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On His Birthday, Reginald Got
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My lovely fans and friends – I’m happy to announce that I will be a guest at GenreCon October 18 & 19th! Come see me be a clever-pants in panels, for a signing, and to attend the book launch for The Dark Lord And The Seamstress on Saturday afternoon (at an hour appropriate for your littles!)


This Magazine Preview

I got profiled! This Magazine’s Sept/Oct features a lovingly written profile of yours truly by Alexander Huls. (website | twitter) I really enjoyed chatting with Alex (I always do), and I think he’s written a great piece.

And yes, it’s true. My crush on Wil Wheaton is the reason I’m a sci-fi/fantasy writer.

To read the full article, click here.

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Sooo… ya’ll like the TardisGown, right?

Want to see it -and me- up close?

September 27th, in London Ontario, I will be a guest at the Southern Ontario Cosplay Social. There’ll be panels about cosplay, vendors, and most importantly, a masquerade dinner and dancing!

And of course, I’d be happy to talk books or sign anything as well.

And yup. I’ll be wearing this light-up, hand-embroidered gloriousity. Come join me!

Photos by Amanda Irwin

It turns out, in my mad rush to be my regular type A self and make sure I get THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS kickstarter project up and running, I totally forgot to add two perks.

Two really important perks. They’ve been added now.

#1 – At the $35 level, you get:

A personal thank you tweet + your name in the back of the book on the Backers page + Paperback copy of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS, signed by J.M. Frey.

#2 – at the $200 level, you get:

Personal tweet + Your name listed on the backers page inside the book + eBook of HERO IS A FOUR LETTER WORD + Paperback copy of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS, signed by J.M. Frey + one of the original interior illustrations, signed by Jennifer Vendrig. (Only 3 available).

Well, now that I’ve cleared up that. *coughs* I’m just going to go, um… sit in the corner with my dunce cap on.

Publishing:  no one ever said it would be easy! ^_^

 

Ladies And Gents, Devils and Angels, Cosplayers and Con-Goers; 

The very talented people at Kelly-Francis Costuming got in contact with me to tell me that they’re so enamored with THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS that they’re willing to help us reach our goal!

Kelly-Francis Costuming is a company that provides costumes to film, television, theatre, circus, ren faires and for custom individual creations. They’ve worked on Hannibal, Pacific Rim, Hemlock Grove, The Shaw Festival, Resident Evil, The Stratford Festival, The Strain, The Baker Street Carollers, and Zero Gravity Circus, among others.

For a $100 donation, you’ll get:

A personal thank you tweet from me -Your name listed on the backers page in the book -ebooks of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS, and my short story anthology HERO IS A FOUR LETTER WORD -A paperback edition of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS, signed by me -$50 from Kelly-Francis Costuming to use on their products or services.

Thanks, Richard!

My agent, Laurie McLean, has posted my guest post on Kickstarter over at the Foreword Literary blog today. Go give it a read!

So there’s been a lot of great interest in THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS, and for that, I thank you! There have also been some questions, so I wanted to clear those up, and explain how Kickstarter works for those who are new to the program.

When you pledge for a project on kickstarter, the money doesn’t immediately come off your account. I, the creator, only receive money if the project is successfully backed. That is – I have requested $5,000 – if I get $5,000 of pledges, and the project is 100% backed, only THEN does the money come off your account and get funneled into my project account. If I don’t get 100% of my backing (or more!), then I receive 0% of the money. So you can pledge now, without worrying about payday, and arrange for the money to be available after September 13th, when the project closes.

To thank you for pledging/providing funds to help get this book made, I am offering little prizes and thank you gifts when you pledge at different dollar levels. Let’s take a closer look at them!

If you have any questions about the perks, please leave a comment below and I will answer!

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  • Pledge $5 or more

Personal tweet thanking you for your donation, and our eternal and undying gratitude.

  • Pledge $10 or more
    Personal tweet + Your name listed on the backers page inside the book.
    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $25 or more

    Personal tweet + Your name listed on the backers page inside the book + eBook of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $35 or more

    Personal tweet + Your name listed on the backers page inside the book + Digital copy of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS + eBook of HERO IS A FOUR LETTER WORD.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $50 or more

    Personal tweet + Your name listed on the backers page inside the book + eBook of HERO IS A FOUR LETTER WORD + Paperback copy of THE DARK LORD AND THE SEAMSTRESS, signed by J.M. Frey

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $100 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + black & white custom commissioned sketch from Jennifer Vendrig, the book’s illustrator.

