WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — It’s been a long-time coming for a Wichita Falls woman with a passion for writing, but after more than half a decade, Courtney “C.N.” Maxwell is now officially a published author.

To Free The Rising Storm is the first book in The ReEmergence Chronicles,” Maxwell said. “It’s an adult high-fantasy romance. It follows my characters, Mae Mordaunt and Varys Wynhart as they seek to discover answers about their newfound magic, while their desire for each other burns through the obstacles and treachery surrounding them.”

Maxwell’s debut novel was released on November 22, 2022, just days before Thanksgiving. For fans of the fantasy and romance genres, To Free The Rising Storm will certainly resonate.

“If you enjoy the romance in the Bridgerton series on Netflix, but you also enjoy Dungeons and Dragons or the Dragon Age video games, but also enjoy works of Christopher Paladini or Sarah J. Maas, you’ll like my book,” Maxwell said.

Ways to purchase To Free The Rising Storm by C.N. Maxwell

With a description like that, it will come as no surprise that a beloved tabletop role-playing game served as the inspiration for the novel.

“It stemmed actually from a tabletop roleplaying game that I was playing with my husband,” Maxwell said. “I was trying to learn how to play Pathfinder, and we kind of rolled up some characters and we’re just kinda playing at the table… And I was like, ‘story idea’.”

Maxwell said she’s always had a proclivity for writing and has desired to be an author for as long as she can remember, so when she started to explore the characters she and her husband developed while playing Pathfinder, the words began to flow quickly.

“I just kind of started writing the background for all of the characters, and the story just kind of exploded,” Maxwell said. “My first draft was totally different from my sixth and seventh, but yeah. That’s kind of where it came from.”

Maxwell was born and raised in Wichita Falls, Texas, where she has lived her entire life. After spending a few years in local elementary schools, she began being homeschooled around the third grade.

Maxwell said there were definitely parts of her hometown that made their way into her writing and served as inspiration for the hometown of her two main characters.

“The town that my characters grew up in, I would call like a little big town, like Wichita Falls,” Maxwell said.

One spot, in particular, served as an inspiration for the landscape of Elros, the hill-encircled hometown of Maxwell’s main characters.

“Canyon Trails,” Maxwell said. “The hills over there, I would actually go and sit up in that parking lot where that bike trail is and just kinda watch the sunset and write there.”

According to Maxwell, she spent six years writing To Free The Rising Storm, not thinking it was actually possible for her novel to ever be published.

“I really loved the ability to have control over everything,” Maxwell said.

“She’ll release the storm to break her chains… He’ll risk everything to set her free…”

— Back cover, To Free The Rising Storm

With book one of The ReEmergence Chronicles under her belt, Maxwell said she’s just getting started.

“I am currently working on book 2, kinda 2 and 3 simultaneously,” Maxwell said. “I have ideas for 4. That endgame, it’s kinda a little obscure right now, but I definitely plan for at least five.”

Self-publishing is not without its challenges, however. Maxwell said rather than a large corporation providing financial backing for a novel, self-publishers take on all the cost of producing the novel themselves.

“Being independent, you have to pay for everything yourself,” Maxwell said. “Unlike traditional published authors, they have a big publishing house that can just give money and pay for all the stuff.”

According to Maxwell, the upfront costs of publishing her own novel were challenging, but “totally doable”.

“We have not broke the bank,” Maxwell said. “A lot of people think it’s super expensive. Basically, it’s as expensive as you want it to be.”

Maxwell said despite not having a publishing company to support her, she still went through all the processes authors go through when preparing to publish a book, including editing, formatting, and cover design, among many other things.

Maxwell said overall, the experience of independently publishing To Free The Rising Storm has been a great one.

“It’s definitely doable,” Maxwell said. “I honestly didn’t think it would happen for myself. Growing up and wanting to be an author, I really thought that I would have to get picked up by Tor or Simon and Schuster. I didn’t know independent publishing was possible.”

Maxwell encouraged other local authors who may have desires to publish a written work, but have made no attempts to do so out of worry a publishing company won’t back their efforts.

“Go for it. Find resources. My biggest thing I always tell people when they come to me is network, network, network,” Maxwell said. “Social media in that way has been amazing. It’s in a way free marketing.

Maxwell’s words serve as a reminder to chase dreams and stick with them, no matter where you’re from, or how long it takes for those dreams to come true.