Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dragon Egg Tutorial

Over the weekend my mother in law brought a few of her older halloween magazines. I flipped through them, seeing a lot of stuff I already knew, but then a small picture of a cracked egg bursting with green light caught my eye.

Perfect Dragon Egg!

I've been wanting to make a dragon skull for awhile now (and I will once I figure out the rigging. It is happening.) and you can't have a half rotted skull without some hatching eggs around. The problem is that the tutorial began with "take a plastic egg and cut into it."

Yeah, not a lot of smooth, white, plastic eggs around. Except, it is easter.

I hunted through a bunch of stores looking for any large plastic eggs people decorated their lawns with and came up empty handed until Walgreens.

The matryoshka easter egg

It cost $8 and now I have a ton of smaller plastic eggs I have no idea what to do with.

The first step was yanking off the handle. With a sharpie I drew a crack in the top part, pulled out my dremel and probably cut a year off my life from the burning plastic smell.
I also cut a small section out of the bottom for the lights. Martha's tutorial called for using a mason jar to hold the lights (which makes some sense), but the only mason jar I had as a guide was holding skittle vodka.

Got your crack? Okay, now to do something about the fact the egg falls apart at the midsection.

Enter monster mud.

Monster mud is 5 parts joint compound to 1 part latex paint. I had some left over from my monster mudding last year but it was a bit dry so I added water, more joint compound and prayed it would work.
Monster mud gives a great rocky appearance, so if you want an egg that looks like the monster is part sediment or is petrified, really glob the mud on. Due to the age of my mud it got globbed on anyway, so I sanded parts down after.

It didn't stick perfectly to the plastic of the egg, which worked in my favor as it created hairline cracks all over the place.

Once the mud dried in about a day, I painted the egg in a layer of white latex paint. This was to help seal off the joint compound in case the egg gets wet and keep it all from peeling off.
After that, it was just using alternating tans and golds to make the egg whatever color I wanted. I thought about doing something crazy like red or green, but decided I wanted it to look more like the old dinosaur eggs.
Now just stick some lights in the bottom and turn her on.
The baby is in
 I'm going to try and find a string of red lights with a battery pack. It seems the easiest way to jam it all inside the egg for Halloween. I'll also try and make a nest out of sticks, but I might get another egg or two after Easter. Mama dragon's gonna have a clutch.

 That's how to make your own dragon or dinosaur egg.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Guest Post and a Rant

Originally, I was going to just announce that I have a Guest Post over on Indies Unlimited about how played out and exhausting The Chosen One trope is. Maybe include the first paragraph with the link to read more. But then I did what every arsehole who's ever clicked opened up Internet Explorer warned against and read the comments.

Read the article and a few comments if you'd like. I'll wait. This is a rage that's set on eternal simmer.

First, I figure I need to lay down some back story. My hatred of the chosen one wasn't born in a bubble. I didn't dig a stick in the ground just to stir up controversy for book shit. (Though if you really think I'm wrong and also a super Hitler for my opinion but want to buy my book, I won't stop you.) It began, oddly enough, this past January under a plethora of ads for a movie that fast became my arch-nemesis: The Seventh Son.

It's alright if you don't remember it. That piece of shit deserves to rot in an unmarked grave. It was everything I railed against in the article. Chosen one. Mentor who can easily save the world but won't because vague reasons. Woman who's just there for love interest and eye candy. The same shit over and over and over again. You can seem like a psychic by predicting how these movies will go without having to pay one cent to see them.

But because I dared to question a trope, rattled against the mythical ivory tower, I must be wrong. After all, Harry Potter!

Let's look at Harry Potter, especially that ending. An ending that makes even the most fanatic Muggle lightly shake her head and change the subject. It's established that someone is prophesied to take down old Moldy Voldy, but not stated who. In fact, two options are presented - our titular hero who's basically good at lucking the shit out - and Neville - character that was treated at first as laughable and a joke, but who grew and strove and found his place.

And who winds up being the chosen one? Not Neville. That would have been interesting, the character who clawed his way up from nothing instead of having it handed to him like every other chosen one. That would have been new. That would have freaked people the shit out.

