Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Bling Giveaway: Rhi Etzweiler's Blood & Peyote Dreamcatcher

Book Bling Giveaway!

In honor of Rhi Etzweiler's fantabulous new story, Blood & Peyote, coming out on the 14th as part of the Unconditional Surrender M/M Military Bundle, I am hosting Rhi with a special shiny giveaway.

Yaaaaaay Giveaway!

heehee, those are fun.

The giveaway is for a sterling silver, Moss agate and Tiger Eye dreamcatcher I just had to make after falling in love with Rhi's new lovelies, Apisi & Char. It's not every day you read a story and out pops a shiny, but ... I couldn't help myself. They had to have one. So, here ya go. Want it?

Of course you do! Leave a comment on this post to enter. Easy peasy. Oh, and make sure you give me a way to contact you, in case you win. Tis vera important.

Giveaway is open worldwide and will run thru release day, 10/14. :)

*******


“I almost did it, Api. I had the Glock in my mouth and my finger on the trigger.”
Blood & Peyote is about two Montana National Guardsmen who’ve recently returned from their third combat deployment, their first OEF tour in Afghanistan. One of the main characters is Apisi Howling, a Kainai Native American who has a job as a Game Warden in the eastern regions of Glacier National Park, just west of the Blackfoot Reservation he calls home. His battle buddy is Chartreuse Beaudrou, a redheaded bear and a large animal veterinarian who services the beef ranches in the area and struggles with Survivor’s Syndrome.
When they redeployed home from Afghanistan, Char requested space and Apisi complied, limiting contact to regular phone calls. As the story opens, their platoon sergeant alerts Apisi to a “code black” situation with his battle buddy. Attempted suicide. Apisi throws out all the rules, and their agreed boundaries with them. Can these two battle-scarred veterans find a way to live with their demons, including their mutual attraction?

The book bling is a dreamcatcher design handcrafted of sterling silver, moss agate, and tiger’s eye by Freia Inguz Artisan Jewelry
First Nation cultures use dreamcatchers to trap the negative energies of nightmares, allowing only the positive energy to flow down through the feathers and into the one it protects. Moss agate is a power stone among First Nation cultures, with a strong affinity for water and weather. It represents Chartreuse by conveying the color of his eyes, as well as the strength of his emotional bonds. Tiger’s eye encourages stability and peacefulness, and represents Apisi’s grounding nature and communion with the Earth.
Giveaway runs through release day!

The Unconditional Surrender bundle is a limited release anthology of brand new stories from 13 different bestselling authors of gay romance. Release date is 13 October, and availability is scheduled to end in March. The 600-page ebook is currently available for pre-order for 99 cents through Amazon USAmazon UKAll RomanceiTunesBarnes & Noble, and Kobo



About the author:
Rhi enjoys creating characters and worlds with a speculative mixture that defies easy genre labels. For Rhi, storytelling is an artistic medium, and there's rarely such thing as a short one. “Sometimes luring or bribery of muses is required. Once they realize I’m listening, they don't stop.”


Goodreads: Rhi_Etzweiler
Twitter: @musefodder


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Post Shiny Show Plan - I haz it

Well, I must say, that show shit is sure fun. :D That's party every day fun there.

I've spent the last 3 days licking my wounds and going thru my process of... I don't know what to call this... process of... digesting what has transpired with my first show.  What it all means. And what I'm going to do about it. Or ... not do.

The problem is not that the show was fail. The problem is, I don't know how to avoid the fail. I don't know what the hell I missed to land myself in the twilight zone. And if I don't know, how do I do better next time?

I've gone over everything that happened, everything I've been told. Everything I've... learned. I understand that there is a difference between art shows and craft shows, and that I belong at an art show. This was a craft show.

Check.

I understand that there are festival booking websites that you can use to tell you what kind of shows are out there. They tell you art/craft/beer/wtfwhatever event. I understand it is a very useful tool in telling the difference.

Check.

Juried. Juried is important. Means they only let certain things in.

Check.

I did all that. I did all that and more. x10. I was so careful it I drove myself bonkers.

