Jennifer Brozek | February 2014

Bubble and Squeek for 25 Feb 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 25. February 2014 16:45

I was gone for five days at the Rainforest Village Writers Retreat. This is my vacation for the year. I go to a beautiful place to write, or not write, to walk, and to have a few days of being with a bunch of other writer types. It is a lovely time. I had planned to only write one short story and to outline three novelettes for a new project.

What actually happened was that I wrote that one short story, outlined the three novelettes, and wrote the first novelette to the tune of 16,590 words. This is a personal Rainforest best. In truth, I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been thinking about both of these projects for months, mentally writing them in my head. Once I sat down to do them, the words just flowed and flowed and flowed. It was a nice feeling.

Now, the links:

Review: I received a new review for The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting. It’s really nice review and I’m pleased.

Review: Today, I received a German Amazon review (in English) for The Nellus Academy Incident. Another nice review that broke things down a bit.

Pre-Order: The Lost Colony for Colonial Gothic by Rogue games. This one is the Lost Colony of Popham with Lovecraftian overtones.

Kickstarter: Saving Throw – Table Top meets Mythbusters. How could I not back it. Love the idea of this.

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Tell Me - M Todd Gallowglas

by Jennifer Brozek 24. February 2014 11:48

I read Todd’s first Dead Weight novella and found it really interesting. I even blurbed it. I think you’ll like it, too.

"DEAD WEIGHT: The Tombs by M. Todd Gallowglas is a fast-paced, non-linear novella that keeps the pages turning. Gallowglas effortlessly intermixes apocalyptic urban fantasy with noir elements and surprisingly believable characters. Can't wait to see what comes next." - Jennifer Brozek, The Nellus Academy Incident

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First, thanks for Jennifer for letting me post. The whole DEAD WEIGHT blog tour came from her asking me to post a “Tell Me” about the project. To see my other stops along the way, head over to http://www.mtoddgallowglas.com/2014/02/10/dead-weight-blog-tour/. I’ve had some pretty interesting things to say about DEAD WEIGHT already.

DEAD WEIGHT is my serialized, near-future, urban-fantasy, noirish, war-thriller with a dash of post-apocalyptic. I’ve talked about the inspiration coming from Tim O’Brien’s short story, “The Things they Carried.” Here are two quotes that helped shape the story from its first draft to what it is today:

“The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness.”

“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”


I’d originally intended the central plot to focus on a squad of Marines during the Faerie War. When started the first draft, I slammed into the first person point of view of a writer assigned to those Marines. His job was to chronicle the Marines’ story while they were in Faerie, and to carry back the memory of those who died, lest they be forgotten in our world forever. The story chose this character right from the second or third sentence from the first draft.

As the story grew, I later realized that, while the story was still about the war between the US and the Unseelie Court of Faerie, the true soldiers weren’t from the armed forces. This wasn’t that kind of war. The true soldiers were the artists who pass down our heritage, not only from our cultural backgrounds but also the culture we form with our family and friends.

The original draft of DEAD WEIGHT started from the question, “What would a group of Marines carry with them on a mission to Faerie?” Now the questions are: “What role would storytellers play in a war against a people who need stories for their existence?” “Would we be able to re-think the way we waged war fast enough to make a difference?” and “Why do we pass some stories on and keep others secret?” Stories carry weight, and the stories we don’t tell weigh on us even more than the stories we do tell, and the stories that people share with us share, and expect us not to share with others, tend to weigh heaviest of all.

We communicate mostly through stories. When we tell our spouse about our day, we tell a story. When we talk about that awesome thing we did playing our favorite sport last weekend, we tell a story. When we sit around a table share memories of our friends and family who have passed on, we tell stories. Everything we know, we know because we share it stories. Now, not ever story is spoken. We can tell stories in paint, in crayon, in dance, in photography, in film, in music (Peter and the Wolf anyone?) DEAD WEIGHT is about stories in a war where stories are the greatest weapons. Which stories do share, when do we share them, and which are so terrible we should keep them secret.

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Find out more about M Todd Gallowglas, his books, and to read some of his rants, head over to his official website: www.mtoddgallowglas.com

 

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Top 5 Tips for At-Home Authors

by Jennifer Brozek 18. February 2014 14:44

One of the things that people tell me when they quit their day job to write (or shift to working at home) is that they spin their wheels and they don’t seem to do enough (or anything) done. They’ve had a structured day job for so long that they don’t know how to structure themselves. This happens to remote workers, to full-time freelancers, and to people who temporarily stuck at home for whatever reason.

