Jennifer Brozek | Wordslinger & Optimist!

Twenty Years in the Seattle Area

In early 2003, I lived in the SF Bay Area and worked for a little company called Placeware. In February, we discovered that Microsoft was going to buy our company for its intellectual property (which eventually became Office Live Meeting). By May, I had found out that I was one of the one hundred Placeware employees being hired by Microsoft as subject matter experts. I was a senior QA engineer. I was thrilled to be hired (at a better wage) to move up to the Pacific Northwest (like I had wanted to do since college) with the ability to buy a house… instead of being fired during the Silicon Valley Dot Bomb era.

On July 20, 2003, I officially moved to the Seattle area. I had visited once before during the “Shock and Awe” week-long orientation trip where those of us who wanted to buy a house got shepherded around Redmond to look at houses. We were known as “the hundred” in the real estate market according to my agent. I didn’t move into my condo for a couple of months because it was still being painted and such and my household goods had not yet been delivered. Fun fact: of the 50 boxes that were shipped, 35 of them contained books.

Old house, new color.

Twenty years in one place still seems surreal to this former military brat. Fifteen years living in the same house? Almost unfathomable. Before this, the longest I lived in one place was five years. I still have to fight “itchy feet” and the urge to move. I fight it with deep rounds of decluttering. It’s been a few years. Another one is on its way. I’ve gone back and forth on the want to move and why, but the pandemic gave me a new appreciation for this house and my neighborhood. I think I’m finally actually ready to settle down here for real.

This house, this place, is the home I was proposed to in, have written 90% of all my novels in, have edited 100% of my anthologies in, and has been my touchstone for all the conventions I have attended and travel I have done. During that time we have remodeled our bathrooms, upgraded our kitchen countertops, replaced our driveway and walkway, remodeled our garage, added paver stones in the backyard, cut down a number of looming trees, replaced our fireplace, and mended the found dry rot. We have also replaced the roof once and painted the house twice (from beige to grey to navy blue). Decorated the front and backyards and added gargoyles on the roof. I think it is safe to say we have put our stamp on our home and marked it well.

Twenty years in one place. Maybe I’m not yet a native Seattleite and never will be, but I think I can state with great pleasure: I am home.

Asimov and Leeloo watching from their respective perches.

Bubble and Squeek for 14 June 2023

Life continues to move on. A lot good. Some not-so-good. Busy working in the background. Have some Bubble & Squeek!

Conventions: My Gen Con Writers Symposium panel and workshop schedule. Take a look and if you are interested in the workshops, sign up. They tend to sell out quickly.  I also have a signing and a "meet the pros" gathering.

Conventions: Look who is the Editor Guest of Honor of OryCon in November. (Spoiler alert: It's me!)

On Demand Class: Self-Editing: From First Splat to Professional Finish by me is available on demand at Cat Rambo’s Academy for Wayward Writers along with a whole host of other classes.

Pin Release: Originally a convention exclusive but now available online, this is the Good Omens pin me and Alina Pete designed. Head to Sevenish Magpies to take a look. It’s so pretty!

Review: A lovely review of my Bram Stoker nominated YA zombie novel, Last Days of Salton Academy.

Support: As always… if you appreciate my work and would like to support me, I love coffee. I am made of caffeine. This is the quickest way to brighten my day.

Wishlist: As someone who flirts with the idea of audiobook narration and podcast narration…and the idea of reading my antique occult collection online, I am in lust with the idea of this: the Studio Brick acoustic booth.  Isn't it magnificent?

Tell Me - Weston Ochse

Today Weston Ochse tells me why poetry and how much wordplay means to him. I know Weston from his military fiction. This departure from his norm reveals his depths—and what a hellion he was as kid.


Okay. Okay. As long as you asked me why I wrote a short story collection, I will come clean. I cut my teeth on poetry. My first published works were poetry. I grew up with the snapping of fingers and husky-voiced women sipping Mogan David telling us bad poetry over a door spread across boxes as our dining room table when I was six. Well, that’s not fair. No poetry is really bad if fueled by the heart.

