Jennifer Brozek | January 2013

Bubble and Squeek for 29 Jan 2013

This one is all interviews and reviews:

An interview with Firbolg Publishing. Pacific Northwest Haunts: Jennifer Brozek comes in out of the rain!

I was interviewed by Cat Rambo for the SFWA blog.

Shock Totem reviewer Sherri White gave DANGERS UNTOLD a very nice review.

I found out via Apocalypse Ink Productions that I have a couple of new (to me) short reviews of my books:

INDUSTRY TALK - five stars
"This book contains a number of essays about two specific fields: Role-Playing Game Freelance Writing and Editing Anthologies. It was though the author had been looking over my shoulder and decided to help me out by giving advice for all of my pending projects. If you are interested in either topic, I highly recommend this book." -Jason Andrew

CALLER UNKNOWN - five stars
"I was surprised at how well this was written. It was complete in and of itself while fitting into a series (or so it is advertised -- I plan to find out by reading the series). You can read more than enough about the plot or the setting. I just wanted to confirm it is carried off well without gratuitous sex or other miscellaneous material. Two thumbs up." -S. Marsh

Tell Me – Tina Shelton

A Girl and her Rocketship: The Making of The Corsican

No one ever accused The Corsican of being a pretty project. My previous experience with writing had never been anything focused. You know the story; the first four chapters spring forth like Athena from Zeus’s forehead. Then one day you wake up and roll over and the story just isn’t as pretty as it was at three in the morning. You slip away unnoticed, and you never call, and you never write.

Not this time.  I had a directive, given to me by a friend. “Write a story,” she said. And I did. Then what? My project moldered in the ‘holding phase.’ I learned about the joys and pains of waiting to see if my story was accepted. Rejection is a terrible force, but sometimes it can galvanize you.

One day, having just finished an appointment in the unemployment office, my phone rang. My manuscript had been accepted by Anacrusis Press! I was so excited I shook. I had made it past the barrier! The moment felt like I had broken a ribbon, and finished the race.  What I didn’t realize at the time was that this marked where the race began! Pick up any book and you can see how much work has gone into it. Cover art, the font, the inside cover. Not to mention things like distribution channel and percentages.

No one tells authors that they are a small business creating a product line. Anyone knowing a writer knows how far and fast they’ll run screaming if they have to think about their baby as a product.

After suffering the slings and arrows of being a commodity, I’ve learned that marketing is in fact a necessary evil. I have learned how to figure out my target audience. I have learned that I love writing enough to brave a spot on the social stage. Writers tend to need their introverted nature to withstand sitting for hours in front of a computer, turning caffeine into words. It’s a system shock to discover they need other people in order to have an audience.

Stories aren’t meant for an audience of one, after all. No matter how desperately a writer loves their world, at the end of the day they want others to love it too. That desire, more than anything, drives a person to want to be published, to want to put their story on the world market and see how well it does.

Writing a book is an experience that goes on forever. From the first penned word to the special edition with alternate cover, this process transforms the readers and the writers. I loved the challenge of it. I loved it so much that I’m in the middle of editing rounds for my second novel. With luck it should be published around September. From there, who knows where I’ll go? After all, I have a rocketship to take me there.

Born in Wyoming, Tina Shelton started writing stories in kindergarten and never stopped. Her love of stories grew as she did, taking her to far off planets and mythic realms of magic and swords. She moved to Washington in 1994 and felt instantly at home in the urban sprawl of Seattle. Her storytelling methods were expanded by a group of like minded fiction enthusiasts she met soon after her move. Today she lives in a large town that thinks it’s a city with her husband Luke and son Toby.

Blue Box Full of Worlds

A little blue box has appeared on my front lawn. It is a Little Free Library in the shape of a TARDIS. Think of it as a mini-me TARDIS filled with books that can take you through time and space to whole new worlds. That’s almost as good as having a visiting Time Lord like the Doctor.

It has been in the works for months. I’ve wanted one ever since I learned about the Little Free Library network. The Husband, Jeff, decided he would build me one and it work look like a TARDIS. He knows my love of the TARDIS and what it represents. He also knows how important books are. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a voracious reader who is good at building things.

Without formal plans, it took Jeff about six weeks to complete the TARDIS from start to finish. There were some hiccups along the way—cutting acrylic can be difficult—and some moments of brilliance—layered spray paint to get the TARDIS blue color—but in the end, it turned out better than I could have hoped for.

