Fruition

The main character in my book “Strax and the Widow”, Kate Church, has a moment in which she cleverly escapes her nemesis in very crafty and surprising fashion. It’s the main plot twist in my steampunk adventure. Obviously, I won’t give it away, but Kate’s plans had come to fruition. A phase in which I’m enjoying right now.

2014 was a pretty tumultuous year. I was finally fired from an agonizing job I’d tried so hard to leave. I ended up finding employment in my field within a few short weeks, doing almost the exact same position. I left after about three months, taking a leap of faith to really pursue my art, with a full time job at costume/party shop for back up.

But with all the hard work I’ve put in, I’ve created a solid foundation on which to continue pursuing my passion. Dreams are being put into action. Books and art are being created and sold. Manifestation is becoming my middle name. I’ve got a list of plans and ideas a mile long. I believe that they too will come to fruition.

I’m cutting out what’s not working. Have had a cafepress store for years and like Facebook, they kept changing rules, commissions, etc. Not a single sale all year, so good bye. Google+? I’m on it, but I never post there.

What is working? WordPress of course, but I am getting rid of the actual Scoop from the Coop blog. One art blog is enough. Mysteampunkproject celebrated its second anniversary and I’m well into my third year of blogging.

Etsy is the best place to find my art (in The Haute Hen store). I am experimenting with a few others, but for now, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the 7,000 views in my Etsy store. As promised, I’ve just added some photo prints and more unique steampunk and gift items are on their way.

I will remember and savor other good things from 2014:

I finished my first full novel, “Strax and the Widow” and completed the first ten volumes of “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series.

I had a juried piece in the superbowl of dog art, “The Art Show at the Dog Show” and had two pieces selected for the prestigious 2015 Washington Dog Park Calendar.

I did some set design for an indie movie “I Remember Me” from a talented writer and director Chelsea Zotta. I’ll let you know when it’s released. It should be awesome.

I was selected for another public, large scale art project, stl250 Cakeway to the West. My cake, “The Spirit of St. Louis” was displayed at the Soldier’s Memorial in downtown St. Louis and was later auctioned off for charity. It’s currently on loan to Patti-Ann’s Exchange, a unique art and resale shop.

The only promoting for this blog is my Etsy store. Again, thank you for 7,000+ views! So to celebrate Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day, there’s a 25% off code LUVMASKS25 in the store for ALL items. The link to a fabulous mask and the store is here:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/182900579/steampunk-gold-mardi-gras-light-up?

As always, thank you for reading,

-Victoria

UPDATED 75% OFF-So Out with the Old, in with the New

SPECIAL UPDATE-I wanted to update this blog with a quick thank you to the HUNDREDS that downloaded my free books AND to announce that through 12/30/14 ALL items in my Etsy store are 75% OFF with code NEWYEARS75. Please feel free to share it. I have everything from steampunk fashion, art and antiques that MUST go in order to make room for new items I have ready to add, including photo prints, more steamy and fun hats, and of course more dog items.

Thank you as always for reading and your patronage!

Victoria

______________

I hope that you are having a most lovely holiday season! If you aren’t, I hope things get better soon.

And maybe some FREE downloads will help? OR 50% OFF in my Etsy store? Read on!

Today, 12/26 only, the whole Vampire’s Little Black Book Series is FREE for the last time, for volumes 1-10. The covers are redone and I am working on a compilation to be released next year. I hope you will share this with friends and feel free to comment/critique on amazon and goodreads. My link to my author page (and all my titles) is here:

http://www.amazon.com/Victoria-L.-Szulc/e/B00CDFDIBI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1419620251&sr=1-2-ent

10 The Vamp Hit List

Not a big reader? Like to shop, like dogs, unique fashion and jewelry? Use code XMAS50 for 50% in my Etsy store. Offer good for a limited time, so please check out the store, link below:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheHauteHen

K7

As always, thank you for reading!

