Her malady—nightmares that left her bloody—seemed, at first, to be a common self-harm complex. Then I looked at the wounds. The mind is powerful, but I have never seen the mind create wounds like these. Little did I know her wounds were just the first of many mysteries I would face while caring for Josephine.
–Jennifer Brozek, To Fight the Black Wind
Not all patients can be cured—or want to be.
Psychologist Carolyn Fern’s newest patient suffers from nightmares that leave glyph-shaped wounds across her skin. The case is odd, even for an institution like Arkham Sanatorium, where the unusual becomes the everyday. Things become even more complicated after the young woman claims to have met Malachi—Carolyn’s former patient whose treatment was cut short when he was brutally murdered—in her dreams. What is the link between the two, and how can Carolyn help a patient who, it seems, does not wish to be cured?
This Arkham Horror novella was previously called Sekrit Project Alex. It was named after Alex Baker, one half of the duo (the other being Johanna) that introduced me to Call of Cthulhu LARPing. I’d always enjoyed Lovecraftian fiction, but it took that LARP to really understand the meaty horror of the stories. You can blame all of my Lovecraftian writing on them.
It wasn’t an easy novella to write. My editor, Katrina, was technical and exacting. She pushed me to do my best. I’m thrilled with the end result. Even more thrilled with the perfect cover by Shane Pierce.
To Fight the Black Wind is the fourth Arkham Horror novella to come out.
I’m in mighty fine company.
I think you all will enjoy Carolyn’s trip to the Dreamlands. I can’t wait to share it with you.
The Husband just got me the best Valentine’s Day gift! It's an Apollo hard case toolkit. One of the things I bought myself when I moved out was a home toolkit. Over the decades I've looked and couldn't find one with a hard case. I love it!
He even charged the drill for me. It's really what I wanted. Seriously. Diamond earrings are nice and I wear them, but a good hard case toolkit is worth gold.
I don't know if you all understand just how cool this gift is. I have a thing about wanting things in their place and a place for all things. A good toolkit that has its place means I can do little chores/tasks without hunting for tools.
It means, I can find tools when I actually /need/ them. It means small tasks remain small. It means I can fix things myself. The Husband does a lot around the house, but there are little things I do every week.
Also, that first toolkit (a Black & Decker bought at Sears) was the symbol that I was really on my own. No family to fix things if they needed immediate fixing. It was a small rite of passage. This beautiful new toolkit means so much and the Husband understood that.
A good toolkit means you are ready to face what comes.
I got him a star map of the night we first kissed with the caption “That one kiss led to the rest of our lives.” It is perfect for his new office and he loved it. We’re going on ten years married and it is so nice that we get each other.
Article: Risk Approaches. Written for GMs. Excellent for writers, too. I really like this article. It's a good way to think of things.
Awards: Hugo nominations are open. Here is my eligibility post. Don't be afraid to list what you have done, too.
Interesting: Books2Read. This is a site to create universal links for your books. Here’s an example: DocWagon 19.
Review: Nice review of The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade anthology in Analog. I'm not called out, but I like the review.
Pre-order: The Prince of Artemis V by Jennifer Brozek and Elizabeth Guizzetti. It's my firest comic book! Isn't it pretty?
From now until I decide I want to stop doing this, I will be giving out a monthly “Jennifer Award” for the best new-to-me thing I read that month. This can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be an essay/article, a short story, a novelette, a novella, or a novel. It doesn’t matter when it came out. It only matters that this is the first time I read it and I thought it was the best thing I read all month. Yes, it is completely subjective and biased towards what I like to read.
The winner will receive a shiny digital badge and a $5 gift card.
January’s winner of the Jennifer Award is Godfall and Other Stories by Sandra M. Odell. Congratulations, Sandra! You have email. I was asked to blurb this fiction collection and I did. It will be published in April. Once I started reading these stories, I couldn’t stop. It's that good.
Jan: Godfall and Other Stories by Sandra M. Odell
Last night, I went to the SFWA Reading to see my friends Josh Vogt, Greg Bear, and Tod McCoy read. I realized something: I’d missed my SFWA community. These are people I only see at conventions and SFWA events. I’d been so busy with my own stuff lately, and needed some distance from the organization after I stepped down as a Director-At-Large, that I’d pulled away too much. That was the wrong approach, but I suppose it was one I needed at the time.
