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.
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In Forsaken, we see the changing lives of four women who have come together in friendship, mainly due to Ellen’s faith in God. When Anne’s son is injured by a hit-and-run driver, Ellen’s daughter, Ruthie, receives a message she feels she must deliver, but will the doctors believe a child hears from God? Devastated over their son in a coma, Anne and her estranged husband must find ground to struggle through this overwhelming situation.
Harriet’s love for the child allows her to set aside the fact she has found Marigold to be the daughter she allowed into adoption over twenty years ago. Now the two sit in a hospital room while Harriet wonders how to approach her. Marigold has her own problems; pregnant with complications she cannot reveal because everyone would know she had married Matthew, and his parents are dead set against her.
Life has become nothing but trial and hardship; Bitty’s chief of police has been injured in a drug bust that left one officer dead. Andrew Graves was the suspect’s PR man. Had it not been for one man seeing something worth saving in Andrew, he would be in prison. Now his boss is on trial. Just when they think it can’t get much worse, Ellen’s ex-husband decides if Daniel Gates can’t come up with a certain amount of money, he will declare his right as Ruthie’s father, gain custody, and move Ruthie to Florida.
Will Ellen’s undying faith in the God she believes in sustain her or will she fall?
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The Enigma Ignite is filled with technological advancements, drama, and humor while it assembles an interesting cast of characters to solve a problem with high tech communications. What was the inspiration for the theme of this novel?
Communications avenues have evolved to the point where we can speak over almost any device, often with video included. In our line of professional work using cell towers, satellites and SIP opens up more avenues for conversations to be monitored or masked. Each of our stories focus on the technology capabilities as well as how we use and abuse technology. Those who want to see what is occurring and yet they themselves hide under the radar are only limited by their imagination. A lot like a fictional author, right?
Technology is a lot like art in that it can inspire different interpretations in each person. The difference however is that with technology if you see dark thoughts you can use the product for dark actions. Enhanced communications for the battlefield, the main theme for this story, is just exactly what we were trying to illustrate. We create this brilliant researcher, Su Lin, trying to improve food production and the bad guys have seen the possibilities of her development efforts, yet have mapped it to their purposes in the dark net. The point we are trying to drive home is that no matter what your intentions were there will be some entity capable of morphing it into something never imagined. The problem then becomes how to put the genie back into the bottle?
Your work is able to effortlessly switch between drama and humor. Is that because of the two of you working together? Which one of you do you find lends more levity to your writing?
We do have fun working together to continue the aspects of drama and humor. Burkey has continually tried to learn humor over the years and is improving. The subtle aspects of the humor for the most part in the early stories of the series is Breakfield, however as you get further into the series Burkey comes up with some winning humor aspects. Over the years we have had a lot of humor in heavy drama circumstances when stuck in a horrific late night upgrade. Like the time we had talk down an engineer that ran screaming out of the building with our emergency chocolate pieces. You just can’t make that stuff up. Of course, we can’t tell you who wrote which portions because then we would need to arrange an unfortunate accident for you in a future story.
I found Su Lin and Franklin’s story line to be intriguing all the way around. What was your inspiration for the characters and relationship?
In our experience pigs are creatures who can bind with people, like a dog. They also have some physiology that makes that ideal for this kind of experimentation. Su Lin needed a new way to focus her creative efforts and do something for humanity that would make her feel like the valuable individual she is. Her brilliant character has evolved in the series and we wanted to give her some additional dimension. We honestly felt that putting the two together would interesting. Perhaps we were slightly influenced by the long ago story of a family, a pig, and a spider.
The Enigma Ignite is the third book in the Enigma series. What did you do different in this story to keep things fresh?
The technology keeps our series fresh as it keeps changing and we are in a position to observe its applications. However, it is the characters that give the series a very unique perspective. We have a subject rich pool of people and technology for our award winning techno thriller series. We incorporate the numerous characters, aka business professionals, we have encountered and it simply allows our imaginations to run rampant. Nanotechnology, drones, and military superiority as a mix seemed to play right into our process. The technologies alone don’t matter without the human interactions. The human interaction is more inspiring when they help paint a great story. We believe we balance a great combination of the technologies, research and characters to keep it fresh. We are so delighted you enjoyed it. In subsequent stories some characters, good and bad return, and some simply earn their just desserts. New technology continues to evolve our stories.