I didn’t do much more than supervise and give Jeff the idea of the sign in the door. I approved everything as it went along but the praise really belongs with my husband. He’s pretty darned awesome. I mean… he built me a TARDIS!

We didn’t do this just because we love Doctor Who and the TARDIS. We did this because there are a lot of kids and parents in the neighborhood who walk by. The kids are both middle grade and teenagers. We’re on the path between a bus stop and the rest of the neighborhood on one side and a middle grade school on the other. Plus, the neighborhood has a great half mile walking circle. There isn’t a day when I don’t see people walking by. We want to promote reading and to give those who might be struggling the chance to read books for free.

Also, I know that if I had not had a library growing up, I might not—probably would not—be the author I am today. There is a magic to reading. This is one way I thought we could give back to our community.

Now, instead of just being “that author lady” or “that weird house with all the gargoyles” we get to be “that house with the TARDIS library.” I like it. I guess we’re already known for books. We’ve participated in All Hallows Read for the last couple of years to great success. One could do worse than be known for books.

Tell Me – Matthew Marovich

Matt and I have been friends for a while. He's a budding writer and podcaster. When he told me about his charity fundraiser, I knew I had to have him on "Tell Me." Also, listening to him and Tyler talk about the various books is really funny. Good guy. Good heart. Good cause.

It started last year when I said on my blog and Facebook that I was going to read Twilight in the month of February. The reason behind doing so was a challenge by a friend of mine to read something I frequently hated on, because how could I know my objections, gleaned from other people's reviews and snippets read on the Internet, were really valid without having ever really read the book. I admitted that he was right at the time, albeit grudgingly, and made it a project: a month of Twilight, "live" blogged as I made my way through Stephanie Meyer's first novel.

And then my friend Tyler had to go and screw it up by making it worse.

Instead of just one book he challenged me to read all four, the entire Twilight "saga", in one month and I agreed with one caveat, that if I suffered he had to suffer with me. With February being a short month and me on vacation in the middle of it we pushed our reading to March.

It was from this that our podcast Your Book is Why Daddy Drinks was born. We decided to record our impressions of these first four books, discussing what we didn't like, what few parts we did, and everything else about Stephanie Meyer's works, to the background of us drinking. And people seemed to like them. We moved on from there to other stories, touching on science fiction, fantasy, military thrillers, gonzo/bizarro, romance, and a host of other genres in the months since. The podcast grew into one part book review, one part comedy through suffering as other people used Tyler and I to suggest books they might want to read and hear about without having to suffer through actually reading them.

However, this post isn't really about that. That's just the history. This post is about the charity drive we've got going on right now, This Charity is Why Daddy Drinks.

Before every podcast, having been friends for over a decade, Tyler and I usually talk about the things we've got going on in our lives and we started discussing doing something to give back. We make no bones about the size of our listening audience, we've got a loyal but small following, but we wanted to see if we could use that to do something cool in an effort to give back and contribute to a charity. We discussed a number of ways we could go about raising money, and which charities we could give to, and eventually decided on Indiegogo for ease of use and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation because we both have people in our lives, adults and kids, who currently live with diabetes.

Here's how we're doing it: you, because the JDRF is awesome, donate money and, should we hit our mark of the very low $500 (we wanted an attainable amount), we will pay full-price admission to go see Stephanie Meyer's The Host on opening night in March of this year, surrounded by squealing, squeeing tweens. If you know Tyler and I, you know that the only way we could possibly ever be forced to do this would be for a good cause and we both agree that we'd suffer a LOT of bad science fiction for the sake of the JDRF. This possible outcome is especially painful for Tyler as he lives in SoCal and would have to drive himself up to the Bay Area, a journey of several hundred miles, because I have a kid and I'm not going down there.

Beyond suffering through The Host, we have a variety of stretch goals attainable if people are feeling particularly generous and/or have it in for making the two of us suffer. For every $200 past the initial $500 we will add a Twilight movie and watch them as part of a Google+ hangout. If we hit $1200 Tyler and I will do the hangout in costume as a member of the Cullen family. We do have a $1600 stretch goal but we're leaving that as a surprise if we get closer to the mark.

So that's our charity drive. If you want to make two guys have to suffer through angsty tween supernatural romance movies, or (and more importantly) you just want to give to a good cause, come on over to the Indiegogo page and donate and look us up on iTunes or at We record every month!

