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!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: 99 Tiny Terrors

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday. Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll recommend a story to inspire your submission and get you thinking of the theme in original ways.

This week we’re submitting stories to 99 Tiny Terrors and we’re reading Larry by Elsa Richardson-Bach as published at Flash Fiction Online.

99 Tiny Terrors

Eligibility: horror stories from 500 – 1000 words, with atmospheric setting, unexpected turns, and supernatural elements preferred (though not required)

Take Note: writers may submit up to two stories

Submission Deadline: October 31st, 2020

Payment Offered: $25

Click here to go to the original call for full details.

A Story to Kick Your Mind into Gear

This week we’re reading a horror flash with an atmospheric setting, an unexpected turn, and supernatural elements: Larry by Elsa Richardson-Bach and published at Flash Fiction Online. Click here to go read the story now.

Larry is the story of an unsettling man at the protagonist’s place of work. Her peers seem to overlook him, unconcerned, certain of who they think he might be. As the story progresses, more and more we get the impression he is someone slipping from their minds, but why? And furthermore, why should we worry about it?

For more horror flash stories and to get a feel for 99 Tiny Terrors editor Jennifer Brozek’s taste, you can listen to her horror podcast, Five Minute Stories, by clicking here.

That’s it for this week, writers, and I hope this finds you well as the second wave breaks over much of the world. I hope you can find some peace and escape in your writing and your reading. Be well.

Happy writing!

Book Review: Riverland by Fran Wilde

Fran Wilde’s Riverland isn’t a particularly easy book to read, but it is worth it. The difficulty comes from the abuse the young protagonists face. Wilde articulates the constant edge of living in an abusive household, the careful interpretation of every twitch, every air, and every mood, waiting for the monster to appear. There were moments my chest was so tight I swore I’d never put down the book again until it was finished. I couldn’t leave sisters Eleanor and Mike there, I couldn’t leave myself there.

To feel safe enough to sleep, the sisters hide under Eleanor’s bed, where she has set up socks on the sharp coils of the springs, and Christmas lights for cheer, blankets positioned to hide the light from outside their protected space. She’s been reading The Hobbit to Mike, a brief escape, when one night a river appears beneath them, and the girls tumble into another world.

Once inside a strange world of herons, birds, ponies made of rags, nightmares made of smoke, and a lighthouse with a light solid enough to travel by, the girls learn their matrilineal ancestors had promised to protect this place. They’d set up glass fishing buoys to catch the nightmares and stop them from entering the “real” world. The girls know these buoys, they once hung in their house before their father smashed them in a rage.

The girls’ worlds soon collide, the weight of keeping their family’s dark secret against the girls’ mission to save Riverland sending shards of glass into the impossible foundation of their lives. There’s a friend and a grandmother who offer hope, but the girls are in a terrible place. Everything they face is too much for their tender ages. I spent the last third of the book clutching it, white knuckled and muttering, “Oh, Fran, please save them. Don’t leave them there, don’t leave them there.”

I guess I’d call this middle-grade horror fantasy, and it got to the core of me. Protect yourself if this kind of content triggers you, but for me? I give it 5/5 stars.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Reinvented Heart

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday. Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll recommend a story to inspire your submission and get you thinking of the theme in original ways.

This week we’re submitting stories to The Reinvented Heart anthology and we’re reading Merc Fenn Wolfmoor’s How To Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps.

The Reinvented Heart

Eligibility: original stories along the theme of a reinvented heart (more details are in the guidelines linked below) from 500-5000 words

Take Note: this call is open to female and nonbinary writers. If you do not fall into those categories, here’s another great call you might enjoy.

Submit by: October 31st, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

Click here to go to the original call for full details.

A Story to Get You in the Groove

This week we’re reading Merc Fenn Wolfmoor’s story How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps. TW for suicide ideation. You can read this story at Lightspeed by clicking here.

This story is fairly loaded with metaphor and I’ll let you interpret them in the way that suits you best, but for the purposes of getting you thinking about your own submission, Tesla is in love with a robot. Since they secretly consider themselves a robot, this isn’t too far a stretch for the reader to believe.

One day, when Tesla returns to the coffee shop where the object of their affection works, they find the robot gone. After they manage to track the robot down in a scrap yard, Tesla is desperate to repair the damaged bot, even as their lives fall apart around them.

In the call for The Reinvented Heart, the editor asks us to consider how romantic and aromantic relationships may change with technological advances and the possible distance of galaxies. Taking a lesson from how Wolfmoor weaves Tesla’s humanity with the idea of her robot self in this story can give us a roadmap for making new ideas of love and technology work.

Happy writing!