My next guest is Danielle Ackley-McPhail, who writes fantasy and also creates custom-made costume horns. How cool is that? We met last month at the Baltimore Book Fest (we were on the Dark Fantasy panel together). I mentioned that I was hosting a guest blog series featuring writers who also make crafts, jewelry, and other art in order to show how creative authors can be in other ways and she told me she makes one-of-a-kind horns. When I heard that, I told her I really wanted her to come blog and tell us about them and share some pictures. Her wonderful post is below. Welcome, Danielle!
How I Became The Hornie Lady
Hi, my name is Danielle Ackley-McPhail and most times I’m an author….but occasionally I’m also the Hornie Lady!
Why am I called the Hornie Lady? Funny you should ask. Several years ago a friend and fellow author came up to me and said… “I have to tell you something….when my son was younger and we would come into the dealers room, the moment he saw your display of horns he would say ‘Mom! It’s the hornie lady!’ Embarrassed, I told him, ‘No! Don’t call her that!’ but now that he’s grown I had to share that with you.”
Well, soon after she told me this story I had a chance to meet one of my literary heroes, Sherrilyn Kenyon, author of the Dark Hunter series. In that series she has a baby-goth demon named Simi who calls horns ‘hornies’. Because of that event I ended up making horns for Ms. Kenyon wholesale. Naturally, when I went pro, I had to be The Hornie Lady.
Why did I start making horns to begin with, you ask? Well…as a small-press author I learned early on the importance of diversifying. When I first started out it was very hard going only having one book, so I branched out into anthologies and grew my list. After that I made sure I had several books coming out every year just to keep new things on the table. That is important when you do the same shows over and over. If you don’t have new material the fans you’ve already made won’t have anything to buy next time. And as for what you hope will be new fans…you want to give them as many options to choose from to increase your chances that you’ll have something they will like.
That still doesn’t explain the horns, though, does it?
When I started doing conventions I wanted to have fun as well and I always loved costuming so my first efforts with clay were masks and they were strictly for myself and whatever costume I wanted to make. One of the first costumes I made was a One-Eyed, One Horned Flying Purple People Eater. Soon after that I went to a renaissance festival and saw the costume horns they sold….I was not impressed, but I was intrigued. The first thought to go through my head was “I can do better than that!”
So I tried. My first foray as a seller of horns was the very first East Coast Faeriecon. In that weekend I sold 53 set of horns and I was hooked. People loved them. My prices were reasonable, the designs were unique and original, and my method of attachment was simple. From that point on horns became a staple of my vending efforts. I had fun making them and trying new things, and from a production standpoint costs were quite reasonable.
This wasn’t just good business, but an excellent complement to my marketing as I am a fantasy author. The horns are a point of interest that often causes people to stop at the table. Once I get them to stop and start to chat with them I can then direct their attention to the books. Also they are a good conversation piece and a hawker’s hook….imagine, is there any better way to draw someone’s attention than to ask “Can I make you hornie?” If nothing else, it makes people laugh and if you can do that then you make a connection, an impression, and even if they don’t stop that time, they will remember you and eventually their curiosity will get the better of them.
At worse I sell a set of horns and nothing else, at best I can get them to buy a book as well, and I might just have made a fan, literary or otherwise! Even today I can recognize people wearing horns I sold them years ago, and repeat customers are a common occurrence. In fact, some people make a point of coming to buy a set each time they see me at a show, and not because anything happened to the ones they bought before.
One of my greatest (and most guilty) triumphs is when I discover someone trying to copy one of my designs…and not being able to pull it off ;)
In the end it comes down to one thing for me: I love to create, no matter what the medium. Words…clay…cooking…It’s all good!
More About Danielle
Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.
Her published works include five urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court: and The Redcaps’ Queen: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale, and a young adult Steampunk novel, Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the solo science fiction collection, A Legacy of Stars, the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In an Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections.
She is a member of the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, the New Jersey Authors Network, and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.
In addition to her literary acclaim, Danielle crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady, at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale.
Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail or badassfaeries), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). To learn more about her work, visit http://www.sidhenadaire.com, or http://www.badassfaeries.com.
To find Danielle’s horns online, click here
To find Danielle’s books online, click here
If you are a writer who makes and sells art, jewelry, or some other type of craft, and you are interested in guest blogging, please contact me for more details. I have a few guest spots left.
Hope everyone had a nice weekend. Ours can be summed up in three words: planes, trains, and automobiles. Or movies, music, and books. We flew down to Cape May for the New Jersey State Film Fest on Saturday then took the train up to NYC for Gary Wright’s concert/book signing event Sunday night at the City Winery. (Gary is my husband’s cousin. He is a musician, memoirist, and all around great guy. The concert was fun. Hadn’t heard him sing Dream Weaver live since his impromptu performance at our wedding. I have a great picture, which I might post if I can find it…)
How about you? Did you do anything fun last weekend? Do you think Danielle’s horns are as neat as I do?
Thank you, Danielle, for guest blogging today!