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Portraits of a Faerie Queen: OUT TODAY

Portraits of a Faerie Queen is now on sale!!!

PortraitsoaFQ-f

In the midst of a summer storm, seventeen-year-old Jocelyn Lennox swerves to miss a strange creature in the road. The resulting accident leaves her mother in a coma with doctors skeptical about her recovery.  Desperate for answers, Jocelyn returns to the scene of the accident to discover that the creature was one of the good folk—a faerie. Not only that, but their queen is willing to listen to Jocelyn’s story and offer her help.

For a price, of course.

The two strike a deal: Jocelyn will paint the queen seven portraits and, in exchange, the queen will heal Jocelyn’s mother. Unfortunately, nothing in the Faerie Realm is ever that simple. The closer Jocelyn comes to finishing the paintings, the harder malicious magical forces try to ensnare her. If she isn’t careful or can’t complete the portraits by October 31st, the day of the Hallowed Offering, her mother’s life won’t be the only one in jeopardy.

Head over to ninestarpress.com or amazon.com to get your copy! Don’t forget to leave a review!

Thank you to everyone who’s followed me on this journey. Every view, like, and share means the world to me and I can’t wait to see where the next book, “Tales of a Faerie Knight” will take us. 🙂

Beyond the Portraits: Part 4

Here we are! The final Beyond the Portraits post! I hope you’ve enjoyed this short little series. From here on out, posts and updates are going to be mostly information about the release of “Portraits” itself. I hope you’ll stick around for them and the book itself! Thanks for reading!


Growing up I was an absolute menace with a camera. Every museum, every landscape, every EVERYTHING was captured on film. I still have an old photo album from when I was a kid and a third of those images are of random city streets. Another third are of clouds and animals. The rest are friends and family members in mid-motion. Once digital cameras came out I was even worse since I didn’t have to worry about film. Now that I have my phone with me all the time, I’m sure I can get downright insufferable at times.

Well, maybe not insufferable, but my family has to wait time and time again for me to snap pictures of different buildings, vehicles, and clouds in multiple angles. Can’t imagine that’s fun.

I can’t help it. I know one day I’m going to be writing a scene, mapping a fictional country, putting a fantastical army into formation, or something else just as bonkers and I’ll need a visual reference. Characters will escape through narrow mountain passes and find safety in secluded valleys. I need to know what those look like. They’ll stand among aspens in the fall, marvel at the golden leaves, and conclude that the world isn’t so bad after all. I need to know what that looks like.

Growing up in Michigan, where “Portraits of the Faerie Queen” takes place, there were always plenty of photo opportunities. I could have sworn I saved all the ones from my old digital camera, but, alas, they’re nowhere to be found. Luckily, my mother rocks and has agreed to let me share some of hers. The Michigan pictures (enlarged four) belong to her. The moments they captured played a key roll in shaping the world of the Faerie Court and the characters that dwell there. I took the others (far left) during my time in Colorado. I just wanted to take a minute and show you the roots of the worlds in my writing to get a better idea of where you’ll be transported when “Portraits” comes out and where you might go in future works. 🙂 Thank you for sticking with me through this short series! More “Portraits” news to come! Enjoy the pictures!

 

 

Beyond the Portraits: Part 3

Howdy! The release for “Portraits of a Faerie Queen” is right around the corner and I’m getting so excited! The wait is worse than waiting for an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, The Walking Dead. At least, it used to be one of my favorites before it stabbed me through the heart. 🙂


Love it or hate it, it’s impossible to deny that The Walking Dead has left a mark on popular the popular psyche and isn’t going away any time soon, especially since it’s been renewed for at least twelve seasons. At first, that news made me roll my eyes. After hour bad season two was, I wondered how they could keep up momentum for that long, but if season seven’s cliffhanger ending was anything to go off of, they might just keep up the steam.

For those don’t know, season seven ended with one of the most suspenseful five minutes on recent television. Our villain, who has only just been revealed, paces and whistles while trying to decide which character, all of which are at least likeable, if not adored by fans, to beat to death. It ends with him delivering the first blow as the other characters scream in the background, but the audience didn’t get to see who it was until October 23rd.

