The Internet of Things That Care – Finally published!

My short story, The Internet of Things That Care, has been published in the award-winning Scottish science fiction magazine, Shoreline of Infinity. This is particularly sweet to me because this magazine gave me my first publication, in their very first issue back in 2015. It’s nice to be back!

I say finally published because this little tale had nine rejections, including positive rejections from Asimov’s and F&SF. I’m a bit old school in that, if publications don’t accept simultaneous submissions, I actually wait to be rejected before submitting elsewhere, so the process can drag on for years.

I read the story a few years ago at a Litcrawl reading at Borderlands books to a fully-packed room and it got a great response, which gave me the energy to not give up and keep submitting.

Get it now in digital or in print – and thanks for reading!

Shoreline of Infinity magazine cover

Tiny book launched! “Both very enchanting and very ominous,” The Bear Box is now available in paperback

I’m so pleased that The Bear Box is finally out in the world. This is a tiny book–4×7 inches and 69 pages–and takes about an hour to read. It’s very satisfying to be able to finish a book in an evening.

The Bear Box book cover image

I realized recently that most of my stories are love letters to real life (physical reality as opposed to virtual) which is ironic given that technology is the lens I use to view it. Here’s the back of cover description:

In the aftermath of a tragic accident, Yosemite National Park blocks access to WorldNet, hoping visitors will focus on the natural wonders that surround them instead of virtual entertainment. 

Seventeen-year-old Anika gets an unexpected break from the intrusive monitoring of the cuff she’s worn since birth. She finally has the chance to bend some rules, but so do the rest of the visitors to the valley.

What happens when guardrails and safety nets vanish? It’s a weekend of firsts…and lasts.

And the blurb my writer’s group friend so generously offered:

“Both very enchanting and very ominous. McDonell’s writing is vibrant and precise in this can’t-put-it-down coming of age story.”
–Peter Delacorte, author of Time on My Hands and Levantine.

Anyhow – get it now, and please leave a review if you liked it! Thank you!

The Perfect Specimen is a bestseller at Borderland’s Books!

LitCrawl is a one-night literary festival/word party that takes place in hundreds of venues in San Francisco’s Mission district every October. I gathered together a group of women writers to read under the theme “Women Imagine Different Worlds” and our reading took place at Borderland’s Books, an amazing sci fi/fantasy/horror genre bookstore.

Not only did the reading go really well (people laughed at the oddest things in the short story I read) but all my nice friends (and a few strangers) bought every single copy of The Perfect Specimen I’d brought to Borderlands, and asked me to sign them (I realized I didn’t know quite how to do this as I’d only ever done it once as a joke) and because they bought so many – I ended up making the bestseller list for October! Number 5 – ahead of Neil Gaiman! I suspect this might be height of my literary career and if so – AWESOME. I’m happy. If you make it to the store before the end of November you’ll see my book there in the bestseller rack in real life. : )

The Perfect Specimen is now available in print

That pretty much sums it up! If you hate ebooks and want to feel my slender volume in your eager hands, head to Amazon now and buy it!

Also, if you have read and liked this novella, I’d be grateful if you left a review on Amazon. Thanks!

Instantaneous travel, allergies, and evil twins

“The Obscurists” now available via podcast on The Overcast


I’m pleased to have a second story accepted by The Overcast speculative fiction podcast. J.S. Arquin really brought “At First Sight” to life with his voice acting, and I could imagine him reading “The Obscurists.” I guess he could too, because he did it–excellently!

I hope you enjoy this story because it’s one of my favorites, a combination of future tech, games, relationships, travel, social media, and social capital. It also explores the idea of ownership in an ephemeral world.

To quote from the site: “The Overcast is a speculative fiction podcast featuring breathtaking stories from the Pacific Northwest and Beyond.  Every other week we produce short stories in an easy to digest audio format, perfect for listening to while driving, biking, jogging, riding a unicycle, or striding across the land perched atop your giant killer robot.”

“The Chosen from the First Age” reviewed in The Guardian

Woo! “The Chosen from the First Age” was reviewed in The Guardian in The Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Roundup. My story was called out which is another first – my first real review. !!!!!!!

The Shoreline of Infinity wins British Fantasy Society Award 2018 for best magazine/periodical

I am so proud of the team. It takes a lot of work and love to keep a magazine going. I’ve been involved in this magazine since Issue 1, where my story “See You Later” was published. Since then, I’ve been a submissions reader (temporarily taking a break due to the job), and have illustrated two stories. I also had the pleasure of having tea with the editor, Noel Chidwick, in Edinburgh during Fringe Festival a few years ago.

Following this success, Shoreline released “The Chosen from the First Age: Stories selected from issues 1-10 of the award winning science fiction magazine.” I was happy to learn that “See You Later” was chosen to be reprinted – as was a story I illustrated, so the illustration appears again as well. A double whammy of happy!

(My illustration for Little Freedoms, below)


Hot off the digital presses…“The Affair” on The Arcanist (and now in print)

arcanist year one

This is my shortest story ever at 600 words, and that makes it popular with very busy people. It’s only a three-minute read! I’ve gotten tons of positive feedback. Plus, The Arcanist does a really nice job formatting these stories–nice artwork, a good font, plenty of space between lines, room to breath.

I wasn’t a big fan of short fiction until I began to write it. I love big, fat, 2-inch thick books where I can immerse myself in a world. However, writing my own short stories drove home the point that every word matters. Every sentence matters. Everything has to be deliberate. It’s a challenge and a lot of fun to try to bring characters to life in such a short time. I’m loving it!

