Jennifer Brozek | Wordslinger & Optimist! - Page 2

The Taxman Takes

by Jennifer Brozek 11. March 2014 13:03

I adore my tax accountant but, crap, I feel like I’ve been beaten with sticks today. The worst part of being a 1099 (tax form) freelancer is the taxes. You get dinged twice on some taxes and, in general, it is hard on small business owners. We’re paying in the neighborhood of upper four digits this year and I’m a little freaked out. We can cover it but, when I saw the number, my first thought was, “Holy shit! We could buy a car for that.”

I grew up poor. I got in debt out of school. I fought my way out of debt to become debt free. I talked about all of this, and how I got out of debt, in my book, The Little Finance Book That Could. Getting out of debt is emotional as much as financial. So, while I’m freaked out right now, I know it’s a normal emotional. I also know we can handle this. We’ve planned and saved. Not easy but we’ll be fine.

But still. Beaten with sticks.

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Bless Your Mechanical Heart Cover Art by Larry Dixon

by Jennifer Brozek 10. March 2014 09:57

Is this not awesome? Larry Dixon talks about the artwork here. BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART will be released in mid-April and will be available at Norwescon 37.

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TARDIS Little Free Library Build Details

by Jennifer Brozek 5. March 2014 10:54

I’ve recently received a number of requests asking for plans and details on how our TARDIS Little Free Library was built. We don’t have formal plans. The awesome Husband was awesome and figured it out on his own with trial and error.

However, I’ve managed to pin him down and make him tell me what he can about the TARDIS Little Free Library, its dimensions, and what he did to make it happen. This is what he told me.

===
Building the TARDIS

External:
-16" deep, 15.5" wide
-Height with roof support was 26.5" ( note, this is without the roof )
-The roof itself is 20" x 20" and has about a 4" rise from outside to center.
-The door height, so without supports, is 24"
-The width of the door is 13" ( which is also the width of the inside part of the sides and back, ie, width without the posts )

The walls, floor, shelf, and roof are all made with 1/2" plywood.

-I first cut the 2" x 2" squares, trimming corners of them out.
-The floor was cut of the plywood, straight sided square ( mostly ), and nailed / glued to the corner posts. Then the walls were cut to fit, fitting inside the pits of the posts that had been cut out, and glued / nailed together.

I used a table saw, wood glue, and a couple different nail guns to assemble it.

The roof was mostly trial and error, had a heck of a time getting it to fit right around the glass top that I had purchased at a garage sale.

The shelf was cut to fit the inside, and screwed in. You can't see the screws from the outside because the trim pieces used conceal them.

The door had weather stripping and silicon putty put on it to seal it against weather, and the door is made of plexiglass, with the trim pieces glues to themselves and the plexiglass. The plexiglass is just one big sheet on the inside of the trim pieces.
===

There you have it. Everything I know about the magic my husband did to build the TARDIS Little Free Library.

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Freelancer Summary February 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 3. March 2014 11:49

Ever wonder what a freelance author/editor does? Each month, I’m going to list my daily notes on what I do. As I always say, being your own boss means you choose with 70 hours of the week you work. None of this talks about the random pub IMs, time doing research, time reading books for blurbs, introductions, and reviews, or short author questions. “Answered pub industry email” can be anything from a request for an interview, to contract queries, to reading anthology invites, to answering questions about dates… and the list goes on.

 

February

 

2014.02.01

Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts. Weekly planning with the Shadow Minion. AIP Googlegroup post. Jennifer Brozek Googlegroup post. Wrote 250 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony.

 

 

Sunday

2014.02.02

Answered a questionnaire. Filled out information for a press release. Mapped out anthology invites.

2014.02.03

Answered pub industry email. Tell Me blog post. Wrote Introduction to BYMH. Wrote 1177 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Blog post. Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts.

2014.02.04

Answered pub industry email. Proofed an RPG supplement. Wrote 1108 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony.

