A few months ago I made the decision that I wanted to spend some time helping out other Indie Authors. Last month I decided it was time to get started. I knew right away who the first author on my list would be, Sarah Notebaert. I read the first book in her Dystopian series, Sullen Ground, last Summer and I LOVED it!
Over the next few months, or years, I will be doing reviews twice a month; for some Indie Authors and I will not be doing just one book- I will be doing more than one at a time. When you are an Indie Author, with less than 25 reviews on Amazon, that is your dream number. It is the magic number when Amazon starts to notice you and suggest your novel to readers!
Some of my future posts may be more than a little long but I can promise you that they will all be worth checking out!!
I was more than excited when I approached Ms. Notebaert with the idea of reviewing her novels and she was just as excited about the reviews of her book as I was. She also took some time to answer some questions about her writing, the first three novels in her series, and what is to come next.
Author Bio: I'm the most average person I know. Born and raised in Detroit. Worked retail for ten years. I have two beautiful children, and loyal friends. But I always wanted to write.
The Sullen Ground series is never far from my thoughts. I often think of the characters and what lay ahead for them as they endure their war. I could never explain the joy I get in writing these books, or the joy I get when someone tells me they love reading them.
Random facts about me:
I'm very clumsy!
I talk with my hands. A lot.
I have a super loud and obnoxious laugh.
I love 'haunted' stuff and ghost stories.
I'm a curious person.
Here are a few of the questions I asked to help you get to know her a little better before I start the reviews.
Q) You hit Publish on Sullen Ground in Jan. of 2012. When did you start writing it and what inspired you to write the series?
A) I started writing it in July 2010. But the idea for it came to me in 2004. It took me that long to put pen to paper! The inspiration came to me as I was walking through downtown Plymouth, where I lived at the time, past a new construction site. Out of the blue I though what would happen if soldiers had to die for their country right here in the United States? Could war actually happen here? I wagered that it could. That construction site would eventually become what is now the Veterans' Memorial Park. The idea never left my head, like a bug stuck in my brain. For years I had a feeling that I had forgotten something, same felling you get when you think you forgot your car keys or lunch or something. That feeling went away as soon as I started writing, and as long as I'm writing the feeling stays away.
Q) I found reading all three of your books to be very natural and easy. Was this the first novel or series of novels that you have written, or just the first that you decided to publish?
A) Yep, first novels to ever write and publish.
Q) What made you decided to go totally Indie with your novels and to hit publish solo?
A) I took the Indie route because I was sick if waiting for someone else to give me the chance. "The question isn't who's gonna let me, the question is, who's gonna STOP me?"
Q) What kinds of writing methods do you use? Did you create, or reference, maps of the city of Plymouth?
A) I used the method of keep writing till it's finished! No outline other than what was in my head. I thought about making maps, but man, what a headache.
Q) Do you have any rituals when you write?
A) Writing rituals include lots of coffee, and frequent smoke breaks, especially when one of the characters is smoking!
Synopsis: Fifty million dead. A military divided. A once proud nation left poor, broken, and desperate. No goods. No currency. No technology. No protection. There are only people, and other people left in the aftermath of chaos. This is where we find ourselves in the second United States Civil War.
In the war that seemed to start overnight and destroy all they knew, civilians were pushed aside, subjugated, and seen as only as a problem by their warring government after a mysterious Directive is enforced. In the blink of an eye, all would change forever. What these people knew was no more, just pages in history as they staggered forward, with all things a now blank slate. What they thought they knew of themselves would be tested, as they faced an America they did not recognize. What they believed about life, liberty, love, God, pain, honor—all would change. In one small Michigan town, a handful of citizens would come to find out what they were made of, and see themselves for the first time…for the good, and for the bad.
While her parents are overseas on an anniversary cruise, young Pen is in charge of the family flower shop. But as attention turns away from wedding flowers and Valentine’s Day bouquets to the ominous current events of the nation, she feels duty-bound to prepare for questionable times ahead. In a few short weeks, her beloved town of Plymouth will crumple under the weight of mass business loss, food shortage, looting, violence, Martial Law and eventually evacuation, courtesy of the government-inspired Directive that leads to the war of her generation. With nowhere to go and interstate travel banned, she has no choice but to stay in town and hope to make it out of the war alive. And when she discovers that others have also stayed behind, she won’t have to make it through alone…
My Review: 5 Stars
This is the first Dystopian novel that I have read that was absolutely believable! Ms. Notebaert did a wonderful job in creating unique characters that stood on their own in the book. She found a way of putting you right into the fall of America as it was happening. From the Directive that started it all, into a life that was just trying to stay safe from outsider that would mean them harm and in the end how they would escape the soldiers (Pacers) that would love nothing more than to kill them, burn their city down, or place them all in camps with thousands of other America citizens.
I found myself wondering many times if I could find a way to survive the situation. A must read for any fan of the genera!!! I look forward to reading more Camden moments, and I am sure that I will swoon once he confesses his love to Pen!!
