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I Wanted To Test Myself

Kaye D. Schmitz Author Interview

The Road Renounced is a World War I tale of one soldier’s triumphs and tragedies as told by the woman who loves him”. What were some new ideas you wanted to explore that were different from The Road Remembered?

In writing The Road Remembered my idea was a pretty straight forward narrative about the last six months of World War II that encompassed the stories of the eight actual WWII veterans I interviewed—with a couple of twists. Many of my readers told me they loved how I wrote about the good and the bad on both sides of the war—something not often shared by authors who write about one side or the other. One of the story lines I felt was left unexplored in The Road Remembered was the fact that Sam’s father abandoned the family the night his seventh child was born—and why. So in The Road Renounced the bulk of the story centers on Sam’s father, Buzz, but is told primarily from the perspective of Sam’s mother, Maude, although we also get to know Buzz’s perspectives through his conversations with his best friend, Henry, and the Belgian nurse, Marthe Peeters. I wanted readers to witness Buzz’s life through both his eyes and that of his family, but mostly to understand how day-to-day tragedies, along with huge life-altering circumstances like the violent death of one’s parents and the consequences of a war, can work on a person to take his life from realizing his dreams to sunk in despair. I wanted to lead readers through a life that, despite a rocky beginning, blossomed into everything Buzz had ever hoped for and then how he handled it when all of that came crashing down around him. I wanted to test myself to see if I could write about tragic events, like one experiences in life, but still end the book on a satisfying note. Honestly, I held my breath when I received my first feedback from my early readers—all of whom had also read The Road Remembered. I feared this book might not hold their interest—even though it held mine. But, to a person, I heard from them that they considered this book the best I have ever written.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

I wanted to explore a circumstance that was so devastating it caused the father of seven children who was married to a wonderful woman who loved him to give all of that up and abandon his family. I mean, who does that? And why? My own grandfather left my grandmother alone much of her life, only returning to get her pregnant, and then leaving again. No one in the family had an answer as to why—lots of speculation, but no facts—so I decided to explore an answer on my own. I wanted to depict a sympathetic character who had a rough home life with his parents, but rose above that to realize his dreams. And then experienced devastating blows, one after another that took him on his downward spiral to misery. We all face downward spirals, from time to time. Whether or not we are able to grow from them is the key to the kind of person we become. Even as the writer, I felt bad for all of the things thrown at Buzz. My heart hurt for him. And I had a plan for how the story ended, but I still wanted to give Buzz every opportunity to grow up and accept that his life was different from what he had hoped for, but could still have been great. Yes, as with many authors, my characters sometimes take over the story and tell me where it goes. I really hoped Buzz would show me something I hadn’t thought of and figured if he could come up with something positive that I hadn’t already imagined, I would be willing to change the ending of the story to reflect that. But alas, he refused to grow from his misfortunes. And he continued to wallow in his grief and renounced the gifts he received at every turn. So, unfortunately for him, he experienced my original plan for his story.

What is one thing readers have been saying about your book that surprises you the most?

I was really surprised that several of my readers said there are so many characters they found it hard to keep up. I suppose that since I know all of the characters so well, that thought never even occurred to me. Most of the readers who told me that were new to my writing and had not read The Road Remembered first, so had to learn some of the characters from the first book, too. The Road Renounced can definitely be read as a stand-alone book but there may be a plethora of characters the new reader might not be used to. As a result, I have created a spreadsheet of characters and their relationships to each other that I have sent to my readers who struggled. The other thing that surprised me was how strongly my readers felt about the story—regardless of the fact that it is a tragedy, my readers loved the story and loved the ending. Apparently a lot of us can relate to the kinds of issues my characters faced

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

I am toying with a third “Road” book to tie up any loose ends and close out the family, but right now I am working on a story involving a world-renowned blood doctor whose wife suffers from Hodgkin’s disease and his work with vampire bats, whose saliva has been known to dissolve blood clots that cause strokes. As he explores mutating the saliva to treat other illnesses—like Hodgkin’s—he is visited by a vampire who offers him a cure. Most of my readers laugh when I tell them about this, but my husband had a fantastic idea for this story more than twenty years ago and my agent loved it. It’s finally time to write it. So it will probably be a couple of years before it is ready for readers. But thank you for asking.

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

In the story telling style of Kristin Hannah and Delia Owens, The Road Renounced is a World War I tale of one soldier’s triumphs and tragedies as told by the woman who loves him.

2015. Prospect Park, Pennsylvania. Suzanne Ryan uncovers her grandmother’s diary hidden in the binding of a century-old photo album. Thrilled to learn about her grandmother, Maude, who died before Suzanne was born, she reads the first entry, written on Maude’s tenth birthday.

