Indie Author Interview #10 Daley Downing

Interview number 10! Let’s not focus on the fact that it took eight months for me to interview 10 indie authors. Let’s just celebrate the win!

Today I am pleased to introduce you to Daley Downing, author of YA fantasy! I read Daley’s first book, Masters and Beginners last year and really enjoyed it. In a day and age when all YA fantasy seems to follow the same formula, Daley’s work is truly original. For those of you who haven’t read it, it had a Harry Potter meets Warehouse 13 feel with biblical mythology. One of my favorite elements of the book was the family. The parents are present in the kids’ lives. And even though the kids don’t always make the right choices, they work through it as a family. Now, let’s talk to the author!

If you could live in Middle Earth, Narnia, or the Star Wars Universe, which would you choose and why?

DD: Middle Earth! Hobbits, elves, and dragons! What more do you need? 🙂

(She’s smart!)

Please summarize your writing journey for us, so we can be inspired!

DD: It’s been a long one! About 20 years ago (yes, literally – I’m old), I started trying to piece together plot ideas, characterizations, and historical research for settings and cultures. For a while, I tried submitting short stories and novel pitches to agents and magazines and writing contests, but I didn’t get very far that way. Most of what I wrote years ago will never see the light of day. But a few ideas I came up with about 10 years ago finally made their way into The Order of the Twelve Tribes series. Last year I won NaNoWriMo with the fifth or so draft of what eventually became Volume 1. Then I decided to self-publish. The moral of the story is, never give up! Keep writing, keep honing the craft, and your own style.

(See, wasn’t that inspiring?! I’m inspired)

Do you have any published works? 

DD: Yes! Masters and Beginners (Volume 1) and Rulers and Mages (Volume 2) of The Order of the Twelve Tribes series, and Dreamings and Muses (a short story collection).

(Those last two are on my TBR!) 

If you had to be known for one thing as a writer, what would it be and why?

DD: I’d like to be thought of as an author who encourages people to think about what’s really important in life, how we treat others, and how we approach our choices — but you won’t catch on to all that deep stuff until after you’ve had a great time reading a fun and poignant story.

Can you tell us about a specific time when a story influenced your life? 

DD: The first time I read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – the powerful message not only of redemption but also about how the decisions we make can affect others. Also, the first time I finished Mort by Terry Pratchett – basically the same stuff, but it was presented very differently, and even from the point of view of Death himself (it doesn’t get much cooler than that).

(That does sound cool! I really need to read Terry Pratchett PRONTO!) 

Tell us a bit about your latest project. 

DD: It’s called How To Be A Savage, and (without revealing any spoilers), it’s about autistic superheroes – avoiding a lot of the superhero genre tropes (like wearing uncomfortable spandex suits and thinking your identity will be safe by covering one half of your face from people who already know you).

What tropes/themes/characters would you like to see more of in fiction? 

DD: Definitely more accurate representation of ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and mental health, more of male-female relationships that don’t turn into angsty teen-esque romances, more dragons that fly and breathe fire (like in ye olden days), and more clean humor.

(I agree with all of these! Indie authors take notes!)

Have you read any good indie books lately that you’d like to recommend? 

DD: Definitely the Beaumont and Beasley series by Kyle Shultz. I’m also a fan of the Ichabod Temperance steampunk series.

What are three tools that you use as an indie author that others may find helpful? 

DD: I’m rather old school (I still use Microsoft Word), but Photoshop has made a huge difference on the types of covers we can create, and personally, I find being a Goodreads author to be absolutely great for marketing and connecting with readers.

(All great tools!)

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

DD: Don’t give up. Don’t worry about developing a bestselling title. Write the story you feel you have to.
Thanks so much, Daley! Learn more about Daley Downing and interact with her on:
And go check out her books!!

Blog Tour: Colors of Fear by Hannah Heath

Hannah Heath is back! From the author who ripped our collective hearts out with Skies of Dripping Gold comes a new short story which serves as a prequel to her much-anticipated upcoming novel The Stump of the Terebinth Tree. I am unashamedly jumping up and down in fangirl anticipation and you should be too!

Her story, Colors of Fear comes out February 2nd. I know that is desperately far away. The good news is that we get to ask the author some questions. And one of the things I love about Hannah is that she plays along with any crazy question I throw at her. So, without further ado:

First things first. Have you developed any superpowers since we last saw you?

Of course. I have developed the ability to binge watch massive amounts of anime while still reaching deadlines and word count goals. What would that be called? The superpower of Productive Anime Watching? That may go down as the world’s worst superpower, but anime always uses interesting storytelling techniques that help keep my ideas fresh, so I’m not complaining.
(Teach us your ways, Master…)

Are there any superpowers in this story? Or at least fantastical elements?

Magic is in the background of this story…and also is very close to the main character (though I can’t say how because of spoilers). So yes: Fantastical elements abound.

Give us one of your favorite lines from the story!

Noooo! Don’t make me choose. *searches frantically through story* *narrows down list* Okay. Here’s a section I’m particularly fond of:
“But the scarlet still rose in wisps around him, painting a picture of an arrow runner standing before Mother, news of Father’s death on his lips. No. That would not be him. He would not die on a battlefield, choking on blood and honor without making any difference at all.”

What is the general tone of this story? Should we get the tissues ready? Or will the snark send us into laughing fits? Or will there be a little bit of both?