To learn from my mistake, I took the advise I'd been given by people at the show and put it to the test. I looked up the AWESOME places I DID belong (according to them) and I compared the information to the way farkin' awesome Sisters Artist Marketplace at the Quilt Show. Know what? IT SAID THE SAME EXACT THING! It cost the same, had the same requirements, same categories, same everything.Same, same, same.

I don't... huh? No. No. It should say something different, right? Seems it should. There were no categories or options for crazy quilt ladies with torches and pitchforks heading up city war with event to choose but come on. Surely "nice art show with jewelry" should say something different than...than... whatever in the hell they just passed off as a show.

It didn't.

Now what?

This crap ain't cheap. Learning from my mistakes is great and all, but I can NOT keep learning at $250-$500 per lesson. Can't do it. And I sat down and ran the numbers tonight of what the damn thing really cost. I had the 250 fee in my head this whole time. YEah, there was a LOT more too it than that. Forgetting the booth and everything that will be used for future 'shows',  just the show: entry fee, days off work, food, water, gas, and misc whatever else to get thru hell...I didn't even cover 1/2.

Responsible me that wants to think she is running some kind of business here, small as it is...yeah, she just totally shaved my buzz. Wasn't that great of a buzz to start with. Bitch.

Anyway, this didn't work. What now?

I've decided... I'm not ready to deal with this. It's ruining everything. Not /just/ this. It's this... on the heels of the gallery deal. It's all bigger than just a stupid show that was total whack. It's a whole year of whack. Whack that wasn't my fault, but whack nonetheless. And worse than just whack, it's whack I can't figure out a reason for. I need something I can hold on to so I can try again and have a chance to succeed. Some thing I can do different next time.

Whatever. I'm done. For this year.

I'm cancelling the September show. Lesson learned: if someone walked up to me right now and offered me nonrefundable fee amount to go sit thru last weekend again, would I do it? The answer...no fucking hell no no shitfuck no fukkoff no way fucking hell no. No. So I figure, even if he doesn't give me any of my money back... whatever. I'll get over it.

I had been advised by pottery guy to get into the October Harvest faire. That was the one I needed. Ok. Looked in to it. Looked really promising, if I could meet the jury requirements I've never done uber quick, and they still have room.

Yeah, well, went to the bead store today. Retail therapy. Turns out, the bead lady had done that show several many times. She did not have good things to say. One of which was that her highest gross was $600, lowest... $35.00.

Um... refer to lesson #1 for the answer to whether or not I'm doing that.

So that leaves me with ... I'm done. Lessons are great and all but at the end of the day, I don't want my major win to be 'at least I did it, and I didn't blow up'. I mean, come on. Let's be honest. That's a sucky fucking win.

So, I'm stepping back. I'll concentrate on filling up my Etsy. I haz stuff. And go back to what I want to be doing, which is learning new ways to /make/ shiny. I have new areas I want to go, my head is clammering (usually) with new ideas and ... and... I can't do anything because I'm too busy and stressed out trying to go all tents and stores. It's blowing up on me for a reason.

It just isn't my time. And I'm forcing it.

Anyway, while I'm doing that, instead of doing more shows, I'm just going to /go/ to more shows. I'm going to hit the ones that look promising. Actually get off my ass and go to them, scope them out. Get a feel for where I want to be and be ready to apply for next year. I have 2 or 3 in mind already.

I'm also pondering a wholesale jewelry gallery downtown. Went today and they're full right now, but I could try to get in line... maybe. And a gallery downtown I've been referred to several times... couldn't hurt to just check them out.... maybe...

Anyhoo. I write long blog posts. Would you believe they've been shortened greatly before I post them? Used to be novels. Still long, there's another.

Go me.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My First Shiny Show

I did it. I took the plunge. Researched local venues, built my booth, made my shiny and... plunged.

My first shiny show.

Oh how great it was!

I signed up for a show at one of Central Oregon's biggest, longest running, premiere events... The Sister's Quilt Show. It would be fabulous. 3 days, set in the park, under the trees, in a lovely grassy area, with thousands upon thousands of shoppers looking for artwork. 

And shiny.

I was scared to death, and very excited. After my experience with the art gallery, this was going to be my ticket. I put everything I had into making sure I had the best showing I could pull together, lots of shiny to bring: If I built it, they would come.

I managed my best, loaded up my wares, turned in to Freia and headed out. 

