I ran out of stickers (and buttons, actually) at Norwescon, which is great. I love that people love my swag, it’s why I make it. Plus, it allows me to expand the world of The Bell Forging Cycle beyond the page.
However, I felt a few of the stickers were looking a little dated. They just weren’t as cool as the others, so since I ran out, I used this opportunity to refresh a few of the sticker designs. For those who aren’t familiar, stickers are available in my free swag packs, or you can get them by purchasing any book from my store, and of course all are available for free at conventions (along with a bunch of other stuff) as long as my stock holds out.
There have been two new updates with The Stars Were Right set, the St. Olmstead sticker has been completely redone and now includes the logo’s lockup. I’ve also added a new skeletal maero hand, taken from the mysterious Fig. 12. It’s very metal.
The Old Broken Road sticker set got a pair of updates as well. This is the first time everyone is getting to see the City of Syringa seal. As with Lovat, Syringa is built upon the site of another city and there’s a reference to it in their seal. I’ve also included The City of Lovat Caravan Authority badge, the same mark that officially recognizes the Bell Caravan patches. Since Old Broken Road is about caravans I felt it was fitting.
The Red Litten World sticker set is only six months old, so it doesn’t have any updates for 2016. But I love it, and its awesomeness is a big reason why I felt like I needed to update the previous sets. Plus I wanted to include it in this post so you can see all sets side by side.
That’s the update for the stickers this year. The outdated images on my store should be updated sometime this weekend. Remember, I give away these stickers and more in my free swag packs, just hit the Free Stuff page and learn how you can get your hands on ’em. (All I ask is you pay for shipping.)
Thoughts? Judgments? Hatred? Why not leave a comment below and tell me what you think?
It’s been a while since I have offered up something new on the Free Stuff Page. So over the weekend, I cranked out a new desktop background for the fans and readers of the Bell Forging Cycle featuring a quote from my latest novel in the series: Red Litten World.
Strange words are oft-uttered beneath a shattered sun. This ominous bit of prophecy, spoken by one of the characters within the book, hints at sinister developments. Unlike other backgrounds, I was trying to play this one a bit more subtle, so I hope everyone likes it! Download this background from any of the links below, or click through to the Free Stuff page and check out the other free offerings.
Love my books? Hate them? Leave an honest review! (Consider: Amazon or Goodreads) As I’ve said before, I can blog, tweet, and shout from the rooftops, but it’s you, my readers, that make all the difference when it comes to spreading the word.
Norwescon 39 is happening in only twenty-five days. This will be my second year attending, and if you’re in the Seattle area March 24-27th, you should come! You can preregister here, only $70 for the four days. It’s a great group of amazing people, and there is a ton to see and do, and plenty of places for you to participate.
If you follow me on Instagram, yesterday I posted a sneak peek of some of the new swag I am bringing to the convention: badge ribbons. Last year I discovered everyone’s affinity for the little things, and I can totally see the draw. They’re fun. Badge ribbons are little pieces of flair you attach to the bottom of your convention badge. They spell out all manner of things. Some are funny, some are silly, some go the way of nostalgia, some are descriptive titles, and some are informative.Throughout the convention, attendees collect these ribbons and attach them to one another, and the length of their ribbon chain grows and grows.
Loree Parker’s badge was so tall I had to do some fancy photoshop work just to get a portion of her ribbons into the picture, check out the whole thing here. My own badge was a pittance in comparison, only three ribbons (such is the case when you’re trapped at a table. C’est la vie!) Since I am returning this year and a lot more active, I wanted to participate. So, I began brainstorming some ideas for ribbons. What could I bring? Obviously, straight forward advertising on these ribbons is dumb, but I still wanted to tie my ribbons into my books and the Lovecraft mythos in general. I think I settled on a good solution. I am happy to say I will be bringing not one but three ribbons to Norwescon 39. Here they are:
Caravan Master – Silver on Black
Roader – White on Black
Shambler – White on Black
Like most of my swag, these ribbons are free, but there’s a catch. I’m turning this into a game. Of these three ribbons, you’re only going to get one. To get your hands on these beauties, you’ll need to track me down when I’m at my table on Writers Row (my full schedule is posted here), and you have to ask me about the ribbons. I will then produce THE BOX OF CHOOSING™, and you’ll get to draw a ribbon from the box. Only one ribbon is allowed per attendee, and whatever you draw is your ribbon. We’ll do this until I run out. The Roader and Shambler ribbons are plentiful, but there us only going to be about twenty-five of the rare and elusive Caravan Master ribbons. So, if you see someone lucky enough to get one, give them a sharp salute.
Last weekend, I finished reading Aldous Huxley famous dystopian novel, Brave New World. It was as good as I remembered and was a pleasure to re-read it during in my “Year of Classics.” But, this isn’t a post about classic dystopian novels; this is a post about storytelling and swag. Say whhhaaaat?
Allow me to explain how I got here. Within the novel, Huxley references “feelies” a sort-of hybrid source of entertainment where all senses are stimulated. While musing over this, I decided to do a little research. So I quickly googled the term and was surprised to learn that “feelie” was not only a Huxley invention (or a college-rock band from the eighties) it was also a slang term used in video games, particularly for a type of swag.
