Tag Archives: short story

State of the Jen: March 2018

Like most of the country, I am currently in shock at the existence of weather. (Snoooooooooow!)  But never mind that, update time!


In February I managed guest posts in two (2! Count ’em!) places:

WiHM9-GrrrlLogoTall-BR-MAs part of the Fox Spirit Books celebration of Women in Horror Month I did a post about short horror fiction and the women who write it.  Go check out my post Short Fiction Queens or visit the round up post to see the full range of fab Foxy women in horror posts.

Not only! But also! The splendiferous Mark West has compiled another Mixtape blog, this time on short Stephen King fiction.  I did a short thing on ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’ and you can read it, and the rest of the picks, over on the Mixtape here!

Publication News!

horrors-vol-1-ver-3cAnd I am thrilled to announce I’ll be having a story published in the upcoming Alchemy Press Book of Horrors. My story ‘Down Along the Backroads’ is a bit of a weird post-apoc multi-world thing where new visitors to town stir up things best left unstirred. There’s a lovely bunch of horror folks joining me in the table of contents (see the full list here!) so look out for that around September time.


I may have written a couple of non-fiction books.  I blame the mother ship entirely.

Thus – coming later in the year will be a couple of short taster guides for card divination! Let’s Try Tarot, co-written with Patricia Barber, will give the quick and easy way to try out tarot reading. Its companion volume, Let’s Try Cartomancy, covers quick and easy playing card divination. More news on those to follow!



Waxing Lyrical at Fox Spirit

Fox-Spirit-Logo-BFS-293x300Proving that you don’t need to be at a convention to be inspired by it, you’ll find me talking about the wonderful world of SFF online fiction over at the Fox Spirit Books blog. Yes, there are lists. Because how could there not.  And links aplenty! Hop on over!

Women for the Win!

ghost-summerThis morning I’m delighted to be part of Mark West’s latest short fic mixtape – it being Women in Horror month, the theme is, quite naturally, Women in Horror. My personal pick is for one of the many excellent stories in Tananarive Due‘s Ghost Summer: Stories collection, which is a book I enthusiastically recommend you all go out and buy, just because!   But the particular story I’ve picked is also available online at m’beloved Lightspeed so you can pop over to read the Mixtape then link through to read the story! (Is that a deal or what?)

Elsewhere across the interwebs, the gloriousness that is the Girl’s Guide to the Apocalypse has resurrected from its shallow grave to fight the good fight once more, so you’ll find me and many others popping up there with info, meta and all manner of oddness.  Thus far we’ve covered survival rations and stocking your pantry, the art of protest signs, humour as an essential survival tool, how to date an egomaniacal dictator and my own contribution – a vaguely Resident Evil inspired ramble on Beware the Monsters.

Apocalypse Girl2

State of the Jen: May 2016

pocketssml.pngAs you can see from the lovely picture, I’ve got my contributor copies of the latest Fox Spirit goodness!  (Fab foxy mug not included!)

So, published in December 2015 in the very cool Fox Pockets Vol. 6: Things in the Dark, was my flash fic ‘In Darkness Dreaming’ – with a trainee mermaid-pirate, monsters of the deep and underwater ruins.  Three of my favourite things!

Then in February 2016, in the very fabulous Fox Pockets Vol. 7: In An Unknown Country, ‘The Strongest Conjuration’ was published.  This one’s a tale of a haunted city, portal hopping refugees, with the odd mermaid-pirate for good measure.  Because, of course there is. 😉

And coming up next Tuesday will be Fox Pockets Vol.8: Piercing the Vale, with my story ‘Dead Women’s Tales’ – this one continues with the refugees in the haunted city and gives voice to the restless dead.  (The mermaid-pirates are having the night off!)

In other news!  This week I was the guest blogger on Sarah Ash’s Nobody Knew She Was There blog series – check out Get Shorty for babbling about short fiction and lisssssssts, precious!  So many lists!  And don’t forget to peruse the rest of the blogs in the series as there’s been some awesome genre gals talking all manner of intriguing things.

The Cool Reads (and other shiny stuff) of 2013 Post!

And lo, there were many funky stories read in 2013….

