Wednesday, May 25, 2016

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Elizabeth Gracen

An interview with author Elizabeth Gracen.

Can you tell us about your background as an author?

I’m primarily known as an actress and filmmaker. Over the past twenty years, I have written feature film and short film scripts. However, I’ve also written a couple of books, both fiction and non-fiction, written in collaboration with other authors. The self-publishing world is a perfect fit for me. It affords me control and a means to get my work out into the world/. That is why started Flapper Press - a boutique, curated publishing company and ecommerce source for books, poetry, blogs, art and unique offerings from a stable of talented influencers, thought leaders, indie writers and artists.

As a filmmaker, my company, Flapper Films - - is always cooking up something, usually in collaboration with a fantastic modern dance company called The Lineage Dance Company.

As an actress, my most recognizable role is ‘Amanda’ in HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES and its spin-off , HIGHLDER: THE RAVEN.

What got you into writing?

Growing up in a small town in Arkansas, I had some really great English teachers who inspired my love for writing and always encouraged me to stretch my imagination. I’m a big fan of poetry as well and have written personal poetry since I was a little girl.

Since I work in so many mediums, including painting and mixed media, I view writing as the necessary spine for everything I create. The narrative structure holds it all together and affords me the opportunity to explore my ideas.
What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?

My inspiration for the book started with an article in Scientific American about Mt. Parnassus in Delphi and the ethylene gas that emits through the cracks in the mountain. The thrust of the article is that this gas was probably the reason these young Pythia, or Oracles, were sent into wild trances and uttered gibberish and barked like dogs back in the day when a Delphic Oracle was considered the mouthpiece of the god Apollo.

The idea started there – along with a lyric from a fabulous song by Rufus Wainwright called, Go or Go Ahead. There is line that says, “Oh, Medusa, kiss me and crucify this unholy notion of the mythic power of Love.” It got me spinning on the idea of a world without Love and compassion.

From that point on – I don’t even know when I actually decided to send my young heroine into a parallel dimension called the Paradigm -  full of mythic creatures, talking animals and the Pale Ones who rule them. It just manifested itself as it went along.

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

My heroine, Fippa, was great fun to write. She is a willful, ambitious sixteen year-old with unusual mystical gifts. She desperately wants to be an Oracle and believes that she is destined for great things. Circumstances propel her on a much bigger journey to a parallel dimension. As she crosses through the portal, she is unexpectedly transformed into a creature of legend, long thought extinct – a butterfly girl called the Shalilly. Her journey chips away at her ego and opens her awareness to the world around her. She opens her heart, learns compassion and sacrifices herself to a bigger cause.
What’s your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?

I really like the auction scene that happens after Fippa travels through the portal to the parallel dimension called the Paradigm. When she is transformed into the Shalilly, she’s quickly captured, caged and taken to auction in one of the enormous Glass Hives. It’s a big ‘filmic’ scene with many of the main characters in play. From this sequence, you understand all the forces and obstacles that Fippa will have to overcome to bring the warrior, Ision, back to Earth before Love is annihilated from the Cosmos. It’s a fun scene.

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

Since I’m a filmmaker, I really enjoy writing dialogue, but I tend to think in pictures, so when I really let my imagination rip, it is usually a pleasant challenge to try to bring those images in my head to life on a page.

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

I suppose the quick answer to that question is that everything takes longer than I plan! Because I usually have several balls in the air at the same time (I’m in the middle of shooting another film right now!), it takes me a long time to get to the final draft of a book or script. However, because I cycle back around to projects, it provides the necessary time it takes to see the writing with fresh eyes.

More than anything else, that defines my process. I do my best to let a work sit as long as possible before I dive back in.  For Shalilly and the non-fiction book I’ll be publishing by the end of the year – The Go to Gals Ultimate Emergency Organizer – there was an enormous amount of research that had to be done before I finally started to write. Like most writers I know, I love the research phase.

I usually create a rough outline and a thorough character breakdown. The latter helps me flesh out the archetypes and how they would speak. After that, the story gradually begins to reveal itself. I try to stay loose and let the characters come to life.

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

The fantasy genre is one that I have always enjoyed reading. I’m a true believer in magical thinking! That comes from the best part of my childhood spent with my wily Grandmother Murphy. I spent a lot of time with her in a world of make believe. She used to tell me stories about the fairies at war with the evil spiders in her attic! She was what I call a Would-Be Witch who had palm reading books and crystal balls around her house. She’d perform magic tricks and tell fortunes for me and all my friends. Fantasy is in my bones!

