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Meet fellow Clean Indie Reads author Suzannah Rowntree

profileToday I’d like to introduce my fellow CIR author, Suzannah Rowntree.

Suzannah lives in a big house in rural Australia with her awesome parents and siblings, reading academic histories of the Crusades and writing historical fantasy fiction that blends folklore and myth with historical fact.

Sounds like I need to come visit you for inspiration, given my books are SET in rural Australia 🙂

So, we’re going to learn a bit more about Suzannah’s books, but first, three questions to help our readers get to know you. First, what was the inspiration for your latest book?

My latest book, A Wind from the Wilderness, is a historical fantasy epic set during the First Crusade, the first in a projected nine-book series which will cover the whole 200-year history of the medieval Crusader states. I got the inspiration for this series seven years ago now, when I read Ronald Welch’s classic young adult adventure novel, Knight Crusader which is set during the battle of Hattin and the Third Crusade – think the same time period and many of the same characters as the Ridley Scott film Kingdom of Heaven.

Wow, a nine-book series is epic, that’s for sure! Next question, what makes you happiest as an author?

Absolutely the best part is hearing back from my readers and knowing that I thrilled or touched or inspired them! After all, at the end of the day it’s not just about telling the stories in my head—it’s about communicating them to the readers. Whenever someone gets in touch to tell me that my book made them laugh or cry or think more deeply about something in their lives, it’s the best feeling in the world.

You’re certainly spot on there. Reader feedback is the best feeling! Now, one last question. What three things would you say are the most important for an aspiring author to keep in mind as they begin their writing journey?

  1. Remember that writing is a craft, and a lot of it can be learned. Inspiration and brilliance is a vital part of storytelling, but it’s something you’ve already got, and don’t need to learn. Other things, though, the basics of plotting and characterisation and theme, or the nuts and bolts of crafting prose, are things that you won’t necessarily be born with. And trust me: it’s much quicker to learn these things from a book than to painstakingly figure them out as you try to write. Which books? I would highly recommend reading Story by Robert McKee, The Anatomy of Story by John Truby, and Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V Swain.
  2. Read a lot. Read the kind of books you want to write. Read books on topics that you might have to write about—it’s amazing how much depth this will add to your work, as well as sparking off tons of new inspiration. Read classics, because they’ve stood the test of time and will not just help you learn the rules, but also how to bend them. Read books from genres that you’d never write in—sometimes tropes from a totally different genre can help you freshen a tired formula (Marvel does this all the time with their superhero movies—think of how Winter Soldier borrows from espionage thrillers, while Spider-man: Homecoming is part teen comedy). Basically, read: it’s fuel in your tank.
  3. Criticism can be vital to your success. Look for honest critics who’ll push you to improve, but have the confidence to say, “No, in this case I know what’s better for the story.” Try to steer clear of people who only have positive things to say about your writing; but also don’t trust anyone who doesn’t understand your vision or isn’t excited about what you’re trying to achieve. Above all, remember that there’s a difference between you and your work. Your work is open to criticism; you are not. A bad critic will take your work as an opportunity to criticise you. Steer clear of them, and try not to be the author who takes critcism of the work as a personal attack!

Words of wisdom for any of you aspiring authors!  Now, let’s hear a bit about your books, Suzannah.

All my stories have something in common: a vivid setting in real-world history, and a fantastical twist often inspired by existing myth and folklore! Inside that structure, I get pretty creative. My debut novel, Pendragon’s Heir, is a retelling of King Arthur for everyone who wished the legends had a more hopeful ending. My series of novella-length fairytale retellings is a wild ride through some rather uncommon settings and genres. I did Beauty and the Beast in the style of a Bollywood musical (The Rakshasa’s Bride), Sleeping Beauty as a Chinese martial arts epic (Ten Thousand Thorns), and a bunch of others that roamed from Jazz Age New Zealand to medieval Byzantium! My latest series, for which A Wind from the Wilderness is the first instalment, draws on crusader history as well as the religions of the Middle East – let’s just say I’ve been spending a lot of time with the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible.