    Estimated delivery: 
    Add $20 CAD to ship outside Canada
  • Pledge $100 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + Query Letter critique from J.M. Frey.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $100 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + J.M. Frey will dress up and sing a Broadway or Disney (yup, that’s me singing in those samples) song of your choosing, substituting your name, and post the whole ridiculous video to You Tube.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $100 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + Two (2) hand etched, dishwasher-safe tumblers kindly donated from Red Moon Glassworks in the design of your choice.

    Estimated delivery: 
    Add $10 CAD to ship outside Canada
  • Pledge $200 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + Query Letter critique from J.M. Frey + Manuscript critique up to 50 pages.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $500 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + Personal ringtone recorded just for you by ED THE SOCK & LIANA K.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $500 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + naming rights for a character in J.M. Frey’s new fantasy novel.

    Estimated delivery: 
  • Pledge $500 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + a white scarf with the entire poem printed on it, provided by LiteratiClub.

    Estimated delivery: 
    Add $10 CAD to ship outside Canada
  • Pledge $1,000 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + a white scarf with the entire poem printed on it, provided by LiteratiClub + ‘Tea’ party personally hosted by J.M. Frey in Toronto.

    Estimated delivery: 
    Ships within Canada only
  • Pledge $1,000 or more

    Everything listed at $50 + a white scarf with the entire poem printed on it, provided by LiteratiClub + Custom hand-drawn, fully coloured and inked art piece by Jennifer Vendrig.

    Estimated delivery: 

Week number five billion (it seems) of my Self -Publishing Adventure is here, and my Kickstarter Campaign  has launched. I don’t think I’ve slept in that time, although I’m certain I’ve stared at my bed longingly.

There’s been a lot of tea, a little wine, and lots of learning moments guided by friends and mentors, and my own small mistakes.

If you’re thinking of self-pubbing, here are the four most important things I’ve learned so far:

#1 – Have  A Deadline

… and give yourself an extra two weeks of wiggle room, just in case.

Like with NaNoWriMo, the pressure of a real live, actual and professional deadline will not only help you plow through your To Do list, but will make certain that everyone else working with you knows exactly what is due when, and to meet their own deadlines.

This also helps to avoid confusion regarding what’s due when, and how long it actually takes to do everything. Do lots of research into how long it takes for the books to get printed, the files to be approved by the printer, for the books to be shipped to you, etc. Also, confirm with your team what their realistic goals are, and then drop an extra few days onto it, just to be safe.

It’s always much better to deliver early than to be scrambling at the last minute.

#2 – Have A Contract

… and make sure it’s clear.

Contracts should be  easy to read, straightforward contract that outlines copyright (who owns what), delivery schedule, payment terms and schedule, and any other expectations. If you’re running a crowdfunding campaign, be sure to include what payment or percentage your team can expect, and what other extra work it may cause for them. (For example, my illustrator has agreed to donate some sketches and original art from our book as perks for the campaign.)

Contracts might seem scary and big, and perhaps unnecessary between friends. However, I’ve found the best way to keep friends is to make the contract, and be as non-confrontational about it as possible. Usually I say something like, “Hey, I don’t plan on suing you and you probably don’t plan on suing me (I hope), but just in case, I don’t know, I die horribly in a moped-and-gelato accident, why don’t we get it all laid out in black and white? Deadlines, payment, royalties, all of it, and that way it’s clear, and off our minds, and we all know where we stand? That good?”

And if someone really, really resists a contract, then I really, really rethink working with them. If they’re not cool signing a contract, then what are they planning to do that’s so unprofessional and terrible that they think having a contract will screw them? If they’re claiming it’s because we’re friends, then I for the sake of our friendship, I’ll insist.

You can find templates for contracts for just about anything online.   If a contract really does scare you, then if nothing else put together a very clear, bullet-pointed list of expectations, deadlines, work division, delivery dates, etc. and have everyone on the team print it out and sign it and scan it to you. That way it’s guaranteed that they’ve read it.

And that way, everyone is starting from the same place.

#3 – Have a Budget Plan

…  and be realistic about it. Budget as if you’re paying your creatives full professional rates.

Figure out where the money is coming from – and if you’re doing a crowdfunding campaign, figure out how you’re going to pay for everything if it fails. Will you continue and publish, perhaps with a delayed timeline, or just let the whole project be put to bed?