It’s hard to express just how good it feels to be in a room full of like-minded people who all understand why losing one of the greats like Ursula K. Le Guin is such a tragedy or why naming Peter S. Beagle as SFWA’s newest Grand Master is such a joy. So many of the people I met up with last night are at various points in their writing careers. It was like looking at my past, present, and future writing self. They all understood the language of the writing professional and the publishing industry. It felt like coming home. It felt like family.
Recently, SFWA has had to deal with some tough issues. All of them center around protecting its membership at large. I know, intimately, what they’ve been going through—all the time spent, the discussions had, the decisions made—and I’m proud of the Board. I think, with the evidence they had on hand, they did the only thing they could do to protect the SFWA organization and the community they’ve built.
I came away from the SFWA Reading rejuvenated, with an armful of Greg Bear's short fiction, inspired to attempt science fiction poetry again, and the sense that SFWA is still in the right hands, doing what it needs to do to meet the needs of its membership. I also came home with the desire to write more, to mentor more, and to continue to be part of the SFWA community.
I'm so glad I went.
It’s 2018 and awards season has already begun. Nebula nominations are open. Hugo nominations are just around the corner. That means it’s time for me to take a critical look at what I’m most proud of from 2017 and what I’d like to highlight for your nomination consideration.
“To Lose the Stars” in The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade anthology.
I am super proud of this near future SF story. The anthology editor posted the story in the SFWA forums. It is also available for those who would like to read it for awards consideration. Just contact me.
New Podcast / Fancast (Hugos) / Podcast Series
Five Minute Stories podcast by Jennifer Brozek (author/reader) and Jeff Brozek (post production).
This was my first time at creating an SFF anthology podcast series. I worked with the Husband on it. We’ve produced and released all 26 episodes. I’m stupidly proud of this project. My favorite episodes of the series are: Train to Topeka, Elevator of the Damned, Responsible, Questions, and Two Letters.
Blogging / Best Related Work (Hugos)
Author Etiquette blog series by Jennifer Brozek and Sarah Craft.
This monthly series has been going on for three years now and I think there’s some really good stuff in it. We’ve put together a series of articles to help authors across the spectrum navigate some of the trickier social customs and courtesies of the publishing arena. Sarah’s post.
(Edit: Shifted Author Etiquette series from "Fan Writer" category to "Best Related Work" category based on advice given.)
Like most authors, looking back at what I did during the year is a good way to convince myself that I’m not just spinning my wheels and that I really am still headed ‘towards the mountain.’ This is also why I keep track of my daily activities in my private Freelancer Summary document. It allows me to see what I’m doing and when. I think I did pretty good in 2017.
Short stories submitted
• 6 short story acceptances
• 5 short story rejections
• 1 short story outstanding
• 8 new short stories written
• 1 new novel written
• 26 episode podcast produced (with the Husband)
• 12 Author Etiquette blogs produced (with Sarah Craft)
• 5 mini fiction collections and 1 “stealth” fiction collection released
(Not as much as I wanted but I did have two bathrooms renovated in the middle of it all that mucked with my productivity.)
Edited for others
• 3 novellas edited
• 6 EGM Speculate! stories edited
• 9 BattleTech/Shadowrun novels proofed for ebook editions
• 15 events (readings, conventions, signings) attended
• 2 writing groups joined (Wit’n’Word [social writing], TBD Writing [critique group])
• 3 novel contracts
• 1 novella contract
(Due between now and the end of 2019 = about 300,000 publishable words.)
It’s nice to look at the quantified amount produced and be pleased with what you see. Supposedly, 2018 is going to be a slower, longer set of projects with only one novel, one novella, one anthology, and one short story currently on the docket. We all know this will change. Also, I already have seven confirmed events and four not yet confirmed, but planned for, events.
Then again, I’ve gotten good at producing while traveling. It’s taken me a bit to learn the skill. Now, I think it’s just a survival reflex. If I don’t write, the words will eat me.
Note: I’m leaving out all of the personal blogs, SFWA meetings (when I was a Director), looped edits/revisions, kickstarters participated in, weekly phone calls to various publishing folk, and the myriad of other freelance details.
The Husband and I take a lot of road trips. Some of you have asked about the car games we play, for they are many and varied. I probably should’ve posted this earlier in the holiday season, but better late than never.
License Plate Anagram Game
Object: Make an anagram out of every letter on a license plate.
• License plates only.
• Moving cars only.
• The more interesting the word, the better the bragging right.
• Single word score: Use all the letters but out of order. License: BGG-123, “Garbage”
• Double word score: Use all the letters in order by not next to each other. License: TXS-554, “Taxes” or “Texas” or “Taxidermies”
• Triple word score: Use all the letters in order and concurrent. License: STL-826, “Costly” “Castle”
Level: Simple to Moderate (gets progressively harder).
Object: Look for the alphabet in order.
• License plates take priority, but signs and other writing on vehicles count.
• No more than one letter per discreet object. (“Alphabet” on a sign only counts for “a” and not “b”).
• Can use a particular type of sign once (IE: Exit sign can be used for E, X, I, and T once.)
• License plates are always allowed.
Scoring: How many iterations of the alphabet can you get through before the end of the trip?
State License Plate Game
Occurrence: A rare game to play unless we are on a long road trip. Usually begins when someone sees Maine, Florida, Alaska, or Hawaii.
Object: Look for every state license plates in the country.
Rules: Any order. Parking lots are fair game.
Alphabet License Plate Anagram Game
Occurrence: Long, multi-day trips only.
Object: Make an anagram out of every letter on a license plate. Alphabetic. Begins with the letter sought.
• License plates only unless there have been no cars for more than 3 minutes.
• No more than one letter per discreet license. (“JBA-222” only counts for “a” and not “b”).
• Word must begin with the letter sought for.
• Single word score: Use all the letters but out of order. Looking for “G.” License: GGB-123, “Garbage”
• Double word score: Use all the letters in order by not next to each other. Looking for “T.” License: TXS-554, “Taxes” or “Texas” or “Taxidermies”
• Triple word score: Use all the letters in order and concurrent. Looking for “S.” License: STE-826, “Steady” “Stenosis”
Perched Birds of Prey Spotting
Occurrence: Long trips and random.
Object: See a perched bird of prey.
Rules: Bird of prey. Must be perched. Only one person in the car needs to see it, but better if more than one does.
Scoring: See the bird and note it. Smile at the good omen.
All twenty-six episodes of Five Minutes Stories is now up on the Apocalypse Ink Productions website. As a first podcast, I think it’s pretty good. I don’t hate my voice, the Husband did an amazing job on the post production, and one of my favorite podcasters, Alasdair Stuart, gave it a good review. I even have other podcasters who want me to work with them. I’m thrilled by this.
A couple of my favorite episodes of the series are: Train to Topeka, Elevator of the Damned, Responsible, Questions, and Two Letters. It’s not just the stories themselves, it’s the reaction I’ve received from listeners. I love it when I take someone’s breath away with a story.
Will I do this again? Absolutely. Now that I have some experience under my belt, I want to write an original podcast fiction serial. I even know what the basic story is about. I've got the beginning and the end plotted. I still have to figure out how I get from A-to-Z. Podcasting is a completely different type of storytelling, but it is also one of the oldest: the oral storytelling tradition. Now for computers.
I love the fact that, ten years in, I'm still learning new ways to get my stories out. It was a great experience to produce Five Minute Stories as a practice run. I'm glad I finally jumped on the bandwagon. I look forward to what I work on next.
This past weekend I was at Anglicon for the first time with Books & Chains. It was also my birthday weekend. Sometimes, you just gotta work on your birthday. I did have a good time. Sold lots. Got to meet up with old friends and pet celebrity corgies while they slobbered all over my hands. But now, I'm exhausted. So, here's a Bubble & Squeek for you.
Article: I got a shout out in this article: 5 Literary Agents Discuss the Horror Genre. Thank you Lane Heymont.
Release: The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade anthology has been released. This has my story “To Lose the Stars” in it!
Release: Pathways – All New Stories of Valdemar anthology has been released. This one has my story “Reborn” in it. This is a sequel to my story “Written in the Wind.”
Review: A nice review of The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade anthology with a shout out to my story.