What does research to improve animal husbandry to boost global food supplies have in common with next generation high-tech military communications? A Texas university professor, quietly working in her field of study, finds her unconventional communication techniques have put her in the cross-hairs of multiple interested parties. Her applied research of nanotechnology, coupled with new programming methods has gotten her more attention than she wanted.
When the world’s biggest powers compete for superiority, it’s not larger weapons or greater numbers of soldiers that top their wish lists. Instead, it’s leveraging the latest technology improvements: nanotechnology,dynamic programming algorithms, and drones, working together to build the next generation of military communications. But what challenges do they face before emerging as the tall hog at the trough?
As Keith Austin Avery scouts new technology and new applications under his military contract his research draws the attention of a powerful terrorist group, with traumatic consequences for him and his subcontractor Eilla-Zan Marshall. Will they be forced to reveal the confidential military plans? Or is all this information already out on the Dark Net?
The R-Group is engaged to locate terrorists and their captives. Marshaling all data and using sophisticated analytics, they uncover more than they planned. Is there government corruption? Are secrets kept from those who can help? Most importantly, how many will lose their lives in the fight to perfect advanced battlefield communications?
This fast-paced third installment of the Enigma Series,TheEnigma Ignite, has the R-Group’s Jacob Michaels and Petra Rancowski working closely with a powerful and talented team to uncover the newest technological inroads. The technology programs they uncover results in a race against time to save lives.
Award winning authors, Breakfield and Burkey, provide a solid espionage thriller, that incorporates a satisfying balance of technology, tension, surprisingly sensitive romance,and the blurred lines that surround the age-old conflict between good and evil.
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God’s love shines through Ellen’s excitement as she dons the red dress won from the Bridal Shoppe. Daniel has invited all the ladies to attend Hutson’s Ball, but excitement dims as she recalls the animosity between their new neighbors Marigold and Harriet. While Anne’s ex-husband tries to ruin her life, Bitty is miserable because she and the chief of police have called it quits. But Ellen knows hearts are changing thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit. In spite of the women’s resolve to remain aloof, Ellen has faith Jesus can save them and God will keep them. If they could call a truce for one night and enjoy the ball, Ellen would be happy, but what happens is inevitable. Andrew shows up in a drunken stupor and confronts Anne about their son. From there it all becomes interesting as Harriet asserts authority and Bitty is stunned to see another woman on the arm of the chief of police. When Daniel is encountered by Madonna, his old girlfriend, Ellen knows no matter what happens God has a plan for each person. All the elements of God’s grace and forgiveness are seen in Forbidden through the changing of each of these women’s lives. One by one, Ellen knows the Lord will break them down—she only prays that He will do it gently.
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From the Heart, by Sally Forest, is a series of six short stories about human passions and emotions, and how they come to the fore when average people face challenging circumstances. The characters range from a young girl in a troubled household to a group of women dealing with the realities of old age, all from various parts of Australia, the author’s home. With a background in both teaching and psychology, it’s not hard to see her interest in the human condition and how she might have a greater insight into it than most.
The stories certainly feature a wide range of social backgrounds and issues, providing a delightful variation for the reader. The narratives are easy to follow, with focused attention on the plot and a small cast of characters – the author has avoided the unnecessary description that can artificially extend a short story and make for long, boring reading.
At the same time, the writing does come across as almost a “write by numbers”, as all of the stories essentially follow the same traditional dramatic structure, including a sort of moral lesson, or insight, at their conclusion. However, there is a freshness provided by the solid inclusion of multiple female protagonists, who I consider more well-written than the few male ones. They are given realistic passions and thought processes, with their inner strengths shown as much as their perceived outer weaknesses. Sympathetic female characters are sadly hard to come by in fiction, even now, and I have to applaud any attempt to do so.
