Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shopping Bags for your Books

Shopping bags from Big Lots (left) and Hobby Lobby (right)

Do you use shopping bags for your book events? If you're doing a signing at a book store, they will be the ones to provide strong, professionally made bags for your books at the cashier. But what about other events such as speaking engagements, parties, craft fairs and fundraisers?

In the past, I have been very frugal, watching all my pennies, recycling crumpled-up store bags for bagging my books. It wasn't very professional, but it worked. It's always good to recycle grocery bags. Customers never complained, in fact they were always glad I had something to use so they wouldn't have to risk dropping or damaging my books while they continued their shopping.

This has been a good year and I got an idea that I want to share with you. As I shopped at our local Dollar Tree store I passed by rolls of decorated kraft paper. The paper was fairly strong and I liked the design. It occurred to me it was time to learn how to make my own shopping bags. For only a dollar, I bought the roll and went home and found a couple of  Youtube videos on how to make your own gift bags.

With some tape, paste or glue, scissors, yard stick, and recycled cardboard, I got to work. Here are a couple of links, if you want to try this out.

Paper bag tutorial
Boutique Gift Bags

Using a roll of paper gave me the freedom to make various sizes of paper bags and I managed to make 13 paper bags from just one roll! That's about 10 cents a bag if you include the glue, tape and ribbon handles. I made several small bags, a few mediums and the rest large.  After making the first two bags, the rest were easy and quick to make.

I can't tell you how proud I was to be able to hand out my fancy shopping bags to my customers at the Fall Women's Expo. Now I am thinking of adding my name or logo to them for the next fundraiser. But what if you just don't have time to make your bags? Did you check out some of the sales last weekend at Big Lots, Tuesday Morning, or Hobby Lobby?  I did!

Now is the time to shop for holiday decorated gift bags at bargain prices. I was thrilled to find a 10 bag set at Big Lots for only $5.99 (See the photo above) and even better, Hobby Lobby was selling their kraft bag sets at 50% off last weekend. I got 12 plain sturdy medium size bags (see above) for only $3! That's only 25 cents a bag, and you don't have to do a thing unless you want to decorate them. And if you keep the receipts, you can write this off on your business!

Image means a lot when you are out in public. My business cards, mini flyers and brochures have all done their job in promoting my books and crafts. Now it's time to invest a few dollars into packaging. I plan to store several bags in my car trunk with my crate of books so I am always ready to sell my books in style to customers whenever I am out on the road. You'd be amazed how often I sell my books during my travels.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. May the next few weeks be filled with holiday cheer, love and joy! God keep you all safe and well. Thank you for following my blog and being my friends.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

2017 Fall Book & Craft Events

I hope everyone did well for Halloween. I went to the local "Fright Night" event that takes place here in town. It was crowded, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the cool evening giving and receiving candy. My husband and I went out to dinner and then I milled about the many princesses, zombies, etc... to give out all my candy. It was a good evening and I saw some really creative costumes.

With the holiday season underway, I am getting to work on marketing and creating. This includes some mini-flyers that easily fit in my purse. Promoting your events is important if you want folks to come see you. Online announcements are good. Social media is good, but don't forget to carry flyers on you to pass out at friendly local businesses who don't mind sharing/posting your flyer. Here is what I came up with that is working really well. I get two double-sided flyers that are made from one sheet of 8.5X11 paper. I use MSPublisher to design and make these.

On the back of the flyer are the events I will be attending:

Please note: My book signing at the Book Exchange has been changed to Nov. 18th / 1 - 5PM.

As you may notice, most of these events are fundraisers for local area organizations. I enjoy doing such events so that it helps people in our city i.e. the seniors, students and veterans. Havasu is a patriotic city, and my husband and I are both veterans. We are proud to live here and help out as we can. My books do well at craft fairs too. If you are self-published like I am, there is nothing wrong with you taking your books to sell. Make sure you tell visitors at your table that your books are your creative endeavor that took a lot of work, time and creativity. Show your pride and smile a lot, whether they buy your book or not. Show them you're professional and friendly. I have and some customers come back later to buy simply because you had a good encounter originally.

