Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for May 2023


Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie and small press authors newly published this month, though some April books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, YA fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, science fiction mystery, science fantasy, space opera, military science fiction, dystopian fiction, weird western, horror, space colonisation, time travel, space fleets, lost colonies, wizards, ghosts, barbarians, temporal fugitives, haunted houses, crime-busting witches and much more.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Into the Void by Jonathanh P. Brazee and J.N. ChaneyInto the Void by Jonathan P. Brazee and J.N. Chaney:

The Exile Fleet has been decimated, but the mission must go on.

What other choice do they have? With most of the officers KIA, Sergeant Major Reverent Pelletier has to step up to lead the ground force.

Meanwhile, the remaining ships ply the far reaches on unexplored space to identify potential threats to humanity.

And as the saying goes, if you search for trouble, trouble will often find you.

With peace at home beginning to break down, the Exile Fleet is on its own as it tries to fulfill its mission. . . and not get killed in the process.

Join Rev, Tomiko and the rest as they forge an unprecedented path into the vast unknown.

Legacy of Seven by P.J. FlieLegacy of Seven by P.J. Flie:

A world filled with magic, wizards, enchanted beings … and a construction robot?

The mystical world that has risen out of the ashes of science and technology could soon fall.

While the young wizard Ondreeal has her magic safely under control for now, she is plagued with dreams of a nightmarish future that she can’t recall upon waking, dreams that leave her unsettled all the same. A nagging urgency pulls her back to Bastion—a free city of light and a beacon of hope for all peoples.

There, Sir Francis, the wise wizard of the north, will have the answers that she so desperately needs. But if she returns too late, her mentor may fall into the hands of the dark wizard Zairoc, and Ondreeal will forever lose the only one who can unravel the mystery of her past, and help her to become a true wizard of light.

That would also keep robot CD-45 from completing his mission. He carries a dire warning of an ancient threat that looms in orbit above the planet—a message that only Sir Francis can comprehend.

For good or ill, Ondreeal’s fate will be the fate of the world.

Sea of Mist by Rachel FordSea of Mist by Rachel Ford:

Knight Protector Portia Daysen and Captain Valia Iceborn may have rescued the legendary black wyvern hatchling from one peril, but the struggle for his freedom – and their lives – is just beginning.

The route to safety lies across the perilous Sea of Mists. But those treacherous waters can only be navigated by moonlight.

With a Northern knight and a Southern inquisitor on their tails, each hellbent on revenge, the pair is running out of time and options.

But there are worse things than their pursuers lurking in the Sea of Mists…

Gunslingers of the Toxic Age by Theodore GideGunslingers of the Toxic Age by Theodore Gide:

Kristen Black, PI, reluctantly agrees to investigate the murder of a young political activist. Kristen doesn’t want the job — political crimes tend to conceal other, more lethal crimes. The deeper Kristen penetrates into the dark shadows of a broken city during wartime, the more deadly the pushback against her becomes. As Kristen feared, unmasking the killer opens a pandora’s box of violence and she’s on the run from the long arm of Military Security, chemical plants around the world are being bombed and her gun is pointed dead center at the man she loves.

Imaginary Friends by Lily Harper HartImaginary Friends by Lily Harper Hart:

When it comes to magic, Rowan Gray-Davenport has always been grateful to be part of the club. She never wanted to be the leader of it, though.
All of that is about to change.

When Rowan’s friends Sally and Demarcus arrive on their new purchase, a vintage steamboat they want to refurbish so they can turn it into a floating restaurant and casino, Rowan and her husband Quinn are thrilled to reunite with them. That only lasts until their daughter Lana asks about the invisible children on the boat. It seems there are a lot of them, and they just might be dead.

It appears the new boat is haunted, and the ghosts are looking for vengeance. They seem to have their sights set on Lana as a form of protection. She just doesn’t know it yet.