For this particular story, I would recommend having some sweets nearby. It (probably) won’t make you cry and it is certainly not designed to make you laugh, but it will leave you feeling serious and maybe a bit sad. So get a fluffy blanket and some sugary food and be prepared to experience many thoughts and emotions.
(Thank goodness you warned me. I will make an emergency kit NOW)

What is unique about this story?

There are several unique parts to this story (yes, I realize that is a very pretentious statement), but one that surprised even me was the character arc. Most stories contain a positive arc: One where the character overcomes something difficult or triumphs over evil. Colors of Fear does not have this type of arc. Wanderer, the main character, changes over the course of the story, but it is not an entirely healthy change. I’ll be interested to see how people react to this type of character arc, given that it’s not altogether common. I’d also say that the concept of this series is somewhat unique: It introduces you to the main characters of a book that hasn’t been published yet. A weird idea, but a fun one. For me, at least. And for you, too, if you happen to have good taste, which you probably do since you’re a fan of E.B. Dawson.
(I am officially intrigued!)

Introduce a character to us and tell us what they would be doing at a party.

Meet Wanderer. The protagonist of Colors of Fear, he’s never quite comfortable anywhere, though he always tries to keep others from discovering this fact. If he had to go to a party, he’d go stand a few feet from the corner of the room with a beverage clutched in one hand. He’ll occasionally make eye contact with others, hold conversations, and even laugh, but the entire time he’ll have a death grip on his cup because he’s so tense. However, he won’t allow himself to leave the party early because he doesn’t want to admit defeat, so he’ll spend the rest of his time being annoyed with himself for not being able to handle the situation in a more courageous way.
(I shouldn’t laugh at Wanderer’s discomfort, but I am chuckling. I relate to this a little too much.)

If you wanted readers to take away one thing from this story, what would it be?

I hope readers walk away thinking about how they handle the fear in their own lives. Do they control it or does it control them? We see Wanderer acting out of fear throughout the entire story, though it comes in different forms: Anger, cowardice, shame, cynicism, panic, hatred. He is controlled by fear, but he doesn’t have to be. I want readers to think about the impact fear has on them and hopefully find a way to deal with it in a healthy, non-Wanderer-like way.

(Awesome!! I love this story already)

Is there anything strange and wonderful about the setting? If we were traveling there as tourists, please give us a packing list to ensure our survival!

Tip #1: Don’t go. Seriously. This story takes place in a very, very hot desert. We’re talking an average of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (if the natives used units of temperature, which they don’t). This works out alright for desert elves, but not for us. If you must go, bring a lot of water and stay on the western outskirts of the desert where there’s some shade. And if you bring food you’ll also need to bring weapons and fighting skills, otherwise scavenger elves will kill you to get your supplies. Like I said: Probably best that you just stay home.

(Hmm…maybe I’ll plan my vacation somewhere else.)

Lastly, in order to guarantee our reading experience is sensational, please recommend music, food, and drink to pair with your story.

The elves and the desert where this story is set was originally inspired by various Native American desert tribes, though since then it has morphed to include some middle eastern influences and large chunks of my weird imagination. With that in mind I’d recommend candied cactus fruit (yes, that’s a real thing and really good if you can find it) and iced Navajo tea (sometimes called Hopi or Indian tea…the base herb is Greenthread). As for music? That’s hard. The Hidalgo soundtrack matches the setting well, though it isn’t quite edgy enough. Your second best shot is The Dark Knight soundtrack, which captures the mood of the story, but not the setting. I suppose you could try listening to Hidalgo and The Dark Knight music at the same time. Be sure to let me know how that goes.

Thanks so much, Hannah!

Can’t get enough of Hannah Heath? Me neither. Let’s go stalk her on her:

My First YouTube Interview

So Hannah Heath is hosting me on her Episode 4 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor. Check it out! We talk about my books, my writing process, and answer some questions from you guys!

Indie Author Interview #9 Sarah Addison-Fox

Happy Friday! I am so pleased to be hosting Sarah Addison-Fox on my blog today! Have you guys missed me indie author interviews? I have. Normally, I interview authors after I’ve read their work. Sarah is a special exception. But as you will see below you, she is funny, sweet, authentic, and she spells center, centre. What’s not to love? Without further ado…

First off, if you were a combination of three fictional characters, who would they be, and why?

Probably Maggie from my Allegiance series, because she’s a mum, has a heart to help children and tries her best to live her faith through actions. Lucy from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, because she’s honest and imaginative and the Princess from the Princess and the Pea because I’m really fussy.

 Honestly my husband jokes about how much of a Princess I am. Hey, what do you expect? The name Sarah means Princess right!

Besides writing, what are some of your favorite activities?

Reading action-packed books, watching action-packed movies…hmmm there is a theme developing here….

When did you start writing and why?

I started writing in earnest in January this year. Before then I’d studied, gained a diploma and an assortment of other qualifications but I never had the motivation to actually finish a novel.  

Last year I was diagnosed with MS, and suddenly my priorities changed. When I heard comedian Michael Jnr speak about people knowing their “What” (for me that was writing) but not understanding their “Why” everything fell into place. That was the push I needed. Now, after 20+ years of procrastinating I had the best reason in the world to write. For the Glory of God.

Tell us about your book, Disowned (Allegiance #1)! What do you love most about it?       

Disowned is the story of an unwanted slave girl, desperately trying to find a place to belong. A place where she is valued and loved. What I love most about Disowned, would have to be the characters. Especially Mick.

