Liebster Award

Thank you to Sarah at The Critiquing Chemist for nominating me for the Liebster Award! Sarah is a fellow book-loving chemist whose blog is filled with fantastically detailed reviews about books ranging from YA fantasy to non-fiction works about Area 51. Make sure you click through to visit her blog as well!

So, on to the award:

Liebster Award Guidelines:

  • Display an image of the award and write about your nomination.
  • Thank and link the person who nominated you for this award.
  • Answer the 11 questions prepared for you by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 5-11 awesome bloggers who you think deserve this award, and create 11 questions of your own for your nominees to answer.
  • List these guidelines in your blog post.

Questions:

1. What book(s) are you reading now?

I’m reading Masque by W.R. Gingell.

2.Who else do you think would enjoy reading it? Why?

Since I’m only about 10% in now, it’s too early to make comparisons (but I’m already hooked!). It is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, so I’d recommend it for those who enjoy retellings with a nice mystery twist.

3.Which author would you like to write your life story? Why?

I think my life story would be most accurately portrayed as a mix of science (fiction) and comedy, so although he passed away years ago, Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) would probably have been just the right choice.

4. Name three authors you would like to invite to dinner. Why?

This is a tough call because there are far too many options. So I’m going to cheat and choose Julia Child, Gordon Ramsay, and Bobby Flay. After all, they are authors in addition to being chefs, which would make for one heck of a meal. ^_-

5. What was the last book you read that kept you up late into the night to finish?

Technically, the last book that kept me up late was Reflection: Thorn of the White Rose, the third book in my series…but I was writing it not reading it. SO many late nights! But there is one particular incident that stands out most to me, however, even though it was many years ago. The day that Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass came out, I rushed to the book store as soon as classes finished. I got home around 9pm and proceeded to read non-stop until I reached the end…which ended up being well past 6am. My eyes were so red and irritated the next day, but it was totally worth it!

6. Have you read a book recently you decided was a waste of time? If so, what is it? Who might like it?

I can’t think of a book that I’ve felt this way about. I don’t absolutely love every book I read, but I can almost always find something I enjoy about it.

7. What’s your favorite genre? Why?

My favorite has always been fantasy, and it becomes more so as I get older. When I read, I want to relax and escape from the real world for awhile, and nothing does that better than fantasy!

8. What genre haven’t you read much of yet?

I tend to stay away from non-fiction works. When I worked in materials science, I used to read texts and journal articles frequently for my research, so I don’t associate non-fiction books with fun reading. (It’s not you non-fiction, it’s me.)

9. What would be a good title for your autobiography?

We’ve already established that my biography would be a mix of science and comedy, so perhaps a title like The Strange, but True, Adventures of a Sparkly Scientist would be fitting?

10. What’s the title of the next book you plan to begin reading?

I think my next read will be The Fold by Peter Clines. Hubby is listening to the audiobook version right now and recommended it. I read one of his other books, 14, last year and loved it.

 

Thanks again to Sarah for nominating me! Since I’m not sure who likes to participate in blog awards, I’m going to skip nominating anyone this time.

Reflection: Dragon’s Bane Cover Reveal!

As promised, today is cover reveal day for Reflection: Dragon’s Bane (Records of the Ohanzee Book 4). Even though the release is still months away (after all, Book 3 only came out a month ago!), I just couldn’t bear to keep this one under wraps until then. My lack of willpower related to cover reveals is a well-established fact.

As with the previous three books, the cover for this one was also created by West Coast Design.

Some of you may already have noticed this, but for those that haven’t (or haven’t read the books), there is a pattern in the books’ titles. Book 2 featured Caeneus on the cover and was titled after the name of Caeneus’ sword: Harbinger of the Phoenix. Book 3 featured Raysel on the cover and the title was based on the name of his sword:  Thorn of the White Rose. And Book 4 is titled Dragon’s Bane, which is the name of Rian’s sword–so it’s only fitting that Rian be featured on this book’s cover!

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What do you think?

White, Blue and…Red

Happy Independence Day weekend to everyone in the US and Canada! I know today is supposed to be the biweekly nail polish Sunday post, but the holidays presented an opportunity I just couldn’t resist. To celebrate, I’d like to share something white, blue and red of my own.

Why do I keep phrasing it that way instead of the usual red, white, and blue? Here’s your answer…

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White,
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Blue,
Dragon's Bane teaser
…and Red!

Check back Wednesday 7/6 for the full cover reveal!

