Saturday, 27 April 2013

Favour Time

I'd hugely appreciate it if some of you could go over to this website and leave some nice comments about my cake! It's for a competition, and goodness knows I could use the cash if I won. Comments, likes, repins and so on are taken into consideration x

Friday, 26 April 2013

Barry M Croc Effect Nail Polish Review

   Now, as you can probably tell from glancing at my blog, I don't really pay much attention to make up. I don't post eyeshadow effect tutorials, in fact I rarely stray from subtle wingtips, if I bother at all. I don't wear lipstick at all - no matter what happens, my hair always gets stuck to it. I won't go near foundation. Just about the only thing I do use is nail polish, and even that is rare, given how my nails always flake afterwards.
   But, I came across this Croc Effect nail polish by Barry M a few days ago, and figured what the hell, why not try it? These things rarely work the way they should, but I try to keep positive, and I've always found  Barry M to excell at most things.

Seriously, how can people photograph their hands like this? It's so very much harder than it looks.
I'll reshoot this with longer nails, when they've grown.

   Just about everywhere I looked advertised the black nail polish (it's me, of course I'd buy the black one) with gold cracks, so I got my lovely foil effect gold polish (Barry M, again) and set to painting a base coat, since the Croc Effect is a top coat. As you can probably see, I'm really not very good at painting my nails. I'm not great at painting at all, really, but when things are delicate (ie having to keep my nails neat for the blog's sake), my hands start to shake and it just goes everywhere. My right hand is always a real mess.

   At first I was quite skeptical, but to be fair I'm not sure what I expected. Basically, it felt as though I had just painted over my nails twice, with nothing but gold around the edges to show for it. But, after looking it up on their website, I found that it takes about 5-10 minutes for anything to happen. Basically, once it's started to dry, it cracks. First it starts with subtle lines around the edges that crack and branch inwards, and the crocodile effect forms in the middle of the nail. I've seen a lot of pictures of people with really fine patterns, and others with huge patterns. I guess it depends on how you apply it or something, because not everyone seems to have the fine cracks around the edges.
   Either way, this stuff is amazing. It worked exactly as it was supposed to, it looks amazing, and, of course, the outcome can really change depending on the colour of your base coat.
   I found this over at Lackaffen, which shows how your base coat doesn't have to be neat at all to achieve and amazing effect!

Here is the video from the Barry M website. You can buy straight from the website, too.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

DIY Deer Cushion Covers

   I made these cushions for Seeg's mum's birthday. They were relatively easy to do, though I admit to cheating a bit. I didn't make the covers from scratch, I bought them pre-made in the colours I wanted and just sewed the deer on, but I'm still pleased with how they came out!

What You Will Need:
• Scissors
• Cushion Covers
• Felt
• Needle and Matching Thread
• Glue (optional)

1. First of all, if you need to dye your covers, do this first. The brown cover I bought was cream on the back, so I dyed it a lighter shade of brown. The two sides didn't match, of course, but a lighter brown was better than cream. If you dye it, wash it several times to ensure the dye is thoroughly permanent, and not about to stain the felt when it next goes in for a wash.

2. Design your deer on paper, or whatever it is you want on your cushions. Once you're happy with the design, cut it out and draw on the felt around the paper carefully and gently. I used a pencil, which made the felt a little wooly, but there is no chance of ink seeping through and staining anything. Cut your felt out.

3. I had a problem with my male deer. His antlers, as you can see, are long and narrow, and they moved about an awful lot, so what I did was use a little bit of glue and stuck it down to the cover, where I wanted to stitch it. Obviously, glue is not reliable in this case, but it served my purpose. I used only a little bit, then let it dry. Being PVA glue, it washed out afterwards. Mod Podge would work, and be much stronger, if you're not confident about your stitching, and it won't wash out, but if you're looking to glue instead, I'd recommend just going straight to fabric glue.

4. Once the glue is dry, begin stitching from the inside of the cover. I started with the antlers because they were the biggest nuisance.

5. Once you've stitched the lot down, you can wash the covers to get rid of the glue


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Is Your Blog Design Working For You?

   It's true that content is what truly matters on a blog, and that you should decide if it's worth your time by more than your first impression, or by the number of followers they have. But at the same time, design does count for part of it. Pretty much everyone is more inclined to linger on a pretty (though tastes vary) page than a vaguely constructed one, and the design chosen can say a lot about the blogger, too. For example, handwriting fonts and bookish images will generally give the image of a well-read book-lover, and probably a well-written and thoughtful blog. Washi tapes, pencil lines and paint splotches give the impression of a creative individual, and probably a crafty blog. Colours and patterns that are currently in fashion suggest the blogger is up to date on current trends, blog frequently and change their blog frequently, and makes them appear very active, and probably blogs a lot of style tips - design, make-up, fashion and so on.

   I'll start this series of posts off simply, and ask you: what is it that keeps you on a blog, aside from content, and what is it that turns you away from them? First impressions do count.
   A lot of beginners' mistakes are very common. Blogger, as other blogging platforms do, supply you with free backgrounds, fonts and so on you can use on your blog. The problem with this, however, is that other people are using the same designs you are. Some fonts are more popular than others, as are backgrounds. When I started out, I chose a green, leafy background, and a swirly curly font, which I made green, to match the background. I soon grew out of that, realising it didn't do much for me, and I also just generally didn't like it, but since then I've seen several blogs which all shared exactly the same design as me.
   The most important parts of a blog's design (aside from colour, cohesion and so on) are the fonts, backgrounds and headers. Once you've got those three down, everything else comes a lot easier.

   First of all, I suggest you focus on a background. You can download them for free from some websites, you can make your own, or, for a small fee, buy a pack of designs from one of many different designers. I've used Moo & Puppy in the past, and their designs are stylish, big, and come in a fantastic range of colours - and, since Etsy recently enabled an immediate download ability, whenever you purchase digital items (from sellers who have enabled it), you don't have to wait for them to email them to you! Being in the UK, myself, I've had to wait hours in the past, and it can get quite excrutiating when you know all that needs to be sent is an email.

   Making your header takes a bit of work. For this you could simply download a pleasant font and a few brushes, provided that they are all from sources that allow you to use them on blogs, and play about with them. There are also many online shops with lovely clipart. Pugly Pixel has, in my opinion, the best range from across the web, but Pink Pueblo has a lovely and large selection on Etsy, too.
   Chances are, you'll change your header more than your blog design, in the beginning. It took me so very long to get to the point where I was finally happy with it - a year, in fact! I ended up drawing my design by hand with ink, scanning it in, and adding a few ink splats and grungy brushes and using a pretty font. It doesn't need to be complicated.

