I have a few short story publications coming up (yay!!) and I have found myself in need of a bio blurb. A third person, all about Jennifer paragraph where I am meant to cleverly market myself.

*cue screeching tires*

Here’s the thing: I’m not all that exciting. That’s what the stories are for. I have a baby; I change diapers and color with my preschooler all day. When I’m not doing that, I’m glued to my notebook/keyboard working on my latest story. Is that exciting? Can I make that exciting? What if the notebook is ON FIRE and the keyboard has a preschooler about to dump a sugary drink into its mysterious innards – wait. That’s not my genre. I’m a fantasy writer dag nab it. The sky is the limit! I can do this!

Eep. What is it about an unlimited sky that makes it so hard to start?

Okay, here goes:

In addition to her tireless efforts as Keeper of Imaginary Beasts, Jennifer Shelby has been known to hunt for stories in the beetled undergrowth of fairy infested forests. If you or your imaginary beast need help, feel free to contact her via story hunting headquarters at   wait, no, this seems like a good way to get crazy people trolling for dragon ointments contacting me at all hours

Jennifer Shelby is known for hunting stories in the beetled undergrowth of fairy infested forests. She has collected the titles of mother, Keeper of Imaginary Beasts, terrible cook, and   what? I can’t out myself publicly as a terrible cook. I’ll never be invited to another potluck again!         Okay. Maybe leave it in.  

Story hunter. Author. Keeper of imaginary beasts. I like it! But it’s too short. *sigh* Wait! I can use for my fancy schmancy new business cards.

Edit: here that is (the contact info is hiding on the reverse side, it’s not actually the worst business card ever).

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I needed 2 of these, so now I have 500.


A visit to her house will yield several illegal, imaginary beasts, so she requests that you keep its location a secret Ugh. *cue CSIS (which is kind of the Canadian FBI but not really) showing up and looking through the diaper pail for illegal unicorns*

Jennifer Shelby is known for hunting stories in the beetled undergrowth of fairy infested forests. This story, discovered in a mossy hollow below an old maple, is a part of her ongoing catch-and-release program. If you would like to know more about story hunting, Jennifer, or imaginary beasts, feel free to contact her story hunting headquarters via

OoOoh. I LIKE this. I might even love it. In fact, I think we’re done here. *crosses fingers that I don’t hate it tomorrow*

Have any feedback? Leave it here, I’d love to have your input!

Side note: this blog syncs into the website via magical widgetiness, sorry if you’re reading on wordpress and feeling as confused as a CSIS agent finding a unicorn in a diaper pail right now.

Should writers write every day? What are they writing?

Today, instead of a story, I thought I’d write about the importance of writing every day. Writers hear this advice often, but without a why or a means to do that when the words just won’t come.

Busy is one excuse writers give for not writing, but never has a day gone by when I couldn’t squeeze in a paragraph locked in a bathroom with a pen and paper if I needed to. Hold yourself accountable, put your feet against the door to keep the toddlers (metaphorical and otherwise) out, and get some words down. Do this for yourself, and do this for your work. You’ll feel your powers of expression get stronger in just a few weeks.

I keep myself to a hard schedule. I expect myself to write a minimum of so many thousand words per month. This works for me. To meet my goal, I need to write every day without exception. This has also taught me that I write my best when I write every day. I don’t have to hunt for the right phrase to say what I want to say or pause to catch an elusive word; they are all right where they should be, on the page. They’ve been trained. The ideas flow in thoughtful progression and I don’t get stuck on what should happen next.

This doesn’t mean that I, or even any other writer who insists on writing every day, has some brilliant story to work on every single day. Oh, no, no, no, no. Some days are the hair of the dog, days when the words are venomous and cruel and the last thing I want to do is fight with them. Other days I am feeling so profoundly discouraged that working on a story would flavour it with an inappropriate darkness. Those days I put the stories aside, and find other work to do. Exercises to do.

One of my favourite exercises is to click onto google search and find people. National Geographic is a treasure trove of interesting faces in situations which grab hold of a writer’s imagination. The trick is to find one which fascinates you to the point that it feels like a delight to write about her/him. Take, for instance, this gentleman (photo credit: Andrey Pavlov, via National Geographic):


His story leaps out of the photograph, unique to the viewer. First, describe him. Get to know his face as you paint it with words, and as his life unfolds, allow your imagination to build his world, the details of his life. What begins as description moves into a character sketch and perhaps it will grow into something else as well. The point is letting go and allowing the words to guide you, of honing the writing instinct and finding your voice as you tell someone else’s story.

Writing about people in other cultures is a delight. It feels like play to slip out of my own comfortable culture for a while and feel life anew. You may not understand every detail of how that culture works, but this doesn’t matter for the exercise. You can research later if you want to publish, or he can live on an alien world if he needs to. This is writing. You can make it work. For now, just write.

When you’re done you have something – and someone – new. You have a character that has been developed, waiting until a story comes along he’ll fit into like he was meant to be there all along. Perhaps the story you’ve created is compelling enough for a unique work of its own. Or maybe you’ll never use him again, but you still got some writing in on a day that may have gone to waste. You practiced and you wrote today. And I bet you even had a little fun.

Good luck writers, I can’t wait to read you,

Jennifer Shelby

P.S. What sort of tricks do you have to make the words flow on the bad days?