Jennifer Brozek | July 2012

Bubble and Squeek for 30 July 2012

by Jennifer Brozek 30. July 2012 12:39

Here are some very cool odds and ends.

I've seen the new Shane Tyree cover for The Beast Within 3: Oceans Unleashed from Graveside Tales and it is to die for. Were-shark for the win!


I have a new review of Industry Talk: An Insider's Look at Writing RPGs and Editing Anthologies by the esteemed Richard Dansky. He liked it and that makes me happy.


Danielle of Dark Quest Books emailed me a new review of Human Tales anthology on the Billion Light-Year Bookshelf by Liegh Kimmel. Liegh had a very interesting point of view of the dark stories within this anthology.


If you like Battletech fiction, my new episodic gritty YA story, The Nellus Academy Incident, has begun on Battlecorps.com. You need a subscription to the site to read the story. Here is the announcement about it.


That's it for me. I hope all is going well with you.

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Guest blog - 12 ways to die badly

by Jennifer Brozek 23. July 2012 10:41

12 Ways to Die Badly (Ingloriously)
By Benjamin Kane Ethridge

 

It has been mentioned that my new novel, BOTTLED ABYSS, contains inventive death scenes. As much as I wear this praise as a badge of honor, conjuring up morbid wonder isn’t something I ever purposely set out to accomplish. To be honest, I’m not much of a gore hound. I do feel, however, that you have to be true to the tale and true to the genre; you can’t and mustn’t hold back. Much of my new novel involves Greek mythology, though it’s broadly redefined and adjusted in terms of lore. Countless examples of gruesome and strange deaths are inked on the pages of Greek history and some make up this list I’ve created below. Twelve deaths made the cut, although you probably could go on and on with this sort of thing (see the TV show 1000 Ways to Die).


Anyway. Enjoy, but put prepare your stomach.
 
1) Being unable to move and then devoured. In 6th century BC Greek wrestler Milo of Croton came upon a tree-trunk split with wedges. Putting his wrestler’s strength to the test, he tried to split it barehanded. The wedges fell and trapped his hands inside the tree. This was embarrassing for a macho man like Milo, but things became much worse when a pack of wolves wandered by and decided to have beefcake for dinner.

2) Scaphism. This Persian form of torture (that ultimately is execution) is probably the most horrendous and humiliating I’ve ever heard of. I need describe little else, for this Wikipedia excerpt says it all: “The intended victim was stripped naked and then firmly fastened within the interior spaces of two narrow rowing boats (or hollowed-out tree trunks), with the head, hands and feet protruding. The condemned was forced to ingest milk and honey to the point of developing severe bowel movement and diarrhea, and more honey would be rubbed on his body to attract insects to the exposed appendages. He would then be left to float on a stagnant pond or be exposed to the sun. The defenseless individual's feces accumulated within the container, attracting more insects, which would eat and breed within his exposed flesh, which—pursuant to interruption of the blood supply by burrowing insects—became increasingly gangrenous. The feeding would be repeated each day in some cases to prolong the torture, so that dehydration or starvation did not kill him. Death, when it eventually occurred, was probably due to a combination of dehydration, starvation and septic shock. Delirium would typically set in after a few days.” The land of milk and honey is paved in skulls, it turns out.

3) Crucified on an inverted cross. St. Peter decided he wasn’t worthy the same death of Christ, which strikes me as peculiar since you can debate that this sacrifice (on a physical level anyway) is much more terrifying and painful. Being crucified is not something one looks forward to, but being crucified upside down is sort of like asking, “Please may I use hydrochloric acid with my Chinese water torture?”
 
4) Roasted on a BBQ grill. Saint Lawrence of Rome was roasted alive on a giant grill, during the persecution of Valerian. So, yeah, being burned to death would be extremely painful, but that’s ogling the obvious. What about the smell? Cooking baloney. Charred steak. Prime rib of human. These are the smells in your nostrils while your flesh bubbles and crackles and spits—yikes.

