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?