Tuesday, June 14, 2016

#MMBBR #Showcase A Drop in the Ocean by Jenni Ogden @jenni_ogden


On her 49th birthday, Anna Fergusson, Boston neuroscientist and dedicated introvert, arrives at an unwanted crossroads when the funding for her research lab is cut. With her confidence shattered and her future uncertain, on impulse she rents a cabin for a year on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. However Turtle Island, alive with sea birds and nesting Green turtles, is not the retreat she expected. Here she finds love―for the eccentric islanders who become her family; for Tom, the laid-back turtle whisperer; and for the turtles whose ancient mothering instincts move her to tears. But Anna finds that even on her idyllic drop in the ocean there is pain, and as the months fly past her dream for a new life is threatened by a darkness that challenges everything she has come to believe about the power of love.

Evocative and thought-provoking, A Drop in the Ocean is a story about second chances and hard lessons learned in the gentlest of ways.

A story about turtles, love and an unthinkable choice...

An image posted by the author.

Reading and writing fiction is my passion. Even when I was a neuropsychologist, I wrote books that, while true, were all about story--the courageous struggles and triumphs of people who had suffered brain disorders. (My text, "Fractured Minds", first published in 1996 with a 2nd edition in 2005, is still popular, mainly, I think because it is full of stories about real people, as well as facts about neuropsychology and brain disorders."Trouble In Mind", my book for the general reader, was published in the USA in 2012 and in Australia in 2013. If you like Oliver Sacks' stories about his patients, you will probably like this too.)

So after 24 years as a university professor and a clinician and researcher in the area of clinical neuropsychology (and in 2015 being honored with the Distinguished Career Award by the International Neuropsychological Society), I changed careers, and now write full-time from my off-grid home on a remote and beautiful island off the coast of northern New Zealand. Here I am free to concentrate on a long-held dream of writing "book club" fiction, and my first novel, "A Drop In The Ocean"--a novel about love, sea turtles, and an unthinkable choice--was published by She Writes Press in May, 2016. It has been praised by New York Times bestselling novelists, Ann Hood and Jacquelyn Mitchard, and other best-selling authors including Barbara Claypole White and Robin Black. It won the GOLD medal in the 2016 US Independent Publisher Book Awards for Best Regional Fiction--Australia and NZ (it is set primarily on a tiny island on Australia's Great Barrier Reef). For a recent interview about my life so far (complete with photos!) go to the inspiring blog site "Next Act for Women" (http://nextactforwomen.com/writing/novel-living-off-grid/). And of course I would love you to check out my own author website (http://www.jenniogden.com), read my blog about 'Brains, Books and Being Happy' on "Psychology Today" (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/trouble-in-mind-0) and even sign up for my monthly e-newsletter (http://www.jenniogden.com/newsletter.htm)
where I give you a few amusing insights into whatever is going on in my off-grid island life or my travels, and share a book review of a book I love.

Q.  What inspires your writing?
A.  So far, my own life experiences play a significant role when I am thinking about a new book. The characters are not like anyone I know (although they likely include a few characteristics of a mix of familiar people) but many of my settings are based on places I love. Also, in A DROP IN THE OCEAN, many of the experiences Anna, my protagonist, has (off-grid living, snorkeling adventures, turtle tagging) are based on my own experiences.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
A. Being able to develop an entire fictional world and becoming immersed in it.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being a writer?
A. Getting the novel out into the world! The long, difficult process of querying agents and editors or deciding to try an alternative publishing route, and the extended times it takes for anything to happen can be frustrating, as these delays are pretty much out of the writer’s control.

Q.  If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?
A. Before I had the time to write a novel I was a clinical neuropsychologist and a university professor, a career I loved. In that life I wrote non-fiction books which have done very well. (a text book, FRACTURED MINDS  and a memoir about my experiences with my patients, TROUBLE IN MIND.)

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. Life is for living, with health and happiness the rewards.

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?
A. CROSSING TO SAFETY by Wallace Stegner

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A.  That’s a hard one. Perhaps in some ways I’m a little like Charity in CROSSING TO SAFETY! (I like to be in control although I try to quash this urge, especially when it comes to controlling my husband!)

Q.  What character from all of your books are you most like?
A.  I think there is a little of me (or my experiences) in each of my main female characters; Anna’s experiences and love of turtles in A DROP IN THE OCEAN, and the character Georgia in a new novel as yet unpublished. Georgia is a neurosurgeon, which I am not, but some of her characteristics are probably a little similar to mine. And in my forthcoming Domestic Noir, one of my main characters, Celeste, is a clinical psychologist!

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
A. A DROP IN THE OCEAN, but a weekend would be far too short!

Q.  What is your favorite season?
A. Summer (but I love Autumn and Spring as well).

Q.  What inspired your book cover(s)?  Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A. The cover of A DROP IN THE OCEAN is my favorite and is very special. She Writes Press’s cover designer took heed of my suggestions and designed a stunning cover. I had sent her a book cover I liked which showed the faint outline of a child holding a scorpion superimposed on a wild seascape. I wanted my cover to suggest a tropical island, and of course to be consistent with the novel’s genres of bookclub/literary/women’s fiction. I didn’t want a woman’s face on the cover as I think many readers like to have some freedom to imagine how the main character looks, guided by some description in the novel.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
A.This isn’t especially funny although I did find it amusing. The very first Amazon review I got for A DROP IN THE OCEAN said this: “The writing is beautiful but overall incredibly depressing and I have no idea why I even ordered this book bc it isn't in my normal genre.” The one thing I had never thought my story would be described as was “depressing!” There is some sadness, and some thought-provoking issues are introduced, but overall this is meant to be an uplifting book of discovery and renewal! I am happy to say that most of the reviews since have been very positive!

Q.  Are you working on something new?
A. I have two completed novels currently being considered by agents and editors; one about a woman neurosurgeon in London who falls from grace and finds her way back via New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and Great Barrier Island, NZ, and a Domestic Noir, set in Australia’s Far North Tropical Queensland, where I go to escape the NZ winter. I am currently deciding what to write next! It is a big decision as I will have to live with my characters and their world for a year or more.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A.  I hope you love A DROP IN THE OCEAN as much as I loved writing it, and if you have a dream, whether it is writing or something else, follow it if you can, whatever your age and other life responsibilities. You may have to wait a while, as I did, but don’t discard those dreams.

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