Buy it now!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

BJD Silicone Molds and Junk Casts


FYI-- One and a third gallons of AM 128 RTV Silicone Rubber makes 3 complete molds (upper torso, lower torso, head) and 4 small half-molds (hands, head cap, both feet in one mold), plus ball-joint junk molds used in elbows, knees, shoulders and hips, for a 1/4 scale ball jointed doll. I'll need to buy another gallon to finish off the small molds, and to mold the arms and legs. And this is just for junk-casting! I'll need another round of silicone to cast the Masters.

Wish I hadn't wasted the first 2/3 of a gallon a few months ago on half-parts I never used! I live and learn, I guess, especially with materials I've never used before. Now I'm hoping I didn't screw up anything important, and that the very EXPENSIVE molds I've finished work properly (i.e. not get stuck together or rip or what have you). I'll know tomorrow. I maybe have enough resin to cast each of the three finished molds a couple times.

Hopefully, too, the original doll parts will survive molding. I'd love to see her completely assembled and finished.

Note 1: I forgot to key-up one of the hands before pouring silicone. I'll attempt to fix this by gouging out a few keys in the flip side.
Note 2: A gallon of silicone doesn't fill up nearly as much mold space as you'd think. I bought what I could afford. No fancy cubic-centimeter estimates here. Just hoping it woulda been enough. Perhaps there was some waste, but I'd rather waste a bit than skimp on the stuff and tear a mold.
Note 3: Now that I thought about it, I coulda keyed up the hand mold right through the wet silicone with the end of a paint brush. It would have filled in the holes. (I just ran into the other room to try it.) Now it's set up too firmly to do that. LOL. Filing that little realization away for future reference...

UPDATE: Two of the molds weren't sealed well enough and started leaking out the bottom. I used clay AND hot glue AND smooth-sided cardboard. Guess I missed a spot. *sigh* Damage control may have been sufficient, but I don't know yet...

UPDATE 2: I ran outta silicone AND resin. I managed a really rough junk cast of the head, upper and lower torso. Both dolls are strung together with a section of chopstick in the head and a rubber band or two tied beneath the crotch. Both dolls hold pretty much any pose (except those requiring limbs :D). You can see the imperfections, bubbles and other nasty stuff really well in the white resin, but I feel better that I at least accomplished this much with her before running out of stuff to work with...


If I sound discouraged, I'm not really. Just tired and a bit disappointed that I won't get all my molds made over my weekend off from work. And poor. ;) Also feeling poor. Now I have to buy another gallon of silicone if I can afford it, and probably some more resin. Thank goodness the mold release will last a while! This delay just means I should work on the remaining parts so that maybe they'll go straight to Master molding... maybe?

Cuddles,
Tamara

Monday, June 4, 2012

All My Updates Are Belong To You!




Since it's been a while since my last post, I'll explain with photo collages... ;)

I received a commission request from my friend Danielle for one of her original characters, Aurelie. She wanted a semi-articulated ragdoll with yarn hair, button eyes, rainbow hair extensions, and a frilly dress. *cringe* She wanted this in response to seeing my "Asuna" fabric doll, a faceless one of a kind doll I'd made ages ago and then stuffed in a tub. Sooo I did a concept sketch and accepted her order. I drew a freehanded, original pattern for the doll and started sewing. She ended up kinda cute...

The first progress shot of Aurelie, with concept sketch, hair and part of her face...
Not to be discouraged by silly things like a full-time job or overworking my pre-carpal-tunnel-syndrome hands, I decided that the other fabric khaki dolls needed work, too... Asuna got a fabric paint face that's really cute. The skinny boy doll became Jareth with his half-finished face. (I realized that fabric paint + brushes is a functional combination. Duh.)


After I'd made that progress, I finished Aurelie's face embroidery and rainbow extensions. Then she sat for a day or two while I started another few projects... I dragged out the Lil Cutesies Berenguer dolls and started reborning the first of six Myth-Babies: Reborn dolls. I had a plain baby head sitting around forever with just elf-ears and sculpted hair removed. So of course, I didn't finish that one. Since the base dolls are so dang cute, this is what happened... He's still not finished, but soon...

Baby Satyr

There is a mermaid in the works, the already-started elf, plus one Myth-Babies doll straight outta Irish mythology. Brandon, my husband, doesn't like this baby. He wants to smack it in the head with a hammer. I don't really blame him, considering. You'll see why when she's finished. ;)

Then I finally finished Aurelie, who ended up being about 90% hand-sewn in the end. Her dress was indeed frilly and cute. Her new mommy absolutely LOVES her. I even made faux leather booties for her. She has an almost Alice in Wonderland feel to her. Handing her over to Danielle was actually difficult! The time that goes into these new babies gets you attached pretty easily. Even if they are full o' frills!

Aurelie, Complete
 And then, with all those Myth-Babies: Reborn hanging out in progress, I had to get crackin' on the MB:BJD sculpt again. She got some refinement. Mostly, she got a healthy couple or three coats of primer and a high-polish from a scrap of satin. My hand hurts, but she's lookin' sharp! (In a stumpy, limbless kinda way...) My next big step on this one is finishing the limbs. My other next step is the reason why I primed her... making molds from the parts! She'll be fully junk-cast in resin by the end of the month! :D

Myth-Babies BJD Collage 7

So, other than spending time on EVERY project ever, I have worked a little on my Volume 2 rough draft. I think I needed a focus break so that the story could swim around in my head for a while before I jump back in. And these are the things I'm doing in the meantime. There, a long, thorough update. Now I'm finished until I get some Myth-Babies made!

Cuddles,
Tamara

P.S. On a perturbing note: The world I created that I call the Dark Planet just got an official name a few months ago, a name that didn't exist on the Internet when I Google-whacked it. :) It was kinda generic: Centaria. But some other author has already used the name in his novels, and various D&D nerds (I say lovingly) are using the name for their worlds as well. I do hate backpedaling on a name, but here I go again. At least the world doesn't show up until Volume 3! ;)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

BJD Progress Collage 6


The first Myth-Babies BJD is looking almost whole. This is the most exciting progress shot yet! Why? Because she not only has all her parts and joints... The parts are actually starting to work right!


Since the last progress post, I have completed the  new upper torso, roughed out finished arms and completed hands. I have made a load of unseen tweaks for functionality purposes. I've completely reworked the legs and knee/elbow joints, and re-set the sockets with the new joints.

I accidentally shattered parts of the original legs and had to remake or repair them. That's why they look rough and crappy. I have more layers and smoothing to do before they'll look presentable!

I'm running out of the pretty pale mixed-up base clay. That's okay by me, since the pure Sculpey III clay is stronger and smoother for the detail work I have to do now. I still haven't figured out which type of hip joint I want to make, so I have only giant resin spheres I made until I decide.