If readers came away with one thing from your book, what would you want it to be? 

Wow, that’s a great question. Maybe to examine how much of a gift freedom is? And to think about why slavery is still rampant today.

Can you tell us a little bit about the sequel without giving too much away?

The second in the series (Dissemble) centres around Celeste trying to keep the Haynes family safe all while deceiving them. She’s locked into a contract and if she breaks it, or fails, she could lose everything and everyone she’s come to love.

What characters/tropes/themes/plots would you love to see more of in fiction?

I’d love to see more functional families and more realism and more humour. Everybody is so serious! Oh, and lots more healthy, respectful, romantic relationships.

But not where the couple get married and never have any problems or any passion! That’s a pet peeve of mine. Passion is a joyous thing within the context that God frames it.

What are three tools/resources that you use as an indie author?

Does chocolate, epic music, and coke count? Er, Word, Mr Google, and kind friends.

What is your advice to aspiring authors?

Put your bottom on the chair, and commit. All the preparation, character profiles, world-building, and research will do you no good if you can’t make a regular commitment to write. The reason I can write a draft so quickly is because I have a 1000 word limit that I stick to every single day no matter if I feel like it.  

Don’t read over what you’ve written and obsess about getting it right the first time. The first draft is supposed to be dreadful. Give yourself permission to make a mess, concentrate on having fun and get those words down!

 It’s really an equation. If you commit to 1000 words a day for two months you’ll finish a first draft. Commitment plus time equals a novel.

Have you read any great indie books lately that you would like to recommend?

 Mind blank on specific authors! I’d have to go back and look on Goodreads, but I have a rule. If I start reading the sample and I don’t like, I put it aside.

If I start reading a book, and list it as reading, it means I’m interested and will see it through. I will never place a bad review. If I don’t like a book I’ve read, I’ll leave unrated and refrain from commenting.

I recommend any books I read which have Biblical truth, are a little different from the norm, have romance and action in them.  If the characters grab me, I don’t care about the technical errors. 

I don’t recommend books I feel are preachy, sappy or unrealistic.

Thanks so much, Sarah! I loved learning more about you and am eager to read your book!

If you want to learn more about Sarah, you can find her on:

Instagram:   instagram.com/sarahaddisonfox/
Facebook:   sarahaddisonfoxfantasyauthor/
Website: www.sarahaddisonfox.com
Twitter: @Saddisonfox
Goodreads: Sarah Addison-Fox

You can go buy her book now on Amazon. Or keep your eyes peeled for the Black Friday Sale coming soon from indiechristianbooks.com !

Indie Author Interview #8 Hannah Heath

Behold, Hannah Heath! The rock; the hard place. Like a wind from Gelderland, she sweeps by, blown far from her homeland in search of glory and honor. We walk in the garden of her turbulence! 
(Who can tell me what movie I stole that from?)
Look guys, it’s Hannah Heath! Up and coming author, sarcastic blogger, and all-around good friend! Hannah was one of the first people I met when I ventured into the scary world of indie publishing. I am so honored to have her on my blog today! Get ready to laugh.

Hello, Hannah! To start things off, if you were a combination of three books (or movies), what would they be and why? 
This question has caused me to instantly forget every book and movie I have ever identified with. Or read/seen, for that matter. *stares at bookshelf* Okay. I think I have it. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, because I make my way through life largely by being sarcastic and attempting not to panic when, in fact, I have no idea what’s going on. Lilo and Stitch: That movie everyone initially thinks is weird, but eventually ends up liking because of (or maybe in spite of) its creative quirkiness, slight morbidity, and odd thoughtfulness. And last but not least: The Martian by Andy Weir. Because there’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a bit of brain power, duct tape, potatoes, and a good sense of humor.

I’ve heard your 3 Year Blogging Anniversary is coming up! What made you start blogging and what do you like most about it? 
Yes. I’m so excited! At first, I started blogging purely to get my name out there and start building a writing platform. Honestly, though, I had no concrete plan (I rarely do), which is what made blogging fun. It’s given me a different type of creative outlet. YA Christian speculative fiction doesn’t always lend itself to quoting Batman or spewing sarcastic remarks about terrible cliches in fiction (believe me, I’ve tried), but blogging absolutely does. I love having the extra place to write out all the ideas I can’t quite cram into my current fictional stories.

If you could only be known for one thing as a writer, what would you want it to be? 
I want to be known for telling the truth. I want to be the writer who neither sugarcoats nor exaggerates, but shows the good and bad of life, the pain and the beauty, and, through doing this, gives my readers the desire and the courage to fight their fears.

Tell us more about Skies of Dripping Gold. What was the journey like?
Let me explain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up: I have Lyme disease. I don’t like it and don’t want it. It is physically painful and brings a lot of emotional and spiritual suffering. One of my main struggles is not knowing if (or when) the pain will leave. Before writing the story, I was hurting both physically and spiritually and remember angrily thinking how I wished I could work my way to health rather than having faith in God and his plans. Gabriel’s story of climbing a tower to find healing for his sister just unrolled from there. The idea started from a place of angry desperation, but it ended up helping me into a better mindset.

What are you working on right now?
I’m currently re-writing my YA Christian fantasy novel: The Stump of the Terebinth Tree. It follows two desert elf assassins who struggle to eliminate a demonic sorcerer and have faith in something beyond their own swords. Originally, it was a 400-page mess. Now that I’m re-writing it, it’s a 100-page mess with about 200 pages to go.

