Jennifer Brozek | Wordslinger & Optimist! - Page 2

Raw Thoughts About Losing the Award…Again.

by Jennifer Brozek 2. May 2017 09:53

When I was nominated the second time for the Bram Stoker award, I wrote about Awards and Imposter Syndrome.  Now that I’m home from StokerCon 2017 and have lost the same award twice, I have a number of thoughts about this. It’s a bit disjointed, but stay with me. These are my personal thoughts.

1. This is the perfect example of graduating to a “better class of problem” as an author as you level up in your career.

2. Even thought you may arrive at the convention in a zen state of mind, this will be shattered by people congratulating you and saying things like “I’ll be very surprised if you don’t walk away with this.” That pessimistic shield/armor you’ve built over time to protect your fragile side will come tumbling down like dominoes.

3. It’s better if at least one of the people you are competing against is someone you know and like. That way if you both lose, you can commiserate. If your friend wins, your happiness for them outshines your sadness for yourself.

4. Sometimes, being gracious (in public) sucks. And you must be a gracious loser. I had a little help with that. I must admit I still straddled that line between envy (I wish I had what you have) and jealousy (I want what you have and I don’t want you to have it). This is human. Anyone who says they don’t fight with this is either a much better person than I or is lying to someone (including themselves).

5. Condolences after the fact will kill you.

6. Everyone who privately messages you with funny, catty, witty, snarky versions of “you were robbed!” will make you smile through the pain. As long as you keep it private, you can agree in the same tone.

7. Time heals. 24 hours later, the pain is there, but distant. I’m back to thinking about what I need to do next. I have novels to write and an agent to feed. Honestly, there’s always next year. Or the year after that. At least I got to see some of my favorite people and spend time with them.

8. 48 hours later, I get to marvel at my life. Ellen Datlow asked me how many times I’d been nominated. Gini Koch shared a couple of dirty jokes with me. I got a hug and a smile from Jonathan Maberry. I flew down to the Queen Mary for a banquet and an awards ceremony. People I know specifically watched the Stoker livestream just to see if I won. My life is amazing and I am grateful for it.

9. But losing a second time still stings. I look forward to the moment I win. I look forward to the moment losing an award is just part of the process (like story rejections). I look forward to continuing on. As I said when it happened: “Didn’t win. Kinda sad. Will keep on keeping on.” I’ve got work to do.

Thank you to all of you for joining me on my journey.

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Stuff and Things

by Jennifer Brozek 26. April 2017 14:39

So, life continues at a breakneck pace. I am grateful for all that I have and all the opportunities I’m pursuing. Sometimes, thought, it’s hard.

Travel: I recently returned home from North Carolina where I visited my family and had a very good time. I dislike the act of travel (especially planes), but I enjoy the visiting. Next up for travel is a whirlwind appearance at StokerCon for the banquet and ceremony. I won’t be on any panels (that I know of) and I don’t have a table in the dealer’s room. It’ll be strange to just attend the convention for a day and a half. The following weekend is Crypticon Seattle, the local premiere horror convention. Dealer only, but there will be much visiting to be had.

Writing: I got the official “Sekrit Project Alex” is accepted and checks are in the mail. Super happy about that. I’ve also turn in a short story and I’m about to return to Fever County. I was away a lot longer than I expected to be. Such is life. I also got interviewed by File 770. Oh, yes. I now have a local writing group for me and several work-at-home authors called Wit’n’Word (see what I did there?). It’s not a critique group. It’s a social writing group. We write. We talk. We play with kitties. We write some more.

Editing: Still dotting I’s and crossing T’s on the two anthologies I’ll be editing this summer/fall. The spin up part of anthologies is the hardest part. I’m looking forward to the editing part. Thinking of editing I’m processing the final proof notes for Ivan Ewert’s Famished: The Gentlemen Ghouls omnibus. It’s looking really good.

