hellions and robot rhinos

My flash story, Hellion Babysitting Services, is now available to read in Speculative North Issue #4. You can snag a free e-copy of this one until Friday, February 26, 2021 so run don’t walk to this handy link right here.

Hellion Babysitting Services was born of my parental desperation for any possible babysitting service during the first lockdown. I mean, have you tried demon possession? Warning: tongue firmly in cheek.

And if that doesn’t pique your interest, look at this amazing cover. It has a ROBOT RHINO.

Stories!

Okay, so 2021 hasn’t really lived up to our expectations just yet but it’s just a baby year and it had a terrible role model, let’s not lose hope. I can’t save the world but I can offer you a small respite in the form of not one, but two fresh stories.

The first story is The Mermaid’s Tale which just came out in Kaleidotrope, which you can read for free by clicking here. This story is about a biomedical engineer (prosthetics) and a strange sailor with a tall tale to tell.

Side note: Kaleidotrope is also opening to submissions this February for the first time since 2019 (hint, hint).

Might I steal a fangirl moment? Short story writer John Wiswell, author of Open House on Haunted Hill (link), gave The Mermaid’s Tale a shout-out on twitter. Established writers who give new writers a leg up are the best kind. Please read everything he writes.

The second story is Broke Down & Starside, my epistolary sci-fi story about a viral missed connection, from Issue 7 of DreamForge magazine. DreamForge has temporarily made Broke Down & Starside available to read on their website! Click here to go read now, but please be warned I don’t know how long this story will remain up.

Broke Down & Starside follows a broke down spaceship pilot (and their fish!) who posts in a Missed Connection feed to find the Starside Assistance Operator who saved their life and stumbles into something much bigger than romance. This is a good story to read if you’re feeling low. It is sweet and hopeful and I hope it will leave you cheering.

Don’t Miss This Story: Makeisha in Time by Rachael K. Jones

I came across Makeisha in Time by Rachael K. Jones as it was published as a reprint in the sample issue of Constelación Magazine. It pulled me with Makeisha’s “matryoshka life” – one that pulls her from the present to live lifetimes scattered through the past before running her to the age and moment she first left. Her exploits in the past thrilled me and her frustrations with the present felt real. It’s a fantastic story about erasure and triumph and it’s one I’ll be thinking about for a long while to come. You can read the story by clicking here and following the link.

It’s worth noting for the writers out there that Constelación is opening from December 15th to January 1st for stories on the theme of “Myth and Monsters.” Constelación is a new market that pays pro writes and publishes stories in both English and Spanish. I’m excited to read their first issue.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

2020 Awards Eligibility post

Since it is that time of year again, here is what I published in the year that has been 2020

-Just Enough for Jenny (Short Édition) https://short-edition.com/en/story/short-fiction/just-enough-for-jenny

-Zsezzyn, Who is Not a God (Metaphorosis) https://magazine.metaphorosis.com/story/2020/zsezzyn-who-is-not-a-god-jennifer-shelby/ Zsezzyn also made it onto Alex Brown’s Must-Read Speculative Short Fiction for June 2020

-Broke Down & Starside (DreamForge Issue 7 December 2020 coming soon!) https://dreamforgemagazine.com/issue-7-release/

– A Disease of Time and Temporal Distortion (Recognize Fascism anthology) https://worldweaverpress.com/store/p171/Recognize_Fascism.html

-Meriden’s Moonlet (Hybrid Fiction) https://hybridfiction.net/online-content

-Parachutes and Grappling Hooks (Pulp Sci-Fi From the Rock anthology) https://amazon.com/Pulp-Sci-Fi-Rock-Ellen-Curtis-ebook/dp/B086HDRL4F/ref=sr_1_1

– My first-ever novella in the multi-author Slipstreamers series: Plague of the Dreamless (Engen Books) https://amazon.com/dp/B08LSS25X7

Release day!

Today’s the day! Book #5 of the multi-author Slipstreamers series, The Plague of the Dreamless, written by me, Jennifer Shelby, is officially released into the wild. If your book kingdom could use a little Indiana Jones meets Doctor Who adventure, a splash of otherworldly cephalopods, and a brand new world to explore, hold onto your imaginations because have I got a book for you!