Usually, I catch up on The Walking Dead every few weeks due to my sporadic schedule, but I knew this was an episode that I absolutely could not miss, even if it did rip my heart out. I’m still not over it, in case you were wondering. 🙂

Chapters in books should end a lot like that season ending.

Well, okay, maybe not with the zombies, the crazy man swinging a bat wrapped in barbed wire, and the blood splatter, but with that sort of anticipation and desire to see what comes next. Each chapter should leave the reader with some sort of question, like ‘Who did the villain kill?,’ or just enough rising action that they absolutely have to know what happens on the next page. I think that’s why some of the best books are the ones you can’t put down. They constantly leave you guessing what’s going to happen, leaving the future events shrouded in mystery so that you have no choice but to turn the page and find out.

When I wrote “Portraits of a Faerie Queen,” I did my best to model the chapters on TV episodes, especially when it came to ending them. I emphasized ending putting breaks at the beginning of sort of conflict, a question, or a discovery that would take more time to explore than what was left in the chapter. For the most part, according to my past beta readers, the strategy worked pretty well. While early drafts certainly had its problems, people said they couldn’t put it down because it was constantly ending on a cliffhanger of some sort. People wanted to see my book to the end. Mission accomplished.

I think it’s safe to say that sort of anticipation has carried into this final version of the story and I am so incredibly excited to share it with you. Just remember, when you leave reviews (which I would be eternally grateful for), no spoilers! Let others have the chance to sit on the edge of their own seats.

And if you still follow The Walking Dead, how do you do it? I don’t know if my heart can take much more. You’re a stronger soul than I.

 

What other shows do you love to watch? How do they handle episode/season endings? Do you have to binge watch, or is the wait between episodes survivable?

Portraits of a Faerie Queen Blog Tour Schedule

Please stop by each of the blogs and support Portraits of a Faerie Queen while reading reviews of it a week before it’s released!!

7/3 A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog abookloversdreambookblog.com
7/4 Love Bytes www.lovebytesreviews.com
7/4 My Fiction Nook http://myfictionnook.com
7/5 Boy Meets Boy reviews Boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com
7/5 Happily Ever Chapter https://www.facebook.com/happilyeverchapter
7/6 Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews http://wickedfaeriesreviews.blogspot.com
7/6 Divine Magazine https://www.divinemagazine.biz/
7/7 Dean Frech http://deanfrech.blogspot.com/
7/7 MM Good Book Reviews https://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com/

Beyond the Portraits: Part 2

Hello, again! I’m still on hiatus with my wonderful friend Ashley at the reigns, but the show much go on, so let’s take another look at what’s beyond the faerie queen’s portraits before the book comes out July 10th.

This one is a little more cut and dry, focusing on a more technical, yet still enjoyable  part of writing fiction: writing dialogue.


Image from viennateng.com

I don’t remember a single day of my life that wasn’t surrounded by human speech. If I wasn’t talking to family, I was talking to friends. If I wasn’t talking to friends, I was listening to teachers. If I wasn’t listening to teachers, I was listening to music or near-by chatter. If I wasn’t listening to music or chatter, well, you get the idea.

It’s like that for most people and yet, for some reason, writing dialogue as unique and natural as real speech is one of the hardest parts of writing fiction. It is for me, anyway, even if it is my favorite part of writing. It’s something I’ve admired about lyricists for years. While lyrics usually mimic real speech less than dialogue due to the nature of poetry, they often capture personality, tone, emotion, and common speech in a way that written dialogue can sometimes struggle with. What’s even more baffling is that some lyricists can give voice to a multitude of people.

Like the ever phenomenal Vienna Teng.

I’m going to do my best to keep my gushing to a minimum, but no promises. I’ve fawned over this woman and her work ever since I saw her preform at my college six years ago and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. If I’m not admiring her incredible piano work, it’s her brilliant use of modern musical styles or, as it relates to this article, her lyrics.

Her two most recent albums, Inland Territory and Aims, show off her talent the strongest. One’s a somewhat traditional singer-song writer collection while the other is more experimental, but they both tell diverse, vivid stories, sometimes side by side.

