Jennifer Brozek | October 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 28. October 2014 15:18

I am gearing up to participate in NaNoWriMo again, officially, this year. I don’t participate every year. My thoughts on it have changed. When I first started, back in…uh…2006?

[I know I participated in 2007. I wrote THE LITTLE FINANCE BOOK THAT COULD back then. But I think I did Regresser’s Evolution in 2006. There’s a novel that will never see the light of day. But, I digress…]

When I first started, I looked at NaNo as motivation to finally finish a novel in a concrete amount of time. Now, I look at NaNo as a conveniently placed “get shit done before the end of the year” motivator. Thus, I don’t always traditionally participate. One year, it was “finish all of the contracted short stories” NaNo. Another, it was “finish this damn RPG sourcebook” NaNo.

However, when the stars align, and I have a new novel to write, and it is scheduled for the fall, I try to schedule it for NaNoWriMo. This year, everything has fallen into place and it’s time for me to write the next Melissa Allen book, NEVER LET ME LEAVE. The first Melissa Allen book, NEVER LET ME SLEEP, was written during the 2011 NaNo in 13 days. That will not happen here. Mostly because it is a bigger book with more principle characters.

Now. Some people love NaNo. Some people hate it. I use it as a tool. It is an artificial deadline and it gets me working to deadline speeds. Most of the time, I look at my NaNo draft as a 50,000+ word outline and my next draft is the real book. This is my recommendation to everyone. Your NaNo book is your detailed outline. Nothing more.

I know I will do well because this is what I do the rest of the year. Only, I need to make my words publishable words. So far, this year, I’ve written about 145,850 new words of fiction. Never mind the emails, contracts, editing, etc… I’ve done. That’s just under an average of 15,000 new words to be published every month of the year. Or 3650 new fiction words a week. Or an average of 521 new fiction words every single day of the year.

Obviously, I don’t write every single day of the year. To date, my least amount of words written in one day (when I wrote) was: 11 (Jan 14). The most: 4512 (Feb 21, Rainforest Writing Retreat).  The point is this: I wrote steadily and consistently to an average weekly word count. If I wasn’t writing, I editing but thinking about writing.

It’s nice to be part of the yearly writing mob scene because people who don’t really understand what it is like to write every day get a taste of it. Some people love it. Some people don’t. I’m going to enjoy my NaNo time and the fact that people, for at least a little while, understand what it is to be consumed by story writing.

I’m GaanEden on NaNoWriMo. Feel free to become my writing buddy.

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APOCALYPSE GIRL DREAMING Cover Reveal

by Jennifer Brozek 21. October 2014 10:48

This is my favorite book cover to date.

Cover art by Fernando Cortes.
Cover design by Matt Youngmark.
Published by Evil Girlfriend Media.
Introduction by Jody Lynn Nye.
Release date: 16 Jan 2015

 

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Tell Me - Donald J. Bingle

by Jennifer Brozek 19. October 2014 23:07

Don Bingle is a longtime convention buddy who is as kind as he is well spoken. I’m happy to let him tell you about the Frame Shop and why he, as an author, will never use you in one of his books.

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Writing Characters to Fit the Plot

Every once in a while, I see a t-shirt that says “Be nice to me or I’ll put you in my next novel.” My non-writer friends think it is funny. Heck, a few writers I know have worn such shirts. Truth is, those t-shirts really irritate me. Why?

First, they disrespect writers and the process of writing. They suggest that writers don’t work and struggle and subtly mold their own creations; they just steal them fully-formed as they are walking by. This is a corollary to my irritation when I hear people—not just people, but authors—say that the characters simply tell the writer what to write and he or she just writes it down, like a scribe or personal secretary who takes dictation. Writing is simply not that easy; writing characters is not that easy.

Look, I’m not only a character, but I’ve played lots of different characters (about six hundred different characters) in classic roleplaying tournaments), from dwarves and elves and orcs to spies, princesses, occultists, librarians, paladins, thieves, mercenaries, monsters, pirates, artists, clerics, mages, kender, femme fatales, little kids, clones, and aliens (even sentient weapons and insects). So I know about getting into character and creating dialogue and actions that remain true to that character’s personality, abilities, and world view. I understand how certain behavior or dialogue may not ring true for a given character. But, that doesn’t mean it springs forth from the ether and doesn’t take any effort to create. Even if struck by sudden inspiration, a writer must craft an idea and word and place it so as to effective for his or her purposes in a story or novel.

