Jennifer Brozek | September 2016

The Last Day of Salton Academy is available for pre-order!

by Jennifer Brozek 27. September 2016 16:49

The Last Days of Salton Academy will be released on 11 Oct 2016. The pre-order is for the novel only, but there will be an ebook version as well. Pre-order at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

It's referred to as 'The Outbreak,' and it happened just over three months ago, casting the world (or at least this part of it) into a state of powerlessness and chaos. The Salton Academy has become a rare sanctuary for those few students who remained behind over fall break.

As winter approaches, cracks are revealed in the academy's foundations as it's discovered someone is stealing food, another is taking advantage of a captive audience, and yet others have banded together and are thinking about mutiny, even murder. One thing's for certain — a supply run must be made soon, or everyone will starve before winter's end.

Oh yes, and then there’s the matter of the headmaster’s son
and his undead dog…

The Last Days of Salton Academy is a classic tale of horror in the spirit of Night of the Living Dead meets Lord of the Flies, featuring an ensemble cast and written by Hugo Award-nominated editor and award-winning author, Jennifer Brozek.

The Last Days of Salton Academy is a delightful character study which combined boarding school antics with the survival horror of a post-apocalypse thriller. The characters are fresh, the dynamics interesting, and the story engaging from beginning to end. It is a YA story I heartily recommend.” — C.T. Phipps, author of Esoterrorism and Wraith Knight

“As much as I love all things undead, what kept me turning pages wasn’t the zombie horde, but something far more horrible: the students and staff of a pretentious prep school. The Last Days of Salton Academy is compulsively readable—I devoured it in one sitting. With a cast of all-too-believable characters and a set of ever-ratcheting disasters, this novella is guaranteed to keep you up past your bedtime.” — Wendy N. Wagner, author of Starspawn and Skinwalkers

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Drafting Life

by Jennifer Brozek 20. September 2016 14:25

I’ve started drafting the new tie-in novella, Sekrit Project Alex. This novella is due in early November. It’s got a very specific style of writing to it and is a demanding subject matter—yes, fans will know if I get something wrong. Not to mention, this project has one of the most technical and interesting editors I’ve ever had. I gotta get this one right.

When I’m drafting a long project (novella, short novel, novel) I move into a “drafting lifestyle.” I don’t do my usual internet tour in the morning. I get my coffee and I begin. I usually re-read and edit the last page I worked on. This puts me into the correct frame of mind and tone of the project. Then I work until I meet that day’s word count.

This isn’t to say I don’t take breaks. I do. I get breakfast. Sometimes I look at a video. Sometimes I look at a webcomic. These are all limited time breaks to let my hindbrain gnash through whatever I’m working on. I don’t play around on social media. No twitter, no Facebook, no Tumblr. None of that until I’ve gotten my word count done.

After I meet my word count for the day, I look at my outline to see what I’ll be focused on for the next day. I think about it throughout the day and am usually ready to work the next morning.

Some days the words come easier than others. Some days, I’m done by 10am. Some days, it’s noon or 1pm. The afternoons are for everything else—SFWA duties, editing projects, blog posts, social media, etc….

For the next 2 weeks, the afternoon is for working on my flash fiction ebooks. I’m prepping them and writing the new flash fiction pieces, for eventual publication. I’m examining each piece for podcast suitability. In early 2017, I plan to have the new podcast up and running. That means I’m doing a lot of foundation and prep work now.

But through it all, I’m still thinking about Sekrit Project Alex. It is my main focus. I’m drafting. I need to have it done by mid-October so I can do one full re-write before it is due in November.

I’ve warned all my friends that mornings are sacrosanct. No visits, no favors, no nothing unless it is an emergency. Afternoons are for those things. I’m fortunate that my friends and family understand when I’m drafting a novel, everything else is secondary.

That’s basically the novel drafting life for me. Morning novel work. Afternoons for everything else. If I fail at getting word count, nothing else gets done until the day’s word count is done.