For example, “In Another Life” tells the story of two souls’ journey through multiple life times. The narrative voice has relatively little personality, which works very well considering how diverse the souls’ lives have been. It makes more sense to have the voices be blank slates than emulating any one culture or time. The next track, “Grandmother Song”, does a complete one-eighty. It’s told from Vienna’s grandmother’s point of view in a soulful, southern twang full of colloquialisms and patterns similar to African-American English. Vienna pulls it off so well that my Dad, who is black, was genuinely surprised when he realized she wasn’t as well.

In the 99,” sounds completely different from either song. While it’s impersonal like “In Another Life,” it’s choppy, urgent and swift as it takes quick snapshots of 21st century America and full of hypothetical questions that no one seems able to answer, either in the song or in real life. “Hymn of Acxiom” takes the strangest turn yet. It’s full of double-speak and false promises as social media is personified and lulls its users into a false sense of security and satisfaction. And those are only four songs from Vienna Teng’s repertoire.

Obviously I’m not going to go about writing dialogue the same way Vienna writes lyrics. In a way, I have it easier since the voices belong to individual characters rather than a multitude or concepts, but capturing individual identities with spoken words was still important to me in the writing process.

Jocelyn is white and was born and raised in Michigan, so her speaking style is very mid-western. Dominic is a faerie knight and, since the court exists outside of the regular flow of time, his speech is more “proper” and antiquated. Rina is black and attending a prestigious school, resulting in her being self-conscious of her speech and choosing her words carefully.

Every character has a story behind why they speak the way they do, creating a harmony of voices that play off each other, tell jokes and, most importantly, tell a story. Hopefully, it will be a story people will love and remember.

 

What about you? What influences how you write dialogue?

Behind the Portraits: Part 1

Portraits of a Faerie Queen is set to be released July 10th, so, before its release, I figured it might be nice to take some time and explored what shaped the book in its early stages as well as my journey as a writer.

These posts were originally featured on Truth About Books when it was still up and running and I held back on posting them here because I knew I would need content for my hiatus since the book would be coming out while I was gone. So, I hope you’ll enjoy a few glimpses behind the portraits and get pumped for this book coming out this July. 🙂


Image hosted on imdb.com

I lived off a steady diet of cartoons growing up. Disney, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Dream Works, Don Bluth, Studio Ghibli, and probably more I don’t remember. If it was animated, odds are I watched it or at least knew about it. I liked plenty of live-action stuff too—I watched Jumanji a million times, despite the nightmares, and Disney Channel Original Movies were my jam—but animation has always had a huge pull on me. Even as an adult, I’m willing to give a well-done animated movie a viewing, which is exactly how I stumbled upon the work of Mamoru Hosoda.

Despite having 21 awards and 7 nominations under his belt for his work, his name has only recently begun to circulate among Western audiences. While his debut film The Girl Who Leapt through Time was praised by critics, his second film, Summer Wars, was what really made people sit up and take note. His next film, Wolf Children, was a quieter piece, so it didn’t draw quiet as much attention, and I haven’t seen his most recent film, The Boy and the Beast, but I’m sure it’s awesome and worth the hype I saw about it when it came out.

I would have trouble finding things I don’t like about Hosoda’s work. A few scenes are awkward and the English dubbing of the dialogue can be cheesy, but that just comes with the medium. He takes full advantage of animation and everything it’s capable of, capturing the most spellbinding imagery as well as the most tranquil heart-felt scenes. His characters are fun and enjoyable and his stories bring new twists on familiar ideas. For example, the dangers and risks of cyber space have been sufficiently explored, but how often does it take three generations of a family to defeat them, like in Summer Wars? The idea of werewolves walking among us is nothing new, but Wolf Children is the first film I’ve seen where the focus is not on wolves, but on a single mother raising them.

By far the strongest element of Hosoda’s work and the one that most strongly influences my work is the way he weaves the human experience into the fantastic. No matter how outlandish things get (and they get pretty outlandish) you never forget that these stories are first and foremost about people. The Girl Who Leapt through Time is about a teenaged girl who can time travel, but it’s also about the universal human uneasiness with change and the desire for things to stay the same and feel in control. Like I mentioned before, Wolf Children is more so about the struggles of single motherhood than the existence of werewolves. In Summer Wars, an out of control A.I. threatens to bring society to its knees and it’s up to an enormous family to pull together in a time of grief to save everything they hold dear.

