Friday, April 21, 2017

BNG FRIDAY: The Experimental Bug -- First Test

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

Today's spotlight is on Jelani Akin Parham's "The Experimental Bug -- First Test," a fun superhero story about a teen girl, Pilar, who develops her very own super-suit. As I'm sure y'all know by now, I'm a total sucker for superhero stories, and this one makes a fantastic addition to our Brave New Girls line-up! Pilar's clever, snappy voice drew me in at once, and it was super fun following her on her first big adventure as a superhero. She's smart, brave, confident, and persistent--she may not always suceed, but she never gives up, and I love that about her. By the way, she'll be starring in a full-length novel due out this summer (titled The Experimental Bug), and I'll be sure to scoop it up!


The Experimental Bug - First Test 


Jelani-Akin Parham


Teen genius Pilar takes her finished "Bug Suit" out for a test run, and after some unexpected glitches finds herself choosing between her own goals and what's morally right. 


Originally from Southfield, MI, Jelani moved to Phoenix, AZ on the promise of “no snow ever again.” After earning his BA in Media Arts and Animation, he began working as a Freelance Illustrator / Designer, returning to school in 2010 to obtain his MFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University.

During the day, he works as a Software QA Tester. At night (usually to the detriment of his sleep schedule), he toils away as an illustrator and writer on multiple projects. His debut novel, The Experimental Bug, is set to release in early summer of 2017. In his free time, he is an avid gamer, usually spending an unhealthy amount of time playing fighting games and participating in tournaments.

Twitter: @akinink
Instagram: @akinrok

The few lead female characters in media that exist tend to get pigeon-holed into stereotypical roles, and rarely are they involved with STEM as the lead character. As a writer hoping to help change that, being a part of this anthology is an honor.




Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I'm in a new anthology!!

Hey everyone! Exciting news! Crazy 8 Press is releasing a new anthology this summer, AND I'M IN IT!!

LOVE, MURDER & MAYHEM, edited by sci-fi author extraordinaire Russ Colchamiro, features 15 authors... some of whom have written Star Trek novels! How cool is that? The anthology consists of original sci-fi stories about, well, love, murder, and mayhem. Everyone interpreted the theme their own way... and I chose to write about platonic love. My story, "The Note on the Blue Screen," features the return of teen engineer Chevonne Watson and her AI best friend, discarded-science-bot-turned-private-detective Sherlock. Chevonne comes home one day to find a mysterious note from Sherlock... one that leads her to catch a dangerous criminal.

The anthology releases at Shore Leave this July, and here's the cover! Isn't it cool?

Friday, April 14, 2017

BNG FRIDAY: Dangerous Territory

Every Friday until its publication, I'm going to blog something about Brave New Girls: Stories of Girls Who Science and Scheme, a YA sci-fi anthology featuring tech-savvy heroines. The goal is to encourage more girls to explore Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math careers. 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: "Dangerous Territory" by Holly Schofield. This story takes place in a future where the U.S. and China have both taken the space race to Mars, each forming their own colony. First of all, I have a soft spot for Mars colony stories, so I already knew going in that this tale was going to be awesome. The main character is a teen girl named Carly Starlight (how awesome is that?! Give the girl her own comic series!) who loves tinkering with vehicles. Well, I also have a soft spot for girl vehicle designers (my sister's on her school's competitive vehicle design team), so I was pretty much sold already. And when I finished the story, which is about Carly getting her pregnant stepmother to a hospital across Mars, I knew we had to have it. At its core, it's a story about family dynamics--the relationship between Carly and her stepmother. It's so full of heart, and Carly's bright, energetic voice really brought it to life. I absolutely adore this little story, and I hope y'all will too!


Dangerous Territory

Holly Schofield


A teenaged mechanic and vehicle designer must get her stranded and pregnant stepmother across the Martian terrain to the colony before the baby is born.


Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her fiction has been published in Lightspeed's "Women Destroy Science Fiction," Tesseracts, Unlikely Story, and many other publications throughout the world. Upcoming stories will appear in Young Explorer's Adventure Guide and Analog. For more of her work, see

When I was a little girl reading science fiction, all the protagonists were male. I knew something wasn't quite right with that but I accepted it for most of my childhood as 'just how things were.' I don't want today's young girls to experience that feeling of not quite counting. I think fiction (and the entire world) will be far better off once the intelligence, abilities, and contributions of 'the other half of the population' are equally represented.