How have you seen yourself improve as a writer and what do you still need to work on? 
I have finally learned how to spell the word “separate” correctly on the first try. Took a lifetime of struggle. Aside from that, I like to think that my dialogue, which used to be very stiff, has improved. I credit this to watching, studying, and laughing over numerous Carey Grant comedies. As for what I’m working on improving: Not being so afraid of ruining a story that I freeze up and have a difficult time writing anything at all.

What are three tools that you recommend for indie authors?
Get a whiteboard. A huge one. Seriously. They’re amazing. PicMonkey is great when it comes to creating promotional images…or even book covers. Also: Chocolate. Some people would argue that chocolate is not a tool, but those people would be wrong.

What kind of elements/themes/characters would you like to see more of in fiction?
I’d love to see more YA fiction showing the amazing accomplishments teenagers are capable of, rather than focusing on angst and pettiness. And it would make me very happy to see more well-rounded sick/disabled characters in fiction who are fighting to live well despite their challenges.

Would you rather live in Narnia, the Harry Potter world, or Middle Earth? And where specifically would you take up residence? 
Ah, man. Don’t make me choose! As much as I love C.S. Lewis, it comes down to whether I’d want to eat second breakfast in the Shire or play Quidditch at Hogwarts. Riding a broomstick wins out…But just barely. When I’m not living in Hogwarts I’d like to be training dragons in Romania. I’d make friends with Charlie and then maybe Mrs. Weasley would knit me a sweater. I’ve always wanted one of those.

Don’t you love her? Thanks for doing this interview, Hannah! Keep on writing and spreading hope and joy.
If you want to learn more about Hannah, check out her website: www.hannahheathwriter.com 
Follow her on Twitter: @_HannahHeath
Or go buy her short story: Skies of Dripping Gold

Indie Author Interview #7 K.L. Pierce

I’m excited to introduce my good friend K.L. Pierce! I was gonna have her on the blog sooner, but she asked me to wait until “summer” because she’s a super important college student. Lol. Jk.

Kirsten’s book Two Lives Three Choices is a SciFi allegory with themes of hope and redemption. It has a lot of heart, has a very original plot, and ends with a great hook for book number two. One thing I love about Kirsten is that she is always looking to improve her writing craft and communicating authentic hope and truth through her work! Read my full review of her book here.

When did you start writing Two Lives, Three Choices and how long did it take?

I probably started writing Two Lives Three Choices when I was around 15.  It took about a year to write the first draft.  However, as I was planning on making this into a series, I wanted to make sure I was committed by writing the first draft of the sequel as well.  Between writing, school, and editing Two Lives Three Choices, the grand total is probably around six years.  I’m committing myself to spend at least a couple more years with these characters, so hopefully they don’t get sick of me!

Without giving anything away, what are some of your favorite aspects of this book?

That’s tough, but I’d probably say the deep bonds between the characters.  Krysta’s friends are willing to sacrifice everything for her, and Krysta is willing to make the same sacrifice for them.  The love Krysta has for both her friends and her family is what drives her to grow into the person that she’s meant to become.

How far are you on the sequel and what can we look forward to in this next book?

The story is basically written.  Right now I’m in the editing phase.  Fixing those pesky little typos and figuring out what parts of the story are important and which parts need to be cut out.  I do have a title though: Two Lives Two Destinies.

As the title suggests, we’re going to be focusing on Krysta’s destiny throughout the book.  What exactly is her destiny?  How does her past play a role in that?  Both Etans and King Immanuel have a destiny in mind for her.  Krysta’s trying to figure out what those destinies are, and whether she has any control whatsoever.

I feel like I should know this, but I don’t: is there going to be a third book?

Haha yes there is.  While it’s still Krysta’s story, it’s going to be focusing more on the reactions that a couple characters have to Krysta’s struggles.  Specifically Dion, and another character who I can’t say because, spoilers. 🙂

What does your creative process look like? Has it changed over the years?

I’m a pantser at heart, so my creative process is a bit more free-flowing.  I usually pray before I write, because God is an infinite source of inspiration for me.  Then, I put on some music, and start typing away!  Sometimes I have to start over because it doesn’t feel like the story is going the “right way” or could be improved.  Once I feel like I’m going in the right direction, it’s a journey of discovery for both me and the characters.  There were actually some parts of Two Lives Three Choices that I didn’t know about until I wrote them.  I was like “What?! Cool!  What happens next?” Other times I have scenes that pop into my head and I think “Hmm, wonder if that’ll fit in anywhere.”  Then, five or so chapters later, I realize: “Hey!  That scene is next!”  I basically get the benefits of being a writer and a reader through this process.  It’s fun!

How have you seen yourself grow as an author? What do you still need to work on? And do you have any goals for yourself?

As an author, I have grown in my writing abilities, the ability to use constructive criticism for my benefit, and marketing abilities.  I know where my weak areas are and I have been striving to work on them as I write Two Lives Two Destinies.  While not all criticism is constructive, a lot of the feedback I’ve gotten from reviewers has been very helpful.  Finally, while marketing doesn’t come naturally to me, I am watching other authors, and slowly learning the tricks of the trade.  Still, there is always room for improvement, in all those areas.  My goals are to continue improving on my weak areas.  I still need to work on making sure that all the elements of a good book are there while also being concise.  I have a lot of ideas that flow through my head.  Sometimes it’s a challenge to sort through them all!  But sort through them I shall!

