Booktrovert Reader Podcast

Unveiling Spice Free Fantasy Romance with Indie Author C.F.E Black: 'Blade of Ash'

October 19, 2023 Charity the Booktrovert Reader Season 2 Episode 33
Booktrovert Reader Podcast
Unveiling Spice Free Fantasy Romance with Indie Author C.F.E Black: 'Blade of Ash'
Booktrovert Reader Podcast
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Show Notes Transcript

"Uncover the enchanting world of indie author C.F.E Black as we journey into the magical realm of 'Blade of Ash' and explore her unique perspective on spice-free romance. In this captivating book podcast episode, she shares the inspirations behind her spellbinding magic system and provides a sneak peek into her new standalone novel, 'The Starlit Prince.' Discover her innovative approach to marketing herself and her books on social media and delve deeper into the intricacies of her beloved characters. Don't miss this exclusive conversation with C.F.E Black, where fantasy, romance, and storytelling blend into an unforgettable experience.

Website: www.cfeblack.com
Instagram: @author_cfeblack

Book Available to Purchase on Amazon or Kindle Unlimited:
Purchase 'Blade of Ash'
Purchase 'Starlit Prince'

Website Mentioned:
https://www.yourfirst10kreaders.com/

Booktrovert Reader Book Review: Blade of Ash by C.F.E Black

#IndieAuthor #FantasyRomance #BladeOfAsh #TheStarlitPrince #AuthorMarketing #BookPodcast

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Unveiling Spice Free Fantasy Romance with Indie Author C.F.E Black: 'Blade of Ash'

 U1 

 0:00 

 1s Hello, This is Charity, your host of a Booktrovert Reader Podcast. I am here today with, CFE Black. She's an amazing author I found on Instagram where Bookstagram and I came across her book Blade of Ash. She has a unique perspective on her books that I wanted to share with us readers about how she created her books and the perspectives that she has going into these. So definitely introduce yourself and your book. 

 U2 

 0:25 

 Hi, Thank you so much for inviting me here today. I'm excited to talk to you. So like she said, I have a fantasy series. The first book is Blade of Ash. The series is about a king who falls in love with his secret royal sorcerer who happens to be a girl. I always have to clarify that part. 

 U1 

 0:45 

 Yeah, I was reading and I guess the misperception was that a lot of people thought it was a male and mean. Technically it was. But it's a secret sorcerer that is kept hidden and nobody knows but the King. Tell me about how do you became a fantasy author? How did you come up with the series and all that? 

 U2 

 1:04 

 Well, we'll start with the first part of that question, which is how I became a fantasy author. And like most authors, I have written my whole life. I. Was writing stories as a child and started writing books with my best friend in the fifth grade. They were short little books about animals, but that was when I feel like I decided I want to be wanted to be an author when I was ten. And then after reading Harry Potter, everything I wrote was fantasy after that point. So it was pretty much a done deal when I was ten that I was going to be a fantasy author. At least that's what I wanted to do. And I did not write Blade of Ash, though, until 2020 was when I started that book. So it was definitely a long gap between when I first started writing and when I finally published. I wrote basically the same story for years. I wrote with the same characters as I was growing up and then did my first NaNoWriMo in college and sort of finished the story then. And then I worked on it again a few years later and and made it into a complete novel. That book is not published. Probably never will be. That was that was my first book. And a lot of authors have what is probably their first full book, and it's never to be published. But it was fun to write, and it kind of confirmed for me that I wanted to keep doing that and that I was able to finish a story, all of that. So my first book was I wrote a long time ago, I think it was 2013 when I finished it, and then I switched over and I actually wrote a science fiction novel. Okay. After that, which was the first book that I had published. And I don't talk about it much because it's not in a fantasy genre. And it was traditionally published first, and then I switched over to fantasy as an indie author. So that's a quick rundown of how I started writing fantasy. I've always wanted to and Blade of Ash was my first published fantasy book. And then your other question, which was what inspired Blade of Ash? It's funny because authors never really know where their inspiration is going to come from, but I was watching a TV show with my husband and the one of the characters was named Sir Merlin, and as soon as I started thinking about the character of Merlin, my brain immediately said, What if Merlin was a girl? And what if Arthur was in love with her? And from from that point on, I just thought, I want to write this story. I want to write about a king who falls in love with his sorcerer. And of course, it's all forbidden. They're not supposed to be together and on and on. And so my brain just started whittling from there with ideas so that one character's name in the TV show is what? Started the whole idea for this series. Essentially, 

 U1 

 3:55 

 I'm trying to think of I feel like I've seen the same show, but I could be wrong. 

