We Can't Stop. This is Book Country.
I met Jennifer in 2007. We were vampires at the time. It’s a perfectly reversible condition: we were playing in a live-action role-playing games.
First impressions! There was a reason for the spikes.
As many LARP friendships start with a chance meeting at an event and grow while bitching in the sign-in line, so did ours. By 2010, Jennifer was a friend of mine. She was also—and still is—someone I looked up to for setting her sights on her goals and taking every difficult step to get to them.
In 2010, she put out an all-call for editorial interns, I applied. She turned me down, which I took in stride. Then she said she had a different position she wanted to talk to me about, I bit my nails and dithered and generally annoyed my roommates.
It turned out that she wanted to offer me a job as her assistant. Two years ago today, I said yes. I did not, as she told me to, take the weekend to think about it. I said yes on a Sunday.
Jenn had me selling books and working a booth at a convention before the end of the month.
Crypticon, 2010. Our zombies are cute!
I met Keffy Kehrli and Nick Mamatas at that con. I was blessed by a serene wandering voodoo lady and met a tiny zombie girl. I met a ton of editors and writers. I sold a lot of books. I introduced Jenn to Lemoncello. She kicked Keffy and Nick and I out of the room at midnight so she could sleep, but told me to keep hanging out. She said it was okay to hang out.
That's something Jenn does a lot of: tell me things are okay.
I'd work NWC with her at the Apex table in 2011, selling books by day and following her to publishing parties at night.
The fiercest of book sellers!
I'd work a booth with her at GenCon. I'd get teary as I heard her sharp intake of breath and exclamation of joy when she won an ENnie. I'd spend part of the pre-show flitting between my date and trying to get Jenn to breathe. I spent the entirety of GenCon high on caffeine because she'd feed me nixie stix daily to make up for early mornings working the booth.
The student continues to learn from the master. And eat nixie stix.
But what else have I been doing the past two years?
I've gone on latte runs. I've done data entry. I've sat side by side with her in meetings that would result in book deals. I have gleefully used neon pens to address her correspondence. I’m forever imprinted by the FedEx guy as the chick addicted to stationary supplies. I know her drinks and coffee orders. I've helped decorate at her surprise birthday party. I've taken copious notes and done "in person days" where I've sat up my laptop, and played with her cats while sorting paperwork. We've had more meals together than I can count, derailed tabletop games by talking about work, and could deforest a small continent if I printed all our e-mails.
When I said I wanted to do slush reading or editing or learn something about publishing, she’d either teach me or find me a mentor. When I found mentors on my own, she encouraged me to learn from those people. In two years, I can trace back so many of my decisions and gains to working for her. I Know My Shit, or so I am told, and Jenn taught me a lot of those lessons.
I could write a book, just off the past few years. I have never been so happy about saying yes to a job offer, and I'm hoping I have twice as many ridiculous stories and photos in another few years. Jenn spoils the crap out of me, and the gifts she's given me go far beyond stationary. Jenn gave me the surprise birthday party I'd never had, the mentorship I needed, and an introduction to the man I love.
If you have met in journalism, editing, games or writing, since June 6th of 2010, thank Jennifer Brozek. If you met me on twitter? Thank Jenn for convincing me to use and unlock my account.
Thank you, Jenn, for the past two years. I'm excited for the years to come.