Plus, I thought I might have an interesting childhood. From drinking turpentine, to biting the heads off gold fish, to chasing old men down the street with dead snakes until they paid me a dime to leave them alone, to making a fake Rutger Hauer cry—all comically juxtaposed with a father who didn’t want me, being sexually manipulated, seeing friends die, and hardly knowing myself.

Just when I think my story is my own, I get emails about how others experienced many of the same feelings of inadequacy and valuelessness, only under different circumstance. For instance, I doubt many of the people I know bite the heads off goldfish, but it doesn’t make them any less fantastic.

When I was four we had gold fish. For some reason, I loved the feeling of biting their heads of-it was so pleasing. The way the flesh parted between my new sharp teeth and the slight tang of the fish-scented water. Then, afraid I might get into trouble, I put the bodies back into the water and the heads into a plant on an end table with poetry by Walt Whitman. My mother was so busy being a single mom, she didn't notice the floating dead fish until the smell fermented properly.

I suppose nowadays I’d be arrested and thrown into a padded cell. They say that serial killers began at home by killing small animals. Do fish count? Was that one of my possible destinies? I never felt like I was going to be a serial killer. Then again, which killer ever thinks they might be wrong?

“Wait. What? Why not simply write a short story collection?”

That’s a good one. I love the immediacy of poetry. I also love the style. Poems don’t need to rhyme, but many readers expect rhyming poetry. Yet, that’s such a small fragment of poems once popularized in the pre-Victorian Age. Now we have many styles such as Villanelles, free verse, sestina, lyrics, epics, narrative, pantoums, rondeaus, tankas, haikus, and all of those limericks your drunken uncle might have inappropriately said at Thanksgiving Dinner. There are many more, but you get the idea.  I tend to concentrate on free verse and narrative, although I have dabbled and had published some of the others.

But that really doesn’t answer your question. I suppose I wanted to open my literary aperture so that I might expand on my ability to communicate my inner self to the outer realm in a more dynamic mode. Prose is one way. Creative non-fiction is another, but neither lack the immediacy of a great poem.

I am a disciple of the Beat Poets, especially William Carlos Williams, Theodore Roethke, Alen Ginsberg, and Ishmael Reed from whom I have some of his words tattooed on my forearms.

Reed’s Poem “I Am a Cowboy in the Boat of Ra” begins with I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra, I bedded down with Isis, our lady of the Boogaloo. Then there is this section that appears halfway through the poem:

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra. Lord of the lash,

the Loup Garou Kid. Half breed son of Pisces and

Aquarius. I hold the souls of men in my pot. I do

the dirty boogie with scorpions. I make the bulls

keep still and was the first swinger to grape the taste.


Or Ginsberg’s “Howl” which helped a generation storm forth. It opens with:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,

starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through

the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angel headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly

connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.


Can you feel the energy of those poems? The intensity? My god, if harnessed, we could change the world. Then there is my opening salvo in my short story eponymous collection Ziggy Stardust Turpentine Koolaid. It opens with these lines:

Riotous sun cooking my brain

as I sit and stare longingly at the

white liquid resting in a mason jar,

Delicious and deadly on a hard-baked stoop.


Half-crazed from boredom I glare at this world.


Do you know who I am? What I'm about?


Me, grand master of the bamboo rod, eater of

goldfish, head spitter and hider of bodies.


Me, Tow-headed maverick of the Great Plains,

I once even saw a buffalo, flick its tail like a

Great Fuck you to Buffalo Bill

before I even knew what Fuck You meant.


Me, chaser away of fathers, hated of all sons,

five-year-old testament to the fact that love

is a Cracker Jack lotto.








Convicted to a one parent family

Yeah. I dig poetry. Wait? What was the question again? Oh yeah, the reason I didn’t make this a short story collection was simple and selfish. I didn’t want to. I wanted to write a book of poetry. And I wanted to do it old school. Self-published.

And, uh, sorry. I think I might have overshared.