 U2 

 4:00 

 So it's a BBC mystery. Okay, the name of the show is Endeavour. Okay. 

 U1 

 4:06 

 Okay. It's a it's a small 

 U2 

 4:07 

 bag. The character. Yeah. The character was a side character. In one episode 

 U1 

 4:13 

 you said you wrote in 2020 of what really, truly compelled you to start writing? Was it that TV show? And you're like, okay, I'm going to start writing that or it's just 

 U2 

 4:21 

 right. It just sort of so happened to be during 2020. I know that was a weird year for everyone. I was a new mom at that point, so I had been a high school teacher for years and when we adopted our first boy, I wanted to become a stay at home mom. That was always my plan. And so we had just moved into this season of me being a stay at home mom with our first little boy. And that was also the first time that I wasn't working full time. And I thought, What? Like this is what I've always wanted to do now is when I'm going to actually get serious about writing. I had already published that first science fiction book the year prior, so 2019 was the first year that I had a book published. It was not the best experience, honestly, so. It turned into something good because it propelled me toward indie publishing and it helped me shift toward fantasy. I knew if I was going to start over, I needed to start fresh with a new genre. And so I it did push me in the right direction. It pushed me toward fantasy and toward indie publishing. So without having done that first experience with science fiction that was traditionally published, I don't know where I'd be now. So it turned out well, but it just sort of so happened to be that that was the year everything went crazy. And so, yeah, I think it would have happened that way for me either way, during the year 2020, I knew I wanted to write a fantasy book and that was just sort of when it happened. 

 U1 

 5:52 

 What would you say is the the hardest and the easiest thing about indie 

 U2 

 5:57 

 publishing? Oh, goodness, the hardest and the easiest. So, well, the hardest part is that you drive all of it yourself. That is probably the most daunting part for most people. If you want something done, you do it yourself. There's not there's not even somebody hanging deadlines over your head. So if you don't accomplish anything, that's sort of on you. And so you have to be very self motivated to be an indie author. A lot of people, I think, thrive better when there's other people pressuring them, like, for instance, a publisher to to get something done. And so they actually work better and produce better things through traditional publishing because that's the only way they can work. You know, if they work, it was up to them. Maybe they just wouldn't get it done. So there's there's that whole thing with indie publishing is that you have to really push yourself and set goals and deadlines for yourself. So maybe that's the hardest part. The easiest part is that you get to write what you want. Yeah. And I think that is also one of the biggest draws to indie publishing is that there that there isn't anybody else telling you what to write. There's nobody saying you need whatever this, that or a particular part of the story. There's nobody cutting things from your story that you wish could be there other than, of course, editors. But there's not some pub board, I guess, telling you what to put in there. So that's that is good if that's what you want. But that's the kind of thing that you want when you're writing. And 

 U1 

 7:27 

 is that the main reason why you wanted that freedom to be able to tell your story without people hovering over you? 

 U2 

 7:32 

 And interestingly enough, after I went to a writing conference for traditionally published authors, I heard a very well respected agent mention a website that is actually geared toward helping indie authors, but it could help traditionally published authors. Also, I heard him mention the website. And I went to the website and I probably would have thought it was a scam if this really well respected agent had mentioned it. And I'm like, Oh, this is this is for indie authors that just basically led to me clicking more, reading more. I ended up taking a course on indie authors and I didn't want to dive into indie publishing without knowing at least a little bit about what was, what it was about and what to expect. So after I took that course, I thought, I can do this. I could become an indie author. I think I can do all of the things that indie authors do. And so I had tried the traditional publishing route. I didn't like it. I wanted more creative control. And that's that's everything from the story to the cover to the timeline to the marketing, not just what's inside the pages, but the whole package. I wanted I wanted to be the one driving all parts of that which a lot of people don't want to be that person, but but when I realized that, like indie authors, I learned about all the different things that they do and I thought, I can do this and I want to do this, and it sounded fun to me. So when I wrote my fantasy book, it was with the intention of of indie publishing. I was able to set all my own deadlines. I was able to create the exact cover that I wanted. Basically, just everything about it was was something that I chose and that was really fun for me. So that is why I decided to go indie. That's a good 

