Sunday, March 26, 2023

People Like Us

 I am proud to announce that my short story "People Like Us" is now available in We Deserve To Exist!

Based on the Kelly Clarkson song of the same name, People Like Us is set in a world without color, where mysterious entities have been seeking out and eliminating anyone who doesn't conform to their idea of what humanity should be.

This includes queer people and magic users, and my main character—a non-binary magic user—is doing their best to help people while also staying under the radar.

They are a psychopomp, a concept common in ancient mythology. Someone who can travel to the land of the dead, who often accompanies freshly deceased souls to make sure they arrive in the underworld.

My character does this for trans people. You see, gender dysphoria in this world makes you very visible to the bad people. It makes you colorful.

So they help people die, just temporarily, although there is often, unfortunately, the temptation to stay that way. And then they help the souls come back, into a new body that fits better.

But what happens when they meet the brightest, most rainbow colored non-binary child… who doesn't want a new body?

Content warnings for transphobia, gender dysphoria, death and resurrection, dead bodies not described in any detail, temporary suicide (if that is a thing?), suicidal ideation, and persecution of marginalized people.

But even with all of that darkness as its foundation, this is one of my most helpful and beautiful stories in my opinion.

Also, there is a very good dog in it.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023


 Hello! Somehow this story never got announced! 😱

My story Muse is now available in Phantasmical Contraptions & More Errors!

It's a story about addiction and creativity in a cyberpunk world where inspiration comes in pill form. It's also a story about love, trusting yourself, and how you might just have everything you need right in front of you and not even know it.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

The Flatwoods Monster and The Little Green Men

 Hello! I am happy to announce my story "The Flatwoods Monster And The Little Green Men" is now available in Things Improbable, an anthology of stories about cryptids—those folkloric creatures like Bigfoot and Nessie that don't officially exist.

My story is about The Flatwoods Monster, a mysterious, possibly alien creature seen in West Virginia in 1952.

It's also about being transgender, and how much you are willing to sacrifice to become the person—or, in this case, the cryptid—you always wanted to be. 

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Free Reprint Story: No Collision

Originally published in Shout by Not A Pipe Press, now out of print, here is "No Collision."

(And here is my original blog post about it, if you want more information.)

No Collision

By Jennifer Lee Rossman

Jamie sidled up to the bar. It was her first time sidling and she wasn't sure she did it right, but it seemed like an important part of being a cool space captain, the ability to sidle, so she tried her best. Next time, she'd watch some YouTube videos to prepare.

"What'll you have?" the bartender asked, wiping a glass with a rag, because that’s the way they did it in the old days and only losers used robots according to the 31st amendment.

She glanced at the menu projected overhead. "What's an orange Russian?"

"White Russian with orange liqueur."

Jamie wrinkled her nose.

"Yeah, it's terrible. Actually pretty damaging to your body, too."

"Then why do you sell it?"

"Someone hacked our ordering system and had it shipped here. A few people decided to

be fanatically obsessed with it." He gave a helpless shrug. "You don't drink much, do you?"

"No," she said sheepishly. She'd never had any particular reason to, but to say she was anxious would be like calling the Mona Lisa a nice doodle. Alcohol probably wasn't the answer, but she came from a long line of functional alcoholics who liked beer, and they never seemed stressed, so she figured maybe there was something to it.

"Let me start you off with something easier," the bartender said. "How's an Irish Cofevfe sound?"

"Ridiculous, but I'll try it." Jamie glanced around, wondering if she looked as out of place as she felt. Everyone else seemed so macho, confident. The kind of cisgender white guys they put on the recruitment posters, all perfect hair and the kind of youth pastor smile that tries to convey trust while really silently praying that you don't check their browser history. Real 'Merican heroes.

But she was one of them; she belonged. She had the iron-on patch on her jacket to prove it. And yeah, maybe they'd misspelled "space," and maybe the rocket looked kind of like Mr. Toad, but they didn't let just anyone graduate Space Force University.

"You on the ship going out tomorrow?" the bartender asked when he returned with her drink. 

She held the glass carefully in two hands and took a sip. Blech. "I'm captaining the ship."

He let out a low whistle of admiration. "You don't say. I always wanted to be a captain, but you know how it goes. Bone spurs."  The poor man.

A terrible sound streaked through the air, causing everyone to clamp their hands over their ears and wince. Almost everyone, anyway. One Deaf person in the corner just raised their eyebrows and watched the commotion as the Commander’s emergency alert system was used for the fourth time that day.