And if you are crowdfunding, you’ll have to share your budget with your backers, so be very honest with it, too.

Lastly, find a way to pay yourself, too. Generally speaking, as the writer/publisher, you’re the one who collects and keeps the royalties, so that’s your cheque there. If you’re not planning on keeping the royalties, then be realistic about how much of your own money you can throw into the project without going into debt or endangering your own finances. And also be realistic about what happens to you, financially, if the project comes to fruition but nobody buys it.

If you’re extra-counting on that royalty cheque, you may want to do some rebalancing.

#4 – Hire a Professional

… and pay them at professional rates. You plan to make money on your book, so share the wealth with the people on your team.  I’m not saying you have to cut them in on the royalties or back ends (unless that’s the agreement that you come to); paying a fee is just fine, too.

What I am saying is discuss and provide a fair and reasonable rate for the professional work that the other members of your team are providing. If possible, get as close to professional rates as you’re able. When you pay people as professionals, they provide professional work.

So why hire a professional? Well, in terms of editors, they can always catch mistakes that you didn’t see. In terms of cover artists, interior designers, and cover designers, it just makes sense. Why not hire the people who have the expertise, the experience, and the tools (do you know how much InDesign costs?)  to do the job well, on time, and in good order. Learn from them as they do the job, so next time you can maybe do some of it yourself, or at least set things up so it’s easier for them the second them you work together.

It will make your product look polished, professional, and more importantly, formatted correctly.

Nothing kills a self-published book faster than sloppy design, poor editing, and incorrect formatting.

#5 – Have a Mentor

If you’ve never done this before, talk to other self-pubbers (preferably ones with well-reviewed books) and discuss earnestly the pitfalls, research, and hard work that goes into publishing a book for yourself. Try to walk into the project with no illusions about how much the marketing is going to cost, in both time and finances, and also the expectations of the emotional rollercoasters and pitfalls. Try to have a support group, if you can, and be honest with yourself about why you’re publishing and what your realistic goals are.

A mentor can help you navigate schedules, websites, and rules that you’re encountering for the first time, but they can also help you sail smoothly over the waves of being an author before, during, and post-publication, too.

And a bonus point:

Research. Research. RESEARCH. REEEESSEEEEARCH.  REEEEEEEEEEEEEESEEEEEEEEEEEEARCH.

Do all the research, know all the things, and THEN jump into the doing of the things.

Best of luck with your books, everyone!

 

The Dark Lord and the Seamstress by J.M. Frey Illustrations by Jennifer Vendrig

Illustrated love story told in verse about the importance of looking beyond someone’s (poorly dressed) exterior and into their heart.

KICKSTARTER!

The goal: $5,000 The reason: to help fund and offset the book marketing, paying the creatives involved, and printing costs.

What is it?

The Dark Lord and the Seamstress is an unconventional love story told in verse. The finished product will be a picture book with a full colour cover, filled with beautiful black and white drawings illustrating a fun, romantic poem.

The book is suitable for kids, though it does have some dark humour.

Original interior art by Jennifer Vendrig

Original interior art by Jennifer Vendrig

This book has been in development for twelve years! But now illustrator Jennifer Vendrig and I are ready to share the story – and her gorgeous artwork – with you and your family!

The Dark Lord, a brooding demon from the depths, is tired of being the butt of all the devils’ jokes for his outdated wardrobe. When he invites the world’s most famous Seamstress to Hell to make him some new threads, he doesn’t expect to be struck by love at first sight. Now he has to figure out how to convince her to marry him and stay and Hell forever… and the Seamstress has to try to figure out how to convince him that it’s a terrible idea!

It’s the perfect gift to bring into your geeky family, and is a lovely story about looking for the good heart beneath the (style-deficient) surface for people of all ages.

The Perks

Query and manuscript critiques, personal serenades, a ringtone recorded by Ed The Sock, custom etched glassware, poems printed on scarves, commissioned art, and a ‘tea’ party personally hosted by yours truly! Check out the perks list for everything!

The Stretch Perks

J.M. Frey has a new novel coming out, playfully hashtagged #EpicFeministFantasyNovel. If the campaign reaches $6,000, she will announce the name of the new novel_ and_ post the entirety of the first chapter online for free!

For every subsequent $1,000 we raise, then she will post another chapter. (Hey, that means if the stretch goals get to $40k, everyone will get the whole book for free! How cool is that?!)