Overall, the doll looks pretty rough and lumpy up close. I'll be sanding and patching her up while I finish up the joints. I'll also be working on her insides-- setting eye wells and hollowing out the head a bit, plus getting her ready for molding by smoothing the core-mold surfaces. (Her forehead is thick because of all the extra clay I needed to add!) Then on to the fine detail work. Not long from now, she'll start getting coats of paint, more sanding and prepped for molding!

I welcome constructive criticism. Let me know what you think, or how I can improve! Thanks!

Cuddles,
Tamara

OTHER PROGRESS SHOTS:

Head Sculpt : http://briescha.deviantart.com/#/d4v3fnq

Progress Collage 1: http://briescha.deviantart.com/#/d4v5ddt

Progress Collage 2: http://briescha.deviantart.com/#/d4v5mx3

Body, Arms, Legs: http://briescha.deviantart.com/art/BJD-Progress-Arms-and-Legs-295628812

Progress Collage 3: http://briescha.deviantart.com/#/d4wwgrz

Progress Collage 4:
http://briescha.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d4xp9r2

Progress Collage 5: http://briescha.deviantart.com/art/BJD-Progress-Collage-5-301798969

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shutter Blossoms Sale!

My adorable, intelligent and cuddly friend Mika over at Shutter Blossoms (a blog for which I coined the name, I say smugly) is having a sale in her Etsy Store throughout May, too! She sells hand-made jewelry and beautiful photography prints. Go to Shutter Blossoms for links and coupon codes:


Cuddles,
Tamara

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Smashwords Coupon!

More Coupons: Use coupon code KZ98D at Smashwords to get 50% off The Pathos of Rowan Jun eBook throughout May!

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/141710 


Cuddles,
Tamara

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Collern's Axe Collage and Print


Collern's Axe Collage Original Artwork


I'm having a blast making these. Just two out now. 8 more to go!

Buy the original here, with coupon codes SUMMERTIME and HALFOFF to get free shipping and 50% off your purchase through May!


And the print here (same coupon codes apply!):

Cuddles,

Tamara

My 2012 Creative Schedule

I'm a busy bee, or at least I INTEND to be a busy bee a lot. Here's to my compulsive listing complex for helping me organize the remainder of my creative year. Seems to be the only way I ever finish anything, when a deadline is looming. But wonder how much I coulda finished if I did some of those creative things INSTEAD of making this chart. Oh, well... :D

Here's part of my creative chart for the rest of the year. I'll be updating it frequently on my website, hopefully with plenty of ahead-schedule notifications and checkmarks of completion, but possibly with sad notes of deadline extensions.


MONTHNOVELSMYTH-BABIESARTRAGDOLLS
MaySilver Empress Rough Draft1. Functional Sculpt, BJD
2. MB-Reborn 1-3: Cutesies for sale
1. Begin novel illustrations and cover designs, drafting
2. Illustration Collages, for sale (Finished: 1 of 10)
1. Complete Heritage Collection, for sale
2. All clothes
June1. Silver Empress Revised Draft, Story Adjustments
2. Full Second Draft, Incorporate Changes
1. Refine MB-BJD sculpt appearance
2. Cast joints, hands and feet in resin
3. Prep major body sections for molding. Test-string for balance.
1. Decide on list of novel illustrations and finalize compositions
2. Draft Silver Empress covers and lettering
3. Sketches for Unatan and Azelan World Profile THS website content
On hold until Heritage Collection is sold and 2nd novel is published


Full Creative Schedule:
http://www.tamarahensonstudios.com/schedule.htm

Cuddles,
Tamara

Half Off AND Free Shipping in the THS Store!

We'll call this the THS Grand Opening Sale! Use the coupon codes "HALFOFF" and "SUMMERTIME" to get 50% off your purchase AND free domestic shipping during the month of May! Original art, prints, ragdolls, and The Pathos of Rowan Jun novel!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/TamaraHensonStudios

The store has T-Shirts, The Pathos of Rowan Jun novels, the entire Heritage Collection from The Ragdolls of the World series, original collage art pieces from Rowan Jun, and prints of that art. This promotion will also apply to any new products I post in the store throughout the end of the month, including additional art, prints, and the Myth-Babies Reborn elf I'm working on!

Cuddles,
Tamara

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Free Shipping Throughout May!

Free Domestic Shipping in my Etsy shop on all items, throughout May! 


Enter coupon code "SUMMERTIME" at checkout... 

http://www.etsy.com/shop/TamaraHensonStudios

Coupon is good for ALL products listed in the Tamara Henson Studios Etsy Shop, including books and dolls! 


Enjoy your summertime!

Cuddles,
Tamara

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Myth-Babies Reborn Preview!

As part of my series of Myth-Babies Reborn vinyl dolls, I started with a small Berenguer-designed doll called "Lil Cutesies". I removed the thick, stylized hair with my Dremel and sandpaper. I removed the existing paint with acetone and then washed the head in soapy water. Then I sculpted (and will paint) elf ears.



Later, I'll be adding finishing touches with  paint and hand-rooting hair to complete the doll. When he/she is finished, I'll make a post in my Etsy store:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/TamaraHensonStudios

Cuddles,
Tamara


Myth-Babies Info:

Based on the creatures from Centaria, a world in my novel series Pathos, Myth-Babies are cuddly anthropomorphic versions of your favorite legends, myths and fairy-tales. Many Myth-Babies will also feature main characters found in my novels.
Myth-Babies will be released in the following forms:
1) Myth-Babies Reborn: Existing vinyl dolls, sculpted and modified to include realistic and fantasy characteristics. Reborn Myth-Babies are one of a kind, hand-altered, handpainted art or prop dolls.
2) Myth-Babies Cuddlers: Resin ball-jointed or cloth-bodied vinyl baby dolls, Doll with eyes and rooted hair or wig, Character Story and Numbered Certificate of Authenticity. These dolls will initially be hand-cast from my sculpts, and as such, in very limited editions! (Blank dolls may be fully customized through Commissions process to create a one-of-a-kind art piece!)
3) Myth-Babies BJD: Asian style Ball-Jointed Fashion dolls: Doll may come with eyes and wig, Faceup, 1 Simple Clothing Set (called a "Fullset"), Character Story and Numbered Certificate of Authenticity. (Blank "base" dolls may be made available, as well!)
4) Myth-Babies Plush: Chibi Character Dolls with painted faces and non-removable felt clothing.
5) Myth-Babies Accessories: Customization parts, Additional Clothing Sets, Iconic Artifacts from the Novels, BJD Weapons and Armor, Wigs, Eyes, etc.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tamara Henson Studios now has an Etsy shop!

Until (and in addition to) my main website's store is complete, I'll be selling my paperback novel, merchandise, Ragdolls of the World and a slew of other things through Etsy! Give it a look and let me know what you think!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/TamaraHensonStudios

Cuddles,
Tamara

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Myth-Babies BJD Progress Collage 4


My first Myth-Babies girl just got all pointy-eared! She's gone through a lot of work that you can't see, too. (She's lounging on my work table, on her towel and cookie sheet.)


