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My Broken Heart

Hannah R. Goodman Author Interview

Hannah R. Goodman Author Interview

Till it Stops Beating is an emotional but fun novel that follows young Maddie as she struggles with anxiety and following her heart. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this novel?

Maddie came to me when I was 15 and at a creative arts summer camp, recovering from an awful break up with my first real boyfriend. So, I created “Maddie” to help heal my broken heart. I went on to write my first novel, My Sister’s Wedding, which is a (highly) fictionalized version of that “bad romance”.

This book, TILL IT STOPS BEATING, was inspired by that same theme of heartbreak…but not only romantic heartbreak, but also the heartbreak of growing up and becoming aware that not everything lasts or is permanent and not everything can be fixed or solved.

My students, clients, and my own children and my position as a parent/teacher/therapist were major influences in shaping this novel. Specifically, my own struggle with anxiety and panic attacks were things that helped me to flesh out Maddie’s own mental health problems. It was therapeutic to write about her struggle to understand herself.

Maddie is a character that I felt I could relate to; we were all young once. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing her character?

I wanted to capture and normalize the mental health issues that tend to come up during adolescence. When I had my own bout with anxiety and agoraphobia my senior year of high school, no one talked about this and it was lonely and isolating. I feel like this book is a conversation starter about anxiety.

This novel deals with the stress and anxiety young kids feel today. What do you feel is different about the challenges teens face today that is different from your generation?

I actually feel there is only one major difference—access to information and social media—and both of those things are double-edged, meaning there are positives and negatives to them. The stats around social media use and depression in teens pretty much says it all! However, access to information about mental health has also increased the awareness and possibly save lives. There is good and there is bad.

Teens have always and will always deal with the stress and struggle of growing up, no matter if you are a boomer, Gen-X-er, millennial, or a teen today, in 2018. As a Gen-Xer with a teenage daughter, I see so many similarities in terms of the angst and feelings; she and I are able to connect on that deep level because the feelings are epic, classic, and constant!

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

Though I thought TILL IT STOPS BEATING would be the last Maddie book (there are 4 in total), I have more stories to tell about Maddie’s life as she becomes an adult and navigates college and even beyond.  I’ve outlined both books and am planning to pitch them to my publisher. Hopefully the first of these two will come out at the end of 2019 beginning of 2020.

 Author Links: GoodReadsTwitter | FacebookInstagramLinkedInAmazonWebsite

Till it Stops Beating by [Goodman, Hannah R.]Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman’s senior year begins with the good (the reemergence of The One That Got Away), the bad (a cancer diagnosis, not hers, but it might as well be) and the WTF (an anxiety attack that renders her writhing on the floor like an upside down crab). 

Adding to her spiraling anxiety is Senior Project, in the form of I’ve Decided To Write A Book about The Other One That Got Away (And Crushed My Heart). Compounding it all is applying to college and keeping up with her friends. The ever mounting stress eventually rips her tight grip on all that she holds dear.

Her break down leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers she must risk everything in order to really live.

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The Warrior Teenager: Let Go of Self-Sabotage & Embrace Your True Power

The Warrior Teenager: Let Go of Self-Sabotage & Embrace Your True Power by [Fernandez, Mary Lynne]

In this world where everything is fast paced and competitive, one can feel a little overwhelmed. They can feel lost in the crowd. They can feel like they are drowning in their inability to measure up to society’s expectations and standards. It is not easy. It is not ideal but it is what it is. There is nothing more to do than equip the future generations with the skills to ignore all the news. The wherewithal to see the standards but not bend to them. The ability to understand that the only standards worth measuring up to are ones set by one’s own self.

Mary Lynne Fernandez, with her extensive experience and brilliance, seeks to do exactly that with this book. She seeks to guide teenagers through life. To arm parents with tools to efficiently and successfully navigate the mucky and turbulent waters that is parenting to teenagers. She seeks to shine a light on this depression and suicide epidemic. She seeks to weed it out. She seeks to ensure teenagers seek help before they seek the noose. The only way to achieve this is by harnessing one’s own true power. To embrace and overcome. Suicide is not the way out. Staying alive to fight and exorcise those demons is.

