I have survived both Gen Con and Worldcon. I’ve come home to a mountain of work and a clowder of kitties alternating between needy and pissed off. I am so glad to be home. It’s been a lot of travel over the last three weeks.
I only had two panels and both were good. I was nominated as moderator for the Media Tie-In panel and did adequately well for having no warning and no prep. The second panel, “How to Pitch a Story”, was something else altogether.
The room was almost full by the time I arrived ten minutes early. I was already fretting that I had to condense a 2 hour workshop into 50 minutes. By the time the panel started, it was standing room only and people were lining the walls. It was one of my most successful panels to date (second only to my Tracon panel, “How to make the ordinary terrifying.”).
I spoke fast, recovered without making a fool of myself when a pair of sign language interpreters appeared at my side (thank goodness I recognized what they were doing before I asked), and I got out 95% of what I wanted to do. Based on the myriad of responses and compliments, I did well. I’m pleased. I feel prepared for the North Coast Redwood Writers Conference version of the workshop I’ll be giving in September.
I did have a husband (D) and wife (S) come to my table later and ask how D could learn to put himself out there. S explained that D was extremely shy (he was) and that networking was going to be really hard for him. S was vivacious and engaging. D looked like he wanted the ground to swallow him. I knew I had to do two things: 1. Explain that “Jennifer Brozek, Author and Editor” was a different person than me. 2. Explain how the two of them could work things so D would be able to talk to editors, publishers, and agents.
1. When I am at a convention and in public, I’m “on stage.” I’m playing a character who likes people, is extremely patient, is confident, knowledgeable, and happy to be there. 80% of the time, this isn’t really an act. This is a mode that I get into. It’s true. However, when I saw how packed my workshop was, I had to take that ten minutes to “gird my loins” as they say and remind myself that I did know what I was talking about. I wasn’t a hack. And they weren’t going to throw rotten fruit at me.
I did this by taking on a power stance, standing in front of the panel table, and taking control of the room. I didn’t let anything bother me. If I didn’t have an answer for a question, I said so. I was the character. As soon as the panel was done, I fled. Flat out. I thanked everyone. Reminded people that another panel was coming in there. And I didn’t wait to talk to anyone. Except for William Ledbetter who said, “That was the best 4 hour workshop in 45 minutes I’ve ever heard.” It was the right thing to say to me then.
2. D is shy. Extremely so. But, he’s a gamer. I explained how I put on a character and recommend that he try something similar. Also, practice your elevator pitch. Practice your longer pitch. Practice on your friends and family. If you have to create a LARP of friends who are different publishers, editors, and agents. Then have a party. He seemed to consider the idea as a possibility.
The other thing I had to do was gently tell S that she needed to step back a bit and let D take the lead. D would be the one working with the publishers, editors, and agents. He had to be the one to talk and he had to get used to the idea. Eventually, the two of them could tag-team it, but for her to help, she had to let D work through his issues. She had to have the patience to do so.
I wasn’t always as “confident” or “smooth” or “clear and concise” or “engaging” as I seem now. I remember I wouldn’t go to my first Gen Con until my editor, Brian Gute, agreed to shepherd me around. Now, I’ve had over ten years of experience on the convention circuit, talking with people I wanted to impress, and generally learning how to be a people-person or “on stage” at a convention.
I think it’s important for people just starting out to realize that a lot of us in the front of the room are faking it. Yes, we generally know what we’re doing, but we don’t have all the answers. We have the experience of what worked for us. We’d like to help those following in our footsteps make less mistakes… or at least different ones. “Fake it until you make it” works for me. It might work for you, too.
I will be at Worldcon and easy to find in general. Most of my time, during the day, will be spent behind my booth in the dealers room. Come find me at the Apocalypse Ink Productions booth, say hello, buy a book and get it signed! I'll have copies all of my new stuff as well as the sudden and unexpected appearance of my SF anthology, Bless Your Mechanical Heart. It is out of print and filled with wonderful stories about robots and cyborgs dealing with emotions.
I do have a couple of panels. They are listed below. Hope to see you there!
Dealers Room Hours: 12 Noon – 6 PM
Dealers Room Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM
1-2pm, 210F (San Jose Convention Center)
Playing in Other Sandboxes: Media Tie-In Writing
The media tie-in. Once, the dirty secret of the spec fic market -- now the best way to get exposure for your name. Movies, TV, Video Games, RPGs and even other books. How does an author find the room to move in an often already crowded world? Dancing with license holders, tiptoeing around cannon, and waltzing with readers expectations; is it worth it? And why the sudden upsurge in tie-in short fiction?
David Boop, Joy Ward, Jennifer Brozek, Sarah Stegall, Wesley Chu
Dealers Room Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM
11am-12pm, 212D (San Jose Convention Center)
DD: How to Pitch a Story
Participants will learn four basic pitch techniques, two verbal and two written, to help sell both short and long fiction. We will also discuss how, why, and when each is used. Participants will be asked to present a pitch based on a provided prompt.
