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A Willing Heart

Lily Tanzer Author Interview

Lily Tanzer Author Interview

Travels with the Doggie Lama shows the deep relationship that can develop between a dog and their owner. Why was this an important biography for you to write?

Keisha (The Doggie Lama) was my companion through some very important changes in my life (ending a long-term relationship, moving across the country, getting married, having a child, exploring spirituality on a deeper level). In the years after she was gone I would often remark to others that she taught me more about being an energetic being than anything I had formally studied. Her death was both a painful and a mystical experience and I found that when I would talk about her passing with others, it would often spark a long conversation about how difficult losing a pet can be. The loss of a being that holds such unconditional love for us is traumatic and difficult to grieve. “It’s just a dog” some might say, yet if anyone has ever connected deeply with an animal, the loss of that relationship can be incredibly painful.

In writing Travels with the Doggie Lama, I wanted to share the sheer entertainment that such a vibrant personality brought to my world but more so the subtle, life-changing connection that healed my heart and instructed, in some unconventional ways, the art of unconditional love.

I love the title of this book, how did you settle on the title?

Her nickname, “The Doggie Lama,” emerged during my study of yoga, partially as a term of endearment with my husband and I (referencing her constant assistance with meditations in the house) but also spoke to the lessons I was learning from her essence and her connection to Source energy (as any animal will do as they are so closely connected to nature and our true state). She and I physically traveled quite a bit during her life (including several cross-country moves) but we also shared internal travels together: changing and growing through life, exploring the energetic aspect of our existence, and ultimately discovering deep, unconditional love.

Memoirs cause one to reflect on their life in different ways. Is there something that you have a different perspective on now that you wrote this book?

At one point in the book I describe my realizations about what I had learned from an impetuous, loving dog. “We didn’t travel to the Himalayas to sit at the feet of a wise guru, seeking enlightenment. We sat on the floor of the spare bedroom beside one another, breathing in and out. The vast universe was right there behind closed eyes, an open mind, and a willing heart… No one would ever make a movie out of our journey; these were just the things of everyday life, the substance of the physical universe. But our connection had been an epic tale, in my opinion.”

In writing about the events of those fourteen years with Keisha I came to realize at a deeper level that it’s the everyday events, the small and seemingly mundane exchanges that create the fabric of our lives (not the big, momentous events we often seek out). Everyday life can be funny, exasperating, touching, and boring, but when reviewed through a larger lens, we can see the beauty and meaning behind the totality of those events.

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

While I plan to write a sequel to Travels with the Doggie Lama, I am currently working on a fanciful trilogy showcasing the adventures of one of my current dogs, Darci (a Pekingese/Maltese mix). Her secret life as a WWII tank commander was exposed a few years back and details have emerged about her exploits in the European theater during the dark days of that global conflict. Her military prowess and rivalry with Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, from the sands of North Africa to the beaches of France, are detailed in these photo books. We plan an initial release in late 2018.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Life in the middle of a big city can be scary. Lily, a young professional living alone in Houston during the mid-1980s, experiences a frightening brush with a near-home invasion. The disturbing episode is the impetus to seek out a home security system: a dog. Fear pushes Lily to purchase her new companion without thinking through the details and she finds the new addition to her life just as unsettling.

Financial struggles, professional challenges, romantic wounds and the trials of being twenty-something all share the tiny apartment with Lily and her new puppy, Keisha. The carefree, adventure-seeking whims of Keisha are at odds with the order-loving, financially challenged Lily.

And yet the irascible dog may be just what the doctor ordered. Once Keisha trots across the threshold, where weeks before the faceless intruder had sought to gain entry, Lily’s life opens up in new, at times exasperating, ways and the adventures begin.

Lily and Keisha both push the boundaries of what’s expected of them and venture out to new venues and new experiences, causing Lily to understand that things are not always what they seem. As Lily begins a deeper exploration into her spiritual life she is shocked to discover Keisha’s talents may extend beyond her garbage loving, squirrel-chasing pursuits.

Join this pair on their journeys: external and internal, humorous and touching. Laugh with Keisha’s flagrant disregard for the law and social convention. Cry with Lily’s struggles. Dip into another level of love and connection and explore the non-spoken bond of soulmates.

It doesn’t matter if you are a life-long dog lover, or someone who has never had a pet; this story will touch your heart because it speaks of the transcendent power of love to bring true joy into our lives–whether we happened to be born with two legs or four.

