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Meet fellow Clean Indie Reads author, Marianne Jones

 

20160208_161649_001-1 (616x640)Today I’d like to introduce my fellow CIR author, Marianne Jones. Here’s a little bit of background about Marianne, then I’m going to ask her to answer three questions for us!

Marianne Jones is a retired teacher, actor, and choir director from the wilds of Northwestern Ontario. Married, with two amazing daughters and two gorgeous granddaughters, she is the author of seven books and contributor to numerous magazines, newspapers and anthologies. Her work has won awards, and she was named International Christian Poet Laureate by Utmost Christian Writers. Although not all her words are carved in stone, three of her poems are, in permanent installation at Prince Arthur’s Landing at Marina Park in Thunder Bay.

Wow, poems carved in stone! How special is that! Now … onto our three questions. Firstly, what inspired you to become an author, and how old were you at the time?

I was 10 or 11 when I decided to become a writer. I loved reading more than eating—and I love to eat! I had been writing descriptions in my mind since I could remember, trying to find the perfect words to express how things made me feel. I wrote poetry for fun, and was looking at a poem I had just written one day when it all came together for me: what better way to spend my life than by devoting myself to writing?

How true. Now, next question … what three things would you say are the most important for an aspiring author to keep in mind as they being their writing journey?

Read, read, read. There is no better way to learn the craft. As you read, you are internalizing information about how to structure an effective paragraph, what makes a powerful sentence, how to do transitions—everything that makes for good writing. It will teach you more than any number of courses and conferences. Secondly, I will pass on the advice I read that helped me the most. Success in writing belongs to the undiscourageable. There will be many discouragements along the way, but you’ll get there if you don’t give up. Thirdly, I’d say to write about what moves you the most. If you are passionate about your subject, that will sustain you through the hard slogging.

What great advice–it is so easy to become discouraged, but if you have a story to tell, there will be someone (or many someones) who will be better for having read it. Now, for the last question – what makes you happiest as an author?

Getting a cheque in the mail for my writing makes me pretty happy. Hearing from a reader that my words touched her or him is a special moment. But I think the satisfaction of completing a good poem, or page, or paragraph makes me the happiest. Any day that I get some writing done is a good day.

I agree on all fronts! So, let’s learn a bit about some of your books, and where we can find them.

My books can be found on Amazon–both as ebooks and print books.  Here is the link to my author page.

The Serenity Stone Murder is a humorous cozy mystery about two middle-age best friends and church ladies, Margaret and Louise, who get embroiled in trying to find out who killed the manager of the Thunder Bay Casino. It’s a hilarious, gentle romp with a hint of potential romance. Sequel to follow!

Great-Grandma’s Gifts is a children’s picture book that is a tribute to “crafty” moms and grandmas. It was inspired by my mother, who turned her love of sewing into clothes, dolls, stuffed animals and quilts for her many grandchildren. It celebrates those special ladies who express their love of family with gifts from the heart, rather than the store. The sweet illustrations by Karen Reinikka add to the charm. It’s a perfect gift for children, moms, aunts and grandmas!

 

The Serenity Stone Murder Paperback                   Great-Grandma's Gifts Paperback

Thanks for being here today, Marianne. I’m sure my readers will love getting to know you.

 

Meet fellow Clean Indie Reads author, Kelsey Gietl

KGietl - Author Pic NewToday I’d like to introduce my fellow CIR author, Kelsey Gietl.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Kelsey Gietl grew up with a love of books and excessive use of her library card. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Graphic Design from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and has made a career in fields from event planning and proposal writing to product management and communications. Her novels stem from her belief that the present reflects the past, and always involve a healthy dose of romance and a dash of intrigue. In her free time–when she’s not writing, reading, or researching–she enjoys yoga, musical theatre, beach vacations, and gallivanting around St. Louis with her amazing husband and two beautiful children.

Welcome, Kelsey! I like the sound of that … a dash of intrigue! So, before we learn about your books, I’ve got three questions for you! Firstly, what three things would you say are the most important for an aspiring author to keep in mind as they being their writing journey?

Go out and experience things. You can improve your writing skills by writing more and your storytelling skills will improve by reading, but there’s only so much you can learn from books. Leave the house and have an adventure. Travel, try a new skill, take an interesting class. Listen to how people interact, and find stories in the world around you.

The road can be long and daunting, but it’s worth it. Not everyone will like your work, but someone will. Write for those who need to hear what you have to say. Consider criticism along with praise, and make sure your work is as perfectly polished as it can be before publishing.

