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Literary Titan Book Awards August 2021

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.

Gold Award Winners

The Narcissism of Small Differences by Dennis Dorgan

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

What the boy hears when the girl dreams by Greame Friedman

PIZAHN by Axel Schilton

 

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

Their True Purpose

Rowan Staeffler
Rowan Staeffler Author Interview

Swords Of Deception follows a woman on a mission to track down a rogue council member but her journey reveals dark secrets about the Council of Witches. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

To show at what length people go to hide their true purpose and misuse of power.

Ellemar is a character that was fun to follow and well developed. What were some challenges you felt were important to defining her character in the story?

To find the right timing when Ellemar loses herself in her anger and how she learned throughout the story to be more reasonable. Then finding the right moments how Ason patiently tries to help her, making it as believable as possible. Because Ellemar mostly relies on him but he wants her to think for herself. Stepping only in if she loses herself in her anger again.

With beta readers and my editor, it took us a while until everyone was happy with the outcome. So lots of changes had to be made, leading to some frustrating moments.

What were some sources that informed the development of the world and lore in your book?

The world I have created in my Black Eyed Witch series was still fresh. So it made it easy to write it with a different story, powers and characters.

This is book one in your Sword of Deception series. What can readers expect in book two?

That Ellemar will be mentally challenged. That’s all I will say as otherwise it will spoil a big moment betas and my editor didn’t see coming. One beta said she cried during that scene.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook

Three years ago, rogue council member Celeana Maar massacred all the students at the Witches Academy and left Ellemar Vancel for dead. Now, still haunted by that day, Ellemar seeks to track Celeana down and settle the score.

But her mission is nearly halted before it even begins because the Council of Witches prohibits members from killing, even if justified. Given the gravity of Celeana’s crime, the Council bends this rule and approves Ellemar’s mission.

Searching for Celeana takes Ellemar to a royal ship, a Forgotten Forest, and a secret island. Along the journey, she begins hearing stories that suggest Celeana’s horrendous act may actually have been justified. Is Ellemar chasing the wrong enemy? Has the Council been harboring secrets from its members? Getting the answers right is critical. The peace of the entire kingdom is at stake.

Vega Investigative Thriller Series

Author Interview
John Hazen Author Interview

Beyond Revelation follows a TV reporter who races against time to save her friend and stop a sinister cult. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?

Remember, Beyond Revelation is a book about a reporter, and a good reporter never reveals his or her sources.

A lot of research for this book came from news accounts I’ve read and heard over the years. Jonestown and the Branch Davidians are examples of cults that were big in the news during my life, so I had a knowledge of them as I wrote the book. I also made it easy on myself by making the two primary settings in the book places that I’ve lived during my life. Fairbrook, MA, is based on the small town where I grew up and the New York City metropolitan area is where I’d spent most of my life. I always try to do some reading on places I write about that I’ve never visited to get them as real as I can. In this book that would be Montana and Havana, Cuba.

What were some ideas that were important for you to personify in your characters?

My focus in this book and in the two books that preceded it in the Vega Investigative Thriller Series (Fava and Zyklon) must of course be the protagonist, Francine Vega. She’s a street-smart, New York City TV journalist. I try to portray her as having the qualities I want all journalists to have. I want her to be intelligent, persistent, questioning, and honest. Both she and her husband, FBI Special Agent Will Allen, are the epitome of integrity. I wanted them both to be the best examples they can be for their three kids.

It can be a bit tricky when you’re writing a series. After the first book, the author must present enough background on characters to inform people who haven’t read the previous editions but not too much background that you turn off or bore those who have read them. I think I’ve done that thus far in this series.

How do you balance story development with shocking plot twists? Or can they be the same thing?

I don’t believe any balance is required. They can, and should be, the same thing. In fact, I think that plot twists—shocking or otherwise—need to compliment and advance story development. They must be part of the whole. Otherwise, the plot twists look like they’re superfluous or simply inserted for shock value.

In discussing the difference between “surprise” and “suspense”, Alfred Hitchcock, used the example of a bomb taped under a table where two people are sitting. You could have the audience not know the bomb is there and then get fifteen seconds of surprised adrenaline rush when it suddenly explodes. Hitchcock would rather let the viewer know that the bomb was there ahead of time and be on the edge of their seats, not knowing if the bomb would go off or not. In this way, the audience experiences fifteen minutes, rather than fifteen seconds, of surprise. I agree with this approach. There are times and places for the unexpected, the surprise, of plot twists, but overall, I prefer the approach of building suspense over the course of a chapter or even over the arc of the entire book.

