Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Graphic Novels and Comics Not Just for Kids

In the past few months, I've found myself being led back to graphic novels and comics. It had been years since I read one, so I thought I would give a few new ones a try. Man, was I glad I did! Now, I'm not talking about the ones that they publish based around your favorite movie, book or tv show (though the Doctor Who ones are pretty good!). I mean the graphic novels that are unique IPs, and if there is a movie/tv/book tied to them, the comic or graphic novel came first. I thought it would be fun to share my recent favorite that I've been sucked into.


Based in New York, it's the kind of story or premise that you wish you had come up with, or at least that's how I feel. In the graphic novels, we follow characters based off storybook characters we know from our childhood. Classics like Little Red Riding Hood, Jack from Jack and the Bean Stock, Little Boy Blue, The Big Bad Wolf, Snow White, Cinderella, etc. There are also characters that I actually had to research as to who they are, but that makes it even more fun!

Here is the write up from Publisher's Weekly:

This elaborate fantasy series begins as a whodunit, but quickly unfurls into a much larger story about Fabletown, a place where fairy tale legends live alongside regular New Yorkers. Years ago, fables and fairy tales like Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella "were a thousand separate kingdoms spread over a hundred magic worlds," until they were invaded and driven into hiding and, eventually, into modern-day Gotham. And so, on the city streets we find Beauty and the Beast in trouble with the law and Prince Charming reduced to a broke cad auctioning off his royal title, while his ex-wife, Snow White, rules over the de facto kingdom the fables created. When Snow White's sister, Rose Red, disappears from a blood-soaked apartment, the Wolf, reformed and now the kingdom's house detective, is assigned to the case. Willingham uses the Wolf's investigation to introduce readers to Fabletown's dissolute, hard-luck inhabitants, and he is at his best here, relishing one-liners and spinning funky background information of a world where fairy tale characters spend their time fretting about money and thinking up get-rich schemes. The mystery seems mostly an excuse to delineate Willingham's world, as the caper is easily resolved-in true fairy tale fashion-during a massive ballroom celebration. Willingham's dialogue is humorous, his characterizations are sharp and his plot encompasses a tremendous amount of information with no strain at all. The art, mostly by Medina and Leialoha, is well drawn and serviceable, if somewhat unremarkable, with occasional flares of decorative invention. But it's Willingham's script that carries the tale.

I can't say enough good things about this graphic novel series. They are still producing them in serials, but you have a ton to catch up on in graphic novel format, so you don't have to worry about buying them monthly. If you are interested in checking it out, be sure to read them in order, as the series builds off the previous. I do have to mention, some of the stories are a little graphic and I believe they are mature rated. Just putting that out there. There are also a few different spin offs, so when you're done with Fables, and waiting for the next one, you can still live in the world. Both my husband and I love it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Get Your SWAG On

A fun part of being an author is choosing what SWAG to invest in for promotional purposes - blog contest giveaways, touring giveaways, drop off items to bookstores on your travels, or giveaways at signings/author visits, etc. There are infinite ways to utilize SWAG and an equal amount of items out there to be branded.

Here are a few of the SWAG products I've invested and an overview of their impact:

Character Cards:

Val Cox (http://www.valcox.ca/) illustrated Under My Skin and her gothic work looks GOREgeous in full colour. After falling in love with her illos of the UMS crew, I asked her to develop some unique SWAG to promote the book. She came up with three different cards based on the main characters, their personalities and a quote from UMS.

The cards are slick, hip and gothic - a great investment - worth the design and production fees. They also fit perfectly into the plastic, sealing bags used for the UMS chokers. Which brings us to....

UMS Chokers:

These choker necklaces were hand made by a teacher at my school who has a jewellery making business. She helped me locate the perfect crosses to match my vision of Eryn's gift from Alec, as well as the two strand ribbon bands.

I got a steal of a deal and only had to pay for supplies which made these stunning promo pieces worth the moola.

UMS Tees:

Made just for the UMS Launch Party (the live one in my home town and the online version). I had 24 tees produced - they were far too expensive but I LOVED them. Clingy and distressed/vintage, I adore mine and wear it often.