The author has done an excellent job of appealing to her demographic. She does not tell the reader to just get over it. She outlines practical steps with passion and affection. Her delivery and presentation are powerful. She lays a strong foundation for her message with vivid writing that uses simple but powerful language. She is not looking to provide answers but rather a road-map to realization. The subject matter is relevant, relatable, and rings true. She has addressed the conversation in a sensible and sober way.

I think this book is aimed at two demographics. The first is the teenagers, of course. They need to understand just how stacked the deck is and how to play the game. They need to understand the truth about the world they live in. Parents of said teenagers will also find this book useful. The author does a good job of addressing both generations. I felt that she understood and appreciated the different situations and thus successfully speaks to both parent and teen.

This book is inspirational and useful by providing ingenious insights that are both practical and applicable. If you go into the woods, you may bring a wilderness survival book. If you’re becoming a teenager you may want to take this book along with you. This book will help you approach your thoughts and passions with fresh eyes. Read it. Understand it. Utilize it.

Pages: 188 | ASIN: B07CSF7PPN

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Till It Stops Beating


“If your heart has ever hurt from beating wildly, whether from anxiety or love, this book is the one to read.”

This quote at the end of the book summary perfectly describes the book. This is one of those stories that is relatable and heartwarming. When I first started reading this book, I found myself swept away with the story. It is about Maddie Hickman, a girl who suffers from extreme anxiety who has found herself on a downward spiral when life becomes too much. This takes the 17-year-old on a crazy adventure in the shape of a road trip.

I immediately related to Maddie in this story because I realized I was suffering from anxiety when I was her age. I loved seeing this kind of representation in a story, dealing with both the hardships and the hope. Maddie is a strong character that must balance her anxiety with being a normal teenage girl which for her means college applications, family drama, and boys. I loved reading Maddie’s voice as she s both charming and funny. Her attention to doughnuts, in the beginning, kept me cracking smiles and added to the characters unique voice.

Author Hannah Goodman did an incredible job of capturing the voice of a teenager, which is unsurprising when I found out she is referred to as “the teenage whisperer,” due to her 20 years long career working with teenagers as a teacher, tutor, and coach. I was impressed with how she was able to tackle a difficult issue like anxiety and make a story that was funny and sweet without making light of the issue. She also treats Maddie’s problems, whether big or small, as real, not belittling them as silly teenage issues. These things come together to make an amazing story that holds an important message for teenagers and adults.

On top of the masterful rendering of a teenager with anxiety, this story also delves into the sweet world of first love. Goodman has played with the complicated and often heart-wrenching experience of love that is oh so beautiful. I very much enjoyed getting to see Maddie deal with the ups and downs of love and found her story to be heartening and sweet.

I found this to be a great summertime read and would highly recommend it, definitely 5 stars from me.

Pages: 216 | ASIN: 1684330807

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Literary Titan Book Awards July 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

Red and Blue: A Reimagined Fairy Tale by [Dubriel, Jolie]Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison (Reverence Book 6) by [Landeros, Joshua]

Expectations: The Real World Behind the Curtain of Time by [Sarah K-N]SLAY THE DRAGON by [Zubulake, Laura]

Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA - in Alaska by [Hawksley, Humphrey]Spare No One by [Scott, Zack]

My Lonely Room by [Vikara, John A.]

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

A Memory of Solstice (Dark Ocean Book 1) by [Chandler, Caleb]The Lethal Legacy (The Legacy Series Book 3) by [Phelan, JL]The Ghost Years by [Katsonga, Mutch]

Upon Broken Wings by [Reedy, E.L., Wade, A.M.]The Matriarch Matrix by [Trencavel, Maxime]Damaged (The Damaged Series Book 1) by [Green, C. K.]

Where Wildfires Glow by [Katsonga, Mutch]Forever 19 by [Beechum, Kaye S.]

Weathering the Wicked (Chronicles of Folklaria Book 1) by [Penticoff, C.]Blindsided (Dear Grief Series) by [Gilbert, Dr. Chenee' L.]