Dealers Room Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM
Dealers Room Hours: 10 AM – 3 PM
Let me sum up Gen Con: Busy, exhausting, awesome.
As usual, way too many things happened for me to talk about them all. I’m going to hit some highlights.
Melissa Allen Trilogy
I discovered that Melissa Allen #1: Never Let Me Sleep is on TV Tropes! There’s an author bucket list checkmark!
Arkham Horror: To Fight the Black Wind
I have never had so many fans come up and be so complimentary about any of my tie-in fiction before. People told me that, because of my novella, Carolyn Fern was now their favorite Arkham Horror character. That To Fight the Black Wind was “the holy grail” of the Arkham Horror novellas to find. That there is even a subreddit discussing To Fight the Black Wind that was complimentary. (Another author buckle list checkmark). I was even asked to sign the Carolyn Fern Arkham Horror card game card (checkmark!). I really am thrilled at how much people enjoyed my novella.
Cat Labs (So Many Projects)
BattleTech – The Nellus Academy Incident sold out at both the Cat Labs booth and mine. Several people came to find me with the book they’d bought elsewhere to get it signed. A huge number of BattleTech fans came to as about the new YA Rogue Academy BattleTech trilogy and say nice things about Nellus Academy.
Shadowrun – I got to see all the Cat Lab people and thank Jason Hardy for all he does to protect his authors. I got compliments on Doc Wagon 19 and asked if I was writing more Shadowrun…. To which I could say Yes! I’m writing the first YA Shadowrun novella, A Kiss to Die For. I don’t know when it’ll be out. I also got to meet the people behind the MyViolentLife Shadowrun podcast. I’ll be working with them later in the year on Shadow Bytes, short Shadowrun podcast fiction.
Of course, there was all kinds of cool stuff with one of my favoritest editors, John. We all got to sign the Masters of Orion anthology that he edited and I wrote for. I had meetings with him on a couple of “sekrit” projects that promise to be very exciting, some time in the future.
Breakfast with Misty was a joy and a relief. Especially after her scary adventure. Check out her FB page for more, entertaining details.
We made it home in good time with only a handful of books to spare. Someday, I will completely sell out of all my books. This was close, but not quite there, yet.
Yes, I’m going to WorldCon. Schedule soon.
Next week is Gen Con. I'm not officially on any panels, but I'm in the Authors Avenue in the Dealers hall, Booth AL, right across from Extra Life. I'll be there for most of the Dealer Room Hours. I've got morning breakfast meetings set up, and I will be attending the "What's New with Catalyst" panel. Other than that, my evenings are free. Let me know if you'd like to get together. Otherwise, come see me at my booth and say hello!
I'll have copies of:
- The Prince of Artemis V (new to Gen Con).
- A is for Apex (debuting at Gen Con).
- BattleTech: The Nellus Academy Incident (new to Gen Con).
- Arkham Horror: To Fight the Black Wind (new to Gen Con).
- The Last Days of Salton Academy (out of print).
- All the AIP books.
Hope to see you there!
Life has been busy, busy, busy, but good.
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.
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.
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!
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.
There are no sweeter words to write on the first draft of a manuscript. Today, I finished the first draft of Rogue Academy #1: Iron Dawn. It’s 84,000 words. Long for a YA novel, but it’ll break 90,000 by the time I’m done. I tend to add into my manuscripts rather than take out. Now that I have the whole story down, I know what needs to be added and where. I know what can be foreshadowed and what can be cut. It’s a beautiful feeling.
I’m going to ignore the manuscript for the next five days to get ready for and go to the Washington State Toy and Geek Fest. I’ll be there with Books & Chains as a dealer. I’ll take one day off to sleep/rest, then I’ll spend the next ten days fixing the novel before I turn it in on July 15th.
This won’t be the last time I see the manuscript by a long shot. It will need to go through a reading by the Cat Labs fiction editor, the BattleTech line developer, and the BattleTech fact checkers. I hope that’s only two iterations of edits. Then a final polish. Then proofing. There may be another iteration of edits in there. I don’t know. We’ll see.
I’ll take a couple of days off to sleep after turning in Iron Dawn. Then I’ll begin the next project. Two of them actually; both Shadowrun.
The first is five flash fiction pieces for a podcast project. The second is my Shadowrun YA novella: A Kiss to Die For. I’m looking forward to digging into both projects. I love Shadowrun and I love new projects. They’ll be a good brain palette-cleanser for when Iron Dawn is returned to me with edits/revisions and I can look at it with fresh eyes and a critical mind.
Typing “The End” is always just the beginning of any novel. A sweet one. It is also the herald of something new to work on.
If I’m at not a panel, I will be in the Dealers Room with Apocalypse Ink Productions. I will have copies of my newest books, including Arkham Horror: To Fight the Black Wind and The Nellus Academy Incident. Come by and see me.