Worth the money? No. But as a cool keepsake you can wear with a cute pair of jeans/capris - priceless. ;)

UMS Postcards:

I had two separate designs created - one with the UMS cover and the other with one of the illos from UMS depicting the three main characters. I find the postcards most handy when mailing out ARC or prize winner copies of UMS - the large whitespace on the back lets me write a personal message. I had these printed at http://www.vistaprint.com/ - very affordable.

At bookstores, these don't seem to move as quickly as bookmarks...

Double-sided UMS/Second Skin Bookmarks:

I just got these babies. Double-sided bookmarks are lovely! Since VistaPrint doesn't have a template for bookmarks, I had to search the net for another printer. http://www.printrunner.com/ did a bang up job on my double-sided bookmarks, one featuring UMS and the other featuring Second Skin. Full colour both sides, one side with a high gloss, the other matte. Super affordable too.

These are hot items when I'm out at events and overall seem to get the most response.

I know there are tons of other SWAG options to explore, posters, banners, standing banners, buttons, magnets, pillow cases, tank tops, etc... and I do want to produce something specific for the release of Second Skin. I will have to ponder on this. In the meantime, good luck in your own SWAG adventures. I leave you with an image of some SWAG from authors who participated in the Crossroads Blog Tour this October:

You can see the UMS bookmarks resting on the brick wall. What a lot of loot, eh? If your interested, follow the tour in Oct 2011. Meet more paranormal YA authors and enter contests for amazing SWAG prizes.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What a New Year Brings

For the past two years on this blog, I've been doing New Year's resolutions, or at least things that I'd like to accomplish in the new year. If you'd like to read my post from last year, you can find it here. It's funny to look back, to see what I hoped to do and then what actually happens just from things falling into place and life happening around me. I would have never dreamed I would quit my job or that my small crochet hobby would turn into what it is now.

I know that 2011 will be a very busy year for my family, as a lot will be going on with work and well, just life. That being said, there are a few things that will be keeping me busy in the next 12 months and beyond.

Here is what I hope to accomplish in 2011:

  1. I said it last year and I'll say it again. Man, do I need to get into better shape. I have a Wii Fit, and I need to start using it regularly. I know that's not as good as going to a gym, but at least it gets me moving around and doing something other than sitting on the couch.
  2. I want to revise (again) and start querying (again) Lost and Found. I think I can make it so much better and it's a story I love and I think others could love it, too. I don't want to spend too much time going back over it, but I hope in the first 3 months, I can get it to where I want it to be. That way, I can be querying while revising/writing other things.
  3. I want to finish Parlor, edited to a polish and start to query by summer, or at least sometime in summer. I'm to the point where the first draft is written, I just need to do the hard part, make it good.
  4. I want to complete another first draft. Story still to be decided, but I have a lot of ideas. I just need to figure out which one I want to spend my time with. The first draft I want done by the end of the year.
  5. Start a yarn business. That's right, a yarn business. I'm in the process of starting the company right now with logos, working on my business plan, etc. I will be selling hand-dyed yarns and hopefully other handmade items on Etsy/Artfire and my website.
  6. Read more books. This year, for some reason (and I'm sure that reason being my crafting), I read WAY less books than normal. I don't have my final count, as I have been lazy filling out my book spreadsheet, but it's down by at least 20 books from the year before I think. That's sad. I have so many great books on my shelves (and on my nook) that just need to be picked up and read.

Well, now you know what I hope to accomplish this year, how about you?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas and Doctor Who

Yeah, this Christmas I spent quality time with my family. We hung out, bickered, played games and generally frazzled each other's nerves. And sure, I ate a ton of rich, sweet, nummy food. But my Christmas was truly complete when we arrived back at home yesterday and plunked down on the couch to watch the Doctor Who specials from Season 4.

THEN I caught the Season 5 Christmas special on the telly...which bled into an entire marathon of the Christmas specials from each season. I tell you, the night was magical - snow falling outside my window, fireplace blazing, dogs at my feet - a festive Doctor Whoville- seriously, it was bliss.

