Monday, December 12, 2016

Theme Your Christmas

Creative people add themes to everything. And I'm talking EVERYTHING. Even Christmas. Since Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them came out, our love of Harry Potter surfaced again, inspiring our theme this year. Here's my video about how I infused our Christmas season with everything Harry Potter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4yRxfMf4Zw

I've placed links to all of the printable items from this video in the description section on YouTube. The Snitch ornaments and the tree skirt instructions are below:

SNITCH ORNAMENT

I bought 4 containers of 5 plastic bird ornaments (for the wings of the Snitch). Basically I walked into the store looking for anything that had wings, or something that could resemble the wings of a snitch. 4 packages was enough to make 10 snitches. I also bought a package of plastic, gold ornaments about the size of a golf ball. These came in packages of 12, so I had 2 left over that I just threw away. 


Using scissors, I cut off the part of the wing that I wanted to use for the snitch. Leave a little nub of plastic on the end so you can use this to glue into the ball.


Heat a flat-head screwdriver over the flame of a candle then press it into the plastic ball. It will melt through and leave a little hole where you can stick the end of the wing. 


Stick the nub of the wing into the hole and superglue it. Hot glue might work too, but I used an industrial strength superglue which worked perfectly. 





MARAUDERS MAP TREE SKIRT

I bought a cheap felt tree skirt from Walmart. The color doesn't matter because it will be covered.  You'll also need an old beige or light tan sheet. 



My tree skirt had scalloped edges, so I cut it off to a smooth circle. 



Using the felt tree skirt as a patter, cut out a circle from your sheet, leaving it about two inches bigger, so you can fold the edges over. Use a spray adhesive to stick the sheet to the felt tree skirt. Remember to fold the edges over and glue them too. 




I hit the edge of my tree skirt with a light brown spray paint just to give it that old Marauder's map look. Use any printout of the Marauder's Map for inspiration and go to town with a black marker. I used a tracer and projected the image onto my tree skirt so I could trace it, but  that was kind of tedious.  I ended up free handing the rest of it. I made things up as I went, and the words I put on it are completely gibberish, but no one will know. The best part was adding the footprints and labeling them with the kid's names. They got to pick where they wanted to be on the map. 
video 

I hope this inspires you to go out and add a theme into your holidays.

  


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Starting a Video Blog on YouTube

So . . . my blogging habits have been . . . How would you say it? Non existent. I'll admit it, I stink when it comes to posting regular. I can't explain it, but when I'm writing my books, I'm like:


And when I'm writing blog posts, I'm like:
So, I'm going to try video blogging. Something new, fresh, and exciting (hooray!).  I'm focusing each video around a writer's advice to living creatively. So, if you're looking for little ways to add some pizazz into your life, then check it out.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovRQFE4MpuY


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Anthology: Love Unexpected A Story Book Romance

I have really mixed feelings about this post, so I'm just going to eat a Lindt chocolate truffle and dive into it.

A long time ago...in a galaxy far far away, I was asked to be a part of an anthology. Woohoo! I was so excited and knew it was an amazing opportunity, so I jumped on board. To make things even more incredible, I was a total fan of the other two authors participating. Just thinking that my name was going to go next to theirs gave me chills. I had a story idea brewing in the back of my mind (He Loves Me Not) about a girl who fell in love with her boss because he kept giving her flowers. Only one problem--he already had a girlfriend. I wanted the story to be lighthearted, and I wanted to inject a lot of humor in it. It was challenging to fit it all into 8 short chapters, but I did it. I had a great time writing it, sent it off to the publisher, and everything was great in author land.

Fast forward to book release time. This was another woohoo moment. I loved the cover! I loved the stories! I loved seeing my name next to women I admired! Then the reviews started coming out. And...OUCH! I hadn't thought about this side of things--that I was place next to two AMAZING authors, and that my story might be the one to get the: "My least favorite of the three stories was...." kind of reviews. Three different stories, three different styles, and I guess it is what it is. I did get some good reviews too. "Next up was He Loves Me Not and I loved that one, too!" And some readers seemed to enjoy the humor saying that they laughed several times. But over all, mine seemed to fall short of the other two. I know I can't please ever reader, and I've had my fair share of negative reviews during my writing career (one person gave me a poor rating because she didn't like the paper the book was printed on). Those things I just let roll off. Go with the punches. And eat chocolate. This one was tough though. Maybe because it was a side by side comparison with authors I aspire to be like, and I realized that I'm not quite there yet. For whatever reason, it was a little painful. Which explains why it took me so long to even blog about this book being out.

