Jennifer Brozek | Wordslinger & Optimist! - Page 2

Bubble and Squeek for 12 August 2015

by Jennifer Brozek 12. August 2015 10:13

Publication: "Rune's Avatar Cafe" has been published in the Shadowrun Worlds of Shadows anthology. It came out at Gen Con. I haven't seen a link for it yet. I'll post it when I do.

Sold: I sold my story "Feathers in Need" to the latest Valdemar anthology called Crucible. It's also the opening story in the anthology. I'm super happy about that. I will note that it is a happy story, unlike "Written in the Wind."

Kickstarter: Women in Practical Armor. I have nothing to do with this anthology except to cheer it on because I work for Evil Girlfriend Media. It's already funded and it is awesome! I'm all about cheering this one on.

Website: If you love the rain and miss it in this heat, Rainy Mood is the perfect soundtrack for you.

Cover Reveal: Here's the cover for NEVER LET ME SLEEP! It's the first book in the Melissa Allen series. Is it not the best? I have an actual teen on my YA book and she's not a stick figure.

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Tell Me - Abner Senires

by Jennifer Brozek 10. August 2015 10:43

Cyberpunk Sisters-in-Arms

It began in college. A series of ongoing stories about a wandering swordswoman. My version of Red Sonja.

I read through the first three Ace/Lancer Conan books for inspiration and began preparing the world of my swordswoman. The kingdoms and villages and lands she'd wander. The kinds of magic she'd encounter.

Halfway through the third Ace/Lancer collection I stumbled across Lieber's Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, either from a comment in that collection's introductory essay or in some other reading I was doing at the time. Something about that caught my attention. I can't recall if it was a idea of TWO wandering warriors or something else, but it sent me around to local used bookstores to track them down.

After a few hours of wandering between stores, I finally located the first two story collections of those tales. Over the next week or so, I read through Swords and Deviltry and Swords Against Death and my solitary swordswoman took on a companion. Now I had pair of wandering women warriors. By then I had a vaguely sketched out map of a world, a series of names of exotic fantasy cities and towns, and a rough history of the world. I even had some likely scenarios for my adventuring duo.

But I didn't get beyond that.

As it was, Xena and her sidekick, Gabrielle, were already swinging swords on TV. Warrior women duos appeared to be already taken care of so I shelved the premise for the time being.

Fast forward a few years.

1996, if I remember correctly.

I was reading a Gunsmith Cats graphic novel when the wandering women warrior duo leaped back into my mind and the following train of thought occurred to me: Gunsmith Cats was about a pair of female bounty-hunters working the mean streets of present-day Chicago. Xena was about a pair of female warriors in a Greek-myth/medieval-esque/fantasy world. Then an anime series came to mind: Dirty Pair, about a pair of female agents in the far future.

What about a pair of female warriors in the near-future? In the world of cyberpunk?


Enter Kat and Mouse.

I remember the idea grabbing me by the shorthairs in a vice-grip, yanking me close, and a low, breathy voice saying, "Write me. Write me now."

I then remember diving into my bookshelves for my copies of Neuromancer and Burning Chrome, the Mirroshades anthology, and my dog-eared copies of the Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun RPG manuals, followed by furious scribblings as ideas rushed out in a flood. Movies and anime came to mind. RoboCop. Demolition Man. Blade Runner. Bubblegum Crisis. Appleseed. Akira.

It took another four years before the duo's first escapade appeared in an online zine.

Eight years before I decided to turn it into an online serial.

Since it premiered in December of 2008, I've written somewhere around 150,000 words over 25 episodes and 160-something blog posts depicting the pistol-packing, katana-swinging, butt-kicking escapades of these two Sisters in Arms.

Yes, it may be cliche-ridden, trope-filled, and escapist.

But you know something?

It's the most fun I've ever had writing.

I'm not out to change the world or examine the human condition with these stories.

