Jennifer Brozek | Wordslinger & Optimist!

Tell Me – Miss Violet DeVille

My introduction to burlesque happened when a friend asked if I wanted to go see a show. It was the Von Foxies' "Bye Bye Bush" right after the 2008 election. Now imagine three full figured women standing with their backs to the audience. In each of the women's right hand is a can of shaving cream. In the other hand they make a mound of shaving cream and apply it to, well, their mound. The razors come out and in long dramatic stokes the shaving cream is quickly removed. In unison, they turn to face the audience in nothing more than heels, pasties, and little American flag merkins*. From the moment of that first reveal a small fire started to burn deep inside my soul.

A little over four years later, my love for this amazing art form hasn't waned in the slightest. I have met amazing and beautiful women and handsome men of all shapes and sizes, orientations and expressions. This feminist art form with glitter and rhinestones, tantalizing teases and bawdy humor has been the best thing I have ever done for me. Margaret Cho wrote in her forward to Jo Wheldon's The Burlesque Handbook, "I learned that happiness wasn't a dress size." I couldn't agree more.

So what does a girl like me like to do in a show like this? It depends on the show really. The inspiration for my acts comes from a variety of places. Sometimes it's a fact of life that drives me forward, but usually it's some geeky topic that gets my blood pumping. From steampunk to Star Wars, film noir to the Muppets, romance to Legos, and so much more.

This week, I'm giving two performances of my ode to my favorite scoundrel, Han Solo. The first will be this Thursday at Lily Divine Productions' Debauchery, a show I've done many times that benefits the LGBT community in the process by giving grants to queer health and social organizations. The second show is on Saturday with the Tempting Tarts as they return to RustyCon to perform for members of the convention in what is sure to be a fun show.

The word "burlesque" comes from the Italian "burla", meaning to mock, joke about, or parody. This particular act-The Fastest Piece of Junk in the Galaxy-has multiple reveals with at least one jab at the Special Edition of the original trilogy and a whole lot of love. There are references to Darth Vader and our favorite wookiee. And perhaps even an accordion serenade, if you can call it that.

Since I started performing burlesque in July of 2010, I've been in over 60 shows in four states on both coasts and almost twice as many performances. With one show down, Captain Royale, produced by my production company, Purple Devil Productions, and three more to go in January alone with travel plans already on the calendar, 2013 is getting off to a fine start for this nerdy show girl.

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Miss Violet DeVille is a trans woman and a class act from a history that never was. She's a steampunk who has found a love of dance, performing, and taking her clothes off for other people in raunchy and entertaining ways! Miss DeVille broke out onto the Seattle stage in 2010 and began creating memorable and entertaining shows in 2011. She is the executive director at Purple Devil Productions in Seattle. Since then she has toured both coasts and is planning more national and international tours. When this national performer is not producing and performing in burlesque and cabaret shows, she belly dances, works both in front and behind the camera lens, and spends far too much time in her workshop building devices to make the world a better place for her. You can find more about her on her website, violetdeville.com or her twitter feed: @violetdeville.

*A merkin, also called a pubic wig, is a small and usually bedazzled piece of clothing to cover the crotch of the performer.

Timing is Everything

An author / editor’s life is one filled with “hurry up and wait.” It makes scheduling difficult.
 
I had one project I’ve been talking about with the publisher fire up again after months of silence. This time with the promise of a contract. Another project, it’s been over a year and I now have a 90 day deadline. As soon as I see that contract and its terms that is. Also, I am waiting for a third contract that was promised before the holidays. I knew that contract would not be on time. The publishing industry is notoriously slow for contracts around the holiday season.
 
While these three contracts are in the process of dropping, I have a novelette and an RPG supplement to write as well as a non-fiction book and an anthology to edit. Fortunately, a couple of these projects have open-ended due dates. On the bad side of things, the longer ideas go cold, the less excited about the project I become. It’s like pulling teeth to get into the project. Then, when the irons are hot, other contracts drop.
 
It’s no wonder I have a hard time scheduling myself and end up with months of “juggling chainsaws.”

[Note: As I write this post, an offer of an RPG contract landed in my email with too tight of a deadline for me to accept it. Dammit. It was exactly the kind of thing I like.]
 
At this point, I’ve given the Husband permission to taser me if I accept a new contract without talking to him first about it. He is my sanity and impulse block. This, of course, does not include contracts that have been up in the air for months. Mostly because I really want to write the second YA novel.
 
Then again, publishers keep putting shiny projects and money in front of me. With tight deadlines. It makes me sit back and think about what I really want to do with my career. I don’t write as fast as some people.
 
