Sunday, February 1, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Pamela DiFrancisco

An interview with Pamela DiFrancesco, author of The Devils That Have Come To Stay.



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

As an author, I've been published numerous times in literary magazines. My first book, The Devils That Have Come to Stay , is available on Feb. 1st from Medallion Press. 


What got you into writing? 

I was raised in a household full of readers. My mom took us to the library once a week when I was growing up, and there was a library in an old church in my hometown that was my favorite place in the world. Then, when I was in second grade, my class took a field trip. While we were walking to our destination, my friends and I took turns telling parts of stories. I fell in love with the whole process of creating tension and plot twists and a compelling ending. Shortly thereafter, I started writing stories on my own, and I've never looked back. 

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

I actually wrote the first three pages of the book first, in an undergrad writing class. The challenge of the assignment was to research and write in a specific genre, and I chose Acid Western. Many of the choices I made after that were within the strict parameters of the genre.

I put the piece away for years, then when I lost a job that I absolutely hated as a server in a Tex-Mex restaurant, I decided it was time to pick it back up. After re-reading it, I decided that there had to be a journey and some epic battles, and it grew from there. 

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

Probably my favorite character is a nameless Me-wuk man who is on a moral quest to right the wrongs that the Gold Rush as perpetrated on the people and the land around him. He's short, and has long, tangled black hair, and he wears the traditional garb of Me-wuk men--a buckskin loincloth. There's a bit of magical realism that follows him, as he is constantly dropping feathers behind him as he walks along his journey. 

He's definitely the most moral character in the novel, and I'd venture to say the hero. 

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

My favorite scene is too close to the end to tell; it would give too much away! You'll just have to read and find out.


Book description:
In this stark Acid Western, the dark side of the oft-glorified Gold Rush period in California is revealed when the Narrator, a nameless, fragile man in search of salvation, witnesses the brutality of western expansion. On a journey to meet up with his wife, who is taking care of her ailing mother, the Narrator witnesses the crossing of paths between a Native American man on a moral quest to right the wrongs of the Gold Rush and a desperate, fearsome stranger who has lost everything in his quest for gold. Along the way, the Narrator’s sensibilities shift and change, and his dark and troubled past emerges in glimpses he struggles to repress. Ultimately, he is left with a decision that will change not only his own life, but the lives of those around him. 


Twitter: @difantastico

Saturday, January 31, 2015

REVIEW: Non-Compliance: Equilibrium / Paige Daniels

TITLE: Non-Compliance: Equilibrium
AUTHOR: Paige Daniels
PUBLISHER: Kristell Ink
AVAILABILITY: Smashwords, Amazon



GENRE
Science Fiction - Dystopia/Cyberpunk

This book follows Non-Compliance: The Sector and Non-Compliance: The Transition.

REVIEW
Non-Compliance: Equilibrium brings Paige Daniels' gritty dystopian cyberpunk trilogy to a thrilling conclusion. It picks off where the second book left off, with tough-as-nails ex-engineer Shea Kelly now effectively second-in-command in the non-compliance sector, a reservation of sorts for those who refuse to accept a government brain chip. Like everyone else in the sector, Shea still holds on to the old values that the USA lost after a brutal war in this dark future – ideas like freedom and independence. While life in the Non-Compliance Sector is tough, the people are at least free to make their own lives.

Equilibrium offers a glimpse at just how rigid the Compliant world is. You need to be a "verified couple" in order to raise a child; otherwise, your "child-rearing license" could be denied, and your baby taken away. While they offer security and comfort – high tech, steady employment, access to healthcare, and the like – they demand every aspect of your life in return. Meanwhile, in the Non-Compliance Sector, Shea struggles to obtain a desperately needed vaccine for her people while dealing with government agents who bully the Non-Compliant and keeping a gang of drug-addicted youths from terrorizing the town.

It's interesting to see how Shea has developed over the course of the trilogy. In the first book, Non-Compliance: The Sector, Shea was a bartender in a hole-in-the-wall joint who resented the Boss and his right hand man, Quinn Knightley, for using brute force to maintain order. In Equilibrium, the tables have turned on her. Quinn is the new Boss, and Shea is the new Quinn. For the good of many, she's forced to make the same tough decisions she once resented Quinn for.