Lana is a little girl who wants to be seen as special. Unfortunately, she can’t see the danger that’s directly in front of her. Rowan can, however, and it doesn’t take long for her to call on her friends Ivy, Harper, and Maddie to get her through this ordeal.

The children might have been innocent when they died, but they’re out for blood now. It’s going to take the whole gang working together to see this through to the other side.

Lana’s life is hanging in the balance, and this time the magic that’s required to save her will stem from her mother’s love. Rowan had better be up to the challenge, because otherwise her family will be lost.

Her moment is here. She has no choice but to embrace it.

Kwelengsen Swarm by David M. KellyKwelengsen Swarm by David M. Kelly:

How long can one man keep fighting?

Logan's dreams of a peaceful life on Kwelengsen have been shattered. A final battle with the Corporate forces seems inevitable and will cost all the settlers' lives unless he can get them off planet. But with deadly new species appearing all around, the remaining survivors find themselves battling enemies on multiple fronts.

And when the settlers start behaving in strange, inexplicable ways, Logan must fight to uncover the reasons behind their sinister death wish. But with Corporate reinforcements on the way, he's fast running out of time.

Kwelengsen Swarm–the endgame is survival, but who is the enemy?

Dial W for Witch by Amanda M. LeeDial W for Witch by Amanda M. Lee:

The Happy Holidays Players—a renowned acting troupe—is coming to town and Hemlock Cove is bursting with excited residents who want parts in the winter festival. That includes the three Winchester matriarchs, who are vying with one another for top billing.

Bay Winchester doesn’t care about the pageant, but she’s more than happy to sit back and watch the shenanigans. That is until her husband Landon Michaels calls with a request for her help. It seems there was a prison break twenty minutes away … and more than a handful of inmates are on the run.

Bay, Landon, and Hemlock Cove Police Chief Terry Davenport make up their own search party. What becomes apparent fairly quickly, however, is that some of the inmates are magically enhanced. By whom, though?

Each subsequent battle results in a tougher takedown, and as Bay delves deeper into the mystery of a guard who may have helped the fleeing inmates, she finds herself entrenched in a fight to the death.

Bay and Landon are looking forward to their first holiday season as a married couple. They’re desperate for some downtime and holiday cheer. To get it, they’re going to have to survive a magical onslaught that seems to be pointed at their family more and more with each passing day.

Bay might be able to call the dead to battle for her, but this is a war between the living … and both sides are going to go down fighting.

Here comes trouble. There’s no going back.

Tempus Fugitive by J.S. MorinTempus Fugitive: Mission 1 by J.S. Morin:

The next generation is here, and trouble is in their DNA.

Jessie and Eric Ramsey have a family history of crime. Fighting back against heredity, each tried to make their way in the galaxy by respectable means. Jessie joined Earth Navy; Eric went to college for magic. But fate wasn’t having it. Eric was expelled. Jessie went AWOL. Now, due to a magical mishap that wasn’t entirely anyone’s fault (we swear!), they’re stranded 5 years in the future on a Mars that’s no longer friendly territory.

Caught behind enemy lines in a galactic civil war they didn’t know about, the pair need every trick in their respective books to survive on Mars long enough to escape. Along the way, they’ll meet old friends and make new foes, and if they’re very lucky, manage to figure out where they belong in this new galactic order.

And Mars is only the beginning. Time travel is a one-way trip, and the only way to stop is death. And Ramseys don’t die easy.

Sons of Sorrow by Nazri NoorSons of Sorrow by Nazri Noor:

The Tears of the Ocean. The Heart of the Flame.

Lochlann Wilde is preparing for his final challenge: entering the Oriel of Fire, the most dangerous of the elemental dimensions. Acquiring the essence of fire will score him another powerful guardian, as well as complete Aphrodite’s amulet.

But the world outside the oriel has its own challenges. Sylvain has discovered something difficult about his heritage. Aphrodite keeps dropping unsettling hints about Locke’s true nature, too.