5) Poisoning. It goes without saying that symptoms from poisoning are very undesirable, but I’ll take that foaming mouth you see in most movies over what Arius, presbyter of Alexandria, endured. Legend describes that he died of sudden diarrhea followed by bleeding and anal discharge of the intestines while he stumbled across the imperial forum in Constantinople. He may have been poisoned either through chemical or food borne bacteria, so the exact cause is murky. Either way though, holy crap and all that houses it!
 
6) Being Conched to Death. Another great dose of Greek history. Hypatia of Alexandria, a mathematician, philosopher and last librarian of the Library of Alexandria, was murdered by a Christian mob that ripped off her skin with sharp sea-shells. That isn’t the ocean you hear inside the shell, it’s the roar of a thousand screams!

7) Being clubbed with your prosthetic.  Sir Arthur Aston, Royalist commander of the garrison during the Siege of Drogheda, was beaten to death with his own wooden leg, which the Parliamentarian soldiers thought concealed golden coins. This one strikes me as sadder than the others. Aston had to live regretting the loss of his leg and then he had to die regretting the loss of his leg. In a fashion, he never really survived that maiming; it came back to claim him in another form.

8) A basketball of lightning to the face. Professor Georg Wilhelm Richmann, became the first recorded person to be killed while performing electrical experiments when he was struck in the face and killed by a globe of lightning. The lesson here is simple: when God passes the ball, be ready.

9) Locomotion. William Huskisson, statesman and financier, was crushed to death by a locomotive (Stephenson's Rocket), at the opening of the world's first mechanical passenger railway. You’ve awaited this moment for a long time and the very thing you’ve devoted all your time and energy into is also your undoing. It’s romantic, but doesn’t mask the fact you’re just as dead as the guy who took a ball of lightning to the head.

10) Slowly, sweetly. In the Boston Molasses Disaster, 21 people were killed when a tank containing as much as 2,300,000 gallons of molasses ruptured and released a flow that traveled at approximately 35 mph through part of Boston. Ever been eating something and get to the point where you say, “Eh, this is too sweet,” and you put it down? Imagine you can’t put it down and you keep eating it until you die. Gulp...

11) Chim-chim-ch-rooed. Actress Sirkka Sari died when she fell down a chimney into a heating boiler. She mistook the chimney for a balcony. Upon making a literal slip-up, you’re now in hot water. Very hot water. So watch your step.

12) Stubborn starvation. This is the one I'm afraid will befall my wife (I'm the cook in our house). I hope she takes note because Kurt Gödel, the famous logician, had something of a problem that landed him dead. Gödel died of starvation when his wife was hospitalized. He suffered from extreme paranoia and refused to eat food prepared by anyone else. I hope for my wife’s sake, I live long enough to keep her well nourished. Then again, looking over entries 1-11, there are worse ways to go.

