I need to re-outline BattleTech: Crimson Night for a fourth time--in the words of one of my SFWA mentees "to stop being precious about my writing"--and add in a fourth point of view character that will make all my problems go away. In the meantime, here's a Bubble & Squeek for you.
• Awards: A SECRET GUIDE TO FIGHTING ELDER GODS is a 2019 Bram Stoker finalist! Congratulations to everyone who got the nod. I'm so happy.
• Interview (Video): I’m interviewed by Dacre Stoker about my Bram Stoker nomination.
• Publications: “Lair of the Infernal Thief” AKA “Untitled Infernal Goose Adventure” in Mini-Dungeon Monthly #12, An adventure for two to five characters of 3rd-5th level. Yes, inspired by THAT “Untitled Goose Adventure…”
• Publications: It looks like Fantasy Flight Games did a reprint of the physical book of my Arkham Horror novella, TO FIGHT THE BLACK WIND, for those of you who were looking for it as well as the rest of them.
• Random Video: In honor of having my first lucid dream in years, probably brought about because of this video by Matt D'Avella: I learned how to lucid dream.
• 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. Especially since most of my conventions have been cancelled this summer. Pretty please.
Awards: Woot! A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods has been long-listed for the Bram Stoker award in superior achievement in an anthology.
Blog: A Decade in Review. How does one review a decade of growth, change, expansion, and experience in a single career? Start with the stats and end with the lessons learned.
Podcast: Dire Multiverse, part 5 – A Wild, Hopping Tale. Answers and alliances come at the point of a gun as our heroes try to make it out with their lives intact while learning more about what’s driving Dana Lessington — and one of their own.
Publication: SEASONS, the latest Valdemar anthology, has my 7th Valdemar story in it, “One Town at a Time.” It's the opening story. I love having anchor stories in anthologies.
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.
Spike in snow.
How does one review a decade of growth, change, expansion, and experience in a single career? Much less in an industry like the publishing industry? I suppose by starting with some of the stats from 2010 – 2019. Note, this is an imperfect list of stats. It doesn’t mention the number of words written, the stories submitted then rejected, the novels written and trunked, the journals, articles, and blog posts. But, really, you’ve got to start somewhere. That is what I’ve done.
- Short stories published: 65
- Fiction collections published: 4
- Novellas published: 5
- Novels published: 11
- Omnibuses published: 2
- Podcasts produced and published: 2
- Comic books published: 1
- Anthologies edited: 16
- RPG books contributed to: 7
- RPG books written/co-written: 6
- Award nominations: 18 (including 2 Bram Stoker awards and a Hugo award)
- Awards won: 7 (including an AU Shadows award, an ENnie award, an Origins award, and a Scribe award)
Gotta admit, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. In 2010, if you’d told me that one day I’d be an internationally published author and editor who’d been nominated for both the Bram Stoker and the Hugo award, I would’ve laughed at you and said it was a nice idea. I thought those things were so far out of my reach that I couldn’t imagine it. If you’d told me that I’d get to write for some of my favorite non-RPG properties like VWars, Valdemar, and Predator, I would’ve wondered what you’d been drinking. Stuff like that didn’t happen to me.
Then again, I didn’t know I was going to start my own publishing house.
…Or serve a term as a Director-at-Large of SFWA.
…Or volunteer for the HWA.
…Or be a Guest of Honor at ten different conventions, including conventions in Sweden and Finland.
…Or get an agent after I’d given up the search.
In truth, this is no real way to quantify a decade of my career in a meaningful manner that gives the scope of “everything.” I’ve always been ambitious when it comes to my career. I’ve got plans for the next decade. I’m sure they’ll change. But, that’s all right.
I’ll leave you with some lessons I’ve learned along the way.
- Share the love. Publishing is not a zero sum game. No one has to lose for you to win. Eventually we will work together on a project.
- Default to being kind. Publishing is a small industry.
- Write what you love and what you want to read. My greatest success has come from settling in to write exactly what I want to write and to love what I do.
- Figure out what kind of writing career you want. Casual? Part-time? Full-time? Just hang out with other writers? It’s all good. The sooner you realize what you actually want, the better it will be for you.
- You are allowed to change your mind and to change direction. Shift gears on the type of story telling you do. Flash? Podcasts? Epic novel series? One-off books? Tie-in work?
- You are allowed to stop. To quit. To take a break. To rest.
- You are allowed to start again. No one is going to take away your writing card.
- There is no one path to a successful writing career. YOU determine what makes you a success. Self-pub? Big 5? Hybrid? It’s all fair game. This is one of the most exciting times in the publishing arena. Nothing is off-limits.
Of course, the last decade wouldn’t have been as successful as it’s been without the Husband’s support. He helped make it all possible. For that, I am ever-grateful.
As the year moves into the last month of the year, it’s time to remind the world what you had published in 2019 and is eligible for the forthcoming awards season. For me, it was 1 anthology, 2 novels, 3 short stories, and 1 podcast. Not bad despite the horrendousness of my personal life this year.
Anthology: A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods. YA, Lovecraft.
Teenagers fighting Elder Gods in the modern ages. Sometimes they win. Sometimes they lose. Sometimes they fall to temptation.
Novel: BattleTech – Iron Dawn. YA, Military Scifi.
The first of a trilogy. Orphaned siblings need to take matters into their own hands when the enemy comes knocking on their adopted home world. This is where hard-bitten military veterans come from…if they can survive.
Novel: Shadowrun – Makeda Red. Adult, Science fantasy (the Matrix meets Tolkien meets Bladerunner).
