When We Read Together

Miss Leanne Brown
Miss Leanne Brown Author Interview

Daniel’s Dreams: Monster Mountain follows a boy who goes on an adventure to a magical land filled with monsters that teach him an important life lesson. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My inspiration is two fold. My daughter inspires me to write. She has such a creative and imaginative mind and I adore how innocent her thinking can be. The idea of her going to different places and putting on accents when she is playing filled me with such joy. I wanted other children to experience these feelings when they read my books. Reading is something that we have always done together since she was a little girl. It is something she loves to do and its a nice moment in the day where everything is just focused on where stories will take us. When we read together, I often wonder if I could write books like the ones we read together. As an English teacher, it was always something I wanted to do, but when the Pandemic hit and the world came to a stop, I took the opportunity to sit down and write something in the hope that it would be enjoyed and that it would help children all over the world. I always hope to make my daughter proud, and if she enjoys the stories I write then I am making progress with my dreams.

My second inspiration was children in general. I had always wanted to help children, which is why I became a teacher. When teaching became more about data and ticking the right boxes than it did about the children, I decided to leave my teaching job in a secondary school and joined a special educational needs school. It was there that I was able to be of more help, but I wanted to help more. It was evident that children were suffering more than ever with their mental health and that they needs a way of understanding. It was important to me to help children with mental health, as I too have suffered with mental health, and know just how difficult it can be to understand and to express. If I can help one child understand mental health then I am on my way to accomplishing just what I wanted.

The art in this book is exceptional and really brings the story to life. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Leanne Brown?

When writing the book I had in mind exactly how I wanted the monsters to look. I researched different mental illness, the colours that represent them and the key features. I then had a written description of what I wanted as well as a rough drawing of what I wanted. I then sent all this over to Bear With Us Productions who commissioned Yogesh to do the illustrations. I had seen Yogesh’s work before and really liked his style of illustrations. Yogesh read the descriptions and took guidance from me on colours and key features that represent mental illnesses. He worked his magic and I must say that I am over the moon with what he has created. They are just what I had imagined in my head. He really made everything come to life for me and the story. I am already looking forward to working on the next book with Yogesh. I can’t imagine the characters any other way than they are now. It is exciting to see how he will bring the new character Preston to life as he suffers with depression.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Children’s mental health is really important to me. I have worked with children who have suffered with mental health but have been unable to articulate how they feel and how to understand their feelings. It is easier to show a physical illness than it is a mental illness, so I wanted children to know that they are not alone and that there are numerous people out their suffering with a mental illness, and that there are thousands of people wanting to help. I hoped my books would go someway to explaining why a child might feel the way they do and how they can deal with those feelings. My hope is to continue to write books for the series of Daniel’s Dreams, focusing on one particular mental illness at a time. This will be done through the idea of Daniel returning to Monster Mountain and meeting previous monsters and new ones.

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

The next book is the second in the series of Daniel’s Dreams which will focus in Depression. We will meet a character called Preston who suffers with depressions. His monster friends find it hard to understand why he is behaving the way he does. They feel that Preston let’s him down a lot. Daniel tries to understand what is going on with Preston and gets the monsters to show more understanding. Daniel, too, needs to understand what depression is so that he can take this back the ‘real world’ where he wants to help his friends and next door neighbour, Josie.

The book is currently in the process of being finished off before it goes to editing and then production. I am hoping it should be out and available later on this year, 2021.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Daniel is worried, he must do something at school that he finds difficult. But when he meets Dex and is taken to the magical world of Monster Mountain, Daniel finds the tools he needs to cope. When it comes to the big day at school; will Daniel be able to keep his cool?This book is a beautiful story about a young boy, Daniel, who is shy, kind and often worries about things that happen in his life. When he goes to sleep at night, his dreams take him on magical adventures where he meets new people and goes to new places. However, this particular night is different. He meets Dex, who appears in his bedroom, and takes Daniel to a truly magical place called Monster Mountain. Daniel notices that every thing he meets there is very unique. Whilst there, he notices someone who really needs his help. In the process of helping his new friend, Daniel learns some ways to help himself. The ideas behind this book are to raise awareness of mental wellbeing and mental illnesses in children. The underlying story will offer strategies to cope and show symptoms that can be identifiable to both children and parents. However, there is a lovely story that can be enjoyed without having to focus on the mental wellbeing and illness.