I hope you find this mini-flyer idea helpful if you are planning to do any events this holiday season. It doesn't cost much to design, print and cut in half so that you can take them with to pass out. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below or contact me. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dede's Review Video of the World of Tiaera Coloring Book

I managed to rise before the sun was up in order to get to USTREAM and join Inkwell's live show! She did a phenomenal job reviewing my coloring book. I have to admit I was extremely nervous for only being half awake to begin with. Nonetheless I was determined to join in on the chatter to answer questions and socialize with her subscriber friends. Everyone in the chat room was very kind and flattering. Dede did a wonderful job on the page she chose which was Azuremist Manor. Below is  the YOUTUBE video of the show. Thank you all, especially you, Dede, for everything.

If you'd prefer to see the USTREAM video version, this link below:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

World of Tiaera Coloring Book Review

I know it's been a while since my last post. Summer is a busy time for many. I have been busy with book signings, designing and creating more beaded bookmarkers, and researching/organizing materials for a possible fourth novel. And no summer would be complete without a trip to get away from the heat of Havasu. San Diego was a lot of fun!

The past several weeks also found me trying out my own coloring book. I really enjoyed illustrating the pages but now it was time to do some coloring. Here is just the first one, the main title page. I have done better with paint, but I wanted to learn how to use color pencils. It was done mostly with Prismacolor pencils and gel pens.

Before                                               After
During my coloring sessions at home, I watched Youtube channels and discovered Dede Willingham. She does a live stream show called "Coffee and Art in the Morning" about three times a week. She is very talented and active as a video channel host and artist. Bubbly and charismatic, she demonstrates art techniques for coloring, painting, and creating multi-media projects in a relaxed and casual way. I enjoy her channel and got up the courage to send her a copy of my coloring book to review. This is very new and kind of scary for me, but she seems very nice and I am confident she will be kind with any criticism she may make. If you would like to see the live stream, it takes place around 9AM eastern. That makes it 6AM Arizona time, way too early for me, but tomorrow I will make a earnest effort to register for Coffee and Art in the Morning with Dede on USTREAM.com

I'll be back soon with more stories and info about the fall events I will be participating in for my books and crafts. I can't wait for fall to come at last!

Keep writing and live creatively!

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Menagerie - Short Story

Lord Maethyn and Lady Solita stood atop of the highest tower of their home, Castle Feralson. The radiant sun was setting on the horizon as they watched, holding each other in silent contemplation when Lord Maethyn pointed to a distant clearing a few miles away. “Behold that parcel of land, my dear. I plan to build the finest menagerie ever seen. It shall be extraordinary. Animals, both natural and mythical, shall abide thither for all to see.” 
Mathyn leaned closer to his lady wife. He sighed deeply then smiled. Even the twilight breeze was no match for her fragrance.
“I know of the wolves, bears, owls both hither and thither, but prithee tell me of these mythical beasts, beloved.” Solita grinned at her husband, her hand gently pulled aside a loose lock of hair from his imposing face. “Where have you found such that can be captured for thy menagerie?”
Maethyn mused, “Leave that to me. Have you ever seen a lion, or mayhap, a tiger?”
Solita pondered. “Nay, but I did hear of such beasts. Those are not mythical.”
“Verily, they would astound our visitors nonetheless. Such a venture shall take time and coin. We can start small at first, a few animals and birds, and build as we see fit. As for the mythical beasts, methinks a unicorn and gryphon shall do nicely. Think you can use the portal to go to Tiaera and bring us back a few specimens? Caged, of course.”
Solita pulled herself away in disbelief. “Have you gone mad, Maethyn?!”
He laughed and feigned disappointment, “Nay?”
“Nay!” she insisted.
Maethyn burst into a hearty laugh that made Solita realise he wasn't serious about Tiaera. Scoundrel! You are toying with me! And I am foolish to stand hither and listen to you!
She tried her best to look angry, but it was no use. Maethyn pulled her back into his arms and kissed her passionately. Her small hands swatted at his back several times, but he wouldn't let go. Submitting to the power of his love, Solita returned his kisses with the same passion that won his heart long ago.
When their lips parted once again, Solita spoke of her concern in earnest. I pray you understand, Husband. I dare not venture through that portal for such a task, lest I..
Maethyn shook his head, dismissing her worry. Nay. Fret not, beloved. I would lose you never again. He took his wife's hand and gently led the way down the stairwell. With a big grin and a wink he added, “Ah well, twas worth it just to ask.”