I don’t write Christian fiction, but everything I write is deeply influenced by my Christian faith, and one of the results of this is wanting to keep things fairly clean. At the same time, I know there’s real darkness in this world, and although I keep really explicit violence, language, and sexual content offscreen, I write stories that can sometimes be dark or include mature themes or frightening villains. I enjoy reading mature books, but I don’t always enjoy the “adult content” – so I do it like JRR Tolkien did it, and keep things clean and grown up at the same time!

And where can we find these awesome books?

My Amazon page, by clicking here.

A Wind from the Wilderness (Watchers of Outremer Book 1) by [Rowntree, Suzannah]

 

 

Two books on special for the month of November, and one FREE over the Thanksgiving long weekend!

For the month of November, e-books 1 and 5, A Chance to Come True  &  A Chance for Snow, part of my Copperhead Creek series will both be just $.99US

And over the Thanksgiving long weekend, e-book 6, Murder at the Creek will be FREE!

Not a bad time to grab them if you haven’t yet read them. Of course, they’re all FREE TO READ if you’re enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.

Happy Reading 🙂 Click here to go to my Amazon page.

 

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Meet fellow Clean Indie Reads author Carol Beth Anderson

!cid_f_jnj46kmo0Today I’d like to introduce my fellow CIR author, Carol Beth Anderson.

Carol Beth Anderson is a native of Arizona and now lives in Leander, TX, outside Austin. She has a husband, two kids, a miniature schnauzer, and more fish than anyone knows what to do with. Besides writing, she loves baking sourdough bread, knitting, and eating cookies-and-cream ice cream.

Yummm… sourdough is my favourite!  I was born in San Francisco, and it was one of the things I missed most when I moved to Australia (besides family, that is!)  Now Carol Beth recently released the Sun-Blessed trilogy, so as part of learning about it I’ve got a couple of questions for her so my followers can get to know you. So, firstly, what was the inspiration for your book series?

When I was pregnant with my second child, I was passionate about childbirth. I read books, watched videos, and adored the midwives at my birthing center. I had an incredible, beautiful water birth with my son. When I decided to write a fantasy novel, my first idea was to have a magic system based on childbirth.

I also wanted to use a compelling story to share lessons I’ve learned throughout life. Tavi struggles with insecurity, doubts, and vulnerability, coming out stronger each time she faces a challenge.

That sounds like a wonderful series, and one lots of people will enjoy. Now, next question, and we already know a bit about the answer, but here goes–do you write from your own experiences, or simply sit down and make something up?

I saw a quote one time about how writing isn’t just about leaning on your own experiences. It’s about empathy. (It was attributed to Neil Gaiman, but I can’t seem to find the original quote nor any proof that he said it!) I wholeheartedly agree that empathy is one of the greatest traits I can have as a writer. Some parts of my books are based on my life, and of course those parts tend to be simplest to write. But I love digging deep into my empathetic heart to explore stories I can’t personally relate to. There’s a character in my books whose mother has deep depression, another character who has a rocky relationship with her exacting father, and yet another who deals with self-loathing due to a terrible mistake he can’t ever fix. I loved exploring each of these storylines, even though I hadn’t experienced such difficulties myself.

How true is that? I’d never thought of it that way, but it’s what gives depths to our characters and helps us learn at the same time. Now, last question, what makes you happiest as an author?

I love the creative process. My degree is in theatre, but it’s hard to do plays (with time-consuming rehearsal schedules) when I have kids at home! Writing these books is the first thing that’s made my creative side feel alive in the same way acting used to do.

It’s interesting what drives each of us … and yours is an incredible reason! Hopefully one day you’ll get back to the theatre, and who knows, maybe you’ll even be performing in one of your own works! In the meantime, let’s hear a bit more about this series, and where we can find it.

The Sun-Blessed Trilogy is a young adult fantasy series with magic and adventure. After Tavi discovers her extraordinary magical talents, dissidents in a distant city want to capture her to use her gifts for their own purposes.

These are coming-of-age novels with strong themes of friendship, a unique magical system based on childbirth, and a little bit of romance. The books are appropriate for teenage and adult readers. They’re free of bad language and sex scenes, and while there are violent scenes, they aren’t gory.

The entire trilogy releases in quick succession, with the three books launching on 10/25, 11/1, and 11/15. They’re available in e-book, paperback, and audiobook (narrated by the author).  and you can find the first book, as well as the pre-orders,  here, on Amazon.

