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Utopia? 

Utopia is a city in which everything is based on a system-created hierarchy, where the higher your level, the more luxury and opportunity you would have. George Mason is hell-bent on rising through the ranks while being disgusted by those below him and intensely envious of those above him. Utopia is now ripe for the taking, with the city’s leader on the verge of retiring. Whoever has the most power gains control.

Using their hidden and enormous network of control, the smoking man and the pixelated man are contending for the rule over the city. But unfortunately, George Mason becomes caught in the crossfire and is forced to go undercover to infiltrate the Commune, a settlement outside of Utopia’s boundaries. As he is exposed to ludicrous and foreign ideals, he is drawn deeper into the chasm caused by people seeking control of Utopia.

R.A. Rowlingson’s book Utopia? transports readers to a gloomy universe that is all too familiar. In this terrifying piece of fantasy fiction, horrible forces are developing within the city of Utopia. Many themes of this story resonate with our current reality, particularly the recent global political issues. The author subtly injects bits and pieces of truth into his craft that readers will surely indulge in.

The plot moves along at a steady pace, never dragging and never going too fast. My favorite aspect of Rowlingson’s writing has to be his meticulous attention to detail in character development and world-building. Readers will get to know the characters’ minds, learning their motives and inner struggles. The descriptions of the city and the Commune will have readers feeling like they are in the middle of everything and experiencing the conditions of the dwellers as they follow George.

Utopia? is a sinister and dark reflection of our reality as a whole. This dystopian novel will give readers a look into what could be their own post-apocalyptic world. Science fiction and fantasy readers will find this novel to be engaging, with plenty of unique characters and situations to explore.

Pages: 263 | ASIN : B09HQ43QV9

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Literary Titan Book Awards December 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

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

Silver Award Winners

The World Between Us by Diane Farrugia

 

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

 

When I Decided To Write A Fantasy

Ian Conrey
Ian V. Conrey Author Interview

Haelend’s Ballad is an epic fantasy novel that follows an ensemble cast that are trying to survive in a war torn land where fate conspires against them. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Definitely history. Our own world is full of war and atrocities, and yet we often only see one side of the story. But when we look at these historical events from various perspectives, we see a much more complex (and often darker) reality. When I decided to write a fantasy, I felt that having a large cast from different backgrounds and perspectives would be the best way to reflect that reality.

Your characters are intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

On one level, I simply wanted my characters to be real. I wanted them to be flawed, multi-faceted, and to sometimes just make really bad decisions. They needed to wrestle with their own sins and as well as the sins other against them, and that, in turn, should impact the choices they make. On another level, music was a big influence that helped shape each of my characters. I listened to a lot of early American ballads and classical composers, as well as more recent musicians such as Mumford and Sons, Radiohead, and Josh Garrels. Every character represented something that spoke to me in that music.

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

The biggest theme is probably suffering (how it impacts our worldview, the decisions we make, etc.). Other themes include the consequences of racism, nationalism, and political/economic corruption, as well as the power and freedom found in forgiveness, love, and self-sacrifice.

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

I’m currently working on a series of short stories that explores some of the mythology and other events in the world of Haelend’s Ballad. Also, I’ll be collaborating with my cover illustrator at the beginning of next year to create a series of illustrations for a hardback edition of Haelend’s Ballad that I hope to release at the end of 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

“Some call me Murderer, others call me Lord. I’ve been called Savior and Enslaver. But no one has ever called me Child.”
A young man signs his own death warrant when he joins an already failing militia. A teenage girl is haunted by her childhood abuse and begins to crave the very things she hates. A childless mother finds herself on the run as a convicted murderer. Yet they are all unaware that their own fates are tied to a young orphan who has drowned and come back to life in a foreign land where he will be the death of everyone he meets.
Hælend’s Ballad is a tale about what happens when men and women from two colliding cultures realize they may not be on the right side. Heroes are villains. The persecuted are oppressors. And when rumors begin to spread that the world is dying, the darkness of their own hearts betrays them.

We Must Activate Our Imaginations

Todd Mitchell
Todd Mitchell Author Interview

The Namer of Spirits follows a young girl with the ability to shape what things become as she embarks on a perilous adventure to save her village. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Although the book is a steampunk eco-fantasy that takes place in a fictional world, it was actually inspired by real-world reports on Amazon rainforest destruction done by Lulu Garcia Novarro for NPR. In addition, research into the ways large forests like the Amazon actually create their own weather, pulling in a “river in the sky,” also informed the book. To solve some of the significant environmental and social problems we face, I believe we must activate our imaginations, which is why I wanted to explore real-world issues through a fantastical adventure in this book.

