Wednesday, April 22, 2015

No Brand Con Guests - This Weekend!

We're happy to say this weekend we'll be guests at No Brand Con in Wisconsin!  If you're in the area or at the con, please stop by our table and say hi!  We will be participating with the Masquerade, we'll have a table in the Dealer's room and we'll have panels too!

Can't wait to see you guys there!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Argument for That Mary Sue: AKA Why I Have Two Names

If you have met me on the internet, whether it's through facebook, email or other outlets, you may have noticed that I don't go by the name Jessica very often.  Instead, in most cases, I'll sign things and respond to the name Snow.  It's a name that, oddly enough, started as a Mary Sue and has followed me until today.  This isn't an entry to push my fabulous self insert fanfiction, but rather a story to explain why I have two names and why it's an integral part of me, my confidence and every fiber of my being.

A Mary Sue, as you probably know, is a self-insert character.  The idea is, that when most writers start out, they start out by imagining themselves in a already created world.  You self insert yourself into Doctor Who, or Gundam Wing, or Supernatural and write your story from there. In the world of fanfiction they're called Mary Sue or Gary Stew - depending on gender - and you can usually spot them by their overly 'unique' traits, floating sounding names and impossible need to rescue and love the, otherwise, main character of the story.  Least that's what all the cliche's say.

My Mary Sue wasn't very different, but she has become something else entirely.  (And no, this is not the time to search out those fanfic, because they were never posted.)

Back in my school years, as I was growing up, I was the very self consious kid who tended to hide in a corner and behind a book.  Sure, I had a handful of friends, but I was always the odd kid out and never felt like I fit in.  I never really had a voice and when something came up that upset me, I was more likely to hide in the school bathroom then ever make a comment about it.  During this whole time I was busy writing fanfiction, dreaming of worlds where I wasn't a background character and I could actually do something in my life other then hiding.

High school came and went and I got a serious boyfriend - whom I realized around college time wasn't good for me and had ideas of his own that I wasn't totally ok with.  I won't go into detail, but he's important because I made a decision when I broke up with him - that I was worth more then that.  I distinctly remember returning to college without a boyfriend and sitting in my dorm room - wondering what the heck I was supposed to do now?

At the time I had a Mary Sue character in my head by the name of Snow Tigra.  She was a stunning and confident woman I'd inserted into the Gargoyles universe (though written almost no fic about yet) who had started her own candle crafting business, had access to magic and rocked royal blue business outfits I would never dream of attempting with my plus sized body.  She didn't take crap from anyone and she approached every situation with confidence and a bit of sass, and yet still had her flaws and insecurities that made her human and real.

Sitting in that dorm room, contemplating how to approach my life as a single student again, I thought: wouldn't it be nice to be her?

So I decided I would be.

At the time I had two skirts in my closet that I didn't wear much - I was a t-shirt and jeans girl - but I pulled them out.  I also asked my professors to call me Snow, under the guise of there being too many Jessica's in my classes and this was just easier (to be fair, there were five in just that class!).  I created a signature for her that wasn't my normal handwriting and started using that to sign all my artwork and writing.  I used her name as my screen name online.  I claimed her name as what friends should call me who knew me better then in passing.  For all intents and purposes I repeated to myself over and over again, that I was her.

I was no longer the quiet and shy girl who sat in the corner with a book, no, I was her.  I was this character I'd created who was everything I'd ever wanted to be.  I internalized her constantly, telling myself over and over again that this was who I was and asking the world to call me that name as well. I internalized her until one day I realized I was her.

I can't pin point the exact moment, but looking back now I can easily trace how my confidence grew and how I changed and found myself.  I stepped out of the shadows, I wasn't afraid to express my views and I usually did so in a calm manner.  I started being a role model to people and even stood up for them when needed.  I formed clubs on campus, took control and just became myself, all the while still writing and crafting and creating.  Any time I got nervous or wanted to run and hide, it became easy to close my eyes and picture her with her self confidence and poise, and then I didn't have to hide anymore.

Around the same time I stopped writing with Mary Sues, which is kind of ironic.  I no longer wanted to insert myself into stories - because I'd become who I wanted to be.  So it wasn't interesting to explore these fake worlds anymore, because I was living it.  Instead I went back to writing fanfiction about canon characters and their searches for love - but that's because I was finding my own love at the time and that's another story. ^__^

Today I'm still Snow.  It's the name that most of my friends know me by and it's the name I prefer - even if Facebook recently made me change it back. To most of the world it's probably just a nickname, something I ask that they call me and what I write on my badge at anime conventions.  Most of my coworkers don't know it and I don't sign it to my published books, but I'm still her.  She's still me.  I've become that confident and creative woman with her own crafty business and unafraid to be myself in a world where I am different and I don't exactly fit in.  I still have my moments of insecurity, but that's normal and to be expected.  No matter what happens, I can't leave her behind and I never want to.