   Fonts are another issue. Sure, curly ones look cute and fun, but they're hard to read. Stick to something simple. There are tutorials online that show you how to add a custom font into your blog, if you're not happy with anything your blogging platform offers - but after a few months with a custom font, I got tired of it, removed it, went back to a blogger font with the intent to change it "soon" and just never did. I believe this is the tutorial I used.

   Once you've got this down, you'll also have figured out your colour scheme. At this point you can move out into things like the "about me" section and the social media icons. If you're stuck on a colour scheme, however, looking at other websites for inspiration (note: inspiration, not copying - let your blog be your own) or at marketplaces that sell social media icons, you can get an idea for yourself. My current layout (as of 23/04/13) was inspired by the very social media icons you see there. My colour scheme was similar to it, in the sense that I was already using coral and grey, but it added in a lovely greyish cream which, I feel, gives the colour scheme a lot more depth, for such a light and subtle colour.

   There will be more posts on this topic coming soon, looking at different aspects in more detail. The easiest option, of course, is to just pay someone else to design it for you, but I doubt you'd ever get as strong a feel for your own blog. This blog is fully mine. The only thing that isn't is the background and social media icons. I made the rest. And through this, tweaking little bits and pieces, I've gradually learnt a little about HTML - at least, to recognise certain things - and I feel like I have a lot more control over my design. If someone else had done it for me, I'd be worried to change anything in case I broke it, since I wouldn't know how it was put together. You do not need to be a HTML or a Photoshop wizard. I did all this with very limited HTML knowledge, and with GIMP instead of Photoshop. It's hardly the best design in the world, but I am very happy with it, actually.

   So keep your eyes open, and keep them on the Blogging Tips page, too! All new blogging tips posts will be archived there, as the name suggests, and categorised for easy manouvering. I hope that this and the rest help!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Moodboard: Route 66

   Hello all! I've put together another moodboard! I'm quite proud of this one - it was surprisingly easy! I was looking at Durbarry Boots on Number Eight Clothing and I found this rather nice pair. I got this really understated biker vibe from it that I just couldn't resist putting into a moodboard.

   Aren't they great? Typical biker-style boots would have more straps and stuff on them, but like I said, these Durbarry boots gave me a really subtle biker feel. They're especially good because while they're totally fashionable, they're also waterproof, like wellies - but not as loud!
   I tried to keep the muted biker feel in my moodboard by using simple pieces, though the board itself has become a little biut cluttered - but whenever there is a lot of black and white detail together like this, it can become that way. I'm still very proud of it!

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

Monday, 22 April 2013

Hunting for a Literary Agent - Keep Calm and Carry On

   Well, this post is for you people who have submitted your work and are feeling just down right miserable. You probably got a rejection, or your doubting your skill, or perhaps you've not sent anything yet, but you've realised the likelihood of getting a rejection letter and have let it beat you down before you've even started. I wanted to suggest a few things to you to get you positive and hopefully re-ignite the fire of your dream. Say nothing about that poor metaphor.
   • Self-publishing is always an option. You won't get the same publicity and likely not the same success without an agent, but self-publishing can get your work printed and distributed across Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book shops. Amazon themselves have a self-publishing business. The Song of Dragons trilogy was printed by Amazon's service. It might not be the same, but self-publishing, and just how easy it is, means that nothing your write has to go to waste. Every single thing you've written can become a bound book, and you can make money off of it. You could even become a success story.
   • Read SlushPile Hell. It's an entertaining Tumblr page that I've mentioned before, and contain the worst fragments of awful cover letters. It can be painful and worrying to read - you may get half way through one example and see massive resemblances between that and your own cover letter. It can be awful. But then by the time you read the end of the post, you see where the problem was, and you know you didn't do that. Alternatively, it's also a great place to look to make sure you don't make those same mistakes, and also just generally entertaining. Note, as well, that the blogger is an actual agent, these are fragments of actual cover letters, but they do not make fun of any manuscripts. Making fun of the actual work, not to mention generally posting it online, is a line they cannot and will not cross.
   • Keep writing. I've said this before, but if you keep writing then you can write through the upset, and you can maybe write something even better than you already have, and get better luck with that.
   • Exercise and eat well. This will help you feel better. Staying indoors, out of any natural light while binge eating will not do your mind any good, and will only help along the upset. When they say that exercising and eating well are necessary to good health, it doesn't just mean physical health.
   • Find a new hobby - learn to knit; buy a blender and become a Smoothie Queen; volunteer somewhere;
   • Buy some books, read them, review them - keep active with books if it will help. It might make you more miserable if you're too far gone, you might hate the smell and sight of published books until you become one of them. You might get jealous of any writer you hear about. Don't let yourself do that. These could become friends of yours one day. Instead, read these new books and see what they've done that you didn't - fast-paced beginnings, better description, deeper stories, and so on.
   • Start a blog documenting your progress.
   • Re-discover Pinterest and see what you can find to make.
    • Buy a membership...somewhere. RSPB? Gym? Cinema? The RSPB ones are particularly good.

   Just keep yourself busy, and keep that first thought especially in mind. It really picks me up when I'm down, and is something my dear friend Lucy had to remind me of. It's not the way I want my career to go, I'd rather do it properly because it feels more "official", but if I get to the age when I need to let go of my dream for one reason of another, then that is always a very real option.
   And if you're feeling down about your work despite not having even sent it out yet, then pick yourself up and get on with it. And if you have had someone read it and they've said they don't like it, don't take it to heart, and if possible, ask why they didn't like it. If they simply say that they didn't like the characters or the story, you might want to just ignore them. If it's because they say there's too much description, not enough description, poorly spelt or badly written, then you might want to thank them for their opinion and look into what they said. They might have a point, and you don't get second chances when submitting books. If they say "no" to one, then that book is a "no" - at least for your debut. If you get somewhere with it, the next agent, if not the same, will be more interested in reconsidering it. If you were a roaring success then the odds are on your side.
Keep Calm and Carry On.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

I'm Home! And a Giveaway!

