Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An Important and Often Missed Part of Cosplay

There's a comic that was posted on a Facebook group I follow earlier this week that made me start thinking.  And before I start rambling, here it is below.  It's only 6 pages, but I suggest you take a look at it, because it's important and it does relate to cosplay.  (I don't own this comic or Spiderman, all credits are listed in the first image)

(sorry for the formatting, my blogger page just doesn't like me with multiple pictures)

There's a part of cosplay which I never really thought about that is perfectly shown in the comic above.  Back when I started handsewing my costumes, even until about a year ago, it never connected for me.  But then something happened - I started to notice a lot of things popping up.  I noticed 'Princess Companies' listed on social media - where women dressed up as Disney Princesses for girl's birthday parties and charity events where certain cosplayers showed up in character to cheer kids on and even one of the cosplayers I follow sells prints of his costumes to raise money for charity. 

It never occurred to me that a hobby of making costumes and wearing them to conventions could affect other people around me so much - though I probably should have noticed from how much I fangirl when I see people dressed as obscure characters that most don't recognize but I love. 

But it's more then that.  It goes beyond seeing a character you love come to life in front of you.  It's seeing that look in someone else's eyes for a split second when you show up in costume and you know you just rocked their world. 

It's not a selfish thing, it's not a validation of why I cosplay, but it is important.  It happens at charity events, conventions or even wearing a character's outfit to grab some snacks on the way to a costume party.  There have been times where children have stopped us and asked for pictures or parents have done it because their little daughter/son is too busy hiding and waving her arms to form sentences.  To that person/child seeing their favorite character come to life in person you are something they can't even describe.  You're life.  You're showing them that that one character they imagine and dream about is real, so maybe their other hopes and dreams are real too. 

The child doesn't have to be dying of cancer, doesn't have to be searching for a hero and doesn't have to be someone who walks up to you.  It could be a simple glance where they see that costume and that's enough to make a world of difference. 

It never occurred to me when I started making my dresses that this was a thing, but I love it.  It's important and it's something that we cosplayers and costume-makers need to bring more attention to.  Because the character you wear - or want to wear - means the universe to someone and even if you never see the look in their eyes or catch that moment when they see you, it's important. 

So seriously, love yourself and love your cosplay, whoever it is.  Just do it.  It doesn't matter what size you are, what color you are or your skill level.  You never know when the character you cosplay can make a difference to someone near you.  So just do it.  You never know who's day or life you might touch. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Iron Bound Kisses - First Two Paragraphs

Lets try an experiment.  Below you will find two writing excerpts.

The first is the original first two paragraphs of my rough draft for Iron Bound Kisses.  Minimal editing was done and my knowledge of the editing and publishing world was next to nil at the time.  This was written years ago, back when I was in college...

If you were to ask me today I probably still wouldn't be able to explain why I joined the circus. I'm still not sure what exactly led me there, perhaps I was bored and wanted something new. Perhaps fate placed her hand on my shoulder and pushed me in that direction. Perhaps it was just chance. Or perhaps he called to me.

Whatever the reason I found myself, on that stormy evening, standing inside the large tent with my duffel bag slung over my shoulder as I faced the manager. The manager, who was currently holding my poor excuse for a resume, was a large man dressed in bright red show clothes. His thick brown hair curled tightly around his face and a thick mustache climbed up from his nose. His dark brown eyes glanced from the yellowed paper full of my neat scrawlings to my face, scrutinizing my blank and emotionless expression. I remained silent as he fiddled with his mustache, waiting.

Second: we have the first two paragraphs of the story I submitted to Dreamspinner late 2014 which I have since signed for them to publish later this year.  Actually, the part above became several paragraphs, technically.

If you were to ask me today, I still wouldn't be able to explain why I wanted to join the circus. Perhaps it was out of boredom and a desire for something new.  Perhaps I had gotten tired of notching a time card on a daily basis and reporting to a job that, no matter how interesting it was the first day, always wound down into tedious repetition.  Perhaps Fate placed her hand on my shoulder and pushed me in that direction -- if you believe in that sort of thing.  Or, maybe it was her distant cousin, Chance.
Perhaps... he called to me.
Whatever the reason, I found myself standing inside a large tent with my duffel bag slung over my shoulder as I faced the circus manager.  The storm outside had completely soaked my sweater, making it cling to my thin body instead of hide it.  My long ponytail was dripping down my back, loose dirty blond strands sticking to the side of my face that I quickly brushed away. I had tried to dry off during the last part of the show in the circle of porta potties, but a handful of paper towels proved to be ineffective.  Without a real towel and a fresh change of clothes it was the poorest presentation one could have for an interview. But there I stood, shoes drenched and laces covered in mud.  There was no sense in standing the interview up after all that effort.  