The choice of language is on the simple side, reflecting the characters’ ordinariness and making it accessible to read. There has been a clear effort to match language use to particular characters as well, such as the descriptions in Mouse Mat; situations are compared to the toys and balloons that would be familiar to the young protagonist narrating it. For non-Australian readers, it’s worth noting the odd piece of dialect included in the collection, although it generally doesn’t distract from the work – skerrick was a new word for me at least!
Mouse Mat was probably my favourite of the stories; my least favourite was Heart Buddies. It is very dialogue-heavy, which is hard to get through, but the paragraphing could also be improved to clarify who is talking and when. This story also includes errors, although not related to the quality of the narrative, still detracts from the work for me – some missed words and punctuation.
From the Heart is a pleasant read. It provides a window into human emotion and how people deal with difficulties in their lives. There are plenty of situations to sympathise with and think about long after reading – the stories are memorable for all of the right reasons.
Pages: 56 | ASIN: B07797S3ZV
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The world of Androva, where magic rules. Galen is the best underage magician for millennia, much to the dismay of the power hungry Professor Cassius. In the name of research, Galen and his friend, the talented but troubled Nico, begin opening time travelling portals to other worlds. Galen finds himself on Terra where he meets the beautiful Claudia. He wants to stay with her forever but the arrival of Jax and Shannon from two thousand years in the future changes everything. Galen must now return to fight for the lives of his friends and family. But will they survive magic?
Alex C. Vick has built a rich and enchanting world of spells and sorcery in Surviving Magic. Classic themes of love, good vs. evil, and the importance of friendship run through the story, but they seem fresh and innovative in the hands of the author due to an exciting plot, diverse settings and interesting characters.
Vick evokes place very well, and the juxtaposition of the two worlds of Terra and Androva is expertly done. The setting of ancient Italy is an interesting plot device that really works, as real historical events such as the revolt of Boudicca are seamlessly interwoven with magic. Vick also excels here with her use of tangible imagery; I felt as though I was strolling through the bustling streets of Pompeii!
The book is written in first person narrative from Galen’s perspective. He is a flawed, but likeable hero and the love story between him and Claudia is heartfelt and authentic. The other less central characters are well-drawn, they all have distinctive voices and Vick’s use of dialogue adds humour and lightness to otherwise dramatic situations. Because we observe the full story arc of the characters in this book, I really came to care about their individual fates. Nico’s development is particularly interesting due to the complex nature of his internal struggles and motivations and the villain of the piece, Professor Cassius, is supremely creepy!
Vick has developed a very complex and creative system of magic, which adds multiple dimensions and interest to the story. The only downside to this is it’s slightly overwhelming to have sygnuses, symbols, spells, and force fields thrown at you over a couple of pages (pheeew!) I prefer to be shown rather than told what is happening and there is some occasional info-dumping. I sometimes felt like I was getting lost down a portal myself! Because of this, the pacing seems off to begin with and the narrative is somewhat lost. Generally, though, the dramatic scenes are excellent and kept me on the edge of my seat.
Surviving Magic becomes very much a standalone story, with originality and twists and turns galore. Overall, this is a great addition to the fantasy genre, and I look forward to more exciting adventures from the Legacy of Androva series.
Pages: 279 | ASIN: B076ZSTT2D
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Keep the lights on when you read this book! Sour Lake Or, The Beast will transport you back in time to East Texas, 1911. Chapter one is called Pray, and that is your only warning of what is to lie ahead. A brutal and gruesome death of the young school teacher Lenard Dalchau leads you into the world of this small Texas county of Ochiltree. Prejudice and racism run high and the locals want this death solved and forgotten quick. Reeves Duncan, the sheriff however isn’t one to just jump to conclusions and hang the wrong man. Agreeing with the sheriff that this is no ordinary murder case is “Doc” Walter McDivitt that has seen enough brutality for a lifetime. These two take the lead in discovering the truth. Together they discover a truth that no one wants to hear, and no one would believe if they did.
