Saturday, February 28, 2015


An interview with Alisha Nurse, author of The Return of the Key.

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

I officially became a published author on December 12th, 2014! I had been working on the novel on and off for three years. I love story telling but I hadn’t really considered becoming an author due to cognitive challenges I have as a result of fibromyalgia. In the end I just decided you know what, I’m gonna do it, even it means more work and takes longer.

What got you into writing?

I was going through a very bad depressive episode and I was searching for something to do to help me carry on. I had settled on the idea of writing a novel dedicated to my grandparents for their love. I have this thing where I have to finish anything I start so I thought writing a novel would be a good idea. Before that I only ever did creative writing in school. I however started blogging in my early twenties. It was compulsory for my university course and once I graduated I kept at it.

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

The first idea stemmed from a dream. I have very vivid dreams and I remember that morning I woke up just enthralled by what I had seen in my sleep. The next thing I know I was scrambling for pencil and paper because I didn’t want to forget.  I then started thinking of how I could build a story around this dream I had had. I didn’t want to produce a story that was fluffy and superficial, I wanted it to have deeper meaning so I thought about some issues and things that are important to me and I crafted the rest of the story from there.

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

I really love the character called Loridel. She’s a supporting character, who is Gwragged Annwn, a kind of Welsh underwater faery who has contrary reactions to emotions. Loridel dresses in garments from the Tudor era, has pale skin and a crown of plaits. She’s enchantingly beautiful but her personality makes her quite peculiar. 

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

I don’t have a favourite but my most loved scenes are the ones where I got to really play with my imagination. One that tops the list is the part of the story where the group of friends is hijacked. The protagonist has fallen into a magical lake and her friends are in chaos looking for her but they also have to contend with this sinister faery who exaggerates everything. This quality makes her both spooky and hilarious. She is waiting for their boat to pull ashore and all seems lost. The friends are really despairing but they have to come to this place in order for it to get better. It’s the part where everybody learns lessons.

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

My favourite part of writing would be describing scenes, especially when I get to conjure up things out of this world. My least favourite would be writing dialogue. It puts me to sleep.

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

Well this one took three years with a lot of hiccups in between and health issues but I think the second will take less time. I’ll likely do it in three months time with all the edits. I try to create a rough outline so that when I start writing I have a guide but sometimes the writing process just does its own thing and I let it flow.

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

Fantasy has appealed to me since childhood. There’s just something about worlds without the rules and limitations of our own universe that draws me in. It’s a means of escape from the troubles of this life and it drives my imagination wild! ☺

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

J.R.R Tolkien’s writing has really inspired and encouraged me to try to be the best that I can be and I hope that one day I can be half as good the storyteller that he was. I’m absolutely in love with The Hobbit. To Kill a Mockingbird is my next favourite. It’s really endearing and captures the essence of human nature – what makes us dark but also what makes us good. I want to be able to do that with my own writing so that story really pushes me.

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?

Yeah I’ve surprised myself a couple times lol. It’s funny when that happens because you’re writing and you think you’re in control but then that happens. It’s like creating characters with freewill who end up choosing to do something that you wouldn’t have them do. This is what makes storytelling so powerful. It comes alive, sometimes taking a path of its own.


16-year-old Eliza Aurelio grapples with her mixed race identity amid rising racial tensions on her little island. For their safety, Eliza’s grandfather sends her and her grandmother to a quiet town in Southwest England to stay with a relative. But this otherwise quiet town has been turned upside down by people mysteriously disappearing. Eliza eventually encounters a magical but dangerous realm accessible through a doorway in the town, and sees its connection to the abductions. She intends to put things right, only wanting to protect her family. To do this, she must return a stolen key to lock the open doorway. But Eliza has to overcome her own inner conflicts if she is to stand any chance of being successful and leaving the other realm alive. 

Suspenseful and enchanting, The Return of the Key explores the power of love, sacrifice and the journey to self acceptance.



Friday, February 27, 2015

BNG FRIDAY: Panic by Tash McAdam

Every Friday until its publication, I'm going to blog something about Brave New Girls: Tales of Girls and Gadgets, a YA sci-fi anthology featuring tech-savvy heroines. The goal is to encourage more girls to enter Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math professions. All revenues from sales of the anthology will be donated to a scholarship fund through the Society of Women Engineers.

