Chasing the Blue Sky follows the life of a shelter dog from one home to the next. Why was this an important book for you to write?
There are so many animals in our shelter and adoption system that it is often improbable for people to actually place an individual face or story with many of them. They are often relegated to statistics or ambiguous shadows behind kennel fencing. I wanted to write a story to help capture for people the vibrant life that exists in every one of those statistics or shadows. Having spent a great deal of time around shelters and dogs that have otherwise been abandoned on chains or in backyard kennels, I have seen so many dogs with great possibilities for life who were restricted based on their circumstances. The intent of the book was to try and show people that every one one of those dogs is rich, hopeful, and brimming with the chance to bestow the amazing gifts that all dogs give to us. I wanted to bring people behind the kennel walls using Toby’s story as a vehicle to share the voice of so many forgotten animals.
The story is told from the eyes of a dog, and delivers innocent but intuitive views of the world. What were some inspirations for Toby’s character?
Toby was particularly inspired by my first dog, Mack. Mack was a black and white pit bull mix who was adopted as a puppy from a city shelter. He was such an amazing dog – loving, kind, smart, and patient. He was everything anyone could ask for in a dog. But before I adopted him, he was a dog in a kennel. He may have been overlooked a hundred times and depending on the circumstances he found himself in, he may never have had the deserved chance to show everything he was capable of showing. He inspired me to let the world know that there are countless dogs just like Mack that, if given the chance, will be the greatest gift you may ever know.
The story is heartfelt and beautifully told. What were some of your driving ideals throughout the story?
As mentioned above, I wanted to bring people closer to so many dogs that are so often forgotten. My driving ideal was to be true to the reality of the world. It would have been very easy to write a book that was upbeat, and happy, and full of feel-good moments, but that would have been disingenuous. The book tells stories that I have personally seen over and over again over the past 15 years. This is real life. Often it is gritty and tough to see. Sometimes the situations in the book are tough to read but to address the problems facing thousands of dogs in our country, we must first face the truth. I also wanted to portray some of the unique challenges facing pit bull type dogs. These situations are also based on real stories and scenarios I have come across or personally dealt with. The world is harder if you’re a pit bull type dog and it is important for people to understand the obstacles arrayed against these dogs.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My focus is on books that promote the integrity, rights, and interests of animals. I am currently working on a second book which takes a very different theme. This book is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel set in the aftermath of a pandemic. The story follows the owner of a neglected roadside zoo, his personal journey to survive, and the evolution of his view of animals in light of the savagery of man that has suddenly engulfed his world. I expect it to be released early Summer 2019.
When life with his loving family takes a sudden turn, Toby finds himself fighting to survive in the unforgiving world of the county animal shelter. But he’s not alone – a motley cast of homeless dogs and a devoted pair of shelter workers will give anything to make sure he finds his forever home.
Chasing the Blue Sky is the compelling, emotional story of one dog’s journey to find his place in the great big world. Readers have described it as “Beautiful,” “Brilliant,” “Poignant,” “Powerful,” and “Gripping.”
If you’ve ever adopted, rescued, or fostered a dog – this book is for you.
Posted in Interviews
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This is a powerful book that kept me enraptured from the start. This poignant tale gives us a dogs-eye-view of a journey through a sometimes happy and often difficult life. From the sadness of leaving his mom as a young puppy, traveling through various homes, finding a loving home and losing it. The reader must experience great sadness and pain against animals who are defenseless and abandoned. If you are an animal lover this story will pull at your heartstrings. This is such a brilliant perspective encourages advocacy for animals. If you don’t shed a few tears while reading this, you must be asleep!
The writing is easy to read but not juvenile, as you might imagine with the perspective of a dog. The innocence of it is heart-wrenching at times, as if from the eyes of a child. I love all the descriptions and explanations for the dogs’ responses along with the actual dialogue between the animals. This was so endearing. The author masterfully created Toby’s world through his innocent observations that were without all the hyper analysis often accompanying descriptions of human emotions. Although the animals display innocence, they certainly are not dumb, on the contrary, there is so much intuition there that anyone who is bonded with a pet can understand. I love the relationships and bonds formed between animals as well.