On the other hand, when I do have a schedule, I work hard to keep to it. Right now, it’s all Lovecraft all the time. At least until that other contract with the 90 day deadline comes in. Then it’s near future sci-fi.

Tell Me - Jody Lynn Nye

I have never had the pleasure of meeting Jody Lynn Nye but I have had the pleasure of reading and editing her in the past. Entertaining writer and consummate professional, Jody talks about how a painful reality was used as inspiration fodder for her book Myth-Quoted.

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The frustration that gave rise to my novel, Myth-Quoted, started out long before the current election, though this one seemed to slot painfully well into the ongoing angst. Didn’t the rest of you feel as though the campaign was never going to end?

That’s how story ideas come into being. You feel passionate about something, and it begins to cause synapses in your brain to fire, and story ensues. In this case, I had become so frustrated that the previous presidential election seemed to have started three years before Election Day that I came to despise both parties and everything they did. Rather than affirming my pride in the democratic process, it made me yearn for something else, perhaps like the British system where, though voters vote for parties but not candidates, the campaign begins only three weeks before Election Day. Wouldn’t that have been nice? If I could just go about my business undisturbed for a few years, then pay reasonable attention to the candidates’ statements a couple of months before the election, I would be a lot happier. In the meanwhile, the elected officials can buckle down and do the darned job for which we elected them. I suspect I’m far from alone in my feelings. (The press is already beginning to speculate about 2016. Nooooo!)

So, the “What if?” that came into my mind was, “What if the election just never got around to happening? What if the campaign went on and on and on and ON until the posters clinging to the sides of buildings faded, and the candidates distributed copies of their speeches in advance to the press because they never had anything new to say? What if – and here’s the important part – what if Aahz, Skeeve, and the other characters of the Myth-Adventures series got caught up in trying to straighten out an endless campaign in (in this case) an openly corrupt election?” This is how Myth-Quoted evolved.

Once I got to make fun of the process, I began to enjoy the real-life drama a little. I watched news reports with an eye out for ridiculous things I could incorporate into the plot. There was plenty. Please let me say right here that none of my characters is based on any of the people who ran for office. I exaggerated and caricatured, employed antiquated clichés, and added a handful of absurd hoops that I sincerely hope no person with an ounce of pride would jump through, even to be elected to high office.

(My characters, of course, had no choice. They have to do what I make them. There’s no democracy in writing. I like to think of myself as a benign dictator, but it’s my way or the DELETE key.)

Naturally, the ending of my book was nothing like real life. After all, I have magik (yes, that’s the way we spell it in the Myth-Adventures), puns, running disasters and, of course, Aahz. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and let me blow off steam about the real situation in the process.
 
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Jody Lynn Nye lists her main career activity as “spoiling cats.”  She lives northwest of Chicago with one of the above and her husband, author and packager Bill Fawcett. She has published more than forty books, including seven contemporary fantasies, five SF novels, four novels in collaboration with Anne McCaffrey, including Crisis on Doona and Treaty at Doona; edited a humorous anthology about mothers, Don’t Forget Your Spacesuit, Dear!; and over a hundred short stories. Her latest books are Dragons Deal (Ace Books), the third in Robert Asprin’s Dragons series, View From the Imperium (Baen Books), and Myth-Quoted, nineteenth in Robert Asprin’s Myth-Adventures series. (Ace Books).  Her website is www.jodynye.com.

A New Beginning

A day late and not a bit sorry. I’ve had family here for New Year’s and it was fabulous. We went to Pike’s Place Market, the Space Needle for brunch, the Chihuly exhibit, drove out to Ocean Shores (and got to see sun, clouds, rain, and snow along the way) where the ocean almost ate our car at high tide. Introduced them to the BBC series Sherlock, and generally had a mighty fine time. But now, it’s time to get back to my writerholic routine.

I’m very much of the opinion that if you don’t know where you’ve been, you don’t know where you’re going. I also believe that if you don’t have a plan, you won’t get to where you want to go. As I am an author, I think of these things in terms of writing. Especially since I’m my own boss. I need something to hold up to myself and say… I did good!

Looking back at 2012

  • New short stories written: 10; 8 sold, 2 pending
  • Total short story subs made:  17; 9 sold, 5 rejected, 2 pending
  • New articles written/published: 6
  • RPG contracts: 8
  • Anthologies edited: 3 (Dangers Untold, Beast Within 3, Coins of Chaos)
  • Total new words written: just over 146,000
  • Things published: 3 fiction books, 10 episodes of the Nellus Academy Incident, 3 RPG products, 4 short stories.