   First of all, I don't want you to think I didn't enjoy myself, because I did, but one of the best things about going away, is coming home. Sleeping in your own bed, using your own toilet, raiding your own fridge. It's comfortable, it's familiar, and you don't have a plane to catch as soon as you've finally settled in.
   But being away was a nice break. Seeg got another wisdom tooth out (two down, two to go), and it went better for us both this time because we knew what to expect, and because we had gone away for an extra couple of days to give us time to do things. The highlight was Burger's Zoo. It was magnificent. The zoo was enormous, with a load of indoor exhibits, which was great since it was raining for the first couple of hours, as well as great outdoor ones. The zoo was the most interactive I've visited so far, with a waterfall you can walk up to, bridges and streams to step over, and it really felt involved, and a lot more wild than it was.
   There were animals I'd never physically seen before, like manatees - and let me tell you, they are big - skunks, a lynx, hammerhead sharks, bears. It was awesome. And a lot of the animals I'd seen in my own zoo had bigger and better enclosures than in Bristol. I also had the best tomato soup of my life there, too. It was an amazing day out, and I'm so appreciative to Seeg's parents for buying all of the tickets.
   We also saw a friend of Seeg's twice, once he just came over, and the second time he accompanied us while we tended to final fun things on our last day (printing boarding passes, buying chocolate gifts, extra World of Warcraft booster packs and so on), before going back and playing card games.
   It was lovely to see Seeg's family, and I'm also thankful that they happily let us stay with them. The sofa bed was actually very comfortable, but being an unfamiliar place, I didn't sleep all that well.
   While Seeg was recovering from the breaking out of his tooth, we watched the program 'Avatar: the Last Airbender' - I'd seen the movie, which was shit, but I have thouroughly enjoyed the program. It's hilarious, it's sad, and it's so imaginative. I love it. And I love Iroh, he is the best. "I know you shouldn't cry over spilt tea, but it's just so sad!" I'm also making myself a t-shirt with Appa on it, because, while I wasn't fond of him at all in the movie, I've grown to love him in the program. It's just a bloody shame that stuffed toys of him (cartoon version, not movie version - they have different faces) are so bloody expensive. There's a lush 18" one in Nickolodeon Universe, but with shipping from the US, it brings it up to £30. It's still buckets cheaper than the 20" one (£79.99!!!!!) on Amazon and elsewhere, though, but it's still not something I can afford.
   We got through seasons 1 and 2 in a week. We had to take it slow because we never brough the third and final season with us, thinking 2 would be more than enough.

   Oh, we also went into a supermarket and I managed to speak three different languages to the woman at the checkout, none of which were Dutch. She just kept speaking to me in Dutch, I think I confused her massively, so she just carried on xD I knew what she was saying, and she knew what I was saying, but it was a most comical exchange.

   I'm happy to be back, though, and I've brought with me some ideas for new products, and a giveaway, as promised, consisting of a few things I picked up while we were away, and a special version of one of my new products inspired by the Netherlands.
   The giveaway is open worldwide, and can be entered using Rafflecopter below. There is only one winner, and the prize is: a peanut-shaped pencil eraser (seriously, it's so awesome), a wooden, hand painted clog keyring, and a handmade necklace by yours truly featuring a row of typical Dutch houses. Yes, the majority of buildings do look like this, atleast everywhere I've been, and it's really quite awesome.
   Necklaces of individual Dutch houses will be up in my shop shortly! 

   It's great to be back, and normal blog broadcasting will now resume. I enjoyed my game posts, even if you didn't (in fact I notice I lost a follower, but I won't cry over it - I don't fake my blog, and if someone doesn't like what I talk about, then that's absolutely fine. I wouldn't follow a blog I didn't enjoy, either), but I've picked up a few ideas for tutorials while I was away that I'm looking forward to trying out and sharing, if it all works out. There's also likely to be a post soon of photographs from the zoo, if any of them came out well.

   Keep your eyes open for some new tutorials. Hopefully. They might all fail miserably. And, of course, if they do, and fail spectacularly, I'll let you all know how badly I failed (once I'm over it).

   I really hope you're all well and happy, do let me know if anything interesting or exciting has happened for any of you! And a special thank you to Marieken Hoefnagel of Invisible Crown for notifying me of the expected temperature of the Netherlands just before we went away. I packed a t-shirt, and I'm so glad I did, because I didn't need a coat that day at all, and even long sleeves would have been too much.
   My shop is running as normal again, with orders being posted out in the usual time frame, but no more orders will have free gifts included as of Monday the 22nd.

Friday, 19 April 2013


   This is another game I am extremely fond of. I've put almost 300 hours into it overall, 220 of which belong to a single character. Skyrim is part of the Elder Scrolls series, which Bethesda started in 1992 with the "medieval gladiator style" fighting game called Arena. This was big news, since the 10 games Bethesda had released before hand were all sports games, and were literally laughed at by a fantasy game developing company for thinking they could make good fantasy games. Well, they did. Following Arena, they released Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, which rewarded players who actually role-played their character instead of just fighting with it. Work began on three seperate projects, then, all at the same time: Battlespire, Redguard, and Morrowind. The first two did well, but they did not compare to Morrowind, which is considered one of the best Elder Scrolls games so far. It came out in 1998, and by 2002 had gone Gold on computers. It was a huge success.
   I've tried to play this game, but this was before the age of autosave, which, I've realised, I seriously take for granted. I had created my character in Morrowind, did the first few quests, and then died in a dungeon I was clearing. I had to start from the very beginning again. This was fine, I remade my character and did everything again, realising that it was my own mistake, but it did put me off. It's also been suggested that you can only complete the game with a walk-through because it's so unclear, but to this day, Morrowind is still being played, and it's still being heavily modded, which is another thing Bethesda games are noted for, though mods are made by fans and players and is no small thing.
   Following Morrowind, Oblivion came out in 2002, and is probably the most frightening of all of the games. The caves are pitch black, and I hated going in them unless I had a ring of Nighteye so I could see where I was going. There were zombies and headless zombies that made the most vile, gutteral noises, and they would be in caves, and in Ayleid ruins (Ayleids were also known as Heartland High Elves and were extremely cruel). It was also extremely successful, and the first Elder Scrolls game I completed.
   And that brings us to Skyrim. It's not scary, despite the fact that the graphics have improved so much. Instead of zombies, there are Draugr, which are undead servents of dragon priests. I found a great book in-game called 'Amongst the Draugr' which explains Draugr a little bit.

Vinile in the Arcanium, College of Winterhold.

Vinile in full Nightingale Armour - my favourite armour in the entire game.