Charms and Quirks Tell the Story

T P Graf
T.P. Graf Author Interview

Tumbleweed and Dreams follows a man who starts over in Texas and finds a more rewarding life than he had expected to find in a small dusty town. What made you write a story about this topic? Anything pulled from your life experiences?

I worked for several years at the university in Alpine, but it wasn’t until I took a couple-year break from life in IT that I was really able to immerse myself in the cultural diversity of this remote part of Texas. I was, for a time, first a volunteer and later the director of the county food panty and became a close friend of the previous director. The experience gave me personal connections to both the generous people (of their time and money) who supported the work and the clients who benefited from that generosity. On a personal level, I found living in the desert very nurturing. Work took me away for a number of years, but we plan to return there to live in 2021. Writing the trilogy sealed that decision as we found ourselves quite homesick.

If Hollywood came knocking what actors and actress’s do you picture playing the leading roles?

None come to mind though I can see Jane Lynch (coach on Glee) making a pretty convincing Sallie. I would hope for a very strong casting director who really “got” the book to find relative unknowns well-suited to the peculiarities of each character. Particularly, in the case of Sallie, Billy and Ernesto, the match of physique and personality is integral to defining their character as well as the musical talents needed for Jaime, Billy and Ernesto.

You always write such grounded and authentic characters. Were you able to relate to your characters while writing them?

I’m glad you perceive them in this way. When I wrote, “Stories for Tyler,” I found it surprisingly easy to relate to very ancient characters and to try to tell their story in a fresh way. For each of the novels, the characters become familiar companions. I just try to get out of the way and let the sum of their experience, charms and quirks tell the story.

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

I have completed the other two books in the trilogy—“Night Air Descending” and “Seeds in the Desert Wind.” Right now, I am working with my friends on the final edits. “Night Air” will be released in March and “Seeds” about a month or so later.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Jaime Cruz is a native Californian whose dream of the good life has ended in abject failure. With little more than peanut butter and an old Ranger pickup, he heads to a west Texas town he’s only seen in a movie where he longs to find a new life and some glimmer of hope he’s ever really known.
What he finds in this remote, desert town is a host of characters that slowly work him into their lives as he works them into his own. Jaime can’t conceive of a plan for his life—instead he takes each day as it comes. In the captivating, generous and unpretentious lives of the people of his adopted home, he finds that humor, solace, joy and dignity abound.

In This Strange Universe

Konn Lavery
Konn Lavery Author Interview

Into the Macrocosm is a collection of dark and bizarre stories that follows a character that observes 22 unique deaths. Did you write these stories specifically for this collection, or did you write them over time?

I wrote these stories over time. In 2018, after the launch of my thriller novel, YEGman, a friend of mine suggested writing shorter fiction – lower investment and a chance to explore new writing styles. The short stories have lived on the blog as a monthly release for my existing readers and to entice new ones. Over time, enough of them accumulated to make a collection.

A few additional short stories snuck their way into this book, like Inspirer, Crusaders, and Mr. Super. The stories were revised before being brought into the collection, allowing me to clean them up and improve the ideas and styles.

The overarching storyline with Malpherities was added specifically for this collection to support the growing Macrocosm that encompasses all my stories. This storyline was written in the second person with the Nameless One as a tribute to my readers over the years, letting them – in a way – be in this strange universe. Malpherities also plays a crucial role in my dark fantasy series Mental Damnation, so it was fun to bring him back for this book.

This collection fits within the universe you’ve created with your other novels. What are some moments fans can look forward to in this collection that connect directly to your other novels?