I don't know if the story is the same for other writers, or even as pronounced as mine.  I imagine everyone has their own reasons for their 'Mary Sue' character and where she is in their stories and their life.  In either case, my Mary Sue was very important to me in ways that are hard to describe to other people.  She's a symbol of my personal growth and a path back to the moment when I became myself.  Because of this when I see people creating their own Mary Sue, it makes me smile.  Even if I might not read the fanfiction or collect the art, it reminds me of my journey and that there are thousands of men and women out there doing the exact same thing.

My Mary Sue started as me and became something else.  Then I became her and she is no longer a Mary Sue.  Now she's me.

So that's why, if you meet me and talk to me, I have two names.  I prefer to be called Snow, but don't worry.  If you call me Jessica, that works too.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Seeking the Storyteller - Rereleased!

I'm happy to announce that the re-release for Seeking the Storyteller is now available for purchase!

I know of the Storyteller, it whispers into the man's ear, I've met him. If you promise not to kill me, I'll take you to him. 

Alix Andre DeBenit and Randall Fagan are Hunters, part of a hidden network of humans who track and kill the monsters lurking in our world so everyone else can pretend they don't exist. But when a living shadow mentions someone called the Storyteller, Alix hesitantly decides to learn more. 

They say the Storyteller lives in a massive library full of books that tell every being's life story. He can read these books, rewrite them and change anything he wants, even if it's already happened. That's the power Alix wants, the power to bring his murdered family back and he's determined to make the Storyteller do it. He just has to decide if working with the very creatures he's supposed to kill is worth it.

Seeking the Storyteller is the beginning of a series, set in the Midwest in present day.  Our world, with a few monsters and creatures mixed in for good measure.

You can purchase your copies here:

Ebook and Amazon availability coming soon!

Like the cover?  
Our cover artist Rainarc is also offering it as a print!  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Review: What Lives Inside

What Lives Inside

(You can watch the series here.)
(You can learn more here.)

I found this interesting series while glancing through the 'new shows added' feature on Hulu, which I tend to do once a week.  I mark quite a few shows as background noise while I'm working or sewing and never really glance at the screen and just listen to the stories like audio books through headphones.

I am delighted to say I did glance up at this one.  The story, very simply, is one we've probably heard before about a normal man discovering, upon his father's death, that there was this magical world he never noticed his father living in.  And now, when he needs it most, that world is opening up to him.  It calls back to classics from my childhood, such as Bridge to Terabithia, Wizard of Oz, Labyrinth - the sort of 'coming of age' story that only comes from the death or loss of something very close and an attempt to reclaim it.

This is the type of story I loved reading/watching as a kid because the good ones had the ability to take our world and hint that maybe, just maybe, there really is magic hidden where you might not have looked.  It's the type of story I've seen reemerge in genres like "Urban Fantasy" and have happily consumed to no end.  It's also the type of stories that I want to write and publish because of how much I loved them as a kid. And so far, from just watching the first little short episode, I'm fully on board to see the rest and eagerly waiting for them to be posted.

Oh look!  Episode 2 is already up!

As a small down side, I do have to mention that the show was made by Dell and in that there are times where you can tell it is meant to be a new kind of commercial.  The product placement of technology is obvious and rather then these objects just fitting into the movie seamlessly they do stand out.  A laptop the character can't be pulled away from at the beginning (because seriously, what business man is stupid enough to use his laptop in a convertible while they're driving) and a tablet hidden inside a book in a magical workshop with no other huge pieces of that sort of equipment did pull me out of the story.  But those were momentary lapses and in a world where commercials don't make nearly as much money for companies as they used to and are often skipped and ignored, I can suspend the annoyance and disbelief a little.  However, I will be seriously disappointed if this is jarring trend throughout the entire show.

Yes, the show is made by Dell, we get it!

That part aside, I'm in it for the ride.  The episodes are short, as seems to be the norm these days (around 10 minutes) but the FX budget is used wisely and the 'real' world and 'magical' world blend together seamlessly enough that I'm pleased, and that's generally a big stickler point for me because I'm a very visual watcher. Hopefully the rest of the show doesn't disappoint.

Want more like this? 

This show makes me think of the works of Jim Henson and Anyone familiar with the works of Jim Henson the current show on Syfy "Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge" which is actually partially hosted by his son.

It also reminds me of the documentary I watched recently, called "Trek Nation" where Gene Roddenberry's son goes through a real life version of this sort of tale as he tries to get in touch with his father after his death and through his legacy of Star Trek shows. I highly recommend this documentary, seriously, I loved it.

Also, the very end of the first episode reminds me of this strange little game I saw Markiplier play on youtube called "Ib" which I would also recommend.