1915. Prospect Park, Pennsylvania. Maude Brewer, her brother, Henry, and his best friend, Buzz Ryan, live a relatively care-free existence. But the darkening conflict in Europe looms, threatening them all with the fight of their lives.

At the same time, across the ocean, darkness has already fallen as the Germans march into neutral Belgium and shatter the life of nurse Marthe Peeters, whose family is viciously killed right in front of her. She is captured and forced to travel with the German Army, each step escalating the rage in her heart that explodes into plans for revenge.

But as Maude’s story unfolds through the years, it intersects with Marthe’s and despite the fact that an ocean separates them, it is clear that the two women share their perspectives on the war. They also, Suzanne learns, share the love of the same man, Buzz Ryan, Suzanne’s grandfather. Buzz must not only fight the war on the battlefield, he must also fight the war within his heart.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award Feb 2023

Literary Titan Gold Book Award

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 writing talent of these brilliant authors.

Award Recipients

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

Literary Titan Silver Book Award February 2023

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

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 writing talent of these brilliant authors.

Award Recipients

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

The Name I Choose

The Name I Choose is an impassioned historical fiction novel written by Holly Brough. The story begins in 1823 and the majority of the story takes place in Spain. The refreshing plot follows the life of a character named Amalia, a young woman who is sent away from her home in the first chapter.

Prior to the first chapter, the author creates a mysterious scene involving three characters, and the story begins as if it were a thriller. The prologue is written in an intense way and leads the reader to wonder how the original characters’ lives will be connected to the rest of the plot.

I enjoyed the details in this historical fiction novel and felt it added much depth to the story. The book reminds readers of what a woman’s place in society was like at that time, and how cruel it can sometimes be. But even though it’s emotional and dark at times, the solid writing and deep exploration of character helps the reader to identify with Amalia’s dilemmas and limitations. Amalia’s interactions with the characters who have a higher status than her remind the reader of the significance class had during this time.

The story feels grounded and authentic, which elevates the emotional impact of the story, but there were still some turn of events that I did not see coming. The main character’s likeability is the best feature of the story. While the beginning of the book is intense, the rest of the story is more methodical, emotional, and thoughtful.

I enjoyed the convincing historical aspects, intriguing characters, and the emotionally-charged plot. I would recommend The Name I Choose to readers who like dramatic historical novels that take place during a pivotal moment in history.

Pages: 370 | ASIN: B0B14569DR

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Thomas Edison and the Lazarus Vessel

Book Review

Thomas Edison and the Lazarus Vessel by David Church is a gripping page-turner. The main story follows John Dawkins, a man who, following the death of his former mentor Thomas Edison, is given a mysterious device that seems to grant him the ability to speak with the dead when he first activates it.

Two years pass, and the device never offers such a display again, leading John to think it was all in his head. That is until one day, when it unexpectedly begins to move, carving out a message telling John to find a former associate of Edison’s who has been kidnapped. This leads John on a thrilling journey to discover the secrets Edison left behind before they fall into the wrong hands.

This creative historical fiction book offers an entertaining alternate history starring many of the big names of the 1930s. Edison is, of course, a major character, but we’re also introduced to such memorable personalities such as George Gershwin, Groucho Marx, (both of which I feel don’t show up enough, if at all, in historical fiction novels) and the Roosevelts.

I would call this a historical thriller with some sci-fi and fantasy here and there that twist the story in fascinating directions, but so much is encompassed that it frankly seems to defy the traditional genre. The comedic moments sprinkled throughout earned a fair amount of chuckles from me, and there were even a few scenes I would classify as being genuinely effective horror. This occasionally creates some tonal issues, but nothing that diminishes the quality. I appreciate the writer’s ability to move between those moments and include them in one story.

The characters were written in such an engaging way that I wish we had gotten to spend more time with a few of them, which I think would have helped eliminate any trace elements of tropes and alleviate any issue with ‘fridging’ readers might notice. This is a sequel, but the story definitely stands on its own. The author also included just enough background information that readers will be able to follow the general setup, though not in a way that would be intrusive to anyone who has followed the series from the first amazing book.

I highly recommend Thomas Edison and the Lazarus Vessel to anyone looking for a fun and action-packed romp through 1930s America.