 U1 

 9:25 

 answer. I love it. 

 U2 

 9:27 

 That's better. Yeah. 

 U1 

 9:29 

 Do you have that website to share? 

 U2 

 9:31 

 Sure. Okay. Yes. So the website is my first 10,000 readers. 1s And again, I was that was back in 2020. I think the guy that who runs that website is still doing the course and all of the things that he was doing back then. I haven't been on the website in a while now, but I think he's still current and doing all of the things he was doing then. Nick Stevenson is the guy who who runs that. He's Joanna PIN has interviewed him some, I think. But again, that was a few years ago. I remember when I heard the agent mentioned this website. I thought if I ever had 10,000 readers I would feel so successful. So I thought if there's a website out there that can help me get 10,000 readers, then I can be an indie author I'll be happy with with that. So it was even just the name of the website I remember really struck me. I thought, Wow, I'll check this out. 

 U1 

 10:20 

 I wanted to bring up to you on Instagram. You market your book quite a bit about it being a clean romance, and a lot of the trends right now is smut and fantasy. And sometimes for me, myself, it drags a little bit for me because I'm like, I just I don't always want to read that. So what makes what made you decide to really market that and decide to do that? 

 U2 

 10:43 

 Okay. Yeah, good question. And I tend to not use the word clean fantasy. I know that that's a common term that's thrown around, but I'm pretty careful just to use the term no spice, because I learned early on that everybody's definition of clean is different, right? So when we when we apply that word, there's there's a lot of negative connotations associated with it. So I do use the word no spice because the what I'm focusing on when I use that is just the romance aspect of it. So for me, I did choose chose to write no spice romance first and foremost because of my faith. And second of all, because those are the books that I want to read, right? So I, I have been a high school teacher in a middle school teacher for years. I'm not currently teaching, but I used to and I wanted my students to have books that showed romance without intimacy. I know that the there are a lot of books that do have that. I wanted something that was different and I wanted to not downplay romance, but in fact make the story very romantic. But without spice, somewhat along the lines of the way Jane Austen would write romance, I felt like we needed more of that kind of romance. I remember as a teenager I liked reading books that had romantic subplots. The fantasy romance genre wasn't really around yet, or it was so small. I hadn't found it when I was a teenager, but I loved all the romantic subplots in the books. I just wanted more of that. So I wanted to write books that teenagers could enjoy, that that they wouldn't have to hide from their parents or anything like that. Books that are appropriate for all teenagers appreciate, 

 U1 

 12:29 

 like, you know, things from Tamara Pierce, where the romance was there, but it wasn't, you know, like jumping the bed and instant lust or whatever the case may be. And I'm in that era right now that I'm just kind of tired of all the smut that's so heavy and stories that I that's why I was so drawn to yours because I'm like, I'm just ready for. Simple things, the story, the fantasy aspect of it. And so I had to had to reach out to you because I wanted to ask more about it. And I appreciate seeing more authors do that. So 

 U2 

 13:01 

 yeah, I think it is starting to become something authors talk about more so that readers know what to expect going in. And I know that on at least on Instagram, I'm not on TikTok, but it does seem like the spicy books are more visible. That doesn't mean that there are more of them. There might be, but there are a lot of No Spice Books and they're out there. There's a ton of authors who do write fantasy with no spice Romance. So there's a lot to read in that. 

