Jennifer Brozek | January 2017

Making the 2016 Bram Stoker Prelim Ballot

by Jennifer Brozek 23. January 2017 10:24

The Last Days of Salton Academy is listed on the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel. I am so happy to see this. After the thrill of discovery wore off, like last year, saner thoughts prevailed.

Quoting from my previous post, “I can look at what this really means. The preliminary ballot is not an official nomination. That will come after the active and lifetime members of the HWA vote. I won’t know until Feb 23rd if I’m officially nominated or not. In the meantime, I can enjoy being that much closer to the award.”

It does appear that Feb 23 is the official date again. All I can do is hope that I wrote a good enough novel that it is nominated. HWA Active and Lifetime members vote from Feb 1 to the 15th.

In a more personal thought, I’m thrilled to be on the ballot 2 years in a row. There’s something validating in this fact. Other creatives will understand what I’m talking about. Heck, anyone who competes understands getting a repeat nod is worth a lot.

I’m really happy to see the list of people I see on the ballot. Everyone is excellent at what they do. I’m particularly pleased for Stephen Graham Jones and Paul Tremblay; Bill Gorman and Stephanie Wytovich; Cullen Bunn, Nicole Cushing, Aric Cushing, Victor LaValle, Mark Matthews, Tim Waggoner, Laird Barron, Joyce Carol Oates, Pete Kahle, and so many more. I stopped when I realized I was going to repeat more than half the ballot. My category for Young Adult Novel makes me both proud to stand side-by-side and quake at the competition. I wrote a fine novel… but so did they all.

At the end of the day, I’m thrilled to be listed on the 2016 Bram Stoker prelim ballot. It makes me happy. Of course, I want the official nomination and to win. But that part is out of my hands. It's up to the voters now. So, I’m going to enjoy this ride for as far as it will take me.

 

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Tell Me - Joe M. McDermott

by Jennifer Brozek 16. January 2017 16:57

Joe is spot on with one of my complaints about glorifying war and the military through fiction in his novel The Fortress at the End of Time. I come from a military family and background. His thoughts hit the nail on the head.
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The student loan crisis is also a spiritual crisis. We tell students this dream, sell them on the idea of a future where anything is possible. Then, we encourage them to sign up for the dream, and to take out loans. Then, after schooling and the promise of the bright, shining future arrives, it's not so bright, and not so shining, because wages have not kept up with the cost of tuition. That college degree becomes an anchor that holds aspirants down into the lower classes for the crime of trying to lift themselves up.

My family members all served in the military. (Yes, all of them. My parents met in the Army. My sister is a West Point graduate and decorated Iraq war veteran. My brother is a retired Marine. I got an MFA in Writing. I chose a different path than them. That is another story, though, for another time.) The military sells folks a dream of glory. There are all these videos of people jumping out of planes, and running, and shouting, and it's very exciting. On TV and Film, it all looks so vigorous and important and intense. Yet, that is not true to the stories I hear around the kitchen table. Even my sister, a decorated war veteran, an MP (the only combat MOS available to women at the time), who has jumped out of planes and all of that exciting stuff, will not tell you about shooting a weapon in the direction of an enemy. I will leave her stories for her to tell; they belong to her.

I just think that there's this huge disconnect between what is sold and what is experienced. In fact, from where I stand, military service looked like a lot of paperwork and a lot of training for something that, for most soldiers, never comes. The vast majority of military personnel will never stare down a gun barrel at the mythical enemy. The gunships will be kept ready, but rarely fire. What little extreme violence occurs will be rare, I hope, very short and precise. It's not a bad thing, that so few actually face down the guns and bombs, comparatively, but it is also the opposite of what is being sold to us in the stories of military service that are often not at all like 24 or Saving Private Ryan.

While I was reading Military Science Fiction, I felt that this fact of military life was not present. Very few members of the military actually train for combat. The rest live and work inside an exceptionally brutal version of a government bureaucracy. Inside this massive bureaucracy, the facade of war is maintained, and desk clerks shout HOORAH! but even in an actual war, most members of the service are not hopping between houses hunting after bad guys. The majority of the military is a bureaucratic support structure for those few and proud that do that dangerous, bloody, patriotic work. And, I did not see a lot of military science fiction about this side of the military: the soul-crushing bureaucracy that chews up bright, young, energetic people and dumps them out on the other side more broken than when they began, and nary a shot fired, nary a moment of the glory they dreamed about.

