Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Author Spotlight: Court Ellyn (complete with interview)


Welcome back Beardies,

(I hope you don’t mind the new, catchy title I’ve decided to give to all you readers)

Tonight I have a special treat to share with all of you: another Author Spotlight, complete with an included Interview! I hope it is as much of a treat for you to read as it was for me to do! It was an incredible opportunity and privilege, and something for which I can’t say “Thank You” enough.

Just a few days ago, I told all of you about a great new website I had discovered called LegendFire. I can’t stress enough to all of you how much I LOVE this community. The Members (and Administrators) are so friendly, responsive, and knowledgeable about writing, critiquing, and what it means to be a proper community.

Even though it has only been a few days since I first became a member myself, I’ve became rather swept away by one person in particular. Her immediate kindness and welcoming aura struck me, and when I posted a thread about trying to find potential “Guest” Authors for The Bearded Scribe to do reviews on books and other such topics, she immediately jumped on the opportunity.


After talking a little more with Court Ellyn, I discovered that not only is she totally awesome and someone with whom I share a lot in common, but she is also a published writer! I thought what better way to introduce her to The Bearded Scribe than to do an Author Spotlight. She even accepted my humble request to do an interview!

So here it is, in all of its glory :-D

***
The Bearded Scribe: I have already spotlighted the LegendFire website on my blog, but I am curious--how did the website originate/what is its history?

 Court Ellyn: LegendFire started out as Arcane Artistry, way back in 2003. Dustin Tigner was its creator, and the community went through a couple of incarnations, more or less successful, before it became LegendFire in 2008. Dustin changed the structure to be less dictatorial, more member-run, and I think this is why LF is succeeding so well.

The Bearded Scribe: When did you become a member and how did you end up as one of the site's administrator?

Court Ellyn: Let’s see, I joined LF back in April of 2009. I had been an active member of a different online critique community and became frustrated with some of the rule-oriented writers there (one finally told me that I couldn't write a story a certain way), so when one of my husband’s coworkers mentioned a place called LegendFire, I gave it a shot. I loved the place immediately. It was smaller and more intimate-feeling.


I was a member for only two months when Dustin said it was time for him to move on and he was putting the site up for auction. If no one bought it, he was going to shut it down. I was devastated. I slept on it for a night or two, then woke up one morning with the conviction that I could do this. I was so excited, but the starting bid was too much for me to afford. I logged in to the site and posted for help. Five of us stepped forward and pooled our money and became the new admins of LF. The others have slowly gone off to do their own thing, but I'm still here. It’s one of the most rewarding things I could be doing with my time.

The Bearded Scribe: What do you hope to see in the future for the LegendFire site?

Court Ellyn: I hope LF will continue to grow, of course, and remain—for what many has become—a haven for their creativity. A place where writers feel like they belong. A place for forum orphans, those writers who feel like they’ve been marginalized or alienated at other sites. LF is these things already, but for word to spread, for our reputation to grow across the internet, that’s what I hope for. And I think it’s happening, slowly but surely.

The Bearded Scribe: You have two blogs--Wordweaver (your writing blog) and Found, and Unapologetic (your faith-based blog)--could you tell the readers at The Bearded Scribe a little more about each of your blogs?

Court Ellyn: Right. Wordweaver is the place where I journal about my writing journey. Mostly, I use it to advertise my writing successes and discuss my frustrations, and also to network with other writers and learn about the publishing industry.


Found, and Unapologetic is my new baby. A step that has taken a lot of courage on my part, because, let’s face it, the world does not welcome open expressions of love for Jesus. That particular blog, then, is where I will journal about my explorations of my faith and hopefully, through my real-life stories, encourage others who may also question and struggle at times.

The Bearded Scribe: At what age did you begin writing?

Court Ellyn: Ha, I think I was fourteen. Maybe fifteen? I had always “pretended” though, with my sister and three close cousins. We would dress up in wild prom dresses that we found at garage sales and “pretend,” making up elaborate stories. When they decided they were too old to pretend anymore, I had a choice. I could go into acting, or write. I was too shy to act.

The Bearded Scribe: What is your favorite book? Your favorite fantasy/speculative fiction book?

Court Ellyn: This is a tough one. My favorite books for poetry of language would be The Last Unicorn or Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books. For action and character development, either Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Princeseries or GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I know you asked for one book, but I just can’t help it.

