June 25th, 2019

Since I last posted here I’ve completed not one but two writing classes, the second one ending just last week. They’ve been a huge help to me, getting me to write out many scenes and ideas that I had rough ideas for in my head but now I have committed to paper.

Well, to the digital equivalent of paper, to be precise. I still need to finish a solid outline and fill in the gaps between these scenes, but I’m much closer to completing an actual first draft than I was six months ago, and that’s not bad.

So, what’ve I been doing since classes ended, you might ask? Surely I’ve been working on said outline and filling in those gaps.

Ok, no, but I’ve got a good excuse. I’ve been reading.

That might not sound like such a great excuse at first blush, but hear me out.

Firstly, I’ve been reading The Starving by Jon Dobbin. Jon is an amazing local author and this title just launched last month. If you’ve not gotten a copy of it for yourself, do yourself a favour and either download the ebook onto your Kindle or (preferably, in my humble opinion) get your hands on a hardcopy. If you’re reading this before the end of June, and you’re in the St. John’s area, then you’re in luck, because all Engen book titles are 20% off at Broken Books until the end of June. You’re welcome.

Secondly, I’ve been devouring Seven Blades in Black by Sam Sykes. Sam is… not so local of an author, but I’ve been entranced by this story in a way no other story has gripped me for quite some time.

Why is reading such a good excuse? Because these two titles in particular have been more inspirational to me than any other book I could be reading at the moment. Jon’s because I’ve had the great pleasure of not only meeting the man, but having had some of my short stories in the same collections as his. He’s also taken writing courses from the same person I’ve taken them from, and it’s very inspiring to see the success he’s had with it. It makes me want to follow through even more, though nothing I could write would come close to The Starving. Honestly, folks, check this out if you haven’t yet, and get a load of that sweet cover art too.

The other title, Seven Blades in Black, is more of a personal inspiration because the main character / narrator in it has a voice very similar to what I’m trying to create. It’s an original fantasy setting, nothing like the urban fantasy one I’m working on building, but the main character is written in first person and has quite an attitude. Writing in first person is fairly new to me, so seeing a flawless example of that in a similar setting with a similar character has been a fantastic source of inspiration for me. And on top of all that, it’s just an amazing story. A can’t miss for any fans of fantasy out there, trust me.

So, yeah. Writing classes start again in a few weeks and I’m going to throw myself into it once again, with the ambitious goal of coming out of it with a first draft. Wish me luck!

‘Dystopia from the Rock’ becomes Amazon Bestseller in multiple categories!

‘Dystopia from the Rock’ becomes Amazon Bestseller in multiple categories!

Engen Books

Dystopia from the Rock

Dystopia from the Rock, the fourth volume in the modern From the Rock series, hit #1 Bestseller on February 21, 2019 at 8:22 AM Newfoundland Standard Time: a full month before its release. It reached #1 in the category of ‘Science Fiction Short Stories,’ and ‘Cyberpunk.’ As of this writing it has reached #1086 on the overall paid Amazon ca charts, #7 in Cyberpunk Science-Fiction, and #10 in Genetic Engineering Science-Fiction.

Dystopia from the Rock features thirty-two short stories written by a diverse mix of some of the best speculative fiction and thriller authors in Canada, including both award-winners, veterans of their craft, and brand new talent.

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January 1st, 2019

Happy New Year, first and foremost, dear reader. I hope your 2019 turns out great, no matter how good (or bad) 2018 was to you and yours.

Writing-wise, my 2018 was pretty great. I was lucky enough to have not one but two short stories published, one in March and one in December, which is buoying me forward going into 2019 to do more. I have some plans in the works for ongoing submission calls and have also found some more to start working on, and I’m anxious to get started on those.

I do hope to develop better writing habits this year; I signed up for a great writing support group called Get Your Words Out but failed to meet my goal for 2018. I only signed up for the lowest option, too, for 75k words, but my biggest plan for hitting that – NaNoWriMo – fell extremely flat and left me way, way under that mark.

So I’m not going to sign up for that this year. Sure, there’d be some merit to doubling down and trying again, but I don’t think it’s going to work for me. I’ve tried it in previous years as well and have failed each time. I don’t think I can operate that way, at least I haven’t been able to thus far in life.

My approach this year is going to be focused on meeting smaller deadlines instead of a year long goal. Instead of trying to write X amount of words overall, I want to write and submit more entries to open submissions than I did last year. That’s not a large number either, as I really only submitted one thing in 2018 (aside from several entries in the Kit Sora flash fiction challenge).

That feels a lot less daunting than hitting a large goal. On top of that, I do have something larger I want to work on, but likewise I don’t want to set myself up for failure or set an unrealistic goal. So I’ll work on that while also writing and submitting smaller pieces throughout the year.

That’s the goal, at any rate. Let’s see what 2019 has in store for us, and best of luck to everyone reading this for your own projects in the new year.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Darkness and Chillers

Jennifer Shelby

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. I’ll follow it up with a book to inspire your writing and a small collection of writerly articles to fuel your craft.


Curse the Darkness: an Anthology of Dark Fiction

Eligibility: Original, speculative stories written on the theme of darkness from 3 000 to 10 000 words. Think Doctor Who‘s Vashta Nerada.

Take Note: the editors specifically request stories that will make them “afraid to turn off the lights.”

What makes this call stand out: this is Unlit Press’ inaugural anthology and they are offering writers good rates from the start. This suggests they are confident that their marketing strategy will put…

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Call of the Sea, Drawn to the Tides, & Chillers from the Rock at Chapters St. John’s this month!

Engen Books


Need some extra chills leading up to Halloween this month? Chillers from the Rock is available now at Chapters Kenmount Road in St. John’s. Featuring an introduction by Dale Gilbert Jarvis, as well as stories from 20 different authors, including award-winning author Kelley Power and horror bestseller Paul Carberry! Perfect for youth to adult to get in the right mood for Fall!

Also at Chapters this month: Call of the Sea and Drawn to the Tides by Amanda Labonté! With the start of senior year approaching, Alex and Lia struggle to find their place in an ever-changing reality. As Lia develops a new appreciation for human culture and norms, Alex learns more about what it means to be a human in the merrow colony. But integrating into a new world is not without its pitfalls. In his search to understand his place, Alex will come face to face with hidden…

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May 16th, 2018

Shower ideas. They’re the best, right?

This morning I was hit with a bolt of inspiration whilst washing my hair. Some people sing in the shower, others try to plug plot holes or divine a character’s motivation. Whatever floats your boat, so to speak.

I quickly hammered out some notes in a Google Docs file before scampering off to work, wishing I could stay home and further elaborate on my thoughts, but the important part was I got to preserve them. Other distractions prevented me from fleshing them out more than I’d like this evening, but I’m still very happy to have those notes captured and ripening on the vine, so to speak.

It also occurred to me today that the current planning / outlining stage I’m at with this project is not unlike plotting / drafting plans for a house. I never was any good with my hands, but I caught myself wondering if this is how people feel when they’re physically building something from the ground up, or are rebuilding a carburetor or some other automotive analogy at which I’m completely failing here.

It feels good, is what I’m getting at, and I hope to feel more of it in the not-too-distant future.