 

~~~~~~~~~

 

Benjamin Kane Ethridge is the Bram Stoker Award winning author of the novel BLACK & ORANGE (Bad Moon Books 2010) and BOTTLED ABYSS (Redrum Horror, 2012). For his master's thesis he wrote, "CAUSES OF UNEASE: The Rhetoric of Horror Fiction and Film." Available in an ivory tower near you. Benjamin lives in Southern California with his wife and two creatures who possess stunning resemblances to human children. When he isn't writing, reading, videogaming, Benjamin's defending California's waterways and sewers from pollution.

Say hi and drop a line at ben@bkethridge.com

 

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Awesomeness Happening

by Jennifer Brozek 20. July 2012 12:12

July has been kind of a crazy month. Between Westercon and catching up on all sorts of things that I was behind on, I have barely time to breath but such cool things are happening.

I have turned in my Gruntz fiction.

Alliteration Ink has posted the TOC for Dangers Untold.

Lily’s kickstarter for the Guidebook to Village by the Sea has funded and as of today has 7 days to go. I am cheering my little heart out for her.

Stoneskin Press has funded its anthology kickstarter and is in the process of funding stretch goals. This one is close to me because I have a story in The New Hero II anthology set in my weird west Mowry universe. The story called “Iron Achilles Heel” is about the first known weakness in my spirit hero, Joseph Lamb. I wrote this story because I think perfect or invulnerable heroes are boring. Joseph needed to be knocked down a peg so that his host, Eric Hamblin, could step up and show that he is a hero, too.

The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting received a really nice review from Curled Up reviewer Douglas R. Cobb.

My non-fiction book, Industry Talk: An Insider's Look at Writing RPGs and Editing Anthologies, has been sitting in the top 100 on Amazon’s Authorship list for a week now. I’d love to see it continue on like that. It is available in Kindle and paperback form.

I also had an article on Booklife Now go live. On Mentoring is my take on why being a mentor is such a good thing for both the mentor and the mentee.

Finally, I wanted to mention that a friend of mine emailed me a couple of days ago to rave about my non-fiction finance book called The Little Finance Book that Could. This is my story and daily rules that helped me get out of debt and to stay out of debt. They told me that I helped them pay of their credit cards—more than $7000—in two years. This is a great book for grads and those people going back to school. Debt sucks. Especially in this economy. It makes me pretty darned happy when someone says I helped them.

Now that I’ve shared all my good news, what’s yours? I’d love to hear about it.


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Insomnia

by Jennifer Brozek 18. July 2012 01:13

Looks like insomnia and I are close friends these days. Instead of lying in bed and wishing I was asleep, I thought I’d give you a “State of the Jenn” post.

Had surgery. Started to recover. Got sick. Not surprising after two surgeries and a convention within three months. Recovered from being sick just in time to go to Westercon. It was a quiet convention but a convention nonetheless. Thus, it killed my productivity in my already running late schedule.

Now that the convention has been over for ten days, I feel like I’m starting to catch up. This catching up on has been on “actually late” stuff and not “Jenn’s idea of a schedule running late” stuff. I’m still behind but things are getting better.

  • I should have Gruntz fiction off my plate by the end of the week.
  • I should have the Coins of Chaos anthology stories read by the end of the weekend.
  • I should have the Dangers Untold anthology off my plate by the beginning of next week.
  • I should have the full draft of the Beast Within 3: Oceans Unleashed anthology done by mid-next week.
  • I should be back on editing/writing the Battletech webseries by mid-next week. (This poor neglected project.)
  • I should have the SFWA article on anthologies done by the end of the month.


I know it is a lot of “shoulds” but that’s where I’m at right now. I know what I’m doing with my schedule and I’m working hard to keep my future plate ‘empty’ as things drop off. I do have things that I’ve agreed to do that haven’t dropped yet. So, they don’t count. Hopefully by November I’ll be working on the second book of the YA series.

Though, right now, I really could use a massage. My whole upper back is one giant mass of pain. My neck and shoulders hurt all the time. I can’t tell if it is stress or if I did something stupid to myself and just didn’t realize it at the time.  I’m seriously looking at getting a massage. I wince at the projected cost of such an endeavor but I really do hurt.

On the home front, we finally have a company who not only has looked at the siding, they’ve given us a nice, low estimate, and have scheduled to start early next week! I’m so excited. This means the exterior painting can go on as planned for early August. I’m very excited. The things that make homeowners happy.

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Butting Heads with David Brin

by Jennifer Brozek 10. July 2012 12:48

Last weekend I was at Westercon. I’ve never been to a Westercon and it was much smaller/quieter than I expected. Over all, this was a blessing. While I am fine, I am still recovering from surgery and had just recovered from a cold.  So, I was a bit run down and less energetic than I normally am at a convention.