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The Question #HoldOnToTheLight

by Jennifer Brozek 12. September 2016 07:30

(This is a fictional blog post, written from Melissa Allen’s POV, protagonist of Never Let Me Sleep, Never Let Me Leave, Never Let Me Die, and the Never Let Me Omnibus.)

Adam finally asked The Question.

“What does it feel like to be, you know, like you?”
“Crazy, you mean?”
“That’s not how I’d put it. I mean, I know what it feels like to be afraid of the sky, of falling off the world because there’s no ceiling, but that’s not something you can be medicated for. Not really.”
“How does it feel to see things that aren’t there, hear things that aren’t said, feel things to a point where it’s all too much, or feel nothing at all?”
“Yeah.”
“Overall, it sucks. But, then you deal. You, of all people, should understand what it’s like to just deal with something you have no control over.”


It was a copout. I didn’t want to answer. I didn’t want to go into the anger or frustration or the helplessness. I didn’t want to spiral into…into what I’m spiraling into now. How does it feel to know your brain chemistry will never be considered normal? That it actively tries to sabotage you? That even when you get the pills right, eventually your brain will change and make the pills wrong again?

It sucks. It sucks so bad I don’t think about it. Unless I’m forced to.

Doc and I are going to have a lot to talk about in this week’s therapy session.

But, like I said, you deal. As broken and uncooperative as my brain is, it still has the capacity to deal with its shitty hand. I know I can’t explain it to anyone who hasn’t felt this. It’s too alien. I can’t even try. Not in this “let me fix you/it” world.

Some things can’t be “fixed.” Only understood, categorized, combated, accepted, or mitigated.

I live by the clock, but I survive by the pills.

It helps that my family understands. We all have our own problems. Adam is agoraphobic because of where he grew up. Carrie has the prejudices of her deformity. We all know what’s really out there, trying to get it. We all have the nightmares of our time in the lab. Hell, all of us have been shot. Not many adoptive siblings have that experience to bond them. So we understand when any of us flinches at a car backfire.

But, we still have walls. It’s why Adam asked The Question. It’s why I’m thinking about it now. It’s why I’m sure he’s agonizing over his stupidity at asking. It’s why Carrie will come see me later tonight to see how I’m doing. There’s understanding. Then there’s understanding.

Yeah. It sucks, but you deal until you can’t deal anymore. At that point, either you break or you get help. Sometimes both. Sometimes the help can mend the break. Make you a little bit better.

Right now, I’m dealing with it as best I can. It’s all I can do.

#holdontothelight - Support for PTSD and mental health issues

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Tampere Ingress Meet Up, 3 Sep 2016

by Jennifer Brozek 9. September 2016 08:54

One of the things I really wanted to do while I was in Finland was play Ingress—unique captures and hacks FTW! Ingress is a wonderful game to help you find neat sights and hidden gems in a new city. Plus, you get to meet awesome people.

Tracon helped us set up a Project Isthmus sponsored Ingress meet up in Kalevankangas Cemetery. I also got in touch with some of the locals (Agents Cthulthist and pimpelipom) to spread the word to the local Ingress players who weren’t at Tracon. 27 local players showed up and a good time was had by all.

The Husband (Agent Morgyan) set up a crossword puzzle with a passphrase that the agents had to solve and then find me somewhere in the cemetery—I was hiding with Morgyan running around capturing portals—to give me the correct passphrase. The first two RES and ENL players to show got prizes of very rare (1st place) and rare (2nd place) load out cards. Everyone who played received a Project Isthmus bio card. Everyone who fully completed the puzzle received a limited edition, uncut Project Isthmus bio card.

Agents who joined us: AdrianGajewsky, Arisep, Cthulthist, eimink, Ekyttis*, Fixied, FoxingDemon, Golug*, HeterTheMoth, Jalermo, JherekCarnelian, Jovee, Kaustinen2*, Limlaith*, Marjaananen, Meepu, Molter, MrJ007K4, Mryy, Pantone268c, Penguinone, pimpelipom, Stahi, vieru2002,  Xitay, z3r0x, ZeroScripter… and, of course, GaanEden (me) and Morgyan.