Domestic 1: I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos on minimalism and tiny houses. I don’t think I’d ever become a minimalist or live in a tiny house, but there’s a lot of good and inventive ways do de-clutter, organize, and pare down the things you don’t use or need. This has helped with my need to de-clutter and organize my house. We’ve been living here together for over nine years now. We both tend to packrat things for “just in case.” That makes it difficult to do things like use the closets efficiently.  Thus, I’m working on it. The Husband helps when I need him to. Mostly, this is one of those things I can control, thus I am. Each slain task feels like a real victory.

Domestic 2: We’ve decided that since this will probably be our house until we move to a retirement house (with no stairs), we’re going remodel and upgrade both upstairs bathrooms. We’d have to do it any way before we sold the place. Might as well enjoy the upgrades now. I suspect it is going to be an exciting summer for the cats.

Domestic 3: Thinking of cats... all of mine are doing well. They are fat and happy and demanding. I have an Instagram account that’s mostly cats. In the wild kingdom that is our backyard, a territorial hell beast of a bunny has moved in. This hellbunny has challenged and run off: other bunnies, crows, stellar jays, a pair of mated ducks, and a myriad of squirrels. They keep coming back. It’s a never ending battle and a never ending source of amusing cat TV.

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Travel, Escape, and Social Media

by Jennifer Brozek 12. April 2017 15:41

Travel to see family always has its ups and downs. I dislike the travel part of almost any trip I go on that involves a plane. (My kingdom for a transporter!) This trip was a good one. My nieces have grown into lovely young women. My parents are still ticking, even though they’re getting up there in age. My sister and I have way too many medical issues in common for comfort. And my BIL is Enlightened and Valor. It made for an interesting and fun trip.

The Husband helped Dad buy, deliver, and build a patio set that is really nice. We got to use it the last day before we came home. I liked it.

The biggest event of the trip was the escape room event called "Lunar Lockdown" by Bull City Escape. It was a crashed spaceship with six people. That allowed it to be just family to solve the puzzle. And solve it we did. The first 15 minutes were crazy. My family solved puzzles even before I knew they were there. My main job was time watcher and hint communicator. I watched and took in what was going on around me then suggested things when something got stuck. I also caught a couple of mistakes we made and solved one puzzle myself.  Everyone did something. We all contributed to the win.

Though, we did need all three hints. Technically, we “needed” one hint that we would never have figured out the code without it. The other two hints were to point out mistakes—once was mislabeled jars and once was not seeing the key stuck to the inside of one of the boxes.

We solved the space crash puzzle with 6:41 to spare. The room only has a 40% success rate even when hints are used. It was a good time.

That said, I never want to do another escape room event. This one went as well as it did because all six of us were family. We knew how each other thought. We were able to get in each other’s spaces. I’m not sure we’d be able to do that with strangers in the group. Also, it would’ve been a serious downer to have lost the event. As a personal note, I dislike timed events in general and never play that kind of game. They make me anxious.

However, if you like timed events that require a lot of puzzle solving, Bull City Escape does an excellent job.

I enjoyed seeing my family. It was a good trip. However, five days away was enough. I missed my bed, my kitties, and my routine. I’m in the middle of a novel and I have a short story due at the end of the month (Hi John!). Not to mention the two anthologies in progress. I had to put the novel work on hold to get some much needed revisions on Sekrit Project Alex done, but I’m happy to be back to it.

This family trip is one of the reasons I’m not going to be at Norwescon. I’ve been to the last 6-7 of them and enjoy the heck out of them, but I need the break to rest and to write. At the end of the month, I’ll be at StokerCon for Saturday and Sunday. My next full convention, it will be Crypticon Seattle where I’ll be a dealer.

As an aside, I do have a new Dreamwidth account now and will be phasing out my pro-LJ to crossposting only. Until I figure out how to get the crossposting to Dreamwidth done, those will be manual copy/paste. My GaanEden LJ is a permanent account. I haven’t decided what to do with it, yet. I mostly use it for non-writing stuff.

