Jennifer Brozek | September 2014

Context and the Great, Big Shock

I'm back from Context 27 and it was a great time. Steven Saus and Lucy Snyder did an excellent job of Programming and Workshops. My audiences were engaged, inquisitive, and eager to learn. That's ideal for workshops. I'm so pleased that many of my students thanked me after my workshops and panels were done.

Betsy Mitchell was wonderful to talk to and Jonathan Maberry was a joy to meet. He really is that awesome. I finally got to go to an Apex party and taste Jason's "red stuff" and "purple stuff." The Apex parties legend for a reason. Geoffrey Girard was part of it with his Cain's Blood (too tasty for safety for me).

Context 27 really was a good conference. If you are looking for an intimate, informative writing convention, Context is a good choice.

And now for the great, big shock...

I spent a lot of time talking with the convention attendees. One guy, RR, dropped this little factoid on me. He has 6 completed genre novels but he is afraid to send them out because, according to his writing professors at Purdue... “If your first novel is not the 'great American novel' you will never have a writing career.”


When I was told this, and it was confirmed by another student from Purdue, I was aghast and outraged. Every single publishing professional I told about this was just as shocked and angry as I was.  “If your first novel isn't a Great American Novel, you will never have a writing career.”? This is so wrong as to be farce. At best, it is pure ignorance. At worst, it is pure maliciousness. Either way, it sounds like the Purdue English department (or some of its professors) are so out of date and out of touch with the publishing industry as to be a detriment to its student body and need a refresher course themselves.

This is one of the most exciting times in the history of publishing. There are so many avenues to take, so many opportunities to be a success as a writer. Your first novel tank? Try again. Use a pseudonym if you need to. Investigate traditional press, small press, self publishing, crowd funding, and anything else that comes up. (Except for vanity presses. Those guys are scammers.)

Good gracious, things are changing so fast and there are so many ways to get your words out there. Don't say a writer will never succeed if they don't succeed with their first novel. That’s just dumb.

You have to get your novels out there. It's the only way to learn and grow as an author. You have to fail, to only partially or fully succeed, to go through the submission process, dealing with contracts, dealing with revision and rewrites, to work to a publishing house schedule. You have to get out there and learn by doing. It is this process that makes you a better writer and a professional. Until you do, you can't understand what is expected.

And another thing, Purdue...

While talking to RR and the other student, I noticed something. Anytime they spoke about themselves or their writing, their shoulders hunched in anticipation of pain. Both of them marveled at just how much the publishing industry professionals, and the other convention members, were positive, helpful, and supportive. How much they worked to help each other to advise, or direct each other to needed resources.

Apparently, at Purdue, the writing students are mentally and emotionally beaten about the head and shoulders and told how much the publishing industry is all about competition. When the idea of being supportive and collaborative is foreign, there is something wrong.

Almost every successful writer got advice as they emerged. They learned, grew, and were support as a writer by other writers. Mentorship is not an extinct concept. Don't teach that it is. One author does not need to fail in order for another to succeed. Publishing does not work like that. And no, it's not all roses and sunshine. For that point of view, read Chuck Wendig's Tough Talk post. But still. Your students shouldn't walk around wincing like a veteran with PTSD.

Meet the Character Blog Tour

I got tagged by Jody Lynn Nye to do this Character Blog Tour. Since I just typed “The End” on Chimera Incarnate, the fourth and final book in the Karen Wilson Chronicles, I figured this would be a nice wrap-up to the titular character.

1.What is the name of your character?
Karen Wilson

2. Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
She is a completely fictional character who is vaguely based on the looks and personality of several authors I know. I absolutely adore Karen.

3. When and where is the story set?
It is set in the modern day in the fictional city of Kendrick in Washington. It located between Port Angeles and Port Townsend around the left and bottom edges of discovery bay. In truth, I took the weirdness of Port Townsend and it historical weirdness of Seattle and riffed off it for Kendrick.

4. What should we know about him/her?
At the start of the series, Karen is a mundane 911 operator. Her parents worked in Emergency Services and she followed in their footsteps. Though she gains supernatural allies, she does not have any powers of her own. She is forthright, determined, and willing to take changes. This often gets her hurt.

5. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
The main conflict is that the “Master of the City” has chosen Karen to be his representative because “she helps people.” Karen knows nothing of the unspoken rules to interacting with the supernatural factions of Kendrick and breaks them all. She forces the cold war into a hot one because the status quo isn’t healthy for anyone. But, as you might imagine, that doesn’t go well for Karen.

6. What is the personal goal of the character?
Now that Karen’s eyes have been opened to the supernatural dangers within Kendrick and threatening the city, she just wants to protect as many people as possible. She also wants to help forge a new understanding between the various factions. As an outsider, she is most qualified to do this. With some of her allies, she has a chance of succeeding.

7. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
The Karen Wilson Chronicles is made up of four books: Caller Unknown, Children of Anu, Keystones, and Chimera Incarnate. These books are available on the publisher’s website, Amazon. Barnes & Noble, and DriveThruFiction.

8. When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?
The first three books are already out and Chimera Incarnate will be out in March 2015.

I’m going to tag:
M. Todd Gallowglas, Ivan Ewert, Dylan Birtolo, Peter M. Ball, and Wendy Hammer. They may choose to do this blog tour or not.

Bubble and Squeek for 15 Sep 2014

I'm so close to the end of Chimera Incarnate that I can think of nothing else. So, here's some Bubble and Squeek for you.

Article: How to start freelance writing. This is a good one.

Review: A review of Shattered Shields from Black Gate. Yay! They liked it.

Review: A review of Caller Unknown by Unquenchable Reads. Yay! Anna liked it.

SFSignal: Inexpensive ebooks. Numbers 160 and 161 are important. :)

Ghosts in the IM: Conversations Between Writers. This one is between me and Luna Lindsey.

TOC: Chicks Dig Gaming full TOC from Mad Norwegian Press. Is it not glorious? Also, the Kindle pre-order is up. (The Nook and iTunes ebook pre-orders will be up soon.)

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I'm working on the last three chapters of Chimera Incarnate, book 4 of the Karen Wilson Chronicles. That's about 15,000 words (1-2 weeks of writing). I've got the end of the story in my head and that's about all I can think about. How the big fight scenes will go. How to add twists to up the stakes. How to grab all the loose ends and tie them up in one big, shiny bow. It's hard to think about anything else. Thank  goodness the Husband understands when I non-sequitor in every conversation to something I've just written or am about to write.

Just over eight years in the making and I can finally see the end of the Karen Wilson Chronicles and where everyone is going to wind up when the story is done.

Bubble and Squeek for 2 Sep 2014

The Writer's Edition

Article: What does it take to write a book? The five qualities published authors share.

Article: How to Fall In Love With Writing Again. Dealing with burn out and the blahs.

Article: 21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors. These weren't that harsh to me. More common sense.

Article: Writers, Should You Quit Your Day Job? Short answer: probably not.

Article: How to Write Descriptive Passages Without Boring the Reader or Yourself. All about touching the senses.

Kickstarter: Girls on Games: A Look at the Fairer Side of the Industry. It's already funded and I'm writing a chapter on tie-in fiction.

Freelancer Summary August 2014

Ever wonder what a freelance author/editor does? Each month of 2014, 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. It doesn’t cover my pays-the-bills work either. This is just publishing industry stuff. “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.




Answered pub industry email. Page reviews for Shattered Shields.


Edit on Chimera Incarnate 4 and sent it to alpha readers. Outlined Chimera Incarnate 5.





Answered pub industry email. Wrote 140 word Elopus story. AIP presence at Dylan Birtolo’s kickstarter Knights show.


Answered pub industry email. Wrote 140 word Elopus story x2. Updated AIP page. AIP Blog post. Wrote 241 words on Chimera Incarnate 5.


Answered pub industry email. Wrote 140 word Elopus story x4. Wrote 1323 words on Chimera Incarnate 5.


Wrote Gen Con author story card. Wrote 140 word Elopus story. Wrote 1072 words on Chimera Incarnate 5. Posted Gen Con schedule.


Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1562 words on Chimera Incarnate 5. Posted “Tell Me” blog post. Gen Con prep.


Answered pub industry email. Wrote 140 word Elopus story. 447 words on Chimera Incarnate 5. Posted “Tell Me” blog post. Gen Con prep.


Gen Con prep. Edit on Chimera Incarnate 5 and sent it to alpha readers.





Gen Con prep. Updated AIP webpage.


Answered pub industry email. Gen Con prep. Updated AIP webpage. AIP Blog post, book release.


Answered pub industry email. Read AIP novel outline. Gen Con prep. Leave for Gen Con.


Gen Con, arrive and set up booth.


Gen Con panels, signing, and booth. Meeting.


Gen Con panels and booth. Meeting.


Gen Con panels, signing, and booth. Meeting.





