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Guest Post – Liza O’Connor: when stories write themselves

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Welcome to author Liza O’Connor, a writer with some seriously wild adventures in her life!

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.


When stories write themselves…

By Liza O’Connor

I have two stories coming up soon that fall under the category of writing themselves.


In the first book, Lessons from Wabbaseka, coming Mar 8, the story comes from my personal life. As will happen during a career, I was let go when my company downsized. When my great aunt and uncle heard I was unemployed, they wrote me a letter inviting me to come to Wabbaseka Arkansas (population 300) and live with them. While I remained in NJ and located a new job, I couldn’t get the ‘what if I had gone to Wabbaseka’ out of my head.

I loved my great aunt, but I was pretty certain I’d go crazy in such a tiny town. Also, to get a job, I would have had to drive an hour to Pine Bluff to find a crappy underpaid job. (And I hate Pine Bluff, it was where I grew up.) So, I wrote them back, reminding them I had a house in NJ, and I would find another well-paying job, which I quickly did.

But I couldn’t get them out of my mind, I kept thinking about what if I had really gone to Wabbaseka. The only way I could stop wondering was to play the scenario out on paper. Not surprisingly, it starts out funny as I’m driven insane by the people so very different than me, but then it gets serious. Turns out there are a handful of single men in the town of 300, and I fall in love with one and then someone tries to kill me. (That has actually happened many times in my life. Fortunately, I don’t die easily.) In the story, I did change everyone’s names except the first names of my aunt and uncle. I changed their last name, but they are the reason the story exist, and they had to be Aunt Peck and Uncle Lee.


The second story that wrote itself is Arrival: Titan coming May 7th.

It came to be due to Cassini and NASA discoveries in the last year.

Seriously, the second book of this series was dead in the water until Cassini and NASA discovered some mind-boggling stuff in this last year. Stuff so astounding that the world isn’t ready for it. Nor have they gone out of their way to clearly state what they know. Even when they shared the information, it was done in an obscure way, so most people will never realize what their discoveries meant.

Fortunately, the truth is right there for anyone to see. That truth enabled a vibrant story to come alive all by itself. While I made up the sentients that my people have to learn to live with on Titan, the truly crazy stuff is all compliments from NASA and Cassini. With the revelations from Cassini and NASA, this book became the easiest book I’ve ever written. And while most will think I’m one imaginative author, and this is a crazy story, the astounding truth is that the impossible to believe stuff is almost certainly true, only NASA does not want to admit it. But the pictures from Cassini and NASA reveal the truth to anyone who wants to see the truth. And in this case, reality is stranger than most fiction.

But there is no need to turn your world upside down with uncomfortable probable realities. You can safely read the story as a highly imaginative Sci-Fi and be no worse for it. That’s how I’m dealing with it.

I have a blog on the main extraordinary events, with Cassini and NASA pics to help prove my points. I should warn you in advance: no one has declared me spot on. Although, I have gotten many compliments for my creative imagination.

Honestly, I don’t need anyone to actually see what I see. I just need you to have a grand time enjoying the book that NASA and Cassini made possible.

Arrival: Titan coming May 7


Thanks to Liza for her post. You can learn more about Liza’s books here:

Liza’s Multiverse Blog

Liza’s Blog and Website   Facebook   Twitter

All the Many Books Liza has written

Written by jane tims

March 14, 2018 at 7:00 am

Rebecca Rosenblum to Headline First Festival

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Rosenblum, Rebecca_cr_Mark Raynes Roberts Website Photo by Mark Raynes Roberts

Rebecca Rosenblum, Toronto author of the new novel So Much Love (Penguin Random House, 2017), and recently a finalist for the 2017 First Novel Award, will headline two events, delivering the first annual Word Feast lecture on Friday September 22 and reading from her novel on September 23.

Rosenblum is also the author of two award-winning collections of short fiction, The Big Dream and Once, which was named one of Quill and Quire‘s 15 Books That Mattered in 2008. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Journey Prize, the National Magazine Awards, and the Danuta Gleed Award.

Word Feast: Fredericton’s Literary Festival will also feature authors from Vancouver to St. John’s, Newfoundland, including Griffin Prize and Governor General’s Award winning poet Don McKay. Many New Brunswick authors also join the lineup, including Riel Nason, Allan Cooper, and the recent winners of the second…

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Written by jane tims

August 13, 2017 at 7:52 pm

Posted in guest posts, Uncategorized

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Call for Volunteers

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VolunteerOur festival is fast approaching and there are plenty of volunteer opportunities. If you’d like to support Fredericton’s inaugural literary festival and join an already fun and dedicated bunch of volunteers, please drop us a line at info(at)!

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Written by jane tims

August 13, 2017 at 7:51 pm

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guest post in the South Branch Scribbler

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I find writers are very supportive of one-another. In New Brunswick we have an active writing community and lots of evidence that writers want to work together to improve their craft and promote the work of others!


Many communities have writing groups who meet regularly — I belong to two groups: “Wolf Tree Writers” who have met for over 25 years and “Fictional Friends” who have been together for almost ten years. Every month, I have a chance to hear about the writing lives of the other members, to hear them read from their work, to practice reading my own work and to obtain feedback.