Here's what I've done since last time:

1. I reworked her head and face to have the pointed ears I originally planned. I refined her eyes and re-sculpted her nose. I adjusted her mouth and worked on the socket for her neck.

2. I cut out her knees and sanded down the too-large elbows to make a flat-sided knee for her. Then I attached the knee piece to the front of her knee. Added clay to fill in the empty spots and smooth it.

3. Sculpted new elbows using smaller beads and Sculpey. Sculpted feet over a foil-and-wire armature attached to a wooden bead. Mr. Dremel helped with the cuts in the bead.

4. X-Acto'ed and sanded and sanded and carved and sanded some more to hollow out the limbs so they could receive the knees, elbows, wrists and ankles and generally refine overall sculpture. I. Now. Hate. Sanding. Will follow instructions to make these joints BEFORE baking in the future... But she's finally starting to look smooth rather than lumpy. :D

5. Fitted upper and lower torso better by adding clay and making another impression.

6. Painted hips and shoulder joints to prep them for casting in resin. (That's why they're absent in this collage.) I want to have duplicates in case I mess up!

7. Prepped some beads to start the hands soon!

Let me know if you have any questions on this first-time process. I'll try to help where I can. I also appreciate constructive criticism! (Which translates to "Pleeeeease help me if I'm messing up!)

Cuddles,
Tamara

(I plaster my website on there, but it's in need of an update. So far, dA is more up-to-date...)

OTHER PROGRESS SHOTS:

Head Sculpt : http://briescha.deviantart.com/#/d4v3fnq

Progress Collage 1: http://briescha.deviantart.com/#/d4v5ddt

Progress Collage 2: http://briescha.deviantart.com/#/d4v5mx3

Body, Arms, Legs: http://briescha.deviantart.com/art/BJD-Progress-Arms-and-Legs-295628812

Progress Collage 3: http://briescha.deviantart.com/#/d4wwgrz

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reference VS. Outta My Head


I posted the following on DeviantArt and am waiting for the potential backlash. I don't have many watchers over there, so I doubt it'll create a stink. But it IS a legitimate concern I have. Let me know what you think:

"In the extensive browsing I've done here on dA, I noticed how far I have to go to reach my full artistic potential. Some pretty amazing stuff on here! But then I realized that the major disconnect in my art and "theirs" is the extensive use (legal or otherwise) of reference material for the completion of many of these works. As I work mostly out of my head, but don't disdain use of reference, I found my work doesn't compare to many for this really basic reason. Most of my art is doodled when I don't have access to reference, or when I want to preserve a stylistic approach that reference would affect.

I have noticed repaints over copyrighted photography or artwork, blatant redraws of anime/manga pages, and impressively-drawn/finished digital art that may or may not have used "reference material" in the completion process. Reference material is to be looked at for inspiration, not to be ripped directly from the source material. Now, I know such a staunch position on use of reference can't be all that popular in this community. I doubt many people who misuse reference will respond to this message unless they are angrily defending their process or angrily denying their process. So in that case, please don't bother commenting. I mean no personal disrespect. Your methods, while they may garner much attention and praise, simply are not my methods.

I could discuss at length how the beloved Masters used mirrors and other tricks to exactly copy the portraits of their subjects onto the canvas, and that these methods were considered acceptable for accuracy's sake. It wasn't the resulting "copied" drawings that made the Masters... Masters. It was the finishing of the work. But when photography came into existence, the need for accurate recording of an individual's face by an artist dissipated. Art was freed to be more organic and less "perfect." (That's just the Master's degree talkin'. Teachin' art is a habit and one-time profession.)

Now, apparently the "change three things" rule exonerates copiers from the copyright laws. And, more apparently, as long as an artist doesn't make money from that art, it's okay. (The originator of the character or concept COULD sue you for damages, especially if your work is wildly popular.) You're not going to see someone paint a near-exact work of the Mona Lisa and expect someone to believe they originated the concept. Also, I do not count useful "Master's Copies" among blatant copyright infringement. They have their place in a student artist's skills development. Sharing techniques, skills and procedures is an age-old method of creating improved artistic techniques, skills and procedures. And deviantArt is very generous in this respect. So even THAT isn't the issue.

I think, at the core of what bothers me, is that some artists soak up praise for their work and don't readily admit that they used or abused the reference process. Why? Because they wouldn't get as much praise for it. I'm not good at keeping up pretenses. If I use reference for more than it's basic intention, I'll let you know. And if you've read this far and would like to answer my questions, I welcome your opinions...

Now, I know we're all "deviants" here, but at what point does use of reference lose it's respectful position in artistic society? Do you agree that money-making is the fine line between okay and not okay? Or is over-use of reference without commentary a breach of trust to viewers, who think some artists are awesome without basis?

Curious as to what all...2 or 3 of you will think! :)"

Cuddles,
Tamara

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

100 Posts, and BJD Progress!

Myth-Babies Ball-Jointed Doll Progress: 



Row 1: I worked on the face, giving her better eye shape and depth. There's a lot of difference from that first pic on the left to the current head shape! I narrowed her cheeks and lengthened and tapered her chin. I also filled in the too-long lip line for a cleaner sculpt. Next: new ears and full details! (Pay no attention to the green stuff on her face. That's my Sharpie marks to keep it symmetrical. Still need to work on her nose, too...)

Row 2: Testing the fit and function of the unfinished hip joint after hollowing out parts of the legs. The third picture is of my sorta finished hip, shoulder and elbow joints. I cast solid hemispheres from Batchix's Shapeways parts, glued them and Sculpey-ed them together for the spheres. I used small wooden beads and Sculpey for the elbows. I may or may not have used hot glue to hold these pieces together... ;)

Row 3: Comparison of old bust/upper torso and new bust/upper torso. I wanted to give her a more natural breast shape. Plus, she needed a thicker neck.

Let me know what you think!

Cuddles,

Tamara

A New Review for Rowan Jun!

"From the opening sentence to the very last period; this story not only held my attention, but threw me head first in a very strange world."

Honest reviews are hard to come by. This early on, it's obvious that most of my readers are people who are either close to me, or I at least know their name. Some of these readers promise to plaster praises in a review, but I beg them not to. That kind of review serves no one. I'd rather have a few honest reviews than many promising shining perfection to a reader. So each reader gets the same request from me: "When you're finished reading, please write and post a serious review, telling what you like AND what you don't like, so other readers can make an informed decision about buying the book."

My lovely friend Mika promised a no-B.S. review of The Pathos of Rowan Jun, and delivered. :) Here's the result, as posted on her blog ShutterBlossoms:

http://shutterblossoms.blogspot.com/2012/04/review-pathos-of-rowan-jun-by-tamara.html?spref=fb

Hope it helps!