Second, they misunderstand the relationship between characters and plot. When I was writing classic roleplaying adventures, one of the key components was building characters with the correct skills, equipment, abilities, personalities, and motivations to be able to take on the quest and, with difficulty, be able to handle the tasks necessary to succeed. On top of that, the characters had to have a reason to stay and work together, but enough conflict to make the group dynamics interesting.

The same is true in writing stories and novels. You just can’t drop your buddy, Bill, into whatever you happen to be writing. Your psychotic neighbor, Adriane, also isn’t a natural fit to be a mob boss or liche queen. The characters need to have motivations, quirks, flaws, personalities, abilities, and speech-patterns which are appropriate for the setting and story you are telling. Sure, everyone’s a product of their environment and their experiences, and there may be aspects of characters, turns of phrasing, physical features, personality quirks, flaws and phobias, and minor vignettes or small pieces of business (business in the theatre sense of identifying or defining physical movements) that are translatable into your writing project. But that’s different than wholesale incorporation of a real life person into a story.

Since my most recent project, Frame Shop is a mystery/thriller set in a writers’ group and I am, not surprisingly, in a writers’ group, this topic has been much on my mind. I confess that I hid much of this project from the group during most of the primary writing to avoid speculation about whether this or that character was, or was based on, this or that real life person. I showed the group action scenes or bits of dialogue between one of the writers and a hit man, but I never asked the group to review the scenes that take place at the writers’ group, itself. Even then, when I sent the full draft to a few beta readers who are in the group, cautioning them that I build characters with the characteristics needed for the story, the first responses I got were all about who they thought the various characters resembled.

For the record, none of them are meant to be anyone I know. Sure, some are of the same age or sex or artistic specialty or profession as people I know, but one or two superficial attributes does not a three-dimensional character make. To the extent the characters were based on anybody, I’d have to say they were all based on various aspects of me (including the hack writer, the aw-shucks NYSE best-seller, and the self-doubting, shy memoirist), especially the unlikeable ones.

So the next time you read a book or chat with a writer, give the author a bit of respect, because writing, especially good writing, takes some work. And, if you think you recognize a personality characteristic or quirk or bit of dialogue from real life, chalk it up to their ability to weave their experiences into credible, realistic fiction, not laziness and theft.

Some writers only write what they know, but plenty of writers make up most of what they write. As I put it in a bio once:  “[Donald J. Bingle] has written short stories about killer bunnies, civil war soldiers, detectives, Renaissance Faire orcs, giant battling robots, demons, cats, time travelers, ghosts, time-traveling ghosts, barbarians, a husband accused of murdering his wife, dogs, horses, gamers, soldiers, Neanderthals, commuters, kender, and serial killers. Of those subjects, he has occasional contact in real life only with dogs, cats, gamers, and commuters (unless some of those are, unknown to him, really time travelers, ghosts, demons, serial killers, or murder suspects).

Sorry, but no, you won’t be in my next novel.

Aloha.
Donald J. Bingle
Check out the Kickstarter for Frame Shop.

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Bubble and Squeek for 14 Oct 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 14. October 2014 09:03

Busy, busy, busy writing and editing. Here are some links for you.

Authorgraph: You can get a number of my books electronically signed by me.

Article: The Anthology Balance. I wrote an article for the Locus blog about the balance between diversity and what sells. Hint: diversity sells.

Review: Shattered Shields video review by Other Realms Book Reviews. This is a first for me. Kind of exciting. She liked it.

Review: Shattered Shields. This one is from 50 Book Challenge. Another good review.

Podcast: Geekerati interviews me and Bryan Thomas Schmidt about Shattered Shields and a myriad of other things.

Horror Selfies: Read more horror! It's good for your heart. Also, don't forget about All Hallows Read. Give a scary book for Halloween.

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Tell Me - Derek J. Goodman

by Jennifer Brozek 13. October 2014 19:14

As a fellow Permutant, I'm happy to showcase a new endeavor by Derek J. Goodman and our mutual publisher, Permuted Press. I would love to have one of my books turned into a movie.

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Hi, my name is Derek J. Goodman, and I would like to talk about the Kickstarter for the movie The OneStop Apocalypse Shop, based on my novel The Apocalypse Shift.

The one thing I get asked the most about the novel is if I, like the characters, have ever worked the graveyard shift at a convenience store. The answer is yes, I did indeed work for a year doing the night shift at a 7-11 in a seedy section of Denver. It is, without a doubt, the worst job I’ve ever had. I could tell you stories. But after a certain amount of time passed, I found myself actually growing nostalgic about it. Not because I actually wanted to go back and do it again, but because, unlike most of my jobs since, it was interesting. The idea occurred to me that if vampires, werewolves, and zombies had walked through that door, it wouldn’t have changed anything. That job would have been equally as crazy.

