This is the newest edition of Self-Published Saturday, where I highlight self-published books and their authors. As you know, self-published authors have to do their own marketing, and I hope with this feature to help spread the word about their books. This week’s feature is With Face Aflame by A.E. Walnofer. It is a historical novel set in England, 1610. Below is my review, an author spotlight, links to buy, and a Q&A with A.E. Walnofer. As always, if you buy the book, please remember to leave a review. This is so important for self-published authors.
BOOK REVIEW: WITH FACE AFLAME
In England, 1681, Madge works in her father’s inn and goes out of her way to escape notice. She is constantly trying to hide a flaming birthmark that starts below her eye and reaches to the bottom of her cheek. She lives and dies every day by her birthmark and the reaction of others to it. When she meets a friendly and inspiring minstrel, she learns she can sing, and then she hears her father utter words that shake her to the core. Madge decides to join the minstrel and his companion, a juggler, on their travels, and in the process learns a lot of life and herself.
With Face Aflame is a powerful coming of age historical novel. We are transported right to 1610 England, and we learn so much about what life was like then. The characters are so thoughtfully written and it is easy to see a lot of consideration and care went into their development. The issue of self-acceptance is what makes this book so important and real to readers. Madge limits herself and does not try and reach for her talent because she’s so self-conscious about a birthmark. Many of us can relate to that, as most, if not all, of us have something about ourselves that we feel does not quite measure up. The journey from town to town is also a journey of the soul, as Madge learns truths about herself and others, and event after event leads her to question her perception of herself. I would recommend this book to all, because we all can benefit from a journey of self-discovery.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A.E. Walnofer has been creating stories since before she could put pen to paper. Presently, she spends weekdays mobilizing the soft tissue and synovial joints of patients, and weekends typing out stories that are incessantly brewing inside her head. There are lots of these tales and she hopes to share many more of them with you in the future.
Q&A WITH A.E. WALNOFER
Tell Us A Little Bit More About Yourself:
By day, I work as a physical therapist’s assistant, helping patients move, function and feel better. On the weekends, I write as much as I can on my works-in-progress. Any other spare time is spent reading or planning the next trip my husband and I will be taking, which usually includes hiking in some lush, green location.
What inspired you to write “With Face Aflame” and set it in 1681 England?
At my job, I see countless people who would be so thankful to have a healthy body regardless of how exactly said-body looked. That being said, I know that body positivity isn’t a concept that is unique to the 21st century. One day, I got thinking about teenaged girls through the centuries and how they would have handled their physical anomalies both emotionally and socially. Madge and her story were born out of that. My hope is that everyone can have confidence as they love, take care of and appreciate the body they are in. Winnie Harlow is a fine example of this. She is a very unusual looking model due to her vitiligo, but she is gorgeous, confident and successful.
Your book cover is so well done and eye-catching. I’m always saying that a book cover must really pop, because readers are scrolling through millions of books on Amazon and it must stand out. Who designed your cover and how important do you think the cover is to sales?
Thank you for saying so! Julie Hopkins of IndieCoverDesign created it and I think she did a great job, too.
A book’s cover is absolutely vital to sales. We all judge books by their covers, and that often takes less than a second as we’re scrolling on by!
What are you working on now?
Presently, I’m working on the sequel to my very first book, A Girl Called Foote. It focuses on Beatrice Wellington, the young red-headed scullery maid who was dismissed in disgrace from serving at the Clyde Family’s estate, Whitehall. It’s about eight years after the previous book ends and it’s time for Beatrice to come to terms with some internal demons and to fall in love!
What authors inspired you to write?
Norah Lofts is hands-down my favorite historical fiction author because her characters are so real. The situations and settings in which she put them are generally commonplace, yet she brought them to life in such intriguing ways. She wrote more than fifty books in her lifetime. My hope is to create books with believable, relatable, lovable characters just like she did, though I’m doubtful I’ll accomplish that fifty times over!
Recently, I’ve greatly enjoyed books by Amy Harmon, Allie Cresswell and Deborah Swift.
You have self-published before. Tell us about your other works.
A Girl Called Foote is the story of a very clever maid at Whitehall, Lydia, who catches the eye of the heir, Jonathan, while she is reading the books she is supposed to be dusting. This begins a series of respectful yet secretive interactions between the two which eventually blossoms into mutual admiration and affection. It’s an amusingly tasteful romance between members of different classes.
Out of the Bower is a bit grittier. It also tells the story of a gentleman, a young street preacher named Barclay, who becomes enamored with a woman born below him, Honora. However, she has just escaped from a brothel, unbeknownst to him. (Note: the book does not contain any gratuitous or detailed scenes of sexual encounters.) The two begin to fall in love, but she is determined to liberate the friend she left behind at the brothel. Will Honora tell Barclay of her past? Will he still love her? Will her friend ever escape from captivity? Read Out of the Bower to find out! 😊
Do you have any advice for new self-published authors?
I guess the first thing I’d suggest is that would-be authors decide exactly what their goals are in publishing. If they simply want to put together a work that they can hold in their hands and say “I created this” then I’d recommend they watch a few online videos about self-publishing on Amazon and go for it. However, if their goal is to make some actual money by selling lots of books to voracious readers, I’d suggest they study the market very carefully for the genre in which they want to write, then watch a TON of online videos on how to write and sell novels successfully, then go for it.
Personally, I’m somewhere between the two types of authors mentioned above. Although I do want my works to get into the hands (or onto the Kindles) of many, many readers, I don’t want to alter the types of stories I enjoy writing just for the sake of making them ultra-marketable. That’s not me criticizing authors who do that as I know there can be a lot of money and satisfaction in doing so. However, I’m content writing compelling, vital books that might be considered a bit quirky even if the audience they resonate with is smaller.
Thanks so much Aimee (A.E.) for your great answers and for sharing your wonderful book with us!
Thanks for asking such great questions, Bonnie, and for giving With Face Aflame some appreciated attention!
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