-Victoria

________

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads! The sequel, “Revenge and Machinery” is coming soon!

Image

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)

-Etsy-TheHauteHen

-Instagram-Steampunkcountess

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-store coming soon

 

 

Shooting Steam

Part of my steampunk project has been photographing my art, fashion and book covers. I love this outlet for my creativity. I rarely pass up the opportunity to be a chameleon or show my work.

When I first starting looking at steampunk as an art form, I had an iphone 4s. Previously I’ve had throw away cameras, a 35mm and a Kodak digital. The camera on my phone blew me away. The ability to edit on the spot, send pics instantly and a long battery life suddenly made shooting pics exhilarating.

The cover for “Strax and the Widow” is a good example of this process. I already had a good logo from a graphic designer, I just needed a decent image. I was going to “play” my main character Kate Church, but after a while I decided I needed something powerful. An pic that would demonstrate Kate’s strength and the antique setting of the Wild West. I finally settled on some objects that represented key plots in the book which were assembled on a repro Victorian chair. One of the props is an eight foot bull whip that I actually know how to use. And somehow lost in my 600 square foot apartment. Fortunately I work for a costume shop and picked up a replacement. I shot it in color and liked the composition, but it just didn’t click…

IMG_0918

…until I filtered it to black and white. Then, magic:

cover

Add the logo, a graphic background and voila, cover done:

Strax Book Cover

Another benefit to all this self portraiture has been a tremendous morale booster. I’ve never been the thinnest girl in the room, but expressing myself through the characters in my book has been liberating, to say the least. When I started “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series, the covers had kind of cute illustrations of objects related to the book. As the series has progressed, I realized that the covers needed some sophistication. I had found a model/actor, Patrick Renfrow, to be Will, my vampire, and used him for a couple shots (one of which is Patrick’s own self portrait). Other than those two volumes that feature “Will” on the front, only one other “Svetlana Red and the Chevaliers” is not me. Yep, I’m on the remaining seven covers, or parts of me. Wigs (I’ve now added 2 new ones to my collection), make-up and some ham acting have resulted in some really nice shots.

This last couple of weeks, I had only three more covers to reshoot as I prepare to put all ten vamp stories in a compilation, “The First Ten Bites”.

First up, was “Emma” from “The Long Moonlight”. A week ago, on late Sunday eve, the lighting was perfect with dusk settling in with a mix of blue Christmas lights. Emma is a werewolf and the moon enchants her. She comes undone. I let my auburn hair fly. I really liked how this set came out, even with the light distortion. First the actual cover and cover shot, then other takes from this set:

1 The Long Moonlight

The Long Moonlight

Moonlight 1A Moonlight 2 Moonlight 4 Moonlight 5

Next up was a reshoot, just a couple days later, for “Mabel” and “Roarin’ 20’s”, two of the older stories in the series. “Mabel” became much more of a challenge than I thought. This episode of The Vampire’s Little Black Book is different from many of the others in that Mabel is not a raving beauty. She’s an older, plump woman, a shy and stubborn farmer in 1930’s. This character hits close to home for me.

Back in 2010, I hit an all time high with my weight. Despite working out and occasionally dieting, I was, quite frankly, enormous, bordering on morbidly obese. I started training harder. I did the trendy but effective Beach Body Insanity. I managed to keep most of what I lost off, but after a couple of back injuries I started to regain some of the weight. The good news is some of that weight was a non cancerous tumor/herniated umbilicle (I blogged about it here: https://www.google.com/#q=How+to+repair+a+herniated+navel+and+use+it+for+vampire+material ). After I had emergency surgery last year, not only am I lucky to be alive, but I am celebrating it by continuing to take care of myself and get more fit. I am almost 60 lbs. lighter than I was five years ago. Got a long way to go on getting super fit, but I’m on that road.