Have fun. Make friends with your characters, even your antagonists; they will tell you where they want to go. And more importantly, never give up.

Great advice to aspiring writers! Now, next question, do you write from your own experiences, or do you simply sit down and make stuff up?

Both. Personally, I think I write better when I am able to draw at least a bit of inspiration from my own life. Does that mean my characters are based on specific people or that I’ve actually done everything in my books? Of course not; it would scare me if I had. Sometimes my characters craft the story as we go, and I couldn’t even tell you where it came from. But I will say that first-hand experience makes it much easier to write about it. See item one in the question before this—go out and experience things.

How true–I find the same thing when I’m writing about an experience I’ve actually had it can be so much easier, but not nearly as much fun as making stuff up!  Now, for one last question–how much time per week would you spend writing? Or are you a full-time author?

Wow, that’s a loaded question. I think writers are always writing, even when we don’t have a pen to paper or fingers on the keyboard. We’re world building on the drive to work, brainstorming ways to get past a tough plot point while in line at the store, and constantly taking in the world around us to fuel new ideas. We analyze character development in movies and draw scene emotions from songs on the radio. We might not even realize that we’re doing it. For me personally though, I dedicate at least one hour each day to physically sitting down and writing, editing, or researching for my novels.

You’ve said that so eloquently! Yes, even standing in the long queue at the post office, waiting to post a Christmas parcel, there is inspiration to be had from the people around you!

So, how about telling us a bit about your books, and where to find them.

Set during the 1910’s, the Hope or High Water series will take readers on an emotional voyage through the lives of its characters, charting a course from Edwardian England to St. Louis, Missouri in a journey they won’t soon forget. Across Oceans and Twisted River, the first two books in the series, examine the fine line between what makes us and what breaks us and the happiness we all must find in the most unexpected of places. Book three, Broken Lines (in progress), continues the story leading up to America’s entrance into World War I, when words like love and loyalty become enough to divide a nation, divide a family, even divide oneself.

The books can be found on my website, or on Amazon.

           

 

Meet fellow Clean Indie Reads author, Arthur Daigle

C1qFzbP6AUS__US230_Today I’d like to introduce my fellow CIR author, Arthur Daigle. Welcome, Arthur–how about telling us a bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and received a degree in biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which sounded like a good idea at the time. This led to work as a zoo intern at Brookfield Zoo, an assistant fisheries biologist at the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, and a research assistant at Morton Arboretum. Most recently I’ve been employed grading high school essay tests and working as a garden associate (yeah, the job market is that bad). In addition to writing, I’m  an avid gardener and amateur artist. I’ve also been a fan of science fiction and fantasy since I was old enough to walk, and am a regular contributor to the Fellowship of Fantasy anthology series. Major influences include the works of the puppeteer and filmmaker Jim Henson and the British artist Brian Froud.

Thanks Arthur. I enjoy science fiction and fantasy as well, reading the likes of JRR Tolkien and Ray Bradbury in my youth. So, I’m going to get you to answer three questions before we learn about your books. First, what three things would you say are the most important for an aspiring author to keep in mind as they begin their writing journey?

The first and most important is that you’re running a marathon, not a sprint.  It’s going to take a long time for you to reach major goals like finishing your first book, getting published and earning a living from your writing, so be patient.  Second, be kind.  Most people are good at heart, and you’ll never know who can help you along the way.  You’ll be surprised how many want to help you if you’re nice and willing to help them.  Lastly, read ten pages for everyone page you write.  You’ll become a good writer by studying the writing of others.  Don’t copy them, but see what has worked in the past and what didn’t.  You also want to read outside your genre for interesting facts and ideas.  I favor histories, biographies and science books for this purpose.

Great advice, Arthur. You’ve summed up several craft books I’ve read in a couple of simple sentences! Next question: Where are your books set?

My books are set on the fictional world of Other Place.  Like most fantasy worlds there are many intelligent races, including men, dwarfs, elves, ogres, trolls, goblins and gnomes.  Unlike most fantasy worlds, these people have a host of real world problems.  Dragons wish they had day care for their children, dwarfs worry about monthly profit reports for their corporations, and humans hope the authorities don’t figure out that they’re cheating on their taxes.  Serious issues like racism and poverty come up, but they get a heaping helping of humor to help deal with them.  Lastly, lawyers on Other Place are as dangerous as wizards, and they charge way more.

Sounds interesting–and somewhere I’d probably like to visit! One last question: What makes you happiest as an author?