1. Dress for Work.

You are working even if you can do it in your underwear. Until you have come to a workable system, I recommend getting “dressed for work” every workday. This doesn’t mean a suit and tie unless you need to have a Skype meeting with someone who expects you in a suit and tie. It does mean getting up, putting on (relatively) clean clothes, and grooming yourself. It does mean getting out of the kind of clothes you like to relax in. Dressing for work (even if is comfortable) puts you in the correct mindset to sit down and work.

2. Daily Schedules.

I keep a number of schedules to keep me on track. The most important is the Daily Schedule. What do you have planned for every single day this week? What is a priority? What can slip? What has an immediate due date? What is a huge project that you have to get a little done each day to succeed? Daily schedules allow you to be productive and to feel productive. They also get you back on track when you come back from playing with the cat or come back from a doctor’s appointment. It tells you what you need to get done. It also tells you how much you can get done on an average week. And once you’re done with your daily task list, you can walk away and go do whatever.

3. Monthly and Yearly Goals.

The only way you can get Daily Schedules written is if you know what you want to accomplish that month. Monthly Schedules are created out of Yearly Goals. Yearly Goals gives you a starting point to break down into Monthly Schedules. These are living documents. As new projects are added, you need to adjust your Monthly Schedule. I keep a running 6-9 month Monthly Schedule with due dates. My Daily Schedule comes out of the Monthly Schedule I’m in. I always know what is due went and who it is due to. This way, you won’t over schedule yourself

4. Get a Timer.

There will be times where you just don’t wanna. Don’t wanna write or edit or do anything you need to do. I have a 15 minute, a 30 minute, a 45 minute, and a 60 minute timer. Depending on what project needs doing, I set my timer and focus on just that one project for the amount of time I’ve bargained with myself. “All I have to do is 30 minutes. Anything else is extra.” Usually, I will do my set time and then continue on. I’ve gotten over the hump of “Don’t wanna.” and can get on with the rest of my day.

Conversely, I will give myself recess. 30 minutes to read. 60 minutes to crochet. 45 minutes to go walking. The timer allows me to set an amount of time to play hooky. But when that timer bings, I know I need to get back to work.

5. Isolate Yourself.

Sometimes, your biggest problem is all the shiny things around you. You  need to shut your door, close the curtains, and turn off all your chat programs. Sometimes, all you really need to is hunker down and get to work. A lot of times, this works best in conjunction with a timer. Put away all (or most of) the distractions and work.

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Tell Me - John Passarella

by Jennifer Brozek 17. February 2014 09:54

As a media tie-in author, I’m always interested in what other tie-in authors go through. When I heard that John had a new GRIMM novel out, I just had to know more. GRIMM is a favorite show of mine. John and I talked and this is what he had to tell me about his experience writing tie-in novels.

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WRITING LIFE IN THE FAST LANE: MEDIA TIE-IN NOVELS


GRIMM: THE CHOPPING BLOCK is my sixth original media tie-in novel, and eleventh novel overall. I was offered the opportunity to write a Grimm tie-in by one of my several editors at Titan Books. I’ve worked with Titan before, on two Supernatural tie-in novels, Night Terror and Rite of Passage, so the folks there are familiar with my work. With regard to tie-in novels, I’ve been fortunate in a couple ways. Five of the six tie-in novels I’ve written have been the result of editor requests. Only my first tie-in, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ghoul Trouble was the result of my pursuing the work. I was a big fan of the show, and one of the reviews of my first (co-authored) novel, Wither, compared the book favorably to the TV show: “hits the groove that makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer such a kick.” Armed with that quote and my love of the Buffy show, I contacted the editor at Simon & Schuster and eventually landed that gig.

Later, my Buffy editor suggested I submit a proposal for an Angel novel. Then, the next Angel tie-in editor sought me out for an open spot, leaving a message on my home phone. And my first Supernatural novel resulted from the editor at Titan finding my website and noting my experience with supernatural thrillers and previous tie-ins.

The other way in which I’ve been fortunate is that I’ve been a big fan of the shows for which editors have offered me tie-in work. Why is that important? Simply because it allows me to proceed with the dedication of a professional writer and the enthusiasm of a fan. So, I’m working—but also having fun playing in these various universes.

These types of writing jobs are fast-paced from start to finish, so it’s definitely a springboard if you already know the show, its setting, history, tone and characters. The alternative is to go in blind, maybe binge-watch and hope you catch on to how the show works and, more importantly, enjoy what you are watching. Because of the hectic proposal and writing schedule, I find it helps me through the process to ride my affection for the show all the way to becoming a participant in the show’s universe and its collection of stories.