(The first had been to complain about a very happy young girl trying to warn him about an incoming asteroid, the second was the daily update about which racist nicknames he was using for his enemies, and the third was an accident due to the Commander’s enormous hands being unable to press all of the tiny buttons on his phone.)

This time, however, the Commander appeared on screen — on all the screens, from phones to televisions to the menu above the bar — his face contorted like he had just sucked on a lemon. Or, perhaps more accurately, a peach with a mint in it. The man absolutely despised in-peach mints.

“My fellow ‘Mericans,“ he said, sounding extremely presidential. The most presidential. “Some people in the super false, not at all true media claim that one of our spaceships collided with a Russian ship today. This is not the case. No. Did not happen. There was no collision with the Russians.”

The screens thankfully cut away from the Commander’s face to show a PowerPoint presentation about where the collision did not occur. The pictures were askew and had artifacts that gave it the impression of having been photocopied several times, but Jamie recognized that bit of space near Pluto. That was where her mission was going to send her tomorrow.


There had absolutely been a collision.

It was undeniable, really. Even Jamie, who had never seen a collision between two spaceships, could plainly see that the ‘Merican ship had collided with another ship. She did not know enough about flags — at least not the ones that did not represent gay pride — to know whether or not that was a Russian ship, but that was most definitely a backwards R painted on its hull, and she did not think it stood for Toys “R” Us. (Or perhaps that should be Toys “R” USSR?)

“That’s a collision, right?“ Jamie asked.

Eris, her second in command who also happened to be the Deaf person from the bar, shook their head. “Can’t be,“ they signed. “There was no collision. Just ask…“ Here, they made a sign that Jamie did not understand. Her ASL skills were a bit rusty; it looked like Eris was signing “racist sunset rectum” but that couldn’t possibly be right so Jamie decided that must be the sign for “most respected Commander.”

The final member of their skeleton crew, navigator Diego, leaned against the window of the Starship Bigly and laughed. “Funny how they send a queer, a disabled, and a Mexican to do this job.“

“Two queers,“ Eris corrected.

“Right. Either we do it because we can’t get jobs back on Earth, or we don’t do it and no one believes us because we are two queers, a disabled, and a Mexican.”

“No,“ Jamie corrected. “The funny thing is that we just happened to have a mission here before the collision didn’t even happen, putting us in the perfect position to clean up this wreck we aren’t looking at.”

“Serendipity,” Eris signed sarcastically.


Nothing in the mission statement said that the crew was to clean up the wreck, as that would be documented proof that there was a wreck to clean up. But their ship, supposedly a research vessel despite the administration‘s utter disdain for science, was equipped with all the necessary equipment for cleaning up a wreck such as the one the crew was not currently looking at, making it clear what they had to do.

With every load of salvage they sent back to the Bigly in that solid gold transport pod that they would send to the Amazon for incineration, Jamie hated herself more and more. Almost as much as the Red Hat Society hated her.

(But then, the Red Hat Society hated anyone who dared to suggest that deviations from the ideal allocishet abled white Christian man from an upper-class family could ever represent the real ‘Merica. Sometimes she wondered how a club for a little old ladies who liked to play bingo while wearing red hats had become a hate group, but she would never know because someone, a long time ago, removed all of the statues and thus erased entire chunks of history from the record.)

“We could take pictures,“ Jamie said. “We could bring back evidence instead of covering it up. Why are we just … letting him tell us what to do?”

“Because nobody will believe us,“ Diego said from the other ship, his voice muffled and echoing in his helmet. “Nobody believed when he appointed his nephew to head the anti-nepotism committee, and we saw it happen on live TV.”

Eris appeared in the corner of Jamie’s vision, their hand movement as muffled by their gloves as Diego‘s voice by his helmet. “They would put us in cages, like the babies. No one would listen to us, and we would be imprisoned for the rest of our lives.”

“At least the crews of these ships died quick,“ Diego pointed out. “Sucked through the holes in the ship, exposed to the vacuum of space.” And he would know. Diego was from a country that almost exclusively studied holes in ships. A ship hole country, if you will.

Jamie frowned. “I don’t see any evidence of these being manned vessels. There aren’t even kitchens or crew quarters.“

“So, what?“ Eris asked. “Russia sends up an unmanned vessel, which presumably has a guidance system, and our own unmanned ship just accidentally hit that?“ They paused, then added, “Hypothetically, of course. There was no collusion.“

“Where was the Russian ship coming from?“ Jamie asked, sifting through the rubble by hand, not entirely sure what she was looking for.