Facing the Sun (Sun-Blessed Trilogy Book 1) by [Anderson, Carol Beth]

Australian Romance* — boxed set for less than a dollar — limited time only!!

Believe it or not, this entire boxed set of novels by some of the best-loved Australian authors, PLUS my never seen before prequel to my Copperhead Creek series, Taking a Chance, can be yours for less than a dollar!! It’s currently on pre-sale, but it won’t be available for long, so grab it now and enjoy it later 🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠

For Amazon US, click here.    For Amazon Australia, click here.

*Please note, this is not a “Clean Reads” anthology so I can’t vouch for content rating on any of the books other than my own.

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Meet fellow Clean Indie Reads author C.L. Wells

author photoToday I’d like to introduce my fellow CIR author, C. L. Wells.

C.L. Wells is a JANE-OF-ALL-TRADES, with a passion for writing and animals. She lives in Kansas with her family, which includes a fat doggie who is not named Toto and a cat who moonlights as an escape artist. Both are seniors. Feel free to ask her about the ‘escape artist.’ She plans to write about it someday. She would love hearing from you.

You’ll find her contact details at the end of the interview.

So, we’re going to hear a bit about C. L.’s books in a moment, but before we do that I’ve got three questions for her. First, what inspired you to become an author, and how old were you at the time?

I’ve always wanted to write a book but I didn’t even try until I was 38-ish. Krystal, my main character from my debut novel, is a real girl. I’m making her sound like Pinocchio, lol, but she struggled with this as a teen right under my nose and I had no idea until later. She became my muse and she still is. Now I’ll never stop writing.

I too got a late start, but haven’t looked back. Everyone has a different path … but there’s no reason to think you’re too old! Next, what three things would you say are the most important for an aspiring author to keep in mind as they being their writing journey?

The first thing I would say is, “You can do it.” Everyone’s journey looks different so don’t compare yourself to others. Write what you know until you’re ready to put the work in researching. Lastly, take the time to produce a quality product. That means different things for each writer. Your book should look just as good as any traditionally published book. It doesn’t mean you need to sell off your children to do so, but find the right support to put out a book that’ll make you proud of yourself. There is this saying among authors that claim the first publications are trash. Mine isn’t and yours doesn’t have to be. Don’t give yourself that excuse.

Very true–believe in yourself, and make your product the best that you can. Sound advice, for sure.  Now, one last question. Other than stomping your foot and having a hissy fit, what else do you do when you get a review that isn’t so good?

No hissy fits here. Not yet anyway. When I started publishing in the Christian Fiction genre, it didn’t take long to see how critical the readership could be in that category. My main character in of my short stories titled, That’s How She Rolls, gets invited to a strip club and that caused a bit of a stir. She totally declines the invitation so there were no body part scenes, but I got feedback from readers about how that scene didn’t belong in a CF book. They’re entitled to their opinion. I want my characters to live in the real world and handle whatever comes their way the best they can.

That’s great, C. L., I too like my characters to live in the real world. Well, except for the one with the vampires, but that’s a subject for a very different conversation. So, now, let’s hear about your books.

Memoirs of a Girl Who Loves God by [WELLS, C.L.]

So far, everything I’ve published is Christian Fiction but I do have other works in progress that will not be Christian Fiction. I’ve been a big genre-hopper. I have a Romantic Suspense, a Rom Com, Contemporary Women’s Fiction, and a short that borders the MG/YA line. Before I’m done I’ll likely have at least one book in most genres. My debut novel, Memoirs of a Girl Who Loves God, is a Young Adult story about a teen with a self-harm addiction. While it isn’t my bestseller, it’s my most meaningful book. While I wrote it thinking of teenagers going through the same thing my character, Krystal, is struggling with, I’ve found that mom’s and grandma’s are my most common reader. I’ve received numerous notes explaining how Krystal’s story helped them to understand the teen in their life. I’ve also received emails from teens saying the book could have easily been about them. It’s still a hard sell. Issue driven fiction usually doesn’t win over a lighter, fluffy story. But that’s okay, it’ll reach who it’s meant to
reach and the unintended sequel will be out in a few months.

C. L. has a number of books out, and you can find them all on Amazon here.

You can also visit her at her website, by clicking here.