Not-so-Magical Crystals (Part 1)

This is a post I’ve been looking forward to writing for quite some time–discussing the relationship between science and fantasy in my book series. I realize that the magic system for Renatus could have been completely conjured from my imagination with no connection to reality whatsoever (as long as the rules and behaviors were consistent). But the scientific side of my brain screeches and shrinks away in horror at the very thought. Ironic, I know, since it has no trouble inventing entirely fictional people and their adventures. Fortunately, there is a way to make the two halves of my brain play nice together, and blending science and fantasy together is how I’ve managed.

Just how are science and fantasy blended in Records of the Ohanzee? That’s what I’ll be addressing in this series of posts. For those of you who haven’t read my full author bio (you can read it here if you’re so inclined), here’s the short version: My background is not in writing, or English, or even in the arts at all. I have a BS in chemistry and an MS in organic chemistry with with a secondary focus on x-ray crystallography, which is the study of the three-dimensional atomic and molecular structure of crystals. What this means is that crystals and molecular behavior is something I’m knowledgeable about, but I am by no means an expert on the subject. It’s funny–I went to college to become an expert in chemistry, and yet what I really learned was that no matter how much I know, there are always ten more things I am completely ignorant of. aka The more things I know, the more I am aware of the things I don’t know. That’s probably the most important lesson I’ve ever learned.

But I digress.

Part of the idea for the way crystals work in the story came as a result of my mind wandering while I ran experiments and waited for machines to output data. For the first part of this Not-so Magical Crystals series, I want to talk about the concept of crystal data storage. The behavior of crystals in the series is actually based on real properties of materials that have then been taken one step (or two or three or so) past reality.

In the series, a machine was used to secretly store books related to science and technology on a set of six crystals in order to prevent the knowledge from being lost when the physical books are destroyed. Along with the books, the crystals were programmed with the description of a person who was prophesized to one day save the world from ruin. When that foreseen person touches the crystals, the stone will glow.

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Ordinary rock, or an entire library? I let my imagination decide.

But the idea of storing information on crystals is far from a product of my imagination. As a matter of fact, the technology was in the headlines earlier this year when a research group from the University of Southampton published the results of their work. Using their process, up to 360 terabytes of data can be stored on a single fused quartz disc. Fused quartz, also known as fused silica, is a man-made material. Ironically, even though the mainstream news reports describe the discs as “memory crystals,” fuzed quartz is an amorphous material (glass)–not crystalline at all.

The data stored on these fused quartz discs is stable for 100 million years (give or take a couple thousand ^_-). Compared to current forms of storage like CD/DVD (10 years) and magnetic tapes (20 years), that’s a HUGE improvement. I’m not going to go into the technical details of how this is achieved, but if you’d like to read more here are a couple of resources. I highly recommend link #1. It’s a video of a presentation on the topic given by  Peter Kazansky, the lead scientist in the group at Univ of Southampton.

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XnlTwuION0 (video)
  2. http://money.cnn.com/2016/02/17/technology/5d-data-storage-memory-crystals/ (article)

So did I have the foresight to dream up this cool technology years before it came into being? Don’t I wish. It’s totally been done before in both fiction (Robert Heinlein to name just one author) and in reality. Crystal data storage is a technology that has been researched for decades in one form or another (long before 2005 when Nerissa and co started adventuring in my head). Researchers have been looking into numerous procedures and materials for data storage including flexible storage devices, polymer-based devices, and actual crystalline materials.

So the idea of having information stored on the crystals with each of the books in the Records of the Ohanzee series sprang from today’s cutting edge technology.

  • Like the real-life counterparts, the crystals in the story look like ordinary quartz. There’s no way to tell that there is anything special about them just by looking.
  • But there are distinct deviations that venture solidly into the fantasy realm.
    • The machine required to read and write to the crystals in real life is far more complicated than what is/will be portrayed in the story.
    • Natural quartz crystals have lots of flaws, inclusions, and impurities (even if you can’t see them) that would adversely affect using one for data storage.
    • And it just isn’t possible to make a crystal glow in response to a person’s touch. But that sure would be cool, wouldn’t it?

I hope you enjoyed this little venture into the place where science and fantasy meet. Feel free to leave questions and comments and I’ll answer them as best I can. (Remember, just a scientist with a runaway imagination here! ^_-) Stay tuned next week for the second part of the series: real life spectroscopy techniques and how crystals interact with energy that passes through them.

Nail Polish Sunday #14

It’s time once again for Nail Polish Sunday!

But before that–a quick Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! Today also just so happens to be a birthday for one of the characters from my books! So happy (fictional) birthday to you, Rian!

