A Peek Into Your Life-- Steve Harrison

A peek into your life, is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

Steve is the author of TimeStorm. I was lucky enough to met him via social media and of course, I noticed his catchy cover on the Elsewhen Press site. I was looking for something a little different and hadn't read a time travel in awhile, so I thought I'd check it out. In a nutshell, Steve's book blew my mind. 

TimeStorm is an enthralling read full of interesting characters who push the story to places not many of us dare go. These characters live an exciting adventure where a storm at sea tosses them into a new time. The ship’s cargo of convicts breaks free causing havoc in a new world that each one reacts to differently.

It had me chuckling as these tough men found themselves lost in a world they didn't understand with women doing things they couldn't wrap their minds around. Yet this is a story of a cold brutal world offset with hope, as kind people offered their help, and a romance blossoms. A  few selfish people  sought to gain from their misfortune, but through it shined a bravery and a truth (time is a storm we can’t escape) that kept my heart racing to the very last page.

Each character brought a picture to life for me. It is so well written, at one point I was actually cheering for the bad guy (much to my horror). Somehow, in the storyline, which had me hooked, one hero emerges that catches my attention as someone... how does Karen say it? Dangerous yet in control. yeah. I enjoyed Blaney's chapters as much as the chapters that share his story through different eyes.

I loved each twist and marveled at how well it was put together. Then, when I was lost at sea wondering how he was going to pull it together, everything wrapped up nicely and left me smiling at the beauty of a masterpiece. 

How the heck did he juggle each pov so well? I can't even imagine his storyboard.

Well, enough about my thoughts on the book, let's meet the author and see if we can find out how magic works.

I enjoyed the different snapshots of each character and how they each saw the world so differently. How did you come up with so many well-written characters and unique voices? 
TimeStorm, from the moment it took shape, played in my head like a movie. I could ‘see’ the story unfold. I adapted that vision to the novel and the characters are like cameras recording the action. I cut rapidly from one to the other and each of them ‘records’ the action through the prism of their own character, hopefully giving even the minor characters an additional layer of depth.

With so many great voices, who was your favourite character to write and why? 
Undoubtedly, Rufus Redmond, the convict leader. He is one of those people who can’t let go of a grievance, even if makes things much worse for them. Deep down, I don’t believe he is a bad man, despite the things he does, and he has good reason to feel extremely angry. On the surface he is a very basic character, but he is motivated by very deep and confusing emotions. I felt equal degrees of sympathy and frustration with him. My goal was for the reader to feel for him and, indeed, all of the convicts, while also being repulsed by their actions.
(I must say, I was rooting for him at one point! It was so easy to get caught up in his mission, I did have to keep reminding myself that he was the bad guy! then again, maybe he isn't all bad, just... wrongfully-emotional??)

What song reminds you of this story?
The one song that has resonated over the years and immediately fills my head with TimeStorm every time I hear it is, Ship of Fools by World Party.

What are you currently working on?
The first of a proposed YA comedy science fiction novels about two 15 years old girls, one from Earth and the other an alien. It’s a lot of fun, but slow going as I create an entire universe!

Where do you do your best writing?
I have an attic office where I can lock myself away and spend many hours procrastinating and a small amount of time writing! It’s a nice relaxing space where I have posters and photos all over the walls to inspire me.

Do you have any novels you shelved?
I do have one shelved novel – actually I only have a few pages – which will be written one day. It’s a religious thriller set mainly in the Vatican and spans some 40 years. I have been very excited about this story for many years, but I need a few months in Rome for research, so I consider it my retirement project.

Do you over-write or under-write?
I under-write, because when I edit, my manuscript usually becomes longer. For instance, I just wrote a chapter filled with exposition and information, which in its present form would send people to sleep, but I had to get it out of my head. When I rewrite the section I will add action and dialogue and (try to) disguise the information, so that the chapter is longer, but reads shorter.

What are you most proud of?
In a writing sense, getting TimeStorm published. It was a labour of love for some 25 years and I never doubted it would be published one day (possibly posthumously!). I stuck with it and after many rewrites over the years, Elsewhen Press came along and fulfilled my dream. I look back and I’m proud of both my persistence and conviction.

Where is your favourite place to read?
Strangely enough, at work. At lunchtime I retreat to the canteen and read solidly for half an hour. It’s a wonderfully meditative way to break up the day.