Two things tie for first place.  The first is I can enter a sort of flow when I write.  It’s a wonderful experience as words pour out like a river in flood.  I don’t notice time pass and feel no need to snack.  The second thing that makes me happy is when I hear back from readers who loved my work.  That’s when I know I’ve done good work and made someone happy.

Oh, isn’t that the truth! Getting reader feedback is like winning the lottery for an author! Now, tell us a bit about your books, Arthur.

So far, I am the author of six books. These include William Bradshaw King of the Goblins, William Bradshaw and a Faint Hope, William Bradshaw and War Unending, William Bradshaw and Fool’s Gold, Goblin Stories and Dr. Moratrayas, Mad Scientist.

My books are a blend of fantasy and comedy suitable for all ages.  Most books revolve around William Bradshaw, who is tricked by lawyers into being King of the Goblins.  His goblin followers are short, stupid, mildly crazy and enjoy setting traps.  They are considered the lowest of the low by other races on their world, but Will leads them to victory over some of the most dangerous threats around.  Expect crazy goblins, maniacal lawyers and rampant silliness.

Well, that’s fantastic, Arthur. So, where can we find these books of yours?

At Amazon, of course. Just click here to open the page in a new window.

 

 

Meet fellow Clean Indie Reads author Patricia Snelling – with a new release

Patricia Snelling original profile 300dpiToday I’d like to introduce my fellow CIR author, Patricia Snelling.

Patricia was raised in a small town in New Zealand. From the age of five she rode horses which her family owned and trained, often winning prizes in the local horse shows. During her early life, her parents had lived off the land, initially share-milking and later as horticulturalists. During the school holidays, Patricia and her various horses were regular visitors to neighbouring farms. She remembers the friendly farm dogs, waking with roosters at dawn and picking the wild blackberries to be served with fresh cream straight from the cows. She loved the rural life and even when her family moved to the town, she continued to spend her holidays on the farms with the horses and animals she loved.

After completing her nursing studies and qualifying as a Registered Nurse, Patricia spent six years abroad, living in Australia and Europe doing a variety of jobs between her nursing roles.  She returned home to start a family and now resides in on the Hibiscus Coast of New Zealand where she has retired and instead of just reading fiction, she is fulfilling her passion of writing fictional novels.

Wow, what a childhood, Patricia! I didn’t get my first horse until I was 16! Sounds like you had a wonderful childhood, and like me, you’re now retired and enjoying your writing. So … before we learn about your books, I’ve got three questions for you! First, What was the inspiration for your last book? 

I have wonderful memories of my horse riding days and love to relive them. The South Island of New Zealand is my favourite place and I have had great holidays in Queenstown, horse riding along the Dart River in Glenorchy,  Lord of the Rings country. I have enjoyed travelling and road trips since I was young.

I was there two years ago! What a beautiful part of the world. I’ve even used a photo taken of me in Queenstown as my profile photo–such a beautiful and inspirational place Next question, do you read the reviews that others leave for your books? 

I always read the reviews as I can learn from them and become encouraged and motivated.

So true. Even the reviews that aren’t so flattering can teach us things. Now, one last question–where are your books set? And have you been there, or spent significant time there?

All my books are set in places I have either lived in or travelled around. I am always inspired by my environment.

Me too. I like to close my eyes and remember what it felt like to be in a place when I’m writing about it. So–let’s hear about your books now.

I get most of my inspiration for writing from many interesting people I have met or adventures I have had that have left me with an impression. I write stories based on faith, hope and love and in particular, the ability of the oppressed to rise above their circumstances and overcome huge setbacks in their lives.

My favorite genres are inspirational, wholesome romantic suspense and cozy mysteries.

My hometown is near the seaside in an idyllic coastal part of New Zealand which I love, surrounded by beautiful native trees and birds. This also inspires me. ​

It is a privilege for me to be able to write Christian Fiction as a way of sharing my Christian values and reaching others in stories that convey God’s healing power, His love and His way of life. It is different from preaching as my stories enable readers to relate to their own struggles and hopefully encourage a spiritual solution to life’s challenges. Forgiveness and God’s grace are at the core of the narratives in my novels.

That’s really lovely, Patricia. So, you have a new release out … where can we find it?

All my books are available on Amazon–click here to go to the page.

Meet fellow Clean Indie Reads author Diana Sharples

!cid_0E7AC37F-C5F3-409A-87CF-F920A1CE71FDToday I’d like to introduce my fellow CIR author, Diana Sharples.

