Titanborn by Rhett Bruno

May 18, 2018: Update on this post!!!

Rhett Bruno has recently published his first fantasy novel with a co-author! I’m really excited about it – Web of Eyesthe first book in The Buried Goddess Saga



by Rhett Bruno

This fun new space drama/thriller, Titanborn by writer, Rhett Bruno, was published this year by Hydra (an imprint of Random House – not the evil organization trying to take over the world and destroy S.H.I.E.L.D….you’re safe folks). Mr. Bruno kindly gifted me a copy in return for an honest review. And I am so honored that he did!

Malcolm Graves is a bounty hunter employed by one of the ruling corporations in the known galaxy. Earth has been crippled by a meteorite and colonies of humans have taken to the stars. Now – 300 years later – two major corporations vie for the top of the hierarchy while people born on and off Earth are mere pawns in their games. Malcolm lives in a world of his own. Hopping from planet to planet and looking for the next assignment that will get him paid.

Unfortunately for Graves, the powers that be see fit to pair the veteran with a new partner, a Cogent. Graves, who has worked mostly on his own his entire career, is extremely unhappy about the new arrangement and more than a little curious about the corporations newest recruits. With the new partner, Zhaff, comes the frustrations Graves expected, some perks he didn’t, but also more questions than he could have anticipated and more answers than he wants.

Graves is mostly reliable, if not a bit on the grumpy side. Flawed and, for the most part, honest about it.  Zhaff is an interesting character to read. He is a rigid rule-follower where Malcolm is a loose, moved-by-his-gut loner. A by-the-book rookie who is young, strong and extremely intelligent, Zhaff is a thorn in Grave’s side.

I thought this was a really fun read. I was surprised in all the right places. When I finished the novel, I was so stunned that I immediately emailed Mr. Bruno and tried to express my immediate “feels” – so many!!!! But I don’t do spoilers!

What I do like to do —-interview the author! Here are a few questions for Rhett:

SR: When did you start your first novel? 4115521
RB: My first novel was actually a fantasy epic called ISINDA that I started writing at 15 or 16. It’s hard to remember which, but that was the first time I decided to try putting together an actual story,
SR: Is your favorite genre to read sci-fi? What do you like about writing science fiction? 
RB: It is. I actually didn’t really discover sci-fi until college, and I think that’s what turned me into the writer I am today. High school never really pushes you to read what you’re interested in, so I lost faith in reading for a long time. I love the imagination involved. I can never get into contemporary fiction because I live in that world, but scifi takes familiar things and pushes them to extraordinary limits. I suppose that’s what I love most about it. As far in the future as it takes us, good, relevant scifi draws from current events in a way that makes you think.
SR: What was your favorite book as a kid – say around 10 or 11? 
RB: At that age, I have to say it was some Merlin book series about a wizard. I honestly can’t even remember what it’s called, maybe simply MERLIN, but I do remember absolutely loving the books.
SR: What is your favorite part about the writing process? Least favorite? 
RB: Finishing it. There’s nothing better than typing END at the bottom of a manuscript. Of course there’s still a ton of editing and work to do, but the satisfaction is real. Least favorite has to be getting stuck. I’m a perfectionist, so I can’t keep writing and save a part I couldn’t figure out for later, so I obsess over it until I can make it work. Being a better outliner might help…
SR: If you could choose any fantasy/sci-fi world to live in, which one would it be? 
RB: That’s tough because so many are pretty deadly ha. I’d have to say Star Wars. No world has ever captured my imagination like it, and the chance at having the force + the ability to travel between planets seamlessly is tough to deny.
SR: Do you have any words of advice to offer beginning writers? 
RB: Yes. Don’t make the same mistake I did early on. Keep reading! Try to focus on the genre you want to write in and you’ll learn a ton. Another bit of advice, don’t forget about editing. To me, it’s the largest determining factor in wanting to be traditional published vs. self published. Good editing is expensive, and not every publisher has good ones on staff. Publishing a book in the best possible condition is a team effort. Send your MS out to betas and friends, get feedback. One set of eyes is never enough to determine if a story works.
SR: Can you give us a little blurb about your Circuit series? 
RB: Sure. On the outside this is an epic space opera rife with space-battles, but the heart of The Circuit Series is it’s flawed characters. This is a story about how their lives intertwine in unexpected ways, taking each of the four POV characters to places they never thought they’d go. These are broken people who have lost someone or something, and long for it back. In the end, The Circuit is about them coming to grips with their fates within the backdrop of a terrible war caused by one man’s blind lust for vengeance.
SR: What is your current favorite book? 

