Jennifer Brozek | Wordslinger & Optimist!

Tell Me – Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed

by Jennifer Brozek 16. October 2019 09:05

I’ve worked with Danielle many times. She’s one of the hardest working people in the indie and small press scene. This Kickstarter has just three days to go. I think you should check it out.

New Tales for Old…Retelling Classic Faerie Tales

It is always a challenge to rewrite a classic. You want to do it justice and capture the feel, but you also want to transform it and make it your own. When I had the idea to write a steampunk version of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves one of the most important things for me was being culturally accurate. Not exactly easy when you are writing steampunk in an area not known for steampunk. I chose to approach this using two essential tools: a cultural consultant and history.

My cultural consultant—Day Al-Mohamed—ended up being my co-author. Not only did she help keep things accurate in terms of culture and faith, but also in capturing the essence of Middle Eastern storytelling conventions.

And the history…history offered a treasure trove of material that couldn’t have been more suited to our task if we’d written it ourselves. Both of us discovered many elements from the time period and before that supported our rendition of this story as a steampunk faerie tale.

Day and I would like to share with you a little of our experience writing Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn.

From Danielle Ackley-McPhail:

The East has a strong tradition of technological wonders. From puzzle boxes (Himitsu Bako)  to automatons to urban infrastructure, all of which we wove through our tale. One of the things I uncovered in my research was a Middle Eastern engineering book from the 13th century…yes, the 13th century. The title is The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices written by Al-Jazari. The book is significant enough to be republished even in modern times. What better foundation to support Ali’s interest in the art of building mechanical things. 

From Day Al-Mohamed:

I’m going to tell you about something that is in Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn but shouldn’t be.  Our book is based on the story  “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” from 1001 Nights (also referred to by many as Arabian Nights) and unlike the various Disney versions or even the famous Burton translation (trust me, that’s the version most people have read), we decided to be as authentic as possible and to go back to the sources: The first collection to ever be seen in Europe came from a 14th-century Syrian manuscript translated (very loosely) by Antoine Galland in the 1700s; and a second version, the Zotenberg’s Egyptian Recension, from the 1880s, which is the more “complete” version of the 1001 Nights. (Yup, big history nerding-out here.)

Here’s the big secret: Most people know the phrase “Open Sesame” from their own experiences or childhood familiarity with the 1001 Nights. They are the magic words to open the treasure cave.  What is interesting is that those words, as a magical means to open the cave, first appeared in Antoine Galland’s 1700s translation of the 1001 Nights. They did not exist in any earlier oral or written variants of the tale. It was completely made up by the Frenchman to make the tale seem more exotic.

“Open Sesame” is more fake than any modern interpretation or changes to the “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, but because it is so ingrained into Western society’s idea of a magical cave of wonders, we couldn’t get rid of it!

In Closing:

Five years ago Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn was released and immediately went out of print. We are thrilled to be able to rerelease the book through eSpec Books. We are currently running a campaign to fund the publication of this new edition, if you would like to check it out on Kickstarter.

 

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Good-bye My Friend

by Jennifer Brozek 10. October 2019 08:02

John A. Pitts AKA author J.A. Pitts has died of “amyloidosis of the heart”—an f’d up gene mutation that has no cure. I knew he was sick. I didn’t realize how sick until he reached out to a mutual friend and asked him to tell me so I could contact him. At the time, he had “six weeks” left to live. I’d planned to visit and tell him the whole story of the Rogue Academy trilogy. He loved BattleTech and my stories. Three days later he died.

I didn’t get to visit but I did get to text, to tell him how much he meant to me, and that I loved him. At least I got to do that. It’s hard telling people you love how much they mean to you when you know you’re telling them good-bye. I’ve done that twice now in the last six months. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. You have that tiny bit of closure to hold onto.

John (along with Jay Lake and Seanan McGuire) was pretty much my welcome wagon into the non-RPG publishing industry. I met him casually at Norwescon a couple of times. But I got to know him at the Rainforest Writers Retreat in 2010. Black Blade Blues was about to be released and he was nervous. He told me once, years later, that he was always nervous about a book release.

John exemplified one of my own personal mottos when it comes to the publishing industry: “Share the love.” Publishing is not a zero sum game. It’s a small world and, eventually, you will work with a lot of people—including your heroes. John always had a good word and an open ear to any writer he met. He was good about contacting me out of the blue, just to see how I was doing.

In my last face-to-face conversation with him, he asked me if I regretted not doing something due to my father’s illness and death. I told him no, because I hadn’t planned on doing that, I was going to do something else. I admitted to not handling my father’s death as well as I had wanted to. I think it was one of the reasons he didn’t tell me then and there how bad things were for him. He didn’t want to burden me with another impending death. That was how John was; always thinking about those around him first.

There are many things from our last text and face-to-face conversations that make sense in retrospect. Questions he asked me. Things we talked about. I will miss his messages, his hugs, and his advice. John was one in a million and I’m damned lucky to have known him. Also, I’m so very sad that memories are all I have left.

Good-bye my friend. I love you.

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Bubble & Squeek for 30 Sep 2019

by Jennifer Brozek 30. September 2019 09:09

Life has been a bit rough lately. Not just for me. It is getting better. Slowly, surely, life moves on. Still working on BattleTech: Ghost Hour. The words are returning. In the meantime, here's a Bubble & Squeek for you.

•    Podcast: The Dire Multiverse. I am voice talent on this urban fantasy podcast, mostly playing the character Dana Lessington…who you will find out is more than she seems. I occasionally play other NPC character parts, too.

•    Podcast: ShadowBytes 06: Miyazaki – From DocWagon 19. The team rescues someone they know. Trivia: Miyazaki stars in the serialized Shadowrun story in GTM magazine, “Between a Corp and a Hard Place.”

•    Podcast: ShadowBytes 07: Literal Milk Run – This is my play on a heist supposedly being so easy it’s like running out for milk. This is the penultimate episode of ShadowBytes.

•    Publication: “Written in Red” by Jennifer Brozek and John Helfers. This is my first collaboration with John and it turned out be a good one. Tie-in story for Emberwind, the RPG.

•    Recommendation: The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes. My blurb: “This book is messed up in all the right ways. It’s as if Pixar’s Inside Out mugged Toy Story in a surrealist Raymond Chandler novel. Weird, fun, scary, and a great mystery to boot. Hayes sticks the landing.”

•    Support: As always… if you appreciate my work and would like to support me, I love coffee. I am made of caffeine. This is the quickest way to brighten my day.

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Author by the Sea

by Jennifer Brozek 11. September 2019 14:36

After my father’s illness and death and my stalling on my novel-in-progress, I decided I needed a personal writing retreat—both for the writing and the retreating from normal life. A reset point. I do my best recharging by the ocean. It fills me and lets me rest. I kept a journal while I was there.

Day 1: Thursday
This is the first time in my life I’ve taken a vacation by myself for myself. I’ve traveled alone before, but my destination always included meeting up with someone. Whether it was for a convention or a writing retreat, I was never actually alone. I feel a little weird about this. but not bad.

Now that I’ve given myself permission to grieve, to cry, I have no tears and I don’t know why not.

Wandering through a hotel in the middle of the week as the hotel transitions into the off-season reminds me of the Alhambra hotel from THE TALISMAN, the novel by King and Straub. There’s no one around, long empty corridors, and services are limited.

Day 2: Friday
I’ve learned that I need more than a view of the ocean. My dream oceanside home will be close to the shore or on the shore and up high (on a bluff/above the 6th floor of a condo building). I like the hotel I’m in but it’s not close enough to the shoreline for me.

I made the tactical error of not bringing a sweater. Always bring a sweater with you to the ocean. There is always a breeze and it’s usually cold.

Faced my fear and went out to have a meal at one of my favorite restaurants by myself. I was going to get it to go then decided it was silly to not eat there, enjoying the place. Facing one’s fear is hard.

Day 3: Saturday
The words are returning—slowly, haltingly, like learning to walk again. So are the random story ideas. Of course, this random story idea involves a haunted hotel, but not exactly in the normal way.

Another tactical error on my part was forgetting the binoculars. I’m too far away from the shoreline to really get a good look at the kites, flying go carts, and boats on the water. Must remember for next time.

Definitely the off-season now. Limited menus and no lunch service. Good thing I packed food for all breakfasts and lunches.

Day 4: Sunday
I’ve figured out that I can write or not-write just as well at home, but it’s the solitude I’ve needed. I’m not done crying, but I think the worst of it is over. I’ve now written more in the past 2 days than in the past 3 weeks.

I miss my Husband and kitties. I miss the Husband’s cooking. I miss my bed. I’m ready to be home.

Day 5: Monday
I’ve decided to go home a day early. I can write or not-write just as well at home, and I am writing again. So, mission accomplished.

6 days is too long. 5 is long enough. Controlled solitude is healing. I think this has been a good learning vacation. Maybe I’ll do one again next year. Just closer to the ocean shore.

 

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Tell Me - Dawn Vogel

by Jennifer Brozek 10. September 2019 08:38

Dawn Vogel is one of those authors and editors working in the publishing trenches that most people don’t know about but should. Here, she tells me how she incorporates real world history that is stranger than fiction into her writing.
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The stories I included in my collection, Denizens of Distant Realms, are all secondary world fantasy stories. They didn't all start out that way, however. The first version I wrote of "Dry Spell" was a historical fantasy story, set in Colonial Virginia. In doing some research related to Roanoke (one of my favorite unsolved mysteries of history), I found an article that talked about extreme drought in the Virginia Tidewater in the late 1500s and the early 1600s. The earlier drought, which lasted three years, might have been a reason behind the disappearance of the Roanoke colonists. (article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/04/980428075409.htm)

I also researched the presence of Romani slaves in the American colonies, and found that though their numbers were few, the Romani had been enslaved and brought to the Americas as early as 1492, and then again later by the Spaniards. With these elements in place, I pulled together a historically accurate story that included a little bit of magic on the side for the fantasy portion of the historical fantasy story.

The problem with writing historical fantasy that revolves around little-known facts is that it sometimes winds up unbelievable, because oftentimes, history is a whole lot weirder than people think it is. There are all sorts of strange facts and incidents you can find if you dig into the history books, but if you put them in a story, they wind up throwing the reader out of the narrative because they seem so implausible. So, even though my Romani slave helping to free other enslaved people during an extended drought in Colonial Virginia was historically plausible, it didn't work as a believable story.

Instead, what I had to do was turn it into a secondary world fantasy story, changing the names of locations, the ethnicity of the main character, and the language she and her friend had to struggle to translate. At that point, the story suddenly became plausible fantasy, because readers were no longer in need of knowledge about droughts in Colonial Virginia and the colonial slave trade including Romani slaves. But those elements of my research helped me pull together the plot, and the details could be swapped out like a scarf on an outfit, changing the entire feel of it.

If you like writing historical fantasy, I've found it's often easier to stick to the bits of history that people know a little bit better, rather than the obscure portions. You may still have to get rid of some of the really outlandish (though historically accurate) bits, but you can still use the general time period. Failing that, you can always take the weird parts of history and reskin them into something more solidly within the realm of fantasy, like I wound up doing with "Dry Spell."

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Dawn Vogel's academic background is in history, so it’s not surprising that much of her fiction is set in earlier times. By day, she edits reports for historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business, co-edits Mad Scientist Journal, and tries to find time for writing. She is a member of Broad Universe, SFWA, and Codex Writers. She lives in Seattle with her awesome husband (and fellow author), Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats.

 

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Dad’s Memorial and Other Thoughts

by Jennifer Brozek 4. September 2019 14:21

North Carolina was hot and humid and generally awful to Seattlite me. Good things and bad happened; more good than bad, all things considered.

Dad’s memorial was 90% good and 10% awful. I enjoyed and appreciated everything that John (BIL), Shannon (sister), and Pastor Stan (former pastor) said and did. I think those parts of the service were a memorial worthy of Dad.

Unfortunately, the “new” pastor—he’s been there 3 years and I still can’t remember his name—took a religiously myopic view of the service, turning the memorial into a sermon without any regard for the friends and family of differing faiths that my father had.

I mentioned this to Mom a couple days later. I’m glad she likes him, he is her pastor after all, but I think he really needs to rethink his process for future funerals/memorials.

Basically, he preached that Dad was baptized at 50, thus saved…and any of you heathens out there, that aren’t saved in the proper manner, won’t see him again unless you convert to the one true way. Of course, the words were prettied up, and backed by an odd reading about the centurion who wanted his servant healed…and how he was a military man who understood he wasn’t worthy. I think the pastor chose this reading because he really didn’t know Dad. He was a man who had left the military over 30 years ago and often didn’t want to talk or think about that time in his life.

It was almost as if the pastor didn’t actually know what a funeral was for or that people of different faiths might attend…like the Muslim woman who was one of Dad’s longest friends from when he first came to North Carolina. Much less the different Christian and non-Christian faiths that were represented. Mostly, I wish it had been a funeral rather than a sermon. Instead of being soothed, I walked away irritated, feeling unwelcome, and not charitable towards that church. It’s an unfortunate memory to carry with me from my Dad’s memorial.

Mom was brave throughout the memorial and only cried through Taps. She says she isn’t a strong woman. I guess she’s got enough stubbornness, persistence, and willpower to fake it. I think my relationship with Mom has leveled up in some undefinable way. We talked and laughed and remembered together. For the first time, I really worried about leaving her to go home and understood the stereotypical meme of wanting Mom to move in.

I think my relationship with my sister also leveled up. The day after the memorial was done, Shannon gave herself permission to fall apart. At one point, she started crying and said, “I need my sister.” I hugged her and pet her hair. We’ve talked more in the last few months than in the last few years. I think we’ll keep it up.

The Husband was a rock through this whole thing. He was ready to help out, move things, and run-go-fetch at a moment’s notice. He also was happy to sit there in companionable silence. I appreciated that so much. So did Mom.

Grief has not been kind to my writing career. I’m months late on the next BattleTech novel. My editor knows and understands. I’m going to spend some time at the ocean by myself in a private writing retreat where I can work and cry and re-center myself in the new normal that my world has become. Life goes on for those of us who are still living. I know my grieving isn’t over but I hope after my retreat, it will mostly be at peace.

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Declutter Monday, Round 2, for 26 Aug 2019

by Jennifer Brozek 27. August 2019 09:34

Declutter Monday for the 19th was a bit scattered. The first task was to gather up all the cat toys, beds, and stuff that the cats don’t use but clutter up the floor. The second was a round 2 on the family room. It was a lot of editing down of big furniture. Not that exciting.

Declutter Monday for the 26th was actually a Round 1 for me; I tackled the rarely talked about digital decluttering of my phone, my desktop, and my computer file structure.

Thought 1
: Decluttering my phone was hard…and easy. I deleted all the shortcuts of programs I never use. Moved like items into their own folder (IE: social media, businesses, games, and office programs). Then examined and removed unused programs. One of the most annoying things is that there are programs you don’t use that you cannot remove from the phone. The only thing you can do is remove it from the start screen.

Thought 2: One of the hardest things for me in decluttering my phone was hiding/grouping all my social media apps and all my game apps. I'm so use to going to them out of habit—a habit I want to break—that putting them one layer down will make me stumble. One day later and it’s annoying, but I’m twitching towards my phone less. So, that’s good.

Thought 3: Desktops are like dining room or kitchen tables: prone to collect things. Decluttering my desktop turned out to be surprisingly easy. I pulled ALL of the shortcuts, images, and files from my desktop into a single folder last week. If I reached to click on it, I pulled it out. I decided that if I hadn’t wanted to click on it in the last week, I didn’t need it on the desktop. I moved the one picture and two PDF files to their appropriate places and deleted the folder. No muss, no fuss.

I’ve never seen my desktop so clean. I now have 10 shortcuts on my desktop: 4 social media, 3 programs, my dowloads folder, trash can, and my main computer. Note: I do have a number of programs on my taskbar at the bottom of my screen and a notes app on the right side with a list of dates and tasks coming up. This is how I actually use my desktop. I like the minimal look.

Thought 4: You need to be thoughtful on your clean up, declutter, and re-organization of your file structure. I made the tactical error of moving a large folder with 8000+ files in it. That took 90 minutes and seriously interrupted my flow. Start small. Declutter/delete FIRST then organize. As a writer, I have way-way too many old files, novel versions, and redundancy options for “just in case.”

Thought 5: Decluttering your file folders and modifying your file structure is going to reveal emotional landmines you didn’t remember were there. (Terrible) Old, half-finished stories. Letters. That folder of ECC LARP admin stuff? I will say, as much as it is a pleasure to shred, it is also a pleasure to delete. I’m an intellectual magpie, but I’m old enough to know that I don’t need a lot of this hanging around.

Thought 6: If you think it will embarrass you, or your family, should the worst happen…and you don’t actually need that file or folder or story or information or letter…delete it. It’s not worth the mental or emotional baggage.

Thought 7: You may have to keep unpleasant stuff: stalking/doxxing proof. Bad contracts. Stuff that you need a history of. Put them in their own purgatory file. You’ll have them, but you won’t run across them unexpectedly.

I think this ends my official Round 2 of decluttering. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now. I can let my things and stuff rest for a bit. I suspect I’ll do a lot of random little decluttering here and there as time/emotions permit. I’ll try to keep track of them for a round up Declutter Monday.

Note: I know I haven’t done any sentimental decluttering. At all. I’m feeling a bit fragile right now with the death of my father. It’s probably going to have to wait until next year. Until then, the sentimental drawer can sit where it is: cluttering up the bottom of my nightstand—where it is out of sight and mostly out of mind.

 

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RIP John Allen Brozek

by Jennifer Brozek 20. August 2019 07:52

Dad died yesterday. Born: 14 May 1946. Died: 19 Aug 2019. He was 73 years old. I’ve been mourning him since my last visit over Memorial Day weekend. It was the last good time he had. His health declined rapidly after my visit, then plummeted after my brother’s visit. He was diagnosed with IPF 4 years ago. It started getting bad about 14-18 months ago. It’s been the worst for the last 3 months.

I sent him this letter after I got home. Mom said he cried over it and reread it many times. I sent him a post card or greeting card every week since then. His favorite gift from me was a subscription to LetterJoy. He loved non-bill mail. It was the least I could do to try to brighten his day as the end neared. This letter says everything I could say as a memorial to him.

28 May 2019
Dear Dad,                           

I’m on the plane home from our visit. I thought, since you enjoy real letters so much, I would write you one. I’m so glad I visited. I’m glad you were having a good week and we got one last chance to spend time together. I’m glad I got to share
“700 Sundays” with you. I knew you would like it.

It is both wonderful and terrible to know that you are probably speaking the last in-person words to your father you will ever speak. When you said that you were “on your way out.” I said, “I know.” I thought I had it all together. I didn’t. And I didn’t realize this until we spoke our probable last good-bye. Not everyone gets that chance.

As soon as we got in the car I thought of so many things I meant to tell you. Little things like the fact that I still have the Christmas letter you wrote me in 1980, giving me the gift of Charity. I have it framed and hanging on my wall. It’s something I will never forget. I cherish that letter. I think it changed me, changed me for the good.

There is so much of you in me. I know you don’t always approve of my actions—my tattoos, some of my personal opinions, my language—but I am your daughter through and through. I am grateful for many of the lessons you taught me early in life. Things like doing a job well, considering the consequences of my actions, taking responsibility for my successes and my mistakes. Fixing what I can and passing on what I can’t.

I remember dinners when we were growing up where you’d entertain us with jokes and stories. I remember the good times. The tough times have faded into an indistinct blur. We say that you are the sentimental one in the family. I think much of that has been passed on. I cherish our football watching days and times you would tell me about a particular stone I got for you.


I want you to know that you’re in my thoughts and always will be. I will never forget that you always tried your best with me, Shannon, and Scott. All I want for you now is peace and contentment. I hope you get it. I want you to be happy. I don’t know how to make that happen, but that thought is always on my mind.

You told me that you loved me and to remember that you’ve had a good run. I’m glad of that. Not every family gets to say such while they’re together. It will make Memorial Day that much more important to me. To remember you as a veteran, as my father, and as our last visit together.

Of course, “end stage” IPF means so many things. 2 months to 2 years on average. You’ve never been average a day in your life. If you live to see Memorial Day 2020, I will rejoice. But I’m never going to regret telling you these things. Some things are meant to be heard by the living and to be remembered after death. I wanted to make sure you know and understand how much you mean to me, how much of you lives on in me, and how grateful I am to finally understand this.

Sometimes a child has to grow up to understand the adult their parent has been all their lives. I love you. I will see you when I see you.

My favorite picture of me and Dad, Monterey Bay, 1992

If you would like to donate in his name, your local animal shelter would be good. Dad loved dogs and rescued many over his lifetime. Or PBS. He really liked PBS. Please send all cards to:
Jennifer Brozek
6830 NE Bothell Way, STE C #404
Kenmore, WA 98028


 

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Literal Deathbed and Other Phrases I Never Wanted to Understand

by Jennifer Brozek 16. August 2019 08:30

My father is ill. Very, very ill. He probably won’t last out the year. More likely, he’s already seen his last holiday season. I’ve been dealing with this on an intimate level for months. My writing and my mood have suffered. My sister and Mom have been dealing with it up close and personal for much longer than that. They’re suffering, too. But we’ve all been taught to “do what you have to do when you have to do it.”

My father has end stage idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis AKA his lungs don’t work and he’s not a candidate for a transplant. I visited him over Memorial Day weekend. Despite how he looked shocking me, it was a good visit and he was doing great for the time I was there. Once I left, though, he went downhill bit by painful bit until “worse” became the new normal. He was put on palliative hospice care.

Last week, Dad was moved to a hospital bed in the house. The last bed he will ever be in. His literal deathbed—and figuring out if that was one word or two really sucked. He can’t really walk anymore. His blood oxygen level fluctuates too wildly, too low. Even when he’s just sitting there. I saw him have coughing/panting fits. I thought they were bad. According to my family, no, they weren’t. At all. They say watching him in a “real” coughing fit is like watching him drown in slow motion (another phrase I never wanted to understand). It also sounds like dementia (it runs in my family on my father’s side) has kicked in.

I work to be there for my sister. She vents to me. We cry together. We support each other. I let her (and Mom) know they’re doing a good job. As much as it hurts to hear the latest update—he can’t work the TV remote anymore, he has a hard time following conversations, he gets angry and confused, he’s lashing out physically—I want to hear them. It helps me process the current and forthcoming pain. It’s giving me a thicker skin. (poetic words here about salt from tears building a scab…)

Yesterday, my sister let me know that we’ve gotten our last StoryWorth story from Dad. He needs to be medicated to such a degree that makes it impossible  for him to continue. If he’s awake and aware enough to answer questions, he gets upset because he doesn't understand what's happening. He doesn’t want to answer questions and he doesn’t form many coherent sentences. Still, we got 18 stories from him. 18 out of 52 is better than 0. I’m glad I discovered StoryWorth before it was too late. I have 18 stories and a bunch of pictures that will be put in a book. Memories for the future.

My grief comes in waves like the tide. My father, who has always been one of the strongest people I know, is failing. The man I grew up with is hidden within the shell of a little old man and only comes out to visit on rare occasions. I’m happy he still finds joy in small things…his Neil Diamond CDs, his Astérix & Obélix comics that we were introduced to when we lived in Belgium, my sister and mom bringing out his silly side. But I’m sad, knowing how near the end is.

I’m limiting my time online these days as much as I can. I only have so many emotional spoons to give and they are reserved for my family and my writing. So, that’s my life for the moment.

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Immortal Perfumes Sample Set Review

by Jennifer Brozek 14. August 2019 13:12

I bought the Immortals Perfume sampler set when it was on sale for $35.00. I thought it was a good buy for trying out series of perfumes from a local small business. I was right. All of the scents are high quality and well wearing (even if I didn’t like the scent). My sensitive skin had no reaction to the oil at all. Bonus!

Based on how perfume oils react with my skin and smell on me, I predicted that I would probably like about 20% of the perfumes I tested. I was right at 22%. That means I have 6 out of the 27 scents tested to consider for purchase. They are:
•    Dead Writers.
•    Death in the Afternoon: A Cologne Inspired by Hemingway.
•    Madame Moustache: A Perfume of the California Gold Rush.
•    Persephone: A Perfume of the Underworld.
•    Sylvia: A Perfume Inspired by The Bell Jar.
•    Untamed Lady: A Perfume Inspired by Gloria Swanson.

I want to buy 3 of the six. I think it’s going to be a hard choice to make. The number one scent—right now—is vacillating between Untamed Lady and Madame Moustache. Four of the six have a note of vanilla. Not surprising as it is a favorite scent. Three of them have a note of tobacco, which is surprising. Four of them have musk or Egyptian musk. I used to think musk was too much for me. Guess I was wrong or my tastes have changed.

Over all, if you’re looking for a new scent to try, I think the Immortal Perfumes sampler set is a good one to try. 

 

Name

Notes

Y/N

Dead Writers.

Notes: Heliotrope, Tobacco, Vetiver, Black Tea, Musk, Vanilla, Clove.

Me: This perfume is the whole reason I got the sampler set and I’m not disappointed. It’s sweet, warm, comfortable. Unisex. It’s a yes.

Y

Death in the Afternoon: A Cologne Inspired by Hemingway.

Notes: Bay Leaf, Tobacco, Fennel, Bergamot, Champagne, Sandalwood, Egyptian Musk, Clovebud.

Me: Quite nice. Androgynous and warm. I may have to keep this one for the Husband. (Tested on the Husband, too sweet.)

Y

Madame Moustache: A Perfume of the California Gold Rush

Notes: tobacco pipe, vegan Egyptian musk, fire, and vanilla.

Me: Alluring in the bottle. Fire comes on strong with a sweet undercurrent. Very nice. Fades nice.

Y

Persephone: A Perfume of the Underworld

Notes: Ylang ylang, sweetgrass, white musk, sandalwood, and pomegranate.

Me: Lovely out of the bottle. Sweet but not cloying. Fades to powder. We have a winner. Untamed Lady is still #1 thought.

Y

Sylvia: A Perfume Inspired by The Bell Jar

Notes: Cedarwood, Black Tea, Vanilla, Clove, Cassis, Fig.

Me: Me: Sweet with a dark undercurrent. I like this one a lot. A sweet woody scent as it fades.

Y

Untamed Lady: A Perfume Inspired by Gloria Swanson

Notes: Almond, Ylang-ylang, French Vanilla, Carnation, Peach.

Me: The peach and carnation is fresh, lovely. Older woman but not little old lady. Fades to vanilla. I like it.

Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beatrix: A Perfume Inspired by Peter Rabbit

Notes: Spanish Moss, Chamomile, Dragon's Blood, Fire, Blue Spruce.

Me: Quite nice over all. More of a scent I’d like a sachet of for my sweater drawer though. Not for wearing on me.

N

Capulet: A Perfume Inspired by Juliet

Notes: Tonka bean, white patchouli, amber, pear, and magnolia.

Me: It’s nice. I like it. Tier 2. Not an everyday scent. More like a character scent.

N

Ka'iulani: A Perfume Inspired by the Last Hawaiian Princess

Notes: Hawaiian Sandalwood, Tuberose, Fern, Pink Jasmine, Coconut.

Me: Nice, but nothing special. Vague sense of being on vacation in Hawaii.

N

La Reine Antoinette: Marie Antoinette Inspired Perfume Oil

Notes: Moss, Rose, Bergamot, Jasmine.

Me: It’s quite nice. Sweet and warm. But not for me.

N

Lady Day: A Perfume Inspired by Billie Holiday

Notes: Tonka Bean, Opium, Hawaiian Sandalwood, Lily of the Valley, White Peach, Gardenia

Me: Nice but nothing special on me.

N

Lenore: An Edgar Allan Poe Inspired Perfume

Notes: Dragon's Blood, Clove, Oak Moss, Moroccan Rose.

Me: Pleasant with a strong rose scent, but not my thing.

N

VIII: A Tudor Cologne Oil

Notes: ambergris, belladonna, clovebud, tobacco, bay leaf, fire, and Peru balsam. 

Me: Very strong out of the bottle. Fades to a woody smell. Nice but not for me.

N

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archibald: An Explorer's Cologne Oil

Notes: Egyptian Musk, Blood Orange, Oak Moss, Tobacco, Fir.

Me: Definitely a more masculine character scent. Not for me.

N

Aleister: A Cologne Inspired by The Wickedest Man in the World

Notes: Spice, Night Queen, Opium, Palo Santo, Egyptian Musk, Sandalwood, Cypress, Bark.

Me: Way too strong out of the bottle. Not for me.

N

Baby Vamp: A Perfume Inspired by Theda Bara

Notes: Tonka Bean, Dragon’s Blood, Smoke, Labdanum, Orchid.

Me: The smoke comes on strong. It’s rich. Almost too much. I’ll see how it fades. Night scent only. Fades weird.

N

Boylen: Queen Anne Boleyn Inspired Perfume

Notes: Vegan Civet, Champagne, Dragon's Blood, Violet

Me: I don’t like the way it smells on me.

N

Catherine: A Perfume Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Notes: White musk, amber, English Ivy, frangipani, rain, white patchouli, and heather.

Me: Nice. I especially like the scent of rain, but not one for my regular rotation.

N

Dharma Bum: A Kerouac Inspired Cologne

Notes: Sage, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Opium, Coffee, Clove, Bergamot.

Me: Wonderful scent from afar but way-way-way too strong on me.

N

Duchess Georgiana Cavendish Inspired Perfume Oil

Notes: Black Tea, Lavender, Jasmine, Amber, Bergamot

Me: Based on the notes, I should love this. I don’t. I think it’s the bergamot.

N

Fairbanks: A Cologne Inspired by Douglas Fairbanks

Sassafras, Cuban Tobacco, Opium, Teak, Vanilla, Sandalwood.

Me: It comes off as weirdly cloying on me. Had to remove it

N

Heathcliff: A Cologne Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Notes: Amber, leather, labdanum, white patchouli, cedar, myrhh, saffron, and chocolate.

Me: More masculine than androgynous. Nice but not on me. Too strong.

N

Hades: A Cologne of the Underworld

Notes: Belladonna, amber, oak moss, orris, opium, cypress, and narcissus.

Me: Interesting in the bottle. A bit too mossy on my skin.

N

Montague: A Cologne Inspired by Romeo

Notes: Myrhh, labdanum, dark amber, and Moroccan Rose.

Me: Strong rose scent. Don’t like the myrhh. Fades to something sharp and unpleasant. Not for me.

N

Pemberley: A Jane Austen Inspired Perfume

Notes: Rosewood, Coriander, Cedarwood, Honeysuckle, Hyacinth, Peony, Vetiver.

Me: Way, way, way too sharp for me.

N

Weird Sister: A Perfume Inspired by the Witches in Macbeth

Notes: Apricot, Yarrow, Belladonna*, Labdanum, Wormwood, Dragon's Blood, Dark Amber, Mimosa.

Me: Smells terrible in the bottle. However, the apricot and amber are strong on the skin. Sweet, dark under currents. Fades to something cloying I didn’t like.

N

Voodoo Queen: A Perfume Inspired by Marie Laveau

Notes: Black Cardamom, Palo Santo, Sage, Saffron, Jasmine, Rose, Cedar

Me: Strong and sharp. I don’t like it out of the bottle. It mellows to a mostly woody scent. Not for me

N

 

 

 

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Jennifer Brozek: Writerholic

Jennifer Brozek is a multi-talented, award-winning author, editor, and tie-in writer. She is the author of the Never Let Me Sleep, and The Last Days of Salton Academy, both of which were nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. Her BattleTech tie-in novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, won a Scribe Award. Her editing work has netted her a Hugo Award nomination as well as an Australian Shadows Award for Grants Pass. Jennifer’s short form work has appeared in Apex Publications, and in anthologies set in the worlds of Valdemar, Shadowrun, V-Wars, and Predator. Jennifer is also the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions, and was the managing editor of Evil Girlfriend Media and assistant editor for Apex Book Company.

Jennifer has been a freelance author, editor, tie-in writer for over ten years after leaving her high paying tech job, and she’s never been happier. She keeps a tight schedule on her writing and editing projects and somehow manages to find time to volunteer for several professional writing organizations such as SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW. She shares her husband, Jeff, with several cats and often uses him as a sounding board for her story ideas. Visit Jennifer’s worlds at jenniferbrozek.com.

"I see story ideas. All the time. They're everywhere. Just walking around like normal ideas. They don't know they're stories."