I also worked as an actress, for many years, on the fantasy television series, HIGHLANDER and its spin-off series, HIGHLADER: THE RAVEN. As an actor, you spend most of your time in make believe, breathing life into characters – the fantasy world is where you live to make a character work.

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

In high school, THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy was mandatory reading (I told you I had fantastic teachers). We even had a Middle Earth Day – I sewed my own Galadreil costume out of sheets! I think the world building in those books must have influenced my writing for Shalilly.

Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion is a huge influence on me too. I read it over and over again. All of her work, really, inspires me. It is poetic, grand, deep and a real exploration of the blurred lines between fact, fiction, memory… Her protagonists have the type of hero archetype I am attracted to and want to write about.

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?

After hearing Elizabeth Gilbert’s inspiring TED Talk about the creative life - -
I’ve tried to apply her ideas about just ‘showing up and doing the work’ and not putting so much pressure on yourself to be fantastic. I honestly do rely on my muse or genius to inspire and bring me ideas. I try to stay open and simply be a vessel for creativity. So, in the end, I am constantly surprised at the end of a writing session! The characters do take on lives of their own, and sometimes the plot shifts as new ideas come to the forefront.


In the heart of ancient Delphi, Fippa, a sixteen-year old misfit mystic with unusual gifts, stands at the
edge of a cosmic pool, ready to drown. Her sacrifice is the only way to open the portal within the water’s black depths and the only chance she has to bring the young warrior, Ision, back to Earth before Darkness annihilates Love from the Cosmos.

Submerged in the pool, Fippa’s heart stops beating and the portal opens. She finds herself unexpectedly transformed into an exotic butterfly girl—a creature of legend—the Shalilly. Resurrected into a parallel dimension—a land full of mythical creatures, talking animals, and the Pale Ones who dominate them—Fippa the Shalilly is captured and sold to the very man she came to find.

With Darkness looming ever closer, Fippa must persuade Ision to return with her to Earth by telling him a fantastic story—their story. The story of Love.


As a young girl, Elizabeth Gracen found herself often escaping into the world of make believe. Her
eccentric grandmother—a would-be witch who read palms and invented wild stories about good fairies who battled an army of evil spiders in her attic—gave her the gift of imagination, a gift she has always treasured.  

Years later, after traveling the world as Miss America 1982, Elizabeth discovered the craft of acting to channel her vivid imagination, most notably as Amanda in the fantasy series, HIGHLANDER. After the birth of her daughter, she became a filmmaker and launched FLAPPER FILMS—a production company dedicated to creating inspiring content for multi-generational women.

Elizabeth spends her time between Europe and America and happily juggles the role of mother, business owner, filmmaker, and author. She lives with her husband, her ten-year old daughter, three dogs, and an attic full of fairies. SHALILLY is her debut novel.

Find Elizabeth online:

Instagram:  @theshalilly
Twitter:  @flapperpress


FLAPPER PRESS is a boutique, curated publishing company and eCommerce source for books, poetry, blogs, art and unique offerings from a stable of talented influencers, thought leaders, writers and artists.

Monday, May 23, 2016


COVER REVEAL TIIIIIIIME!!!! At long last, I get to share with y'all the amazing cover of my forthcoming novella from Glass House Press, LET ME FLY FREE (A Fated Stars Novella). It takes place in the same world as my first Fated Stars novella, TELL ME MY NAME, though it's not a sequel. It stars a rebellious fire nymph named Elaia, who's forbidden from leaving the enchanted forest she calls home because of an ancient law, but who longs to defy the rules. When a mysterious, invisible beast invades the forest, leaving a trail of death in its wake, Elaia is determined to use her powers over fire to defend her homeland. But first, she must learn what the monster is and how to defeat it, and the answers may lie beyond the borders...

And without further ado... MEET ELAIA!!!

Isn't it gorgeous??? Designed by the awesomely talented team at West Coast Design! Here's the official description for LET ME FLY FREE:

Fire fears nothing. And Elaia is about to show her world that she doesn’t, either.

Like the rest of her kind, fire nymph Elaia is bound to her homeland, a forest whose borders were closed centuries earlier in a peace agreement between the humans and the enchanted creatures of the Terrestrial Realm.