Malpherities, the ghoul, has the most prominent appearance within Into the Macrocosm. He has always been inspired by the Cheshire Cat and is quite versatile from a writing perspective.

We also get a new look into The Kingdom of Zingalg, where Mental Damnation takes place. Malpherities comments on the mystical land as humanity shifts into the modern world, leaving the fantastic things lost in history.

A fun cameo is Allen Oil Site Solutions, which makes appearances in my horror novel, Seed Me, and my upcoming horror, Rave. The company has been in the background for a long time, but I’ve got sinister plans for it in the future.

I really enjoyed the different ideas explored throughout this collection. What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Death is a common theme in all of my writing. We’re alive for a tiny blip in the universe’s history and its future, which makes life such a precious gift. I ponder what defines being alive a lot, which unintentionally led to many of the shorts having characters either dying, contemplating death, transcending, or barely surviving it.

The overarching plot with Malpherities and the Nameless One was written about a year ago when the pandemic started. Our world entered a weird state of limbo with the lockdown in Canada. Naturally, I started to dive further into philosophical ideas, spiritual concepts, and where humanity is going in the long run – as we see with the SciFi shorts Harvesters and Scrappers.

The most essential theme in the book is living life. I hope readers feel a resurgence to live it and enjoy this short gift. Hence the “observer” concept with witnessing others’ lives. We’re too often passive with technology integrated into our day-to-day activities, and we forget to pause and be here now.

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

My next book is a horror novel titled Rave. It will be out in the spring of this year, most likely in June. Here’s a one-liner summary:

Seth, cursed by his cousin’s crime, love, and desire, has no sweet release at the Rave after he and his friends carelessly get their DNA on an unexplainable murder; the RCMP will believe that these drugged-out kids saw a horned man-beast decapitating people – right?

I am also continuing the monthly short stories. They have migrated from the blog and onto my new Patreon that launched in February 2021. Like on the blog, they are short stories found within the Macrocosm. The shorts include audio versions I narrate and high-rez downloadable covers for smartphone backgrounds.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Patreon

Genetic Freaks. Celestial Beings. A Talking Goat Head.
Enter an obscure universe through the lives of 22 souls as the Nameless One and their ghoulish companion attempt to unlock the mysterious past of how they died. Yet, danger lurks even in the post-death realm, the Midway, and it is not keen on mortal visitors.
Award-winning author Konn Lavery’s short story collection explores his expanding macrocosm, sharing the same universe as his previous works such as the horror novel Seed Me, thriller YEGman, and the dark fantasy series Mental Damnation. These interconnected tales bring everything under one, strange, unsettling, cosmos.

Literary Titan Book Awards March 2021

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.

Gold Award Winners

Silver Award Winners

Trust vs Lust… a biography by Ian D. Niall

Intrepid Spirit by David Tunno

 

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

 

The Covenant of Wickersham Hollow

The Covenant of Wickersham Hollow: An Occult Horor Thriller by [Thomas A. Bradley]

In Wickersham Hollow stands a mansion, once splendid and vast, now rotting to the core. Newlyweds Brian and Annabelle purchased the property hoping to fix it up, but no amount of varnish and paint dissolves stains of the past. Decades ago Annabelle’s grandfather, Henry, along with six close friends, breached the threshold of that same mansion stirring up ghosts that demanded retribution then; and refuse to rest even now. As teens, the old house left them with nothing but nightmares. As adults, an undeniable connection between their thoughts and hearts persists no matter how many walls there are between one another. Living beside the old house all these years, Old Joachim Walcott enlists his right-hand man Ralph Strunk to see to his affairs. Aged but wiry, Walcott knows a lot more about the teens that broke into the Wickersham mansion that night than he’d ever let on. Renovations stall at the old mansion, and the group of friends that had broken in all those years ago are forced into a reluctant reunion in The Covenant of Wickersham Hollow by Thomas A. Bradley.

