Monday, June 26, 2017

The Story Behind the Starswept Cover

Hey, everyone! A few weeks back, I revealed the STARSWEPT cover and promised a behind-the-scenes post to come. Well, that post is now written and posted over on Across the Board, the group blog I contribute to! Check it out for the who, what, and why behind the cover: http://atbwriters.blogspot.com/2017/06/how-starswept-cover-came-to-be.html



Friday, June 23, 2017

BNG FRIDAY: Skyris


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: Skyris, a steampunk adventure by A.A. Jankiewicz. Except it's not steampunk in the way you might expect... rather than taking place in an alternate version of Victorian times, it takes place in another world entirely. A vast universe of interconnected planets. Skyris is a princess from an advanced space opera-esque world, but she's visiting the comparably ancient city of Aldamoor... a bustling, steampunk city full of aliens and humans alike. I fell in love with the worldbuilding at once; it reminded me a bit of Disney's criminally underrated Treasure Planet. Skyris is a smart, spunky teen who can't just sit still while visiting a fascinating new place. Eager to see Aldamoor's famed airships, she ventures off alone... and ends up in far more trouble than she could have anticipated. Full of excitement and some of the richest world-building I've read in a long time, "Skyris" was a true delight to read, and I can't wait for the rest of the world to read it too!


TITLE

Skyris


AUTHOR
A.A. Jankiewicz


STORY DESCRIPTION
In the ancient city of Aldamoor, a princess from another world and an airship pilot go on an adventure.

AUTHOR BIO

A.A. Jankiewicz (known to most as Agnes) hails from the city of Pickering, Ontario. Her debut novel, Q-16 and the Eye to All Worlds, was published as part of her thesis project at Durham College as part of the Contemporary Media Design Program. Prior to that, she graduated from York University with a BFA in Film Theory, Historiography, and Criticism. When she’s not busy plotting the next great adventure, tinkering in the Adobe Suite programs, or mellowing out with her friends, she enjoys walks with her four-legged companion Meesha. She is currently working on the next installment in the Q-16 series.

Website: www.aajankiewicz.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aajankiewicz
Twitter: @aajankiewicz
Instagram: @aajankiewicz

THOUGHTS ON BRAVE NEW GIRLS

As a fellow tech girl, I wanted a chance to give back to the extraordinary community I find myself part of. I could think of no better way than through sharing my skill of writing.


BRAVE NEW GIRLS: STORIES OF GIRLS WHO SCIENCE & SCHEME will be released in August 2017!



SIGN UP FOR THE RELEASE DAY MAILING LIST: http://eepurl.com/bgBmvD

VISIT THE BRAVE NEW GIRLS WEBSITE: http://bravenewgirls.weebly.com/

Thursday, June 22, 2017

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: A.A. Jankiewicz

An interview with Canadian sci-fi/fantasy author A.A. Jankiewicz.

 


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

Absolutely, I am A.A. Jankiewicz though I also go by Agnes since referring to someone as the acronym for alcoholics anonymous can get a bit awkward in person. I am a Canadian science fiction and fantasy author and in my day job I am also a graphic and web designer for a group of construction companies.

What got you into writing?

I’ve always had a burning need to tell stories from as far back as I can remember being able to comprehend what storytelling was. Even before I could write my parents have videos of me drawing on the kitchen table and when asked what I was doing I answered with making a movie (In my head this was the equivalent of telling a story at the time, I believe I was about 3 or 4 at the time).

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

The novel I just released, Q-16 and the Lord of the Unfinished Tower, already had some premade basis from its predecessor Q-16 and the Eye to All Worlds. I knew the story had to continue after the first book and would do so for some novels after. The idea for part of the plot though first came to me after digging through some books in the basement I came across a storybook of a Polish legend called The Two Brothers and Two Towers which was about the building of St. Mary’s Church in Krakow. For some reason, it just clicked and the ideas started pouring out like no tomorrow.