USA Today Best-selling author Weston Ochse has been hailed by the American Library Association as “one of the major horror authors of the 21st Century.” His work has won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won four New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. The author of more than forty books, his franchise work includes the X-Files, Predator, Aliens, AVP, Hellboy, Clive Barker’s Midian, and Joe Ledger. He was one of the founding authors of the NETFLIX TV series V-Wars. Living Dangerously:

Tell Me - Raven Oak

Today’s Tell Me is from author Raven Oak. She talks about dealing with trauma, illness, emotions, and writing—how they all intermix—and one of the most important things a writer can do for themselves.


Forgive yourself.

Seems simple, right? But for a neurodivergent, disabled author like me, not so much. The past three years have been a study in patience as I am immunocompromised aka high risk. Since 2020, I’ve carried this knot in my stomach that my career might be over.

Most authors sell more books when they’re visible, e.g. attending conventions/conferences, having in-person book signings, and teaching workshops. Without being “seen,” people forget you exist. They move on to other books and other authors. But being seen in person is something I can’t do, at least not until we have better vaccines and fewer variants. How does one continue in the face of something scary and new?

Many people aren’t honest or open enough about mental illness, let alone physical illness, but I am trying to be better about both. Getting COVID twice (from my doctors no less) kicked my ass. It physically changed me with its organ damage, not to mention the cognitive symptoms. Long COVID is not just long but brutal.

For years, I was lucky if I could work an hour without needing an hour nap in response. (Even today, I tend to take an afternoon nap, and my kitties help encourage that.) I used to type between 90-110 wpm (words per minute), but now, I’m lucky if I manage 50 wpm. My editors find simple grammatical mistakes now that I never used to make—and as a former English teacher, this galls me. I know, I mean, I knew better. Then there’s blanking on word choices and names. When did I get so forgetful?

Writing is harder. Editing is harder. Life is harder.


This past January, many of my colleagues and friends were posting articles about how much writing they’d accomplished in 2022. After the depressing look at my taxes, I said, “What the hell! Let’s see how little I wrote in the pandemic.” But I surprised myself. Looking at the number of short fiction I’d sold and written through the years helped me understand that progress isn’t the same for every writer, and I had made progress.

Piecing together the stories for not one but two collections helped me step back and find ways to accommodate this new me. To learn what I am still capable of accomplishing. While everything has changed, nothing that matters has changed at all.

I’m still an author, and I can still tell stories. How I present them to the world may look different. For example, my “book releases” will be virtual for a while, and the length of time it takes me to finish a novel may be longer, but I’m still a writer.  

Now, I don’t mean to imply everything’s fine because it isn’t. There’s an anxiety and depression that comes with long COVID. A feeling that the world’s gladly leaving you behind. It’s the Great Wall of China, and I’m an ant at the base of it looking up in a wild panic. Being a realist, I’m not a fan of toxic positivity, but during three years of hell, I managed to write.

With these stories I’m sharing with the world, I’m giving myself permission to slow down when I need to do so, and in this acknowledgement, I forgive myself. Better than that, I realize that there is no need to forgive myself.

This is who I am now, and maybe that’s okay.


Multi-international award-winning speculative fiction author Raven Oak (she/they) is best known for Amaskan’s Blood (2016 Ozma Fantasy Award Winner, Epic Awards Finalist, & Reader’s Choice Award Winner)Amaskan’s War (2018 UK Wishing Award YA Finalist), and Class-M Exile. She also has many published short stories in anthologies and magazines. She’s even published on the moon! Raven spent most of her K-12 education doodling and writing 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet.

Besides being a writer and artist, she’s a geeky, disabled ENBY who enjoys getting her game on with tabletop games, indulging in cartography and art, or staring at the ocean. She lives in the Seattle area with her partner, and their three kitties who enjoy lounging across the keyboard when writing deadlines approach. Her hair color changes as often as her bio does, and you can find her at


Dragons Springs releases 6/1 and Space Ships 7/1. Pre-Orders live now. Print & eBook

Sell links for Dragon Springs & Other Things:

Sell links for Space Ships & Other Trips:

Puzzle Puzzling

One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that stereotypes exist for a reason. For me, the “little old lady” stereotype is coming true. I mean, I’m not that old nor that little, but I am falling into some of the tropes—I like my British murder mysteries, I like to watch my backyard birdfeeder, I prefer lemon or vanilla as a sweet flavor, and I really like my physical, analog puzzles. In specific, these days I like Ravensburger puzzles—500 or 750 pieces.