Interested in helping out? Head over to the kickstarter page and check it out!

Q: Your books are for a grown up audience, I was wondering what inspired you to do a children’s picture book?

Is it still a children’s book if it takes place in Hell? :3

While I do generally write for the adult market, with the occasional forays into YA or NA, I have always wanted to write for kids, too. Picture books are so fun, aren’t they? I’ve always wanted to write comics or a graphic novel, as well. Maybe one day I’ll have the chance to do that.

And as hokey as it sounds, I don’t begin a writing process with saying “I’m going to write a story for __________ market.”  I let the story dictate the audience. Usually when I’m done writing a story I step back and evaluate it and say, “Okay, so what market does this fit in? What’s the demographic? Does it need tweaking to fit into that market better?”

And when I wrote the poem that comprises the book, I was working in a primary school library, so there was a lot of kid lit around me, influencing the story. It was also before I actually began to write novels for the adult market, so perhaps I, myself, was youthful, too!

Q: How did you and the artist find each other?

Jennifer and I were introduced in… uuuuhm… 1996? Yeah, Wiki tells me that DBZ aired on YTV in 96.

Anyway, I had become enamored of Sailor Moon in 1995 when it aired on YTV (and lucky me, later I got to work with one of the voice directors and take some voice acting workshops from directors and talent alike), and followed that into DBZ. From DBZ I found fanfiction, and in fanfiction I found author Ruthanne Reid.

(Although, at the time, she had her fanfic pseudonym and so did I.)

Ruthanne introduced me to fanartist Jennifer, and we all chatted. I stayed in touch with Jennifer through university, where she sent me fan art and did a poster for my first play, and did some art based on the novel I was writing at the time.

In 2002, when I wrote the poem that comprises the book, Jennifer and I noodled around with the idea of doing some sort of illustrated version of it, but a webcomic was too involved for both of us (being, as we were, in school and part time jobs), and frankly self-publishing as we know it now hadn’t been invented yet.

We lot touch after Jennifer got married and began a family, but a few years later I had the opportunity to offer up the poem to a morbid little poetry chap book. The publisher and I discussed having all the poems illustrated, and I remembered the doodles Jennifer had already conceived. I got back in touch with Jennifer, and we had some discussions. She mocked up some thumbnails, but then unfortunately the publishing house collapsed and the project was cancelled.

Several more years passed, and I forgot about the poem. Eventually I was interviewed by Arial Burnz of ParaNormalRadio, and she reminded me that the poem existed. I discussed it with my agent, and we agreed that it would be a fun project for me to selfpub the poem as a picture book, and I got back in contact with Jennifer again! I figured there was no point in going elsewhere when Jennifer and I had already done so much work on the book.

And here we are!

Q: How do you choose which images to illustrate for the book?

I mentioned in a previous answer that illustrator Jennifer Vendrig and I had had the opportunity to talk a lot about the poem before we came to project, so that was very helpful. We already had a “look” established, and we already knew what the characters looked like through a few weeks of trial-and-error pencil sketches where she mostly said “Well, what about this, this and this?” and I said, “Yes! I love that, that, but maybe make that like this?” and she said “Yes! And–” (You get the point.)

When I reapproached Jennifer about doing the picture book, one of the first contractual items we discussed was how much drawing she would be doing. We agreed on the number of illustrations – one for every two stanzas – and Jennifer broke the whole thing down into a sort of a story board.

She provided me with three doodles for each stanza to choose from, and when I made my choices we discussed why I thought those were best, and what she wanted to do with it. The nice thing is, I really like Jennifer’s art, and I’ve known her as an artist for so long that in commissioning her to illustrate the book, I knew exactly what to expect. I wasn’t disappointing – I love the work!

Once we had the doodle-thumbnails locked down, Jennifer began doing pencil sketches of each illustration. She sends them to me in batches, and we discuss little changes or additions as needed. Then I sign off on the pictures. Once I’ve signed off on all of them, she’ll begin the inking process and creating the illustration for the cover.

In the meantime, Jennifer is drawing to a size spec, and the interior designer and I are working together to get the draft-layout together so that when Jennifer provides the final inked pictures, we can just drop them into place and go!

Jennifer also illustrated the announcement picture! Isn’t it cute?

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Have a question you want to ask about the book or the process? Ask in the comments below, on my Tumblr, on Goodreads, or via Twitter.