Read what sells: Write what sells

blog_tips-for-bestsellers-list
Standard

I was reading one of those “How to Write” books when I came across some interesting advice. “Read what’s currently selling.”

So I got on Amazon to check out the best selling books and here’s what I’ve deduced.

Fantasy readers want:

Vampires, shape-shifters, assassins, time travel, forbidden magic, and dragons.

Ok, my book has . . . none of those things.

I know I’m not selling myself now. On the plus side, some of the top selling books were more like Game of Thrones or Fools Quest, books mine might be comparable to.

You know what I saw none of in the top 100 list. Elves. I guess people aren’t reading about elves anymore. I guess I can see why. The books I’ve read recently are just dreadful and hokey.

For those of you who thought the vampire fad is dying out, go check out this list. It seems like the logical thing to do would be to turn my elves into vampires or shape shifters and–tada–I’d have a best-seller.

But I can’t do that. I don’t like to write about vampires.

So what’s a girl to do.

Time travel is big now with Outlander and The Winter Sea.

So … a time-traveling vampire falls in love with a shape shifter.

But that’s not enough.

This is the book I should write.

9734da2af1e6154e709fc711dca5e25dA vampire, hired to assassin shape shifters (because their power is forbidden), falls in love with the shape shifter he is hired to kill (using dragons that travel through time.).

 

There you go.

I wouldn’t read that, so why would I write this.

This is why I believe in write what you want to read. Hopefully at the end of years of hard work and the birth and death of many words, someone will be interested in reading it too. So if you like the vampire assassin, traveling through time on his dragon to assassinate a shape-shifter, my book is not for you.

But if you like adventure, epic fantasy, battles, dynamic characters, romance, epicness, and awesomeness, you will like my books when I’m finished.

For those of you who haven’t checked out Amazon’s best seller rankings, I encourage you to do so. You won’t find my books on that list … yet.

Next Cosplay Officially Underway

labyrinth-jareth-sing-3
Standard

In March, my city is having a con. I believe it’s being held in a ballroom or some form of reception hall, so what better cosplay than Jareth and Sarah from the Ballroom scene of Labyrinth.

77a4c003b8612e0f5f6b7c42a567da8b

With David Bowie’s death in 2016, it seems like a good time to honor his memory with a cosplay of one of his most iconic roles.

Even though the movie was made in 1986, the year I was born, I didn’t watch it until I was almost thirty. The first time I watched it, I remember thinking what a great cosplay this would be, particularly the ballroom scene.

So I will be cosplaying as the Goblin King. My sister will be Sarah, and my son will be Hoggle. I was hoping he’d go as Toby, partially for the easier costume, but he’s 8, so he’d be embarrassed to be a baby.

I have roughly two months to complete this cosplay. It will be particularly time consuming, requiring wigs, mask, sewing, props, etc. The costumes are elaborate. The dress and jacket are glittery and diamond encrusted. Everything Bowie is glittery and shiny, like a diamond in the ruff.

moana-shiny-tamatoa-700x300

Once again, I want to make as much of it as possible instead of ordering it.

The Wow Factor

We always like to have a wow factor. For this cosplay, it will not be enough to look like Bowie, but I must be able to play the part. We are going to learn how to dance and I will learn how to perform all of his crystal ball tricks. This is known as contact juggling.It takes several years to master it, but I’m hoping to be good enough by the con to at least do several tricks well. I’ve seen many cosplayers carrying the crystal ball, but none of them juggling them. So far, I have two balls and a third is in the mail. I’ve been practicing for about a month now, and I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. I love learning new things, so this is exciting for me. I think it will come in handy at birthday parties or while I’m waiting at the dentist.

ball

I haven’t started sewing yet, but I found patterns for all of the costumes. The dress, believe it or not, was the first one we found. It is almost perfect, requiring few alterations. I also found a pattern for Bowie’s jacket. I already have the boots and pants. I could not find a pattern for a shirt with a jabot or a pattern for my son in his size that I could use for Hoggle. I finally found some online. For Rylee I will modify a pirate pattern circa 1986.

My hair is the right color for Bowie, and I wish I was brave enough to cut it, but my hair grows so slowly, I went ahead and ordered a wig.

I am brave enough to do the makeup, however. It will take some practice to get it right.  here’s round one.

14657488_10211203598276633_61459445595119356_n

My sister was going to order the jewelry pieces but I made the earrings and the bracelet. I’m still struggling to make the necklace. Jewelry making is not one of my specialties. I think these turned out good. Not to brag, but I think of all the bracelet replications, mine is the best. I’m a stickler for detail and selected beads in the right color and shape. It’s harder than you think to find beads the right colors though.

 

That’s pretty much what we have done so far. It’s not a lot, but we’re trying to settle on fabrics and purchase those so the real work can begin.

