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 #14: Jeremy Jones

Indie Author SpotlightWelcome to Indie Author Spotlight #14, where I’ll be introducing you to Jeremy Jones. I thoroughly enjoyed Jeremy’s first book, Ruins of Empire #1: Saturnius Mons, which I just finished up last week in preparation for this post. I’m impressed by the professionalism of Jeremy’s book, and the complexity of his story. He leads each chapter with an excerpt from a fictional book about the fall of civilization as it happens in the world of the story, which means he wrote the book AND its history. It really is fascinating, and works incredibly well. Jeremy provided me a free copy of Saturnius Mons, but I’ll be purchasing book two and eagerly awaiting whatever else he writes!


Welcome, Jeremy, and thank you for being interested in the Indie Author Spotlight! I’ve already given readers an inkling of what you write about, but please tell us about your favorite writing genres. 

I’m most interested in sci-fi and speculative fiction, although recently my short stories and random projects have taken a distinctly dystopian, cyberpunk direction. My interest in those genres lie in my fascination with technology coupled with a growing dread about where it will lead us.

I think you do a fabulous job of following that thread in Saturnius Mons. Please tell us about the series! 

The first two books of my Ruins of Empire series are out. It’s a pulp, sci-fi space adventure series that blends some Cowboy Bebop/ Firefly action with some larger questions about Civilization and human nature. You can find them on Amazon or Barnes and Nobel.  Both are also available as a free podcast novel. You can find them if you look up Ruins of Empire on iTunes or Stitcher. They are pretty good if I do say so myself.

If the first book is any indication, they ARE good, and I do intend to read the second (and subsequent books!). It definitely displays a development of craft. Let’s talk about your writing – how long have you been writing?

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in writing on some level. My mother has stashed away somewhere my first indie book that I wrote, illustrated and bound (with staples but still…) when I was five or six.  It was a crudely drawn children’s book about a bird that eats a bug. It was kinda cute and had all the elements of a story:

Motivation: the bird is hungry.

A Goal: the bird wants to eat a bug.

Conflict: the bug does not wish to be eaten.

Climax: the bird chases the bug down a hole

Resolution: the bird eats the bug.

Not exactly child prodigy material but not bad for a booger-eater.

Well I, for one, am glad that you continued writing. Why do you keep writing stories?

Because people got really annoyed with me that one year I followed them around trying to tell them my stories out loud.

Seriously though, writing is simply the medium that I can best use to communicate stories right now. And stories help the world make sense. They bring a sense of order in a Universe built on chaos. There is something deep in our collective psyche that gets excited by the phrase, ‘let me tell you a story.’ I am naturally drawn to that.

I love that! I definitely read to help me make sense of the world, and I appreciate you authors who write for the same purpose. Can you tell us a little about the development of your writing process?

It took me well into my 30s to get to a point where I could start writing a book and part of the reason was that I refused to outline anything. I stubbornly believed that sitting down and thinking about things like structure and characters would crush the frail flower of creative genius under the boot of organized oppression.

I was kind of an idiot in my 20s.

It wasn’t until a few fellow writers patiently explained over and over again the value of an outline that I sat down and grudgingly did the work and it worked. So I did more outlining and suddenly my first drafts were better than my second or third. Consequently my Ruins of Empire series is heavily outlined.

But deep in my heart I am a pantser and so last year, just for fun, I started a side project that was much closer to how I used to write when I was younger. No outline. No plan. Just page after page of one thing leading to another. I don’t know what will come of it but it’s a fun experiment to see if an older, wiser Jeremy can pants an entire novel.

Don’t be so hard on your younger self! We all learn and grow as we age, right? So, how do you fit writing time into your life?  

I have a pretty strict window of time that I reserve for writing. Five days a week, two hours before work every day: that’s Writing Time. No chores will be performed. No meals prepared. No errands run. Just a man, his coffee, and his WIP.

And so far it’s worked out. My wife is very supportive and respectful of that window of time. Life does get in the way, as it tends to do, and occasionally steals it right out of my hands. But there’s always the next day and another chance to fight for that precious time.

That said, I’m proud to say that my wife is pregnant with our first kid. He is due in October and I imagine that it’s going to erode the defenses around Writing Time. I will lose more battles for that time but, at this point, writing is such a part of my daily routine that I can’t imagine a lot of it going away.

That sound you are hearing is a hundred writer-moms giggling at my stunning naiveté.

Congratulations! Once you’ve worked out your post-baby writing routine, what can we look forward to seeing from you next? 

So Ruins of Empire is a seven-part series sci-fi space adventure series about a group of explorers visiting lost human colonies scattered around the solar system. Each one takes place on another planet or moon. The first two take place on Titan and Venus respectively. The third, which is in progress, is a medical mystery in the asteroids. The fourth will be a pitched land battle on the Martian plains and after that . . . well you’ll have to see.

And once that series is done I probably have ten or more outlines waiting to be lifted up and built into real books. I will be as excited as anyone to see which ones make the cut.

That is a LOT, which, as a fan, is really exciting! I’m intrigued to watch Althea unravel the medical mystery . . . you’ve gotten my high-school-wanna-be-a-doctor self all interested now! Let’s move on to what you like to do for fun; tell us what you like to read and about any other hobbies you have.  

I read a lot of sci-fi, dystopian and any genre with ‘punk’ in the title. A little bit of fantasy, some literary fiction. A lot of humor and dark humor. And I enjoy dipping my toe into non-fiction especially on topics concerning history or science. My writing heroes include Hunter S. Thompson, Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk, and Terry Pratchett. I also have a soft spot for trashy pulp sci-fi and adventure novels from the 70s and 80s.

Outside of books, I’ve made homemade beer for a number of years, a hobby that has morphed into a strange career for me so I’m not sure I can consider it a hobby although I do spend a lot of time doing it in my off time. I’m also an amateur musician and have recently discovered backpacking and am slowly exploring the back country of my home state of Idaho. There’s a lot of it so it might take me a while.

What is your goal as a writer, and is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

My dream is to make a living telling my stories. I’d love to wake up, slam some words together, sell some books, and have that be enough to keep food on the table. It’s a modest dream but, when you think about how few writers can actually do it exclusively, even fairly successful writers, it becomes more daunting. I dream of a world that respects artists more and has systems in place so that they can do their art and not have to waste their time making coffee or waiting tables for a class of people that produce nothing . . . but I digress. That’s not the world we live in.

About me . . . I look at the world differently than most. I suppose most artists do, otherwise why would we bother? But my greatest hope is that the reader gets taken on a little journey. They get flung through a madcap world and, on the other side, maybe they see their surroundings with new eyes.

Find Jeremy and his books:

You can find my stuff at

Also on Twitter and Instagram @alleywayrover

Or look up Author Jeremy L. Jones on Facebook

And my books on Amazon:

Ruins of Empire: Saturnius Mons

Ruins of Empire: Templum Veneris 

And, of course, the free serialized podcast version


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