As always, the highlights for me are seeing people I rarely see. Conventions are like reunions. I spent a lot of time talking with people I knew, getting to know them better. But, I was also an old lady the entire convention—sitting a lot, going to bed at 10pm, taking it easy. Still, it was really nice to see old and new friends.

On to meeting David Brin and the title of this post. I moderated a lot of panels. Just before the first panel I had with David, I mentioned the last time I had seen him (the SFWA meeting in Reno) and we then had a communication misunderstanding that made us both of feel awful. I then cleared it up. We both felt better and, because we were sitting next to each other, we went for the side hug and cracked our heads together loud enough to be heard throughout the room. His head, my ear. Ow. I was afraid I actually hurt him. It was awkward and funny.

Later, when we met up again, we talked and I found him to be an absolute gentleman. Yes, he is a self-admitted “opinionated asshole” but he has focused his ire on the work that people put out—not the people. When it comes to people, David is wonderful. He really is. He makes each person feel like they are the only ones that matter.

I’m looking forward to possibly working with him. I think I did okay, too. Before he left on Sunday, he told me I was lovely and fierce.  (I am a firm moderator.)

Another excellent thing came out of critiquing for the Fairwood group. I had a chance to talk to Richard A. Lovett. He has had several dozen stories in Analog. He’s agreed to look at a couple of my sci-fi stories to tell me why they are always the bridesmaid stories and not the bride. I suspect this will be eye-opening and brutal.

Over all, the convention was good for me. I prefer more chaos but I really wasn’t up to it. I had fun and, in the end, that’s all that really matters.

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Guest blog - Wish You Were Here

by Jennifer Brozek 9. July 2012 11:43

By Lillian Cohen-Moore



The Village by the Sea


There are countless works of fiction we hack and tease apart to bring into the games we play every week. I decided to go into that eyes wide open with the Guide. I want you to play in the Village, using whatever system you’re using.

And I want it to scare the fuck out of you.

The Village by the Sea was established in 1850. The Guide is set in a time that’s equivalent to present day. If you strip off the technology, the Village has changed less than it’s willing to admit since its Founding. The old red light district is still there downtown, when you peel away the glitz of modern bars. The same ghosts never rest and the Founding Families are still as dangerous as That Which Sleeps Beneath.

Synesthetic Detective

When a handful of my friends asked me to write a synesthetic detective, I laughed about it and went back to work. But the request—really a dare—stuck with me. I’m synesthetic, but I never include that in fiction. When I started outlining the Guide, I searched its voice, for the best person to tell the story. I got Ashley Hart. Hart is the way I’ve found to let you borrow my senses, by giving you the observations of the increasingly endangered synesthetic detective.

My synesthesia is something I find it difficult to imagine not having; tasting colours and wincing at the texture of certain sounds, describing moods to the people close to me, who speak the language, in flowers and colours and sounds. Hart isn’t a perfect match to my synesthesia—it wouldn’t be fun if she was—but she shares enough common language for me to stretch my wings and include tastes that aren’t wholly mine, but fellow synesthetes I’m close to have shared. Hart’s past is rooted in why the colour of Saturday is black.

Spectacular Support Team

I couldn’t do the Guide alone, though. It’s a bit bigger than a one-woman show.

Richard Dansky, my editor, has worked in fiction and games before I ever started to stretch my wings as a writer. If I wanted to do something that rolled both up as tightly as possible in one project, I couldn’t think of anyone better to turn to than someone who has been a White Wolf developer, a novelist, and done both sides of fiction, writing and riding herd on writers.

Lisa Grabenstetter, my artist, is fucking phenomenal. I’ve worked on projects where I helped monitor contracts with artists, getting them what they needed and communication flowing between all concerned parties. I’ve licensed art on projects. But I’d never done original art with an artist before. I told Lisa what I needed, sent the reference photos, and communication was instant. Examples went back and forth, sketches were merged, and the Seal of the Village was born. I’ve never been so happy to pay for art in my life. That’s why I asked Lisa to stay attached to the Guide and do a number of interior illustrations if we fund.

Sarah Troedson, who is the best GIS Analyst I’ve met, has been there to hold my hand as I tried to describe the Village boundaries, merging ideas and half-formed notions. She’s also kept me from executing geographically impossible ideas or violating the laws of nature. We’re still finalizing some last few details, but I can’t wait to show you the first roadworthy version of the map. The taste of beautiful and isolated is there, and maybe the razor red edge of the threat the Village truly is.

The Village by the Sea is lonely without you, and I’d love to show you around.

 

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Latest Releases

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The Last Days of Salton Academy
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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.