National Indie Author Day: Fantasy Giveaway

I am so excited to bring you the first National Indie Author Day giveaway for this year! We’re kicking things off with fantasy, since that’s my personal favorite, and I’m giving away some great indie fantasy books. I have a copy of Colors of Fear by Hannah Heath, Steward Stories by Beth Wangler, and Women of Kern: Book One by Maris McKay, and one lucky winner will receive all three, plus signed bookplates from the authors!

I’ve reviewed all three of these books before, so you can check out those reviews if you’d like:

Steward Stories

Colors of Fear

Women of Kern: Book One

And as a super cool bonus, I was able to interview all three of these authors! :D

Beth Wangler

Could you tell us a little about you and what you write? 

I’m a nerdy woman who loves Jesus and stories. I started writing around third grade. I was reading a Magic Treehouse book on my bedroom floor when I realized I could add books to the world, not just consume them, and that was that. I write stories to inspire hope and wonder, which requires looking honestly at the way the world and humans are.

Why did you choose indie publishing?

When I indie published The Weavers’ Blessing, I really just wanted to accomplish a life-long goal of being a published author. Since then, I’ve come to love the creative freedom to write the stories I want to tell, the scheduling freedom to write at my own pace, and the incredibly supportive indie community.

How does your faith impact your work?

God is the source of my creativity. My stories are a response of worship toward him. Because of that, I strive to grow in excellence as I write. I also try to write truthfully about myself, the world, and him. That is why my stories always have an element of hope or wonder in them, since I believe that God is a loving and gracious host who is in the work of restoring our fallen world to what he created it to be. My faith is also behind my fascination with the Protestant Bible, especially the Hebrew scriptures portion, which directly inspires my The Firstborn’s Legacy saga as the stories from that series are mostly inspired by Biblical stories.

What inspired Steward Stories?

Well, on that note, the Steward Stories were broadly inspired by the book of Judges, specifically the theme that “in those days Israel had no king; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Only a couple of the Steward Stories were based more closely on specific judges, though, and those more loosely. “Tailor Eilamir” is more inspired by Ehud, and “Steward Duecatoh” by Samson. But I draw inspiration from many different avenues—the glowing caverns in “Irellia the Night Walker,” for example, were inspired by a love of geology I discovered in a science elective in college, and the family dynamics that I tend to focus on in all my stories stem from the value my family has always placed on family.

There are strong themes of family and community in this collection. What do community and family mean to you?

Oof, this is a tough question. Family and community can mean a lot of different things. I believe we were designed to flourish in community, but also that community can be a source of great pain and suffering. Families can give us our deepest wounds, but they can also be a place of safety, identity, and understanding. We are born into families, but we can also choose who we consider our families. That’s why there’s diverse family dynamics in Steward Stories.

Another thing I love about The Steward Saga is the worldbuilding. What was the most interesting or fun part of developing the world?

I may have given myself away earlier talking about the glowing caverns, haha. Worldbuilding is one of my favorite things, though, and a huge part of why I love writing fantasy (and sci-fantasy). I loved designing the cultures of the Aimarines, Coarnomites, and Xendroqites so that they would each be distinct from each other and each would pose different challenges or temptations to Maraiah. Talking animals are always fun to develop. But this short story compilation posed a unique challenge and opportunity in that I got to develop the history of the Maraian people over the course of about 400 years in their history. I loved exploring what traditions would stay the same for them, as well as gradually morphing other aspects of their culture as time went on. So, I haven’t answered your question—I don’t know if there was one most fun part of developing the Steward Stories or The Firstborn’s Legacy saga as a whole. I love all of it. Except that worldbuilding cities is really hard.

What do you hope readers take away from reading Steward Stories?

I hope that readers find themselves in one or more of the Stewards, so that they leave the stories feeling seen. What stood out for me when writing the stories is how gentle and faithful God is, so that he will forgive us and even use our mistakes to bring good. I hope that is a comfort to readers.