If you read the story and like it, there is a place at the end to give “claps.” Not a horrible disease but a way to let me & The Arcanist know you enjoyed it.

UPDATE: The Arcanist published a print version of the first year’s stories–mine included. “The Arcanist Year One: Over 50 bite-sized science fiction and fantasy stories.” You can find it on Amazon if you like paper books.

Listen to “At First Sight” – now a podcast on The Overcast

The Overcast, run by J.S. Arquin, is “a speculative fiction podcast featuring breathtaking stories from the Pacific Northwest and Beyond.  Every other week we produce short stories in an easy to digest audio format, perfect for listening to while driving, biking, jogging, riding a unicycle, or striding across the land perched atop your giant killer robot.  Listening while swimming is not advised.”

I’m really excited to be included in this collection. I’m in really good company and J.S. Arquin in a great reader. Having this story read by a professional allowed me to experience it as its own thing, not a thing I wrote. I smiled the whole time and am so happy this story is out in the world. If you do listen, would you mind leaving a comment on the webpage? Writing is such a solitary exercise – I would love your feedback. Thank you!

New Reader Magazine launches

My story, “First Contact,” is featured in the debut issue! Download the issue here. (My apologies, it is many megabytes, but it is very nicely done with great illustrations).

“New Reader Magazine is a quarterly arts, literature, and culture journal. Our purpose is to publish fearless fiction and non-fiction, poetry, identity and culture essays, and groundbreaking visual art. We want to bring you the world and all the amazing things going on in it, and introduce you to all the weird and wonderful people who are Making Things Happen.”

Read “First Contact”

Scintillating Audio drama! World Premiere!

My short story, “See You Later,” was adapted by Debbie Cannon and performed as a play on August 16 at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Debbie Cannon and Danielle Farrow did the acting, with Jonathan Whiteside as the voice of Hugh.

I cannot tell you how over the moon I was when I got the news that that Shoreline of Infinity had chosen my story for this event. Jump up and down run around happy. As my fellow writers know, rejections are the norm and successes few and far between. I wish I could have gone to see it but it would have been a very expensive 15 minutes. Plus, everyone loved it in my imagination! Why risk ruining that with reality. : )

Read Resolutionnow on Perihelion,

Perihelion is an online magazine that has been called “hardcore sci-fi at its best” and “treasure trove of all things futuristic.” Its stories have been reviewed in Locus magazine. This is my second professional publication and I’m really happy and excited. Check it out!


“Resolution” explores the challenges of telepresence tourism and first dates.

“Virginia had a good connection to the inexpensive Ro-Body she’d rented for her trip to London, but the damn thing wouldn’t move. She sat paralyzed on a bench as the other tourists reeled around the walled-in area, giddy as New Year’s Eve drunks as they tried to figure out how to pilot their mechanical bodies.”

And so it begins…

My short story, “See You Later,” appears in Issue One of the Scottish science fiction magazine, Shoreline of Infinity, which just received a great review from Amazing Stories.

“For hardcore members of fandom looking for some fresh insights on “what if,” and for those casual readers intent on just taking a leisurely peek at the genre, Shoreline of Infinity is a smart place to start.”

The mission of the magazine?

“We want stories that explore that uncertain future. We want to play around with the big ideas and the little ones. We want writers to tell us stories to inspire us, give us hope, provide some laughs. Or to scare the stuffing out of us. We want good stories: we want to be entertained, here on the Shoreline. We want to read how people cope in our exotic new world, we want to be in their minds, in their bodies, in their souls.”

Get your physical or digital copy on Amazon!


My debut novella, The Perfect Specimen is available on iTunes and  Amazon! 

Dr. Derek Singh is sure that one of planet Victoria’s millions of venomous insects holds the key to destroying cancerous tumors–and jumpstarting his stalled career.

Unfortunately, the traps he sets each night capture nothing but dust, and his competitive colleagues don’t share the venom they’ve collected. The clock is running down on his two-year grant and he’s making no progress.

When his young neighbor–one of the few native-born children–finds out he studies “bugs,” she is eager to bring him all the specimens he needs. Derek worries she’ll be bitten or stung, but soon discovers Mia is in danger from a far larger predator–the corporation that funds him.

Read an excerpt here. (This is a novella–a fun read of about three hours.)

Reader reviews:

“What a fantastic read! Brilliant, inventive story, beautifully descriptive language, and amazingly well rendered characters and scenes for a short. Can’t wait for her next work!”

“Great read. Speculative fiction at it’s best. Realistic without the improbable or unrealistic tech of so many sci-fi stories. Real moral dilemmas that will make you think.”

“Like another reader who posted here, I read past my bedtime as I kept turning the digital pages of this very well-written exploration of medicine, politics, psychology, space travel, love, friendship and more.”

“This was some of the best sci-fi I’ve read in a long time. The story has really stuck with me and I keep thinking about it. I keep wishing I could pick it up and read more.”

The Perfect Specimen is a prequel to the (in progress) science fiction novel Six.

No crime, no pollution, no poverty–no privacy. Life is good on newly-colonized planet Victoria–if you don’t mind the intrusive surveillance. Mia claims she doesn’t, but a lifetime of hiding a valuable talent from the cameras has condemned her to shallow relationships and dependence on recreational drugs. When she loses her high-paying job and takes a temporary position at a small security firm, evidence quickly mounts that Victoria isn’t as perfect it claims to be. And neither is she. Read an excerpt.