Most pressing of all is the mystery of the parchment that cursed Queen Aurelia to begin with, the only clue that may lead to the truth about the Withering. Who is behind it? Why did they engineer the plague?

And how can Locke and Sylvain stop them from infecting the cosmos?

The Headless Boy by Kelli OwenThe Headless Boy by Kelli Owen:

A novel similar to suspenseful classics like The Haunting of Hill House, The Woman in Black, and Bag of Bones.

Reeling from the loss of a child, Maggie finds her job at the local daycare unbearable and errands around town impossible. She knows every child, every single parent, and they're all reminders of what she's lost. Unable to heal, she sinks further into the grip of grief and depression.

Jake is a good guy, a great husband, and wants only the best for his broken wife. Therapy and medications aren't helping, and a change of scenery makes perfect sense. A new home. A fresh start. He is nothing but patient, giving Maggie the space and emotional support needed to move on.

But once they've settled in, Maggie offers him an alternative. And though Jake doesn't believe in ghosts, he plays along with the charade in the name of helping his wife. Until he discovers it's not a game.

They are not alone.

As the subtle activity grows violent, Jakes realizes the thing in their house has chosen Maggie as a surrogate mother, and it does not want a father figure. Jake and Maggie's fresh start has become a battlefield, and he's no longer sure which side his wife is on.

Does Jake have the strength to save them both?

The Haunting of Blackstone Mansion by Augustine PierceThe Haunting of Blackstone Mansion by Augustine Pierce:

An abandoned mansion. A restless spirit. A terrible secret...

Seeking to escape a recent tragedy, antiques expert Katherine relocates to Blackstone, Oregon. Her new home lies within reach of the majestic Mt. Hood, and tucked away in the thick forest of those foothills looms the dark, foreboding, and abandoned Blackstone mansion.

Tales of the Wold by Yazar QuintTales of the Wild by Yazar Quint:

Barbarian life is brutal but full of wonder.

Banished from her tribe, Rexa wanders the world, exploring ancient ruins, discovering great wonders, and facing terrible monsters. She has no home but the wild. No gods to guide her. Brazen and reckless, she carves her path with a sharp tongue and steel in hand, fighting for the right to see another sunrise.

Laws of men have no power beyond the stone walls of cities and castles. In cursed forests, treacherous mountains, and dreadful deserts, bravery thrives and weakness withers. It is a world where reality does not play by its own rules—a world of mystery and sorcery. The wild challenges Rexa’s very understanding of life as she deals with matters of immortality, forgotten kingdoms, incomprehensible magic, monstrous humans, and human monsters.

Though she is a crude outsider by nature, Rexa leaves her mark on many lives across two continents. Queens, witches, and warriors tempt her with guile, magic, and courage. Some succeed, if only for a little while. Rexa's heart belongs to the wild. She is a barbarian, unbeholden to civilization. While death is ever eager to claim her, she can’t resist the wicked wonders of the world.

Tales of the Wild is a journey of sixteen stories set in a harsh realm of sword and sorcery, where it takes a barbarian to survive—let alone thrive. Dive into Rexa’s world as she suffers curses of time, encounters beings of unfathomable origin, faces the trials of hidden tribes, and delves into the remnants of a dwarven kingdom.

Desire by Morgan RiceDesire by Morgan Rice:

Mistfalls Wilderness Camp is an awful place, a series of islands in the rainy Northwest, populated by delinquents and outcasts from their families. It is supposed to be a remedial place—but Taylor soon learns something else is happening here. They are training the kids here for something. But what?

These kids are all different, not normal somehow. And as Taylor herself goes through changes she doesn’t understand, she can’t help but wonder: is she different, too?

But when she finds herself having a crush on a mysterious boy, Taylor realizes he is not what he seems—and that her own destiny may be far greater than she imagined.

But will their forbidden love take them both down for good?

The Forgotten Colony by J.B. RyderThe Forgotten Colony by J.B. Ryder:

Zach Croft wants to forget the Prescott colony ever happened.