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Seven Beyond

Seven Beyond by [Atrium, Stella]Dr David Christopher Meenins finds himself haunted. Haunted and disturbed by his past. He needs to reconcile with that past in order to move forward to a new home world. On the journey to self-discovery and a somewhat clean conscience, he is accompanied by mysterious Linda Deemer and the fabulous Lady Drasher among others. These people will all grow closer as the journey progresses. They will help the good Doctor unravels his past and come to terms with it. They will grow to become good friends and their friendship will lead to finding a new home, one that they will all revere.

The relationship between the characters is especially heartwarming. It is a beautiful friendship between inherently different people. All with different patterns of thought but are similar in the quintessence of human nature. The characters are all loveable and relatable to the reader. Their warmth and personalities jump off the pages and wrap the reader in a halo of joy. Lady Drasher is a particularly outstanding character. Her strength and stance are inspiring and mesmerizing. The author has made the female characters into pillars. They are not merely damsels but strong women who rely on their own capabilities.

Stella Atrium executes the plot with lustrous expertise and flair. Her writing flows effortlessly. She effectively captures the attention of the reader and keeps it hostage until the very end. The book is colored with intrigue, adventure, and a splash of humor. Maybe a dollop of romance on the side. The plot is quite original. For a fiction fantasy book, this story is quite enthralling. Weaving in fantasy worlds can be quite tricky and most probably doomed to fail but the author has handled it very well. Her portrayal of the characters in their natural (or unnatural) forms is impressive and masterful. This book is evidence of the vast level of creativity the author holds.

Dr Meenins is a wonderful character. His disposition works to gain the allegiance of the reader. One will find themselves cheering him on as he escapes assassins and works hard at his mission. At the beginning, the reader will have a little trouble staying on track but that situation dissolves quickly. It may also be problematic to keep up with the characters. This does not influence the literary experience. The book still holds charm and just enough mystique to look past that issue.

You will experience a cornucopia of emotions with this book. This is not the book you idle about with by the pool. It is a book you take seriously. A book you read intentionally and with fervor. The author will display exactly how deep her well of vocabulary runs. Either you can enjoy that or let it daunt you. If you choose the former, a scintillating experience is in store. There is nothing like it. Take the trip with Dr Chris.

Pages: 290 | ASIN: B00ICTAIN0

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The Day That A Ran Away

The Day That A Ran Away by [Fegan, B.C.R.]The Day that A Ran Away is an adorably witty story about the letters of the alphabet just deciding not to report for duty one day. Master Jet is trying to write the alphabet and he just can’t do it with all the letters on holiday. Each letter has either decided not to show up or has had something that prevented it from showing up. Understandably, it’s hard to write the alphabet without even one of the letters. Master Jet may think he is fooling his teacher, but Mrs. May is way too smart to fall for his creative tricks.

My kids are much older now, but they would have loved this book when they were little. The writing is catchy and flows well for reading aloud. The rhymes are cute. The colors are bright and eye-catching. This was especially always a hit with my own children. The illustrations are beautiful. It is very visually pleasing. It is also funny. It made me laugh a couple of times. I actually think it would be fun to read aloud. Any parent who has had to read the same book one hundred times can tell you how important it is to have a story that flows well verbally.

My favorite part of the book is the beautiful illustrations. They are by Lenny Wen. As with most children’s books, the illustrations are a huge part of whether the book is a hit or not. Since most kids are being read to at this stage, the illustrations have to really appeal to them. A nice touch was adding a few “hidden” images within each letter’s page—having the kids match the letter with the object. My kids would have loved trying to find these little gems. Overall, the artwork is beautifully done.

Together B.C.R. Fegan and Lenny Wen have created a catchy, appealing story for little kids and their parents. I really enjoyed it. I believe kids and parents everywhere would enjoy it as well.

Pages: 33 | ASIN: B07DMN4VVP

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Sombristic

Sombristic by [Sebastian, S.A.]

Sombristic, written by S.A. Sebastian follows a close group of culturally diverse friends who are all at different points in their lives and relationships – some are married and some are just trying to figure things out. But, they are joined by the bonds of friendship that keep them grounded in their search for the right person. The title, a word seemingly coined by the author, means to be optimistic in the face of romantic sadness. This being said at the beginning gives the text a positive opening tone – it makes you think that the characters are going to try and be optimistic even when the going gets tough, and hopefully things will work out for all of them.

There’s also a brief but helpful character list at the beginning of the text as the story dives into the deep end in an active scene between a father, son, and friends – so it helps to know who’s who. The list was particularly useful as there is little introductory context, which was initially a little difficult, but the characters come into focus as you continue reading.

This book is written in the form of a play, or a conversation-based work, the text is mostly dialogue and is written in a relaxed style, reflective of each character’s accent with each one being subtly different. The ‘acts’ are usually short, and they jump between different situations and have time lapses throughout, so it can be hard to keep up with all of the different goings on. However, the easy to read style helps the reader stay immersed when they come back around to a previously mentioned character.