Most of that humanity comes out in the balance between struggle, hope, and joy, which I would love to be able to capture. The characters in all Hosoda’s films go through very real trials throughout their films, all of which are incredibly heart-wrenching. They have to say good-bye to life-long friends, loved ones pass away, they have to start over in new places and find where they belong in worlds that don’t seem to want them. The fantastic elements of his stories make the trials larger than life, which only serve to make their triumphs larger than life. The endings to all his films are perfect for their stories, even though they’re not ever completely happy. They’re mixed with joy at the fact that the protagonists are victorious, a bit of sadness at what was lost in the struggle, and hope that the future will continue to hold good things.

So far in my twenty-five years of life, a lot experiences have turned out like that, minus the crazy A.I.s, time travel, and werewolves, and that’s what I hope to always portray in my books: the human in the fantastic. The stillness in knowing you’re not alone in your experiences within the storm of whatever life may throw at you.

Everyone in Portraits of a Faerie Queen is going through storms. Of course, the novel focuses mostly on Jocelyn’s, but everyone she meets is in the midst of some sort of struggle and none of them are alone,

I hope that, even just for a few ours, readers can delve in to “Portraits” and feel a little less alone, no matter their personal storm. If that’s what happens, I’ll have succeeded as a writer, no matter what comes next.

 

COVER REVEAL

THE TIME HAS COME!!! WHO WANTS TO SEE THE COVER TO PORTRAITS OF A FAERIE QUEEN???

But first, a little bit about the book:

In the midst of a summer storm, seventeen-year-old Jocelyn Lennox swerves to miss a strange creature in the road. The resulting accident leaves her mother in a coma with doctors skeptical about her recovery.  Desperate for answers, Jocelyn returns to the scene of the accident to discover that the creature was one of the good folk—a faerie. Not only that, but their queen is willing to listen to Jocelyn’s story and offer her help.

For a price, of course.

The two strike a deal: Jocelyn will paint the queen seven portraits and, in exchange, the queen will heal Jocelyn’s mother. Unfortunately, nothing in the Faerie Realm is ever that simple. The closer Jocelyn comes to finishing the paintings, the harder malicious magical forces try to ensnare her. If she isn’t careful or can’t complete the portraits by October 31st, the day of the Hallowed Offering, her mother’s life won’t be the only one in jeopardy.

Now…

Here…

It…

IS!!!

PortraitsoaFQ-f

NineStar Press did such a great job! I absolutely love it and I’m excited to share the story too. Stay tuned for more updates!

5 Lessons from a Year of Blogging

Placeholder ImageMy blogging adventures started about a year ago this month, shortly after moving to Colorado, USA from Miyagi Prefecture, Japan and has it ever been a trip. There have been good sprints of time when inspiration flowed, dry spells, horribly forced posts, and great connections made. Every time I get online with the intention of reading a blog post, writing a post, or learning how to blog better, I learn something new, but these five points have definitely have been the highlights.

1. Read, Research, Re-strategize

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of writers, bloggers, and internet gurus out there with ideas, tips and strategies to help you come up with ideas, schedules, and anything else you could possibly need to run a blog. It can be overwhelming, but browsing them is definitely worth it. If you find something that looks like it would work for you, don’t be afraid to try it! That’s what those sources are there for. The blogs you follow have a plethora of ideas and methods too. There are as many ways to make an idea your own as there are ideas themselves. Don’t be afraid to learn from others and try something different.

2. Slow and Steady Wins the Race

When I first started blogging, I would obsessively check my email for new followers and likes. It was exhausting. Eventually, I learned that I had to find new ways of getting the word out there (see point 1) and just do my best. Building a following takes time and every little step you take is worth it. What you learn from what you post is just as important as the people you’re trying to reach.

3. Write Till You Make it, But Don’t Fake it

There have been a few posts that were supposed to be series that ended up total duds. In hindsight, I know a big part of that was because my heart wasn’t in them. I was writing them because I thought they were what readers wanted. When I something crossed my mind and became a blog post, not only did I enjoy writing it, but people seemed to enjoy those more too. While building a following takes time (see point 2), writing pieces you actually enjoy makes the process far more enjoyable, even if it is slow going.

