The Calling

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Branwen OShea and her YA Sci-fi novel, The Calling.

Author’s description

Humanity’s wake-up call. Answer it or face extinction.

 

When Bleu’s little sister shows symptoms of the deadly Sickness, a strange vision directs him to leave humanity’s subterranean haven and seek the cure on Earth’s glacial surface. Joining the expedition team, Bleu expects extreme temperatures, not a surface ruled by ingenious predators.

 

Rana and her fellow star beings have co-existed with Earth’s top carnivores since the humans disappeared. But when her peers transform into Crowned Ones, the final stage of star being development, she fears remaining Uncrowned like her parents. To prove her worth, she undertakes a dangerous mission—contacting the hostile and nearly extinct humans.

 

But Rana’s plan backfires, and Bleu’s team retaliates. As war with the more advanced star being civilization looms, both Rana and Bleu separately seek a way to save their people.

About the Author

As a young girl, Branwen wanted to become an ambassador for aliens. Since the aliens never hired her, she now writes about them.

Branwen OShea has a Bachelors in Biology from Colgate University, a Bachelors in Psychology, and a Masters in Social Work. She lives in Connecticut with her family and a menagerie of pets, and enjoys hiking, meditating, and star-gazing. Her previously published works include contributing to a nonfiction yoga book, wellness magazines, and her published science fiction novella, Silence of the Song Trees.

When I discovered I’d be featuring a book of OShea’s and would get to ask her any question, I looked up her biography on Amazon, too, and learned that she is a licensed counselor, a yoga teacher, and a sound healer. She says she writes books with stardust and magic. (What a lovely phrase.) So I asked her which of  the many traditions she has studied contributed the most to the “stardust and magic” in The Calling.

Here is her intriguing answer.

I’ve always been fascinated with different belief systems and have read and studied various religious and spiritual traditions since I was about ten years old. For me, every tradition holds great truths, but no tradition by itself fully meshes with my values of compassion, nonviolence, love, truth, and valuing nature. Each of my books explores slightly different beliefs.
The Calling kicks off a series that encompasses three different species, each with their own cultures and beliefs. The humans in my series are mostly scientific thinkers and driven by a sense that the Earth betrayed them by plummeting into an ice age. Most of the humans only trust science. However, Bleu and his family are secretively highly intuitive. I based their experiences on intuitive experiences that I’ve had since childhood. I didn’t give them a specific philosophy, because they had nowhere to research one other than their own shared experiences.
The star being culture and spirituality is possibly a combination of Indian and Yogic philosophy merged with indigenous beliefs and Christian mysticism. I say “probably” because much in this book was told to me in a series of meditations/dreams from the character Rana, a star being. So, you could either assume that my subconscious combined the above, or that it’s a psychic experience and Rana is something else other than a creation of my subconsciousness. The story works either way.
The third species doesn’t appear until the end of the second book, The Chasm, which is coming out in January 2022. Their culture and beliefs could be seen as a combination of shamanism, Islamic beliefs about jinn, and myths of the Fae. That said, their culture, beliefs, and story also came to me in meditations. Like myself, my books contain influences from many cultures and times. The overarching theme of the series challenges humans to reconsider their perceived limitations and separation from other species.

Find the Author

Website: http://www.branwenoshea.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/branwenoshea
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/branwenoshea
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/branwenoshea

Buy the Book

Order Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1735915998

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

“All right, get out, men.” Savas had never experienced such peace on the last mission. This was truly pleasant. They climbed out of the rover, and he tripped on his own feet as if drunk.

Laughing at himself, he reminded the others, “Guns out. Stamf, take the lead. I’ll bring up the rear.”

He paused, swaying a bit, while the other two men passed him and then proceeded slowly down the left branch. Sparkling light from farther down the tunnel lit their way. With a quick glance back toward the entrance, he took up the rear.

Then a voice as ethereal as the wind sang, “Caaaaaahm heeeeeeeere…caaaaaaaaaahm heeeeeeeere…”

What the hell?

Savas shook his head, blinked, and tapped his ear communicator. Stamf and Abdul, farther ahead, had frozen and appeared confused, swaying in place.