People just want the same shit over and over again because it's a familiar, boring blanket they can while away their years in. Oddly, I turn to the wisest quote ever to come from Fry on Futurama:

It's why people throw a colossal shit fit about something new, why publishers cranked out thousands of Harry Potter and then Twilight clones. People say they think outside the box, but when you open the door for them they glare at the outside world and curl up in their safe haven. The same is comfort, it's safety, it's boring as shit and that's why they like it.

But this isn't just about people who like tropes but can't admit it. There's something else at play that's like rubbing a cheese grater against my nerves, then dousing it all in lemon juice.

You probably noticed, despite keeping my name androgynous I had to use an author photo revealing my gender and also the gender of the first commenter who had to say I was wrong, then restate the same shit I already did.


It doesn't matter what evidence I provide, what examples I hold up, how well I form an argument, Johnny cum Dickhole only needs to trounce his way into the argument and, by dint of his dick, have his words given a gravitas a woman's can't.

This is such a well documented phenomenon that I shouldn't have to prove it, but I know, I'm a silly girl and you can't really believe me. How about starting here? That'll lead you to a dozen articles you can claim ownership of as you insist all the authors are wrong.

Believe me, women are used to it. There a damn good reason Cassandra - who can predict the future but no one believes - is female. All women feel like Cassandra at one point in their lives.

Women are taught their word is nothing. Any man, no matter how ignorant of the subject or life in general, is looked to as a beacon of expertise. The woman holding a doctorate in the subject is thought to be acting "hysterical" and "overreacting" for correcting him.

I'm so fucking sick of it. Sick of being talked down to, talked over, treated like I have the mind of a child when I just ran mental laps around the mouth attached to a dick.

I have no idea what the solution is. Boys are still taught from the day they hit the ground that girls are lesser, female things aren't as good as male, that a woman's word means nothing next to a man's. This is epidemic to the point people can't even see the problem, don't want to see it, and certainly won't come out of their cozy bubble to try and fix it.

Anyway, my point is Chosen One tropes are fucking stupid and no one should use them.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Free Book Promo Sites!

One of the big pieces of advice for book marketing is to regularly have deep discounts or give your book away for free.

Amazon makes that pretty easy (provided you jump through their monopoly hoops) with their Kindle Countdowns and Selects, but how many people will take you up on your deals? How can you get it out there that this book is super free for a day?

Like everything in the book world, you can pay people to advertise you're giving something away for free. There is a huge list of sites here, many of which charge anywhere from $10 - $100s.

Because I'm still trying to keep as cost effective as possible, I went through that never ending list and found sites that are totally free to submit to. It doesn't mean all will be accepted, but you don't have to pay anything up front to list it.

Free Books - Only works for books that are totally free:

Discounted Books - Usually from $1.99 - $0.99 are accepted

Most take free as well

I haven't trolled the massive list of facebook groups yet because my book just went free today. If you want some twisted fairy tales for free, you can download And They Lived right now.

This is my trial run before I jump fully into Dwarves in Space promos, though there will be one coming up for The King's Blood in a month.

It takes awhile to fill out every single promo site (I spend a long Sunday afternoon wishing I was doing anything else) and you'll have to sign up for every stupid newsletter out there, but hopefully it'll help spread the word about free books a bit better than just a single twitter link.

Go forth and promo that book until you're sick of looking at it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cheap Book Covers!

As you may know, on occasion I use my photoshop skills to make book covers for other people who do exist and aren't imaginary. I recently made one for my friend and her first book:

She asked me this weekend if I could make some bookmarks to help her advertise and celebrate her book. This is what I made based upon her characters. The fourth is the back of them.
Now, to the cheap book covers. I've been making Ready to Claim book covers for the site SelfPubBookCovers. These are the ones I currently have up for sale. As you can see, they cost someone $70 to buy and then use one of their shitty font options to add your book title and name.

Well, for idiotic reasons, they've recently turned down two of my book covers, and I'm passing the savings on to you.

