Feature Friday

Feature Friday: Nikki Mitchell


Today I am excited to feature middle-grade author Nikki Mitchell, author of Nightshade Forest! Her book releases TOMORROW, June 20th. You can read my ARC review here! Definitely worth the read…and kids will love it!

Meet Nikki. She is a stay-at-home homeschooling mama of Evelyn (6) and Everett (4) and married to her college sweetheart. She is from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (a yooper, born and raised!). She has freelanced for my local weekly newspaper for the last 7 years, and is a Northern Michigan University alum with a degree in English Writing and journalism. She is a theater nerd, and loves musicals. She even used to owned a used-bookstore. She collects copies of Fahrenheit 451, and her most treasured book is the copy of the 4th Harry Potter book that she received in 8th grade.

Why did you choose indie publishing?

Honestly, I wanted complete control over my books, especially the cover and the illustrations. And I wanted to get my book into the hands of children as soon as possible.

What inspired you to write?

When I was a kid, I was bullied a lot and didn’t have a whole lot of friends. When I discovered Harry Potter in middle school, reading was a game-changer for me. I realized that I could disappear into books and the kids didn’t bother with me too much anymore because I always had my face in a book. I want to offer that escape to other middle-grade readers, and if I can reach just one, it will be worth it. Eleanor is much like I was, and so she disappears into this magical fairytale books and finds friendship and adventure.

Are you working on any projects at the moment?

Yes! I am currently editing book 2 of the series and writing book 3!

Who is your favorite author and/or book?

I have three. Harry Potter because those are the books that started everything for me. Fahrenheit 451 because Ray Bradbury taught me that writing books make you live forever and that they are key for the society to thrive. To Kill a Mockingbird because it is a lovely read.

If you could apologize to one of your characters, what would you say?

Sorry about the gargoyles.

What is your writing routine like?

Haha. I have two kids at my heels every day. I try to have one, but it is hard.

Can you give us an out of context spoiler?

Ooh this is a tough one! A strong force of magic that had been banished from the kingdom for years comes back to aid the thief.

Who do you hope to inspire with your writing, if anyone?

I really hope to show kids that books can take you on magical adventures just by opening and reading that first line.

If you could give one piece of advise to your past-self about writing, what would it be?

Self-publishing does not mean your book won’t be loved or successful.

Any shout outs?

Yes! My editor, Jennifer Navarre was absolutely amazing and she really brought Nightshade Forest into it’s best version. And everyone else that has helped it come alive. It really takes a village to publish a book!


Follow Nikki Mitchell

Books

When eleven-year-old Eleanor receives a gift from her father, she never imagines it will open a portal to a fairytale world. Upon reading the first sentence of chapter one, she finds herself standing in the middle of Nightshade Forest—a dark woods with glowing blue and purple trees. She soon learns that the magic in the kingdom is out of control, and it is up to Eleanor to restore what has gone missing.

Join Eleanor and her newfound friends, Elfie and Milo in a search for a magic crystal as they fight off creatures Eleanor has only dreamed about. Can she make it to the happily-ever-after and rejoin her family, or will she be stuck in the Nightshade Forest forever?


Currently, I am not accepting any more applications for Feature Friday. Follow me for updates regarding when I will be reopening the application. Until then, signing off.

E.S. Barrison

Feature Friday

Feature Friday: Catherine Downen


Today I am featuring Catherine Downen, author of The Markings.

Catherine Downen, 22, grew up in a small town in southern IL and went to school at Bradley University. She graduated May 2019 with a degree in mechanical engineer and now works as an engineer in St. Louis! She has always loved to write and tell stories, and a lot of times use it as an escape from her science/technical job. She likes to think she has the best of both worlds in the sense that she is 50% science 50% arts. Her favorite genre to read and write is YA Fantasy. She’s just beginning her journey as an author with her debut novel, The Markings.

Why did you choose indie publishing?

