Lia London~ Creator & Curator of CIR
Clean Indie Reads began as an obscure little book blog that I figured only my relatives and closest friends might occasionally read. Who knew it would expand in reach and purpose so quickly that I’d need a whole team of hand-picked volunteers to help run the organization?
CIR has become a daily joy for me. I receive regular submissions from indie authors of all kinds and build pages for many of them here. This involves formatting their pages after checking out their interviews and reading their reviews. Typically, I’ll post 4-6 times a week, sometimes rotating old posts forward to improve their visibility. I then promote those posts on FB and Twitter through CIR accounts. I also oversee the FB group of CIR members where over 2300 writers network, grow, groan and celebrate together as we run the marathon of indie publishing. Because the vast majority of these authors are used to other FB groups–which are nothing like CIR–we need to help folks acclimate to the differences. We don’t spam and run. We grab a doughnut and sit for a while, brainstorming, talking shop, and figuring out ways to help each other succeed. This is made possible by my amazing admin team who help share the load of daily and special tasks. I wanted you to have a chance to meet them and see what kinds of superstars it takes to do something so uplifting and helpful for so many authors. I count myself lucky to have these people as cyber friends in this amazing industry. They are funny, smart, creative, and all so different. I have way too much fun working with them.
Cynthia Port ~ aka “Sparkle Hammer”
My right arm. She takes the bridge whenever I go off on a landing party. She began as part of the Membership Team, helping to process the many requests we get daily to join the closed FB group. Her enthusiasm showed up right away: “The fun part, of course, is inviting them in and watching so many other members welcome them. I remember how nice it felt to receive a bevy of welcomes when I joined, and I want that to happen for everyone. It sets the tone for the whole group—we are not your everyday FB author group. Once you’re in, you’re a friend.” In addition to making sure applicants and CIR are a good match, she has earned the nickname “Sparkle Hammer” for her charming, friendly, yet firm way of enforcing our policies so that everyone can have a positive experience and find what they’re looking for in our crazy, busy stream of posts. In our admin “board meetings” (all online), she is a constant source of humor and wisdom. “Surprisingly, that is fun too, because the admin team is made up of so many smart, skilled and giving people. I am so grateful for what they each contribute, and for the camaraderie we share. They make me laugh and smile literally every day.” So she says, and I agree.
Cynthia is a true advocate for independent authors, beta reading and reviewing when she can. “Occasionally, I give talks in my local area on indie publishing, and I’ve helped some friends with the process,” she says. “I’m hardly an expert, but I’ve learned a few things—mostly from being a part of CIR!” She’s also an admin in a FB group that focuses on authors of middle grade literature.
Author of the hilarious Kibble Talk series and other books, Cynthia is the mother of two (ages 14 and 10), wife, daughter, sister and friend. By day, she is a scientific writer/consultant helping medical researchers from universities across the US plan, write and submit scientific grants (to fund their research) and manuscripts (to disseminate their findings to the public and the research community). She loves to cook, make art, and sing. She is a gluten free vegan, “so home cooking is pretty essential.” She enjoys jewelry making, papier-mache, messing around with Photoshop, and cooking (which she consider an art). As if that didn’t all keep her busy enough, she helps lead two Girl Scout troops and runs the annual Science Night at a K through 8 school. Is she frazzled by all this? No! She says, “I wish there were several more of me so that I could do more of all of these things. Most of all I’d love to have more writing time, but I know that everything I do contributes to my writing because it makes me a more well-rounded, informed and connected person.”
Earl Chinnici ~ aka “Doc Dawg”
My other right arm. Every cyber community needs an Earl. Also part of the Membership Team, he is the tech guru and specializes in making sure that all of the documents and files we create for CIR are user-friendly and up-to-date. He maintains back-ups of everything vital and keeps an eye out for opportunities to connect our members with the files they need. Kind of like a superhero who flies in with a link to the needed rescuing information. Did I mention that he volunteered for this daunting task? Says Earl, “Because of my chosen career, I have computer skills that often land me in a position where I can help indie authors who are struggling with technical problems. I’ve also created websites for indie authors and I have a guest author program on my site where I invite authors of flinch-free fiction to share helpful or sometimes comical tidbits—along with news of special events or upcoming book releases.” Given the alarming number of writers who are not tech-savvy, Earl’s willingness to give of his time and talents is an inspiration to us all. When he isn’t operating a computer help desk nationwide throughout the U.S., he enjoys spending time with family and friends.
I asked Earl which of his projects made him most proud, and the story is a wonderful example of how an author is born: “Soon after I began taking notes in a composition book as I quit smoking gradually in 2011, I wrote “My Project” in the space provided on the cover. Throughout my writings, I often referred to my journey this way. This “project” helped me as I overcame cigarette addiction and has already helped several others quit smoking as well. Because of this project, I am now an author. I used my notes to write my first book, and in 2014, I published Maybe You Should Move Those Away From You. I suspect many more will read it and begin their own projects. I know I could not have done it without much divine guidance, but when you ask which project I am most proud of, I have to say “My Project.”
Dyego Alehandro ~ Tech Man for Sales Events
Dyego (aka David) is the newest official member of the admin team. In his own words, he “is an author and IT geek who hates writing bios. He helped create the very first major Clean Indie Reads Sales website, but personal projects kept him from helping with later ones. But now he’s back! For revenge! [this is what happens when you let Dyego write his own bios] Dyego assists with technical support whenever he has a chance, gives random advice about almost anything, and is working to make the newest CIR Sales website as awesome as possible.” Yeah, he said that just about as well as I could. You can see he’s long on personality as well as tech skill and enthusiasm.
Faith Blum ~ Membership & Special Events
In addition to Membership Team duties, Faith is the Google Docs expert for all things related to running special events for CIR. A few times a year, we sponsor special sales or promotions, and it takes a lot of extra effort for a few intense weeks at a time. When not adding to her wonderful Hymns of the West series, she beta reads and proof reads for fellow indie authors. She also helps with blog tours for other authors, a fun way to help boost awareness of new releases and giveaways. Faith loves spending time with her family and is particularly proud of the cross-stitch pillow she made that won Best in Show at the State Fair.
Debbie Brown ~ Membership Team
Debbie doesn’t just screen new members to see if they’re a good fit. She goes the extra mile and helps them find other groups, too. For years, she has been beta reading, coaching and supporting other indie authors, often through interviews on her own blog and helping with publicity.
Although Debbie has accomplished many impressive things in her life (including writing her Amethyst Eyes series), when asked which thing is most important, she is emphatic: “How are we supposed to say anything other than our kids and family? Yes, I am proud to have written and published my books, proud of my military career, but my kids are my greatest accomplishment.” When not writing and working with CIR, she is caring for her family, homeschooling, creating new vegan (and sometimes raw) recipes, working part time with cadets (she’s an air force officer). “My reduced mobility has forced me to scale back. I used to own and operate a martial arts studio as well as work with handicapped people.” If that’s scaling back, I suspect she used to be a Marvel Comics super hero!
Linda Covella ~ Special Events
As a small tech business owner, Linda is both computer literate and marketing savvy. She assists with the planning and execution of the special events CIR sponsors and also helps support indies on a variety of social media platforms. Of all her assorted projects, Linda is most proud of her novel, Yakimali’s Gift, a beautiful fictionalization of a lesser known part of California and U.S. history in the times of the old west.
Paul Cwalina ~ Comic Relief
Well, all right, technically he works with the Membership Team, but when asked to describe what he does, he said, “I help indie authors forget about BookBub rejections, one-star reviews, and the inability to sell a book for more than $2.99…which means that I serve a a role not unlike whiskey, come to think of it.” Yes. Without the ill aftereffects. He helps indie authors to promote themselves, starts discussions on relevant topics on the CIR page, and connects authors with people that can help them. He is enthusiastic about promoting others with retweets and shares, and is quick to congratulate our members on their accomplishments. Paul is great for morale. What’s he most proud of? “Finally publishing a novel … and then a second. Other than that, being in charge of our church’s ‘Fish & Loaves’ ministry.”
Courtney Daisey ~ Special Events
Courtney authored The Search for Mrs. Claus, and keeps a cheerful, Christmassy attitude all year round. When the Special Events Team needed more hands, she raised both of hers in eagerness to help, and is a vital part of putting together our seasonal promotions. When not helping fellow authors, she works as an account support specialist (hence her ability to help us!) and volunteers at Rescues to Heroes, uniting shelter dogs to disabled people who need them.
