Jennifer Brozek | Wordslinger & Optimist! - Page 2

Remembering Jay

by Jennifer Brozek 1. June 2014 10:57

I do not want to read this on I do not want to write this about Jay. I don’t. I really don’t. But I have no choice. Jay is dead.

He wrote for me. My first anthology, Grants Pass, when I was nothing and no one. He wrote for me every single time I asked him to. For the Edge of Propinquity. For small press anthologies and large.

He was my mentor for years before I published his non-fiction book, Jay Lake’s Process of Writing. We talked by phone, by Skype, and at conventions. He was generous with his time and his advice. It was this wealth of knowledge that led me to ask him if AIP could publish a non-fiction book. It was then I learned so much more from him.

I can’t help but feel for his family, Bronwyn, Lisa, and the rest of those family members—by choice and blood—whose  names I just can’t remember though the tears.

All I can remember is how good he was to me and how much I’m going to miss him.

Radcon 2009 - Not the first time I met him in person but close to.

JayWake 2013


Bubble and Squeek for 27 May 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 27. May 2014 14:38

RELEASE: The Future Embodied anthology has been released. It has my short story, "The Bathory Clinic Deal," in it.

REVIEW: Coins of Chaos anthology reviewed by Russ Thompson of Hellnotes. He liked it!

REVIEW: Bless Your Mechanical Heart anthology reviewed by John Edward Betancourt on Girls of Geek. He liked it!

INTERVIEW: I participated in an SF SIGNAL MIND MELD with a bunch of The Future Embodied anthology authors.

FACTOID: Just figured out how much new writing I've done so far this year: 5 short stories, 3 novelettes, 70,250. Not bad. 3 of those short stories have already been bought. Not bad for the first 6 months of the year.


Tell Me - Ken Scholes

by Jennifer Brozek 26. May 2014 09:50

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Ken for years. He is a gregarious and generous man as well as a spectacular and lyrical author. He talks about how he was inspired by Jay Lake to write the latest in the METAtropolis series.


METAtropolis:  The Wings We Dare Aspire by Jay Lake and Ken Scholes, Wordfire Press.


Back in 2010, Jay took on the editing role for Audible’s award-winning METAtropolis series, a “near-future” SF audio anthology featuring a diverse range of authors all lending their talent to a shared world.  Jay had appeared in the first volume, edited by John Scalzi, and in his novella, “In the Forests of the Night,” he introduced the characters of Tygre, Tygre and Bashar.  When Jay took over editing METAtropolis:  Cascadia he offered me the opportunity to play along and I jumped at the opportunity.


I read the first anthology and, as often happens with Jay, I instantly sparked a story.  What if Bashar took what he’d learned from Tygre, Tyre and wrote a book about it – a kind of Saul of Tarsus to Tygre Tygre’s unusual Jesus – and what if the plot that Jay started unpacking in his tale was suddenly expanding?  I told him my idea and we decided that we would link our stories for Cascadia.  I wrote “A Symmetry of Serpents and Doves” and then Jay took my story and wove his own around it in “The Bull Dancers.”  That volume went on to win the Audie award thanks to the amazing writers and the amazing voice talent that Audible brought together. 


Of course, that set the stage for METAtropolis:  Green Space and because of Jay’s failing health in his years-long fight with cancer, I was brought in to co-edit with him.  This time around, we decided to continue the story of Bashar and Charity Oxham and to connect our stories even more tightly.  Jay wrote “Rock of Ages” and set us up, then I ran us across the goal line with “Let Me Hide Myself in Thee.”  Both stories stand alone but work much better as a set.


Meanwhile, while we were drafting our stories for Green Space, I had breakfast with Kevin J. Anderson at Norwescon.  Jay and I had met Kevin as a result of our Writers of the Future wins and he shared with me that he and his wife, Rebecca Moesta, had launched Wordfire Press, an author-friendly publishing company that hit the ground with a solid catalog of well-known writers in the genre.  Kevin and I talked about doing something together one day down the road.


Ideally, we had hoped a publisher would pick up the entire anthology, putting all of the stories from volume two and three into print, but no markets bit and we all collectively decided we would pursue publishing our individual stories on our own.  But…in looking at the five tales Jay and I had crafted, it was readily apparent that we had something that stood up fairly well as a shared collection of stories telling one overall story.  Jay and I talked about it and decided to approach Kevin.  Kevin was excited about the project and once he took it on, brought in artist Jeff Sturgeon to create a cover that captured the Pacific Northwest flavor of the book.  And so METAtropolis:  The Wings We Dare Aspire was born.


