Looking Forward to a New Year

This year has been crazy and exciting and heart-wrenching for me. Return to Royalty was published, I created my own publishing company, I did a handful of book signings, made some new writer-friends, participated in some blog hops, went to some comic cons, and lost a dearly loved member of my family.

 

 

 

This month I’ve been dealing with the loss of Daisy, while trying to prepare for the holidays and finish my writing projects. Unfortunately, the cancer finally got the better of her and we had to put her to sleep on November 17, 2017. I didn’t want to see my best friend go, but she was in pain. It still doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m thankful for all of the time we had together over the last eight years. I’m thankful that such a kind and loving soul was entrusted to my care. Saying goodbye is hard, but I have lots of pictures and happy memories to help me through it.

Daisy’s illness and death completely derailed my NaNoWriMo, and The Time – Traveler’s Cat has been shelved for the moment. I’m planning to finish book two, the sequel to Return to Royalty, and I’m really pushing for it to be available for purchase in March 2018. Some days I don’t feel like being creative, but I know it’s almost finished. It’s the last little stretch before the finish line, and sometimes that last little bit is hard.

Book Mock Up RtG

 

Despite having such a not-so-great November, I’m hoping that December and 2018 bring new adventures and more happy days. I’m anxious to see what will happen next year and what I will accomplish. When I look back, I’ve actually done a lot this year, which is very surprising to me. I hope to do just as much, and more in 2018!

What did you do during 2017? What are you hoping for in 2018?

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The Surprise!

So this week in my Wednesday News post I mentioned a surprise! And this post is it!

I went to Dallas Fan Expo over the weekend and I was struck with an idea. Actually, my fabulous hubs, who knows the deepest little desires of my heart, suggested this idea. Are you dying to know what it is??

I’m making custom armor! And not just any armor, but armor based on characters from the sequel to Return to Royalty!

As you guys know by now, I’m a very visual person. I like to have things to look at when I’m thinking about my story. So making armor only made sense, and why not make armor that I can wear to future comic cons?

So the first step was to find a how-to because, let’s face it, I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to most things. I found The Evil Ted Channel and this video that talks about making foam armor. So I went through my kitchen cabinets and hit the dollar store, Lowe’s and Five Below. $30 later, I had all the pieces I needed to get started!

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Things you need:

Duct tape, foil, parchment paper (or butcher paper), a box cutter, an X-acto knife, a black Sharpie, glue, a cutting board, and the foam. The hair dryer is to heat the pieces to make them curve, but a heat gun is much better. It worked for the most part (and I didn’t want to spend $$ on a heat gun) but I think higher heat would have been better.

Step 1:

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Make your head form!

So ideally you want one of these, but I didn’t have one, so I used my own head. It was fine, but I definitely needed an extra set of hands. You want to use the foil to coat your head/plastic head form so that when you put your duct tape over it the duct tape doesn’t stick to anything other than the foil. This is important because this is going to be your pattern and you need to be able to lift it off easily.

 

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You want to make sure your tape is fairly smooth, and you don’t want to use too many layers of tape or foil because you’re going to have to cut it. This was the part where I definitely could have used another set of eyes. Since the form needed to wrap around my whole head, I couldn’t really see what I was doing.

 

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Finally, it was done! Be sure you draw your face-hole shape. Getting the nose part to line up with my nose was tricky because I had to form the foil to my face and slip the mold off and hope I drew my lines in the right place. I highly recommend a plastic head form or borrow your friend’s head. Make sure you can see what you’re doing.

 

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Mine came out a little pointy-er on the crown, but I attribute that to my hair. Also, I couldn’t see what I was doing… 🙂

 

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This is just a shot of the inside so you can get an idea of the foil with the tape on top.

Step 2:

 

Start cutting! Cut out your face hole. Make sure your pieces line up where they’re supposed to.

 

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You want to draw your cut lines before you start cutting. Make your first one down the middle, and make your second one down the middle of the eyehole area. That was the easiest way.

 

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You should have pieces that look similar to this. You can cut both sides if you want to, but I only used half of my pattern. For the reverse side, I just flipped the pieces over. In the video it suggests that you make tick marks so that you can make sure your pieces are lined up straight. I did this, but every time I transferred it, the tick marks got off. So by the time I reach the end, the marks didn’t line up. It wasn’t that big of a deal for this project, but I can see where it would be for more complex projects.

 

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This part is important. Make your pattern as flat as you can. Because your round piece has to accommodate your ear, you need to make sure you cut it to allow extra room. The video explains this a bit better. You can kinda see the cut I made there in the middle.

 

Step 3:

 

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Transfer your pattern to your parchment paper. This is so that you can easily trace it onto your foam. You don’t necessarily have to do this, but it certainly makes getting it on the foam easier. Don’t forget you can turn the pieces over to make the other side of the helmet. I also labeled the pieces so that I could remember if they were left or right side and which part was the top and which was the bottom.

 

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Once you’ve transferred the pattern to your parchment paper, cut out your new pattern. Use pins to hold the parchment paper to the foam and use your black Sharpie to draw the pattern. Then use your box cutter to cut the foam. Remember to hold your blade at a 45-degree angle and use slow, steady strokes to get clean cuts. Also be sure to cut INSIDE the black line. This is where your parchment pattern ended and where the cut needs to be made to keep the correct size.

 

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Once your pieces are cut out, use your hair dryer or heat gun to heat the pieces and curve them. They should look the way they will look when the helmet is on your head,  and the curving will make it much easier to glue the pieces together.