I just want to take you on a slam-bang, catch-your-breath, roller coaster ride with chills, spills, and thrills.

And if you walk away from reading these tales with a smile on your face and the potential thought of "Hey! Let's ride that again!", then I have done my job.

Abner Senires. Fed on a steady diet of SF/Fantasy novels, genre movies and television, videogames, comic books, Saturday morning cartoons, anime and manga, and role-playing games as a youth,  the man who would be king   Abner Senires eventually grew up into a wombat   a tea cosy   a strange little brown man.

He  has now waged war on   has laid siege to   laid an egg   writes sci-fi pulp adventure (and sometimes ventures into regular science fiction, fantasy, and possibly horror).

He confesses to being a SF/Fantasy/movie/genre TV/comic book/RPG/anime/manga/weapons/firearms fan.
One day he hopes to become a firetruck.   He has never stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.

He lives  in his own deranged imagination   just outside Seattle, WA with his wife and a pair of rambunctious cats.


Gen Con Report

by Jennifer Brozek 4. August 2015 11:08

I am home from Gen Con. It was a very good and busy time. I did not win the ENnie for Best Related RPG Product but with the caliber of the competition, it really was an honor to be nominated.

This year I was both part of the Writers Symposium (run by Marc Tassin) and one of the Industry Insider Featured Presenters. I got to do a lot of panels that were both valuable and hard. Fortunately, my two most daunting panels, Diversity in Gaming and Women in Gaming After Gamergate, both went off without a hitch. I like to think this was because we all did our homework and prepared and we had excellent moderation.

Like most conventions, there’s too much to tell. Here are some of the highlights:

•    Chatting with Wesley Chu in the dealers room about working at conventions. This spawned the quote, “It’s all push-ups and prose.” from Wes.

•    Sitting in the authors lounge area watching Chuck Wendig and Sam Sykes be themselves. I have pictures…

•    Actually sitting down to game with Erik Scot de Bie and Brian Cortijo. I’d not played D&D 5 yet. It’s a good system. Also, I kinda love the dwarf warrior I was playing.

•    Having a number of people come to my “office hours” to follow up on panels and to ask me about my writing. Doc Wagon 19 and Discordance (my first Valdemar short story) were highlights.

There were two standout events that made Gen Con awesome for me.
The first is Ingress. I started playing about 3 weeks ago and I was told there was a mission day happening at Gen Con. I had no idea what a mission day was but I was game. I sent out a call for someone to come walk with me because I really have no sense of direction. I was fortunate enough to be answered to by Sarah Babe, Host of Plot Points Podcast. The two of us banded and bonded together to do this thing called Gen Con Mission Day.

It was 13 missions. Walking around, hacking 5-7 portals per mission and answering questions. We started about 8:45pm at night. We ended the last mission at about 1:30am. It was hot, tiring, and sweaty. By the end of it, both of us had blisters and were finishing the quest out of malicious spite. But it was still awesome. I got a bunch of digital badges, leveled up, and despite shredding my feet (30,000 steps that day – 20,000 on the mission day quests), I had a great time. Sarah and I hit it off so well. I look forward to meeting up with her at GameholeCon in November.

The second is my friend Monte. I haven’t seen Monte in years. One of my favorite GMs and friends from the Bay Area, he made it out to Gen Con. Monte is one of those people that I click with. We can go for months without talking, but when we do, it’s like no time has passed.

He decided to introduce me to The Mountain Witch. We played with Albert and Nancy (also friends from the Bay Area who now live in Canada). It was the best time. Sparse on rules. Heavy on the roleplay. Awesome for narrative storytelling. Honestly, this game, with these people, made Gen Con worth it. I will be thinking about this game for a long time to come. I just bought a copy of The Mountain Witch from IPR.

It was a very good time. I’m glad I went. I’m also very happy to be home with the Husband and the kitties.