This is an especially meaningful project for me.  Jay has been one of my closest friends for over a decade now and as his fight with cancer winds down, I’ve wanted every opportunity I can get to work with my friend and to support his career.  This book, coming out now in the last few months of Jay’s life, is a tangible marker of that friendship and a great example of what has happened whenever our muses (Fred for him, Leroy for me) come out to play.  These our paper children, born from a love of story and the bonds of our brotherhood.  I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy today.



Ken Scholes is the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of over forty short stories and four novels with work appearing both in the US and abroad.


Summer Snow

by Jennifer Brozek 16. May 2014 23:03

I was out to lunch with a friend of mine recently and we got to talking about how bad the dogwood was this time of year. I told him the story of the first time I’d seen dogwood.

There I was, walking down a Microsoft hallway that had a window at the end and I swore it looked like it was snow—heavily. I couldn’t believe it. I stopped at the window and watched. It overlooked a protected courtyard and the grass was white beneath me. I didn’t know what I was looking at and all I could think of was snow.

No one else was reacting to this at all.

My first thought, “Am I crazy? Am I the only one who is seeing this?”

Then I realized it was snow but something like industrial strength dandelion fluff. My second thought, and I kid you not, was, “Are we being invaded?” It’s because I had just seen a Darkside episode that involved invasion by sex and pollenization. Strange episode but it stuck with me.

Still, no one was reacting to this phenomena. So I went back to my first thought. “Am I crazy?”

So, I didn’t ask anyone. I was still not sure what was up. I waited until I got home and asked my roommate. I figured he wouldn’t think I was any stranger than I already was. “So… what’s with the white stuff?”

“The dogwood? Yeah, it gets bad. It’s going to get worse.”

I’m glad he told me. It was a lot worse the next day.

My friend laughed his butt off at me and my “Are we being invaded?” thought. Told me that it fit with who I am. I’m not sure if he was talking about Apocalypse Girl or the writer side of me. I suppose he could’ve meant both.


Blog Hop

by Jennifer Brozek 6. May 2014 15:32

I was tagged by Steven Savage for this blog hop with these questions:

1. What am I working on?
2. How does it differ from others of its genre?
3. Why do I write what I do?
4. How does my writing process work?

What am I working on?
I work on several projects at a time and which gets preference is based on which deadline is soonest in conjunction to the amount of words due. Usually have a number of editing gigs going on at the same time as my writing gigs. Currently, as an author, I am working on the following:

Unnamed short story - due at the end of the month for an invitation-only anthology. It is urban fantasy.

The Last Days of the Salton Academy 3: Plan for Success - the third in a trilogy of novelettes. This is a near future, post apocalyptic zombie tales. Due in June.

Chimera Incarnate - Book four of the Karen Wilson Chronicles. Urban fantasy due at the end of the year.

How does it differ from others of its genre?
Unnamed short story - I don't know if it does. I just know it is relevant to today and I haven't read a story like it yet.

Salton Academy - I don't particularly like zombies and I think the genre is getting stale. For the most part, I'm not writing about the zombies. I'm writing about the survivors and how they handle the stress of the apocalypse. I thought it would be interesting to set the story in a boarding school in-between quarters.

Chimera Incarnate - This is the last in the urban fantasy series and, really, it is classic urban fantasy: a hidden supernatural world set next to our reality. I'm not trying to stretch the genre. I'm writing within it. Only the details differ.

Why do I write what I do?
I write the stories I do because it is what I like to read. I have stories to tell—to myself, to my fans, to anyone who wants to read them. I would write whether or not I was getting paid for it. I really do live to write and write to live. It is my passion.

How Does My Writing Process Work?
Once I have an idea, I let it sit for a week or so. Ideas are easy. Writing/execution is hard. If the idea is still shiny in a week, then I work on it.

First, I outline. My idea of outlining is deciding if it has a 3 or 5 act structure and then bullet pointing the main thing per act. That's it for a short story. For a long work, I break each act out into 3 or 5 scenes and bullet point the main thought per scene. That's it. I know where I start, where I believe I'm going, and where I will end up.

