Saturday, September 28, 2013

What's in a book trailer?

The jury is still out - and will likely remain out - on whether book trailers actually help sell books. One thing's for sure though - they never hurt! And they're sure fun to have around. Here's mine, plus a few more that I've made for fellow Red Adept authors.

Artificial Absolutes by Mary Fan

Thought I Knew You by Kate Moretti

Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan

Stone and Silt by Harvey Chute

Ever Near by Melissa MacVicar

Monday, September 23, 2013

SPOTLIGHT: Out of the Dark / Hazel Butler

Out of the Dark is a hauntingly beautiful collection of images by various artists edited by Hazel Butler. The selection contains some of the most gorgeous pieces of gothic art I've seen, combining elements of the beautiful and the dark in edgy ways.

Available in Hardcover:


Containing over two hundred images, and contributions from thirty-two artists from around the world, Out of the Dark is a veritable cornucopia of Gothic delight. Fifteen chapters, each packed with vibrant images, and pithy descriptions, showcase some of Gothic Art’s favourite themes, from Death to Lovers, Hauntings to Winter, and Lolitas to Lost Boys.

Many images are accompanied by commentaries from the artists, detailing their inspirations and methods, and why certain pieces mean so much to them.

The central feature of the book is a sixteen page spread on favourite Alternative model, Maria Amanda Schaub, including a biography, a selection of her favourite art pieces, and why she loves them so much.

Below are some of the images from this art book:

My Secret Hideout, by Francesca Rizzato

Digital artist, film director and crafter, Francesca Rizzato was born in Italy, where she lives and works in a local graphic design studio. Since she was a child, she had a passion for art, a passion that has grown with her until today. Now it is something she couldn't live without, because it's the most easy and beautiful way to express herself, painting her dreams and fantasies without limits.

Kiss of Dawn, by Liliana Sanches

Liliana Sanches is a digital artist from Lisbon, Portugal. In her work, she focuses on the harmony and balance in her compositions, and expressing her own feelings, and planting a seed in the viewer’s mind that would linger.
Liliana Sanches is a digital artist from Lisbon, Portugal. In her work, she focuses on the harmony and balance in her compositions, and expressing her own feelings, and planting a seed in the viewer’s mind that would linger.

Evil Angel, by Whendell de Souza Lira

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SPOTLIGHT: Wolcast Castle / Linda Bell Brighton

Page Length: 270 pages
Publisher: EIE Publisher, Inc. (July 27, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Format: Digital

Linda Bell Brighton writes Renaissance fantasy for adventure seekers who want to dive into worlds where magic and mythical beings thrive alongside the mundane world.

What if witches really existed during the Burning Times?

Forced to attend the Regent's celebration at Wolgast Castle, 1560 Germany, Sidonia von Bork, fears her magical abilities will be discovered and she'll be burned alive as a witch. When she discovers she is actually a member of an ancient shape-shifting race and the prophesied Golden One, she must face her destiny: To save the multiverse from the daemons determined to destroy all humans and to stay alive in the process.

Wolgast Castle: Book One of the Sidonia the Sorceress Series has received 5-stars from Amazon readers.

“Based on actual characters and events, but written from the main character's point of view, one sees the compassion and motivation in Sidonia's heart, whereas other accounts by other writers have always bombasted her actions due to their own limited facts. This is a page-turner with a fascinating, thrilling enlightening story. The author's website has lots of information about the time period as well.” -- Charles H. Desimone

ABOUT Wolgast Castle, Book One of the Sidonia The Sorceress Series by Linda Bell Brighton

Forced to attend Princess Maria regent's celebration at Wolgast Castle, 1560 Germany, Sidonia von Bork, fears her magical abilities will be discovered and she'll be burned alive as a witch. When she discovers she is actually a member of an ancient shape-shifting race and the prophesied Golden One, she must face her destiny: to save the multiverse from the daemons determined to destroy all humans, and stay alive in the process.

Linda Bell Brighton’s Bio:

Linda Bell Brighton fell in love with myths, magic, and monsters at an early age. On a thunder-storming day in the Keys, her father—in his bass reading voice—brought The Hound of the Baskerville to too-vivid-life. From that day forward, Greek and Roman myths merged with Wonder Woman and Super girl. After studying medieval and Renaissance literature in college, she now combines her loves by writing an alternate history of the Witch Burning Times that she calls magpunk: real history with myths, magic, monsters—and daemons, too.