For just $35, 50% off, you can have either one of these covers for your very own. It's the idiotic decision sale! I'll fancy up the text, pick snazzy fonts, and alter it however you need. It's a far better deal than what you'd get from "buy jpg, slap text over it."

This one was turned down because the text was too busy, or something. It made no sense. Want the Shattered Forest for your very own? (Note, I can also change the forest to something else if you just want the broken window part)
Title/Author Name

This cover was rejected because it didn't "read" as a dagger. No, I have no idea what the hell that means either. But here is is, super cheap for just $35 and it can be yours!

Title/Author Name
Super cheap book covers for anyone who wants 'em!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Free Book Giveaway!

This weekend I got my first glimpse at the physical paperback copy of Dwarves in Space, and I have to say it's looking pretty darn good (said in GLaDOS voice).
The front cover came out better than I could have hoped

A little bit of book art on every page (or chapter head)
And even the snazzy back cover almost no one will see. Shh...it's a secret.

What better way to celebrate than a giveaway? Enter and you'll get one of these pretty, art filled books for free.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dwarves in Space by Sabrina Zbasnik

Dwarves in Space

by Sabrina Zbasnik

Giveaway ends March 30, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

If that still isn't enough, you can read two interviews either
  • Featuring Orn and Variel trying to talk over each other
  • Or one with me being my smartass self.
And I finally got the Dwarves in Space logo on some t-shirts, just to prove I'm really into this franchise idea:


Friday, March 13, 2015

Super serious does not equate to characterization

After pulling myself out of the Dragon Age: Inquisition coma, I decided to return to a genre of game that only I enjoy: sneaking. At first I prodded Dishonored (the game where Bioshock and Skyrim had an illegitimate child they keep locked in an attic). Despite hating the story and all the one dimensional characters, I freaking loved the mechanics. It's an odd feeling, like despising everything about a person except their legs.

But even those legs get exhausting after awhile so I picked up Shadows of Mordor, the Arkham asylum/Assassin's Creed bastard Ubisoft wishes it had put out instead of Unity. This slice of Lord of the Rings fanfic features one snooty elf, one ancient and out of it ruler, and - of course - a Gondor ranger with absolutely no emotions whatsoever.

Not this again!

I am so sick and tired of super serious main character. It's all anyone does. This is an affliction that falls predominantly upon the male species of media, as they are no longer able to summon an emotion beyond brooding, anger, and gas. That's it.

Gondor needs no doge

Our Gondor ranger is named Talion - I think. Shit, I'm almost done with the game and I know jack squat about him beyond dead wife and son because they're as creative as wet tissues at the bottom of a shoe. Because you can't have SUPER SERIOUS FACE without a SUPER SERIOUS VOICE to go with it, he speaks in such a low bass I can barely hear him as he mumbles through his dialogue with a pissy elf that I want to throw off the top of the tower. (When I learned the elf was also voiced by the man who was the Turian council member in Mass Effect, a whole lot of shit made sense.)

There was a brief moment in all the mumbling and brooding when Talion showed a second of humanity. It was with Ratbag, an orc you help raise to power for your own means. He was probably the best thing about the game too, which is really sad. In trying to get Ratbag to the position of Warchief, Talion kills an Uruk who turns out to have been the warchief's twin.

Talion tells Ratbag to be sure, "To show up to take the place of the dead warchief."

The orc responds with "Uh but the warchief's not dead."

And our emotionless leader slips a moment off the humanity-less leash and shouts in frustration, "I'm going to go kill him!"

That's it.

Otherwise it's brood brood brood, I'm not upset or devastated that my wife, my son, and I am dead. I'm just that background level of angry that gives me motivation but not characterization.

It's so bloody boring.

Arrow's suffering from the same problem. In their quest to make Batman: the live action series, they've run into a wall with their main character. Oliver has at best one emotion, disappointment. Even when he watches people get gunned down in front of him, even when it's his family, his response is a blank, "Oh crud."

They built him up to be that empty robot from the pilot and have nowhere to go. As they tear through his life giving and taking things away, because of Oliver's "Super serious" status, he can't react. There can't really be growth because there's nothing to grow from. It's like planting a seed in concrete. Even after Tommy died, all Ollie did was run back to his island so he could brood and chestwax in peace.