This story paints a sad picture of shelter life. This is a great book if one is looking to inspire shelter adoptions, which may have been the authors intent. The picture painted in this novel is not pretty and It certainly created a great sense of compassion in me and interest in adopting an animal from a shelter in the future. This book is deeply penetrating and thoughtful. The writing is beautiful, full of innocence but also depth. This is a quick and impactful read that should be kept on hand for anyone wanting to promote shelter adoptions!
Pages: 191 | ASIN: B07K5MM6WJ
Tags: adoption, alibris, animal, animal care, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, canine, Chasing the Blue Sky, dog, doggy, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, love, nook, novel, passion, pet, publishing, puppy, read, reader, reading, relationship, shelfari, shelter, smashwords, story, William Lowrey, writer, writer community, writing
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.
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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Tags: alibris, animal, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, biography, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, companion, dog, dogs, ebook, exasperating, family, funny, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, Lily Tanzer, literature, memoir, nonfiction, nook, novel, pet, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, spirituality, story, touching, travel, Travels with the Doggie Lama, writer, writer community, writing
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
Silver Award Winners
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
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There is no relationship like the one between an owner and a pet. Each pairing is unique and has its own set of quirks and idiosyncrasies. However, there exists no bond stronger than the one between an animal and the owner when they have saved one another. That is the essence of the connection between Lily and Keisha. Lily, trying to make her way post-college and post-boyfriend, faces the heart-pounding fear and helplessness of a young woman who narrowly escapes a home invasion. On the heels of her ordeal, her snap decision to become the owner of a tiny and rambunctious ball of fur leads Lily on an string of adventures that change the course of both of their lives.
Lily Tanzer, author of Travels with the Doggie Lama, has shared her most intimate experiences with readers. These intimacies aren’t the normal ones; they revolve around the amazing connection she found with her puppy, Keisha. Their relationship goes far beyond a doting owner and a loving pup. Lily and Keisha are connected on a spiritual level, and it becomes increasingly clear throughout the book that Keisha is as much a soulmate to Lily as any human.
The author lays out, in no uncertain terms, the trials and tribulations of being a first-time dog owner. Her descriptions of the utter devastation caused by such a tiny force of a nature within the confines of a small apartment will hit home with every dog owner. Her doubts and financial fears resonate with any reader who has struggled to make ends meet while feeling the overwhelming desire to put the needs of one’s pet before his or her own.
Tanzer delicately addresses the relationship she has with her parents–another relatable element of her story. Readers are privy to Lily’s most embarrassing money struggles and her resignation when her father steps in to save the day. College graduates struggling to make their way and find ways to hide those battles from their parents will appreciate the author’s descriptions of her humiliation upon hearing from her banker father.
As a lifelong pet owner, I appreciate the way Tanzer traces the relationship between Lily and Keisha over the years and Keisha’s various reactions to the people in her life. It doesn’t take too long to begin picturing Keisha as more of a spirit than a dog. Her vibrancy and her complete dedication to Lily as she moves their two-person family across the country jumps off the page. When Lily’s life takes a turn and she finds love at last, Keisha is right there beside her to show her approval of the expanding family. And when Lily’s long-awaited pregnancy occurs, Lily’s concerns about coping with jealousy overwhelm her. There isn’t a pet owner-turned-new parent out there who won’t relate to the ride Lily takes on that emotional roller-coaster.
Tanzer’s book is well-written, easily relatable, and manages to show pet owners yet another facet of the owner-pet dynamic–one that extends beyond the closeness we all recognize and borders on the spiritual.
Pages: 366 | ASIN: B07BD2SBSH
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.