Cuddles,
Tamara


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Four Horsemen Group


I drew this group as a project in my Advanced Drawing class years ago (2003???) during my senior year as I finished my Bachelor's degree. Hmph. Now I feel old! These guys are not my best character work, but I have a strong sentimental attachment to them. Since I made them, they've demanded their own wall in every place I've lived. Oddly enough, I don't feel "at home" until these precious little harbingers of despair are displayed. :D


Each drawing measures 2'X3' and is completed on powder blue heavy paper with charcoal and various brands of pastels. They're also arranged in the order of intended display:

From the left is Famine, Pestilence (also called The Antichrist), Death, and War.

Overall, the pieces have some intentional perspective skewing and some accidental perspective skewing that arose from working on such a large scale with insufficient displays. I kept my references to a minimum to ensure a stylized end product. I used pure pigments for emphasis, and muted all other colors. I focused on the characters, their props and the horses, as well as the dynamism suggested in the scriptures.

I see places where I could improve, areas where I DID improve, and other things I wouldn't change at all! :) I'll also be slipping characters modeled after these guys into one of my novels later on... (Did I really complete all of these guys in just a week of class time and a couple evening sessions? Huh...)

I kept the large scale trend going. Later on, while finishing my Grad degree, my work included gigantic graphic novel-inspired pages, larger than life portraits, and a 6'5" jointed geisha doll.

My horsemen boys commanded the focal point wall (as I said, they always do!) of our Senior Exhibit and got a lot of unexpected reactions. Several viewers decided to study the related scriptures. I think this is pretty dang cool. And others reported different levels of fear, creepiness, and uneasiness. I think this confused me, since I "birthed" these babies. Now, just because The Antichrist is staring a hole through you, that's no reason to feel uneasy, right? :D

Cuddles,

Tamara

P.S. My personal spiritual walk and focus on simplicity of spirit notwithstanding, I approached this art project from a characterization standpoint. Yes, I understand the scriptures, the concept of symbolism, and spiritual buoyancy of believing in God. Yes, I am a Christian, a believer in things of the spirit, of the soul and of the mind. And no, I won't argue about those simple, steadfast facts.

I welcome believers and nonbelievers to view all my creative works, and to take from the experience something positive, and to contribute constructive criticism where it's needed. And in return, I give you leave to believe, love, understand, care, and just BE you. After all, it's hard enough just being yourself without one more person in the world waiting to judge you, right? :D

Friday, April 13, 2012

BJD Mash-Up, Plus Novel Progress!


My first Myth-Babies BJD now (sorta) has arms and legs, a torso joint (also sorta) and a more refined lower body. It's nice seeing her thrown together like this.

Myth-Babies BJD #1!


I assembled her to test her proportions. So far, her neck is too long and so are her legs. I made the legs and arms a little too long so I could embed the ball joints before I bake them, so they'll be cut down before I call them finished.

I plan on refining her face a lot more before that is baked again. I have a lot of lumpies to sand down and a lot of aesthetic tweaking to do all over, but I'll do all that after I get the mechanics of the ball joints and stringing worked out.

I used a mix of Original Sculpey and Sculpey III. I made an armature of aluminum foil covered in plastic wrap for her head and body, used a straw for her neck and limbs. I'm using :iconbatchix:'s ball joints from Shapeways, modifying them for both double joints and ball joints.

Next up, setting the double joints into the unbaked clay, baking them and making hands and feet.

Hope you like it! :)

Cuddles,

Tamara

P.S. I have realized the potential for this sculpt to be used as several different novel characters, not just  Centaria-inspired Myth-Babies. I would simply sculpt a new head and tweak some other parts. Also, I have since decided to redo the joints I had already made. I found an excellent tutorial on how to make them better. Off I go...

P.P.S. NOVEL STUFF! 

1. Some progress on Volume 2 of the Pathos series, Silver Empress. I made an ugly Frankenstein's monster that I shall call Volume 2 Rough Draft X Outline. I just went through the draft and inserted outline plot points, new notes and reminders into the text, inside brackets with all caps. This helps me to focus the flow of the book when I go on a tangent, and then rewrite for clarity. Of course, one of my rewrite notes is " [GAG ME WITH A PITCHFORK!]". Apparently, I didn't like the gushy, romantic section at all!

2. The Pathos of Rowan Jun eBook just went "premium" on Smashwords. So it's coming soon to Apple, Barnes & Noble (to join the paperback, there), Sony, Kobo and more!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Creativity VS Making Money


Some comments that may be of value about creativity versus making money. I've talked about this story somewhere before, but it reared its ugly head again. 


I posted this comment on Goodreads a couple days back, in response to a comment, in the thread for Stephen King's On Writing book: 


"A friend gave me this book following his Creative Writing class in college. His VERY anti-King professor told him that he could have assigned a dozen great books on how to write well, but he assigned On Writing because the students wanted to learn how to make money writing. The professor hates King's writing but knows the man makes a killing doing what he does best: telling good stories. Writing well and making money writing are not always hand in hand. Oh, and I loved the book. Other than the awesome personal-life accounts, King gives basically two orders: 1. Write every day. 2. Keep writing."

I received a response to the effect that the professor was a jealous idiot, and that Stephen King writes well, and could write better if he wanted to, but chooses to focus on the story instead. I consider this a moot point. So I responded in kind:

"Well, this professor isn't an idiot, but he does have it out for King. Just doesn't like him. Jealousy may be a factor, but most likely it's the haughtiness I've witnessed in some professors. One of my dear art professors, for instance, is an awesome artist, but he disdains Thomas Kinkade for shirking tradition and "lessening" the value of his work by selling prints AND by doing simple genre scenes.

It is all quite silly. Kinkade made a killing with his art prints and brand, and is one of the most well known artists of his generation, painting what everyone wanted to hang in their homes. Also, far be it from me to judge an author like King who brings home millions, writing (pretty vividly) what people want to read!

As a writer and artist, I have my own biases. But they don't cloud common sense. Creative people create. Financially successful creative people create what people want to buy."

I repeat: Financially successful creative people create what people want to buy.

End of story, right? Or just the beginning? :)

Cuddles,

Tamara

Thursday, April 5, 2012

BJD Body Sculpt-- In Progress


Ummm... Do I put up a NSFW notice for a lump of clay? Don't know yet. Either way, here she is!

Progress shots of the unfinished Myth-Babies BJD body, along with the creepy-eyed head. 


I popped the body in the freezer, cut the rib-seam, then baked her. Then I removed the core while she was still warm-ish and hacked at the inside of the upper torso with an X-Acto knife to start hollowing it out. Still so much more work to go. So far, I like her curves.


Debating on adding pointed ears to the head and lengthening her chin...


Criticize away, please! :)


Cuddles,
Tamara

P.S. This is a doll! There will be nekkids. Why do I feel as if I should apply a mature content filter??

