Jennifer Brozek | July 2017

Tell Me - J. L. Gribble

by Jennifer Brozek 25. July 2017 11:46

I met J.L. Gribble at one of the many conventions I've attended. She's a smart, talented, author and editor who is wonderful to talk to. I've enjoyed her writing in the past and I'm sture I'm going to enjoy reading Steel Blood. Also, I'm all about the rule breaking. :)
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Though I only officially added “author” to my credentials two years ago, I’ve been involved in the publishing industry for much longer. And one thing I’ve noticed is that, like any profession, authors really like their rules.

In order to be a REAL author, you have to write every day. Writing should be your priority above all else. You must constantly be reading in your genre. Et cetera.

Something else I’ve learned is that rules are meant to be broken. I’d love to write every day, but I manage it when my time and spoons allow. Writing is a priority, but yesterday was dedicated to hacking an IKEA media stand with my husband, because life is a priority, too. And urban fantasy is always my go-to genre, but I’ll read anything that’s well-written, whether it’s as similar as epic fantasy or as different as a cozy mystery.

In that spirit, I’d like to propose a new “author” rule—and why you should break it.

Steal from the masters.

There are multiple ways to interpret this, which is why this rule is already easy to break. Craft books written by experts in the fields of writing, editing, and publishing are a great place to start. Take their advice, but put your own spin on it. Do what works for you and your own craft and creative process. Follow successful authors online, through blogs and their social media. Find out what seems to work for them, through both writing and marketing, and adapt it for yourself.

Or we could get a little more literal.

(This does not mean plagiarize from the masters. Plagiarism is a rule that should NEVER be broken.)

Have you heard of the Hero’s Journey? It’s a storytelling structure often used in mythological, heroic storytelling, boiled down to boring academic discussion by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. You’d probably recognize it from the Greek myths of Hercules.

But you’d also recognize it from Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. Because it’s a storytelling structure that works, and it can be adapted numerous ways. Adaptation is the key word. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel, but you can, and should, put your own spin on it (pun not intended).

In my most recent novel, I realized that I’d set things up perfectly for a “Romeo and Juliet” relationship scenario between secondary characters through my previous world-building and where I wanted the political factions to go in the future. But since I’m not experienced in writing romantic story arcs, and I didn’t want the book to be primarily a romance, I decided to go right to the source. I sat down my battered college copy of Death by Shakespeare (okay, it’s really the Norton Shakespeare, but you could kill somebody with this sucker) and read the play. And read it again. And read it again, this time taking notes about what else was going on, outside of the “love” story. And discovered that I could literally craft my next novel based on the structure of The Bard’s original play, representing Nurse as my own main character (a perturbed vampire mercenary contracted to bodyguard my Juliet). Even though this wasn’t the first time I’d ever read this play, I learned so much this go-around about narrative structure and pacing, especially when adapted to the crazy alternate-history fantasy world that I’m playing in rather than a medieval Italian city.

If you’re a writer, or in any creative profession, go forth and steal from the masters. Make your own rules. And break them.

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By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).

 

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No Longer Just About the TARDIS for Me

by Jennifer Brozek 20. July 2017 09:03

My first Doctor was the 4th Doctor played by Tom Baker. I loved the show. There was something about it that struck me as wonderful. To be able to travel through time and space and to be home in time for dinner. To see wonders and fight monsters and to always work for the good of humanity. I loved the show for many reasons. However, as a military brat, I loved Doctor Who most because of the TARDIS itself. For a kid who had to move every 2-3 years, the idea of having a house that you could take with you was beyond wonderful. It was magic itself.

Because of this, I was the kid who kept a packed backpack by my bed. I was ready for when the Doctor came and offered me a place in that wondrous blue box. The one that always knew where to go. I wanted to be a companion because I wanted to travel in the TARDIS.

The first time I saw the Doctor regenerate, I realized that maybe, someday, the Doctor could be female. That instead of being the plucky companion, a girl like me could live in the TARDIS and choose her companions. But, being the cynical child that I was, I knew it wouldn’t happen anytime soon.

I disliked the 6th Doctor so much that I stopped watching Doctor Who altogether. I ignored it for three seasons when the new Doctor Who came out. It took Rich Taylor, one of my best friends, a legion of fans gushing about it, and a music video to get me to watch. I went to Netflix and found the episode “Blink.” Rich had described it as “The episode I would point people to if I had to describe what Doctor Who was without getting into the long history of the Doctor.” After I watched “Blink” and admitted I liked it, Rich told me to watch “The Empty Child” next. That’s when Eccleston became my new Doctor. He’s still my favorite.

At least for now.

After Tennant, I wanted a woman or non-white Doctor. I wasn’t picky. I just wanted the Doctor to regenerate into someone who wasn’t white and male. Someone a tiny bit closer to me. After Smith, I was so disappointed that Capaldi was chosen. (Note: Capaldi did a fantastic job as the Doctor.) The world kept telling me “No.” Once more, I was back to focusing on the TARDIS itself as my favorite.

On this 13th (or 14th, if you want to be pedantic, because of the War Doctor), I wanted a woman or a non-white man so bad. My cynical side said it wasn’t going to happen. They were going to get Kris Marshall and he would do a good job and that would be that.

I did not expect my visceral reaction to the discovery that a woman, Jodie Whittaker, would be taking on the titular role of the Doctor. I felt my cheeks flush and my heart beat faster. I punched the air and ran to the Husband’s office to tell him. In those scant steps between his office and mine, tears sprang to my eyes as I formulated the words to tell him, the new Doctor would be played by a woman. My voice cracked when I told him. It was like the world had changed in some indefinable way.

It’s taken me a week to figure out what that way was and why this meant so much to me: Finally, I’m no longer just a guest in the TARDIS. I don’t have to the companion who will eventually be left behind. The TARDIS can be my home, too.

Now, thousands upon thousands of little girls and boys will see Jodie Whittaker as their first Doctor. The potential for them will always be there in a way that wasn’t for me until now.

I can’t wait for this next season of Doctor Who.

My TARDIS Little Free Library in my front yard.

 

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Bubble & Squeek for 11 July 2017

by Jennifer Brozek 11. July 2017 07:50

Adventure! - What happens when Seanan McGuire asks if you want to go on a “little adventure.” I give you: The Dollhouse. Too good not to share.

Announcement - EGM on hiatus. It was a good run but life has a way of turning the corner for you. We don’t know when or how we’ll be back—yet—but we will be back.

Blog - Live Your Art Daily. This is one of those blogs posts I think more authors junior in their careers should read.

Education - Writing Speculative Fiction: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror: Teacher's Edition. Some of my writing was used as an example in this textbook. I thought the homeschoolers out there might be interested.

Podcasts - I’ve been listening to a lot of serial fiction podcasts lately. Part research, part for the love of serial fiction, part because it’s something to listen do while I’m working on a mindless task. I’d like to recommend these podcasts: The Black Tapes, Alice Isn’t Dead, Slumberland, and Rabbits.

Pharaoh on an adventure!

 

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THE BRIGHTEST FELL with All the Feels (No Spoilers)

by Jennifer Brozek 5. July 2017 15:08

October “Toby” Daye is hearing wedding bells in her future—or she would be if her mother, Amandine the Liar, hadn’t just walked back into her life with an ultimatum: Find her missing sister, August, or suffer the consequences. To ensure Toby’s obedience, Amandine has taken hostages: Toby’s fiancé Tybalt, the local King of Cats, and Jazz, the Raven-maid girlfriend of Toby’s Fetch. …

It is no secret that I adore the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. THE BRIGHTEST FELL is book eleven in the series and the first slated to come out in hardback.

Over the series, Toby has changed, grown, and become comfortable in her own skin. She’s got friends, allies, a dysfunctional family that is slowly on the mend, a loving fiancé, and a squire who has grown along with her from teenager to young man. Of course, McGuire can’t leave Toby so happy. This is a book where some past debts and past demons come home to roost.

It’s one of the reasons I enjoy the Toby books. Nothing written in the series is a throwaway line. Everything has a purpose. Even actions I didn’t understand when they happened. A lot of those questions are cleared up with THE BRIGHTEST FELL. This book feels a bit like a tour of Toby’s life. She is forced to travel with an old enemy and to revisit some of the scariest places she’s been. There, she’s required to face the consequences of past actions and to understand why certain people have hurt her so badly.

The best this about this book is McGuire’s ability to give the reader another point of view. To make you want to sympathize with the most evil of characters. To understand why they did what they did. Even to cry for them a little. None of this stops you from still wanting to punch them in the face, but does give you a better understanding of their motivations.

It is one of those books in the series that a new reader can pick up and enjoy the ride. While they may not get the same emotional impact that long-time readers of the series will get, they will still feel the urgency of Toby’s quest and the hard choices she’s required to make. For new fans and old, this is one of those don’t-miss novels.

THE BRIGHTEST FELL includes an original novella, OF THINGS UNKNOWN, set in the County of Tamed Lightning. I cried throughout this novella. That’s all I’m going to say about it.

5/5 stars

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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.