Diana L. Sharples lives in north Georgia with her husband and daughter, and a house full of rescued pets. She wrote her first teen novel at the age of thirteen. Although she holds a degree in communication design/illustration from the Atlanta College of Art and has won awards for her work in science fiction and fantasy illustration, she never lost her love for storytelling. In addition to infusing her illustrations with narrative, she penned several epic-length fantasy novels. As her daughter was entering her teen years, Diana refocused her writing efforts on contemporary young adult fiction. She has won several pre-publication awards in that genre. Her debut novel, Running Lean, was released from Zondervan Books (a division of Harper Collins) in 2013. After a battle against breast cancer, Diana is resurrecting her career with the sequel, Running Strong, along with the first in a new series, Finding Hero, She is also independently publishing a series of short YA mystery novels, the Because…Mystery series, in 2018. Diana is a motorcycle enthusiast and can be found riding her Harley around the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Welcome, Diana. It’s lovely to have you here.

Hey, Sandy! Thanks again for this opportunity.

Now, we’d all love to hear more about your books, but first I have three questions for you so our readers can get to know a bit more about you. First, what inspired you to become an author, and how old were you at the time?

I was an imaginative child, sometimes to the frustration of my parents! I created imaginary characters and pretended to be them. When I was thirteen, I wrote my first full length novel. It was pretty awful, but a clear foreshadowing of what I would do later in life. I also drew pictures. All… the… time! My favorite novels were animal stories. Lassie Come Home. Call of the Wild and White Fang. When I was in my early twenties, a friend caught me rereading White Fang, and she questioned why I would want to read about animals. She handed me a copy of The Hobbit. At first I thought she’d gone crazy, since it was clearly a children’s story (while White Fang is, ahem, a classic!). But after a few chapters I was hooked. Then came The Lord of the Rings, and Narnia, and a host of other fantasy novels. I got caught up in the sub-culture of speculative fiction, writing an epic length elf novel and striving to become a cover illustrator. Even winning awards for my paintings. And then I had an encounter with Jesus Christ and turned my daily focus on Him. When my daughter was about eleven years old, I saw a distressing news article about teens on television that caused me to worry for the world my only child was about to enter. I prayed for a way that I could protect her… but God had another plan. That day—although I hadn’t written any fiction for more than four years—I had the characters, setting, and basic plot for a contemporary young adult novel. After an extended period of growth as a writer and going through the stormy publishing atmosphere that often had no place for what I was writing, I found an agent. A publisher. A future. The industry continues to have stormy periods, but I’m still here. Doing what I love.

And the world is no doubt a richer place because of what you’re doing! Now, next question. Where are your books set? And have you been there, or spent significant time there?

All the settings are fictitious but inspired by actual places. This allows me to shape the characters’ world in a way that best suits the story, without having to worry about getting something wrong. Running Lean and Running Strong are set in rural North Carolina, in the agricultural area around Rocky Mount. Although I created a fictitious county (Stiles County), I wanted the setting and the characters in it to be as authentic as possible. Thus I have made numerous trips there (500 miles from where I live!), and have met good people along the way, some of whom have become good friends. I was also welcomed as a guest to the Jimmy Weinert Training Facility in Maysville, NC, and the folks there made me a believer in the sport of motocross. Finding Hero was originally in the same setting, but those publishing storms I mentioned forced me to change a lot in the novel, including the setting. I chose somewhere closer to home but with the same rural/agricultural feel. Andrews, NC became my inspiration, and with it, the potential for diversity in my characters. Of my two protagonists, the male character is a member of the Cherokee nation. Again, I made a good many research trips—the closer setting allowing me to be home in time for dinner. And I met some wonderful people who helped me to get the details of Cherokee life right. The Because… books are set much closer to home, inspired by the Atlanta suburban town where I lived before moving myself to a more rural setting. So… yeah. I’ve been there a lot!

Wonderful!  I’ve been to North Carolina, many years ago, and have fond memories of the beautiful countryside. Now, lastly, do you write from your own experiences, or do you simply sit down and make stuff up?

Both! I don’t think it’s possible to write a novel without tapping into personal experiences, even if you don’t spell them out just as they happened. I connect with what my characters are going through because I too have experienced grief, heartbreak, fear, guilt, determination, dreams and nightmares, physical pain and great joy. I may never have bungie jumped off a bridge, but I have ridden with the wind in my face through the clouds touching the mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I might never have tearfully sung a love song under a spotlight, but I’ve longed for something that seemed impossible and chased down the dream until I finally touched it. These emotional experiences connect me to my characters, and my characters to my readers, because the emotions are universal, even if the circumstances are not. So, I can sit down and craft a story, write an outline of what happens, analyze the goal, motivation, and conflict of each character, make charts of all the suspects and their opportunities and alibis, but the emotions come in after the planning, and they are what bring the story to life.