~Short Story by EV Medina 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Pirate Phrase Book

As some of you may know by now, the Starz pirate series "Black Sails" has come to an end. It was one of my favorite programs and I spent some time, while watching it, writing down some of their terms and phrases into a blank book that had an old world map for a cover. Phrase books are a great way to note and study certain phrases one might hear or read about that can help a writer bring a scene to life.

In many cases, the phrase or words might be general, but not readily convenient when a writer is busy writing. In other cases, it might be a matter of not having the proper training for a situation like the jargon one learns when they join a branch of the military. Or what about the kind of words you may learn in a foreign land? Though the Brits speak English, it's not the English I grew up with in the states.

Since I was never a pirate and never been on a pirate ship, a pirate phrase book helped me recall phrases I hear and read in movies, books and online glossaries. Once jotted down into my phrase book, it stayed on the desk to help me out whenever I got stuck and needed to find just the write word I needed. Consider something like this to help you in your writing. It doesn't have to been about pirates, of course. Make a phrase book that will go with your style and genre that suits you. It doesn't have to be a fancy book either.

Naturally, once I was done writing my trilogy, I thought about what to do with my pirate phrase book and decided to decorate it. Here are a few images of the way I changed the entire book that I hope and plan to use again one day in my future writings.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Book Signing in Lake Havasu City, AZ

Yes, the temps here are rising as summer approaches but that won't stop us from having fun both at the lake and around our fair city. Therefore, the Book Exchange has invited me to do a book signing event this coming Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00. Come by for a visit and a browse.
It's cool at The Book Exchange!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Armored Combat League Tournament

The Armored Combat League tournament at the end of March proved to be very entertaining and profitable. My new tent held up very well and the weather was much better for the tournament than the Ren Faire (last January). Rows of vendors, all dressed in period costumes and stalls full of merchandise, gathered on both sides of my tent.

Ren Faire-style vendors sold a variety of good and services.
New Ozark black frame canopy with white top.

Quite a few people showed up to see what this was all about.

Discovered there were lady knights too! And they were fierce!

The writer in me didn't fail to take advantage of how the contenders dressed. Since this is the type of writing I enjoy, I met with some of the participants to get a good look at their weapons and armor pieces. It was impressive. An announcer explained that their armor had to be historically correct or within a reasonable time frame to even participate. The sounds of their weapons hitting the metal armor made me wince at first. It was clear to see someone could get seriously hurt by getting a hard blow on a vulnerable gap in the armor. A few did get hurt, but not seriously. Lots of precautions and rules were in place to keep injuries to a minimum.

I highly recommend you attend such similar events if you are looking for information or even just inspiration for your stories. Seeing with your own eyes the colors, material, or props used for such period reenactments can be very educational for you as a writer. I took a lot of photos at this event so I could study the details later and apply them to future articles or stories. It really helps.

It was fun and I did well on sales. I hope we have this event again next year.

Enjoy the video!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Painted Acorns and Pinecones

My medieval fantasy world of Tiaera has similar seasons to Earth. And just like Earth, spring is a great time for the blooming of flowers and the birth of animals. Traditionally, Tiaerans often celebrate by giving out bouquets of flowers, decorating and crafting, and attending community services to remember the fallen heroes who could not be revived. All the races of Tiaera observe the season in some way, and the gnomes of Seacastle Bay are no different.