Other social media: Facebook page (one of my main social accounts), Facebook author page, Twitter (super active on this), Tumblr (which I rarely use), and Instagram (if you like cat pictures), G+ account, and finally, of course, my blog. My LinkedIn, Amazon, GoodReads, etc... are all crossposted from one of these.

 

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Busy Gets It Done

by Jennifer Brozek 20. March 2017 08:15

For the last two weeks, I’ve been putzing around with my writing, my freelancing, and the reorganization of my home. Not that I haven’t gotten anything done—I have. I’ve mostly been doing everything except the writing. It’s been almost a vacation. Now, the time for a loose schedule is done.

Round 4 of edits for Sekrit Project Alex have dropped.

For the next two weeks I need to have a tight rein on things. Each day I will need to work on Fever County, Anthology 1, Anthology 2, and Sekrit Project Alex. Both anthologies are spinning up. This means a LOT of email. Project Alex should be in the last major edit of the project and I have two weeks to get it done. That’s at least a chapter a day of revision, edit, polish. I need to keep a momentum on Fever County. I'm deep into book one. I’ve scheduled 500 words a day. If I hit it, yay. If I don’t, that’s OK. As long as I get some good words in.

This all means that social media is going to fall by the wayside until the evening. I have extra daily things happening this week, including trying out a new writing/social group at my house, having a chat with a local friend/game shop about an official writer-in-residence thing, and other more mundane things involving the house.

This is why I have a daily schedule written down for two weeks out so I know everything I need to do in a given day as well as where I need to go and when.

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The Danger of Writing Too Fast

by Jennifer Brozek 6. March 2017 12:57

At the Rainforest Writers Retreat, I wrote 28,000+ words in 5 days. This was a mistake for me and the way I write. I’m not saying that I regret my adventure at Rainforest. I don’t. Here’s pictures of me in the waders and wading through Lake Quinalt to get to my cabin. That part was awesome.

I say writing that much was a mistake because the moment I got home and started editing my work, I realized a few things:
1. My prose was a disaster.
2. My story foundation was on shaky ground.
3. My pacing was off.
4. I forgot a number of pivotal scenes and details.
5. There was so much to fix, I wasn’t sure where to start.

In the end, I determined that while I understood where my story was going, I had to treat the 28,000+ words as a long outline and reset my manuscript to the point I was at before I arrived at Rainforest. It would’ve been too much work to try to patch up what I’d written.

There’s something else I realized: I’m tired.

I’ve written 2+ books / year for more than three years. I’ve edited three times that many. I’ve pushed myself hard. I need to slow down. Just a little. This is the first book in a new series in a sprawling world. I love what I’m creating for Fever County. That’s why I need to do this first book right. Yes, I know what the second book is already. But it depends on me getting the first book set, grounded, and written to my satisfaction.

I’m not saying that I won’t write two novels this year. I’m saying that I’m going to give myself permission to slow down. If that mean only one novel and a couple of short stories? So be it. I know I have novel revisions coming. At least 2 of them. So, if that means I’m writing only 500-1000 words a day, then spending the rest of the time cleaning out my drawers, cupboards, and closets, before doing novel revisions? Awesome.

I’m a little surprised that it’s taken me this long to get to this point. To realize that Fever County is too important for me to rush through it. I suppose this is one of those leveling up things as an author.  Not to mention a reminder that every author approaches their work differently.

 

 

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Awards and Imposter Syndrome

by Jennifer Brozek 27. February 2017 09:43

Here is a paraphrased IM conversation I had with Seanan from Wednesday morning, the 23rd (mostly because I can’t find the chat log).

Seanan: Yay!
Jenn: Yay?
Seanan: Have you looked at your email today?
Jenn: No. Didn’t sleep well last night. Guess I should.
Seanan: Go read your email, hon.
Jenn: Oh! Oh! Yay!
Seanan: Yay!!
Jenn: Thank you. I was a little afraid of reading my email this morning because of this.


I read my email and discovered that The Last Days of Salton Academy has been nominated for the Bram Stoker award. My imposter syndrome had convinced me that I would never make the ballot two years in a row. It’s why I didn’t sleep well the night before the announcement and why I was afraid to check my email that morning. I didn’t want to face the disappointment.

