2019 in review

If you had three words, how would you describe 2019?

Eventful, Stressful, Hopeful

It’s certainly been eventful and often stressful (especially on the world stage and also locally). Here in Australia the unprecedented bushfires, the smoke haze in many of our major cities but especially Sydney, and the drought has dominated the news. And of course, then there is Brexit, Trump and the revival of old political rivalries to keep us on our toes. So many issues to face and to take a stand on (whichever way that might be), that sometimes the good news can become lost in all the furore.

But if it all gets too much, why not escape into another world with a good book (or movie) to replenish and revision for a more positive future? With that in mind – how was your 2019 for books read, books written?

Recap of my 2019 literary adventures.

New Books and Stories

Under the Mountain Series complete

With the publication of Shadows Crystals & Shadows of the Deep – the Under the Mountain series is now complete. Currently, the first four novellas are available in print, and fifth soon will be.

Five Anthologies

Four my short stories & a poem have been published in five anthologies in 2019

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Recent releases & deals

Interviewed – by Altered Instincts

Altered Instincts aka author Leo McBride recently interviewed me following the recent release of Caverns of the Deep .and also Wolf Scout, in the Inklings Press latest anthology, Tales of Magic and Destiny. He asked some great questions.

What inspired the story [Caverns of the Deep]?
The first book in the series – Heart of the Mountain – which started as a short story on the theme glimpses of light (for the Glimpses of Light anthology). I set the story in an underground realm in which the power and lights were failing. But, as often happens to me, the story grew too long, so I submitted another story instead (Ruhanna’s Flight). Heart of the Mountain became a short novella which birthed the Under the Mountain series.


As a writer, have you ever had a character grow to be a much bigger part of the story than you expected? Who was the character and what was it about them that made them emerge from the sidelights?
Yes. Dinnis in Akrad’s Children started off as a side-kick to Mannok.  I loved his snarky, cynical view on life and, as the story developed, his wrenching back-story, difficult circumstances and motivations gave him a strong presence, until it became obvious that the first book in the series was, in fact, his story.


What are your favourite genres to read – and what is it about those genres that draws you in?

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Interview with Zadeki

Welcome Zadeki

Jeanette: Zadeki, Welcome. We’re chuffed you could take time to fly into today to enlighten us a bit more about yourself. We’ve been following your adventures Under the Mountain and also across the ocean in the Lonely Isles. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun). Coughs Please, please pull up a seat and make yourself welcome.

Header

Zadeki:  My thanks, daughter of the pen. (Brushes a small feather from his hair, and jumps up onto a tree branch.) I’m glad you decided to have the interview outside. Sometimes I think I’ve been in more tunnels than anyone should in a life time.

Jeanette:  I can understand that. The last few days most have been particularly harrowing. Can you tell us a bit about how your association with the twins, Delvina and Retza, came about?

Zadeki: Ah, well, that’s a bit embarrassing. I wanted to prove to the Kinleader that I was ready to be a Pathfinder. So I decided to fly over the mountains to show my skill at shape-shifting. Instead, I ended up being caught in a snow storm and colliding with a mountain and breaking a wing … er arm. That’s when the twins found me and took me into the mountain caverns.

Jeanette: Your time with the twins and their people has been fraught with danger and difficulties. Even now things are in the balance, yet I’m sure the twins have been very glad of your help and that of your Kin.

Zadeki nods.

Jeanette: Lets talk a bit more about you. In our world, people are often divided between ‘cat’ people and ‘dog’ people.  Do you have a particular preference between the two?

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Crystals and Easter Eggs

What a busy couple of months it’s been.

Omega Writers Book Fair

I had a great time at the Omega Writers Book Fair with an exciting range of other authors, workshops and giveaways. Looking forward to the Book Fair next year.

Supernova Gold Coast

Young Adult Spec Fic authors Lynne Stringer, Adele Jones and I were at Gold Coast Supernova last weekend – under the Rendered Realms banner.

