Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions 

Written by Anthony J. Rapino and Anthony D. Grate 

 Ages 10+ | 392 Pages 

 Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group | ISBN-13: 9781626349667 

 Publisher’s Book Summary: Sometimes our greatest moments of enlightenment come from our worst mistakes. When life supplies eleven-year-old Tommy Grant with some unfavorable circumstances intruding on his otherwise tranquil life in rural 1980s Ohio, he retreats into the spell-binding Order of Cosmic Champions. When he discovers that the largely successful animated program and toy line is holding a nationwide ”Create-A-Character” contest where applicants submit their action figure designs, Tommy knows he has to enter as surely as he knows his own name.

But when Tommy’s character design fails to win the contest, he finds his world crumbling from all sides. And there is only one way he knows to fix it. What follows is a whirlwind coming-of-age adventure of righting wrongs, overcoming perilous obstacles, confronting our inner demons, and challenging the limits of reality. In this waxing nostalgic and imaginative fantasy, readers will discover what excitement lies waiting when you take risks and conquer your fears.

Only one question remains: In the final hour when you heed the call, the courage to give your all, will you stand or fall?

Available for purchase on Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes and Noble.


Anthony J. Rapino resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania with his cats Luna and Poe. When he’s not writing speculative fiction, Anthony can be found in the classroom teaching English or crouched in dark alleyways sculpting horrific autumnal creatures out of clay. His work has appeared in On Spec, Acapella Zoo, Black Ink Horror, Madhouse, Liminal Spaces, and others. His novel, Soundtrack to the End of the World, and the story collection, Greetings from Moon Hill, are both available now.

Anthony D. Grate lived through the ’80s, from ages six to sixteen, by surviving on steady doses of Masters of the Universe, Kool-Aid that he put way too
much sugar in, and BarNones. Occasionally he put pencil to paper and created comic strips to entertain his friends. He dreamed of one day working for Marvel or DC. Once out of college, however, he found himself selling furniture. Life sure is funny.

After a few failed attempts to use a new thing called ”the internet” to find a nice lady to share life with, a nice lady found him. They married and soon found themselves raising four children together. Meanwhile, in his spare time, Anthony tried desperately to appease the creative spirit dwelling within him. Comic strips, websites, books, board games, interactive online games . . . you name it, he probably gave it a shot.

Nowadays, Anthony juggles the responsibilities of a husband, father, business owner, and creator pretty well—or at least he thinks so. He lives in the same quiet corner of Ohio that he always has, with no plans of changing that. The guy’s not much for change, which is probably why he still watches Masters of the Universe and eats too many BarNones. He did ditch the Kool-Aid, however.

Life Is What It's Called? What inspired you to write Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions?

Anthony Grate: A good amount of the inspiration for the story that takes shape in the novel comes from my own childhood. Like Tommy, I was faced with the prospect of the implosion of my parents’ marriage, and the effects of that on my young life. The battle between my parents often left me without a support system to help process things, so I would find ways of simply not dealing with it at all. One way was to use my vivid imagination to create worlds and stories with my toys.

My favorite line of toys at that time was (and still is) Masters of the Universe. Mattel, makers of MOTU, had launched a nationwide “Create-A-Character” contest, and I was very excited to enter my own creation. As with Tommy in the novel, I did not win. I was quite disappointed, and developed a hatred for the winning design, named “Fearless Photog”.

Many years later, around 2003 I believe, I came across a post on a website that I frequented that asked the question, “What Happened To Fearless Photog?” The fans of the site took it upon themselves to instead discover what happened to Photog’s creator, Nathan Bitner. After 2,300+ comments on that one post, a story emerged (most of it unverifiable mind you) of a kid that had dealt with hardships of his own later in life. It changed my perspective on that one event that had such an impact on me. I came to realize that losing that contest may have been a valley for me, but for Nathan, it was his time on the mountain, when his own valleys were to come. I came to appreciate Photog after that. And when Mattel FINALLY made that character into an action figure (about 30 years later than promised), I bought 10 of them.