RB: It’s a tough call, but out of anything I’ve read in recent years I think it still has to be THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss. He’s just such an incredible writer, and a lot of reading for me is research.

Thank you, Mr. Bruno for sharing your book with me.

You can follow Rhett C. Bruno on goodreads and on insta @rcbruno44!

** Check out a new addition to the Titan universe!

Indie Writer Elissa Riley


Silhouette BOOK COVER by Elissa Riley

I’m extremely pleased to introduce Elissa Riley and her independently published premiere novel, Silhouette. I received a copy of the novel in exchange for a review. First, I have to say that I really love the cover for this book. When I first saw it I found it intriguing and after reading Riley’s novel I think it is a perfect choice to introduce the story of a land called D’or, and two fun new characters in YA writing, Leira and Tristan.

After the unexpected death of her mother, Leira Sky goes to live with her Aunt Agatha in a mysterious manor. The giant house seems to take Leira back in time with it’s traditions, housekeepers and maids and one often forgets that the novel is taking place in present day. Aunt Agatha plays a bit of a wicked stepmother that most of the other story participants fight desperately to avoid.

Then one day, Leira meets the sexy and mysterious Tristan, son of the angry, reclusive lord of the house. Curious about this beautiful young man, Leira follows him one day and finds him in his greenhouse. And so begins their interesting adventures of love, travel to fantastic lands with pixies, tiny mushroom men, weather that changes with a person’s mood, and sinister minions of a dictatorial king. (rated PG/PG-13 – the book is definitely in the YA genre, but refreshingly avoids the need for teenagers to have sex. However, intense descriptions of nightmares or some of the monsters in D’or may push the rating to PG-13 for younger readers)

Readers of The Story Realm will know that I enjoy getting to know authors, not just reading their work. And I was not disappointed by Elissa Riley. She kindly took the time to answer a few questions for us about her writing process and her book. Enjoy!

A Short Chat with the Author

SR: What is your writing process like?

Riley: I knew I wanted to write a fantasy.  This is my favorite genre, not only to read, but to write as well, as it opens itself up to so many possibilities.  I could stretch the story as far as my imagination would take me.  Really, the possibilities were endless.
14137359I’m also a big fan of love stories.  The characters become more relatable and I find myself more emotionally invested in the story.
So, once I had my basic idea (girl meets boy, girl goes to a fantasy world), I drew up an outline.  I found this extremely helpful in keeping me on track while writing.  Then, little by little, I filled in the gaps.
Once I had a finished story, I set it aside and worked on something else.  Sometimes, when I’m so deep into a project, it’s hard to see the details anymore.  After some time, I revisited the story, reading it from start to finish before making any revisions.  Then I repeated this process until I was happy with the end result.

SR:How did this story come to you?

Riley: As I’ve found is the case with many authors, the idea for this story came to me in a dream.  In particular, the image of Leira arriving at a cold, grey, uninviting mansion (which later evolved into Woodbury Manor), only to find herself surrounded by the haunting characters who live there.

SR:Did you enjoy writing a novel enough to try it again?

Riley: I absolutely enjoyed writing this novel.  I found it very therapeutic.  And, while the idea of writing another novel seems slightly daunting (this novel took me roughly four years from conception to completion) I found it well worth the effort.  I currently have several new book ideas in the works that I am extremely excited about.

SR:The description of Bodhi and his home is very interesting.  How did that image come to you?

Riley: Bodhi’s ability to view and alter the future, along with the imagery of his house dripping like wet paint were inspired by the painting “The persistence of memory” by Salvador Dali (the painting depicts several clocks that appear to be melting).  In Silhouette, the concept of time is warped for Bodhi and the idea of a fixed cosmic order is questioned by his very existence.  Bodhi’s house and body are physical manifestations of this idea.

SR:Who is your favorite character in Silhouette?

Riley: I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I have a strong affinity for Leira, as I find her the most relatable.  But the character that was the most fun to write was Nevayah.  Her unapologetic cruelty is so vastly different from my own personality, that writing a character like her was strangely gratifying.

SR:What is your current favorite book?