Lynne looked particularly dashing in her Verindon Overlord dress and tiara (the Verindon trilogy).  I went as Delvina (Under the Mountain series) and also as Kupanna Mara (Akrad’s Children).

I was excited to have Stone of the Sea the third book in the Under the Mountain series available. I also managed to snag an amethyst crystal that fits in nicely with my Under the Mountain series and hopefully enhances the display.  And Lynne had copies of Challenge Accepted available – a charity anthology for the Special Olympics with awesome speculative fiction stories, including one by me, Lynne and Adam Collings.

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February Round-up

What a month February has been –  a month of extremes of weather for one thing. I’m glad to escaped the worst of it here in steaming hot Brisbane, but feel for everyone who has suffered loss from bushfires or wildfires, the Sahara-dessert levels of heat south of the border or Antarctic cold of the polar vortex across the Pacific, from earthquakes, storms, drought and other disasters.

It’s been something of a deluge on the publishing scene for me in much more pleasant ways – frantic, crazy and fantastic -with four new books due for release in February-March, several events both online and in person, and two promotions.

New Releases

Shadow Crystals

Shadow Crystals – Book 4 in the Under the Mountain series

She will do anything to save her people.

Delvina, Zadeki and the delegation lead by Danel must seek answers from the haughty Vaane, but they find the Lonely Isles in turmoil. Will Delvina find the way to open the Gate in time to prevent her people from starving? Will she be reunited with her twin, Retza? And why are the Forest Folk so secretive? As tensions increase, Delvina must discern friend from foe and defeat the shadows in her own heart.

Join Delvina and her friends on their quest to save the Glittering Realm under the mountain.

Set in the world of Nardva, Shadow Crystals is the fourth and penultimate novella in the Under the Mountain series.

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My Spec-Fic Faves for 2018


2018 was a great year for reading. I smashed my Goodreads Reader’s Challenge goal and just scrapped to finishing the 2018 Popsugar Challenge. Once again this year, my reading included a selection from the classics, big names and several indie authors. While not all are 5 star reads, each of the books chosen for my 15 picks intrigued me and/or left me thinking about the characters, the plot or the world long after I’d put the book down.

What were my best spec-fic reads for 2018?

1. The Bright Empires series by Stephen Lawhead

This science-fantasy series by Stephen Lawhead consists of five book: The Skin Map, The Bone House, The Spirit Well, The Shadow Lamp, The Fatal Tree.   The series follows the adventures of 17th century Arthur Flinders-Petrie, present day Kit Livingston, his erstwhile girl friend Mina, and the villainous Lord Burleigh, as they each seek to explore the mysteries of ley travel between an expanding number of alternative earths.  Each transfer to an alternative world is at a different time as well as place – from 17th century London and Prague, to China, to both Middle Kingdom and early twentieth century Egypt, ancient Tuscany, the paleolithic, early twentieth century Jordan, or north American desert.  Like the Doctor and Riversong – people can met out of synch with each other which results in some interesting plot points. New characters are added along the way and the stakes grow more serious with each book until it encompasses the whole cosmos. And while the final book didn’t quite live up to the rest,  I enjoyed the complexity of the plot, the immersive and detailed nature of each setting, the interplay of the characters, the redemptive arc and transcendence in this brilliant series.

2. Children of the Furnace by Brin Murray

Children of the Furnace is a YA dystopia set in a world devastated by global warming, with only the polar regions suitable for human habitation. Will, brought up by his step-father in Sekkerland (Greenland) is sheltered from the realities of the world until he is discovered by the Revouts and sent to Ferule – a re-education camp for boys – as a hated Heater.  The book is narrated by both Will and Leah (a girl from the south) with strong world-building and characterisation. Though, at times I found the violence quite harrowing and was disappointed the trope of religious fanaticism, I really did like the originality of setting and that Will seeks another way than ‘the way of the strong’.   Here’s my full review.