Today, I'm spotlighting one of the stories that will be featured in the anthology.




Tash McAdam

What would you do if all the lights went off, the doors locked and people started shooting?

Abial's not a fighter, but when the alternative is dying, there aren't really a lot of good choices. Street smart and quick witted, she figures if she can just get the electronic doors open, maybe she'll survive. If she had her datapad with her, it'd be a cakewalk, but without her beloved technology to fall back on, well... things might end badly.


This story has a really suspenseful atmosphere and an action-packed plot. It reminded me a bit of a graphic novel, which is always a bonus for me. It was also cool to see how the author handled the challenge of writing a scene where no one can see. And Abial's smarts aligned perfectly with the anthology's theme.

Tash spends most of the time time falling in streams, out of trees, learning to juggle, dreaming about zombies, dancing, painting, learning/teaching Karate, reading, and of course, writing. Being raised by hippie feminists, child-Tash did not realise that some people believe that women are inherently less capable of certain things. Since this belief is quite obviously ridiculous, the chance to join in an anthology aimed at spreading awareness of how biological sex has no impact on one’s abilities was welcome.

Tash studied Multimedia Tech and Engineering at University, and there were huge and obvious gender imbalances in the student body. Kids can and will eventually not be programmed to believe that which bathroom they use has any effect on their future and careers. Hopefully this awesome project helps with that!

Twitter: @TashMcAdam

BRAVE NEW GIRLS will be released in Summer 2015! Sign up here to receive a notification when it's available to order.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


An interview with Lisa Becker, author of the Click trilogy.


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

I’m fortunate to have had a series of wonderful careers outside of writing including being a wife, mom, PR professional, college professor, school volunteer and Girl Scout troop leader.  As a writer, I’ve written and published the Click trilogy.  Unfolding exclusively in emails, the Click trilogy (Click: An Online Love StoryDouble Click and Right Clickmarries the friendships of Sex and the City, the epistolary nature of Bridget Jones’ Diary and the online love story of You’ve Got Mail to be a light and breezy series for anyone who's ever been dumped, been in love, had a bad date or is still searching for "the one."  The screenplay based on the first book has been optioned for a movie and I have two movie options to date.  I used to joke that I was the only person in LA not writing a screenplay and am now trying to break into Hollywood. 

What got you into writing?

I remember writing short stories and poems as a little girl and always told myself I would write a book someday.  I started writing Click after my husband and I married but before we had kids.  Then I had to take a break from writing due to the rigors of motherhood.  But I had always told myself – even as a little girl – that I would write a book one day.  So, I made the commitment to finish the book.  I wrote in the mornings while the girls were at school or at night after they went to sleep.  I made it a goal to write – even if only for a half hour – every day. 

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

My husband and I met online on a popular dating website.  After we married, I was recalling some of the hilarious experiences that I had with both traditional and online dating.  I decided to capture some of them in writing and from there, a novel emerged.   In some cases, things are written as they actually occurred.  Other scenarios are exaggerated for entertainment value or comedic affect.  And some scenarios are completely fictionalized. I really did go out on a date with someone I met online who started every story (no joke!) with “My buddies and I were out drinking last night.”  But, the happy ending is real.  Steve and I have been happily married for 12 years and have two amazing daughters. 

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

I most readily identify with Renee.  She and I share a lot of qualities including a self-depreciating sense of humor, fear of flying, motivation in our PR careers and love of baking.  Mark is loosely based on a friend who encouraged me to try online dating.  He’s a terrific guy who is still himself searching for “the one.”   So if you know any nice single girls, let me know.  ;)  But, my favorite character is Shelley.  She’s confident, brash, outrageous and wholly unapologetic for her choices.  She was so fun to write.  Her hilarious habit of giving nicknames to her “man du jour” was inspired by a childhood friend of mine who had a nickname for a guy in college that she admired from across the dorm cafeteria.  She called him Maverick because he looked like Tom Cruise in Top Gun.  Much like Shelley, she is a self-confident, gorgeous, lovely gal and it wasn't long before they met and dated for a spell. 

