Heather Day Gilbert


Posted May 18, 2015 by

While “indie” authors face a stigma of being inferior to traditionally-published books, some have deliberately chosen this career path and established very successful writing careers as a result. Today’s guest is one such successful indie author!

HEATHER DAY GILBERT enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, she believes that bittersweet, generational stories are in her blood. A graduate of Bob Jones University, Heather has been married for eighteen years and has three children. Her Viking historical novel, God’s Daughter, was an Amazon Norse Bestseller for an entire year. She is also the author of A Murder in the Mountains mystery series, and the Indie Publishing Handbook: Four Key Elements for the Self-Publisher.

You can connect with Heather and find out more about her books on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, or e-mail.

AMY: Thanks for stopping by today, Heather! Why do you think book reviewers should read and Christian indie-published books?

HEATHER: One comment I consistently hear in Christian reading circles is that Christian fiction is not diverse enough. Readers want to see new locales represented, different races as main characters, realistic issues, new time periods, and genres they can find heavily represented in the ABA but not the CBA (such as New Adult, Baby Boomer, Science Fiction, etc).

However, often Christian indie authors have already produced diverse novels that address these issues or fit these genres. When reviewers discover and highlight these accomplished indie authors, everyone benefits—hungry readers in particular.

Another thing to keep in mind: more and more of today’s indie authors have been previously published by Christian publishers and are now going indie (like Brandilyn Collins or Dan Walsh). Not to mention, many indie authors had agents who believed in their novel. They might have had publishing house editors who backed it. Maybe they even won ACFW awards for that very story. But somehow that novel didn’t fit what was deemed “marketable” at the time.

Many of today’s indie authors have thoroughly edited books with smashing covers, not to mention endorsements by leading authors in their genre. So the old mantra that a self-published book equals low quality writing just doesn’t hold up.

I know you were one of those authors who had an agent and pursued traditional publishing before deciding to self-publish. How has that decision worked out for you?

I have no doubt that indie publishing my Viking historical, God’s Daughter, was the way to go in 2013. I’d received encouraging responses from publishing houses, even a glowing editorial review. But the primary issue was that CBA houses didn’t feel Vikings were marketable. I knew I wanted to get my book out while Vikings were trending in movies and media.

After the successful launch of God’s Daughter, I realized indie publishing my books was a viable option. I have since published three more: two contemporary mysteries, Miranda Warning and Trial by Twelve, and one non-fiction guide to indie publishing, Indie Publishing Handbook: Four Key Elements for the Self-Publisher.

Indie publishing is hard work. For me, it’s meant over a year of non-stop marketing. Even though I (strangely) enjoy marketing, I have finally cried “Uncle!” and cut back on social media/blogging to do what I want to do most: write. As most authors know, when you have readers, you can’t get the next book out soon enough.

Do you have any favorite indie authors whom you like to read and recommend?

In 2014, the bulk of what I read shifted from traditionally published books to indie books, most by Christian authors. Some are writing for the Christian market, some for the non-Christian market. I hate to leave anyone out, so if you want an up-to-date listing of Christian indie authors, you can find it here: Indie Christian Fiction Search Site. I haven’t been able to read all the indie books I’ve wanted to, since I’m busy writing my own.

But my 2014-15 favorite indies who have made me think, with memorable characters, settings, styles, and plotlines, are as follows:

  • At the Edge of a Dark Forest by Connie Almony
  • This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof
  • Kept by Sally Bradley
  • Waters Fall and Renata and the Fall from Grace by Becky Doughty
  • Jupiter Winds by CJ Darlington
  • The Sacrifice by Karin Kaufman
  • Chasing the Lion by Nancy Kimball
  • The Flower Girls and The Delicate Nature of Love by Wendy Paine Miller

As an author, I’m also blessed to be an early reader for several outstanding indie authors. I love being first in line to read my fave authors’ novels.

As for any author, indie authors’ most valuable marketing tool is individual readers who fall in love with their books and are willing to get the word out, whether by review, tweets, pinning, or sharing on Facebook. Indie authors need that support to know they are heading the right direction with their books.

Some people worry there is no “gatekeeper” for indie books, no industry professional giving a stamp of approval. Is this an issue?

Most indies I know try to be very explicit about the content of their books. For instance, if there is heavy cursing, they will probably categorize it in non-Christian genre categories on Amazon and not advertise much (or at all) in Christian fiction reader groups. On the Indie Christian Fiction site I mentioned above and on ACFW’s Fiction Finder, Christian authors can rate their books in terms of sensuality, language, violence, etc., so readers have a heads-up. But again, as with most books, word of mouth is key.