“Pluto,“ Diego said.

Pluto. The former ‘Merican outpost that was now supposedly overrun with bad hombres? Why would they be in contact with the Russians?

Jamie‘s hand struck a small object. A flash drive.

“Hey you guys? I think I found something.“


“It’s a rough translation,“ Diego warned, “and I have not been able to recover the video file they are talking about yet. But this is something big. Huge. More gigantic then the Commander‘s hands.”

“Nothing is bigger than the Commander‘s hands,“ Eris signed. “He says so himself.”

“What’s it say?“ Jamie asked.

Diego hesitated for a moment, reading the transcript again to himself as if to make sure he was understanding his own translation correctly. “It seems… Seems there’s a video. They used to keep it in a dossier made of steel for some reason but now they are going to release it. The Plutonians and the Russians. It’s a video of the Commander.” He paused here. Maybe for dramatic effect, maybe in disbelief. “Now, this is where I wish my Russian were better because I don’t know if they’re talking about a garbanzo bean or a chickpea, but apparently the Commander spent the night in a Russian hotel room and paid to see one of them placed on a mattress.“

Jamie and Eris looked at each other. “Why would he pay to see a garbanzo bean on a mattress?“ Jamie asked.

“It might not be a garbanzo bean,“ Diego pointed out. “It could be a chickpea.“

“Well, why would he pay to see a chickpea on a ma —“

“I don’t know,“ Diego interrupted. “I just know with the people on Pluto think this is important for the ‘Merican people to know about.”

The three of them sat there, on the bridge of the starship that was so beautiful, perhaps the Commander would be dating it if it were a human, and they debated what to do. Would the public believe them? Would they be imprisoned? Perhaps more importantly, could they live with themselves if they did nothing?

There was only one thing they could do.

Eris hacked the emergency alert system, sending out a message to every screen in the country while Diego worked on recovering the video. Jamie tweaked the alert sound slightly; it no longer sounded like a screeching klaxon.

Now it sounded like someone blowing a whistle.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Summer Of The Blue Tide

 So you know that game Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon? Where you name an actor and try to link them to Kevin Bacon in six movies and TV shows or less based on who they have worked with?

With the publication of Summer Of The Blue Tide, available in Bioluminescent, I officially have a Bacon Number of 3.

In Bioluminescent, I am sharing a table of contents with Neil Gaiman. Yes, that Neil Gaiman. Lucifer, American Gods, Good Omens.

He also wrote Coraline, which starred Dakota Fanning, who was in Trapped with Kevin Bacon.

Anyway. About the story.

Set in a futuristic Martha's Vineyard, three young adults have inherited a problem: the bioluminescent blue waves that fuel the summer tourist economy might be putting the entire ecosystem at risk of collapse. Can they find a solution in which the ocean and the tourism can both thrive?

Or: what if the shark and the economy were victims of each other in Jaws?

Recommended listening for this story:

"Toxic," Britney Spears

"Only Wanna Be With You," Hootie And The Blowfish

"I Hope You Dance," Lee Ann Womack

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Don't Look Down

 This is one of those stories I didn't think was going to be about something important. I just wanted to write a fun story involving some weird folklore things. Instead, it's… much more.

Don't Look Down started with me wanting to write about atmospheric beasts. That led to Star jelly. And then somehow the Talking Heads song And She Was became involved.

It was supposed to be about an autistic girl going on a little adventure in the sky. It became a story about an abused autistic girl living in a group home where she is safe for the first time, and running away into the sky because it doesn't feel real. It feels like she's a cartoon character walking off the edge of a cliff, believing everything is fine, until she looks down and falls.

"Don't Look Down" is available now at Kaleidotrope.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

The Beast Of Primordial Fire

 I am very proud to announce that my story, The Beast Of Primordial Fire, is now available in Out Of The Darkness, an anthology with proceeds going to the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention.

My story is what I've been calling prehistoric mythology. It's fantastical and features a personified version of an abstract concept to explain why things are the way they are. I imagine it's the kind of story the main character and her descendants will tell around the campfire for years to come, exaggerating or forgetting details as is the way with oral tradition, until no one remembers what actually happened but everyone knows the moral of the story.

And, since I am me, the moral of the story could be condensed into "Life Finds A Way."

It's about evolution, not just in the sense that a species evolves, but the evolution of language and art and society as well. It's also about personal evolution, being scared and feeling small and helpless but letting yourself try to do great things anyway.

Content warnings include offscreen death, fear, and the hunting and killing of a mythological creature.