To give you an idea of the pace of this kind of writing assignment—and in all six of my personal tie-in experiences, the pace has been surprising similar—I’ll walk you through my Titan Books proposal timelines. I have about a week to come up with four or five three-line pitches. Mentally, I have to adjust from being a show viewer, to someone who needs to think of ideas for stories in the show’s universe. Usually under some constraints: set in a specific place in the show’s continuity, with some characters or situations off-limits. Once I submit my pitches, I wait and hope at least one will get approved by the licensor. (Fortunately, I’ve always had at least one approved.)

Next is the complete outline, start to finish, of a specified number of pages. I will often write a longer outline for my own writing benefit, then trim for submission. Witten in about a week, then I wait and see if I need to revise. Once the outline is approved, I usually have about 60 days to write an 80,000 word novel. I say 60 days, but actually it’s less. I need a week to ten days to both set aside the draft manuscript to gain fresh perspective, then come back to it, to clean up typos, tighten the prose, etc. I break he word count required down to a daily word quota, then try to write over that, every single day, without taking a single day off, because if I skip a day, the next day’s quota is now doubled. Two days off? The next day’s word quota is tripled! Otherwise I’d fall too far behind and possibly miss my deadline. And that would be unprofessional. For GRIMM: THE CHOPPING BLOCK, I wrote every day while away on my only week of vacation for the year. Having that complete, detailed outline in hand is how I get through the fevered pace of writing. On a 60-day schedule, there’s no time for writer’s block!

After I submit my “first” draft, I wait for revision notes. Usually I have a couple weeks for the revision. The most relaxing period is between revision acceptance and publication day. Long, peaceful months—until the next tie-in opportunity presents itself!

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John Passarella (www.passarella.com) won the Horror Writers Association’s prestigious Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel for the coauthored Wither. Columbia Pictures purchased the feature film rights to Wither in a prepublication, preemptive bid. John’s other novels include Wither’s Rain, Wither’s Legacy, Kindred Spirit, Shimmer and the original media tie-in novels Supernatural: Night Terror, Supernatural: Rite of Passage, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ghoul Trouble, Angel: Avatar, and Angel: Monolith. In January 2012, he released his first fiction collection, Exit Strategy & Others. Grimm: The Chopping Block is his eleventh novel.

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Tell Me - Peter Clines

by Jennifer Brozek 10. February 2014 10:05

I haven’t met Peter yet, but I have read his work. It’s good stuff. Also, contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate him. :)

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I almost didn’t write Ex-Purgatory.

Well, that’s a little bit of a lie.  I was going to write a fourth book in the Ex-Heroes series one way or another.  Contractual obligations and all that, plus I just wanted to do more with the characters.  But it almost wasn’t the story that just got released.

Y’see, I’d had this idea bouncing in my head for a while.  One of those ideas that feels like a great springboard.  What if someone told you that you were supposed to be a superhero?  That you were super-strong and bulletproof and could fly?  How would you react?  How would they react to your reaction?

But here’s the catch, and it’s what had me going back and forth on Ex-Purgatory.  This premise becomes two very different stories depending on if we know the characters or not.  Consider this...

If someone walks up to everyman Bob Jones and says “you’re a superhero,” it could mean anything.  We have no idea who Bob is, so maybe he is a hero.  Maybe he isn’t.  Maybe the speaker is kind of delusional, or they could be the only sane person in the story.  And this was really the story I’d been musing on.

But if I walk up to Clark Kent and tell him he’s supposed to be a superhero... well, this puts things in a different light.  We all know who Clark is when he’s not working at the Daily Planet, and that makes this a very different story.  Does he have amnesia?  Is he in hiding?  Is this some alternate world where he never came up with his “Superman” identity?  What’s going on here?  Because, y’know... it’s Clark Kent.  He is a superhero, and we all know it.

In one case, this is a “what if” story.  In the other, it’s a “why” or maybe “how” story.  It’s the kind of subtle shift that could be a real stumbling block if the writer doesn’t identify it.  And I realized if I used this idea with the Ex-Heroes characters, it was going to be the latter version of the story and would have to be handled accordingly.

So, did I want to burn my premise on a different kind of story than the one I’d been thinking of for the past year or so?  It’s not like I’d be able to write another possible-superheroes-who-don’t-remember story.  Well, not without really confirming what a hack I was...