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It’s a Star!

by Jennifer Brozek 22. July 2015 09:18

This is the Scribe Award. I’m in love with this little statuette. Right now, it’s my most favorite award of all-time. Not because of what it is for—though I’m very proud of my YA Battletech novel—but because of what it represents.

On a professional level, it means a jury of my peers, who read and write tie-in fiction, judged it worthy of the award. That means a lot. On an personal level, it means I’m not a hack. I can write and affect readers. I do know what I’m doing. On an emotional level, it means I didn’t lose four awards in a row. No matter what happens with the ENnies and Hugos, I’m still an award winner in 2015.

I didn’t realize just how much was riding on the Scribe Award. It was the one I had the least stress about and was the award I was absolutely certain I would not win. I had already prepared myself to congratulated the winners and move on. Then I won and I felt 90% of the pressure from the ENnies and Hugos just melt away. The feeling is amazing and startling. I can relax now. I’d won one of the awards I was up for. Hurrah!

Sometimes, the littlest things mean the most.

This is what I wrote to accept the award for The Nellus Academy Incident. I’m really glad Matt Forbeck got to read it:

“Having grown up a military brat, I wanted to give Battletech fans an idea of where hard-bitten warriors come from. The military is a way of life and that starts when you’re a young dependent. Military kids grow up fast. I wanted to show this with The Nellus Academy Incident. I think I succeeded. Thank you to my editor, John Helfers, and to Jason Schmetzer who pushed me out my comfort zone. Thank you to my Battletech Thinktank group who helped me get the details of the story right. And thank you to the jury for this award. It is an honor.”

It looks good up there. I like it.

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Gen Con Schedule 2015

by Jennifer Brozek 13. July 2015 09:11

If I’m not at one of these panel spots, I’m probably in the writers lounge area outside the Writer Symposium Rooms 243, 244, 245. Don't forget to ask for my Convention Story Card.

11:00am – Signing in the Exhibit Hall

4:00pm – SEM1580472, How SFWA Can Help You, RM211
Whether or not you are a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association, SFWA has the ability to help you with expert advice, tools, examples, & community outreach.

6:00pm – SEM1577164, Craft: RPG Tie-In Fiction, RM243
Learn about the tips & tricks authors use to write amazing fiction based on your favorite RPGs, & find out what it takes to write successfully in a shared world setting.

7:00pm – SEM1577168, Craft: Plotting for Short Fiction, RM243
Explore the differences when plotting short fiction VS novels, & learn tips and tricks that the pros use to create fantastic short story plots.

11:00am – Signing in the Exhibit Hall

2:00pm – SEM1580463, Diversity in Gaming, RM210
Discrimination ordinances, Gamergate, & the expanding Geek culture emphasize the importance of diversity. This is an opportunity to brainstorm how we can make gaming more welcoming for everyone.

8:00 PM – ENnies 2015 Ceremony at the Union Station, Indianapolis, Indiana

10:00am – SEM1580486, Women in Games After Gamergate, RM211

In the wake of Gamergate, we'll explore what the industry is doing to help, how women are interacting differently & ways we as a community can support women as leaders in the evolving gaming world.

11:00am – SEM1577138, World Building: Flora, Fauna, and the Natural World, RM244
Nature & its denizens are crucial background elements in many genre stories. Learn how to subtly incorporate them into your story to make the reader's experience even more enjoyable.

7:00pm – SEM1577100, Writer’s Craft: Erotic Interludes, RM245
Explicit sex scenes are perhaps the easiest type of scene to write badly. Learn from the pros how to turn up the sexual heat without making your readers laugh mockingly.

Hanging outside the Writer Symposium Rooms 243, 244, 245 when I'm not in meetings.


More Thoughts On Awards

by Jennifer Brozek 9. July 2015 15:56

Tomorrow, the Scribe Awards happen at SDCC. This is not a convention I ever intend to go to. I’m not sure how I would deal with the crowds. However, it’s got me thinking about awards again. I’m up for four awards with three different styles of nominations and voting for the win.