What are three tools you use as an indie author?

I use WordPress for my website and blog, Photoshop for book covers and graphics, and Microsoft Word for writing and editing.

Have you read any good indie books lately?

I’ve been on an indie-book marathon (if such a thing exists), so yes!  Most recently I read Branwen’s Quest by Katelyn Buxton, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I’ve also read Out of Darkness and Into the Void by E.B. Dawson (that name sound familiar?) Disclaimer: I was not in any way prompted to say this!  Go read her books, they’re awesome!  I also have a few other indie books/short stories on my TBR list on Goodreads, so the marathon continues!

What sets your writing apart/What is unique about your story?

I take aspects from different genres, insert my own spin on them, and synthesize something original.  For example, in Two Lives Three Choices, while the protagonists and her friends are around 16 (typical YA novel age), there isn’t as much emphasis on romance.  Instead, there’s more emphasis on familial relationships and friendship.  Another example is, while there are super powers involved (arguably more Sci-Fi), those that have them aren’t going to be saving this world.  My writing blends elements that people are familiar with but shifts the emphasis for a fresh take.

Has your major (computer science) helped you with your writing? 😉

Yeah, it has, although in more subtle ways than you would expect.  When writing programs, my professors strongly emphasize elegance, time efficiency, and space efficiency.  There are many ways to solve a problem, but some ways are better than others.

Writing is similar in a sense.  You can write the same story in a number of ways.  But what makes that story good is how elegant all the aspects of a book are developed.  As well as how much space (e.g. pages or word count) it takes to tell your story.  I’ve started considering my writing under a Computer Scientists eyes, and I think my writing will become stronger because of that.

Thanks so much for answering my questions (and thanks for that unsolicited shout out)! I loved learning a little more about you. If you want to learn even more about Kirsten, go follow her on Twitter: @KLPierceBooks

Or check out her blog/website: http://www.klpiercebooks.com/

Her book is available on Amazon.

Indie Author Interview #6 Beth Wangler

Beth and I are clearly going to have a lasting friendship because it was sparked by a mutual love of orange trees and knowledge of smudge pots (google it). I haven’t read as much of her work as I would like to. But her ambition is inspiring (you’ll see what I mean when you read the interview!)

First off, what a great name you have! You must be an intelligent, compassionate, interesting person. 😉 Tell us three fun facts about yourself! 
Three fun facts about myself are as follows: One, my favorite color is yellow.  Two, I love crochet, and have very strong opinions about it being better than knitting (all my friends now know the difference 😉 ).  Three, my first and last name can be interpreted as meaning “House of Sorrow on a Hill,” which I think is very poetic.
(Me: Sounds worthy of Anne of Green Gables!!)

If you had to live in Middle Earth (terrifying thought I know), where would you live and why? 
Ooo, I love this question! I would definitely choose to live in the Shire.  Rivendell and Lothlorien are enchanting, Gondor is stately, and Rohan is rustic, but nothing beats the coziness of the Shire.  Adventures are great, but for everyday life I’d rather have a cozy hole with a fire in the fireplace and a nice cup of tea.

I’ve talked to a lot of writers who dabbled in the craft for a while before fully pursuing it. Was there an epiphany moment for you when the sun shone down on you and butterflies landed on you and you knew you were chosen to be a writer? 
Haha, I don’t know about a moment when the sun shown down on me (I usually hide from the sun.  It likes to burn me).  But there was this:
When I was a child, I would devour books like one drinks water.  One day, when I was somewhere around the age of third grade, I was laying on my bedroom floor consuming the latest literary adventure.  Usually when I read, nothing could pull me out of the book, not without a lot of effort.  This particular occasion was different.  I paused in my reading and had an epiphany that would change my life: I could add books to the world, not just consume them.
I’ve been writing ever since.


Tell us a little bit about your other works (published or in process). 

In 2012, I independently published The Weavers’ Blessing, a fairy tale novella loosely inspired by “Snow White.”  It’s about a princess trying to save herself and her country from the evil king poisoning the land.  In the years following that, I wrote two more fairy tales and published them on my blog.  The second, The Kangraffs’ Curse, is about a runaway prince who has to face his parents in order to save a peaceful kingdom from destruction.  The third, Noemi’s Dragon, is about a princess who will fall prey to a dragon unless she finds her true love by her eighteenth birthday.
Most currently, I’m working on a fantasy series tentatively titled The Firstborn’s Legacy.  This series combines my loves for fantasy, history, and Bible stories in nine novels and some supplementary works in the form of poetry or short stories.  Child of the Kaites, the first novel, is about Raiballeon, who battles fear and world-bending evil spirits as she tries to free her people from slavery.  I publish new chapters on my blog bi-weekly (until the end of the school year, at which time I’ll return to weekly postings).
I’m editing book two, The Steward’s Apprentice, about orphaned Vree who takes up her mentor’s mantle and tries to become the strong leader she thinks she should be while dealing with the surly old Steward, small town bullies, and talking weasels.  I’m nearing the end of drafting The King’s Son, book three, which is roughly the Biblical story of Jonathan and David, but with dragons, fairies, and giants.

