Time Travel Can Mess With Your Brain

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I’ve always loved the concept of time travel. One of my favourite movies is Back To The Future. I loved the crazy professor, the DeLorean time machine, and the “flux capacitor” which magically made the time machine work. I also loved how neatly interwoven the past and present were, and how, when Marty McFly returned from the past, the present was altered because of his actions.

So when I began writing Asher’s Dilemma I thought I had time travel all sorted out in my head. Turns out, once you accept that time travel is possible, the door is opened to all sorts of mental gymnastics. I spent hours pondering the various scenarios, wondering what would happen to X if Y did this to him in the past? Would X disappear? Be wiped out from history? Travel to another dimension?

As I investigated time travel, I discovered scads of information on the subject, and I realised I had to choose a theory of time travel from one of three broad choices:

(1) There is only one single fixed history which is unchangeable

(2) History is flexible and subject to change

(3) There are multiple co-existing timelines.

Even after I’d chosen my theory, I had to work out my storyline to fit in with it. Many roundabout arguments with myself ensued enough to make my head ache. Every now and then I had to remind myself that I was writing fiction, not a scientific thesis! It’s a strange experience striving to be logical about something that is unproven, illogical, and—so far— impossible.

Time travel glitches not withstanding, I hope readers will enjoy reading Asher’s Dilemma as much as I enjoyed puzzling it out.

Ever since he awoke one day on the floor of his workshop with a brain-splitting headache, Asher Quigley has been haunted by fleeting visions of a beautiful woman everywhere he looks—a woman he’s sure he knows, but can’t recall. In spite of this he has finished his most wondrous invention yet, one that will literally make history: a time machine. But before he can complete his exacting calculations a bizarre accident causes the device to be activated, with him inside! He awakes to find himself in his lab, eight months in the past, and suddenly he remembers her…

Asher knows that something in the near future causes Minerva Lambkin, the woman who turned down his marriage proposal, to be erased from existence. And he’s sure it has something to do with his device. Alone in a familiar world where he doesn’t belong, he’ll have to find a way to destroy the time machine to save the woman he loves from extinction. Even if that means erasing his own future.

ASHER’S DILEMMACarina Press | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes

Catch Me I’m Falling: A Hero’s Playlist

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Sept 18, 2012 – When it comes to writing, I typically prefer to listen to Pandora’s soundtrack radio–soundtracks offer me the wide variety of action songs with sweeping sections and high intensity. They also offer moody, melancholy movements that summon tears to the eyes.  Songs like The Kiss from The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack are wildly distinctive–every time I hear it, I see Daniel Day Lewis racing through the woods, the fight scenes, the passion—it bursts into life in my mind’s eye.

You can’t really beat that.

So when I start a new novel, sometimes I make a playlist for it. These are the songs that bring key sequences to life for me. Some are familiar, some are not. But in no particular order, when I wrote Yesterday’s Heroes, this is what I listened to:

  1. Black Widow Kicks Ass – Ironman 2 Soundtrack
  2. Catch Me Now I’m Falling – The Kinks
  3. Ghost Rider – Henry Rollins
  4. Jimmy Olsen’s Blues – Spin Doctors
  5. Superman’s Song- Crash Test Dummies
  6. Superman – Five for Fighting
  7. Extreme Ways – Moby
  8. Iron Man – Black Sabbath
  9. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  10. Hot Blooded – Foreigner
  11. A New Day Yesterday – Jethro Tull (And where we got our name)
  12. Carry on My Wayward Son – Kansas (for all the guys and yes, completely inspired by Supernatural)
  13. Rock of Ages – Def Leopard

And the song that inspired the whole series:

The Terminator theme—the moody piece that bookended the first movie with the opening credits to the moment Sarah Connor drives off into the desert because a storm is coming…

I get chills just thinking about it.

Music doesn’t tell the whole story, but Yesterday’s Heroes is just the beginning…

About Yesterday’s Heroes
Aurora “Rory” Graystone

Codename: Halo

Abilities: superior reflexes, I.Q. and aptitude for calculating probabilities

Mission: find missing teammates

Rory knows she’s being watched, and she’s not about to let the hunter catch her in his trap. She’ll confront her stalker, a man she suspects is involved in the disappearances of other superheroes–if she can ignore the sensual heat that fills her every time he’s near…

Michael Hunter

Codename: Hard Target

Abilities: expert tracker and sniper

Mission: kill Rory Graystone

One of five desperate men sent back in time to save the future, Michael believes eliminating Rory is the key to his mission. But even as he takes aim, a split second of doubt causes him to miss his shot.

Drawn together by passion, and on a collision course with fate, can Rory and Michael work together to change the future? Or have they set in motion the horrific history the time-travelers are trying to prevent?

Heather Long lives in Texas with her family and their menagerie of animals. As a child, Heather skipped picture books and enjoyed the Harlequin romance novels by Penny Jordan and Nora Roberts that her grandmother read to her. Heather believes that laughter is as important to life as breathing and that the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are very real. In the meanwhile, she is hard at work on her next novel.

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A Case of Fiction Imitating Life

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As I write this post, I’ve been without the internet for four days. A storm blew in and knocked out our tower, an all-important tower that links to a satellite, my only means of internet communication.

Maria is not a happy camper—but she’s gone through worse. (Yes, that’s me climbing the back side of a root ball from a tree that had been wrenched out of the ground.)

When you have to brush your teeth with bottled water and rely on a hand-cranked radio just to hear another human voice, you begin to get some sense of what it is to lose everything in a matter of minutes. The recent tragedies here in the states, Japan and Australia reminded me how lucky I’ve been.

In 2005, Hurricane Rita devastated the entire Gulf Coast of Texas.

Rita tore out entire trees by the roots, taking the underground water lines with them. The fence surrounding our five acres hung on twisted posts, or were buried under trees and debris. Over a hundred pines were snapped in half like toothpicks. The power line to our house lay tangled in tree limbs, and our town was almost entirely deserted by the time we returned from our exodus.

A friend of ours, who had arrived on the scene first, called to tell us we had lost the house. He couldn’t even get into the driveway. Fortunately, he was wrong. The trees were so big they completely buried the house, hiding it from view. But that old ranch house has good bones. All we lost was the roof and some of the foundation.

We got to work as soon as we arrived, clearing brush and moving trees off the house and shop from dawn until dark. When it was too dark to work outside, I cleaned house by lantern light. The worst job of all was emptying and disinfecting the refrigerator and freezers of spoiled food. Not a job for the weak of stomach. I probably used an entire gallon of bleach in the kitchen alone.

It was hellishly hot in east Texas and after the storm passed, we endured a plague of mosquitoes crazed for blood. The standing water had given birth to millions of them. We didn’t even bother swatting them as we tried to coax a 20-year-old generator to come back to life. West Nile virus be damned.

In their rush to leave, many people left behind their pets. (Shame on them!) We were feeding dogs and cats in a steady kibble kitchen procession.

Within the week, utility workers from as far away as Connecticut arrived. They were such a welcome sight. Big smooches to utility workers everywhere. I love you guys.

And God bless the Red Cross. We had to go through so much red tape dealing with various agencies, but the Red Cross waived the damage inspection when my husband explained how primitively we were living. Sharing an old mattress with three dogs and a horde of mosquitoes in the only part of the house that didn’t have a tree over it is primitive by my book. (Because the foundation had shifted, we could no longer shut the doors properly, hence the extra mosquitoes.)

It took a long time to get back to normal. Even today, the landscape looks ragged. But I’m proud (and a little surprised) that we managed without power and water for 21 days. Since then, I don’t take anything for granted because I know how quickly it can be taken from you.

The only benefit of such a tragedy is that you inherit a treasure trove of ideas for future books—especially if you happen to write post-apocalyptic fiction.

In Apocalypse Rising our heroes go back in time—our time. Culture clash is the least of their troubles. Demons, genetic manipulation, and a rash decision could cost Leda more than she can bear. I hope to keep you guessing until the end.

Apocalypse Rising is the sequel to Touch Of Fire, a post-apocalyptic romance set 1200 years in the future. Although you can probably read Apocalypse Rising alone, you’ll have a better understanding of Leda and Grey’s world if you read how it all started in Touch Of Fire first.

And if you’d like to read more about the aftermath of Hurricane Rita and how we managed, starting Wednesday, 5-11-11, I’ll be posting a 3-part account on my blog.


This afternoon, Diane Dooley will take the Carina Press blog chair and share a little bit about her debut release: Blue Galaxy. Be a pal and buy her book, then pop in and say howdy.


Bio: Maria Zannini used to save the world from bad advertising, but now she spends her time wrangling chickens, and fighting for a piece of the bed against dogs of epic proportions. Occasionally, she writes novels.