4. Network, Network, Network

First of all, I’ve learned that networking isn’t NEARLY as scary as we sometimes make it out to be. If you’re meeting people and talking to them about things you both love, it’s actually *gasp* pretty enjoyable. The first time I talked to Ashley Fae, I was terrified. Here was this experienced blogger with a fancy blog and plenty of content, and here was me, floundering around and trying to figure out what to do. Over the course of the year, Ashley and I exchanged manuscripts, bounced ideas off each other, and she even helped me get “Portraits” into NineStar Press. So, go out there and connect with people. You’ll never know where those connections will lead and we’re all in this together.

5. Not Every Post is Going to be Popular

And that’s totally okay. Like I said before, some of my posts got exactly 0 attention. While disappointing, I learned what works and what I actually like to write about (see point 3). I’ve come to feel like that’s just as important as the attention other posts get. Now I have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully I’ll continue to develop that sense in the coming year and have five more lessons next May.

Now I want to open the floor to you guys. What have you learned during your time blogging? And advice for people just starting out? If you could go back and start over, what would you do differently when you first started blogging? Leave a comment below and let’s chat! 🙂

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

Hey, everybody! Just want to give everyone a heads up. I’m going to be on hiatus for about 8 weeks for day-job related training. While I’m gone, my good friend Ashley will be posting scheduled articles, blog tour posts, and book updates. The same updates, as well as free short stories are available if you subscribe to my newsletter :).

Portraits of a Faerie Queen is still scheduled to come out July 10 and Ashley will be sure to keep everyone in the loop, so stay tuned! See you in 8 weeks!

Liberation by Kate L. Mary (A Book Review)

Plot: 4/5     World Building: 5/4     Characters: 4/5     Entertainment: 4/5     Writing: 4/5

LiberationScarlet and Asher thought they were finally on their way to a normal life since they had put the black market auctions behind them—well, as normal as life among pirates can be—but when one of their old crew members calls for help over the radio, they and the rest of their team are thrown into danger once again. With only a few clues to guide them, they must rescue their friend and get back to Columbus before things get worse and maybe, if they have time, Scarlet and Asher can finally figure out what they mean to each other.

Everything that was great about Moonchild is just as great in Liberation, if not more so since we get to explore more of the world. The universe is multidimensional and complex, the story is engaging and has plenty of twists and turns, and it has plenty of action, maturity, and lightheartedness in equal measure, making it as much of a rare gem in the foggy realm between YA and NA as its predecessor.

It still blows my mind that the steampunk-dysptopia idea works. The two are perfectly balanced, creating a world that feels as vintage as it does new and dangerous, standing out as something creative and original in both genres. Also, did I mention last time how much I want these girls’ outfits? Because I do. All of them. I love Kate L. Mary’s attention to what people wear in this world. It works to make the world all the more vivid while also giving glimpses of the characters’ personalities without them saying a word, which is always great.

Unfortunately, just like Moonchild, Scarlet is Liberation’s biggest problem. Between her rivalry with another female character and her rather unfounded belief that there’s something wrong with her due to her past, her inner turmoil quickly became more annoying than sympathetic. She runs with pirates. They ALL have rough pasts and some are quite a bit darker than hers, so I really never understood where she was coming from. I don’t want to give anything away because I do still think both books are worth reading, but her angst makes it hard to root for her and Asher as a couple, especially since Asher is such an interesting and well developed character. If the focus had been exclusively on her need for independence, I think she would have been a stronger, more sympathetic character, but as is, she falls flat.

Fortunately, the rest of the cast is great, just like last time. They’re all easy to cheer for, memorable—even the ones new to the scene—and feel worth worrying about, so it’s easy enough to focus on them instead of Scarlet. I read once that every supporting character should think the book is about them and Kate L. Mary pulls that off beautifully here.

So, if you’re a fan of steampunk, dystopia, both, or you’re just looking for something new and exciting, hop aboard a coal-powered airship for a while and check out both Moonchild and Liberation.