Confessions of a Science Geek

Did you know I’m a self-confessed science geek? If you’ve met me, I’m pretty sure you do. In fact, it becomes a little obvious when you read my near-science fiction trilogy (science-based speculative fiction that feels like it could happen now in our modern world) and my current WIP, which is a science fantasy time-slip parallel narrative. What may surprise you is that there have been times I’ve been at reader-writer events and felt like a fish out of water.

What may also surprise you is that science fiction isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. (I know, right?) At some events I not only have to explain what my techno-thriller novels are about, I find myself talking a lot about the genre and where my novels fit. But not this weekend just gone!

Have you heard of Oz Comic-Con? I had, but until science-fiction author friend, Lynne Stringer, and fantasy/science fiction author friend, Jeanette O’Hagan, contacted me, I didn’t realise the event had anything to do with books. How wrong I was—and it’s been a blast.

My enjoyment of this event was for multiple reasons. It was my first Oz Comic-Con and I was there with friends. Writers, if you’re ever going to a new event as an exhibitor, consider sharing your stall (if possible) with an author friend or two in a suitable genre. Not only could we take breaks and cover for each other (we even got to meet & greet with other stall exhibitors), we found if one of us didn’t have the type of story a reader was interested in, the other might, and usually did. The other fantastic factor was the attendees spoke our language!

Now, I’ve been to signings or events where there are heaps of booklovers in attendance, but rarely have I spoken to so many people with an interest in science at a single event, let alone science fiction. In fact, if the attendees who visited our stall weren’t into science fiction, they were into fantasy—or both! Sure, I still had to tell people about my stories, but it was amazing having them so familiar with a genre they’d break in partway to clarify exactly where the novels fit. Some knew just the sort of books they liked and were happy to try a new author like me (or Jeanette or Lynne). (Happy author heart … Love sharing stories with people who are excited about reading them. <3 <3)

The other fantastic factor, and the one that remains the highlight whatever event I’m attending, were the people. SO many new faces and stories (life-stories, that is) and some seriously cool names. And then there were the amazing costumes. Like, wow!

Folks, I think I’ve found my literary tribe. Don’t worry readers, I won’t neglect my other author connections, but honestly, this was serious fun. Next time you’ll have to come along for the ride!

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.

Glimpses of Light Tour

GOLCoverCan you believe it’s already blog nine for the Glimpses of Light Anthology (GOL) tour? From the first post by Nola, we’ve been treated to unique insights by participating contributors, celebrating this project inspired by the ‘International Year of Light’.

Today I’m taking the baton from author, blogger and lover of life, Mimi Emmanuel. (Don’t you love a good relay? 🙂 ) And I’m going to be reflecting on kaleidoscopes.

For many of us, the word ‘kaleidoscope’ evokes childhood memories of peering into a cylindrical tube to watch patterns of changing colours from light reflected via mirrors, through coloured pieces of glass. The patterns were often exquisite and unique. Turn and look from a slightly different angle, and there would be a completely different combination of colours.

Coincidently (or not 🙂 ), my contribution to GOL was a story titled Kaleidoscope. But you see, this is not at all what I was going to write about today. I had a fun blog about pushing through the 7K barrier all ready to upload (more on that another day), but as I sat down to finalise that post, my thoughts turned to the collective whole that is GOL. And it occurred to me what perfect a description ‘kaleidoscope’ is.

Kaleidoscope (my story that is, not the tube) is different to what I usually write. For a long time it also struggled to find a home. Yet there it is finally in print, nestled between the works of Jo Wanmer and Ellen Carr, enhanced by beautiful gems, being the words of all the other contributors, polished and displayed in such a way they catch and reflect the light in an exquisite combination of colours.

Now, Kaleidoscope’s probably not a story that will knock someone over by its brilliance, but it was fun to create and an entertaining read. Yet, set amongst such a fabulous collation (and many of the works truly are fabulous – you must read them), it brings so much more than it could as a standalone piece. Kaleidoscope has become something far more inspiring. It’s become part of a literary … kaleidoscope. 🙂

But don’t just take my word for it, as Xanthe says in Kaleidoscope, it’s like, ‘Patterns of light revealing the soul. And you, mere mortal, can catch a glimpse of it.’