And back to nail polish…

This week I tried out another of the awesome colors I bought from Live, Love, Polish. This color is Galaxy (holographic version) from Fun Lacquer, and boy, is it aptly named! It’s packed with blue and purple holographic glitter and has additional holographic pigments in the polish to pump up the sparkle and shine.

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The polish can be used as either a standalone or as a top coat over another color. I had no problems getting full coverage in 2 coats.

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Here’s the end result! Two coats of topcoat will give a smooth finish. If you like your glitter with a side of glitter (and maybe some glitter for dessert), this is definitely the polish for you. ^_-

Goodreads Deals

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I just learned about this today and wanted to share!

Goodreads users: did you know there’s a new feature available called Goodreads Deals? Sign up for the daily email and you’ll get personalized updates on promotions and sales on books based on your Want to Read shelf and authors you follow. The notifications cover sales on Amazon, iBooks, Nook, Google Play, and Kobo.  The downside is that it looks like its only open to US users–so far.

Needless to say, I just signed up! (Which may be dangerous since my TBR is already quite long… haha)

Here’s the link to their blog post announcing the feature if you want to learn more: https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/648-new-great-deals-on-ebooks-personalized-just-for-you-u-s-members

And here’s the sign up page: https://www.goodreads.com/deals/about?utm_medium=web&utm_source=userblog&utm_campaign=dealsblogpost

Happy reading!

Thank you and Book 4 Title Reveal!

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped make the release of Reflection: Thorn of the White Rose a success! With your support, Thorn has reached the #1 Hot New Release spot in the Metaphysical Fiction genre. I hope that you are finding it to be an enjoyable read!

new releases

So I guess I should take this as my cue to start writing Chapter 1 of Book 4, Reflection: Dragon’s Bane.😄

A Book Look for Harbinger!

You might recall a post I made a few months ago about “Book Looks”–a pairing of book covers with fashion. Back then, Mikky V of Nocturnal Predators Reviews created a look based on the cover of Reflection: The Stranger in the Mirror.

I was so excited to see that she has now created a look inspired by the cover for Reflection: Harbinger of the Phoenix! Check out the look below (or click here to see the original), and check out her collection of looks inspired by covers for 21 different fantasy books. They are all gorgeous!

Harbinger Book Look

I’m so happy you were inspired by the cover for Harbinger–thanks, Mikky!😄

Nail Polish Sunday #13

Now that book 3 is off into the world, I finally have some time to have a little fun with my nail polish again! I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to show off both a new color and the second technique for creating a glitter gradient.

I’ll start with the glitter gradient. I love using this particular technique because it is both simple and super cost-effective. Here are the items you’ll need: clear nail polish, glitter, and a paint brush.

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The paint brush can be any sort of fine-fiber brush. I had an extra eye shadow brush from an old makeup kit that I had never used. For the clear polish, I use my base coat. And for glitter, any micro-glitter from the craft store will do. This time, I’m using a pink holographic glitter from a 6-chambered jar of holographic glitter I found at Hobby Lobby. I bought it 5 years ago and am in no danger of running out anytime soon.

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To apply the glitter to your nails, start out by applying base coat as normal. Let it dry completely, then apply a second coat over the top half of the nail. While the polish is still wet, dab the makeup brush in the glitter and then tap it gently above the wet polish.

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To get the gradient effect, tap the brush while holding it over top of the nail, allowing the glitter to rain down in a fine dusting. After that, refill the brush and gently press the glittered end against the top part of the nail to fully cover the tip. After that, top it off with a layer of top coat (or two, if you like a smooth finish). Quick and easy.

If you have trouble getting the glitter to rain down evenly to achieve the gradient, you can practice tapping the brush over a piece of paper until you get a feel for it.

For this week’s nails, I applied the glitter gradient to one finger on each hand and then painted the remaining nails with Chicago, a gorgeous pink holographic polish by Cupcake Polish.

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Where did I get this color? Live, Love, Polish, of course!

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And here’s the final look!

 

Last Day!

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Today is the last day of the Book 3 release celebration!

This is the last chance to get the E-book version of Reflection: The Stranger in the Mirror for free! Click here to get your copy before the book goes back to its regular price of $4.99 at midnight PDT.

Thank you to everyone who has helped spread the word through sharing blog posts, retweets, etc–your support is truly invaluable and greatly appreciated!❤

Also a big thanks to Pixel of Ink and eBookDaily! It was such an unexpected–and pleasant–surprise to discover Reflection: The Stranger in the Mirror had been featured. Click through to either site for listings of even more free and discounted E-books!