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

My next project is The Steward’s Apprentice, novel #2 in The Firstborn’s Legacy saga and follow-up to Steward Stories. A few characters from Steward Stories will show up in that book, and some threads that weren’t tied up at the end of the compilation will be addressed in the novel. I love this book and am working on giving it the time it needs to be the best version of itself for you.

Thank you so much, Beth!

Thank you for interviewing me! I enjoyed the conversation!

Hannah Heath

Could you tell us a little about you and what you write? 

Absolutely! I’m an author of Christian Speculative Fiction who loves comic books, science, and swords. I write mostly YA and mostly fantasy, and have a penchant for writing stubborn, brash characters, colorful cultures, and strong themes. All of my stories take place within the Torn Universe, an expanded universe with everything from comedic space opera to underwater sci-fi to desert elves. Think MCU, but with more swords and more disability representation.

Why did you choose indie publishing?

As someone with a clear creative vision, as well as someone who exists as a disabled college student, I liked the idea of having the flexibility to write to the beat of my own drum. I knew indie publishing would allow me to publish to my own schedule, to lay out my expanded universe exactly as I wanted to, and take breaks as needed to focus on my health and/or my education. I also really loved the uniqueness of other indie published stories and was drawn to the supportiveness of the community.

How does your faith impact your work? 

Quite heavily. Due to my chronic illnesses and watching family members live with similar health problems, I’ve had a lot of faith struggles throughout my relatively short life. I rarely read Christian fiction that shows what it is to feel abandoned, or that confirms that you can still maintain faith even if you’re angry with God or struggling with a deep spiritual pain. Because of this, it’s important for me to use my work to encourage people out there who are just barely clinging onto their faith. I showcase this type of messy, painful, ever-so-hopeful faith in the characters that I write, and hope it helps people feel less alone.

What inspired The Terebinth Tree Chronicles?

I grew up absolutely loving fantasy movies and especially loved the ones that had prequel-like clips play before the opening title. My family and I termed this “The Movie before the Movie” and I’ve been fascinated with the concept ever since. The Terebinth Tree Chronicles are a sort of “Story before the Story” that introduce readers to the main characters and world of my yet-to-be-published novel.

There are a lot of family dynamics in these stories, and especially sibling relationships. How has your family impacted your writing journey?

I’ve always been fascinated with how very different each of my family members are from each other, but how we each still share strong bonds. I like to explore this concept in my stories by showcasing complex, deep relationships between siblings who are very different, but who still have each other’s backs through thick and thin.

I love the worldbuilding in The Terebinth Tree Chronicles. What was the most interesting or fun part of developing the world? 

I love being able to get weird with things. I usually spend a few hours research different traditions, animals, or settings from around the world, then twist them around so they fit into my vaguely apocalyptic fantasy world.  Doing all of this while trying to keep the world feeling grounded, vaguely gritty, but still beautiful and magical is a really fun challenge.

What do you hope readers take away from reading The Terebinth Tree Chronicles?

That fearful people can be brave, that just because you feel broken inside doesn’t mean you can’t find healing, and that being lost doesn’t mean you won’t ever find your way. I hope this series helps readers feel encouraged, strengthened, and less alone.

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

I can give you a little sneak peek, but you have to promise not to tell anyone. My next project is the fourth installment of The Terebinth Tree Chronicles and will feature Durran, an anxiety-riddled assassin who makes some rather…unfortunate decisions while trying to keep his family safe. There may or may not be an underwater scene that involves magic-infused sharks.

Thank you so much, Hannah!

(Blogger’s Note: I am soooooo excited for Durran’s story. It sounds EPIC.)

Maris McKay

Could you tell us a little about you and what you write?

I’ve always loved storytelling. Some of my earliest memories are of telling my mother stories that she’d write down in a big scrapbook so I could cut images out of magazines and illustrate them. Maris McKay is my pen name for writing fiction, and though I’ve only published fantasy (so far) I also write science fiction and historical fiction. I also publish Christian non-fiction through my blog LikeAnAnchor.com.

Why did you choose indie publishing?

Short story collections are particularly challenging to pitch to traditional publishing, especially from new authors. I’d previously self-published non-fiction under my “real” name and had a great experience with Kindle, so I decided to try that for Women of Kern as well.

How does your faith impact your work?

I’ve always struggled with how much of a role faith should play in my fiction. Christianity is such a huge part of my life, but even though I’ve written some (unpublished) Christian historical fiction the constraints of that genre often frustrate me. I also love writing fantasy, but I’m not that interested in writing obvious allegories.

For something like Women of Kern, I make it very clear that even though it is fiction written by a Christian and certain stories have moral or religious themes, it is not “Christian fiction.” It’s also not really a “clean” read. Content in the stories varies quite a bit, but overall I’d describe it as PG-13 for violence and sex. Adults and older teens are the target audience.

What inspired Women of Kern?

The name “Sanjay.” It just popped into my head one day, along with a fully formed character. I didn’t have a story for him, though, so I started writing and worldbuilding around him. “Daressa” was the first story I wrote and at that point I’d fallen so in love with the world of Kern that I wanted to keep filling it with interesting women. “Peri,” “Metim,” (both in Book One) and “Nikit” (from Book Two) are also stories related to Sanjay.

Some of the other stories were inspired by songs, TV shows, and my personal life. For example, Lelihatha’s story was inspired by the song “The Midnight Well” by Celtic Thunder. For the story “Rivkah,” I wrote the scene where she meets Verad after seeing Richard Armitage in a trailer for The Hobbit. That story went through several major edits, finally ending up in its final form with Rivkah as part of a persecuted minority religion after I joined a Messianic Jewish church and heard stories from Jewish people visiting or attending there.

Women of Kern is full of women with varied strengths and interests. Who are some of the strong women who have inspired you?

My mother is one. She homeschooled me and my two siblings from grade school through high school, all while helping my dad run a business out of their home. My sister is another. She’s overcome some tough things in her life to become a talented chemical engineer with a dark, witty sense of humor.

I’ve always been fascinated with the Bible stories of Leah, Ruth, and Ester as well. They’ve probably influenced Women of Kern more than I realized until writing out an answer to this question. I love stories of women who carve out spaces for themselves within their own cultures, stay true to themselves and their beliefs, and are strong in a variety of different ways as they face unique challenges.

The world you’ve created is another big part of Women of Kern. What was the most interesting or fun part of developing the world?

The geography. I love map-making and that’s where I started when developing Kern. It actually began with Arel and Endan (two countries which don’t appear in Women of Kern), and then grew from there. The nations and cultures emerged during that map-making process. I had so much fun researching different cultures in our own world, then mixing and reimagining them and adding my own elements to create believable cultures for each location.

What do you hope readers take away from reading Women of Kern?

I hope reading these stories takes readers on an adventure, and that the stories make people think about what it means to be a “strong female character.” So much of modern media presents “strong female” as a woman who kicks butt, dominates men, wears skimpy clothing, and sleeps with whomever she wants. There are so many other ways to be a strong woman.

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

I’m currently in a master’s program, so my fiction writing has gone on hiatus for a while as I’m focusing on academic writing and publishing. I haven’t completely stopped writing fiction, though, and I do plan to release more stories in the world of Kern. My next project will most likely be the Heart of Endan duology (which you can read more about here). I started writing the first version of that story more than 10 years ago, and I’m excited to revisit that and share the story with new readers.

Thank you so much, Maris!

The Giveaway

Okay, okay. I know you want to know how you can win these books (especially after reading the authors’ thoughts, right?), so here you go. Entries are specifically designed to support these and other indie authors!

(Unfortunately, all giveaways are limited to U.S. entrants due to shipping costs. :( )

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Comment down below which book you’re most excited about! Or, if fantasy isn’t your thing, which upcoming giveaway you’re most excited to see!

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5 thoughts on “National Indie Author Day: Fantasy Giveaway

  1. Yay! I can’t wait to read Hannah Heaths novel. It sounds interesting.
    Can I still enter the giveaway even if I can’t follow the authors? (I don’t have Facebook.)

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