Jennifer Brozek | Wordslinger & Optimist! - Page 2

Reader Reactions at Origins

by Jennifer Brozek 21. June 2016 14:00

I am home from Origins Game Fair. It was a good time, if exhausting. I had multiple business meetings that were awesome for things in the future. I got to see people I don’t usually get to. I love that. However, the thing that stood out to me were the fan reactions to meeting me. More than any other convention, Origins is where people seek me out to tell me what my writing means to them.

Two stories:

The first was a young man and his girlfriend. The guy couldn’t talk. He stood in front of my table saying, “I… I… I…” His girlfriend poked him and grinned. I said hello and asked how he was doing. He said, “Excuse me. I’m kinda fanboying over here. Wow.” I assumed he’d gone to talk to Tim Zahn or Mike Stackpole. I told him that there were lots of awesome people to fanboy over and asked who he was excited for. He grins and bursts out, “I love your writing. I love DocWagon 19. You write some of the most amazing Shadowrun I’ve ever read.” I was pleased and surprised. We talked more and he was so enthusiastic about what I’ve done and looked forward to everything else I had coming out. He even talked about The Nellus Academy Incident, and asked when it would be out in physical form. It was a wonderful feeling.

The second one was a young woman who walked up to my table, clutching the World of Shadows Shadowrun anthology. She looked at me and said, “Best day ever.” We talked as I signed her book. Then she told me, quite seriously, that my Shadowrun stories saved her life. That she had a medical condition that caused memory loss and her brain to shut down. She needed to do something to keep her brain stimulated. She dove into Shadowrun reading and it was what saved her. The fact that she could remember my stories, that I wrote them, and details about them meant the world to me. It wasn’t just my stories, it was all of the Shadowrun stories, but she wanted me to know that my writing saved her life and she couldn’t wait for my next stuff. I almost cried. We talked more. She showed me her Shadowrun tattoo. I made sure she met some of the other Shadowrun writers.

These two moments were highlights among several—including someone telling me they got their dream job of writing for an RPG company because of Industry Talk and my advice—that illustrate why I write. It’s more than the fact that I have stories to tell. It’s the fact that these stories mean something to those who read them. They touch people in ways I can’t imagine. That is worth everything in the world.

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2016 Origins Game Fair Schedule

by Jennifer Brozek 13. June 2016 09:50

Here's my Origins Game Fair Schedule. If I'm not here, I'm at my dealer's table in the Author Library area. I'll have copies of the Melissa Allen omnibus, the Karen Wilson Chronicles, Lost Tales, and more. Come say hello. Buy some books/ebooks. Get stuff signed. The usual. Don't be shy.

All of the panels will be in the Origins University section, hosted by the Library.

Thursday, Jun 16
12 Noon – Where are We? (worldbuilding)
How do you create a believeable setting without having a degree in sociology, biology, or geography? Our panelists will tell you the ins and outs of making a fantasy or science fiction setting.

6pm – Story Hour (Reading from Never Let Me)
With Bryan Young

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Friday, Jun 17
1pm – Writing a Series

Writing one book is hard enough--what about three? Or ten? Listen to our panelists discuss how writing a trilogy or septology is different than stand-alone novels.

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Saturday, Jun 18
11am – Business of Publishing 101

Traditional publishing, self-publishing, and crowdsourcing all have their place in today's industry. Our panelists tell you how it all works together to make a career.

2pm – Networking
Building relationships is crucial to an author's success. This panel will teach you how to build a career through meeting people and cultivating relationships.

Origins Award Ceremony (because John says I have to go)

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Sunday, Jun 19
10am – Tales From the Slush Pile (Solo)

The slush piles are where dreams die. Or is it? An editor and author discusses the good, bad, and ugly in the slush pile, as well as what one can learn.

4pm – Break down dealer table

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Tell Me – Che Gilson

by Jennifer Brozek 9. June 2016 12:03

Food is a huge part of culture, everyone can agree on that. It has whole networks and TV channels devoted to it. Game shows, reality shows and competitions. People blog their dinners, and subscribe to boxes that promise healthy food in under half an hour. For a long time now I've been outside looking in on a world of food I can't eat. I'm allergic to corn, wheat, peanuts, and I can't eat sugar. I just can't (and this isn't the place to describe why).