2014.02.05

Answered pub industry email. Proofed 3 new essays for CDG anthology. Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts. Wrote 1482 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony.

2014.02.06

Final edit polish on BLESS YOU MECHANICAL HEART full manuscript and turned in. Wrote 1630 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts.

2014.02.07

Answered pub industry email. Approved cover art. Wrote 1370 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Signed 200 signature sheets for a book. Applied to become a Gen Con Industry Insider.

2014.02.08

Answered pub industry email. Outlined the rest of Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Wrote 102 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony.

 

 

Sunday

2014.02.09

Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1700 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Read AIP submissions.

2014.02.10

Answered pub industry email. Tell Me blog post. Wrote 1650 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts. Answered an interview.

2014.02.11

Answered pub industry email. Approved cover art. Wrote 1800 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Rough draft of Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony done! Read AIP submissions.

2014.02.12

Answered pub industry email. Paid all of my BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART payments. Sent out the 2nd wave of SHATTERED SHIELD payments. Edited 16 pages of KEYSTONES. Scheduled out the AIP 2014 book release schedule.

2014.02.13

Answered pub industry email. Final polish and turned in Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony, complete at 20,350 words. Consulted on cover art. Read AIP submissions.

2014.02.14

Edited and revised 3 chapters of KEYSTONES.

2014.02.15

Answered pub industry email. Edited and revised 3 chapters of KEYSTONES.

 

 

Sunday

2014.02.16

Edited and revised 3 chapters of KEYSTONES.

2014.02.17

Answered pub industry email. Poked a publisher about a contract update. Edited and revised 4 chapters of KEYSTONES. Read AIP submissions.

2014.02.18

Answered pub industry email. Blog post. Writing list for Rainforest Writers Retreat. Invoiced a client. Read AIP submissions.

2014.02.19

Rainforest Writers Retreat. Answered pub industry email. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts—got the last contract back in. Wrote 600 words on Valdemar story.

2014.02.20

Rainforest Writers Retreat. Wrote 3400 words on Valdemar story. Rough draft done. Outlined 3 Salton Academy novelettes for Outbreak: Undead.

2014.02.21

Rainforest Writers Retreat. Wrote 4500 words on Salton Academy novelette 1.

2014.02.22

Rainforest Writers Retreat. Wrote 4030 words on Salton Academy novelette 1.

 

 

Sunday

2014.02.23

Rainforest Writers Retreat. Wrote 4060 words on Salton Academy novelette 1.

2014.02.24

Answered pub industry email. Tell Me blog post. Polish edit 3 chapters of KEYSTONES. Final edit of Valdemar story and turned it in. Edited 47 pages of Sheynan novel #1. Read AIP submissions.

2014.02.25

Answered pub industry email. Blog post. Polish edit 3 chapters of KEYSTONES. Wrote 500 words on Salton Academy novelette 1. Phone call with publisher. Edited 21 pages of Sheynan novel #1.

2014.02.26

Answered pub industry email. Blog post. Polish edit 3 chapters of KEYSTONES. Edited 54 pages of Sheynan novel #1.

2014.02.27

Answered pub industry email. Proofed an anthology story. Polish edit 4 chapters of KEYSTONES. Edited 52 pages of Sheynan novel #1.

2014.02.28

Entered in all of the polish edits of KEYSTONES and turned in the novel manuscript. Fought with my down website for hours. Edited 33 pages of Sheynan novel #1.

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Bubble and Squeek for 25 Feb 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 25. February 2014 16:45

I was gone for five days at the Rainforest Village Writers Retreat. This is my vacation for the year. I go to a beautiful place to write, or not write, to walk, and to have a few days of being with a bunch of other writer types. It is a lovely time. I had planned to only write one short story and to outline three novelettes for a new project.