Day 1

When I got there, my fabulous show was setting up not in the lovely park but a dirty gravel lot. At the wrong end of town. 

Ok. No biggy. The people will come all the way down. They will. I know it.

The nice event coordinator gave me my license, made out for Erica Irgazy, and led me to my space. 

Unsure who Erica was, I went about my business and began setting up my booth. It was going to be so great. Erica was going to do well too. I was sure of it.

I started unloading my truck, when a man started yelling at me. "I need the ramp! Wanna help me with this? Or do you want me to hit your truck with it?!"

Um... *looks around*... me?

Yeah! wanna get out here?! 

Um... sure... 

I helped the nice man, who proceeded to yell at me 3 more times about the ramp I didn't realize they erected for him and him alone. I decided I didn't need his sacred ramp, I could unload without it, carry all my heavy things on my back, and run him over with my truck.

I was good, and restrained myself.

This was going to be great.

I went to set up my booth, it was going well. I got a good start on muscling it out by myself. Careful to stay inside my space, wedged between 2 other booths, on some side aisle.

It was going to be great.

As I was wrestling with it all, the nice lady next to me started yelling. 

WHOA WHOA WHOA! LINES! YOU HAVE TO STAY IN THE LINES! MY TABLES!!!! STOP! MY TABLES?!

Me? Was she talking to me?

I looked at the lines I was trying so hard to stay inside of and saw that I was. She continued to yell.

I'm sorry! What...? I am...I...What?

HERE! GIMME IT! DAMMIT MY TABLES!!

The nice lady adjusted my corners so I was inside the critical lines. She was so kind to help me. I didn't see the booth move, but she seemed satisfied with the lines, her tables knocking into my booth, against my tables. 

HOLD ON!! she yells. 

Standing in my booth, not touching a damn thing, I held on. 

Finally she seemed satisfied with these lines, I smiled at her, told her I was glad she was happy now, and went back to setting up my booth. 

It was going to be great. 

Daughter came, thank god, and together we got everything ready. We stood back, looked at the booth we'd set up, proud of ourselves for getting it all done right, and not passing out from the heat and daughter went to work, leaving me to it.

The show started. 

I sat there in my booth, waiting for the throngs of people to come and swoon over my shiny. It was going to be so great! They were going to come, love it and buy EVERYTHING! I just knew it. 

The people started to come. They looked. Beautiful! they said. Them they left.

The temperature rose. And rose. 

And rose.

It went like that for hours. Finally a lady came in, looked really hard at everything, beautiful she said. Then she turned to me, sneered and said...

"What are you doing here?"

"Um... o.O... I uh... huh?" I replied intellegently.

"Heeeere." she replied like I was an idiot. Deepening her sneer and over emphasizing she says "What are you doing ... heeeeeeeeere?" 

"I'm here for the quilt show. This is my first show I've ever done and I thought the quilt show would be a great place to start"

"Art shows. Art and wine. That's where you belong." she said, turned on her heels and left.

o.O um... ok.

I decided to take that as a compliment of some kind, and resumed waited for the people. Great. This was going to be great.

All day long, people came, people looked, people left.

All day long, it got hotter, and hotter, and hotter.

I sat in my booth, sweat dripping off my body with audible "plop" noises as it hit the dirt covered gravel, watching the people come and go. Unable to breathe in the back of the stifling tent, the only air circulation to bring me any relief came in rare burst filled with the lovely scent of pelts from the dead animal skins hanging on the outside of the booth across the asile. I started to try to listen to the other vendors talking around me to distract myself from thinking I would surely die here of heat stroke, dead in my booth I was so proud off. 

"You know the government controls the weather right? They are trying to kill us, they call it global warming. See those clouds? Those aren't clouds. They are chem trails, raining down on us, put there by the gov't. Here, go get these books for the bookstore and read all about it. Educate yourself! But use only cash to buy the book. When the buses come to take the people away, they will find you from the purchase you made on the computer system. You know computers were made for that right? To track you. Don't be fooled, they will round you up. Nazis, remember the nazis..."

O.O

My booth neighbor was rather gabby about his conspiracies. On and on he went. I began to think some one WAS trying to kill me, but I wasn't sure it was the gov't.

Music started.

"Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be cowbooooys..."