BJD Progress Collage 1



Since I'm only posting finished work on my official website (and there isn't that much finished work over there! :D) I decided to do some collages and tutorials of my BJD project.

1. Rough form over aluminum foil ball wrapped in plastic wrap. It's shiny because the Sculpey is too warm. Into the freezer it goes! (Yes, plastic wrap melts in the over. Just followin' instructions from Vivcore's awesome tutorial: http://www.vivcore.com/dolly_daydream/making_a_doll.html)

2. Pouty lip! By the third or fourth mess-up on her mouth, she was sad. :)

3. Crooked eyes! After I baked and built up the back of the head (leaving an opening for the head cap, I noticed how horribly crooked the eyes were.

4. Profile of built-up head. No armature here. Just free-handed it.

5. Body armature: More plastic wrap over aluminum foil, with a drinking straw inserted for the neck. This time I used safe-release masking tape over the whole thing.

6. Front view of unfinished amply-proportioned body. Yeah, they're big. Bad habit of mine? *shrugs* (I toned them down before baking... sorta!)

7. Profile of boobs, I mean body, prior to finishing and baking.

8. My second sketch of a Unisex doll concept. Obviously not basing the doll on this sketch, except for proportions.

9. The unfinished head with eyes. I just used the Dremel to thin the face from the inside, making a place for her eyes. I was able to figure out where my proportion issues are gonna crop up. Not an expert, but I'm thinkin' these cheap eyes are a bit too small for my girl. She looks neurotic!

So this is how I spent my mid-week weekend. Using a combo of Batchix and Vivcore's techniques has worked well so far. :D Since I snapped these pics, I have sculpted the head cap, tweaked the body sculpt, and baked everything.

Throw some constructive criticism my way! :D

Cuddles,
Tamara

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My First BJD Face Sculpt


STEP 1: My first rough face sculpt for the first Myth-Babies BJD! Find out more about Myth-Babies on my website: http://www.tamarahensonstudios.com/myth_babies.htm

I sorta followed the tutorial listed here: http://www.vivcore.com/dolly_daydream/making_a_doll.html.  It's a great visual resource. The only changes I'll be making are 1) My doll's knees and elbows will be double-jointed and 2) I'll be using Batchix's Shapeways doll joints to be found here: http://www.shapeways.com/shops/batchix


Building up the head next, then starting on the body! A full tutorial with pictures will follow, hopefully with pics that the provided tutorial maker didn't include...

I built up this face-plate over an aluminum foil ball covered in plastic wrap. Plastic wrap was suggested by the tutorial maker, and is kinda silly since I had to peel it off after baking (expected it to melt anyway, plus the Sculpey wouldn't stick to foil, anyway!) The face is un-sanded and still needs tweaking, building up and hollowing out so her eyes can fit.

I used a 50/50 mixture of Sculpey III and Original Sculpey, mainly because of a resounding lack in local REAL craft supplies stores. Only found a multicolor-pack at Wal-Mart. Also, stretching the stuff because I am cheap. The hubby and I mixed all brightly hued Sculpey III together into a big brownish-purple lump, then combined it with the white Original to get a nice violet. That's my art degree put to good use... ;)

I'm still trying to decide whether my body sculpt will be unisex, adult male or adult female. Since this face is female, that may rule out one option! ;) Anyone have any suggestions or feedback?

Cuddles,
Tamara



Monday, April 2, 2012

My First RTV Silicone Mold

Since I want to eventually offer resin dolls through Tamara Henson Studios, I need to learn how to mold and cast Master doll samples. Enter RTV Silicone Moldmaking and Casting Resin. I had ordered some doll ball joints from Batchix's Shapeways account and got her permission to use 'em however. I decided to practice my moldmaking with the parts.  

I read up on the process, ordered supplies and made my first mold. Turns out, practice moldmaking was the best route for me. The rest of the Internet can explain the science and specifics of the process. I'm no expert, but I'll do my best to answer any questions you may have. I also welcome constructive criticism. Hope this helps anyone who's looking for basic 2-Part silicone mold-making procedures:

SUPPLIES:

RTV Moldmaking Silicone (I bought mine here.)
Casting Resin, of some type... (Mine is polymer. Sold by the same guy as above, here.)
Disposable plastic cups
Disposable plastic spoons or wooden spatulas... or new chopsticks!
Oil-based, non-drying modeling clay
A small cardboard box that allows at least 1/2" on all sides, top and bottom of your part
Petroleum Jelly
Paintbrush
A scale that accurately measures grams (kitchen scale, $20, Wal-Mart!)
A ruler
A simple part or non-porous object to replicate
A wooden bead to make register marks
Hot glue gun
Plastic (To protect surfaces)
Papertowels
A soft, small scrub brush
Elbow grease ;)

1. Add 1/2" clay to taped-closed bottom of box, pressing to make no cracks remain. Press parts into clay so that no silicone can seep under them. I also sealed the slit in the side to keep out the silicone. Dig a shallow registry trench around the perimeter using a chopstick (or an actual sculpting tool, if you're feeling ambitious). Press and twist wooden bead in spaces between parts, no more than halfway up the side of the bead. Using the paintbrush and your hand, smear petroleum jelly on exposed sides of box and anything that silicone will stick to. You can see the register running around the perimeter between the part and the cardboard wall, as well as a couple other registry depressions between the parts:
Swirly modeling clay. Note the chopstick on the right.

2. Mix silicone and catalyst by volume according to package directions. (Use your scale!) A chopstick is not the optimal stirring device for this task, since the silicone is REALLY thick, worse than cake batter, and the catalyst is basically colorful water. Also, stir slowly, being careful not to pull in air and make undesirable bubbles. This is true especially for the silicone touching the object you're molding. 
The catalyst is purple, the base off-white. And, no kidding, it smells like grapes!
3. Pour the silicone. I poured the first layer, making sure all the parts had a layer of silicone. But then again, I'm silly and mixed by the plastic cupful, so I did this several times. You want to cover up the object, giving no more or less than a half inch over the highest point of the object. (Use your ruler!) My last couple batches have bubbles. I don't consider that a problem, because those bubbles aren't affecting the casting surfaces. A tip from someone online: Pour in a thin, steady stream in the corner of the box. The silicone will spread out on its own. (Too late, buddy. Next time, though!)
Lubed up box, and such a pretty color! Also, oops-bubbles!
4. Let it cure, probably overnight. Then cut a piece of cardboard and hot-glue tack it over your smooth silicone to support it when you flip the box. Assuming you didn't fill the whole box. Your stirring arm must be tired, and your wasted silicone was expensive! (No more than 1/2"... No wasting!)
Strategically placed hot-glue blobs
5. Get ready for side 2. Flip the box and cut the tape. Scoop out the modeling clay and clean the silicone with a paper towel. Do not remove the parts yet! You can see that some modeling clay is still crammed down in the holes. Trusty chopstick dug that out for me! You can clearly see the bumps I created with the bead and the ridge running around the outside to help the two pieces match up. 
Getting ready for the Core Mold step!
6. Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to EVERY EXPOSED SILICONE SURFACE and the cardboard box! Aw, heck. Apply the stuff to every surface, like I did. A brush will leave ridges that the silicone may pick up, though, so be careful not to leave streaks on your object. (I lubed the parts as well, because I felt some rough edges I hadn't sanded, AND because all the doll joints I cast from these will be sanded anyway...) Then, mix more silicone and pour it in. The "pour it in the corner and let it seep into crevices" advice would've worked better here. But I was stuck poking at big bubbles with my chopstick. Let it cure overnight again. 