Something was terribly wrong. Was this cave filled with noxious fumes? Had they all gotten cold sickness? The databases talked of arctic workers becoming weak and confused by the extreme temperatures.

Think! Think. Savas wanted to lie down and nap. What’s wrong with me? Images from his childhood tumbled through his head. Not now. Not again. I control my own mind.

“Caaaaaaaaahm heeeeeeeeere,” the voice lulled, endlessly peaceful.

They all mindlessly continued forward, as if in a dream. A small part of Savas’ brain screamed in warning. I. Control. My. Own. Mind. He grunted with the effort. Fighting the urge to relax, Savas forced his hands to raise his weapon.

Thank you!

Branwen OShea — we appreciate your sharing your book The Calling with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Fly Twice Backward

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author David S. McCracken and his alt-history sci-fi novel, Fly Twice Backward.

Author’s description

You wake back in early adolescence, adult memories intact, including ones that could make you very wealthy now. Your birth family is here, alive again, but your later families are gone, perhaps forever. What has happened, what should you do about coming problems like violence, ignorance, pollution, and global warming? You realize one key connects most, the fundamentalist strains of all the major religions, disdaining science, equality, and social welfare. You see that there are some things you can change, some you can’t, and one you don’t dare to.

Fellow idealists help you spend your growing fortune well–such as an artistic Zoroastrian prince in the Iranian oil industry, a rising officer in the Soviet army working to find a way to destroy his corrupt government, a Bahai woman struggling against Islamic brutality, a Peruvian leader working for a liberal future, and a snake-handling Christian minister, grappling with doubts, sexuality, and destiny. They are supported by an ally who develops essential psychic powers. The group faces familiar-looking corrupt politicians, religious leaders, and corporate czars, but there is an ancient force in the background, promoting greed, violence, hate, and fear.

This exciting, emotional, thoughtful, humorous, and even romantic sci-fi novel weaves progressivism, music, movies, and literature into a struggle spanning the globe. Vivid characters propel the action back up through an alternative history toward an uncertain destination. Experience the unique story and its novel telling.

About this Book

The premise of this book fascinates me, and I’m looking forward to reading all of it. I’d hoped to do so before this post, but frankly it’s daunting length (723 pages) put a kink in those plans. However, I’m going to make a few observations.

  1. I started the book and thoroughly enjoyed the beginning. The author does a credible job of describing an incredible event — a man of today waking up in the 1950’s to find himself the child he once was.
  2. McCracken tries a lot of ambitious things in this novel, and one is providing links to songs and other media intended to enhance his story. It’s a clever idea! I know because I tried it in 2012, in my first novel called x0 (and later renamed One of One)* and I thought it was brilliant at the time. The wave of the future. My own experience was that some readers loved it, some found it a real distraction, and most ignored it. Perhaps I chose my links poorly, but in the end it took far too much effort to maintain them and I ended up rewriting the book (and four others) removing links entirely. I wish author McCracken a better experience with this idea!
  3. I skimmed through much of the long middle of this book. It appears to be a complicated but basically well-written story with a lot of action. Subdivided into decades, I zipped through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s.
  4. I also looked at some of the reviews, because I always do that, and I saw some heavy criticism for the author’s inclusion of his personal political views. There is no question he has done that, but so do many if not most science fiction authors. From Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged on through Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is  Harsh Mistress up to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s War, this genre has a long history of swaying hearts and minds, and not always in the direction I’d like to see them swayed. As a left-leaning independent* I thought the counter balance McCracken offers to this legacy was a refreshing change of pace.
  5. I skipped ahead and read the end. I hardly ever do that, but so often such ambitious novels struggle to tie everything together and I was curious. No, I won’t give anything away, but only say the end was a frantic, action filled sequence told from several points of view. It was fascinating to read and appeared to tie up several story lines nicely. I’ll have to read the whole thing, of course, to really know how well it does, but after my quick perusal, I’m looking forward to this.

*I wouldn’t normally talk about myself in a review, but lucky for me this isn’t really a review.

About the Author

David McCracken was born in Louisville, KY, in 1940. Raised mostly in Winchester, KY, he now lives in Northern Virginia, with his third and final wife. He has three children, two stepchildren, and six grandchildren.