Bruce McCandless III is a talented author that is a cross between Steven King and the voice actor Robert Clotworthy. The historical descriptions and language are offensive to modern society but are accurate for 1911. It is so clear you feel like you are really back in Texas in the early 1900’s and living with this society. I’m not typically a person that enjoys horror novels because my imagination will just keep me up all night with every bump in the dark. McCandless however has written a story so engaging I couldn’t put it down. There are so many surprises in the pages it is hard to reveal much for fear of giving away the next piece of the plot. I can say I fell in love with the character of Sheriff Duncan. A man that lost his wife, became an alcoholic and overcame it. A mild mannered man that wants to be fair and not rock the boat. He does have a conscience and uses that to guide him as the story progresses, that inner instinct and unwillingness to follow a mob mentality. Sheriff Duncan believes in facts, and even when those facts point to things that should not be real he doesn’t discredit it. When all is said and done, he just wants to walk away. But how can you walk away from the nightmares he endured?
This is a novel you just can’t put down, it will draw in readers that like historical fiction, horror, a little sci-fi and a lot of action and gore. All the main characters are given rich back stories so you feel you really know who they are and how they ended up in Ochiltree County. The story line is unique and completely original probably because of when it takes places. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone that needs an escape from modern drama, this book will take you away and make you think, as well as surprise you from one chapter to the next.
Pages: 228 | ASIN: B06XR9T91W
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The Bug Boys vs. Professor Blake Blackhart follows Alex and Ian who still have nanobots inside them and retain the ability to take on the different aspects of bugs they swallow. What direction did you want to take this book that was different from the first story?
Well the first book was the origin story. How the kids got their powers, and a lot of get-to-know-you stuff, where they live, etc. In the second book, I didn’t have to go over all that again, at least not as much, so I focused on upping the ante with bigger bugs, robots, action, and a proper super villain character. I also wanted to explore what being a hero was all about.
The writing in your novel is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
This is my writing style. I like to keep things moving along at a brisk pace, and I always jump on an opportunity to see the funny side.
I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?
Thank you! As a kid I was always a story teller. More recently I set up my own movie review blog, and after a couple of years doing that I decided I was ready to construct a full novel. Since I’ve watched and analysed so many films (and books, I read a lot too) I think I’ve got a good handle on what’s needed in a story. It also doesn’t hurt to review one’s work with critique groups either!
Will there be a book three in The Bug Boys series? If so, where will it take readers?
There will, eventually! Tentatively titled, The Bug Boys and The Bullet Ant Queen. This one will spend a lot more time exploring the alien’s planet (The Bug Boys are going to visit!), while I explore the subjects of change, and the environment. This one will likely take a bit longer to put together as I also have another novel I’m working on. Something for adult readers, a little afterlife dramedy!
The fantastic superhero adventure that began with The Bug Boys continues! Alex Adams and Ian Harris take on Blake Blackhart, a disgraced Oxford professor. He discovers the boys’ source of power and plots to use the Secti’s alien technology to wreak havoc across the galaxy.
With a proper real-life supervillain in the village, the boys must step up their superhero game if they are to put a stop to the professor’s nefarious schemes. Along the way, they make new friends, and they encounter new bugs and superpowers. With the fate of the galaxy in the balance, the boys dig deep within themselves to truly understand what it means to be a hero!
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Spinner is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a horror, supernatural, and urban fantasy as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I never plan to genre-cross when I write, but it happens organically. My mind doesn’t see niches or genres because I don’t like labels (which publishers do like because they feel niches are easier to market to.) I usually start with an idea or a character and build from there. For Spinner, the idea was a boy in a wheelchair who could heal everyone but himself. From there I populated the story with characters I hope readers will care about, and considered the possible threats to such a uniquely gifted boy from those seeking to exploit him. I love horror stories, so adding in an element of the supernatural came easily. I tried to send my characters on a journey that crosses genres and can be enjoyed even by those who don’t like horror. The disabilities of the characters are based on real kids I taught as a special educator, and I wanted to celebrate the reality that for all of us, our abilities outweigh our disabilities.
Alex is a spinner, capable of taking on others emotions, physical ailments, and pains. What was the inspiration for Alex’s abilities?