In the end, I decided to go for it.  While part of my brain was debating, another part realized I could weave in another thread I’d left dangling, plus I thought of one or two funny bits I really wanted to write.  And I was on a deadline for that contract.  And the story shaped up to be something I thought was pretty fun.  And it looks like a lot of other people have thought it was fun, too.

Still, though...  

I wonder what that other story would’ve been like.

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Peter Clines is the author of the genre-blending -14- and the Ex-Heroes series.  He grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine, made his first writing sale at age seventeen to a local newspaper, and at the age of nineteen he completed his quadruple-PhD studies in English literature, archaeology, quantum physics, and interpretive dance.  He was the inspiration for both the epic poem Beowulf and the motion picture Raiders of the Lost Ark, and is single-handedly responsible for repelling the Martian Invasion of 1938 that occurred in Grovers Mills, New Jersey. He is the writer of countless film articles, The Junkie Quatrain, the rarely-read The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe, the poorly-named website Writer on Writing, and an as-yet-undiscovered Dead Sea Scroll.  He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California. There is compelling evidence that he is, in fact, the Lindbergh baby.


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Bubble and Squeek for 4 Feb 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 4. February 2014 11:23

Review: MilScFi.com gives my YA Battletech novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, 9 out of 10.

Review: Bitten By Books gives my anthology Dangers Untold 4 out of 5 tombstones.

Award: Diehard GameFAN gave the Shadowrun Returns anthology "Best Tabletop Based Fiction" award. I have the opening story in this anthology.

Interview: Reading Recommendations interviewed me and asked me what I recommend reading.

TOC Reveal: Evil Girlfriend Media posted who is in our newest SF anthology, Bless Your Mechanical Heart.

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Freelancer Summary January 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 3. February 2014 15:39

Ever wonder what a freelance author/editor does? Each month, I’m going to list my daily notes on what I do. As I always say, being your own boss means you choose with 70 hours of the week you work. None of this talks about the random pub IMs, time doing research, time reading books for blurbs, introductions, and reviews, or short author questions. “Answered pub industry email” can be anything from a request for an interview, to contract queries, to reading anthology invites, to answering questions about dates… and the list goes on.

January

 

2014.01.01

Emailed 3 authors about final edits for BYMH. Set up in-person meeting with Intern for 2014.01.10.

2014.01.02

Wrote 2000 words on “Kelpie Storm” for Origins “monsters” anthology. Finished rough draft.

2014.01.03

Answered 2 BYMH emails. Consulted on KEYSTONES cover art. Answered email on BYMH cover art. Wrote 1000 words on “Janera” for Athena’s Daughters anthology.

2014.01.04

Interview for Reading Recommendations. Editor meeting with AIP author Dylan about The Shadow Chaser. Answered email for BYMH.

2014.01.05

Answered email for BYMH and for Norwescon and for AIP.

 

 

Sunday 2014.01.06

 

Posted Tell Me, email about THE NELLUS ACADEMY INCIDENT, email about an unsolicited novel editorial review request. TOC of BYMH to publisher. Phone call about Gen Con. Edited “Kelpie Storm” and sent it to editor. Edited 3 stories for BYMH.

2014.01.07

Submitted a story. Edited 3 BYMH stories. Blog post about THE NELLUS ACADEMY INCIDENT. Wrote 101 words on “Janera.”

2014.01.08

Dealt with artwork for BYMH. Answered AIP call for submissions questions. Passed on the editorial novel review to Lily. Task list for PA. Edited 7 BYMH stories. Wrote 252 words on “Janera.”

2014.01.09

Edited 4 BYMH stories. Wrote 227 words on “Janera.” Eligible awards blog post. Post to FB about AIP being open for query subs. Answered questions about AIP’s call.

2014.01.10

In person meeting with Intern. Interviewed for new PR person. Wrote 616 words on “Janera.”

2014.01.11

Hosted a SFWA meet-and-greet at the house.

2014.01.12

Reviewed cover art for a novel. Answered pub industry email.

 

 

Sunday 2014.01.13

 

Answered pub industry email. Created contracts for Shattered Shields anthology – Mailed 15/17. Posted a “Tell Me” blog post. Contract negotiations for a novella. Wrote 124 words on “Janera.”

2014.01.14

Blog post. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts. Hired a new PA/PR person for me and AIP. Wrote 11 words on “Janera.”

2014.01.15

Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts. Approved 3 “Tell Me” posts. Answered pub industry email. Bookkeeping / bio collecting on BYMH. Wrote 2004 words on “Janera.”

