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"Dive into Fall" Giveaway September 21, 2017 00:00

From Jess: 

Tomorrow is the first day of autumn! I'm always so torn when it comes to the changing of seasons from summer to fall. I love summer -- the soaring temperatures, the long days, the trips to the beach -- and I grew up in Florida, where summer is practically endless. I even chose to set the "Rescue Sirens" series in Miami, where you know it's fall by the changing menu at Starbucks more than anything else.

But there's something intoxicating about that first crisp snap in the air that happens in autumn, the cozy nights snuggled up by a fire (or at least a seasonally-appropriate scented candle), the spooky decorations that precede my favorite holiday: Halloween. I performed as a "scareactor" for seven magical years at a well-known Halloween event in Orlando, Florida, and I have such fond memories of Octobers spent scaring the bejeezus out of happily shrieking park guests, then giggling and stuffing my face with bite-sized candy bars alongside my fellow cast members backstage. The scents of sawdust, airbrush makeup, and fog juice always bring a smile to my face, and I can't help but fall in love with autumn even as I mourn the passing of another summer.

This year, I thought we'd mark the occasion with another Instagram giveaway: "Dive into Fall"! I really wanted to have the enamel pins and stickers that we debuted at SDCC for sale online before the end of the summer, but life got in the way (as it does), and I figured it would be neat to offer up a free set of pins on Instagram -- along with a signed copy of both our first novel, "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist," and our brand-new water-resistant children's book, "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up." Plus, we're including a "Rescue Sirens" beanie to keep your noggin warm, and a gorgeous, full-color tote bag to carry it all!




Here are the rules to enter:
    1. Follow our @rescuesirens Instagram account.
    2. Repost the above image to your PUBLIC Instagram account (so we can see it).
    3. Include the hashtag #rescuesirensdiveintofall in your caption.
    4. Mention @rescuesirens in your post.

You have until 11:59 PM PST on Saturday, September 30th to post your entry! We'll announce a randomly-chosen winner on Sunday, October 1st.

(Obligatory disclaimer: this contest is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by Instagram.)

In the meantime, we're working on getting "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up," the pins, and the stickers up for sale; we greatly appreciate your patience, and we'll let you know the moment you can purchase them!

Debuting the "Rescue Sirens" apparel collection at shop.rescuesirens.com! August 01, 2017 00:00

From Jess: 

More big news! We had a blast at San Diego Comic-Con last month, and I hope to blog about that soon, but I have an announcement to make first that I could barely hold in until August: we've finally launched our "Rescue Sirens" apparel collection here on our website!

Now, we used to sell "Rescue Sirens" logo T-shirts on TeePublic, but I was never really satisfied with the experience; I didn't like that you had to leave our website to complete your transaction, and TeePublic's account customization options left a lot to be desired. I'm all about consistency, so what I really wanted was an integrated solution to selling shirts and other merchandise.

I found that solution sometime around the beginning of this year, and, ever since, I've been designing new shirts and ordering samples whenever I've had the chance (which, given how extra crazy this year has been, wasn't as often as I would've liked!). I've had the shop all set up and ready to go for several weeks, now, but I wanted to wait until after SDCC to launch it, and I thought it would be a great way to kick off the month of August.


What's in this store, you ask? We're starting off with a variety of T-shirts and tops branded with our swell "Rescue Sirens" emblem (the illustration of a mermaid's silhouette holding a lifeguard can that Chris drew), available in both unisex and women's styles; we also have accessories like hats (embroidered with the logo I designed) and a tote bag. Each item is made-to-order just for you, and your new swag usually ships out within seven to ten business days.

Swim over to shop.rescuesirens.com and take a look!

In the near future, we'll expand our line to include products that feature Chris's beautiful "Rescue Sirens" character artwork. I'm also eyeing housewares like coffee cups and throw pillows -- basically, anything I would want to have, myself.

After lots of requests, we're also really eager to offer our own take on mermaid leggings, with designs based on the tails of our "Rescue Sirens" characters -- that way, you can pair your emblem shirt with your leggings and rock a casual "Rescue Sirens" cosplay! The leggings from our fulfillment center are super soft and designed to take you from the pool (yep, you can swim in 'em!) to Disneyland to the gym and back to the couch; they're high-quality, fast-drying, and won't show the world your Underoos. I didn't want to make leggings unless I could make good ones (I'm a leggings fiend who is firmly in the "leggings ARE pants" camp; I don't wear much else), and these are awesome. We just need to find the time to finalize our designs! Whose tail would you like to see leggings-ized first?