Mabel was easy to write. I’d been in her shoes. So back to the session and how to get that on film…

How do you shoot yourself, while not so pretty but still make a good cover? I thought that this would be easy. It wasn’t. I ended up taking about twenty shots until I was finally satisfied with one single piece. I didn’t save any others, here’s the winner:

Mabel

I needed to feature a locket (a key component to the story) and show the essence Mabel as a good hearted, plus sized woman. I think I succeeded, here’s the finished cover:

4 Mabel

In stark contrast, I shot “Roarin’ 20’s” cover immediately after Mabel, and it was easy to get into character. I had gathered up my props and costume. I darkened my make up and did test lighting with some LED Christmas lights:

 

20s 1 20s 2

With a new super white wig, and multitudes of pearls, I was ready to cosplay “Sadie” the poor little rich girl flapper of “Roarin’ 20’s”. Well, I thought I was. Part of the props were two real cigarettes which I’d bought from a coworker. I haven’t smoked since my teens. A bad episode of strep at sixteen pretty much cured me of smoking anything forever. So with one cancer stick placed in the cigarette holder, I started shooting. But it wouldn’t stay lit (after three relights) and I couldn’t get the smoky club feeling I wanted. Down went the holder and I lit up for real.  The noir filter worked incredibly well. I actually got a little nicotine high, and the good pics came quickly and easily. Here’s a sample:

20s 6 20s 11 20s 14 20s 17 20s 22 20s 25

And the winning shot and cover:

Roarin' 20's

2 Roarin' 20's

My cover redos for the upcoming compilation are complete. Soon I’ll have autographed prints available in the Etsy store and standard prints of the photos and covers on FineArtAmerica. Here are all ten covers of The Vampire’s Little Black Book Series:

1 The Long Moonlight2 Roarin' 20's3 Esme4 Mabel5 Creating Anna6 Thirty Three Forever7 Can You Hear My Heart Beating8 Everyone Looks Better Undead9 Svetlana Red and the Chevaliers10 The Vamp Hit List

PLEASE DON’T FORGET! You can download all titles for FREE on 12/26 from amazon/kindle. This will be the last time I’ll offer them for free. Please share and feel free to critique and comment on amazon or goodreads.

A quick update, the steam trunk has found a home, a local steampunker bought it. My Etsy store is almost at 5,000 views! Thank you so much for your patronage.

And as always, thank you for reading.

-Victoria

The Vampire’s Little Black Book series is always FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads! The sequel, “Revenge and Machinery” is coming soon!

Image

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)

-Etsy-TheHauteHen

-Instagram-Steampunkcountess

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-store coming soon

 

 

 

Revamping the Vamp, Get to Know Will

When I was writing my first steampunk novel “Strax and the Widow”, I got distracted by whole different genre and character. I wondered what would it be like for a modern day vampire searching for “the one” in modern times. What do you do with eternity on your hands? Could you really fall in love with one person? And if that person were human, could you avoid killing them? Would you tire of an endless life?

I know that this theme is not exactly unique, but I wanted to write a series from the view point of the vampire. Climb into his mind and share his story. And thus my character Will and “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series was born.

I like the short story format for this series. Each one is written like episodic television; a new adventure or peek into Will’s past. The first in the series “The Long Moonlight” might start off a little mushy, but read it all the way through to discover what’s at the heart of Will.

I like Will. For a vampire, he’s still pretty human. He loves women, but like most men, even after being alive over 600 years, has yet to completely figure them out. He has tremendous powers and desires. He is tempted, and sometimes can’t control his undead yearnings. Will’s made some serious mistakes and like most of us, his past still haunts him. He’s sweet, dirty, passionate, smart, dangerous, sexy, and sometimes a jerk, but always complex and charming.

I’ve just released V.1o “The Vamp Hit List”. It will be available to download for FREE on Wednesday November 19th on amazon/kindle. Remember, you don’t have to have a kindle to get the ebooks. You can download the Kindle app to almost any electronic device.