For instance, although I enjoy paranormal themes, I don’t enjoy reading them unless they line up with biblical principles. So when I read the book blurbs on Susan Meissner’s A Sound Among the Trees and Bonnie Grove’s Talking to the Dead, I didn’t feel they were up my alley. Later, both were highly recommended to me by friends who knew me, so I read…and loved them. They were nothing like I had expected, and so much more than I’d imagined. Sometimes one well-targeted recommendation can create a reader-fan for life.

Conversely, this is another place where honest reviews are important. Part of my hesitance to read A Sound Among the Trees was based on a review. Once I read the book myself, it became obvious that particular reviewer never completed reading it. She did the author an injustice by misrepresenting it to possible readers.

That’s why I love sites like BookTalk. Your honest reviews target books to readers. What might be risqué to one reader might be just what the next reader has been searching for. Thank you for your willingness to review Christian books of all stripes.

Thank you for visiting, Heather! Now, before we let you go, you know what you have to . . . it’s the Speed Round! :-)

Heather’s Top 10 Speed Round

1. Name 3 of your favorite authors of all time.

Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, and Agatha Christie

2. Name 3 books in your TBR list/pile right now.

  • Spy of Richmond by Jocelyn Green
  • Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas
  • I is for Innocent by Sue Grafton

3. Name 1 famous book people might be surprised to learn you’ve never read.

The Catcher in the Rye. Started it and quit.

4. One novel you could read for the rest of your life and never get bored is…

Colony by Anne Rivers Siddons

5. Print or e-books?

Either. I like e-books because they’re cheaper. :) But certain books I must have in softcover.

6. What is the oldest book you own?

I own a huge Holy Bible with the Apocrypha from about 1872 and I’ve enjoyed reading out of that.

7. Favorite snack/beverage while reading or writing?

Coffee. I don’t tend to snack a lot while I write.

8. Craziest place you’ve ever been caught reading or writing?

I’m frequently hit with writing brainstorms in the middle of church services. I think it’s because my mind is relaxed.

9. You’re having a dinner party. Which 5 fictional characters (none of your own!) would you invite?

  • Scarlett O’Hara
  • Farmer Gabriel Oak from Far from the Madding Crowd
  • Willow Goodhope from Elderberry Croft
  • Tommy and Tuppence from Agatha Christie’s novels. And that would be one kickin’ cool party!

10. Favorite activity that has absolutely nothing to do with reading or writing or research:

Shooting. Real life or video games. But that does sometimes play into research…

About Heather’s Books:

God’s Daughter

One Viking woman. One God. One legendary journey to North America.

In the tenth century, when pagan holy women rule the Viking lands, Gudrid turns her back on her training as a seeress to embrace Christianity. Clinging to her faith, she joins her husband, Finn, on a voyage to North America.

But even as Gudrid faces down murderous crewmen, raging sickness, and hostile natives, she realizes her greatest enemy is herself—and the secrets she hides might just tear her marriage apart.

Almost five centuries before Columbus, Viking women sailed to North America with their husbands. God’s Daughter, Book One in the Vikings of the New World Saga, offers an expansive yet intimate look into the world of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir—daughter-in-law of Eirik the Red, and the first documented European woman to have a child in North America.

Miranda Warning (A Murder in the Mountains #1)

Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her.

But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox—a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting—Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer…or the next victim might be Tess herself.

Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains’ lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains series.

Trial by Twelve (A Murder in the Mountains #2)

Tess Spencer loves her low-key job at the Crystal Mountain Spa, which allows her plenty of down-time with her one-year old daughter and lawyer husband, Thomas. But when a pool installation turns up eight skeletons in the spa’s back yard, Tess becomes entangled in a sleuthing job destined to go awry.

As the investigation gets underway, someone dumps a fresh body near the excavated burial site, confirming unspeakable fears. A serial killer has returned to Buckneck, West Virginia…a skilled hunter with a unique taste in prey.

When Tess agrees to help the cunning Detective Tucker gather clues from the inside, she discovers the posh spa hides more than dead bodies. Even as she sifts through layers of deceit, Tess realizes too late that the killer’s sights have zeroed in on her.

Unpredictable psychological mystery replete with memorable characters, Trial by Twelve is Book Two in A Murder in the Mountains series.

Indie Publishing Handbook: Four Key Elements for the Self-Publisher

Are you dreaming of your own career as an independent author and self-publisher?

This concise handbook covers the four key elements every self-publisher must oversee for successful book publication: (1) editing, (2) creating cover art and blurbs, (3) formatting and uploading books, and (4) marketing. Focused advice will help you maneuver these key elements, whether you outsource or learn to master them yourself.

You’ll also find a bonus section with practical tips from seasoned independent authors.

Indie Publishing Handbook: Four Key Elements for the Self-Publisher is your one-stop for basics on everything you need to get started and excel as an independent publisher.