 U1 

 13:32 

 I think I might try it that way. Even talking about recommending like No spice, I do like that because when you say no smut, clean romances, Yeah, it does go, oh, it must be like a Christian fiction or something like that. You know, oddly enough, that's where my mind goes. So now I'm like, okay, I need to do No spice in my search is to seek to find more of that. So go to the basics. 1s I was reading I've been reading your book to kind of jump into your story a little bit. I'm very intrigued by how you're approaching the magic system in the book, The Sorceress or the Sorcerer, depending on how they recognize her talking about the truth. Well, and things like being able to communicate telepathically, but he can't talk to her back and all this fun stuff. And I'm like, Wow, this is creative. How did you come up with all that? And, you know, what are the rules in that magic system? 

 U2 

 14:27 

 Yeah. So creating a magic system is super fun and also super challenging. The after I came up with the initial idea of a fantasy book based on a king falling in love with his secret sorcerer. I, of course, then had to build out a magic system, and I had recently read Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series, and I remember being blown away by his magic system, as everyone is. If you've read Brandon Sanderson and I thought, I want to create a unique magic system, something I've never seen before, I didn't want to do the elemental magic thing, which I do enjoy reading. I basically enjoy any kind of magic system, but I wanted to do something different, something new. And so I really had to sit down and think about, okay, where where does the magic come from? What powers it, all of the rules that you might have to establish with your magic system. I started with the idea that truth has power. That was sort of the foundation for the whole magic system for me. And I wanted to craft a story that showed visibly the fact that truth has power. And it was really fun trying to create a magic system based on truth and lies. It provided an interesting opportunity to explore just the idea of truth, the power that both truth and lies have over us. So it was just sort of a way to visibly show that idea 

 U1 

 15:57 

 because I think she was talking about the truth. Well, and being able to track him as a as a person. And she's just learning to tap into that. And I thought that was very interesting. The fact is that you create a magic system where the to be able him to ascend the throne, he has to bond to the sorcerer. That that was cool. 

 U2 

 16:18 

 Thank you. 

 U1 

 16:19 

 I'm going to ask this question. If it spoils anything, let me know. Wanted to ask about the beacon of the beholder. I got introduced to that in your story. Yeah. I thought that was an interesting concept that the king or the future king might be. The beacon and the beholder. 

 U2 

 16:35 

 Yeah. So. So that concept, it came to me because I wanted to take the chosen one trope and alter it a little bit because so much fantasy has a chosen one. Yeah, and I love that trope. Personally, I, I think it's great. I know there's a lot of people that get tired of it. I think any trope can can basically be amazing if it's done well. Yeah. So I like the chosen one trope, but I wanted it tweaked a little. So it's really more the chosen duo. It can't just be one, it has to be both and they have to find each other and they also then have to figure out how to use their power. So kind of like with any chosen one trope, like they still could fail even if they're the chosen one, but they just have more power than someone else. So it's more of the show's in one trope but with a twist because it's two of them. Is 

 U1 

 17:27 

 there would you say there's any more tropes other than the Chosen one in the series? 

 U2 

 17:31 

 There's definitely other tropes, and it's funny because I actually didn't know what tropes were when I was writing this. I learned all of this after it was totally not written with the tropes in mind, but because fantasy has certain like general expectations, it just happens a lot in fantasy stories, whether we intend them to or not. So the the royal falling in love with someone who's not a royal. That's pretty common in stories, especially in fantasy. There's a lot of romance tropes in this book. The full series, really, if you follow me on Instagram, you know that it's a very slow burn romance and a lot of people get a little bit frustrated at how slow it is. But that's the stuff I like. And so the there's there's magical battles. There's a little bit of a quest aspect. In the first book. You'll see that pretty soon. I love fantasy stories when the characters travel, right? Because I want to see the fantasy world. I want to get a full, full taste of what is in this fantasy world. So there's a there's a quest in book one. There's sort of a miniature quest in book two and a little bit well, there's not really a question book three, but they do travel. So, yes, there's there's a lot of tropes in the series as a whole. There's of course, there's male friendships. I love that one. You don't see it in every book, but in a fantasy series, I feel like that is almost necessary to have. I'm sure there's more, but 

 U1 

 19:02 

 you know, it's funny, the male friendships. I'm like, I'm one of this like people like, he's suspicious. 1s So and I'm excited. I always love when people authors describe their books and their series because it just makes me more excited to continue on in the series and everything. Currently you have three books in a novella, is that correct? 

