Blood Crystal Blog Tour

How exciting to be a part of the blog tour for new release Blood Crystal by Jeanette O’Hagan. I trust you’ve been following along and collecting your scavenger hunt clues (check below for details and today’s clue), along with prizes offered by host authors along the way.

Following on from David Rawling’s tour blog, today I have the privilege of interviewing secondary character from Blood Crystal, Lady Zara. Let’s make her feel welcome.

Lady Zara, thank you for agreeing to speak about the recent events below the mountain. It must be difficult living under the rule of Overseer Havilah, as the daughter of the conquered former leader, Uzza. If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask some questions. I’ll take your haughty nod as permission. No need to glare.

Question one. Overseer Havilah seems to have some ‘interesting’ family dynamics to manage with her sons. What do you think of her as a leader? Does she have the best intentions for the Earthbiter people, or is she swayed too much by the opinions of her boys, especially Putarn?

What do you mean ‘Earthbiter’? Such a strange and rude term. And don’t talk to me about Havilah, a common toolwun with ideas above her station and capabilities. Though you are right about those sons of hers, especially that Putarn – such an unimpressive fellow with a scrappy beard and unpleasant manner, always with an angry scowl. His ideas are simply ludicrous.

Apologies for seeming rude. I’d heard the Forest Folk use this term and thought … well … perhaps we’d best move onto question two. Scrybe Barekia, who repaired the Crystal Heart during your father’s … ah … strategic retreat, seems to have doubts about the crystal’s continued function. Now there are rumours of a sacrifice being required of the ‘true seed’. What do you make of this?

Well! I have no idea what this nonsense is about the ‘true seed’, but both my honoured father and grandfather made it clear that sacrifices are needed to appease the Dark Ones and keep the Crystal Heart functioning. Unpleasant as the thought is, it is surely better than the whole realm dying? I’m not at all surprised these upstarts are having difficulties. When my father puts them in their place, he’ll get the Heart working again.

Oooookay … that seems somewhat … alarming, I mean … Question three. The Prentice twins, Delvina and Retza, often seem to find themselves in the middle of trouble. In fact, I understand Retza’s been quite the hero as far as you’re concerned. What do you think of the twins and their quest to find answers from the Forest Folk?

So they are twins are they? They do seem common and rather blunt, but Retza did defend me and my little brother Jesson against that horrid Javot’s treachery. Excuse me a moment. It was rather distressing incident. Yes, a sip of water would be welcome. Mind you, I was getting the best of Javot. I am quite capable of defending myself and my brother. Still, Retza’s intervention was timely. Some might find him nice-looking and strong for a common prentice.

That wasn’t quite the version I heard from—

As for seeking help from the Forest Folk, going outside the mountain tunnels is unheard of. Even if it’s possible, it seems foolish and perilous. My grandfather warned of the dangers of the outsiders and their covetous eyes on our wealth, which is why he closed off our realm many years ago and forbade all talk of the outside.

I see. Question four. You might remember Forest dweller, Zadeki, from his brief time under the mountain when he was brought there by the twins after being injured. How do you feel about Zadeki and his capacity to shape-shift? Do you think his people will be able to offer answers to help repair the heart? Is this something that worries you?

Is that what that freakish, silver-skinned stranger was called? Zadeki? An outlandish name and so tall, but no chin hairs to speak of. I do remember him transforming into a horrid, big, furry creature with giant paws and great big teeth in the Sunken Temple. Jaguar, my father called it. It gives me nightmares to think of it.

Frankly, I am a little worried. I doubt such savage people could help us and what if they decide to come back to eat us all and steal our treasures? But then, such a foolhardy mission to the outside will surely fail. And, any day now, my father will come back and restore everything to how it should be.

I see. Well, thanks for your time, Lady Zara. I’ll let you get back to … whatever it is you do now you’re a guarded prisoner of the new order.

You are welcome, I suppose. I look after my poor injured brother and think of ways we can escape to my father. I’m not at all concerned with these petty people, certainly not young prentices like Retza.

Blood Crystal Scavenger Hunt (clue #7 below!) will run throughout the Blood Crystal Blog Tour. Each blog will have a reflection or memory related to themes within Blood Crystal – and a related question. The first person to answer all NINE questions correctly will win a $50 Amazon voucher. The runner up will receive copies of both Heart of the Mountain and the sequel Blood Crystal. Follow each post on the blog tour to find the questions & list your answers in the comments on the final blog post of the tour on 28 July.