What actually happened was that I wrote that one short story, outlined the three novelettes, and wrote the first novelette to the tune of 16,590 words. This is a personal Rainforest best. In truth, I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been thinking about both of these projects for months, mentally writing them in my head. Once I sat down to do them, the words just flowed and flowed and flowed. It was a nice feeling.

Now, the links:

Review: I received a new review for The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting. It’s really nice review and I’m pleased.

Review: Today, I received a German Amazon review (in English) for The Nellus Academy Incident. Another nice review that broke things down a bit.

Pre-Order: The Lost Colony for Colonial Gothic by Rogue games. This one is the Lost Colony of Popham with Lovecraftian overtones.

Kickstarter: Saving Throw – Table Top meets Mythbusters. How could I not back it. Love the idea of this.

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Tell Me - M Todd Gallowglas

by Jennifer Brozek 24. February 2014 11:48

I read Todd’s first Dead Weight novella and found it really interesting. I even blurbed it. I think you’ll like it, too.

"DEAD WEIGHT: The Tombs by M. Todd Gallowglas is a fast-paced, non-linear novella that keeps the pages turning. Gallowglas effortlessly intermixes apocalyptic urban fantasy with noir elements and surprisingly believable characters. Can't wait to see what comes next." - Jennifer Brozek, The Nellus Academy Incident

---

First, thanks for Jennifer for letting me post. The whole DEAD WEIGHT blog tour came from her asking me to post a “Tell Me” about the project. To see my other stops along the way, head over to http://www.mtoddgallowglas.com/2014/02/10/dead-weight-blog-tour/. I’ve had some pretty interesting things to say about DEAD WEIGHT already.

DEAD WEIGHT is my serialized, near-future, urban-fantasy, noirish, war-thriller with a dash of post-apocalyptic. I’ve talked about the inspiration coming from Tim O’Brien’s short story, “The Things they Carried.” Here are two quotes that helped shape the story from its first draft to what it is today:

“The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness.”

“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”


I’d originally intended the central plot to focus on a squad of Marines during the Faerie War. When started the first draft, I slammed into the first person point of view of a writer assigned to those Marines. His job was to chronicle the Marines’ story while they were in Faerie, and to carry back the memory of those who died, lest they be forgotten in our world forever. The story chose this character right from the second or third sentence from the first draft.

As the story grew, I later realized that, while the story was still about the war between the US and the Unseelie Court of Faerie, the true soldiers weren’t from the armed forces. This wasn’t that kind of war. The true soldiers were the artists who pass down our heritage, not only from our cultural backgrounds but also the culture we form with our family and friends.

The original draft of DEAD WEIGHT started from the question, “What would a group of Marines carry with them on a mission to Faerie?” Now the questions are: “What role would storytellers play in a war against a people who need stories for their existence?” “Would we be able to re-think the way we waged war fast enough to make a difference?” and “Why do we pass some stories on and keep others secret?” Stories carry weight, and the stories we don’t tell weigh on us even more than the stories we do tell, and the stories that people share with us share, and expect us not to share with others, tend to weigh heaviest of all.

We communicate mostly through stories. When we tell our spouse about our day, we tell a story. When we talk about that awesome thing we did playing our favorite sport last weekend, we tell a story. When we sit around a table share memories of our friends and family who have passed on, we tell stories. Everything we know, we know because we share it stories. Now, not ever story is spoken. We can tell stories in paint, in crayon, in dance, in photography, in film, in music (Peter and the Wolf anyone?) DEAD WEIGHT is about stories in a war where stories are the greatest weapons. Which stories do share, when do we share them, and which are so terrible we should keep them secret.

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Find out more about M Todd Gallowglas, his books, and to read some of his rants, head over to his official website: www.mtoddgallowglas.com

 

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Top 5 Tips for At-Home Authors

by Jennifer Brozek 18. February 2014 14:44

One of the things that people tell me when they quit their day job to write (or shift to working at home) is that they spin their wheels and they don’t seem to do enough (or anything) done. They’ve had a structured day job for so long that they don’t know how to structure themselves. This happens to remote workers, to full-time freelancers, and to people who temporarily stuck at home for whatever reason.