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

One of the funniest and oddest encounters occurs when Renee has a very specific and slightly intimate date with a man named Michael on a Friday night.  He emails her a few days later to thank her for a great time and goes into some detail about their date.  Moments later, she receives the EXACT same email from Michael, but referencing their date on Saturday night.  He writes, “…so wonderful to finally meet a generous, warm-hearted, smart, funny and beautiful woman.  I can already tell how special you are.”  Lucky Michael!  He met two women like that…the same weekend.  Too bad he couldn’t keep his emails straight. 

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

I most enjoy creating characters that people can relate to and want to have in their lives.  Whether those characters are brought to life through plot devices or dialogue, doesn’t matter.  It’s about making that connection with the reader.

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

The first book was written in about 10 months over the course of many years.  As mentioned, I started it, shelved it and then committed years later to finishing it.  The sequels each took about 8-10 months to write.  I typically start out with an outline and mini characters bios and then go from there.  I sit in my home office at a HP desktop computer with a really big screen.  My eyes grow tired pretty easily in my old age;)  And, I like to write with the television on in the background.  When I first started writing, I was obsessed with Law & Order reruns.  Now, I can’t seem to get enough of NCIS.  I guess there’s a part of me that likes to see justice served. 

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

My favorite genre is Chick Lit/Contemporary Romance.  I suppose I’ve always been a hopeful romantic.  I never thought I would get married – although I secretly hoped that I would – so some days I still pinch myself that I've got a loving, hilarious, and intelligent husband.  Writing this book reminded me of how lucky I am to have met him. 

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

I don’t have a particular author that has influenced me.  I really enjoy Jennifer Weiner, Sophia Kinsella and others.   But years ago, I read a book called e by Matthew Beaumont which tells the story of a fictitious ad agency vying for a big account, with the story all told in emails.  I thought that narrative style would work really well for the story I wanted to tell about the online dating world.  It was a modern way of storytelling that fit the topic and the times. 

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 was pretty sure how I wanted these characters to evolve and how the story would turn out.  What most surprised me was the response from readers.  The original book, Click: An Online Love Story, was meant to be a stand-alone – a chance to fulfill a childhood goal.  Not long after its release, I was thrilled to receive such a positive reaction to the book.  For that, I’m so grateful.  People across the globe emailed to inquire about the sequel.  Due to the interest, I sat down and wrote the next chapter (or should I say chapters) in the lives of Renee and friends.  Now, there are three books in the series and I think a satisfying conclusion to the story of whether this tight-knit group of friends is able to find their happily ever after.

About the Trilogy

Click: An Online Love Story – Fast approaching her 30th birthday and finding herself not married, not dating, and without even a prospect or a house full of cats, Renee Greene, the heroine of Click: An Online Love Story, reluctantly joins her best guy pal on a journey to find love online in Los Angeles. The story unfolds entirely through emails between Renee and her best friends (anal-compulsive Mark, the overly-judgmental Ashley and the over-sexed Shelley) as well as the gentlemen suitors she meets online. From the guy who starts every story with "My buddies and I were out drinking one night," to the egotistical “B” celebrity looking for someone to stroke his ego, Renee wades into the shallow end of the dating (cess)pool and endures her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates. Fraught with BCC's, FWD's and inadvertent Reply to All's, readers will cheer, laugh, cry and cringe following the email exploits of Renee and friends. And ultimately, they will root for Renee to "click" with the right man.

Double Click – Fans of the romantic hit Click: An Online Love Story will enjoy another voyeuristic dive into the lives of Renee, Shelley, Ashley, Mark and Ethan, as Double Click picks up with their lives six months later. Are Renee and Ethan soul mates? Does Mark ever go on a date? Has Shelley run out of sexual conquests in Los Angeles? Will Ashley's judgmental nature sabotage her budding relationship? Through a marriage proposal, wedding, new baby and unexpected love twist, Double Click answers these questions and more. Readers will continue to cheer, laugh, cry and cringe following the email exploits of Renee and friends.