The Scribe Awards is a juried nomination and awarding system. Both of my nominated works were sent into the jury who decided on whether or not it should be nominated. Then that same jury chose the winner. This way is probably the smallest number of people to nominate and vote on the win.

The ENnie Awards is a juried nomination system followed by a popular vote. My work, Chicks Dig Gaming: A Celebration of All Things Gaming by the Women Who Love It, was sent in to the jury who decided on which works should be nominated. From July 4-14, anyone and everyone can vote in the ENnies. You do not have to vote, nor are you expected to vote, on every category. Chicks Dig Gaming is listed under Best RPG Related Product. If you are going to vote in the ENnies, I’d appreciate any love you could throw my way.

The Hugo Award is a limited popular vote for the nomination and a limited weighted vote system for the win. Only people who were at/supported the previous world con or are going to/supporting the current worldcon can nominate. Only the people who are going to/supporting the current worldcon can vote in the Instant Runoff System.

Three very different types of voting systems for three different types of awards. I’m really not sure which one I like better. Awards are a strange thing. They can be something you shoot for. Or something that you are surprised with. Or, something some people dread. Other people don’t care one wit about them.

I do care. I would be a liar if I said otherwise. I’d love to win at least one of these awards but, realistically, the nomination is all the honor I will enjoy.

They are all honors. I think my favorite part of the whole award process is the notification you’ve been nominated. It’s like lightening from the blue. 90% of the time, you can’t tell anyone for a couple of weeks. That’s the feeling I try to keep in the forefront of my mind as the ceremonies go on with or without me. That's what I recommend anyone who is nominated keep to the forefront.

I won’t be at the Scribe Awards. I will be at the ENnies and the Hugo Awards. Despite the nervousness that comes with being in attendance, I’m looking forward to both.

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Travel and Awards

by Jennifer Brozek 30. June 2015 10:13

I am home now from five weeks of travel and events (3 conventions, 2 readings, 1 wedding). I ended with LepreCon in Phoenix, AZ. Yes, it was hot. Really hot. Like 110+ degrees hot. However, it was a great convention. Highly recommended. Small, enthusiastic, and great guests of honor.

In particular, I was pleased to meet Dayton Ward, whom I know from IAMTW, and David Gerrold (most famous for “Trouble with Tribbles.”), who soothed all my fears about the Sasquan Hugo Awards ceremony. After talking with him about my concerns (David is the host), I feel like I can relax and just enjoy the ride. That’s a huge deal for me.

Also, I got to meet my Shadow Minion, Sarah Hendrix, who is as awesome in person as she is online. She took to being my in-person assistant like, well, my shadow. She got me to where I needed to be (Seriously, I have the direction sense of a stoned newt. I couldn’t find my room even once without her.), made me eat, even when I was cranky, found out all the answers, and even played in my Big Demons in Little China game. There’s already an offer on the table to bring the both of us to an LA convention.

Then, on the way to the airport, I discovered that Chicks Dig Gaming: A Celebration of All Things Gaming by the Women Who Love It has been nominated for an ENnie award for Best RPG Related Product. Ya’ll have no idea just how happy I am about this. I joke that this means I have four awards (2 Scribes, 1 ENnie, 1 Hugo) to lose over the next two months, but I really am honored by the nomination. We worked hard on the anthology and it deserves some love and recognition. So, yay!

Now, I have a month to whip NEVER LET ME DIE into shape while fielding the edits of other projects from various publishers. Then, off to Gen Con as part of the Writers Symposium and as one of the Industry Insider Featured Presenters.

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Tell Me - Jason Sizemore

by Jennifer Brozek 30. June 2015 09:32

For the first time, someone has turned the tables on me in these Tell Me guest blogs. When I asked Jason Sizemore to tell me something about For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher, I didn't expect him to talk about me. I won't lie, this post made me a little teary-eyed.

