Jennifer Brozek | All posts tagged 'Misc'

Author by the Sea

by Jennifer Brozek 11. September 2019 14:36

After my father’s illness and death and my stalling on my novel-in-progress, I decided I needed a personal writing retreat—both for the writing and the retreating from normal life. A reset point. I do my best recharging by the ocean. It fills me and lets me rest. I kept a journal while I was there.

Day 1: Thursday
This is the first time in my life I’ve taken a vacation by myself for myself. I’ve traveled alone before, but my destination always included meeting up with someone. Whether it was for a convention or a writing retreat, I was never actually alone. I feel a little weird about this. but not bad.

Now that I’ve given myself permission to grieve, to cry, I have no tears and I don’t know why not.

Wandering through a hotel in the middle of the week as the hotel transitions into the off-season reminds me of the Alhambra hotel from THE TALISMAN, the novel by King and Straub. There’s no one around, long empty corridors, and services are limited.

Day 2: Friday
I’ve learned that I need more than a view of the ocean. My dream oceanside home will be close to the shore or on the shore and up high (on a bluff/above the 6th floor of a condo building). I like the hotel I’m in but it’s not close enough to the shoreline for me.

I made the tactical error of not bringing a sweater. Always bring a sweater with you to the ocean. There is always a breeze and it’s usually cold.

Faced my fear and went out to have a meal at one of my favorite restaurants by myself. I was going to get it to go then decided it was silly to not eat there, enjoying the place. Facing one’s fear is hard.

Day 3: Saturday
The words are returning—slowly, haltingly, like learning to walk again. So are the random story ideas. Of course, this random story idea involves a haunted hotel, but not exactly in the normal way.

Another tactical error on my part was forgetting the binoculars. I’m too far away from the shoreline to really get a good look at the kites, flying go carts, and boats on the water. Must remember for next time.

Definitely the off-season now. Limited menus and no lunch service. Good thing I packed food for all breakfasts and lunches.

Day 4: Sunday
I’ve figured out that I can write or not-write just as well at home, but it’s the solitude I’ve needed. I’m not done crying, but I think the worst of it is over. I’ve now written more in the past 2 days than in the past 3 weeks.

I miss my Husband and kitties. I miss the Husband’s cooking. I miss my bed. I’m ready to be home.

Day 5: Monday
I’ve decided to go home a day early. I can write or not-write just as well at home, and I am writing again. So, mission accomplished.

6 days is too long. 5 is long enough. Controlled solitude is healing. I think this has been a good learning vacation. Maybe I’ll do one again next year. Just closer to the ocean shore.

 

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Relearning the Same Lesson Over and Over

by Jennifer Brozek 30. April 2019 10:34

Back in August 2018, I decided to change my diet to see if everything I’d been hearing about wheat’s effect on joints and the stomach was true. I cut wheat from my diet. I tapered it off, then cut it out altogether. Much to my surprise, my knees stopped hurting when I took the stairs and my gastric reflux disappeared. I still have some acid tummy problems but nowhere near what it was. I also cut sugar from my diet because it gave me headaches.

For me, a lifestyle change means, “I don’t (usually) eat X.” If I really want it, I can have it, but it needs to be a special occasion or an unusual circumstance. For the first time in a long time, I really need to consider food on “indulgence” days because, now, if I eat wheat, my knees ache for 2-3 days after the indulgence and sugar headaches really depend on what else I’ve eaten.

I love bread and chocolate and ice cream, but they really need to be a rare thing. My sweet tooth is all but gone. I share sweet things because a little goes a LONG way. As for bread/wheat indulgences, I seem to need to relearn my lesson about once a month. “It isn’t that bad, is it?” Yes. Yes, it is. When standing up from a writing session hurts and my whole body is achy, I wonder why I need to relearn this lesson over and over. And part of me wonders if this is why I have had sore muscles and bad knees for most of my life.

It’s a hard lesson to learn that food I love the taste of hurts my body so much. I’m getting better at turning down pastries and, if I indulge, sticking to gluten-free options. Though, it is the choice of gluten free and an acid tummy, or sticking to my normal diet. I think I’m at about 50-50 right now and I just know to take something for my stomach in prep for the indulgence.

All this makes travel for conventions that much more exciting and inconvenient. I can’t just go get a burger and call it good. I need a burger without a bun and a way to eat it that doesn’t interfere with being on panels or at my dealers table. In general, we try to stick to gluten-free while traveling. Gluten won’t kill either of us, but it will make the Husband’s asthma act up and me hurt. Not something either of us wants while traveling. Family visits are less complex because both families have been informed of what we can and can’t eat.