I have always been very emphatic, and knew early on I could never be a doctor or someone who deals with suffering on a daily basis because I’d feel the pain of the other person way too much. However, all walks of life have suffering, and I’ve experienced it in many people, especially kids I’ve taught or worked with as a juvenile hall volunteer. I so badly wanted to take their pain away that the character of Alex was born in my mind – someone who could not just listen empathetically, but actually remove the pain from the other person and then expel it from himself. It took many years to bring the character, and his story, to fruition, and the result is Spinner.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I think Roy was my favorite because he has other struggles besides his learning disability, and because of his intense loyalty to Alex. Friendship is a major theme in all of my books because I believe it is the purest form of love, and the friendship Roy, Alex, and the other characters have for each other is more powerful than all the forces pitted against them. I’ve known far too many kids like Roy who think they’re losers because society says they have little or no worth, and I wanted to bring that kind of character to life so readers can see, with clarity, that society is wrong.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I have written three novels aimed at the teen+ market and one for middle grade, all different in plot, genre, tone, and even narrative point of view, but thus far none of them have generated interest from publishers or agents. In my mind, I have outlined the two sequels to Spinner that will tie up all the plot threads, but I’ll see how Spinner sells first. If there is enough interest, I’ll write them. At this point, I can’t say when I will have a new book out, but I keep working hard to make that happen.
Fifteen-year-old Alex is a “spinner.” His friends are “dummies.” Two clandestine groups of humans want his power. And an ancient evil is stalking him. If people weren’t being murdered, Alex might laugh at how his life turned into a horror movie overnight.
In a wheelchair since birth, his freakish ability has gotten him kicked out of ten foster homes since the age of four. Now saddled with a sadistic housemother who uses his spinning to “fix” the kids she injures, Alex and his misfit group of learning disabled classmates are the only ones who can solve the mystery of his birth before more people meet a gruesome end.
They want to know who murdered their beloved teacher, and why the hot young substitute acts like she’s flirting with them. Then there’s the mysterious medallion that seems to have unleashed something evil, and an ancient prophecy suggesting Alex has the power to destroy the world.
The boys break into homes, dig up graves, fight for their lives against feral cats, and ultimately confront a malevolence as old as humanity. Friendships are tested, secrets uncovered, love spoken, and destiny revealed. The kid who’s always been a loner will finally learn the value of friends, family, and loyalty.
If he survives…
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Going Gone is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a crime drama, thriller, and a bit of the supernatural as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Going Gone! is the second of the Tracker Novels. Trackers are an elite FBI unit. Each agent has an unusual gift.
From the first page, the plot was set with a high-profile crime. Children of politicians were being kidnapped. With no ransom demands, the investigation took on an added intensity, to find out why the children were kidnapped. The answer became a race against the clock.
Tracker Ryan Barr is the unit profiler and lead investigator for the case. He got more help than he bargained for in his dramatic encounter with ex-homicide detective turned private investigator Kerry Branson. Kerry has talents of her own that has Ryan second guessing her actions.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
That is a difficult one to answer. I like all the characters and developing individual characteristics was a challenge. The team is headed by Scott Fleming, and the agents are Cat Morgan, Ryan Barr, Adrian Dillard, Blake Kenner, Kevin Hunter, and Nicole Allison. If I had to select one, though, it would be Scott Fleming. He is the power, the mysterious driving force behind the team.
I felt that Kerry added layers to her characters as the story went on. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
I like characters who have empathy along with a toughness that propels them over any difficulties they encounter. They don’t back down. I’d like to think I built on the concept as Kerry met the obstacles and dangers in the investigation head-on, but her compassion never wavered.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
It is a third Tracker novel set in Texas. A missing ATF agent in Laredo, Texas sets the Tracker team in action. Adrian Dillard takes center stage as the lead investigator. He may have met his match when he encounters the feisty homicide detective, Casey Harlowe, who doesn’t hesitate to step over the line to get answers. Her link to the missing agent adds another layer of complication for Adrian. I hope to have it released by the first of the year. I still don’t have a title for it yet. My titles come from what I write. A phrase or word will grab my attention. So far, inspiration has not hit.
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