Tag Archives: time travel

SciFaiKu: Bootstraps

A Scifaiku Poem by Wendy Van Camp

traveling through time
envy propels me to claim a life
the old man is me

Time travel has always been a favorite science fiction concept for me. I am drawn to the paradox of such stories. I ended up writing a series of scifaiku on the topic, drawing from this well known trope.

This poem is a part of the scifaiku poetry series about time travel which appeared in the August Issue of “Far Horizons”. This was a magazine of science fiction stories, art, and speculative poetry.

Scifaiku: Time Machine

A Scifaiku Poem by Wendy Van Camp

morlocks below me
machine moves through time not space
pull it to Weena

Time travel has always been a favorite science fiction concept for me. I am drawn to the paradox of such stories. I ended up writing a series of scifaiku on the top, drawing from this well known trope.

This poem is a part of the scifaiku poetry series about time travel which appeared in the August Issue of “Far Horizons”. This was a magazine of science fiction stories, art, and speculative poetry.

Author Interview: MJ Bell

Author MJ Bell is behind the Award Winning series Chronicles of the Secret Prince and comes to talk about one of her more recent books.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author MJ BellHi, I’m so happy to be here, My name is M.J. Bell. I’m an Indie author from the beautiful state of CO where I live with my husband and new puppy, Tallie. I love to cook, crochet, and, of course, read, but since we’ve gotten Tallie, I do very little other than play with her. It’s just too hard to ignore that cute little face and her whines for attention! I grew up in Iowa and spent a 8 1/2 year stint in AZ, but CO is where my heart is and I’ll always consider it home.

When and why did you begin writing?

I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until my boys got into middle school and suddenly found there wasn’t anything for them to read. (this was before Harry Potter and Percy Jackson was around) So, I started to write stories for them. I never did finish one– having 4 kids there wasn’t a whole lot of spare time– but I discovered that I truly loved writing. Then when Harry Potter came along, it brought so many kids back to reading, but I kept thinking…what are they going to read once this series is finished? So, I sat down and wrote my first novel, Before the Full Moon Rises, a Teen/YA fantasy, which won the Gold Mom’s Choice Award in fantasy.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Next Time I See You is a time travel suspense thriller. It about a girl, Kat, who falls into a deep depression and can’t move on with her life after her boyfriend is killed in a mass shooting. But after a chance encounter with an intriguing stranger who leads her to the discovery of a time machine, she takes it as a sign she is supposed to go back in time and stop the shooter. She hatches a daring plan to sneak into the lab where the machine is housed not thinking or caring about the dangers involved. However, the second Kat steps out of the time machine, it becomes clear that fate has a plan of its own, and she is not at all prepared for it.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always loved time travel stories and always wanted to write one. But I wanted to use science, not magic, and that was a problem. The great physicists say time travel is possible, but to do so one would either have to go faster than the speed of light, fly close to a black hole, or latch onto one of the cosmic strings that are supposedly floating around in space. None of those are options for an everyday college student like Kat, my character. So, for years I couldn’t write the story. Then one day I found an article about a professor who has developed a time travel theory that uses laser lights to bend space time into a circle. He’s even started building the time machine and hopes to have it up and running soon. But whether he does get it working or not makes no difference – he gave me a good scientific solution for my book, and wah la, Next Time I See You was born!

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Titles are always hard for me. They’re such an important part of the book and you have to make sure they appeal to the right readers of the genre. I knew I wanted the words “Next Time” in the title for the time travel reference, so I researched those words to see what was out there, and I happened upon a song, Maybe the Next Time, by Sue Medley. It’s such a beautiful song and I fell in love with it immediately, but there were too many other books out there with that title. So, I played around with different combinations of the words until I came up with Next Time I See You, and I knew right away that was it.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Nothing in the book is based on anything that has happened to myself or anyone I know, but the mass shooting is based on the Aurora Movie Theatre shooting. The shooting itself does not take place in the book, just the aftermath, but I did a lot of research on that shooter and my shooter that Kat has to stop is based on him. And I can tell you, the research I did on that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It really affected me and got to me emotionally. I was very glad when that part was done!

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

As I previously mentioned, J.K. Rowling has been a huge influence for me. I don’t think I would have finished my first book if it hadn’t been for her. In my opinion, she has done more for the teen/YA genre than anyone else, and I love how she has opened the door for so many of us to follow. Whenever I get stuck in my writing, I pull out one of her books and start reading it again. I don’t know what it is about it, but it always gets my creative juices flowing again. I’ll forever be grateful to her—Always.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Several of my author friends recommended the incredibly talented book cover designer, Mr. Steven Novak, and I’m so glad they did! I knew what I wanted for the cover and he put it together for me better than I even imagined. All the covers he’s done are marvelous, but I have to say, he really outdid himself with mine.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Never ever compare your success to someone else’s! Different genres sell differently, and some people write fast, some slow. So, don’t think of yourself as a failure if you can’t put out a book every six months, or if your children’s fantasy isn’t selling as well as your friend’s romance. Be proud of your accomplishments no matter how small, because writing a book is not easy, but it’s so worth it!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for having me. I love to connect with readers, so if you ever have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at mjbell.author@gmail.com.
I hope you check out my books and happy reading!

Next Time I See You Book CoverMJ Bell


Next Time I See You


Ten Rules of Time Travel by Ian Lehey

So you wish to include time traveling as part of your story? How hard can it be? Have a nutty scientist or brainy professor come up with a credible time machine, or stumble across one if you want to avoid some of the techy mumbo-jumbo, have them jump backwards or forwards to the time requested by the plot, and then, for the perfect Hollywood ending, everyone jumps back to their timeline and enjoys the cool effects of tweaking history.

Problems deriving from time-travel? There’s nothing so terrible about becoming your own father or mother (or both) that can’t be fixed with some counseling and some good parenting. (I think Douglas Adams said that.) It’s just like wiping a page from a history book and writing it again the way you want it to be, right?


The truth is that when it comes to time travel, the territory becomes rather uncertain if not entirely boggled. Here are ten things you should keep in mind when you start playing around with time.

1. If you are about to leap into the past, then it has already happened.

That’s right. The moment you allow your characters to jump back in time, then the alterations they will apply will already have taken place. This results in our first great dilemma: now that history has changed and the problem solved, what will motivate the heroes to jump back? When the solution is so effective that the problem never existed, who will need to think of a solution? One way to solve this is to conceal the fact that the current state of affairs is, in hindsight, a result of that jump, and that another, far worse, scenario would have ensued from not going back. In other words, the travelers’ motivations are not determined by something that will change, but something they have already changed.

2. Your traveler must, in no way, be connected to the facts he or she is trying to change.

As a collateral point to rule number one, any traveler altering events impacting their own timeline will automatically fail. This is because, by altering time, they will inevitably alter their own memory of what happened, and that will ultimately lead to different decisions the next time around.
“Wait what next time?”, you ask. Well that leads us to:

4. It’s a loop. An infinite one.

Get it?

3. It’s a loop. An infinite one.

A successful leap into the past is one that will always have happened. One in which the traveler will, at a certain point, either devise their own way to travel or be thrown back in time by a series of events which must, always, result in the same outcome. Time will not permit an ever-changing number of different outcomes, it will stabilize into a flow where the jump never happens, or where it does, but always follows the same exact script. The effects of this on the characters can be very dark, or also quite funny. Especially for short jumps. Just like this little joke.

5. Time is memory.

In other words, our only sense for the passing of time is our ability to keep a record of past events. As a result, altering time inevitably alters the record. There are only two ways out of this paradox, in my opinion: One way is based on the theory of alternative universes which is so popular nowadays. In this theory, when you travel in time what you really do is jump to a different reality where what you did has changed history, but you come from a universe where nothing was done, so your memory of that history remained the same. This theory has a few flaws, well pointed out by the Rick & Morty series, including meeting infinite yous intent on changing their histories, and infinite other yous content with their lot and suddenly buggered by all the goddamn people turning up at their door.

Another way is to have time change from the old reality to the new rewritten one, but slowly. Slowly enough for the transition itself to be noticed and recorded. This is what I did in my short story “Hero of Stolen Time”. In it, the hero Ratscrap is the only one capable of jumping back two years into the past to stop the beginning of a terrible series of Viking incursions. When he fails to do so, partially because Ratscrap is a self-loathing coward, reality slowly begins to shift to a Viking-ridden village where everyone’s soon-to-be alternative is killed. Knowing this, Ratscrap must jump back to preserve his reality as well as his own miserable life.