And so I came up with stories of the OneStop and the poor schmucks who worked there. The OneStop was in a special section of the city that tends to attract magical forces once the sun goes down. Most of the monsters that walk through the door are just minding their business like any other customer. They want Twinkies, nachos, doughnuts, Slim Jims, and Froztees. But every so often some mad power-hungry demon might come in for a quick bite on their way to destroying the world. The crew at the OneStop need to stop them. It’s part of their job, right up there with mopping the floor, keeping the coffee pots full, and ringing up the customers.

The Kickstarter is being run by my publisher, Permuted Press, who happen to have several really talented film students among their staff. The script will be by Ryne Driscoll and it will be directed by David Walker. I recently had the opportunity to talk to them in person and I’m confident that the project is in good hands. This is all around a great opportunity and I’m happy to be a part of it.

For further information about the Kickstarter and how to donate to it, you can go to the OneStop Kickstarer site. I really hope that other people will be as excited about this as I am.

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Not Our Kind

by Jennifer Brozek 7. October 2014 09:08

I usually like what I write. Then there are those stories that make me sit back and think that I’ve leveled up as an author. In my story, “Making Amends in Fanghan”, I’ve taken something relevant and inexplicable (to me) and given it an explanation that is both supernatural and plausible for the culture as I understand it.

I’m talking about the Ghost Cities of China.

Why would the Chinese government built beautiful cites—whole cities—that remain uninhabited? Why would they build more when there are several unoccupied?

You can read my answer in the Kickstarter NOT OUR KIND. I’m dead chuffed to be sharing a TOC with the likes of Alex Bledsoe, Erika Holt, Lucy Snyder, Maurice Broddus, Marissa Lingen, Tim Waggoner and so many more. I hope you join us for the ride.

 

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Tell Me - Erin M. Evans

by Jennifer Brozek 6. October 2014 10:03

I've had the pleasure of meeting Erin M. Evans several times and we will be reading together at the University Bookstore in November. She is here to tell you how to do romance in Forgotten Realms—epic style. FIRE IN THE BLOOD comes out on Oct 14th and is available for pre-order.

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Love is a many-splendored thing. Except when it’s messy. Or boring. Or downright frustrating. Or heart-breaking. All the highs and all the lows, the swamp of emotions and risk-reward assessment. Love is a fractured, fractious thing and who and what we choose to share our lives with is one of the greatest decisions in a person’s life. But it doesn’t always get that kind of respect in fantasy.

Oh, I don’t mean paranormal romance, stories where the romance is the driving force. I mean the vaunted “romantic subplot” you’ll find in every subgenre, in nearly every classic. Too often it’s treated as “Here is your partner, a reward for successful heroing.” When you don’t have both parties points-of-view in play, it’s an easy route to take, and even when you do, it can be tempting to mold one party into a gift of sorts for the other.

When you’re a woman writing fantasy—even blood-and-guts sword and sorcery—your romantic subplots get an extra special scrutiny. After all, romance is What Women Write. Make romantic relationships 10% of your book, and you’ll find folks talking like it’s all bedroom eyes and unfortunate misunderstandings, Moonlighting-style arguments and sexy makings up. I’ll admit it, I took this a little personally. So I decided why not unleash the kraken? Why not write a Forgotten Realms story about romances?

Of course, it’s a story about romantic relationships when the one you choose might determine the future of a kingdom at war, or the success of the god of sin, or whether you’re assassinated by the shadowy empire to the north. It’s about realizing love is not a panacea and the good doesn’t always make up for the bad. It’s about people dealing with life and this big, messy series of decisions that hinge on your life continuing on, while the world seems to be trying to end it. (In other words, a fantasy novel.)

Delving into matters of the heart—really diving in, looking at it from the perspective of an individual character—can add dimension and tension and realness to a story about wizards and ancient kingdoms and looming empires of shadow. But I think it’s critical that you really rip into it. No easy answers. No “rewards for heroing.” Consequences, choices, pushing yourself to do the right thing—realizing you don’t want all that heartache or realizing it’s all worth it. Fire in the Blood begins with a love triangle of sorts—Brin loves Havilar, but is engaged to Raedra. There’s a well-worn formula here—Havilar is the true love, and Raedra is the mistake, the one who exists to make you see how loveable Havilar is—but it doesn’t work for me. Raedra’s only engaged to Brin because it helps keep her country stable—did I mention she’s a princess? Did I mention the kingdom is really her truest love? We decide who or what we share our lives with, and sometimes it’s not a person at all. So why demonize her? Readers can handle a little complexity, after all. It’s part of being human.