Being a finalist for an award is awesome. Especially something like the Bram Stoker award.

However, being a finalist for an award for the second time is even better—for me that is. There’s something wonderful and concrete about the second finalist nomination. It tells me:
…I wasn’t ‘just lucky’ the first time.
…It wasn’t a pity vote.
…It wasn’t just my friends voting for me.
…I do have skill and talent as an author.
…It validates me as a creative professional.

Imposter syndrome is a green-eye monster that wants your attention. It doesn’t want you working on the next thing. It doesn’t want you to celebrate your wins—no matter how large or small. It wants you spiraling into its clawed embrace with no way out. With this repeat nomination, I have a reprieve from imposter syndrome’s ever-present looming nature. At least for a little while.

I’m happy. I really am.

Of course, I want to win the Bram Stoker award. The Last Days of Salton Academy is a good book. Also, that haunted house statue would look lovely on my brag shelf. It really would. Until then, I really am honored to be Bram Stoker nominee again.

 

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Rainforest Writers Retreat AKA An Adventure

by Jennifer Brozek 21. February 2017 08:42

Five days in the rainforest with minimal internet, an outline, and someone to compete with = 28,356 words written. I am brain fried and dead. I don’t actually recommend this to anyone. I took Monday off writing to recover a bit and it was needed.

All day Monday, while I did other things and played PokemonGO, I kept thinking of things I forgot to add into the manuscript. From descriptions to full scenes. I’m probably going to spend the next two days editing what I wrote to see what else I missed and add it in. Then I’ll feel comfortable enough to continue on. I just feel like my narrative foundation is a bit too cracked and shaky.


View from the 2nd floor Parkside Suite, Thursday morning. Before they brought me a boat and waders.

Beyond teaching a session at RWR, I got to experience the adventure of having Lake Quinalt rise two feet. The Husband thought we might have to evacuate. We didn’t, but I did have to borrow thigh-high waders to get to and from the rest of the resort for two days. A couple of attendees who didn’t know me thought I was part of the Park Service. It was a fun and interesting experience. I’m glad the lake didn’t have a current. I put more pictures and a video of it up on my Facebook.


What Lake Quinalt usually looks like. Saturday morning.

Also, while I was in the land of no internet, the podcast of my short story, “Endless and the End,” went live on The Overcast. My story is episode 49. It’s my creepy little steampunk story inspired by the likes of The Mummy and the casual game Bejeweled. The end of the story includes an afterword by me and a "warning" from The Overcast. I hope you listen to it.

 

 

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Bubble & Squeek for 13 Feb 2017

by Jennifer Brozek 13. February 2017 13:25

Article: Learn From Autistics - Voices From the Spectrum #26: Jennifer Brozek on Creating Neurodiverse Characters.

Article: How to Escape the Slush Pile: A self-editing checklist for short story writers by Brandon Taylor. Just an article I think is worth reading.

Awards: The Last Days of Salton Academy is listed on the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel. I will find out if it a finalist on the 23rd. So, yay! Cross your fingers for me.

Review: Another review of the Karen Wilson Chronicles. This short one is from Germany. They liked it.

Review: On Goodreads - Just got a lovely review for NEVER LET ME, the Melissa Allen omnibus. These are always nice to read.

Writing: Chuck Wendig: Why Persist As A Writer In Times Of Such Heinous Fuckery?

Writing: Kameron Hurley: How to Keep Writing Through Times of Great Political Upheaval

Writing: Jennifer Brozek: Self Care and the Creative in Turbulent Times.

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The First Words

by Jennifer Brozek 7. February 2017 10:50

Yesterday, I began writing the first book of a new teen horror series. The series is called Fever County, thus the first book has the temp title of FC01. I’ve got another title in mind, but I’ve discovered that, sometimes, in the writing of a novel, a new title will present itself. I don’t know if that will happen here or not. We’ll see.