The conversations between the characters, when split into male and female groups are very typical of the gender ideals. The men discuss sports and their level of sexual activity and the women discuss clothes and relationship gossip. Although this might be reflective of the groups general stereotypes, I though it made them one dimensional. I wanted to see the characters interested in things other than the overall theme of the book.

I thought that the story was a little hard to follow, as it moved from scene to scene so quickly, despite the relaxed and attractive writing style that kept me engaged with interesting writing. The book incorporates long descriptive passages that are interesting and well written, suggesting that the script would perhaps be more engaging if rewritten as a novel rather than a play.

What the text does do very well is highlight the varied types of relationships and dating that exist in modern society, and explores how hard these can be to navigate. There is also some pretty funny references in this book that made me laugh!

ASIN: B07DW4J71W

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“Is That Your Aunt in the Attic?”: Another Edna and Edith Adventure

“Is That Your Aunt in the Attic?”: Another Edna and Edith Adventure by [Fletcher, Barbara, Gauthier, Cheryl]

Is That Your Aunt in the Attic? is a creative fiction novel that focuses on the characters of Edna and Edith, two sisters that are private investigators. The sisters have traveled across the country to get away from the wrath of an escaped convict whose plans to murder were foiled by the sisters. The ladies travel to San Francisco to get away and visit family, but they still find themselves as a target for the mobster’s hitman. What comes out of it is a strange sequence of events that proves how resourceful the sisters are in solving problems and getting answers to their questions.

One of the aspects of this story that I enjoyed was the whimsical situations that Edna and Edith seem to get themselves into. The authors, Barbara Fletcher and Cheryl Gauthier, are mother and daughter, and at the beginning of the novel, they mention that some of the events that take place in the novel are somewhat true and have happened to them in real life. I liked that disclaimer, because as I was reading the novel I could more easily picture some of the silly events that were happening to the sisters actually happening to someone like me and my sister. Some parts of the novel induced a good chuckle as I read them.

The only thing that I thought took away from the novel was the small talk that Edith and Edna made with each other. For instance, they would bring up a memory of a saying from their father or mention something weird or funny that they did a long time ago. In a way, the small talk adds a more realistic value to the novel; however, it seemed out of place and took away from the overall plot and momentum of the story.

Overall, this was a fun book and I would love to read another novel in this series.

Pages: 262 | ASIN: B0794PB8FR

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Deja Vu All Over Again Book Trailer

At fifty-five, Nate Evans is a washed-up Hollywood screenwriter whose life has gone to hell in a handbasket he climbed in to by dumping his high school sweetheart 40 years ago. The girl who got away, Julie Cooper, was widowed at a young age and left to raise her two kids alone after her husband was whapped to death in a tragic carwash accident. Nate has always been obsessed with his high school days, and when he learns Julie is single and working at their alma mater in his hometown, he writes a script and follows it to recreate their teen years in hopes of starting his life over. It’s the ultimate mulligan… Except that Julie is afraid of growing old alone, with a life where the only men she’s intimate with are Ben & Jerry and their Chunky Monkey ice cream, so she settles for security by deciding to marry her boss at the school. Even though Nate’s return and his Peter Pan view of life, draws her out to rediscover the spirited girl she used to be, she rejects his attempts at a relationship because he burned her once and she doesn’t trust him. You can hardly blame her, except that she doesn’t see her rat fink fiancé is in serious need of finking and Nate needs to torpedo the relationship before she gets hurt, without becoming collateral damage himself. He writes a script for “Happily ever after” and puts it into action knowing that if he gets caught it will be Déjà vu all over again.

Available at Black Tie Books

Popcorn Thriller

Dylan Fairchild Author Interview

Dylan Fairchild Author Interview

My Name is Nelson is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a mystery, satire, and political thriller as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

I’d say it just happened. I started with a simple premise – an unstoppable weapon – and just went wherever the story took me. I have to admit I’ve been a little surprised by how focused readers have been on genre, (specifically, is a thriller supposed to be funny) because in my opinion, the style of the book really isn’t all that unique. Much like other satirical military works like Catch-22, MASH, and Doctor Strangelove, at various times it’s funny, poignant, romantic, absurd, heartbreaking, or action-packed.