Sounds like you have a firm handle on your characters, so I bet your stories are full of emotion. Now that you’ve got everyone interested, let’s hear a little more about your books and where to find them.

The novels, Running Lean, Running Strong, and Finding Hero were written from a Christian worldview, and are written to be read by high school aged teens and up. While they contain issues related to realistic contemporary teen drama (eating disorders, dating issues, bullying, conflict with parents, etc.) they are all “clean” fiction and do not contain highly offensive language or graphic sex or violence. The Because…Mysteries series is also clean, but is more general market fiction. These books would be fine for high school teens who are Christian. All the books (except for Finding Hero, at this time) can be ordered as print books through most online and in store retailers.

The ebooks are available only through Amazon, and can be read for free through the Kindle Unlimited program.

But you can also find me on my website, dianasharples.com

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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]

 

 

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]

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.

Meet fellow Clean Indie Reads author Shannon L. Mokry – with a New Release!

 

!cid_B2FA7F71-4A7D-40AB-995E-3BB4B85C9F04Today I’d like to introduce fellow CIR author Shannon Mokry. Welcome Shannon!  Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi Sandy – I grew up in sunny California and then moved to Texas about twenty years ago where I now live with my husband, three daughters, cats,  and chickens. I’ve been a writer since grade school, and set out on my current journey to share my stories about three years ago. The Bubbles stories came about  due to stories I would tell my youngest daughter Charlotte when she would get me up during the night. She’s my inspiration. My first book “Bubbles and the Berry Bush” for example came about because she needed something fierce to keep her dreams safe, but not something scary, so we got a bubble blowing dragon. Then I decided if she was going to make me think I’d give her something to keep her brain busy while she slept. So that first book deals with conflict resolution and forgiveness.  My next picture book was just released, its called Bubbles and the Shark Attack. Like the first book, its designed to teach something. In this case its teaching kids to be aware of what’s going on around them. Children are naturally self-centered, we need to combat that by teaching them that they need to be aware of more than themselves. Lets face it the world is full of sharks, and we want our kids to stay safe. Don’t worry about this book being too scary, I did write it as a bedtime story for my own very sensitive little girl.

Hey, I’m from California originally too! But with your books, how sweet! Written for your own daughter, and now being shared with others! Makes me wish I had someone to read a bedtime story to! Well, before we learn any more about your books, I have three questions for you so here we go. First, what three things would you say are the most important for an aspiring author to keep in mind as they being their writing journey?

Inspiration comes from all different places, so carry a writing journal so you don’t forget the good ideas. The first draft is never your best draft, rewrites are important, but don’t overthink it to the point that you don’t finish. Lastly, get to know your audience, who are you writing for? Yourself or a specific group? It’s okay if you’re writing just for yourself, just be honest about it.

Great advice! Now, second question, what makes you happiest as an author?

Getting feedback from kids. Of course feedback from the parents is good too, but when a kid runs up and tells me how much they love my characters, its an awesome feeling.

It’s always wonderful to hear your books are appreciated! Now, one last question – Are you indie published, traditionally published, or hybrid? And what are your thoughts
on the whole indie vs. traditional topic?

I’m an Indie. I actually started my own micro publishing house, Sillygeese Publishing, LLC. I love being an indie, I researched all my options and decided I wanted the control that you only get as an Indie. It is definitely the more expensive route, especially for a picture book. Its also very rewarding. My thoughts? Every book has to be evaluated for
its possible success as a traditional or indie book, I’m not ruling anything out
for my future, I can only say I like my decision so far.

I’m indie too–and yes, I love the control it gives you in every aspect. Now, how about telling us about your newest release?

As mentioned above, this book is designed to teach  kids to be aware of what’s going on around them. Lets face it the world is full of sharks, and we want our kids to stay safe. Don’t worry about this book being too scary, I did write it as a bedtime story for my own very sensitive little girl.

You can find this book on Amazon by clicking here.

Or you can visit Shannon’s author profile here.

Meet fellow Clean Indie Reads author Sarah Ashwood – with a New Release!