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New Release and Supernova

Stone of the Sea

Have you been wondering what the young shapeshifter, Zadeki, and the twins, Delvina and Retza are up to? At the end of October I released the next instalment, novella 3 of the Under the Mountain series. The Crystal Heart may be saved but the people under the mountain are running out of food, while strife and disaster bubble beneath the surface.

A desperate journey into the unknown

Food is scarce, the Glittering realms in chaos and solutions fast disappearing.  Twins Delvina and Retza have always stood shoulder to shoulder. Will new challenges pull the twins apart? Will they, and their shapeshifter friend, Zadeki, find food before the people under the mountain starve?

Join Delvina, Retza and Zadeki as once again they face their fears and rescue a realm.

Stone of the Sea is the third novella in the Under the Mountain series. It is set in the world of Nardva.

Start reading it today. Available at Amazon and other retailers.

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My Spec-Fic Favs for 2017

What have been your favourite Spec Fic reads in 2017?

This year, I’ve enjoyed the 2017 Popsugar Challenge which spurs me on to read a wide range of books. Even so, I’ve managed to squeeze in quite a few Fantasy and Sci-Fiction books and a few movies as well. So which were the ten I enjoyed the best?

 

  1. Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Marissa’s Meyer four book Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter) was a fantastic read, so I had high hope for Heartless – the origin story of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. And Meyer didn’t disappoint – Catherine is a wonderful character, as is Jest, the Mad Hatter and others. Meyer does a great job of weaving elements from both Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass. The tale has a lot of whimsy and humour and is compelling – though inevitably, it leads to a sad ending. My full review here.

2. The Martian by Andy Weir

For something entirely different, I managed to see the movie and read the book of this popular sci-fi tale. Told primarily through the stranded astronaut’s journal (with some scenes back on earth inserted), I loved the freshness of the story, the meticulous research in conditions on Mars, the reality of space flight, the logistics and possibilities involved. Weir makes math sound cool – which is awesome. But primarily The Martian was a human story, a story of not giving up and beating the odds. My full review here.

3. The Fated Sky by E M Swift-Hook

The Fated Sky is the first in the Transgressor’s series by E M Swift Hook – when Avilon’s space ship crash lands on the high plateau of a backward and forgotten planet at the rim of the galaxy, he is captured and catapulted into the complicated and often deadly politics of Temsevar. Told through multiple points of view, Swift-Hook does a marvellous job of bringing the planet and the characters to life. An intriguing start to the trilogy. My review is here.

4. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi includes magical realism – young Pi’s family decides to sell their Zoo and move to Canada. When the ship sinks in the storm, Pi (Piscine Molitor Patel) is trapped on life boat with Richard Parker (a Bengal Tiger), an injured zebra,  orangutan,  and a hyena. The ensuring struggle for survival is gripping – with moments of desperation, terror and wonder – and a startling twist at the end that leaves you with questions of what is real. My review is here.

5. The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead

The Skin Map is the first book in the Bright Empires series. It combines time travel, alternative earths, ley lines, heroes and dastardly villains in a rollicking adventure. Kit Livingstone meets his long lost grand-father Cosmo, and finds himself pulled into the quest to find the skin map and to thwart the villainous Lord Burleigh and his men. The narrative moves around in time and place, with real danger but also recreates Restoration London (1666), 17th century Prague, 18th Macau and ancient Egypt in loving detail. While the pace is at times leisurely, I found the story immersive and enjoyable to read. I’m up for the next in the series, The Bone House.  My review is here.

6. Planet Woman by Judith Rook

Planet Woman looks at human colonisation in a distance planetary system that included sentient planets. When a threat is detected, the Planet Circe sends for an envoy from (non-sentient) First Home. Tethyn Claibrook-Merjolaine is none too pleased when she has to entertain the commanding and arrogant envoy, Lewis Brock, First Peer of the ancient Haute-Forêt family. But larger threats and dangers are in motion. This is the first book in a series and has a number of subplots. Despite some frustrations with the story-telling, it was one of those stories that left me thinking about it long after I’d read it. My review here.