Linda Bell Brighton’s website-
Linda Bell Brighton on Twitter:
Linda Bell Brighton’s Facebook Page:
Wolgast Castle, Book One of the Sidonia The Sorceress Series Facebook Page:
Wolgast Castle, Book One of the Sidonia The Sorceress Series on Amazon:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 15, 2013

CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Travis Archer of Shadow of the Wraith

Travis Archer, hero of Ross Harrion's action-packed space opera Shadow of the Wraith, answers a few interview questions from the spaceport.

Hi Travis! Thanks for coming by. It's not every day I get to sit down with a space adventurer. So, what’s going on in your life? What do you do for a living?

I’m a space cowboy. Except there’s no cows or horses involved. Okay, more accurately, I’m a bounty hunter. But a freelancer, not one of those glorified assassins. Means I can be sure everyone I go after has done something very naughty.

As for what’s going on, I don’t really know. That’s generally how I live my life (not knowing what the hell’s going on), but at the moment, it’s more uncertain than usual.

I have a ship that technically isn’t mine and could severely damage the Alliance if word of its origins got out. I’m under investigation by the Alliance for a whole host of charges. This regardless of the fact that we and that ship have saved the galaxy twice in very quick succession, I might add. Well, kind of. Despite the investigation, the Alliance isn’t slow to take advantage of us and the Wraith, and are throwing missions at us like birdseed.
This is Juni, Travis's... assassin friend.

And then there’s Juni. Probably shouldn’t talk about that or I might find a knife at my throat.

Still, at least life isn’t boring.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Is it anything like what you’re doing now?

I wanted to be Clint Eastwood. Yes, they’re all very old films now, but you point me to a modern actor who can match him.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I just wanted to be normal when I grew up. No more being the outcast with the dead alien dad. No more being the angry psycho who you’d better not cross or you’d get thrown through a wall.

And no, normal is nothing like what I’m doing now. But now I am grown up— Did you just hear a snigger outside the door? …Now I am grown up, that’s okay.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

Well, word is spreading now I’ve been in the limelight a little bit, but most people still don’t know. I’m only half human. I’m half Necurian. Yes, those unsociable hermits who can read your thoughts and throw you about the room with their minds.

Tell us about your friends. Who do you hang out with?

I’m not sure ‘friends’ and ‘people I hang out with’ are necessarily synonymous. Let’s see… Well, there’s Jay. He’s okay, but the less said about him the better. I suppose you could stretch the term ‘best friend’ to fit him. Then there’s the Twins. They’re not actual twins, but they act like it. Zak is our pilot, and the most unusually…nice Izarian I’ve ever met. Jindor is our version of…who’s that donkey that used to hang around with that talking bear? Arkuun-Marl. Well, I don’t know what to say about him. I say ‘him’; he’s actually a rob—

[Travis breaks off. There's a knock at the door, accompanied by an unintelligible, synthetic-sounding voice. Travis turns to to the door with a scowl.]

Shut up and go away, robot! This is MY interview!

Okay, fine, he’s an android. And the single most irritating thing to ever cross the stars.

Lastly, there’s Juni. Again, for the sake of safety, I’ll say no more about her.

They are my crew, my friends and, unfortunately, my fami— Wait, I forgot the doctor. Freeman. I don’t really know him that well, but he has saved my life a couple of times and he’ll complain if I don’t mention him.

I’m making it sound like I have a ship full of children, aren’t I? But with the absence of Clint Eastwood, there’s no one I’d rather have on my ship than them.

If you could bestow a superpower upon one of these friends, who would you choose, and what would you give them?

Just one? That’s difficult. I suppose I’d nominate Jay. And I’d give him the amazing ability to shut the hell up.

If he wasn’t around at the time of superpower distribution, it would be the robot. I’d give him an off switch. Though I’m not sure that counts as a superpower.

What do you do for fun?

That’s a surprisingly difficult one too. I used to go to shooting ranges and we’ve got flight simulators in the dock we’re using. But after recent events, shooting things in or out of a ship doesn’t appeal to me much. I don’t have much time for fun at the moment anyway. With all these missions and requests for aid, and a whole Alliance crew in my ship to deal with, I’d settle for a relaxing game of Scrabble.

What do you hope to be doing in ten years?

