Monday, June 29, 2015

Spilling the Beans on My-Sister-the-Writer

It's my turn to join the Virtual Book Tour!

Galaxy Nomads: 
Chronicles of the MacKenzie Clan



And since it's my blog I get to choose the format. Today I'm going to reminisce a little about myself and my sister.

When we were kids, she was The Peacemaker and I was The Big Mouth. She was The Sweet One, and I was The Hard Head. And yeah, I took advantage of that, I can now admit. 

Most of growing up we were stuck sharing a bedroom. One time we had a big tiff, and I angrily stuck masking tape down the middle of the room, and DARED her to cross to my side! Yeah, I was A Snot.

Thankfully, we have both grown up, and I can see her wonderful qualities now. And I can't begin to tell you how proud of her I am. I knew she was creative, being an amazing musician. But what I did NOT know was how creative she had become at universe building. Characters, worlds, emotions and adventures, using the written word as her creative medium.

She knows I tend to be hard headed and opinionated, even now. 

So here's the inside scoop: to this day she still holds her breath to see what I've written when I do a book review for her, because she knows I'll cover it all, the good, the bad and the ugly.

That's why I was DELIGHTED when I wrote my review for Galaxy Nomads (that review can be found Here).  This is truly her best work yet. Honestly, really, truly, pinky-swear. Take it from the hard-headed older sister about My-Sister-the-Writer, Karen Elizabeth Brown.

Jet on over to either Amazon or Smashwords to get your Kindle copy of Galaxy Nomads...  you won't be sorry.

Links here:


And if you need the free Kindle app from Amazon, it's right HERE (it's what I use, and it works fine). 



Happy summer reading!


Retta

Friday, June 26, 2015

Today: Discover How the Book Cover was Created

As part of My-Sister-the-Writer's book launch for Galaxy Nomads I thought you might enjoy seeing the "making of" the book cover.

Galaxy Nomads: Chronicles of the MacKenzie Clan



Since I hadn't read the book when I started, I began by asking questions from the author. I wanted info on things like characters, settings, tone, mood, themes. I may be doing the cover art, but the author has a "world" she's created in her own imagination, and I wanted to do it justice.

(Impt: Always be sure you use copyright free images and/or purchase the rights. We did both.)

Please note: for faster page loading, these are small thumbnails. You can click on any image to enlarge for details.


The first thing we needed was the right background. 
A wonderful photographer I happen to know 
(oh, gee, I'm married to him) gave us permission to use 
this photograph he took in Southern Oregon. 
Thank you to Jim R Stephenson Photography:



Cropped it:



Turned it into a night sky:



Landscaped it:



Now we need the Clan! Original graphics stock:



Modified to our Clan:



Added to background; 
yellow sunset backlighting to silhouettes:


Glow from sunset hitting our family:



Close up of the MacKenzie silhouette:



The Clan nestled onto the planet:


Now we need some stars, galaxies, night sky artifacts:



Our Ship is next! This is our original stock photo:



Sleeked out and modified:



The large intergalactic spaceship in which generations 
of MacKenzies left their home world, were born in, and died in!



The final image sans text:



And our finished book cover with text:




I hope you found this behind-the-scenes look at how the cover art was created interesting. I used a dinosaur version of Photoshop, PS Elements 6, but it did the job. If you need a source of free-to-use imagery, check out morgueFile.

I think my favorite part was creating the spaceship. It has a kind of "retro-future" look to it. No, really, that's a legit term in the art world! It cracked me up when My-Sister-the-Writer laughed and said that term was an oxymoron. Oh well, who ever said artists were normal, mwa ha ha ha.

Happy creating,

Retta

PS: for anyone interested in more detailed info on creating their own book cover, I wrote a 7 part cover art tutorial HERE. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Virtual Book Tour Continues!

The Virtual Book Tour continues for Galaxy Nomads today over at Defending the Pen!

Today My-Sister-The-Writer (Karen Elizabeth Brown) is being interviewed by writer Yolanda Renee. Glimpse an inside peek into my sisters life, HERE.





Happy reading,

Retta

Friday, June 19, 2015

Galaxy Nomads -It's a Book Review!

My-Sister-the-Writer recently had the Official book launch for her 7th book, Galaxy Nomads: Chronicles of the MacKenzie Clan. 


