Friday, January 30, 2015

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Gods of Chaos (Daughter of Chaos #2) by Jen McConnel

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
Gods of Chaos (Daughter of Chaos #2) by Jen McConnel
presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Gods of Chaos
The gods of chaos cannot be trusted.
When Darlena Agara declared to follow Red Magic last fall, she had no idea what she was getting into. Since then, however, she's had a crash course in danger, deceit, and destruction. In an effort to gain an ally, Darlena heads to Scotland in search of another Red Witch, but she didn't count on the new obstacles (and crazy gods) that await her.
add to goodreads
Title: Gods of Chaos (Daughter of Chaos #2)
Publication date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Jen McConnel
Jen McConnel
Jen McConnel now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn't crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches writing composition at a community college. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
(Winners will receive their book on release day)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

RomCon: Party in Denver this September!
Join Tina Moss and I this September 23 - 27 in Denver for RomCon! We'll have a special table at the Saturday luncheon. Buy your ticket now to get some cool swag and sign up for giveaways.

We'll also be signing copies of our books at the author signing, hosting a Co-Writing panel, and with Sensei Thomas Casale, conducting a special workshop on Self Defense and Writing Fighting Scenes! It's going to be an amazing time. Go to RomCon for all the details. We hope to see you there!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Art & History Feature - Interview with Watercolor Painter Keiko Tanabe

Flamenco Dancer II
As you know, I love discovering artists who inspire and fascinate me. A few months ago, I discovered one such artist, watercolor painter Keiko Tanabe. I paint with watercolors (also spelled watercolours) and this medium is especially near and dear to my heart, so it's always a pleasure to discover painters who have a wonderful proficiency with watercolors. I contacted Keiko and asked if I can do an interview with her, and she graciously agreed. Enjoy her art throughout the post, and check out her bio and contact information below.

*Please note, all images in this post are the property of Keiko Tanabe and cannot be reproduced without permission.

Interview Q&A  with Keiko Tanabe

Why are watercolours your favorite medium to paint with? Have you painted using any other media?

I tried other painting mediums when I started out back in 2005, just to see which would suit me better.  It was watercolor that I found more challenging but immensely captivating.  A practical reason may be that I thought watercolor would be easier to travel with.  Since I wanted to travel and paint en plein air, the portability was somewhat important.

Eiffel Tower, Paris III

How did being a world traveler affect your art?

I have been fortunate to be able to travel both for my previous and for my current jobs, and for my own pleasure sometimes.  Travel is just another passion of mine besides painting.  I can say that traveling over the years has made me humble, more tolerant of differences and appreciative of the world we live in.  I think this sentiment is reflected in my artwork and subject choices.   That said, as a plein-air painter, I would be quite happy at home because I live in San Diego that offers a variety of subjects for landscapes.

Laguna Beach, California, I

What are your favorite places to paint?

I get inspired to paint when I see an intriguing story developing or when I see beautiful light and atmosphere.  It could be a view outside my studio window or a spectacular view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower or anywhere.  Out of many places where I previously painted, some of my favorites were: San Diego, Brittany and Aquitaine (France), Costa Brava (Spain), Venice (Italy) and villages in China.

Shirakawa-Go Gifu, Japan, XIII

You said that you are mostly self-taught. What is your advice for beginner artists?

Practice often, on a daily basis if possible, and make it a priority.  Nothing is more important than this, I believe.  I always tell my students to paint a lot, make a lot of mistakes and learn from them.  Other things I can advise are: hone basic skills such as drawing, study with someone you respect, find a supportive mentor and like-minded painter friends.  Learning enriches our life but it is a journey with many ups and downs.  We just have to persevere to achieve our goal.

Chateau de Bord de Mer, Dinard, France

I love the fluidity and the looseness of your watercolours. How do you achieve it.

Occasionally, I have people comment on my work by saying “Your painting looks just like a photo.”  But seen up close, it is far from it because I do not put in a lot of details in my painting.  I like to simplify a complex subject into basic shapes, which I freely re-arrange to make more visual sense.  To me, to come up with a good composition also means that it is simpler than the reality thus will allow me to paint loosely.  Technically speaking, I utilize wet-in-wet or dry-in-wet for softer edges that create an atmospheric effect.

Street, Florence, Italy

Who are your favorite artists - past and/or present? Who's your inspiration?

When I started painting, I didn’t know any watercolor artists until I discovered a little later works of John Singer Sargent, Trevor Chamberlain, Robert Wade,  Alvaro Castagnet to name a few.  I liked their subject choices and painting approach, which I wanted to learn for my travel journaling.  As a woman and someone who would like to do more figurative work in the future, I also admire Mary Whyte.

San Pasqual Valley, San Diego, California

Bio and Contact Info

Keiko doing an outdoor demo in France
Keiko was born in Kyoto, Japan.  As a child growing up in an art-loving family, she always enjoyed drawing and painting and won many awards in children's art contests.  However, art was not her chosen field of study later on.  She earned a B.A. in intercultural communication (International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan) and an M.A. in international education (UCLA, California).  She then worked in international relations positions in a Japanese government trade organization in Tokyo, at a large law firm in San Francisco and at a private consulting firm in San Diego.  In the last 25 years, she has traveled extensively, mainly in European countries, Asia and North America.