Apocalypse Rising blurb: The only place to hide was in the past. Leda and Grey have one chance to escape a madman and that’s through a portal to a time before the apocalypse. But nothing has prepared them for 21st century culture, and every misstep draws them closer to the End Times. The world is teetering on extinction, and they may very well be the cause of it.

There’s No Time Like the Past

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by Dana Grimaldi
eHarlequin Copy Editor

I am not a competitive person. But when it comes to time travel, I’ll put all reservations aside.

Let me explain. Every Tuesday morning, I go to work looking forward to the Carina Press acquisitions meeting. I love discussing the manuscripts I’ve read with fellow team members, and I love hearing about the new books we’ll be publishing. One of my favorite parts of the meeting comes when Angela goes through the list of books we’re going to look at for the next week. If I hear that a manuscript we’re considering involves time travel, the competitive spirit awakens within me, and I’ll jump at the chance to read it.

So far, I’ve read two time travel manuscripts for Carina Press, and I’ve been thrilled to recommend that we acquire both of them. Reading these books only served to remind me of how much I love a good time travel story, which got me to thinking…what makes a time travel story good? The best time travel stories make the most of the genre’s unique strength: characters who travel in time can do things characters in your average story could never imagine. I’ve made a list of the top three things that are (for the most part) unique to time travel stories.

1. Characters can reunite with someone they’ve lost.

One of my favorite moments in time travel stories is when a character runs into an older/younger/alternate version of someone they’ve lost. One of the best examples of this occurs in the story Days of Future Past. For those of you not familiar with the comic book heroes known as the X-men, I’ll give you some background. At the beginning of the story, Kitty Pryde, the newest and youngest member of the X-men, finds herself struggling to find her place among the superhero team. She’s particularly frightened by the mutant Nightcrawler, whose demonic appearance once made him the target of a violent mob in his native Germany. When the future Kitty Pryde travels back in time to inhabit the body of her younger self, she finds herself surrounded by the loving adoptive family who, in her time, were almost all killed—including Nightcrawler, whom she’d grown to love and trust. The future Kitty’s reaction to seeing her friends is heartbreaking. Especially when she embraces Nightcrawler and calls him by his given name: Kurt. The ability of time travel to bring people into contact with those they’ve lost is a compelling storytelling device. I think the reason I find it so interesting is that in a way, it’s like time traveling gives characters the ability to defeat death.

2. Characters can fix a past mistake.

In the movie Timecop, police officer Max Walker is unable to prevent his wife and unborn child from being killed in a violent home invasion. The 20th century cop is no match for the group of thugs with futuristic weapons who surprise him in the night. Years later, he gets the chance to go back and make things right; he saves his family using his knowledge of the past as well as impressive kicking skills. We’ve all wondered what life would be like if we could go back and change something in the past, which is why it’s so satisfying to see characters get the chance to do so.

3. We get to see what life might be like in the future or what life was like in the past.

For years, writers have created compelling visions of what the future might be. Anyone who remembers what life was like before cell phones and the internet knows how fast technology is changing, and how much those changes affect our everyday lives. The chance to see what these changes might be is always interesting.  One of my favorite parts of Back to the Future part 2 is Marty’s experiences in the future Hill Valley. I’m still disappointed that hover boards haven’t been invented yet!

The flip side is equally interesting—looking back to see what life was like in the past and how people lived. One of the time travel manuscripts I read for Carina Press is a great example of this. In Ruth A. Casie’s time travel story, a woman travels back to 17th century England. I loved seeing what everyday life in an English manor house was like. The story shows how some aspects of our lives haven’t changed that much, while others seem very strange to a reader with “modern” sensibilities. The heroine found out just how different things were when she was attacked by a band of assassins: she was expected to cower in fear while the men took care of things. I don’t want to spoil the story, but I will say that this didn’t go over well with the feisty Rebecca, who holds a black belt.

While I was writing this post, I couldn’t help but remember a few of my favorite time travel stories. I love all three Back to the Future films, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and especially Primer. My favorite time travel books include The Singing Stone by O. R. Melling, A Handful of Time by Kit Pearson, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling, Once a Gambler by Carrie Hudson and a new favorite, Ruth A. Casie’s soon-to-be-retitled Carina Press book.

Did I miss any great time travel stories? What are your favorite time travel books and why do you like them?