Then I write. Write. Write. Write. Splat it to the page. Get the whole of it down. Never mind the mistakes. I don't look back until it's complete. Unless I figure out a giant plot hole as I'm going. Then I stop. Re-outline to fix the hole. Then I write again.

After it is complete, I give it a single edit pass to smooth out the edges.

Once I'm satisfied, I put it away to stew and work on something else. If it's a short story, a week. If it's longer, a couple of weeks.

After stewing, I take it out and look at it with fresh eyes and fix everything I couldn't see before. When I'm not ashamed of it, I send it to my 1st round readers. That gives me more time and distance and people outside my head a chance to tell me where I messed up.

Then I fix those mistakes. I polish the manuscript. I read it out loud away from wherever I wrote it.

When I'm finally happy with it, I send it to my editor and pray they like it, too.

After chatting with them, I am tagging: Lucy Snyder, Nate Crowder, Minerva Zimmerman, and M Todd Gallowglas.


Freelancer Summary April 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 2. May 2014 09:21

Ever wonder what a freelance author/editor does? Each month of 2014, 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. It doesn’t cover my pays-the-bills work either. This is just publishing industry stuff. “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.




Answered pub industry email. Tell Me blog post. Wrote 1000 words on Salton Academy 2. Updated AIP website.


Answered pub industry email. Googlegroup posts. Wrote 2200 words on Salton Academy 2. Updated personal website.


Answered pub industry email. Wrote 2200 words on Salton Academy 2.


Answered pub industry email. Wrote 2100 words on Salton Academy 2, finishing the first draft at 14,100 words.


Answered pub industry email. Polish edited Salton Academy 2, added 150 words, and sent it to alpha reader. Re-outlined Salton Academy 3.





Answered pub industry email. Updated personal website.


Answered pub industry email. Tell Me blog post. Editorial read of Famished: The Commons, Chapter 1. Sent in playtest feedback on a game in development.


Answered pub industry email. Final proof of “Janera” for Athena’s Daughters I. Posted AIP blog post. Editorial read of 3 chapters for Famished: The Commons.


Answered pub industry email. Editorial read of 9 chapters for Famished: The Commons.


Answered pub industry email. Editorial read of 7 chapters for Famished: The Commons and emailed notes to the author. Contract negotiations for an RPG gig.


Answered pub industry email. Signed the contract for the RPG gig. Editorial read of 9 chapters for Exile novella. Updated my deadlines calendar for the next 6 months.


Answered pub industry email. Editorial read of 8 chapters for Exile novella and emailed notes to the author.





Went to Norwescon Stuffing Party to put AIP bookmarks in the swag bags. AIP blog post. Personal blog post.


Answered pub industry email. A whole lot of Norwescon prep. Signed short story contract. Created my convention autograph card. AIP blog post.


Answered pub industry email. AIP blog post. Personal blog post. Packed for Norwescon. Updated AIP website sidebar. AIP googlegroup post about book releases.


Norwescon. 1700 words on Salton Academy 3.


Norwescon. AIP Booth. Panels. Answered pub industry email. Meeting with EGM.


Norwescon. AIP Booth. Panels. BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART and KEYSTONES release party.


Norwescon. AIP Booth. Answered pub industry email. Meeting with Vorpol Games.





Norwescon. AIP Booth. Home. Keel over.


Answered pub industry email. So much email. Posted a new “Tell Me” guest blog. Outlined Red Aegis RPG assignment.


Answered pub industry email. Posted a blog post. 300 words on Salton Academy 3.


Answered pub industry email. Signed gig contract. Norwescon follow-up activites.


Answered pub industry email. Answered an SF Signal mind meld. Read Red Aegis updates. 160 words on Red Aegis assignment.


Answered pub industry email. 200 words on Red Aegis assignment.


Answered pub industry email. Had to remind the internet not to send me unsolicited novels to my personal email account.





Answered pub industry email. Playtested Red Aegis. Re-outlined Red Aegis assignment.


Answered pub industry email. Posted Tell Me post. 1400 words on Red Aegis assignment. Edited 50 pages of Gaming anthology.


Answered pub industry email. Posted convention blog post. 1500 words on Red Aegis assignment. Edited 52 pages of Gaming anthology.