Relaxing beside my pool. Perhaps with my own private fleet to send out across the galaxy helping people and making me money. Mostly helping people, of course…

If you could cross over into another reality, where would you go, and why?

A god once told me that I’m destined to be a ‘hero’ again and again. But that isn’t the great, rose-tinted thing is seems. The reality isn’t what I wanted and looked for. There’s a lot of danger and misfortune to go with that. And I don’t mean for me.

So I’d quite like to cross into a reality where I’m normal. Where I’m not a ‘hero’ (not my words). Just to see what it’s like. To see what life is like there.

But I guess then I wouldn’t be me.

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

I think I’d go back and stop my father from being killed. He was murdered doing what Necurians like to do most: promoting peace.

I don’t remember him and I always wondered what it would be like to have a father. It would be nice to have one. Especially one that can teach me about these abilities I’m having such trouble with.

Perhaps my mother would have died a little happier if he’d been around. I wonder now and then – particularly lately – what he’d have made of me. And what I’d have turned out like.


What are you planning on doing next?

I’m planning on getting through the Alliance’s investigation unscathed, and without losing the Wraith. Then I’m planning to get us a better system of doing things so that it doesn’t feel so much like work.

Then I’m going to settle down and work out how to properly control my abilities without losing so much energy that I pass out. That would be nice.

And throughout all that, I have to try to work out what’s going on with Juni. That’s the most frightening prospect of all.

Thanks for coming by, Mary. Sorry you had to come all this way just to talk to me, but I’m too busy at the moment to leave the dock for even a few hours. I’ll get Zak to take you home if you want.

Thanks, Travis!

Read about Travis' high octane space adventures in Ross Harrison's sci-fi novel, Shadow of the Wraith, available at:

Lulu Marketplace (hardcover) 
Amazon US (Kindle e-book)
Amazon UK(Kindle e-book)
Smashwords (multiple e-formats)

Review of Shadow of the Wraith
Review of Shadow of the Wraith's sequel, Temple of the Sixth
Review of Ross Harrison's steampunk short story, Kira

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Revisiting a Manuscript

Where did summer go? I feel like I'm living in some kind of weird time warp that makes time go by far too quickly. It feels like just yesterday that I was working on my latest WIP, a YA sci-fi/paranormal romance tentatively titled Butterfly Dome. I put it down after finishing the first draft on June 11, then dove straight into edits for Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil, my YA fantasy/dystopia that's coming out next spring (I seem to have a thing for mixing genres, don't I?). After finishing revisions/rewrites, I spent a month catching up on reading (and letting my fried brain recover), then set about plotting the third book in the Artificial Absolutes trilogy.

Now that that's done, I can finally get back to Butterfly Dome and start working on Draft 2. But as I was rereading it, I realized there were a lot of things I don't remember writing! I still can't believe it, but three months have passed since I last opened the manuscript file. What!

Revisiting a manuscript after a few months gives you a whole different perspective. Things I didn't see before jump out (mostly weird wording). Also, because I'm less familiar with it than I was when I first finished writing it, I can approach it as a reader (or as much as one can approach one's own work from such a perspective). It's quite different from what I remember...

I've heard it said that it's good to set your manuscript down after working on it for a spell, and I've done it in the past. I think the change in perspective is just more stark with Butterfly Dome than with my other works because I churned that book out so quickly and never gave it a read-through when I was done. I definitely think it's helpful doing things this way - I'll have to keep that in mind for whatever I end up working on next.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Not Crazy At All

When Mary asked for ‘crazy things authors have done for their books’ I was confident I’d be in the clear. As a sensible scientist, nothing I’d done could possibly be classed that way. But I wrote to her anyway, describing the work I’d done with the Periodic Table for one of my characters. When she wrote back telling me I was crazy I didn’t know whether to be honoured or offended. And then I read the responses she’d received from other authors. I’m sorry, guys, but those were seriously crazy. Especially Mary’s own story with the car! Lunatic, more like.

Anyway, to my story of the not-particularly-crazy thing I did for The Ultimate Inferior Beings. As a young boy I’d always been fascinated by the Periodic Table of Elements. Not for its pattern and symmetry, nor for its relationship to the physico-chemical properties of the elements. None of that stuff. Whenever I looked at it I found myself wondering, “Could you make an anagram out of it?”

I didn’t try it, of course; that would be crazy.