6. The Bootstrap Paradox.

This theory was described quite beautifully in a Dr. Who episode and went like this:

Imagine your character is a Beethoven fanatic. He packs his collection of sheet music and jumps back to meet the man himself to discuss all things musical. When he finally sees Ludwig, our hero is horrified to discover the great composer doing nothing but sitting on the sofa and scratching his butt. (I think the Doctor put it more elegantly). Panicking, the time traveler shoves all of Beethoven’s sheet music in the loafing musician’s hands and hurriedly leaps back to the present to discover, to his relief, that the great Ludwig still is the world-renown musical genius.

The paradox is this: who composed the music? Our hero would swear it was Beethoven, but Ludwig would say it was a frantic looking man with a funny German accent who made it and gave it to him. You can’t jump back in time and hand J.K. Rowling a copy of Harry Potter. That’s worse than becoming your own parent.

7. I don’t have time for number 7.

8. Beware the uncanny valley. (Yes, there’s one in time travel too)

People who read sci-fi appreciate the imaginative way authors apply their scientific knowledge. A lack of scientific detail will undermine the credibility of your story. When it comes to time and time travel, science itself becomes rather iffy. To put it in other words, there’s a whole lot of fi in the sci already. Some writers will try to compensate this by adding even more details on exploiting naturally occurring nano-wormholes, strings, membranes and that ever-recurring buzzword, the quantum [insert something here]. The result is that, past a certain threshold, the authors themselves get so garbled as to put off even the most hardened geek. Make it scientzy, but don’t overdo it. Sometimes it’s preferable to simplify too much rather than overexplain it. Ratscrap’s time jumping ability, for instance, came from a simple magic potion.

A magic potion? Jeez, who am I trying to fool here? That’s almost as bad as quantum.

9. Forward jumps are ok. Sometimes.

Making your hero jump forward in time is absolutely doable. Unless you have the nerve to also bring them back. In that case, all of the above rules apply again. Knowledge of future events could potentially lead to attempts aimed at altering that future, but in that case, the original future never existed, so why change it? Headaches anyone? (One of Ratscrap’s side effects of time travel was a massive, sentient headache).

10. Alternatives to time travel.

There are a couple of more approachable alternatives to time travel, to avoid headaches, embarrassing family reunions and all that excessive mucking about with quantum and J.K.Rowling.

One way to travel into the past safely is to “tune in” to a past moment. This can be done by sending back a hidden probe, or waiting for when everyone will have a memory chip installed into their brains and simply playback their experience, or even sync present and past atoms to create a replica via, sigh, quantum entanglement. In all three cases, the past cannot be altered but only experienced as a hologram or virtual reality.
Another alternative to changing the past is even simpler. As stated in rule no. 5, time is memory. Do you really need to send your character back in time to hide the fact that they murdered someone? Wouldn’t it be relatively easier to alter everyone’s memory of the event, so that the murder becomes an accident? In this case, the hero’s memory would remain intact, as well as anyone’s they wish to preserve.

These are just ideas, not to be taken as absolute guidelines. Just make sure your plot holds, maybe catch a glimpse of the future to check how readers will respond and you will have seen – are going to have seen…

Truth be told, the hardest thing about writing time travel are the damn tenses.

Ian Lahey, author, dreamer, and Olympic-level binge-watcher, teaches English Language and Literature in Italy. Apart from writing arguably decent fiction, he also cooks with nearly edible results, tinkers with computer graphics, and does quite a lot of gardening, since he needs to replace all the plants he’s inadvertently killed.

Author Interview: John Hazen

Author John Hazen is a simple man who attempts to put his dreams on paper in hopes that they may influence a reader’s dreams. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author John HazenThank you, Wendy, for having me on today. Let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m a 62-year old retiree ‘living the life’ with Lynn, my wife of 39 years, in sunny Florida. I was born and raised in a small town in Massachusetts. Then I went to college at Rutgers in New Jersey. I lived and worked in New York City for six years and then spent over 30 years in New Jersey before moving permanently to Florida.