Why I Cosplay

cosplay_meme___what_society_thinks_i_do____by_redjanuary-d4tc6y0
Standard

So as you all know, my blog is where I share my passions–mainly writing (though lately my post haven’t been about writing so much). Right now my greatest passion is cosplay.

What is Cosplay?

Some of you probably cosplay yourselves or at least have heard about it. I’m really not sure what the etymology of the word is, but I know it has “play” in it. It means costume play or something of that nature. I like to call it adult pretend, though children can certainly cosplay as well. It means something different to everyone. Cosplay may be synonymous with weird to some of you who are no doubt looking for the unfollow option on my blog.

Cosplay gets a bad rep for being considered some sort of adult dress up where those who participate are in some sort of stunted state of adolescence or refuse to grow up.

a766b3bb8bffe86b7ab4e989af7b5f61.jpg

None of that is true. It’s not just dress up or pretend, it’s a creative outlet and a way of expression.

What Type of People Cosplay?

You’ll find all kinds of grownups, some serious adulting types even. A doctor, lawyer, or insurance agent by trade could be Batman, Iron Man, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Gandalph, or Hermione at a con.

Whatever they do for a living, your typical cosplayers are artist, nerds, geeks, dye-hard fans, actors, etc.

Let’s look at some of my favorite cosplayers.

thgJoshua Dart: Thranduart: Here is an example of a man who took a character and made him his own. He has celebrity status for his Thranduil cosplay. He is the perfect example of cosplaying from the inside out. Not only does he look like the character, but he acts like him. While he still cosplays as Thranduil, he has also cosplayed as Nick Wylde, Woody, and he’s currently working on a new project. You can follow him via Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about him and his cosplay, read all about him in my blog interview here.

14702315_10154198864517955_4740621950542902139_nElysia Vaughan: I met her at my first con, and now I see her every year. The first year she won first place in a costume contest and rightfully so, as she made her costume the year we ordered ours. We won second place, but she certainly deserved first for her Predator cosplay. I wish I had a photo to share, but I can’t find it. She was very friendly and willing to share information about the process of making her costume. She really inspired me to try my hand at making my own. She made it sound easy. I always look forward to seeing her and learning more about her as a person instead of just a fellow cosplayer.

Even some famous people have cosplayed, even if it was just to disguise themselves at cons: Masie Williams, Daniel Radcliffe, Tom Hiddleston, and Henry Cavill. Chances are, if you see someone just wearing a spider man mask, they’re a celebrity in hiding.

Here are a few of my favorites who, sadly, I don’t know their names:

Why Cosplay?

 

There are many reasons to cosplay. Many of us just want to share a passion either for a fandom, a character, for makeup or costume art, or something else that can be expressed through the art of cosplay.

Yes, I just called it an art. And it is. It involves certain skills in arts, crafts, engineering, mathematics, textiles, etc.

I’ve always loved art: theatre, painting, drawing, crafting, textiles, music.

Cosplay gives me an outlet to do all of these things. I get to work with wood, fabric, makeup, do crazy hairstyles, create, and act. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to escape the stresses of normal adult life.

I’ve been doing this about three years now. The first year, we literally had a month before KokomoCon. I wasn’t going to do it but my sister wanted to. A month doesn’t give you time to make your own costume (or so we thought), so we ordered them. There are a lot of websites if you’re interested in ordering costumes, wigs, or costume accessories: Etsy, AliExpress, Amazon, and Ebay to name a few.

I did make the crown and we painted the ears. That first year was experimental. I wasn’t confidant enough to sew yet. I didn’t believe in myself and I hadn’t discovered I’m awesome and can do anything. We decided to be the Mirkwood elves from the Hobbit. Making the crown reconnected me to the artistic side of myself that had been on hiatus. It also reminded me of theatre, which I hadn’t been a part of since Highschool but meant to get back into. This got me involved in local theatre the following year.

My next cosplay started off as a theatre role. As some of you may remember, I was the centaur in the Lion, the Witch & the Wardobe. After spending over a month working on it, I decided to take it to the con. I learned how to sew a little in high school but this costume told me how to apply what I learned to go above and beyond: creating something they don’t make patterns for. I also learned a lot of shop skills from creating the body and learned to work with mediums I’m not that experienced with like foam. I used parts of my brain I didn’t even know existed, and I’m a lot more savvy than I gave myself credit for.

This year I went as Lagertha from Vikings. This cosplay has a special place in my heart because I feel like we all went as characters we can identify with. I hate to say it, but my kid probably relates to Bjorn. He’s a boy who’s parents split up and he struggles with accepting that while learning new responsibilities as he becomes an adult. I’ve always identified with Lagertha. She’s a protective mother who still has dreams outside of being a parent. Her ex screws her and so does every man she knows, so she becomes a fiercely independent lady boss. I’d say Kylie went as Porunn because she’s a bit wild, independent, and wants to be free.