The whole FIRST ebook series will be FREE FOR THE LAST TIME EVER on 11/30, 12/1, and 12/26. After that you’ll have to purchase them or the upcoming compilation of all the stories, “The First Ten Bites”. I hope to have it available in hard copies/paperbacks by late spring.

Will is going to go away for a bit for a revamp as I wrap up my second steampunk novel in “The Society Series”, “Revenge and Machinery”. Some of the titles will have new artwork and new formatting, so be sure to download on the FREE dates. More of Will’s new adventures will arrive later in 2015.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the series. Please feel free to share the free download dates and rate on amazon and goodreads. I’d love to see your comments.

As always, thank you for reading,

-Victoria

The Vampire’s Little Black Book series is always FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads! The sequel, “Revenge and Machinery” is coming soon!

Image

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)

-Etsy-TheHauteHen

-Instagram-Steampunkcountess

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-store coming soon

 

 

 

 

 

Day of the Dead 2014

It’s been an insanely busy Halloween season. I managed to squeeze in some new creations, all with a Day of the Dead/Halloween theme. My last creation first, a Dead of the Dead, Mardi Gras bunny mask, now available in TheHauteHen Etsy store.

I built this on a pre-existing black mask, a template I have used before in “The Heroine” series.

DOD Bunny 6

After hot glue, some embroidered trim and roses, I got the result I wanted. A sassy bunny mask that’s perfect for any costume occasion.

DOD Bunny 3DOD Bunny 4DOD Bunny 5

Add a little makeup…

DOD Bunny 7

And let the photo fun begin…

DOD Bunny 1DOD Bunny 2DOD Bunny 8DOD Bunny 9

Then on to business…I had a great buyer in my Etsy store who bought my Day of the Dead Groom Hat with a few modifications…

Groom 7 Groom 8

And then she commissioned a voodoo belt for her husband, which was really fun to put together. I sent her a sketch, bought some neat pieces including a beaver skull from the Etsy store (and friend) Guiditta Testa.

Voodoo 1A Voodoo 1B Voodoo 2 Voodoo 3 Voodoo 4 Voodoo 5 Voodoo 5A Voodoo 5AA Voodoo 5B Voodoo 5BB Voodoo 5C Voodoo 6

And Elizabeth Rios and her husband looked fabulous in their creations!

Rios 1 Rios 2 Rios 3

So much more happened last month, but that is for the next blog. Thank you for reading!

Victoria

And then some style. Day of the Dead Indeed

And then some style. Day of the Dead Indeed

Will has returned in v.9 of The Vampire’s Little Black Book series, “Svetlana Red and the Chevaliers” on amazon/kindle. Volumes 1-8 are also available on amazon/kindle. They are always FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads!

Image

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)

-Etsy-TheHauteHen

-Instagram-Steampunkcountess

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-store coming soon

Random Thoughts on Being Sick

This is a short one and not what I expected to blog for October. My car got broken into about a week ago, but they stole nothing, just busted a lock. I’ve been working like crazy. Hopefully the next blog will be filled with Halloween and costume happiness. Meanwhile, enjoy these random thoughts on being sick:

-I absolutely hate being sick. Period.

-I have now returned to my classic pre-summer vampire white skin.

-Of course we have two of the most wonderful Fall days in St. Louis. The Cardinals lost in the playoffs, but the Rams and Blues won this weekend. Yet I am stuck on the couch or in bed.

-Why does everything look so good on tv, yet I have no appetite?

-I wanted to at least severely reprimand the guy (an adult mind you) that picked his nose in the fitting room line. OK, I wanted to kill him, but I can’t afford to go to jail.

-The part I hate most about going to the doctor (besides cost, I don’t have health insurance), explaining my low body temp. Today at Urgent Care I checked in at a comfortable 97.7. Yep. I feel like dirt and have the temperature of a reptile that runs through it. But my neck is swollen like a chipmunk. I’ve had strep and the flu and not run a fever. OK, at least my blood pressure was awesome.

