Jennifer Brozek | December 2012

Tell me – Ripley Patton

by Jennifer Brozek 31. December 2012 18:43

The last "Tell Me" for 2012! I’m running a little late. I’ve been out and about with family. Ripley is a fab author who discovered that something she made up is now real. How cool is that?

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I made something up, and now it's real.

I made up a rare birth defect; not the most helpful thing to invent, I'll admit, but it was necessary for the sake of story.

I came up with this idea for my new YA paranormal thriller, Ghost Hand, that someone could be born with a missing limb, without a hand or a foot or a nose, but that their soul, the immaterial counterpart to their material flesh, would still manifest as that missing limb. Born with a mass of ethereal energy where their flesh should be, they have to learn how to control and manipulate that energy to navigate their disability. I named this birth defect Psyche Sans Soma which means "life without flesh," (PSS for short) and I bestowed it upon babies across my novel's world like some kind of disgruntled fairy or avenging angel. And the babies grew up to be teenagers. And life got complicated.

I have long had this theory that if human imagination can conceive something, it can be real. Throughout history, we've seen countless inventions and crazy dreams made manifest simply because man first imagined them. Airplanes, jet packs, robots, space travel, and I don't think this phenomenon is limited to the tropes of science fiction alone. Dragons don't exist right now. Maybe they never existed in the past (though that is debatable). But humans have begun to play with cloning, and DNA, and genetic engineering. I don't think it is a stretch to think that someday a dragon may exist. Or a unicorn. Or a werewolf.

But I wasn't thinking about that theory when I invented a birth defect. I mean, I knew it was real to me, in my mind and in my book, but I didn't think about how it might become real to others.

Then one day I got an e-mail from one of my beta readers. She'd begun reading Ghost Hand and had looked PSS up on the internet, surprised that she couldn’t find anything about it. She hadn't realized I'd made it up.

Then a friend sent me a link to a news story from New Scientist titled; Woman's missing digits grow back in phantom form.

And now that Ghost Hand is out in the world in e-book and paperback (and getting great reviews, I might add) the instances of PSS becoming real should be even more frequent.

A couple days ago, a fan e-mailed me and said, "I looked up PSS on the internet, and there were tons of links about it, all leading back to you and your book."

I'm proud of that.

I'm made something up, and now it's real. That's all a writer can ever really hope for.

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Bubble and Squeek for 26 Dec 2012

by Jennifer Brozek 26. December 2012 20:56

Despite everything, it’s still been a good holiday season and goodness is yet to come in the form of visiting in-laws. The Husband’s sister and husband is coming out to visit us over the New Year. I’m looking forward to that.

I really love this “A Softer World” #911 and its quote: “The terrible things that happen to you didn’t make you you. You always were.” Highlight: “It isn’t the storm that makes the ocean dangerous.”

A couple days ago, I posted this on my twitter and Facebook. It’s proven very popular. “Now, you can honestly say you have made it as an author. I spotted your fantasy novel in a used bookstore today.” —a friend of mine in CA. I was amused when he IM’d me with that. Too bad he didn’t get a picture of the book.

Also, I can announce this finally – I sold a chapter story for the newly announced Shadowrun 5th edition. It will be the Rigger chapter story and is called “The Danger of Side Jobs.” It's about a very tall human female rigger, her huge, tricked out tow truck, and a very charming, short troll with a job offer.

I have also typed “The End” on THE NELLUS ACADEMY INCIDENT webseries for battlecorps.com. This gritty YA Battletch web serial has hit right at 58K words over its 25 episodes. I still have to edit and polish the last five episodes but I’m pleased that everything turned out the way I wanted it to.

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Tell Me - David Colby

by Jennifer Brozek 24. December 2012 10:58

Today, David talks about story inspiration and goes on to prove that anything and everything can be an inspiration. In this case, it is a line from a movie.

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When someone asks you about the inspiration of your novel, you are expected to talk about that one thing that struck you like a lightning bolt. For me, that’s not so simple.

But each part of my novel has an inspiration somewhere.

I’m going to talk about a single line and how it completely changed the fate of mankind in my book.