1. Dress for Work.

You are working even if you can do it in your underwear. Until you have come to a workable system, I recommend getting “dressed for work” every workday. This doesn’t mean a suit and tie unless you need to have a Skype meeting with someone who expects you in a suit and tie. It does mean getting up, putting on (relatively) clean clothes, and grooming yourself. It does mean getting out of the kind of clothes you like to relax in. Dressing for work (even if is comfortable) puts you in the correct mindset to sit down and work.

2. Daily Schedules.

I keep a number of schedules to keep me on track. The most important is the Daily Schedule. What do you have planned for every single day this week? What is a priority? What can slip? What has an immediate due date? What is a huge project that you have to get a little done each day to succeed? Daily schedules allow you to be productive and to feel productive. They also get you back on track when you come back from playing with the cat or come back from a doctor’s appointment. It tells you what you need to get done. It also tells you how much you can get done on an average week. And once you’re done with your daily task list, you can walk away and go do whatever.

3. Monthly and Yearly Goals.

The only way you can get Daily Schedules written is if you know what you want to accomplish that month. Monthly Schedules are created out of Yearly Goals. Yearly Goals gives you a starting point to break down into Monthly Schedules. These are living documents. As new projects are added, you need to adjust your Monthly Schedule. I keep a running 6-9 month Monthly Schedule with due dates. My Daily Schedule comes out of the Monthly Schedule I’m in. I always know what is due went and who it is due to. This way, you won’t over schedule yourself

4. Get a Timer.

There will be times where you just don’t wanna. Don’t wanna write or edit or do anything you need to do. I have a 15 minute, a 30 minute, a 45 minute, and a 60 minute timer. Depending on what project needs doing, I set my timer and focus on just that one project for the amount of time I’ve bargained with myself. “All I have to do is 30 minutes. Anything else is extra.” Usually, I will do my set time and then continue on. I’ve gotten over the hump of “Don’t wanna.” and can get on with the rest of my day.

Conversely, I will give myself recess. 30 minutes to read. 60 minutes to crochet. 45 minutes to go walking. The timer allows me to set an amount of time to play hooky. But when that timer bings, I know I need to get back to work.

5. Isolate Yourself.

Sometimes, your biggest problem is all the shiny things around you. You  need to shut your door, close the curtains, and turn off all your chat programs. Sometimes, all you really need to is hunker down and get to work. A lot of times, this works best in conjunction with a timer. Put away all (or most of) the distractions and work.

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Tell Me - John Passarella

by Jennifer Brozek 17. February 2014 09:54

As a media tie-in author, I’m always interested in what other tie-in authors go through. When I heard that John had a new GRIMM novel out, I just had to know more. GRIMM is a favorite show of mine. John and I talked and this is what he had to tell me about his experience writing tie-in novels.

--
WRITING LIFE IN THE FAST LANE: MEDIA TIE-IN NOVELS


GRIMM: THE CHOPPING BLOCK is my sixth original media tie-in novel, and eleventh novel overall. I was offered the opportunity to write a Grimm tie-in by one of my several editors at Titan Books. I’ve worked with Titan before, on two Supernatural tie-in novels, Night Terror and Rite of Passage, so the folks there are familiar with my work. With regard to tie-in novels, I’ve been fortunate in a couple ways. Five of the six tie-in novels I’ve written have been the result of editor requests. Only my first tie-in, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ghoul Trouble was the result of my pursuing the work. I was a big fan of the show, and one of the reviews of my first (co-authored) novel, Wither, compared the book favorably to the TV show: “hits the groove that makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer such a kick.” Armed with that quote and my love of the Buffy show, I contacted the editor at Simon & Schuster and eventually landed that gig.