I looked out to see a 95year old man, dressed in all black, wearing a white cowboy hat, his big belt buckle catching the sun and blinding me. 

"Mama, don't let your babies..." he went on. Off key.

I went back to my chair and sat down.

"And the water supply. They are poisoning the water supply. The gov't doesn't want you to know..."

The temperature continued to rise. Sweat running down my face, mixing with the 10,0000x SPF face lotion I was diligent to put on to avoid sunburn was running into my eyes. Burning. Burning. My eyes... were on fire. Unable to see, my eyes begin to water. Or were they sweating? 

The smell of hot pelts wafts by, mixed with a pleasant hint of handmade soap from across the way. The mixture turning my stomach.

Unable to leave my booth because I was all alone, and scared someone might steal something, I began to think ... yes. Yes I will die here. With no water, a bladder that will burst any minute, I will die of heat stroke, in a pool of my own sweat, in the dirt covered gravel, with my eyeballs burned out of my head from my sunscreen lotion, and choking on the smell of dead animal skin, to the sound of bad country music. It didn't take long before I WISHED the gov't would hurry up with the killing me thing. Or maybe I would finally get lucky and God would strike me down and get this fucking shit over with.

It was going so totally great. Just like I dreamed it would.

I looked up to see a woman, wearing a dead animal on her head, fluffy tail trailing down her back, adjusting my mirror to see how her new hat looked. 

"Um... hi" I said. 

"Hi"

She paws my mirror, admiring herself.

Unsure what to do, "It's cute" I say.

"I know. I love this bracelet of yours" and she turns and bounces off, back to Pelt Guy.

o.O um... thanks... o.O

I go back to listening to music, conspiracy theories and praying for death.

The day went on like this. On and on and on. 

I began to talk with my neighbors. Met nice Cooling Scarf Lady next to me, sweet Soap Ladies across from me. We began chatting a bit. 

Next thing I know, dead animal hat lady comes back, with a friend in tow. Grabs my woven bracelet, shoves it at her friend and says... "This! This is what I want! Isn't it fabulous?!?! See how she did this? You can make me this, can't you?" she says. The friend inspects it, hands it back to her friend, hushed whispers they put the bracelet back... "yessss" she says and they bound off again.

o.O um... ok then. I seem to have made a sale for someone.

A man comes in, pushing my potential not buying anything customers aside and begins trying to sell me his stones. Laying his wares out on my tables, he begins going into full sales mode. "this one is so beautiful! And I'd give you a discount and only charge you $3500!" 

People walk by because they can't get in my booth.

Pelts. I smell pelts. Mixed with lavender. The gov't is coming. God is not killing me. Why am I still here?

The day goes on. 

Finally, I make a sale. My first sale. A small one, but... that's ok. I made a sale. I begin to think... maybe. Just maybe, it will be ok.

Then another one. A medallion finds a home with a very excited lady who argued with her husband until he agreed. It was awesome. They wheeled and dealed, split the cost, and she wore her new necklace out dancing on cloud 9.

I danced as well.

I can do this thing. I can sell my shinies, while vacationing in hell, I can. I can do this.

Towards the end of the day, Soap ladies and I begin to hear rumors. There is something really wrong with the show. No one was doing very well. We begin to compare notes. 

"Did you see the news?" Cooler scarf lady interjects.

"No"

"Oh yeah. It was on last night. Talking about the tents coming to town, and how bad it was for everyone, like walmart coming to town. There's a big fight going on..." she says

Pelt Guy, walking by, stops and nods. "It's 2 of the quilt ladies,there and there" He says pointing. "They're in hard with the city and together they are trying to get rid of the show. That's why we're down here this year. That's why we were forced to have those licenses this time, which cost more than the entry fees. Lawsuits are pending over it all. That's why no one is buying anything." Then he walks off.

o.O What?

Soap ladies and I stare at each other, not sure what to make of this new information.

Sure enough, unhappy vendors all around begin to talk about it.

Lovely. My first show, which is going to be great, and I'm in the middle of a political war. This... is going to be great.

I was ready to cry, more than once this lovely day. I had put all my eggs in this one basket. It was hot and going horribly. I tried to console myself by telling myself I had at least sold 2 things and whatever happened, at least I covered my entry fees. Soap ladies assured me the first day was always bad, the next day would be the big day and we would all do fabulously. How could we not? We were at the big awesome Sister's Quilt Show. All would be well.