-This time it hit pretty fast. Went from a slight headache Friday afternoon, to not sleeping that night because I felt like I’d gargled with razor blades.

-Sleep is my friend at last. When I did finally fall asleep on Sat. morning I had to text in sick to work. Got some OTC meds and gatorade and went back to bed. Watched some tv and did a little work on my costume. Took another nap. More tv. Bed early. Slept ten hours. Text in sick again. Urgent Care and pharmacy about 3.5 hours. Home and another nap. As of 3:30pm today, I’ve slept almost twenty-four hours. Sad to see most of my waking hours were at the doc’s office or getting meds.

-Surreal sick moment of the day, got my windows open and wake up from nap to people yelling and stuff. Turn on the tv to see that the Rams won. Lookout to notice the happy traffic of fans and the leaves changing color on the Arch grounds. Another beautiful day wasted. Cursed flu, but at least it’s a pretty day.

-The Countess is having tea and a bit of a lie down as they say in the UK. Stupid f’n virus, as we say in the US.

OK, will stop groaning now. What’s coming up?

Will the vampire returns soon in v.9 of The Vampire’s Little Black Book Series, “Svetlana Red and the Chevaliers”. Since I really don’t feel like doing anything else, I will be writing a bit later on. Keep a watch on my social media links for its release.

Stay healthy my friends, and thanks, as always, for reading,

Victoria

___________

Will returns soon in v.9 of The Vampire’s Little Black Book series, “Svetlana Red and the Chevaliers” on amazon/kindle. The latest “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series volume 8, “Everyone Looks Better Undead” by Victoria L. Szulc and volumes 1-7 are also available on amazon/kindle. They are FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

Product Details

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads!

Image

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)

-Etsy-TheHauteHen

-Instagram-Steampunkcountess

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-stores coming soon

Hats Off for Dia de los Muertos!

As Halloween approaches, I wanted to do a little more Dia de los Muertos style and autumnal hats. This blog celebrates those who have left us with some Day of the Dead creativity done in photo essay style. The hats and many other unique items are in my Etsy store, https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheHauteHen  Please enjoy!

First off, a simple sun hat for fall festivals and wineries….

Autumn Hat 6 Autumn Hat 3 Autumn Hat 1

Next up, a classic Day of the Dead Katrina Veil. I decided to go with traditional “less perfect” sugar skull makeup for this shoot and focus on the hats.

DOD Veil 1 DOD Veil 2 DOD Veil 3 DOD Veil 4 DOD Veil 5 Veil Full

Then a beautiful bride’s top hat, complete with a long veil and light up sugar skull!

IBride Etsy 1 Bride Etsy 2 Bride Etsy 3 Bride Etsy 4 Bride Etsy 5 R Bride 1 R Bride 2 R Bride 4 R Bride 7 R Bride 9

Finally, the Groom’s hat, a sweet little topper, also with a light up sugar skull on top!

Groom Etsy 1 Groom Etsy 2 Groom Etsy 3 Groom Etsy 4 Groom R 1 Groom R 2 Groom R 3 Groom R 4 Groom R 5

Thank you for this quick little visual foray into the Day of the Dead. Thank you for reading.

Victoria

________________

Will returns soon in v.9 of The Vampire’s Little Black Book series, “Svetlana Red” on amazon/kindle. The latest “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series volume 8, “Everyone Looks Better Undead” by Victoria L. Szulc and volumes 1-7 are also available on amazon/kindle. They are FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

Product Details

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads!

Image

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)

-Etsy-TheHauteHen

-Instagram-Steampunkcountess

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-stores coming soon

Masks I Have Worn (Well a Hat really) Pt.2

Hello and welcome to part 2 of this blog. I got pretty excited about this last hat, but I can’t keep it.  It’s available for purchase in my Etsy store. I wanted to make a matching mask in time for Mardi Gras but it’s still in creation mode. I did take a few more photos, this time with different lighting and makeup. And I did want to show off the blue wig. It’s now a favorite in my collection; how did I end up with seven wigs? That sounds like a future blog.
Anyhow, please enjoy this last set of photos, all taken selfie style with my iPhone 4s. First I did a make-up/lighting/wig test:

Eye makeup detail.Lip detail, gold gloss.Low light makeup test.Semi-low light makeup test.