Anyways, I live and learn, and I'm trying to improve. I am working on another book, and I think it's going to be AMAZING!!! But as for this book--go check it out! It 's a great book and totally worth reading. My story might not be your favorite of the three, but that's ok. And go ahead and post an honest review. Just keep in mind--you might be contributing to my chocolate addiction.

Love Unexpected-A Storybook Romance 
    


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cover Reveal - Bonds of Loyalty by Jennifer K. Clark & Stephonie K. Williams

To post this Cover Reveal (html) and add your Social Media to the Rafflecopter, email us at prismbooktours(at)gmail.com with "Bonds of Loyalty" in the subject line!


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for:

Bonds of Loyalty
By Jennifer K. Clark, Stephonie K. Williams
YA/Adult Historical Romance
August 2014 by Covenant Communications, Inc.






"It shall be the son, the firstborn in the new monarchy, who shall quiet the fears and unite the nation again."

The infamous prophecy declaring that the firstborn would be a boy is the last thing Sarah wants to deal with. As if being newly engaged isn’t difficult enough, she’s still coming to terms with the fact that the first eighteen years of her life were a farce. The prophecy—the reason she had been secreted away from her family and her royal heritage to begin with—wasn’t supposed to disrupt her life any more than it previously had. But when unexpected events force her to leave her fiancĂ©, Prince Alexander, Sarah must return to her home country of Kyrnidan to face her destiny. 

Reunited with her royal family, Sarah is thrust into the political turmoil that surrounds her ancestral home. To make things worse, her arrival has upturned the long-held prophecy.

As the voices of dissension mount against her, Sarah turns to her bodyguard, Luther, for protection. But Luther’s protection comes with a price. Propelled into a plot that threatens her life and the welfare of the entire kingdom, Sarah must determine where her love and loyalty truly lie. Torn between two men, she will now have to face her fears and undertake a journey of self-discovery that will change the fate of a nation….

Mark of Royalty is the book previous to this. Although Bonds of Loyalty is the continuation of Sarah's story it is a stand alone book.

Mark of RoyaltyMark of Royalty
by Jennifer K. Clark, Stephonie K. Williams
YA/Adult Historical Romance
January 1st 2011 by Covenant Communications


At a time when royal infants are marked at birth, a royal advisor makes a terrible misstep — and an infant princess must be secreted away to save her life. Named Sarah by Miranda, the woman who agrees to raise the child as her own, the girl is unaware of her royal heritage — even though Miranda has done all she can to pair Sarah with the king's nephew, Lord Chad. But unexpected events prevent the expected betrothal.

Determined to fulfill her devoted mother's wishes, Sarah reserves her heart for Chad despite her growing affections for another man. But as plots against the crown unfold, someone accidentally discovers Sarah's mark of royalty — setting the stage for discoveries that will shake the kingdom to its core.

You can find a music video for Mark of Royalty here and a book trailer here.


Jennifer K. Clark and Stephonie K. Williams are sisters by chance but became friends by choice when a year of rooming together at college taught them how to get along. Now “play”-at-home moms, separated and living in different parts of the country, they stay in touch and support each other in their individual projects.

Jennifer K. Clark lives in the small rural town of Wellington Utah, as much as her husband wishes it was Wellington New Zealand. After years of entertaining her three children with infamous made-up stories, she decided to put her imagination to good use and became an author. She likes to add a touch of romance to her novels along with a healthy dose of adventure. Fueled by Lindt Chocolate Truffles and Sour Patch Kids, she now spends a copious amount of time with the characters in her head. In her spare time she likes to create science experiments with the ingredients in her potions cupboard, debate which Doctor is her favorite (currently the 10th…or maybe the 11th), and—when she has time—watches the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice.