 U2 

 19:24 

 In that series? Yes. Yes. Are 

 U1 

 19:25 

 you planning on writing another fantasy series soon? 

 U2 

 19:29 

 Yes. I have a book that is not related. It's a fantasy romance set in a totally different world coming out September 26th. Oh, I 

 U1 

 19:37 

 need to do my Goodreads homework. 1s All right. We'll definitely put that in the show notes so people can find that and pre-order that. By the time this episode is aired, it would be published at that point, right? So I'll make sure to put it in there for for everyone to find. So are you a plotter, a discovery or a pastor when it comes to writing? 

 U2 

 19:58 

 I wrote The Blade of Ash. The first book was Discovery. I knew how I wanted it to end, but it was discovery as far as how we got there. Then every other book after that I plotted because I said earlier, I must stay at home mom. I don't have a lot of time to write. Rather, I choose not to spend a lot of time writing. We all have time and we choose how to spend it, right? So when we say we don't have time, it's just that we choose to use it in different ways. So I choose only to work on my writing when my children are asleep or if they're like they are today, if they're with their grandmother. So I choose to budget my time in a way that I try to be efficient with my books. And when I was discovery writing, I had to do so much plot revision because I just would go off on rabbit trails and there would be all these big plot holes, and the time that it took to fix them was too much. So by plotting, I was able to to create the books in short amount of time. So I still end up discovering things as I write. Sometimes I'll have a scene in mind and it'll just go a different direction. So it's it's still there, still discovery each scene I write. But the overall book is a little bit more laid out before I start. 

 U1 

 21:16 

 Okay. I can I can see how it, as they say, work smarter, not harder. Uh, you know what is the hardest thing to write in fantasy? And how did you overcome them? 

 U2 

 21:31 

 Probably the hardest thing. There's probably two hard things because one is the character arc. I think that goes for any genre. You have to get the character arc right. That's why we read right? That's kind of the whole point of stories. And so character arcs are they're tricky because you want to get them right. To me, I always I seem to know where I want them to end up. And knowing where to start them is the harder part for me. So because I want to show that they grow, but knowing exactly where they're going to start and what their flaws will be and how I will show those, that part is hard for me. And then of course, a magic system is difficult to to create, but it's fun. So. And magic systems. I mean, some people will say you have to have a ton of rules and then some say you don't have to have any rules because it's magic. So I think you can make them as complex or as simple as you want. It was a little tricky. The one I wrote was tricky because there were rules, but the one that's coming out in September is much more of a it's just magic. And they just have it and it's a little bit looser magic system, which was which was also fun. 

 U1 

 22:38 

 So did you have like Excel sheet keep track of all this madness? 

 U2 

 22:43 

 I don't like excel in anything in a chart is not my friend so I have a bazillion word documents where I write things down. But yes, I do in fact have one. I think there's one document somewhere that sort of has the rules for the magic system for that book. 

 U1 

 22:58 

 Just so I don't forget. I want to ask you the book that you're being publishing in September 26th. Tell me about that book. So the readers should know since you're still sticking to the fantasy genre. 

 U2 

 23:11 

 Yes, I will be sticking with fantasy for the foreseeable future. This one this one is it's called the Starlit Prince. And it is fantasy romance, which means the plot is revolves around the romance versus the sort of save the world plot of the other fantasy series. So in other words, this book wouldn't really be a book without the romance. And that was fun for me. I've never written a fantasy romance before. It was just a fun way to explore the plot and the characters. The Starlit Prince comes out September 26th and it is the first in a series of standalones. What that means is that the books are they take place in the same world. They have some overlapping characters, but each book will be about a separate couple is also about Faye. So yes, after reading several books about the Faye, I was really excited and intrigued by that idea and I wanted to write my own version of that. Of course, with No Spice Romance. So, yes. So would you just could you read it separate like standalone so you don't have to read book one before reading Book two you can pick up anywhere. Yes. 

 U1 

 24:22 

 How many are you planning on on that? 

