Independent author Autumn Birt has joined Independent Authors International, bringing professional skills and experience in both writing and design to the network of writers, photographers, designers and publishers. “2015 has been called the year for the indie writers and iAi proves the point,” says Birt. “I love iAi’s goal of boosting the professional standards of independent authors. I’ve read some amazing indie stories. I know the quality is out there. And by joining with other authors in a group like iAi, indie writers can achieve a level of professionalism that meets and even surpasses that offered by traditional and small press publishers. Most important, we can create a platform for readers to find great stories with strong quality and presentation.” Birt’s first published series is the epic fantasy trilogy of elemental magic, The Rise of the Fifth Order. It features four unlikely friends facing a strong adversary, the Curse, a beast controlled by the Church of Four Orders—fire, earth, air and water—in an effort to save a girl whose mysterious gifts condemn her to death. Birt published the final book of the trilogy, Spirit of Life, in 2014. “Though that trilogy has ended, the characters harassed me enough that I’m writing a new trilogy set in the same world, one that takes a few threads left dangling in the first trilogy and begins a whole new adventure,” she says. This year, Birt is releasing a four-volume near-future dystopian series entitled Friends of my Enemy. Two books are already available. “This was a major switch from the Rise of Fifth Order,” Birt says. “For one thing, there is no magic, but a lot of guns. It stemmed from an idea I had before writing The Rise of the Fifth Order. and it took until recently for me to develop my writing abilities to tackle the places and situations it covers. I love it because I love the characters, because of how much I had to learn and grow as a writer to be able to create it, and because it just came out so well. There are days I’m still amazed I wrote it and I’m really hoping readers will love it as much as I do.” With a degree in studio art and English, Birt illustrates the point that authors are multi-talented people who can do more than write fascinating stories. She designed the covers for her books and drew the maps to the world of her epic fantasy series. “I love this aspect of creativity and hope to offer those services to other authors in the future. This is why joining iAi is such a great fit. I can start testing my abilities to create a product that fits the needs and desires of other authors. And in exchange, I gain access to individuals with other talents such as editing or marketing. Together, we can make a stronger team, share information, and help each other reach goals with fewer stumbles along the way."