Yet despite her new position, she's still the same old Shea we all know and love. A takes-no-crap smart-mouth who never backs down from a fight. Meanwhile, her relationship with Quinn has reached new levels. Both she and Quinn are haunted by the specters of past tragedies, and she fears those memories will keep them from moving forward as a couple. The two have had great chemistry from Book 1, and after so many past hardships, Shea begins to hope that she might actually get a Happily Ever After of sorts.

But the world has a way of screwing Shea over, and she finds herself making some of the most wrenching decisions of her life. Not only for the sector, but for herself and the people she loves as well. Daniels is merciless when it comes to throwing challenges toward Shea and depicting the horrors of a utopian society gone wrong. All this makes for an exciting read that keeps the pages turning as you wonder how things could possibly turn out well. But Shea is nothing if not dogged, and no matter how dire her circumstances, she always finds a way to fight back.

As a whole, the Non-Compliance trilogy has been a great read, with its dark dystopian themes and gritty cyberpunk elements. And it's an interesting take on the dangers of technology – how something well-intentioned can be twisted into something horrible. What I found especially interesting was that the trilogy wasn't afraid to show a different point of view. Most dystopias today have become predictable – band of plucky rebels aims to take down an evil government. InNon-Compliance, the world depicted is considerably more complicated. The Non-Compliant are stuck in their sector, but it is their home. Crossing over to the other side is seen as betrayal. And yet they trade with the Compliant for supplies they need, since, tough as they are, they are simply no match for the government, and most citizens are happily Compliant. They're comfortable; they don't want to rebel. And so Shea and her crew do what they can within their sector.

I would recommend this whole trilogy to any fan of gritty fiction, be it dystopias or contemporary (the trilogy takes place in the near future). With its compelling characters and thrilling twists, it's been an amazing ride.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paige Daniels is the pen name for Tina Closser. When she isn't busy with her nine to five job as an electrical engineer she helps her husband with a small hobby farm complete with a mini horse, cows, and sheep. In between farm duties and running the kids to gymnastics she likes to write, thus the creation of this novel.

Friday, January 30, 2015

BNG FRIDAY: Courage Is by Evangeline Jennings



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 Brave New Girls, Courage Is by Evangeline Jennings


TITLE

Courage Is...

AUTHOR

Evangeline Jennings

STORY DESCRIPTION

A story of teenage angst, friendship, and dataverse hacking set on a far future Civilization Class vessel. When two young loners team up to investigate a minor mystery, they soon discover they're caught in the middle of someone else's game. The stakes could be a matter of life and death. And courage? Well, courage is Gracie under pressure.

WHY WE PICKED IT

Courage Is contains a lot of cool sci-fi concepts that are catnip for an avid fan like me - space travel, virtual reality, and hackers. The combination of cyberpunk and mystery was super entertaining, and Gracie is an intrepid protagonist who uses her knowledge of computers to save the day - a perfect fit for the anthology's theme. The story, which has a darker tone than some of the others we chose, also highlights themes of friendship and, of course, the meaning of courage.



AUTHOR BIO
Born and raised in Liverpool where they invented both football and popular music, Evangeline Jennings now lives in Austin, Texas. The black sheep of her family, she comes from a long line of Californian beauty queens on her mother's side. Evangeline gets her looks from her father. Mostly Evangeline writes stories about girls. Sometimes women. She believes in equality, so she writes about that. She also writes about gender, sexuality, and violence against women. Her characters often seek bloody satisfaction. Many of her stories are not suitable for children but she had a blast writing Courage Is, which is.

THOUGHTS ON BRAVE NEW GIRLS
Evangeline Jennings knows nothing about science and frequently struggles with math. She wants her daughter to grow up in a different world.
Twitter: @pankhearst and @venalgenie


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

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

COVER REVEAL: Dominick / Kara Jemal

Title: Dominick (A Prequel to Inferno)
Author: Kara Jemal
Genre: YA dystopian
Release Date: March 2015
Publisher: Glass House Press

Dominick Grant had the perfect life: parents who loved him, a beautiful girlfriend, and a best friend who always had his back.  He knew who he was, and how he wanted to live his life.

But in Dominick’s world, that choice belongs to someone else -- a totalitarian government that dictates the lives of its citizens, decreeing that Dominick must be separated from his girlfriend and forced to work for the very government he detests. 

The question is...will Dominick accept his predetermined path, or risk making his own choices and bringing his world crumbling down around him?  


