As of this week, I have survived ten years as a fulltime freelance author/editor and created a career I am proud of. The past decade has been nothing like I expected it to be. When I began, I wanted to “just write” and to see if I could make it as an author. Within the first year, I started editing. Time has flown by as well as taken forever. I had a plan and a series of professional goals to meet. I have met every single one of these. Though… the last one, “get an agent,” happened in the last couple of months.
- Sell short stories to pro markets
- Get into SFWA with novels or short stories
- Sell a novel
- Sell a trilogy
- Get an agent
- Be invited to conventions as a panelist
Ten years later, I have discovered there were a whole lot more professional goals I wanted to achieve that I didn’t know I wanted to achieve when I started out. Some of them shocked me when they happened. (Honestly, some of them still surprise me when they occur.)
- Sell a short story collection
- Have a story listed in a “Best of” collection
- Have my books become audiobooks
- Have a stranger squee over my forthcoming presence at a convention
- Have a stranger come to a multi-author event to see me specifically
- Learn how to say “no” to a gig
- Be nominated for an award – any award
- Be nominated for a Hugo award and a Bram Stoker award
- Be mentioned in Locus Magazine and Kirkus Reviews
- Win an ENnie award, a Scribe award, and/or a Cleo (Origins Game Fair) award
- Be a Guest of Honor of a convention in America
- Be a Guest of Honor of a convention abroad (Sweden, Finland)
- Become a Director-at-Large in SFWA
- Become an adjective (a “Brozek” book or a “Brozek” anthology)
It’s been ten years. I’ve achieved so much and I’m so grateful to the people who have helped me along the way—editors, publishers, other authors, fans, cheerleaders, shoulders-to-cry-on, friends, family, and my husband. I’m not going to stop now. I just have to set goals for the future. Here are the ones I know I want to achieve:
- Sell stories to Analog, Asimov, Psuedopod, and EscapePod
- Sell stories to Ellen Datlow and to John Joseph Adams
- Create a long-running Teen/YA series (6+ books)
- Create a successful fiction podcast
- Have someone option my work
- Have my work become a TV pilot, TV series, and/or movie
The more I know about the publishing business, the more I can narrow down what I really want out of my career. Now that I have a wonderful agent, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.
In celebration, and out of duty, I have filed ten years worth of editing and writing contracts… much to the enjoyment and annoyance of my cats. (The red folder is filled with 10 years worth of editing contracts and the black one has 10 years of writing contracts.)
I am completely biased on this one. I edited Jon's new book, Star Realms: Rescue Run. I think it's a hoot. Especially the singing AI. A great tie-in novel.
One topic I often am approached on for Star Realms: Rescue Run is regarding my artificial intelligence who bursts into song when he starts going haywire. I have a lot of lyrics interwoven throughout the text, and people ask if I wrote them myself, if they come from favorite bands, or if the songs in the story have any deeper meaning.
To the first question, yes I write all the lyrics myself. A lot of people don’t know that I write songs but I actually released an album in 2006 with the band Aprilsrain, and a couple of those songs were picked up by MTV’s Real World: New Orleans and actually play in the background of that show.
I love music. I am versed in piano and guitar, and can sing decently well. As of late I haven’t had a lot of time to play music, so sometimes I have to live vicariously through my characters, which I had a lot of fun with while writing this book.
The singing AI also served as a nod to one of my favorite writers, Anne McCaffrey, of which I tend to write a lot of references to her in my book. This particular one is in homage to her short story, “The Ship Who Sang,” which is one of the most powerful emotional stories ever written. As much as I hate to admit it, I cry every time I read that story. I wanted to have my main character have a reference to an emotionally powerful piece while she saw her best friend and AI slipping away.
Beyond that, I tried to put some thought into the lyrics, but wanted them to flow naturally as if randomly from an AI’s archive. Though most of the AI’s singing is couched in silly romance songs, as I imagine most pop songs from here to eternity will have those themes, I tried to have the lyrics match/mirror the story to some degree whether that be in the feel of the song or more directly what's going on around it. The AI has an awareness of what’s going on and is at least trying to communicate.