Also, I've read For Exposure. It is laugh out loud funny, informative, and a very good look on the inside of a small press publisher. It is very much worth the read.


For Exposure: Jennifer Brozek

You’re reading this because I wrote a book titled For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher. It’s a behind the scenes look at the business of publishing, some of the more outlandish predicaments I’ve landed in, and an ode to all the hardworking authors, artists, and editors who have helped me over the years. One such person is Jennifer Brozek.

Jennifer—you are about to be exposed.

If I recall properly, Jenn Brozek started her editorial journey working as an Apex Magazine slush reader. For the uninitiated, a slush reader is a publication’s first reader. In publishing circles, these hardworking first readers are almost always unpaid interns, volunteers, or friends you can talk into sorting the submissions chaff from the diamonds. I admit with some degree of sadness that Apex is no different—the company has never been solvent enough to pay slush readers in anything other than experience, free books, and my undying gratitude. Back when Jenn joined our crew, we have 10 to 12 people fighting the slush.

Once in a while, a slush reader will stand out from the rest—just like how a great story that finds its way out of the submissions pile to the editor-in-chief. The stories I was receiving from one of my first readers consistently impressed me in terms of quality and style. This newbie, Jennifer Brozek, had obviously studied the type of work I liked to publish in Apex Magazine. I got to know Jenn better via email and Gchat and found her to be highly motivated, responsible, and career driven. She was (and still is) a strong, professional woman. I immediately liked her, and impressed by her skills, I asked if she would take on more responsibility for Apex. She said “Yes” and before long, Apex was benefitting immensely from Jenn’s presence on my editorial team.

A couple of years passed and our friendship grew. My professional estimation of Jenn also grew. I figured it was only a matter of time before she left to pursue the next, bigger steps in her career.

It came to be that Jenn and I would be in attendance at GenCon. She had asked for a private meeting with me. “Uh oh,” I thought. “Here it is. The big kiss off. The parting of the ways. The thanks for everything but I’m out of here.”

We had our meeting. I was braced to hug her and wish her well. Instead, she caught me completely off guard. She politely outlined all the ways she had helped Apex over the previous three years. I nodded in confused agreement. Finally, the shoe dropped.

“I want you to make me your senior editor.”

I was stunned into momentary silence. At first, I found such a bold request to be off-putting. But as my brain analyzed the situation, it became obvious that this wonderful, career-oriented, intelligent, and charming lady absolutely deserved to be my senior editor.

I accepted her offer. [Editor's note: I thought he was going to fire me for being so audacious.]

If you get a chance to read For Exposure, you’ll recognize that Apex has a knack of finding incredibly skilled young editors to be part of the company. Jenn is one of the best examples of this knack.

So here we are, several years later, and she has earned a much-deserved Hugo Award nomination. When I heard she was a nominee, I was filled with pride and happiness. The woman has worked her butt off for every one of her many successes.  She selfless and pays it forward to anyone who needs help. In an awards season filled with petty bitterness, endless debates of merit, and slate-based cheating, Jenn’s nomination is a bright spot. A nice person who is extremely talented made the final ballot, and that is good.

Thank you to Jenn Brozek for all that she’s done for Apex Publications and for giving me a guest spot on her blog. I only hope that she didn’t mind being exposed!


Jason Sizemore is the author of For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher. It is available now from Amazon, B&N, and Apex Publications. For more information about the author, visit his website at, or follow his Twitter feed @apexjason.