Matthew Marovich is a semi-professional author living in the Bay Area of California with his wife, son, and their two dog. His works have appeared on The Edge of Propinquity and in books by Blood Bound Books, Flying Pen Press, and Dagan Books; his next story will be appearing in the Beast Within 4: Gears & Growls anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek.

Stress, Emotions, Writing

Last time, I talked about be busy and how timing was everything to a freelancer. I’m not juggling chainsaws yet, but I don’t have a lot of free time. Which makes this week that much more difficult for me.

Monday, I had surgery on my leg. Tuesday, I had a follow up doctor appointment for my weight. I’m in pain from the first and right on track for the second. Except, throughout my second appointment, I kept thinking about what a failure I was. Part of it was stress. Part of it was pain. Part of it was the negative headspace I’d gotten myself into.

You see, writing has been like pulling teeth for the last week. If I get 500 words in, I’m doing good. Yet, the first thing I think isn’t “Yay, thank goodness I got some words in.” but “Dammit, that’s it? That’s all I’ve done? I suck.” I’m working on this.

I think I’ve had another stressor I didn’t realize was stabbing me. For a while now, I’ve thought my pays-the-bills job was going away in March and I’ve been wondering how I was going to make do. This morning, I asked my boss for a sanity check and got some fab news. Muscles I didn’t know were clenched unclenched and I could breathe again. Suddenly, I didn’t feel as exhausted and sick anymore.

Right now, I’m doing a lot of the work that goes on around writing and when I read PocketMint’s article “Spoons, Decisions, Fatigue, and a Glimpse into Poverty,” I wanted to jump up and down and shout “Yes! That’s what was wrong.”

Writing, at least for me, is an emotional thing. Dealing with debt and the fear of being in debt again had me by the hindbrain and I didn’t even know it. In my book, The Little Finance Book That Could, I talk about how hard it is to deal with debt on an emotional level. How much it can hurt. How to mitigate those people who want to sabotage your efforts. In truth, I had a long time in there where I had no social life by choice because it was easier than fighting with people over spending any money.

Now that my immediate worry about debt has been allayed, I can shift back to dealing with the pain in my leg and my schedule. One thing I need to remember is how much I admired Ken Scholes and his consistent, daily word count updates—especially through adversity. Even if it was only 300 words, he still got words in and that’s what matters. I know I will get this novelette done, even if I have to do it 500 words at a time.

Tell Me – Miss Violet DeVille

My introduction to burlesque happened when a friend asked if I wanted to go see a show. It was the Von Foxies' "Bye Bye Bush" right after the 2008 election. Now imagine three full figured women standing with their backs to the audience. In each of the women's right hand is a can of shaving cream. In the other hand they make a mound of shaving cream and apply it to, well, their mound. The razors come out and in long dramatic stokes the shaving cream is quickly removed. In unison, they turn to face the audience in nothing more than heels, pasties, and little American flag merkins*. From the moment of that first reveal a small fire started to burn deep inside my soul.

A little over four years later, my love for this amazing art form hasn't waned in the slightest. I have met amazing and beautiful women and handsome men of all shapes and sizes, orientations and expressions. This feminist art form with glitter and rhinestones, tantalizing teases and bawdy humor has been the best thing I have ever done for me. Margaret Cho wrote in her forward to Jo Wheldon's The Burlesque Handbook, "I learned that happiness wasn't a dress size." I couldn't agree more.

So what does a girl like me like to do in a show like this? It depends on the show really. The inspiration for my acts comes from a variety of places. Sometimes it's a fact of life that drives me forward, but usually it's some geeky topic that gets my blood pumping. From steampunk to Star Wars, film noir to the Muppets, romance to Legos, and so much more.

This week, I'm giving two performances of my ode to my favorite scoundrel, Han Solo. The first will be this Thursday at Lily Divine Productions' Debauchery, a show I've done many times that benefits the LGBT community in the process by giving grants to queer health and social organizations. The second show is on Saturday with the Tempting Tarts as they return to RustyCon to perform for members of the convention in what is sure to be a fun show.

The word "burlesque" comes from the Italian "burla", meaning to mock, joke about, or parody. This particular act-The Fastest Piece of Junk in the Galaxy-has multiple reveals with at least one jab at the Special Edition of the original trilogy and a whole lot of love. There are references to Darth Vader and our favorite wookiee. And perhaps even an accordion serenade, if you can call it that.

