Jennifer Brozek | All posts tagged 'guest-blog' - Page 3

Tell Me – Luna Lindsey

by Jennifer Brozek 4. March 2013 10:48

Printing Emerald City Dreamer - When Thoughts Become Reality

Why do I believe in faeries?

 

I'm not sure if I believe in faeries. You might call me a faegnostic. The existence of faeries is just about as likely as most other phenomenon of the unseen world. There certainly are enough eye-witness accounts to put them on par with more serious cryptids. Yet extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

 

What I can prove is that I write about faeries. And maybe I believe in magic.

 

Sometimes I get lost in all the mechanics and business of writing to remember why I focused in on these ethereal beings, out of hundreds of other speculative topics I might have chosen. Across three novels and a handful of short stories, I've written 275,000 words about faeries. So they must be important.

 

Over the weekend, I attended Faeriecon West. But not for fun. I had a quest to scope it out, with four simple tasks:

  • Find a spot to place my promotional bookmarks; 
  • See if any book vendors might carry my print copy of Emerald City Dreamer next year; 
  • Make some faerie-industry contacts; 
  • Develop ideas to promote my books at Faeriecon in the future.

I chickened out on most of these. A very jaded me walked past, with barely a glance, at merchandise I've seen at a hundred other cons. All the faerie costumes and glitter and twigs and flowers.

 

To fill the time, an uncharmed me listened with a skeptical ear to Raven Grimassi, who believes in actual faeries. His stories threatened to destroy my world-weary veneer, especially when he spoke about a faerie he met, who believed humans are the only magical creatures in the universe. Faeries can turn thoughts into things in a way that seems magic to us, he explained, yet these objects are made of ether that disappears when thought moves on. Only humans can turn thoughts into real things – by constructing chairs and buildings and books.

 

A me not-long-past would have reveled in the whole spectacle, silk and wands and pagans and all. Instead, I went home early.

 

It took at least an hour into the Woodland & Faun concert the next night for all the fae stuff to finally sink in, and I remembered what it is about faeries that has drawn me to them year after year.

 

It's their magic. It's not always good magic; sometimes it's quite terrifying. But it's magic all the same. Real or not, the fae represent the hidden wild nature of humanity: our animal instincts, our emotions, our occluded fears. Our subconscious, be it collective or individual.

 

Fae folk are earthy, childlike, capricious, and full-of-wonder. They are also vicious, cunning, duplicitous, and debauched. They represent the powers of creation and the other edge of that bronze-age sword: the powers of destruction. The fae are avatars of dream and nightmare, and that is how I present them in my Dreams by Streetlight world.

 

I am releasing Emerald City Dreamer in print this month, and I needed a reminder of their energy in the midst of the mundane work of cover design, font-choosing, layout formatting, software troubleshooting, and price-calculating. These tasks are as oppressive as cheap newsprint that rubs off on your fingers and clothes. Hardly inspiring.

 

As dull as the minutia of publishing can be, it is a form of creation no less important than the day two years ago when I created Ezra, the religious boy unaware he is a troll. No less charming than planning the BrughHaHaus, a University District dwelling full of faeborn housemates ruled by their Elf Queen. No less enthralling than giving the antagonist enough magic to torment, attack, enslave, and terrify my other characters.

 

No less vital than drafting, revising, and editing the thousands of words to form the novel in the first place.

 

And nothing could be as inspiring as the moment I first held a hardcopy of my novel in my hands, with its glossy cover, the captivating image of Jina staring at me, determined to use that sword or guitar or both; to turn it over and admire the layout on the back and spine; to flip through the pages and see all those words, in tangible form, for 320 pages.

 

In my novel, I label some people as dreamers. They are the creators of art who, through their power of painting or singing or writing, produce the energy consumed by the fae. The fae transform those dreams into glamour to create illusions – things that seem real, but are not.

 

Faerie magic.

 

In my way, I have done the opposite. I have transformed my thoughts and dreams into words, and then, through a humdrum process of layouts and formatting, transformed the words into a physical object – a book.

 

I made a thing from a thought, just like the magic described by Raven Grimassi's faerie.

 

It's no mistake that the word "spell" is a homonym with two meanings: "to correctly write a word" and "to create something of magic." A book is a real thing full of thoughts that, while imaginary, will never disappear.

 

Perhaps I am wrong to be skeptical. Raven's faerie spoke wisdom. Humans possess true magic.

 

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Luna Lindsey lives near Seattle, WA. At some point, she accidentally became an expert on mind control, computers, and faeries. She began writing full-time in 2010 and has been published in the Journal of Unlikely Entomology and in Penumbra eMag as the January 2013 Rising Talent. She tweets like a bird @lunalindsey and blogs at www.lunalindsey.com. Her novel, Emerald City Dreamer, is now available both on Kindle and in print.

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Tell Me – Kelly Berger

by Jennifer Brozek 25. February 2013 10:17

I’ve known Kelly off and on for a while. I know she’s a hard-working, geek-tastic lass who is following her dreams. She really should be supported in this. Plus… ice cream!

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Today I'm pretending to be a writer.

This week I'll have to pretend to be a publicist, an accountant and probably a lawyer. What I'm actually good at is making ice cream. In starting up  my business, Cosmic Creamery, I spend more time pretending to be all kinds of other things instead of actually getting to make ice cream.

It's a very weird dichotomy: having to pretend to be so many things I'm completely unqualified for just so I can do something I'm really qualified for.

I love making ice cream. Ice cream is delicious, full of awesome memories and sooo customizable. Eating Crazy Vanilla at the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland on sweltering, humid summer nights. Stuck at home with the chicken pox and having my mom hand me a whole pint of Rainbow Sherbet. Every time I make a flavor I've had before, I enjoy it for all those good memories. I also adore designing new recipes. It's a snowball effect, the momentum is powerful. