Author Archives: Literary Titan

Literary Titan Book Awards July 2020

The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

Gold Award Winners

The Albatross: Contact by Connor Mackay

IZ – The Saga: Creation by DDWLEM

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

Book of Chaos: From 22 Back to 21 by Yin Dolmah

 

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

With More Sinister Aspects

Catori Sarmiento Author Interview

Catori Sarmiento Author Interview

Carnival Panic is a dystopian game show where contestants must solve dangerous room puzzles to claim a life changing prize. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

The initial inspiration for this novel occurred when I walked through the Kyari Pamyu Pamyu museum in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo. While there, I saw a display called “Candy Forest!” with unsettling pink rabbit statues, seen here https://matcha-jp.com/en/688. As I exited, I thought that what I had seen would make a great horror story. I pulled out my notebook and began sketching and writing ideas. I wrote about 10,000 words and then got stuck and put the story away for a few years.

It wasn’t until I went on an outing to Sanrio Puroland that I was able to continue writing the story. I often describe that day as one of the most uncomfortably horrible experiences I have ever had at a theme park. I had agreed to go to Puroland with a couple of friends, not knowing exactly what it was. After entering through the theme park gates, I realized that I was completely outside of my comfort zone.

On top of the immense claustrophobia were the inescapable sensory explosions. The air was pumped with all manner of sweet smells, there was constant music from individual speakers to the parades, it was hot due to the high summer temperatures, and there were lights everywhere both strobing and stationary. And when we stopped for lunch, all the food was of the sweetest kind; candied and dessert versions of its real counterparts. In contrast to my unpleasant experience, my friends were ecstatic and enjoyed every moment of that theme park, playing on the toys, going on the rides, and shopping with childlike enthusiasm.

On the train home, I knew exactly what I could write about and that became Carnival Panic.

What was the process like for imagining and writing the different rooms and puzzles you have in the book?

For the most part, the inspiration for the rooms came from various areas of Sanrio Puroland that I visited but with more sinister aspects. I also love to watch anime and at the time I was binging Deadman Wonderland so some of the themes from that anime made their way into the novel.

Your characters were all well developed and interesting. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Fletch. I enjoyed writing from her point of view because she is an unapologetic anarchist.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have two finished novels at the moment which I am querying for publication. A science fiction alien invasion novel called Darkness in a Sky of Embers and a narrative fiction novel called Elephants Have No Sleeves.

As for currents projects, I am working on a supernatural murder mystery that follows the main character, Tzipora, who comes back from the dead to find her murderer.

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Carnival Panic by [Catori Sarmiento]Candy makes the PonPon Bunnies sweet. Be careful if they’re angry. And watch out for traps! These are the dangers of competing in the Carnival Panic game show, a ruthless competition that tests the chosen competitors with mental and physical struggles. In order to claim the substantial monetary prize, the winner must solve a series of room puzzles and succeed in entertaining the fickle masses.

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In a Race to Stop Him

Hugo V. Negron Author Interview

Hugo V. Negron Author Interview

Darksiege Triumphant follows a brave knight who embarks on a quest to stop a dark force from carrying out an evil plan. Was this story an organic continuation of the series or did you plan it before writing?

The raw framework was initially there as my idea to continue from Book Five, Knighthood’s End – a final confrontation between Qualtan and Darksiege – however, the how and why became somewhat different. Initially, when I first thought about this plot, there was no involvement of the School in the turn of events. It was merely to be Darksiege on a quest to summon/release an evil group of supremely horrific/powerful beings under his assumed control, with Qualtan and his allies in a race to stop him. However, this started to sound too much like the plot from Book Three, Prison Planet of the Mah-Lahkt. In addition, as I had begun fleshing out Darksiege over time, as he was the more rational of Those That Stand in Shadow (the main antagonists in the series), it made sense that he would never risk his own skin in attempting to control creatures more powerful than he was. In fact, readers of the series will be familiar with the fact that in Book Three, Darksiege actually betrayed his fellow Evil Ones to prevent them from doing just that! He wants power, not complete destruction. So there had to be something more unique here, and I thought, why not have both characters, powerful and somewhat arrogant in their own rights, be duped by someone else? Thus, the story began to grow on its own once I took a step away from the original concept and added some additional character complexities.

I enjoyed the dynamic characters you’ve created in this story. What were some ideas that guided their character development?

Darksiege, the main enemy here and in the series, I wanted right off the bat to be interesting beyond the typical evil moustache-twisting villain. This story was also an effort to humanize him more, show things from his perspective and how he viewed his own position vs. those of his fellow Evil Ones. The others of his ilk had eventually murdered the humans responsible for rearing them/keeping them safe until they were ready to be unleashed to fulfill their evil destiny. Darksiege, with more human blood than his kin, had shown mercy to his foster father, allowing him to live and become his chief servant/advisor instead. That showed a deeper connection between Darksiege and those he was forced to prey upon, and thus a more personal reflection for our main villain as to why he was who he was.

Of course, Vanessa at this stage is continuing to evolve with her new life – and like anyone who has left a definition of who they were to start over as something different, feels vulnerable and unsure of where she must go next. It was natural that someone who seemed to get that would instantly be someone she would seek a closer connection to, although obviously the mystery of why her new friend Muirna seems so comforting opens yet another mystery to be resolved in the finale of Book Seven…

I enjoyed the authenticity of the character relationships in this book. Is there anything in this book that you pulled from your own life?

I think it comes more from the expectation/hope all of us have – who wouldnt want or look for a close friendship with others like an alternate family? I grew up lacking some of those connections based on hardships experienced in both health and from a precarious financial existence stemming from the divorce of my parents, so you could say the comradeship Qualtan experiences is a projection or extension of what I think I wanted back then. All of these characters have forged deeper ties with each other since they first met in Book Two, The Rise of the Slavekeepers, each with their own personal needs and wants, and I think by keeping those foibles in mind and not reducing them all to stock background supporting characters helped to “authenticate” their relationship with each other.

What can readers expect in the next installment in your Forging of a Knight series?

Book Seven – Against the Alliance! The last in what I am currently calling the “First Series” of Forging of a Knight – here all the subplots combine, and all the questions answered (while some new ones are posed). Old characters return from throughout the series, and new ones are made known when the Alliance finally goes to war against the School to prevent the formation of their own Knighthood, and Qualtan must duplicate the quest his father and uncle had successfully achieved many years before to win the final war against Those That Stand in Shadow: The First Knight must find the Master of the Great Beasts, the legendary one-eyed Dragon King, and gain his help before the war destroys them all. Should be available soon!!

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Forging of a Knight: Darksiege Triumphant by [Hugo V. Negron]The sounds of battle continue. Qualtan and Bartholomew are two knights of the new Order who are leading the way. Qualtan’s wife, Vanessa, is a powerful winged girl who watches protectively over him. Unfortunately a betrayal from the School has now provided Darksiege, the last of Those That Stand in Shadow, with the means to achieve ultimate power. A mighty artifact, divided and cast into different realms, will spell doom if found. As Qualtan, Glaive, Cassandra, and Bartholomew travel to dark and terrible places including present-day Earth to prevent Darksiege from gaining victory, all is not as it seems. While Darksiege and his opponents attempt to determine whether they are involved in a true quest or have been deceived into playing a much deeper game,. In this fast-paced fantasy tale, a brave knight sets out on an ambitious quest to stop a dark force from carrying out an evil plan.

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Christmas and Thrillers

Kristina Rienzi Author Interview

Kristina Rienzi Author Interview

Winter Road follows Amelia who’s heading home for Christmas and must deal with her family, her new love and her dangerous ex-fiance. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

I wish I knew what specifically inspired me to write Winter Road. It was a story that came to me and then told itself, almost in a blink. If all my stories did that, I’d be a much more prolific writer! What I remember most is driving home from work in late fall, thinking about the upcoming holidays, and the title popped in my head out of nowhere. Looking back, it was a little bit of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (a perfect book for creatives). Winter Road began to slowly unfold in front of my eyes from that moment on. Instead of driving on the Garden State Parkway in massive traffic, I was suddenly the only car on a rural-snow covered road heading home for the holidays. A foreboding hung over me as I pictured a woman escaping her big city life, running from a relationship gone wrong and into the arms of a family in crisis. The pieces cemented together in my mind creating an explosive holiday celebration. It, oddly, allowed me to marry two of my favorite things: Christmas and thrillers.

Amelia was a strong female lead that never really wilted under pressure. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

Amelia’s primary value is family, which she lost along the way by getting wrapped up in an all-consuming relationship and blossoming career. When the person she was expected to be collided with who she really was, her world began to unravel and life became clear. She lost her independence and was under the thumb of a man she thought she wanted, but didn’t. Going home was the only way for her to reconnect with her true self and to be reminded of her strong, familial roots, and find herself again.

I enjoyed how you were able to create an aura of danger around Jake and his intentions. What were some influences that guided his relationship with Amelia?

Sociopathology comes to mind! Jake, oddly, couldn’t love anyone because his capacity to love was limited – not only from his past, but from his psychological challenges. Therefore, he was all about ownership. Possession. And it defined him – what he had and who he controlled. When the core of his identity was under siege, his only option was to retaliate with deadly force.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently writing a paranormal thriller, Unleash the Wicked. It follows a former Manhattan socialite who’s forced to move back to her mysterious hometown where she faces her tragic past and, unwittingly, unleashes a deadly curse. With an 11 month old, it’s anyone’s guess when it will be published, but I’m hoping before my daughter goes to school!

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Winter Road: A Novella by [Kristina Rienzi]

HOLIDAY ROAD
On the heels of a bad breakup, Amelia Montgomery heads home for the holidays. Her hometown is a far cry from the metropolis where she lives now, but not nearly far enough away from Jake Grayson.

TERROR ROAD
Amelia’s family festivities turn terrifying when a distraught Jake shows up uninvited on the Montgomery’s doorstep. Jake will not stop until he possesses Amelia; one way or another, she will be his.

DEADLY ROAD
In a chilling nightmare, one man’s obsession is so evil, it’s deadly. Amelia must fight for her life, and the lives of those she loves most, in the only place she’s ever called home…WINTER ROAD.

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Tentoria

Tentoria by [Sorin Banu]

In Sorin Banu’s epic dystopian science fiction novel, man creates a group of human-like cyborgs called Tentorians to end a new world war in the 22nd century. From that point onwards, the Tentorians grow and morph into power-hungry killing machines. They pose a threat to all around them and end up being forcefully ejected from their first settlement by an alliance of nations of the earth. These Tentorians then proceed to create a sovereign state called Tentoria. Here, a new leader envisions a future marked by peaceful coexistence between Tentorians and the rest of mankind. But some powerful Tentorians would have none of that. These rebels set their sights on forcefully taking over the otherworldly Island as their new home. In a series of revealing and riveting events, Cole, a 27-year old Islander, a surprising ally and the Island’s authorities try to protect this unique piece of land. But how will this end? Will the soulless cyborgs seize the last place on earth where people could truly live as humans?

Sorin Banu pings us between the 21st and the 25th centuries as he tells a story of a fallen world. He  artfully illustrates what the earth might look like in the 25th century based on man’s hunger to continually tinker with technology. Banu’s fictional future is marked by stunning advancements in the development of artificial intelligence. But he doesn’t just create futuristic innovations many already envision; he shows us where such breakthroughs could lead humanity.

In this book, Banu suggests that man’s technological creations could come back to haunt him. According to Banu we could end up creating real-life terminators that would later turn on us. But the problem could even run deeper. We could lose our essence as humans.

To drive home his point, he uses an intriguing story line to highlight the things that make us human and how technology could take them away from us. And this wouldn’t be because we created cyborgs to fight our wars. It would be because we’d become overly attached to technology. As we seek greater control and improved solutions, nature’s imprints on our lives will slowly fade away.

The book’s central theme was just one of the many things that thrilled me. Amongst those other things was how Banu weaved the story. I could easily follow the plot even though the author was going back and forth in time. He was also smart enough to insert gaps that kept me guessing and coming up with plausible theories. Also, the characters were relatable, and I could share their emotions.

The book engages your mind, challenges you to reassess some values and appreciate both the limitations and privileges of being human.

Pages: 352 | ASIN: B07QF59Y92

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Grandman Dean Goes Big Shopping

Grandman Dean Goes Big Shopping (Adventures with Pop Pop Book 1) by [Warren Martin, Star Huddleston, Karen Tucker]

Grandman Dean Goes Big Shopping follows young Dean and his grandfather, ‘Pop Pop’, on a trip to a big-box store, which they endearingly call ‘big shopping’. Dean and Pop Pop’s trip to the store is filled with many things that many people are used to; pushing the shopping cart, roaming the aisles, and best of all, finding the toy aisle.

What I loved most about this book was how it presented an everyday trip to the store as an adventure. This book is able to capture the unique view of the world that children have and bring it to life on the page with colorful images that are bright, simple, and adorable. Children will love pointing out all the cute toys found throughout the book and parents will undoubtedly recognize things they do in the store with their own children. Grandman Dean Goes Big Shopping shows that not every story needs to be about some wild fantasy world. Memories are made every day, within our normal lives, by doing them with the ones we love and creating our own fun. Grandman Dean Goes Big Shopping is the first book in author Warren Martin’s Adventures with Pop Pop series. I really enjoy this down to earth children’s series and I think any parent and child will as well.

Pages: 18 | ASIN: B084DKMB36

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Our Forever Crazy Love

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Jennifer Nolan’s debut romance novel, Our Forever Crazy Love, is quite the emotional roller coaster. First of all, the fact that it’s written in the first person through the perspective of the main character, Vivienne is something that makes it more personal. In many ways, it feels like you are reading her diary, taking a sneak peek into her most intimate thoughts.

In this riveting novel, we get a front-row seat to not only Vivienne’s personal life but her career life as well. As she explores her relationship with her long-standing crush Danny, we understand more and more why they have never ended up together. While in the beginning Danny is described as handsome but a bit standoffish, this perception is radically challenged as we get to know him better.

The book starts with Vivienne trying to seduce him but ends with her getting a complicated but yet fairy tale ending. More importantly, this is the story of a woman trying to juggle the demands of her career while trying to be there for everyone she loves. As life throws her numerous curve balls and she grapples with excruciating grief, her independent persona begins to unravel.

Apart from love, a recurring theme in this book is the struggle for control. Through the main character, the author attempts to explain how many women struggle with letting go and taking it easy; much to the detriment of their love lives.

As a modern woman, this book hit very close to home with me being able to see some elements of myself in Vivienne. Her struggle with relinquishing control is one that I believe many women can identify with.

While the author does a good job of describing the characters and their relationships with each other, there are some discrepancies and details left unshared. For instance, it would have been great to know more about Danny’s family and how that fed into the man he is today.

There was also little on Luis’ side of the family, especially during moments when such information should have taken center stage. Other characters like Rach also need more development. However, I do understand that the author may have been trying to focus on the main character, Vivienne.

On the plus side, the book has a rhythm to it quite like that of real life; there are a few things that matter and others that are just part of the flow. I also appreciate the use of foretelling by incorporating a psychic; that was a nice touch. At the end of the day, Our Forever Crazy Love is a good read.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-989733-00-4

ELI: More Than Just a Kitten with Ambitions to Go on a Mission

Eli: More Than Just a Kitten with Ambition to Go on a Mission by [Sherralee Tinney]

Eli is so many things. It’s funny, heart warming, passionate, creative and engaging. It’s a fiction story written with great depth. Animal books are always fun to read and the author gives life to a cat-dog relationship. I was expecting an adventure story but was pleasantly surprised to find that there’s more action that any reader will enjoy. Eli is an ambitious kitten that is born into a family of loving parents. This daring kitten is tasked with a dangerous mission and Eli is destined to fulfill it in one piece. It’s a dangerous road to take but work must be done. A supportive family is a pillar and source of hope and strength for Eli, his brother and sister are a motivation to him. Written with great compassion, this book is insightful with the writers voice being fluid, captivating and real.

Eli by Sherralee Tinney is a innovative work of art where every detail is laid out with a purpose. The author’s prose flows seamlessly with this book and relays a rich humanity in the animals. I think this is a great children’s book with a unique twist that shows that animals are strong and determined and have a desire to protect. I think this book will inspire creativity in children and express upon young readers the importance of respecting even the smallest things. Eli overcomes a great many obstacles and it’s relatable with real life challenges, therefore learning to solve a problem, or eliminate it is a good lesson, not giving up along the way. A child will look up to the strength a parent shows, as Eli’s father is strong even when injured, so does a child sees his/her own parents.

This is not your usual cat and dog story, Sherralee Tinney showcases her creativity, which captures the essentials of the human soul. Boys and girls will like this book, it willl also teach them that getting out of their comfort zone can allow them to do great things. For an adult reader this is a quick read, but this shouldn’t be too long for children as well. Children are naturally animal lovers, and a kid would easily relate to an animal story of heroism and be motivated. Sherralee Tinney has captured the hearts of animal lovers in a fun and refreshing story and I’m sure every reader will have at least one ‘aww’ moment as they read. Eli is an inspirational book that I heartily recommend.

Pages: 296 | ASIN: B0793Q9L6K

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