A feelie was the name given to the bonus content included with the boxed versions of video games in the late eighties and early nineties. Props, booklets, coins, runes, histories, cloth maps, and much more. These started with Infocom titles such asZork, Planetfall, and the game version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Now, I realize that tchotchkes or swag is common across a lot of industries, and it’s something that crops up in the book industry as well. Go to any convention and you’ll come away with a haul, bookmarks, pens, bottle openers, tote bags, stickers, rubber bracelets, flyers. It’s popular and plentiful. I always have loads of swag at my table; I know many other authors do as well. Swag in its most rudimentary form is effectively an advertisement; feelies go a step further. They add a little something extra.
For example, Brandon Sanderson sells vials of allomantic metals similar to the ones allomancers imbibe in his Mistborn series. Hugh Howey once gave away Fallout Shelter passes (that doubled as USB drives) from his Wool series. In my own work, you can picture the dust-covered roaders of Bell Caravans wearing patches while on the trail. You get extra information from Wal’s notes scrawled on the Map of the Known Territories. There are hints at the history of the city in the illustrations on the Syringa postcard. These details are what separates a feelie from typical swag, a good feelie helps to expand its world as well as enhance it, they assist in making a fictional world feel real, they establish it as a place you can touch.
I’ve been a big fan of this approach for a long time. To me, it’s another aspect of worldbuilding. Only instead of with writing you’re doing it with objects. The feelie reminds me of an alternate reality game, going beyond the page to establish a real-world presence for our fictional creations and increasing immersiveness. My books have always been seeded with a little something extra so why not carry that over to other outlets as well? I’ve scattered extra stuff throughout websites, in bookmarks, in posts on this blog, and on Tumblr. The Bell Caravan patches come with Caravan Employee Registration documentation, stamped by the Lovaine Caravan Authority, of course, and signed by Wal. (It’s also full of subtle little references.) I find this attention to details adds little extra for the reader who is willing to put in the time. There’s something very engaging when you introduce someone something tangible to connect them to a piece of fiction. To me, that is much more interesting than a tote bag or tee shirt with a book cover on it.
I’m cooking up a few new ideas as well, so there’s always more to come. I’ve been dreaming up feelies for my secret fantasy project, and I have some great ideas for the Coal Belly series, and The Bell Forging Cycle (as I mentioned, some of the latter is already out there, providing one is willing to put in the legwork to discover it.) I love making stuff associated with my world, and I love sharing those creations with readers. (I even give away swag packs for free.)
Now, how about you? What do you think of feelies? Do you prefer them to regular swag or do you find them silly? What has been your favorite feelie you’ve purchased or received? Are you a creator who has made something extra for your world? I’d love to see your creations, and I’m sure others would as well. Feel free to post a link in the comments and share them with all of us.
A while back, I mentioned that the some of the free tchotchkes I make up for my book launches and conventions was starting to arrive. Well, on Thursday the last of it showed up in the post. That means Red Litten World swag packs are now available! Swag packs can be acquired at conventions, by purchasing signed copies of my books from my store, or ordered individually. They’re technically free, the dollar I charge at my store is to cover the cost of shipping. Or, you can send me a SASE I’ll happily send ’em to you. (Details on the Free Stuff page.) Let’s take a look at Red Litten World‘s swag…
The Red Litten World Bookmarks:
Each pack includes three bookmarks unique to Red Litten World. There’s the title bookmark featuring the lettering of Jon Contino and the Gustave Doré etching. The gargoyle bookmark features a quote from Wal taken from the book. Finally, there’s the Cedric’s sign a new location that will be revealed in the book. (There’s a fun animated version of this over on Tumblr.)
The Red Litten World Stickers:
Behold! The first colored swag for The Bell Forging Cycle! It’s not that I am averse to color, a lot of the black and white tone I set here and over on Instagram is really just a branding decision. (Also, black and white just looks sharp.) The Red Litten World title sticker is straight forward. I thought the “i got fed at Ced’s” was too fun not to do. (I’ll go into its design in a moment.) The story behind the elephant sticker is a secret. To find out more you’ll just have to read the book. Finally, there is the seal of Lovat which is a symbol that get’s stamped on Caravan Employee Registration Packets and other official city documentation.
The Red Litten World Button:
I love buttons, and the “i got fed at Ced’s” message works so perfectly in this format. I wanted it to have 70s vibe to it, mimicking the buttons and slogans that were popular during that era. The font is Caslon Black, which was designed by David Farey in the 90s and is influenced by a Caslon similar to the one used on this Carole King album. Design-nerd explanations aside, it’ll look groovy on your jean jacket.
I’m really happy with this whole set, the stickers might be my most favorite sticker set of the whole series. I like expanding the universe of The Bell Forging Cyclein weird and interesting ways and I think these little items go a long ways towards that goal.
What do you think? What’s your favorite? What’s your least favorite? Are there any other cool little giveaways I should try? Leave a comment and let me know!