But her heart is as restless as the flames she casts, and she secretly yearns to defy that order.

When a mysterious threat creeps into the forest, an invisible beast that leaves a trail of death in its wake, Elaia is determined to fight back and protect her people. But first she must learn what the beast is … and the answers lie beyond the borders of her land.

Defeating this evil means she’ll have to go outside the rules, but she’ll do anything to find the answers she seeks—even if leaving her homeland means not only breaking the law, but risking her own life.

And here are the covers of TELL ME MY NAME and LET ME FLY FREE side-by-side...


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 20, 2016

REVIEW: War of Rain / H.W. Vivian

TITLE: War of Rain
AUTHOR: H.W. Vivian
PUBLISHER: Self-Published


Young Adult -- Post-Apocalyptic/Sci-Fi


15-year-old Miri lives in a desolate future in which the sun's expansion has reduced Earth to a wasteland and water has become next to toxic. The exception to this is Rain -- a supernatural source of clean water that appears in the form of glowing solid droplets and can only be melted through prayer. Though Miri is adept with a hatchet, she and her people, the Rain-gatherers, live a peaceful existence.

The barbarians of Stratos, on the other hand, delight in violence and terrorize the other villages. As an immoral culture, they are unable to pray and therefore unable to melt the Rain--a fact that causes them to deeply resent the others. When Miri kills one of them to defend a village elder, she inadvertently sparks a war--one that could mean the end of her people and their way of life.

H.W. Vivian's WAR OF RAIN is a YA post-apocalyptic adventure, but it's also a tale of faith. In fact, it has the scale and feel of a Biblical tale, with stark contrast drawn between the faithful of Miri's village and the immoral, violent barbarians. Yet it's not all black and white. Miri soon befriends Philippe, a barbarian boy who was banished for refusing to kill an innocent victim. And she soon finds herself engaging in the very violence she once despised in her efforts to save her village.

After the barbarians demand that Miri travel into the Rain caves, where the God of Rain is supposed to live, and bring back an invention that can bring both peace and war, Miri winds up setting off on an unexpected journey through a land no one knew existed--and learning the surprising history of her peoples' origins.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and tore through it in maybe three days, staying up well past my bedtime on weeknights in order to get just one more chapter in. Alternating between high-stakes action, lush world-building, and insightful character meditations, WAR OF RAIN grabbed me and pulled me into the rich post-apocalyptic world H.W. Vivian built. The story took a lot of unexpected twists, which I don't want to spoil, but let me just say that the ending is pretty epic.

WAR OF RAIN can be read as a standalone, though I hear there's a sequel coming, and I'm definitely looking forward to checking it out!


H. W. Vivian is the author of the YA fictions, Chasers and War of Rain, as well as the adult humor fiction, Days of Amber, and the soon to be re-released suspense/thriller, Monarchs, written under her second pseudonym, Alex Chu. Her sequel to War of Rain, The Goddess: A War of Rain Novel, will be released in April 2016.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Random post because I'm feeling neglectful

I've never been the most consistent of bloggers, but I've been feeling particularly neglectful these days, and the guilt is starting to pile up, so here's a random post to make me feel slightly less lazy. I could give a number of reasons for why I haven't been posting much these days... mad allergies and the antihistamine fog that kept me hazy or simply knocked out for days on end, travel and the long-ass drives that accompany them, attempting to have a social life, attempting to be less of a lump and adhere to a workout regimen of sorts, an impromptu weeknight mission to extract my sister from Bumfuck, NH that threw off my sleep schedule for a week... I know, I know, excuses excuses.

BUT I haven't been entirely unproductive on the blog front, even though I haven't been posting things to this particular blog. Here's a revisions checklist I wrote for Across the Board: And here's a guest post on ways to procrastinate that actually help your writing that I wrote for Open Ink Perspectives:

Oh yeah, and there's the Star Wars fan fic I wrote for the Glass House Press blog last month:

See? See? I haven't been totally unproductive! (she said unconvincingly)

Sunday, May 1, 2016


An interview with Dean Moses, author of A Stalled Ox.


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

Thank you for having me. The road to 1888 Center publishing A Stalled Ox was paved in 2014 with the Summer Writing Project (SWP) held on JukePop Serials. The SWP is an annual competition that tasks authors to write a serialized novella, one chapter at a time. Once you submit a piece, readers, and other writers, can comment and vote for your story. I did not get my story published that year, but I did learn a lot from the experience. So, when the 2015 SWP rolled along I wrote A Stalled Ox, and to my great appreciation, it was chosen for publication alongside two other contestants: Let’s Stalk Rex Jupiter! by Allison Spector and Beneath Blair Mountain by Shannon Barnsley. If you are a writer struggling to have your voice heard, I highly recommend you enter the SWP.