Stephonie K. Williams makes her home in a quaint farming town in eastern Iowa with her husband, three cats, and a budding ninja. Two of her favorite things in Iowa are the fireflies (aka lightning bugs) and cows, especially the calves. Despite having lived there for 15 years she still misses the majesty and tranquility of the mountains of Utah where she grew up. She has a vast collection of fortune cookie fortunes because she has yet to determine if it is unlucky to throw them away. She also loves to quill, the art of rolled paper, not to be confused with quilting.

Stephonie is passionate about education and enjoys visiting schools to teach classes on creative writing. She has written poetry, short stories, and dissertations, although Mark of Royalty was the first of her work that she was brave enough to submit for publication.



Giveaway



$25 Amazon Gift Card
Open internationally.
Ends July 16th.




Monday, March 3, 2014

Writing in Multiple Genres



Writing in multiple genres—To be or not to be, that is the question.

For me, I’m hoping the answer is: To be.

I hope it’s fitting that the title of this post contains a famous phrase penned by Shakespeare.  After all, he wrote in multiple genres, which is something I would like to do. As a relatively new writer, I admit I’m a little nervous about branching out especially when there is so much hype about author branding and establishing yourself with your readership. I know, I know—the “hype” is justified. When your readers pick up a book they want to know what to expect. I get it, and I’ve already been pressed into that mold. My first two books: Mark of Royalty and The Knight of Redmond, are both renaissance romances with strong moral undercurrents. I actually love that genre and will continue writing in it. In fact I have a book coming out later this year in that same genre, and another one playing around in my head—waiting its turn to be put on paper while I finish up my CONTEMPORARY novel, A Heart of Coal. Yep, I said it. I’m writing a contemporary romantic suspense.  This is where I go “Yikes” and question my sanity. 

To be honest—I’m a little timid stepping into new waters. At the same time, I think it’s a great time to do it. Isn’t this the golden age for authors? We have so many publishing options, marketing outlets, and tools available in which we can gain huge readerships in multiple genres. With today’s technology, readers are only a mouse click away in searching out the books they want to read in the genres they’re craving. There are plenty of customer reviews, endorsements, and even links to the author’s website so readers know what to expect when buying a book.    

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with Carla Kelly—which was awesome, by the way! She has over 30 novels tucked under her belt and has won at least a dozen awards for her writing. During our discussions about the writing world she kept advising me to “write my book”.  Not the book I think my publisher wants, or what I think other people want, but the book that is inside me—my book. For me that means I’ll be writing in different genres.  

So, yes, I have a contemporary novel I’m finishing up. I’ve also written a children’s science activity book and have other children’s books I’d like to write, along with keeping up my renaissance romances. But this one—the contemporary novel: A Heart of Coal—is a big step for me. I feel like It’s a jumping off point and I’m really praying my readers will be open to it. Here’s the blurb:  

Raised by an abusive father, 23 year old Haley Carter breaks into the forbidden man's world of coal mining as she tries to prove she can hold her own amongst men, but when someone tries to kill her—can fellow coal miner, Jake Hunt, help her uncover the truth and perhaps rekindle her faith in men?
 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tardis Journal

I've had several people ask me about my handmade books so I decided to show how I made a replica of River Song's Tardis Journal. Here's the one you see in the Doctor Who episodes:


 My daughter has a Tardis dress which she wore to Comic Con and also to Super Hero day at school, so we took on this project together so she could add this great accessory to her costume.


Here we start by sorting the paper into stacks of 7. These will be the signatures in the book.
We used regular 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper.
 

I wanted the book to look old and antiquated--including each page. I usually coffee stain my papers to give them an antique appearance; however, that process would take an too long so we tried another method--heat. We took each page and slid the edges across the top of a hot burner on my glass-top stove. It discolors the pages nicely; although, too much can make it brittle.

Once the pages were discolored, we took each signature (7 sheets) and folded them in half.



Then we stacked all the signatures together. We are putting 9 signatures in this book.



Next we used a template (green card stock with  pre-measured holes) and punched all of the holes into each signature. Then they're ready  for sewing.



This is all of our signatures with the holes in them.



Next we sewed all the signatures together. I'm not going to get into detail on how I did this, but for anyone interested, here's a link to a tutorial: http://jamesdarrow.deviantart.com/art/Bookbinding-Tutorial-292237490
The small strip of cloth is there as a reinforcement. It will be glued down later.



Once the signatures are sewn together tightly then we put glue along the back 
and put it under a weight to let it dry for the night.