About seven years ago I decided to write a book, back then it was a comic book, about my drink of choice tea, my favorite fantasy characters, witches, and all the food I couldn't eat. It was my ode to cake. Originally, Tea Times Three was going to be a comic book. A manga based on a genre I'm not sure exists but which I like to call "Eccentric English Village Comedy". It was going to take place in England. There would be a charming Cotswold style village at the heart of it filled with eccentric residents, none entirely sure they wanted a magical tea shop in their village.

That version of the story got rearranged and, instead, the book takes place in the made-up town of Midswich, Maine. While the setting changed, the food did not. I wrote in all the food I love but can no longer eat. I filled the pages with dessert, or as much as I could justify without turning it into a cookbook. There are cookies, cakes, and Scottish shortbread, which I can eat in a modified gluten free, sugar free form. I even have the character with the most food hang-ups, a sugar free, gluten free carob cheesecake based, again, on something I can actually eat.

Tea Times Three was written during my transition from a time I ate sugar to having – for health reasons
to giving up sugar cold turkey. Not an easy task if you've tried. I poured all my cravings and longings into the food described in that book. Years of obsessively watching Food Network went into that. Recipes I could never eat. Food I wished I'd eaten more of. I even made magical marshmallows into a climactic plot point.

My inability to eat wheat, corn, and sugar is unlikely to change anytime soon, but I have learned that writing your obsessions can not only be fun, but productive. I also learned how to have my cake and eat it too thanks to the wealth of gluten free recipes and the availability of stevia powder.

So, for everyone out there with food allergies I'd like to leave you with the recipe for gluten-free, sugar-free Scottish shortbread. One of my favorites, and one which shows up in Tea Times Three.

Shortbread
1 cup room temperature butter
1/4-1/3 cup stevia powder (I buy it at Trader Joes)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour
2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
Mix and pat into an 8x8 inch pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes

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Che Gilson is the author of several graphic novels including Avigon: Gods and Demons from Image Comics, and Dark Moon Diary from Tokyopop. Her short stories have been published in Luna Station Quarterly and Drops of Crimson. She draws copious amounts of Pokémon fan art which can be found with her original work at http://spiderliing666.deviantart.com.

 

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June Monthly Stat thing

by Jennifer Brozek 2. June 2016 09:24

May was more about finishing the novel than writing it. That, and going to StokerCon. This month, I will finish Makeda Red and turn it in. Then plot out the Battletech novel. I’m currently calling it The Gienah Incident. I don’t know if the title will stick. Also, there’s Origins Game Fair which will kill about a week’s worth of writing.

Year-to-date stats:
Fiction words written: 118,410
Article words written: 10,219
My novels/collections edited: 3
My short stories proofed: 2
Other novels/anthologies edited: 6
Events attended: 5

Also, I was interviewed on SFFWorld about my story in the Decision Points anthology.

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Tell Me - Kirk Dougal

by Jennifer Brozek 1. June 2016 09:38

What Time Is It?

Write every day.

Make writing part of your daily routine.

Set aside time to write.

Anybody who has set out to become an author has been told some version of the above advice. Panels at conventions, critique group members, author friends, and even the iconic Stephen King in his work, On Writing, all stress the importance of putting your butt in a chair every day and placing words on paper. Or, the computer screen, but I think you know what I mean.

I had heard the advice for years and believed I was following it as well as I could around regular life events with my wife, kids, and work. I had sold multiple short stories, nabbed an agent, and completed four novels.

But then in 2014 something happened with my writing that drove home the point of setting a specific time to write every day.

I experienced a perfect storm in my life. My work life, which had always demanded more than 50 hours per week, settled down to the point where I was home every night by a decent time. My four kids had all reached an age where they did not require constant supervision and my wife's job as a surgical nurse had established a regular schedule. So, for the first time in my writing life, I set a specific time to write every day.

Well, technically I set a time at night. School was in session so all of the kids were off to their bedrooms by 10 o'clock. My wife needed to be scrubbed in for surgery every morning by 6:45 so she also headed to bed at 10 p.m. So my writing time was set from 10 o'clock to two in the morning.