Through all these years, Keiko knew there was in her heart the growing desire to someday become an artist.  That, fueled by her love of travel and strong interest in other cultures, eventually found its way out in 2003.  After learning basic drawing and watercolor painting skills at a local community school in San Diego, she took on her first project as an artist together with her father, a renowned scholar of French literature in Japan.  Through the Azure Sea and Sky of Provence: A Tribute to Her Joie de Vivre (Kosei Publishing, Osaka, Japan) was published in August, 2003, authored by her father and illustrated by Keiko.  From then on, she intensely taught herself to be fluent in watercolor painting, just as one would do to master a foreign language.

Mostly self-taught, Keiko embarked on a professional art career in 2005 and started exhibiting publicly.  In the same year she took a workshop from Alvaro Castagnet and discovered the joy of plein-air painting.  Since that year her paintings have been juried into many exhibitions across Americas and in Asia and Europe.  Her work has been purchased by private and corporate collectors from all around the world.  She also had her paintings published in leading art magazines in the U.S., France and Japan.  Additionally, she self-publishes her art books and six books have been completed by 2014.  She's also a sought-after workshop instructor.  Since 2011, she has been invited to and completed successfully more than 70 workshops around the world.  Keiko currently lives in San Diego, California.
To find out more about Keiko and see her work, visit her website:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quote of the Day

The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.

~ JM Barrie, Peter Pan.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Deceived by L.A. Starkey - Guest Post and Giveaway

Today, I'm happy to be part of the tour for Deceived by L.A. Starkey. Please enjoy Laurie's post and enter the giveaway!

Book & Author details:

Deceived by L.A. Starkey
(Soul Keeper Series #1)
Publication date: August 28th 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

They say a soul is the immaterial essence, the animating principle, the actuating cause of an individual life.

But what if you had to share yours with the one person you hated the most?

The soul mate principle states that for every one soul there is another that will recognize its match, hence creating the perfect union.

But what if you had two soul mates, which would you choose?

What if your choices had eternal ramification?

Deceived, the debut novel in the Soul Keeper Series, is a modern day love story about the implications of having more than one soul mate, and having to choose between the two of them. The decisions of the gods has left the next generation, their heirs, torn between fate and reality, and the balance of the future hangs in anticipation of what’s to come.


Today, Laurie talks about the difference in writing YA vs. Middle Grade books. Enjoy and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!

Writing for Young Adults vs. Writing for Middle Grade

Let me start by giving encouragement to anyone who writes and then I’ll jump into my thoughts on MG vs YA seeing that I write for both groups. If you love to read a certain genre or enjoy jumping from MG to YA to YA to NA or Adult, then as a writer, don’t feel held back to choose which you’ll stick to. I know for promotions and things of that nature it’s a lot easier to gather a crowd around you if you only write one thing, but if your crowd or readers are anything like me? They like to read just about anything. There will always be room to expand into new audiences and groups, so write what you love with passion, because that passion will bleed through and everyone will feel it and see it in your work.

Okay! For me as a writer, that opening paragraph says it all. I’ve actually added New Adult (which is under my pen name Kate Thomas) to my listing too, my first book coming out this spring. I started as a YA writer, my Soul Keeper Series my first trilogy to write simply because I didn’t want to write sex scenes. I could write them and I’m thinking they would be good enough to make your grandmother blush if not you too, but I just wanted to stick to early romance… that first look and love, as well as having minimal cursing. I read a lot of YA for those reasons myself and I just feel like there is so much more focus on the plot and characterization overall.

I had two middle grade girls at the time I wrote Soul Keeper and realized that I wanted to write something fun for them, so I wrote my debut MG novel, Howl at the Moon. The funny thing is that I couldn’t get my male main character Ben’s voice out of my head when I wrote it, so I used him as the POV knowing that it might be fun for my girls and me to get into the head of a junior high boy. They are soooo comical as it is I figured being a tomboy myself and hella immature most days that I could pull it off. It was FUN and turned out great, though I might be a little bias.

I think the main difference between them is that MG is even more focused on the plot or adventure, the humor and common place settings that make sense to that age. There is a little first love type romance, but nothing more than hand holding and a kiss perhaps, but probably not in my opinion. YA is focused on the same things, but there is more weight on the relationship parts of the story, the adventure can be more complex and the diction can be increased to have more metaphors and a depth of emotion.

Let me know if you have any questions about either and I’m happy to give my opinion/experience.



Laurie Starkey is the author of the upcoming Soul Keeper Series, a supernatural young adult series, and The Liarus Detective Series, a supernatural middle grade series. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, Jacob and three beautiful kiddos.
She is a CPA by trade, a church planter and entrepreneur at heart; however, writing and reading are passions she just can’t help but indulge in. With more ideas than one person should be allowed, she is blessed to have a muse that doesn’t seem to take a vacation and more energy that one might consider healthy.

Connect with Laurie:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more info on the tour, please click the banner below:


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Quote of the Day - On Writing

"You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them  wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories - science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world."

~ Ray Bradbury

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Quote of the Day

“...when you let go of your expectations, when you accept life as it is, you're free.To hold on is to be serious and uptight. To let go is to lighten up.”

  ~ Richard Carlson, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff ... and it's all small stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life

Monday, January 5, 2015

Quote of the Day

Why don't you start believing that no matter what you have or haven't done, that your best days are still out in front of you.
~ Joel Osteen
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