Indie Author Spotlight #16: Catherine Downen

Indie Author SpotlightSo I haven’t had much time for reading or blogging lately, with our first year of homeschooling starting up. I, will, however, be keeping this up because I have really come to love indie authors and their books. Some of my favorite authors are self-published, and most of my editing clients are as well. It’s a really fun part of the publishing industry to be a part of, and I hope this series can benefit both the authors presented and you all as readers as you learn about new, great people to check out! Right now my reading is kind of intermittent, but my current indie fiction read is The Markings by Catherine Downen, who is joining me here this week. I’m impressed by Catherine’s professionalism, and I’m enjoying learning about the world she created in The Markings. I’ve barely gotten into the meat of the story, but I can’t wait to see how Adaline develops on her journey and I hope you’ll consider giving the book a read!


Welcome, Catherine, and thank you for joining me at The Edifying Word. Let’s start with genre – do you write in a particular genre?

I write in Young Adult fantasy currently, and it’s also the genre I prefer to read in. I find my books tend to have a lot of dystopian elements as well.

So I mentioned already that I’m currently reading and enjoying The Markings, between books for homeschool. Please tell us about it!

My very first book, The Markings, just came out in April 2020! It’s a Young Adult Fantasy novel that follows 16 year old Adaline on her journey to find freedom on the island of Libertas. She is being hunted for her unique powers by the evil King Renon. On her journey she discovers more about herself and her family’s past that makes her journey to freedom not as easy as it sounds. You can find the paperback on Barnes and Noble and Amazon. The ebook is exclusively sold on Amazon. It’s free for Amazon Prime users and Kindle Unlimited members.

You recently released the cover of book two in the series, which I’m excited to share here! Can you tell us a little about book two?

I can! Currently I am working on book two in the series. I am SO excited about the second book, perhaps even more than I was for the first! You can expect that Crowning Keys will be about the same length as book one. We’ll have the same structure, 30 chapters with ten in each part. I can tell you that the part titles are Part One: the Arrival, Part Two: The Royals, and Part Three: The Storm. There are lots of new characters coming into the story. Book one leaves off with the new island of Libertas coming into play and with a new island comes new people, ideas, and plot lines. It’s a very fast paced book. I think the whole book spans over just 9 or 10 days, very similar to book one. Adaline and Alexander will remain our lead characters in book two, but I promise the biggest surprise of their characters has yet to be told. Another thing you can look forward to in Crowning Keys is some more history on Libertas and how it came to be. Also, we’ll get to learn more about who Alexander is and what his childhood was like.

Well I’ll look forward to its release in January! Tell us – have you always been a writer?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. If I had to pick a time I’d say 6th grade. That’s the furthest back I can remember writing stories. I grew up reading all the time, and that’s definitely where my love for writing started. Now I write as a release of creativity. I work as a mechanical engineer, so writing is definitely my escape. It’s just something I love to do and it feels like it’s something I’m supposed to do.

I think I know the answer to this already, because you seem very organized and you’re so well prepared for your January release, but I’ll ask anyway – do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser?

I am 100% a plotter. I plan out every single detail of everything! I love planning. I have a planner for work and a calendar board for writing. I think I have to operate this way because I keep myself so busy. I work as a full time engineer and balancing being a published writer is hard. On top of that I also coach my high school speech team for half the year. Because I stay so busy I have no other choice than to plan everything out. I also really like having things planned when it comes to books because it helps me keep all my launches organized and on time.

You sound so much like I was in my early twenties! Now I’m NOT very well-organized . . . though homeschooling is forcing me back into organization. There’s just no other way to fit everything in! Speaking of that, where does writing fit into your busy schedule?

For me, the easiest way for me to fit writing into my life is to carry a notebook with me everywhere. That way I can always write when free time presents itself. I also have to write by hand first anyways. I also try and set aside at least one hour every evening for writing. My writing/work balance has shifted a little with the lockdown. Some days I get to write more and some days I get to write less. I think what I struggle most with right now is actually finding time to read. I wish I could work that into my schedule as well.

Ah, yes, I get it! I am struggling lately to find time for my personal reading. I still read a ton, but these days its mostly whatever I’ve assigned my kids for school or whatever book I’m fortunate enough to be editing! You mentioned enjoying YA Fantasy – so I’m guessing that’s what you pick up when you DO get a chance to read?

Yes! I love to read YA Fantasy! My favorite book, right now anyway, is the Red Queen series. That book series really inspired me and picked me back up when I doubted my own writing.

I noticed you participated in PITMAD last week. Are you pursuing traditional publishing in addition to your independently published series?

I am! Right now I’m working on an entirely new project that I was pitching in PITMAD. It’s a YA portal fantasy, and I’m very excited about its future. My author dream would definitely be to land a publishing deal with a top 5 publishing house, like Penguin or Harper Lee. I’d love to have a Young Adult series that could one day be made into a movie and have people start fan accounts about my work. That would be so cool!

That would be pretty cool! Is there anything else you want readers to know about you? 

I’m 22 years old and just graduated college last year with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I live in southern Illinois and have been writing all my life. The Markings is my debut novel, but there are so many more books in the works. I love cats, Taylor Swift, the beach, and the color pink. Top favorite books of all time are The Hunger Games series, the Red Queen series, and Paper Towns. That’s about all there is to know.

Please help me thank Catherine for joining us here by visiting her site, checking her out on social media, and buying her book! 

Website   —   Amazon   —   Barnes & Noble   —   Goodreads   —   Twitter  Instragram (The Markings)   —   Instagram (Catherine)   —   Facebook


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Indie Author Spotlight #15: Recap Post!