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

Part of what makes Ash unique is how she understands the power of naming. She’s someone who’s able to listen deeply to things that most people overlook or ignore. In doing so, she’s able to hear the true names of things. This shapes not only how she deals with other people, but how she deals with the natural world. And yet, even while she’s more aware than most of the other villagers in the story, she’s also still a child with a relatively innocent view of the world. At times, her innocence allows her to do things that other, more cynical characters, wouldn’t dare try. At other times, her innocence causes her to make some big mistakes.

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

One of the main themes the book explores is the power of language to shape how we see the world, and how we think and act. On the one hand, it’s about the importance of developing one’s voice to speak truth to power, as this is what Ash ultimately learns to do. But the book also explores how language can be used to get good people to do bad things, as the Shadow Namer uses his voice to persuade villagers to act in destructive ways—reflecting how propaganda often works in our own world.

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

My next book is for writers, artists, and creators who know what’s it’s like to struggle with the challenges of creative living. It’s called Breakthrough: How to Overcome Doubt, Fear, and Resistance to Be Your Ultimate Creative Self, and it just came out with Owl Hollow Press this month! If you’re a writer or creator who’s interested in enhancing your relationship with creativity while enjoying the creative process (and life) more, I hope you’ll check it out. https://www.amazon.com/Breakthrough-Overcome-Resistance-Ultimate-Creative/dp/1945654880/

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

In the frontier village of Last Hope, people dismiss twelve-year-old Ash Narro as a flighty child who claims to hear the true names of things. But when enraged forest spirits attack, Ash shows that the names she hears have power.

After taming a destructive forest spirit, Ash teams up with Fen, a wild forest boy, and embarks on an unusual journey to save her village. In this steampunk eco-fantasy, the perils of deforestation and the power of friendship are explored through a fantastical adventure involving giant mistcats, tempestuous forest spirits, a supernatural puppy, and a girl with a special gift for shaping what things become.

The Namer of Spirits

The Namer of Spirits by [Todd Mitchell]

Ash Narro is the eponymous Namer of Spirits in this engaging eco-fantasy by Todd Mitchell.  She is a young girl with a talent for finding the true names and souls of beings and thereby taming them.  She is growing up inside the walls of a village that is hiding from the perils of the outside world, including the unpredictable and fearsome dao fora, who seem to attack at random. But the village has been cursed, and their fear and greed has blinded them to what’s important while their farms struggle under plagues of webworms. When a dao fora youth called Fen finds his way inside the walls and is imprisoned in a cage by fearful villagers, Ash befriends him and sets him free. Branded a traitor by her own people, she goes on the run with Fen to clear her name and to find the Sky Tree in the hope it will provide the answers that her village needs to survive.

Engaging characterization in this adventure will have readers rooting for the protagonists right from the start. The magic is enchanting, and the monsters are frightening and have hidden sorrows. The lineup of otherworldly beings is rich without even a hint of the confusion or clumsiness that many less experienced writers get bogged down in within this genre. Author Todd Mitchell’s naming is both creative and evocative; I particularly loved the mistcats and the illwen.

The Namer of Spirits is among the best of its kind, and it has a superb cover too. Drawing devastating parallels with the real world, Mitchell has created a captivating allegory on the effects of deforestation.  This is a thrilling educational adventure novel for children ages 9 and up, but this beautifully crafted story will also be loved by adults.

Pages: 300 | ASIN: B095Z374J7

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Her Majesty’s Auditor

Her Majesty's Auditor: An Adventure Novel with Steampunk Elements by [Markus Pfeiler]

Howard Forsyth was a man of privilege, living with no small amount of wealth left from his father, and earning a decent living himself as an auditor for no less than the Queen. Despite all he already has, his one goal is to help change the classist system that prevents him from being with Adeline, a lower class southern girl employed in his home and the one true love of his life. When Howard starts a job at the Queen’s mines and realizes that Fitzugh White, the formidable former soldier in charge there, has nefarious plans, it is Adeline who risks everything to help him.

The Queen’s Auditor by Markus Pfeiler is an action packed book that combines romance, risk, treason, and steampunk elements, all set to the backdrop of Victorian England. Told from alternating points of view, the story is short but makes effective use of the space it has. Pfeiler does an excellent job of making the story flow while never seeming rushed. His ability to infuse the text with such vivid character backgrounds and key details show in subtly clever ways all throughout. The action is likewise written quite well. 

While there are some other moments that exist to move the story along, action and romance take the center stage here. Howard and Adeline’s love is tortured because society says they can’t be together, and it encourages both of them toward an activism that is mentioned but never really explored during the course of the book. As it didn’t move the plot along in a huge way, that’s understandable. Howard spends much of his time away from Adeline treading thin ice in the face of treacherous Fitzugh, facing the constant threat of danger. The two extreme themes do well to balance each other out. With some editing issues that can be ironed with a quick edit, this is can be a top notch book once addressed. 