Looking at 2013 (turned in or contracted)

  • Short stories to be published: 5
  • Nellus Academy Incident episodes to be published: 15
  • Anthologies to be published: 2
  • Fiction books to be published: 2
  • RPG books to be published: 2


Goals for 2013

  • Short stories to write: 13 (Book 4 of the Karen Wilson Chronicles)
  • Novelette to write: 1 (“Dreams of a Thousand Young” for Jazz Age Cthulhu, Innsmouth Free Press)
  • Novel to write: 1 (YA book #2)
  • RPG projects: 2 (Colonial Gothic: Roanoke, GRUNTZ fiction ebook)
  • Books to edit: 3 (AIP projects #1, #2, #3)
  • Anthologies to be edited: 2 (Project #1, Project #2)


Not bad for 2012 or for projected 2013. Of course, I’m not all writing, editing, game design, and publishing. No. I’ve got some travel in the mix. Projected conventions: 7. I don’t know for sure if I will make them all but this is what I have planned.

  1. Rainforest Village Writers Retreat, WA – Feb 27 - March 3 (Session 1 attendee)
  2. GothCon, Sweden – March 28-Apr 1 (GoH)
  3. Origins, OH – June 12-16 (Panelist, Dealer)
  4. WesterCon 66, CA – July 4-7 (Panelist, Dealer)
  5. Cascade Writers Workshop, OR – July 25-28  (Guest Speaker)
  6. GenCon, IN – August 15-18 (Panelist)
  7. Convolution, CA – Nov 2-4 (Panelist, Dealer)


Tell me – Ripley Patton

The last "Tell Me" for 2012! I’m running a little late. I’ve been out and about with family. Ripley is a fab author who discovered that something she made up is now real. How cool is that?

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I made something up, and now it's real.

I made up a rare birth defect; not the most helpful thing to invent, I'll admit, but it was necessary for the sake of story.

I came up with this idea for my new YA paranormal thriller, Ghost Hand, that someone could be born with a missing limb, without a hand or a foot or a nose, but that their soul, the immaterial counterpart to their material flesh, would still manifest as that missing limb. Born with a mass of ethereal energy where their flesh should be, they have to learn how to control and manipulate that energy to navigate their disability. I named this birth defect Psyche Sans Soma which means "life without flesh," (PSS for short) and I bestowed it upon babies across my novel's world like some kind of disgruntled fairy or avenging angel. And the babies grew up to be teenagers. And life got complicated.

I have long had this theory that if human imagination can conceive something, it can be real. Throughout history, we've seen countless inventions and crazy dreams made manifest simply because man first imagined them. Airplanes, jet packs, robots, space travel, and I don't think this phenomenon is limited to the tropes of science fiction alone. Dragons don't exist right now. Maybe they never existed in the past (though that is debatable). But humans have begun to play with cloning, and DNA, and genetic engineering. I don't think it is a stretch to think that someday a dragon may exist. Or a unicorn. Or a werewolf.

But I wasn't thinking about that theory when I invented a birth defect. I mean, I knew it was real to me, in my mind and in my book, but I didn't think about how it might become real to others.

Then one day I got an e-mail from one of my beta readers. She'd begun reading Ghost Hand and had looked PSS up on the internet, surprised that she couldn’t find anything about it. She hadn't realized I'd made it up.

Then a friend sent me a link to a news story from New Scientist titled; Woman's missing digits grow back in phantom form.

And now that Ghost Hand is out in the world in e-book and paperback (and getting great reviews, I might add) the instances of PSS becoming real should be even more frequent.

A couple days ago, a fan e-mailed me and said, "I looked up PSS on the internet, and there were tons of links about it, all leading back to you and your book."

I'm proud of that.

I'm made something up, and now it's real. That's all a writer can ever really hope for.

Bubble and Squeek for 26 Dec 2012

Despite everything, it’s still been a good holiday season and goodness is yet to come in the form of visiting in-laws. The Husband’s sister and husband is coming out to visit us over the New Year. I’m looking forward to that.

I really love this “A Softer World” #911 and its quote: “The terrible things that happen to you didn’t make you you. You always were.” Highlight: “It isn’t the storm that makes the ocean dangerous.”

A couple days ago, I posted this on my twitter and Facebook. It’s proven very popular. “Now, you can honestly say you have made it as an author. I spotted your fantasy novel in a used bookstore today.” —a friend of mine in CA. I was amused when he IM’d me with that. Too bad he didn’t get a picture of the book.