One could argue that, oh, well maybe this is the actor's fault. Except, island Oliver -- before he got the full Batman treatment -- was actually interesting to watch. He'd get frustrated, he'd joke, he'd be human. Present Ollie is a wooden stick with "serious" carved in it.

And our Gondor ranger is voiced by Troy Baker - memorize that name, you're going to be seeing it everywhere, you've already heard it. That man has voiced freaking everything. He was Booker in Bioshock, he was the Scoundrel in Diablo, he took over for the Joker after Hamill bowed out. (He's so eerily similar, I doubt you even noticed). When he's a companion or villain, the man's voice is full of emotion, but drop him into the protagonist and it's lights out.

I call it the Mark Meer effect. Another talented voice actor I go to the mattresses for because of Baeloth. But because of Male Shep (and people comparing him to FemShep), Meer is smeared with a "well, he's not very good." Look at the FemShep comparison again. Because she's female she gets to have emotions. She can be funny, upset, excited, happy; she can have a real range while a male protagonist gets - vengeful? Bioware is better, but there seems to be a dampener put on their male characters. They get shadows of an emotion while women get the full thing.

My exception to the rule is Male Hawke, who is flat out fun to listen to and why I had a nearly even breakdown of Hawkes by genders.

Why are women allowed to have emotions while the main male character must be as deep as a puddle? I suspect the issue is two-fold. One, for whatever reason media's decided that super serious = super important. If a character is shot in low saturation and only shouts pithy action lines through a terrible case of lockjaw, it has to be the most epic thing ever, right! Right?

DC, we're looking at you.

The super serious character means that actual characterization, the hard stuff to create, can be bypassed. It's a cheat for work. I could try to parse out what scares my character, what makes them happy, what drives them - or I could kill their family and make them serious. This is every single Liam Neeson character in the past decade.

Two, a lack of emotions makes male insertion that much easier.

Male insertion (ba-dum-tish) is the idea that guys need to be able to see themselves as a character to give a shit about them. It's a load of bull pushed by a society that treats men and boys like they're narcissistic toddlers, but because they've been coddled, they've come to accept it. It's why the GamerGater's throw a colossal tantrum at the idea of having to play as a woman or anything other than straight white guy. They're fucking terrified to think past their own navel.

And, because gaming companies, and tv shows, and movies are still stuck in a "only straight young white guys have money" mindset, they bend over backwards to court the solipsism. A super serious, one note character is easy to layer on top of. They have nothing in them, so nothing detracts from the bad-ass.

But when all you have is bad-ass repeated over and over, across all genres and media, it only comes out stinking like ass.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Space PSA

Having a computer implanted in your palm is useful for that person on the go, but studies have shown how dangerous a distraction it can be. Please, for your sake, and the sake of those you love: Don't PALM and spacewalk.

If you can't wait for April 8th to read about the world of Dwarves in Space, you're in luck!

You can buy the paperback copy right now.


Exclamation point!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dwarves in Space Book Trailer

I'm still not sure what the point of book trailers is, but here are some pretty space images with a script of mine slapped over top of them.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Those First Sweet Reviews

Dwarves in Space is getting some love across the internet


 Mandaray Reads:

"There wasn’t a single character on the Elation Cru that I couldn’t imagine myself hanging out with...[T]he author somehow manages to make things like pulling wires or hitting buttons on a console seem intense. It’s great.
You should absolutely pre-order this book. You should read it, hopefully enjoy it, and do a little dance that this is a sci-fi book that doesn’t rely on technobabble or each member of an alien species all being the same in order to make its point."


Margy's Musings:

Dwarves in Space” is brilliant.  The characters are well rounded, interesting, and individualistic enough that it is easy to develop favourites. It’s on to a rollercoaster ride of spills, thrills, chills and the occasional outbreak of lunacy."

 Dwarves in Space is also featured in a Book Spotlight.


Pre-order now and join in the ride on April 8th!