So, I’ve only been able to read 3-4 chapters of your work Child of the Kaites, but I’ve been loving it. Tell us a little bit about it. (General plot, inspiration etc) 
I’m so glad you’ve been loving it!  I love all your comments and feedback.
Child of the Kaites is the first novel in my The Firstborn’s Legacy series.  The whole series of 9 books plus some-odd supplementary pieces is inspired by the history of the world (broad, I know), specifically focusing in on Jewish/Christian/Biblical history.  CotK is inspired by the story of Moses and the Exodus.  At the start of the book, the people of Maraiah have been enslaved for generations.  Now, at last, their deity has heard their prayers for freedom and promises to answer through Raiballeon.  The problem is that Rai, an odd girl to begin with, has been living in exile on a neighboring island.  In exile, Rai resigned herself to life as a storyteller and as the quasi-servant of the family that sheltered her.
Then a person from her past unexpectedly appears, along with an enigmatic stranger.  Their unsettling presence forces Rai to ask herself if she’ll reclaim her calling and possibly die, or reject her purpose and let history forget her name.

What kind of books would you like to see more of? 
I would like to see more hopeful kinds of books.  I’m a middle school teacher, and I’m reminded every day of how many of my students are depressed.  I know it’s commonly viewed as the sign of a good writer to put your characters through all sorts of troubles and make their lives living nightmares.  While I agree that characters should face challenges, just like real people do, I want to see more books that embody hope in the darkest situations.  Our children–and we ourselves–need to be assured that the darkness will end and we don’t need to face our trials alone.  To quote Samwise Gamgee, we need the reminder that “there’s some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”
(Me: This is why we’re friends!!) 


What is one area you’ve seen yourself grow in as an author? 

I’ve seen myself grow in lots of areas, especially recently.  The areas of growth that most excite me are more behind-the-scenes.  In the past year, I’ve started actually outlining and doing more planning ahead for my stories.  This has helped tremendously, with keeping plots straight, characters consistent, and good ideas from dying.  I’ve also been amazed at how much plotting out my stories helps prevent writer’s block.  Since the beginning of last July, I’ve been writing six days a week with little deviance.  That’s amazing for me!  I never had this much consistency before.  I’m super excited about how much gets done when I write just a little every day.  I’d feared that planning things out would diminish my excitement for my stories, but I’m thrilled to find that I’m just as excited as before–if not more excited now.
For an area of growth you could observe when reading my stories, I think I’ve improved at balancing backstory.  I’m a history teacher at heart (and in reality).  I love inventing complex pasts and cultures, planning everything from clothing to customary greetings to political structures to religions.  It’s hard to hold back on sharing the world I’ve created, but I know I’ve gotten better at not info-dumping.  Of course, I still have a great deal of room for improvement.


What is one area you’d like to improve in and what steps do you plan to take to get there? 

I’d still like to get better about weaving in manageable amounts of worldbuilding, instead of overloading the first few chapters with it.  In addition to that, I really want to get better at writing romances.  Most stories have romantic subplots, and I think these relationships between characters can be incredibly beautiful and deepen stories.  I just find myself caught up in other subplots and the main plot, and usually my romances end up like this: “Oh, this character should like someone.  Well, I guess I’ll shove these two together.  Eh, good enough.  Now, back to the dragons.”
My go-to solution for anything is research.  Right now, that looks like observing how other authors do better jobs at this, reading articles, and paying more attention to the romantic relationships of the people around me.


Have you read any good indie books lately that you’d like to recommend? 

I’m reading Ashley D Hansen’s Ethan right now, which she publishes weekly on her blog.  It’s about Ethan, a secret agent on a mission that may be him beyond his advanced skill level: Working with a partner.  I also loved her The Darkest Hour, a distopian Sleeping Beauty where Aurora just wants to be a chemist and the evil queen has a (maybe) mystical gem.  I’m also reading J.E. Purazzi’s Revelation, a scifi/biopunk novella.  Since I just started, I can’t give a good description of it yet, but I’m loving her writing style and the character and world are intriguing so far 🙂

Thanks for the interview, Beth! I’m excited to read more of your work. Get to know Beth more on her website and follow her on Twitter: @beth_wangler !

Indie Author Interview #5 Bethany Jennings

I found Bethany Jennings through her hashtag game #WIPjoy and soon started hearing about her short story Threadbare. The premise piqued my curiosity and I decided to dive in. I’m so glad I did! The story is moving, genuine, and engaging. I immediately connected with the themes, almost as if this story was sparked from conversations I’ve had with my friends! I immediately hunted down the wonderful Miss Jennings and she was gracious enough to give me this beautiful, encouraging interview!

Hello, Bethany! Introduce yourself:  
Hello! I’m a writer of science-fiction and fantasy (usually for YA readers), a freelance editor, and sometimes a graphic designer. I’m also a homemaker and the mom of four kids under the age of seven. No, I don’t get much sleep. 😉

Where did the inspiration for Threadbare come from? 

 
Last summer I was forced to put away a story I’d been working on for over a decade – which was one of the most painful things I’ve ever done. There was the very natural grief at “shelving” a long-term dream, of course, but on top of that, I was plunged into loads of uncertainty, self-doubt, and the realization of how that project and my long-term goals as an author had become hidden idols in my life. I struggled with all this for months; every time I thought I’d gotten past my issues, I’d find a deeper complication to work through. I began to think of myself as having “tangles” from which God was gently helping me free.
One day I thought, “What if there was a girl literally trapped in tangles?” And Threadbare was born. I didn’t really expect to even finish the story!  I considered it a way to process my own struggle, and at one point I thought I was going to stop writing it because I didn’t think it was helping me move forward. But ultimately God brought me through to the end of my own tangles, and that healing was what enabled me to actually finish Threadbare. I’m so grateful! He not only gently taught me and helped me through my pain, but He also confirmed my calling as an author by letting me turn my struggle into a story that stands on its own and can encourage others! Threadbare is a testament to His goodness in every way. 🙂
 


I’ve seen some of your other fans begging for a full-length novel. Is that likely to happen? If not, are you working on any new projects? 
 