Amy Drown




    Thanks for the interview, Amy! Enjoyed the questions so much and can’t wait to send out softcovers to some winners! :-)


    Fun interview! Thanks for speaking out about indie authors. There are many who are writing quality fiction! Love your covers, BTW.

    Anne Rightler

    I can’t say I have read Indie books so I can’t say I have favorite Indie authors. I don’t usually look at the publisher, I read about the book and if it sounds good I pick it up and put it on my TBR pile!
    I guess my response should have been Heather Gilbert! Certainly enjoyed her Trial by Twelve

    Lisa Redecop

    I haven’t read any indie books so I’m not sure what my favorite author is but I would love to read one I always like trying new authors books. Is this giveaway open to Canadian residents?? I couldn’t find it anywhere.

    Caryl Kane

    Great interview with Heather! I read Indie authors! Thank you for this EPIC giveaway.


    You guys, this was a fabulous interview! So fun! Felt like I was sitting down and chatting over Starbucks. :-)


    I’m going indie soon too, so thanks for speaking out about the quality indie works out there right now! I’m making the switch to reading more indie works. So far I’ve read and loved Sally Bradley, Lora Young, and Heather Sunseri. Might have to put some of Heather’s recs on my TBR list. I read Heather’s indie handbook and found it super helpful! Would love to read her fiction. :-)


    What a great defense of indie publishing, Heather! Great job. I’m not ususally an indie reader myself, but will likely indie publish at some point (I’ve only traditionally published so far). The only indie book I’ve read and enjoyed is Angie Brashear’s “Of the Persecuted.” Great Christian YA!

    Abby Breuklander

    Great interview!! I can’t say that I’ve ever read any indie authors before, but I definitely will be adding your books to my reading bucket list!!


    Great interview, Heather! It’s always good to see indie authors speaking out about what we do.

    BTW, I have been known to write a little in church too. In fact, I’ve learned to be careful about throwing old bulletins away since I tend to scribble ideas and scenes on the back and in the margins. . . .


    Thank you for a great interview! And thank you to heather for a wonderful statement in defense of indie publishing.


    Thank you all for your comments today and I hope you all find some new indie authors this year!

    Wilani Wahl

    I love Heather Gilbert’sbooks. I have read them all in e-format. But I would love to have one in soft cover.

    Terrill Rosado

    I have read quite a few indie authors, but I will comment on my favorite Christian indie author (so far). I have really enjoyed Tammy L. Gray’s books. She has written the Winsor Series (trilogy) and Mercy’s Fight. She has a romance novella anthology coming out June 10. The other authors are Jenny B Jones, Nicole Deese and Amy Matayo – another great indie Christian author!


    I don’t have a favorite Indie author (unless I count myself, which is probably cheating :-) ), but I have quite a few of them on my TBR list. In fact, I don’t pay much attention to the publisher when I am looking for a book to read because I am more interested in the storyline. I was surprised how many authors on my TBR list were indie authors. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

    Rebecca Maney

    I believe Catherine West has been an indie, but not for much longer. Would love to read some of Heather’s books.

    Jasmine A.

    Great interview! I enjoy a number of Indie published authors, MaryLu Tyndall, Cathy Bryant, and Christy Barritt are just some of them.


    Great interview! One of my many favorite self-published authors, well, I have to mention two. Miralee Ferrell and Sharon Srock.

    Werner Lind

    There are actually quite a few independent authors that I like. But I’d say my favorite is Krisi Keley. She’s the author of the Friar Tobe occult detective series, as well as the On the Soul of a Vampire trilogy (the third volume of that one actually is still awaited); and I’ve really liked all of these books!


    I’ve read several self-published authors, but I think my favorite has to be Hallee Bridgeman. I love her books: the characters, the settings, her writing style. I’ve reread her books more than once, and still love them every time. :-)

    Beth Gillihan

    I have no idea if I have read any indie authors. I am always looking for new authors to read. Thanks for the chance to win!


    favs so far?
    CJ Darlington, Tenya sharp Ingalls, Shannon Winslow, Maria Grace, and sounds like I’ll be adding Heather!
    Thanks for the great interview and offer.


    I have enjoyed numerous indie authors such as Marylu Tyndall, Carol McAdoo, Cathy Bryant, Christy Barritt, to name just a few.

    Trixi O.

    I can’t say whether I’ve read an Indie writer’s book or not, but I know I’ve read a LOT of books over the years! So, I probably have :-) I don’t really have a “favorite” author as I like them all (at least the ones I know about and read their books). I’m always up for discovering new writers…. Indie or otherwise :-) Thanks for the chance to win some fabulous books by some new-to-me authors!


    Great interview, ladies! Ireally enjoy Christy Barritt’s and MaryLu Tyndall’s books. Thank you for the giveaway!

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