The television was off. The house was quiet. No one needed help with homework or to cook something in the kitchen. Those four hours were my time to write.

At first I did not see much of a difference. I was being productive on my new novel but it did not feel like anything special.

But then the words started to pile up. I was dropping full chapters every sitting. The four hours flew by and many nights I needed to force myself to stop so I could get enough sleep for the next day at work.

Before I realized it, I had a full novel at 84,000 words in three months. I sent the manuscript off to my beta readers and began working on my next novel, the idea of which had come to me during the preceding few weeks. I was eager to see if the new productivity would continue with the regimen or if the word count was only a result of my drive for the first book.

The words continued to flow. Chapters followed chapters in that four-hour block of time. The first book came back from the readers and I made changes before returning to the second book. A Saturday came along when everyone was gone from the house and I had no chores on my honey-do list. I knocked out 10,000 words on the novel that day, still a record for me.

The second book took more research than the first and that slowed me down a little but in the end, it was finished at 92,000 words in four months.

Two books and more than 170,000 words in seven months—a production level I attribute directly to setting a specific time to write every day.

My day job has changed since I learned this lesson in 2014 and I now work for a different company. The regimen was amended—I write every night from 9:00 to midnight—but is still in place. The words are flowing and I am on track to complete more than two novels this year.

It is dark outside as I finish this post and my first thought is easy: What time is it?

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Kirk Dougal has had works in multiple anthologies and released his debut novel, Dreams of Ivory and Gold, in May of 2014 through Angelic Knight Press with a 2nd edition in February 2015. His YA science fiction thriller, Jacked, leads the launch of Ragnarok Publications' Per Aspera SF imprint in 2016. He is also waiting on the publication of his SF/LitRPG novel, Reset, while completing the sequel to Dreams, Valleys of the Earth.
 
Kirk is currently working in a corporate position with a group of newspapers after serving as a group publisher and editor-in-chief. He lives in Ohio with his wife and four children. Discover more at his website or hanging out on Facebook and Twitter.

Website: http://kirkdougal.com/
Twitter: @kirkduogal (https://twitter.com/kdougal)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kirk.dougal
Publisher Website: www.ragnarokpub.com
Netgalley Link: https://s2.netgalley.com/catalog/book/90271

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Story Trends

by Jennifer Brozek 24. May 2016 08:45

Sometimes, story trends just hit me. This year, it is all about robots.

First, I have story in ROBOTS! for the Origins Game Fair anthology called “ARMIN LAAS.” It is about a self aware AI that inhabits different roles in society. For this story, the AI’s chassis is a LEO – Lift Engineer Operator. He is a host robot on a space elevator who longs for more.

Second, I have a story in MECH: Age of Steel called “Vulture Patrol.” The main character pilots a salvager mech, the Grey Gull, that salvages the important bits after a space battle. It is a huge spherical mech with many arms and bays to hold salvage. The Grey Gull is personalize to the protagonist in a way that seems alive.

Third, I have a story in Defending the Future: Man and Machine called “Inky, Blinky, and Me.” This one is about a pair of self aware AIs who inhabit small modular spy chassis. They are doggedly loyal to the main protagonist and each other. They save the day in an unexpected way.

I’ve written stories for other anthologies this year, but they’ve all been tie-in fiction. Robots, mechs, and AIs are big this year. I like the fact that each story I’ve written is so different from each other.

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Catching Up

by Jennifer Brozek 18. May 2016 09:19

When I first got home from StokerCon, I wrote:

Home from StokerCon. I did not win a stoker award for my YA novel, NEVER LET ME SLEEP. John Dixon did for his, and he is a complete sweetie. But, I didn't walk away empty-handed. I got to see old friends like Lucy A. Snyder and Jonathan Maberry, meet new friends, pitch the Melissa Allen series to a producer, have an in-depth conversation with an agent, meet Gini Koch, got asked to write a short story, and finished red lining my Shadowrun novel. It was a good convention.

My thoughts haven’t changed. It was a good convention. It was the first time I’ve been thanked by a winner of a major award during their acceptance speech. Lucy gave me a shout out and I appreciate it.

However, I hate the Vegas strip. I can’t say I hate Vegas. I spent time with my friend Drake in the north end of Vegas and it was lovely, if hot and dry. You can buy a lot of house for a lot less money than you can in the Seattle area.