What can readers expect in book four of the Vega Thriller series?

Thus far in the Vega Investigative Thriller series we’ve had Francine expose and thwart plots that would have plunged the world into war (Fava), undermined a presidential election (Zyklon) and plunged the country into a race war (Beyond Revelation). All this has taken a toll on her. The events of Beyond Revelation were especially hard on her mentally and emotionally. In the next book, she’s going to still be the intrepid journalist who’s going to uncover stories—this time I think in the environmental field—but I will need to focus a little sharper on her personal situation and the burdens she is bearing.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Is Beyond Revelation a reclusive religious order preparing its flock for the Second Coming, or is it a cult with much more sinister intentions?
When New York City TV reporter Francine Vega travels from ‘the City’ to a small New England town to hunt for a friend who has gone missing, she finds that the disappearance may be tied to Beyond Revelation and a Russian-funded nationwide conspiracy. To find the truth, Vega works with the Press, the FBI, religious leaders, civil rights leaders and even the President as she races against the clock to rescue her friend and avert a national calamity.

Blood In The Medicine Bowl

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Blood In The Medicine Bowl, by Steven Bryan Clegg, is a book that contains two pivotal stories, and both need to be told. The first is about the importance of awareness of poaching rhino horns for money, and the second is about the alertness of crime against humanity with the kidnapping of children. The story’s main setting is South Africa. A rhino having been poached is unlawfully sent to Vietnam to be prepared for illegal sale. The horn is boiling in a pot at Mr. Bui’s home when his 10-year-old son accidentally cuts his finger, the blood dripping into the boiling pot. Meanwhile, Detective Elizabeth Beyes works feverishly to track down and capture a kidnapper of children. Her search leads her to a magician who also steals rabbits called Magic Pete.

Author Steven Bryan Clegg begins his riveting story with a barrage of scenes and characters to setup his novels theme’s of the crime and consequences of poaching and kidnapping. His setting begins in South Africa, shoots to Vietnam, then to China, and back to Africa where he delves into the second plot involving Detective Liz Beyes and her partner, Detective Zahn Lin. Each scene is captivating, the locations are vivid and seem exotic. At times I found the introduction of so many characters a little overwhelming, but the story does a great job keeping the storylines separate, although I felt that it was hard to tell which storyline took priority. By the end of the novel, the story had come full circle and ends leaving the readers feeling satisfied. The dialogue is paced well and I enjoyed the conversations between characters in the story, which showcases Clegg’s talent of character creation. I found many of the characters to be relatable.

Blood In The Medicine Bowl is an intriguing story that dramatically explores the consequences of poaching and kidnapping in some creative and stirring ways. The combination of dual storylines ensure readers are consistently engaged with the story.

Pages: 297

 

Game of Bones

Game of Bones: British Detectives (Rafferty & Llewellyn British Mystery Series Book 18) by [Geraldine Evans, Nicole covershotcreations, David Burton]

At first glance, the murder of University Administrator Rupert Hunter-York seems too good to be true. All roads lead to one Professor Babbington, an alcoholic professor with a less-than-savory personality (to say the least). With the mountain of evidence falling on Detective Joe Rafferty’s lap, he thinks that this is an open-and-shut case. It could have been if it weren’t for his right-hand man ​​Sergeant Llewellyn. Now it turns out that the case is far more complicated than what anyone could ever imagine. 

Geraldine Evans’ 18th installment to the Rafferty & Llewellyn British Mysteries begins with a warning for its heavy use of British slang, and even offers a handy list in the back to familiarize readers. I’m happy to report that this is a smooth and readable novel, even for non-British readers. Anyone with a grasp of context clues can easily understand the narration and the inner workings of Rafferty’s mind.  

It’s him that we follow throughout the novel, and what a surprisingly cozy place it is for a grizzled detective. While he fusses over the case almost non-stop, we also see him worrying about his baby sister and yearning to get home to his beloved daughter Neeve. He is a flawed man, as we see how his biases can sometimes get in the way of the investigation. But that’s precisely what makes him lovable in the first place. He’s relatable and human and a well-rounded character. 