So mortals, don’t miss your opportunity to purchase your own GOL copy (print or e-book), and more for your friends. All profits go to CBM, bringing sight to the blind.

And if you leave a comment on this blog post (sorry, excludes GOL contributors 🙁 ), you will have a chance to win a paperback copy of my recently released YA novel Replicate, second book in the Integrate trilogy. I’m giving one copy away to a randomly selected ‘commenter’ in celebration of this tour.

But don’t stop reading yet. On the 29th January, you can continue the GOL blog tour trail, with fellow contributor Josephine-Anne Griffiths. 50-something young, Jo’Anne, has relished writing and reading from her childhood. She has a fascinating family history, shares her world with her dream-come-true HoneyBun, and is currently working on fictional memoir Charlie Dreams. Can’t wait to read her post.

Write Time – A Case of Extremes

I am so excited to be hosting another guest blog series. This time last year, guest bloggers shared inspiring and humorous reflections on their ‘Write Life’ . This year the theme is ‘Write Time’.

As I’ve discovered in life, timing is everything. Time is also one of our most precious commodities. Writing in season, and finding time to make it happen, is a constant juggle. Over the coming weeks we’ll hear from a diverse group of authors as they reflect on this theme. And like me, I’m sure you can’t wait.

JeanetteOHaganWrites250My first guest blogger is one you might know. Jeanette O’Hagan is a gifted author who writes across a diverse range of genres, and she’s had a full-to-overflowing writing year. (While still managing to be superwoman without the cape!)  I could say more, but I think it’s time to hand over to our guest. Thanks Jeanette!

From one extreme to another.

This year my ‘write times’ have seesawed from intense focus to being swallowed up in other tasks. In some ways, it’s the equivalent of kangaroo-hopping down the road (for those of you who remember their first lessons in a car with manual gears).

Five months – just five months of this year did my writing get the my highest priority – in January with the Month of Poetry (over thirty poems written some of which have since been short-listed or achieved an award), in March and April I wrote three short stories for a couple of anthologies, in July it was Camp NaNoWriMo as I dusted off novel 3 and wrote 30,000 words, coming within cooee of finishing my first draft, and November was NaNaWriMo, with another 50,000 words on novel 5.

As the words began to flow during NaNo, I remembered once again why I love writing— it’s fun, exhilarating, entertaining, inspiring.

Let the sea roarSo what about those other months? Family, friends, faith, community— yes all these things take time—but what has really eaten up the hours is other writing related activities. I finished off my writing course (MA) and started another (Year of the Edit). I have been involved in editing, proofing and/or publishing anthologies (to different degrees of involvement)—Another Time Another Place, Let the Sea Roar, Glimpses of Light and Like a Girl. I’ve needed to edit my own stories and follow the suggestions of my crit friends and editors. I’ve attended conferences, festivals and retreats. I’ve taken time to set up my writing as a business and make plans for next year.

Reflecting on 2015 I’ve come to a greater understanding of my writing process:
I work well to deadlines – especially those where I’m accountable to others.
I feel alive when I write and I want this to stay a vital part of my life.

Yet writing a first draft of a story, poem or novel is just the first step in a complex process. If I want to be serious about writing, if I want to write for others as well as for myself— I have to take it to another level and that means learning my craft, networking with other writers, giving back to the community, editing my work, working out how to publish and promote it. I need to factor those times in as well as regular writing times.GOLCover

Family, friends, faith, health, community matter too. If I steal from these areas in my life for too long or too often, I’m likely to crash and burn rather than be in this for the long term.

I need balance.

In hindsight, I don’t think I’ll try to publish two anthologies (plus involvement in three others) in one year again.

Maybe moving forward in kangaroo hops is not a bad thing (especially if you are a kangaroo ‘grin’) but I’d like to smooth out the curves a little. Those other things—learning, networking, editing, publishing—are part of the journey which I also enjoy doing.

As a wise person once said ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.’ Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

Tied in Pink_JennyJeanette O’Hagan has short stories and poems published (or about to be 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 school-aged children, has a Masters of Arts (Writing) at Swinburne University and is writing her Akrad’s fantasy fiction series. You can read some of her short fiction here.
You can find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or at JennysThread.com or Jeanette O’Hagan Writes or Twitter.

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.