Side note: Ted recommends contact cement in his video. I thought I could get away with the Goop, but that did not hold at all. Then I went to super glue. That was messy and didn’t hold either. Finally, I accepted that Ted knows what he’s talking about and went to Lowe’s and bought DAP Weldwood contact cement. It was in the paint section with the super glue. You have to allow it to dry for 3-5 minutes for it to become sticky, but once it’s ready that stuff STICKS. Be sure your pieces are lined up right before you press them together.

When putting the pieces together, you have to press firmly and slowly. You want to make sure your curves are correct and that your seams are lined up on the outside of the helmet. This is important for smooth lines when you’re ready to paint your armor!

 

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Five hours later and $30 later, this is the result! Not too shabby for a first attempt! Now all I need to do is fill the seams and make them smooth and add some paint!

Ted has a ton of videos on how to do all these things, and his instructions are so easy to follow. I highly recommend watching his video first and then go! I’ll keep you guys updated as I attempt to finish the armor 🙂

 

Do you have your own pieces that you’ve made for your story? Share a picture below!

What Do You Think Your Characters Look Like?

I’m a very visual person, as you might be able to tell from my maps. I like to have pictures that I can look back at and be like, ‘oh yeah, that’s what it looks like.’ Unfortunately, I sorta suck at drawing, which is super lame because my mother and my sister draw like pros.

I have so many sketches of my characters. Just like the maps, they’ve gone through some changes over the years, but they’re just never it. Whatever it is. I feel like I’d just know it when I saw it. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll just never be satisfied! *sniff*

Anyway, here’s how I wish my drawings would look:

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But here’s how they actually look:

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Not too bad, but not a Monet! Seriously, all I want is a good representation of who my characters are! Is that so much to ask???

When I picture Nyx and Jet, the two main characters of Return to Royalty, I can never complete a concrete picture. I always have feelings about who they are and what they look like; just general impressions. But every time I put pencil to paper, it’s not right.

For example:

Nyx is a 20-year-old college student. I know what I looked like in college. I always wore my hair up, always had on stretch pants or jeans, and never put on makeup. I like to think that Nyx would be a little classier than that, but we all know that college kids only roll out of bed when they have to be somewhere.

The only time Nyx would dress up would be for going out with her friends. And she’s a blonde-haired, green-eyed, Texas country girl, so she’d wear boots, jeans, and maybe a cowboy hat.

The first picture I found that I thought was close to what she looks like is this one:

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I obviously did not create this (as is demonstrated by the one I did make above). There’s something about this girl that isn’t right, but she’s close enough that I saved the picture. I think it might be the face…

Anyway, the point is that what I see in my head is never quite what I see on paper. And don’t even get me started on Jet!

This would probably be closest to Jet:

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But even still, this isn’t quite right! Something about the eyes and maybe the hair. And not really the right build. Why did I even bother to save this one??

Ugh! Maybe I just wish I was a better artist!

What do you guys picture your characters to look like?

Return to Royalty is Available!!

https://www.amazon.com/Return-Royalty-Gexalatian-Tale-Book/dp/0998462004/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489114230&sr=1-1

You can buy it here on Amazon, and it’s Prime eligible, so you can have it in two days!

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And don’t forget to leave a review! Reviews are crucial to helping others find my book!

What are ISBNs?

This week I was originally going to talk about character sketches. I had some more crudely-drawn images for you guys! But I joined a few new writing groups on Facebook, and I’m so surprised by what most authors don’t know!

So this week we’re going to talk about ISBNs.

9780998462004-Perfect-ReturnToRoyalty.indd
ISBN and Barcode for Return to Royalty!

What is an ISBN?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is the number on the top of the picture up there. One agency per country is designated to issue ISBNs. ISBNs can be found on any type of media world-wide and are unique identifiers for works. They can identify different editions, as well as different titles.

How do I get an ISBN?

The agency approved to issue ISBNs in the US is Bowker. You can visit their website at myidentifiers.com. DO NOT BUY ISBNs FROM ANYONE OTHER THAN THEM.

Why?

Every ISBN is registered to a person or company. If you are buying your ISBN from a third party (publisher, individual, etc.) that ISBN is associated with your book, but it DOES NOT belong to you. It belongs to the third party you purchased it from.

Why is this bad?

Inherently, it isn’t. If you’re looking to save money, buying an ISBN through a publisher is often an easy thing to do. They are often able to buy in bulk, so they can make ISBNs cheaper to you. BUT, if anything were to ever happen to the publisher, say they go out of business, you will lose your ISBN. ISBNs are crucial to you as an author. You cannot sell your book without one.

What should you do?

That is completely up to you! If you want to buy through a third party, you can. Just be sure to do your research about who you’re buying from. However, you should always try to obtain your own, if possible. This protects your work and your investment. You will never lose your ISBNs for your book, although you may pay more money. There is a form that must be filled out to register your ISBN. It can be a bit tricky, but don’t panic! A quick Google search will often resolve your questions.

And of course, never be afraid to reach out to other self-published authors for help, including me! I’m so happy to answer questions and to make sure that you are successful and not getting scammed! I know better than most how it feels to be a little fish swimming in a big confusing pond.

On another note:

Return to Royalty is finally here!

I thought it would take much longer, based on the estimates I was given for proofreading, but it is officially done! Just a few more things to take care of now, but it will be available to purchase on March 10!

I’m offering limited-edition autographed copies, so get yours today! Message me for more details or leave me a comment!