My novella can be read as a stand-alone adventure though I do recommend the entire Slipstreamers series. With a new novella coming out every three weeks, you won’t have to wait long before Cassidy’s next adventure. Engen Books has curated an epic crew of authors to create a fun and engaging multiverse that is content-safe for all ages, though I do classify Plague of the Dreamless as YA dystopian SF.

Click here to check out my novella Plague of the Dreamless, and click here to check out the whole Slipstreamers series!

Book Review: Slipstreamers 4, The Lotus Fountain by Nicole Little

The Lotus Fountain, by Nicole Little and JD Ryot, is the 4th book in Engen’s Slipstreamers series about an anthropologist named Cassidy Cane who is hired to explore a series of portals into other worlds. In The Lotus Fountain, Cassidy investigates a mysterious adoption agency and tumbles through a portal into a seemingly idyllic matriarchal society.

At the centre of this society lies a beautiful fountain which heals broken bones, wounds, and so much more. But something doesn’t feel right, hidden in the library’s forbidden books, discipline huts, lack of men, and disappearing babes. Still, this world calls to Cassidy, tempting her with a softer existence than the ones she’s known.

The book’s strengths lie in Little’s use of character, the way she draws out the confusion in Cassidy’s mind as her chaotic, adventurous nature smashes into her nurturing side.

Cassidy was accustomed to climbing mountains, tumbling out of cars, and breaking through windows; dodging bullets and belligerent aliens; exploring new worlds. Yet here, in this supply closet with this heartbroken girl-it was one of the scariest moments of Cassidy’s life.

– Slipstreamers: The Lotus Fountain by Nicole Little and JD Ryot

Cassidy is surprised at the comfort she finds in this gentle world, the easy sense of belonging, but the fault lines are always there, nagging at her, promising that everything may not be as it seems. And Cassidy can’t ignore those fault lines forever.

I highly recommend this book to writers making a study of a character at odds with theirself, to lovers of the original Star Trek series which this adventure brought to mind, and to all fans of Cassidy Cane. I give The Lotus Fountain 4.5/5 stars overall and a solid 5/5 for Little’s excellent writing.

Bonus submission opportunities:

World Weaver Press is calling for submissions to their anthology Trenchcoats, Towers, and Trolls: Cyberpunk Fairy Tales ($0.01 per word) click here to visit that call.

East of the Web is looking for science fiction up to 7 000 words, original and reprint ($0.05 per word OR…. check their site) click here to visit that one.

Also, the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is on temporary hiatus until January 2021 as C. C. Finlay steps down on as editor and Sheree Renee Thomas takes up the task. More here.

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

V. E. Schwab’s latest book, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, cast a long spell on me. I read it weeks ago now, but I couldn’t manage to articulate what the story had done to me because it was still doing it. I haven’t felt haunted like this since reading Phantom by Susan Kay when I was in my teens.

About 300 years ago, Addie made a deal with a demon in exchange for her freedom. She avoided a marriage she didn’t want, and what she saw as a one-way trip to dying in childbirth. But her handsome demon was something of a trickster, and now, whenever someone looks away from her, she’s erased from their mind. If she pays for a room to sleep, she’s kicked out when the landlord forgets she did so. If she falls in love, they will not remember her the next day, but they might fall in love with her again… and again… and again, until she grows tired of being forgotten. If she sleeps with them, come morning they’ll have forgotten, embarrassed and thinking her a prostitute they’d hired after too much drink. She moves from broken heart to broken heart, stealing food and clothes where she can, and moves like a ghost through history.

Desperate to be remembered somehow, in defiance of the demon who made her like this, she becomes something of a muse, inspiring arts and words and music.

When she meets Henry, she is astounded that someone remembers her at last. They fall in love, and she experiences what a real relationship can be, what it’s like to have a shelter she hasn’t stolen. Through him, at last, she finds the means to be remembered. But.

But.

This isn’t quite the love story one might have expected at the outset. I leave it at that to avoid spoilers, but I will say this: V. E. Schwab managed to transcend romance (this will make sense when you read it) and the ending, which I did not anticipate, is perfect. Addie’s strength of character and will just blew me away.

I will remember Addie. And I highly recommend this book. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Fate of Submit Your Stories Sunday

It’s been a few years since I started the Submit Your Stories Sunday series and I’m not sure what’s going to happen to it moving forward. I have loved writing this series. The pandemic has had a large effect upon our collective mental health and there are some political nightmares looming over the world that aren’t helping. Pandemic rejections, I’ve learned, are far worse than regular rejections. My submissions stats over the past six months have fallen as I struggle to protect my mental health. And I don’t think I’m alone in this as the views for my Submit Your Stories Sunday posts have fallen as well.