Missing Tavisan, who was away on a far off quest, Audrey Swifter decided to go ahead with their family tradition of painting dozens of pinecones and acorns.  It would keep her mind busy as she cared for her two children at home. Besides, she still had her faithful and handy brother to help, if she could keep him out of the local taverns. Sitting in her kitchen with Azunna, she dabbed the pine cone carefully, trying not to get any paint on her fingers. Azunna got a pinecone to paint for herself.

“It’s done!” Carlyn burst into the kitchen dressed in his work clothes, his faced smudged and sweaty.

“Aye, Mamma! We did it!” Emmert, Audrey’s little son, was dressed and dirty like his uncle. The young gnome loved spending time in the workshop with him, learning all about tools and machines. “Oooo! Cookies?”

“Aye, but not until you two wash thy hands… and faces, if you please. Did you wipe thy feet afoe walking into the house?”

The two gnomes pouted and checked their shoes, then nodded respectfully.

It was all Audrey could do to keep from grinning at the sight of Carlyn and Emmert. “Well, bwutheo? I do hope thy contwaption is not inside the house.  Weemember what happened in the past? I had to weepaint the sitting woom and weeplace the wugs because it exploded when you last twied to demonstwate it.”

Carlyn’s face turned red. “Nay, Sis. We brought it not. ’Tis back in the shop. Nonetheless, we think ye shall like what it does. Behold all those acorns and pinecones on the table. Our new invention shall paint all those in less than half the time, and mayhap even better.”

Emmert nodded enthusiastically, then got distracted by his little sister painting her pinecone and enjoying some hot tea and cookies. 

Audrey looked down at her half-painted pinecone and pouted. “But ’tis so amusing and….”

“And boooring, Audrey!” interrupted her brother. “Every year you sit hither and paint these acorns and pinecones. Wish you not to put an end to this chore more quickly or mayhap make many more in just half the time? Methinks I would rather be done with this so I can get back to my fishing or brewing.”

Audrey took a deep breath, refusing to argue in front of the children.

Azunna broke the silence. “I like painting, Mama. Lo, mine is all but finished. Does it not look like a pretty flower?”

Audrey picked up the pinecone her little girl had been painting. It was a chaotic mess of colors. Her tiny fingers smudged the paint on the surface. But Audrey only saw the beauty of her daugther’s artistic effort. She looked down at Azunna, still holding the paint-laden brush, smiling proudly. Azunna was little now, but one day she would grow up and leave home; so will Emmert. Spending time together at home was precious. Like the passing of one season to the next, this was a time to make memories.

“Can thy new machine do this?” The gnomette lifted up her the multicolored items and gestured to Azunna, the paints, brushes, cups of hot spiced tea and cookies at the table. 

The kitchen was warm and the candles lit up the room in a welcoming glow. Audrey and Azunna began to sing softly together and resumed their painting. Audrey glanced at her brother, hoping he understood what she was getting at.

Carlyn and Emmert looked at each other. The kitchen scene before them was so sweet and endearing; they lost their excitement and grew thirsty. The uncle and nephew stepped closer and eyed the plate of cookies on the table. Handing her back the pinecone and acorn, Carlyn smiled and sighed. “Nay, I supposed it cannot do all this. And these are true treasures because my little niece did them.”

Azunna beamed.

“Mayhap we can alter the machine to do something else,” added Emmert. “Mama? Can I have some tea and cookies too?”

“Aye, after you wash thy hands, my son. You ah so like thy uncle indeed,” Audrey said with a giggle. 

The boy and his uncle quickly did as they were bid and after receiving their tea and treats, went back to work on their inventions.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Signing at the Armored Combat League Event

For those who enjoy a real live action spectacle, The Armored Combat League is coming to Lake Havasu City later this month. I have the Facebook link here below. I will have my new tent set up on the perimeter of the tournament grounds. I will be signing and selling my books and trinkets both days. Hope to see you all there!


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The EQ Landmark Sunset

Landmark shut its servers down last week on February 21st. It was an online game from Sony Online Entertainment. I won't go into the any major explanation about what happened. If you really want to know, here's a link to an editorial that can explain it without all the anger and frustration I have read about the shut-down.