Oh, and before I forget, keep your eyes peeled for a couple of cute "modern mermaid" designs in addition to our branded emblem tops. Everyone loves wearing those "Mermaid Off Duty" shirts, but, of course, our mermaids in "Rescue Sirens" are always on duty -- and, just because you don't have a tail at the moment, that doesn't mean you aren't a mermaid! I love my "Mermaid On Duty" tank tops and I hope that you will, too.

Trying to start an intellectual property from scratch is hard. No two ways about it. Even with the thousands of books that we've sold in the past two years, we haven't turned a profit yet -- printing is expensive, and distribution can be a challenge. Besides the coolness factor of selling "Rescue Sirens" merchandise, our online store also represents a way for us to make a little money to help fund our future books and other projects. We have a ton of mermaid dreams that we'd love to see realized.

I know I say it all the time, but it's true: your support, whether it's buying official "Rescue Sirens" gear from us or just spreading the word and introducing other people to our series, really does mean everything to me and Chris. "Rescue Sirens" is our passion project, and we'd be dead in the water without all of you. (I'd gone too long without a water-related pun. Sorry, not sorry.) So... thank you. ♥

What do you think of our clothing line so far? Are we off to a good start? Is there anything in particular that you want to see in future releases? I'd like to roll out new products every month or two, schedule depending. Samples can take a while to come in -- or, once seen in person, can require revisions -- and I like to test our merchandise to make sure it's up to our standards before adding it to the website for purchase.

(Speaking of that, if you ever receive an item that doesn't look quite right, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at contact@rescuesirens.com so we can make it better with a replacement or a refund.)

You may want to poke around the website a bit, as well, as I've been busy updating pages like our "Rescue Sirens" profiles and Chris's gallery page with artwork new for 2017; I also created the beginnings of a gallery for "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up" artist Dylan Bonner. I'm always adding more entries to our extensive FAQ, too, so check there first if you have any questions.

As always, we love seeing you all in your "Rescue Sirens" gear, so please tag us on Instagram (@rescuesirens) and/or include the hashtag #rescuesirens in your caption if you snap a cool photo of yourself wearing your new favorite shirt!

Butterfly fish drawn by Chris Sanders

Brand-new merch for SDCC 2017! July 17, 2017 21:30

From Jess: 

Holy cowfish, it's already that time of year again: San Diego Comic-Con! Even though we start planning for the next SDCC the moment we pack up our booth to go home (well, before that, even), the convention still always seems to sneak up on us, and now it's here!


We have a few new goodies that we'll be selling at our booth (#4616), and I wanted to give you a sneak peek before SDCC's Preview Night on Wednesday...

PINS

Enamel pins are exceptionally popular right now, and with good reason: they're like tiny bits of treasure to covet and collect! And they look better than ever, too, with intricate designs and even cool extras like glitter. As pin fans, ourselves, we felt it was long past time to make some "Rescue Sirens" pins, and Chris's adorable new chibi-style drawings of our five mermaids seemed like the perfect test subjects.

"Rescue Sirens" mermaid enamel pins

(Click to enlarge.)




Chris and I are so pleased with how they came out, and we have the awesome guys at True Metal Works to thank for being so kind, patient, and knowledgable! We highly recommend working with them; John and Mike made the whole process really easy and fun, and, of course, the pins themselves are the ultimate reward. So satisfying!

Given that this was our first try at making "Rescue Sirens" pins, we only had a small batch produced, so we'll be limiting pin sales at SDCC to one pin per design per person (in other words, you can buy one entire set), with a capped number of each design sold each day. Sometime later this summer -- like, after we recover from SDCC -- we plan to offer a small online sale on Etsy so people who can't make it to SDCC have a chance to add some pins to their collection, too!

STICKERS


Now, as I mentioned, our supply of pins is pretty small. However, if we run out of pins at SDCC, you can still get Chris's super-cute chibi-style "Rescue Sirens" illustrations as high-quality, weather-resistant stickers!


Ranging in size from 3" to 6.3" tall and 3" to 4.75" wide, these stickers feature a beautiful satiny finish and remarkably accurate colors. We're crazy for them, and we can't wait to make more! (I'm envisioning a giant "Rescue Sirens" emblem on the hood of my little red sports car.)

