moths & mythology

I’m pleased to announced that my short story, The Moths of Luness, will be appearing in the Mythology from the Rock anthology coming out from Engen Books on April 30th, 2020.

In The Moths of Luness, a witch bespells a moth to tell her the story of its species; an original myth that stretches across the galaxy in the arms of a goddess named Luness. As some of you may know, I spend my summers in awe of the lovely moths that surround my forest home. Daydreaming a mythology for these fairy-like creatures was a wonderful escape from the reality of the pandemic, and I hope reading the story gives you as much of an escape as you might need, too.

Pre-orders for Mythology from the Rock are open today, with ebooks available for $2.99 and paperbacks at $24.99 (CDN). You can find it in Canada at: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0911RWFZ6 and in the United States at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0911RWFZ6

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In other news, I recently received an acceptance for a deeply personal retelling of Tennyson’s the Lady of Shalott, titled The Voiceless of Shalott, from Luna Station Quarterly. Voiceless will be coming out in their June issue and to say I’m on tenterhooks would be an understatement. I’ll reveal more about what this story means to me as we get closer to the publication date (I need to stock up on courage for this one, hoo boy).

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.

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!

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.