So, for now, I’m going to put the series on indefinite hiatus. I do think I will resurrect the series, perhaps in a different incarnation than this one, in the future. I still want to review short fiction that I love and I’ll create individual posts for those as I fall in love with them. When I find out-of-the-way submission opportunities which often get lost on the Grinder, I’ll add them to the bottom of my regular blog posts.

With that in mind, here’s a good one! This kickstarter for a paying 2SLGBTQIA+ anthology entitled “We Cryptids” has just funded and editor Vivian Caethe has opened for submissions. Click here for more details. Deadline is March 1st, 2021.

5 Things You Should Know About the Plague of the Dreamless

My first-ever SF novella, Plague of the Dreamless, is officially on pre-order! Yes, I’m terrified (a whole book! That people might read! Aaaaah) But BESIDES that Plague of the Dreamless is also book #5 in Engen Books’ multi-author Slipstreamers series. Engen is producing a new Slipstreamers episode every three weeks featuring the adventures of anthropologist Cassidy Cane, an adventuress hired by a professor to explore the far side of a series of portals he’s discovered. She gets adventure, he gets funky alien tech. It was described to me as “Indiana Jones meets Doctor Who” and right away I knew I wanted to be involved in the project (hashtag: Whovian).

Okay, I’m nervous enough that I’m about to start rambling, so without further ado, here are five things you should know about my book Plague of the Dreamless:

  1. the sky in the alien story world is inhabited by giant cephalopods who exude a gaseous fog in their sleep that powers all of the industry in the endless human cities.

2. the cityscape is filled with rickety skyscrapers, each floor added haphazardly on top of the last, mismatched in size and function, and prone to collapse.

3. on their sixteenth birthday, all citizens must submit to having their imaginations removed to make them better, more compliant workers

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

4. in the absence of imagination, the humans’ brains cease to dream, leading to physical breakdown that becomes fatal over time. The locals refer to individuals suffering from this affliction as ‘Dreamless’

5. The only way to cure the Dreamless is to buy them a dream from the Dreamkeeper… *if* they can afford one (whispers: no one can afford one)

Cassidy Cane arrives on this world in search of alien tech but soon stays to help the citizens of this SF dystopia. Unfortunately, she might have accidentally introduced the common cold to this new world and… MAKES STORY HAPPEN. Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnn. *flails*

The ebook is scheduled to release on November 27th and you can pre-order it at the links below. Paperbacks should soon follow but I don’t have those dates just yet.

Click here for Amazon U.S.

Click here for Amazon Canada

Click here for Amazon UK

Thank you for reading and a big thank you to anyone who pre-orders. Stay safe!

(all photos, with the exception of the cover, are from pexel)

Book Review: Boulders Over the Bermuda Triangle

Peter J. Foote’s debut novella, Boulders Over the Bermuda Triangle, is the third episode in Engen Books’ multi-author Slipstreamers series featuring the adventures of Cassidy Cane. In the series, risk-loving anthropologist Cassidy Cane is hired by one Professor Gamgee to explore a series of portals that may lead anywhere. Think Indiana Jones meets Doctor Who, with the portals acting as TARDIS.

In Boulders Cassidy flies through a portal over the Bermuda Triangle that lands her in deep space. Her aircraft fails and her only hope is what looks like a space station ahead. With a bit of luck, an adolescent, reptilian alien named Agnoix, notices Cassidy’s plight and launches a rescue. What Agnoix doesn’t know is that she’s about to save a human, one of the reptilian Xik’en species’ mortal enemies. Rather than turning Cassidy in, Agnoix decides to fight her learned prejudice and see the human as simply another soul in need of help.

While the youth’s struggle to overcome her cultural bias was my favourite part of this book, there were many other elements that delighted me. Foote knows his way around reptiles and it comes through in his imagined space station: organic tunnels lined with plants and humid, smelly air. He has also employed a clever work around to keep the mining station safe from the asteroid field they work in, but I’ll let you read those details on your own.

I give this book a solid 4/5 and highly recommend this book, especially for Doctor Who fans like me. Which brings me to one more not insignificant detail…

(cue suspenseful music)

I am also writing an episode in this series! Eee! Come back tomorrow for more details!