Since I started performing burlesque in July of 2010, I've been in over 60 shows in four states on both coasts and almost twice as many performances. With one show down, Captain Royale, produced by my production company, Purple Devil Productions, and three more to go in January alone with travel plans already on the calendar, 2013 is getting off to a fine start for this nerdy show girl.

Miss Violet DeVille is a trans woman and a class act from a history that never was. She's a steampunk who has found a love of dance, performing, and taking her clothes off for other people in raunchy and entertaining ways! Miss DeVille broke out onto the Seattle stage in 2010 and began creating memorable and entertaining shows in 2011. She is the executive director at Purple Devil Productions in Seattle. Since then she has toured both coasts and is planning more national and international tours. When this national performer is not producing and performing in burlesque and cabaret shows, she belly dances, works both in front and behind the camera lens, and spends far too much time in her workshop building devices to make the world a better place for her. You can find more about her on her website, or her twitter feed: @violetdeville.

*A merkin, also called a pubic wig, is a small and usually bedazzled piece of clothing to cover the crotch of the performer.

Timing is Everything

An author / editor’s life is one filled with “hurry up and wait.” It makes scheduling difficult.
I had one project I’ve been talking about with the publisher fire up again after months of silence. This time with the promise of a contract. Another project, it’s been over a year and I now have a 90 day deadline. As soon as I see that contract and its terms that is. Also, I am waiting for a third contract that was promised before the holidays. I knew that contract would not be on time. The publishing industry is notoriously slow for contracts around the holiday season.
While these three contracts are in the process of dropping, I have a novelette and an RPG supplement to write as well as a non-fiction book and an anthology to edit. Fortunately, a couple of these projects have open-ended due dates. On the bad side of things, the longer ideas go cold, the less excited about the project I become. It’s like pulling teeth to get into the project. Then, when the irons are hot, other contracts drop.
It’s no wonder I have a hard time scheduling myself and end up with months of “juggling chainsaws.”

[Note: As I write this post, an offer of an RPG contract landed in my email with too tight of a deadline for me to accept it. Dammit. It was exactly the kind of thing I like.]
At this point, I’ve given the Husband permission to taser me if I accept a new contract without talking to him first about it. He is my sanity and impulse block. This, of course, does not include contracts that have been up in the air for months. Mostly because I really want to write the second YA novel.
Then again, publishers keep putting shiny projects and money in front of me. With tight deadlines. It makes me sit back and think about what I really want to do with my career. I don’t write as fast as some people.
On the other hand, when I do have a schedule, I work hard to keep to it. Right now, it’s all Lovecraft all the time. At least until that other contract with the 90 day deadline comes in. Then it’s near future sci-fi.

Tell Me - Jody Lynn Nye

I have never had the pleasure of meeting Jody Lynn Nye but I have had the pleasure of reading and editing her in the past. Entertaining writer and consummate professional, Jody talks about how a painful reality was used as inspiration fodder for her book Myth-Quoted.

The frustration that gave rise to my novel, Myth-Quoted, started out long before the current election, though this one seemed to slot painfully well into the ongoing angst. Didn’t the rest of you feel as though the campaign was never going to end?

That’s how story ideas come into being. You feel passionate about something, and it begins to cause synapses in your brain to fire, and story ensues. In this case, I had become so frustrated that the previous presidential election seemed to have started three years before Election Day that I came to despise both parties and everything they did. Rather than affirming my pride in the democratic process, it made me yearn for something else, perhaps like the British system where, though voters vote for parties but not candidates, the campaign begins only three weeks before Election Day. Wouldn’t that have been nice? If I could just go about my business undisturbed for a few years, then pay reasonable attention to the candidates’ statements a couple of months before the election, I would be a lot happier. In the meanwhile, the elected officials can buckle down and do the darned job for which we elected them. I suspect I’m far from alone in my feelings. (The press is already beginning to speculate about 2016. Nooooo!)

So, the “What if?” that came into my mind was, “What if the election just never got around to happening? What if the campaign went on and on and on and ON until the posters clinging to the sides of buildings faded, and the candidates distributed copies of their speeches in advance to the press because they never had anything new to say? What if – and here’s the important part – what if Aahz, Skeeve, and the other characters of the Myth-Adventures series got caught up in trying to straighten out an endless campaign in (in this case) an openly corrupt election?” This is how Myth-Quoted evolved.

