Friday, December 28, 2018

Obligatory Year-End Round-Up

Hey everyone! Been a while, hasn't it? I wish I had some lofty reason for not really blogging much, something about unplugging or stepping back or self care, but I'm pretty sure it all comes down to general laziness. Ah well.

As 2018 comes to an end, everywhere I look I see year-end round-ups of the best things, of worst things, of things accomplished. And also of things anticipated for 2019. So I decided to do a round-up of my own stuff. Why not. Partly because I'm bored, and partly because I've had a supremely unproductive two months (can't tell if I'm burned out, worn out, or just in a funk), and boasting about the things I've actually gotten done seems like it could be therapeutic.

So, here's a list of writing-type things I accomplished in 2018:

Hmm, okay, that was a lot. I actually had to go onto my own Amazon page and look some of this stuff up... I feel better now.

While I'm at it, here are my writing-type goals for 2019:

  • Publish Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon (well, technically the publisher will publish it, but I'll be promoting the heck out of it!)
  • Publish the fourth Brave New Girls anthology (subtitle to be announced!)
  • Publish Wayward Stars in e-book and print (I mean, the work's all done and I'm just waiting for the copies to arrive from the printer, but there will be promoting to do) as well as audio (still have to get on that one)
  • Publish a collection of shorts from the Flynn Nightsider universe starring Aurelia "the Firedragon" Sun (3 of them are already done... just need to write a 4th and compile the thing)
  • Make my YA sci-fi mystery readable and send it to my agent
  • Write the third and final book in the Starswept trilogy
  • Write a horror novella (just because I have an idea for one)
  • Decide which new full-length novel I'm writing next in case neither the contemporary fantasy nor the sci-fi mystery ends up selling
Sounds doable enough... right?

Thursday, November 29, 2018


An interview with author Raquel Rich.


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

Hamartia was the first story I wrote as an adult. I unknowingly suppressed my love of writing when I was twelve over an uproar when Lisa, a fictional young rape victim in one of my stories, killed herself.

As a first time author, I was scared Hamartia sucked. Most authors don’t publish or do anything with their first works, so why would I be any different? However, to my surprise, Hamartia won the grand prize in a writing contest sponsored by Words Matter Publishing and also received a glowing review from Kirkus, a highly respected industry journal.

What got you into writing?

I honestly couldn’t say. Writing wasn’t something I planned, it was something I stumbled over. I didn’t mean to write a book, at least not consciously.

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

Hamartia was born from a conversation between my son and me at the Science Museum in London, England. There was an exhibit on fears and phobias which explored popular beliefs, one of which was reincarnation. It got me thinking about the idea of a soul dying after enduring too many life cycles. What would happen? What if you could travel to a past life and clone a soul? A scene emerged in my head and I wrote it down, and once I did, it was like a dam had burst, unleashing a long forgotten love of writing. 

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

Grace’s best friend, Kay, is by far my favourite character. She and I would get along like strawberries and whipped cream because I loosely based her on my real life best friend. Kay takes charge whenever Grace can’t. She doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind and has an infectious nature. What I love most about her is her quirky spirit, unwavering loyalty, and her ability to forgive.

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

I have many. I’m afraid to detail any of them for fear of giving the story away, please forgive my vagueness. I love the scene when Marc finally tells Grace exactly what he should’ve said to her long before. I find the confrontation between Grace and her best friend, Kay, to be endearing. I’m captivated every time I read the part when Grace finally reveals the significance of her dream. And the chase through the caves in the desert is an action-packed sequence I thoroughly enjoyed stringing together. 

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

Plotting and problem-solving. I think I’m a bit of a mad scientist. I get a kick out of putting my characters into impossible situations and watching them squirm on the page. When I’ve had enough laughs at their expense, I help them out of the situation.   

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

Hamartia took four years to write. However, I had a full-time day job and therefore only wrote on weekends. I also took lots of sabbaticals from the story, thinking it would never become anything. Now that writing is now my full-time gig, it’s a much quicker process. I managed to throw the first draft of the sequel together in a few months. On the other hand, revising and editing is shaping up to be the most time-consuming step regardless of having all day (every day) to work on it. Between each revision, I tuck the story in a drawer for weeks to let it rest. Fresh eyes are crucial to my process, so the resting period cannot be rushed.