Author pic 2Today I’d like to introduce you to fellow CIR author Sarah Ashwood. Welcome Sarah — would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi Sandy, I’m fantasy author Sarah Ashwood, author of the Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy, the novella Amana, and the forthcoming Beyond the Sunset Lands series.

I grew up in the wooded hills outside the oldest town in Oklahoma, and I hold a B.A. in English from American Military University. In my imagination, I soar effortlessly through my favorite fantasy and historical worlds. In real life, I live (mostly) quietly at home with my husband and three sons. (Yes, I’m a boymom of three!) I also try to sneak in a daily run or workout to save my sanity and keep my mind fresh for my next story.

So nice to meet you, Sarah. I understand you have a new release, but before we talk about that, I’ve got three questions for you 🙂  Here goes … one, if you could tell your younger self something you know now, with respect to your writing career, what would it be?

I would say, Hey, your first draft is going to stink. Maybe the second and third drafts also. Don’t believe you’re a fabulous author just because you’ve written a book. However, don’t count yourself out, either. Revise. Revise, revise, revise! And when you think you’ve got that rough draft pretty well polished, revise some more.

Get beta readers. I cannot stress how important this is. I really, really wish my younger self had known this before my first book was published. Beta readers are gold: not only do they pick up typos you missed, they can find plot holes, offer scene suggestions, ask questions about your characters’ motivations that you may not be able to answer (because you hadn’t thought of them), and a whole host of other things that will ultimately make your book better.

Pay attention to negative reviews. Sure, some may have nothing helpful to say, but if a lot of them are saying the same things, pay attention to that. Your book may need some strengthening in those areas. Don’t tune them out!

Great advice, Sarah. I agree completely. So, following on from that comes the next question … do you read the reviews that others leave for your books? 

As you probably guessed by reading the above question, yes, I absolutely do. I read every review readers leave for me. There are two reasons for this. The first is that a positive review can give you exactly the push you need to keep going on the days you feel like giving up. They are sunshine to authors. They tell us we’re doing the right thing and are headed in the right direction.

The other reason I read reviews is because, also as alluded to above, there is a lot to be gained from criticism. It stings—of course it does! But sometimes reviewers have picked up on something about your book or your characters that you simply didn’t catch. It’s wise to see if you can take away anything from negative reviews in terms of making that book or future books better, then walk away and let the review go. Don’t dwell on it. That can drive you crazy. Acknowledge, ultimately, that your book isn’t going to be for everyone and move on.

Pearls of wisdom there, Sarah. Learn from the bad, enjoy the good, and then move on. Now, for one last question … where are your books set? And have you been there, or spent significant time there?

Well, my book predominately take place in a parallel world called Aerisia, so, no, I haven’t visited there. (Except mentally. Does that count?) However, the opening of my Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy takes place with the MC, Hannah, jogging down a country road, which I used to do frequently. Annie, the heroine in Aerisian Refrain, my newest book, is from the Oklahoma panhandle, which I’ve travelled through a couple of times.

One common setting I find popping up repeatedly in my fantasy novels is forests. Lots of action going on in the forests. I can only attribute that to the fact that I grew up in the country—in a log home way out in the woods. I’ve always thought forests were mysterious and magical, and my love of where I grew up shines through in my writing, I think.

Oh, I’m sure it does! I love forests too … well, in the daytime anyway 😉  So … tell us about this new book of yours.

I’m primarily an epic fantasy writer, but my fantasy has elements of portal fantasy and fairytale, since I love both of those genres.

My Sunset Lands Beyond trilogy tells the story of a young college student, Hannah Winters, who is unexpectedly taken to a parallel world, Aerisia, where she’s told she is that world’s prophesied savior. There’s a couple of hitches, though. Hannah doesn’t have any supernatural abilities, and she’s not buying the idea that she’s some predestined savior. However, neither her allies nor her enemies are agreeing, and her life is in danger as soon as she arrives in Aerisia. What’s it gonna take for a girl from Earth to prove that’s where she belongs?

Or does she?

Beyond the Sunset Lands is sort of a follow up series to this first trilogy, although it can be read as a stand-alone. It contains many of the same characters. The first book, Aerisian Refrain, has just been released.

You can find all of Sarah’s books on Amazon, and her newest book here:

You can find more about my books here on my website. I do consider myself a “clean” author in that I don’t use curse words and I don’t write sex scenes. I also try to keep violence contained. Nothing too graphic, in other words. However, I don’t shy away from tough topics or real emotions. For that reason, I usually give my books a PG-13 rating.