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

If I had to pick just one it would be Puc Thanestorm, though the truth is I love all of my characters, good and bad, for varying reasons. Puc is a Water Elf mage from the city of Aldamoor who is charged with teaching Annetta and Jason about their abilities, always with a large helping of sarcasm on the side. I enjoy writing him because due to his long life, there are many emotions and memories I can pull on from him, things that with a younger character like my protagonists are not as prominent yet. This is not to say my younger characters are in any ways less three dimensional but that they are just teenagers.

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

I would have to say the final battle in the book and I will try to describe it as best as I can spoiler free. There’s a lot going on both internally and externally for the characters which was very fun to write. The scene cuts from character to character as they fight what they realize mid-way is a losing battle but continue to do so. Elsewhere, a second set of characters needs to decide where they are going to help the first group or to continue to engage in political games.

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

I would say the plotting, watching an idea grow in my head, evolve and take shape into the story it is to be. Dialogue is another, due to my background in film.

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

The first draft took me about a year followed by a year of edits and additional drafts. I generally start with point form notes and go from there. Since I also do my own cover design I also take care of that which on average takes me about two weeks.

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

I think what appeals to me most about science fiction and fantasy is the world creation process. My imagination has always gone to the beat of its own drum, so when I’ve tried to write something without paranormal elements to it, it would want to leak in and defy the logic of the real world. This is not to say that my science and magic does not adhere to their own sets of laws, even if at times to reader it might not seem as such depending on through whose eyes the story is being told.

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

There’s a few authors that come to mind; Brian Jacques, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, R.A. Salvatore and J.K. Rowling. Their mastery of character and world building inspire me to write in the manner I do.

One book in particular had a large impact on me when I was younger and that was Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques because it was the book that got me into wanting to read of my own free will. Reading prior to this for me was a chore, something I couldn’t see myself ever enjoying (especially as someone who had unidentified dyslexia at the time so everything just moved on the page). I found the book on a fieldtrip from my school to a bookstore and was intrigued by the cover art. I really wanted to know more about what was inside so I bought it only to realize it was above my current reading level. I wasn’t about to give up so easily however and I spent countless hours reading a thesaurus and dictionary I had in order to understand the meaning of all the words inside (word meaning disassociation is one of the less well known symptoms of dyslexia). Needless to say, I succeeded in finishing the book and from there, my love of reading was born.

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’ve had multiple characters over the years take on personas of their own, or rather, take over a scene where if they deemed it not playing out how they would react to it. Generally, these decisions are for the better I find so I’ve learned to trust their instincts and just channel what they tell me to write. Usually, they come back to where I would want them to go anyways.

Thanks for stopping by!

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Q-16 and the Eye to All Worlds (Q-16, #1) 
Headstrong, tomboyish Annetta Severio and her cynical, sharp-tongued friend Jason Kinsman are two teenagers from Toronto, making the most of their mundane existence.

Their world is forever changed when they discover that their fathers were once the protectors of a castle called The Eye to All Worlds located where the fabric of the universe is weakest, creating gateways to other worlds, hidden within the bowels of an underwater base known only as Q-16. 

Learning of the threat of a warlord bent on conquering the multiverse, Annetta, Jason and their companions, Puc Thanestorm a cold, sarcastic Water Elf mage, Brakkus, a monstrous but kind hearted creature called a Hurtz, Puc’s apprentice Darius Silver, and a shape-changing young warrior named Lincerious Heallaws race to reassemble Annetta’s grandfather’s army, known as The Four Forces before it is too late. 

Q-16 and the Lord of the Unfinished Tower (Q-16, #2) 

"The lord of the tower has risen, and he is angry”

A year has passed since the events of the battle against Mislantus. Now, Annetta, Jason and their companions prepare for the end of their final year in high school. Dreaming of the future, they do the best they can to balance their time as the young commanders of the Four Forces and as teenagers.

Things are thrown off course, however, with the arrival of Annetta’s great-uncle and his proclamations which leave the members of Q-16 questioning their lives. Elsewhere, on Terralim, the home of the Water Elves, an evil amasses on the horizon, threatening to burn all in its path, forcing Puc Thanestorm away.

On their own and without the aid of their mentor, Annetta and Jason must navigate through a sea of decisions as they strive to come to terms with who they are meant to be.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A.A. Jankiewicz (known to most as Agnes) hails from the city of Pickering, Ontario. Her debut novel
‘Q-16 and the Eye to All Worlds’ was published as part of her thesis project at Durham College as part of the Contemporary Media Production Program. Prior to that, she graduated from York University with a BFA in Film Theory, Historiography and Criticism. When she’s not busy plotting the next great adventure, writing, doodling, tinkering in the Adobe suite programs or mellowing out with her friends, she enjoys walks with her four-legged companion Meesha. She is currently working on the next instalment in the Q-16 series.


Twitter – @aajankiewicz





Friday, June 16, 2017

BNG FRIDAY: Scilla's Monster


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: "Scilla's Monster," a steampunk adventure by Elisha Betts. The setting is Corina, a lone steampunk town in a technologically advanced world. Scilla is a young engineer who spends her days working on the city's anachronistic defenses, trying to keep it safe from an attacking enemy. One night, an epiphany hits, and she draws up the designs for a mechanical dragon. It's a total thrill getting to watch Scilla bring her creation to life and save the day, and come on, who doesn't love mechanical dragons? I was excited the moment I saw this one in our subs box (I mean, mechanical dragon!!), and this fun, tightly written little story did not disappoint! Hope y'all will enjoy it as much as I did!


TITLE

Scilla's Monster 

AUTHOR

Elisha Betts 

STORY DESCRIPTION

When her anachronistic hometown Corina is attacked by a technologically advanced rival, it's up to Scilla to give the enemy something to really be afraid of. Using her engineering know-how, she builds a mechanical dragon to protect her city. 

AUTHOR BIO

Elisha is a multifaceted artist who works in a variety of mediums, including the written word. Though she applies herself to her visual art more often than writing, she has wanted to have her stories published since she was 10 years old, and thankfully no one thought to disabuse her of the notion. She keeps her bank account happy by working part-time as a florist, and her free time not already devoted to art is often spent reading, playing video games, or adoring her two cats. ​ 

THOUGHTS ON BRAVE NEW GIRLS

"While I’ve never been into STEM, being one of the only girls on the high school wrestling team certainly gave me my fair share of experiences and thoughts about being a woman in a male-dominated space. Anything that helps girls feel more confident and comfortable with pursuing what they want is something I want to be involved in, so I jumped on the chance to contribute to Brave New Girls!"



BRAVE NEW GIRLS: STORIES OF GIRLS WHO SCIENCE & SCHEME will be released in August 2017!



SIGN UP FOR THE RELEASE DAY MAILING LIST: http://eepurl.com/bgBmvD

VISIT THE BRAVE NEW GIRLS WEBSITE: http://bravenewgirls.weebly.com/

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

COVER REVEAL: Shape Shifter Chronicles / Lauren Jankowski

Today I'm excited to reveal not one, but four covers, for the series reboot of The Shape Shifter Chronicles by Lauren Jankowski! Brand-new, revised editions of the four original books of this action-packed New Adult Urban Fantasy are releasing simultaneously on October 31, 2017, from Snowy Wings Publishing.

Covers designed by Najla Qamber Designs

Title: Sere From the Green: Book One of the Shape Shifter Chronicles 
Author: Lauren Jankowski 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Release Date: October 31, 2017 
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing
Add to your Goodreads list here!

Title: Through Storm and Night: Book Two of the Shape Shifter Chronicles 
Author: Lauren Jankowski 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Release Date: October 31, 2017 
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing
Add to your Goodreads list here!

Title: From the Ashes: Book Three of the Shape Shifter Chronicles 
Author: Lauren Jankowski 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Release Date: October 31, 2017 
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing
Add to your Goodreads list here!

Title: Haunted by the Keres: Book Four of the Shape Shifter Chronicles 
Author: Lauren Jankowski 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Release Date: October 31, 2017 
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing
Add to your Goodreads list here!

In Lauren Jankowski's Shape Shifter Chronicles, recent college grad Isis lives a normal life in a normal world, working as a photojournalist in a small city where practically nothing happens. One night, she photographs the scene of a gruesome murder. A woman is found dead in an abandoned factory. On the wall there is a strange symbol painted in blood. Isis photographs the scene. The next day, all evidence of the crime has vanished from her pictures and no one seems to have heard of any murder taking place. As Isis proceeds to investigate, she's drawn into the world of shape shifters and guardians. Secrets and mysteries are commonplace in this strange world. And as Isis finds answers about her own mysterious past, she also finds more questions. What is happening to the people that vanish without a trace? Who is watching her from the shadows? And what exactly is the key that everyone seems willing to kill for?

Friday, June 9, 2017

BNG FRIDAY: Our Very Respected and Always Benevolent Leader


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: Kay Dominguez's dystopian tale "Our Very Respected and Always Benevolent Leader." Whew, what a title! It refers to the totalitarian ruler from whom the main character, a teen munitions expert named Ava, is hiding. Years ago, a strange spacecraft called the Behemoth arrived. No attempts were made to communicate, and the hull appears to be impenetrable. Panic ensued, and Our Very Respected and Always Benevolent Leader (who is otherwise unnamed) used that as a springboard to power. But Ava wasn't willing to cower, and she spends her days hiding from the authorities while using her expertise to design an explosive capable of penetrating the Behemoth. I really liked that Ava's skills were a bit out-of-the-box; one doesn't always think of explosives experts when thinking of STEM! And Kay's writing is absolutely gorgeous -- atmospheric and haunting, spare in words yet rich in evoked emotions. Just wait till you read this one!



TITLE

Our Very Respected and Always Benevolent Leader 

AUTHOR

Kay Dominguez 

STORY DESCRIPTION

Ava, an explosives and munitions expert, works to break through the hull of a seemingly impenetrable, monstrous spacecraft that appears above her city.

AUTHOR BIO

Kay was born in Manhattan but raised in NJ, which she loves as fiercely as some people love their countries or sports teams. She fell in love with YA fantasy and sci-fi as a kid and is proud to have never grown out of it. She has a B.A. in Linguistics, which fed an already present love of language and metaphor, and a minor in Spanish. When not working or writing, she enjoys food, beer, anything to do with Latin America or the Spanish language, yoga, and NFL football. Her YA fantasy novel is represented by Sharon Pelletier of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. ​

Twitter: @kay_dominguez


THOUGHTS ON BRAVE NEW GIRLS

I would love to see girls and women with equal representation in STEM fields, and I believe a crucial first step to achieving that is to erase the still-present cultural stigma. Fiction is a powerful expression of cultural values, and therefore an important weapon in normalizing these interests, pursuits, and careers for young girls!


BRAVE NEW GIRLS: STORIES OF GIRLS WHO SCIENCE & SCHEME will be released in August 2017!



SIGN UP FOR THE RELEASE DAY MAILING LIST: http://eepurl.com/bgBmvD

VISIT THE BRAVE NEW GIRLS WEBSITE: http://bravenewgirls.weebly.com/

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

COVER REVEAL: My very own book, STARSWEPT!!!

Hey everyone! At long last, iiiiiit's COVER REVEAL DAY FOR STARSWEPT!!!! This sweeping YA sci-fi romance by yours truly will be released on August 29 by Snowy Wings Publishing. The cover features photography by Roberto Falck, with graphic design by Streetlight Graphics

Without further ado, here's the cover!