That line is a simple one. And it is stolen from my second favorite movie of all time, Terminator 2. John Conner and the Terminator are going to a mental asylum to rescue Sarah Conner. The Terminator has been ordered by John to not kill anyone, but the first thing he does is pull out his gun and blow the kneecaps off of a security guard. John, outraged, shouts, “I told you not to kill anyone.”

Then the Terminator turns to face him and - with the most perfect deadpan delivery ever – says the line.

“He’ll live.”

Of course, deciding a line had to go into a book and actually having it be in there takes a lot of steps. I couldn’t just arrange for a scene wherein my main character says the line. Well, I could, but it’d change the context and meaning behind and around the line. I love the line, not just because of the deadpan humor, but also because of what is going on behind it: A machine, slowly coming to terms with the value of human life and not exactly being that good at it.

So, I needed a ‘machine’ character.

And thus…Shiva: The AI manager of the Forge, a massive space based factory. I decided he’d work best there, as manufacturing in microgravity is a complex, delicate and perpetual task. Then I had to give him a personality to build up to that line. I had to add in scenes wherein people talked to and conversed with Shiva.

In these scenes, I gave Shiva a deadpan sense of humor, gave him observations to make about humanity, and I worked in discussions of the famous Asmiov’s Laws of Robotics (you know, A robot shall not harm, nor through inaction, cause a human to come to harm and so on). I actually think that the laws are a good idea, but I personally think forcing them on people – even robot people – is tantamount to slavery.

In the end, I had a character with snark, with a philosophical stance on Asimov’s Laws, and finally…I had a chance to use the line in the book. Like in the movie, the line has more going on behind it than it might seem.

But now, almost a year after I first wrote down the beginning of Debris Dreams, I reflect on all that I have planned and schemed and created for the Debris Dreams universe and future history. Shiva factors largely into that.

So, when you are reading my book and groan at my one liner, remember that without it, the entire book and the future books I have planned would be completely different.


Born in Sunnyvale, California, David Colby has recently graduated from Sonoma State University after four years of telling people that, no, Buffy the Vampire Slayer came from SunnyDALE. Equipped with a BA in English and an obscene amount of pop-culture esoterica, David is ready to make his mark in the world of young adult literature.

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The Next Big Thing

by Jennifer Brozek 19. December 2012 11:34

What is the working title of your book?

The Children of Anu, Book Two of the Karen Wilson Chronicles.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This being the second book in the series, I wanted to write about the concept of a lesser evil keeping a greater evil at bay. When that lesser evil was defeated in the first book, what greater evil rises to take its place?

What genre does your book fall under?

Dark Urban Fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There are only a few actors I had in mind for the characters. Most of the visages of my characters are based loosely on people I know.

Karen – 20’s brunette Jennifer Lawrence
Aaron – 20’s Michael Shanks (SG-1)
David – 20’s Adam Rodriguez (CSI: Miam)
John Corso – 30’s Johnny Depp
Luke Coleman – 30’s Gary Cole

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When one evil falls, another one takes its place and threatens the city of Kendrick itself and all of the supernaturals within it.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self published. It will be published by Apocalypse Ink Productions (my company), edited by John Helfers, with cover art by Amber Clark of Stopped Motion Photography who did the cover of Caller Unknown.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

As it was originally a serial short story collection told over twelve months… it took about ten months to write the thirteen stories in this book.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’d like to say Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series… but there’s not enough fairies for that. Or the Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series… but it’s not detective enough for that. I think it is closer to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files with all of the different creatures, supernaturals, and secret societies… but there are no vampires in the Karen Wilson Chronicles at all. I mean… none.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The story inspired me. The idea of a continuing storyline told in a collection, a mosaic novel. This being the second in the series, its theme is “Consequences.” The first book’s theme was “Revelations.” I wanted to tell the story of what happens after the heroes win. All actions and revelations have consequences. I wanted to see where that would go now that places were set, secrets revealed, and deeds done.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Children of Anu is a book about the bad guys doing what they planned to do and the heroes trying to figure the plan out. The heroes don’t know what’s going on. Not every ally is good. Not every villain is evil.

Also, Kendrick is rich in conspiracy, hidden worlds, and supernatural creatures. This is the kind of story that could be going on around as you walk out your front door. The Karen Wilson Chronicles is my love letter to the supernatural Pacific Northwest.

Caller Unknown is available now.

The Children of Anu will be out in August 2013.