As you can see they are wildly different.  So here's the question...

How much of a change do you think there will be after my new editors take a look at it?  Stay tuned as I'll post once we're done ^__^

Iron Bound Kisses is the story of Thomas, a young man who thought he was just joining the circus for a summer job.  What he didn't expect was to fall for Isle, the strange non-existent circus member who lives in the manager's trailer.  What's so special about him?  Why isn't anyone allowed to talk to him?  And why can't Thomas stop thinking about him?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Anime Milwaukee this weekend!

The convention season has begun for myself and my partner.  Our first convention is Anime Milwaukee in Wisconsin this weekend!  We'll be in Artist Alley, as always, selling our crafts and books and wearing our costumes!

Here's where you can find us!

And here's the costumes we'll be wearing!

We look forward to seeing you at the convention!

Special Bonus!  I don't have signs for it yet, but I will be offering to design dresses for people at the convention for $5.  Just stop over and ask and I'll sketch one for you ^__^

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Women's Leadership Challenge Conference: What's Your Value Proposition?

Continuing from last week: my 'normal' job paid for me to go to a Women's Leadership Challenge Conference run at St Catherine's University in Minnesota.  What I thought would be a normal work function turned out to have significant meaning to me and where my career and life are going.  So I thought I would share the numerous amounts of notes I took with others through my blog.

St Catherine's University: website
And here's their event page with more info about the program

The other main seminar I went to as part of this day event was "What's your Value Proposition? Positioning Yourself for the Job You Want" and this one was basically the idea of what exactly do you need to take an active roll in your job and what you want to do.   My notes are below.  The slides for this presentation can be found at

- You can not determine where you're going to go unless you know where to start.  Otherwise, goals and ending places seem forever far off and it's easy to lose hope and motivation. So the first thing you have to do is like looking at a map and find "You Are Here"

- Being able to talk to people about yourself is vital.  You're not bragging, you're telling the truth about yourself.  So be confident and speak up.

- Each of us have a value to offer, so find that, if you're having trouble determining where you are.

- All it takes in your career is one boss who doesn't understand you and your career can be sidetracked permanently (like being fired).  However, if this happens to you it can also potentially be the best moment and the hardest in your life as you search for the next thing.

- So much about all of it is job fit - you have to determine what fits and what doesn't.

- Often time what determines your career isn't what you say 'yes' to, it's what you say 'no' to or let pass you by.

- Most people are in accidental/opportunistic careers, ones that happen by accident.  The ones that are hard are the intentional careers.  And great on going careers require management, like tuning up your car.

- Your Value Proposition is what makes you different and special.  Not what you're perfect at, but what sets you out from the crowd.  It's the thing that differentiates you, your reputation and your brand.

"Being the best isn't enough.  People need to believe you're the best option for them, it's all about perception."

- Education is NOT a differentiation, it's HOW you do things.  Anyone can get an education.

- Don't wait for the career fairy, there's no such thing.  You have to stand up and go get it.

- Make your current boss your partner - don't assume they'll be threatened.  So if you want to learn to do their job, let them know and let them help you with it, most will.  However, if you can't tell them, then find someone you can tell and be honest with.  You need someone to bounce ideas off of at the very least, but you need someone who you can be honest with and who will be honest with you.

- Regularly search your job's postings for positions.  Even if you're not currently planning on moving, this will help you become familiar with what sort of things are required and what other positions in your company do.

- Keep your resume up to date, even if you're sticking around.  It's a great tool to have and having to update it all at once when your lose/leave a job is a pain.  Better to keep it up to date.

- Keep your performance reviews!  It's proof of what you've done and wording on those is things you can use.

- Volunteer, make yourself visible.  Step up to the plate and show your skills.

- Dress for the job you want.

- Practice good career karma, it comes back to you.

- Don't wait until you're out of a job to need people.

"If you want to go somewhere you've never gone before, then GO somewhere you've never gone before."

You should be a contribution, not a function.

*** So these notes aren't as well put together as the last one, but I was scribbling most of the time and taking it all in.  I would suggest looking at the slides on the website mentioned toward the top.  Also, the biggest thing I got out of this seminar was my own value statement.  It was the first time in my life that I walked up to people and introduced myself as a seamstress and an author without stuttering.  Try it, walk up to five people and introduce yourself.  It will quickly help you define who you are and work from there ^__^