 U2 

 24:25 

 I have three in mind so far with the possibility for seven. 

 U1 

 24:30 

 Are you doing rapidly release on it? 

 U2 

 24:32 

 No. Okay. 1s I'm laughing because there's there's no part of my my life that moves quickly with publishing with two small children. I do not publish quickly, so I do about two books a year. And that's as fast as I can write. Considering I write only when my children are asleep, 

 U1 

 24:54 

 I see that you actively market yourself on Instagram and on social media for indie authors. Do you have any tips on that? Because that seems to be something that pops up regularly. Is the book part is the easiest part writing it, but the marketing is hard. 

 U2 

 25:09 

 I don't know about that. I think the book part is the most important. The marketing part is the part that authors tend to not like. Yeah. And so that's why they say it's the hardest because nobody wants to do something they don't like. So I happen to like all of it. I love the writing. I actually really enjoy social media. I really am only active on Instagram. I don't do a lot on Facebook. I do very little, actually. It's not. And it's only it's not even really related to marketing me. I do interact with other authors on Facebook, so really and truly, I pour all of my marketing energy into just one social media platform. I don't have enough time or energy for multiples. So, you know, if you're an indie author, stick to the marketing that you can handle. Don't overcommit yourself or you run yourself ragged trying to do all of it. A lot of people can maintain two social media presence things and they don't get too overwhelmed. For me, it's really just the one and that's enough for me. So I do enjoy it. I like creating the content. I like interacting with people. I do find it fun. One of the things that helped me enjoy social media marketing more was when I heard somebody say that your social media page is basically like your online bookstore. That made me not as afraid to do it. I originally thought of it as kind of vain and a little bit weird to like put my stuff online and tell people to look at it. But then I realized like, that's what bookstores are like. Every book in the bookstore is like, Hey, look at me. And indie authors aren't really in bookstores. And so the only place for us to exist, to be seen by customers is online and in places like social media. So when someone said it's just basically your online bookstore where you talk about your books, I thought, Oh, that's not that weird. I was able to really get behind the idea of social media marketing after that. And I think once you get past the this is weird feeling, then it's just fun, right? And you don't have to feel intimidated or awkward when you're doing it. I really think that that shows. I don't know. I mean, because I don't know what it looks like to watch myself. I can't can't tell what other people think, but I feel like people who enjoy it like that that comes through, I guess, is what I'm trying to say. 

 U1 

 27:24 

 Yeah, I can. I can. Definitely see it, you know. Reassurance, you know, because you're one of the few indie authors I have seen who is very regular and present on Instagram. So I have always see you scrolling by. And I'm like, Oh, she's got another No spice video, you know, things like that. And and I like how you said just focus on one form, and I like that a lot. I am going to bounce a little bit. Your characters. We have Prince Frederick and the Sorcerer, Alana. 

 U2 

 27:55 

 I call her Ali. 

 U1 

 27:56 

 Ali. Yes. I like how you give the nicknames to to everyone, which is Red and Ali, did you create that, those characters based off of anybody or was inspired by anyone other than Merlin from the TV show? 

 U2 

 28:08 

 No, I don't actually use real people as inspiration. Not directly, of course. Everything is a compilation of probably things I've seen and heard and observed. But but no, they're all just just creations of my imagination. Sometimes I know more about characters before I start writing, and sometimes I discover them as I go and read. Was more of a he was a character I knew when I started the story. I knew I wanted to have a romance that had the the boy's point of view. Back when I started writing in 2020, I personally hadn't read very many books that had the guy's point of view in it. Now that's super popular. The dual point of view is super popular, which I love because that's my favorite. But when I started writing, it wasn't, and I or at least I hadn't encountered it yet. It might have been there. And so I knew I wanted to write it from his point of view. And I kind of knew that he was just his, his character arc, what it was going to be, and that he was going to be kind of grumpy at first and of course have a lot of maturing to do as the characters in your books always do. So I knew a good bit more about him when I started, but Ali, she really sort of came alive when I when I started writing her and especially when I when I went back and wrote Shield of Shadow and I knew there was so much to what had made Ali who she was. And it was really fun to discover all of what she had been through as I wrote the prequel. And I think if you've read the prequel, you know how, how just how much I care about that story. The character, Lord Weston Gray, I did not discover him until I wrote the prequel. I mean, he's in Blade of Ash, but the prequel really showed me who he was. And I did write the prequel after I wrote Blade of Ash, so I can't give any spoilers, Right? But but the characters, some of the characters like really came to life as I was writing them. And Gray is definitely one that surprised me, probably more than any of the others. Yeah, 