I'm tagging: Ivan Ewert, Erik Scott de Bie, A.E. Marling, Lily Cohen-Moore, and J.L. Doty

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Bubble and Squeek for 18 Dec 2012

by Jennifer Brozek 18. December 2012 14:24

I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that I will not be at Norwescon 2013. The good news is that’s because I will be one of the Guests of Honor at GothCon in Gothenberg, Sweden. I will miss going to Norwescon but… Sweden!

More good news is that I will be one of the guest speakers at the Cascade Writers Retreat in Portland, OR in July 2013. I will be on four panels. One group and three solos. There are spots open. This is going to be a great workshop. Lots of industry talent there.

Caller Unknown is out and getting good reviews. I just received a very nice blurb, "Brozek gives us the world the way it should be - full of hidden pockets of magic, ancient evils, and supernatural creatures - along with a heroine fully capable of dealing with all of the above."  - Cat Rambo, author of Near + Far and A Seed Upon the Wind

Ya’ll know that me and the Husband own Apocalypse Ink Productions. We now have an announcement-only Googlegroup. Sign up and hear what all we are doing.

Finally, I was interviewed by The Geek Girl Project. I do a lot of talking about The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting.

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Tell Me – Amanda Pillar

by Jennifer Brozek 17. December 2012 10:02

I've had the great pleasure of working with Amanda Pillar in the past on our award winning anthology, Grants Pass. She’s a talented editor and her anthologies are always word reading. I’ve read Bloodstones and it’s a darned good book. Today she talks about her kind of urban fantasy.

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I’ve wanted to edit an urban fantasy anthology for quite some time. I’ve worked on horror, post-apocalyptic, dark fantasy and thematic collections, but never a true urban fantasy. I’ve loved every book I’ve ever helped produce, but the genre I tend to read when not editing or writing...well, you’ve guessed it.

Urban fantasy.

But I didn’t want something that involved vampires, werewolves or witches. I love a good vampire story, it has to be said, yet I wanted to pull together an anthology that was different. Unique. And so I needed a theme, something that would interest me and hopefully the future readers of this book. A collection that would make you think; where love and hate and death all danced upon a stage with monsters that may never be popular, may never be truly appreciated, but their appeal unable to be denied.

So, perhaps a little surprisingly for some, I turned to mythology. For me though, it seemed a logical choice. I am an archaeologist in my day job, and have spent far too many hours reading and researching ancient religions and mythologies. From my work, it seemed clear that there would be no end to the inspiration found from old myths and tales; that the authors who submitted to my collection would have a rich field to harvest from.

And I was right. The authors delivered. More than I could have hoped for. The final stories that made the cut were sown from cloth threaded with new takes on old creatures. There were gorgons, minotaurs, ghosts, kraken, faeries, toyols and even a mummy. There were new creatures, too, beings that were inspired by old myths: the foam born, gravelings and killers with odd histories.

The authors involved in this collection searched far and wide for their new – or in some cases, very old – ‘monsters’. There was never one source of inspiration, with the depth and grit of the stories showcasing the authors’ talent.

I’m pleased to say this collection is unique, and that I was truly lucky to work with such a talented group of authors. Without them, after all, this book wouldn’t exist.

Bloodstones TOC:

Dirk Flinthart – ‘The Bull in Winter’
Nicole Murphy – ‘Euryale’
Penny Love – ‘A Small Bad Thing’
Jenny Blackford – ‘A Moveable Feast’
Pete Kempshall – ‘Dead Inside’
MLD Curelas – ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’
Joanne Anderton – ‘Sanaa's Army’
Richard Harland – ‘A Mother's Love’
Christine Morgan – ‘Ferreau's Curse’
Thoraiya Dyer – ‘Surviving Film’
Kat Otis – ‘And the Dead Shall be Raised Incorruptible’
Karen Maric – ‘Embracing the Invisible’
Dan Rabarts – ‘The Bone Plate’
Alan Baxter – ‘Cephalopoda Obsessia’
Erin Underwood – ‘The Foam Born’
Vivian Caethe – ‘Skin’
Stephanie Gunn – ‘The Skin of the World’

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Tell Me – Richard Iorio

by Jennifer Brozek 12. December 2012 12:30

I met Richard at his Colonial Gothic booth during a GenCon a few years back. The name caught me, the RPG kept me, and then Richard hired me to write for him. I’ve been working off and on for Colonial Gothic ever since. My newest book with them is Colonial Gothic: Locations. I think this is a really interesting RPG and that’s why I’m pleased to present this special 12-12-12 edition of Tell Me.

