New Book Release: The Bloodthirst Gene

A moment before the Pesach cleaning marathon begins, and just as the world is caught up in the coronavirus panic, I am celebrating sanity by releasing volume IV of my Frozen World Antarctic sci-fi saga, now available on Kindle and in print.

Violence is a necessary trait for human survival

“Could the genetic makeup of humankind be altered in a way that eradicates violence, aggression and warlike tendencies, eliminating armed conflict and creating a utopian society?

It sounds almost too good to be true. And perhaps it is, because messing with genetics can get risky.”

Putting the finishing touches to this sci-fi/dystopian novel had been incredibly cathartic for me at this time. I believe writing (and reading) dystopian stories is actually very good for the mental health of anxiety-prone people (like me). It helps us explore various Big and Bad scenarios and grapple with some scary What Ifs in the safety of our private corner. Then we can get back to reality with a new, calmer view.

So in case you are looking for an entertaining escape at this time, why not check out Frozen World? You can start from the first volume or dive in straight into The Bloodthirst Gene, which is a New Generation step in the series and provides enough background so that even people who didn’t read books 1-3 can enjoy it.

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Otherwise, it’s pretty much business as usual here. We haven’t felt much of the coronavirus panic as we work from home and are seldom out of town. Most of our neighbors don’t travel either, so we feel safe enough socializing with them. We are well-stocked on all essentials and, barring the worst-case doomsday scenarios, things should be fine.

Please stay safe and take care of your health! Don’t take any risks. Better to delay any planned trips and avoid large gatherings if at all possible.

Favorite reads

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I know the rains will eventually stop and the sun will poke out. I know we will have nice weather for walking and plenty of the outdoor time and exercise we so desperately crave. I know it… But right now it feels like it will never happen. It’s rainy, cold, dreary, foggy, and so very uninviting to be out that we are forced to stay in – and staying in, around here, means reading.

My children are devourers of books, just like me, and the older ones will read pretty much anything they can lay their hands upon, but there are some books we get back to again and again for family reading. Sometimes I might even indulge in my favorite children’s classics just for myself, regardless of reading to anyone else. A quiet evening, a cup of tea, a warm and cozy blanket and any one of these priceless treasures:

1. Winnie the Pooh – always funny and comforting, compassionate and cozy.

2. Alice in Wonderland – so many famous quotes it seems we almost know it by heart.

3. Pippi Longstocking and other books by Astrid Lindgren.

4. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbitt.

5. Everything by Frances H. Burnett

6. The Narnia books – no need to elaborate.

7. Russian folk tales.

8. Harry Potter – this is something we’ve graduated to fairly recently, and my two eldest are as crazy about these books as I am.

Grab a hot drink, pick a book, and settle down for a good read with us. Stay warm and cozy!

Boundaries: book review

One of the books I have finished reading recently is Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr.John Townsend. Although it’s a Christian book, the concepts it teaches are pretty much universal, and I sure feel how they are making a difference in my life and helping me become a calmer, happier, and more secure person.

Its basic principle is simple: think of your life as your house and yard. You are charged with the maintenance of your house and yard, and nobody else’s. If someone unexpectedly barges in and starts enforcing their own order, they are violating your boundaries. If you try to barge into someone else’s house and start washing the dishes and mowing the lawn because you believe they cannot do it themselves, you are violating their boundaries and also burning yourself out. Even and especially if that someone comes to agree and actually expect you to take care of their stuff.

Having boundaries doesn’t mean you don’t care or that you don’t offer help to those who are struggling. And it also applies to married people – that was a novelty for me. Turns out it’s OK to tell your spouse, “I’m not responsible for your schedule, moods, successes, failures, or disappointments. I’m here to HELP, but we are both mature adults responsible for their own stuff.”

For example, if my husband has a meeting in the morning and asks me to wake him on time, I say OK, I can do that. But once I do, if he chooses to remain in bed or otherwise kill time, I don’t fret saying time and time again, “the meeting! You’ll be late! It’s already 9:00! Get up! Come on! I’ll run upstairs and get your coat to save time!”

I just get on with my own thing. And if he IS late, I refuse to be made responsible for “not reminding enough times” and “not making sure he went to bed on time the night before”. It’s incredibly freeing.

Similarly, I can tell him, “I don’t think you are using your time wisely. Days are precious, and you have a family to provide for. I think you should accept a job, any job that will give the family a steady provision”. But once I have said that, I walk away. I don’t nag. I don’t bang my head against the wall trying to get him to accept a job. I don’t spend hours looking for a job for him. I don’t run around in circles saying, “Will you please open a profile on Upwork? I’ll help you set it up.”

You know what? It’s not that easy. Especially when you KNOW you are probably right and the other side doesn’t listen. But it doesn’t help killing yourself carrying someone else’s burden. So I just go on doing my thing, focusing on my own growth, and accepting that I don’t have control over anybody else’s life.