I began to think... yes. Ok. This is my first time, these people have been doing this for years. It's not going at all like I thought, but yes. Tomorrow will be the big day and it's going to be... great.

Day 2

Throngs of people. There were throngs and throngs of people. More people than I'd ever seen in one place. The entire city was blocked off to hold the masses. It was amazing. The quilt show had begun.

So many people. So.Many!

None of them were coming this far down.

I went out to see the crowd. I looked down the street and saw... the city had set up baracades. One on the right side of us to close off the city and redirect traffic and one on the left to... I have no idea what it was supposed to do. How odd. I wondered what it said.

I walked down to take a look. There were flaggers on the corner. The baracade... said nothing. It was just a road block. A show block. They fucking blocked the show from the quilt people. Very few people were crossing the barrier. Turns out barricades are very effective at turning people around. So are flaggers directing crowds.

What the hell?

Back to my booth I went, with a big o.O

I sat there, the heat higher than the day before, wondering... what is that all about?

Some people came, they looked, they left.

Hours and hours went by. I could see the crowds. They were right there. A block away. Many crossed the barrier to shop the stores on the other side of the street. They went in, came out, sneered at us, and walked away.

o.O

I began to smell smoke.

I went back to the street to look around, and a fire had broken out what looked like mere blocks away. Smoke billowing up, filling our little marketplace.

Wonderful!

This is it. God decided to take pity on me and strike me down. Not with heat stroke like I was sure he would, but with fire. Fucking awesome.

People began filtering thru.

"Why do they hate you so much?" I over hear.

"The quilt people are don't want us here and are trying to shut us down."

"Boy oh boy ain't that the truth! You should hear what's going on throughout the town! So ... will you be coming back?"

What the fuck?

More and more people come, saying the same thing.

What the fuck?!

Turns out the rumors of quilt ladies spearheading efforts to rid the town of 'tent city' was in fact true. And the old bitches spent the ENTIRE day not selling quilts, but trashing the crap out of the artist market. A couple of faithful store owners came to see some of their vendors, crossing the strike lines bringing stories of how bad it really was. Every store and tent vendor involved in the /real/ quilt show was doing all they could to drive people away from the white trash down the street.

What the actual fuck?!?!

No one sold anything. Not a shiny, not a bar of soap, nor a pelt.

The day went on. And on. And on. Lookie loos telling me how much I don't belong here, loving my jewelry and not buying a thing. The heat rose and rose and rose. The stragglers came and went. Dead animal hat wearers came to use my mirror while Mean Lady would go lather herself up from head to toe with sample lotions from dear soap ladies. They were as fed up and frustrated as I was.

 I began to wish again for a death that wasn't to come. Just get this over with. Why am I here? I can't do this! How did this happen?! Did I really sign up for a show of awesome that was really a political war between a little market place event and a city run by 2 old quilt bitches? Next to Mean Lady the Lotion Thief with her thrift store looking mobile quilt store yelling at me about tables and lines, Sweet little ol' Cooling Scarf /Marshmallow Gun Lady, and Beer Loving Asshole Pelt Guy, listening to Gabby Conspiracy Guy, bad country music, in a fucking gravel pit?

Yes. Yes I had. My gift of universal good fortune was working overtime.

I should have known it would. It's a strong gift I have. I have always been truly blessed by it.

The day went on like this. My only sale eventually coming to me from the dear Soap lady who finally decided on which shiny was hers. I was very grateful for it.

No one else bought anything all day long. 10 hours I sat there, wishing I could get out of this hell trap by any means possible, when the event coordinator came around with a notice. The city had amp'd up it's efforts and would no long allow us to close down at the agreed upon time. We were not allowed to use the street to pack up until an hour after we were supposed to be gone. Then they would think about closing off the street and giving us access.

I have to stay LONGER?! Are you fucking kidding me?!!!!

Yes. Yes I do. Because if even 1 vendor doesn't do it exactly right at exactly the city dictated time... the show can never be again.

Vendor mutiny. That's what they were after now. And it was working.