* = Won one of the rare/very rare load out cards.

The RES came out in force and were generous to a fault with their swag. I can’t wait to show my locals the awesomeness we were given for sponsoring this meet up. It was a good day.

After the meet up in Kalevankangas Cemetery, we headed to a pub to drink and celebrate where I had the best pear cider I’ve ever had, Somersby pear cider. I managed to get Flint on Hangouts to give everyone a wave and they were pretty excited about that. Me, too.

The best thing, though, was after the meet up, I was told that it gave the two factions a chance to talk and they are going to start up a First Saturday meet up. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. As a final bit of joy for everyone who came out to meet us, some agents may show up in a forthcoming Project Isthmus story in passing. :)

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The Travel Edition for Iceland and Finland

by Jennifer Brozek 7. September 2016 12:53

For immediate pictures, look at my twitter feed or the Husband’s twitter feed.

Travel: Iceland
After Worldcon, I had all of 36 hours to get ready for 2.5 weeks in Iceland, then Finland. I have to say to everyone going to Worldcon75 in Helsinki in 2017, if you can, get a layover in Iceland and experience its natural beauty. It will be worth it. It will also ease you into the time difference.

I went to Iceland for a wedding. It was a beautiful Norse wedding in a lava tube. Sheena and Todd looked wonderful and I enjoy participating. Though, I did fall in the mud. That led to the discovery of the Icelandic phrase, “Fall er fararheill,” which basically means “Falling at a journey's start brings luck for the journey.” Thus, I have ensured good karma for their wedding. So, that’s good.

Iceland. It’s a science nerd’s paradise. The geothermal power plant was so good. Science! Renewable resources! Waterfalls. So many waterfalls. So much hiking. My poor knees. Geysers! Regularly bursting geysers. Glaciers! OMG… we went inside the glacier and that was amazing. The northern lights! We finally saw them on our last night in Iceland. It was a pale green paint swipe across the sky. Icelandic horses! Todd calls them “shaggy little ponies,” but they are smaller horses that are wonderful to interact with. And the spa. My… it was so good on my aching body. We also enjoyed the heck out of a Saga museum and the comedic “Icelandic Sagas” show at the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik.

Side note: Just about everywhere we went was ADA compliant. It was refreshing to see.

New foods eaten: puffin, wolf fish

Travel: Helsinki
After a week in Iceland, the Husband and I flew to Finland where I was one of the Guests of Honor for Tracon. The convention flew us out early and allowed us to sightsee all over Helsinki, to Tampere.

The food was to die for. We went to Juuri for a tasting menu where I tried all manner of interesting meat. We visited Fort Suomenlinna and ate at the brewery there. Also might fine cuisine. Saslik is another highly recommended restaurant in Helsinki. Russian themed and fab. We were in Helsinki for two days and were spoiled rotten while we were there. Next up was a road trip to Tampere and Tracon.

Note: While all the bathrooms are ADA compliant, there are a lot of old buildings with stairs only. Helsinki is a walking town. It is easier to walk 1-2 kilometers than to try to drive.

New foods eaten: duck liver, pheasant, reindeer, and bear.

Travel: Tracon
On the way down to Tampere, we stopped at some interesting sights—all of which I recommend if you are going to spend a couple of weeks around Finland when you come to Worldcon.

Hameen linna (Hame Castle) was a huge brick fortress with a museum inside. We got to see the Heavy Metal exhibit. It won’t be around at Worldcon but I’m sure something else fab will replace it. We also visited the Iittala Glass Factory. That was really cool to see. There were a good dozen glass blowers all working at one time. There was a chocolate store, in the same area, but I don’t remember its name. You can watch them make the chocolate. It’s good stuff.

In Tampere, I was put up in a huge dark tower of a hotel with a beautiful view of the city. Again, downtown Tampere is like Helsinki: easier to walk around than drive and filled with historical buildings that have lots of stairs. Tampere is the center of Finland’s feminist movement. There is a historic wool museum to that point. Surprisingly, there was also a Lenin museum that included Stalin’s death mask. The local amusement park has a planetarium, an aquarium, and a Space Needle-like tower.