Onisha Ellis ~ Head of Special Events & Membership Team
Onisha is actually one of the pioneering members of CIR, and is unique in that she is not an author herself. She joined up in order to help support her daughter, Rebekah Lyn. We quickly discovered her tireless enthusiasm in helping the other indie authors in the group and put her to work. “I see myself as an indie author cheerleader and I love to retweet for authors.”
When the first mumblings of, “Wouldn’t it be nice if CIR sponsored some kind of a sale?” began, Onisha became head of an ad hoc committee that has now blossomed into an amazing advertising machine. “Special Events is a challenge and totally a group effort. We kick around ideas, take those ideas to the group, then begin the process of making it happen. I think the biggest challenge in pulling off an event is to keep correct information flowing, so that members know what they will need to do to participate in the sale.” Sometimes things run smoothly. Sometimes, there are glitches! “The toughest event we have done was the Face Book party. Special Event team members had to be prepared to jump in, should a host not show up for their time slot. It felt like having a microphone popped into my hands and being shoved onto a stage to do improv for thirty minutes.”
When she’s not in CIR, she can often be found working on her blog, Old Things R New. She does “with an amazing group of older friends. For some, this is the first time in their lives, they have had a place to share their thoughts, poetry and memoirs.” Pretty much everyone in CIR wishes they had a family member as devoted and supportive as Onisha in their corner. She’s fantastic.
Shanna Hatfield ~ Special Events Team
As a seasoned USA Today best-selling author of The Grass Valley Cowboy Series, Shanna knows about marketing. Her teammates dubbed her the “Pinterest Guru”, which is very helpful in a world where we worry about catching readers’ eyes with the right cover look. “She is a blessing to the events team,” says Onisha Ellis. Despite her crazy busy writing schedule, she donates time and skills to help other others sell well. We love that unselfish attitude from one so successful.
“Being part of the Clean Indie Reads special events team has been such an amazing experience,” says Shanna. “Not only do I have the opportunity to help with our special events, but I get to work with some truly amazing, incredibly kind people who have become people I’m honored to call my friends.”
Karrie Loomis ~ Freebies Coordinator, CIR Strong Coordinator & Newsletter
That’s a lot to do for one person. It boils down to Karrie being the chief in charge of gathering all the information we need to provide the services we do. CIR is proud to offer a Perma-Free section with books from a variety of genres. That would be impossible to maintain were it not for Karrie, who weekly gathers in new contributions from our many authors. She gets the sales links and images all organized into genres for easy uploading to the blog. She does the same for recipients of the monthly CIR Strong Award and anything needed for the newsletter. Her gracious persistence and organizational skills mean we’ve always been able to meet our deadlines.
Karrie first came to CIR with her debut novel, The Rocking Horse. “I leapt out in a world I knew nothing about when I first published that book,” she said. “Since then, I have been willing to admit my faults, my weaknesses, and the many mistakes I made (and make) in writing. In doing so, I am allowing myself to learn and grow and produce work I am proud to share with the world.” Karrie is truly a woman devoted to making the world a happier place, not just in CIR, but everywhere she can reach. She created a Random Acts of Kindness and Gratitude group and a blog to go with it. All this is while she raises three happy, busy children and runs a daycare from her home!
Corey J. Popp ~ Newsletter
This is the newest position on the team, and we’re so glad that Corey, with his vast tech experience, is willing to help us launch and maintain a monthly newsletter. He’s the man who will piece together all the things that we hope will make a CIR newsletter something people are excited to open. Author of the supernatural thriller, Beneath Claire’s House, he takes the scary out of building a bridge between writers and readers. He has a great balance of enthusiasm and patience, and a charming Midwestern accent.
Jess Strong ~ Special Events
R. I. P. 12/21/15
First off, just look at the smile. Yep. She’s sunshine. “I have said countless times CIR is the best thing that happened to me as an author.” Jess was a reviewing machine. Many brand new authors, struggling to be seen and have credibility, found great help with her as she read and reviewed their books. In addition to her enthusiastic support of her fellow authors, Jess built and maintained the special sale website for CIR events. She beta read for several authors and was working on two sequels of her own.
In her honor, we instituted the CIR Strong Award, which began January 1st, 2016. We love you, Jess!