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It was a sunny, warm September day (9/7/2011 for those keeping score), when I posted the following on the Rogue Games’ website:

You are not ready. The countdown has begun, and the Rogue of Rogues Games are plotting.
For some, it might be an end, but for us, it is only the beginning. Grab your dice and get ready.


This was the last I said anything, and in secret I continued working on a project that I had been working on since 2010. As of this afternoon, 12:12:12 to be precise, the secret has been revealed, and the world knows I was working on Colonial Gothic 2nd Edition. By now, the some have bought the book and have gotten the PDF. They have noticed the changes.

This is not about the changes, this is about why I did what I did.

Colonial Gothic is a labor of love. This is the game I have always wanted to play, and since I could not find it, I created it. A game like Colonial Gothic does not come about by itself. It is the sum of experiences and ideas I received from others who listened to me prattle on about history, gaming ideas, and how to make everything work. What you hold in your hands is a product of years of work. Many players have played in variations of campaigns based upon the ideas found here. Something about this period always attracted me to running games in it.

The first time I ever thought about running a game set during this period was in 1985, as an eighth grader. My family had just moved to a small Midwestern town at the start of summer. Being a new face in a new town, and not knowing anyone, I had a lot of time to think about new campaigns and new games. Tired of fantasy and having just read Last of the Mohicans for the eighth time, I wanted to try something more “real.” Armed with a library within in biking distance, I spent many days reading and taking notes on the period. As luck would have it, I found some gamers who were interested in my creation and I unleashed it to uneven success.

A year later I found myself in another new town and this time I was about to start high school. Undeterred from the previous summer experiment, I revised the campaign and let it loose on a new group of players. They liked it, but they were not ready for something so different from the orcs, rogues, and dungeon crawls that were so popular at the time. Reluctantly I put the campaign aside and returned to the lands of dragons, fuzzy footed diminutive creatures and magic.

Fast-forward to college, with its huge libraries and new opportunities. Unlike my earlier attempts, in college I was even more versed in the subject because of the resources I had on hand. I was also a little more experienced with kit bashing different game systems and ideas into something playable for myself and others. Each new discovery I made, or historical bit I uncovered in my reading and endless research, was applied to my campaigns. Through the years, numerous players have walked the footpaths and forest trails of Colonial New England or the Southern Colonies searching for the evil haunting the land.

Those people gave me something, the will to keep going to produce this game. What you have in your hands is a labor of love, a project worked on by people that are as equally passionate as I am about good role playing games.  As such, Colonial Gothic would not have been possible without the help of many people.

As much as I tried, it always seemed as it Colonial Gothic never got the attention it deserved. It was always rushed, and it always suffered from being something that I worked on, while I tried to do so many other things. Things changed when Graeme Davis decided to help me out, and he kicked me in the butt to rethink and rework the game. It was during a phone call in January 2010 that I finally agreed that the game needed to be rethought, and I began working on the 2nd edition. I thought the project would be faster, but it turned out to be two years of playtesting, writing, rewriting, and rewriting.

Finally it was 9/7/2011 I had a draft that I was proud of, and a yearlong playtest begun. Every rule was examined, every system rethought, and the guts of 12° were pulled apart, put together, and pulled apart. There were times I wanted to stop, and call it quits, but I didn’t. This game means too much to me, and I wanted it to be what I always felt that it should be.

Colonial Gothic 2nd Edition is a game that I always wanted, and now I have it.

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Birthday Awesomeness

by Jennifer Brozek 10. December 2012 13:30

For my birthday, the Husband took me to the King Tut exhibit in Seattle. We took the audio tour which was well worth it. Having seen them with my own eyes, I now understand why men would kill for Egyptian artifacts. They are really amazing to see. Beautiful craftsmanship and gorgeous to gaze at. The history, the age, of the artifacts can be felt. Ryan told me that walking through the exhibit would give me story ideas. And he was right. If you get a chance to see the exhibit, take it.