Human bodies are complicated. Right now, I’m learning what that means and relearning lessons over and over. At least now, it’s like my parents taught me: Always consider whether or not the punishment is worth the crime. Critical thought is important. If you decide it is, then take your fate into your hands and go for it.

Just some thoughts I’ve been noodling over after date-night with the Husband. (And yes, it was so worth it.)

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Is X, Y, or Z a Scam?

by Jennifer Brozek 8. February 2019 09:31

I get this question a lot. Usually about something based in the publishing arena. In DMs, IMs, and emails. As a professional author and editor, I suppose it’s because they believe I’m the person in the know; the expert. Or, at least, the person the asker thinks would know. About 30% of the time, I have some inkling of the legitimacy of the contest/work/publisher/etc… base on experience. Most of the time I don’t.

Here’s what I do to find out.

I google Them. Multiple ways.

I google “Is X a scam?” and I read through the answers. Most times, this will immediately pop up any problems. This often leads you to articles on Preditors and Editors or to the Better Business Bureau. Here, you will see complaints and other bad experiences.

Second. You can skip the general question and search on  [“Preditors and Editors” + X]. Or [BBB + X]. Those will hone in on specific types of responses—business and personal experiences. Is this particularly interesting in the publishing arena.

The third way is to google something like “Company X reviews” and see what people who have used their services think. However, beware, not all reviews are created the same. If there’s nothing but a couple of five star glowing reviews but P&E has information that says otherwise, probably not legit reviews. One thing I have learned in the publishing industry is that you will not please everyone. Book preference is subjective. The reviews will reflect this.

Also, when it comes to reviews, beware of groups with an ax to grind reviewing a new book/service. If a book/service comes out and immediately has 100 1-star reviews with very little in the way of actual critique of the book or a bunch of personal attacks on the person providing the service, you can bet someone kicked over a reddit nest of some stripe. That it’s a concerted effort to tank the book, service, person and not a legitimate review of X.

Finally, I look to the professional writing organizations who might know something about the thing in question. SFWA, HWA, IAMTW, MWA, RWA… etc. Search those websites for information.

If you google  X, Y, or Z and find nothing, or almost nothing about them, that is as much a red flag as bad reviews. You want to know who sponsors the thing, who owns the company, what the chain of ownership is. If a publisher or contest company is owned by a person or company known to be bad news, it’s a good bet that “X” is a scam. If the chain of ownership is hidden, it’s a clue.

Over all, it’s best if you do your own research before you go to your expert friend to ask “Is X a scam?” That way, you can expand on the question. Present conflicting information. To ask for clarification. 90% of the time, you’ll find the answer for yourself. Then you can decide if you want to confirm your answer with your expert friend or not.

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Perimenopause Rant

by Jennifer Brozek 29. November 2018 11:58

This is a rant. This is about the hellish transitional period a woman goes through between being fertile and menopause. It’s called perimenopause and I didn’t hear of it until I turned 47. It’s like a particularly evil right-of-passage that women go through to say, “Have a baby, now or never! In the meantime, your body is going to be one whacked-out mess of hormones where NOTHING will act as it once did.”

I’ve been dealing with perimenopause for almost a year and it sucks. You want to know what’s worse? Perimenopause lasts between 4 months and 10 YEARS (on average). Yes, I said “years.” That isn’t a joke and this isn’t a laughing matter.

The reason I didn’t hear about this from my mom is the fact that she had a hysterectomy after “bleeding every day for a year” and never dealt with it. She had her own brand of hell to walk through.

You want to know what some of the symptoms of perimenopause are? These are the ones I’ve personally experienced:
•    Heat flashes
•    Night sweats
•    Insomnia
•    Dry skin
•    Irregular periods (We’re talking 16 to 36 day periods, randomly.)
•    Morning poop explosions (Like spending an hour on the toilet 2-3 times a week in the morning while your butt goes through the equivalent of dry heaves. I literally need to make all my appointments for the afternoon now because I never know when my body is going to act up on any given morning.)
•    Mood swings (Crying at commercials, laughing at unfunny things, general moodiness—oh, you think you [or your loved one is] are being moody now? You ain’t seen nothing yet.)

Some I haven’t experienced but was told about:
•    Tender boobs
•    Fatigue
•    Depression
•    Urine leakage (laughing, coughing, sneezing, living)
•    Increased PMS symptoms
•    More that I can’t remember or don’t know of because bodies are all different

Remember… these symptoms, on average, last between 4 months and 10 YEARS.