LepreCon Schedule 2015

by Jennifer Brozek 22. June 2015 20:14

This coming weekend, I am the gaming GoH at LepreCon. I'm looking forward to the convention. I've never been in Arizona before. Everyone promises me I'm going to be hot. I believe them. If you're at LepreCon, be sure to say hello and ask for my Convention Story Card.
Fri 10a-11a, Ventanas: Opening Ceremonies
Fri 3p-4p, Suite C: Meet Jennifer Brozek                                                
Fri 4p-5p, Suite E: Industry Talk: Tabletop vs. Video games                            
Fri 8p-9p, Suite C: Writing for Licensed Properties

Sat 10a-11a, Suite C: Help, I’m Stuck!
Sat 11a-1130a, Suite E: Autographing
Sat 8p-9p, Suite C: Freelance Illustrator: Making It
Sun 12p-4p, Goblin Table: Big Demons in Little China
Sun 6p-7p, Ventanas: Closing Ceremonies


Tell Me - C.A. Suleiman

by Jennifer Brozek 22. June 2015 08:31

I've not yet met C.A. Suleiman but I have met a lot of the contributors to THE LOST CITADEL, all of whom are worth reading. This is one reason why they decided to do a shared world anthology. One I can get behind.


"The city is called “Redoubt”... and so far as anyone knows, it is the last.

Seven decades ago, there were cities upon cities; kingdoms and nations, the remains of ancient empire. Cultures at war, cultures at trade. Races with varying degrees of alliance and distrust. Humans, elves, dwarves, and others; magic and monsters, rare but real. Regions of desolation, certainly, but also regions of plenty; forests, farmlands, and fields. And so it was for millennia, through two dynamic ages the lorekeepers and scribes called Ascensions.

Until the world ended. Most call it the Fall, but whatever term a given people choose to use, it marked the point where everything—everything—changed. Nations crumbled. Races died. Magic sputtered. Nature sickened.

The Dead woke."

The Lost Citadel is a shared-world horror fantasy edited and developed by yours truly, based on an idea I percolated with my longtime collaborator, fantasy and horror novelist Ari Marmell. The first project in the world of the Lost Citadel is an anthology of short stories called Tales of the Lost Citadel (now live on Kickstarter), featuring some of the most acclaimed voices in fantasy and horror fiction

The idea of the Lost Citadel is more ambitious in scope than a single collection of words. Both Ari and I grew up on, and were pretty strongly inspired by, the shared-world fantasy explorations of the late '80s, especially the setting of Thieves' World and its signature city, Sanctuary. That series was formative for more than a few fantasy writers, but Ari and I had what we feel is a 21st-century vision of the shared-world approach to world-building and narrative, and that's what really got us excited.

With this setting, we're trying to re-define the idea of what it means to “share” a fantasy world, to have different voices and talents come together to build, express, and explore a world with a particular set of themes and aesthetics. We're working with writers, yes, but also fine artists, musicians, graphic designers, cartographers, and more; anyone whose gifts might help flesh out and embolden the world of the Lost Citadel.

Like in all the best stories, the written word is just the beginning.

C.A. Suleiman has contributed scores of books to some of fandom's top properties, including Dungeons & Dragons and the World of Darkness. Along with being the developer of the award-winning Mummy line, he co-authored the flagship game Vampire: The Requiem and created the Egyptian-fantasy world of Hamunaptra (first published in boxed set form by Green Ronin Publishing). He’s especially proud to have shepherded development of the world’s first fantasy campaign setting – Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor – and to have worked alongside its storied creator until his passing in 2009. In addition to the books he’s written and developed, C.A. has written material for board games, hobby periodicals, and of course fiction. C.A. is a long-standing member of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design (GAMA), for which he has served for years and as jury foreman for the annual Origins Awards, and is a regular Guest of Honor at hobby and fandom conventions around the world, including a two-time diamond Guest of Honor at Dragon*Con and Fan Expo U.K.

C.A. lives in the Washington, D.C. area, where his band (Toll Carom) is busy toiling away at its latest concept album. Despite the many and varied protestations of his better judgment, he finds himself a regular contributor to the Facebook.



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Jennifer Brozek: Writerholic

Jennifer Brozek is a Hugo Award-nominated editor and an award-winning author. Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited fourteen 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 Melissa Allen series, she has more than sixty 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.