7. Welcome to the Apocalypse (Pandora 1) by D L Richardson

D L Richardson’s Welcome to the Apocalypse is a wild ride.  Kelly Lawrence, Jack Minnow and Reis Anderson have special tickets to try out the immersive, virtual reality game, The Apocalypse Games,  in which players are pitted against one of a range of imagined end-of-earth scenarios – from Zombies, Alien Invasion, Clowns, Global Pandemic and so on. In theory the game lasts for 24 hours, but on this debut run something goes terribly wrong and the players are trapped in apocalypse scenario after apocalypse scenario with no contact with the outside world. What I loved about the book was Richardson managed to keep each scenario fresh and that it was as much (if not more) about the inner battles of the main characters. The ending was a little abrupt – but I look forward to reading the next in the series Welcome to the Apocalypse – Cybernexis (which has been nominated for a Ditmar prize). My review is here.

 

8. Jewel of the Stars: Earth’s Remnant by Adam David Collings

Jewel of the Stars: Earth’s Remnant is Episode 1 of Season 1 of a novella series set in space. Jewel of the Stars is a cruise liner that travels the stars, until a sudden and catastrophic invasion leaves the ship cut off from the rest of humanity and heading for unknown space to avoid certain death. Collings sets up the story and introduces an number of main characters while delivering on suspense and an exciting finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. The only hitch is the wait for the next episode to be published. My review is here.

 

9. Futurevision  edited by Delia Strange

Twenty Aussies authors views of the future – 20 speculative fiction story, Futurevision is a wonderful collation of local talent with a range of stories from science-fiction, fantasy, horror – some full of suspense or adventures, some funny, while most leave you thinking. My own space opera ‘Rendezvous at Alexgaia’ is included. My favourites included Nola Passmore’s ‘One Hundred Words’ (what if all electronic communication was restricted to 100 words?), Duncan Richardson’s ‘Profile’ (what if our participation in society depends on our digital imprint?) and  Sophie L MacDonald’s God and the Machine (what does it mean to be human?) My review here.

10. Tales from the Underground by Inklings Press

Another great anthology with talented writers – in this case stories that take place in the dark places under the earth – in caves, caverns, mines, tunnels and cellars.  My story is a prequel for the Under the Mountain series (Heart of the Mountain, Blood Crystal, Stone of the Sea, Shadow Crystals) – though is darker more thriller or horror than adventure.  I particularly loved Rod Edwards fabulous story of fairy with ‘Lords of Negative Space’, Claire Buss whimsical ‘Underground Scratchings’ with a lovely twist at the end, and the riveting ‘Beasts Above’ by Lawrence Harding.

and a bonus – Elven Jewel by Kasper Beaumont

Right at the cusp between old and new year, I finally read Kasper Beaumont’s Elven Jewel – the first in the Hunters of Reloria series. Despite some occasional hitches in style, it was an enjoyable read – with halflings, bond fairies, dwarves, elves, dragons, goblins, trolls, giants, reptilian invaders and rollicking adventures, a touch of romance and a few tear-jerking moments. My full review here.

As for movies

  1. The Last Jedi

It’s no secret that Star Wars fans are divided about the latest offering. I went to see it with my family on my birthday – and loved it. Okay, not perfect – it had some gross moments and maybe occasionally heavy-handed – but on the whole it keep me glued to screen, and just when I’d think the story was an echo of earlier films, it would subvert or turn it. Some spectacular visual moments, and loved the ending.

2. Twice Upon a Time

Interesting finale of Peter Calpaldi’s doctor, teamed up with the first Doctor.  It had an interesting theme – as the Doctors struggle with the need to ‘change’ in regeneration. I did like the impromptu Christmas truce in WW1 into the plot, but I felt the story was trying to do too much and so ended up doing less – and not sure what I think about the newly regenerated doctor falling out of the TARDIS. As with each changing of the guard, we will have to see how the new writers and actors take this perennial favourite.