After the exhibit, the iMax movie, and dinner, I came home to a whole passel  of good stuff. First was a confirmed pro story sale. Then was an interview request. Next came an email from the anthology committee verifying one of my anthologies was eligible for a Stoker—which means nothing more than someone nommed it and they have to make sure everything is all good—but I’m chuffed someone thought so well of Dangers Untold to nom it. Then another bit of awesome news dropped that isn’t finalized yet but soon. And finally, I had a about a bajillion Facebook birthday wishes to read. That was a really nice surprise.

Lastly, a reminder that Mastication is my birthday gift to you. Get it free on Apocalypse Ink Productions webstore.

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Tell Me – Erin M. Evans

by Jennifer Brozek 10. December 2012 10:47

I’ve met up with Erin off and on at various conventions. She is a great person to talk to and I’m pleased to know she, like me, has a fascination with villains and the point of view of the villain. Lesser Evils is the sequence to Brimstone Angels.

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I can remember watching G.I. Joe as a child—four or maybe five years old—and wondering about Cobra. “They can’t,” I remember thinking, “just be evil.” No one would waste that many resources or poorly aimed red lasers on just being jerks. Not when being good, like G.I. Joe, clearly worked better.  Perhaps, I thought, Cobra believes they are being good. Perhaps they think G.I. Joe are the bad ones.

And there began my fascination with villains.

It’s a level of characterization that I won’t argue that old cartoon earned, but the idea of perspective affecting morality is one I love to read about and write about. Conflict is king, so far as I’m concerned, and nothing makes a conflict rule the page quite like the complexity of different people’s goals, prejudices, and desires coming together as if they’re a united force.

In Lesser Evils, Farideh, a tiefling warlock, is faced with a whole flock of villains. From the devils of the Nine Hells to the representatives of the shadowy City of Shade; from the ancient secrets of a mad arcanist to the fractious mercenaries of the secretive Zhentarim, she’s beset on all sides by people who could be labeled “evil.” Including Farideh herself—as a tiefling some portion of her blood is devilish and it shows in her horns, tail, and strange eyes; as a warlock, she draws powers from the Nine Hells. Put her in a line-up and not a few people would call her evil on that alone.

But in some cases, those evil-doers are allies, or allies of allies, or enemies of enemies—which can be as good as an ally. In some cases the “good” people on her side, aren’t so firmly on her side at all—can you trust someone who sees you as a rival and an impediment? Anyone could be a traitor or a valuable ally, and the line between “with me” and “against me” is one that shifts as the stakes rise and new foes appear. Even Farideh’s goals aren’t all pure and good, as she hunts for a spell to free the half-devil who fuels her warlock pact from his prison in the Nine Hells.

The best part of so many colliding factions? Characters. If I’m fascinated by villains, I’m deep-down, crazy in love with conflicted characters, and Lesser Evils stole my heart.

In their clashes and reflections, the shape of whole organizations can be seen.  Between the three Zhentarim characters, you have a power-hungry leader risen up from the streets, dodging assassinations and following risky rumors of powerful weapons; a merciless assassin as happy to train a starstruck girl as to turn around and run her through; and an archaeologist turned thief willing to do almost anything to keep the Zhentarim happy and funding her discoveries…even return to someone she’d long left behind.  And I hope you can find in that a secret society of people willing to do a lot to get what they want, capable of supporting each other as they build something massive and unstoppable…or undercut themselves by lashing out at the people who should be on their side. A tricky place to be.

So if you love conflict, villains, and alliances that stand the test of great strain as much as I do, be sure to check out Lesser Evils.

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Birthday Gift to You Guys

by Jennifer Brozek 8. December 2012 09:45

Sunday is my birthday. I’m getting older than I’d like to admit. As much as I like gifts, I decided that for this birthday, I was going to give out a gift of fiction. In 2009, I created a chapbook called Mastication. It’s a series of six stories about things that eat people. We had 200 copies made and that’s it. I know there are physical copies of this once free chapbook out there for sale. Now you can get it at the Apocalypse Ink Productions store for free.

And because people have asked…

My ThinkGeek wishlist is here.

If you are going to donor money in my name, please donate it to a charity caring for animals. In truth, I really love this.

Thanks for sticking around. I appreciate it.

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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.