You wanna know who has or is dealing with this in your life? Mention the word “perimenopause” to any group of women and see who makes a face and that “ugh” noise.

You wanna know how you might be able to treat this? Birth control pills. Not to keep you from having kids, but a low dose to try to regulate your hormones. But birth control pills come with their own set of problems. Between side effects, political talking points, and religious I-know-what’s-right assholes, that’s something I don’t even want to think about.

Why don’t more women talk about perimenopause? We know all about men and their erectile dysfunction AKA the much more polite and less embarrassing “ED.” No, women have to talk around the bullshit happening to their body because it’s too embarrassing, it’s “TMI.” It’s not polite.

Fuck that.

This is something almost all women have to go through. I’m tired of it being a secret rite-of-passage for older women who are already facing enough discrimination in health care. Thank goodness my doctor is plain spoken and blunt about what’s happening to me. It sucks and I wish I’d known sooner this was going to happen to me. There’s no real physical way to prepare for it, but there are mental ways.

And knowing is half the battle.

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Holiday Books From Me For You

by Jennifer Brozek 21. November 2018 08:49

Tis the season to be giving and getting; the holiday season. For those of you who want signed books by me, there are a couple of ways to go about it. I’ve been asked about this several times. I’m putting it all in one place this year. 

My preferred way: the University Bookstore in Seattle, WA. Visit the website or call: 1.800.335.7323. They have many of my books, even obscure ones. All of them are signed. If they are not, they can contact me and I’ll head over and sign them.

Alternative 1: Buy a physical book from the Apocalypse Ink Productions website and email, requesting that I sign it.

Alternative 2: Buy the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your retailer of choice, then mail me a bookplate to sign with all the appropriate information.

Jennifer Brozek
6830 NE Bothell Way, STE C #404
Kenmore, WA 98028

The above address is excellent for sending me holiday cards or birthday cards (Dec 9) as well.

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Music and Memory

by Jennifer Brozek 18. October 2018 10:21

I took an honest-to-goodness vacation recently. I spent a lot of time listening to audiobooks or music, crocheting, and staring at the ocean. It was so needed. I didn’t understand how much I needed an actual vacation. Not a convention or event where I was “on stage” or selling books. The Husband saw the need and insisted we take it. I’m so glad.

One of the things I noticed while I was on vacation and afterwards was that certain songs made me think of certain people. Mostly because of old LARPing characters interactions. But others, I have no idea why and it mystifies me. It was something I wanted to note.

These are all of the people and songs I’ve noticed recently.

  • Chantelle – “I Miss the Misery” by Halestrom (RPG character interactions.)
  • David – “A Dangerous Mind” by Within Temptation (RPG character interactions.)
  • Evan – “War” by Poets of the Fall (RPG character interactions.)
  • Eric R – “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” by Fall Out Boy (RPG character interactions.)
  • Johanna – “Vampires” by The Pet Shop Boys (No idea, but I also think about drinking red wine, too.)
  • Jeff – “Tide” by Tarot (RPG character interactions.)
  • Rae – “Paint It Black” by Ciara (Not a clue, but I have to assume it’s LARP related.)
  • Rich T – “Eyes of a Stranger” by Queensryche (RPG character interactions.)
  • Ross – “Let You Down” by Three Days Grace (RPG character interactions.)
  • Thea – “I’m with You” by Avril Lavigne (No idea. Seriously.)
  • Toni – “Life is Beautiful” by Sixx A.M. (RPG character interactions.)
  • Yonatan – “My Immortal” by Evanescence (Probably because we once dated.)

What about you? Do songs make you think of people?

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Home Improvement Never Ends

by Jennifer Brozek 30. August 2018 15:43

In early summer, the Husband and I decided we needed to do something about the driveway. It was broken in multiple places with some parts raising and some parts lowered. With last year’s rains, it had moved from ugly and mildly inconvenient to ugly and an honest trip hazard. After some debate, we settled on replacing the driveway (and walkway up to the house) with paver stones. That project is scheduled to begin within the next two weeks.

The side effect of that decision, and having just had the house repainted, was me mentioning to the Husband that I’d really like the back patio redone. The old red brick looked terrible. When I said this, I thought it would be a “next year” project. We had the front driveway and the painting of the back deck to do. That’s not what happened and the deck repainting is now scheduled for next year.

In mid-July, the Husband turned to me and said, “Okay, let’s go pick out the paver stones for the back patio. I want to get the job done before Gen Con.” I was surprised but game. He finished it in time. This is all the Husband’s work. The most I did was pick out the pavers, move six wheelbarrows full of stone, then laud the honey when it was done. I’m still in awe of his skill.