The Bearded Scribe: For me, it was Bridge to Terabithia... was there a particular book that hooked you into the fantasy genre?

Court Ellyn: It was movies more than books. When I was little, I wasn’t allowed to read fantasy, which was very much a double standard in our house, b/c I grew up watching every Walt Disney fantasy under the sun, as well as the animated Lord of the Rings by Rankin and Bass. Then George Lucas’s Willow came along and I was sunk. No turning back after that. So I didn’t start reading the fantasy genre until my senior year of High School when I went behind my mother’s back and bought a book because it had a gorgeous black dragon on the cover. Terrible book, nice art.

The Bearded Scribe: You have two published works--The Mists of Blackfen Bog, which is already available, and Blood of the Falcon, which is due out this spring--could you tell the readers at The Bearded Scribe a little more about each of your works?



Court Ellyn: Mists is a novella set in the world of Tanerra. It’s about a disillusioned priestess who is called upon to save the villagers living deep in a haunted bog. The story centers around the priestess’s struggles with her faith. If the saying is to write what you know, I may not know much about ghosts or bogs, but I do know about spiritual struggles. You bet I do, and I'll bet most readers do, too.


Blood of the Falcon is my very special baby. I’ve been working on it, off and on, for twelve years now. It’s epic in every sense of the word. Big world, big armies, big magic, big scope in years, big word count. It was first inspired by Rawn’s Dragon Prince novels, way back when I got another of those excited “I can do this” feelings. It has since been reshaped by my infatuation with GRRM. So I think fans of epic fantasy will feel right at home.

The Bearded Scribe: Both of these titles are self-published, correct?

Court Ellyn: Yes. Mists was actually first published traditionally, by the online magazine Silver Blade. It ran for the summer and fall of 2009 as a their featured serial, which was flattering and exciting. Rather than try to sell a novella a second time, I decided to publish it myself, as it was meant to be read, in one volume, for the reader’s convenience.


I tried for years to sell Blood of the Falcon to editors and agents, but it was a no-go. Too many similarities to other books on the market, a little behind the current fads, perhaps. Had I written the book 30 years ago, when Tolkien’s work was taking off in the U.S. I would have had less trouble. But now I’m glad an editor didn’t get ahold of it and change it up to suit them, you know what I mean? Falcons has become a personal project for me that I need to finish before I can move on to more salable work.

The Bearded Scribe: What would you say are the pros of self-publishing?

Court Ellyn: Full control of the project. Text, cover art, layout, venue is all left to the writer’s preference.

The Bearded Scribe: What would you say are the cons, if any?

Court Ellyn: Marketing. To get their names out there, self-published writers have to become marketers as well as artists, a one-stop shop. Not easy since most of us tend to be introverts or dreamers or whatever you want to call it. I have not excelled at this facet of the game yet, but I’m learning. What I’m learning does not appeal to me in the slightest. But once the networking takes off, with folks like you, things start moving in the right direction.

The Bearded Scribe: Are you currently working on any new projects?

Court Ellyn: LOL – Er, yes and no. Falcons and its sequels have been taking up most of my time for the past eighteen months, and it appears that the project will go on for some time, even after the release of Book One. There is, however, an upcoming release of one of my short stories. “A Mournful Rustling” should appear in Explorers: Beyond the Horizon, an anthology by Dead Robots’ Society, sometime in May.



The Bearded Scribe: Do you only write in the Fantasy genre?

Court Ellyn: Mostly, yes. Even the one non-fantasy story I wrote for a Halloween anthology had some fantastical elements in the end. I mean, it’s Halloween, some fantasy is permissible, right?

The Bearded Scribe: Is there anything that you would like to share with The Bearded Scribe's readers that I did not ask you?

Court Ellyn: To readers: support your self-published authors. We’re trying to live out our dreams and need all the support we can get. To writers: You’ve chosen a tough vocation, but nothing worth spending your life doing is easy. Keep writing, keep submitting.

***

Well, Beardies, there you have it. Please check out all of the links I have embedded within the interview with Court for more information on this amazing woman and her work!  To learn even more about her, visit her website, follow her on Facebook or Twitter, or check out LegendFire or either of the blogs listed above.  To purchase any of her works, simply click on the book cover images above.

And keep checking back here to see future posts on The Bearded Scribe, written by Court herself!

Happy Scribing,

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