Though I didn’t read nearly as much online fiction as in previous years, recommended shorts from the year-that-was include:
Abyssus Abyssum Invocat by Genevieve Valentine – Lightspeed (February 2013)
As Large as Alone by Alena McNamara – Crossed Genres (July 2013)
The Crimson Kestrel by Leslianne Wilder – Beneath Ceaseless Skies (February 2013)
Death Comes Sideways to the Mall by William Alexander – Apex Magazine #46
Dreams of Peace by Dana Beehr – Beneath Ceaseless Skies (May 2013)
The Drowned Man by Laura E. Price – Beneath Ceasless Skies (May 2013)
A Family for Drakes by Margaret Ronald – Beneath Ceaseless Skies (March 2013)
Forgiving Dead by Jeff Stehman – Daily Science Fiction (May 2013)
From the Book of Names My Mother Did Not Give Me by Christine V. Lao – Expanded Horizons (April 2013)
In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind (part 1) (part 2) by Sarah Pinsker – Strange Horizons (July 2013)
In Metal, In Bone by An Owomoyela – Eclipse Online (March 2013)
A Little Sleep by Melissa Mead – Daily Science Fiction (May 2013)
Mermaid’s Hook by Liz Argall – Apex Magazine #46
Of Ash and Old Dreams by Sarah Grey – Daily Science Fiction (June 2013)
The Princess and Her Tale by Mari Ness – Daily Science Fiction (May 2013)
Pythian Games by Tom Doyle – Daily Science Fiction (March 2013)
Singing Like a Hundred Dug-up Bones by Alex Dally MacFarlane – Beneath Ceaseless Skies (May 2013)
Swan Song by Melissa Mead – Daily Science Fiction (April 2013)
With Tales in Their Teeth, From the Mountain They Came by A.C. Wise- Lightspeed (January 2013)
Town’s End by Yukimi Ogawa – Strange Horizons (March 2013)

There were some cracking anthologies published in 2013, if you haven’t already picked them up, go check out:
Glitter and Mayhem, John Klima & Michael Damian Thomas (eds) (Apex Book Company)
Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond, Bill Campbell, Edward Austin & Edward Hall (eds) (Rosarium Publishing)
Noir Carnival, K. A Laity (ed.) (Fox Spirit Books)
Tales of Eve, Mhairi Simpson (ed.) (Fox Spirit Books)
Terra Nova: An Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Science Fiction, Mariano Villarreal (Editor), Sue Burke (Translator), Lawrence Schimel (Translator) (Sportula) (First English translation edition in 2013)
The Book of the Dead, Jared Shurin (ed.) (Jurassic London)
The Other Half of the Sky, Athena Andreadis & Kay T Holt (Candlemark & Gleam)
We See a Different Frontier: A postcolonial speculative fiction anthology, Djibril Al-Ayad and Fabio Fernandes (Futurefire.net Publishing)
What Fates Impose, Nayad Monroe (ed.) (Alliteration Ink)
Winter Well: Speculative Novellas About Older Women, Kay T. Holt (ed.) (Crossed Genres)

Collections! (Because you can never have enough short stories!)
Across the Event Horizon, Mercurio D. Rivera (Newcon Press)
Conservation of Shadows, Yoon Ha Lee (Prime Books)
How the World Became Quiet, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Press)
Kabu Kabu, Nnedi Okorafor (Prime Books)
This Strange Way of Dying, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Exile Editions)

Artists who did beautiful beautiful art! 
Alexandra Knickel (Assorted covers, including this Lightspeed one)
Amy Mebberson (Pocket Princesses web comics)
Edvige Faini (assorted covers, including this Lightspeed one)
Halil Ural (this Lightspeed cover)
Julie Dillon (assorted covers – I am an unashamed fangirl of her work!)
Mats Minnhagen (assorted covers)
Renee Nault (assorted illustrations and web comics)
Sarah Anne Langton (assorted covers)
Sara K. Diesel (cover of This Strange Way of Dying)
Sutthiwat Dechakamphu (assorted covers, including this Lightspeed one)
Tina Marie Lane (assorted covers)
Zack Fowler (assorted covers)
Zsófia Tuska (assorted covers, including this Beneath Ceaseless Skies one)

A Pirate’s Life for Me!

foxpiracyHurrah! Piracy has been ebookified and is available via Wizard’s Tower Books, your regional Amazon and at some point in the next month or so at Spacewitch. And at £2 it’s a steal, so get ye-self over there and get one!

There are a whole bunch of excellent stories in it, by a whole bunch of excellent people, but today I want to talk about mine! Or more specifically, why mermaid-pirates.

See, according to the stories, there are two types of career options for mermaids. The quiet mermaids are the ladies of leisure, lounging around random rocks combing their hair and gossiping with their bestest gal-pals. Occasionally one may be inspired by stories of humans to get involved with the strange land creatures, and by assorted means pursue their target until they’re dutifully wed or consigned to death due to an enchantment gone bad. The bolshier ones are having none of that foolishness, and prefer to seduce their human prey into the water where they can drag them down into the depths for fun and drowning. Every sailor knows this.

mermaids from pirates-wikia-com

Mermaids call shenanigans on boring career options

What every mermaid knows, however, is a different matter. Their stories tell of all those times their selkie cousins lost their skin to human treachery; all those times their sisters got captured for amusement and profit and were ill paid for what assistance they gave drowning humans in storm churned waters; all those times they were hunted by humans who thought they could get an advantage in fishing or just grab themselves a mermaid wife. No sensible mermaid is going to let that carry on unremarked. Not for long.