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

I don’t have to suspend my disbelief in sci-fi because I honestly believe that anything is achievable with evolution. Humans are capable of the unthinkable and this both scares and awes me. Having said that, it annoys me that sci-fi and fantasy are often lumped together. I see them as completely different genres. In my head, fantasy is something that will never happen whereas sci-fi is possibly possible.

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

Madeleine L'Engle (A Wrinkle in Time) is my hero. Sci-fi is a male-dominated genre, and she rocked it in the 1960s.

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 hadn’t planned for Kay to play such a big part in the story. There were many times that I would tell her (aloud), “Kay, you gotta go now.” And she’d reply (in my head), “If you get rid of me, you’ll regret it.” As for the plot, I was just as surprised with the twists I wrote as many of you will be when you read the book.    

Thanks for stopping by!


Grace’s nine-year-old son, Jordan, is dying. First, the Metagenesis disease will tear his soul from his body, and then it will kill him. Desperate for a cure, Grace agrees to take part in an illegal clinical trial cloning souls. Supported by her best friend Kay, the two embark on the ultimate “Vegas Vacation” to the past in search of the right soul to clone, racing against time to save Jordan’s life. But someone is trying to stop them and when they discover why, Grace must make a choice: let her son die or kill her husband. If she kills her husband she triggers widespread Metagenesis, sealing the fate of the human race with a new plague.

Humanity is counting on Grace choosing to let her son die.
Watch the book trailer HERE.


Raquel Rich is a self-employed English Language Teacher and an author with Words Matter Publishing. She loves to travel, suntan, walk her dog, and is obsessed with all things Beauty & the Beast. She despises cold weather, balloons, and writing about herself in the third person but noticed all the real authors do that. Raquel recently left (ok, got let go from) a career in the travel industry and rather than looking for a real job, she wrote her first book, HAMARTIA. Born and raised in Canada to Brazilian parents, she lives in the Toronto area with her family. Married to the guy she’s been with since she was fifteen (her baby daddy), her superpowers include being a mom to their two awesome grown-ass boys and one fur baby. She’s also an okay step-mom and an auntie to a clan of classy ladies.


Website & blog -    

Friday, November 2, 2018

COVER REVEAL: Tar / Taylor Hohulin

Today, I'm thrilled to help reveal the cover of TAR, a sci-fi novel by Taylor Hohulin! And without further ado...

Isn't it cool? I love the bold colors!! Here's more about the book and the author...


Brendan Cobb calls it tar, but there might be as many names for it as cities left standing.

To some, it’s known as filth, or blight. Others call it the Black God in reverential whispers. Whatever name it takes, the effects are the same. Cities left in ruins. People turned into monsters. Living infections with no known cure. The best anyone can do is avoid it, but even that gets harder the more it spreads.

Brendan survives this waking nightmare by trading salvage for shelter and for repairs to his cybernetic arm, until a newcomer arrives, convinced Brendan is the key to ridding the world of tar once and for all. Reluctantly, Brendan and his mechanic join the newcomer on a journey across the desolate highways of a ruined world, where he learns the true history of the tar…and of the dark power inside him, which grows stronger every day.


For all other e-book retailers, click here:


Taylor Hohulin is a radio personality by morning, a science fiction author by afternoon, and asleep by 9:30. He is the author of The Marian Trilogy, Tar, and other science fiction and horror titles. He and his wife live in Iowa, where they are owned by a dog and a cat.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

REVIEW: New World (Iamos Trilogy, #2) / Lyssa Chiavari

TITLE: New World (Iamos Trilogy, #2)
AUTHOR: Lyssa Chiavari
PUBLISHER: Snowy Wings Publishing


Young Adult - Science Fiction


New World, the second full-length novel in Lyssa Chiavari’s YA sci-fi series, The Iamos Trilogy, picks up where the last story left off. [IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES, FOURTH WORLD, STOP RIGHT HERE BECAUSE WHAT FOLLOWS WILL INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR BOOK 1].

After being whisked away from his mid-21st-century Mars colony home, Isaak spent three weeks in a strange world full of advanced technology and dark secrets—Iamos—that was actually Mars from the ancient past. But something wiped them out—and the cataclysm not only destroyed their civilization, but had world-shattering consequences that rendered Mars a lifeless planet and altered the makeup of the Solar system. Now, he’s back—and he’s brought one of the Iamoi, Nadin, with him. Only a lot more time has passed in his world than he experienced—two whole years. His friends, who thought he’d been captured by the sinister agency GSAF, have moved on with their lives—one becoming a pop star, and one becoming a revolutionary. The Mars he’s returned to has become a police state, and those in power seek to use the technology of Iamos to solidify their power. Meanwhile, Nadin hopes to bring her people into the future so that they might survive the cataclysm, even if their homes are destroyed. But GSAF sees her as their ticket to Iamos’ technology and aims to use her as a political pawn.

New World deals directly with the fallout from the first book—both for the plot and for the characters. I really like how it took the time to explore the impact losing two years had on Isaak and his relationships with his friends. At the same time, the ever-present danger of the increasingly dystopian world keeps the tension high. Like Fourth World, New World is split into two distinct acts. Without giving too much away, let me just say that Act 2 really takes off, sending the characters barreling down a perilous path. While New World takes place entirely in the future Mars world, it also expands a bit upon the history (and mystery!) of Iamos’ past, offering tantalizing glimpses at what’s to come.

The world-building in this series is truly phenomenal. Both Mars and Iamos feel like fully realized civilizations, and it was easy to get lost in their worlds. My favorite part about the Iamos stories, though, is the characters. Isaak and Nadin, who alternate POVs, are both fantastic protagonists. Isaak’s the ordinary teen who got pulled into an adventure he could never have prepared for, and Nadin’s the child of an oppressive system who’s finally breaking out and finding her own way. I really enjoyed reading their character moments and getting invested in their relationships, their inner struggles… all the feels! Not to mention the asexual rep (Isaak identifies as demisexual; Nadin explores her asexuality). It’s easy to fall into a book when you really care about the characters and what happens to them.

New World ends on a heck of a cliffhanger, which teases at an exciting conclusion to the trilogy. I’ll be here waiting patiently to find out how it all ends…


Lyssa Chiavari is an author of speculative fiction for young adults, including Fourth World, the first book in a sci-fi trilogy set on Mars, and Cheerleaders From Planet X, a tongue-in-cheek send-up of all things sci-fi. Her short fiction has appeared in Wings of Renewal: A Solarpunk Dragon AnthologyBrave New Girls: Tales of Heroines Who HackMagic at Midnight: A YA Fairytale Anthology and Perchance to Dream: Classic Tales from the Bard’s World in New Skins. Her first published story, “The Choice,” was named one of Ama-giMagazine’s Best of 2014. Lyssa lives with her family and way too many animals in the woods of Northwest Oregon.

Saturday, October 20, 2018


An interview with author Ru Pringle.


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

I've written five novels so far, as well as several published short stories. The first two published novels - A Time of Ashes and Hunting Gods, part of a planned six-book series called Fate and the Wheel - came out this June. My first novel, Sanctuary, was written back when I was 23, but, despite netting me a well-known agent in 2005, hasn't been published yet. My most recently written book, October Song, was released this October. Apart from fiction, I published a hiking guide in my twenties, along with factual contributions to various anthologies and other books.

What got you into writing?

I always enjoyed creative writing at school, though I wasn't popular with a couple of teachers in particular who didn't see speculative fiction as 'proper' writing. At university I was lucky living somewhere with free university tuition and having parents who could help with accommodation, but living costs meant grim holiday jobs to meet living expenses. Reading a mountaineering magazine one day, I thought 'I could write this,' submitted a piece about a weekend I'd spent climbing, and to my surprise they published it. I enjoyed the magazine feature format, and kept myself afloat for much of the next decade largely through articles connected with mountaineering, hiking, and increasingly writing about travel and science as I got older and an injury stopped me climbing. I got my shoulder rebuilt with bits of plastic a couple of years ago - it feels as good as new now I'm a cyborg, so who knows, maybe I'll start climbing again.

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

It started life as an idea for a screenplay, written for an actor I know (who's now my girlfriend). The original idea was to develop a short thriller that could be shot fairly close to where we both live, making use of the wonderful Highland west coast scenery. However, I'd only written a few pages when I thought 'hang on, this is starting to feel like a book.' Much to her disgust, I then got obsessed with developing the empryonic idea into a novel - I still haven't written the screenplay, though I've promised to make it up to her by writing something else. Some of my other books have been hard work, but for some reason this one developed a momentum all of its own, at least until editing, which I always find hard. I also got some good advice particularly from my agent about aspects of the story that weren't quite in balance - one of my favourite characters in the book was a last minute addition because of this.

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

Can't say too much for fear of spoilers, but definitely the lead. She's scarred, vulnerable and guilt-ridden, but also thoughtful, ferociously determined about what she feels is right, and utterly ruthless when she has to be. She's a survivor to an extent no one, least of all her, realises at the beginning of the book. But the personal cost of that survival is high. It's fair to say that I like all the characters though. I think that's important in writing a good character, even one that's not outwardly sympathetic. Each is very human, and all of them - well, perhaps all but one - believe they're doing the right thing.

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

That would give far too much away! Okay, well *one* of my favourites is when a well-known town in the Scottish Highlands is essentially pummelled to bits while two lead characters play cat and mouse around it. And I get to destroy a prominent Highland landmark in the process. It's not just pyrotechnics though: for various reasons, this is a pivotal and massively emotional scene too.

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

This depends on how the writing's going. When everything flows, writing feels like a cathartic draining of ideas from my brain into words via my fingers. Just as often though, when it's not flowing, I have to force every word out, which isn't fun. Oddly, I haven't found a correlation between how easy the writing feels to how well it reads. I enjoy developing plots and stories, but have to restrain myself from diving into writing too early. If I'm writing well, I don't differentiate between describing scenes or writing dialogue: it feels as though I'm describing a film playing in my head. Dialogue can be tricky though. Again, if it's going well, it can be immense fun, getting characters to spark off each other, and seeing how much unspoken meaning can be stuffed into outwardly simple dialogue. On the other hand, when dialogue just isn't right, I can spend hours just trying to tweak a couple of lines into submission. My least favourite part of writing is arguably the most important: editing. Every page edited can take hours. It's worth it, but I must admit, if I had an editor to do it for me, I'd be very happy!

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

I usually wing it - the process depends on the book. October Song was a relatively linear process: I more or less started at the beginning and wrote to the end, then moulded it into shape in around five different passes, then applied editing polish. Previous books have been more complicated: the first two instalments of Fate and the Wheel, for example, involved me writing each character's story as a separate thread, then combining them. I think October Song took around six months, part time (I was also renovating a house and doing part-time building work at the time), though a lot more if you include edits. Previous books have taken longer. My first, Sanctuary, I worked on for more than two years.

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

I suspect I'm a publisher's nightmare: I don't really pay attention to genres. I write stories I find appealing, and usually find out afterwards that they don't neatly fit any given pigeon-hole. October Song can probably best be described as a dark near-future thriller, though it has elements of things like police procedurals, spy novels, action thrillers and science fiction. To be honest, I haven't read many dark near-future thrillers. The closest I've come are probably Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road', P. D. James' 'The Children of Men', or Margaret Atwood's 'Oryx and Crake.' I like that such novels allow you to ask 'what if,' though typically their plots hinge on some unpredictable event. My aim with October Song was to extrapolate as plausibly and directly as possible from current events.

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

Iain M. Banks has been a huge influence, especially his earlier books. I love their raw complexity. Although I've found Peter F. Hamilton's work patchy, he showed me how huge a book can be: The Neutronium Alchemist blew my mind when I first read it. I love the intelligence and emotional charge of Sheri S. Tepper and Vernor Vinge - two authors who can sustain an emotional charge beyond what I'd previously have thought possible. Neal Asher for his wilful weirdness, and Robert Rankin for his wickedly demented sense of humour and, in the Ealing (ahem) trilogy, unexpectedly acute and warm insight into what it means to be human.