He wants to forget the crimson sand dunes, violent dust storms, and meteor impacts. He wants to forget the sight of his neighbors bleeding from their eyes as boils ravaged their bodies. He wants to forget the fact that his best friend was left to die. Most of all, he wants to forget that, without Prescott, humanity is doomed.

But when a Prescott dropship plummets from the sky twenty-three years later, he has no choice but to remember.

As Zach embarks on a life-or-death quest for answers about the dropship’s impossible return, he discovers something even more important: there is still hope for humanity’s survival.

With conditions rapidly worsening on Earth, he is in a race against time to return to Mars, finish the work that Prescott started, and save the human race from extinction. To do so, he must face the truth about what really happened in Prescott—a truth that calls into question everything he thinks he knows about who he is, who he trusts, and what he has done.

Blood Adept by Glynn StewartBlood Adept by Glynn Stewart:

From the genre-blending master Glynn Stewart, author of Starship's Mage, comes the latest in his thrilling fantasy Western series, set in a new world with a magical twist…

Hard rides and long nights as a cattle hand prepared Teer for the harsh life of a bounty hunter on the Unity’s eastern frontier. His fate now tied to the disguised El-Spehari demigod Kard, his quick eye and steady shooting hand have kept them both alive—even when the bounty hunters decided justice required taking a fugitive beyond the reach of the Unity’s law.

The same law would see Teer himself doomed for the magical powers now awakening within him. He has followed Kard to a strange shaman who promises to train him—but when a monster turns on and slaughters an entire hunting party, Teer and Kard take up the hunt to protect friend and foe alike.

Their hunt follows the monster to the edge of the Unity, where the Spehari lords have sent an entire regiment to bring the monster down. But teeth and claws are the least of the dangers the creature brings to bear—and the monster itself is only one of many dangers Teer and Kard face as they walk among enemies to protect the innocent…

Prodigal by Glynn StewartProdigal by Glynn Stewart:

The star system of Apollo has fallen!
Her fleets are scattered and her enemies victorious.
Apollo’s last hope: an exile mercenary coming home at last!

Ace pilot Kira Demirci fled her home system of Apollo five years ago. Betrayed by her own government and one step ahead of enemy assassins, she smuggled a squadron of star fighters into the Outer Rim and forged a mercenary fleet of old friends and new alike.

Many of the aces of Apollo’s war against Brisingr weren’t as lucky.

Kira has a new home, but a scheme hatched by her enemies has brought her to the edge of her old stomping grounds. This close to Apollo, she’s one of the first to hear the devastating news: Brisingr has achieved its ultimate victory and captured her home. To take a star system should be impossible, but the reality is clear.

With family, friends and old comrades in the hands of the Brisingr Kaiserreich, Kira mobilizes her mercenary fleet to seek out the scattered remains of Apollo’s fleets and allies.

Even if she can manage the merely difficult and bring the broken factions together, the hard truth remains: Brisingr's victory was impossible. To undo it, Kira will have to duplicate it...

Monday, May 29, 2023

Space Cowboy Books and Art Queen Gallery present: Michael Butterworth’s “Circularisations”



Space Cowboy Books and Art Queen Gallery present: Michael Butterworth’s “Circularisations”

June through July 2023, with an opening reception on June 17th 6:30-8:30pm

In 1969 U.K. poet, author, editor, publisher, and bookseller Michael Butterworth published his “Circularisations” in New Worlds Magazine, a new form of graphic poetry designed to create a new way of reading. These literary experiments will be on display at the Art Queen Gallery in Joshua Tree, CA through June and July 2023, with an opening reception on June 17th. Selections of Butterworth’s poetry will be read during live musical performances from Phog Masheeen and Field Collapse, followed by a special screening of Clara Casian’s minidocumentary “House on the Borderland”, a film about Butterworth and his work.