- Friday 4pm – 8pm
- Saturday 11am -7pm
- Sunday 11am -5pm
FRI 5PM Cascades 9 Start Writing, Stay Writing (Mod)
Have you dreamed of writing your own stories? Dying to get published? Maybe you are looking for tips to keep you moving forward? A panel of writers will share their favorite tips on getting started, staying motivated and improving your work. Panel discussion is designed for beginner or intermediate writers across a variety of forms like short story, novel and screenplay. This panel will provide a foundation for other writing panels and workshops this weekend.
James Gillen, Rebecca Brown, Jennifer Brozek (M), Julie McGilliard, Jerome St. Martin
SAT 1PM Cascades 9 Jennifer Brozek Author Reading (Mod)
I will be reading from TO FIGHT THE BLACK WIND. Psychologist Carolyn Fern is searching for the cause of a patient’s terrible nightmares that leave her both mentally and physically scarred.
SUN 11AM Cascades 9 Crafting Compelling Protagonists (Mod)
So often great stories also have great protagonists. A protagonist can pull audiences in or leave them out in the cold. This panel of authors will discussion what makes a compelling protagonist and how to craft one in your short story, novel, screenplay or other creative work.
Jennifer Brozek (M), Cat Rambo, John Lovett, Jerome St. Martin
Cover reveal, book release: Arkham Horror - To Fight the Black Wind. To be released on April 5.
Guest Blog: Rising Shadows. Why do I write horror? Let me count the reasons…
Kickstarter: Broken Eye Books - good people. It's funded. Welcome to Miskatonic University! One week to go. My story “The Librarian’s Handbook is in the second anthology. The first is funded!
In Print: Look what's in print. My award winning #BattleTech YA novel, THE NELLUS ACADEMY INCIDENT! You asked for it to be in print, and Cat Labs heard you.
Interview: An interview with me on Andrea Dawn of the Dead: The Women of Horror Literature - Jennifer Brozek - The Author's Own Words. I'm the final girl who will try to keep you alive.
Norwescon: Here is my forthcoming schedule for Norwescon. If I'm not in a panel, I'm probably at my dealer's table in the dealer's room. No shyness zone around me. Come and say hello.
Dealers Table, 4:00pm to 8:00pm
Dealers Table, 10:00am to 7:00pm
Whipping Out That First Draft, 11:00am - 12:00pm @ Cascade 12
Reading: Jennifer Brozek, 12:00pm - 12:30pm @ Cascade 4
Social Horror, 6:00pm - 7:00pm @ Cascade 11
Anthologies Joy, 7:00pm - 8:00pm @ Cascade 11
Dealers Table, 10:00am to 6:00pm
Why Agent? 11:00am - 12:00pm @ Cascade 11
YA's Role In Genre, 1:00pm - 2:00pm @ Evergreen 1 & 2
Autograph Session 1, 2:00pm - 3:00pm @ Grand 2
The Horror Of Being Twelve, 6:00pm - 7:00pm @ Cascade 10
Dealers Table, 10:00am to 4:00pm
I will be at Anglicon this coming weekend as a panelist and with Books & Chains. If I'm not at the Dealer's table, this is where I am.
Black Mirror: Too Much or Just Enough - Cascade 2, 2pm
The Best British Shows You're Not Watching - Cascade 2, 4pm
Sherlock Holmes in Every Incarnation - Olympic 2 - Saturday, 3pm
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Clara? - Cascade 2 - Sunday, 3pm
Both Raven and I will have mystery boxes to sell at the convention (perfect for that hard to buy for person in your life) as well as books and candles. Elise, of course, will have her fabulous chainmail.
Come by, say hello, get a book signed, and buy a gift for yourself or that someone special. Hope to see you there!
This weekend is OryCon. I will be there as a dealer and as a panelist. Below is my schedule. If I’m not in a panel, I’m probably at my dealer’s table. Come on by to see me. I'll have my "stealth book" with me. :)
Friday, 17 Nov 2017
4pm: GM School
A primer on how to run a game for those who are interested, and even those who have never done it. How to keep your players involved & interested in coming back. What campaign to pick for your players.
5pm: Writing and Art for the RPG Industry
A how-to workshop on what it is like to work for the RPG industry.
Saturday, 18 Nov 2017
10am: I Quit My Job to Be a Writer! WHAT HAVE I DONE?
How do you stay focused when you're all by yourself and the realities of making a living via the written word come flooding in? Find techniques for forcing yourself to get words written and plots plotted, with time to get dressed and leave the house.
1:30pm: Reading with Jennifer Brozek
I will be reading from NEVER LET ME SLEEP and from FIVE MINUTE STORIES.
Sunday, 19 Nov 2017
11am: Pamper Your Muse
How to get your creative mind to talk to you. How writing prompts, mind maps, creative dates with yourself, tarot and storytelling cards can help you tap the muse.
While I am not an official participant of the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell’s Sci-Fi Authorfest 11, I will be there with Josh Vogt who is an official participant.