Answered pub industry email. Gen Con booth, tore down booth. Meeting.


Answered pub industry email. Arrive home from Gen Con and collapsed.


Answered pub industry email. So much email to catch up on. AIP Blog post.


Answered pub industry email. Volunteer form for Sasquan. Blog post.


Answered pub industry email. Submitted a story. Editorial read of Flotsam #2.


Answered pub industry email. Editorial read of Flotsam #2 and sent back to author. Wrote 363 words on Chimera Incarnate 6.


Sick. Answered pub industry email. Final proof edits on a short story and returned to publisher. Wrote 378 words on Chimera Incarnate 6.





Sick. Wrote 763 words on Chimera Incarnate 6.


Sick. Answered pub industry email. Tell Me blog post. Wrote 535 words on Chimera Incarnate 6.


Answered pub industry email. Begin copy edits on The Bringer of War. Processed the email signup list from Gen Con and added them to the appropriate email lists. Answered a SFWA survey. IM conversation for blog. Wrote 1008 words on Chimera Incarnate 6.


Answered pub industry email. Gen Con follow up. Logged Gen Con expenses. Copy edits on The Bringer of War. Wrote 1400 words on Chimera Incarnate 6.


Answered pub industry email. Gen Con follow up. Final proof of Valdemar story. Edited Chimera Incarnate 6 and sent to alpha readers. Copy edits on The Bringer of War.


Answered pub industry email. Copy edits on The Bringer of War. Wrote 880 words on Chimera Incarnate 7.


Paid PA. Copy edits on The Bringer of War. Wrote 1078 words on Chimera Incarnate 7.





Answered pub industry email. Copy edits on The Bringer of War. Wrote 1975 words on Chimera Incarnate 7.

Tell Me - Scott M. Baker

I've not had the pleasure of meeting Scott yet but I do think his book sounds interesting.


My latest project is Yeitso, a horror novel published by Blood Bound Books.

Big city life is dangerous. Rape, murder, gangs… not the best place to raise a teenage daughter on your own. That’s why big-city cop and recent divorcee Russell Andrews agreed to move to the desert and be the sheriff of a sleepy little New Mexican town. But the desert has secrets. Giant secrets. Secrets that eat men alive and threaten entire towns. Andrews comes face to face with a thing out of a myth, something that modern man has no name for. The Navajo call it Yeitso.

I had wanted to write this novel for years, but kept placing it on a backburner while I delved into the worlds of zombies and vampires. Then, in the fall of 2009, I took a training course at Los Alamos National Laboratory, fell in love with the area, and knew I had found the ideal setting for my novel. Shortly after that, I came across the monster I wanted to inhabit the desert, and the concept for Yeitso was born.

While all my previous works have been violence-laden, gore-splattered novels detailing the struggle between the living and the dead, Yeitso is my homage to the B-grade giant monster movies of the 1950s that I grew up with as a kid and that influenced me as an adult. As such, I wrote Yeitso in a different style, toning down the excesses of my previous books and creating a novel that will appeal to a wider audience. Fans of movies from that era will feel a sense of nostalgia as the novel opens with the authorities attempting to determine what type of creature is preying on local citizens and concludes in an epic struggle to stop the monster from taking over the world.

I enjoyed writing Yeitso because it challenged me to step outside my comfort zone and adapt an entirely new style, and I’m pleased with the results. As the natural progression of this, my next project will be a foray into the Young Adult genre with a series of novels set in a post-apocalyptic world where a sixteen-year-old boy must not only fight for his survival but deal with the guilt of knowing that it was his mother’s science experiment that opened portals between Earth and Hell.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest, and I look forward to hearing from some of you.

Author’s Bio: Scott M. Baker was born and raised in Everett, Massachusetts and spent twenty-three years in northern Virginia working for the Central Intelligence Agency. Scott is now retired and lives in Gainesville, Florida as a full-time writer along with his wife and fellow author Alison Beightol and his stepdaughter. He has written Yeitso, his homage to the giant monster movies of the 1950s that he loved watching as a kid; The Vampire Hunters trilogy, about humans fighting the undead in Washington D.C.; as well as Rotter World, which details the struggle between humans and vampires during a zombie apocalypse. Scott is currently working on the next two books in the Rotter World saga and a series of young adult post-apocalyptic fiction. When not writing, Scott can usually be found doting on the two boxers and one cat that kindly allow him to live with them.

Please visit the author’s website at or follow him on Facebook at


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