But when I was inserting a mad scientist, called fluX, into the book I recalled my earlier fascination and decided to make it part of his mad obsession of proving the existence of God. His belief would be that there’s a Divine Message hidden in the elements of the Periodic Table. Unearthing it would be the Proof he was after.

To make his search convincing I’d have to find the message myself! Now, I knew, that way madness lay, but at least it was an excuse for checking out that anagram. This was over 30 years ago – before personal computers, digital watches, WiFi, and any of that other cool stuff we have these days. It was the Age of Pencil and Paper. And scissors. I wrote out all the elements on a sheet of paper and then cut them out. Then I shuffled the little squares around on the table top, looking for potential messages. It was hard. I spent hours, days, looking, looking, alone in my little bedroom. In the book, fluX uses exactly the same approach, except that, as they don’t have paper in the future, he uses petromorphic ytterbium cellulose paper substitute (and a German accent):

“I hov a lot of tiny squares of petromorphic ytterbium cellulose. Each viz a chemical element written on it. I lay zem out on ze table and shuffle and rearrange zem. Make zem into vords and make ze vords into sentences.”

jixX was nodding understandingly, wondering where this was leading.

“Sometimes zey drop on ze floor, and I hov to pick zem up. Sometimes I sneeze. Zey go everywhere, and my work is undone. Sometimes I zink my English is not good for zis. Sometimes I feel like giving up.”

That, in a nutshell, was me. Crazy? No, I don’t think so.

The first message wasn’t great. It started: Ac Cu Se No Ta Ra Bi Cs Cr I Be S, which translates to ‘Accuse not Arabic scribes ...’ The second message wasn’t great, either. None of them were. What I discovered is that there is no Divine Message in the Periodic Table.

But then, maybe I hadn’t tried hard enough. It’s remarkably difficult, you know, what with all those double consonants and Bs and Ms and Ps. Some words you can’t get, because you run out of options. For example, try finding “Artificial Absolutes” in there and you can’t. You get as far as: Ar Ti F I C. And then you stop; the next element needs to be Ia, which doesn’t exist, or I, which you’ve already used.

Nevertheless, a couple of years ago, with human technology having caught up with my needs, I decided to have another crack – using a computer this time. I wrote a little program to assist my search. Even this was trickier than I’d expected. The program used a dictionary look-up to find valid words, listing all possible messages. The idea was that I'd select the best of them. However, I had underestimated the sheer, astronomical number of possibilities. It looked as if it was going to take weeks and weeks just to generate all the messages – millions upon millions of them. And then I’d have to sift through them all, looking for anything plausible. I’d go mad.

Instead, I prompted the program one word at a time, getting it to generate the next three to four words only. I'd select the best, and the program would generate the next few words. And so on. Eventually I arrived at the Message given in one of the book’s Appendices. Its first 17 elements are: Th I S Pa Ge Pr O V Es Al Li Am He No C Ra P which you can see says: ‘This page proves all. I am He. No crap.’

The full message uses only 59 of the 112 elements, so not too successful. However, the True Message must be in there, somewhere, waiting to be found. I know it is. When I retire and have more time, I will devote myself to finding it. And, mark my words, I will find it!

The Ultimate Inferior Beings is available in e-book and paperback on Amazon.


Review of The Ultimate Inferior Beings
Interview with Mark Roman

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Gillian O'Rourke, author of The Reluctant Prophet, talks about her background and inspirations.
Book Description:
There’s none so blind as she who can see . . .

Esther is blessed, and cursed, with a rare gift: the ability to see the fates of those around her. But when she escapes her peasant upbringing to become a priestess of the Order, she begins to realise how valuable her ability is among the power-hungry nobility, and what they are willing to do to possess it.

Haunted by the dark man of her father's warnings, and unable to see her own destiny, Esther is betrayed by those sworn to protect her. With eyes newly open to the harsh realities of her world, she embarks on a path that diverges from the plan the Gods have laid out. Now she must choose between sacrificing her own heart’s blood, and risking a future that will turn the lands against each other in bloody war.

The Reluctant Prophet is the story of one woman who holds the fate of the world in her hands, when all she wishes for is a glimpse of her own happiness.