Pages: 270 | ASIN : B0BT4874XW

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The Spell 

The Spell by C.V. Shaw is an endearing tale set in 16th-century England, which takes place not long after King Maurice’s war against France. The king’s five-year-old daughter Isabella gets shot by an archer, who appears to be a mysterious figure. While the stubborn king searches the dark forest for this archer, his queen Lilac worries about the cursed arrow. The royal family of Fleurham becomes entangled in a web of magic, adventure, and deception. When the king returns home after years in captivity, his family struggles to regain the love and harmony that once bound them together. They must learn to see beyond the spell, incorporate their fragile roots, and become strong again.

The author’s writing will hold your attention from cover to cover, with an articulate style and vivid descriptions that will transport the reader to the lush countryside of Fleurham. The plot is intriguing and spellbinding. Throughout the story, you’ll learn of the unique backstories, from the witches who helped raise Isabella to the housekeeper’s family, the king’s horse, and other distinct events that create a fantastic page-turner.

Shaw’s book is not only enthralling in the sense of historical fantasy but also contains meaningful lessons. The family often blames their poor choices on a curse. However, it’s interesting to see how their lives unfold and to discover whether or not a curse, misfortunate, or other reasons are the root cause of their tragedy within the family and the kingdom.

The Spell by C.V. Shaw is an immensely detailed and thrilling story that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy, romance, and historical fiction. I recommend this stellar book for its gripping storyline and unique emphasis on accountability and how one event, one decision, can result in a powerful outcome.

Pages 222 | ASIN: B0894W34VR

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A Unique And Hidden World

Ed Davis Author Interview

The Last Professional follows Lynden as he escapes his life as a computer programmer and goes in search of The Tramp, who kidnapped and abused him on the rails as a child. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

From my own experience riding the rails, I understood what a unique and hidden world this is, and that it would make the perfect setting for a story about our American culture of wanderlust and our thirst for adventure.

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

While many ride the rails to lose themselves, Lynden is returning to them to find himself. He has tried to ignore his past, and to outrun it. Now, rather than waiting for it to catch up with him he decides to confront it, knowing that he can’t get on with his life until he does.

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

A freight train may seem like an unlikely place to ask the big questions — Who are we? How do we fit in? Where do we belong? — yet that is exactly what Lynden, and his mentor The Duke, the last of the professional hobos, are doing.

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

My novel Four in Stone is about four unlikely high school classmates finding one another, and friendship, in the fictional northern California town of O’Farrell in the late 1960’s. It, and a short story collection, O’Farrell Stories, are complete, and I am currently at work on the sequel, Four in Love. Their availability is dependent on finding the right publishing home.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

A hobo, a wanderer, a madman; three characters hurtling toward a heart-wrenching climax where their way of life, and their lives, hang in the balance.

These freights let you ride, they don’t let you go!

Lynden Hoover, a young man on the brink of a new beginning, cannot embrace it without confronting the traumas of his past. Help comes from The Duke, an old loner who calls America’ s landscape his home. He clings to an honor code, but in fleeing from Short Arm, his merciless enemy, his code is being tested. The Duke mentors Lynden, enlisting old traveling friends to keep himself and his apprentice just ahead of Short Arm’ s relentless pursuit. When two of those friends are murdered, the stakes become life or death.

Bonds are formed, secrets exposed, sacrifices made, trusts betrayed; all against a breathtaking American landscape of promise and peril. Three unforgettable characters, hurtling toward a spellbinding climax where pasts and futures collide, and lives hang in the balance.

The Road Renounced

The Road Renounced by Kaye D. Schmitz is a historical fiction story that follows the ugly effects of war, following people far from the battlefield. World War I was devasting, and while it’s a fictional account, the story tugs at the heartstrings.

The story begins with three characters at different places and times. In 2015, in Pennsylvania, Suzanne Ryan discovers her grandmother Maude’s diary. She learns that back in 1915, Maude Brewer was living on the family farm with her parents and brother Henry who spent much of his time with Buzz Ryan, his best friend. Their lives are abruptly impacted by the first world war, with death and despair.

When you initially start reading The Road Renounced and weave through the three characters and their perspectives, you’ll eagerly want to find how they intercept and what makes their lives connect. The author does a great job of pulling the curiosity out of readers, keeping them on edge until all three storylines converge. It’s a fantastic read that will keep you turning one page after the next.

I found this book well-written, and the author didn’t shy away from the horrors of war on the battlefield, back home, and with the remaining family members awaiting any news. The characters are complex and intriguing, and the story doesn’t pull away from the brutality of war and the issues that arise behind people’s closed doors. Schmitz does a great job of handling the dual storylines and integrating them together.

The Road Renounced by Kaye D. Schmitz is an excellent, 5-star read that will keep you reading from start to finish. Highly recommended!

Pages 382 | ASIN: B0BLYDJ1WB

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