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?

Yes, this happens all the time. I see it as the sign of a well-developed character if they start to misbehave. The trick is writing a well-formed character that can live and breathe within the confines of your plot. I've had to rewrite plots because, when it came to the crunch, a character simply wouldn't do what I'd originally intended him/her to, leading the book in a completely different direction. There are quite a few I've tried killing off, but they just wouldn't die. I've had friends describe this as me being pretentious, but the way I see it is that a well-formed character is essentially an algorithm, with its own internal logic. Algorithms need to follow inbuilt rules, and it's the writer's job to construct a program - the book - in which the algorithms can function as intended. Otherwise neither the program nor the algorithm can work properly. I think it's far better to change the plot to keep characters behaving believably than have them acting out of character in the interests of the plot.

Thanks for stopping by!


'An absolute piledriver of a dark future thriller that instantly hooks you and doesn't let go till the end. Horribly believable and utterly compelling.' Neil Williamson, author of The Moon King.

'Reads like a perfectly structured thriller [...] Its combination of a gritty noir aesthetic with one of the most chilling depictions of the near-future since Children of Men results in a work of superlative readability.' Gary Gibson, award-nominated author of Angel Stations.

'A grim and gripping near-future thriller with sharp political edges and scarily plausible projections, rooted in intimate knowledge of real places.' Ken MacLeod, award-winning author of The Night Sessions.

Following a devastating bomb attack outside the North British Council Building at Holyrood in Edinburgh, a police officer finds herself fleeing from her employers and MI5, the domestic counter-intelligence and security agency of the United Kingdom, up the west coast of the territory of North Britain towards the front line of an intensifying war.

But it's not just her pursuers she must beware of. The wild coastline has become a hiding place for desperate boat-borne refugees. Meanwhile, someone unknown seems to be going to extraordinary and ever more lethal lengths to stop her pursuers finding her.

October Song is both a dark roller-coaster ride and a blistering reflection on a world on the edge of collapse.
'The little electric hatchback had vaulted cleanly over a drystone wall, mangling itself as it ploughed a furrow down a steep bank, flipping on to its side as it hit a half-buried boulder and slamming to a stop against a tree. As she sat suspended, watching airbags deflate, she could hear police sirens approaching. She didn’t dare move. Perhaps three minutes later, a police convoy screamed past. As if it would help her, she sat stock still as the sirens were killed. Flashing red and blue lights illuminated tree-tops where the vehicles had pulled up a few hundred metres further on.'

'As she drifts into the narrows there’s a noise from downwind, somewhere in front of her. She squints into the dark and raises her binoculars again. What the …? Some kind of battle is taking place on the bridge. Breathing very fast, she strains for details. Even in moonlight, it’s too dim for her night vision to make out much. There’s a scrum of movement, and a growing roar of voices. And clanging – lots of clanging. Also thumps, like haunches of meat being dropped on a floor. She sees a flash of something bright and metallic. There are screams. Something falls noisily off the bridge right in front of her, barely three kayak lengths away.'

Find it at:
Amazon US:
Amazon UK:

147,000 words
Published: 15th October 2018 (official release 20th October)
Available on: Amazon (Kindle), Apple (iBooks), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo, Indigo, Angus & Robertson, Scrib'd, 24 Symbols, Playster and Mondadori.


'Ru Pringle is one of the most interesting and exciting new writers to emerge north of the border since Iain Banks' - Gary Gibson, award-nominated author of Angel Stations, Against Gravity and Stealing Light.

Ru Pringle began his writing career at the age of 18, paying university bills by writing features for magazines. After a stint as an environmental scientist, he became a full-time writer, gradually veering towards travel journalism. He has also worked as a tree- and vineyard-planter, footpath builder, roofer, joiner, plumber, yacht crewperson, youth hostel warden, mountain and trail guide, oil-painting salesman, cook, sound engineer, and didgeridoo and mandolin tutor.

After several years as a touring musician, he now lives in the South West Highlands of Scotland.