That said, I won’t ever move out of the Pacific Northwest if I can help it. Monday, when I was taking out the trash, I had an honest-to-goodness “Calvin and Hobbes Trash Moment.” I dropped the trash in the can, then stopped and realized how quiet it was. I could only hear birdsong. Not even cars at that moment. The sky was filled with light grey clouds, bringing a depth the world around me. I could actually fill the moisture in the air. After 5 days in Vegas, it was exactly what I needed to truly appreciate where I live.

I’m home now. I’m catching up on email and other notices.

Here’s a really great review of NEVER LET ME from Amazon. This is the kind of review that makes my heart sing.

Also, my location supplement, Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Island, has been nominated for d-Infinity Independent Game Awards for best RPG supplement. I’m not going to win. It’s one of those click to vote popularity things but I’m happy to have been nominated.

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Tell Me - Dylan Birtolo

by Jennifer Brozek 9. May 2016 11:02

Dylan is one of the first authors I met at a convention that I rejected. It was my nightmare come true. However, ever the professional, Dylan was happy, pleasant, and enthusiastic. We talked, we became friends. I published him. Eventually, I co-wrote an RPG piece with him. It's been a pleasure to see him grow as an author.

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Evolving My Technique

I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. Heck, I still have the first story that I ever wrote. It was back in third grade when we had to write a one-page story in cursive writing with one inch margins drawn on the page. My story was nineteen pages. I still have it on very yellowed and slightly crispy paper. And no, you can’t read it, at least not yet.

The point is that even back then, I knew that I liked telling stories and that it was something that was going to stick with me for my entire life. I have spent time working on all sorts of different mediums, whether that is role playing, being on stage, or good old fashioned prose writing. When I was first starting as a writer, one of the things that I learned very quickly was that everyone’s process was different. If you asked ten different writers how they went about putting words on paper, you would get ten different answers. For me, I loved the thrill of not knowing what was going to happen next.

For my stories, and indeed my first novel, I would start with a premise, solidly defined characters, a vague idea of where the story might go, and then I sat down to start typing. I would just let the words flow. It goes without saying that I would need to go back and clean it up, but for that first draft, that was how I wrote – completely by the seat of my pants. Half of the time I was surprised with the turns that the stories would take, and that was part of the excitement of telling the story. I liked thinking on my feet. (Side note – is it any surprise that I prefer improv over memorized lines when on stage? I didn’t think so.)

I can even remember having arguments with people in online writing groups about it. One person was adamant that you needed to plan a story before you wrote it. That you needed to iron out all of the details and have them scoped out before you ever put a word on the page. In my (slightly more) stubborn youth, we butted heads a lot. He would show me examples of stories that OBVIOUSLY had to be planned ahead of time to orchestrate the finale and the payoff. I would show him my writing and point out that I never planned a single plot.

It didn’t help that I was not the best writer at the time.

It was many years before I planned my first story. It was a short story for an anthology released almost ten years ago now. I wanted to put a twist in the end, but in order for the twist to pay off, I needed to seed the story the right way. If I just smacked the reader with it out of the blue, it would not carry any weight. At best, it would be confusing. At worse, it would be completely nonsensical. So I planned the story. Not a lot, but I took a couple of notes about small clues I needed to lay down on the way to that pay off.

Now I am a big planner. This was very clear when I went back to rewrite The Shadow Chaser. The first edition of that book wasn’t planned. Now that I was going to be making a trilogy, I wanted to lay down the seeds for fruit that wouldn’t come to fruition until the third book. I knew where I was going and I wanted to lay down the pieces that would make the payoff that much more rewarding in the end.

I liken it to stage fighting. I have spent several years training how to fight with weapons, and I can do improv fights if I need to where not a single blow is choreographed. Depending on my partner, we might even make the fight look good while only being slightly more dangerous than a choreographed fight. But on the other hand we have something that is choreographed, something that we have spent weeks and months refining and practicing, ironing out all of the little hiccups and rough spots. That fight? That fight is always going to look faster, flashier, and better. It will have a much larger pay off than an improvisational combat for the audience.