Next tour blog stop is Adam Collings (Adam does cool stuff like video interviews). Don’t forget there’s also opportunity to win prizes at each blogspot, including this one!

Scavenger Hunt Clue #7: My current work in progress is a YA slipstream sci-fi fantasy novel, parallelling the lives of two young people from different centuries through a peculiar connection. A significant portion of the historical story revolves around mining in Queensland. Mining ventures must entail management of toxic by-products, which historically has not always been done well. An Australian example of an undesirable mining legacy is the pollution of Dee River. What is the name of the mine associated with this environmental disaster?

Blog Post Prize Opportunity: Comment on this post for your chance to receive a copy of one of my YA techno-thriller Blaine Colton trilogy novels, either Integrate, Replicate or Activate – winner (one person who comments who will be randomly selected) gets to choose which novel they receive.

Bio: Jeanette O’Hagan has published fantasy novellas, including Heart of the Mountain and Blood Crystal, short stories and poems published in various Anthologies, including Tied in Pink Romance Anthology (profits from the anthology go towards Breast Cancer research); Poetica Christi’s Inner Child; Brio anthology, Another Time Another Place, Let the Sea Roar, Glimpses of Light and Plan Australia’s Like a Girl. She has practiced medicine, studied communication, history and theology and has taught theology. She cares for her Family, has a Masters of Arts (Writing) from Swinburne University and is writing her Akrad’s fantasy fiction series. You can read some of her short fiction here
connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or Goodreads or amazon or at JennysThread.com or Jeanette O’Hagan Writes.

Core Strength

Redwood2_AdjA character’s quest lies at the heart of any story, with their journey of change driving the plot as they face obstacles to achieving their ultimate desire. One thing that will undermine any character we write is a lack of consistency and a lack of believability. But ever since a recent family holiday in the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’, there’s something else I’ve been considering relating to character development.

I think most of us are aware that people don’t behave in the way they do for no reason. We all have a history that predisposes us to certain behavioural patterns, deeply embedded in our thought processes and emotions. For example, children who’ve experienced trauma often, in turn, behave in ways that are unhealthy. Trauma makes as much of a wound on the brain as a physical injury. Even experiences that, to an adult, might seem inconsequential, can profoundly affected a child’s (and ultimately adult’s) behaviour and way of perceiving life. It stands to reason that these types of pain-based behaviours can be difficult to manage, but once identified, the brain can be ‘rewired’ over time by making different choices. Each positive choice makes a small change in the brain. And small changes, over time, make big ones.

Something I find frustrating as a reader is when a character whose entire life has been dictated by negative behaviours, suddenly changes, and then the story is resolved. Now, I’m not denying people can experience profound shifts in thinking over short periods of time, or even significant emotional healing, but more often than not, there’s a dogged grappling with pain-based patterns over time, before the positive choices outweigh the negative wiring of the past.

Just as a child can be damaged emotionally or mentally by being forced to grow up too fast, whether that be through exposure to adult concepts too early or, as mentioned above, through trauma, so our characters can come across as weak and untrustworthy if they change too fast, or without appropriate context and conditions justifying that change.Redwood

But how does this relate to our holiday in NZ? While touring, we visited a Redwood forest. The redwood seed had been brought over from America to grow trees to produce wood for use in construction and other such applications. Unfortunately, the NZ climate wasn’t the same as that from which the trees were brought. The trees grew too fast, leaving the inner core soft and unusable for the purpose it was intended.

Like those magnificent redwood trees, a character can be fleshed out to look every bit the part they’ve been developed to play in a story, but if they don’t go through challenge- or condition-appropriate growth, a reader won’t buy it. I think you’ll agree, there’s something about a character’s inner struggle that builds convincing inner strength, developing rapport with a reader. I do love stories where characters rise above overwhelming odds, but let’s ensure we give our literary heroes opportunity to develop sufficient core strength to make the distance.

And then there was …

ActivatemedOn November 1, ‘Activate’ final book in the Blaine Colton young adult techno-crime thriller trilogy, was released. Yay!!!! Celebration time for sure. But a thought has been edging into my mind that once the buzz of launches, signings and visits settles, I’ll be writing … Well, what will I be writing?!

Yes, I do have works in progress. I also have a quandary.

