Blair MacGregor writes fantasy—adventurous, epic, and dark. She is a graduate of Viable Paradise, chairs SFWA’s Self-Publishing Committee, and runs a Patreon for self-defense and fight-scene writing. When not writing, she hangs out with family, camps alone, teaches and trains in Okinawan karate, and speaks to groups on resilience and wellness. She loves traveling to places both wild and domesticated.
KATE: We usually use the Expanded Universe space for short essays on SFF topics. But today I’ve invited Blair McGregor to tell us about the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off, which FantasyLiterature is participating in. Ten fantasy book bloggers and blog-sites (that’s us!) collectively read almost 300 self-published fantasy novels, with the goal to choose ten of their favorites. And here’s the thing: once the bloggers pick their favorites, readers have access to the books. Blair is here to tell us more about last year’s SPFBO Bundle.
BLAIR: Author Mark Lawrence—he of the awesome BROKEN EMPIRE and RED QUEEN’S WAR series—put out a call last year for reviewers interested in evaluating nearly 300 self-published novels. Each reviewer judged their batch of books from the perspective of an agent—choosing which one would be considered the best of the bunch. Those top ten novels are now available to you in a single collection through StoryBundle.
As the current chair of the Self-Publishing Committee for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, I’m thrilled to see the work of independent writers continue to connect with a growing number of readers, and with reviewers as well. After all, even the greatest novels will languish in the unknown if readers aren’t able to discover them! Since the driving principle behind StoryBundle is to connect indie writers with an interested audience, and the goal of the SPFBO is to uncover exceptional novels, bringing both together benefits writers and readers.
KATE: So what kinds of books can we expect in this bundle?
BLAIR: The Blog-Off Bundle includes some of the coolest indie fantasy around. Crista McHugh’s A Soul for Trouble gives you a witch possessed by the god of chaos. William Saraband’s Shattered Sands follows a slave girl suddenly empowered by forces older than the desert itself. You’ll delve into the more-than-murder mystery of Matthew Colville’s Priest, and follow another priest trying to save the world after the gods disappear in Barbara Webb’s City of Burning Shadows. The Weight of A Crown from Tavish Kaeden serves up the deep epic of a recently-united realm on the verge of fracturing.
There is the sharp warrior who knows the value of leaving heroism behind in Under A Colder Sun by Greg James, and the ruined hero who chances into a way to surmount the past in David Benem’s What Remains of Heroes. Plague Jack delves deep into a brutal world of conspiracies, consequences, and backlash against a conqueror in Sins of a Sovereignty. Ben Galley smacks a young man into a frontier Wyoming filled with blood magick and secrets in Blood Rush. And Michael McClung’s The Thief Who Pulled On Trouble’s Braids—the novel scoring highest in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off—races along with a smart thief who must find an artifact everyone thinks she already has before she’s killed for it.
KATE: Why should readers be excited about this opportunity?
BLAIR: If you’re a reader like me, you get a thrill out of discovering new writers and the stories they tell… and a double-thrill knowing fantastic stories are being told by strong and independent voices. My reading-journey through the top ten Blog-Off titles was that kind of an adventure and pleasure, and the chance to bring those writers to you is just as exciting.
For as little as $5, the basic bundle of five novels is yours. If you opt in at the bonus level of $15 or more, you’ll receive all ten novels.
And here’s an additional cool part: you can allocate a portion of your payment in support of Girls Write Now—an organization devoted to developing the written communication skills of girls looking toward a future in all walks of life.
Mark Lawrence said, “Ten fine bloggers and blog-sites spent a year considering almost three hundred self-published fantasy books to bring you their ten favorites. It’s hard to imagine you won’t find some gems among them.” And I must agree with him!
The bundle itself is available for a very limited time, so check out the details to get a bundle of your own, give it as a gift, donate to a great charity, or—GASP!—all three! You get some great reads, authors receive support for their work, Girls Write Now gains funding… And did I mention you get great reads?
KATE: Thanks so much, Blair! All of us at FanLit look forward to reading the books this year, and contributing to next year’s SPFBO StoryBundle.
Readers, what is your favorite self-published book you’ve ever read? One lucky commenter from the US will win a book from our Stacks.
Does the Martian count? Because I read the Martian and I liked it.
The best one I have read recently was Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells.
Probably The Riyria Revelations books by Michael J. Sullivan.
My favourite indie book is The Walking Man by Wright Forbucks. I’ve enjoyed all his books, but that was the first one I read and I loved it.
Child of the Daystar by Bryce O’Connor. I answered a betareaders wanted tweet — had no idea what I was getting into; it turned out to be a great read.
Conal, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!