The exhibit follows the release of Butterworth’s Complete Poems 1965-2020 from Space Cowboy Books, and the accompanying musical audiobook, Selected Poems 1965-2020. Books can be found at https://bookshop.org/a/197/9781732825772

Register for free at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/631677593687





Thursday, May 25, 2023

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for May 26, 2023

It's time for the latest weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general, Star Wars in general, American Born Chinese, Mrs. Davis, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Yellowjackets, the new Little Mermaid, the WGA strike, Sudowrite and the debate about AI writing in general, book bannings in the US, a controversy involving the far right BasedCon, an upcoming character death in the Marvel universe, tributes to Ray Stevenson, Martin Amis and Tina Turner and much more.

Speculative fiction in general:
Comics and Art:
Film and TV:
Tributes to Tina Turner: 
Comments on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general (spoilers): 
Comments on Star Wars in general: 
Comments on American Born Chinese
Comments on Mrs. Davis
Comments on Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Comments on Yellowjackets
Comments on the new The Little Mermaid
Comments on the strike of the Writers Guild of America:

Writing, publishing and promotion:
Comments on the AI controversy: 
Classics reviews:
Con and event reports:
Science and technology:
Free online fiction: 
Trailers and videos:


Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The Headless Boy by Kelli Owen


Release date: May 23, 2023
Subgenre: Horror, Ghost story

About The Headless Boy:


Reeling from the loss of a child, Maggie finds her job at the local daycare unbearable and errands around town impossible. She knows every child, every single parent, and they're all reminders of what she's lost. Unable to heal, she sinks further into the grip of grief and depression.  

Jake is a good guy, a great husband, and wants only the best for his broken wife. Therapy and medications aren't helping, and a change of scenery makes perfect sense. A new home. A fresh start. He is nothing but patient, giving Maggie the space and emotional support needed to move on.

But once they've settled in, Maggie offers him an alternative. And though Jake doesn't believe in ghosts, he plays along with the charade in the name of helping his wife. Until he discovers it's not a game.

They are not alone.

As the subtle activity grows violent, Jakes realizes the thing in their house has chosen Maggie as a surrogate mother, and it does not want a father figure. Jake and Maggie's fresh start has become a battlefield, and he's no longer sure which side his wife is on.

Does Jake have the strength to save them both?





DR. GRANT PUSHED the curved end of the handheld Doppler probe into the gel on Maggie’s engorged stomach and slid it around with expertise to outsmart a wiggling fetus. “So, you two decide on a name yet? You’re cutting it kind of close, you know?”
“We still have five weeks.” Jake sat up straighter, his chair nudging under his movement and squeaking against the pastel swirls of the exam room wall.
“Technically, sure, but it could happen at any time now.” The doctor paused the motion of her hand and seemed to concentrate for a moment before moving it again, gliding the handheld heartbeat Doppler unit to the other side of Maggie’s impressive baby bump.
“I want to name it after Jake’s dad, Malcolm. It’s a good, sturdy, proper name. Sounds important.” Maggie winked at Jake.
“Sounds like a mouthful.” Jake rolled his eyes.
“But I like your dad.” Maggie emphasized her affection, knowing Jake would get her meaning, while the doctor wouldn’t understand how much she did not like her own father.
“I love my dad, but his middle name is easier. Robert. Not such a—”
“Maggie?” The doctor interrupted. “When did you last feel the little guy moving around?”
“Um…I don’t…” Maggie looked over to Jake. “Olympic tryouts were last night, right?”
Jake shook his head, a wide grin spreading across his face. “Nah, that was the night before. You should have seen him, Doc. You could make out his tiny hands and feet poking for freedom.”
Maggie chuckled at Jake and looked up at the doctor, her laughter stopping abruptly at the doctor’s expression. “Why? What’s wrong?”
Maggie tried to sit up and look at the monitor next to the exam table. The paper hung from the end of the machine, waiting for someone to hit print and hand over proof of life for proud parents to bring to the office and show off, or stick to the refrigerator at home.
“Dr. Grant?” Maggie’s voice cracked as she spoke, and horror filled her eyes. “What’s wrong with my baby?”
Jake stood from his chair and was at Maggie’s side in two steps.
“I’m gonna go grab the ultrasound equipment and see how he’s laying in there. I think he’s blocking the signal.” She left the room with concern rather than curiosity on her face.
The baby was not blocking the signal.
Maggie listened with a slack jaw as Dr. Grant told her their baby was gone. Dead. For no discernable or obvious reason. The doctor explained how these things do happen, even in the modern world—a horrible tragedy—and how Maggie didn’t do anything wrong and should not have any guilt. Maggie overheard other doctors and medical staff as they gathered outside her door and discussed her options. She vaguely registered someone speaking to Jake in hushed tones about organ donation. Nothing seemed real. And every sound for the next two hours was muffled as if she were underwater. Jake said things to her she knew she understood, but couldn’t remember minutes later.
The whole time, her hands never left her stomach.




