Friday, May 25, 2018

STARSWEPT is now available as an audiobook!

Guess what guess what?? STARSWEPT is now available as an audiobook!!! It's narrated by the amazingly talented Emily Woo Zeller, who absolutely *nails* Iris's voice and all those alien words. Check it out on Audible!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

RELEASE DAY: Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil!

Hey everyone! I'm super thrilled to announce that my YA Dark Fantasy FLYNN NIGHTSIDER AND THE EDGE OF EVIL is now available in e-book, paperback, and hardback from Crazy 8 Press! Supernatural beasts, a ruthless regime, and two teen rebels fighting for freedom... one early reviewer called it “Harry Potter meets Animal Farm”. It kinda works! 

Break the enchantments. Find the truth. Ignite the revolution.

A century ago, the Enchanters defeated the evil Lord of the Underworld, but not before he’d unleashed his monsters and ravaged the earth. The Enchanters built the Triumvirate out of what remained of the United States, demanding absolute obedience in exchange for protection from the lingering supernatural beasts.

Sixteen-year-old Flynn Nightsider, doomed to second-class life for being born without magic, knows the history as well as anyone. Fed up with the Triumvirate’s lies and secrecy, he longs for change. And when he stumbles across a clue that hints at something more – secrets in the dark, the undead, and buried histories – he takes matters into his own hands.

Before long, Flynn finds himself hunted not only by the government, but also by nightmarish monsters and a mysterious man with supernatural powers … all seeking him for reasons he cannot understand. Rescued by underground rebels, he’s soon swept up in their vision of a better world, guided by a girl as ferocious as the monsters she fights. But as the nation teeters on the brink of revolution, Flynn realizes three things.

The rebellion is not what it seems.
Flynn himself might be more than he seems.
And the fate of the world now rests in his hands.

Friday, May 11, 2018


An interview with author Shari Lopatin.

Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?

Hi! Thanks for having me on your blog today. I’m super excited to be here! So … background on me as an author and writer … I usually say I tell stories that matter. Initially, I began my career as an award-winning journalist. But now, I write complex and stimulating suspense novels that tie into modern-day social issues. I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer, public relations professional, social media manager, and (my favorite) earned the title of “Cat Mom of the Year.” As an author, I’m releasing my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, on May 19, 2018.

What got you into writing?

OMG, what didn’t get me into writing? Seriously though, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first short story when I was seven years old about a group of aliens who befriended a girl on earth; they all had names of food items, such as "Butter."

However, I began writing professionally in 2005, after I graduated from college with my bachelor's degree in Journalism. My mom talked me into going that route after I floundered in my original major, Marketing. Too many numbers. My mom said, “Give journalism a try. I think you’ll like it.” Glad I listened to her!

What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?

I came up with the idea for The Apollo Illusion while having dinner with my mom, sister, and boyfriend. My mom commented on a news story she'd watched that reported how babies are learning the swiping motion of a tablet before they learn to speak. We started discussing the societal repercussions of a generation brought up with that foundation, and the idea for my book sparked.

Additionally, I'd been watching the effects of social media on my beloved profession of print journalism and had been contemplating issues around the rapid advancement of technology. After that dinner with my family, I started writing in this frenzy, and my book developed organically from there.

Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?

I think my favorite character is Andrew, one of the two main protagonists. Andrew starts out as your typical, breast-obsessed, 19-year-old boy, kind of post-adolescence but not quite “adult” yet. He’s a total ladies man, the heartthrob of the book. But that face is really a mask hiding a deeper pain steeped in abandonment issues and a mentally ill mother.
Without saying too much, I gave Andrew a strong character arc and enjoyed seeing how he grew before my eyes. I think I had the most fun with his character because I got to write from a male perspective, but I also infused strong emotional drivers into Andrew’s character, which made him more alive and real for me.  

What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?

My favorite scene is actually one of the surprise plot points, so I cannot talk about it! But it's a very emotional discovery in the book, one that I cried while writing. Without giving away spoilers, this scene deals with a theme that I value deeply: family. And I think in a way, I was writing a "wish" that I have for someone in my life who I love, and this was my way of waving my magic wand and giving this person something in my story that I know will not happen in life.

What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?

Oh that’s a hard one! I love writing dialogue; in fact, I think it’s one of my stronger points. But maybe it goes deeper than that.

The rush of creation, and the thrill of publication, I think. I know technically those are two things, but they are equally as joyful for me. The creative process—as I'm writing—is both euphoric and exciting. I feel tranquil when I'm writing; I sort of disconnect from the outside world and live inside this new reality I've developed.

Subsequently, I revel in readers' reactions to my work after publication. It's this profound feeling of pure accomplishment, and I enjoy watching others join me in the excitement of the story. It takes on a life of its own.

How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?

I’ve written two books so far, and each one took me more than a year to complete for the first draft. But I also work a full-time job. I think if I had eight hours from Monday through Friday to write, I could knock out a book once every four to six months! With breaks in between, of course. 😊

I cannot work from an outline, though. I always have a general direction that I'm running toward, and I may have some plot points in my head, but I let the characters (and therefore the plot line) develop organically. I need to allow my creative energy to flow without too much structure. I can always fix things later or improve the story arc during the editing process.