Self publishing found me honestly. I was always blinded by the idea of the only option was the traditionally route until I joined the writing community on twitter. that was when I discover the option of self publishing and even though it seemed daunting I new I wanted to try it. I look at The Markings as my beginning. I want to use this book to help grow my platform and better myself as a writer and maybe one day return to the traditional publishing route. I had thought that, anyways, until recently I’ve just really enjoyed the process of self publishing. the book feels 100% mine. Ive had so much fun with cover design, internal formatting, marketing, and getting to work with other self published authors that I don’t know if I’ll go to the traditional publishing route. Self publishing has also forced me to learn about the publishing market. I have learned so much by making myself go through this process that I think every author would benefit from having to learn how to do it all on their own. It’s been a fun experience, and one that has given me more knowledge and experience than I ever would have gotten going the traditional route.

What inspired you to write?

I was inspired to write The Markings through a dream I had freshman year of high school actually. In the dream I had seen the basic parts of the world in The Markings, and had seen the first 5 or so chapters play out. I also knew exactly how I wanted the entire series to end. I was so excited about this idea that I began to try an outline this story and fill in the gaps.

Are you working on any projects at the moment?

Yes! My debut novel The Markings was just released on April 24th. Now I am working on the second book in the series. The Markings will be a trilogy and this will be the project I will spend almost all my time on for the next year or two.

Who is your favorite author and/or book?

Currently it’s Victoria Aveyard and the Red Queen series. I chose this because I feel like the Red Queen series really saved me and my writing when needed it most. in 2018, prior to deciding to self-publish, I had really doubted The Markings would ever get to be a real book. But that was when I found the Red Queen books, and the sparked the writing flame inside of me and it fueled my and my self publishing journey.

If you could apologize to one of your characters, what would you say?

Oh what a good question! I’d probably apologize to Codian because I wish he could have been given the second chance he deserved. I would tell him what happened wasn’t fair and wasn’t his fault. But as Adaline would say, “You can’t save everyone.”

What is your writing routine like?

I have to start with pen and paper. I have so many notebooks that I shuffle through. I sit down and I put pen to paper and let the plot start to take me somewhere. Then I transfer it to my computer and in the reread process I fill in the story. I try to write every day, but my schedule has been thrown off a little with the recent launch of The Markings.

Can you give us an out of context spoiler?

“We both look at each other for a long time. Something flashes in his eyes and suddenly I feel as though I have known him all my life and this is the moment I have to lose him.”

Who do you hope to inspire with your writing, if anyone?

I hope to inspire any kid in a freshman English class that’s dreaming of being an author. I think back to when I was that age a lot and the idea seemed so impossible, when in reality if you want to do It you can! I love that about self-publishing. Yes it’s hard but it is possible. Kids now a days say they want to be an author and people are so quick to tell them it’s a near impossible dream. It’s not, and I hope my writing can inspire the future authors to come!

If you could give one piece of advise to your past-self about writing, what would it be?

It would be to know your options. Don’t get blinded by the path of traditional publishing because there are so many other opportunities for you out there. Every single person will take a unique path to reaching their dream. Also, success is something you define. What reads a successful to you might mean something different to someone else. You’d define your own success and you create your own unique path to achieve it.

Any shout outs?

I’d give a huge shout out to my beta and arc readers! They took a chance on The Markings before anyone even knew my name or story. A big thank you to my mom, dad, sister, and boyfriend Brad that helped me revise, edit, and revise some more. Finally I’d thank all the people who are just simply a part of my life. Whether they know it or not they helped me achieve this dream too!


Follow Catherine Downen

Books

DATHER IS AN ISLAND THAT WAS ONCE KNOWN AS OHAU. A nation that rose from the ashes after an asteroid shower has divided itself when people began to discover their unique powers. At sixteen-years-old Adaline sits in prison with her mother and younger brother, and today is Parting Day where more prisoners will be executed. After seven years of being spared, Adaline’s luck has run out. But she won’t go quietly or easily. Her life depends on her ability to escape the grasps of the King and find a place of freedom. Discovering her unique powers is the turning point Adaline needs to get a second chance at her freedom. In this thrilling novel of friendship, family, and secrets Adaline runs for her life and learns the truth of her past along the way. 


Currently, I am not accepting any more applications for Feature Friday. Follow me for updates regarding when I will be reopening the application. Until then, signing off.

E.S. Barrison