About the Author:
Kara Jemal is the writing duo of Kara Leigh Miller and David Jemal.



Kara is a 30-something, stay at home mom, multi-published romance author who enjoys writing across a variety of genres & categories: adult, young adult, new adult, romance, dystopian, and thrillers just to name a few. When she's not writing tall-tales of love, she's spending time with her family, friends, and good books. 


David is a nineteen-year-old college student with a background in real estate who is eager to breathe life into the many stories and characters banging around in his head.  When's he not writing, he's reading or working out. 




Sunday, January 25, 2015

REVIEW: All the Butterflies in the World / Rodney Jones

TITLE: All the Butterflies in the World
AUTHOR: Rodney Jones
AVAILABILITY: Purchase links on publisher's website (click here)


GENRE
Young Adult - Time Travel Romance

REVIEW
Full disclosure: I'm a fellow Red Adept Publishing author, and the below reflects my honest opinions.

All the Butterflies in the World is the sequel to Rodney Jones's YA time travel romance, The Sun, The Moon, and Maybe the Trains. In the first book, John Bartley, an earnest 18-year-old from 1875 Vermont, accidentally wanders through a time warp that lands him in 2009, where he meets the spunky 17-year-old Tess McKinnon. A romance blossoms, but ends tragically from John's perspective with Tess's death at the hands of a corrupt sheriff. But from Tess's perspective, none of this ever happened – all she knows is that there's an old-fashioned bum on her doorstep claiming to know her, since another time warp landed John back in the moment before he met Tess in the first place. And that's where Butterflies begins.

Alternating between Tess's and John's perspectives, Butterflies is part sci-fi with the time travel, part historical fiction (about half the book takes place in 1875), part romance, and all entertaining. John is, of course, overjoyed that the girl he loves is still alive, and yet the reunion is bittersweet, since she doesn't remember him at all. Tess, meanwhile, isn't sure what to believe. Her first reaction is that her best friend, Liz, sent John to prank her. But even though she doesn't believe he's a time traveler, she finds his good-natured personality charming and decides to help him find his way around the modern world. The two grow close all over again, and the contrast between John's good-boy earnestness and Tess's sassy-girl snarkiness is fun to watch.

When John, in an attempt to prove his story, looks over old newspapers from 1875, he discovers that his uncle was wrongfully hanged for Tess's murder and decides he has to go back to fix the past. After he fails to return, Tess looks over the papers again and discovers that history has changed – this time, John was hanged, since he was discovered burying Tess's body. Tess isn't about to stand by and let that happen, though, and decides to go through the time warp herself to set things right once and for all.

Butterflies is a charming little story of young love featuring two sympathetic protagonists readers will easily connect with. John is instantly likable, and I, for one, was glad to see the good boy featured in a YA romance for a change. No brooding or tantrums here – John actually seems like he would make a good boyfriend (and the kind most mothers would approve of). Tess falls more into the love-her-or-hate-her category, with her sarcasm and smart-aleck quips. In other words, she acts like a typical American teenager in the 21stcentury. But underneath it all, she's a compassionate and courageous girl willing to risk it all for the boy she loves, yet smart enough to go in prepared. One of the things I liked best about her was her intelligence – she's an interesting combination of teenage bravado and more mature reasoning. Readers who found her abrasive in the first book will probably like her better in the second, since her perspective adds more depth to her snarkiness.

I loved Sun Moon Trains, and I was overjoyed when I learned that Jones was writing a sequel. And Butterflies doesn't disappoint. It's fun and amusing, sweet and often profound. So do yourself a favor and pick up both books if you haven't already (and why haven't you? Look at those gorgeous covers!).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

While a past resident of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, New York, and Vermont, Rodney now resides in Indiana, where he whiles away his days pecking at a laptop, riding his ten-speed up the Cardinal Greenway, taking long walks with his daughter, or backpacking and wilderness camping.

His list of past occupations reads like his list of past residences, though his life-long ambition was to be an artist until he discovered a latent affinity for writing.

“In art,” Rodney says, “I was constantly being asked to explain images constructed from a palette of emotions and ideas, which usually required complex narratives to convey their meaning, if there even was a meaning. In writing, the words are creating the images, images are telling a story, the story is evoking feelings. I like it. There’s nothing to explain.”