Life Is What It's Called - What are the main themes that run through this book?

Authors: There are a few. Chiefly, overcoming fear and doubt by finding inner strength. In the novel, Tommy has no choice but to grow and face down some of life’s difficult challenges, and even some more fantastical ones. Beyond that, coming to appreciate the things that truly matter… our loved ones, our friends, and just appreciating life itself.

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think readers will like most about your book?

Anthony Grate: I believe that some will enjoy the journey of Tommy as he grows to overcome the obstacles before him, particularly the more familiar ones like divorce and bullying. Others will be more inclined to appreciate the fantasy elements… the battles and the friendship that develops between him and Fierce Phantos. And then there is the nostalgia for all things ‘80s. A healthy love of that amazing decade and all that it brought to us is woven throughout the story.

Life Is What It's Called - What was your favorite scene to write for this book and why?

Anthony Grate: As this was a collaborative effort between myself and writer Anthony J. Rapino, I can only give my own thoughts here. I feel that the most important scene to get just right was the final battle scene. Anthony and I discussed that scene at great length, and with his amazing writing skill, the scene really came together. It is the one that I spent the most time envisioning and the one that I felt was the most important to perfect. The reader needed to feel the weight of everything coming to a head and feel highly satisfied.

Life Is What It's Called - How do you see your book being used in the classroom?

Anthony Grate: There are a variety of life lessons that could be discussed to help students understand the best ways to deal with difficult situations. Tommy makes mistakes, but he regrets them and learns from them.

Life Is What It's Called - How does Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions stand apart from the other books available on the market?

It is unfortunate, but there is a huge lack of new, fun, meaningful stories that draw on the experiences of Gen-X. Stories that don’t incorporate copious amounts of horror, sexual content, and adult language. It was very important to me that the characters feel real and relatable. Therefore, there are rare instances of profanity in Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions. However, I really wanted this story to be one that parents could feel comfortable sharing with their children, particularly Gen-X parents, and vice versa.

Life is What It's Called - What is your favorite genre to write and why?

Anthony Grate: My favorite genre would have to be Science Fiction, with Fantasy a close second. There is so much you can do in those genres. Everything, down to the last detail, can be just as you want it to be. You aren’t limited by the restraints of reality.

Life Is What It's Called - What would you like readers to know about you as an author?

Anthony Grate - I don’t want readers to care about me at all, honestly. That’s not an attempt to look impressively humble. Aside from being aware of the inspiration for the story, I don’t want who I am to matter. The story is all that has ever mattered since the beginning of my adventure into literature. I do think that readers who enjoy the writing should learn more about Anthony J. Rapino. He has written some truly enjoyable tales.

Life Is What It's Called- What writing projects are you working on next?

Anthony Grate - I think that depends on different factors, not the least of which is the success of this book. Time will tell, but I would like to work with Anthony Rapino again someday. Perhaps even revisit Branchville and Tommy Grant one more time.


Enter for the chance to win an exciting Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions prize pack—including an Amazon digital gift card!

Five (5) grand prize winner receives:
  • A hardcover copy of Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions
  • A $35 Amazon Digital Gift Card
  • The Novel Soundtrack on USB/Cassette
  • A View-Master w/Reel
  • A Mini Comic
Ten (10) winners receive:

  • A hardcover copy of Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions
 Tommy and the Order of Cosmic Champions Book Giveaway 

This post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review, Anthony J. Rapino, and Anthony D. Grate.


  1. I really want to win this giveaway. I love celebrating creative artists who’ve been brave even to follow their dream!

  2. I would really love to win this book. I’d love to share its message with others about kids overcoming obstacles.

  3. I would really love to win this giveaway. I think the book’s themes have universal
    appeal that will last a lifetime!

  4. I’d like to win this giveaway because I appreciate the cinematic qualities this book possesses!


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