Speaking of well-rounded characters, Game of Bones is full of them. We’ve talked about Rafferty, but we can’t forget supporting characters like his partner Llewelyn and the babbling suspect Professor Babbington. Each character has such unique personalities reflected in their mannerisms and dialogue that they become imprinted in your mind despite how brief their roles may be. This applies even to minor characters like the icy Ms. Harriet Temple and the tight-lipped Professor Curtis. 

It’s the characters that truly shine in the novel, but I felt that the pacing could have been improved. While it starts in medias res and grabs the reader’s attention from the first sentence, the excitement level fluctuates. Fortunately, the characters that populate the Game of Bones makes it a worthy addition not just to the Rafferty & Llewellyn British Mysteries but to the canon of mystery fiction as a whole. This is a gripping mystery novel that I highly recommend.

Pages: 286 | ASIN: B079K6CNDM

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Unforgiven – Book Trailer

Once a victim, she’s now a vigilante. An addictive and suspenseful thriller for readers of Candice Fox and Sarah Bailey.

Lexi Winter is tough, street-smart and has stood on her own two feet since childhood, when she was a victim of notorious paedophile the Spider. All she cares about now is a roof over her head and her long-term relationship with Johnny Walker. She isn’t particular about who she sleeps with … as long as they pay before leaving.

Lexi is also an ace hacker, tracking and entrapping local paedophiles and reporting them to the cops. When she finds a particularly dangerous paedophile who the police can’t touch, she decides to gather enough evidence to put him away. Instead, she’s a witness to his death …

Detective Inspector Rachael Langley is the cop who cracked the Spider case, 18 years earlier – but failed to protect Lexi. Now a man claiming to be the real Spider is emulating his murderous acts, and Rachael is under pressure from government, media and her police colleagues. Did she get it wrong all those years ago, or is this killer is a copycat?

Lexi and Rachael cross paths at last, the Spider in their sights … but they may be too late …

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Alter The Course of History

Thomas Bauer
Thomas Bauer Author Interview

The Assassin follows the life of a baker’s son in a small Italian village whos future is radically changed by a mysterious visitor. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I simply wanted to explore the idea of how one small act might be able to alter the course of history as well as what impact historical events might have in an insignificant spot on the planet peopled by those ignorant of world events.

Umberto is a stirring and authentic character. What were ideas you wanted to capture in his character’s development?

How the innocent and ignorant among us live lives more simple, but still filled with the same aspirations as the more privileged among us.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

During the Napoleonic era, Umberto Guardo, a naive son of a baker in an insignificant Italian village, falls under the spell of a radical revolutionary. When the great general himself sets foot in the village, the awe stricken lad is given a task that could alter the course of history. The Assassin portrays an Italy that once was and a small village, isolated and unaware of the world beyond its borders until the unexpected intrusion by the most famous man in the world.

Swords Of Deception

Swords Of Deception: A Sword Of Deception Novel by [Rowan Staeffler, Rowan Staeffler]

Swords of Deception by Rowan Staeffler is a gripping fantasy novel revolving around Ellemar Vancel, who has been living her life as a hostage for almost three years, with permission to move only within the boundaries of the city. Her crime? She practiced her powers without supervision. One black day three years ago, rogue council member Celeana Maar wreaked havoc in the Witches Academy, and after a severe tussle, left Ellemar Vancel deeply wounded and deformed. Ellemar carries the painful memory of this traumatic incident to this date and wishes to find Celeana to take revenge on her. However, her mission is interrupted by the Council. The Council of Witches holds that a member cannot kill anyone. The novel begins with Ason informing her that the Council has finally granted her wish, and she can undertake her mission to track down Celeana. 

Swords of Deception is the first book in A Sword of Deception Novel series, and the story is to be continued in Book 2, Swords of Revelation. This dark fantasy novel si short but potent. With little room to spare the chapters are succinct and the story is relentlessly propelled forward through a series of wild turns and electrifying revelations. 

Within this adventurous story is an emotionally invigorating relationship between Ellemar and Ason which is subtle yet deep and provides ample dramatic punctuations to this action filled story. The work carries a light sensual undertone, especially towards the ending, without being too graphic. 

Swords of Deception has a unique plot with crisp prose that will appeal to fans of The Witcher. This is a thrilling dark fantasy novel that will appeal to both young adult and adult readers who are interested in a sword and sorcery story that knows how to deliver a well defined and entertaining hero’s journey. 

Pages: 227 | ASIN: B097Q4VK1T

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