And, of course, I also refuse to be made responsible when I’m told “I don’t have a good job because you didn’t try hard enough to teach me English” or “you should have tried harder to get me to set up that Upwork account”. No, I shouldn’t have. This is ultimately your life and whatever you make of it. Freedom. Choice.

It plays out even in our relationships with our children. For example, if I tell my daughter, “I think X is a nice girl. Why aren’t you friends?” and my daughter tells me, “We just don’t get along”, I accept this, even though I do happen to think X is an exceptionally good kid and I’d love to see her around. These are my daughter’s friends, not mine, after all!

This book grapples with the following questions:

– Can I set limits and still be a loving person?
– What are legitimate boundaries?
– What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries?
– How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money?
– Aren’t boundaries selfish?
– Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries?

A must-read for anyone who has ever struggled with setting boundaries in their lives, or even wondered what boundaries actually are.

Modified Dragon Scale Crochet Gloves

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The crocodile stitch is one of the most fun crochet techniques I have mastered lately. Once you get the hang of it, it’s quick and easy.

I was determined to learn it because I had my heart set on making a pair of these dragon scale fingerless mittens for a friend who had actually written a book about a mysterious disease that leaves human beings covered in dragon scales – I figured it would be the perfect gift for her book launch. DSC_0347.JPG

I followed this tutorial, but once I got to the wrist part, I did a stretchy ribbed cuff in the round by working single crochets in the back loop only – you can find a tutorial for working stretchy ribbing in the round here. I am now really addicted to making stretchy hat brims and cuffs!

Because I was working with color-changing yarn and no two skeins are exactly the same, there were slight differences between the two mittens, but I was pretty pleased with the dramatic “dragon color” effect.

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And here is the recipient with her newly published book! If you’re into dystopian sci-fi with dragons, deadly disease, and major conspiracies, check out The Dragon Plague by Anna Mantovani.

The Breath of Earth: new book release!

I’m thrilled and excited to announce that The Breath of Earth, the third book in my Frozen World environmental sci-fi series, is now out and available on Amazon in print and Kindle editions. And I already have some ideas brewing for book 4! I couldn’t have been happier.

The Breath of Earth

I can’t believe how far I’ve come as an author, and I’m saying this with the highest degree of humility and gratitude. From writing sporadically, having several projects on the back burner and hoping to publish something someday, I now work on projects in a consistent manner, have published numerous books, and am establishing an ever-growing source of supplementary income for my family. No, money is not the most important thing to me when it comes to writing. I write because I’m alive and breathing! But the fact that people choose to buy my books is tremendously validating for me as an author. There are millions of books out there. Whenever I see that someone had chosen to buy and read something I wrote, I wish I could know who that person is and thank them. This means SO much.

So let me just take a moment to celebrate.

PS: In honor of the latest release, The Last Outpost, the first volume in the epic Frozen World saga, is free until September 13, so go ahead and grab your copy if you haven’t read it yet!

Writing with my children

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The exciting day is here! Dragon Diplomacy, my first Middle Grade novel, is available in print and on Kindle, to my immense joy and satisfaction.

Let’s face it, with how little time I have, writing is often a guilty pleasure for me, and I go back and forth a lot on how long I can allow myself to spend it without neglecting my family. This book, however, had a different birth process. It was written with my children’s active contribution, and the reading aloud of each chapter was beautiful family time I can fondly look back on. We also drew the characters and made maps (not included in the book) and thought of ideas for sequels (working on that now).

The most important lessons I learned from writing this book are probably, 1) Kids love dragons, and 2) Kids are a brutally honest audience. My daughters had no qualms to say, “this is boring” or “change the ending”. I followed their advice, of course. What choice did I have? 

My first children’s book is here! (updated)

An unusual path to dragon-taming

I am happy and excited to announce my very first children’s fantasy novel, Dragon Diplomacy, is now available in print. The Kindle edition is available for pre-order now, and will release at the end of the month.

From the blurb: “Loriel is an inquisitive 12-year-old fairy living in the enchanted forest kingdom of Silverbell Wood. The peace and tranquility of Silverbell are disrupted by Gadrak, a troubled dragon who comes to live in the middle of the fairy domain. The dragon’s incessant raids on the bordering human kingdom of Elderland cause the wrath of its people, who are determined to invade Silverbell – a prospect that might end in disaster, with the protective enchantments broken and the delicate balance of the fairy forest disrupted.”

As all my fiction books, it is published under the pen name of Hannah Ross.

I really can’t say this often enough: I appreciate and love the readers who support me by buying my books. Without you, I would never be where I am today, with 12 novels and 4 nonfiction books under my belt, and more to come. So a huge thank you! You make me doubly excited about sharing my writing with the world, and you rock.