This blog post is mostly for my mom to show my dad and to preen over the Husband’s success.

The old patio with the old stairs.

The length of the side of the house the paver stones had to travel in 90+ degree heat.

Stacking the paver stones to work with.

Placing the stones.

Pouring the sand.

Smoothing the sand.

Placing the stone and leveling them once…

Twice. Maybe three or four times.

Here is the freshly done patio without the new deck stairs. There’s a lot more that went into this… paver sand, leveling with a vibrating machine, hand leveling, a chemical spray to set the paver sand so it’s like grout…. And more that I don’t know about. Like I said, this was the Husband. He’s awesome.

Here’s the back patio with the new deck stairs (also built by the husband). At some point, when the rainy season starts up again, he’ll put down fresh sod to cover the areas where he added a French drain to keep the water draining away from the house.

The driveway project foreman doing the front was impressed with the back patio. He said that if the Husband were younger and interested in a career change, doing paver installation, he’d have a job without a doubt. Both of them then laughed and agreed that paver stone installation sucked and was a young man’s job.

I think it looks marvelous. Don’t you?


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Life Update

by Jennifer Brozek 18. July 2018 14:25

Life has been busy, busy, busy, but good.

Writing
I've finished Rogue Academy: Iron Dawn, polish-edited it, and turned it in. I feel accomplished and actually pretty good about the manuscript. Of course, now I’m in that “I finished a novel, now what?” flail. It’s not that I don’t have stuff to work on. I do. It’s the fact that it feels like I’m doing “procrastination work” – which is what writing flash fiction, editing, and outlining is while I’m novel drafting. I’ll shake my brain out soon enough.

What am I working on now?

  • Shadow Bytes – five pieces of Shadowrun flash fiction for a podcast.
  • Editing the stories for A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods Lovecraft anthology.
  • Prepping to write a Shadowrun novella, A Kiss to Die For.


What does my brain want to work on? After a call with my agent, a far future oceanic novella that I've been noodling over for about a year now. It might become a good Wit'n'Word writing group project.

Conventions
August – I have two major conventions coming up in August: Gen Con and WorldCon. I am a dealer at both and a panelist at WorldCon. I’ll find out this week if I have any panel things to do for Cat Labs at Gen Con. I’ve got my house/cat sitters in place. I’ve started my plans for packing. Gen Con will be more complex than WorldCon, but all of it is doable.

September – I’m participating in the North Coast Redwoods Writers’ Conference. I’ll be reading Friday night, 21 Sep, and teaching two workshops on Saturday, 22 Sep.

Household Stuff
Back patio – Our house is 30+ years old. We’re the second owners. We’re slowly making it look less like a 30+ year old house. The latest project is replacing the back red-brick patio with pretty grey paver stones. The Husband did most of the work. It’s involved and still ongoing. There’ll be a blog post about it soon. It’s not done because it includes replacing the deck stairs on the patio side of things.

Eating from the pantry – Twice a year, the Husband and I do what we call “eating from the pantry.” We don’t eat out. We don’t grocery shop except for fresh veggies and milk. We eat from what we have in the pantry and the deep freeze for the full month as a way of cleaning out the older / soon-to-expire dry goods. It’s also a way to save money. Of course, this means we end up with some strange meals by the end of the month. Bubble-and-Squeak for the win!

Kitties
All four of them are fat and happy. I’m sure you can see that from my Twitter and Instagram. Feel free to join us there.

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Science Space Summer Camp for Writers and Other Artists

by Jennifer Brozek 5. June 2018 10:23

I’ve been back from Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for two days. The first day was easily taken up with catch up work. Memories of the workshop flittered around my head like the cottonwood blowing in Laramie. Today is the first day of “normal” work. I’ve got a BattleTech novel to finish and I find all I want to do is read space opera and hard SF. I’m not going to succumb to the urge (yet). I’m delaying things by writing this AKA procrastination work.

I learned so much and had much of what I already knew confirmed. It’s nice to know I actually set up the Kember Empire almost exactly correct and I will always thank Yonatan Zunger for helping me with my SLING space travel via branes and gravitational waves. (Helpful to have once dated a theoretical physicist from Stanford back in the day.)

Even better, I got to talk to other authors about a space combat problem I knew I’d have coming up in Rogue Academy #2. Michael Mammay (author of Planetside) not only helped me work it out, he gave me a great idea on how to do it. That was one of the best things about this workshop: the caliber of people attending and the conversations we had in and out of class.