What got you into writing?

I have always loved to tell stories. I have written stories for as long as I can remember. But, despite loving the process since an early age, I grew to adore the art form after reading more and more books by the trade’s greatest craftsmen. Studying their technique: how they set out their stories, the pacing, character development, the art of descriptions, and their word usage furthered my undying calling to write. The love and passion was already inside of me, but continuing to read the masterful ways authors tell stories cemented the art and wove it into my very core.    

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

It came from a few different avenues, one being addiction. Addiction can originate from many different paths: drugs, sex, television, video games, and food— things we could all, potentially, become dependent on. I remember my father becoming angry when he did not receive his dinner at the expected time, which almost always consisted of meat products. So I wondered: If something as widely available as meat suddenly became a rare commodity, would it also become an addiction? This, in turn, got me thinking about cults. Sects throughout history have often preyed on people’s desires and impossible expectations. A cult seemed to go hand in hand with my invented addiction.

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

Despite the fact he may or may not be a very nice guy, I have a soft spot for A Stalled Ox’s cult leader, known only as God. He is this unkempt, all controlling, and a rather terrifying individual. Despite this, one may be lucky enough to spot quick flashes of humanity in his piercing eyes. To me, characters that are either purely good or evil can be uninteresting. God may be both or neither, that is something for readers to discover and decide for themselves.

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

A Stalled Ox is about a near future in which the majority of the world’s livestock has been eradicated by a mysterious disease. Two agents investigate a cult that claims to, somehow, be eating meat despite this. One of my favorite scenes is one that was added in the editing process. Without giving too much away, this scene shows the cult’s recruitment process, and what happens to those who are not accepted. This whole chapter unfolds through the eyes of one young man who has grown up in a post-meat world. His mother used to describe the smell of bacon, the taste of steak—he wants nothing more than to experience the food of his parents’ era. This cult promises him exactly that, so he seeks this cult’s God.  

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

When I write, I often get frustrated. Sometimes the story I have put together inside of my mind, the beginning, the middle, and end is not emerging on paper like I believed it would. After many re-writes, edits, and hours of irritatingly pummeling my keyboard something happens: the words start to match the idea my mind had for them. That’s my favorite part, when I hit an obstacle, but I keep pushing and pushing until it reads the way it was meant to.     

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

It took about a full year for A Stalled Ox to get published from when I first started writing it, but that was a special circumstance. It has taken me years to write a story that still has yet to see the light of day, so I believe it all depends on each individual book. I usually write once a day, mostly after nightfall. I like to have a beginning, middle, and end setup in my mind before I start to write a story out.

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

I had never really written a horror/thriller story before. I have written historical fiction, drama, etc. However, my work in those genres has never been published. I had this idea for A Stalled Ox, and when I began to write it, it just felt right, from the beginning. Throughout the Summer Writing Project I received kind comments stating that it was really scary stuff, one person even said it was too scary for them to continue reading. A genre that, in the past, I never considered writing turned out to be one that got my work published. Sometimes you need to go outside of your comfit zone to discover your true potential. 

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

There are so many: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe, J.M. Barrie, and James Randi. I also have a deep love for some screenwriters who have inspired me, such as Orson Welles and Rod Serling. 

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?

While editing A Stalled Ox with my editor, Shuann Grulkowski, we discussed some changes. We wanted to add a few more chapters, ones that were not seen by anyone in the SWP. He came up with an idea for a great additional chapter, which prompted me to add another idea on top of that. Now, that chapter is one of my favorites in the book, and from what readers have told me, one of the most chilling. That all came from, like you said, talking about the characters’ lives which in turn took us to a subtle yet very fulfilling plot twist.

Thanks for stopping by!

About the Book
An isolated religious cult has reportedly been consuming meat while the rest of the planet has been forced to live a life without it. Presuming this sect has resorted to cannibalism, two agents from an organization known simply as The Agency are dispatched to investigate. Will they find evidence of humans eating one another? Or is something even stranger taking place?

Connect with Dean Moses:

Twiter: dean_moses

Instagram: dean.l.moses