Indie Author SpotlightThis week I’m recapping the 14 individuals who have been lovely enough to join me for the Indie Author Spotlight so far. In truth, I didn’t have time these past two weeks to read any books for authors on my list of upcoming participants, so I thought it would be a good time to give any new followers an opportunity to look back at the series. Please take a look through, click back to any posts you’ve missed, and find some new authors to read! See you again in two weeks with another indie author!



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Indie Author Spotlight: It’s Launch Week for Aimee Shaye

Indie Author SpotlightWelcome to week EIGHT, which is awesome! I’m still learning so much and loving getting exposed to new indie authors on a regular basis. I’m definitely opening myself up to different genres, and I hope you will, too. My favorite part, though, is to get to know the person behind the books – what makes them tick? As I learn more about them, it’s a lot of fun to see how parts of each author emerge in their writing. There’s a lot more to come, so please keep coming back and supporting the wonderful people who have signed up to chat with me!   


Aimee's NEW NEW Logo V3.jpgToday I’m bringing you a conversation with Aimee Shaye, whose new book, The Broken Daughter, launched this past weekend after Aimee took a two-year hiatus from publishing. You’ll find Aimee to be very open about her struggles, and how they shape her life, which is so brave and encouraging to others (like me) who battle our own mental illnesses. In the spirit of full disclosure and to follow Aimee’s lead, I have to be honest and say I did not finish reading The Broken Daughter; the book has a lot of emotion tumult and dark magic, and I’m in too emotionally-vulnerable of a place right now. I felt like I was taking on all of Aymeri’s fears and insecurities, which is a testament to the fact that her character is powerfully written. So, I made the difficult decisions to DNF, but still wanted to share Aimee’s work with all of you because I am impressed by her strength and honesty. When I asked her what she wanted readers to know about her, this is what Aimee said: 

I want readers to know that I am just like them. I’m not anything special. I suffer from depression and anxiety. I have made many bad choices in my life. But I stay grounded by my family, by my husband. To me, family is everything and to find friends in your family is magical. I write for myself, not for what is going to sell. I want them to read my books and get a semblance of what my life is like beyond the pages. 

Wow. Thanks for joining me, Aimee, and being so candid. Can you start by telling us what genre you write?

I write fantasy, and just published The Broken Daughter. About two years ago, I published two romance books based on a previous emotionally abusive relationship because I needed it out of my system. Then I took two years off to recuperate and find my true self. I also have stories in a few anthologies; you can find all of my published works on my Amazon author page.

Have you, like many authors I’ve profiled here, always written? 

I was very young when I started writing. I started making up stories when I was eight years old. One particular memory I have is going to my mom’s bank where she worked. It was summertime and it was take-your-daughter-to-work day. I was sitting at Mom’s desk and wrote a story about a girl going on an adventure with animals. Everyone in the office asked for copies so my mom taught me how to use the copy machine. I have no idea where the original copy is, though! I wish I did! Then it got really serious in high school. I published a poem and short story under my real name in a high school catalog of writers. Then in 2014, I published again. It was my first fantasy novel and I did it because my ex told me I’d never amount to anything. It got stellar 3-5 star reviews but the poor editing (due to my rush of proving him wrong) was always commented on. I finally took it down this year and I am rewriting it.

That is so brave of you, and I look forward to seeing your rewritten book! You mention that you wrote your romance novels to get things out of your system. Is writing cathartic for you? How do you fit writing time into your life? 

It is. I write because it makes me happy. When I get depressed or anxious, it helps me to cope. Whenever I have free weekends, I spend as much time as I can writing. My day job is as a teacher and I plan my lessons a month in advance, making small tweaks here and there. All of my grading gets done at work. So I also write during the week when my night winds down around 9 or 10. 

You clearly devote a lot of time to your writing! What else is important in your life?

I am married and live with my parents so these are two very important things in my life beside my job and writing. It’s an easy balance because my husband is a graphic designer and he helps me write (he’s a great writer who refuses to admit it). I also have three nephews who are constantly at my house since my siblings live mere blocks away!

Ok, now please tell us about your new release! 

The Broken Daughter (The Cursed Kingdom Book 1) by [Aimee Shaye]Of course! The newest book I am releasing is The Broken Daughter. It is the first novel in a trilogy titled: The Cursed Kingdom. This book took me six months to write and I could not be more proud of it! The main character in the book is Princess Aymeri Maudlin. She believes she is an ordinary princess, until it turns out that she is not. She’s actually the Princess of a Sentinel Kingdom, Dramolux, whose royalty has long protected the world from all magick. At the start of the novel, she finds her mother dead and things go downhill very quickly from there. I don’t want to give too much away but there is magic and strong female leads. The men take a backseat here.

All right, like I said, the emotions are powerfully written, and I think a lot of people will be able to identify with Aymeri (even though we’re not magical). Can we wrap up by hearing your author dream?

Just to sell books. As long as I sell a couple, I consider it success! I just love writing so much.

Ok friends, let’s help Aimee Shaye’s author dream come true and buy her books. You can find Aimee at the following places: 

Website  —  Facebook  —  Twitter  —  Instagram  —  Pinterest  

And the following cover images will take you directly to where you can purchase her books:

The Broken Daughter (The Cursed Kingdom Book 1) by [Aimee Shaye]  Silenced by [Aimee Shaye]  Have Mercy by [Aimee Shaye, Matthew Picinich] If You're Listening...: A Short Story Collection Kindle Edition  


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