 

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

 

 

 

Reality Gold

Reality Gold (The Shifting Reality Collection) by [Brooks, Tiffany]

Tiffany Brooks’s book, Reality Gold, is an excellent read for young adults and beyond. Readers follow a large group of teenage survival show competitors who are whittled down as the show progresses. The story is told from the perspective of protagonist, Riley. Riley sees the show as a shot for redemption. She had gotten into some trouble at her high school, and ultimately had become both a viral meme and the butt end of seemingly everyone’s jokes. She wants to shake her reputation as a spoiled brat with a silver spoon. It doesn’t hurt her shot at winning that she has first-hand knowledge of the show’s backdrop, Black Rock Island, and the treasure it holds.

Brooks has constructed a very interesting, very well-written story with Reality Gold. The characters represent several demographics across the board. The plot and pace flow well. Bits of backstory of the island and Miles, Riley’s godfather with gold-fever, come out as the story progresses. The story sometimes feels like it does a cha-cha with it’s one step forward, two steps back rhythm. The kids are steadily moving toward their goal with some obstacles and setbacks in their path. Some plot twists at the end took me by surprise. The story kept my interest piqued until the very last page.

I particularly liked the character, Maren. Maren had dyed black and purple hair, and was always in a t-shirt with a sarcastic word or one-liner printed across the front. She was instantly labelled as harsh, mean, and weird. Some of those things came to her rightfully. Some of those things were likely just defense mechanisms. Either way, we get to see a few jagged edges soften at times. She lets some redeeming qualities peek out from underneath the dark makeup at times. She became a lesson in “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

I also liked brainy, sometimes aloof, A.J. who was interested in one thing and one thing only, the gold. He was more interested in the gold than the actual payout, because he saw the discovery itself as a foot into Harvard’s door. He was smart and driven and between him and Riley, had all the answers.

Riley was a rich kid, but wasn’t “just a rich kid.” That is the reputation she was fighting hard to shake. She wanted people to know her. Really know her. She thought the show would give her the chance to show the skewed world who the real Riley was. She also had a bit of the taste for the hunt passed down to her from her godfather. She plays a pivotal part in the story, both as a friend to her coeds and as an experienced treasure hunter.

There is a bit of a budding romance or two within the story, but nothing gets graphic whatsoever. There is also an important cautionary tale. There is an “almost romance” between an underage player and a crew member of the show. The characters struggle a little with how to handle that situation, but in the end, they keep their friend’s best interest and safety at heart.

Watching the clues, maps, markers, and cryptic symbols all fit together to form a completed puzzle was reminiscent of watching National Treasure and movies like it. The brainy kids all hashing and rehashing possible meanings and directions was exciting. The island served as a scary backdrop. Throwing in the “reality” factor kept both me and the characters trying to figure out what was fake and what wasn’t until the very end. They had to second guess everything they thought they knew since some things were manufactured specifically for the anticipated TV audience and ratings. Are their friends real or actors? Are the clues for the treasure real or planted?

I loved the characters and the story. It was well-written, and the characters and plot were well-developed. It was an exciting, sometimes “edge-of-your-seat” kind of story. I’d love to see more from this author.

Pages: 398 | ASIN: B07C5B7RFY

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Now You See Her Book Trailer

15-year-old Luke Gray is in shock—his girlfriend Lonnie is moving, and he can’t follow her. Before she leaves, he gets her to promise to wait for him until they are 18. With Lonnie gone, Luke falls into a whirlpool of depression and fear. He tries to stay afloat via sarcasm, 1970s music, and fantasy.

And then a new girl appears on the scene, Sherry, who seems perfect. Without giving up on Lonnie, Luke begins dating Sherry, and she keeps him on this side of insanity. His parents, though, notice disturbing changes in his behavior… and eventually Luke realizes that his relationship with Sherry has limits they can’t move beyond. So he befriends Julie, a clever, down-to-earth girl he quickly grows to love. But when Julie finds out that Luke has never let go of Lonnie, he’s forced to either try to find Lonnie or turn his back on her forever.

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Till it Stops Beating Book Trailer

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman’s senior year begins with the good (the reemergence of The One That Got Away), the bad (a cancer diagnosis, not hers, but it might as well be) and the WTF (an anxiety attack that renders her writhing on the floor like an upside down crab).