   Skyrim begins the same way Morrowind and Oblivion do: with you as a prisoner. When you're questioned about your identity for the first time, for example, what your name is, you're then prompted to "create" your character - race hair, face, skin, war paint, name, etc. Once you've done this, you continue the beginning of the story, which leads to you escaping your sentence or being set free. In Skyrim's case, you take advantage of a rather distracting event to get away from the chopping block. Once you're free from Helgen, well, the game is yours. You could play for 100 hours without touching the main story line. The point of Skyrim, though, is about the return of the Dragons. Legend tells that the dragon, Alduin, the World-Eater, will return after being banished, and will destroy the world, but it also tells of one single person who can stop him: the Dragonborn. This is an individual with the "body of a mortal and the soul of a dragon", and someone who can immediately master the Thu'um - the power of the Voice, which is the ability to read, understand, and speak in the dragon tongue, and to use the power behind each word to different effects. The most popular Thu'um, or Shout, is Fus-Ro-Day - three seperate dragon words which each creates a pushing force. If shouted towards someone, they will be pushed, and with each word added, the force is stronger. Each shout has just three seperate words, and there is a large number of words. And there is one for fire breath.
   As you probably guess, your character is the Dragonborn - but there is another reason that only the Dragonborn can defeat Alduin: dragons don't die when they're "killed". Their soul doesn't vanish, it lingers, even if their body is destroyed. The Dragonborn, however, can absorb these Dragon souls, permanently killing them, which means only a Dragonborn can kill Alduin. Don't worry, I've not spoiled anything.

   My main character is a Dark Elf. She follows the path of shadow and is a fantastic sneak, pick-pocket, lock-picker, and assassin. Her name is Vinile Redoran, and is part of one of the five Dark Elven houses, the Redoran. She is the Dragonborn, which I feel a little strange about. Skyrim is named after the province the game takes place in, like Morrowind is. Skyrim is full of Nords, and it seems only right that the Dragonborn would be a Nord. Instead, in my game, she is a Dark Elf, and I don't think the Nords of Skyrim are happy about it. But nevermind. She is my main character.
   My second character is a Nord Warrior, it's quite simple really. Her name is Bracken Danengar, and it's more fitting that she is the Dragonborn, though, despite 70 hours of game play, hasn't actually finished the main story yet.
   There's a lot more to do in the game than just become Dragonborn and inevitably defeat Alduin as the prophecy in the Elder Scrolls dictates, there's also a civil war happening in Skyrim, between the "true" Nords and the Empire. Skyrim has been a part of the Empire for a very long time, and the Empire has been aiding them with trades and finance, just the same as they have with other countries of the Empire. Unfortunately, the Empire was at war with the Aldmeri Dominion, a faction of High Elves, who agreed to a peace treaty on the terms that no one worship Talos, who they consider to be a false god, despite the fact that he is, in fact, a god, along with the other Eight Divines. The Empire agreed to it because it would stop the war, but some Nords didn't like it, and have decided that Skyrim would be better off without being a part of the Empire. At the end of the day, I personally disagree with the Nords. While I feel that the terms of the treaty were too high, I can understand why the Empire did it, but the Nords seem to think that they'll be able to stand on their own two feet, when they can't. Skyrim is not fertile ground, and they are not prosperous. I don't think that they'll manage to survive without the Empire for quite some time.
   However, your character has the option to join the Empire, to join the Stormcloaks (the Nord faction against the Empire), or, of course, stay out of it altogether. My Nord joined the Stormcloaks, while my Dark Elf kept out of it. She's more interested in what people have in their pockets anyway.
   There's also other factions, such as the Thieves' Guild and the Dark Brotherhood, who are assassins. Both of these factions were in Oblivion as well, and each feature their own story lines. While I personally feel that the Dark Brotherhood was far better in Oblivion, I feel the Theives' Guild is better in Skyrim. But then there's the Companions, which have replaced the Fighters' Guild. The Fighters' Guild had a very good story line in Oblivion, but it's quite different in Skyrim, but just as good.
   There are other things to do, such as the bidding of Daedric Princes. Gods exist in the game, they're very real beings, but the Nine Divines are more "good" and tend not to meddle in mortal affairs. Daedric Princes, on the other hand, very much like to meddle. They're not "evil", necessarily - there's one or two that aren't really considered evil at all to be honest, but while the Divines are gods of trade, love, strength and the afterlife, Daedric Princes are the gods of debauchery, theft, unsavory delights and disease. A necessary evil, I suppose. The most you can do with the Divines, though, is pray at their alters, but Deadric Princes will speak to you through their shrines, send you on an errand for them, and then reward you with a Daedric artifact - a weapon or piece of armour that is better than most others (but not the best, necessarily).

Bracken Danengar, in the wilderness of Winterhold.

Bracken in full Daedric Armour, my favourite heavy armour in the game, second favourite overall. Windhelm Docks.

   Then there's also things like dungeons and quest lines. But as I said before about Morrowind modding, people have done the same on Oblivion and Skyrim (though they can only be made and used on the PC versions). However, what Bethesda have done lately is look at some of the most popular mods made for Skyrim and have began to implement them in the game itself. One mod I was fond of was one for building your own house, rather than living in one of the houses in the cities. The mod didn't let you build just anywhere, but it did give you the option of accommodating your needs. Well, Bethesda liked that and implemented it Skyrim for the Xbox and the Playstation as well. It allows you to choose one of three locations (or all three if you can afford it) and build a house there. It starts off small, but you can expand and turn the initial house in an entry hall, and then build a 2 storey house. You can then add extensions like an alchemy tower, a green house, a kitchen (which looks gorgeous), a library, a trophy room and so on. It's really fantastic, and I was so pleased when they implemented it.

   Then there's the downloadable content. I didn't think much of the Dawnguard DLC - I found it repetative, and since I'm not interested in playing a Vampire since they're too high maintenance, I didn't bother with it for long. The Dragonborn DLC, however, was marvellous, and I've played it twice so far (I have a third character in the making with just 10 hours so far, so I've not even really started anything yet with him). The DLC can add so much more to the game, including new weapons, armour and abilities (such as fletching), and can also take you to new lands. Dragonborn takes you to Solstheim, which is the same place a Morrowind DLC took you. Changes have occurred to the place since then, since at last 300 in-game years have passed, but it's still very much Solstheim.

Southwest of Windhelm at sunset, with an Ancient Dragon in the background.

   Simply put, Skyrim, like the other Elder Scrolls games, is an absolutely amazing, and massive game. You can explore every crack and cranny, there are so many mapped and unmapped places to go and explore, and so many dungeons and caves, too. There's a ridiculous amount of lore to the continent of Tamriel, and an awful lot of in-game books featuring stories, history, experiments and speculations, some of which you find out to be widely accepted but actually quite false once you investigate. The Falmer, for instance.
   You can play for days without ever touching the story line, and you can make your character how you like. You don't have to conform to heavy armour, one handed weapon and block/two handed weapon for warriors, or robes and no weapons for casters. I combined the two and made a character from an Eddings book, who possessed heavy armour and magic. The Enchanting skill allowed me to remove the Magicka (increased resource to cast spells with, or decreases the resource cost to cast certain classes of spells, like destruction or alteration) enchant from a robe and put it onto heavy armour instead, making my heavy armour character almost as effective as an armour-less one, but with a bonus of having a sword at his side, and if people got too close to him, he didn't have to run away to put some distance between him and them. The game really does let you do what you like.

   It's a fantastic game if you want to start playing games on any new console, but you don't want a challenge. Assassin's Creed is classed, by me, as a challenge, because there's not all that much to do but the story. Skyrim lets you go fully at your own pace, dying is possible but unlikely if you're on a lower difficulty setting. It's an easy and immersive game - and Seeg has been playing for over 400 hours and still hasn't discovered everything. I've found things he hasn't, he's found things I haven't, and there's still things out there neither of us have seen. The best so far was Ange's Cabin - it's been there since Skyrim was released, in 2011, (we even pre-ordered the game, so we've had it that long) but we only found it a couple of weeks ago.
   It's an extremely replayable game, and there should be another 2 or 3 DLCs coming out, which means the world will be expanded even further.

   They're currently working on Elder Scrolls Online which is to be an MMORPG like World of Warcraft, so you can play with other people while playing your own character and role, but it is still going to be like the Elder Scrolls games in its mechanics.

   Keep your eye on BethBlog for info on upcoming features, along with awesome news, competitions and fan-art.

All of these screenshots were taken with my camera, of the television screen. The game is much
better quality and not pixilated, despite what the photos may have you believe. There's no option
to print screen on the Xbox.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

World of Warcraft - a Picture Post


   This is just a screen-shot post of my favourite locations in World of Warcraft. There are more notable ones, and prettier ones, but these are the ones I want to share. I collected these up in-game specifically for this post, I enjoyed it, and I might torture you all with it again.

The Black Temple, Outland. Illidan's location, though it was once a temple belonging to the Draenai. Illidan is my favourite villain, because his story interests me more than anyone else's, even though the Lich King is still quite impressive. I'm most interested by the lore around the War of the Ancients and Draenor.

The Dark Portal, Outland. This is the second portal that was constructed, after the destruction of the first. It heads straight to Azeroth, and is enormous.

The floating city of Dalaran, Northrend. This is the best screenshot I could get while keeping the city in view. It's very big, so getting everything in is impossible if I want to stop it from fading into the clouds. Dalaran was originally in Hillsbrad, but it was moved to protect it. In its original location there's a huge crater, surrounded by a giant magical barrier. The one problem I have with this is that the ruined buildings surrounding the crater don't correlate to the architecture at all.

Icecrown Citidel, Northrend. The Lich King's location. There are a few really nice heroic dungeons in there, some of the best of the expansion, and, of course, the final raid which sees the defeat of the Lich King. Seeg and I have killed him, and though we did that during Cataclysm, when we were 5 levels above the Lich King, he was still really difficult with a vaguely organised group, and is one of my proudest accomplishments in the game.

This is the Temple of the White Tiger, Pandaria. I love this place, mainly for its looks, and Xuen himself. Otherwise there's not much more about it that I'm interested. Xuen, the White Tiger, appears to be the leader of Pandaria's god-like aspects. The equivalent, I suppose, to the Dragon Aspects of Life, Magic, Dream, Earth/Death and Time.

Dawn's Blossom, Pandaria. This is just a small town in Pandaria, in my favourite zone, the Jade Forest. Most settlements within the Jade Forest look like this, and I just love it. The colours, the water, the architecture, it's lush.

I'd like to say I'm sorry for my gamey posts, I know they're different to what I usually do, but I'm not. I'm fond of the game, and I don't see my self stopping playing it in the foreseeable future. I'm sure I will eventually, but that time is not now, and since I talk about it every now and then, I thought I'd let those of you who have no idea what I'm on about see what it's like. These are only a small, small fraction of the World of Warcraft, but they're some of my favourite places. I hope you enjoyed this simple post, and if you didn't, well, normal broadcasting will resume on the 22nd of April.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

World of Warcraft

   As some of you well know, I've been playing World of Warcraft for about 5 years now, and as you've probably also already noticed, I'm taking this vacation opportunity to nerd it up.
   A lot of you have probably heard of World of Warcraft, but I want to tell you a bit about it.
   World of Warcraft is an MMORPG, which stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Which basically just means that it's a role-playing game (create your own character, your own role) but it's online with a lot of other people there at the same time. Not everyone role-plays, however. Some people are there just for the PvP (player v player), while others, like me, are there for PvE (player v everything). World of Warcraft was not the first game in the Warcraft series, it came about from the original game series, Warcraft, the most popular of which was the third and final game of the series (Warcraft 3), which is still played a lot today. This was not a role-playing game, but rather a strategy, where you would build bases, created your armed force, and fight off any threats. I played it for a short time, up to the Culling of Stratholme.
   I started playing World of Warcraft during the Burning Crusade, which was the first expansion, but I didn't get my own account until Wrath of the Lich King, the second expansion, came out.
   Before getting my own account, I played on two other people's accounts, and by the time I had my own account, I had made my main character about three or four times, but I never got tired of it. I created Spinegrinder, my Undead Warlock, and she remained my "main" for some time. I wasn't much interested in making alternative characters - or "alts" - because I put all of my time into Spinegrinder. But I did try other races and classes a few times, but looking back on it now, Spinegrinder is the only one who stood the test of time.

Spinegrinder, in her awesome Corrupter's Raiment, in Tirisfal Glades.

   The Wrath of the Lich King is often hailed as the best World of Warcraft expansion, and I'll also state that it was actually very good. I found the landscape - very cold and mountainous - was very attractive, the antagonist - the Lich King - was a very interesting villain if you knew his back story, all of which is contained within the book 'Arthas', for that was his name. I also absolutely loved Dalaran, the floating neutral city. There were a lot of vendors that sold useless rubbish like hats and cakes, and I just love novelty and vanity items in the game.
   Cataclysm, on the other hand, which was the third expansion, is hailed as the worst. Now, I don't think this is fair. It's considered a poor expansion because there wasn't much end-game content. This means that, when you reached the newest maximum level (which goes up by either 5 or 10 per expansion - from 60 - 70 - 80 - 85 - 90), there wasn't much you could do afterwards unless you liked to raid, and raiding is actually quite serious. You need a party of 10-25 players, and if you don't read up on tactics, the whole group can fall apart. I've never done a current-level raid. I killed the Lich King in Cataclysm with Seeg and some people from our guild, and it was hard, and we were a full expansion ahead. They released a new daily quest hub along with a raid, the Firelands, and it was really great stuff, but doing it with more than one character was very tiresome, and not many people did it.
   The reason I say that calling it a poor expansion is unfair, though, is because, while the end-game content was poor, they redesigned levels 1-60, which means they redid the zones, they redid the quests, and the whole levelling experience of the original game, pre-expansions, was changed. This meant that, while there wasn't all that much to do with your max-level characters, it was very easy to start levelling new ones instead. During this time I made a few new characters, which included Kharzil, a Blood Elf Shadow Priest, and Daeaye, a Troll Hunter, both of whom are the current max level of 90, along with Spinegrinder.
   Cataclysm is named Cataclysm, though, because Deathwing, the Destroyer, managed to begin tearing Azeroth apart, in a similar way that Draenor was (Outland). A recent book, 'The Shattering', talked about it and detailed that what was happening on Azeroth, if allowed to continue, would cause it to end up like the homeland of the Orcs - a floating landmass. This meant that, while 1-60 zones had been redesigned, they were redesigned for the "worse". There is now an enormous fiery chasm splitting the Barrens into two seperate zones; the dam has burst in Loch Modan, and the lake has drained; the Thousand Needles has suffered from a huge tidal wave, and what was once a desert with rock stacks, is now little more than a bay. During this time, as well, some zones which used to be neutral - meaning both Horde (Orcs, Tauren, Undead, Trolls, Blood Elves and Goblins) and Alliance (Humans, Night Elves, Gnomes, Dwarves, Draenai and Worgen) could level there - has been taken over by one faction or another. The best example is Hillsbrad, where the Forsaken of the Horde have finally attacked the Alliance village of Southshore and killed everyone there, making the entirety of Hillsbrad a Horde-only zone.

Kharzil, in his wonderfully mis-matched gear, on Sunstrider Isle

   But then came the Mists of Pandaria. Everyone made fun of this expansion, and even I was against it. It was basically Kung-Fu Panda. Panda people (nevermind that World of Warcraft already contains werewolves and cow-people - people seem to have forgotten that) who live in a Chinese-inspired land, and are masters of Kung-Fu. A lot of people stopped playing when that was announced (though the Chinese Panda race, Pandarens, had actually been in existance in Warcraft years before Kung-Fu Panda was released).
   But when it came out, I daresay, it has exceeded Wrath of the Lich King. It is an amazing expansion, beautiful landscape, gorgeous soundtrack. It's honestly the best expansion yet. There is plenty to do at max-level, not including raids, and it's pleasant to go through multiple times. There are only a few complaints I have, the biggest of which being that there isn't a main antagonist. In the Burning Crusade, it was Illidan; in Wrath of the Lich King, it was the Lich King; and in Cataclysm, it was Deathwing. Sure, there were other big villains, but those were the main baddies. But at the same time, Mists of Pandaria was an "accident", in that the Horde and Alliance just happened to stumble across Pandaria, and bring their war against eachother to those shores. Instead of there being a single villain to turn their attention to, Mists of Pandaria focused more on the mutual hatred between Horde and Alliance, and the war that had been playing out between them for decades.

Daeaye, with Savage, in Zul'Gurub

   I don't know what the next expansion will be, but I do know that there is one villain, the biggest of all, who will certainly be the last we'll see: Sargeras. Sargeras was responsible, along with the Old Gods, for destroying Neltharion's mind, and causing the Aspect of Earth to become Deathwing, the Aspect of Death. His madness spread to his brood, and the other brown dragons became black dragons with him, and were corrupt and evil and full of hate, desiring to turn the world into a place just for them. Sargeras was responsible for the corruption of Illidan, originally a Night Elf, and of the Highborne, also a faction of Night Elves, and caused the world to initially break apart, creating the Maelstrom, and causing the Highborne and most of the Night Elves' world to crumble into the sea. This, along with the corrupted magic they had been using, caused some of them to become Naga. Sargeras was responsible for the Lich King, in a way: Sargeras corrupted the Orcs, which lead them from the path of Shamanism to becoming Warlocks, and he gave them a way into Azeroth so that he could take the planet for his own and consume it. He specifically corrupted Ner'zhul, the head Shaman, and it is Ner'zhul who was torn cell from cell by Kil'jaeden, one of Sargeras' right hand men, and his soul became the first Lich King, King of the Scourge, or Undead. The Lich King in the titled expansion is not Ner'zhul, but it is rather Ner'zhul's soul corrupting someone else and controlling him to do his bidding, which is also the bidding of Sargeras.
   As mentioned already, Sargeras corrupted Deathwing, and so the Cataclysm happened, and it is Sargeras who is still trying to find a way into Azeroth. Sargeras is a Titan, which means he is one of the race who created life and the planets. He is not a force that can be taken down easily, and I think that, when we finally have to fight him - because we will - we will need another Titan on our side.

   The stories of the expansions are all related together, and World of Warcraft also has a series of really great books which explain the lore of the world. I've read all but the newest, and it's for the story that I love World of Warcraft so much. Well, I also love the magic, the races, the world, and the whole gaming thing, but the story is a big part of it too.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

World of Warcraft Trading Card Game

   I love trading card games, but I've never played them. But when Blizzard announced Hearthstone, their online "trading card" game, Seeg and I got to thinking. Blizzard, in conjunction with Cryptozoic, have been making the physical World of Warcraft trading card game since October 2006, but I'd never payed much attention to it. The only reason I used to buy the cards was because I wanted to try my hand at getting some Loot cards - loot cards are rare cards you can only get in booster packs, and they contain a code for you to redeem in World of Warcraft for things like vanity items, companion pets, and mounts. Well, I never got any to begin with, and quickly gave up, but I never really even thought about playing the actual card game.
   I then started to buy Collector's Editions of all of the World of Warcraft expasions, and along with the mousemat, gorgeous art book, soundtrack CD and making of DVD, they also (used to) include a full starter deck for the trading card game, with an exclusive Hero card (which is the main card you have to keep alive, once the hero dies, you lose the game).
   When they announced Hearthstone, Seeg and I were quite interested, though him moreso. But once he'd had a look at it, he got out my Cataclysm collector's edition, took out my Warlock starter deck and had a good look at it and the rule book.
   We decided to buy another starter deck, Elderlimb, a monster Druid (monster just means it's not Horde or Alliance aligned), and we tried it out. After 4 hours and 5 games, we stopped playing (with me yet to win one, even when we swapped decks), and then tried again the next day. I managed to finally win a game.
   Well, it was amazing fun. It made a nice change to play something which didn't need the internet, and didn't run on electricity, and we quickly bought two more decks and a huge number of booster packs, as well as the War of the Ancients Epic Collection. And yes, I did end up getting 3 loot cards - Eye of the Legion, which I love to use on my warlock, Spinegrinder; Landro Longshot, which is just a tabard which doesn't much appeal to me, so I might sell it; and the Floating Spellbook, which is just...well, a floating spellbook. I had already camped for the Lofty Libram in game so I wasn't much impressed with it, but it isn't worth selling.

