re busy putting out your own book, it’s nice to put your attention on someone else for a change.

Each writer contributing to the KBAA collection was invited to do an illustration or send a photo to accompany their piece. I can see an ink sketch in my mind’s eye. But I’m saving that for third on my list of priorities, once the cover is complete.

With the anthology and my debut novel due for release in the next four to five weeks, things are hotting up. If I occasionally fail to show up here, please mark it down to artistic absence. Either that or I’ve run away to be an artist!

How about you? Have you another creative outlet that gives you joy? Are you doing what replenishes your soul and restores you to fruitfulness?


*Watch this space: release dates for, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and, Kissed By An Angel, to be announced soon!*

From Chaos Central…

Yvette K. Carol

Keep Creating!


After traditionally publishing a few, I switched and won’t go back. I love the control over my book’s destiny. Every choice is an act of love.  ~ D. Wallace Peach


The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins. ~ Bob Moawad