It's a hard career, and it isn't for everyone. And, everything around it, everything inside of it, sells this dream of glory; for an overwhelming majority, the glory never comes.

This is one of the things I was thinking about when I thought about writing an old-fashioned space opera. There are all these huge, beautiful exciting ships and battles and weapons. But, most of the people who spend their whole careers inside those ships will never get what they want. They will never experience the dream that they were sold when they were young.

That crisis of spirit, when the revelation comes, is what I wanted to write about inside this deep space universe, inspired by Ursula K. Leguin and Dino Buzzati and Julian Gracq. I wanted space to be the thing that strips the dreams away, to reveal the self, and the lengths that people will go to survive, mentally, the soul-crushing bureaucracy wrapped in a shell of the dream of glory. What happens at the deep space stations when the enemy is not imminent? What happens in those long stretches of darkness where nothing and everything is looking back, and you don't even know what you're looking for? What happens when you realize all those dreams you had are narrowed to a room more like a prison cell than a home?


Different characters deal with this crisis of spirit differently. Captain Ronaldo Aldo deals with this by committing a crime against every human colony in the universe, and calls his crime his triumph.

His confession is out in January from Tor.com, called FORTRESS AT THE END OF TIME, and I hope you check it out. Thanks, Jennifer, for letting me come around and talk about it.

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JOE M. McDERMOTT is best known for the novels Last Dragon, Never Knew Another, and Maze. His work has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. He holds an MFA from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast Program. He lives in Texas.

 

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Tell Me - Glenn Rolfe

by Jennifer Brozek 10. January 2017 09:56

I've worked with Glenn in the past and I appreciate his deft story telling. I also like the way music inspired him unexpectedly. I love it when that happens.

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Three years ago, I began a short ghost story for a writing group. I was trying to come up with something when Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town” came through my headphones. Bruce is one of my favorite artists of all-time, and although I had listened to this song about half a million times, I heard a line in it that I’d never really heard before:  “tell ‘her there’s a spot out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge….and tell ‘em there’s a darkness on the edge of town.” The lyrics go on to tell about how “every man has a secret” and how they carry that secret with them “every step that they take.”  I took notice. I asked myself what kind of darkness, what kind of secret was out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge?

My short story quickly turned into something larger. The deeper I went, the more the mystery aspect of the story began begging to come out. At that time, I’d never written any kind of real mystery piece, and I wasn’t comfortable trying to do so, but at the end of the day, the story dictated where it wanted to go. I took a shot and let go of the reigns.

Aspects of the book are heavily influenced by two of my favorite writers: Mercedes Yardley and Ronald Malfi. Without Yardley’s Beautiful Sorrows and Malfi’s Floating Staircase, I’m not sure this story would have ever come to fruition. Yardley showed me it was okay to write something sweet into the horror we create, while Malfi showed me how to capture atmosphere, and how to funnel that swirling danger into an explosive and effective crescendo.

When I was finished writing, I knew I had something special. Abram’s Bridge is a about a twelve-year-old boy named Lil’ Ron, and Sweet Kate, the ghost girl he meets beneath Abram’s Bridge. Ron sets out to discover who or what is responsible for her death. He discovers is that the small Maine town his father has moved him to is full of secrets. When he starts asking about Kate, he disturbs a slumbering darkness that digs deeper and closer than he could ever know.

Part ghost story, part mystery, and part coming-of-age, this novella is still one of my favorite pieces in my catalog. Not the blood and gore horror of some of my other works, Abram’s Bridge is more of a supernatural-tinged thriller. I am extremely proud of this book and happy to see it back in circulation thanks to Crossroad Press.

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Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Hunter Shea, Brian Moreland and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

 

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Awards Eligibility for 2016 Publications

by Jennifer Brozek 9. January 2017 12:10

The nomination period for the 2017 Hugo Awards is now open. Below is what I am eligible for and what I published in 2016 I believe deserves to be nominated.