So - did you what did you think of The Christmas Carol? I loved the blending of Dickens and Doctor. ;) Indeed, we're half way out of the dark. Now it's back to writing - on to the bright new year...have a happy one!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last Minute Gifts and Books to Buy with Your Holiday Money

We hope everyone has a fun, safe and happy holidays!

We all have times when we're behind on our holiday shopping and I'm sure this year isn't any different. It is Christmas Eve. Santa is finishing up in the workshop and everyone else is running to the malls and stores for last minute shopping. I thought I would help you out in what to buy book wise. There are so many great books to be gifted, or even something for yourself if you receive gift cards or money from family and friends to spend on something you'll love. Here are a few of my most recent reads that I can't say enough about.

Matched by Ally Condie (from bn.com)-

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (from BN.com)-

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement—left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Edward Scissorhands meets The Catcher in the Rye in this wildly imaginative and frighteningly beautiful horror novel about an unusual boy and his search for a place to belong.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (from BN.com)-

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (from BN.com)-

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.

In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.

Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.

The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wicked Short Stories

Lately I've been reading collections of paranormal or fantasy-ish short stories - either written by a single author or anthologies. I'm working on a few short works myself and there's nothing better than reading samples within your genre to help your writing. You see what's been done, what is possible and what you may attempt to accomplish with your work.

Anyway, here are a few of the titles I've been digging into, in case you're looking for some short sensational tales. If you have any others to recommend - please comment on this post.

The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire

- edited by Trisha Telep. Authors include: Libba Bray, Melissa de la Cruz, Kelley Armstrong, Cecil Castellucci (love that there are several Canadians!) and more.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

- this author is wonderfully odd, taking tales down roads I never would have expected. "The Wrong Grave" is my favourite.

Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor

- illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo - amazing real world meets the fantastical tales with gothic/graphic novel-ish illos.

Blood Roses by Francesca Lia Block

- short reads that will haunt you. Seriously.

Love is Hell

- authors include: Melissa Marr, Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier and more. There are several other titles in this stories from "Hell" series which is partially a fundraiser: Vacations From Hell, Prom Nights From Hell, Kisses From Hell. "A portion of the proceeds will be donated to College Summit".

Zombies vs. Unicorns

- compiled by Holy Black and Justine Larbalestier. Authors include: Maureen Johnson, Garth Nix, Cassandra Clare, Carrie Ryan and more. After reading about the Zombies vs. Unicorn blog debate started by Black and Larbalestier, I'd heard about this book - however...lol....I thought it was going to be the actual arguments for and against from these two authors and didn't bother to investigate further. When I saw it at a bookstore and flipped through, realizing it was a collection of short stories with authors writing to support their "team" (zombie or unicorn)...I had to read it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Looking Through a New Set of Eyes

For me, December is never a huge month for writing. The holidays get in the way and to be honest, I'm just plain burnt out by NaNoWriMo. This year is no different. The thought of writing right now is exhausting, but I must admit, I miss it. I decided to do the next best thing...the four letter word to some writers...


Now, I know that's not very unusual. A lot of people edit their first drafts in the month of December. Their NaNo stories are still fresh in their mind and they can continue the flow and pace they kept up all in the month of November. To finish the draft and begin to make it coherent (because, seriously, how many NaNoWriMo words seriously survive the first edits?). See, this is where I'm doing something different. I have decided to push away the two new stories I've been working on (the one I started about six months ago, and my NaNoWriMo project) and focus on something that I'm not so close to anymore.

I've started editing the story, Lost and Found, that I queried about a year and a half ago. I'd pushed it out of my mind, pushed it far in the depths of my drawers and my computer folders. I realized last month, it may be the time to bring it back into the light. It has been awhile since I've even thought about it, much less read it.

It's funny how different each word looks on the paper now. How foreign the words are to me. I used to know this story by heart, it was a map of my mind. Now, it's just words on a page and that is exactly how I want it to be. I'm able to edit from a distance. See the mistakes that were always there, but I was unable to pluck them out because I always knew which word came next.

I hope I can be objective through the whole process and begin to query again the next few months. I love the story, and I want others to love it as well. Wish me luck!