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: Carolyn Astfalk

Indie Author SpotlightWelcome to my first Indie Author Spotlight which I hope to make a weekly occurrence for at least the next ten weeks (because I have ten lovely authors who have agreed to chat with me!). Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Carolyn Astfalk, author of contemporary Catholic romance novels. If Catholic fiction isn’t your thing, don’t worry – come back next week for a completely different genre (you all should know by now that my reading tastes are eclectic)!


I have read and loved every one of Carolyn’s books – I even preordered her newest release, Come Back to Me, because I was THAT excited for it come out. While most of her books are written for adults, her very first book, Rightfully Ours, is a Young Adult romance most appropriate for older teens; I just read it this week and I’m truly considering making it mandatory reading for my kids when they’re older (I wrote a little about it here)!

So, I first gave Carolyn’s books a chance when I saw her promotional tweet that said something like, “Theology of the Body fiction with enough spice to keep it real.” The notion intrigued me, and I bought Stay with Me. I was not disappointed. It’s easy to read “Catholic romance” and think, “oh, this is gonna be about two perfect people living the perfect, chaste relationship and making it look easy.” I was so, so thrilled to find this is not the case. In each of her books, Carolyn has created real, relatable characters. Yes, they’re Catholic. No, they’re not perfect. They struggle, in life and in love. They’re tempted, they fall, and they get back up, ask for forgiveness, and try again. They are REAL people, living REAL lives, while trying their best, with the Grace of God, to live and love in the way He designed for us.

And now, meet Carolyn Astfalk!

When did you start writing?

Though I’ve been writing nonfiction of one sort or another my whole life, I started seriously writing fiction during National Novel Writing Month in 2010. It was a lark. Something to try while my husband was working out of town, and I only had two young children. I grew to love creating stories and molding them into novels.

Why do you write?

I write mainly to get the ideas in my head out and onto paper! I always had sort of a cinematic imagination, but I never knew what to do with it until I started writing novels. Once I found that outlet, it’s been hard not to write, though I’m greatly limited by the time I have available for it.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Pantser with some plotter tendencies. I organize characters and the basis of the story in my head before I begin writing. I’ll let the plot and characters lead me, but there’s usually a point in the process when I need to take pen to paper in order to keep the timeline straight or organize chapters.

One of the things we have in common is being SAHM to four kids. How do you fit writing into parenting? 

It’s very hard to fit in writing around family and household duties. I wrote more during naps and playtime when my children were younger. As they’ve grown older, they are less physically dependent on me but continue to require at least as much of my time, just for different things. It was also simpler when I was only writing, not having to market my books. That takes a significant amount of time I’d otherwise devote to writing and revising. My husband is supportive of my writing generally, but not in the way of helping me devote time to it. That’s mine to manage.

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

I have two novels in progress, both contemporary Catholic romance, although one is a bit more women’s fiction. After that, there’s a Young Adult novel tied to the characters in one of my short stories published with Catholic Teen Books that I’m aching to write.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Favorite books?

I like to read a variety of genres, including classics, Young Adult, and historical fiction, but I always come back to Catholic and Christian contemporary novels, particularly romances that have some depth. Here are a few of my favorite books by author friends:

Besides reading and writing, do you have any other hobbies?

I’d love to return to some old hobbies, like playing the piano and doing calligraphy, but right now I lack the time – and a piano. I’d also like to have my daughter teach me how to crochet. Maybe someday!

What is your author dream?

I’ve really tried to temper some delusions I had about success early on. I’d just like my books to find themselves in the hands of those for whom God intended them. I’d also love to have more Catholics become aware of and take an interest in fiction being written by contemporary Catholic authors.

What do you want readers to know about you?

If they know anything about me, I’d like them to think of me as a proponent of Catholic authors, someone who is doing her little part to share the good work that others are doing and is trying to share hope and faith through her own stories.

Learn more about Carolyn Astfalk at her website,, buy her books from her Amazon author page, and find her in the following places:


Twitter: @cmastfalk








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