After three years in the U.S. Navy following a lackluster academic start, he graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1963, in Diplomacy and International Commerce. He then worked as a Latin American country desk officer in the U.S. Department of Commerce until he returned to school to earn an M.A. in Elementary Education in 1970 from Murray State University, having always been intending to teach. Eventually realizing his children qualified for reduced-price lunches based on his own teaching salary, he studied computer programming at Northern Virginia Community College and worked as a programmer until shifting back into elementary teaching.

He began working on what became Fly Twice Backward in 1983 and finally finished it in 2019! At 79, David strongly doubts he’ll be doing another novel of such scope and complexity, but is preparing to work on a children’s science fiction novel with a progressive bent, being a devout progressive in politics and religion, as well as a lover of learning.

Find the Author

Official Author Site: https://flytwicebackward.blogspot.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55088067-fly-twice-backward

Buy the Book

Buy Link:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Z4KRLQZ/

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Waiting for breakfast, reading the Sunday paper at the table, I realize Mom’s not heading for the kitchen: Oh, oh! It’s church day. Mass. Fasting. Acolyting! What’m I going to do about that?

“Mom, am I supposed to serve today?”

“Of course!”

“Well, I can’t. I have no idea how to do that anymore. I guess we need to call Padre and tell him I’m sick.”

“No, David, we’re not playing that game today!”

“Mom, I hate to say this now, but I have no choice. I don’t know how to serve, so I can’t do it, and, frankly, I’m not ever going to do it. I’m an agnostic, a Unitarian, actually.”

She’s slamming the pots I washed and put in the drainer last night as she puts them into the cabinet under the counter. “That’s ridiculous. You don’t know enough to be an agnostic.”

Fortunately, Dad has come in and heard this exchange.

“Nev, whether his story is true or not, or he knows enough or not, he has a right not to go. He was old enough to be confirmed, so he’s old enough to choose. I’ll serve in his place.”

“Lie about being sick, on Sunday?”

“Mom, it’s a temporizer. I can’t reveal to him why I’m not going to today, much less why I’ll never again do it, and I know you wouldn’t want me to be open about it. I might not even be here next Sunday.” I chuckle. “Maybe I’ll have fallen back to age four, with Dad off in the Navy!” What a sharp look I get!

“We need a few days to sort this out, Nev.”

Day 21. Time flies like an arrow and ….

fruit flies like a banana. Thank you Groucho Marx, because this day needed a little humor.

Today, day 21, has the longest single drive of this adventure, and in addition we re-enter Mountain Time and lose an hour. We’re already preparing for a long day through Utah and Southern Colorado when an old friend in Durango contacts me out of the blue.

Next thing I know we’re texting and we’ve changed our route to go through his town and have lunch because isn’t this amazing. Yes, it is great to see him, but throw in a little road construction and a couple of other longer stops than expected and we arrive well into the dark, 14 clock hours after we left.

Not a problem, except this Airbnb is along the unlit and poorly marked dirt roads west of Trinidad. Our host’s verbal directions are vague (and not entirely accurate) and once we make a wrong turn, my phone is so flummoxed it shows us heading across a pasture, which we clearly are not.

Frustrations are rising, so I call our host and describe our location. Yay for good phone service. She directs us back to a good starting place and then talks us, landmark by landmark, to the edge of her long driveway where she meets us with a flashlight to guide us in. Some Airbnb hosts go well beyond the expected. Yay for nice people.

We make a vow we’ve often made before, to allow more time tomorrow than we think we need. I decide this promise is worthy of being a rule of the road and more. I’ve been told the easiest way to reduce stress in one’s life is to leave early. Allow plenty of time and you don’t get hassled. I promise to take this lesson seriously once I get home.

The frazzled nature of the day has me craving soft music and pretty sounds as I get ready for bed. I think of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, maybe because we’ve driven through so much of the area settled by the LDS. I’m not particularly religious, but an old spiritual is wafting through my head as I settle down for the night and I look to see if the Mormon Tabernacle Choir ever sang it.

Of course they did, and it’s beautiful. I realize I’ve felt like a wayfaring stranger a lot for the past three weeks, and after a long and difficult day, the song brings me peace as I fall asleep.