About Kelli Owen: 

Kelli Owen is a member of both the Horror Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers, and has spoken at the CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA regarding both her writing and the field in general. The author of over a dozen books, including THE HEADLESS BOY, TEETH, and the Wilted Lily YA series, her short fiction has appeared in Bram Stoker Award-nominated anthologies alongside Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Robert McCammon, F. Paul Wilson, and Josh Malerman, among others. Born and raised in Wisconsin, she now lives in the dark woods of Pennsylvania. For more information or social media links, please visit her website at kelliowen.com.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Interview with Jackary Salem, author of Where the Lightning Goes (The Impossible Series, Book 1)

Today it gives the Speculative Fiction Showcase great pleasure to interview Jackary Salem, whose novel Where the Lightning Goes (The Impossible Series, Book 1) has its debut on May 30, 2023.

Where the Lightning Goes is your first novel. What was the inspiration for the book?

My inspiration for Where the Lightning Goes was to write a book that would reveal so much at the end and have so many double and triple entendres in play that it would be a completely different story the second read through.

Your protagonist, Elle, is trapped in a strange house and has lost her memory. What can you tell us about Elle and how she got there?

How Elle got trapped in the House is actually one of the main mysteries of the book. She entered the House when she was six with no memory of how she got there, then spent ten years acclimating and, eventually, trying to escape. Elle is whip-smart, impulsive, and curious beyond measure, so she never stops pushing forward, trying to figure it out. Ideally readers will hop into the story, knowing only as much as Elle knows, and follow the clues along with her.


When Elle manages to escape, she finds herself in a world both magical and frightening. Where is this world and how does Elle set out to explore it?

The world is an alternate version of Earth. It has only one continent, though Elle has no way of knowing that, and is imbued with sentient magic. Elle’s goal is to find someone willing to teach her magic and, beyond that, to find her memories of who she was and how she got trapped in the House. Her exploration of the world is centered around achieving her goals, and she’ll go wherever that quest takes her. 

How much can you tell us about the castle in the sky that appears on the cover?

The castle on the cover is the place Elle and her motley crew are trying to reach all through the book. It’s the castle in her dreams and the place where Elle believes her memories will be. 

In the blurb it says: “Magic is everywhere, everyone is out for themselves, and every truth is accompanied by a lie.” What is the significance of this bleak world-view?

I’ve always loved stories where magic is woven into the world in a way that feels real. To me, that means giving magic to people who might not use it kindly and making sure actions have consequences. Humans make just as many bad decisions as they do good, and the duality of a world that’s bright and wonderful while also being cruel and tricky lends me that sought-after feeling of realism. 

You mention the importance of grief and the self-destructive spiral that can result in discussing the themes of the book. Tell us more about this.