Novels
The Last Days of Salton Academy, YA horror novel - Ragnarok Publications
(While I had two other omnibuses and a fiction collection published, none of those are eligible and I am not eligible for the John W. Campbell award.)

Short Stories
“ARMIN LAAS” - ROBOTS! Origins Game Fair anthology (Science fiction)
“Inky, Blinky, and Me” - Man and Machine anthology (Science fiction)
“Dark Side Matters” - Drawing Destiny, a Sixth World Tarot anthology (Science fantasy)
“The Unfortunate Case of Sister Ruth” - Shockwaves, a V-Wars anthology (Urban fantasy)
“Feathers in Flight” - Tempest, All-New Tales of Valdemar anthology (High fantasy)

Editor – Short Form
I edited both EGM Shorts and Speculate! short fiction in 2016.

Remember, you need have been a member of last year’s Worldcon, and/or be a member of this year’s Worldcon, and/or be a member of next year's Worldcon to be eligible to either nominate or vote.

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Setting Expectations for 2017

by Jennifer Brozek 3. January 2017 08:25

As I finish up my work from 2016, I’ve decided that 2017 is going to be a year of experimentation. I have very few deadlines scheduled for me. The month of January is taken up with completing the tie-in story due this month and final edits to Sekrit Project Alex. After that, my year is mostly open. I will assign my own deadlines and stick to them.

This is the time to experiment. Under the Apocalypse Ink Productions umbrella, I have two really interesting projects (in addition to the books we’re already doing).

The first is the “Five Minute Stories” podcast. This podcast will run for thirteen weeks. I’ve never done a podcast. This will be a series of flash fiction pieces, old and new, written and read by me; hosted and produced by AIP. This podcast is for me to figure out whether or not I like podcasting as a storytelling medium. If I discover I like it, I’ll write and produce an original podcast story. If I don’t, I’ll consider the next option.

The second is The Prince of Artemis V comic. I’ve wanted to do a comic book for a long time. The Prince of Artemis V is my most popular short story. I’ve signed a contract with an artist to do the comic and, already, she’s bringing the goods to the table. I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out in the end.

The third is to publish at least one short story as a Kindle Single. This is mostly to figure out how this works and if it is a viable thing for the future. As a full-time freelance author/editor, I must always diversify my revenue streams. It might be a good outlet for my erotica writing (under a different name).

Getting down to the nitty-gritty of writing goals for 2017, I want to write at least six new short stories and get them out to market. That is a good goal as far as short stories are concerned. They are a good thing to write in-between novels.

As for novels, I plan to write at least two novels in my new teen horror series called Fever County. I’m super excited about this series. I’ve already created the world and set up a map as well as done a lot of the world building. More of that will happen as I write. I’ve got the 2 page synopsis of the first book completed with a paragraph synopsis of the second book completed.

When it comes to travel, I’m limiting myself in 2017. I do have 3 definite conventions and 3 one-day events on the schedule with 4 “maybe” conventions waiting in the wings for me to decide what to do with them. Most likely, I’ll only do 2 of the maybes. It depends on a whole lot of factors including time, effort, and money.

There you have it. There are a couple of other interesting things on the horizon, but nothing is contracted/set in stone. 2017 is going to be an experiment. I’m going to stretch myself in some uncomfortable ways creatively to see what happens. At the same time, I’m going to set up a writing schedule that lets me finish those 2 novels and 6 short stories. It’s a little scary to focus mostly on my own stuff after more than a year of tie-in fiction.

Not only am I ready for it, I’m excited for it. That’s the best feeling.

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Latest Releases

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The Last Days of Salton Academy
YA Horror

Amazon | Barnes&Noble |
Ragnarok Publications

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Never Let Me
YA SF-Thriller Omnibus

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Permuted Press

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Never Let Me Die
YA SF-Thriller Novel
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Never Let Me Leave
YA SF-Thriller Novel
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Never Let Me Sleep
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DocWagon 19
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DriveThruRPG


Chimera Incarnate

Karen Wilson Chronicles #4
More InformationBuy Now.
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Apocalypse Girl Dreaming
Fiction collection
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Evil Girlfriend Media

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Jazz Age Cthulhu
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Innsmouth Free Press


The Nellus Academy Incident
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novel
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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.