World of Warcraft War of the Ancients Epic Collection, featuring Malfurion, Illidan and Tyrande

   Seeg and I, however, found a website where you can sell your trading cards, it's called, and on there were found a huge number of awesome cards. Once we'd opened all of our booster packs and not found any of the cards we had our eye on, we just bought them from the website - so from other people who had them and didn't want them. Seeg bought the Master Hero, Malorne, and I bought the Hero Medivh to replace my Worgen warlock.
   We've been building up our decks and improving them from the starter decks they originally were. When we bought a load of booster packs, we also bought the War of the Ancients Epic Collection, which gave a guaranteed loot card, 6 booster packs, 5 hero cards, a playmat, a box and dividers, and a deck box, the latter of which was very helpful since my warlock came without a box in my Collector's Edition of the actual computer game expansion.

Our Heros so far: Elderlimb, Jacob Blackcrest, Murkdeep and Arathyen

   I've not had so much fun obtaining booster packs since Pokemon. I used to love Pokemon. I never played it, of course, it was too complex for an 8 year old Kim, but I desperately loved collecting the cards, and I'd get booster packs with my pocket money, and hope to god I got a cool or shiny pokemon. I didn't quite understand trading them, though, I used to think that all shinies were rare and awesome, and I'd trade really awful cards to get them, too. I got quite upset when no one would  trade me Charizard for about ten of my really very mediocre cards. I thought that one shiny was worth 10 normal cards. I was wrong. And I never did get a Charizard.
   Now I can open these booster packs, however, and look at each actual card rather than for a foil picture. Plus, like I said, loot cards are always a bonus. To the left are our current heroes. We have others, but we're not playing with them at the moment, including an abundance of Druid and Death Knight heroes. We're currently using Elderlimb, the monster Druid; Jacob Blackcrest, the Alliance Worgen Warlock (I'm totally pro-Horde, but Worgen are one of the few races of the Alliance that I quite like); Murkdeep the monster Shaman, because Murlocs are awesome; and Arathyen the Sun's Shadow, a Blood Elf Death Knight who looks reeaaalllyyyy awesome.

   Chances are, while you're reading this post, we're probably playing the game right now, since it's one of the few things we have to do while Seeg is recovering, but it's fine when one game takes like 45 minutes. Time really flies ^^

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Off We Go!

   Well, Seeg and I are off to The Netherlands tomorrow. Our flight leaves at 15:20, but at least that means there's no rushing around super early in the morning. I can't stand that. We're just about all packed up and ready to go, barring a few necessities like shampoo and toothpaste, and then tomorrow afternoon we're leaving.
   Like last time, Seeg is getting another wisdom tooth removed, so it's not as much fun for him as for me. Aside from that, this time we're both more prepared. Neither of us had had teeth out before so we weren't prepared for how bad he was going to feel. I had thought he'd feel better the next day, but the pain and crappy feelings lasted the remainder of the trip, which was hard for me, because I wanted to go out and see the place, naturally. We did end up going out each day, even if it was just to buy soup (and loads of Dutch chocolate), but this time I am prepared to stay in. I've got a brand new sketch book, brand new pencils, some paint brushes and ink, and I've got my Monster Book of Manga and a couple of other drawing books. We're also bringing the World of Warcraft trading cards we've got, and I've got my writing. Then, Seeg's brother also has an xbox, so if need be, there's always Skyrim or Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. So I'm quite prepared to stay in!

   I'm lining a few posts up for while we're gone, but if there is anything important I have to say, then I will update. Otherwise, you won't be hearing many present thoughts from me until we're back on the 20th!
   I can still reply to messages and comments, however, so you can still get ahold of me, and the same goes for my Etsy shop too, but any orders placed while we're away won't be shipped until we're back.
   There is an upside, though: any orders that are placed within the week we're away will get a free gift to say thanks for ordering, and thanks for their patience. I quite like the little gifts, and have kept a pair for myself!

   We're not the only ones going away soon, either! VividPlease are also off on a surprise vacation, but since they're going to be gone for so long, they have a wonderful friend helping them out with their shop, sending orders out. That's fantastic stuff, right there. If I was going to be away for 3 weeks, I think I'd be quite happy to have a friend do that for me. They'd better bring them back lots of presents!!

   If I come across anything nice, there might even be a giveaway once we're back, too! Stay smiling!

Here's hoping his street doesn't look like this again this time.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Moodboard: Priestess of Elune

   This time around, I based my moodboard on some outlandish shoes - Vivienne Westwood Melissa Lady Dragon III. No, I promise I saw the shoes before the name, and yes, I also promise that the moodboard is not based on the name, either. I spotted these Vivienne Westwood Melissa shoes on Polyvore, but you can find equally amazing shoes on Vivienne Westwood's website, and more Vivienne Westwood Melissa shoes on VanMildert.

   It was in part the colour, and also the sphere on the top of the shoe that inspired this moodboard, and also the fact that Seeg and I have recently started to play the World of Warcraft trading card game, and I am loving it. Elune is the name of the moon in Azeroth, and it is a point of religion amongst Night Elves. I'm Horde through and through, but there are a couple of Alliance leaders I am fond of - mostly Tyrande Whisperwind, and Genn Greymane. And so, given my interest in Night Elves, and the moon, I thought I'd make this moodboard into a tribute to the Priestesses of Elune. And it was difficult.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

Monday, 8 April 2013

Hunting For A Literary Agent - Part 3

Part 1 ♦ Part 2

The Rejection Letter

   The rejection letter can be a horrible thing. I sent my work out knowing full well I wasn't going to get signed up right away, but I must have tricked a larger part of myself than I had realised into thinking otherwise, because when the last agency responded with yet another rejection letter, my heart sank. I became quite upset, and while I didn't for one moment consider giving up, I did begin to feel like it would never happen. Drama queen much? But when the initial hit of the rejection letters had passed, I was able to brush myself off and try something else.
   But as for the letters themselves, they weren't as mean as I had expected. I'm not even sure why I thought that they would be mean, necessarily. First off, let me explain that they will not give you a special hand written letter telling you that, despite how much they loved Character X, and the way the rain falls on the plains in Magic Land, they just cannot accept your work, and they are so, so sorry. No, you will receive a generic, typed and printed letter that may or may not even be signed by hand. Do not take this to heart. Agents are very busy. Reading manuscripts and signing new writers is something they do in their spare time. So while you get home from work and get in the bath and read a book, or go out for dinner, they are reading the manuscripts that you have sent in. Their work day consists of dealing with their actual clients, those they've signed, and dealing with publishers and all kinds of other things. In short, being an agent. They do not have the time to write a personal letter to every Tom, Dick and Harry that send them a manuscript. However, the letter is not that bad, itself.
   Each letter I received came from a different agency, but they were all remarkably similar. It was as if they had taken a huge profession-wide vote on which base letter to use, and now they all use it. But that didn't matter to me, because I knew everything I've just told you before hand.
   The letters were polite. A few were personalised after the initial base text, one said I was "very talented", and a friend in advertising and other such things assured me that such words are not thrown around lightly. But still, they all said "no".
   The letters went a bit like this:
   "Dear Kim, thank you so much for your manuscript. Unfortuantely, we cannot offer you representation at this time. This by no means reflects on our talent, it simply means that we do not feel that we could appropriately represent your work. This is just our opinion, and another agent may well feel differently. Good luck, Agent."
   I may have gotten the beginning of the letter wrong, but the "this is just our opinion" part is very much true to the letters. Now, whether the individuals that read my work believed this or not is another matter, but it certainly didn't make me (entirely) lose hope. With each letter I received, I remained hopeful that the next would bear good news.