Right Click – Love. Marriage.  Infidelity. Parenthood. Crises of identity. Death. Cupcakes. The themes in Right Click, the third and final installment in the Click series, couldn't be more pressing for this group of friends as they navigate through their 30's. Another six months have passed since we last eavesdropped on the hilarious, poignant and often times inappropriate email adventures of Renee and friends. As the light-hearted, slice of life story continues to unfold, relationships are tested and some need to be set "right" before everyone can find their "happily ever after.

About Lisa

Lisa had endured her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates, many of which inspired Click: An Online Love StoryDouble Click and Right Click.  The books, about a young woman’s search for love online in Los Angeles, have been called, “a fast read that will keep you entertained,” “a fun, quick read for fans of Sex and the City,” and “hard to put down.”  The first in the series has now been optioned for a major motion picture.

She’s written bylined articles about writing and online dating for Chick Lit Central, Cupid’s Pulse and numerous book blogs.  Her books and story have also been featured in Single Edition, Career 2.0 and The Perfect Soulmate among other websites.

A former public relations professional, Lisa has worked with some of the biggest consumer companies in the world including McDonald’s, Ford, Sony and Gatorade.  She’s also a former college professor, teaching public relations and communications classes at University of Southern California and Oglethorpe University.

As Lisa’s grandmother used to say, “for every chair, there’s a tush.”  Lisa is now happily married to a wonderful man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters.  So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone!

Find Lisa

Book Links: Click: An Online Love StoryDouble Click, and Right Click
Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Pinterest  | Web

Book trailer for Click: An Online Love Story

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Method Writer: In Too Deep?

by Eve Dobbs

Avid readers can relate to intrepid writers – especially when it comes to immersion. A sublime novel will create a universe which, regardless of how realistic it seems, will be so believable and all-consuming that the act of reading is to live that universe itself. If that universe is infinite and authentic and the characters are as close to the reader’s heart as the twists and turns of the plot itself, then no amount of closure will reconcile the reader once that book is ended and the transformation to the “normal” world initiates. We think, we dwell, we relive that book until we reach the next one in the series, unless there are none left. Just imagine the scale on which this occurs for a writer – someone who not only must live, breathe, and experience their universe, but create it. From their moment of waking until the night hours greet the dawn, a writer will engage themselves in their world not only with a bird’s eye view but on foot, crafting each detail as tangibly as if they were there in person.

Without question, the universe in which a story takes place, particularly in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, is vital. It transcends setting and plot triggers, but influences a character’s particular predisposition and cultural, social values as well as environment and technology. How a character and society coordinate individually and collectively is determined by this universe, and when this construct is disrupted, how the universe responds – be it through political downfall or environmental turmoil, etc. – is also up to the writer to make authentic. From the ground upwards, virtually every aspect of the universe must be forged, inspired by other influences and refined over and over again. To do this, writers not only research, brainstorm, and write, but transfer their psyche into that universe – a ritual which is very much like “getting into the zone”. 

Other writers may call the key to get into this zone “negative capability”, the ability which Keats wrote is to “contemplate the world without the desire to try and reconcile contradictory aspects or fit it into closed and rational systems,” and which empowers a writer to adopt a range of characters as well as environments. A convincing universe will inspire a reader to “suspend their disbelief” because the elements which would normally be questioned appear justified without excessive explanation, like in the case of technology and magic. A writer must test out the waters of their own environment and see just how tangible it is, and like a method actor, become emotionally, physically, and intellectually involved their world. This requires considerable imagination as well as practice, and some writers use a variety of techniques to initiate this mode. Writers have fasted, meditated, and shut themselves away for sleepless days, where others have tried the influence of narcotics to break barriers between worlds and conjure up a whole other plane of thought. But it is not only the psychedelic exploration which, if uncontrolled, can be dangerous – a psychological journey which has claimed many writers. Taking on not only a character but an entire universe can not only be taxing, but a difficult process – one which can be far more consuming for the writer than it is for the reader.