Next we prepared the leather. I used a tan book leather and spray-painted it blue.


Now we put together the covers. River Song's journal has raised panels on it that look like the Tardis, so we found a diagram of it and used it as a template. We traced and cut the panel pieces out from mat board.


 We glued the pieces onto the cover boards. 
Our cover boards are recycled covers from discarded library books.



Next we glued the leather onto our cover boards, pressing it down into the grooves as we go.



Here's what the cover looks like after the leather has been glued to it.


We turned the raw edges of the leather over, gluing them to the inside of the cover.
Then we glued the block of signatures into the cover using hing flaps. 
 

Now for the finishing touches. We glued end pages in.


To give the book an old, antique look, we dry-brushed black into the crevices.


Then we dry-brushed a light blue on the edges and anywhere we wanted it to look particularly worn.


Here's the completed journal.


We did add in some drawings on some of the pages. I'm only showing one page here.
Don't want to show too much--spoilers, you know. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Halloween Book Tutorial

Most people know that I have a fascination with Halloween. It's my favorite holiday and I go all out with decorating my house. That said, I have to admit that I don't really get into the blood and gore side of things, but my taste runs more along the lines of old dilapidated books, apothecary decorations, bones and graveyards. You know the kind of stuff--think Diagon alley, or the Defense Against the Dark Arts class room in Harry Potter. Yep--that kind of stuff.

This year I made some Halloween books to add to my collection (see tutorial below). These books were inspired by the blog: Seeing Things That Aren't Really There. You can also find great tutorials there. I used the downloads provided on that site to make both my spider and bat books. Then I ventured off with my own imagination and made the skeleton book. 


My Spider Book

Bat Book


The Art of Death Skeleton Book
 The books aren't really hard to make. Here's how to make your own:

1) Get an old, hard bound book. I picked mine up from a library's discontinued book sale. Content doesn't matter, just make sure it's the right size for what you want.

2) Select something to put on the cover. It can be as simple as a printed picture (like the one used on the Bat book) or it can be a low relief object (like the spider which was a 3-D window sticker). If you choose a printed picture, follow the link to this tutorial here.

For 3-D objects: I selected a small skeleton I found a local dollar store. I had to cut off the back of the skull and the back of the ribs to make it lay flat enough to use. You really want something 3-D, not 4-D. Once your item is ready, glue it to the cover using a hot glue gun.
 





3) Use the gluegun and put ridges of glue along the spine in several places. This will simulate the cording on the spine of an old bound book.


4) Now tear black tissue paper into small pieces and use Modge Podge to glue the pieces onto the cover. Squish them around--the more wrinkles the better. It will look like an old leather binding. I had to use a toothpick to press my pieces into the small crevices between the bones. Cover the entire book, wrapping the pieces of paper around the inside edges of the cover.



5) Now give it a more antique look by dry brushing some black paint over it. This covers up any glue marks and gives it a little depth. Next, using a light gray color, dry brush across the 3/D object. Next use the light grey and dry brush along the ridges of the spine, the edges of the cover, and anywhere else you want the book to look worn.



 6) Now to decorate the book with any other amenities you want. Cut any shape you might want to add to the book out of thin cardboard (cereal boxes work well) and paint them accordingly. I wanted corner guards, a book clasp (so the book can't be opened), and...some other decoration thingy--I don't know what it is, but it looks cool. Paint your pieces however you want them. I painted my pieces silver and antiqued them by dry brushing black along the edges. When they are dry, glue them on using a hot glue gun.

Here's my cardboard pieces ready to glue on.
 
 Here's the book after the pieces were glued.


 7) Make a title for your book along with a label for the spine. I did mine on the computer using a spooky-looking font and boarder. I printed a smaller, simpler version to use for the spine label. I also antiqued mine by dipping the paper in coffee and letting it dry. When it's ready glue it on with Modge Podge or white glue.

Here I'm antiquing the paper in coffee.


I glued the title paper on and added a black cord around the edge to give it a little more decoration. You can also make a title plate out of cardboard and paint it like the one on the spider book.




A creepy Halloween book deserves a ghoulish place to display it. Set it on a pile of old books or next to a skull and surround it by potion bottles and voila--everybody that walks in will be drawn to your spooky display.