Hi Gillian! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
Thanks for having me here today! My background as a writer isn’t a very long one, but I have been writing solidly since my teens. I used to write really bad horror and mystery and then I fell in love with fantasy, so most of my experience would be through that genre. I spent a couple of years on and off visiting writing communities trying to hone my skills, but mostly, writing is something I have done on my own and in my spare time. I’ve always dreamed of being a writer and I can’t imagine myself not doing it.
What was the first idea you had for "The Reluctant Prophet", and how did the story grow from there?

For me, I’m a writer who plots and imagines in my head for a long time, sometimes months before I write anything. I almost never have a title until I’m nearly finished, but with The Reluctant Prophet it all started with it. It popped into my head one day, about five years ago and the characters and story came to life from then on. I did not finish it for a long time because at the time, I never let anyone see my writing, but as my confidence grew and I starting sending out manuscripts, it ended up in the hands of Sammy HK Smith at Kristell Ink. And without the help and wisdom of editor, Zoe Harris those threads that were hanging loosely wouldn’t have tied up as nicely as they have.
Why did you choose to write fantasy? What is it about the genre that appeals to you?
I’ve always loved making things up, but there’s something about fantasy. The abilities and worlds you can create around your characters is only caged by the limitations of imagination. In a made up world, we can imagine we are the characters with those amazing abilities. It’s a great world to live in!

Are any of the characters in "The Reluctant Prophet" based on yourself or people you know?

The Reluctant Prophet is written in first person so I know my character intimately at this stage (almost like they are a real person). I think I have drawn traits from people I know, in an unconscious sense, but the characters aren’t specifically based on anyone. For my main character Esther, I have drawn a lot from how I imagine I might react or hope I act in certain situations.
Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing "The Reluctant Prophet"? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?
I’m not someone who sits down and writes a firm plot and even if I write a short plan, it deviates all the time. Characters do take on a life of their own, and characters I thought would have a minor role, have then become integral in some way to the story. It can be frustrating at times, especially when you go over the story and realise you need to give a certain plot or character more page time!
Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?
Apart from Esther, I do love one of the main male characters, Hadrian. He was one I thought would have a minor role, but his story and character came to life in a big way and I’m really delighted with him. He’s a determined and steadfast character, so it was inevitable he took on a larger role.
What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?
It’s hard, because there’s a couple I really like, but for different reasons. There is one scene where Esther is sitting in the temple, contemplating her life and beliefs, when Hadrian speaks to her about faith. It’s one of the gentler scenes, but I like it because of the deeper meaning it has for the both of them.
What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue? What do you find the most challenging?
The two things I like best are the imagining and then the descriptions. I can go a bit overboard sometimes, but I’ve learned to reign it in a little. When we were editing the book, Zoe encouraged me at one scene to let loose. I was like a child in a sweet shop. The hardest part was tidying up the beginning and ending – I don’t know if it was the stress of wanting to start well and end well, but it was challenging. Of course, thanks to Zoe I think the challenge paid off!
Much is written online about how to find a publisher, but not much is said once a person gets the coveted contract. Could you give us a glimpse behind the curtain? What’s it been like working with an independent publisher?
I was really, very lucky. Over the course of 2012 I had decided to send a different manuscript out to agents and publishers – it was a paranormal mystery – but I wasn’t getting anywhere with it. Then I sent it to Robert Peett at Holland House Books, and although he didn’t think it was right for the imprint, he liked my style of writing and asked what else I wrote. I said fantasy and he knew Sammy HK Smith at Kristell Ink. I sent her The Reluctant Prophet and the rest is history. So I feel very blessed and lucky that she liked my story so much. And it’s been brilliant working with both Sammy and Zoe, they are passionate about what they do and so encouraging and easy to work with. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.
In your opinion, what’s the difference between fantasy and paranormal? What do you think of the current trends in the genres?
I think of fantasy as being set in a made up/alternate/historical world or earth. It doesn’t necessarily need to have magic, but it usually has something mystical about it. Paranormal, I think more in terms of ghouls and vampires/werewolves, set in something more modern. I don’t think them the rules per se, but they are the parameters I follow for myself. And current trends . . . I think it’s like any trend and it’s cyclical. Vampire and zombie books have been here a long time, and it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere for a while. And post-apocalyptic books seem really popular at the moment – I’ve read some great ones, but like anything, there are some doozy’s out there too.
I guess it depends on what you like to read. I just go with what I think sounds like a good read, because sometimes what’s fashionable, doesn’t necessarily mean a great book.

The Reluctant Prophet is available at Smashwords and Amazon