 U1 

 30:13 

 because when I was reading the part where he was introduced into the story, I'm like, Oh, they got some history. 

 U2 

 30:21 

 Yeah. 

 U1 

 30:22 

 So you love Ali. What about. Her. Did you love the most about her? 

 U2 

 30:28 

 I really liked Sheila's shadow shows her insecurities. She's extraordinarily powerful when you meet her in Blade of Ash and yet she has. She still has lingering insecurities. Shield of Shadow explores why those are there. Like, how can someone so powerful still be insecure? Right? I enjoyed that dynamic of her character and I loved that. I don't want to give spoilers, but I loved that Red is basically able to help her overcome some of those mean because of course I think we know from the covers that their relationship progresses. As with any good relationship, we help each other overcome our insecurities and her insecurities. For someone with so much power, it's like, Well, where did those come from and why are they lingering? And part of it has to do with the fact that she she must live in visible to everyone else. And so we see the idea of her not feeling seen. Right. Because she's really not seen. Yeah. But that that's something that so many people feel and it was it was kind of fun to explore that as a character who truly isn't seen Like, what would that even be like? Because so many people in life, they kind of feel like they're not seen. But what if we really weren't like no one could actually see us, how lonely we would be? Yeah, her character was fun because she's powerful, but insecure has to kind of learn to get past that. 

 U1 

 31:56 

 I really enjoyed, like, being able to see that insecurity. And it's not like a blatant like, I'm insecure, you know, it's just very quiet. I think that's a true testament to how you write because, you know, it's not blatant. And I'm very invested in seeing how she grows as a person and confidence too, because I think a lot of people need that. And to hear that encouraged to see themselves in a book. To go back to an author question, probably my last one, what advice would you recommend going into, you know, becoming an author and getting into the space? 

 U2 

 32:31 

 I would recommend researching the genre that you want to write in as much as possible. That includes reading the books that are in that genre, looking at what is selling in that genre, just becoming familiar with the genre. There's different ways to do this. I would not rely solely on Instagram because Instagram skews towards certain genres, right? It is important to know what Gina's do well on social media so that you can know which ones to spend your time on. And so certain genres do better on Instagram and TikTok than they do on Facebook or possibly Twitter. I don't really know much about Twitter right now, but so research the genre and research where that genre is talked about. Obviously there's going to be a lot of authors who want to write romcoms or even mysteries and thrillers, which has a completely different audience than fantasy. So just. Research the genre, read the genre, eventually do try to make friends in the genre with other authors. It's not as weird as you might think to reach out to someone on social media and just say, Hey, I read your book and really enjoyed it. Even if it's nothing more than that, then you've established a connection with somebody. Authors never tire of hearing that, so you'll just make somebody's day if you tell them that. And you might make a friend along the way. So reach out to people in your genre or the genre that you want to be a part of. Of course, read in the genre and and then just just write the book. I know that a lot of people are afraid to publish because it's kind of terrifying. Like, what if nobody likes it? What if nobody reads it? Well, everyone feels that way. And so without like, if you never try or if you never publish, you'll never know you'll get better as you go. If you wait until you feel like your craft is as good as it ever will be, that'll be 20 years from now. So, I mean, you would never get to the point of feeling, I think like you have arrived at the point where you're good enough. I don't know, maybe some people have have more confidence, but I think a lot of authors do not have a ton of confidence going in, especially at the beginning. But just know that that's kind of how we all feel and we all do it anyway. So we publish something that we're afraid no one's going to read and then we market it anyway and we try to find our readers. And you just kind of have to be okay with feeling that way sometimes and knowing that that's okay, that it's okay to feel that way. 