Writers must be able to deal with this psychologically – those who may use writing cathartically as well as exploring different aspects of their personality, particularly the darker aspects, can find themselves in problematic places when dwelling or “brooding” in a particular environment for a while. Like other artists, writers must take space from their work. How frequent this is and in what duration will depend on the individual – there is no universal formula. But that space from the creative world (or simply engaging in another creative project) is vital for maintaining clarity, and sometimes that can be crucial – writers must not only become knee-deep in their world, but able to observe it with objective distance. If a writer is so engrossed that they lose perspective, then the story will fail – unless that is the stream of consciousness which the writer wishes to follow.

The worlds we explore are all dangerous, accessing doors in our mind with threaten never to release us. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the Myst universe – where worlds are literally created through the writing of books. Should the syntax be unstable, that world will literally fall apart into ruins, along with its people – a poignant metaphor for our own world where the writer must be all, do all, and know all.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

REVIEW: Polarity in Motion / Brenda Vicars

TITLE: Polarity in Motion
AUTHOR: Brenda Vicars
PUBLISHER: Red Adept Publishing
AVAILABILITY: Purchase links on publisher's website

Young Adult - Contemporary

15-year-old Polarity Weeks has it rough. As if living with a mother with borderline personality disorder isn't hard enough, she and her family must move around a lot to seek treatments for Mom, meaning Polarity is always the new girl in school and often mocked as "trailer trash." Having a nerdy habit like a love for poetry doesn't help either. But all this is nothing compared to the humiliation and madness caused by having a naked picture of yourself surface online.

Polarity is the last one to know about her nude photo – and she's utterly blindsided. The girl in the photo is unmistakably her, and yet she doesn't recall ever posing for it. And when it spreads throughout the school, Polarity, who barely has computer access at home, is the last to know. Classmates mock her and slut-shame her. Teachers judge her and penalize her. Even her parents, though they try to be supportive, think she stripped for someone. Only Ethan, the kindhearted boy she's crushing hard on, believes in her innocence.

Polarity in Motion is a contemporary young adult tale full of harrowing challenges as Polarity deals with the fall-out of a crime she didn't commit. Because the authorities suspect her parents of taking the picture and possibly trafficking her, she's ripped from her home for her protection. Her school sends her to an "alternative education" campus that feels a lot like jail, refusing to believe her repeated insistences that she neither posed for nor posted the picture. And yet this isn't an angst novel by any means. Polarity displays an admirable ability to remain calm even as her world falls to piece. That's not to say she doesn't suffer the humiliation and fear that comes with being persecuted by the very people who are supposed to be protecting her. Rather, she pushes through the hardship and focuses on fixing the mess. And along the way, she learns some valuable life lessons.

Polarity in Motion adeptly handles a lot of tough subjects affecting real world teens today – cyberbullying, drugs, dealing with overzealous social workers and school officials, living with a mentally ill parent, and an acknowledgement of white privilege. Also, as depicted on the cover, interracial dating. Each subject is adeptly handled in a way that's plot-relevant and believable. While it does handle a lot of issues, it's not an "issues" book. The core of the novel is still the story and the characters. Aside from the cyberbullying, the part that stood out most to me was the depiction of Polarity's mother. It struck me as realistic and nuanced – a rare portrayal of someone dealing with mental illness that doesn't judge, victimize, or glorify the subject.

In fact, that can be said about all the subjects tackled in Polarity in Motion. As a protagonist and narrator, Polarity refrains from going to extremes in any of her observations. Rather, she tries to understand the crazy world around her, in which there are no straight answers to many of the challenges she faces. This was a fast read for me – I read it in two days because I couldn't put it down (something I never expected from a contemporary novel, since I usually read twist-y sci-fi and fantasy). With its subtle writing and compelling story lines, Polarity in Motion is a memorable and relevant teen book for the 21st century.


Brenda Vicars has worked in Texas public education for many years. Her jobs have included teaching, serving as a principal, and directing student support programs. For three years, she also taught college English to prison inmates, and outside of her job, she mentors children of incarcerated parents.

She entered education because she felt called to teach, but her students taught her the biggest lesson: the playing field is not even for all kids. Through her work, she became increasingly compelled to bring their unheard voices to the page. The heartbeat of her fiction emanates from the courage and resiliency of her students.

Brenda’s hobbies include reading, woodworking, gardening, and Zumba.