Jennifer Brozek | Wordslinger & Optimist!

Bubble & Squeek for 11 Dec 2017

by Jennifer Brozek 11. December 2017 13:14

This past weekend I was at Anglicon for the first time with Books & Chains. It was also my birthday weekend. Sometimes, you just gotta work on your birthday. I did have a good time. Sold lots. Got to meet up with old friends and pet celebrity corgies while they slobbered all over my hands. But now, I'm exhausted. So, here's a Bubble & Squeek for you.

Article: I got a shout out in this article: 5 Literary Agents Discuss the Horror Genre. Thank you Lane Heymont.

Release: The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade anthology has been released. This has my story “To Lose the Stars” in it!

Release: Pathways – All New Stories of Valdemar anthology has been released. This one has my story “Reborn” in it. This is a sequel to my story “Written in the Wind.”

Review: A nice review of The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade anthology with a shout out to my story.

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Anglicon Schedule

by Jennifer Brozek 5. December 2017 10:05

I will be at Anglicon this coming weekend as a panelist and with Books & Chains. If I'm not at the Dealer's table, this is where I am.

Friday:
Black Mirror: Too Much or Just Enough - Cascade 2, 2pm
The Best British Shows You're Not Watching - Cascade 2, 4pm

Saturday:
Sherlock Holmes in Every Incarnation - Olympic 2 - Saturday, 3pm

Sunday:
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Clara? - Cascade 2 - Sunday, 3pm

Both Raven and I will have mystery boxes to sell at the convention (perfect for that hard to buy for person in your life) as well as books and candles. Elise, of course, will have her fabulous chainmail.

Come by, say hello, get a book signed, and buy a gift for yourself or that someone special. Hope to see you there!

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Tell Me - Benjanun Sridaungkaew

by Jennifer Brozek 4. December 2017 09:12

Happy book day to Benjanun Sridaungkaew! In this Tell Me, she talks about the agony and ecstasy of the rewrite and how important a lesson it was to her.
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Winterglass is my second novella, and prior to it I was mostly a writer of short fiction. I feel I’ve learned a lot more from writing it than my first long-form work: to wit, because Winterglass required a monstrously extensive rewrite.

This sounds more like a horrendous mistake than a learning experience, but with short stories, if I wrong-foot or make false starts (sometimes the entire story being a false start) it’s easy to scrap it all and start over from scratch: there’s a disposability to short story ideas, and you can run away from ones that went sour or fizzled out. While you can still do that with longer works, and sometimes it’s absolutely the right course of action, there’s a good deal more investment, and this novella happens to be the longest work I’ve published so far. It doesn’t help that my false start was so extensive that there was no way to neatly restart from the midpoint, or the two-third, or anything like that. There were entire subplots that have been in the book since the first few chapters. At that point, with my usual mindset with short fiction, it was super tempting to just dump the entire completed manuscript and try again with a completely different idea. This was infuriating, given that I went into writing this expecting it to be simple and essentially write itself.

But I was rather fond of the characters, and felt the core premise had some legs. “The Snow Queen” is a fairytale I don’t see retold much, and not retold the way I had in mind. I decided it was worth the time. First I had to identify what’d gone wrong, and I realized that I had an entire point of view—a blonde foreigner named Idrun struggling against her society’s patriarchal standards—that just didn’t work: she took up close to a third of the book (!) and did... nothing. She interacted with one of the other POVs, but not in any meaningful way. She didn’t affect the other subplots and certainly not the main plot. She was soft and boring and a dead weight. She had to go.

Once I axed her, something magical happened: the revision clicked, the focus on the novella’s two protagonists—the duelist Nuawa and the general Lussadh—was a lot sharper, their relationship more intense. The manuscript grew longer, but it was all meat and muscle. The rewrite took just a couple weeks for a novella that had, prior to that, taken me four agonizing months. I learned to balance confidence in my ideas and my craft, and the awareness to identify my own weaknesses.

Winterglass now more deftly fits its description (a post-colonial, lesbian retelling of “The Snow Queen”), and is far tighter than its first draft ever was. The journey was arduous, but I’m more than pleased with the result.

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Benjanun Sriduangkaew writes love letters to strange cities, beautiful bugs, and the future. Her work has appeared on Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, Apex Magazine, and year’s best collections. She has been shortlisted for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her debut novella Scale-Bright has been nominated for the British SF Association Award.