 U1 

 34:58 

 As an author, how do you handle any kind of type of criticism that might pop up on Instagram or Goodreads or Amazon? 

 U2 

 35:06 

 Whenever I encounter a negative review, I try not to read it. Actually, I used to starting out. I think early authors, we just devour anything that comes our way, right? Because you only have so few reviews when you're starting and a negative one feels so personal because you only have so few. So the negative reviews, of course they're tough and it's hard not to take them personally, but you have to learn not to take them personally. It's just it's just how it has to be because you'll never survive if you get too down by one negative review. And and so I think the best advice is either you just don't read them or read them and move on. Don't let them drag you down because they will. People are very mean and they forget that human beings wrote the book they didn't like. And so it's fine for them to not like it. But the people tend to not be nice when they don't like something. And so just keep in mind that that let it roll, let it roll off your back and don't take it personally. So especially with your first book, it feels like you've just bared your soul to the world. And when someone doesn't like it, it feels very personal. Try not to let it affect you personally. And I know an author that has a friend read the bad reviews for her, so you can always kind of have a buffer zone. They're right. I also know an author who, like, makes songs out of her bad reviews. I don't know if you follow Charlie Holmberg, but her, she'll sing her bad reviews and they're hilarious and wow, this is an excellent way of handling bad reviews because it just turns it into this thing to laugh about another way of coping that I know a lot of people do. They may not admit they do this, but they do. It is. They'll go read the one star reviews of books. They really liked to remind themselves that like, Oh, right, everyone's opinion is different. I loved this book and gave it five stars. And here's this person saying it's the worst book that's ever written. So just remember that like there's really popular books out there that still get bad reviews. As far as the negative feedback that comes through social media, I mean, that will happen some too, especially depending on how vocal you are about anything personal. Like if you're just talking about books, you're less likely to attract the negative attention. But if you talk about things that are in any way controversial, you'll get some pushback. And it's not fun, but you just have to always be polite and always, you know, be respectful. Don't ever start an argument or continue an argument. It's not it's not going to solve anything or help anything. An author friend and I were talking about this recently, and she sometimes just like if she is emotionally not not able to handle what they've said, she'll just comment. Thanks for the engagement and leave it at that. Like, I don't know if that's the solution or not, but you know, just kind of depends on on your personality or how much you're willing to take. But I would just I would just advise not to provoke, you know, too much. And but but be willing to say what you want to say and know that some people might disagree like it's social media. There's a gazillion people out there and they all have different opinions. And of course, people are going to disagree. And so it's it's just try to be respectful. And I guess that's all I can really say about that. 

 U1 

 38:22 

 You had a lot to say, which is great. You know, I think it's the best response I've heard so far, having those little tips and tricks to share with other authors, you know, because criticism can be hard. So to wrap up, just tell everyone where to find your books, where to find them and purchase 

 U2 

 38:38 

 them. Yes. Okay. So you can find my books on all major retailers. My ebooks are exclusive to Kindle Unlimited, so that's good news for some of you and maybe not great news for some of you, but the paperbacks and hardbacks are available widely and you can also find all the information about my books on my website, which is CFE Black and I'm also most active on Instagram, which is author Underscore C F Black. And that's where you'll see the most current updates on books, mostly via the quotes and things that I share. If you want the behind the scenes updates on how writing is going and sort of the more personal little notes that I'll send out, that's through my newsletter. I send that out every other week, really enjoy my newsletter and the people who sign up for that, they get a free story that gives the background on Lord Weston Gray. So it's his story and we find out about why he is the way he is. Free Story for my newsletter, which is you can find the newsletter sign up at my website, also on my Instagram link there. There's a link for that as well. 

 U1 

 39:49 

 And I'll just make sure to put everything in the show notes. Definitely follow Black. Definitely check her book out on Amazon Kindle Limited. That's what I the route I did and I'm so glad I picked it up so definitely give it a try. Thank you so much for answering my plethora of questions. I cannot wait to see what else you got for us. 

 U2 

 40:08 

 Thank you so much for having me today. This was fun. 




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