For this cosplay, I learned to make chain mail, wooden swords, shields, and lace leather. It was fun and daunting at the same time. And we learned something we didn’t think possible when we started our Mirkwood elves cosplay–you can get a costume done in a month. I just don’t recommend it.

For our next cosplay we’re giving ourselves a little more time. I’m going to be The Goblin King from Labyrinth. Again, a lot of sewing involved, and glitter, so much glitter. But all our cosplays must have the wow factor, and the educational one, so I must learn how to do all of his crystal ball tricks. I’m not sure how long it takes to learn how to contact juggle (well) but I have several months to get good enough, so I’m going to try. My son decided to be Hoggle, which will give me practice doing a creature mask, possibly with moving mouth and blinking eyes. My sister will be Sarah. The ball gown should be a bit of a challenge, but I’m up for it.

10557282_884891948220059_6266298632228922473_n

Do you cosplay. Share some photos. Why do you cosplay? Who have you been? Who are you planning on being this year?

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

wp-1469551589140
Standard
It is a beautiful sunny Friday, or at least it is if you’re looking on the bright side of life, which I do. My sunny optimism might just be why I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award.For starters, I want to thank Lee for nominating me and for following my blog and posting such nice praise about my recent cosplay project. I have enjoyed following you back and I found some more people to follow because of your post. Please everyone check out Lee’s blog Tolkien Read Through 

So let’s get down to business … to defeat the Huns.

Rules:

– Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog. Check
– Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you. Will Do
– Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
– List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog. Check

Here are the Questions

I just love these types of questions.

1. What is your favorite book ever?

This is a tough one. It’s between the Silmarillion by Tolkien or Empress by Karen Miller. I’d probably  have to choose the Sil, not just for the stories, but because of the author’s love of the book. It really strikes a chord with me that it was his pet project that he never finished. I have a pet project of my own. Like Tolkien, it might be a little too ambitious, and I’m afraid I will never get it done.

2. How did you get into reading?

I used to watch my mother read. She read all the time and made it look like so much fun. It was the one thing she did, aside from watching soap operas, that we were not allowed to interrupt. I wanted to be able to read chapter books with no pictures like she did, especially Les Miserables. I passed it in a library as a child and thought it was huge. I asked my mom about it and she couldn’t tell me anything about the story, except that it was old and looked depressing. I was intrigued by the girl on the cover and wanted to see what it was about. I own it now, but I’ve yet to read it.

3. What was the first book you read?

I’m pretty sure it was Suki the Kitten, which is a book I got as a child from a garage sale. I liked cats. I remember struggling to read the word, window. My mom made me sound it out and she wouldn’t help me with it. I saved it for my kid. It was one of the first books he read. I’m hanging onto it in case he has kids.

4. What is your favorite quote?

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

I have to say that I like the way the movie worded it better, but this is still true today. What a greedy world we live in. This should be posted somewhere in every corporate office.

5. What is your favorite atmosphere for reading?

No favorite atmosphere. I could read in a plane or on a bus or on a train. I could read here or there. I could read anywhere. In a box with a fox, in a house or with a mouse.

6. How do you prefer discovering new books to read?

I really don’t have a preference. I just like them to jump out at me: an ad on twitter, a book  on the shelf that captures my eye, a dusty book in the bottom of a box at a garage sale. It doesn’t matter. A referral from a friend is always good. My sister told me to read Empress. My ex told me to read Game of Thrones (before it was cool). I enjoy both books. Sometimes your favorite stories are forced on you. Two of my favorite books, I was forced to read in college. Well, I wasn’t forced. It was the story of Gilgamesh and The Iliad. I just keep re-reading the Iliad hoping the Trojans will win …

7. Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?

I like ebooks because I can take them to the gym, but I do prefer physical books. I like to look at them on my shelf. I like to hold them. I like to smell them.

8. What inspired you to start your blog?

I had a friend start a blog. Sarah Wright. So when she was visiting, I checked out her blog and started my own. It was so fun getting to share my thoughts and interest and connect with other readers, writers, and geeks.

9. What’s the story behind your blog’s name?

My blog post is obviously making a play on rite of passage. I was basically writing about my writing journey and the process. It’s then evolved to include my other interest.

10. What are the things that inspire you?

I’m not sure what initially inspired me. But reading inspires me. This particular story was inspired by a fanfic, I’m not ashamed to say.

I also get inspired by my own experiences and the experiences of others.

I think your feelings, your beliefs, and your passions can inspire you. Your stories need to convey something, have a deeper meaning, and what better than something you are passionate about.