I do know that the day flew by. It wasn’t the only thing I had to do. There’s a myriad of tasks I do each day / week. But when it comes to writing, new writing always comes first. I ended the day content and feeling productive. It was one of those days when I looked up from my last task and saw that it was 4:55pm. I was surprised. Some days drag on and on. Not yesterday.

Not today either.

The first words to a new novel always come slow for me. It’s like warming up an engine. I schedule no more than 500 words a day for the first week and I don’t worry at all if I make that or not. If it’s only 200 words—so be it. If it’s 700 or a thousand words—awesome. It’s not until the second week that I usually drop into a minimum of a thousand words a day or more. By the third week, I’m writing as fast as I can.

I’ve scheduled myself to finish the first draft of FC01 by Mar 31st.  April will be for the short stories I know I have to do. The first part of May will be the first edit pass. Then I’ll hand the novel off to Alpha Readers. While that’s going on. I’ll fully outline FC02, write the 2 page synopsis, and generally begin the mental stewing process. Maybe I’ll figure out the 1 paragraph synopsis for FC03. June will be for fixing FC01 before handing it off to my agent for her thoughts. While she’s reading/critiquing it, I’m going to be writing FC02.

Of course, that’s all in the future. For now, I am content. I’m writing new words again. Not just editing. Not writing in another IP’s world. Fever County is all mine. I can’t express just how right everything feels.

Also, I have the best map ever. I commissioned Elizabeth (she's fab!) to draw it for me. It is the perfect reference doc.

(P.S. Yes, Mom. I really am feeling better.)

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Self Care and the Creative in Turbulent Times

by Jennifer Brozek 1. February 2017 10:36

A lot of people—including me—are experiencing a wide variety of distressing emotions in regards to what’s going to on right now in the world. Sometimes, it’s hard to create when the world feels like it’s on the brink of a disaster there’s no turning back from. What good is a short story or a piece of art in the face of that?

Everything. Absolutely everything.

In-between the real life horror of politics, protests, cruel laws, crueler enforcement of those edicts, and numerous other terrible things, those who fight need a space to go to recharge, a respite, a safe fictional place or a piece of beauty to remind them what they are fighting for.

Still, it’s hard to reach for the life-saving, life-affirming creative work. This is why self care for the creative is so important. Here are a couple of suggestions to add into your daily life.

UNPLUG
Daily or at least weekly, schedule time to get away from the 24/7 news. Unplug from the internet. Whatever is happening will still be happening when you get back. I choose at least 2 hours away every other day. Being online is part of my job, but I don’t need to be connected all the time. If it is an emergency, those who need it have my phone number.

COMFORT ACTIVITY
Enjoy an activity you know you like. Watch reruns of a favorite TV show or movie. Listen to music. Listen to an audiobook. Crochet or knit. Read comfort books and comics. Cook a grand meal for one or many. Meditate. Do something you know you enjoy. Let yourself get lost in it. Forget about the world and its troubles as much as you can for as long as you can. It will be there with you get back. Dedicate this time to you. Bob Ross and I are becoming very good friends again.

MOVE
I’m not telling you to exercise—though exercise is a good thing to do. But walk away from your desk, your computer, your phone (turn your phone off if you can’t stand to leave it behind). Window shop at the mall or the bookstore. Go to the lake and watch the waves for a while. Visit that nearby museum that tourists always go to, but you’ve never visited. Get out of the physical space you are usually in. This helps your mindset. Even if it’s just a walk around the block or to pace the stairwells in your office building. For me, I play Ingress and PokemonGO.

These are all coping mechanisms that I use. Creatives have deadlines and decisions to make that don’t go away. Writing, painting, carving… creating… while in the midst of turbulent times can be the hardest thing to do, but that is when the world needs us most.

Finally, after you have taken some time to care for yourself, you can ENGAGE with the world again. Volunteer. Protest. Call your representatives. Donate to the cause. Do as much or as little as you are able to. Remember, your creative work may be the thing that recharges another so that they may also create while working towards their political and social goals.

Cat pictures always help.

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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.