I’m not saying that you need to plan. You need to find what works for you. And at first, what worked for me was putting the words down as fast as they could come. Now I like to plan. I opened up my toolbox to this idea and pulled in a new tool, one that I like to use to create better stories. I am still convinced I plan less than most writers I’ve talked to. I like that thrill too much. But, just a bit of planning does let me sprinkle those seeds and care for them.

My process evolved. I added something to my toolbox and made it my own, and I think that’s how we become better artists, whatever our medium of choice is.

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Dylan Birtolo resides in the Pacific Northwest where he spends his time as a writer, a gamer, and a professional sword-swinger. His thoughts are filled with shape shifters, mythological demons, and epic battles. He’s published a few fantasy novels and several short stories. He trains with the Seattle Knights, an acting troop that focuses on stage combat, and has performed in live shows, videos, and movies. He jousts, and yes, the armor is real - it weighs over 100 pounds. You can read more about him and his works at dylanbirtolo.com or follow his twitter at @DylanBirtolo.

 

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May Monthly Stat Thing

by Jennifer Brozek 2. May 2016 09:01

Yay for eight year wedding anniversary with my beloved Husband! He’s so awesome. On May 1st, he went hiking today to give me private, quiet time to work on MAKEDA RED. That’s love and marriage for you. Besides, Saturday, we went to a rock and gem show and bought a rock for our anniversary.

Year-to-date stats:
Fiction words written: 108,810 (Yes, that’s over 50,000 words in April.)
Article words written: 7896
My novels/collections edited: 3
My short stories proofed: 2
Other novels/anthologies edited: 5
Events attended: 4

I’ve got StokerCon and the Bram Stoker Awards to go to this month. My goal is to have the first draft of MAKEDA RED done before I leave. Then I can spend a month fixing it and freaking out when I get back and finish before I go to Origins Game Fair.

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Bubble and Squeek for 27 April 2016

by Jennifer Brozek 27. April 2016 16:30

Release: Colonial Gothic: Lost Tales - This is my "Oops! I have a fiction collection" book. Rogue Games collected all my RPG fiction in the Colonial Gothic universe. Supernatural horror in 1776 for the win!

Review: The Melissa Allen series got a NICE shout out in this: Where Are My Damn Heroes? This article makes me really happy. It's nice to be understood.

Sale: Reminder - Last Chance Karen Wilson Chronicles Trade Paperback Sale. 4 Trade for $30.

In the "I've been so busy writing the Shadowrun novel, I didn't notice this was announced" side of things, Project Joe got announced two months back. Project Joe is actually H.E.A.D. Hunters from Gut Shot Games. I wrote all of the background stories for every character and the setting. The announcement and podcasts are system focused, but it is nice to be able to talk about the game now.

Announcement: Gut Shot Games Announces H.E.A.D. Hunters, designed by Ben Cichoski and Danny Mandel (the guys who designed Legendary Encounters).

Podcast: Dukes of Dice - H.E.A.D. Hunters, system discussion starts at 1:10. Pretty crunchy discussion.

Podcast: Bearded Bards of Board Games - H.E.A.D. Hunters, more detailed system discussion starts at 1:19. There are brief comments about the character stories. It seems I really disturbed the designers with the Lechuza (Owl Witch) story. :)

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Latest Releases

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Never Let Me
YA SF-Thriller Omnibus

Amazon | Barnes&Noble |
Permuted Press

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Never Let Me Die
YA SF-Thriller Novel
Amazon | B&N |
Permuted Press


Never Let Me Leave
YA SF-Thriller Novel
Amazon | B&N |
Permuted Press


Never Let Me Sleep
YA SF-Thriller Novel

Amazon | B&N |
Permuted Press


DocWagon 19
Shadowrun novella
Amazon | BattleShop
DriveThruRPG


Chimera Incarnate

Karen Wilson Chronicles #4
More InformationBuy Now.
Amazon | DriveThruFiction


Apocalypse Girl Dreaming
Fiction collection
Amazon | B&N |
Evil Girlfriend Media

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Jazz Age Cthulhu
Amazon | B&N |
Innsmouth Free Press


The Nellus Academy Incident
YA Battletech
novel
Amazon | Battleshop |
DriveThruRPG
| B&N

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.