Her blog post with all the links and info is here: Karen Elizabeth Brown 

It's been an exciting week for Karen, having her book published at Amazon and Smashwords in digital form, and being on a Virtual Book Tour. She was written up on Mary Pax's blog HERE, which was fun read.


Wanna read my book review?? 

Below is a shorter version of what I wrote for Amazon and Smashwords. It will let you get a taste for the story, and if you like what you read, jet on over to either of those providers to snag a copy. It's only $1.99!! (links at the end of this post). 




Galaxy Nomads: 
Chronicles of the MacKenzie Clan

For me, the adventure began right in the title: nomads, out in space, the chronicles of a clan. And Clans can be feisty, sticking up for each other no matter what. So... I expected some action, and I was NOT disappointed.

Overall, it's a space adventure from one end of the galaxy to the other. Only, the story spans generations! Their origins, worlds and a little family history. Why they started traveling the galaxy with #1 Rat-of-a-Bad-Guy on their heels. Deceit, betrayal, loyalties, loves, plagues and pirates!  

It's divided into 4 "books" within this one book. Book 1 starts out with a bang which sets the stage for the need to escape into space, pronto.

It seems conflict and stress bring out ones true nature, and sure enough, the nature of the two main Rat-of-a-Bad-Guys emerges... In my view, the worst Rat-of-a-Bad-Guy was the first one, and he was a doozy. Come to think of it, #2 was not too likeable either...They say every good story needs a good bad guy, and these 2 filled that job just fine.

Anyway, off into the galaxy they plunge, and it was fun to read about the worlds they come across....My favorite was the planet Patchouli, full of short blue-skinned people. The author did a good job painting word pictures....

I enjoyed all of the main characters, but my favorite side character was a mystic named Hestia...I would have loved to get to know her better. 

...So many were interesting, colorful and/or quirky characters and had such potential for developement, it made you want to know them better....

It's told chronologically straight, from the first refugees to escape into space, and then following subsequent generations who are born IN space... the medical and science part of this chronicle was believable and smoothly fit right into the story.... written with enough detail and authority that it carried the story and added to it in a credible way.

Same with the aliens encountered. Though they weren't too developed, there was enough so that they flowed with the storyline, and some even gave me a chuckle. Speaking of chuckles,  the authors sense of humor is on the dry, subtle side; no silly slap stick stuff. More wry to sarcastic and/or tongue in cheek and between the lines humor...

I enjoyed the casual bantering/bickering dialogue between some of the characters. Especially the second generation "couple", Ryder and Carredyn, who fight like cats and dogs. I KNOW people like that, and it cracked me up. 

But overall I would say the theme that kept popping up was one of strength and courage from unconditional love and from loyalty; of hope and perseverance against the powerful and corrupt... there are subtle yet interesting points of view that weave in and out seamlessly within the storyline... An added layer of depth... They are short and easy to overlook, but rich little morsels.

There were a couple of plot twists I didn't see coming, which made for fun surprises. One was a shocker that had me saying out loud "no way!" But without a doubt my favorite "action" scene was the final showdown in Book 4 between our hero and the #2 Rat-of-a-Bad-Guy... the battle was INternal, not external.... I could feel the "realness" of it.... How we have to face our enemy, not run; to believe in ourself; to accept help; to stand firm and discover we have more power at our disposal than we had realized. In the story it was much more colorful, explosive and dramatic than I could tell it here, fitting into the action of the plot naturally... In short, it was an exciting battle, and had me rooting for our hero.

Bottomline, YES I would recommend this epic story to anyone who enjoys character driven action adventure stories. It's colorful, creative and full of interesting people, with enough mysteries and hints to make me hope for a second book, making the Chronicles of the MacKenzie Clan into a series. On that basis... I give it 5 stars.
(To read my complete review, just zip on over to Amazon HERE.)


To download your copy for a fun summer read:
or





Happy summer reading!