2014.01.16

Wrote 875 words on “Janera.” Answered pub industry email. Finished contract negotiations for a novella. Checked on novella and book release dates.

2014.01.17

Answered pub industry email. Contract modifications for one anthology contract. Wrote 1630 words on “Janera,” finishing the rough draft. Poked a cover artist to sign his contract. Sent out Shattered Shields for blurbs.

2014.01.18

Polish and edit on “Janera” and turned it in. Signed and returned Athena’s Daughters contract. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts.

 

 

Sunday 2014.01.19

 

Answered pub industry email. Pinged a cover artist on an ETA on a cover modification. Pinged straggling BYMH authors for bios, addresses, photos.

2014.01.20

Answered pub industry email. SEGA-16 interview. Collected blubs for THE NELLUS ACADEMY INCIDENT. Posted a “Tell Me” blog post. Mailed first round of payments for Shattered Shields authors. Created and emailed all of the BYMH contracts. Publisher call on new tie-in contract.

2014.01.21

Blog post. Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts. Invoice for payment. Answered pub industry email. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts.

2014.01.22

Answered pub industry email. Skype call with PA, planning out PR events. Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts. Wrote 555 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony.

2014.01.23

Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts. Answered pub industry email. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts. Wrote 1007 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Sent in information on a sold short story.

2014.01.24

Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts. Discussion with/task list for new PA. Wrote 579 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Rough draft on a long blog. Updated task list for next week. Edits/revisions on “Kelpie Storm” and turned it in.

2014.01.25

Successful search for new artist on AIP book series. Wrote 542 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Book review written. Answered pub industry email.

 

 

Sunday 2014.01.26

 

Answered pub industry email. AIP interview answered. Filled out HWA Library Committee form.

2014.01.27

Happy book release day to me, THE NELLUS ACADEMY INCIDENT is live. Lots of social media and email about it. Posted a “Tell Me” blog post. Consulted on novel cover art. Wrote 1708 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts.

2014.01.28

Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1202 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Made a blog post. Booked hotel room for Gen Con.

2014.01.29

Answered pub industry email. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts. Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts. Posted a book review. Wrote 1310 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. PR discussion with publisher. Contract discussion with publisher.

2014.01.30

Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1047 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Booked room for Origins. Blog posts for AIP. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts. Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts.

2014.01.31

Answered pub industry email. Wrote 755 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Half-day meeting with publisher. Contract negotiations. New book contract signed.

And now you know.

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Tell Me - J.M. McDermott

by Jennifer Brozek 3. February 2014 11:18

A cliché as old as genre: sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. In the texts, this power of tech is often stranded in terms of semi-intelligible ways humans control their environment. But, were it truly embraced as a concept, the technology stories would feel like fantasy novels. Magic is a technology of human control that is sufficiently removed from our anthropology and culture such that we do not even see what magic used to be when we slept upon the naked skin of the earth. Science is a young invention.

To the text in question, my new novel, MAZE, it means that it feels like a fantasy with a landscape so alien as to become magic. The survivors of the maze stumble loosely through the terms and concepts of their own cultural history, but the stone cows are not cows and the djinni are creatures of meat and light, not fire, and the trails are called trails, though what they are is unknowable.

Separated from her tools and equipment, the scientist from the far future does not conduct experiments worthy of the name. Instead the vast unknown swallows her. The biology is magic. The geology is magic.

Sufficiently removed from our own networks and technologies, most of us would die very quickly, and the ones that do not die will have lives that return to the origins of myth in the flickering campfires at the dawn of our consciousness.

There's a linear park here in town where anybody could get lost. Staring out into the unreadable wild, the deer stare back. If I did not have the tools or training of the ones who have survived on the soil, I would die, or else I would find survivors, form tribes, work together, and live a while in the brush where living is so hard.

I watched Jim Henson's Labyrinth more times than I can count. One time, I realized that if it were me instead of Sarah, I would never reach the center to solve the maze. I would find a patch of ground to work, a place where I could hunt and cast nets, and if it was me alone, I would not live for long. Read MAZE and imagine yourself there, and what you would do if it was you, and see the unfamiliar biologies and geologies as a kind of magical real.

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Bio: J.M. McDermott is the author of Last Dragon, Disintegration Visions, The Dogsland Trilogy, and Women and Monsters. He holds an MFA from the Stonecoast Program from the University of Southern Maine. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.

 

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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.