Somehow, after completing the trilogy, one of the characters in ‘Activate’ got a life all their own. So I’ve found myself halfway through a spin off story. But there’s also a story that’s been on the backburner for … well … a while. Originally penned for the general adult fiction market, I’m rewriting it as a YA. It really does seem to be working, but it’s also a challenging project. Meaning, it will take time to get it right.

Perhaps I need to admit to myself that there might be a teensy bit of laziness factoring into that equation. You see, project ‘old-made-new’ has historical elements I’ll have to squish back into whatever grey matter I have remaining in the crevices of my head. You know what that means? Lots of research i.e. lots of extra work. And well, the speculative SciFi angle the spin off is taking, doesn’t have quite so many restrictions.

My brain says something new. (Hang, my publisher probably does too. LOL.) But those characters have a way of sneaking into your mind and pulling on your heart strings.

There’s one group I haven’t asked yet. You! 🙂

What would you do? More of the same or something different. Or would you do the crazy juggle I used to, of writing multiple novels at once? Hit me with your thoughts! It would be great to hear your angle.

(Dis)Ability Action Week QLD

Del signingSaturday I received copies of my new novel Activate hot off the press and had the pleasure of sharing it with attendees at the Omega Writers Book Fair 2016. Technically its release date is Nov 1, 2016, but with next week (Sept 11-17) being Disability Action Week 2016 in Queensland, I can’t think of more perfect timing.

You see, Blaine Colton, the hero of the Integrate trilogy, is a young man acutely aware of the stigma and challenges disability can represent. Having survived mitochondrial disease and received a gene-modifying cure, he has been given a second chance. But things aren’t perfect for the teenager, and he’s never forgotten where he’s come from – nor where he could very well end up. (But you’ll have to read the books to find out more … 😉 )

The motto of Disability Action Week celebrations is: ‘Inclusion: It’s a game changer’. And I love it. In fact, I’d love to apply it in every circumstance. I’ve seen how easily we (and I include myself in this) can disregard others because they don’t fit. Whether this be determined by a ‘click’ group, trends, or someone who simply doesn’t meet some predetermined criteria for abilities on the sports field or whatever activity is on the table, people get left out. Add what can be perceived as limitations, and it can be all too easy to discard people from our plans.

No one likes being excluded.

ActivatemedAs a parent I often find myself saying, ‘Ensure you’re being inclusive.’ In reality this has to be a purposeful decision and is largely influenced by the type of disability present. For example, if someone is mobility impaired, accessibility to venues, terrain and physical requirements of an event or activity need to be well considered. Some disabilities are not obvious, and might involve environmental or emotional triggers. Often a lot of little things are overlooked by well meaning people for sheer lack of awareness. (As I have done myself, at times.)

Many people I know living with a disability are fiercely independent and very capable. When it comes to solutions, they are brilliant for nutting things out. By communicating and working with people, instead of assuming the limitations of their capacity, inclusion becomes a way of thinking and truly can ‘change the game’.

 

Blog Award Tour

JeanetteOHaganWrites250Fantasy author and science-fiction fan, Jeanette O’Hagan has tagged me for the Blog Award Tour. Jeanette has lived in Australia and Africa; has practiced medicine; taught theology; accumulated a few degrees, including recently completing a Master of Arts (Writing); and is actively engaged in a caring Christian community. She is currently caring for her young children and writing her Akrad Legacy series, while co-editing the Glimpses of Light anthology, which is due for release later this year. Jeanette has had short works published, including contributing to the Tied in Pink a romance anthology supporting breast cancer research. Last month she also donned her ‘cabin coordinator’ hat and dragged me and a bunch of other writers along for a fantastic ‘CampNaNoWriMo’ ride. (Thanks Jeanette and cabin buddies!) In summary, Jeanette is basically superwoman who doesn’t need to wear a cape to prove it!

As part of the Blog Award Tour, Jeanette has asked me to answer four questions for today. She’s also tagged two other fantastic authors: Lynne Stringer (blogged 27th July) and Alison Stegert (blogging 10th August), so make sure you look up their posts. As for me, let’s get ‘touring’!