I usually touch on ethical themes about hate, violence, war, and human rights, which are things that are close to me. I also like to touch on family issues, so my family inspires me a great deal. The feelings I had when my brother left to join the military; how close all four of us were as children and how time rifted us apart, the close bond I have with my mom and sister, how devastating it was to be separated from my sister for the first time during college, my conflicts as a mother, how you can love someone and hate them at the same time. Family and love are complicated and I like to show relationships in a real and honest way.

11. When you write something, do you prefer to do it by hand or type straight away into your blog?

I just type it straight into my blog. My handwriting is so bad, I wouldn’t be able to read it. But sometimes I still write my book in a notebook. There is a special and direct connection that your brain can make with your pencil that it cannot make with keyboards, because your fingers leave the keys, which interrupts it.

Here are the blogs I’d like to nominate: this was a hard list. So many more people I’d like to include. Please check them out.

1 Sarah Wright: Blood & Ink

2 Staci Reafsnyder

3 Carrie Rubin

4 Rachelle M.N. Shaw

5 Jon

6 Lori Maclaughin

7 Shannon Noel Brady

8 The Story Reading Ape

9 Middle-earth Reflections

10 Jane Dougherty

11 Ali Isaac

Ready to Raid: Our finished Vikings Cosplay

14642095_10211127834822594_8928146840860148728_n
Standard

Six weeks and 300 hours later we finally finished our Vikings cosplay. We were literally working until 11 pm the night before the con, but everything was ready on time. We had so much fun though our arms are tired from carrying around our shields all day.

For starters, I want to show you our finished costumes.

Here is my son as Bjorn Ironside. He was so cute. He had so much fun with his ax he even broke it before the end of the night.

This is my sister as Porunn. We had a lot of concerns about this costume, but I really like how it came together. We were able to find a Simplicity pattern for the belt and the armor. We also finally figured out what was going on with those gauntlets. We really enjoyed our time being shield maidens.

Lastly, here is my Lagertha costume. It took three days to finish the armor and lacing in the chainmail. Thank goodness I took three days off before the con. On the plus side. I got all caught up on Reign while working on this. This is my favorite cosplay so far. I love the hair, the armor, the chainmail, the colors, especially the shield. I can’t wait to take this one to Indy con.

We had so much fun at the con. There were some really cool costumes, even a guy dressed as the Oxyclean guy. I’m afraid I don’t have a picture.

He spared no expense

jp

Go Joe!

gijoe

The Force Awakens

One of the highlights to the con is the costume contest. Guess who got first place for group costume.

Just wanted to share some highlights from the con. Thank you are for following. For those of you who were following my post on how to build a centaur costume, I will try to finish that next week.

Vikings Cosplay: Final Week

Standard

With five days left before the con, this will be my last post until after the event. Just wanted to update you all really quick on what we got done … and still have to do.

Shirts Complete

All shirts are finished. This took longer than expected after embroidering and embellishing, but I think they look so much like the character’s outfits. Here are some side by side comparisons so you can see how we matched the fabric and details.

Here is Rylee’s shirt, and what I’ve completed of his vest so far. As you can see, the shirt is the same color and similar pattern, and we found a vinyl that replicated the square pattern of Bjorn’s vest. All I have to do is clean up some raw edges and put the grommets in the front and his vest will be done.

This is the best picture I could find of Porunn’s shirt without her armor. I’m not sure if you can see, but we matched the color of the fabric. Even though the sleeves and collar will be hidden by the armor for the most part, we did recreate the look, complete with the trim. We like to capture the nuances of an outfit, even the parts you won’t see.

I couldn’t find any pictures of Lagertha’s shirt without her armor. I actually had to pause the show to see what it looked like. This gives you an idea though. Embroidering the lines on the shirt took forever.

Armor and Gauntlets

I’m sorry to say I didn’t pause to take pictures of our progress so far. All of the fake leather is cut and just needs sewn. Above, you can see what Rylee’s looks like for his Bjorn costume. His is almost done. Kylie and I are finishing our vest this week. We did start our gauntlets over the weekend. I don’t have a picture of Porunn’s gauntlets, but I have  a pic of a partially finished Lagertha vambrace.

These were so fun to make, but it took five hours to get this done, and I still have one more to do!

Other than that, our swords are done, and I’m sad to say, it was late so I didn’t take any pictures.

What’s Left

With five days left, I’m not sure if we’re ahead or behind schedule. We still need to finish our armor, gauntlets, and Kylie’s belt. Other than that, we would like time to make scabbards for our swords. I may or many not have some more chainmail to link.

It does and doesn’t sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things. Each item just requires so much individual time. That’s where the worry comes in. But I’m still optimistic we can get everything done on time. I have some days off this week to get everything done.

I can’t wait to post pics after the con. Please let me know what you think so far and wish us luck.