The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Thank you for the compliment. It’s definitely hard to choose, because I’m extremely proud of all the characters. The socially dysfunctional mad scientist, the dejected, hard-drinking exotic dancer, the physics prodigy and her navy officer partner, the “jagoff” of a boss, the clever First Lady, the F.B.I. agents, the fighter pilots, the small-town sheriff…

The book is dedicated to all the men and women who work so hard to defend our nation, so there’s quite a few characters in law enforcement and the military. Ultimately, if I had to choose one, I really enjoyed writing the repartee between National Security Advisor Chet Addington and President MacIntyre. And Chet Addington gave us the book’s provocative subtitle!

What was your initial idea behind this story and how did that develop as you were writing?

I guess the idea was twofold. First, I had already written some very serious, intensely-researched novels, and I wanted to let my hair down and have some fun. I wanted to write a page-turning, popcorn thriller about politicians, a mad scientist, and an unstoppable weapon. Secondly, I started with the assumption that it’s impossible to write a modern page-turner without strippers. (Just kidding. Maybe.)

As the novel progressed, I found myself lurching into some weighty issues. Childhood trauma. Wealth inequality. Racial strife. The weight of the presidency. Particle physics. Broken lives renewed. Ultimately, I think there’s quite a bit packed into 222 pages.

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

I genuinely don’t know. We’re clearly well-positioned for a sequel to Nelson, so we’ll see. I’ve written quite a lot over these last two years, so I may just enjoy some well-deserved vacation time.

The audiobook for Nelson should be available this summer, however. To say I’m excited about the narrator would be a huge understatement. I never dreamt one guy could single-handedly do all the voices this novel requires, (not to mention the singing) but I think I’m about to be proven wrong.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

My Name is Nelson: Pretty Much the Best Novel Ever by [Fairchild, Dylan]From The Indie View: “A brilliant and unique novel…in terms of sheer storytelling mastery, it’s one of the best books we’ve seen in a while. We give ‘My Name Is Nelson’ five-plus stars and look forward to an equally well-written sequel…it’s a tremendously entertaining storyline with rich characterization and cinematic action scenes. It’s safe to say the author’s crafted a potential bestseller — and, possibly, a hit movie.” (Don Sloan)

President Andrew MacIntyre was having a pretty good first year in the Oval Office. Suddenly, during what should have been a peaceful Christmas season, he’s facing one of the worst national security crises in American history. And it’s being masterminded out of a sleazy, New Mexico strip joint? What the hell?

Is this a political thriller? Or is it science fiction? A zany comedy? Perhaps it’s a love story. Whatever it is, it’s a riveting page-turner with a little sex appeal, and a lot of laughs. If “Doctor Strangelove” can find the humor in nuclear war, then surely there’s a little bit of laughter lurking in unmanned aviation, as well as some serious, heartfelt moments.

It’s little wonder White House National Security Advisor Chet Addington* said this was, “Pretty much the best novel ever.” **

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Literary Titan Book Awards May 2018

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

Don't Call Me Chip by [O'Donnell, Neil]A Game of Life by [Musewald, Anna]Descendent Darkness: Book Three: Redemption by [Macready, A.J.]

Stillness of Time (Seeker of Time Book 2) by [Buckler, J.M.]Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries by [Anastasiou, Mel]My Name is Nelson: Pretty Much the Best Novel Ever by [Fairchild, Dylan]

Returning Souls by [Colombo, Ernestine B.]Traits and Emotions of a Salvageable Soul: A Conversation with a Touch of Class: Volume 1 by [Crawford, Keeshawn C.]The Ancient Sacred Tree: Birthing a Hero by [Brenner, Dawnette N.]

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

Masks by [Restokian, Nataly]Beyond the Code by [Barthel, Kelsey Rae]

YEGman by [Lavery, Konn]The Ice Factory by [Phillips, Jason Roger]

In Darkness, There is Still Light (Wheeler Book 2) by [Zalesky, Sara Butler]Lessons from a Difficult Person: How to Deal with People Like Us by [Elliston M.A.T, Sarah H.]

Fire in the Heart by [Mooney, Lesley J]

The Ghetto Blues by [Brooks, Tammy Campbell ]Man with the Sand Dollar Face by [CassanoLochman, Sharon]

 

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

 

 

Everything is Funny From Some Angle

Mel Anastasiou Author Interview

Mel Anastasiou Author Interview

Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries follows an elderly amateur sleuth as she sets out to solve the various mysteries plaguing her retirement home. What was your inspiration for the setup to this engaging novel?

Thanks for the kind words. My inspiration came while I was hanging about in a Vancouver care home, preparing to help move an enormous television set into an elderly acquaintance’s bedroom. I wondered, what if I lived here? What on earth would I do with myself? How do you wake up every day knowing that people are responsible for you, but you are responsible for nothing (there seemed to be some possibilities for rebellion here.) We all need a good reason for getting out of bed in the morning. What would that be? Watching television? Complaining about the food? I thought Stella Ryman might come up with an intriguing Third Option.