An homage to Casablanca’s back story. It begins with a train heist across Europe and gets messy, complicated, and deadly in a hurry. High adventure, fun, and a bit sexy.
Short Story: Shadowrun – “Between a Corp and a Hard Place.” Adult, Science fantasy.
This one was a five part serial short story published in Gama Trade Magazine. It’s a kidnapping become willing extraction as two factions bargain with the same runner team for the same target. And, of course, nothing is what it seems to be.
Short Story: Emberwind – “Written in Red.” Co-written with John Helfers. Adult, Steampunk fantasy.
Available online, this story skims the top of the double and triple dealings that happen in the Red Market of Adriel. The question is…who controls who?
Short Story: Valdemar – “One Town at a Time.” Adult, Traditional fantasy.
For those who love the Heralds of Valdemar, sometimes it’s fun to go back to normal Heralds in the field, dealing with unexpected discoveries the best they can. One of my most upbeat Valdemar stories.
Podcast: Shadowrun – ShadowBytes. Eight episode series hosted by The Violent Life podcast.
Available online. Eight pieces of Shadowrun fiction. Three are excerpts from my novella, DocWagon 19. Five are linked flash fiction pieces that give you a glimpse into the hard life of running in the shadows. Dark and gritty.
Over all, I’m pleased. Every story was commissioned and contracted. These all came out in and around writing a novel, a novella, writing several short stories, attending multiple conventions, dealing with the death of my father, dealing with the death of a mentor, and one of my cats having surprise surgery.
This year, I won the Rainforest Writers Inspirational Award for session three. I was surprised and pleased.
“Writing is hard. A writer needs assistance, encouragement, and ideas to help them put words on the page. This award recognizes those who contribute to the success of other writers.”
From the certificate:
“Each year, the members of the Rainforest Writers community gather to spend a few days writing, kibitzing, and talking the talk. While the stated goal of the retreat is to get some much needed writing time, this retreat also serves as an opportunity for writers to bask in the community of other writers and creatives. This communal event provides writers with the fuel and fire to go forth and continue creating.
“In light of this, we wish to recognize individuals who are notable inspirations to the member of the Rainforest Writers community. Being amazing takes effort, and we know such effort is not always an easy choice to make, and we appreciate your wherewithal to excel at such effort.
“The Rainforest Writers Inspirational Award is to be awarded to an individual from each session of the retreat. Nominations for the award will be submitted by the attendees of each session, and the final decision will be overseen by Patrick Swenson, the retreat coordinator and spiritual guru.
“This award will manifest itself as an artfully designed and rendered trophy/plaque/wall hanging thingy as well as a cash stipend. Fellow attendees may have some ideas about how the money should be spent. The recipient of the Inspirational Award may creatively observe such ideas as they see fit.
“The Rainforest Writers Inspirational Award is sponsored by A Good Book Bookstore, located in Sumner, WA.”
I’m so chuffed to win this award. It was so unexpected. One of my goals is to help and inspire other writers. To be awarded this by my peers is icing on the cake. Also, the cash was nice, too. It’s even better that this year’s award includes a carving of the pacific northwest tree octopus.
I survived my tax appointment! Yay!
The Hugo Award nomination period closes on 16 Mar 2018. Along with my own work I would like you to consider, I have a couple other recommendations.
Winter Tide by Ruthanne Emrys
Into the Drowning Deep by Seanan McGuire
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
A Human Stain by Kelly Robson
Best Young Adult Book (not a Hugo)
EXO by Fonda Lee
If you can nominate for the Hugos, please do. Your vote does count.
From now until I decide I want to stop doing this, I will be giving out a monthly “Jennifer Award” for the best new-to-me thing I read that month. This can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be an essay/article, a short story, a novelette, a novella, or a novel. It doesn’t matter when it came out. It only matters that this is the first time I read it and I thought it was the best thing I read all month. Yes, it is completely subjective and biased towards what I like to read.
The winner will receive a shiny digital badge and a $5 gift card.
January’s winner of the Jennifer Award is Godfall and Other Stories by Sandra M. Odell. Congratulations, Sandra! You have email. I was asked to blurb this fiction collection and I did. It will be published in April. Once I started reading these stories, I couldn’t stop. It's that good.
Jan: Godfall and Other Stories by Sandra M. Odell
It’s 2018 and awards season has already begun. Nebula nominations are open. Hugo nominations are just around the corner. That means it’s time for me to take a critical look at what I’m most proud of from 2017 and what I’d like to highlight for your nomination consideration.
“To Lose the Stars” in The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade anthology.
I am super proud of this near future SF story. The anthology editor posted the story in the SFWA forums. It is also available for those who would like to read it for awards consideration. Just contact me.
New Podcast / Fancast (Hugos) / Podcast Series
Five Minute Stories podcast by Jennifer Brozek (author/reader) and Jeff Brozek (post production).
This was my first time at creating an SFF anthology podcast series. I worked with the Husband on it. We’ve produced and released all 26 episodes. I’m stupidly proud of this project. My favorite episodes of the series are: Train to Topeka, Elevator of the Damned, Responsible, Questions, and Two Letters.
Blogging / Best Related Work (Hugos)
Author Etiquette blog series by Jennifer Brozek and Sarah Craft.
This monthly series has been going on for three years now and I think there’s some really good stuff in it. We’ve put together a series of articles to help authors across the spectrum navigate some of the trickier social customs and courtesies of the publishing arena. Sarah’s post.
(Edit: Shifted Author Etiquette series from "Fan Writer" category to "Best Related Work" category based on advice given.)
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.
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: 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!
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.