   There are things at this point, however, that I must tell you not to do. They might seem obvious, but based on what I've read on agents' personal pages, they get an awful lot of this. So, when you get a rejection, do not:
• Send them your full manuscript anyway. If they say "no", they mean "no".
• Contact them and ask why they didn't like it. They may well not remember your work, as it's one of hundreds of submissions every week or so. They won't respond to this.
• Write them back and tell them they are "wrong". If you really feel that they were wrong, then when you're published and making thousands, or perhaps have become a best seller, they will kick themselves. Though that probably won't happen, and they probably wouldn't remember you anyway.

   It's understandable that you might feel put down, but it's no reason to feel like giving up. That's falling at the second hurdle. Even if someone doesn't get a rejection letter, there's still a chance they'll get one further down the process that will put the brakes back on. If you do give up, then, simply put, you can't have wanted it as much as you thought you had. If you want it hard enough, even if rejections shake you, they should never make you crumble. Giving up is how you fail. In this sort of thing, you can't fail if you keep writing, and keep submitting new works. You might think what you submitted was amazing, but they clearly disagree. Instead of dwelling on how amazing what you did send them was, think about how amazing the pieces you haven't even written yet could be!

   So if you got rejection letters from all the agencies, move onto something else. While I was waiting for my responses I got quite analytic of my work, and I realised that the beginning is too slow to draw any agent's real attention. From that, I learned that I must make the beginnings of my books more exciting to grab attention - afterall, if I can't get an agent interested, I might not be able to get readers interested, either. Whatever you realise and learn while waiting for your answer, be sure to keep it in mind when you start your next piece, preferrably right away. The fact that you'd have started writing something else will keep you positive through the rejections, and it will help them to just slide off. Afterall, you'll probably be working on something newer and better. Afterall, "new is always better." Apparently.

No Rejection? Congratulations!

   If you've not received a rejection, but were asked for more work, then well done! You've gotten further than a lot of people - but remember, this does not mean that they've decided to represent you. It means that the synopsis promised a good story, that your first three chapters were readable and printable, and that they want the rest of the book. This will undoubtedly take longer for them to respond from, however, since you've basically sent them an entire book. But in this situation, treat it as though you are writing to the agent for the first time. Remain hopeful, and don't give them any more or any less than they've asked for.
   At this point, the letter probably tells you only that they're interested in the rest of the work. Again, just as the rejection letters, it's not likely to be very personal, it'll also be generic, because they want the same thing from everyone: the full manuscript. The letter may also detail how they want it - bound or unbound and so on.
   Do not give them any more or less than they need. Don't include glossaries - your book shouldn't even need one, any made up word should either be explained upon use by a character or something, or should be used often enough in a particular context for it to be obvious. One of my favourites is 'lytling' which is street slang for a child or youngster in Cinda Williams Chima's 'Seven Realms Series'. It was never explained what it meant, but it became quite obvious quite quickly. Do not send them "book covers" either. Agents have contacts for people who design successful book covers - in fact you may not have a say in what they design at all. I have no idea, because I've not gotten that far yet. And do not send them doodles and drawings of characters. The character description within the book itself should be enough. And finally, don't send extra bits of explanation. If the book requires an "extra information" sheet just to read, you might want to rethink submitting it.
   The agents may already know how the book will end and who will die, unlike any other reader, but they do need to be able to build a picture in their heads based on your description, the same as a reader does. They're not reading the books to look for spelling mistakes, afterall; they're reading it to see if it's any good, whether they know the ending or not.

What Comes Next?

   Well, assuming you get far enough and they send you another letter telling you they like your work, several things may happen. They may want to talk over the phone, they may want to meet, or a little bit more communication may be needed, but after so long waiting to find out if they will reject you, the option to reject or accept will be put in your hands. If an agent offers you a contract, you don't have to accept it, but know that it won't wait for you forever. Make sure you understand the contract - look things up online first to get an idea of what parts of the contract you should look at longest, and what figures are good and which figures should send alarm bells running through you. But also don't assume that just because one agent has offered to take you on, that all the others suddenly will, too. If the contract isn't good enough for you, consider for a moment what the very lowest cut or something you'd accept would be. Try to negotiate, but don't expect them to budge. But don't be steamrolled over by them either. I have no idea if contracts are negotiable before signing or not but if the numbers and/or terms really don't work for you, then try. Don't let yourself become flustered by the chance, though. This contract is no small thing, and if you accept too little you may end up regretting it. Make sure you read the whole thing before signing, regardless of how long it is or how awkward you might feel. Don't let yourself get screwed.

   Even once you've been signed, there's still a chance that there won't be a publisher willing to take on your work. You could end up with it all coming to nothing. Because afterall, it's not just the agent that takes the chance. If a publisher prints 1000 copies and none of them move, that's 1000 books worth of paper, ink and binding all gone to waste.

    Here's hoping that some of you reading these posts get this far. I certainly hope I do. Once you've got the agent, the ball can get rolling. It might take some time, however, but the publisher is the last step to turning a manuscript into a real book. And seeing your work bound is amazing. When I finished the first book to my trilogy, I got it printed at I now have a 450 page copy of my work sat in my book case, and when it arrived here, all I could do was cry. It is such an amazing feeling. It's not being distributed or sold, I kept it to myself until I get representation, but there is a copy of my book in existance, hardback and everything, and it's sat in my bookcase.

   Remember, if there is anything you'd like me to make a post on, be it aspects of writing or submitting pieces, don't be afraid to let me know. There's a contact button in my social networking map, and another contact button at the bottom of the Creative Writing Tips collective page.