Riley:This is always a tough question, as my favorites list seems to be ever-growing.  But one book that I always seem to come back to is Stardust by Neil Gaiman.  It’s a magical tale, with beautiful imagery.  Gaiman’s command of the written word is truly inspiring.

Thank you to Elissa Riley for sharing her novel and a glimpse of her process with us here at The Story Realm! If you are interested in reading more about Silhouette or Riley there are links above or here!                        Silhouette            Elissa Riley

Happy Reading and Happy Writing!

An Artist’s Story: Part 2

I truly hope you are enjoying hearing from different artists and their process in telling story. I find it very fascinating that each person’s story is so different and that leads to such unique creations from equally unique people.  Let’s meet Christine.

SR: Thank you for taking the time to share! Can you tell us a little bit about who you are?

Artist: My name is Christine Tyler. I am a homeschooling mother of three boys. I work part time as an artist and an aerobics instructor at Stronghold Gym. I’ve been married to the same great man for 10 years and we are active in our church, Grace Presbyterian (Columbia, SC) .

SR: Why is art important to you? IMG_5042

Artist: Art has been my self-expression, stress reliever and self-esteem booster all at once. I am enthralled by what people can create and how incredibly talented some people are! Art covers such a multitudes of expression for people. A life without art would be so very incredibly boring. We wouldn’t have fashion, children’s illustrations in books, advertising or frankly anything fun.

SR:  What is the medium you work with the most and how did it become “your” medium?

Artist: Acrylic –  whenever I am in the mood to slather on the paint and use vibrant colors! It is a great quick fix for a day I just need to get some artwork done!! It is easy to clean up and dries fast.

But….my true baby is oil. All of my favorite pieces are done in oil. It can be so forgiving since you can go back in and rework a piece days after you have put on the paint. It also blends well. After several layers you can use a paintbrush and mix the paint or paint on top of other colors without the undertones completely bleeding through. The more important thing for me about oil is it forces me to slow down. You cannot slather on oil paint. The process of putting it on your canvas alone takes time and effort. Any amount of detail in oil will force you to chew on your cheeks (my personal bad habit) as you mull it over and rework it. Oil paintings can take months to complete while acrylic may be done that day or within the week.

SR: How do you express story through your medium?

IMG_5017Artist: Some of my works are more expressive than others. Often when you look at artwork it may hit you like a ton of bricks the meaning and pain the artist is expressing. When I became a Christian I created a piece that showed my mother weeping outside of my bedroom door on the floor while I was on the other side in chains. She used to pray outside my room at night for my salvation and those tears were not in vain.

Now, my work is a bit more subtle. I like to give my audience a feeling of calm and peace if it’s one of my more neutral oil paintings or just fun and vibrancy while looking at an acrylic piece. You may relate to my trees with feelings of bleakness if you are looking at works I did while struggling with depression. You may relate to my sorrow if you look at my work done of a lone owl on a bare tree branch after I miscarried our third child. Or you may laugh out loud while looking at my fluffy palmetto tree labeled “Bad Hair Day”. IMG_5014Though you may not know the whole story, you will be feeling, in some small way, my mood during the creation. So, looking at most of my work you should feel like you have had a glass of wine!

SR:  Just for fun and because this is what we talk about in The Story Realm:

Currently: What is your favorite:

a. book: The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers. It’s a heavy read and you may cry ugly tears. Just saying, but the book is incredible.

b. movie: While You Were Sleeping staring Sandra Bullock ’cause I’m a sucker for Sandra! (Except that one where she is in space…will never ever ever see that one. I have an irrational fear of space and suffocating up there without air…)

SR: Excellent movie choice!!! I’m pretty sure that I saw While You Were Sleeping multiple times at the theater – and that doesn’t even include the amount of times I watched it with my friends when it came out on video…or DVD…the movie and DVD’s may have come out at the same time! Clearly, 1995 was a good year.

As for Gravity, I feel your pain! I couldn’t even finish the movie because I was freaked out.  Kind of weird for a syfy nerd.

c. TV show: This one goes back and forth… right now it’s Longmire, a Netflix original, and Broadchurch. Both of these are detective like shows although one is a sheriff in the midwest and the other is a British detective by the who lives by the ocean. They are both thrilling and awesome and soooo suspenseful!


Christine has an art show coming up from May 1-June 12 at Cool Beans in downtown Columbia, SC.

Please stop by her facebook page Art by Christine Tyler to see more of her work.