3. Moana (Disney)

My children and I watched Moana just after Christmas with my sister, a niece, two nephews – and loved it. And then watched the DVD on Boxing Day while at my sister’s, and enjoyed it again. Moana and Maui are great characters, with strong character journeys. Visually stunning, incorporating Polynesian culture and myths, and with a great story. Well worth watching a second time.

 

And for me, the other highlight is the stories and poems published – with three poems, eight short stories, one novella (Blood Crystal) and a novel (Akrad’s Children).  It’s also great seeing reviews rolling in for Akrad’s Children and Blood Crystal.

My plans for 2018 included the sequels to Heart of the Mountain & Blood Crystal, the next book in the Akrad’s Legacy series – Rasel’s Song, a Collection – Ruhanna’s Flight and other stories, plus participating in the On the Horizon Book Bundle (Akrad’s Children will be included with 22 other great stories of speculative adventure). On the Horizon is already available for pre-order.

What were your favourite reads – and watches – for 2017? What achievements have you celebrated, what goals do you have for 2018?

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and fantastic New Year.

Jeanette O’Hagan

Scavenger Hunter Winners

Thanks for all who left comments on the blog tour and those that entered the Blood Crystal Scavenger Hunt.

The correct answers are:

  1. Glow worms are insect larvae and can only be found in Australia and New Zealand
  2. Copper was mined in the Adelaide Hills town of Callington.
  3. The agents need sugar more than Sarah
  4. Trajan’s greatest fear is being underground (though claustrophobia or fear of being trapped would be acceptable).
  5. The catacombs are the underground location Nola toured on her trip to Rome.
  6. Delvina and Retza go on a perilous journey in Blood Crystal.
  7. Mt Morgan mine is associated with pollution on the Dee River.
  8. Stalactites are the limestone formations that hang from the roof.
  9. The twins final meal as their food ran out on the journey was dried mushrooms and smoked cave fish (with melt water) as mentioned in the excerpt provided.

Time to announce the winners of the Scavenger Hunt

– drum roll –

First prize – $50 Amazon voucher – to the first person with all the correct answers –

Sally Poyzer

Thanks Sally – your answers were spot on.

Second prize – copy of Heart of the Mountain and Blood Crystal

Linsey

Great effort Linsey. Loved your detailed answers  – and it’s clear you’ve read Blood Crystal – unfortunately though I loved your  ‘ground-bat’, this was what the twins ate sometime after their food ran out. All your other answers were correct.

I’ll be in contact with you both in the next few days.

Opportunity

Reduced Price – for a limited time Blood Crystal is at the reduced price of $99 US. A great time to purchase it. Check it out here.

Thanks again for the great support through the launch and blog tour of Blood Crystal. I’m loving the reviews.  I’m hoping to have both Heart of the Mountain and Blood Crystal available in print by early September.

Jeanette

 

Blood Crystal Scavenger Hunt

Over the last three weeks, Blood Crystal has been touring a round of fabulous blogs. Today, we arrive at the final stop.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Isn’t it strange how, when we are waiting, time seems to stop moving. It’s almost as though we are caught in amber, caught between the moments, as though time itself has been freezed-framed and whatever we are waiting for will never arrive (or is that just me?).  The temptation is to give up.

And then, in a pivotal instant, there is the knock of the door, the arrival of a friend, the opportunity we’d hoped for.

Patience is rewarded.

As a writer, we want it all to happen from finishing writing the book, to publishing it, to gaining thousands of readers – but at each step of the journey we find ourselves waiting and in need of patience and persistence.

As a reader, with a great book we enjoy the journey – both inpatient to get to the end and, at the same time, never wanting it to end. Then we can’t wait for the sequel 🙂

At one point in the Blood Crystal, the twins Delvina and Retza head off on a treacherous journey to find help from Zadeki and his kin. They face a number of different challenges due the extreme terrain and their own unfamiliarity with the ‘outside’. At one point they run out of food and it seems they will never reach their goal.

