Blog Archives

Inspiration to Endure

J.R. Alcyone
J.R. Alcyone Author Interview

The Stars That Govern Us follows a young surgeon who struggles with his own fallibility as many lives hang in the balance. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

When I was working on my first novel, Five Fathoms Beneath, I decided the main character’s father would be a heart surgeon. I ended up doing a lot of research into early pediatric congenital heart surgery as background for that character, but very little of that material actually made it into Five Fathoms Beneath. The story of the development heart-lung machine wouldn’t leave me alone, however. It was such an incredible achievement, and it had every element to make a great drama. I was surprised no one had tried to write a novel about it before.

I ended up settling on creating two fictional surgeons who are best friends (I think the term “bromance” applies to Alec and Pete), building them historically accurate backstories, and fitting them into what was happening in 1956 as realistically as I could.

Alec’s character was intriguing and I enjoyed how you developed him throughout the story. What were some ideals that guided his character development?

Alec is very much an #ownvoices character. An #ownvoices character is a character from a marginalized group who is written by a member of that group (in this case mental health). Characters with mental health issues are typically represented in media and literature as stereotypes — and harmful ones at that, such as those which equate mental illness with violence. With Alec, I hoped to force the reader to reconsider what, exactly, mental illness looks like. I drew heavily off my own experiences in dealing with generalized anxiety disorder and a mood disorder in writing Alec’s character. The thought helixes he experiences, and the crippling self-doubt he feels, are things I wrote from the heart. (Being an author with an anxiety disorder isn’t exactly easy.)

In terms of Alec’s arc in the story, many early cardiothoracic surgeons did leave the field, just as Alec seriously considers doing. These surgeries were incredibly dangerous and many, many children did not survive. For Alec, his inspiration to endure and continue on as a heart surgeon comes from his making peace with the fact that someone must do this work, as difficult and as painful as it is.

I enjoyed the medical drama in the story and found it very compelling. What research did you undertake to ensure things were accurate in your book?

I did a huge amount of research into the medical aspects of the story, to the point that I actually bought a cardiothoracic surgery textbook from the early 1960s to try to get a better understanding of the techniques. I probably read at least two dozen books and articles on everything from surgery to the heart-lung machine to some of the personalities who appear in passing.

Otherwise, this was a place where networking with other authors really paid off. My friend, Dr. Brandon Beaber, author of Resilience in the Face of Multiple Sclerosis, volunteered to read the manuscript for me. Although he is a neurologist not a heart surgeon, Dr. Beaber’s help was invaluable.

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

I’m in the planning stages of a novel set in 1962 that is positioned between my first book, Five Fathoms Beneath, and The Stars That Govern Us. It is designed to tie the two stories together. My working title is The Sweetness of Adversity.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

A gifted young surgeon. One of the 20th century’s boldest inventions. And the unconquerable, fragile, and amazing human heart. 
As one of two dozen teams worldwide performing congenital heart surgeries in the middle 1950s, Alec Serafeim and his best friend, Pete O’Neill, excel in an unforgiving field where the line between life and death is eyelash thin. But while Pete is satisfied with all they have accomplished, Alec aches to do more. Desperate to save more children, he also wishes to be remembered for something other than his mental breakdown ten years earlier.
Alec’s opportunity arrives via a chance to join the race to perform Australia’s first open-heart surgery using total cardiopulmonary bypass. Swept up in the competition, with a heart-lung machine cobbled together in the hospital basement, Alec charges ahead with surgery on a gravely ill child over Pete’s misgivings.
But the heart, for all its amazing strength, is a fragile organ. And when events conspire to shatter Alec’s heart, he is left questioning everything. With sick children’s lives hanging in the balance, as well as his career as a surgeon, he must find a way to cope with his fallibility–if he hopes to finish what he started.
Set in a fictionalized version of Perth, Western Australia in 1956, The Stars That Govern Us is a captivating, poignant, and unforgettable medical – historical novel set against the backdrop of the development of the heart-lung machine and the birth of open-heart surgery.