Romance may not be the first thing you think of when you hear Forgotten Realms or sword & sorcery or even fantasy, but when we’re talking about crafting characters for readers to fall for? It’s worth all the frustrations and heartache (and occasional miscommunications) to make it work.

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ERIN M. EVANS got a degree in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis–and promptly stuck it in a box. Nowadays she uses that knowledge of bones, mythology, and social constructions to flesh out fantasy worlds. She is the author of The God Catcher, and she lives in Washington State.

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Freelancer Summary September 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 1. October 2014 10:01

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.

September

 

2014.09.01

Answered pub industry email. Googlegroup posts. Tell Me blog post. Copy edits on The Bringer of War. Wrote 668 words on Chimera Incarnate 7.

2014.09.02

Answered pub industry email. AIP Blog post. Freelancer Summary blog post. Quarterly tax payment. Personal blog post. Copy edits on The Bringer of War and sent to proofer. Edited Chimera Incarnate 7 and sent to alpha readers.

2014.09.03

Re-outlined last third of Chimera Incarnate for pacing. Wrote 1205 words on Chimera Incarnate 8.

2014.09.04

Paid SFWA dues and updated profile. Wrote 2110 words on Chimera Incarnate 8.

2014.09.05

Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1855 words on Chimera Incarnate 8, edited and sent off to alpha readers..

2014.09.06

Wrote 1405 words on Chimera Incarnate 9.

 

 

Sunday

2014.09.07

Wrote 600 words on Chimera Incarnate 9.

2014.09.08

Answered pub industry email. Convention hotel booking. Reconfirm travel arrangements to Context 27. Phone call with publisher. Wrote 2253 words on Chimera Incarnate 9.

2014.09.09

Answered pub industry email. Sent author interview out. Processed Proofer notes on The Bringer of War. Edited Chimera Incarnate 9 and sent to alpha readers.

2014.09.10

Answered pub industry email. Wrote 2150 words on Chimera Incarnate 10. Phone call with publisher.

2014.09.11

Answered pub industry email. 2nd notice on an invoice to a client. Wrote 2027 words on Chimera Incarnate 10. Tracked now authors new addresses for royalty checks.

2014.09.12

Answered pub industry email. Wrote 671 words on Chimera Incarnate 10, edited it, and sent it to alpha readers. Shutterstock search for cover art. Blocked out the fights in Chimera Incarnate 11.

2014.09.13

Blocked out the final fight scenes in Chimera Incarnate 11. Wrote 1730 words on Chimera Incarnate 11. Logged royalty reports/checks.

 

 

Sunday

2014.09.14

Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1163 words on Chimera Incarnate 11.

2014.09.15

Answered pub industry email. Invoiced a client. Wrote 2140 words on Chimera Incarnate 11.

2014.09.16

Answered pub industry email. Edited Chimera Incarnate 11 and sent it to alpha readers. Context workshop prep. Wrote 1012 words on Chimera Incarnate 12.

2014.09.17

Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1632 words on Chimera Incarnate 12. Consultation for contracts. Blog post.

2014.09.18

Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1650 words on Chimera Incarnate 12. Context workshop prep.

2014.09.19

Answered pub industry email. Podcast prep. Wrote 868 words on Chimera Incarnate 12 and typed THE END on the rough draft of Chimera Incarnate, fourth and final book of the Karen Wilson Chronicles. YAY. Send Chimera Incarnate 12 to alpha readers. Approved Famished #3 outline.

2014.09.20

Answered pub industry email. Plotted out the novel due dates vs conventions dates for 2015. Geekerati podcast interview.

 

 

Sunday

2014.09.21

Answered pub industry email. Convention questionnaire.

2014.09.22

Answered pub industry email. Wrote Context convention card. Processed The Bringer of War proof marks. Character Tour blog post.

2014.09.23

Answered pub industry email. Convention prep. AIP Blog post.

2014.09.24

Answered pub industry email. Convention prep. Pack. Leave for Context.

2014.09.25

Arrive for Context. Context guest dinner, etc…

2014.09.26

Context. Panels

2014.09.27

Context. Anthology Workshop, panels, signing.

 

 

Sunday

2014.09.28

Context. Outlining Novels Workshop, panels. Travel Home.

2014.09.29

Answered pub industry email. Convention Catch-up (so much email). Publish The Bringer of War. Proof edits for Apocalypse Girl Dreaming. Paid PA.

2014.09.30

Answered pub industry email. Chasing down invoices. Context write up blog post. Processed final proof edits on Apocalypse Girl Dreaming. Wrote 70 words on Lovecraft story.

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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.