WATER-RESISTANT CHILDREN'S BOOK

I've saved the biggest news for last (of course): we'll be debuting our very first fully-illustrated "Rescue Sirens" children's book at SDCC this year! You may recall a work-in-progress copy that we brought with us to NC Mermania in January, and we're so proud to finally share it in its finished form.

"Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up" has been in the works for a while. My background is in marine conservation education and animal care, and I really miss spending my days teaching kids about the ocean and the fascinating creatures that call it home. I thought it would be neat to start a companion line of "Rescue Sirens" books for readers who aren't quite old enough for the novel series, and, in this first volume, I wanted to tackle the topics of invasive species and responsible pet ownership in a fun, accessible, appealing way.

That's where incredible artist Dylan Bonner comes in! You've seen Dylan's artwork before; last year, we commissioned him to draw each of our Miami Beach mermaids individually as well as in a group shot, and we were so delighted with his style and with our experience working with him that we approached him about illustrating our first children's book. What a dream come true when he agreed!

To me, Dylan's artwork brings to mind the best of classic children's book illustrators such as Disney Legend Mary Blair, who not only illustrated children's books that are still in print after over six decades (!), but also did character designs for beloved Disney animated films like "Peter Pan," "Cinderella," and "Alice in Wonderland." Dylan's illustrations have that same sort of timeless feel to them, and we knew that he'd be the perfect artist for our children's books.


"Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up" follows Nim and the other Rescue Sirens as they hurry to catch a number of exotic fish dumped into the Atlantic Ocean by a thoughtless millionaire who'd grown bored with his enormous Australia-themed aquarium. The story teaches readers about the dangers of releasing pets -- both to the pet and to the local environment -- and positions Nim as an example of a responsible pet owner when she adopts the abandoned zebra shark that she's befriended and promises to always care for her. With animal facts sprinkled throughout and Dylan's bright, engaging illustrations, this slim 32-page paperback has already become a favorite bedtime story in the homes of our beta readers!

And one of the best parts? "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up" is water-resistant. How cool is that?! When I was but a tiny wee Jess, I used to wish that all of my books were waterproof so I could swim and read at the same time -- and that's why "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up" is printed on synthetic paper, which is both rip-resistant and splash-proof. If the book gets wet, simply wipe it dry!

To keep your copy looking shipshape for years to come, please remember: DO NOT leave the book to dry on its own. If a wet book is allowed to dry while closed, the pages can stick together and can cause ink transfer when separated. With just a bit of tender loving care, however, your book will come through exposure to water looking good as new! For all those little mermaids and mermen out there, this means that you can safely bring "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up" to the pool or the beach, or combine bath time and story time.

What adventures will your book go on? If you pick up a copy of "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up," share your photos with us on Instagram by using the hashtag #rescuesirens -- we'd love to see them!

If you and your family enjoy "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up," remember, it's only the first in our planned line of children's books! I have storylines in mind centering around each Rescue Siren that teach valuable lessons about marine conservation issues while giving kids ways to apply what they've learned and to take action in their own backyards. When it comes to making a difference, every little bit helps!

ONLINE MERCHANDISE

If you've just gotta have something but you can't make it to SDCC, all hope is not lost: we'll be offering very limited online sales of our pins and stickers later this summer, while "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up" should be available for purchase on Amazon sometime before fall.

Plus, we'll be rolling out some awesome new merchandise in our online store -- http://shop.rescuesirens.com -- over the coming weeks! Chris and I have had a lot going on behind the scenes lately, and it's thrilling to unveil some of those projects at last. We hope that you like everything as much as we've enjoyed making it!

Two years of "Rescue Sirens" -- plus, giveaway prize photos! July 03, 2017 17:30

From Jess: 

Chris and I announced "Rescue Sirens" on July 1st, 2015 -- meaning it's already been over two years since we introduced our lifeguard mermaids to the world! So much has happened in that time: we've sold thousands of books (between the hardcover first edition, the paperbacks, and the Kindle eBook), we've connected with wonderful people all over the world, I found my fins, we were invited to a mermaid convention (and even participated in their Expert Panel), and we've recently completed a children's picture book illustrated by artist Dylan Bonner that we're waiting to unveil at San Diego Comic-Con later this month.