Carried Away

Carried Away by [A. E. Brouhard]

It’s the summer before senior year and Leila is excited to start this new phase of her life, preparing for adulthood, alongside her best friend Trin, both of them will find that love and friendship can become enemies very quickly. She’ll have to navigate the ups and downs of life and what originally started as a way to mend her broken heart proves to be a challenge to her loyalty. She’ll have to make polarizing decisions that could shake her world up.

Carried Away by A.E Brouhard is a coming of age story that shows us an intriguing life through the eyes of the main character. Carried Away is a riveting teen drama, where we are introduced to the life of Leila, following her in her daily routines, learning about her desires and getting a good glimpse into her social life. Brouhard does a fantastic job of humanizing the characters, making them each relatable and authentic. While the story may feel monotonous at times, it picks ups with the introduction of new characters and their dynamics with the protagonist livens things up. Leo, for example, we meet him very deep into the story and he shifts the narrative and brings tension between the two main characters that has to be resolved or else they’ll face consequences.

The narrative felt appropriate for a young adult audience, with simple words and a consistent delivery of dramatic events makes the pacing feel quick and makes it hard to put the book down. We are also let into Leila’s inner monologue which adds depth to her character.

Carried Away is a contemporary drama that will appeal to readers looking for a romance story that’s grounded in reality but still has passionate and believable characters. Author A.E Brouhard has written an entertaining romance novel that explores life, love, and friendship.

Pages: 232 | ASIN: B0873VHYHP

Buy Now From B&N.com

Second’s Chance

Second's Chance by [Kwen D Griffeth]

Second’s Chance, by Kwen D Griffeth, is about a middle-aged woman named Miriam and an enigmatic man named Reuben. By a coincidence, Miriam finds herself in the middle of a mysterious yet enchanting place amid mountains called Beaver’s Slap, Wyoming. She came as a traveler and a wanderer but destiny had something else in mind. She finds herself caught up in the attraction of not only Beaver’s Slap but also a new life that seems to be forming around her. She starts to get familiar with the surroundings and makes new friends. But what sparks her interest the most is the handsome man Reuben, whose entire past is a mystery to everyone. Under the common spark of attraction lies a story of both the character’s hidden past which brought them to an isolated location in the first place. They are both running from their past and find solace in the company of each other and the people around them.

Kwen D. Griffeth did an excellent job of keeping just the right pace in the story. With every line, I was more glued to the book than ever as there was more to know and more mystery to uncover. The writing is very powerful and you can feel the character’s every emotion and their personality as well. The scenes are set beautifully. The friendship between Evelyn and Miriam is very refreshing and so is Oliver, the owner of Happy Trappers.

The characters were very well developed, each was intriguing in their own way and felt authentic. Miriam’s character as a woman was a breath of fresh air. She has a depth and intelligence that comes out organically throughout the novel. Her character is a strong, independent woman with wit, humor, and charm. She can talk and hold an audience’s interest with ease. Reuben is written with equally engrossing style as well. Although he’s a typical form of a handsome man, he’s still enigmatic and he’s one character that I felt was consistently alluring because of it. There were some moments where the narration of the surroundings felt a bit elongated and stretched, but this did not have much impact on the overall readability of the book.

Second’s chance is a wonderful book with an amazing hook that will keep you captivated until the end. Fans of western’s that are looking for a grounded but enthralling will find plenty to love in Kwen D Griffeth’s charming novel.

Pages: 317 | ASIN: B08HPCNDVM

Buy Now From B&N.com

Gifted

Gifted by [Walter Strychowskyj]

Wally is managing to maneuver through life one drama averted at a time. From the very beginning, he has led an exceptional life and possesses abilities like no one else around him. He is one of a select group of people in the world with highly-developed senses and a memory that never fails; his gifts are both an asset and a curse. Nothing gets by Wally and, unfortunately, everything happens to him. He has lived through his mother being killed and almost losing his dream of graduating from Harvard’s prestigious law school. Somehow, Wally always manages to persevere.

Gifted, by Walter Strychowskyj, is the story of a gifted but troubled man and the many obstacles he faces throughout his life. The primary dilemma Wally must navigate is his blossoming relationship with Elizabeth. Their romance and the drama surrounding the two of them and Wally’s nemesis, Jeffrey, permeates the story. Interspersed throughout the book are the many complications with which Wally must deal with regarding his family’s involvement in drug distribution–a thorn in Wally’s side for much of his life.

This book has great potential, but I felt that the book bounces from one storyline to another without clean breaks and I felt like there were no clear connections between them. While the characters were interesting, I felt like the characters emotions rapidly changed. I was left wanting a deep dive into each of these characters because what was given was so intriguing.

This book definitely has potential to have a riveting plot that uses parallel storylines about the family’s involvement in illegal activity.

Gifted by Walter Strychowskyj has phenomenal potential in each of the characters. With a little more cohesiveness I think this could be a stellar book that explores some deep topics through a compelling character. Readers who enjoy crime fiction stories or family drama grounded in reality will enjoy Gifted by Walter Strychowskyj.

Pages: 332 | ASIN: B08MWVPPMD

Buy Now From B&N.com

CONSCIOUSNESS AND PERCEPTION: A Part-Fictionalised Reflection On Humanity’s Struggle To Know Reality

CONSCIOUSNESS AND PERCEPTION: A Part-Fictionalised Reflection On Humanity’s Struggle To Know Reality by [Tony McKay]

Consciousness and Perception by Tony McKay, is a fictional story revolving around a family of central characters who grew up amidst incredible hardships. However, the message that the book conveys is deeply real and personal. Ninian and Paul are brothers and although they are related by blood their lives are completely different. They both face dark realities and personal demons throughout their life. However, one brother copes with the darkness by taking the path of a missionary while the other brother turns toward drugs to cope.

Two stark realities, one common problem – life. Tony McKay delves into life’s hardships and how different people will resort to different solutions to deal with them. He writes with depth and intelligence in a story that is intriguing and breathtaking. Author Tony McKay realistically explores the themes of substance abuse, mental health issues, detachment from family, emotional struggles, and how all these affect the people around you. The book is captivating because of its portrayal of real human struggle. There is only one thing that separates this shared experience of pain and that is an individual’s perception and internal faith. The author has aptly combined fiction with reality. You feel connected to the characters. The characters, with their distinct traits, are very well written. The book provides a glimpse into a dark reality but also depicts how life gives you the strength to move through grave moments. The author makes you reflect on life and the people in it.

A critical aspect of the book is that it makes you look at different perspectives of life and how people under one roof can be so different. It shows you the first-hand experience of people fighting their demons and surviving through it. Some turn to God, some turn to their inner selves but the aim to fend off darkness remains the same.

Consciousness and Perception brilliantly connects you to the characters through common struggles that always feel authentic. Conversations feel real, although I felt that the words were a bit confusing in certain places, but it rarely detracted from the enjoyment of the novel. While I enjoyed the deep dive into various topics, I felt like there were moments where the book was heavy on the details.

With all of that said, I highly recommend Consciousness and Perception as it effortlessly explores family and humanity through a unique lens in a consistently intriguing way.

Pages: 321 | ASIN: B07RV78LVQ

Buy Now From B&N.com

To Move Past All The Hurt

Zachary Ryan Author Interview
Zachary Ryan Author Interview

Silent Screams follows four friends in the aftermath of a school shooting that unravels secrets and relationships. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this compelling story?

It came from a song called Prom Queen by Katie Turner. She has a line about a audience that was never meant for me. It was where the idea for Zachary came to be. It was also my 50th novel that I wrote. I wanted to add elements from each of the first 49 in there.