I discovered my love of analog puzzles because I needed something to occupy me…away from the computer…that I could spend some time working on but also get the dopamine hit for finishing the project. It’s one of the reasons I used to crochet. Unfortunately, I discovered that crocheting, along with typing, made my wrists hurt and that just wouldn’t do as a relaxing fill-the-well type of activity—and I needed one of those activities. Something to rest the brain while keeping the hands busy.

I never thought I would be one of those people who have a strong preference for the brand of puzzle I play with. I do. It started with the InGooooD brand of 1000 piece wooden jigsaw puzzles. Mostly because they were sturdy, beautiful, easily found on Amazon, and had a reference grid on the back, breaking up the puzzles into eight 125 piece sections. I would take the time to sort them by grid letter then put them together a single 125 piece section at a time. It would take me a week of casual play. I realized I like them because they were easy to put together, even though they were tedious to sort and not as fun or challenging as I like.

That’s why I dropped down from doing 1000 piece puzzles to 500 and 750 piece puzzles. They were easier to do but also allowed me to sort out the edges and to put together the puzzle in a more satisfying, challenging, and organic manner. I bought a bunch of cheap puzzles before I found a Ravensburger puzzle by accident. The quality and thickness of the cardboard makes a difference. More than I expected. So much so that I’ve now become a bit of a puzzle snob. Or at least, one with strong preferences on how the puzzle pieces feel and fit together.

However, puzzles can be expensive. Thus, I limited my buying of them. Then, about three weeks ago, I realized that, just like I can get my favorite Torrid jeans for cheap on eBay, people sell puzzles for cheap(er) prices on eBay, too. I’ve been buying some rare or out-of-print Ravensburger puzzles in lots of three or five. My mark of a decent find is to get the puzzle and shipping for $18-$20 per puzzle. Good is for $13-$17 per puzzle. Great is for less than $12 per puzzle. If we go over $20 for a puzzle, then I might as well buy it new and not risk a missing puzzle piece. Then again, I prefer the sustainability aspect of buying used puzzles.


Long story short…I’ve got a bunch of new-to-me Ravensburger puzzles to keep me happy for a while. By the time I’m done with them, I can try out one of my older 1000 piece InGooooD puzzles to see if I like them enough to keep…or if I should go ahead and eBay them for someone else to enjoy.

External Forces Can Be A Writer’s Best Friend

Once upon a time, almost three years ago to the day, I got the urge to write a near future SF mystery story set in a subaquatic city involving robotic pets. I had been inspired by a mini-documentary about the AIBO robotic dogs in Japan. It only took me a couple of weeks to write the novella. I knew it was good, but it wasn’t great. I needed another set of eyes on it.

Then, the awesome Marie Bilodeau offered to edit it. She did so in short order and had some insightful things to say about it. While she did love it, there were some definite, specific issues—some of which she outlined in her email to me. The rest she left as comments in the manuscript. I knew she was right about it all, but by that time, the shine had worn off the project, it was just a personal story I had written with no market in mind, and I had other contracted novels to write.

Thus, it languished in my email for three years.

It’s no secret that I’ve been taking the first quarter of this year easy. I’ve pushed myself hard for the last five years (five novels and six novellas and everything else), thus when this year’s contracts got delayed, I decided to relax a little. Until I remembered I had several personal projects I wanted to work on. Which I did…sorta. None of them had due dates or markets in mind. Still, I wanted to work on them while I waited.

Thus, I did—on one of them: Dear Penpal. But mostly I tinkered at it. What should have taken merely a month to write is only 1/3 written in the last four months. As a full-time writer, this won’t do. If I don’t have contracts or deadlines, I still need to write. I have an agent and cats to feed.

Coming to this conclusion, two things in the universe conspired to help me. First, another publishing professional like me (author/editor/RPG writer/media tie-in writer) asked for an accountability buddy on a discord we’re both on. As someone who never wants to be the smartest person in the room, I knew her by her considerable reputation and jumped at the chance.

(As an aside, I’ve discovered the perfect accountability buddy for me is someone I know in a professional capacity, am friendly with on acquaintance terms, and respect, but not someone I hang out with on a regular basis. We chat during our meetings, but it is all work related chat. There’s something about wanting to impress this familiar stranger that really pushes my “get it done” button. But I digress…)

The other thing that happened is that Uncanny Magazine opened up for novellas from May 1-15. At the time I read that, I had about two-to-four weeks to whip my languishing novella into shape and submit it. Suddenly, I had a deadline. Not only that, I had a professional author I was now meeting with weekly to talk about what I did that previous week—did I meet my goals? Why or why not and what’s next?

Long story short—I revised, edited, and polished that SF novella in just under three weeks and submitted it to Uncanny Magazine. Whether or not they accept it (and I hope they do), I’m pleased to have finally finished it. It’s a wonderful story. Thanks to Marie’s astute observations from three years ago, I think the novella turned out pretty good.  

Now, I have Dear Penpal to work on while I wait for the various (editing and writing) projects that are on my radar but haven’t landed yet. After all, I have an accountability buddy to answer to and time to do it. No excuses left.

Tears of Perseus Omnibus Released

I had the great joy of writing a mosaic novel for the FiveFold Universe called Tear of Perseus. It is a single story told across 300 years from six different points of view along the timeline. I wrote the first one, Truumeel’s Light. It includes the first part of Kevin J. Anderson’s Gateway series that is told throughout all the novellas.


Is This the End of Humankind, or the Beginning of Something New?
Humanity spread to the stars as soon as they broke the FTL limit, but a thousand lightyears weren’t enough to separate them from their natures. As a series of small incidents lead Earth and its colonies toward a galactic civil war, it’s up to people and AIs of good intent to pull us back from the brink.

But what if it’s already too late? As the super artificial intelligences sound the death knell of the galaxy, a few humans and machines struggle against the tide, to save their ship, their farm, their families, and their cause. In humanity’s darkest hour, the lives of a few heroes might make the difference, or serve as an epitaph for our species.

Buy it today to find out how we survived and if the beings that emerged from the nuclear fire were worth saving. Features an additional foreword by D.J. Bodden and three short stories not included in the individual novellas.

Tears of Perseus is one cohesive story told in six parts by six authors:

Truumeel's Light: A high-risk first-landing on an unsettled world.
Falk's Claim: A retired cybernetic soldier defending his claim against offworlders.
Mercia's Hammer: A daring prison escape, striking a blow for freedom in the colonies.
Metzler's Mistake: A final mission given to the Federal Fleet's craftiest admiral.
Raden's End: A surprise attack from a new enemy, forcing old foes to fight together.
Halloway's Charge: A choice to turn on each other or rise together from the ashes.

Written by Jennifer Brozek (Shadowrun, Battletech), Kevin Steverson (Salvage Title, 4HU), William Alan Webb (The Last Brigade, 4HU), D.J. Bodden (FiveFold Universe, Viridian Gate Online), Kevin J. Anderson (Star Wars, Dune), and Kevin McLaughlin (Starship Satori, 4HU), this omnibus combines life in the third millennium with all the space, air, and land high-tech combat you can handle.

Joy Incarnate

As part of my birthday present to her, I hosted Marie for Norwescon. This came with a couple days before and after the con at my house. The cats, after a bit of shyness, decided that Marie was fabulous. (I agree.) She was accepted by all the clowder, even the littlest diva, Leeloo. Mena loved Marie from the start. Pharaoh accepted all proper adoration as is his due. Isis flirted hard, but really, she was just trying to convince Marie to give her treats.

It didn’t hurt that Marie got up hours before me to write because of the time zone differences. That meant there was a human up and about way earlier than normal. I know at least Mena took advantage of that. She got so much love in the mornings that after Marie went home, Mena sat in the library nook and yowled for her. It sounded like the sky was falling.