Wig test and a smile. Side view wig test and another smile.

I think this group came out fairly well considering I had a bunch of pimples and a bit of a head cold. So then I brought in the hat and added some emotion:

Best shot of whole hat. Thoughtfulness. Gratitude. Baudy laughter. A bit pensive. That is one tall topper!

I hope to have this series and others from previous shoots available for purchase soon. I’ve also got some really interesting pieces in the works: volumes 9 & 10 of “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series, the aforementioned mask (an in process pic below), a serious blog on masks with yes, more pictures and a super awesome pictorial, and last but certainly not least, my first full steampunk novel, “Strax and the Widow” should go to press this summer.

The mask in process:

Gold Mask in process.

Thank you for your support and reading, Happy Mardi Gras!

-Victoria

______________________________________________________________________________

The latest “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series volume 8, “Everyone Looks Better Undead” by Victoria L. Szulc is now available on amazon/kindle.

Product Details

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc
-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP
-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)
-Etsy-TheHauteHen
-Instagram-Steampunkcountess
-Tuumblr, CafePress and Fine Art America-coming soon

Everyone Looks Better, I Wish

In the latest “Vampire’s Little Black Book” series, Will, the main character, jokes that “everyone looks better undead”. That phrase became the title of my new short story in which Will assists a newly changed Lycan. The good looks of the freshly turned male model do not go unnoticed by Will’s vamp cohort, Anna. In their world, the transformation to undead life is a ticket to not only eternity, but increased beauty as well.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be bitten just once and have all your perfections gone? But we don’t always have that option, unless you can afford a pro makeup artist or some pricey surgery. So what do you do when treatments and regular beauty days are out of your reach?

The answer is a choice, but you might not like either answer: accept what you see in the mirror, or do what is necessary to change it.

Recently I had one of those cringe inducing experiences that made me even more aware of our vanity or on a more basic level, the need to be accepted. This is a bit more personal, but please, hang with me for a while here.

A group of people came into the retail store where I work to try on some costumes. One young woman had picked out several pieces that were junior sizes and one plus size. These were the kind of costumes that basically fit a stick. She however, was a bit more than a curvy girl, so to speak. Now, I don’t judge. I am not a thin woman. In fact, my weight has gone up and down over the last twenty five years. I’ve gone from being super fit to borderline morbidly obese and back again. People will judge you no matter how you look. I learned to get over it. So I handed her the selections with a kind smile and tried not to worry.

She first tried on a deluxe princess costume that retails at over $225. I was respectful, didn’t say anything, until she complained loudly to her friends that not only was the costume it too tight, but she couldn’t figure out how to get it on.

I gently suggested that she try something else; that the brand of designs she had chosen were cut very small, which is absolutely true. I would not sell one of these garments to just make a sale to someone it didn’t fit. I just prayed she didn’t ruin the piece.

When the second small cut costume didn’t fit, I offered up the plus sized costume. I honestly don’t know if it would’ve fit her, because she didn’t try. Instead she left the fitting room without a word.

Please note: in no way did I bully this young woman. I didn’t use the word fat, which would’ve made me a hypocrite. I tried to be as kind as possible when suggesting she find a plus size, I didn’t raise my voice and I didn’t harass her. When she left the fitting room, I instantly knew that there would be trouble even though I was only doing my job. Sure enough, the next day, one of the guys that had been with her, called the company to complain for her and of course I had to listen to a small reprimand from a manager. His calling immediately told me that this woman was feeling badly enough that she was too embarrassed to do it for herself. Fortunately the manager understood my predicament and nothing further was said.