As the cover art for the book depicts, the 320-year-old mansion that takes up so much real estate within the story is wondrous and haunting. Its very walls appear to shift; very fitting for a house that we learn has a history of dark magic. From the abandoned well used to breach its foundations, to the heavy slamming doors and waterlogged stonework, there are torturous devices and demonic mirages at every corner. Set in the rural idyl of Pennsylvania the story does spend most of the time inside various homes or the sprawling mansion itself. While there are many characters, the story is written well in that we remain within the point of view of each character for fair amounts of time. Learning their backstories and how they connect, let alone their particular turns of phrase and attitudes, becomes part of the fun while the mystery unravels. Tina, Henry, Matt, Janet, Amy, Lucy, and Tommy are who make up the titular covenant. Emma, Brian, Annabel, old Joachim Walcott, and his confidant Ralph Strunk play heavily in this story and the cast thus far does not include ghosts, demons, and other entities at play. This populous cast has a singular plot in mind, however, which keeps the story flowing despite so many perspectives.

Those who enjoy a complex and overlapping storyline that keeps the reader busy from scene to scene between groups of characters will enjoy this novel. While there are quite a few names involved, the characterization really helps keep separation when the action moves from scene to scene. Each chapter takes place in a different location, so while jumping back and forth, tension remains high. Some chapters are further split into present and past. This is done clearly and it is enjoyable to see how the storytelling blends from the present to the past seamlessly with a unique style. Characters are often mid-sentence when their imagination takes over, pulling the reader into their memories. It is a fun tactic Bradly uses to great effect.

Along with the mystery and layered delivery, The Covenant of Wickersham Hollow is rooted deeply in horror. Injury, violence, madness, and possession are woven throughout and crescendo with a moment of profane ravishing coupled with demonic lust. Jargon and misspellings to reflect different dialects are used heavily throughout this novel and it is consistent so it’s easy to gather what the speaker means as it would be face to face. Whether you are a fan of using punctuation and spelling to portray jargon and dialect is purely subjective, but is used well here. While there are one or two points where an omniscient point of view nearly supersedes the character and appears to run contrary to them, there are very few instances of this, so it never takes us out of the story.

In the tradition of Ghost Story and Bag of Bones comes a haunting journey of a group of people bound by secrets forged in youth. Easily five stars for those who enjoy a fantastical ride through a malignant mansion and tainted history of a small village. There are some deviously dark notes heard in the music of The Covenant of Wickersham Hollow.

Pages: 354 | ASIN: B019EIBO1M

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Where’s My Joey?: A heartwarming bedtime story for children of all ages

Where's My Joey?: A heartwarming bedtime story for children of all ages by [Wendy Monica Winter, Roxana Antochi]

Where’s My Joey? by Wendy Winter is a heartfelt children’s story of a mother kangaroo that’s lost her Joey! She travels all over Australia looking for him. She talks to everyone, Mr. Echidna, the Kookaburra Family, even friends in Canada! As her Joey’s dinner grows cold, she worries that she may not find him.

Author Wendy Winter’s story is filled with adorable characters that were very emotive throughout the story, which is important to help children learn to recognize emotions. Each page is covered top to bottom illustrations that have a soft color pallet that compliments that overall soothing feel of the story. The pictures are beautiful, detailed, and some of them are ready to frame and hang up on the wall as art. I’m thinking of two scenes specifically; the one where the mother and her joey are sitting and reading together, and the map of Australia. These are amazing art pieces all on their own and the map of Australia helps the reader learn where certain animals live, and the geography.

The plot of the story sends the mother kangaroo on a hunt that serves as a great opportunity to introduce children to different types of interesting animals. It reminds me of the P. D. Eastman book ‘Are You My Mother’.

Where’s My Joey? is a cute and entertaining story packed with loveable characters and vibrant scenes. Where’s My Joey? is the most heartwarming and educational picture book I have read all year.