Landmark Sunset Editorial

Also, a video: Post Mortem: EQ Landmark

It's no secret to my friends and followers that most of my writing inspiration comes from gaming. I guess you can say Everquest 2 (EQ2) is my muse. When the makers of EQ2 introduced the plans for two new games about 3 years ago, I was excited. They were Everquest Next and Everquest Landmark. I was thrilled to see how a player could build just about anything they could imagine using voxels (virtual bricks to be used like Legos). My imagination went wild at the possibility of bringing to life the lands of Tiaera, or at least some of the notable landmarks I have written about in my novels. I signed up for the Alpha & Beta Testing and downloaded the unfinished game. Hundreds of players did the same and in no time I staked claims with my friend, Solus, and got busy with constructions. The castle in my Facebook page was just one example of what I could create. Here are some screenies of the Dark Forest Realm manor:

For world-building, Landmark was wonderful. It had different environments to build on i.e. snowy mountain, desert, valley, forest, beach front, etc... If you can't draw or paint, here was a chance to build using voxels to create scenes, towns, buildings, almost anything your mind and computer can manage. Players soon made how-to articles and videos to help us in our plans for building our creations. I began with building the Dark Forest Realm castle and manor, then last year I began work on Castle Feralson.
Castle Feralson
Inner Courtyard
Inside the Church
The Main Hall

The castle was never finished. I stopped working on it the day it was announced that Landmark's servers were coming down. Working on these structures kept me inspired to write for the last three years. I worked on "Legend of Fayre Sea" and the "World of Tiaera" coloring book during those years. When I wasn't writing and busy with my home life, I dwelled in this virtual realm of creativity. I visited other claims and got inspired by what others made there.

It really hurt me to see this beautiful game come to an end. Many others were angry, shocked, depressed and disappointed by the money and time they had invested in this game. They blamed Daybreak Games, the game and even each other. I read many articles and saw videos about the game's "sunset" and participated in a final event as time ran out for Landmark and the servers were shut down for the last time. Here are a few more screen shots of the Sunset Wall (signed by players) and Graveyard event where players made tombstones and lingered to the final end.

This wall no longer exists, but it was a good way to leave our mark and say good bye.

My character's name was Kalephia.
The Graveyard Sunset event on the last day:

Here is a beautifully done 7 minute video I found on Youtube. It's a perfect tribute to the player-creators of this extraordinary game.  All the structures you'll see were done my gamers. My mind still boggles at the brilliant designs, plans, ships, buildings, etc... Even the game developers were impressed by what the players did with their game tools. So far, no other game comes close to what this one could do.  Good bye Landmark

I tried for weeks to find another game like Landmark. I depend on these fantasy games for writing prompts and inspiration. Nothing comes close to what this game could do, for now. I am just going to have to settle for EQ2 modular building and go back to drawing my world using pens, paper and my digital stylus as in the past. 

Farewell, Landmark. It was really fun and creative while it lasted.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

WOT at the London Bridge Ren Faire

Greetings and Huzzah! I survived Lake Havasu's second Renaissance Faire! 

Faire workers and vendors took a beating from the weather. Actually, it was their tents and merchandise/property that did. In the hope this might be of some help to other authors/vendors who visit my blog, here is my tale of woe on what happened.

My husband Lee and I went to the event grounds on Thursday, Jan. 7th, to set up my brand new green tent. The weather was nice but a bit windy. I worried that the wind might get worse that evening. I insisted we get more stakes to make sure our tent was firmly secured to the ground. We went to Big 5 sporting goods store and got more metal stakes and tied extra guy lines to secure each pole. We also tied milk gallons jugs of water for added weight. I had read too many horror stories about vendors losing their tents to gusty winds. Once it was up and firmly staked down, we went home for the night. I left nothing inside the tent and kept one wall uncovered.

Costway OP2829

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, outdoor and nature
Three damaged tents. Mine was in the center behind the beige tent. You can see the silver roof lining turned inside out.
The vendor to the left of us was a very strong, well-built canopy. (That's the beige one in the photo above with the light green cover with the big rip in it.) There was little concern they would suffer from the weather. Lee and I noticed that the vendor to the right of us had not yet come, but we hoped these two tents, plus the tents behind us, would offer more protection against the wind.