I ended the day, the BIG day... worse off than I did the day before, twice a hot, twice as frustrated, trying to figure out how I could off myself with a pair of earrings or a sharp pendant and went home to cry and cuddle with my dog.

Day 3:

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Day 3 brought the thunder storms. The quilt show was over, but still, no one came to buy anything. A few came down to see the freak show in tent city, but none that wanted any kind of art. Not shiny, not photograph, not pottery, not luscious soap. They wanted $15 fake crystal tree pendants on plated wire, $6 cooling scarves and spiels about government conspiracies. The music was better. The rains came, mixing with the dirt covered gravel. Pools collecting in the surrounding booths flooded down the sides and on to my tables, splashing my ivory table cloths and white leather busts with dirt water. By this point...I just had no shits to give anymore. About anything.

The poor soap ladies turned sudsy, said FUCK THIS SHIT, WE ARE OUTTA HERE! and left.

With my show friends gone, I sat by myself and marveled about my good fortune. Daughter showed up and saved me.

Thank god for daughter. I seriously would NOT have made it out of this alive without her.

Since I wasn't alone in the booth anymore I decided to carry my jewelry making supplies out to truck. We needed the room in the booth and my dumbass forgot the wire cutters so I couldn't make anything anyway. Best to pack it away.

As I was returning from my forever away walk to the truck where the city made us park, I spotted an art gallery with a sign that said... Art: Paintings, jewelry, sculptures. With my fabulous luck at shows I thought... ya know... galleries just weren't all /that/ bad, and headed inside.

"Hello" a lady said.

"Hello" I said, smiling back at her.

"Are you in town doing some shopping?"

"No. I'm over there with my booth. I'm doing my first show, I make jewelry. I saw your sign and thought I'd stop in."

"You make jewelry? What kind?"

Beaming, I held out my wrist to show her my hand woven bracelet, and pointed to my labradorite medallion. "I make this kind of thing..."

They looked at each other and... started laughing.

"And you're... where?"

I pointed out the window, smiled and said... "Over there. It's my first show and thought the Quilt show would be so wonderful to be at..."

They laughed louder.

"Awwwww. You didn't know about the politics behind everything did you?" laughed one
"You aren't next to the pelts are you?"  laughed the other

"ummm... well... yes... actually..."

Laughter. Such loud laughter.

"Well, you know, we are an artist owned co-op gallery that we all take turns working. There are 7 artist owners and some consignments..." she looks me up and down and out the window "but we don't take just an-y-one.

3 times. I counted. 3 times she made sure I knew not just any riffraff off the street was allowed. Strong undertones of 'especially from tent city"

And laughter.

I cocked my head, looked at them... and wanted to cry.

I left the gallery and headed back to tent city, to my beautiful booth I worked so hard to make. The one in the dirt gravel pit, with dirt splattered jewelry displays; the place I didn't belong. I had been laughed out of an art gallery for being part of Tent City, while being shunned by a drunk pelt maker from within. My life was now complete.

I'm not sure anymore why I thought shows were for me. If this is how they go... I want nooooo part of them. Some artists I'd met assured me it wasn't. There are places for me, just... not here. They didn't belong here either. They gave me some tips on where to go and what to do that will hopefully prove to be better. I've got this spendy booth crap now and I have to at least try again, until I make my cost back. The good news is... I signed up for 2 of these shows, and I've been assured... I won't belong at the second one either.

I'm so very excited about that.

Whatever. It's over now. We finally finished up, packed up and got out. I'm not sure when I've ever been more happy that something was over. My first show was a complete disaster and full of so much wtfery... my head is still spinning. I keep remembering little things and just sitting wondering... how the actual hell... what the actual fuck...

I thought a lot of things would go wrong. I stressed about so many things. But never once, never even once, did anything that happened ever even cross my mind.

Now I'm trying to figure out what to do. Where to go. How to know when I'm stepping in to a nightmare, and paying extra for the privilege. I tried so hard. I failed so bad. I'm trying to comfort myself with the fact that I /did/ sell a few things. And I /did/ learn a lot.

The truth of it all is... I am tired of learning so many things. There has to be a better way. There has to be...

Doesn't there...?

Well, there it is. My very long, novel type blog post about my very long, twilight zone feeling trip to hell to try to sell my shiny.

It was great. So very great.


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