 

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Tell Me - Kristi DeMeester

by Jennifer Brozek 27. November 2017 09:36

This is a story of persistence. Kristi DeMeester is an author after my own heart.

In late 2007, I decided I wanted a Masters degree in something I was actually interested in. Thankfully, my alma mater offered exactly that: a Masters in Professional Writing. I signed up for the GRE—bombing the math portion—filled out the applications, and found two people who were actually willing to write letters of recommendation. That next August, I was back on campus and exhausted. I was working full time, taking classes at night, and somehow still completing all of the required coursework.

I learned a lot about craft in my program but mostly spent the next year and a half learning how shitty my poor attempts at story were and that writing was work. All of those romantic visions I’d had of rain-dappled mornings seated in a beautiful office with a perfect cup of coffee at my side, my body still lithe as it was when I was twenty, quickly vanished in late night, bleary-eyed stare sessions at my laptop while I stuffed onion rings in my face.

In December of 2009, I marched across the stage in the same slacks I’d been teaching in all day, and then promptly did nothing with my writing. For all of the workshops I’d sat through and all of the reading I’d done about “showing instead of telling” or “scene rather than summary,” I realized I knew almost nothing about publishing or how to, you know, see my work in magazines.

For the next year, I kept writing stories. They were bad, and I knew it. I got a copy of Publisher’s Marketplace. I researched online. I found the forums at Absolute Write, which lead me to Duotrope, which lead me to markets where I could send my stories. In the fall of 2010, I sent off my first story. It was rejected from every single market. I kept writing. I sent off three more stories. They too were rejected. I found the magazine Shock Totem, and started participating in their monthly flash fiction contests. I never won or placed. I kept writing. I sent off two more stories. And then, it happened. A very small literary magazine accepted a flash piece, so I kept writing. I kept submitting.

After four years of constant submission and writing new stories and some acceptances but lots of rejections, I had a massive number of stories that had died a quiet death in a special folder on my laptop. They’re still there for those moments I need to laugh at myself. But there were other stories. Stories I was incredibly proud of. Stories that other people seemed to like as well. And so I started playing with what I had. Which stories did I truly love? How could they fit together? Slowly but surely, I started seeing themes emerge. Motherhood. The monstrousness of earth. How lovely some things can seem to be until you peer beneath the surface. And then Everything That’s Underneath was born.

Writing the stories in this collection was a lesson in writing as terrible effort. That for every minute I was flying along, high on what I imagined was my own brilliance, there were a thousand other moments of staggering, crushing doubt and fear and belief I was wasting my time. But night after night, I put my ass in the chair because I’d made a deal with myself. Those moments that were good were worth all of the other moments that came between. And the only way to have a body of work was to keep going, to keep writing, and to trust that the years in between would lead to better and better work. Everything That’s Underneath includes the stories I’m most proud of from the beginning of my career. Since then, there have been many more nights sitting down with my laptop and tapping at the keys until I have a story. Or a novel.

And I’ll keep going.

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Kristi DeMeester is the author of Beneath, a novel published by Word Horde. Her short fiction has been reprinted or appeared in Ellen Datlow's The Best Horror of the Year Volume 9, Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volumes 1 and 3, in addition to publications such as Black Static, Apex, and several others. In her spare time, she alternates between telling people how to pronounce her last name and how to spell her first. This is her first short fiction collection.

 

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OryCon 2017 Schedule

by Jennifer Brozek 13. November 2017 15:05

This weekend is OryCon. I will be there as a dealer and as a panelist. Below is my schedule. If I’m not in a panel, I’m probably at my dealer’s table. Come on by to see me. I'll have my "stealth book" with me. :)

Friday, 17 Nov 2017
4pm: GM School

A primer on how to run a game for those who are interested, and even those who have never done it. How to keep your players involved & interested in coming back. What campaign to pick for your players.

5pm: Writing and Art for the RPG Industry
A how-to workshop on what it is like to work for the RPG industry.

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Saturday, 18 Nov 2017
10am: I Quit My Job to Be a Writer! WHAT HAVE I DONE?

How do you stay focused when you're all by yourself and the realities of making a living via the written word come flooding in? Find techniques for forcing yourself to get words written and plots plotted, with time to get dressed and leave the house.