1. WHAT YOU’RE WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Where do I start? Okay, I’ve just (July CampNaNoWriMo ‘just’) finished the first draft of the third book for my YA Integrate trilogy, so I’ll be working through that over the next period – and all the research and revision fun that entails. I’ve just completed final revisions for Replicate, the second book in that same trilogy. (It’s coming at the end of the year, so keep an eye out!) I’m presently undertaking revisions for the Glimpses of Light anthology (in between prepping for some upcoming writing workshops), and am also about to receive my historical fiction ms, A Devil’s Ransom, for final revisions any day now. As you can see I’m not bored. 🙂

2. HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN YOUR GENRE?
CoverIntegrateI write a complex plot, where the characters’ greatest battles are the ones they face within themselves. I feel I write from a fairly unusual combination of experiences, which can make for some fun (and at times peculiar!) story developments. Exploring the scenario of an illegal human GMO made Integrate an interesting and unique work to bring together. The outworking of this premise saw many themes emerge through Blaine’s challenges. Similar themes, including ethics, human value, identity and IP rights continue with a bit more of a crime spin in Replicate. The plot of A Devil’s Ransom also has multiple complicating threads, with a strong redemption theme. The spiritual journey of the main protagonist causes him to face the ultimate question: what kind of man will he choose to be – even if that choice brings fatal repercussions? I guess I don’t like to make things too easy for my protagonists.ADevilsRansom

3. WHY DO YOU WRITE OR CREATE WHAT YOU DO?
I love stories. Life is one big story (with an awesome Master Designer) and we are threads in that incredible fabric. There is something nearly compelling about writing out the stories that come into my head, which is essentially how I started writing novels. Many years ago I had a repetitive dream and started writing it down. It soon grew into a novel length work – and obviously I didn’t think to stop there! (Even though I found I had a lot to learn about writing.) I feel writing brings together the contrasting elements of who I am and in that union there is a purposeful voice that seeks to share those ever expanding journeys; in the right time, in the right season.

4. HOW DOES YOUR WRITING/CREATIVE PROCESS WORK?
I would like to believe I am more inclined to be plotter, but I am clearly not enough of a disciplinarian to keep my characters in order. In the last two manuscripts I started them out on the story arc and they promptly decided to do their own thing! (So naughty of them.) Usually I get an idea, whether that’s in conjunction with research or even a particular experience or setting, and something usually sparks a strong visual image followed swiftly by a scenario. Soon I know where the story is headed and where it will end. I tend to research and write in turn (with frequent heavenward pleas for creativity and insight). If there are a lot of research elements, I like to get it all in my head and write, otherwise the developing story can take you too far away from the boundaries in which you must create. I know I’ve mentioned this previously, but if I get really stuck I have a very spiritual approach to this – a special prayer that goes something like this. ‘Help! I’ve got no idea what to do with this!’ LOL – though it’s true! (And I say that more often than you might expect.) After completing the first draft I go back and with each revisions add additional layers to the manuscript as I determine the finer details of the storyline. In fact, I’m just starting that process with the sequel to Replicate.

Thanks ‘Super Jeanette’ for inviting me aboard the Blog Award Tour. Now I get the delightful job of tagging the next Blog Award Tour participant. It’s my pleasure to introduce to you the remarkable Rita Stella Galieh.

RitaPicRita is an Australian with an English, Scottish and Jewish heritage. She started inventing adventure stories in her childhood with her Grandma, to entertain themselves while her mum worked. With encouragement from her mother, she spent after-school hours writing little poems in the children’s section of the Sunday papers. Not only did this provide pocket money, it also planted the seed for writing. As a student at Sydney’s National Art School, she became a committed follower of Christ, and during this time her family built up a pottery studio where she eventually worked as a ceramic artist. Upon meeting fiery young violinist, George Elias Galieh, they shared ideas and sparks flew! They became singing partners, married and attended the Emmaus Bible College in preparation to follow their desire to use their talents in evangelism for the Lord’s glory. They welcomed a son in the early years of their adventures together.

Rita aims to captivate her readers while remaining faithful to God honouring theology. This fulfils a long held desire to write stories that entertain and inspire – and her stories have all the ingredients to match these expectations for her readers. She gives one hundred percent of herself to her stories and is not afraid to enable her writing to expose raw emotions, which she sees as a pathway to healing when released the ultimate Healer. She has a passion for writing historical romance with both intrigue and adventure, and really enjoys researching the 19th century Victorian Era with all its undercurrents.

To find out more about Rita and her writing, make sure you visit her website and don’t forget to keep an eye out for her ‘Blog Award Tour’ post next week (10th August) at www.ritastellapress.com/author-blog.