Answered pub industry email. 800 words on Red Aegis assignment. Edited 55 pages of Gaming anthology. Created the convention card for VikingCon.


A Confusion of Conventions

by Jennifer Brozek 29. April 2014 10:22

I’m recovered from Norwescon. It was one heck of a convention. We had very good sales and I really like the new Dealers Room coordinator. She was on-the-ball. My panels went well. Full rooms for most of them. The BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART / KEYSTONES release party was insane. It was standing room only from the doors open until they kicked people out at 1am. I was very happy about that. The Horror Track was very well received.

I have to tell you, though, I was bone deep weary by the end of it. Slept 12 hours Sunday night.

Next up, I have a one-day convention, VikingCon in Bellingham, WA, on May 3. I will be on one panel and will have a dealers table there from 1-5pm. I will be giving out convention cards there. So, if you go to VikingCon, be sure to ask for one.

Then, thanks to the sponsorship of a writer friend, I have a ride and one day badge to World Horror Con in Portland. I will be there on May 10th. No panels. I’ll be wandering around, checking out the dealers room, barcon, and I’ve been offered a banquet ticket for the Bram Stokers Awards. I believe I will attend that as well. If you want to meet up, let me know. I think I’ll have convention cards there, too.

My next convention after that is Origins Game Fair. I’m not going to worry about it until I’m back from World Horror Con.


Tell Me - Friday Elliot

by Jennifer Brozek 28. April 2014 09:05

I met Friday at Norweson this year and found her to be delightful. Her geeky themes teas were a welcome addition to the dealers room and I enjoyed what I tasted. When I found out she had a kickstarter (5 days left and less than $2000 to go), I knew I had to have her tell me something about how she creates her tea blends. And, frankly, the idea of Friday creating a set of teas based on some of my books is really cool. Maybe. Someday.


My interaction with the world is hugely based on flavor. I have a sensory integration condition known as Lexical-Gustatory Synesthesia. Translation: my brain applies flavor profiles to abstract concepts. I've managed to find a strange little niche market, selling geeky tea blends to awesome nerds.

It all started with a friend's Dark Alice-themed tea party, for which she requested some custom blends based on Lewis Carroll's work. I didn't even have to think about it. Carroll's characters have been so richly entrenched in my mind since childhood, they already had strong flavors to them. Thus, the Queen of Hearts and Wonderland blends were born.

Since that first Alice tea party a few years ago, I've almost exclusively been blending themed teas. I now have customers from all walks of nerd-dom commissioning custom blends based on their LARP characters, their favorite characters from various fandoms, their favorite music, etc.

If you want a more in-depth description of my blending process, please read a blog post I wrote about it a bajillion years ago here:

My tiny tea company has thrived and grown in the last few years as I've been working the convention circuit, selling to sci-fi and fantasy fans, steampunkers and gamers of all sorts. My nerd teas are now carried at several gaming cafes and bars, and I'm on the cusp of expanding my entire operation!

I've recently launched a Kickstarter project, now in its last week, to raise funds for my company to level up. Specifically, we're planning to revamp our entire website (it won't just be a crappy template-built site anymore! Huzzah!), get new labels, new packaging, lots of great stuff all around. Pledge levels run from $1-$850+, and rewards are anywhere from a thank you note to co-designing a full collection of teas with me!

We're rocking right along, and it's looking like we'll at least meet our goal. I'm hoping we get to some of the stretch goals, because they're just too fun! We have a collection of blends inspired by My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a collection inspired by Sailor Moon, and the possibility of a collection based on a community vote!

So hey, if you like nerd tea, weird brain science, small businesses and nice people, check it out.


Bubble and Squeek for 22 Apr 2014

by Jennifer Brozek 22. April 2014 15:36

Article: Not written by me but worth a read: Ten Commandments of Social Media.

Article: Not written by me but worth a read: What do Editors do?

Award Nomination: My Shadowrun short story, “Locks and Keys,” from the Shadowrun Returns anthology has been nominated in the Best Short Story category for the Scribe Awards! Woo-Hoo!

Sale: I’ve sold my short story collection, Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, to Evil Girlfriend Media. I’m quite pleased with this.