At first I questioned whether I’d done the correct thing. I’m an adult; I don’t feel the need to torture anyone on purpose. But after a few moments I realized I can’t fix how she felt about herself OR how she felt others perceived her. This brings me back to the choices we have to make in regard to how we feel about our looks and how we handle others reactions.

I wish the world was a more loving, thoughtful place. And having been in her shoes, I know how it feels to not have your pants zip up without a muffin top spilling over or maybe not go up at all. To have other people stare at you because of your size. But in this world of unrelenting wild opinions from a 24 hour cycle of endless forms of media, it can be a challenge to filter out a genuine honest opinion from the “someone” who has out for you. Or even worse, there’s the trolls who just want to start a war because they just feel like commencing a landslide of unhappiness. And more than likely, they blister others because they don’t like themselves.

I wanted to tell this young woman to learn to love herself, grow a thicker skin, and own it or change. The options aren’t easy. Anyone who has been a minority, has had gender/sexual orientation issues, been disabled or is in any way different from the “norm”, has been down one of these well-worn roads.

If you can like who you are, “forget the haters, cause only God can judge us” as Miley sings, you will be rewarded with unyielding confidence. Some will stare. Dare to smile back at them. People will say rude things; they don’t know you. Ignore their comments and only let positivity into your wonderful brain. Happiness is your best defense. Find others like you. There is empathy and strength in numbers. It won’t be easy, but with time and practice people will see your beautiful soul and not the shell of a body that carries it. Recognize constructive criticism. This is a dodgy one. Someone could be looking at your chest because you spilled a few bits of your lunch on it. Your fly could be down. A dress might be way too tight for the office. When someone corrects you in these kinds of situations, be grateful. The suggestions probably come from someone who genuinely cares.

Or you can change. But if you decide to go that route, do it for yourself. Don’t do it to attract someone you have a crush on. You’ve invested in yourself. Don’t blow it on anyone that’ll waste your time. This choice could be hard too. You might spend hours working out and dieting to get thin. You might get surgery that could be painful or have a long recovery time. You might have to save money and work two jobs to get a procedure done. People might try to talk you out of it; they may have liked the old you for nefarious reasons. And once you’ve reached your goal, whether you get a nose job, lose fifty pounds, or get breast implants, you’ll need to adjust to the attention. Some may not recognize you. You might be invited into groups that really aren’t that cool after all. Just know to be true to what you want to be, don’t continue to be swayed by others. They’ll just find something or someone else to pick on.

There is actually a third choice available, the worst one, which is to do nothing. Yep, to have no desire to accept who you are and/or don’t choose to change your “in the now” to a pleasurable place to be. Keep in that negative frame of mind and your life will be hell.  You’ll draw fake friends, users, abusers and the like. This small incident really got me thinking and of course creating. The next day, I did a whole series of masks with a variety of different emotions behind them. I’ll debut them with another blog shortly, but here’s a sample to hold you until then.

Iconic image of how a hero "should" be.

Iconic image of how a hero “should” be.

But for now, life is what you make it; it’s too damn short to be unhappy. It is not wrong to like yourself. You will be a better human being because of it. I do a lot of costuming, and cosplay, then share with anyone who’ll look or listen. I don’t see it as vanity. I make art, throw it on me, photograph it and in the process create more art. I’ve used self-portraits for the covers of my books. In the last couple years in working on mysteampunkproject.wordpress.com, it’s been a great adventure. I actually forget the negative parts of me. The true beautiful soul rises to the surface.

I wanted to tell that young woman in the fitting room to come back, try on another item that fits her size and wear it proudly. I hope she gives herself another chance at acceptance, to stand strong and be herself. Spread your wings and fly darling. I hope we all do.

Thank you most kindly for reading,

-Victoria

The latest “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series volume 8, “Everyone Looks Better Undead” by Victoria L. Szulc is now available on amazon/kindle.

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