Too many fiction books shy away from real-life feelings like grief, and when they do tackle the subject, they tend to do it in a very black and white manner. They pretend that there’s a way to reach absolution and that once you reach the “acceptance” stage, you can somehow move on. They also act like there’s only one “right” way to feel grief, and everything else is obviously a bad choice or something to be judged. My story posits that whatever way you move through your feelings, and however long it takes you to start finding your new normal, that’s fine. It's important to accept our emotions, good and bad, and to normalize expressing our feelings for what they are. No happy-filter required. 

Where the Lightning Goes is a novel for young adults. What made you choose to write YA fiction?

I love YA for its whimsy and focus on adventure. Once you enter adult fantasy, you tend to get a lot of politics, very technical worldbuilding, and a long, confusing list of main characters. I’ve written what I call “YA for adults.” It’s all the whimsy and simplicity of YA but with the writing level and focus on more complex human emotions of adults. 

You majored in neuroscience and now work as a full-time author and freelance developmental editor. How far does your first area of study influence your writing?

My degree in neuroscience influences my writing immensely. The equal emphasis in biology and psychology helps me to understand where a character is at developmentally and how what they’ve experienced impacts them on a neurological level. It helps me write fuller, more realistic characters. 

Why did you choose to become a freelance editor and what are the challenges and creative aspects to working with writers?

I became a freelance editor because analyzing and fixing manuscripts is one of my passions. I love discussing stories in terms of writing as a craft, what authors want out of a particular piece, and what they need to do to bridge the gap between their dream story and what they actually wrote. That said, my favorite part of editing tends to be working with the authors after the fact, so I’m actually moving my career toward writing coaching, where I’ll get to spend more time encouraging and actively helping the authors become better writers as opposed to improving a single manuscript. 

How do you see the job of a freelance editor and how far has their role become ever more important?

I believe editors are a necessary part of the writing process. Getting feedback is always important, but receiving feedback accompanied by craft explanations and ways to fix the issues help not only the story in question, but the author’s writing as a whole. As more and more authors enter the writing scene, it’s important to remember that selling books and making money isn’t the goal. What authors want isn’t recognition, but to write something that touches readers in the way previous books have touched them, and editors help authors achieve that dream. 

Tell us something about your Blog, Too Busy for Books. What made you decide to offer condensed versions of non-fiction books?

The long and short of it is that I don’t like small talk. I have no interest in sharing recipes or what new fads have popped up in the industry. I like actionable information, and I like it quickly. Unfortunately, a lot of the information I find valuable is buried in nonfiction books which are more suited to be articles than novels. Since I’m a fast reader and tend to take notes regardless, I figured the best blog for me is one that relays all the actionable information in a book in a quick, easily fact-checked article. Hopefully it saves a lot of time and trouble for other authors and entrepreneurs making their way in the world. 

What made you want to write, and to write Fantasy?

I’ve written for as long as I can remember. The books that influenced me most as a kid were fantasy (e.g., The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix and Poison by Chris Wooding), and the genre has always played a role in my own writing, from childish scribblings in spiral-bound notebooks to present day novels. I love the fantasticism of anything being possible.

There has been a lot of talk about the emergence of AI and bots like ChatGPT. As a debut novelist, what are your thoughts about this?

AI isn’t going away. It’s been evolving for longer than I’ve been alive, and it’ll continue to evolve long after I’m gone. I think the best way to look at AI isn’t as competition—we aren’t every author for themselves—but as a helpful tool. A lot of authors are using it to keep up with the fast-evolving marketplace and to help them make a living. If AI can help someone better themselves and their circumstances, I say more power to them. 

What are you working on at the moment? Will Where the Lightning Goes have a sequel?

I am currently working on the companion novel to Where the Lightning Goes. The Impossible series will be a trilogy, with the third novel being a sequel to both Where the Lightning Goes and its as-of-yet unnamed companion novel. 

Barnes & Noble

About Jackary Salem:

Jackary Salem is a freelance editor with a degree in neuroscience. Seeing the problems and systemic issues plaguing traditional publishing, Salem became passionate about self-publishing. Where the Lightning Goes is her first novel.

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