Questions for the Author about Sullen Ground
Q) Of all the suburbs of Detroit, what made you choose Plymouth?
A) I fell in love with Plymouth. It's the only place I ever felt at home.
Q) There was something to love about all the characters in Sullen Ground. I personally loved/ related to Cora the most. Which of them would you say is most like you?
A) None of the characters are anything like me. I will say however, Pen is everything I wish I was.
Q) OH Camden! My, oh my, oh Camden!! If you can’t tell I am Team Camden. Don’t get me wrong Dan is nice, and Tim is a sweetheart; but Camden is all of their goodness rolled into extra hotness. Who do you find most people are a fan of between the guys? Which of them is your favorite guy?
A) While I love all of my guys, I find that almost everyone is team Camden. Interestingly enough, the female readers like Dan second to Camden, but a lot of my male readers think Dan is a huge douchebag. And one of my male friends says he's changing his last name to Stone, lol.
Sysnopsis: After Camden’s order to leave Plymouth in the midst of catastrophe, Pen, Cora, and Matt find themselves thrown together in a whirlwind of confusion and dread. Hoping to reunite with their friends at the first rendezvous point, they move on as planned. However, they will discover that it isn’t easy to follow Camden’s orders when so many questions go unanswered. They will learn that finding their friends will be more difficult than ever expected as they endure setback after setback and difficulty after difficulty.
Separated from their friends, hunted by the Pacers, and plagued with fear, Pen and Cora must learn to survive in situations they never imagined...with socially inept Matt as their guide. Pen will find that Matt, the man she despised for so long, demonstrates who he really is. Matt soon dissolves into who he was meant to be: a soldier. And Cora endures the constant thought which she prays be proven wrong: Tim is dead, Tim is dead, Tim is dead...
My Review: 5 Stars
Broken Splinter picks up right where Sullen Ground left off without skipping a beat.
Those that remain in Plymouth are under attack from the Pacers and they have no idea if there are only a few or a whole army of them. Matt acted instantly and swept Pen and Cora away in the closest truck that was ready for travel, and as far as the tree of them can tell they may be the only ones that made it out alive. All the girls can think about is running back to check on the others but Matt insists that they will be fine and will meet them soon at the first rally point. After days with the girls, and no sign of the others he gives in to their pleas and goes back to town to check things out. What he finds is more than promising to say the least; bodies of dead Pacers and all other emergency vehicles are gone.
As soon as three of them realize that the others must have moved on to the second of the three rally points they find themselves in a race to get there. Upon their arrival they are meet with an unexpected surprise and barely make it out alive. The others must have be on their way to the final destination but with only a fourth of a tank of gas left in the truck it will be no small task to catch up with them.
After reading Sullen Ground I was no happier about the fact that Pen and Cora were stuck with him as their traveling companion. The three of them do become surprisingly close on the journey as the girls, and the reader, get to see a whole new side to Matt. Ms. Notebaert also took the time to add to the story by giving several looks back in time to what life was like for each of the characters before the war started. The is small bit of personal history not only helps the reader bond more with each of the characters but it gives a new insight and understanding into who they are during the war.
At the end of this book you will most likely be racing to grab Rising Heroes, I did!
Questions for the author about Broken Splinter
Q) This book revolves mostly around Pen, Cora, and Matt as they try to meet up with the rest of the Plymouth citizens. Was it hard for you to keep your mind on just these three characters? Did you find yourself making notes for Rising Heroes while writing Broken Splinter?
A) Most definitely, my mind was on book 3 a lot while I was writing Broken Splinter. I loved every minute of writing the story, especially the flashbacks, but man, the relief when I was finished and could start Rising Heroes--I missed my other guys!
Q) We see a whole new side to the three characters by the end of the book in addition to getting a peek into their past, pre war lives. I enjoyed getting to really know who they were, both then and now, more. Especially and surprisingly Matt. You took him from a dislikable person to someone much more loveable, so… was it hard for you to do that, considering how he gets separated from the girls?
A) Matt is actually my best-loved character to most of my female fans. I loved how he became so loved, showing who he really was. In the fourth book in the series we'll hear more about him.
Q) What was your favorite part in writing this book?
A) I would say that my favorite part of Broken Splinter, aside from obviously the ending, was the flashbacks...getting that look at all three of them, especially Matt.
Synopsis: Since the night that Pen, Cora, and Matt left Plymouth, the friends they left behind have hardships of their own. This is their story--spanning the two years since that night in Plymouth to the revealing of Captain as Camden Stone...
Camden, Tim and Dan are anxious to find Pen and the others, but it doesn't seem that time is on their side. The ruthless Pacers make an aggressive appearance. Camden is torn between leading his town to safety and searching for Pen. Tim is desperate to find Cora, but he will have to search for her on one less leg. And after a year goes by with no sign of them, Dan is losing all hope that Pen is still alive.