At this time, I don’t plan to write any full-length novels…but I do have ideas for more short stories about some of the other characters. *mysterious wink* And my current project is a fantasy short story, titled Dragon Lyric. It’s very different from Threadbare, delving into my darker, more hard-hitting side as an author.
 


Can you tell us anything more about the interesting world you created in Threadbare? Any fun facts that you had to leave out?
One of Bess’s teammates used to be a Drifter… I may delve into that in a future story… 😀
 


I understand you are also a freelance editor. What is it that you love most about editing other authors’ work?
 
I love cleaning up prose! Making sentences smoother and snappier – while maintaining the author’s voice – is something I really enjoy. And actually, even more than editing, I enjoy helping authors write the blurbs (back cover descriptions) for their books.

 Have you read any great indie books lately that you’d recommend?

 
I highly recommend “The Girl Who Could See” by Kara Swanson! – a YA sci-fi/urban fantasy novella that releases on June 1st. That story grabbed me by the heart, and is in some ways similar to my own work, with strong themes of hidden realities.

 What is one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring indie authors? 

 
Be rigorous about making your books professional and polished – editing and cover art can be expensive, and sometimes the editing feedback is hard to hear, but it’s all worth it to make your book really shine. 🙂 And becoming “known” as an author is a long and difficult process; have patience with that, and expect that you’ll need to publish quite a few stories before your readership starts to really grow.

 What are three tools you use as an indie author (or that you’d recommend)? 

I LOVE using Pixabay (a database for free and 100% copyright-free pictures) and Canva (a free online photo editing site) to make graphics for quotes or promotions. Those are very handy tools. And I recommend good writing blogs like writeinsideout.com or helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com, to learn more about your craft and find good troubleshooting tips.
Thank you so much for interviewing me!
Thank you, Bethany! The world needs more of your work, so keep writing!
To learn more about Bethany Jennings, go check out her website and follow her on Twitter: @simmeringmind
And I go read Threadbare! Right now!

Indie Author Interview #4 Katelyn Buxton

Meet Katelyn Buxton! So one of the things I love about the indie writing community is that everybody is at different places in their writing journey, and I get to learn from them all!

It takes boldness to put your work out there. If I had put my 15-year-old story about a lighthouse on the internet, I probably would have gotten a lot of feedback and grown a lot faster. Instead, I buried it away, along with all of my work until this year.

The other trap I fell into was constant rewriting. Granted, my work needed it. But I didn’t see myself really grow until I pushed forward on a new project. That’s when I was able to go back and really revise well. So I salute Katelyn for charging ahead in her series. I am excited to follow along and watch her grow as an author! Her first book Branwen’s Quest is a fun YA fantasy adventure with themes of redemption and forgiveness. Elements in it reminded me of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Me: What inspired you to write?
Katelyn: It was actually a history assignment in eighth grade that got me started writing stories. Before that, I hated writing. The assignment called for me to write the first chapter of a story with a cliffhanger—after that first chapter, it wasn’t just my family that wanted to know more—I wanted to know what happened next too, so I wrote the next chapter. And the next, and the next, until it was done. After that first, short 10-chapter story about an anthropomorphic mouse named Matthias, I found I had enjoyed writing it so much that I wrote a sequel. The rest is history—I had fallen hopelessly in love with writing.

Me: Can you name a couple authors that have influenced you?
Katelyn: Brian Jacques with his Redwall fantasy series about mice first and foremost, (note the subject of my very first story), but I’d also have to say Lois Walfrid Johnson with her Viking Quest series, and Arnold Ytreeide.

Me: Tell us about your Warriors of Aralan series.
Katelyn: The Warriors of Aralan series begins with Branwen’s Quest, which was originally supposed to be a standalone—so in other words, I never intended it to be a series at all. In the end, it turned out a lot like my history-assignment story—I wrote Branwen’s Quest, and then found I had to have a sequel. After that, I thought it should at least be a trilogy, and then God got hold of my writing with book four, and it really took off. Currently I’ve written nine books to the series, with six published, and the seventh on the way. They’re fantasy, leaning towards a more historically accurate dark ages, featuring real people with real problems, and after book four, real faith. Life’s messy—it isn’t always easy—and I hope readers can see that reflected in my stories.

Me: When did you start this series?

Katelyn: I started the Warriors of Aralan series five years ago, when I was fifteen. It seems a little strange to think that I’ve been writing the same series for five years, but I have.


Me:  How have you seen yourself improve as an author?

Katelyn: There’s a quote by Ernest Hemingway, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master,” but I’ve seen myself improve so much from my early years of writing, and even from Branwen’s Quest to book nine of the Warriors of Aralan series. Writing is a learning process, so I think I’ll always be learning more every time I open up a new document, but characterization and writing authentic dialogue is an area I’ve worked hard to improve since beginning.


Me: What is an area you still need to improve in as an author?
Katelyn: Writing is so much about finding the balance in things. The balance between realistic emotion, and going overboard. The balance between writing in my faith authentically and thumping people over the head with the Bible. The balance between injecting myself into each and every character, and making them too much the same in the process. Finding the balance in things is always something I could use improvement in.