And while there are plenty of activities where mermaids excel – smuggling, treasure hunting and salvage, music, art, marine sciences (of course), underwater archaeology, combat (especially of the shock troop variety), legitimate trade, hunting, exploration and storytelling; by far the most popular choice is piracy.

maidattack1 from davidhahnart-comAnd really, why wouldn’t it be? Mermaids have the tactical advantage in the water – they can sneak up on their targets and scuttle a ship hull without even once showing their head above the surface. Or if they want a little more sport, they can sing their prey into the water and hold them there until the air is gone from the humans’ lungs. So taking down a boat and picking the plunder out of the wreckage later is a common way to make a quick profit – after all, the mermaids have tithes to pay to sea-witches and the ruling mer-clans, so they might as well let the humans stump up the booty.

pirate mermade fron selinafenech-comBut like a lot of pirates, half the fun is in the fight. When their blood gets going they like the challenge of facing the humans in open combat, matching tooth and claw and stolen blade against whatever the humans can wield. Wagering they’re fast enough out of the water to take down their foes before the biting air and solid ground turns the advantage back to the humans.

And so my story “Past Lives” – where human-pirates hunt mermaids and mermaid-pirates hunt humans and the spectre of an ex-mermaid pirate captain hangs over it all.

Picture Credits:
1 – Mermaids of the Caribbean http://pirates.wikia.com
2 –When Mermaids Attack by David Hahn http://davidhahnart.com/2010/02/28/when-mermaids-attack/
3 – A Pirate’s Life for Me by Selina Fenech http://selinafenech.com/archives/?nggpage=2

Getting Your Fix #1 – Online Magazines

From time to time it is said that short fiction is a dying form and that publishers just aren’t publishing it any more. To that I say: bollocks! Short fiction has never been healthier and more available than it is now. There are more anthologies than you can shake a stick at, e-book shorts are sold for the device of your choice via assorted retailers, authors post free online fiction on their websites and then there’s the crown jewel of the short fiction world – online magazines.

To the surprise of no-one who knows me, I love online magazines. (Check out the Shiny Stuff section on my other site for links to my favourite stories!) And really, what’s not to love. So long as you have an internet connection and some kind of tech to read on, you have easy access to a vast quantity of free fiction. If you don’t like reading on a computer screen, then you can throw a few quid the magazine’s way and subscribe to get the e-book versions delivered to your preferred reading device, and many magazines do podcast versions of their stories and dead-tree versions as either individual issues or end of year anthologies.

But me, I read on screens. (Laptops, unlimited broadband and wifi – the three best inventions in the universe, I tell you true. Kindles and iPads come a close second.) I slush for Lightspeed, so would, of course, highly recommend anyone taking a shuftie at it. They publish some awesome fantasy and science fiction, along with author interviews (and they’re reopening for subs on 20th June, if you’re that way inclined!) Lightspeed also has a sister magazine – Nightmare – for the horror aficionados, though I’ll confess to not having read much of that as yet. (Bad Jen, no cookie.)

Strange Horizons is another firm favourite and has my highest stories-I-like hit rate of all the magazines I read, and always gives fascinating non-fiction. Beneath Ceaseless Skies is another top one, and is great for thoughtful secondary world fiction, as well as some gorgeous cover artwork. Clarkesworld completes the top tier online magazine roster, and another one with gorgeous cover artwork, however I find them a little bit highbrow at times so can be something of an acquired taste. Always worth a read though.

Crossed Genres can always be counted on for fiction that pushes at the traditional boundaries and has a specific interest for stories about under-represented people. (They also do some cracking anthologies, but anthologies are for another post!) Expanded Horizons is another great magazine pushing for more diversity in the field and publishes some truly breathtaking stuff.

In the department of ‘does what it says on the tin’, there’s Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and Alt Hist, which, no surprise, do heroic fantasy and historical/alternate historical stories, so if that’s your thing, that’s where you want to go. If you like longer short fiction, then may I point you at GigaNotoSaurus for all your novella pleasures. If you prefer much shorter short fiction, than Daily Science Fiction does flash fiction five days a week (and free subscription if you want the stories delivered via email.)

Other fab free online mags include Abyss & Apex, Indian SF, Subterranean Magazine, Apex Magazine, Philippine Genre Stories and Ideomancer, and if you get a taste for any of them, don’t forget to donate a couple of quid to show your appreciation and generally keep them going.

Lastly we have the hybrid online magazines – those that exist in both dead-tree and electronic formats and include, but are not limited to, things like: Albedo One, who sell PDF versions of their magazines, Something Wicked has moved to an annual anthology but back issues are still free on their site, Shimmer has some of their content free online while selling the full issues in print and multiple digital formats, and fans of the TTA Press range of mags can easily buy DRM-free digital copies of Crimewave, Interzone and Black Static from Smashwords.

So, yeah, no-one’s publishing short fiction at all. 😉