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!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: DSF

elcome 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 help newer writers understand how to fulfill a call’s thematic elements.

This week we’re looking at Daily Science Fiction‘s open and ongoing call for flash fiction and reading Clayton Hackett’s Illegal Entry from their archives.

Daily Science Fiction (DSF)

Eligibility: speculative stories from 100-1500 words

Take note: writers will have to create a login to DSF’s submission system, and can use it to check their story’s status. Likewise, it’s free to sign up to receive DSF’s weekday offerings mailed to your inbox to get a solid feel for what the editors like.

Submit by: Daily Science Fiction accepts submissions year round with the exception of December 24th through to January 2nd.

Payment: $0.08 per word

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A Story to ignite your writing mojo

This week we’re reading a story that came out on DSF a few weeks ago, Illegal Entry by Clayton Hackett. You can read it at Daily Science Fiction by clicking here. I chose this story because it stayed with for a long time after I first read it. In this story, Hackett muses on what would happen if the unnamed Superman/Clark Kent boychild crash landed in rural America today.

It’s an unflinching look at a refugee’s story dressed in the face of one of our greatest heroes. Hackett does play with the form of flash fiction in this piece, mixing fiction with non- fiction: a quietly clever nod to Clark Kent as reporter for the Daily Planet.

Can you write a piece as powerful in as few words? You’ll never know until you try.

(Please note: this post was originally published a few years ago, I’ve got a house full of sick kiddos at the moment. Sorry for the re-run but DSF is evergreen – I submit there every chance I get. Good luck.)

Happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Translunar Traveler’s Lounge

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 help familiarize you with the editor’s tastes.

This week we’re subbing to Translunar Traveler’s Lounge and we’re reading Marissa Lingen’s The Swarm of Giant Gnats I Sent After Kent, My Assistant Manager.

Translunar Traveler’s Lounge

Eligibility: fun, speculative stories up to 5,000 words

Take Note: stories should offer hope rather than bleak futures

Submit By: this opening closes October 15th, 2020

Payment offered: $0.03 per word, with a minimum of $20

Click here to go to the original call for details.

Story to Familiarize You With the Editor’s Tastes

This week we’re reading Marissa Lingen’s story, The Swarm of Giant Gnats I Sent After Kent, My Assistant Manager, from Translunar Traveler’s Lounge‘s August issue. Click here to go read that now.

I have no heavy-handed analysis of this fun story for this week, writers. This week was hard. This story offered me a chuckle and a daydream of the good gal coming out ahead that I think we just might all need after a week like the one we had, which… is kind of the point of fun stories like the ones Translunar Traveler’s Lounge is looking for.

If you can still tap into the well of good times inside your imagination, these are qualities to look for in your stories. Treasure the escape in the writing of them and the reader will follow.

Be well, keep safe.

Happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Upon a Once Time

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 get you thinking about your own submission and to help you get a feel for the editor’s tastes or the theme of the anthology.

This week we’re submitting stories to Air and Nothingness Press’ Upon a Once Time anthology and reading Maya Chhabra’s Lethe.

Upon a Once Time

Eligibility: stories that mash together two fairy tales from any part of the world, between 1,000 and 3,000 words.

Take Note: writers can glean more information regarding theme and editor’s tastes by reading through anthology’s successful kickstarter campaign. Click here for that.

Submit by: deadline is September 17th, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

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

A Story to Familiarize You with the Editor’s Tastes

For this week’s story I chose a recent Daily Science Fiction publication by Maya Chhabra, who is listed on Upon a Once Time‘s kickstarter as a confirmed contributor. Her story Lethe takes a look at, not fairy tales, but the Greek myth of Eurydice. You can click here to go read that now.

This is fairly short story, even for flash, honing in on the moment of confusion faced by Eurydice as she follows her husband Orpheus from the Underworld. She doesn’t know her own myth, only that he’s come to rescue her. Orpheus is told he can only succeed in taking her from Hades if he does not look back to make sure she’s following him. He fails, of course, and in so doing loses her to the Underworld forever. Chhabra offers us the same story, but through the confusion of Eurydice’s perspective. Lethe, the title of the story, is a river that flows through the Underworld, the one that brings forgetfulness to the dead. They pull together into a sad, quiet loss in this story. I’ve always been intrigued by the losses we don’t know we’re experiencing, and I like the way this story stayed with me.

(On a slightly nerdier note, Lethe eurydice is also a type of lovely moth, though I’m not sure if it will make you forget anything…)

That’s all for this week, folx, I hope this finds you well and safe.

Happy writing!