Me: What are you working on right now?
Katelyn: Currently I am working on editing Warriors of Aralan #7, and hoping to publish it soon.

Me: Is it important to read your books in order or can readers jump in anywhere?
Katelyn: To a certain extent, yes, it is necessary to read them in order. Other than the beginning, book four is a fairly decent place to start, since it signals a kind of “new beginning,” by moving on to Branwen’s children’s generation. But if you’re like me and like things in order, Branwen’s Quest is the best place to start.

Me: What sets your writing/books apart? Tell us what is unique about them?
Katelyn: Well, first of all, I believe in writing honestly. I don’t go into the gory details (whatever the case may be), because I also believe in family-friendliness, but I do try to truthfully deal with the hard things as they come up. I’ll have to admit, I didn’t always write this way, but God put it on my heart to begin during the writing of Warriors of Aralan book four.
As for my writing style, it’s kind of a mishmash of the three authors I mentioned previously, but over the years I feel I’ve developed my own voice through it. The Warriors of Aralan series is also unique for a fantasy series in the respect that there’s very little “magic” (Branwen’s Quest is the only one that bears any of it), and there’s only one race—humans.

Me: What are three tools you use as an indie author?
Katelyn: I use Canva for making my eBook covers and blog graphics, Mailchimp for my author newsletter, and Weebly for my website/blog. Becoming an indie author means learning to use a lot of programs and sites that I never would have otherwise.

Me: Have you read any good indie books lately?
Katelyn: Unfortunately, I do not read many indie books, but I have several on my TBR list that I need to get to and support my fellow authors.

Thanks so much Katelyn!
Go check out her work: Branwen’s Quest and the rest of the series is available on amazon!
Or find out more about her on her website.
And don’t forget to follow her on twitter!

Indie Author Interview #3 Nate Philbrick

I stumbled upon Where the Woods Grow Wild a couple months ago and was unexpectedly delighted by it. I had just begun my foray into the indie author world and this book will always stand out to me as an example of how good indie fic can be. It’s a clean, light-hearted tale full of imagination. I felt like a kid exploring Narnia again! Needless to say, I am very excited for the sequel. So I hunted Mr. Nate Philbrick down to answer some of my questions:
Me: What does your creative process look like? (Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have a daily routine?)
Philbrick: I’d say I’m 75% plotter and 25% pantser. So I’m a plontser. Yep. I’m that guy plontsing around with a mug of coffee. I love outlines, and I need to know all the steps I need to take before I start writing. That being said, when it comes to individual scenes, I prefer to let those grow organically if that makes sense. And even my scene-by-scene outline is subject to change at any given moment.
Me: From start to finish, could you estimate how long it took to write “Where the Woods Grow Wild”?
Philbrick: The first draft took about four months, but the idea-to-publication process took a year almost to the day.
Me: Can you name three books that have impacted you?
Philbrick: Yeah! Tears of a Dragon (Bryan Davis) really shaped the way I saw life as a teenager. A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness) turned me into a puddle on the floor, and The Book Thief was pretty boring but it sure impacted my toe that one time I dropped it.
Me: What are three tools you use as an indie author?
Whenever I’m writing/planning/editing, I almost always have Scrivener open, a physical notebook on the desk beside me, and color coded pens because those make me feel fancy. However, when I’m proofreading or marketing I make good use of a tissue box and a punching bag.
Me: Have you read any great indie books lately?
Philbrick: To be perfectly honest, I don’t read indie books as much as I’d like to. However, I recently beta-read a short story/novella by Rachel Lester, which I won’t say anything about except that the ending punched me in the gut and I can’t wait for her to publish it.
Me: What area do you need to grow in as an author and what steps are you taking to get there?
Philbrick: If I want my career to keep growing, I really need to eliminate those months between projects during which I just can’t seem to get into gear. Once I get the ball rolling I’m fine, but I typically struggle in those in-between stages.
Me: If you had to branch out into another genre, what would it be?
Philbrick: Oh boy. I don’t know if I’d ever be able to write anything but fantasy, but if I had to give it a shot, I’d probably go for historical fiction (I’d say sci-fi just to stay speculative, but let’s be honest; I’m too dumb to write technology beyond “he pushed the shiny thing and they all died.”
Me: What are you working on right now? 
Philbrick: I’m about 2/3 of the way through the first draft of Where the Woods Grow in Flames, the sequel to Where the Woods Grow Wild.
Me: What can we look forward to in the next book? (And is there a tentative release date?)

Philbrick: Readers of Where the Woods Grow Wild can look forward to a whole lot more snark from the original cast of characters, as well as some new (yet familiar) additions that I’ve had a blast fleshing out (let’s just say Percy and Mr. Stump both get a lot more stage time.)

I don’t have a specific release date yet, but my goal is to get it out this summer.
Me: It looks like you are a Star Wars fan. Pick a favorite film and a favorite character!
Philbrick: I’m a huge Star Wars fan! Star Wars: Rebels is actually my favorite chapter in the saga, but that’s not a film, so I’m going to have to go with Rogue One and/or Revenge of the Sith. My favorite Star Wars character is Ahsoka Tano, hands down.
So there you have it, folks! Want more of Nate Philbrick? Go check out his blog. Follow him on twitter. And if you haven’t yet, pick up a copy of Where the Woods Grow Wild