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.
Posted in Interviews
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Don’t Call Me Chip, by Neil O’Donnell, is the story of one determined chipmunk and the battle he undertakes to save his human and the creatures who share his yard from an ill-intentioned family. Mikey, an eccentric old man and former Marine names the adventurous chipmunk Timothy, provides him with a small store of seeds, and thus steals his heart. Timothy, having lost his home, takes up residence in Mikey’s yard and makes it his job to protect and serve as a way of showing his gratitude and love for the old man–his new friend.
I have to say, I did not expect to fall in love with Don’t Call Me Chip–but that is exactly what happened. O’Donnell has masterfully captured the thoughts and feelings of the wild animals in his work and presents them in a way not seen in any other book or short story. Timothy, telling his own story for the majority of the book, is boisterous, cantankerous, and contemplative. The reader is privy to all of Timothy’s thoughts as he evolves from a suspicious chipmunk to a loving and protective pet.
All really great books have those little moments that take your breath–moments that seal the deal for the reader. For me, that moment arrived when TImothy refers to Mikey as his new friend. It seems a small and otherwise benign line out of the many more humorous and action-packed passages, but it carries a hefty weight for me. Timothy, a loner like Mikey, misunderstood and underappreciated, makes a lasting connection in that moment.
The shift from first person to third person at the end of the book threw me for moment, but I enjoyed the change in point of view. O’Donnell gives readers the feeling of an age-old story by backing up and giving a broader picture of Timothy’s final ordeal.
I am giving Don’t Call Me Chip a solid 5 out of 5 stars. I truly loved the characters–big and small. Mikey, who could be anyone’s elderly neighbor, is lovable and the obvious underdog. Resilient and focused, Timothy makes for the perfect main character and, in his own right, tiny hero.
Pages: 85 | ASIN: B079GTSKZR
Tags: action, adventure, alibris, animal, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, children, chipmunk, dont call me chip, ebook, fantasy, fiction, friendship, fun, funny, goodreads, humorus, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kids, kindle, kobo, literature, natural, nature, neil odonnell, nook, novel, pet, publishing, read, reader, reading, satire, shelfari, smashwords, squirrell, story, teen, writer, writer community, writing, YA, young adult
Lucy’s First Christmas is the heartwarming tale of Lucy the rescue cat’s first Christmas with her adoptive family. There is so many directions to take a holiday story, how did you settle on this story line?
Having a new pet during the holiday season can be stressful for them, the established pets, and the family. The family dynamic changes with the additional family member. I wanted to show that there is plenty of room and love to go around.
I felt like there was a lot of love and truth in this story. Did you take anything from your own life and put it in this story?
Oh yes! Lucy’s antics all happened. From playing with the Christmas tree decorations, to “helping” me wrap Christmas presents, to playing in the snow. She did it all! But in the end her favorite place to be is curled up on our laps or snuggling with one of our other pets 🙂
Do you find that pets are usually extra curious around the holidays when humans are decorating?
Absolutely, the sights, scents, and sounds that go along with the holiday season are very enticing to pets. The constant activity peeks their curiosity even more. That’s why it’s so important to take extra safety precautions for your pets during the holiday season.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The fourth book in the Lucy’s Tale series, Lucy goes to the Vet, will be available spring 2018.
Tomorrow is Lucy’s first Christmas. Everyone is busy getting ready for the big day. Lucy wants to help. But when she tries to help Mom wrap presents, she makes a mess. When she tries to help Dad decorate the tree, she tangles the lights. When she tries to help Ben build a snowman, she gets stuck in a snowdrift. Surely there must be a way for an eager kitten to help!