We thought wrong.

Upon arriving the next day for the event we discovered our green tent lay in a crushed heap. I have no photo of it as I was too stunned to pull out my smartphone to photograph the damage. (Since this post, I found a photo taken of the damage on FB. See it above.) It stayed attached to the ground as we had hoped, but it was flattened in a mangled heap. A couple of workers came over to offer their help in untangling the twisted, broken tent bars and poles. The wind was worse that morning. The tent to the left of us was ok, just a few holes in their canvas walls, but the tent to the right of us was gone. They had already removed the debris of their tent by the time we had gotten there. Part of their roof was laying on the ground. They said nothing to us as they were busy collecting their crates and overturned tables and leave. Lee thinks their tent either hit or landed on top of ours because it wasn't staked down well enough. There is no proof of that since everything was cleared by the time we got there.

Though the entire frame was lost, I was able to save the green material. After our little green tent was put into the nearest dumpster, I wandered to find the Faire Director, Ray. He was over by the Main Stage talking to a group of vendors and workers. I found out we weren't the only ones who suffered a loss from the damaging winds. I don't know how many vendors had to abandon the event, but there were several. A couple of guilds who came to entertain and participate had to leave because their tents and/or equipment was damaged. Ray had no choice but to let the public in for free and take a loss in revenue because of the bad weather and the disheveled state of the faire grounds.

And the wind continued that morning and most of that day.

I cried in the car on the way home. I cried because I thought the whole weekend was a total loss and my book signing could not take place. I cried because I had spent countless hours sewing and preparing for this event for the last four months. I had designed and sewed eight colorful banners for the VIP Tent and later designed and sewed 22 VIP tote bags for this faire. That was a lot of work and hours I put in because I support this event so much. And I know Ray and his wife, Pat, appreciate it sincerely. They are good people and they work hard to put on this huge event.

Later that day, after I pulled myself together, I read the paperwork that came with my tent more carefully and learned that this model should never be set up in windy conditions. Sigh! It's a "fair weather" tent only. Lesson learned. All that work I did, effort and loss, was for nothing, because of the weather. It was a big deal, a big opportunity for me. And now it was all ruined.

Or was it?

When we got home, I thought about how I could salvage the weekend. I saw there was a huge roomy and very stable pavilion near the Main Stage. I texted Ray for his permission to set up my table and crate of books there. I explained I didn't need much room, just a corner. He agreed, under these circumstances.

The following day started out cold and gloomy, but I was there very early with my books and table. I dressed in my warmest costume and donned a new velveteen cloak since there was no heat in the pavilion. With a thermos of hot soup, treats and a couple of blankets, I prepared to make the most of the day.

My spirit was high despite the gloomy weather. The band, Highland Way, did a great job to liven up the mood of the people there including myself. I was so happy I began to dance and sway to the music. But the faire was almost empty that morning and rain started to fall. I protected my books and new banner easily by pulling the table inward from the rain drops. Once the sky began to clear, people came. The banners I sewed for the VIP looked great!

VIP Tent with 3 of the 8 banners I designed and sewed.
Three more banners I designed and sewed for the VIP Tent.

My book signing was far from a total loss. I sold enough books to make a decent profit, promoted my blog and stories and enjoyed the event that weekend. All I had to do was look around and ask. I was even interviewed! Here's the video link:  Youtube Video Interview

So, my fellow writers and authors, may my tale of woe help you understand the importance of having the right attitude when things go wrong.  Dry your tears and pick yourself up. Grab onto hope and your faith that something can still be worked out or saved. Ask for help, if needed. People can be very kind and generous, especially in bad times. All I needed was a "yes" from the Director, and the weekend was saved.

Next year, if I get a better tent, I will read the accompanying paperwork very carefully and monitor the weather forecast hourly like a hawk!

Keep writing and don't give up on your passion!