What do you do for a living?
I work for the Australian postal service in a department titled, Operational Interface. If anyone knows what that means, please tell me. The job is a troubleshooting role and we go in and fix tricky problems affecting the performance of the business. I think I perform a similar function when writing fiction…

Thanks so much for the peek into your life, Steve. It was great fun having you over for a visit. While I have this most creative artist in my world, feel free to ask him questions, and stop by his blog. Be sure to check out TimeStorm.

Jumping to Conclusions- a true story of a coward

I am normally a rational person who debates all sides of something and who takes FOREVER to make a decision.

So what makes me jump to conclusions? FEAR.

I was in this basement last week checking on the equipment. Now basements are generally freaky places when they aren't finished, and this is one of them where the walls are kinda crumbly and shadows loom everywhere. So I did my thing and as I left, I noticed in the corner this greyish-brown round object that looked like an egg.

I ran.

I made this foolish crazy dash up the steps and slammed the door. Okay, now it sounds cowardish, but it is what it is. I ran because of an egg. But my first thoughts were, what the heck kinda monster lays eggs that round, that big and lives down here!? I was envisioning something alligator-snake-chicken-ish. I just didn't want to see it.

So after calmed, I Googled it. Eggs, round, brown, grey... got a nice list of potential suspects but none of them were really ROUND. So I sneaked back down the steps. Oh it was round all right. ROUND. I compared them again and settled on a very impossible hybrid bird-snake. Yup. I had a bird-snake in the basement. Possibly demonic because let's face it, nothing good would live in a dirty old basement.

I debated it for a moment and then realized the longer I debated it, the more chances that thing had of hatching. Oh. My. Gosh. I did not need two bird-snakes down there. So I found a box and a hammer. The plan was to roll it gently in the box and toss it outside. The hammer set my mind at ease in case at any time that simple plan went south. No idea what I was going to do with it, but I wasn't going down there again without it.

So I bravely rolled it into the box using the tip of the hammer (not my hands, that would be stupid). It was surprisingly light (or maybe I was foolishly strong?). From my experience, eggs are heavier than what this was. Regardless, I had it in the box. I shut it quickly and looked around for any other eggs. None.

So I ran up the stairs and straight outside. It was -36C out, but I didn't even stop for my jacket. I tossed it in the snowbank. It bounced off the hard snow like a ping pong ball. What the heck? So I leaned over it, much braver now that we were in sunlight and it was probably frozen.

It was a ball.

One of those hard ping-pong type balls infants roll around. Somehow it must have rolled down the steps and faded. No idea why I never noticed it until this week.

Still, I just freaked out over a ball a baby plays with. Sad thing was that not once did my brain rationally say, "Tanya, it's probably just a ball." Not once.

Ever jump to conclusions and live to tell about it? Your imagination ever get the best of you?

Are You Safe Online? Part2- COMMENTS

I really enjoy the workshops I host about online safety. We learn so much. So one of the big questions was:
 How can you be safe out there when you leave comments on forums, blogs, social media or when others are leaving comments on the things you post?  

During the workshops, we came up with a list of ways to get control of those comments. All these rules were summed up in two phrases:


If others are leaving comments you don't find acceptable:
  • STOP following or sharing with people who make you uncomfortable.
  • NEVER associate yourself with people who might make you uncomfortable with their language, comments, discrimination, rudeness... Hey, they might be your aunt, your best friend, but online, they are out of control.
  • BLOCK, delete, and report if needed. 
  • DO NOT respond. It links you to them in searches and anything in writing is theirs. They can print it out, copy it, repost it, add it to your comments. (And yes, I have followers who use my "private" conversations with them in "public". It makes me very cautious of what I say.)
  • FORGIVE. Yup, we all make goofs. We found evidence that people can change their entire image. Let those past mistakes go. 
    • Yourself, your children, your friends, your parents. Everyone needs to be safe. If you can believe it, some made comments like, "Sure I saw her being stupid, but I figured after she got in trouble, she'd learn."
    • Know what the site is about and check it out so you understand how the comments should look. A forum that tears every single query to shreds, isn't going to do any less to yours. One that only leaves happy comments, will do the same to yours.
  • Watch for scams! Know what is real and what is a potential virus festival. 
When posting your own comments:
  • THINK before you share. Do people REALLY need to know this? Do they care? Is it important for them to know? Will they be upset if they don't know? Will it annoy them?
  • CHECK the settings before you post. Is this private, public, for certain friends only? 
  • ReCHECK 
    • Every time your application, device or the server makes upgrades in case things are reset to a default. 
    • Is a post suddenly getting a strange number of likes or shares? What's going on? Know your comfort zones and what to expect. Things can spiral out of control quickly. Deleting the source won't always fix things and once it's out of your control, the comments can turn into Meme's you didn't want.