1:30pm: Reading with Jennifer Brozek
I will be reading from NEVER LET ME SLEEP and from FIVE MINUTE STORIES.

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Sunday, 19 Nov 2017
11am: Pamper Your Muse

How to get your creative mind to talk to you. How writing prompts, mind maps, creative dates with yourself, tarot and storytelling cards can help you tap the muse.


While I am not an official participant of the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell’s Sci-Fi Authorfest 11, I will be there with Josh Vogt who is an official participant.

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Tell Me - Mario Acevedo

by Jennifer Brozek 10. November 2017 09:12

Happy Book Release day to Mario Acevedo and Hex Publishers!

Over at Hex Publishers, our favorite stories are those when things go bad. And bad in a big way.

In my critique group, one that I share with Josh Viola, we are a macabre, sadistic bunch. There’s seldom a story that we read where one of us doesn’t chime in with, “You know what would make this plot more interesting? If the mother takes an ax to her daughter-in-law.” And that story is supposed to be a romantic comedy. Our conversations draw upon what we’ve gleaned from coroners and medical examiners. We routinely rehash crime-scene investigations from Forensic Files. Blood spatter analysis is a favorite topic of conversation. While we love debating the dramatic potential of poisons, shivs, arson, and my favorite—suicide by autoerotic asphyxiation—what really gets us going is a discussion about the why. For example, at what point in a business relation does an executive decide that the only way to proceed forward is to murder his partner? Or that the best way to get rid of a romantic rival is by running her over with a Buick? Or when a husband decides he’s had enough of his wife and after offing her, buries her corpse in the basement and rents a steam cleaner to tidy up the house? Edger Allen Poe would not have raised an eyebrow to any of these criminal shenanigans.

For me, this where a story gets the most interesting, at the point when things go bad in a big way. One of the most compelling plot devices is irony, or to be more direct about it: the power of unintended consequences. We love the grist that backfires, or the finely tuned homicide that in itself becomes the trap. We writers give our characters only enough relief to give them hope and then plunge their heads back underwater. Few things turn the screws of a narrative like a good double-cross.

We preach love one another but lock our doors at night. Yet, if we are murdered, it will be most likely by someone from within our household. Till death do us part and allow me to accelerate the process. We pray for peace and a better world but revel in the vicarious thrill of violence because it lets us indulge in the mayhem from a safe distance.

Which gets to a deeper question: what is the human compulsion to do wrong? One of my go-to Scriptures is Job 5:7 Man was born to trouble just as surely as sparks fly upward. Would any of us be surprised that should we come back in a thousand years, people will still be leaving bloody handprints at the scenes of robbery, betrayal, and murder? And those tragedies will remain our favorite stories.

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Mario Acevedo is the co-editor of Blood Business, Crime Stories from this World and Beyond, the forthcoming anthology from Hex Publishers (November 10, 2017), Josh Viola, Chief Editor and Publisher.

 

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Where is Jennifer in November and December?

by Jennifer Brozek 30. October 2017 09:05

I've got seven events (conventions, readings, appearances) left for the year. Here they all are. November has five events! Come see me read or talk or just come visit and buy books. I'm creating mystery boxes for the December events that will be perfect for gift giving. Otherwise, we'll have signed books and candles!

NOVEMBER
Jet City Comic Show - Tacoma, WA
(Dealer with Books & Chains.)
November 4-5. Details here.

Bellingham Holiday Book Festival - Bellingham, WA
(Dealer.)
November 11, 10 AM-2 PM. Details here.

YA Speculative Fiction Extravaganza @Village Books - Bellingham, WA
(Multi-author reading/panel.)
November 11, 7 PM. Details here.

OryCon - Portland, OR
(Panels. Dealer with Josh Vogt.)
November 17-19. Details here.

Multi-author signing @University Bookstore - Mill Creek, WA
(Multi-author reading/panel.)
November 25, Time 1-5pm. Details here.

DECEMBER
Anglicon - Sea-Tac, WA
(Dealer with Books & Chains.)
Dec 8-10. Details here.

ODDMALL - Bellevue, WA
(Dealer with Josh Vogt.)
Dec 16-17. Details here and here.

Hope to see you at some of these events!

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Black and White Photo Challenge

by Jennifer Brozek 23. October 2017 08:40

The talented Jean Rabe challenged me to the black and white seven day photo challenge. Each day for a week, I posted a black and white photo of something without explanation. The first day, when I moved my podcasting microphone from my desk to its place, I thought it looked neat. That was the first picture. The rest were pictures of things on my desk. I decided this was a good way to look at my every day world in a new light.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite? I think mine is either the microphone or one of the two gargoyle figures and their adornments.

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Bubble & Squeek for 17 Oct 2017

by Jennifer Brozek 17. October 2017 08:43

Currently, I am an outlining and synopsis writing machine. Three outlines, three formal synopses and three informal ones in eight days. Brain? Brain? Who’s got the brain? Have a Bubble & Squeek.

Announcement: In case you missed it... Award-winning author Jennifer Brozek slated to pen the first Young Adult BattleTech trilogy!

Interview: High Level Games interviewed me at Gen Con. It’s not too long of a podcast. 

Kickstarter: Ya'll might want to look at this. Notice something interesting? If you want to survive the zombie apocalypse, I can make that happen. #outbreakundead

Podcast: Five Minute Stories Podcast is live! 9 of the 26 podcasts have posted.

Review: Alasdair Stuart reviews Five Minute Stories. He Likes It! (For me, this is like having a favorite author blurb your first novel.)

Review: Publisher's Weekly review (they like it!) of The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade anthology includes a shout out to my story, “To Lose the Stars.” You can pre-order it if you want.

Story: “Fancy believing in the Goblin King.” This is the best thing I’ve read in a long, long time.

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Tell Me - GA Minton

by Jennifer Brozek 16. October 2017 09:57

Mystery is defined as something that is a secret, something where there is no clear explanation, something difficult to understand or explain, or something unexplainable or unsolvable. Horror is defined as a feeling of great shock, fear, and worry caused by something extremely unpleasant; an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust.

Edgar Allan Poe is generally recognized as the “Father of the Detective Story.” His publication in Graham’s Magazine of The Murders In The Rue Morgue in 1841 is considered to be the first modern detective/mystery story. Poe referred to it as one of his “tales of ratiocination.” Ratiocination is defined as the process of exact thinking. Besides being a proficient poet, Poe was also the first American writer to popularize horror and the macabre.

Horror is a genre of fiction which has the capacity to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle its readers or viewers by inducing feelings of horror and terror. Howard Phillips (H.P.) Lovecraft, the master of the horror tale in the twentieth century, once said that “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

The components of a good horror story usually include fear, surprise, suspense, mystery, foreshadowing, and imagination. A good storyline will interconnect these important elements together in one way or another for maximum effect.

Fear is paramount to any horror story. Scaring the reader with fears they may or may not have (fear of the unknown) is key to writing a spooky tale. A strong emotion of fear sets horror apart from the other genres, and expanding on that fear can contribute to surprise. If the author can’t elicit fear in the reader, then the story shouldn’t fall into the horror genre.

Surprise is important in order to connect with the reader. If the writer can make the fear(s) a surprise, then the story will be even more exciting. Many horror movies rely on the element of surprise to terrify its audience. By tying a surprise to the end of a long suspense, the reader will stay hooked on the storyline. 
Suspense can be used to keep the reader’s adrenaline flowing, especially if it plays off of fear. If the story is written well, then the reader will be afraid if the character is afraid. Well-placed suspense holds the reader’s interest in the story and puts them on the edge of their seat. If suspense is intertwined with fear, then it will keep the reader on a roller coaster ride. A suspenseful story is more often than not dependent on a good mystery.

Mystery is a strong element in any horror tale. Generally speaking, the more unknowns the author has in a story, the better the read. A mystery that’s not solved until the end of the book can definitely make for a suspenseful tale. Mystery and suspense can also be used together as a hook to keep the reader’s attention. In order to surprise its reader, a story needs a convincing mystery.

What’s the difference between mystery and suspense? Mystery contains one or more elements that remain unexplained or unknown until a story’s ending. A good mystery story showcases a given character’s struggle with different psychological and/or physical obstacles in an effort to achieve a particular goal or goals. Suspense is elicited when the reader isn’t aware of what’s coming next or what the outcome of an event or conflict in a story will be. A savvy author will create suspense by keeping the reader guessing as to what will happen next. As the great Alfred Hitchcock once said, “Suspense is the state of waiting for something to happen.” A mystery story reveals the major crime or event, followed by the protagonist solving the mystery of the who, why, and how of it. A suspense story delivers twists and turns before showing the crime or event later, thus eliciting a feeling of suspense in the reader. The enemy of suspense is predictability, which should be avoided when constructing the plot. Many authors are able to create a blend of suspense and mystery in their stories, thus providing a reliable way to keep their reader’s interest.

Foreshadowing is a way of preparing the reader for the climax of the story. By leaving well-placed clues in the plot and not giving away any answers, the author can make the mystery in their book even more enticing. Foreshadowing can be used as a tie-in to a mystery as it builds anticipation in the reader. An indication for the occurrence of future events, foreshadowing is a valuable tool for any writer.  

Imagination can be a horror author’s best friend when used to construct the events, characters, situations, and storyline of a book. The reader can also draw upon their imagination as they conjure up images and visions of what they’ve read.  When used synergistically, fear, mystery, and imagination are crucial to any good horror story. If the reader can imagine themselves as a character in a story, then the author has succeeded in his endeavors. “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” - Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

Why is it important to include mystery in a horror novel? Most people enjoy mysteries because it’s an intellectual challenge for them to figure out the answer to a puzzle. If  the narrative contains a thought-provoking mystery, then the reader will want to know how the plot is resolved. A good mystery will leave clues that should keep the reader hanging until the end of the story. Horror is tailored for those readers who wish to have their imaginations stimulated through fear, especially psychological fear or fear of the unknown. Given that the human imagination knows no limits, a cornucopia of scary characters have been created throughout time, including monsters, demons, and ghosts, just to mention a few. The genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy are usually based on fear and imagination, which is why they often overlap each other. A well-written horror novel can uncover a reader’s hidden anxiety or deepest nightmare—the more mysterious the antagonist, the more effective the horror. Adding mystery to horror not only makes for a more interesting story, but it also heightens the fear. Horror authors know that keeping the narrative terrifying is a must for any tale of horror. A horror story without mystery is like a body without a soul.
   
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G.A. Minton has always been a diehard fan of science fiction and horror.  Strangely enough, it was only after G.A. was rear-ended by a drunk driver and suffered a closed-head injury that he developed a newfound passion for writing. ANTITHEUS, a supernatural horror novel and recipient of rave reviews, will be released October 16, 2017. G.A. Minton is married, and lives in Texas with his wife, a son and daughter, and two Bengal cats named Phinneas and Shamus. He is now referred to as “the savant horror writer” by many of his friends.

 

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Latest Releases

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The Last Days of Salton Academy
YA Horror

Amazon | Barnes&Noble |
Ragnarok Publications

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Never Let Me
YA SF-Thriller Omnibus

Amazon | Barnes&Noble |
Permuted Press

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Never Let Me Die
YA SF-Thriller Novel
Amazon | B&N |
Permuted Press


Never Let Me Leave
YA SF-Thriller Novel
Amazon | B&N |
Permuted Press


Never Let Me Sleep
YA SF-Thriller Novel

Amazon | B&N |
Permuted Press


DocWagon 19
Shadowrun novella
Amazon | BattleShop
DriveThruRPG


The Karen Wilson Chronicles
More InformationBuy Now.


Apocalypse Girl Dreaming
Fiction collection
Amazon | B&N |
Evil Girlfriend Media

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Jazz Age Cthulhu
Amazon | B&N |
Innsmouth Free Press


The Nellus Academy Incident
YA Battletech
novel
Amazon | Battleshop |
DriveThruRPG
| B&N

Jennifer Brozek: Writerholic

Jennifer Brozek is a Hugo Award nominated editor and a Bram Stoker nominated author. Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited fifteen anthologies with more on the way, including the acclaimed Chicks Dig Gaming and Shattered Shields anthologies. Author of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, Industry Talk, the Karen Wilson Chronicles, and the acclaimed Melissa Allen series, she has more than sixty-five published short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions.

Jennifer is a freelance author for numerous RPG companies. Winner of the Scribe, Origins, and ENnie awards, her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity, Savage Worlds, and White Wolf SAS. Jennifer is the author of the YA Battletech novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, and the Shadowrun novella, Doc Wagon 19. She has also written for the AAA MMO Aion and the award winning videogame, Shadowrun Returns.

When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. Jennifer is a Director-at-Large of SFWA, and an active member HWA and IAMTW. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniferBrozek.