Recently, I started the Book Shoutout Blitz—a monthly post where I ask my fellow authors to share three reasons why readers would like their book. I share their answers in my Instagram Stories so my followers can check out the books.
One thing I noticed was that a handful of these participants felt uncomfortable with the task. They didn’t know what to say or they didn’t want to come across as…you know, annoying.
When you’re an indie author, you’re a one-person show. You wrote the book, you edit it (or pay for an editor, you format the book, you design the cover, and then you get to build the hype to sell the book.
To my fellow authors: you did all the work. You are absolutely allowed to talk about, market, and be proud of your book.
So this blog post is my way of talking about my work in a way that lets me toot my own horn while also reaching out to my target readers. Read on to learn a bit more about the Destiny Seeker series and why you might want to read it.
1. Strong Female Characters
From day one, my goal was to feature a lot of high fantasy female characters in my series. I don’t think I really knew what that meant as a teen writer but I’ve since learned that there are a lot of subcategories that fit under that umbrella.
We have Reshma and Sebrah who are skilled physically and trust their instincts. We have Ilsi who cares for those around her and thinks about how her decisions affect others. We have Lady Ladala who uses wisdom and experience rather than brute strength to face her enemies. There’s Giselle, Gilly, Helene, Margrethe, Princess Duri, and many others who show various kinds of strength.
As a teen reader, I was inspired by authors before me who knew how to create interesting female characters, so I do my best to give time and space to pay homage to the many types of women I look up to IRL.
2. Lots of Besties
If you’ve read The Messenger, then you know Ilsi and Reshma become close friends throughout the story. The Defender highlights several other badass besties. I don’t want to give too much away, but each friendship is different and beautiful in their own way. Friendships are most powerful when the people involved want to be better and watch their bestie glow up.
Friendships are super important to me, so that is a common theme in this book.
3. It’s Inclusive
Many white authors, without thinking much of it, create an almost-white cast—maybe sprinkling in some shades of brown to signify some degree of “foreignness.” While the Destiny Seeker series pays homage to high fantasy traditions, I’ve worked hard to ensure a mix of various complexions to this novel. My world is big enough that everyone can be a hero—not just those who look like me.
Also without spoiling too much, there are a few canonically LGBTQTIA+ characters in this series. It’s mostly clear in The Defender, and that’s largely due to the fact that I wanted these decisions to be deliberate and clear.
There’s, unfortunately, a lot of “queerbaiting” in our current media where it’s unsure and unverified whether a character is gay, bisexual, etc. I think we sometimes want our flowery language to do the work or leave things open to interpretation. Or maybe we’re afraid of what our straight consumers will think of gay characters.
I’ve learned from my community that it’s better to be clear. So I did my best to be clear—for them. It takes a lot of work to get feedback about things I don’t have an intimate experience with but I think it was worth it. And this series is definitely not my last attempt at inclusive writing.
4. There’s Huge Emphasis on Mental Health
The Messenger does a lot to physically challenge my characters; The Defender gives them space to deal with the consequences and pick up the pieces.
I looked at an early draft of The Defender and thought, “Wow, the cast could use some therapy.” So in many ways, I give them opportunities to make sense of what happened to them.
A lot of them experience PTSD and depression at varying degrees. I mean, there’s a huge war in The Defender, and Althod is playing a lot of mind games to win the war. Taking care of one’s mental health is really challenging to write but I felt like it was a way to add a bit of realism to a high fantasy world.
Selfishly, I’ve put in messages in the book that I need to hear when I have low days, too.
5. We Got Romance
Yeeeeees, we got kisses in this book. It’s still appropriate for teen readers—don’t worry! The Messenger gets a little lovey-dovey but The Defender involves a lot of healthy romance. Not just lots of it, but a lot of #realtalk that many couples relate to. Sometimes, you have to reckon with what you want in life and how to balance that with the needs of the one you love. And The Defender is in many ways a love note to the relationship I have with Travis.
Ready to Read?
Hopefully, I’ve earned your attention. I know there are thousands upon thousands of fantasy novels, so I hope I’ve done my job to show how the Destiny Seeker series is worth a read.