Convention: I’m just back from Norwescon. As usual, I’m doing my list of ten. Seven of these are true.
1. I may or may not have met a person legally named Peter Pan.
2. I may or may not have had a panic attack at the Bless Your Mechanical Heart release party.
3. I may or may not have been randomly offered a condom.
4. I may or may not have signed so many books my arm hurt.
5. I may or may not have gotten a hangover.
6. I may or may not have plotted mayhem with Seanan McGuire.
7. I may or may not have convinced an artist to sell me a painting that was not for sale.
8. I may or may not have gone to bed by midnight each night of the convention.
9. I may or may not have been mistaken for someone else.
10. I may or may not have plotted murder at a Vorpal Games meeting.

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Tell Me - Erik Scott de Bie

by Jennifer Brozek 21. April 2014 10:54

When I told Erik Scott de Bie to "Tell Me about Shadow of the Winter King" I meant it in all senses. I didn't know a thing about the book but I did know Erik. He's a great author whom I've published and shared a TOC with. We're even working on an RPG project togther. Now, Erik talks about why persistence is one of the keys to writing.


SHADOW OF THE WINTER KING, my latest fantasy novel coming out this week, is the culmination of a long quest that started when I first picked up a pen professionally.

In 2003, before I even submitted the novel proposal that would eventually become my first novel GHOSTWALKER, I wrote a novella about a character named “Tear”: a retired assassin on the run from a very bloody past. That particular writing exercise never went anywhere itself, but the character stuck in my mind. I wanted to capture that particular perspective—to provide a character that was both a deadly warrior and a broken man, torn by regret and longing for a life lost to him.

In 2004, writing for the Forgotten Realms setting, I crafted a character called Arya Venkyr: a canny, capable knight who faced impossible odds without flinching. That book was a stand alone, but again, I never forgot the character or her uncompromising sense of duty. Not Arya herself, exactly, but a character like her: passionate, determined, and unwavering. And having just read Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart, I absolutely wanted to instill some of that same erotic power in the character: to up-end expectations of female characters the way Carey does so eloquently in her work.

In 2005, I ran a warmage in a D&D game who broke the mold of what one might expect in a spellcaster: an androgynous waif of a creature who spoke in a rasping tone and wore to hide a body ravaged by destructive magic. I played “Mask” exactly once, but the character persisted as a NPC with (as you might expect) a massive, complex back story. Mask was the most compelling NPC I ran in that game: vicious, sardonic, fatalistic, but with an undercurrent of undeniable destiny. Unforgettable.

These disparate characters had one thing in common: I needed to write more about them.

But where?

I first wrote about the World of Ruin in 2005-2006, about the time GHOSTWALKER came out. I loved writing in the Forgotten Realms, but that wasn’t an end-point. I wanted to tell stories that were entirely my own in a setting entirely of my own creation. This was my first genuine attempt at that, and I got to the point of shopping it around to agents.

Most of them turned it down, and for good reason. The novel I created was flawed—too dark, too squicky, not quite balanced—and will never see the light of day (don’t worry!). A few saw the potential in my style and setting, and I received important words of encouragement, particularly from the late Brian Thomsen of TOR. I had what it took, but this particular book wasn’t quite ready. Not yet.

The novel may have failed, but the setting that came out of it was a dark masterpiece: a fantasy world after environmental collapse, reduced to a new Dark Age after greed and excess destroyed civilization. Where empathy was a rare, almost perverse impulse, and cruelty was the nature of life.

Thus, with these four elements, I crafted the book I’d wanted to write all along: Shadow of the Winter King, the debut of my sweeping World of Ruin series.

And that was the first lesson this book taught me: sometimes the writing process is messy and unexpected, blossoming out of failure and dead ends. You pull inspiration and concepts from things you’ve done, things you’ve dreamed, and sometimes it all fits together into one amazing whole.

The second lesson was perseverance, which is a writer’s first and most essential trait—before talent, connections, or anything else. Whenever you get knocked down, you pick yourself right back up and keep writing.

And the third lesson is something that all artists know well and true: when you believe in something, you make it happen.

Erik Scott de Bie is the author of numerous speculative fiction novels and multifarious short stories. He dabbles as a game designer, occasional fitness junkie, and swordsman. His latest work, SHADOW OF THE WINTER KING—an epic tale of love and revenge set in the dark full-metal fantasy World of Ruin—will be available soon through Dragonmoon Press. Catch up with him on his website,, or find him on Facebook:


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


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.