Who's the model, you may ask? That's my amazingly talented kid sister, Angel Fan! She may have gotten the gig through... *ahem*... connections, but she's actually uniquely qualified for it. Not only does she have the right look (that is, Asian American... it was super important to me to feature an Asian girl on my cover), but she also 1) Plays viola (so she knows how to hold the instrument) 2) Dances (good at posing) 3) Is a trained diver and experienced swimmer (the photo shoot was underwater).

I'll be back with a behind-the-scenes post soon! In the meanwhile, here's the book info :-D

Title: Starswept
Author: Mary Fan
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

Some melodies reach across the stars.

In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.

A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.

When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.

But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.

Preorder the hardback on Amazon
Preorder the e-book on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo, or iBooks

Starswept


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Fan is a hopeless dreamer, whose mind insists on spinning tales of “what if.” As a music major in college, she told those stories through compositions. Now, she tells them through books. She is the author of the Jane Colt space opera trilogy, the Firedragon YA dystopia/fantasy novellas, and the Fated Stars YA high fantasy novellas. She's also the co-editor of the Brave New Girls YA sci-fi anthologies, which are dedicated to encouraging girls to enter STEM careers and raising money for the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund.

Find her online at www.MaryFan.com.

Twitter: @astralcolt
Instagram: @astralcolt

Friday, June 2, 2017

BNG FRIDAY: Nova


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 "Nova," a cyberpunk/LitRPG story by Stephen Landry. The heroine, Elexa, is a super-smart but somewhat shy gamer who delights in an immersive virtual reality role-playing game called Nova, which is essentially a Matrix-like science fantasy version of Dungeons & Dragons. As the youngest member of her party, she has to deal with naysayers questioning her talents even though she's proven herself time and time again. I loved the whole concept around this story—the gaming, the cyberworld, and... the twist, which I can't get into because, well, twist. I also liked that Elexa was a bit of a shyer protagonist—hey, there's more than one way to be a Brave New Girl! We didn't have a lot of hacker heroines this time around, so I was super happy when this one came into our submissions box. Anyone who knows me knows I have a soft spot for cyberpunk :-)


TITLE

Nova


AUTHOR
Stephen Landry


STORY DESCRIPTION
Fourteen-year-old Elexa loves playing in the virtual world Nova, a game where players explore a dangerous planet called Amos capturing dungeons and fighting against alien monsters. As her team barely escapes dungeon seven, something goes wrong. A glitch? No, something more. As her best friend and crush Lem disappears Elexa discovers that Nova is about to become all too real.


AUTHOR BIO
Stephen Landry grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. During high school, he was a musician and fell in love with writing, art, and film. He graduated with a degree in graphic design. After several years in design working with several art agencies both large and small, an idea for a short story turned into a 112,000-word novel in a three-part series called Deep Darkness (Pull, Trigger, Wound). He is also one of the co-authors of Project Aspire, available on Wattpad. Aside from writing, he has won several awards in recognition of design, photography, and film. Stephen is always working on several creative projects and traveling, hoping to one day bring his work to life on the silver screen. 

THOUGHTS ON BRAVE NEW GIRLS

My mother and my sister are two of the kindest, most wonderful people in my life. They were my role models growing up. Both have always inspired me to pursue art and explore the world around me. They taught me to never give up and to stand for those less fortunate then I am, even when the odds were against me. My sister now has two amazing daughters, and I want them to live in a world where everyone is equal. If they want to go into science or art, I want them to know they can without any hesitation. More then that, though, I want them to know they can be brave no matter what the circumstances. As a part of Brave New Girls, I believe I can help contribute to that change and inspire others to make this word a better place for all. 


BRAVE NEW GIRLS: STORIES OF GIRLS WHO SCIENCE & SCHEME will be released in August 2017!



SIGN UP FOR THE RELEASE DAY MAILING LIST: http://eepurl.com/bgBmvD

VISIT THE BRAVE NEW GIRLS WEBSITE: http://bravenewgirls.weebly.com/