We really get to dive deep into each unique character in the story. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Honestly, it was Cass. I just had such love for her. I wanted so much for her to be strong and be able to move past all the hurt she had to deal with. I just honestly don’t know how she handled that situation. You find out your boyfriend is cheating on you, and you can’t hate her because she lost her life from one of your best friend’s actions. Then on top of that Jarele was a good guy. He helped Cass through so much. It was hard for Cass to hate Jarele. I just was impressed by her strength and where she ended up.

In this story we get to explore how families and relationships are all different and complex. What were some themes you wanted to capture within them?

Honestly, that everyone goes through some hardships in their life. I also wanted to go through this idea that no one is a full villain or victim. With Gabe each person viewed Gabe in such a different way, and I really wanted to portray that. My theme for all my novels is make sure to not judge someone because you don’t know what’s behind someone’s closed doors.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available
I’m working on a campy book. It’s a lot like my High Schools Queen trilogy. It’s called Cutthroat Cheerleader. It’s sassy, campy, and a murder mystery too. It will be out actually in October.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

For a group of friends, one mistake changed the course of their lives forever.
In the aftermath of a tragic school shooting, the group must find their own form of justice and a way to begin healing from a wound that just won’t stop hurting.
For them, the lines were drawn.
Right and wrong became blurred.
Friends became enemies.
Told from the perspective of four friends, we learn how one student’s revenge reigned terror over a school and a community– causing secrets to unfold and relationships to be tested.
A compelling and powerful story about a school shooting. A must read.

Literary Titan Book Awards September 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

A Little Bit Extraordinary by Esther Robinson

A Saint and a Sinner by Stephen H. Donnelly and Diane O’Bryan

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

Mountain Heat by Natrelle Long

Pandora’s Gardener by David C Mason

 

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

 

Levels to My Insanity: UnMastered

Levels To My Insanity: UnMastered by [Adrianne Mouton]

Levels to My Insanity: Unmastered by Adrianne Mouton is a story of generational trauma that plagues three women from the Dagher family in West Virginia. The story starts with Ethel Dagher, the pain she suffers from childhood abuse, loss, and mental health conditions lead her to inflict pain onto the generations that succeed her. After Ethel’s story, we follow two generations of her granddaughters, Tawny and Violet. The women both suffer from traumas of their own while still carrying pain from the generations that preceded them. The sheer hope for relief, healing, and triumph is all the Dagher women have.

A roller-coaster of emotions; Levels to My Insanity grips you from the start! The development of the characters is quick but thorough. Mouton fleshes out her characters with detailed backstories, realistic dialogue, and poetic inner monologue. The use of foreshadowing in the stories of each woman leaves you craving more. A glance towards something by one of the characters can mean so much more than what meets the eye.

The realistic atmosphere is beautiful, but at times chilling. Mouton uses nature’s beauty to artistically convey the thoughts and emotions of the characters. Stormy clouds, a magnolia tree, and the night sky represent gloom, light, and dread; these are only a few of the elements Mouton uses.

Mouton is a master of prose; she takes the English language. Her poetic approach makes you feel as if you are inside the characters’ minds and living through their pain. Compelling descriptions and poetry like sentences set the story apart from similar novels on the market.

I must state that although I loved this book, the subjects discussed weighed heavy on my heart during and after reading it. Authors often promise to deliver a breathtaking and heart-wrenching tale but only end up scratching the surface of the issues they are discussing. In the case of Levels to My Insanity, Mouton delivers this promise brutally and truthfully.

Combining all the remarkable elements I mentioned previously; realistic imagery, thorough character development, and rich prose; Adrianne Mouton has created an unforgettable novel! Levels to My Insanity: Unmastered is a work of heartbreaking literary fiction that dares to speak on topics that many authors are scared to.

Pages: 287 | ASIN: B078YFJ77X

Buy Now From B&N.com

%d bloggers like this: