Jennifer Brozek | Wordslinger & Optimist!

Bubble and Squeek for 26 Sep 2023

There are many, many projects in progress even if it seems calm above the surface of the water. You know I'm padding like hell underneath.

Article: Stop Multitasking by Cat Rambo. I say “Multitasking is doing many things badly.”

Classes: You know that I teach online classes at the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers, right? Did you know the academy has a long list of on-demand classes?

Release: Shadowrun: The Kilimanjaro Run ebook novella. YA Shadowrun goodness set in Tanzania! The Transporter meets E.T. in the Sixth World.

Release: The Many Deaths of Jennifer Brozek ebook. First time in ebook format. Just in time for spooky season!

Laud the Artist: This Ukrainian artist, Kateryna Shelyhina (SeaStainedGlass on Etsy), has some of the most beautiful works of art I’ve ever seen.

Shout out: Fabulous Raven Oak has a new kickstarter. The Bell Ringer is filled with holiday stories and art written and drawn by her!

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.

The Many Deaths of Jennifer Brozek

Surprise Book Release! Technically, it is on the 21st of the month but everything just kinda happened. I knew this was coming. We’d planned it. But, with Gen Con and all of my projects landing at once, it slipped off the radar. Of all the balls I’m juggling right now, this one isn’t too bad to recover from.

TL;DR: New flash fiction collection from me (Jennifer) called The Many Deaths of Jennifer Brozek is available to order! It also includes my flash fiction chapbook Mastication. Not only that, The Karen Wilson Chronicles will be on sale for $2.99 from Saturday (9/16) at 1 am PST until Midnight PST on Thursday (9/21).

How this came about...

From 2014 to 2015, Jennifer Brozek wrote an “Author Story Card” for every convention she went to. On one side would be a piece of flash fiction: The Many Deaths of Jennifer Brozek: [Convention Name Year]. On the other side was a list of her currently available books and a QR code on where to find them. They were free for the taking and were a huge hit.

(A fact that still occasionally disturbs the author.)

With this edition, all of the convention story cards have been gathered up into a single collection, for the first time in ebook format. It debuted in the Gen Con Writers’ Symposium limited-edition ebook bundle to benefit Symposium writers and programs. Now it is available for you to enjoy.

Also included is Jennifer Brozek’s chapbook, Mastication. A chapbook created for Gen Con 2009 in an act born from desperation and a lack of experience because none of her books arrived in time to be sold at the convention.

Good-bye Isis

It is with a broken heart that I need to say that Isis, our beloved Egyptian Mau, has gone to the clearing at the end of the path. She is survived by her twin brother, Pharaoh, and her sisters Leeloo and Mena. The Husband and I are in shatters. I am not kidding. It will be a long time before we are okay again.

  

I know you are not supposed to have favorite kitties, but Isis was exceptional. I chose her from the litter. She chose the Husband to be her human. She loved me, but he was her favorite. That much was clear. Just like the Husband chose Pharaoh from the litter and he chose me to be his human.

Isis lived for almost sixteen years and she brightened our lives every single day. She was our siren—enticing, flirty, and sweet to draw you in. She was our siren—as loud as any alarm and twice as persistent in getting what she wanted. She will always be our lovely little girl.

 

She had been sick for a while and by the time she dropped below six pounds, moving in and out of lucidity, unable to move well or eat much, we knew it was time.

Her last day was a good day. Mostly lucid, spoiled with churu whenever it looked like she wanted it, Isis left this world to pass into the next in the lap of her beloved chosen human in a beam of sunlight. It was a gentle passing full of love and warmth. It was the kindest thing we could do for her after all she had done for us. Afterwards, we let her siblings smell her body and sense her passing.

 

We will miss Isis so much. So very much. It was one of the hardest, most responsible things we could do as pet owners. One of the kindest, too.

 

(We used Compassion 4 Paws. Dr. Julia was understanding, patient, and respectful. It helped with this hard, necessary procedure.)

Order The Kilimanjaro Run

(Aug 22 update - It's live and in the wild now!)

My fourth YA Shadowrun novella, The Kilimanjaro Run (Amazon link), is available for pre-order right now and will be released on August 22nd. I had so much fun with this novella. I think this cover (by Jori Bolton) is one of my favorite to date. It is so good. I mean, see for yourself.


Pre-Order Shadowrun: The Kilimanjaro Run here from your favorite ebook shop
. (Books2Read link)

AN UNEXPECTED ADVENTURE…
Charlotte lives with her expatriate family in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. While visiting her best friend Neema, a hippopotamus shaman, a commotion next door interrupts their weekend plans. Neema’s older cousin has been arrested, leaving her younger cousin Elijah responsible for a “job.” Charlotte insists on helping Elijah complete what seems like a simple task: drop off a car in a parking lot. Simple, easy, and doesn’t piss off the wrong people, right? Reluctantly, Neema agrees, and they set off.

On the road, they get a message from BlotterBabe, a known fixer, that they aren’t just delivering a car—they’re perpetrating a horrendous crime. Together, the trio must make a choice to do the job as they were told—and keep their cousin out of trouble with the worst of society—or do the right thing.

In the end, there is no choice. Charlotte, Neema, and Elijah do the only thing they can do: make a run for it…and hope they’re not too late to save a strange visitor to their world…not to mention themselves.

 

The Kilimanjaro Run is a wildly entertaining story that takes us on a supernatural road trip from the urban sprawl of Dar es Salaam to the rocky slopes of Africa’s tallest mountain with a motley and lovable group of characters. It’s thoughtful, it’s fun, it’s The Transporter meets E.T. set in the fascinating world of Shadowrun served with a healthy portion of its own special sauce. Readers are in for a good time.” ~Wole Talabi (author of Shigidi And The Brass Head Of Obalufon)

 

Bubble and Squeek for 15 Aug 2023

It's after Gen Con and projects are picking up speed as predicted. Have some Bubble and Squeek.

Blurb: I got the most fantastic blurb from Wole Talabi (author of Shigidi And The Brass Head Of Obalufon) on my forthcoming Shadowrun YA novella The Kilimanjaro Run (release date Aug 22). Cover reveal soon! The Kilimanjaro Run is a wildly entertaining story that takes us on a supernatural road trip from the urban sprawl of Dar es Salaam to the rocky slopes of Africa’s tallest mountain with a motley and lovable group of characters. It’s thoughtful, it’s fun, it’s The Transporter meets E.T. set in the fascinating world of Shadowrun served with a healthy portion of its own special sauce. Readers are in for a good time.”

Comic: Comic 233 by Akimbo Comics – The perfect illustration of why I write dark fiction. I’ve been thinking about this comic for the last couple of days. I wish I could have it on a poster. I keep losing it. So I'm posting it here.

Instagram: Leeloo and Miss Lemon… Sometimes she decides she’s going to be in my lap and that’s it. Singapura kitties are stubborn as hell.

Interview: I was interviewed for Writer Wednesday over at Gareth L. Powell’s blog on substack…

Review: Haunted MTL reviewed A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods. They liked it with some caveats.

Twitter: Illustrator Jon Kubina drew me and my fellow panelists from the panel I moderated at Gen Con. How fun!

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.

Gen Con 2023 AAR

Gen Con 2023 has come and gone in a wave of many, many people (reported between 70K-80K) and hot, muggy weather. I enjoyed myself despite the aforementioned crowds and weather.

 
Grace P. Fong and Jennifer Brozek at "Meet the Pros" for the Gen Con Writers Symposium.

Snapshots:

  • My mornings were odd since I didn’t have to get up super early and prep to run a booth in Authors Avenue. On one hand, I miss it. On the other, I do not. I prefer just participating in the Writers Symposium.
  • My workshops were well-attended and got great feedback. I enjoy teaching eager students. I had some great questions. I loved every panel I was on and can’t wait to come back.
  • My last panel of the convention included Ed Greenwood. It was cool circling back. I attended my first Gen Con in 2006 to sign a book we co-wrote. I was such a novice back then. Now I’m holding my own and having a good time. It was nice to have that moment with Ed.
  • Tactical error. I was able to get into the dealers hall early with the judicious use of a borrowed exhibitors badge. I hadn’t been able to see any of the dealers hall before then. I specifically didn’t want to be involved in the morning “Running of the Nerds.” Thus, I headed back to the dealer booth but I did so too late. I got caught between rows 200 and 300 right at the front of the dealers hall when they opened the doors. I swear to goodness, it was like watching the zombie hoard race towards me as attendees poured into the dealer hall and sprinted towards the booths they needed to get to buy the limited, exclusive Gen Con merch. I realized too late that I should have recorded the moment.
  • While the Husband and I attended the convention masked for the whole time, I did eat in restaurants and have a couple of private business meetings without my mask. I’m aware of at least four panelists from the Writers Symposium are down with covid and a couple more with con crud. As of now, both the Husband and I feel fine. Negative tests for covid and no con crud. So, that’s nice. However, we will continue to isolate and test until Friday.
  • Seeing old friends and catching up was worth it. Dinner with Ivan was so nice. Doing PokemonGO trades with Grace was the best. Talking Shin Kamen Rider with Brandon was wonderfully weird.
  • It is always nice to get a face-to-face with my editors. There are some very cool things writing/editing-wise coming out of this convention. I can’t wait to be able to talk about them.
  • There was one scary moment outside the convention. Monday morning, the Husband and I went to Café Patachou for breakfast. As we were leaving, a very, very angry young man crashed into me as he barreled his way into the restaurant, shouting incoherently. I have no idea what he was saying or why he was so angry. As we left the scene, the man came out of the restaurant with a half-cup of coffee (it’s self-serve at Patachou) and slammed it to the ground, still shouting. He ended up walking in the same direction we were but then stopped to hail a cab. I have no idea what it was all about and have decided, “Not my monkeys, not my circus.”
  • Oh, here’s a TMI but interesting bit for the science-y people out there: When you sneeze into a mask (and it’s not one of those gross sneezes that makes you replace the mask immediately) you get the opportunity to understand what the inside of your lungs smell like. I can’t describe the smell. It’s not bad but it’s not pleasant because of the biological nature of it. Still, it’s an interesting experience from a writer’s POV. I just wish I could figure out how to describe it.
  • Also, laud me, for I have already logged all my Gen Con freelancer expenses!

 
Jennifer Brozek and John Helfers having one last meeting at the Indy airport.

There’s more than this. But it’s all I can remember at the moment. It was a very busy convention and I am still recovering. I have my kitties, my bed, and my coffee. I am a happy author/editor. Until next Gen Con!

Gen Con is Coming

Next week is Gen Con. I actually don’t know how many of these conventions I’ve gone to (more than 10? 15?) but, I suppose, at this stage of the game it doesn’t matter.

This year is going to be a little bit different for me. I do not have a table in Authors Avenue. I chose not to have one because I’m at a point in my career where it is not necessary. Also, there are other newer, more hungry authors out there who need that spot. Thus, I bow out. Also…honestly, I’m feeling my age a little. I cannot vend in the Dealers Hall and do workshops/panels for the Writers Symposium. There is a half mile jaunt between locations which is a 12 minute brisk walk one way (ask me how I know).

Thus, this year I am only participating in the Writers Symposium, the BattleTech/Shadowrun group signing at the Cat Labs booth, and various business meetings. The Writers Symposium is located on the 2nd floor of the Downtown Marriott and will have much signage to help you find it.

 

Here is my schedule for the Writers Symposium. The link will take you to the events page and my official schedule. You can search for any author’s schedule in this place. In addition to my panels and workshops, I will be doing three signings:

  • Friday, 2:00-2:50pm BattleTech Signing - Signing: Multiple BattleTech Authors, ICC – Catalyst Game Labs booth 1611
  • Friday, 3:00-3:50pm Panel GCWS - Signing: Chesya Burke and Jennifer Brozek, ICC : Signing table near Authors Avenue. Both of us will have books to sell.
  • Saturday, 11:00-12:00pm Shadowrun Signing - Signing: Multiple Shadowrun Authors, ICC – Catalyst Game Labs booth 1611

Finally, the Symposium will be releasing the first-ever Gen Con Writers’ Symposium Collectible Drive! This USB drive will only be available in person at Gen Con 2023, and limited to 500 drives. It contains 19 retail books, including 2 new releases and one pre-release. GCWS-exclusive collections of previously unpublished short fiction from E.D.E. Bell, Jennifer Brozek, and Richard Lee Byers. The drive also includes several bonus short stories, music from The Road, and an audiobook narrated by C. S. E. Cooney.

I’m really looking forward to Gen Con this year. I hope to see you there.

 

Twenty Years in the Seattle Area

In early 2003, I lived in the SF Bay Area and worked for a little company called Placeware. In February, we discovered that Microsoft was going to buy our company for its intellectual property (which eventually became Office Live Meeting). By May, I had found out that I was one of the one hundred Placeware employees being hired by Microsoft as subject matter experts. I was a senior QA engineer. I was thrilled to be hired (at a better wage) to move up to the Pacific Northwest (like I had wanted to do since college) with the ability to buy a house… instead of being fired during the Silicon Valley Dot Bomb era.

On July 20, 2003, I officially moved to the Seattle area. I had visited once before during the “Shock and Awe” week-long orientation trip where those of us who wanted to buy a house got shepherded around Redmond to look at houses. We were known as “the hundred” in the real estate market according to my agent. I didn’t move into my condo for a couple of months because it was still being painted and such and my household goods had not yet been delivered. Fun fact: of the 50 boxes that were shipped, 35 of them contained books.


Old house, new color.

Twenty years in one place still seems surreal to this former military brat. Fifteen years living in the same house? Almost unfathomable. Before this, the longest I lived in one place was five years. I still have to fight “itchy feet” and the urge to move. I fight it with deep rounds of decluttering. It’s been a few years. Another one is on its way. I’ve gone back and forth on the want to move and why, but the pandemic gave me a new appreciation for this house and my neighborhood. I think I’m finally actually ready to settle down here for real.

This house, this place, is the home I was proposed to in, have written 90% of all my novels in, have edited 100% of my anthologies in, and has been my touchstone for all the conventions I have attended and travel I have done. During that time we have remodeled our bathrooms, upgraded our kitchen countertops, replaced our driveway and walkway, remodeled our garage, added paver stones in the backyard, cut down a number of looming trees, replaced our fireplace, and mended the found dry rot. We have also replaced the roof once and painted the house twice (from beige to grey to navy blue). Decorated the front and backyards and added gargoyles on the roof. I think it is safe to say we have put our stamp on our home and marked it well.

Twenty years in one place. Maybe I’m not yet a native Seattleite and never will be, but I think I can state with great pleasure: I am home.


Asimov and Leeloo watching from their respective perches.

Bubble and Squeek for 14 June 2023

Life continues to move on. A lot good. Some not-so-good. Busy working in the background. Have some Bubble & Squeek!

Conventions: My Gen Con Writers Symposium panel and workshop schedule. Take a look and if you are interested in the workshops, sign up. They tend to sell out quickly.  I also have a signing and a "meet the pros" gathering.

Conventions: Look who is the Editor Guest of Honor of OryCon in November. (Spoiler alert: It's me!)

On Demand Class: Self-Editing: From First Splat to Professional Finish by me is available on demand at Cat Rambo’s Academy for Wayward Writers along with a whole host of other classes.

Pin Release: Originally a convention exclusive but now available online, this is the Good Omens pin me and Alina Pete designed. Head to Sevenish Magpies to take a look. It’s so pretty!

Review: A lovely review of my Bram Stoker nominated YA zombie novel, Last Days of Salton Academy.

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.

Wishlist: As someone who flirts with the idea of audiobook narration and podcast narration…and the idea of reading my antique occult collection online, I am in lust with the idea of this: the Studio Brick acoustic booth.  Isn't it magnificent?

Tell Me - Weston Ochse

Today Weston Ochse tells me why poetry and how much wordplay means to him. I know Weston from his military fiction. This departure from his norm reveals his depths—and what a hellion he was as kid.

 

Okay. Okay. As long as you asked me why I wrote a short story collection, I will come clean. I cut my teeth on poetry. My first published works were poetry. I grew up with the snapping of fingers and husky-voiced women sipping Mogan David telling us bad poetry over a door spread across boxes as our dining room table when I was six. Well, that’s not fair. No poetry is really bad if fueled by the heart.

Plus, I thought I might have an interesting childhood. From drinking turpentine, to biting the heads off gold fish, to chasing old men down the street with dead snakes until they paid me a dime to leave them alone, to making a fake Rutger Hauer cry—all comically juxtaposed with a father who didn’t want me, being sexually manipulated, seeing friends die, and hardly knowing myself.

Just when I think my story is my own, I get emails about how others experienced many of the same feelings of inadequacy and valuelessness, only under different circumstance. For instance, I doubt many of the people I know bite the heads off goldfish, but it doesn’t make them any less fantastic.

When I was four we had gold fish. For some reason, I loved the feeling of biting their heads of-it was so pleasing. The way the flesh parted between my new sharp teeth and the slight tang of the fish-scented water. Then, afraid I might get into trouble, I put the bodies back into the water and the heads into a plant on an end table with poetry by Walt Whitman. My mother was so busy being a single mom, she didn't notice the floating dead fish until the smell fermented properly.

I suppose nowadays I’d be arrested and thrown into a padded cell. They say that serial killers began at home by killing small animals. Do fish count? Was that one of my possible destinies? I never felt like I was going to be a serial killer. Then again, which killer ever thinks they might be wrong?

“Wait. What? Why not simply write a short story collection?”

That’s a good one. I love the immediacy of poetry. I also love the style. Poems don’t need to rhyme, but many readers expect rhyming poetry. Yet, that’s such a small fragment of poems once popularized in the pre-Victorian Age. Now we have many styles such as Villanelles, free verse, sestina, lyrics, epics, narrative, pantoums, rondeaus, tankas, haikus, and all of those limericks your drunken uncle might have inappropriately said at Thanksgiving Dinner. There are many more, but you get the idea.  I tend to concentrate on free verse and narrative, although I have dabbled and had published some of the others.

But that really doesn’t answer your question. I suppose I wanted to open my literary aperture so that I might expand on my ability to communicate my inner self to the outer realm in a more dynamic mode. Prose is one way. Creative non-fiction is another, but neither lack the immediacy of a great poem.

I am a disciple of the Beat Poets, especially William Carlos Williams, Theodore Roethke, Alen Ginsberg, and Ishmael Reed from whom I have some of his words tattooed on my forearms.

Reed’s Poem “I Am a Cowboy in the Boat of Ra” begins with I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra, I bedded down with Isis, our lady of the Boogaloo. Then there is this section that appears halfway through the poem:

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra. Lord of the lash,

the Loup Garou Kid. Half breed son of Pisces and

Aquarius. I hold the souls of men in my pot. I do

the dirty boogie with scorpions. I make the bulls

keep still and was the first swinger to grape the taste.

 

Or Ginsberg’s “Howl” which helped a generation storm forth. It opens with:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,

starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through

the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angel headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly

connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.

 

Can you feel the energy of those poems? The intensity? My god, if harnessed, we could change the world. Then there is my opening salvo in my short story eponymous collection Ziggy Stardust Turpentine Koolaid. It opens with these lines:

Riotous sun cooking my brain

as I sit and stare longingly at the

white liquid resting in a mason jar,

Delicious and deadly on a hard-baked stoop.

 

Half-crazed from boredom I glare at this world.

 

Do you know who I am? What I'm about?

 

Me, grand master of the bamboo rod, eater of

goldfish, head spitter and hider of bodies.

 

Me, Tow-headed maverick of the Great Plains,

I once even saw a buffalo, flick its tail like a

Great Fuck you to Buffalo Bill

before I even knew what Fuck You meant.

 

Me, chaser away of fathers, hated of all sons,

five-year-old testament to the fact that love

is a Cracker Jack lotto.

 

Me

Solitary

Bored

Thirsty

Crazed

 

Convicted to a one parent family

Yeah. I dig poetry. Wait? What was the question again? Oh yeah, the reason I didn’t make this a short story collection was simple and selfish. I didn’t want to. I wanted to write a book of poetry. And I wanted to do it old school. Self-published.

And, uh, sorry. I think I might have overshared.

---

USA Today Best-selling author Weston Ochse has been hailed by the American Library Association as “one of the major horror authors of the 21st Century.” His work has won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won four New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. The author of more than forty books, his franchise work includes the X-Files, Predator, Aliens, AVP, Hellboy, Clive Barker’s Midian, and Joe Ledger. He was one of the founding authors of the NETFLIX TV series V-Wars. Living Dangerously: www.westonochse.com