Later, my Buffy editor suggested I submit a proposal for an Angel novel. Then, the next Angel tie-in editor sought me out for an open spot, leaving a message on my home phone. And my first Supernatural novel resulted from the editor at Titan finding my website and noting my experience with supernatural thrillers and previous tie-ins.

The other way in which I’ve been fortunate is that I’ve been a big fan of the shows for which editors have offered me tie-in work. Why is that important? Simply because it allows me to proceed with the dedication of a professional writer and the enthusiasm of a fan. So, I’m working—but also having fun playing in these various universes.

These types of writing jobs are fast-paced from start to finish, so it’s definitely a springboard if you already know the show, its setting, history, tone and characters. The alternative is to go in blind, maybe binge-watch and hope you catch on to how the show works and, more importantly, enjoy what you are watching. Because of the hectic proposal and writing schedule, I find it helps me through the process to ride my affection for the show all the way to becoming a participant in the show’s universe and its collection of stories.

To give you an idea of the pace of this kind of writing assignment—and in all six of my personal tie-in experiences, the pace has been surprising similar—I’ll walk you through my Titan Books proposal timelines. I have about a week to come up with four or five three-line pitches. Mentally, I have to adjust from being a show viewer, to someone who needs to think of ideas for stories in the show’s universe. Usually under some constraints: set in a specific place in the show’s continuity, with some characters or situations off-limits. Once I submit my pitches, I wait and hope at least one will get approved by the licensor. (Fortunately, I’ve always had at least one approved.)

Next is the complete outline, start to finish, of a specified number of pages. I will often write a longer outline for my own writing benefit, then trim for submission. Witten in about a week, then I wait and see if I need to revise. Once the outline is approved, I usually have about 60 days to write an 80,000 word novel. I say 60 days, but actually it’s less. I need a week to ten days to both set aside the draft manuscript to gain fresh perspective, then come back to it, to clean up typos, tighten the prose, etc. I break he word count required down to a daily word quota, then try to write over that, every single day, without taking a single day off, because if I skip a day, the next day’s quota is now doubled. Two days off? The next day’s word quota is tripled! Otherwise I’d fall too far behind and possibly miss my deadline. And that would be unprofessional. For GRIMM: THE CHOPPING BLOCK, I wrote every day while away on my only week of vacation for the year. Having that complete, detailed outline in hand is how I get through the fevered pace of writing. On a 60-day schedule, there’s no time for writer’s block!

After I submit my “first” draft, I wait for revision notes. Usually I have a couple weeks for the revision. The most relaxing period is between revision acceptance and publication day. Long, peaceful months—until the next tie-in opportunity presents itself!

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John Passarella (www.passarella.com) won the Horror Writers Association’s prestigious Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel for the coauthored Wither. Columbia Pictures purchased the feature film rights to Wither in a prepublication, preemptive bid. John’s other novels include Wither’s Rain, Wither’s Legacy, Kindred Spirit, Shimmer and the original media tie-in novels Supernatural: Night Terror, Supernatural: Rite of Passage, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ghoul Trouble, Angel: Avatar, and Angel: Monolith. In January 2012, he released his first fiction collection, Exit Strategy & Others. Grimm: The Chopping Block is his eleventh novel.

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Tell Me - Peter Clines

by Jennifer Brozek 10. February 2014 10:05

I haven’t met Peter yet, but I have read his work. It’s good stuff. Also, contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate him. :)

--

I almost didn’t write Ex-Purgatory.

Well, that’s a little bit of a lie.  I was going to write a fourth book in the Ex-Heroes series one way or another.  Contractual obligations and all that, plus I just wanted to do more with the characters.  But it almost wasn’t the story that just got released.

Y’see, I’d had this idea bouncing in my head for a while.  One of those ideas that feels like a great springboard.  What if someone told you that you were supposed to be a superhero?  That you were super-strong and bulletproof and could fly?  How would you react?  How would they react to your reaction?