    • Don't take it to heart when your friends don't share your excitement at your good news or don't comment on the loss of you pet. They might not have seen it, they might be waiting to see you in private, or maybe they have other reasons for blocking you or deleting you. Their platform is not yours, you can't tell others how to control it, you can only control your image, your safety.
    • Know why you are on this application, device, social media, forum and ensure it responds to that reason. For example, if you want to fangirl and leave messages for your fav Rock Band, which forum is best suited for this? Should you comment under your real name? Know what you are on, evaluate why you are on it; educate yourself.
    • Remember that what you put out there--even if privacy settings are installed--is out there. Others will view it, share it, like it and the application might own it. Don't say things you don't want shared with the general public or future generations.
    • Understand how the site or the app you are on is making profits off you.
  • BE SUPPORTIVE of your friends when good things happen to them. It's nice when your friends are happy, isn't it? 
    • Remember comments are seen by everyone.
    • Be calm and professional when you respond.                
    • Check grammar, spelling and put out your best.            
    • Have proof to back up what you say if it is a fact.         
    • If you have doubts, have others you TRUST reread it before you post it.
  • AVOID fights. 
    • Settle these things in person not online. 
    • Explain or defend yourself only if needed. 
    • Keep it simple. 
    • Get someone else to explain it for you. 
    • NEVER EVER post in anger or sadness.
  • APOLOGIZE: If you goof, apologize and fix it. Remember to apologize on the platform where the goof was made. If you made an embarrassing typo on Twitter, apologize on Twitter not on LinkedIn. If your account was hacked on Facebook, let everyone on Facebook know, not on Pinterest.
  • STAND UP TO BULLIES. When you see bullying, stick up for your friends and end it by being positive, or simply report it.
What other things do you do to stay safe online?
Comment if you dare. lol.

My Be-Happy List

I have been feeling GREAT lately. No headaches and full of energy. Life is wonderful. But I know this is fragile. With work demands, writing pressures, headaches looming, life drama, my over dedication to my hobby, (passion, addiction, call it what you will), I fear a bummer day is just a breath away. It could be triggered by anything. So I figured, while I feel great, why not make myself a list of things I enjoy when I'm in this great mood, so I can run back and look at it when I need motivation? Hopefully, others will add to my list and we can all be stronger.

Here are the ways I hope to get over my bummer days:

Pay attention to others.
Nothing makes me feel better than helping someone else, but I keep it simple. I'm not out to be a hero, just help someone who is having a worse day than me. Sometimes, just helping a mother at the grocery store who is juggling too much makes me feel useful. Look around, we are all too busy, too tired... lending a hand is a small gesture that always makes me feel so good inside.

So winter gets too long around here. Which seems to get me down. But why should it? I can go skating, skidooing, read books, dig a hole in the snow and sit in it while listening to the silence. I can throw snowballs at my friends. You get the idea. Taking time to play is sooooo important in my busy life. It's how I recharge.

I stop editing to write. Editing is fun, but writing is healing.

Go someplace peaceful.
I always feel better after I go to church. It's peaceful. It makes me feel happy inside. I also feel better after a good bath. Nice smells, warmth... ah. Everyone needs comfort, and sometimes in these crazy days of juggling it all, it's how I find myself.

Surround myself with support.
Giving up is easy. Too easy. Why add to my list of things I have to do in a day? So why don't I give up writing to make time for something else? I married the right person. That's my simplest answer. I can say I'm stubborn, I'm determined, but in those moments of self-doubt it's my husband who lures me back to my desk with chocolate. No questions asked.

Reaffirm what makes me happy.
Best of all, I remind myself of all the things in my life that are so incredible. I remind myself that I am not supermom, super-employee or superwoman. No one demands greatness from me, except me, and then I'll go out and be great! Why not? lol

What gets you through your sad days? I'm sure we can add to this list.