I have an affinity for contradictions and contrasts. I loved growing up in a small town but I also thoroughly enjoyed living in one of the largest cities on earth. In college, my majors were in psychology and sociology but then I spent my professional career in environmental protection. I have a fear of heights when I’m up in a tall building but have sought the thrill of skydiving and parasailing. I do not like being pinned down, and I’ve carried this over into my writing. Three of my books are straightforward suspense/thrillers but the two others venture into the paranormal/supernatural with one about time travel and the other revolving around a curse that entraps souls over the centuries.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always ‘wanted’ to write but never seemed to have the time. It wasn’t until I got my first laptop that I started to write in earnest. I devoted my commuting time, about forty-five minutes each way, to writing novels. The result is that I’m now working on my sixth suspense/thriller.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

It was when I got a review on my first book, Dead Dad, from an Englishman that I’d never met before. This book is a time travel story that involves a Vietnam soldier who is transported back to the Civil War. His review: “Dear Dad is a marvelously composed novel about war. I had expected a historical novel with patriotic undertones that would teach me about parts of American history I didn’t know about. While that is also true, I found much more than that: a mature reflection on war and humanity, where naive dreams meet harsh reality.” Reading that, I knew that I had accomplished what I had set out to do. I was a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I’m actually working on two books right now. One is the third in a series of thrillers about a NYC television reporter, Francine Vega, who helps foil plots and plans that could rock the entire nation, if not the world. The second book, which I’ve only just begun, is about a young man who has a special ability that has been handed down to him from his ancestors to change events in the past and, in doing so, affects the present and future.

What inspired you to write this book?

This book, like a number of others, come from an idea that pops into my head and doesn’t let go. Dear Dad came to me because I wanted a unique way to compare a “popular” war (Civil War) with an “unpopular” one (Vietnam). My book Aceldama came from a question: What could happen if a person stumbled upon one of the coins given to Judas for the life of Jesus? My book Fava came about after reading about the Five Pillars of Islam and wondering what would happen if someone were to try and remove one of those pillars. The genesis of my present book came to me after seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child when we were in London last year. It got me wondering about the ability to change past events and how it could impact the present and future.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to be unpredictable. Three of my books are in the first person, one is in the third person and one alternates chapters from first to third and back again. I do occasionally like to insert a device. For example, in Dear Dad I preface each chapter with a letter the main character wrote to his father. The first letter is my favorite: Dear Dad, Almost got killed today. Don’t think it happened, though. Will advise when sure. Exhausted for now. Will write again soon. Love, John

How did you come up with the title of this book?

My two works in progress don’t yet have titles. For some of my books, the titles practically presented themselves to me from the onset. Fava is the family nickname of the lead character. In others, it’s a much longer process. Aceldama (Aramaic for Potters Field) didn’t come to me until my second or third draft.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I always strive to impart a message in my books whether it’s a search for tolerance in the world or striving for redemption even for the most irredeemable person or whether children should bear responsibility for the sins of the parents. The most meaningful books to me over the years are ones that not only entertained me but also left me thinking at the end. I hope that at least some of my readers are left thinking after they finish one of my books.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

I always try to intermingle stories and events from my life, things that I’ve learned about people I know and stories from my own imagination.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

My favorite all-time novel is To Kill a Mockingbird but, since Harper Lee only wrote the one novel (I don’t count the travesty that greedy publishers put out a few years ago as her book), I’ve found it wise to get to know some other authors. I’ve loved a number of the classics such a John Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I am a huge fan of J.K. Rowling for a number of reasons. Anybody who can visualize a whole different world the way she did and then to convey that world to all of us is a genius. She actually got kids to read 700-page books! She needs to be commended for that alone. I also admire her dedication and persistence after getting turned down by publisher after publisher. I remember her as I’m trying to make my way in this competitive business.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My first book, Dear Dad, was self-published through CreateSpace and they supplied the illustrator. The last four were published by a small independent publisher, Black Rose Writing, who have a very talented designer, Dave King, on staff.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My greatest piece of advice is to just write. Put words on paper or on screen. You can sort them out or embellish later on. Sometimes people who want to write get too intimidated and as a result never do it. Or they have so many ideas they don’t know where to start. I look at writing as comparable to building a house. Many writers want to start selecting the blinds and carpeting before they’ve built the structure and installed the plumbing. Build your book as you go along.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I just want to thank them for taking the time to get to know me. I hope that they look over my books and perhaps consider reading one or more of them. I’m completely unbiased, but I have a feeling they’ll like them.

Aceldama Book CoverJohn Hazen
Singer Island, Florida




Publisher: Black Rose Writing