With the aid of new friends, the search will continue, but it is during that search when Camden is thrown into a role he never expected...
My Review: 5 Stars
After reading Broken Splinter you were left with many questions. The biggest two are: What is going to happen now? And - Where have the rest of the Plymouth citizens been? Rising Heroes gives you the answers the second big question. Camden, Reese, and Tim get the others to safety, and met a few new friends on the journey. The three men never give up hope that their splinter group will be found. They find many things they never expected while searching for Pen, Cora, and Matt; one of them even finds himself in the unique situation of leading a small army that over time becomes a force for the Territory Army in Michigan.
And now we have to wait for the next book…
Will Camden profess his love for Pen? How is Dan going to react now that she is back? Will “Captain” and his army take back their state or will everything come crashing down around them? How many more friends and love ones will be lost to this war?
Questions for the Author about Raising Heroes
Q) Again we get to learn some background on some of the other characters. While Camden’s was not a surprise at all, Dan’s surely was! Did you know these things about him before you started working on this novel? Did you know it before you even introduced him in Sullen Ground?
A) Yep, I knew all about the characters and their development before I started writing anything. We'll learn a bit more about Dan in the next one, and you'll be even more surprised!
Q) While reading Rising Heroes it dawned on me that even if a person was not familiar with locations in Michigan where the characters were was fairly easy to follow without putting the book down to go look at a map. How much research would you say went into your books by the time you had finished book three? How many of the places you mention in the book(s) have you been too?
A) Girl, I might seem like a serial killer if you looked at my search engine. Everything from geography to weapons to emergency camping, you name it, I looked it up. I've been to all places that are mentioned that are not fictional, lol.
Q) What made you decided to split books 2 and 3 the way you did?
A) I wanted to shake it up a bit, put some suspense in the readers, as we all are dying to know what happens after the reunion.
I’m not going to lie to you… I begged and begged and begged some more, for a sneak peek or advanced copy (even if it was a ruff draft!) of the fourth book in the series and I was turned down every time. For the first time in a long time this is a series that I will be sitting on pins and needles waiting for. (The last time I was dieing to get my hands on the next book in a series was when I was in my late teens and reading Harry Potter!!) Generally I wait until a series is complete to start it or I don’t even LOVE it enough to stay on top of when I will get to read the next book. I have read many novels in this genera and while they have had great story lines, lovable characters or a great romance story intertwined with them I rarely feel the story line could truly happen.
If you are not a “prepper” this series will make you think that maybe it is not such a bad idea to do a little something…. Just in case.
I couldn’t let Sarah go without asking just a few more questions about what was to come next, for both this series and future projects as well.
Q) I know that book 4 is currently in the works. So, How much longer do we (I) have to wait? Does it have a name? And can you give us a sneak peak into what will happen next?
A) I'm hoping the 4th book will be ready in the spring/summer of 2015. Last Stand, it is called. Aptly named, because it is the last stand between the Pacer Army and Territory. We'll find out who wins the war, what happens between Camden, Pen, and Dan… and a few more surprises are in there too!
Q) With a book series that is based on a civil war on American soil, you have let go of less than a handful of characters thus far. Should we expect you to up the death count in book four by a large number? (Are you planning on making fans ugly cry about one or more of them? On second thought maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that one!)
A) Yeah, you don't want to know the answer to that...
Q) Will it all really end with book 4? Do you see the possibility for writing spin off's for charters? If not, what is next for you as an author, will you stay within the same genera?
A) I’m looking at the possibility of Last Stand being split into two separate books because if not it would be super long! A spin off novella or two just might be brewing in my head, but you will just have to wait and see!
Q) Currently none of your books are available in paperback. Will you be changing that in the future?
A) Yes!!!! Paperbacks will be coming soon!!!!
You can find out more about the Sullen Ground Series, keep up to date on the latest news and contact Ms. Notebaert at www.sullenground.com
FB: Sullen Ground
I can’t say enough how much I loved this series, and Ms. Notebaert for taking the time to answer so many questions! To make things even more amazing she has offered up some prizes for a giveaway!!! Three lucky winners will be receiving an eCopy of Sullen Ground as well as some awesome swag… Their very own set of Camden Stone dog tags!!! (I really want some of those dog tags for myself!!) Entering will be super simple!
1) Hop over to Facebook and give Sullen Ground a like.
2) Post on her page and let her know that I sent you over to show some love.
3) Comment here on the blog and tell me one thing you don’t have enough of right now if a Civil War broke out in America next week.
I will post the winner here, on my Facebook fan page, as well as the Sullen Ground FB page on the 24th of November.
(You will have 48 hours to claim your prize… or I get your set of Camden Stone dog tags. Ha ha ha ha!!! Can you tell I really want those dog tags!!)
Thank you to Sarah Notebaert for taking the time to answer some question and for being my review "test subject".
Good luck in the giveaway!
Up later this month is my review of the Twin Flames series by Debbie Christiana.