What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?

I looooove dystopias. Seriously. Three of my favorite books of all-time are The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, 1984 by George Orwell, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I’m not sure if dystopias ignite the philosopher and critical thinker in me, or if they’re just exciting, but I’m addicted to them. I try to write the stories I crave to read, so I hope others feel the same way about my book!

Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?

Yes! Junot Diaz might be my favorite, and I adore his book, This Is How You Lose Her. I also love Khaled Husseini (The Kite Runner), Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale), George Orwell (1984), Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), Judy Blume (about every young adult book I read growing up), Pat Conroy (The Prince of Tides), and Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle). I’ve picked up favorite techniques from all of them.

Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?

I do! Sometimes, my characters surprise me by their actions or the things they say, and I've actually developed some exciting plot twists this way. Other times, I’m writing from a place of deep emotional valleys, so when I re-read the chapter later, I think, “Whoa, I wrote that?” Of course, those moments are always offset by the days I want to scream at the drivel I allowed onto the page. Oh the joys of writing!
Thanks for stopping by!


The Apollo Illusion is a story for the hackers, the techies, the seekers, and the rebels of the world. A dystopian suspense for young adults and millennials, it follows bullied nineteen-year-old Flora into an isolated web of truth, lies, and survival when she stumbles upon a dark secret about her walled-off home state of Apollo. To learn more or pre-order, visit


Shari Lopatin tells stories that matter. An award-winning journalist, she writes complex and stimulating suspense novels that tie into modern-day social issues. Her debut novel, “The Apollo Illusion,” is releasing May 19, 2018. Learn more at, or pre-order your digital copy for just $2.99 from Kindle,iBooksKoboBarnes and Noble (Nook), or Smashwords. Want a print copy? Sign up for The Readers Club to be notified the moment they become available!

Facebook: (Shari Lopatin, Author)
Instagram: (@sharilopatin)
Twitter: (@sharilopatin)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: 5:30 Return / William R. Herr

TITLE: 5:30 Return
AUTHOR: William R. Herr
PUBLISHER: Mechanicsburg Press


Science Fiction - Thriller


In the not-too-distant future, tourists flock to the red-light district of Tucson to get high on a futuristic drug and engage in all kinds of debauchery. They hire Juan, a disfigured veteran and recovering addict, to send them in and get them out. Known as "Juan the Monster," he doesn't have a lot of friends. So when one of the few people he cares about, Sammy, dies suspiciously, Juan takes it upon himself to find the truth. Meanwhile, his latest client has vanished, and he's assigned to take over Sammy's old gig, shuttling a developmentally challenged child -- born to an addict -- to and from a drug research facility. But he soon learns that there's more to Tucson's drug trade than he realized...

Like the Hobbsian vision of life without society, 5:30 Return by William R. Herr is nasty, brutish, and short. In a good way. It's a tightly written book that's somewhere between a long novella and a short novel, yet a lot happens in those few pages, with a fully realized world, a plot full of twists, and a fascinating portrait of a very, very damaged man.

Narrated in Juan's dry, unfiltered voice, 5:30 Return reminded me of Sin City with a more sci-fi bent, starring a cross between Deadpool and Jonah Hex. The book establishes quickly that Juan is not a nice guy, and it spares nothing when it comes to gritty details. Yet somehow he seems to be one of the few people around willing to do the right thing when it comes to solving Sammy's murder and uncovering a dark conspiracy. 

It's a really quick read that draws you in right away with Juan's distinctive narration. If you're looking for the darker, grittier side of sci-fi, this is your book.


Will was born to a computer technician and a British immigrant. Over the many, many years of his life, this has never changed.

At the age of 14, he won his first writing competition, the Young Authors conference, and fell in love with writing. In 1996 he produced 'The White Room', his first play, and published Jeremy and February. He then took the next 18 years off, to raise his son, and regrets nothing.

Since then, he has been struck by lightning, has run himself over with a truck (purely by accident), survived seven hurricanes, driven through a tornado, helped lead an invading army to Washington, DC, lost everything he owned, got it back, and lost it again. Technically, one could say that he is currently homeless.

Friday, April 20, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Supremacy's Shadow / T. Eric Bakutis

TITLE: Supremacy's Shadow
AUTHOR: T. Eric Bakutis
PUBLISHER: SF Productions


Science Fiction


In the far future, ordinary "natural born" humans are in conflict with the genetically enhanced "Advanced" in a star system with two inhabited planets. The Advanced are tightening their control over the natural born in an oppressive state, but a group of fanatics is fighting back using terrorist tactics. Living in this mess is Hayden Cross, a military investigator and natural born whose pregnant wife was murdered by the fanatics thirteen years ago. He's made it his mission to eliminate those who killed her... but his world is thrown into disarray when he receives a mysterious message saying she might still be alive.