Adding to her spiraling anxiety is Senior Project, in the form of I’ve Decided To Write A Book about The Other One That Got Away (And Crushed My Heart). Compounding it all is applying to college and keeping up with her friends. The ever-mounting stress eventually rips her tight grip on all that she holds dear.

Her break down leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers she must risk everything in order to really live.

High School Life is a Tornado

S.L. Mauldin Author Interview

S.L. Mauldin Author Interview

Life Sliding follows Gavin, the popular kid in school, as he is sent to camp Lift Me Up to help special needs children. What served as your inspiration while you were writing this book?

Like myself, lots of teenagers experience alienation in their high school life, which is a challenging time of self discovery while navigating one’s way to adulthood. My inspiration is those in the trenches now and those who survived those years. Within the walls of education, there is so much more learning going on than just algebra. At times, high school life is a tornado. I believe most adults have forgotten what was at times, a nightmare. Trying to understand my experience as an outsider, I explored the story from the popular kid’s prospective, peeling back the layers to discover who he is underneath his vamped up exterior. Much later after my school years, I became friends with someone who was in the “in crowd” at my school. I discovered this person was not who I had imagined they were. As we find with Gavin, one never really knows what’s going on inside someone, the real person. How do people end up where they are positioned on the social ladder? Jacob expresses his thoughts on the matter to Gavin in a deep conversation at camp; Jacob understands.

What I found most interesting about Gavin was the slow emotional change he undergoes throughout the novel. What were some morals you wanted to capture while writing his character?

We live in a society that is highly judgmental and most are quick to come to a conclusion about someone without ever getting to know them. You can’t judge a book by its cover and you will certainly fall short trying to make a summation of someone by their looks, they way they dress or zip code they come from. If anything, we need more understanding.

Was there anything from your own life, in high school, that you put into this novel?

I was an outsider who experienced some of the issues mentioned in the story and simply observed others going through their own trials. Between algebra and biology, it’s all there – self-harm, bullying, relationships, sexuality, eating disorders, angst and so on, but mostly life happening.

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

My ya novel Always Here was just released in September 2017. I have an adult fiction novel tentatively titled Kudzu, which is in editing with no set release date and I am writing a New Adult novel titled Somebody Else.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook | Website

Life Sliding by [Mauldin, S.L.]

As Gavin’s junior year comes to a close, he faces an inner conflict with his status as the most popular kid in high school. It’s not lost on his father, who sensed for some time that his overly indulged son needs redirection. Making matters worse for Gavin, his dad sends him away for the summer to assist at a camp for children with special needs.

Arriving at camp Life Me Up, Gavin is suddenly forced to dabble in a world less familiar. After his first uncomfortable encounter with a strange girl with multi-colored fingernails, who refuses to waiver his arrogant behavior, Gavin comes face to face with a person from the past, which leaves him uneasy.

Inevitably, three people clash and collide, but when tragedy strikes, they come to an understanding regarding their differences. Becoming a young adult, Gavin faces a summer of harsh lessons in reality. Once he crosses the bridge from a self-inflicted prison to the road to freedom, Gavin and his new friends implement a strategy to stir up the social order when they return to school in the fall.

Because of one jaded person jumping to conclusions, the plan backfires. Will they be able to survive the fallout of what they’ve put into motion?

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Life Sliding

High school, a time for learning who you are, what your values are, and what matters in life. Gavin is the popular, most liked guy in his school. He is the trend setter and his hand-picked friends are at the top of the social pecking order. When they start planning their last summer bash before becoming seniors; he is quickly ripped out of his comfort zone when his dad decides he needs to spend his last vacation giving back to the community. Gavin is going to spend his summer working as a volunteer for camp Lift Me Up, it is a camp for kids with life threatening illnesses, a chance for them to feel normal. Here Gavin reconnects with an old friend Jacob, and they befriend Marissa, a girl with a lot of emotional baggage. Together the three of them bond and look to make their senior year one to remember not just for them, but for the whole school.