Also, I can announce this finally – I sold a chapter story for the newly announced Shadowrun 5th edition. It will be the Rigger chapter story and is called “The Danger of Side Jobs.” It's about a very tall human female rigger, her huge, tricked out tow truck, and a very charming, short troll with a job offer.

I have also typed “The End” on THE NELLUS ACADEMY INCIDENT webseries for battlecorps.com. This gritty YA Battletch web serial has hit right at 58K words over its 25 episodes. I still have to edit and polish the last five episodes but I’m pleased that everything turned out the way I wanted it to.

Tell Me - David Colby

Today, David talks about story inspiration and goes on to prove that anything and everything can be an inspiration. In this case, it is a line from a movie.

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When someone asks you about the inspiration of your novel, you are expected to talk about that one thing that struck you like a lightning bolt. For me, that’s not so simple.

But each part of my novel has an inspiration somewhere.

I’m going to talk about a single line and how it completely changed the fate of mankind in my book.

That line is a simple one. And it is stolen from my second favorite movie of all time, Terminator 2. John Conner and the Terminator are going to a mental asylum to rescue Sarah Conner. The Terminator has been ordered by John to not kill anyone, but the first thing he does is pull out his gun and blow the kneecaps off of a security guard. John, outraged, shouts, “I told you not to kill anyone.”

Then the Terminator turns to face him and - with the most perfect deadpan delivery ever – says the line.

“He’ll live.”

Of course, deciding a line had to go into a book and actually having it be in there takes a lot of steps. I couldn’t just arrange for a scene wherein my main character says the line. Well, I could, but it’d change the context and meaning behind and around the line. I love the line, not just because of the deadpan humor, but also because of what is going on behind it: A machine, slowly coming to terms with the value of human life and not exactly being that good at it.

So, I needed a ‘machine’ character.

And thus…Shiva: The AI manager of the Forge, a massive space based factory. I decided he’d work best there, as manufacturing in microgravity is a complex, delicate and perpetual task. Then I had to give him a personality to build up to that line. I had to add in scenes wherein people talked to and conversed with Shiva.

In these scenes, I gave Shiva a deadpan sense of humor, gave him observations to make about humanity, and I worked in discussions of the famous Asmiov’s Laws of Robotics (you know, A robot shall not harm, nor through inaction, cause a human to come to harm and so on). I actually think that the laws are a good idea, but I personally think forcing them on people – even robot people – is tantamount to slavery.

In the end, I had a character with snark, with a philosophical stance on Asimov’s Laws, and finally…I had a chance to use the line in the book. Like in the movie, the line has more going on behind it than it might seem.

But now, almost a year after I first wrote down the beginning of Debris Dreams, I reflect on all that I have planned and schemed and created for the Debris Dreams universe and future history. Shiva factors largely into that.

So, when you are reading my book and groan at my one liner, remember that without it, the entire book and the future books I have planned would be completely different.


Born in Sunnyvale, California, David Colby has recently graduated from Sonoma State University after four years of telling people that, no, Buffy the Vampire Slayer came from SunnyDALE. Equipped with a BA in English and an obscene amount of pop-culture esoterica, David is ready to make his mark in the world of young adult literature.

The Next Big Thing

What is the working title of your book?

The Children of Anu, Book Two of the Karen Wilson Chronicles.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This being the second book in the series, I wanted to write about the concept of a lesser evil keeping a greater evil at bay. When that lesser evil was defeated in the first book, what greater evil rises to take its place?

What genre does your book fall under?

Dark Urban Fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There are only a few actors I had in mind for the characters. Most of the visages of my characters are based loosely on people I know.

Karen – 20’s brunette Jennifer Lawrence
Aaron – 20’s Michael Shanks (SG-1)
David – 20’s Adam Rodriguez (CSI: Miam)
John Corso – 30’s Johnny Depp
Luke Coleman – 30’s Gary Cole

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When one evil falls, another one takes its place and threatens the city of Kendrick itself and all of the supernaturals within it.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self published. It will be published by Apocalypse Ink Productions (my company), edited by John Helfers, with cover art by Amber Clark of Stopped Motion Photography who did the cover of Caller Unknown.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

As it was originally a serial short story collection told over twelve months… it took about ten months to write the thirteen stories in this book.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’d like to say Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series… but there’s not enough fairies for that. Or the Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series… but it’s not detective enough for that. I think it is closer to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files with all of the different creatures, supernaturals, and secret societies… but there are no vampires in the Karen Wilson Chronicles at all. I mean… none.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The story inspired me. The idea of a continuing storyline told in a collection, a mosaic novel. This being the second in the series, its theme is “Consequences.” The first book’s theme was “Revelations.” I wanted to tell the story of what happens after the heroes win. All actions and revelations have consequences. I wanted to see where that would go now that places were set, secrets revealed, and deeds done.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Children of Anu is a book about the bad guys doing what they planned to do and the heroes trying to figure the plan out. The heroes don’t know what’s going on. Not every ally is good. Not every villain is evil.