I showed Marie around to some of the places she wanted to go. We got take out from some of my favorite restaurants. Mostly, we just talked and laughed and talked some more. Between talking with Marie and talking at Norwescon, the sides of my tongue were sore from knocking against my teeth. I don’t know if I’ve ever had that experience before.  


Conventions are so much more fun with a buddy. Usually, my con buddy is the Husband and we have a good time. Having Marie as my con buddy was like having an extended sleepover. She is joy incarnate. We went to bed giggling and woke up the same way. We had a great time vending at our booth in the dealer’s room. I heard that she was a smash hit on all the panels she was on. We even managed to find “sister” fabric friends to buy so that each of us had one to take home—each named after the other’s Eberron character. It was a good time.

The only minor sad bit was that the weather was rainy the entire time she was here. Still, we had lots of green and flowers to delight her and not snow. Of course, the day Marie went home, the sun came out. Ah well, next time. And there will be a next time, someday. Until then, we have Gen Con where we will both be on panels and teaching workshops.

Bubble and Squeek for 12 April 2023

It's been a busy couple of weeks. I've hosted the fabulous Marie Bilodeau and I've attended Norwescon as both a vendor and as a panelist. It was good time made all the better by Marie's effervescent presence. Now my brain is mush. Have some bubble & squeek as I put it back together.

Audiobook: The Reinvented Heart anthology audiobook is about to be released! The pre-order link is live. You are going to love this.

Consideration: Hugo award nominations are happening. They close on April 30th. I would be pleased if you would consider me and Cat Rambo for short form editor. "Jennifer Brozek and Cat Rambo, The Reinvented Heart anthology, Publisher: CAEZIK SF & Fantasy,"

Opportunity: HOLOSTREETS. This one is for all of you who have ever asked me how you could write for Shadowrun. This is one way. It’s not canon, but it might suit your desires. ALSO, keep an eye out here. There might be more Shadowrun writing opportunities in the near future.

Release: The omnibus of NEVER LET ME, my acclaimed Melissa Allen trilogy has been re-released by Speaking Volumes. In Print, and for the first time, in ebook omnibus form. Cover art by the fab Peter Tikos.

Review: Horror Addicts reviewed Tales of Nightmares anthology. They liked it! Several stories got a shout out including my story “Twenty Questions.”

Support: As always… if you appreciate my work and would like to support me, I love coffee. I am made of caffeine. This is the quickest way to brighten my day.

For your amusement: a certain Pharaoh would like to speak to the manager because I was gone.

Norwescon 2023 Schedule

This weekend, I'm off to Norwescon with the ever-fabulous Marie Bilodeau. We have a booth in the dealers room and we both will be on panels. There's a "no-shyness zone" around us. Come on by, say hello, and get a book signed. We're excited to see everyone this weekend!

• Marie: 5:00pm - 6:00pm @ Cascade 5 & 6, Freelancers' Table: Show Me the Money
• Jenn: 6:00pm - 7:00pm @ Cascade 7 & 8, The Folk Horror Revival

• Jenn: 2:00pm - 3:00pm @ Cascade 5 & 6, Managing A Multi-Book Series
• Marie: 4:00pm - 5:00pm @ Cascade 10, Werewolves of Dacia & Other Folkloric Origins of the Paranormal
• Jenn: 5:00pm - 6:00pm @ Cascade 5 & 6, Supporting Our Writing Community
• Jenn: 7:00pm - 8:00pm @ Cascade 5 & 6, Legacy of Cthulhu

• Marie: 10:00am - 11:00am @ Grand 2, Autograph Session 1
• Marie: 12:00pm - 1:00pm @ Evergreen 3 & 4, We Are the World: Writing in a Shared Setting
• Jenn: 1:00pm - 2:00pm @ Olympic 3, Teen Horror Writing Workshop
• Marie: 4:00pm - 5:00pm @ Cascade 11, The Magic of Small Stakes
• Jenn: 5:00pm - 6:00pm @ Cascade 7 & 8, Need an Editor?

• Marie: 10:00am - 11:00am @ Cascade 5 & 6, Once Upon a Different Time
• Marie: 11:00am - 12:00pm @ Cascade 9, Managing Your Career During Social Crisis