Gavin is your typical self-absorbed teenager, he’s on the football team, one of the popular kids, and comes from a family of money. Everyone knew that kid in high school, if you were not part of that crowd chances are you despised him, if you were in the crowd you looked up to him, or at least followed so not to lose your standing. When Jacob stopped following the cool crowd Gavin abandoned him. He never looked into why his best friend suddenly changed over the course of a summer. Gavin soon learned with his service at Lift Me Up what brought about the change in Jacob. Following the back and forth between Gavin and Jacob is exciting, you are never quite sure what their feelings for each other really are. Seeing Gavin grow is emotional, he learns that there is a lot more to the world than his little bubble, and he learns to really care for other people. This awakening is uplifting, it gives you hope that society is not doomed.

One of the most predominate themes in this novel is that love has no boundaries or appearances. High school romances are often flirty and based on who is who and what social class you fall into. While this novel starts out following those trends and is easily relatable to readers, it soon twists and becomes so much more. The story of Caleb, the boy with leukemia, that latches onto a resentful Gavin is a catalyst for the change in Gavin. His memory is a constant reminder of how fragile life is and that you can’t live your life trying to live up to everyone else’s standards. I was really touched by Caleb and how his short time impacted so many lives. It is a reminder that it doesn’t matter how long we are here on earth, but what we do with the time we are given. Caleb melted the heart of Gavin and reminded him there is more to life than his little social circle. Gavin and Jacob’s relationship is touching and so fluid you just can’t help but want to see how life goes for them both. Everyone should have a friendship like that in life, someone that loves you unconditionally and is there for you no questions ask. Life Sliding by S.L. Mauldin is a touching novel, thought provoking and full of compassion and hope.

Pages: 169 | ASIN: B01BBCY5RO

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The Birthday Club

The Birthday Club by [Petersen, Jack]

The Birthday Club, by Jack Petersen, follows the lives of four high school friends bound together by a shared birthday. Angelina, Chris, Kurt, and Billy form a bond during their sophomore year and remain a tight foursome, all but shunning the world around them for three years. When their tight-knit cluster is infiltrated by Fred during their junior year of high school, little things begin to set the stage for large-scale changes in the lives of all five young people. Upon graduation, the members of the Birthday Club go their separate ways only to find themselves forever bound by one of its member’s desperate choices.

Petersen could not have chosen a more misleading title for this touching thriller. Now that I have finished, I am not sure I remember many of my original predictions about the plot. I do know that I had envisioned a much more benign and almost juvenile story line. Nothing could be further from the truth. Petersen does an excellent job of setting the background for each of his characters and builds steadily and purposefully toward a surprising climax.

I am a fan of Harlan Coben and have been for many years. Jack Petersen’s, The Birthday Club, rivals the intricate plots woven by Coben and features characters for which the reader will root. Petersen, like Coben, keeps the reader guessing, feeding only the most minute hints of what is to come. This was truly a “couldn’t put it down” read for me.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of Petersen’s writing style is his take on point of view. I thoroughly enjoyed the shifts in perspectives among his cast of characters. The author incorporates something not often seen in thrillers–the viewpoint of the antagonist. Readers are treated to a look inside the mind of Petersen’s villain and afforded the opportunity to make judgements from, literally, all sides. This 360° rotation between the main and supporting characters’ perspectives throughout the book is unique, refreshing, and appreciated.

Without giving away too much regarding the book’s conclusion, I will say that the ending was poignant and, in my opinion, leaves room for more books featuring Petersen’s Birthday Club cast. I can easily picture future plot lines growing from the closing scene. From beginning to end, the members of the club touched my heart and kept me guessing. (I wasn’t always right, and I loved that fact.)

Without hesitation, I am giving Jack Petersen’s, The Birthday Club, a solid 5 out of 5 stars. Angelina, Chris, Kurt, and Billy are a winning combination from the moment they meet and discover their September 14th connection to the book’s bitter end. I have not read a book so thoughtfully written and so carefully constructed to give each character a fair shot at telling his or her story. Petersen has set forth a group of personalities, who as a foursome, are a force with which to be reckoned. From Chris, the quiet one, to Angelina, the friend and object of each boy’s blooming love, Petersen has a home run on his hands. The Birthday Club is a mystery/thriller not to be missed.

Pages: 231 | ASIN: B01GDGJ7EE

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