Stella is a senior with a tenacity that I enjoyed reading about. What were some themes you wanted to explore while creating her character?

I love exploring these:

  • Old or young, we need to serve the world somehow.
  • Almost everything is funny from some angle, and nothing is ever quite what it seems.
  • No life is over until the final breath passes (and maybe not even then, see Mad Cassandra Browning.)
  • Even in dire circumstances, there are always new chances at happiness.
  • Without connection to others, we’re all just bundles of cells in fleece warm-up suits.

I enjoyed the logical mysteries portrayed in the novel, they were always intriguing yet intuitive. What was the process like in developing the different mysteries in the book?

I’m glad you enjoyed them—they were fun to write. I wanted to explore ways Stella struggles to regain the symbols of power that she discarded from her world when she checked herself into Fairmount Manor Care Home: a handbag on her wrist, a best friend, freedom to walk outside if she likes, or fix herself a cup of tea, or enjoy solitude, and above all the power to help others and right wrongs. All the mysteries turn on these.

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

The Extra: A Monument Studios Mystery, is next, in second edition on Amazon in April 2018 and, writing as Melanie Archer, Younger Men. a comedy, also on Amazon in April 2018. The second Fairmount Manor Mystery novel, Stella Ryman and the Mystery of the Mah-jongg Box, comes out this fall from Pulp Literature Press, along with the seventh of the Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries, published in Pulp Literature’s literary quarterly.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Facebook

Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries by [Anastasiou, Mel]

On this particular sun-and-shade April morning at Fairmount Manor, Stella Ryman no more entertained the idea of becoming an amateur sleuth than she did of entering next spring’s Boston Marathon. For not only was Stella eighty-two years old, but she had lately sold her home and a lifetime of gathered possessions and washed up at Fairmount Manor Care Home in such a state that she would have bet her remaining seven pairs of socks that she’d be dead in half a year.

But when money goes missing and an innocent woman stands to lose her job at Fairmount; when malicious poison pen letters find their way into the hands of staff and residents; and when a resident vanishes without a trace, Stella takes matters into her own hands. To hell with being elderly — Stella will break every one of the Director’s rules and slash all the institutional red tape in the place in her struggle to solve mysteries and protect the innocent. Over the course of the first five mystery adventures, Mrs Stella Ryman transforms from a woman on her deathbed to a force of nature and intellect. She’s a fish out of water, a stranger in a strange land, and an amateur sleuth trapped in a down-at-the-heels care home.

You’d be cranky, too.

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My Pet Chipmunk

Neil O'Donnell Author Interview

Neil O’Donnell Author Interview

Don’t Call Me Chip is the story of one determined chipmunk and his fight to save the creatures who share his yard from an illintentioned family. What was your inspiration for this fun novel?

The inspiration is my ‘pet’ chipmunk named Chip ‘Hoover’ O’Donnell – my wife gave him the middle name ‘Hoover’ because he sucks up seed like a vacuum. Chip lives under our deck and has been a welcomed friend throughout the warm months. He’s been around for three years now (he just resurfaced from hibernation 2 weeks ago). Last year I learned that chipmunks live only 3-5 years. I wanted Chip to have an adventure. This book grew out of that.

Timothy, the chipmunk, befriends an eccentric old man and they form a heart warming relationship. What was the basis for their relationship and how did it change as you were writing?

The friendship is based on my friendship with Chip. He is very comfortable around me, letting me pet him while he eats food from my hand. Chip actually suns himself at my feet while I read or write on my deck.

This is a very fun novel. What was the funnest part for you to write?

Writing Timothy’s hand jestures and sarcasm – especially his waving to the neighbors, saluting Mikey, and and the pranks played on the neighbors.

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

The next book is the sequel to my fantasy novel, People of the Sword. Its title is Rise of the Celts. I am hoping to have the book out in early 2019.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Don't Call Me Chip by [O'Donnell, Neil]DON’T CALL ME CHIP is a tale about Timothy: a chipmunk who protects an elderly man and a host of woodland creatures from the wrath of a family of nasty neighbors, who seem determined to drive out everyone Timothy cares about.

Timothy might seem like your average chipmunk who loves seeds, sunbathing and enjoying a quiet life in the suburbs. But after the new neighbors move in and wreak havoc, they will have to come face to face with his wit and resourcefulness.

The last straw is that the new neighbors keep calling him CHIP. Convincing all manner of rodents and other small wildlife to work together, Timothy launches an assault against their invasive neighbors.

Based on a true character, this book is a clean, fun read for eight-grade reading level and over.

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