Friday, April 7, 2017

BNG FRIDAY: Circus in the Sky

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

Today, I'm spotlighting "Circus in the Sky," one of the stories that will be featured in the anthology. A charming tale from returning author Lisa Toohey (who wrote "Lyra" for the first anthology, Brave New Girls: Tales of Girls and Gadgets), "Circus in the Sky" follows a young aspiring biologist who works as an animal handler on board a circus ship. That's right... a circus ship! The unique concept intrigued me right away, and when I read the submission, I was delighted to see how it played out. Kaleigh shows both heart and intelligence as she does her best to care for a new alien creature the boss brings in, using her knowledge of science to try to save the beast when it has trouble adapting to its new environment. It's a cute and heartwarming little story, and I hope y'all will enjoy it as much as I did :-)


Circus in the Sky 


Lisa Toohey 


Kaleigh Gattling, Animal Handler on the First Galactic Circus in the Sky, has been entrusted with a new, rare creature. As she struggles to train this newest addition to the circus, she is reminded how unlike this wild beast, she has never really been free. So when the creature can't adapt, Kaleigh must choose: let it die, or take a risk and help to free the noble creature.


Lisa Toohey resides in the true north strong and free with her two cats, dog, and husband. She swears she loves the cold. The inspiration for her stories come from her wild dreams and overactive imagination. Lisa grew up with lots of big brothers and never saw any reason why she couldn't do the same things they did. With drive, anyone can achieve their dreams.


Lisa believes that woman in tech-savvy roles provide new perspective in their fields, which is a valuable resource in today's ever growing world.




Thursday, April 6, 2017


An interview with author DJ Cockburn.


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

When I was about three, my parents taught me to read and put a pencil in my hand.

I didn’t write anything anyone would want to read for two or three decades, and I leave it for others to judge whether I made it or not. I never did any formal training so if I did make it, it's largely down to reading prodigiously and learning as much as I could while I was doing it.

I also owe a lot to a very long list of people who have given me honest feedback at one time or another, and pushed me to write, revise and improve.

What got you into writing?

The voices in my head demanded more space, so I needed to find a way to give it to them.

To put it more prosaically, I needed to do something with all the ideas chasing each other around my mind. I've always enjoyed a good read, so letting the ideas out by writing them was a natural progression.

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

I went to a talk by Jon Ronson who was promoting The Psychopath Test at the time. He'd delved into what he called 'the madness industry', talking to psychopaths and the psychologists who study them and discovered two positions in society in which psychopaths are over-represented: in the prison population and at on the boards of major companies. It seems that a lack of empathy and a tenuous relationship with objective fact gets you a long way if you start in life with the right advantages.

Someone in the audience asked him about whether there is any chance of a cure for psychopathy. Ronson answered that there isn't, but also that most psychopaths don't want to be cured. While most personality disorders make their sufferers deeply miserable, psychopaths tend to be happy people and being unable to experience deep emotion, they cannot suffer from depression.

Having a warped imagination, I inverted the question and asked myself what would happen if someone came up with a way of causing psychopathy: you too could be happy, successful and immune to depression. What could possibly go wrong?

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

The character I most enjoyed writing was Beatrice Tshabalala, in spite of or perhaps because she's a minor character. When she first appears, she beginning a downward spiral. I won't say where she ends up; suffice it to say that it's not where she expected.

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

Probably the scene in which Edward is being wined and dined by the investors, because that's the point where his disorders come together.

Getting myself into Edward's head was a gruelling process, and that section was the most difficult because it's where he experiences the changes in himself. He sees himself as escaping from a dark place, although he'll later come to see it as going into one. I don't know if it's the best section to read, but I wouldn't want all that effort to go to waste so it'll have to be my favourite section!

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

Writing the first draft. That's when the characters come to life and the setting develops details I'd never thought of. When I finish it, there's a lot to take in, a lot to take out and the prose will be so clunky that I'll have to rewrite most of it, but that first draft is still the most fun I can have with a blank page.

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

Between the planners and the pantsers, I'm very much a planner. I spend a long time scribbling outlines on pieces of paper and throwing them away before I come up with something I'm happy with. While I'm doing that, I'll be mapping out the characters so I know far more about them than I'll ever put into the story.

The trick is to come up with an outline in enough detail to give the story a skeleton, but not too much that it constrains the flesh and blood I create in the first draft. If I get it right, I'll at least have who does what to whom in the right order by the time I finish that draft, and then I can concentrate on improving it so it hurts them more.