As an aside: I had a strange auditory hallucination while in the planetarium. Rupert Grint (Ron of Harry Potter fame) narrated the planetarium show. 4 times in the show, I heard a woman’s soft voice whisper in my left ear: “Mother says it’s time to sleep.” “Dive down deep.” “Please.” and “Believe.” It was very odd and I can’t explain it, but you can be sure I’m going to use it in a story sometime in the future.

Just before the convention, I got to go to a “Viking’s dinner” at Harald with the convention chair, the communications person, and my handlers. This was quite the feast and I’ve tasted stuff I’ve never tasted before. Highly recommended.

Now, Tracon. This was a spectacular convention focused on gaming, LARPing, cosplay, and costumes. It was a treat for the eyes. My “editor-author relationship” panel was full, but my “How to make the ordinary terrifying” panel was standing room only. I think it was my biggest solo panel to date. Both went off without a problem. They gave me a wireless mic, so I was all over the room. I hope it recorded well.

Also, I got to experience the Maid Café, watch some of the costume contest, and was interviewed for the streaming event. I have no idea if any of it is available to watch. I’ll post links when I get them. There was also a Project Isthmus sponsored Ingress event, but I’ll write about that in another post. Suffice it to say that it was a success and has inspired the locals to start up their own First Saturday x-fac events.

If you ever get a chance to go to Tracon as a guest or attendee, do it. You won’t regret it. Tracon treated me like royalty and I had the best damned handlers a GoH could have. There was nothing they couldn’t get done for me.

New foods eaten: blood sausage, duck heart, horse, elk, and tar ice cream.

Eventually, pictures to everything will be uploaded to Facebook and I will link those in this blog.

Travel: Adventure
Now, there is no travel without some unexpected adventure. Both were the Husband’s fault this time. He did both just as we were leaving each country.

Iceland: We are about to leave Iceland for Finland. We are gathering up our things and the Husband can’t find his wallet. He’s looked everywhere. We begin to take apart out bags just in case. We empty and repack 3 of the 4 bags. The fourth wasn’t opened because it had not been opened at all. We are at our wits end. I’m sure the wallet was stolen.

We’re about to fly to another country and I am figuring out what we need to do to cancel credit cards and such. I point at his belt, left on the bed and ask him to put it away. He unzips one of the pockets of the suitcase we JUST emptied… and there is his wallet. I literally gasped.

We couldn’t stop laughing as relief filled us and the Husband got the adrenaline shakes.

Finland: We’ve left Finland. We’ve just arrived in Iceland at our hotel for the one night layover before we head home. We are both exhausted. I’m looking at my phone. Jeff is behind me. He mutters, “I can’t fucking believe I just did that.” He doesn’t curse usually. I immediately think he’s lost his wallet again, and ask, “What did you do?”

“I left both of our laptops at security in Helsinki…”

I freak the hell out. There is no other way to put it. I mean rocking back and forth, covering my face, saying, “No! No! No!” over and over. This knocks him out of his panic. (Marriage rule: only one of us is allowed to panic at a time.) He immediately starts calling Helsinki.

After I get myself under control, I think to contact my handlers. To this point, there is nothing Tiina and Meeri can’t do. If it can be done in Finland, they will get it done. Tiina gets in touch with Meeri. Meeri starts looking into things. Jeff discovered the Lost and Found is closed (3 hour difference), and files a report.

First thing in the morning, (while Tiina is having eye surgery…) Meeri is at the airport, identifying our laptops. Within an hour, she has them, and a FedEx confirmation number. We are all so relieved. You see, I have hours and hours of research for my forthcoming YA series on that laptop that isn’t on my desktop because I did it while at Worldcon. I also have the two page synopsis of the first book in the series and the one paragraph summary of the second book. I have so much of the world done… and none of it is in Dropbox because I figured I’d just upload it when I got home.

Thursday. That’s when they arrive. Tomorrow. And I will be so happy to have them back.

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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.