Our professors, Mike Brotherton and Christian Ready, were excellent teachers. Dynamic, playful, smart, engaging, and challenging. We got about a semester’s worth of cosmology science thrown at us in a week. Long days, too. Start at 10am and go until about 9-10pm every day with breaks in-between. I took 40 pages of notes. A lot of it was “Look up, X. It’s about Y if you need it.”

Also, I had the dubious honor of being interviewed by campus police because I didn’t go on the WIRO telescope visit due to personal biology.

*Everyone leaves for the WIRO telescope.*

Me: “I’m alone in a dorm building on a college campus. This is the beginning of a horror movie.” I sit in the 2nd floor lobby and read.

*20 minutes later, footsteps on the stairs. Campus security, teens doing walkthroughs. We startled each other.*

Me: “There’s the first tension breaker. Now I’m going to be murdered.*

*15 minutes later, lots of footsteps on the stairs. The teens and two cops come through, but don’t stop.*

Me: WTF?

*5 minutes later, all four of them come back to the 2nd floor lobby and surround me.*

Me: WTF?!

*For the next 10 minutes, I’m interviewed by the cops on why I’m there, did I know anything about the pot smell, and where is everyone else? I explain who I am, where everyone else is (at the WIRO telescope), and that, no, I don’t smoke. They want to know what I write (“Genre fiction with a high body count”), and I end up giving all four of them my author card so they can look up my books later. Then I explain they all scared the crap out of me. The teens apologize.

After they leave, I debate about calling either of the professors, realize they aren’t even at the telescope yet, and I haven’t been arrested for existing. So, no. I’d tell them tomorrow.*

Me: “Now I’m really going to be murdered.” I go back into my dorm room, close and lock the door, then call the Husband because I’m so keyed up. We talk, then I write for a while.


That aside, Launch Pad is one of those once-in-a-lifetime workshop that really opened my eyes. The science is mind-blowing, the education is mind-opening, and the experience is the kind of thing that you’ll remember forever. If you get a chance, you should try to go. It’s hard to get into. I had to apply multiple times before I got in, but it is so worth it.

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Valentine’s Day Toolkit

by Jennifer Brozek 14. February 2018 15:41

The Husband just got me the best Valentine’s Day gift! It's an Apollo hard case toolkit. One of the things I bought myself when I moved out was a home toolkit. Over the decades I've looked and couldn't find one with a hard case. I love it!

He even charged the drill for me. It's really what I wanted. Seriously. Diamond earrings are nice and I wear them, but a good hard case toolkit is worth gold.

I don't know if you all understand just how cool this gift is. I have a thing about wanting things in their place and a place for all things. A good toolkit that has its place means I can do little chores/tasks without hunting for tools.

It means, I can find tools when I actually /need/ them. It means small tasks remain small. It means I can fix things myself. The Husband does a lot around the house, but there are little things I do every week.

Also, that first toolkit (a Black & Decker bought at Sears) was the symbol that I was really on my own. No family to fix things if they needed immediate fixing. It was a small rite of passage. This beautiful new toolkit means so much and the Husband understood that.

A good toolkit means you are ready to face what comes.

I got him a star map of the night we first kissed with the caption “That one kiss led to the rest of our lives.” It is perfect for his new office and he loved it. We’re going on ten years married and it is so nice that we get each other.

 

 

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Jennifer Brozek: Writerholic

Jennifer Brozek is a multi-talented, award-winning author, editor, and tie-in writer. She is the author of the Never Let Me Sleep, and The Last Days of Salton Academy, both of which were nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. Her BattleTech tie-in novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, won a Scribe Award. Her editing work has netted her a Hugo Award nomination as well as an Australian Shadows Award for Grants Pass. Jennifer’s short form work has appeared in Apex Publications, and in anthologies set in the worlds of Valdemar, Shadowrun, V-Wars, and Predator. Jennifer is also the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions, and was the managing editor of Evil Girlfriend Media and assistant editor for Apex Book Company.

Jennifer has been a freelance author, editor, tie-in writer for over ten years after leaving her high paying tech job, and she’s never been happier. She keeps a tight schedule on her writing and editing projects and somehow manages to find time to volunteer for several professional writing organizations such as SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW. She shares her husband, Jeff, with several cats and often uses him as a sounding board for her story ideas. Visit Jennifer’s worlds at jenniferbrozek.com.

"I see story ideas. All the time. They're everywhere. Just walking around like normal ideas. They don't know they're stories."