Jennifer Brozek | June 2017

On Luminaries and Events

by Jennifer Brozek 26. June 2017 08:36

As I'm sure you've seen, I will be speaking at Verne & Wells on RPG tabletop and video games on July 7th at 6:30. But what some of you don't know is that I've accepted a position as Luminary. It's a great opportunity for me to reach out to fans and others who may be starting their journey into RPGs. I feel very honored to have been asked to fulfill this position. For those of you who aren't familiar with Verne & Wells or what a Luminary is let me elaborate.

Verne & Wells is a geek social club. It's a place where gamers, designers, artists, and authors can meet and play games, discuss their favorite platforms, learn from each other and collaborate. A monthly fee covers services such as the game library, gaming rooms, snacks, and drinks. They have a calendar full of gaming, movie nights, and more.

Verne & Wells seeks out industry professionals to become Luminaries. About once a quarter, each Luminary will discuss a subject in their realm of expertise. Luminaries range from video game designers to authors to more. The Luminary events are free to the public, so feel free to join me.

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Renovations All Over the Place

by Jennifer Brozek 22. June 2017 12:23

There are a lot of changes going on in my life right now—physically, mentally, and atmospherically. This is a good and bad thing. Change is hard. Change can hurt. Doesn’t matter if everything is so much better when it’s done. Change is life.

Atmospherically...
The Husband and I have decided that, unless something drastic changes, this is our house until retirement. It is a 30+ year old house in decent shape. We are the second owners. There have never been any kids living here. But, it is still 30+ years old and things are slowly falling apart. Thus, we have decided that since we would have to update the house to sell when we move anyway, we should go ahead and update the upstairs bathrooms now so we can enjoy the updated look and feel of the place while we live here.

This means I’ve had people in the house almost every day for three weeks. For an introvert like me who prefers to work in silence, this has been hard. My productivity has dropped. My sleep schedule is all messed up. The cats are unhappy and anxious. It’s no fun. But the master bathroom is almost done. Almost. And it is beautiful. I’m going to love using it. The Husband can’t wait to take a bath in the new tub. It will be worth it.

Of course, next week, the destruction of my bathroom happens. My bathroom is right next to my office. I suspect I’m going get even less done. The work is going to be louder and there will be constant movement in my field of vision. I won’t need to lock the cats up the whole time, so I don’t be able just close my door—not that my paranoia would allow that anyway with strangers in the house. (Change is hard but good for you.)

Physically... I’m definitely getting older. I’m figuring out how to deal with perimenopause. Not fun and total TMI, but women go through it. Just look it up.

I cut my hair off in a drastic (for me) new style that’s gotten good responses. Soon I’m going to see how much gray hair I actually have. I’m so glad I did this. I needed the change. Though, I don’t recommend this to everyone. I have EPIC bed head every single morning. I have to fix my hair every day. There is no brush it once and it’s good. It’s not hard, but it is a change. At this point, I’ve forgotten I’ve cut my hair off and I’m surprised when people are surprised. I will be growing it back out over time. It will take a while and I won’t be going as long as I did before. Probably to a 1920s bob. I do love Miss Fisher’s sense of style....

Mentally... I’ve been thinking about what I own and what I want versus what I need. I’ve been looking at my life. I think Millennials have the right idea with paring down and thinking hard about each thing they own. I’m not going to become a minimalist, but I can see why so many adults—young and old—have taken to the lifestyle. I’ve discovered the more I get rid of stuff, the easier it is to pare things down. It gives me more room for what I truly love.

There is a relief to divesting yourself of those things and that gift you just don’t care about anymore. The obligation to keep what was given, even if you hate it, weighs heavily. I knew this intellectually, but not viscerally. I grew up poor. My parents stored things for “just in case.” I’ve picked up this habit. I’ve learned to converse and to save. Not to my determent. Not really.

I’m not a hoarder or even close to it. I’m much more of a I could use this in the future maybe... kind of person. But sometimes I wonder what I would do if something drastic happened (like a flood or fire) and I could only rescue one or two or five non-living things from the house. My list is simple. Pictures. Laptop. The anniversary book where, instead of exchanging anniversary cards, the Husband and I write each other anniversary love notes in a book each year.

That all said, I do like my stuff. I’m just getting rid of that which I no longer love, want, or need.

I can’t say I’m enjoying this set of changes, but I think I will appreciate them after they are done. As I change, I feel like I’m leveling up as a person. I don’t need to hold onto things or to do something because “that’s the way it’s done.” I am forging a path I wish I’d learned earlier. Ah, well. Better late than never.

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Live Your Art Daily

by Jennifer Brozek 15. June 2017 07:55

“Write every day.” I hear this writing advice bandied about over and over as if it were the one golden truth. In some ways it is. In a literal sense, it’s pure poppycock. There is a lot more to writing than stringing words together in some semblance of a sentence and putting it down on paper. For me, “writing” involves everything from daydreaming, brainstorming, outlining, plotting, character creation, world building, putting words to paper, re-outlining, sounding boards, and staring into space while the voices in my head argue without me interfering.

“Live your art every day.” ~John P. Murphy

Yes, putting words on a page in a consistent fashion is important. It is one of the most important things you do as a writer. Write one word at a time until you are finished. However, unless you have a good foundation, your house of words is going to come crumbling down the first time someone (your inner critic?) asks, “Why would that happen?” A good foundation comes from careful thought, long experience, or both.

“Live your art even if you can’t practice it daily.” ~Jason Sanford

Just as important—and largely ignored—is the author’s need to think, to consider, to ponder the work they are creating. You may see me playing a puzzle game on the outside, but on the inside, I’m working out what went wrong in the previous scene. You may see me doing the dishes or pacing around the dining room table and all the while I’m mentally writing the pivotal scene that’s coming up next—trying out different tacks, different reactions, different tones. You may see me sitting somewhere drinking a cup of tea. On the inside I’m watching a furious discussion going on between two characters.  I may not use what I dream up in a specific sense, but it will inform my writing on the world and how the characters act.

What I’m getting at is that thinking, fantasizing, and daydreaming is just as important as putting words to the page. “Write every day” doesn’t cover this. At least, not in a literal sense. This is super important for authors to know. There is value in doing “nothing” on the outside. Even for people who don’t like to outline. It may be more important for those who don’t outline because the more they think about what they’re going to write, the better their foundation will be.

“Do what you have to do in order to ensure that today is not the last day you write.” ~Matthew Bennardo

Also, there is the practical aspect of writing every day. Authors have jobs, families, health issues, and general responsibilities. Sometimes, they can’t physically put words on the page on a daily basis—for whatever reason. A good example of this for me is when my editing schedule goes pear-shaped and I literally only have 15 minutes that day to “write.” Sometimes I write. My log shows “Wrote 12 words on WIP.” Those one or two transitional sentences could’ve taken me three hours to figure out (while I was cleaning, eating, driving, showering) and cleared the way for tomorrow’s 2000 words. Sometimes, my log shows “Re-outlined WIP.” I tend to re-outline my novels 1-2 times during the first draft phase. I often add to the outline when I’m doing my first read-through so I know I need to add in more details, foreshadowing, or an explanation for something that wasn’t as obvious as it should have been.

“Do something writing related daily and no, promotion doesn’t count.” ~Raven Oaks

I know it is important to work on your current WIP as consistently as possible. Sometimes, a direct command to “write every day” is what we need to get things moving forward in the beginning. I want to point out that that doesn’t always mean something as tangible as a word count. Everything else is as important. Maybe this is something you learn as you level up in your craft, but I wish I’d learned it a little bit earlier in my writing career. Then I wouldn’t have beaten myself up as much for not getting my “2000 words a day” in.

I’m just glad, ten years in, I’ve finally figured out a workable meaning for “write every day.” For me, it means “Live my art daily.” When this advice is proclaimed at a convention, event, or online, I add my two cents to the conversation. Thinking is as important as writing.

This blog post is brought you by the letter W, the number 3, and a twitter conversation I had.

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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.