Delvina placed the last of their dried mushroom and slithers of smoked cave fish into Retza’s mug and poured some of the steaming melt water over it. Saliva flooded her mouth at the tantalising smell. She offered the mug to her twin, giving him her own share in mute apology. If there was a source of food in the barren wilderness, neither she nor Retza had been able to find it. He gulped down the broth and then thrust the cup into her hands, half full.

She shook her head. ‘It’s yours.’

‘We both need to be strong.’

Once she swallowed the delicious mouthful, she stood and gathered her gear. Retza groaned and did the same. Ducking her head, she stepped out into the soft grey light that seemed to linger as the sun dipped down behind the jagged skyline. Retza stumped in front of her and took the lead and the full force of the buffeting wind for this shift. She clutched the copy of the instructions the old Scrybe had written out for her. A soft sorrow welled up and brought tears to her eyes. It was hopeless, beyond crazy. Perhaps they should go back.

Is their patience and persistence rewarded? You’ll have to read Blood Crystal to find out.

Last question for the Scavenger Hunt. What is Delvina and Retza’s final meal as their food runs out during their journey?

Scavenger Hunt

Blood Crystal Scavenger Hunt 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  right will win a $50 Amazon voucher. The runner up will receive copies of both Heart of the Mountain and the sequel Blood Crystal.

Please give your answers in the comments below.

Here are the Questions with links to the different blogs to find the clues.

Blog 1 Jeanette O’Hagan Writes: Where do Glow Worms live and what kind of animal are they?

Blog 2 The Vince Review: What mineral used to be mined in the Adelaide Hills town of Callington?

Blog 3 Lynne Stringer: What do the agents need more than Sarah?

Blog 4 Cindy Tomamichel: What is Trajan’s secret fear?

Blog 5 The Write Flourish: What is the name of that underground location which Nola toured?

Blog 6 David Rawlings Author: Who has to go on a perilous journey in Blood Crystal?

Blog 7 Adele Jones Author: What is the name of the mine associated with the pollution of Dee River

Blog 8 Adam Collings:  The formations that hang down from the ceiling of a cave, are they stalactites, or stalagmites?

Blog 9 Jeanette O’Hagan Writes (here): What is Delvina and Retza’s final meal as their food runs out during their journey?

I’m looking forward to seeing your answers.

Comment Winners

Announcing the winners who commented on the different stops on the way. Thank you for everyone who took time to stop by, read and leave a comment. I loved reading through the different comments and found it hard to choose.

One person deserves a grand-prize as she give thoughtful and interesting answers on every single blog. Way to go Nola Passmore.

So without more ado, I’ll detail the winners of a copy of Heart of the Mountain. (If you’ve already have a copy, you can nominate a friend to receive a copy or nominate one of my other e-books instead – The Herbalist’s Daughter, Lakwi’s Lament or Blood Crystal).

Winners:

Overall winner – Nola Passmore for the most comments – always interesting and entertaining 🙂

Blog stop 1  – this was so hard to choose, but I loved Susan Preston’s answer.

Blog stop 2  – Adam Collings

Blog stop 3  – Badger

Blog stop 4 – Paula Vince

Blog stop 5 – Sally Poyzer

Blog stop 6 – Adele Jones

Blog stop 7 – Linsey Painter (also receives her choice of a book in the Blaine Colton trilogy from Adele Jones)

Blog stop 8 – some great answers & hard to choose, but as others have already received a prize, Christine Dillon (also receives a copy of Lynessa’s Curse by Adam Collings).

Honourable mentions to Lynne Stringer and Cindy Tomamichel  🙂

And a big thanks to my wonderful blog hosts – Paula Vince, Lynne Stringer, Cindy Tomamichel, Nola Passmore, David Rawlings, Adele Jones and  Adam Collings. Please, check out their blogs for some great content 🙂

Until Next Week

I’ll announce the Scavenger Hunt winners next Friday – so you still time to enter, but remember the first two to get the all the correct answers wins.

 

Jeanette