Retta

PS: I don't have a Kindle or other reader, but downloaded the FREE Kindle reader APP from Amazon for my Mac. If you need one, check it out Here. Did mention it's free? ;-)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Don't miss this fun summer read! Official Launch Day for Galaxy Nomads

It's finally here: the official launch day of My-Sister-the-Writer's 7th book:

Galaxy Nomads: 
Chronicles of the MacKenzie Clan




I totally enjoyed creating the cover art for this epic romp thru space adventure:

(can click on image to enlarge)


Here's a little introduction to the story:

The MacKenzie clan is forced to flee from the devastating destruction of a supernova and is challenged to a ruthless game of survival. When all seems hopeless, a new generation arises to battle their worst enemy in a unique battle of wits. Will the MacKenzies survive betrayal, pirates and wormholes to the outer quadrants? Here they find a new race of people on the Patchouli planet where the female is Alpha. They learn wisdom from the mystics and seers on their jaunt through the universe and from across the galaxy two brothers are reconciled to each other. They experience love and hate in the Merridian sector when a prince is abducted and must be rescued before a cruel cousin steals the throne. An epic read that will send you spiraling at warp speed through all the MacKenzie generations.

.................................



You can find Galaxy Nomads: Chronicles of the MacKenzie Clan in digital version both on Amazon and Smashwords:



And of course, My-Sister-The-Writers's own blog:




And last but definitely not least we have Mary Pax, one of my favorite authors, contributing to the Official Launch Day by writing about one of the main characters from the MacKenzie clan, Ryder MacKenzie. You don't want to miss that!

The link to Mary's blog is here: M. Pax

It will be fun to see what Ryder has to say for himself about all this running around in space, plagues, pirates and... "that girl". Hmmmmmm. Haven't read the piece yet myself, so don't know what he's going to talk about. Come on, Ryder, spill the beans!


Happy reading!


Retta

Friday, May 29, 2015

Virtual Paintout 25: Painting Sunshine & Shadows!


For the month of May the Virtual Paintout gang went to the city of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. 

I fell in love with the countryside in the South Bohemian Region, and when I saw a field of baled hay, I imagined that Claude Monet, the famous Impressionist painter who painted LOTS of hay bales, surely must have visited here! So here's my painting, in honor of Monet, an artist I greatly admire.

I call my painting "End of a Well Spent Day".

Leonardo da Vinci said: 
" As a well spent day brings happy sleep, 
so a life well spent brings a happy death."

The dignity and honor of good old fashioned hard work. 
Peace and contentment. 
The end of a good day. 
Headin' in to supper with Family. 
A well spent day.


My original location:
(can click on any pics to enlarge)




A black and white version to study 
the values before starting:




My set up and first sketching-in:




Oh! Guess what? 
I finally bought a little tablet to use for my reference photos!
So now I don't have to keep running back and forth to my 
desktop computer, or print out dull and dark paper references. 
It's a Polaroid 10.1 inch tablet. A TON cheaper than an iPad. 
But it gets the job done for my purposes. Here you can see the 
color mock-up that I played around with in photoshop:




Starting the underpainting here:




Decided to switch directions, and have fun experimenting 
with something I read about in the Susan Sarback book
"Capturing Radiant Light & Color": 
painting in the sunshine and shadow colors first:




Adding variations to the colors:




A couple of close ups:





And the finished painting:


"End of a Well Spent Day"
Cesky Krumlov
South Bohemian Region
Czech Republic
6 x 12 acrylic 
on wrapped canvas

(prints, greeting cards and more available



Happy painting,


Retta

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Virtual Paintout 24: Besties in Bhutan!


For this April of 2015, the Virtual Paintout gang went traveling (via Google StreetView) to the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan

Known as Land of the Thunder Dragon, it's at the eastern end of the Himalayas, bordered by India and China. 

Flag of Bhutan

And wow! It was amazing to travel so many high and sometimes narrow mountain roads. At times, we were looking DOWN at the clouds. 

I was charmed by two young schoolgirls. I came across them at a large school complex high up in the mountains. I imagined them being "BFF's", as they leaned in toward each other, whispering secrets and gathering flowers. 


Here is the original location I chose 
(can click on images to enlarge):





And the finished painting from Bhutan:


"Bhutan Best Friends"
6 x 9 sketchbook
acrylics



Happy Painting,

Retta

PS: Remember, the Virtual Paintout gang is free to join, and we go to a new location somewhere in the world each month. No pressure, just paint as you have time. Visit the Virtual Paintout blog for all the deets!