Posted in Interviews
Tags: alibris, animal, art, author, author life, authors, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookblogger, bookhaul, bookish, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookworm, cat, children, christmas, dog, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, holiday, ilovebooks, kids, kindle, kitten, kobo, literature, lucys first christmas, nook, novel, parent, pet, picture book, publishing, puppy, read, reader, reading, rolynda tassan, shelfari, story, teacher, writer, writer community, writing
Lucy’s First Christmas, written by Rolynda Tassan and illustrated by Ruby Wheeler, is the heartwarming tale of Lucy the rescue cat’s first Christmas with her adoptive family. Like any other cat, her curiosity wins out, and she becomes entangled, literally, in the preparations for the coming holiday. From present-wrapping to light-stringing, Lucy is allowed to be a part of it all. Lucy is even afforded her first trip into the snowy outdoors and is a part of the family’s Christmas read-aloud. This particular book is the third in a series of stories written about Lucy and her adventures.
Tassan has written a much-needed tale with Lucy’s First Christmas. As a mother, teacher, and adoptive parent of three rescue pets, I don’t see enough of these books on the shelves. There is a joy like no other in watching a shelter pet bloom in a loving home. The author captures this feeling quite well with Lucy’s Christmas experiences. She describes each family member’s patience with the curious cat and demonstrates the various ways in which the family involves the pets in their routines. The love between the family and Lucy is mutual and communicated well throughout the book.
Any parent or teacher choosing this book to read with children will find it touching and true-to-life. The author has included a fair amount of “awwww” moments and lots of snuggling and loving. The pets themselves are no strangers to snuggling. This is an all-around sweet story to share with children who have pets, are wanting pets of their own, or who are in a family who has adopted a pet from a shelter.
Generally a realistic fiction piece, Tassan has managed to work in a bit of fantasy with the pets talking to one another. For the most part, these sections serve to explain some of the things that drive Lucy’s curiosity and, in the conclusion, add to the dearness of the overall plot.
Lucy’s First Christmas is a touching story that hits home for readers of all ages and features delicate illustrations of the pets and their family. Tassan and Wheeler’s precious Christmas story is a must-read for any family with rescue pets. Lucy’s first Christmas with her family will bring a smile to the reader’s face and touch the soul of any animal lover.
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Titch the Itch, written by B.C.R. Fegan and illustrated by Lenny Wen, is the tale of an animated little itch who wants nothing more than to make friends the only way he knows how–by doing his job. When his wayward, “no-reason-at-all” itching isn’t appreciated in the home of one large family, Titch the Itch seeks to make friends outside the home. Trying his luck with a cat, a neighbor, a police officer, and a park full of children, Titch learns that life is hard for an itch of his sort. His journey leads him to the hospital where he soon learns that he has had a bigger impact than he realized.
B.C.R. Fegan has constructed a touching story centered around the personification of a lowly itch. The author has managed to take a difficult concept and design a precious plot surrounding the poor little itch’s desire to be needed and to have lasting friendships. Titch is a memorable character with whom young readers will empathize. As he moves from one character to the next, he experiences rejection and disappointment. Fegan has included some important lessons in this wonderful picture book. In addition to friendship, the author teaches the benefits of being determined and the results of perseverance.
As with any children’s book, it is essential to include those moments of humor. Fegan does not lack in this area. The unforeseen circumstances surrounding the conclusion of the book are whimsical and encourage children to reread the book to find things they may have missed–a wonderful aspect to include to inspire young readers to delve further into the intricacies of text. As a teacher and parent, I more than appreciate those small amounts of mystery which energize readers. Kudos to the author!
The illustrations for Titch the Itch are fantastic. Lenny Wen’s vision of Titch is a cross between a ghost and a friendly dust bunny–exactly how one might visualize an itch. The facial expressions of Titch absolutely make the story. His woeful looks tug at the reader’s heartstrings. The color schemes chosen to brighten the pages make this a beautiful story to read aloud.
B.C.R. Fegan’s story of the needy little itch just looking for friendship is a sweet tale perfect for teaching young readers about the value of friends and loyalty.
Pages: 33 | ASIN: B076342B9D
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