When it comes to my characters, I'm something of a sadist.

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

Science fiction lets me ask 'what if…?' and come up with an answer. Not necessarily the right answer; I hope we'll never know the answer to the question of 'what if you could take a pill to become a psychopath?'. I'll settle for an interesting answer.

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

Too many to name!

Caresaway drew directly on The Psychopath Test and The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson, as well as Snakes in Suits by Paul Babiak and Robert Hare.

If there was one story that really got me writing science fiction, it was Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang so I've been really happy to see it recognised when it was filmed as Arrival. With the emphasis on 'recognised'. Ted Chiang's fans will know what I mean!

To list other books that have influenced me, in no particular order: The Comedians by Graham Greene, Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds, Our Game by John Le CarrĂ©, Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin, The Tesseract by Alex Garland, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, River of Time by Jon Swain, The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman…

And so on. Ask me on a different day and you'll get a completely different list.

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, that's one of the most fun things about writing fiction. It usually happens while I'm in the planning stage, but I try to leave space for it to happen while I was writing. In Caresaway, I one of the most satisfying moments was when I realised I could combine several characters who came in to deliver statements into the single character of Beatrice, and I felt I was just sitting back and watching her sculpt herself in front of me.

Thanks for stopping by!


If there was a pill that made you successful, would you take it? What if it also made you a psychopath?

If your psychopathy comes from a pill, you can always stop taking it. But will you want to?

Edward Crofte was a dedicated scientist who wanted to cure depression. After years of work and sacrifice, the Caresaway drug he developed seemed to work wonders… but at what cost?

Years later, Edward’s wonder drug has helped people with depression. But has it also helped destroy the world economy? And what has it done to him?


DJ Cockburn is a British author with stories in Apex, Interzone, and various anthologies. His story “Beside the Damned River” won the 2014 James White Award. He has supported his unfortunate writing habit through medical research on various parts of the African continent and drinking a lot of coffee.

Earlier phases of his life have included teaching possibly unlucky children and experimenting on definitely unlucky fish.

Twitter:          @DJ_Cockburn

Annorlunda Books
Twitter: @AnnorlundaInc
Newsletter (I give a free ebook to one subscriber every month):

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

COVER REVEAL: Touch of Fondness (Stay in Touch, #1) / Joy Penny

I’m so excited to be revealing the cover for Joy Penny's latest New Adult contemporary romance, Touch of Fondness, the first book in the Stay In Touch series! This beautiful cover was designed by Berto Designs. The book releases on May 2 from Snowy Wings Publishing, and it's available now for preorder! Check out the cover and learn more about the book below:


Title: Touch of Fondness (Stay In Touch, Book One)
Author: Joy Penny
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing
Four friends. Four college grads. Four people figuring out that life doesn’t always turn out the way you expected. Brielle Reyes may not have post-college life planned out like some of her friends do, but she figures she’ll work for her mother’s home cleaning service while job hunting for something that makes use of her history and philosophy degrees. It’ll work out as long as she doesn’t fall in love. Her last relationship was a disaster and she has no idea where she’ll be in a few weeks, let alone the rest of her life. Since the only guy in her age range she sees now on a regular basis is cantankerous if handsome client Archer Ward, she probably won’t have a hard time sticking to that vow. Probably. Archer Ward likes very few things: illustrating as a somewhat-celebrated comic artist and his privacy. When his meddling mother hires him a cleaning service on an almost daily basis because she doesn’t fully trust her son to live on his own with his disability, he’s at first annoyed—even if his house cleaner is the most beautiful woman he’s ever spent more than a few minutes with. When he realizes her dreams may take her far outside of his restricted orbit, he has to decide whether to stifle his interest in her or risk messing up her plans to explore if there’s something more between them. Neither can deny they’re growing a little fond of each other, even if falling in love just now makes no sense whatsoever. But how often does love ever make perfect sense?
You can add Touch of Fondness to your Goodreads list here, or preorder it now at Amazon! Learn more about Joy Penny at her website, or visit her on social media—@JoyPennyWriter on Twitter and Facebook, and @AuthorJoyPenny on Instagram!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sign up for the STARSWEPT cover reveal!

The STARSWEPT cover reveal will be taking place on June 7, and I'm SO EXCITED to share it with y'all! It's been a heckuva process (and I'm still not done with everything!), but totally worth it.

Want to help me reveal the cover? Sign up below! :-D