I also belong to the New Brunswick Writers’ Federation (WFNB) ( ). WFNB is province-wide with over 260 members. Each year, the WFNB hosts two main workshops: WordSpring and WordsFall. The Annual Writing Competition is a great opportunity for writers in various categories to get recognition for their work. The WFNB also has a writers-in-the-schools program and produces a bimonthly newsletter NBInk, packed full of information on writers, places to publish and contests.



selling my book (within easy reach, 2016) at WFNB`s WordSpring with fellow author Edith Miller (Crow Impressions, 2016)


Individual writers are also very supportive of one-another. A few have blogs where they celebrate the writing community. One of these is the South Branch Scribbler .  The Scribbler is hosted by Allan Hudson and features interviews and blog posts by and about various authors, many from New Brunswick. Allan is himself a writer, the author of the Drake Alexander novels: Dark Side of a Promise (2014) and Wall of War (coming soon).


This month I am so happy that Allan has featured my writing in his blog . Have a look at his other posts including articles and interviews with New Brunswick authors Beth Powning (writer of Home: Chronicle of a North Country Life, 2014, and A Measure of Light, 2015) and Chuck Bowie (writer of the Donovan: Thief for Hire books — Steal It All, 2017; AMACAT, 2014; and Three Wrongs, 2013).


Thank you to Allan for featuring me on his blog — I took the opportunity to write a bit about managing multiple writing projects!



a photo of me, taken inside one of New Brunswick`s covered bridges


Copyright Jane Tims 2017

navigation – guest post by Rob Hughes

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I am so pleased to welcome a guest in this post.  Rob Hughes is a former colleague and friend, now retired and keeping bees, hobby farming and trekking around the Maritimes.  In this post, Rob writes about finding your way in the landscape.  Welcome Rob! 


Rob 1

(photo credit: Rob Hughes)





In the noise of white the blurring snapped

the normal drive detached

flipped and pulled my brain on bungies

In a spin or floating


away –

disconnected, inverted, spinning somewhere –

Somewhere, in a nagual line of space.


A pinch of view, a scrap

as I groped not knowing –

a bush? Something, please – then


I see and am unswallowed, spat back out,

land again in what must be reality



I drive on frightened, woozy from the warp of time and space

The white took over.



The poem is an attempt to capture the scary vertigo that can happen when driving in a whiteout. We can lose normal visual cues and suddenly, what was familiar becomes a trip into the unknown.  While usually only lasting seconds, it can feel like dropping down the proverbial rabbit hole.   It’s a powerful lesson in how we are constantly checking where we are in the world, and how quickly our inherent navigation system can go off the rails when the inputs are messed up.


These days there are more ways than ever to help find your way around. People still get lost.  Map reading might be in danger of becoming a lost art.  Let the GPS take care of it.  Nice, but you might get disconcerting voice commands to turn here, or there, even when the maneuver is patently impossible.  The trouble is that those devices are not thinking.  Most of us know of hapless travelers sent into the backcountry mire on a short cut.  You could be better off with a map!


Rob 2

Ski orienteering in Odell Park, Fredericton. (photo credit: Jenny Hughes)


For years I have enjoyed turning navigation into adventure, exploration, exercise and fun all at once through the sport of orienteering.  There are lots of drills to help with how to visualize terrain, choose the best route, and then memorize it, so you can concentrate on navigating through the real world without having to refer back to your map every twenty seconds.  It’s a lot of fun to locate landscape features along a route deep in unfamiliar forest.


Rob 3

Rob (right) and team-mate Steve finishing the E2C, a 24-h rogaine held annually in Nova Scotia. (photo credit: Halifax Search and Rescue/Orienteering Nova Scotia)


After orienteering for some years, there came a sort of craving for more… a kind of classic addiction response, presumably.  Enter rogaining.  Yes, it really is a word, and the internet is there to prove it.  It’s a perfect fix for navigation junkies.  I have made some great map and compass buddies in this sport, in which teams of 2-4 spend up to 24 hours seeking control locations in the backcountry, sometimes covering the distance of two marathons in the process.   No electronic devices, just map and compass.  The sport has a kind of quirky mystique that draws aficionados from all over the globe to the biennial world championships, often held in spectacular settings.


Rob 4

The logo of the International Rogaining Federation. It depicts the sport well – day and night, up and down, footsteps…. (credit: International Rogaining Federation)


Spring in the Maritimes is marked by an annual pilgrimage to take part in the Eco-Endurance Challenge, held in Nova Scotia in April or early May and organized by Orienteering Nova Scotia and Halifax Search and Rescue.  This is often a very difficult and wet rogaine, but popular with hundreds of local map heads.  Who knew finding your way could be so addictive?


5. Dawn forest scape at the 2009 Australian Rogaining Championships held at Wandering, Western Australia.  A memorable navigation challenge!

Dawn forest scape at the 2009 Australian Rogaining Championships held at Wandering, Western Australia. A memorable navigation challenge! (photo credit: Rob Hughes)


Copyright 2015  Rob Hughes

Written by jane tims

May 6, 2015 at 7:00 am

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