The Queen’s Auditor was pure and simple fun, and the train scene was riveting. This is a thrilling mystery novel with an exciting blend of steampunk, romance, and adventure that takes this novel in unexpected but dramatic directions.

Pages: 112 | ASIN: B09HMVMHF5

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The Thirteenth Hour – Book Trailer

When the saints fail, the sinners step up.

Cruel gods rule the steam-powered city of Chime, demanding worship and tribute from their mortal subjects. Kayl lost her faith in them long ago, and now seeks to protect vulnerable and downtrodden mortals from their gods’ whims. But when Kayl discovers powers that she didn’t know she had—and destroys a mortal’s soul by accident—she becomes Chime’s most wanted.

Quen’s job was to pursue sinners, until the visions started. Haunted by foreboding images of his beloved city’s destruction, Quen hunts soul-sucking creatures made of aether who prey on its citizens—and Kayl is his number one target.

To ensure Chime’s future, Kayl and Quen must discover the truth of Kayl’s divine abilities before the gods take matters into their own hands.

For a city that bows to cruel gods, it’ll take godless heathens to save it.

The Thirteenth Hour is the first book in The Cruel Gods series—a gaslamp fantasy featuring magical portals, gothic cosmic deities, quaint Britishisms, and steampunk vibes. This is an adult book containing strong language and mature themes that some readers may find disturbing. For a full list of content warnings, visit Trudie Skies’s website.

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The Steampunk Vampire Assassins

J.W. Zarek
J.W. Zarek Author Interview

The Devil Pulls the Strings follows a young man with uncontrollable panic attacks and time travelling abilities that send him on a race through time to capture a cursed melody. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

1) Honor the hero’s journey and infuse Slavic mythology and Baba Yaga in a modern day epic fantasy adventure.
2) Paganini’s association with the Devil.
3) The Rule of Three.
4) David Henry Sterry and Bonnie Solomon.

I wrote Chapter One Promise Me, because David Henry Sterry with The Book Doctors, read my first twenty-five pages, and said “You have to show the inciting incident, the joust, before Boone and Sapphire meet outside Stone’s brownstone.”

I wrote The Prologue, because Bonnie Solomon, Producer of Dreamworks’ SHREK and Walden’s THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, read my story and said “You have to show both secret societies before the joust occurs.”

For awareness purposes, there wasn’t a prologue in the first draft. However, without Bonnie’s suggestion, I never would created the prophecy scroll, or incorporated the domovoi into this story, or shown upfront the centuries old war between two opposing secret societies, or revealed why the horn gets blown at the joust, or created Pep, the runt domovoi, or Laureus the Scottish Warrior Laureus, or Lahash and Zakun, the steampunk vampire assassins.

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

1) Failure is not an option for Boone because all he’s ever known his entire life is failure and setback.

Boone’s development throughout the story shows he turns moments of failure into the catalyst for his success.

2) Boone discovers as the story unfolds it’s possible to work with, power through and overcome a circumstance, a condition, a disease or disorder.

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

1) You can overcome insurmountable obstacles.
2) No one is defined by their circumstances, condition, disease, or disorder.
3) The power of a promise.
4) Everyone has a choice.

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

The next book Flynn’s Folly is a heist job gone wrong and its availability is TBD.

Author Links: Website | Amazon | Facebook

THE DEVIL PULLS THE STRINGS, described as The Librarians meet The Magicians is a 76,000-word epic fantasy adventure with series potential, set in modern-day Wentzville, MO, New York City, and 1813 Genoa, Italy, weaves bromance, Slavic mythology, secret societies, Paganini’s music and time travel.Boone Daniels (22) has problems, debilitating panic attack, gut-wrenching guilt, a wendigo haunting him since age six, and now he almost killed his best friend in a joust. But when he fills in for his injured friend at a New York gig, he goes to meet the gig’s contact at his NYC brownstone and a body falls from the brownstone balcony and the place explodes with gun fire.Boone barely escapes but uncovers a sinister plot to perform a rare Paganini piece that summons the Devil to trap Baba Yaga and destroy modern-day New York City. Then finds himself on a race through time to capture the cursed melody. Along the way, a Romani immortal, steampunk vampires and Baba Yaga set the stage for war, and Boone shall have to risk death for redemption. Because all Boone wants is to keep a promise to a friend. The same friend, he almost killed last Sunday during a joust.Can a small-town Missouri musician outplay the supernatural and save NYC’s soul? The Devil Pulls the Strings is the pulse-pounding first tale in the Archivists series. If you like when tortured heroes, epic battles, time travel, twisted history and secret societies collide, then you’ll love J. W. Zarek’s spectacular page-turner.
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