But here’s the catch, and it’s what had me going back and forth on Ex-Purgatory.  This premise becomes two very different stories depending on if we know the characters or not.  Consider this...

If someone walks up to everyman Bob Jones and says “you’re a superhero,” it could mean anything.  We have no idea who Bob is, so maybe he is a hero.  Maybe he isn’t.  Maybe the speaker is kind of delusional, or they could be the only sane person in the story.  And this was really the story I’d been musing on.

But if I walk up to Clark Kent and tell him he’s supposed to be a superhero... well, this puts things in a different light.  We all know who Clark is when he’s not working at the Daily Planet, and that makes this a very different story.  Does he have amnesia?  Is he in hiding?  Is this some alternate world where he never came up with his “Superman” identity?  What’s going on here?  Because, y’know... it’s Clark Kent.  He is a superhero, and we all know it.

In one case, this is a “what if” story.  In the other, it’s a “why” or maybe “how” story.  It’s the kind of subtle shift that could be a real stumbling block if the writer doesn’t identify it.  And I realized if I used this idea with the Ex-Heroes characters, it was going to be the latter version of the story and would have to be handled accordingly.

So, did I want to burn my premise on a different kind of story than the one I’d been thinking of for the past year or so?  It’s not like I’d be able to write another possible-superheroes-who-don’t-remember story.  Well, not without really confirming what a hack I was...

In the end, I decided to go for it.  While part of my brain was debating, another part realized I could weave in another thread I’d left dangling, plus I thought of one or two funny bits I really wanted to write.  And I was on a deadline for that contract.  And the story shaped up to be something I thought was pretty fun.  And it looks like a lot of other people have thought it was fun, too.

Still, though...  

I wonder what that other story would’ve been like.

--
Peter Clines is the author of the genre-blending -14- and the Ex-Heroes series.  He grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine, made his first writing sale at age seventeen to a local newspaper, and at the age of nineteen he completed his quadruple-PhD studies in English literature, archaeology, quantum physics, and interpretive dance.  He was the inspiration for both the epic poem Beowulf and the motion picture Raiders of the Lost Ark, and is single-handedly responsible for repelling the Martian Invasion of 1938 that occurred in Grovers Mills, New Jersey. He is the writer of countless film articles, The Junkie Quatrain, the rarely-read The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe, the poorly-named website Writer on Writing, and an as-yet-undiscovered Dead Sea Scroll.  He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California. There is compelling evidence that he is, in fact, the Lindbergh baby.


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Bubble and Squeek for 4 Feb 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 4. February 2014 11:23

Review: MilScFi.com gives my YA Battletech novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, 9 out of 10.

Review: Bitten By Books gives my anthology Dangers Untold 4 out of 5 tombstones.

Award: Diehard GameFAN gave the Shadowrun Returns anthology "Best Tabletop Based Fiction" award. I have the opening story in this anthology.

Interview: Reading Recommendations interviewed me and asked me what I recommend reading.

TOC Reveal: Evil Girlfriend Media posted who is in our newest SF anthology, Bless Your Mechanical Heart.

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Jennifer Brozek: Writerholic

Jennifer Brozek is an award winning editor, game designer, and author.

 Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited ten anthologies with more on the way. Author of In a Gilded Light, The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting, Industry Talk, and the Karen Wilson Chronicles, she has more than fifty published short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions.

 Jennifer also is a freelance author for numerous RPG companies. Winner of both the Origins and the ENnie award, her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity, Savage Worlds, and White Wolf SAS. Jennifer is also the author of the YA Battletech novel, The Nellus Academy Incident.

  When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. Jennifer is an active member of SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW.

 

Latest Releases


Keystones

Book Three of the Karen Wilson Chronicles,
More InformationBuy Now.


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


Children of Anu

Book Two of the Karen Wilson Chronicles,
More InformationBuy Now.