Rodney’s interests include: art, science, politics, whiskey and chocolate, music (collecting vinyl records), gardening, and travel.


LINKS



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Friday, January 23, 2015

BNG FRIDAY: Graveyard Shift by Kimberly G. Giarratano



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.


TITLE

Graveyard Shift

AUTHOR

Kimberly G. Giarratano

STORY DESCRIPTION

Seventeen-year-old Philly Ramirez already has one criminal conviction hanging over her head because of her past as a hacker. Now, she just wants to do her job. There are worse things than being a graveyard hologram technician, taking care of the devices that shine beside the tombstones at a cemetery outside Atlantic City. Then, Zavier, who'd been one of the guards at the prison she'd been held in, barges into her life and reveals shocking information about her brother. The new revelations draw Philly into a web of deceit and danger - even murder - and force her to do the unthinkable: get back into the hacking game.

WHY WE PICKED IT
This is a wonderfully written mystery with a creeptastic aura surrounding its graveyard setting. I loved how Philly is a reluctant heroine - she's already had her adventure and been burned for it, but ends up getting dragged into a new situation. The tension of story really drew me in. 

AUTHOR BIO

Kimberly G. Giarratano lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and small children. She is a former ESL teacher and YA librarian. Kimberly dreams of moving to Key West where she can write in a small studio, just like Hemingway.

THOUGHTS ON BRAVE NEW GIRLS
Kimberly is excited to participate in the anthology and show her baby daughter that girls can and do make big contributions in science and engineering.

Twitter: @KGGiarratano

Website: www.kimberlyggiarratano.com


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

Monday, January 19, 2015

REVIEW: Binds That Tie / Kate Moretti

TITLE: Binds That Tie
AUTHOR: Kate Moretti
PUBLISHER: Red Adept Publishing
AVAILABILITY: Purchase links on publisher's website

GENRE
Contemporary Fiction - Women's Fiction / Thriller

REVIEW
Binds That Tie is a gripping tale of two ordinary married people who find themselves in a heap of legal trouble after the wife, Maggie, kills an intruder and the husband, Chris, decides to hide the body instead of reporting it. Chris is an ex-convict whose once bright future was yanked from under him after a drunken bar fight in college that landed a classmate in a wheelchair. As such, he has little trust in the police or the justice system. Maggie, meanwhile, would rather do the obvious "right thing" and call in the authorities.
Audiobook cover

The book alternates between Chris and Maggie's points of view. I listened to the audiobook version, which had two narrators. As longtime audiobook listener knows, the narrator can make or break a character. Maggie's narrator did a good job of bringing the character to life. However, Chris's narrator was the real standout. Something about the way he imbued tension and emotion into the words made the character completely sympathetic, even though Chris is not a good person by any means. He cheated on his wife even as she was struggling through the emotional toil of miscarriages, and he strong-armed her into agreeing to lie to the police. So why the heck did I feel bad for this guy and want him to get away with his wrongness?

Apart from the brilliant narration, Moretti's subtle and well-constructed prose allows you to dig deep into the characters' thoughts and really see the world from their points of view. Maggie is no angel either. She's been through a lot, and so it's easy to feel bad for her, but she's not the nicest of people (especially with what she does at the end, though I won't spoil the twist here).

The plot itself seems simple on the surface, starting with a depiction of Maggie and Chris's crumbling marriage and then moving into a legal/courtroom drama as the police and lawyers get involved. The police form a convenient theory that Chris murdered the intruder in cold blood, further complicating matters. We the readers know what Chris and Maggie do – yes, crimes were committed, but there were extenuating circumstances. Maggie was defending herself. Chris was trying to protect himself and his wife from what he believed to be a corrupt system.  Something about the way the story is told makes each moment tense and left me wondering, "Oh my God, what's going to happen next? Are they going to get away with it? Is Chris going to be wrongfully convicted of murder?" after every chapter. In fact, Moretti's writing held my interest so well, I actually missed my exit once (I listen to audiobooks during long drives) because of it.

Kate Moretti may be the new kid on the block for women's fiction, but I have a feeling that's going to change soon. She's a real force to be reckoned with, between crafting complex emotions and weaving tense plots that leave you flipping the pages even though no one's holding a gun to anyone's head. I really, really enjoyed Binds That Tie, even more than I did her previous novel, Though I Knew You (which is also excellent, by the way!). And I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kate Moretti lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life.