If you are a Dreamer, a Wisher, a Liar, a Hope-er, a Prayer a Magic Bean Buyer,
if you're a Pretender, come sit by my fire for we have some flax-golden tales to spin.

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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.
 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

What is that on my book cover?

I've been really blessed to have great covers for both of my books: Mark of Royalty and The Knight of Redmond. I've had a lot of people ask about them, and compliment me on them. I wish I could take credit for the great artwork, but I really don't have much of a say when it comes to cover design. My publisher takes care of that and they have some great designers.

I was really pleased when I saw the cover for The Knight of Redmond. As a matter of fact, I was surprised that it matched the characters so well--right down to Lily wearing her green cloak. I've also had a lot of people compliment on Wren, the knight on the cover. He is an intriguing character and the cover matches him perfectly. That said, I did receive one question about the cover art depicting Wren which I had to do a little research on before I could answer it. The question was: "What is the metal ring below Wren's face?"






My first thought was that it was a ring attached to Wren's breastplate armor. That idea seemed to be the general opinion of others as well. But we were wrong. The audio version of The Knight of Redmond actually has a broader view where we can get a better look at what that metal thing is.

I know the colors are not the best because this is just a snapshot of my audiobook cover. If you look carefully you'll see that the metal ring is not a part of Wren's armor, but is the pommel of a sword which he is holding. It blends in nicely with the armor behind it, so it's kind of hard to distinguish, but nonetheless--that's what it is.

Another mystery solved.
 


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Book Signing Under the Horse Head

Yes, I'm actually having a book signing under the horse head.
Sounds funny, right? I'm sure someone is picturing me sitting next to my horse and signing books.
Now, I love horses, but.....

 unfortunately, I'm not going to be doing any book signings with any equine friends.

However I am having a book signing in my home town of Monticello, Utah--a small picturesque town that sits on the foothills of the Blue Mountain.

And thus...I will be having a book signing under the horse head. Do you see it? There is a horse head on the mountain side.  It's shaped out of trees and depicts the head, neck, two ears, and the blaze down the horse's face which is marked with snow. Yes the trees do grow naturally in that shape and it's always been there. Here's a better look.


It might take a little imagination for some people, but it's always been easy for me to see it, but then I grew up looking at it every day.

The book signing is set up on the 26th of July which is the weekend of Monticello's Pioneer Day celebration so I get to enjoy the whole small-town celebration, and you can't get any better than a small town celebration which comes complete with a parade on main street and booths in the park.

And it is a SMALL town. Population 1,981. Nope that wasn't a typo.
This is main street during rush hour.



Has anyone driven through Monticello lately? It's a gorgeous little mountain retreat. First settled by the pioneers in the late 1800's, the name: Monticello, is in honor of Thomas Jefferson's estate which can be found on the back of most nickles. The town still has several old buildings like the Court House pictured below.



And the old LDS church.



And some old houses. This particular house, built around 1916, is on the street where I grew up. We used to play kick-the-can and hide-n-seek there all the time. It had the best hiding spots in the whole neighborhood, not to mention the best ghost stories.



Lots of old things can be seen around--and yes this tractor actually runs.




And there are some new things. Like The Hideout, an 18 hole golf course, which  has been ranked the No. 2 Golf Course in Utah. And Monticello is also home to the first mini-Temple ever built.



So if you haven't been to Monticello, you should go visit. And if you're there for the Pioneer Day Celebration this month then stop by and see me. I'll be at the San Juan Record (49 South Main) on Friday, July26th from 2:00pm till 4:00pm signing books.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Signing and Community Event

Karate Kick Silhouette Clip Art         Book Signing






Saturday June 29th from 10:00 a.m. - Noon
At the Peace Gardens in Price, UT. (100 East Main)
*MARTIAL ARTS DEMONSTRATION
* SELF-DEFENSE TRAINING
*ENGLISH SWORD FIGHTING DEMONSTRATION
* ARMOR AND WEAPONS DISPLAY
*SWORD CRAFT FOR KIDS 
*DOOR PRIZES

I will have copies of The Knight of Redmond available to purchase for $14.00, or just come and have fun watching the sword fighting, martial arts demonstrations, or participate in the self-defense training!!!