Pages: 31 | ASIN: B08L27P6NZ

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Fetch

Victor and Victoria, highly competitive brother and sister, are accustomed to having their grandfather’s attention and are quite used to having their pitches heard at Christmas. Their inventions are always looked upon with wonder, and they know each year their grandfather will consider each of them as contenders for the annual featured Christmas toy. They are both ready this year–Victor with Billy and Victoria with Fetch. Victoria is sure she will win this year. She just knows that Fetch will easily win over her brother’s robot. What the two don’t know is that there is someone else in the picture–someone who could cost them everything.

Fetch, by Paul Richardson, is the tale of two twenty-somethings competing for top honors in their family’s company. All either of them wants is to be recognized and not be ousted by the guest inventor invading their space. The idea of having someone outdo them or take their coveted place as future head of the company is causing them both anxiety and nightmares. Their battle to maintain their place is not the only storyline in Richardson’s work. When Fetch is discovered in a recycling bin, things change for everyone.

Written with young adults in mind, Fetch pulls at the heartstrings. Des Perret’s storyline will grab readers and pull them in instantly. His desire to provide for his family and the struggle he must endure to earn a living will resonate even with young adult readers. I love that Richardson is tapping into feelings of empathy and showing readers of this genre what it is like for adults to work hard to overcome obstacles and financial woes. Des wants to be a good father and wants to make his children happy–this is a beautiful lesson for young readers.

Richardson’s work is unique and features a focus on technology that will undoubtedly appeal to young adult readers. Amazingly Fetch’s artificial intelligence becomes increasingly sentient and almost frighteningly real. Readers will enjoy watching Fetch grow from a concept in Victoria’s mind to a main character in the plot.

I would definitely recommend Richardson’s book to any young adult reader interested and versed in technology. Fetch’s plot twists make the book a fun and is perfect for anyone looking for a lite and science fiction book.

Pages: 288 | ISBN: 171637927X

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Alternate Realities of a Similar Tale.

Lee Matthew Goldberg
Lee Matthew Goldberg Author Interview

Orange City follows an advertising executive whos new addictive product causes him to question his reality to dangerous, and world changing, effect. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Seeing the power of advertising was a big influence. I remember watching TV one day and it was an ad for sodas and I got up from the couch and grabbed a soda without even thinking about it. The ad was that good! Orange City began as a short story about an ad exec addicted to the sodas in his new campaign, but there weren’t any science fiction aspects to the story beyond that. It existed in this world. When it became a novel it needed more, so the City became a character as well, along with the Man, and the Outside World. The story has been published separately by a journal, so I like to think of both as alternate realities of a similar tale.

Graham is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thank you. Graham is someone who has been beaten down so much in his life that he’s lost himself. It’s what makes him so susceptible to the soda addictions. But he shows real growth as a character as the book progresses. He’s someone who’s been oppressed but learns to stand up for himself and others like him. He becomes the face of the resistance. I wanted a character that had the ability to be molded. Someone who was weak but that you rooted for. Someone who could become a product for change.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The threat of democracy being destroyed is a huge part of the novel. There are allusions to our own society and the last four years we went through in the United States. Also the manipulation of the advertising world and how much they control our lives. And the power of brands that exist in our world like Pow! How easily we have become addicted to so many different things to our detriment. And I stopped really consuming sugar so that had a lot to do with the anti-soda messages.

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

I have a YA series coming out in the Spring. The first book is called Runaway Train and is about a teenage girl in the 1990s who runs away from home after her sister dies to become a grunge singer and meet Kurt Cobain. The first two books have been written, but I’m editing the second right now and plotting out the third in the series. Look for them soon!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website

Imagine a secret, hidden City that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the City forever. You can never leave.  

Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the “Man” who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the Man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.   

After ten years as an advertising executive, Graham Weatherend receives an order to test a new client, Pow! Sodas. After one sip of the orange flavor, he becomes addicted, the sodas causing wild mood swings that finally wake him up to the prison he calls reality.

A dynamic mash-up of 1984 meets LOST, Orange City is a lurid, dystopian first book in a series that will continue with the explosive sequel Lemonworld.     
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