Also, Kendrick is rich in conspiracy, hidden worlds, and supernatural creatures. This is the kind of story that could be going on around as you walk out your front door. The Karen Wilson Chronicles is my love letter to the supernatural Pacific Northwest.

Caller Unknown is available now.

The Children of Anu will be out in August 2013.


I'm tagging: Ivan Ewert, Erik Scott de Bie, A.E. Marling, Lily Cohen-Moore, and J.L. Doty

Bubble and Squeek for 18 Dec 2012

I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that I will not be at Norwescon 2013. The good news is that’s because I will be one of the Guests of Honor at GothCon in Gothenberg, Sweden. I will miss going to Norwescon but… Sweden!

More good news is that I will be one of the guest speakers at the Cascade Writers Retreat in Portland, OR in July 2013. I will be on four panels. One group and three solos. There are spots open. This is going to be a great workshop. Lots of industry talent there.

Caller Unknown is out and getting good reviews. I just received a very nice blurb, "Brozek gives us the world the way it should be - full of hidden pockets of magic, ancient evils, and supernatural creatures - along with a heroine fully capable of dealing with all of the above."  - Cat Rambo, author of Near + Far and A Seed Upon the Wind

Ya’ll know that me and the Husband own Apocalypse Ink Productions. We now have an announcement-only Googlegroup. Sign up and hear what all we are doing.

Finally, I was interviewed by The Geek Girl Project. I do a lot of talking about The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting.

Tell Me – Amanda Pillar

I've had the great pleasure of working with Amanda Pillar in the past on our award winning anthology, Grants Pass. She’s a talented editor and her anthologies are always word reading. I’ve read Bloodstones and it’s a darned good book. Today she talks about her kind of urban fantasy.

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I’ve wanted to edit an urban fantasy anthology for quite some time. I’ve worked on horror, post-apocalyptic, dark fantasy and thematic collections, but never a true urban fantasy. I’ve loved every book I’ve ever helped produce, but the genre I tend to read when not editing or writing...well, you’ve guessed it.

Urban fantasy.

But I didn’t want something that involved vampires, werewolves or witches. I love a good vampire story, it has to be said, yet I wanted to pull together an anthology that was different. Unique. And so I needed a theme, something that would interest me and hopefully the future readers of this book. A collection that would make you think; where love and hate and death all danced upon a stage with monsters that may never be popular, may never be truly appreciated, but their appeal unable to be denied.

So, perhaps a little surprisingly for some, I turned to mythology. For me though, it seemed a logical choice. I am an archaeologist in my day job, and have spent far too many hours reading and researching ancient religions and mythologies. From my work, it seemed clear that there would be no end to the inspiration found from old myths and tales; that the authors who submitted to my collection would have a rich field to harvest from.

And I was right. The authors delivered. More than I could have hoped for. The final stories that made the cut were sown from cloth threaded with new takes on old creatures. There were gorgons, minotaurs, ghosts, kraken, faeries, toyols and even a mummy. There were new creatures, too, beings that were inspired by old myths: the foam born, gravelings and killers with odd histories.

The authors involved in this collection searched far and wide for their new – or in some cases, very old – ‘monsters’. There was never one source of inspiration, with the depth and grit of the stories showcasing the authors’ talent.

I’m pleased to say this collection is unique, and that I was truly lucky to work with such a talented group of authors. Without them, after all, this book wouldn’t exist.

Bloodstones TOC:

Dirk Flinthart – ‘The Bull in Winter’
Nicole Murphy – ‘Euryale’
Penny Love – ‘A Small Bad Thing’
Jenny Blackford – ‘A Moveable Feast’
Pete Kempshall – ‘Dead Inside’
MLD Curelas – ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’
Joanne Anderton – ‘Sanaa's Army’
Richard Harland – ‘A Mother's Love’
Christine Morgan – ‘Ferreau's Curse’
Thoraiya Dyer – ‘Surviving Film’
Kat Otis – ‘And the Dead Shall be Raised Incorruptible’
Karen Maric – ‘Embracing the Invisible’
Dan Rabarts – ‘The Bone Plate’
Alan Baxter – ‘Cephalopoda Obsessia’
Erin Underwood – ‘The Foam Born’
Vivian Caethe – ‘Skin’
Stephanie Gunn – ‘The Skin of the World’