What starts out as a personal mission winds up embroiling Hayden in a complex power struggle where, it seems, no one's the good guy. A sadistic crime lord, corrupt official, fanatical rebels, bounty hunters... poor guy really can't catch a break. The plot twists and turns its way through a story that starts out as one man's quest for his wife but winds up an epic of world-shattering proportions. Each time you think you know what's going to happen, it veers of into another direction for some truly surprising twists.

Yet the story never loses sight of the people at its core, which is what makes it work so well. The characters are well developed and feel like people, not just chess pieces in service to the plot. While this isn't the kind of book to expect a happily-ever-after from, the ending is plenty satisfying.

One of the book's blurbs compares Hayden Cross to Deadpool. I'd say that's a pretty accurate comparison for the book as a whole - it's a gritty tale of oppressors and terrorists with lots of blood and some disturbing torture scenes, and the characters snark their way through it all, using dark humor to offset the horrors they face.

If you're looking for an exciting, fast-paced read with interesting characters, rich world building, dark humor, and a complex plot, then these are the droids you're looking for.


T. Eric Bakutis is an author and game designer living in Maryland. He is happily married and shares his house with a vicious, predatory cat and a sad-faced, cowardly dog. He spends way too much time in virtual reality, because virtual reality is increasingly awesome.

His first fantasy trilogy, Tales of the Five Provinces, is now complete. The first (standalone!) book in his Dueling Planets series, Supremacy's Shadow, is now available, with the next (standalone!) book coming in a year or two. He's also completed a free cyberpunk police procedural, Loose Circuit, which you can read for free at or purchase (e-book) on Amazon for $0.99. 

If any of this sounds interesting, you can read excerpts from all of his books, his free online serial, and a number of free short stories at

Friday, April 13, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Experimental Bug: Brilliance / Jelani Akin Parham

TITLE: The Experimental Bug: Brilliance (The Experimental Bug, #1)
AUTHOR: Jelani Akin Parham
PUBLISHER: Akinink Publishing


Young Adult - Sci-Fi/Superhero


Years back, a brilliant scientist working for the powerful and mysterious Aegis Security disappeared. Now, his genius teen daughter, Pilar, is determined to find the truth. Having inherited her father's lab, she's perfected the Bug Suit he was working on. At night, she roams the city as a costumed vigilante. But she's not the only extraordinary being out there...

Pilar soon finds herself entangled in a plot full of intrigue, secrets, and a powerful evil with seemingly supernatural abilities. Superheros, monsters, conspiracies... and a big brother who takes his role as legal guardian frustratingly seriously. Pilar soon finds herself in over her head, but she's not about to back down. Together with her new friend, Zoe, she dives headfirst into the action.

This was a wickedly fun action/adventure superhero story starring kickass girls and a twisty-turn plot. Pilar is a tough, clever heroine with a smart mouth and prickly exterior. Yet though she'd never admit it, she's a total softy at heart. And so is this book... behind the high-octane superhero battles, this is the story of a girl and her family - her father's legacy, her relationship with her brother, her newly formed friendships. It's a fast-paced romp with lots of heart and character. I tore through it and enjoyed every moment!


Originally from the midwest, Jelani-Akin Parham moved to Phoenix, AZ to pursue an education and career in the creative realm. From the early days of his life in Detroit, MI til now, he’s been fascinated with monsters, super heroes, mythical swords and exploring foreign worlds. When he’s not writing crazy adventures, he can be found playing competitive fighting games, working as an illustrator, video editor, and on occasion composing music.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

I have a new book coming out!

Cat's finally out of the bag!! I feel like I've been sitting on this news forever... Thrilled to finally announce that my YA steampunk fantasy, STRONGER THAN A BRONZE DRAGON, will be coming your way next year from Page Street! 

It's been a head-spinning and unexpected journey so far, and I'm super excited to see where it takes me. This will be my first foray into the world of old-school traditional publishing.

STRONGER THAN A BRONZE DRAGON is the eighth full-length manuscript I wrote. I repeat, the EIGHTH. I wrote it early 2017 on a whim... usually, I take ages to plan and plot my books before I write the first word, but in this case, the book basically started writing itself two days after the idea popped into my head. I then spent months revising it with the help of my fantastic beta readers.

After it was in a condition I was happy with, I had to figure out what to do with it. By then, I'd been in the self-publishing world for a spell with BRAVE NEW GIRLS and STARSWEPT, and I'd walked away from my first agent earlier that year. Being my own publishing boss was fun. I hadn't quite decided whether I wanted to try for traditional publishing again or stick with indie.

Then September's #PitMad came about on Twitter. I didn't even realize it was happening until halfway through the day. On a whim, while rushing out of the office to grab lunch, I dashed off a Twitter pitch for the heck of it. Lo and behold, I had some interest! A few weeks later, I signed with my awesome agent, Dr. Uwe Stender of TriadaUS.

Next came more revisions, and then submissions. When Page Street made their offer, I web-stalked the heck out of 'em. I was super excited about how fast they were expanding -- they're among the fastest-growing small presses in the US. And the covers of their YA books are *gorgeous*.

I'm beyond excited to work with my editor, Lauren Knowles, and I can't wait to share this book with the world!