I started out with a longer verse to get the reader used to the fact that the AI would be singing, and then did short one-off lines from that point forward to try to highlight the glitchiness of the AI’s virus that slowly overwhelmed its programming throughout the course of the book.
Lyrics and poetry have a long tradition in sci-fi and fantasy. Tolkien used them to great avail and another of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, weaves them into a lot of her work. I had a lot of fun continuing that tradition with these and hope to be able to work them into future pieces as well.
Jon Del Arroz began his writing career in high school, providing book reviews and the occasional article for the local news magazine, The Valley Citizen. From there, he went on to write a weekly web comic, Flying Sparks, which has been hailed by Comic Book Resources as “the kind of stuff that made me fall in love with early Marvel comics.” He has several published short stories, most recently providing flash fiction for AEG’s weird west card game, Doomtown: Reloaded, and a micro-setting for the Tiny Frontiers RPG. Star Realms: Rescue Run is his debut novel. You can find him during baseball season with his family at about half of the Oakland A’s home games in section 124.
Here is my OryCon and Authorfest SF schedules. If I'm not at a panel, I will be at my dealers table. Come by, say hello, get a book signed, and/or buy gifts for friends! I'd love to see you there. I'm even going to have some of my signed, numbered, limited edition books.
Writing in Other People's Worlds
Fri Nov 18 8:00pm - 9:00pm
Christina Hartley, David Boop, Diana Francis, Elton Elliott, Jennifer Brozek
Freaking Me Out, Not Grossing Me Out
Salon C (LL1)
Sat Nov 19 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Colleen Anderson, Jennifer Brozek, Judith Conly, Laurel Anne Hill, Matt Haynes
Reaching Readers Who Don't Know You Yet
Sat Nov 19 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Anthony Pryor, Blythe Ayne, Deborah Ross, Jennifer Brozek, Josh Boykin
Salon A (LL1)
Sat Nov 19 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Bruce Taylor, Jennifer Brozek, Maura van der Linden, Wendy Wagner
Sun Nov 20 10:00am - 11:00am
Synopses, Summaries, and Blubs, Oh My!
Sun Nov 20 12:00pm - 1:00pm
DongWon Song, Jennifer Brozek, Mary Rosenblum, Ripley Patton, William Hertling
AUTHORFEST SF 10
Cedar Hills Powells Bookstore, Beaverton, OR
Sun Nov 20 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Here's a Bubble & Squeek for you. I'm going to keep on writing. There's not much else I can do right now.
Article: On Risingshadow. The Apocalypse Has Come and Gone. I talk about where The Last Days of Salton Academy is set.
Article: On Ragnablog. The Idea That Won’t Leave You Alone. I talk about what prompted me to write a YA zombie novel when I don't like zombies.
Article: I got mentioned on Kirkus Reviews in 13 Horror Books to Put You in the Mood for Halloween for The Last Days of Salton Academy! The fact that I got mentioned in Kirkus has me over the moon. Then, to be in such good company...
Ingress: In completely non-writing news, I got mentioned by a major Ingress character on his blog. So, that was exciting. I also was awarded a really hard badge to get: the EAW badge.
Review: Slap Happy Fun Time reviewed The Last Days of Salton Academy and really liked it – “…this is the kind of novel that you simply don't read. It consumes you, it demands your attention just like a great novel should.”
Review: Goodreads review of The Last Days of Salton Academy – “Gothic zombie book.”
I’m about to turn in Sekrit Project Alex and begin work on the extra bits I’ve been contracted for. Then I will work on the contracted short stories. With that, I will end my year of tie-in fiction and begin a year of my new YA series.
Fiction words written: 174,450
Article words written: 18,300
My novels/collections edited: 11
My short stories proofed: 8
Other novels/anthologies edited: 14
Events attended: 9
Event-wise, I should have only three events left and all of them are in November.
This November is very special to me. I’ve got a forthcoming blog post to explain why. It’s a milestone. A big one.