Once I got to make fun of the process, I began to enjoy the real-life drama a little. I watched news reports with an eye out for ridiculous things I could incorporate into the plot. There was plenty. Please let me say right here that none of my characters is based on any of the people who ran for office. I exaggerated and caricatured, employed antiquated clichés, and added a handful of absurd hoops that I sincerely hope no person with an ounce of pride would jump through, even to be elected to high office.

(My characters, of course, had no choice. They have to do what I make them. There’s no democracy in writing. I like to think of myself as a benign dictator, but it’s my way or the DELETE key.)

Naturally, the ending of my book was nothing like real life. After all, I have magik (yes, that’s the way we spell it in the Myth-Adventures), puns, running disasters and, of course, Aahz. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and let me blow off steam about the real situation in the process.
Jody Lynn Nye lists her main career activity as “spoiling cats.”  She lives northwest of Chicago with one of the above and her husband, author and packager Bill Fawcett. She has published more than forty books, including seven contemporary fantasies, five SF novels, four novels in collaboration with Anne McCaffrey, including Crisis on Doona and Treaty at Doona; edited a humorous anthology about mothers, Don’t Forget Your Spacesuit, Dear!; and over a hundred short stories. Her latest books are Dragons Deal (Ace Books), the third in Robert Asprin’s Dragons series, View From the Imperium (Baen Books), and Myth-Quoted, nineteenth in Robert Asprin’s Myth-Adventures series. (Ace Books).  Her website is

A New Beginning

A day late and not a bit sorry. I’ve had family here for New Year’s and it was fabulous. We went to Pike’s Place Market, the Space Needle for brunch, the Chihuly exhibit, drove out to Ocean Shores (and got to see sun, clouds, rain, and snow along the way) where the ocean almost ate our car at high tide. Introduced them to the BBC series Sherlock, and generally had a mighty fine time. But now, it’s time to get back to my writerholic routine.

I’m very much of the opinion that if you don’t know where you’ve been, you don’t know where you’re going. I also believe that if you don’t have a plan, you won’t get to where you want to go. As I am an author, I think of these things in terms of writing. Especially since I’m my own boss. I need something to hold up to myself and say… I did good!

Looking back at 2012

  • New short stories written: 10; 8 sold, 2 pending
  • Total short story subs made:  17; 9 sold, 5 rejected, 2 pending
  • New articles written/published: 6
  • RPG contracts: 8
  • Anthologies edited: 3 (Dangers Untold, Beast Within 3, Coins of Chaos)
  • Total new words written: just over 146,000
  • Things published: 3 fiction books, 10 episodes of the Nellus Academy Incident, 3 RPG products, 4 short stories.

Looking at 2013 (turned in or contracted)

  • Short stories to be published: 5
  • Nellus Academy Incident episodes to be published: 15
  • Anthologies to be published: 2
  • Fiction books to be published: 2
  • RPG books to be published: 2

Goals for 2013

  • Short stories to write: 13 (Book 4 of the Karen Wilson Chronicles)
  • Novelette to write: 1 (“Dreams of a Thousand Young” for Jazz Age Cthulhu, Innsmouth Free Press)
  • Novel to write: 1 (YA book #2)
  • RPG projects: 2 (Colonial Gothic: Roanoke, GRUNTZ fiction ebook)
  • Books to edit: 3 (AIP projects #1, #2, #3)
  • Anthologies to be edited: 2 (Project #1, Project #2)

Not bad for 2012 or for projected 2013. Of course, I’m not all writing, editing, game design, and publishing. No. I’ve got some travel in the mix. Projected conventions: 7. I don’t know for sure if I will make them all but this is what I have planned.

  1. Rainforest Village Writers Retreat, WA – Feb 27 - March 3 (Session 1 attendee)
  2. GothCon, Sweden – March 28-Apr 1 (GoH)
  3. Origins, OH – June 12-16 (Panelist, Dealer)
  4. WesterCon 66, CA – July 4-7 (Panelist, Dealer)
  5. Cascade Writers Workshop, OR – July 25-28  (Guest Speaker)
  6. GenCon, IN – August 15-18 (Panelist)
  7. Convolution, CA – Nov 2-4 (Panelist, Dealer)