7. Rip off the box and gently separate the two parts of the mold, using an X-Acto knife, if needed. You should be able to gently pry apart the halves with your fingers. Remove the original part(s) at this time, using a combination of your fingers and some minor X-Acto work. (My mold had a couple places where the silicone covered the edge of the original part. I just carefully cut that thin stuff off. This is the mold before I washed it. You can see the shiny, overly liberal application of petroleum jelly AND the remnants of some modeling clay I neglected to remove before. (Since this mold is for casting doll joints, not finished products, this doesn't bother me.)
Left: Core Mold (looks like Spaceballs city), Right: Base Mold

8. Gently scrub the mold with warm water and dish soap, removing any gunk and as much jelly as possible. Let the mold dry thoroughly. At this time, I cut some vents in the core mold so that air could escape. I just slipped my X-Acto knife up through the thin ridge you see around the base of the dome shapes (where the resin will rise), a couple slits for each piece. Not really necessary for this mold, but I wanted to practice. Place on plastic for the horrid mess you'll make in a few minutes...

9. Mix resin base and catalyst together, following manufacturer's instructions. Most resins are exothermic, meaning they give off heat as they cure, and they have a very fast working and cure time. Even so, stir thoroughly and slowly so you don't get bubbles. Pour into mold wells, and set core mold on top, making sure it fits into register ridge. The excess resin will either spill over the sides or rise up through the vents. Yeah, I made a big mess... (No pic. I was rushing to not waste the stuff!) Since this is not a complicated mold, I didn't need to do any fancy resin injection or holding it together with rubber bands or bungees. That type of mold will come along soon enough...

10. De-mold. See the fruits of your labor, and the extent of the mess you made. I for instance overfilled to the point of having a thin cover of resin across the whole mold and drizzled all across my makeshift Wal-Mart bag table cover, which had a perfect resin mold-shaped rectangle. Since the mold is flexible, you can bend it and twist it to remove your pieces. My parts needed a lot of trimming, but it didn't take a lot of time. There was a thin film of resin in the slit up the side of the dome and all around the base of each part. Also, some parts were actually UNDER-filled. Don't know how that happened, considering...
The Mess! All that not-purple is resin, covering the whole surface of the mold!
11. Finished parts! Not bad for a first-time mold. You can see that some parts are a little rough around the edges, but the next casting should be better. 
Finished parts: On my kitchen scale, in the disposable plastic lid I used to contain spills! :)

Moldmaking tutorial, complete! :) I take questions and constructive criticism seriously. Lemme know what you think, and how I can improve.

Cuddles,

Tamara










Sunday, April 1, 2012

Volume 2 Cover Progress

I think I've mentioned that my favorite part of self-publishing is total creative control. The Pathos of Rowan Jun was a real challenge. I had to draft, revise, edit, proofread, format, illustrate, make the cover, write blurbs, and everything else for the book, plus make adjustments for a total of three versions (Paperback, Kindle, Smashwords). And that's not even mentioning the marketing process, which I'm still fine-tuning.

I posted progression artwork for The Pathos of Rowan Jun here, so I figured it would be a good idea to do the same for Silver Empress. It's interesting to see how the concept grew from scribble to final concept. (I'll work this final concept into the finished cover. It's nowhere near ready yet!)

The Scribble:

Art informing writing content... Cluttered composition. Changed my mind at this time about releasing a short story collection. Instead, the two background characters will get their own short story book, and Silver and Briescha (foreground) headline volume 2. Smoother design possibilities, smoother story flow.
From the time when Silver Empress was going to be a short story collection.  Not anymore!
The Re-Scribble:

The decision to narrow the focus of the book to this MAJOR plot swivel made my cover characters obvious. Fiddled in Manga Studio with existing sketches and my trusty tablet to produce a new composition. Focused on the faces and worked out some loose angles and things. Very rough design...

Silver, left. Briescha, right. Foreground: Scribble hand  and sword! :)
The Final Drawing and Base Colors:

I realize that I forgot to save a JPEG of just the basic finished black and white drawing. Oh, well. Here's the finished drawing with some base colors, a texture on Briescha's skin, and no background. Silver is all base-gray and solid black at this point. She'll have mirrored skin, God-willing, when I get finished with her. (Still not happy with her mouth shape...) I've overlaid another texture on Briescha's skin to soften the shadows, but there's sooo much left to do...

Final V2 line art with base colors, some shading

As always, the images contained in this blog post are copyright Tamara Henson, Tamara Henson Studios and may not be used without my express written consent.  I welcome any feedback and constructive criticism you can provide on this design, either via comments below or direct messaging on FB or dA. 

Cuddles,

Tamara



Sunday, March 18, 2012

Now doing art for my next novel...

Thanks to loads of input from two friends and my mother, I've finalized the release order and composition for my next two books. I originally decided on releasing some short stories while I edit Volume 2. Now, I've decided it's in the best interest of the story to release Volume 2 instead. The book will be titled Silver Empress  and follow the story arc of the Azelan named Briescha and her twin sister... Silver. :D (When a bereft child character insists on naming a newborn, someone should step in. Just sayin'...)

Which brings me to my next digital art challenge:

Julie Bell is the master of making very organic people and things look like shiny silver. With oil paint! And here I am, aspiring to do the same with highly advanced imaging software. I could expound on the fact that Julie and Boris have been making fantasy and sci-fi art since before I was born with amazing success, and that I'm just starting out by comparison. But that would be an excuse, and I don't like those. Regardless, I'm still feeling incredibly inferior. Will have to break out the Julie and Boris book for color reference. But this kind of challenge gets the blood pumping! Also... What kind of idiot creates a character with mirrored skin and then places that title character on the cover??? This kind of idiot. :)

Cuddles,
Tamara

Thursday, March 15, 2012

On Sale for a Limited Time! Just .99!

I wanted to celebrate my cover contest win, pending Springtime and life in general. (And to make some monies, of course!) I'm also very excited about my next book. I have a draft and some cover scribbles. Long way to go...

For a limited time, The Pathos of Rowan Jun eBook is on sale for just 99 cents on Kindle and at Smashwords! (Amazon's a little slow to update the price due to processing. It should be .99 by morning, at the latest! Let me know if it isn't...)


Cuddles,

Tamara

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

News, and SMASHWORDS!

Things happen... 

1. My paperback order arrived with unforeseen print errors that had nothing to do with my uploaded files. The print company is correcting the issue and reprinting my order now. That means a delay for anyone who pre-ordered the book. I will supplement your pretend-despair with digital hugs. *hugs* They're working as quickly as they can to remedy the situation. Two more weeks, maybe...

2. I won an award for my cover design! This warrants re-mentioning to improve my mood after hauling a big box full of patented Rowan Jun doorstops and table-levelers into my house. (Can't in good conscience sell a defective copy...) 

3. After some tedious re-formatting and uploading, I've made The Pathos of Rowan Jun available on Smashwords! There should be tons of new formats to select beyond just Kindle. The book won't have full distribution to online retailers until it goes through review, but you can view and buy it directly here:


(Formats include EPUB, PDF, and tons more...)

Cuddles and even more hugs!

Tamara

Monday, March 12, 2012

I WON AN AWARD!

I won the eBook cover design contest for fiction! How very exciting! The Pathos of Rowan Jun was one of 67 eBook covers submitted to the Fiction category for February, 2012. 


Here's what Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, posted about my submission:




"Tamara Henson Coffey submitted The Pathos of Rowan Jun designed by Tamara Henson Coffey. “I wanted to express a graphic novel feel for a very action/adventure type of story, so I made a close-up of a fully inked comics-style character and hand lettered the title and author name.”
JF: An astonishingly strong and harmonious blend of art and lettering. The energy in this cover is palpable, it almost leaps off the screen. Getting this kind of internal consistency and focus, here for a “warrior sci-fi” story, is unusual. Great stuff."
See the original post, as well as the stiff competition, here: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2012/03/e-book-cover-design-awards-february-2012/
This just raised the art-bar for me! :D Bring on the next book!
Cuddles and "Squeees", 
Tamara

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Self-Publishing Links and Advice, Vol. 2


I just posted this advice on reddit for the following question: Does self-publishing hurt your mainstream publishing chances? Thought I'd share it here, as it may be helpful...

Both The Passive Voice blog (http://www.thepassivevoice.com/) and Joe Konrath (http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/) are strong advocates for why we should NOT go the traditional publishing route.

This guy's a treasure, too: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/ He gives practical advice for do-it-yourself designing, and also resources for paying others for services.

All three make valid points supporting self-publishing as a means in itself, not just a springboard to traditional publishing. From my experience, I enjoyed more creative control by self publishing. Since specialty "niche" nonfiction can rack up quite a respectable following, you may stand a good chance with self-pubbing.

I encourage you to read up on the above sites and make the decision yourself. If you expect to be a multi-millionaire by month's end, you will set yourself up for failure. If you treat it like a business, expecting overhead and a steady break-even point, AND if your book finds a market, you'll not be disappointed with the results.

Good luck!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Kindle and Paperback Now on Amazon!

Both Kindle and Paperback versions of The Pathos of Rowan Jun are now linked on Amazon. Just click on  your preferred version in the "Formats" box. See it here: 


More formats on the way, too! I'll be working with Smashwords to post several other formats to allow for the widest possible download options. I'll give you links when those are up for grabs. 

NEXT BOOK: Yep... I've already started edits/rewrites/revisions on the next book. It'll be my first anthology of side-stories to the main arc. These particular three novellas will contain character prequels to Volume 2. There will be art! Even better: I'll celebrate it's release (for a limited time) with a VERY low introductory price! Yep. 99 cents! 

(Huh. Anyone else out there remember the "cents" symbol key? I think @ replaced it? I miss it... and suddenly feel kinda old! LOL)

Cuddles,

Tamara, who fondly remembers the "cents" key

Monday, February 27, 2012

PAPERBACK NOW AVAILABLE!

The paperback has been approved for ordering! The first place the book has been made available is my Createspace page, here:  https://www.createspace.com/3775570

It'll show up on Amazon (hopefully linked to the Kindle book) in about a week. And then it's on to Expanded Distribution, where I'll have to hound the bookstores to pick it up. In a little over two or three weeks, my order will arrive for local sales and website sales. If you're on my local preorder list, you'll get it when that order comes in!

More product pics on the way...

AN ASIDE ABOUT ADVERTISING AND PLATFORM:

My book is finished, as prettily formatted and printed and designed as my skill and brain allow. This is all very exciting. I self-published a book. I'm told that's pretty impressive. I published without querying an agent or submitting to a small press, and I had TOTAL CREATIVE CONTROL, which is exhilarating!

And yet I have a touch of melancholy. I don't do melancholy, so it's confusing. Can't quite put my finger on it, but I feel like I've overstayed my welcome on my social network sites, like I've aggravated some people and just alienated the rest. But I really know almost everyone on my Facebook, and they're not all avid readers. And I have many followers who are also writers on Twitter, who I don't expect to buy my book, really. They are the community with which I want to learn and grow, not potential readers. I just haven't expanded my readership to my target audience yet. Working on that, next...

Truth be told, I'm not a super-awesome marketing expert. :) I know platform-building comes first, and I'm trying very hard to do that. I know advertising is key. (People can't buy what they don't know about!) I even bought an experimental ad here: http://www.kindlefantasyauthors.com/. Top of the page. Maybe the shiniest thing on that whole blog. (Experimental because the readership of this blog is under 1000. Maybe not a good return on investment, but I needed to practice somewhere...) I have an AdWords campaign in the works, but it's still under review. I'm told AdWords can be super-effective or a total loss. Encouraging, no? :D So we'll see. 

I also submitted to thebookdesigner.com Cover Contest, which is exciting!

I write stories and make art. I know where I stand there. Advertising is just a creative extension of my existing skills. I have some videos, banners, text ads, and other things in store for a broader audience. Then I'll focus my campaigns once I figure out what works, and I will thoroughly appreciate the feedback from anyone who experiences those campaigns.

What it all comes down to is time. I have no delusions about the pace of building a writer's career. I do have the very human desire to see results quickly. My "quickly" is different from many others' "quickly," and operates in 3-month quarters. Quarters feel like forever, there is much experimentation, and feedback on that experimentation may not come for weeks or months. And yet, my brain likes the exercise. So please bear with me as I learn the new skillset called "advertising." :)

Or maybe reality just needs to set in. I just published a book. This is pretty dang cool. Now comes the hard work, which really doesn't bother me. Now comes the risk that everyone or no one will love the book. Now comes the most important element to a successful writing business... the NEXT book!

Cuddles,

Tamara


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Pathos of Rowan Jun, Now On Kindle!

The Pathos of Rowan Jun, Kindle Edition 2 (the FINAL version) is up for grabs now!


THE BLURB:

BURY YOUR HUMAN SOUL IN THE HEART OF A WARRIOR!

“What are you, boy?” asked the Valkyrie.
“A murderer,” Rowan said. “Nothing more.”
“I will be the judge of your worth, now.”

* * *

Rowan Jun awakens to a new, violent world when the Slaveship QuellTruth crashes on the planet Unata.

The human struggles to reconcile his bloody past with that of his new home, and sets out to become the greatest warrior Unata has ever known!

THE STORY:

This sci-fi adventure begins when the title character Rowan is thrown into the mix with a race of warriors on a new planet. The reason? He sabotages the directional controls aboard the QuellTruth, on which he is a slave, in order to save 10,000 slaves from lifelong servitude. The result? The ship crashes, killing all the slaves he tried to free. 

Rowan's guilt rises to strangle him as he seeks out refuge, freedom, and the ability to protect even just one person with his new skills as a warrior. Then a new enemy brings war upon Unata. The creatures—the warrior class from the Slavers’ race—thirst for vengeance over their losses, threatening to wipe out all Unatans. Can Rowan overcome his paralyzing past, to fight and protect his new home? Will he prove for the first time that he can become the Champion of Unata?


COVER:





THE ART:

Not counting the full color cover, the book has 12 illustrations. The map and one other illustration are in full color, for devices that have that functionality. However, they still look great in black, white and gray!

Sample illustration, the title character:


I hope you enjoy the story. Thanks for stopping by!

Cuddles,

Tamara

Sunday, February 19, 2012

NOVEL VERSION ANNOUNCEMENT

Regarding The Pathos of Rowan Jun: In reviewing my proof, I found some issues to resolve. That said, looks like one final version of the Kindle book is in order as well. Version 2 will correct minor proofreading errors and will be the final release on Kindle. In a day or so, it should be up and I'll post a notice. If you have purchased Version 1 and would like the updated Version 2 when it's released, send me a message (if Amazon doesn't let you download the update for free, that is!).

Also, I'm correcting issues found in the proof before finalizing the paper book. That version will be on schedule for the end of the month as planned.

LESSONS LEARNED: 1. The finished product gets better the more you revise, 2. The process gets easier the more you repeat it, 3. Finished is a relative term. (All obvious, I know!)



Cuddles,
Tamara

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The "Arghs" of Self-Publishing: How-To

At around 4:06 PM, Wednesday, February 15, 2012-ish... I may have successfully finished submission of my paperback novel files for The Pathos of Rowan Jun. I have illustrated, re-illustrated, tweaked and poked and prodded and screamed and kicked and stared stupidly at a screen for weeks. I have watched slow progress bars and eaten junk food and ignored family and friends. Did I mention I screamed? Yeah, I did that. I'm not saying that the following survival tips will keep you from doing the same. But awareness is key!

By comparison, the un-illustrated Kindle version was easy. (When I figure out how to accurately illustrate a Kindle book, I'll let you know! SEE BELOW!) I may have begun a pattern of un-illustrated Kindle version for a low price and illustrated paperback for a regular price.Which is fine by me at this point! Plus, later on, I'll expand distribution to B&N and Smashwords, etc., so that'll be a fun learning curve, too!

UPDATE:
The super-top-secret secret of making images show up in your Kindle book? Save your file as an HTML, Filtered Document, and THEN ZIP TOGETHER THE IMAGES FOLDER AND THE HTML FILE!!! Then upload the zipped folder. I felt so digitally dumb, since it's the obvious thing to do. But that happens...

Here are the general steps of self-publishing I have undertaken so far...

HOW TO SELF PUBLISH:

1. Write book.
2. Edit/Revise/Polish manuscript.
3. Follow formatting instructions for manuscript using Kindle and Createspace walkthroughs and templates.
4. Simultaneously create book cover art using templates, new art, and some fly by the seat of your pants Photoshop learnin'.
5. Co-Simultaneously create art for website, merchandising, and logo/branding THEN order said materials. I have a huge, awesome banner, full-color postcards, and T-shirts featuring the book cover. (www.vistaprint.com = easy and cheap)
6. Purchase ISBNs for your book. Otherwise, Amazon will control your distribution options. (Official gov't contractor for ISBNs: https://www.myidentifiers.com/) Buy 10 or more. It's cheaper that way.
7. Upload files to Kindle's direct publishing website, follow steps, fill out forms and publish. (https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin)
8. Upload files to Createspace, fill out forms, approve files, and submit for review. (https://www.createspace.com/)
9. HAVEN'T DONE THIS YET: Order paperback proof, approve final product and submit for distribution.
10. HAVEN'T DONE THIS YET: Promote and reap the benefits of your hard work! (Eventually, if it reaches your target audience, and if people actually like it...)

THE ARGHS! OF SELF-PUBLISHING:

1. You will notice glaring, silly proofreading mistakes almost as soon as your Kindle book goes live.
2. You will anxiously fix the file, upload again, and wait hours for it to publish and go live again. The version with the errors will remain available for purchase during this time (I'm pretty sure).
3. You may have to repeat!
4. Each time you have to re-upload your Kindle eBook, your ranking will drop dramatically. I think. Maybe. I'm #132,944 Paid in the Kindle Store as of now! (Hey! Give me some time, all right?)
5. As you make corrections, rename (with version number, or something) and backup the different document or art file names. There WILL be different versions... Keeps file confusion at bay.
6. I think Createspace servers update between 3 and 4 am. The upload would constantly stop, restart and then time out. No red-eyed jubilation and sound sleep for me! But when I gave up, slept, then uploaded later in the morning or afternoon, the upload went smoothly, if a little slowly. (My .doc file was over 26MB, though...)
7. I also tried to upload from my jump drive, and that seemed to cause a time-out. Probably something related to the file's location or compression or whatever, I assume. (Though I'm no tech, I did some customer service related to file uploads.) I saved the file to my desktop backup folder and uploaded from there. No timeouts related to location.
8. You will stare stupidly at the progress bar, drawing shapes around it with your in-process-cursor until the huge interior-content file uploads. This will not speed up the progress bar! :D
9. You will have to upload several times at this slow rate of speed to make file corrections.
10. The Interior Reviewer on Createspace is your friend. Y'know... the friend who loves you enough to tell you that shirt makes you look fat. For me, things cropped up like low-image resolution (oops!), formatting (*cringe*) and margin issues (*double cringe*), and active Table of Contents issues. The conversion from Word to PDF that happens in Createspace bumped some of my chapter titles to another page, so the TOC page number and actual page number were wrong. A manual fix and yet another upload later, and the FINAL final file is in review.

There you go! An evaluation that is by no means comprehensive, but represents my personal experience with the process. Let me know if you have any questions, or if you have anything to add to these lists. I'd love to hear from you!

Here is the finished Kindle book as it appears on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pathos-Rowan-Jun-ebook/dp/B0078L898E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329342078&sr=8-1

Love and Cuddles,

Tamara