Through it all, your kindness, support, and enthusiasm continue to mean everything to us. Starting a book series is an intimidating, time-consuming, sometimes frustrating undertaking, and knowing that so many people love our characters and our world -- and want to see more -- makes it all worthwhile. Thank you.

In addition to marking our two-year announciversary, I also wanted to share some great photos from the winners of our two Mer-May promotions: the "Rescue Sirens" Head-to-Tail MERmakeover Giveaway, and the Mer-May #rescuesirensfanart Contest. It's always so much fun to see people receiving their prizes!

First up: lovely Instagram user @mermaid_kailani, who received a prize pack of awesome mermaid-themed products that I use and love, myself. She posted a bunch of photos and video clips, so hover over the Instagram frame and click the arrow buttons to navigate her slideshow!




Next: talented artist @katekennedyart, the lucky winner of this chibi-style Nim drawing inked by Chris!




Kate also sent us a photo of the Nim drawing in a beautiful new frame:




Wow! How fortunate that Kate frames artwork professionally -- we can't imagine a better home for this "Rescue Sirens" drawing! It really was meant to be.

Seeing all the different interpretations of our mermaids that our contest entrants submitted has been such a delight and a privilege, and we thank each and every one of you for participating! We've added a few of our very favorite illustrations to our Guest Artists Gallery, and I plan on posting more drawings to our "Guest Art" Facebook album as soon as I have a spare moment.

In the meantime, though, we're preparing for SDCC 2017! In addition to our brand-new children's book, we'll have a couple of other cool "Rescue Sirens"-related goodies to share with you. Keep your fins crossed that we can get everything done before Preview Night on Wednesday, July 19th!

Rescue Sirens ♥ Merbella Studios, Inc. June 20, 2017 18:05

From Jess: 

I've mentioned before how important it is to me to support people and small businesses that I believe in, whether that's by purchasing their products, sharing information about their business, or both! Today, I wanted to shine a spotlight on a company that means a great deal to me: Merbella Studios, Inc.

Merbella Studios is the husband-and-wife tail-making team of Tyler and Raven Sutter. Together, they bring Raven's gorgeous mermaid tail designs to life in performance-grade silicone, and their exceptional work has been seen in the annual "Weeki Wachee Mermaids" wall calendar, live shows, music videos, and the upcoming feature length film from Conglomerate Media and Kingsway Productions, "The Little Mermaid." Raven and Tyler provide mermaid tails to a select few individuals each year, and I was fortunate enough to have them bring Nim's tail to life for me in 2016.

Photos? But of course!

Not only do they do phenomenal work, but Raven and Tyler are just plain wonderful people, too. I've talked before about how kind, creative, enthusiastic, and brilliant they are, and I'm proud to call them friends. When they announced that they'd be opening an apparel and accessories store online, ShopMerbella.com, I was one of the first to sign up! I wanted to show my support, of course, but, independently of that, I also knew Merbella would be selling awesome mermaid merchandise that I'd want to own. I placed my first order as soon as humanly possible.



I'm thrilled to report that I LOVE everything I ordered and I can recommend it without hesitation. The printing (or, in the case of the baseball cap, the embroidery) is crisp, the shirt materials are soft and fit true to size, and the high-waisted yoga pants are unbelievably comfy (and this is coming from a girl with a lot of yoga pants and leggings). Raven has teased a new leggings design -- an abalone-inspired print -- and I'm already planning on adding it to my Merbella apparel collection.

Quick side story: my Merbella yoga pants literally (no, not figuratively!) saved my butt. I was retrieving some packing material from our outside closet, and I realized that my rear end was rubbing against the inside of the scratchy closet door. Not wanting to ruin my new Merbella leggings, I quickly stepped away from the door... and looked back to see a fat black widow spider resting on the door right below where my butt had been! I'd just remarked to Chris about how the haphazardly-spun spiderweb inside the closet looked like a black widow's web -- and, if I hadn't been concerned about my beloved new pants, I might've gotten a little too up close and personal with one of California's most common venomous arachnids!

In addition to tops and bottom-saving pants, Merbella also offers accessories like tote bags (purchased, but not pictured) and silicone scale cuffs (like the one I'm wearing in the above photos). Everything a modern mermaid needs! To bring a little bit of mermaid magic to your land-based existence, visit ShopMerbella.com.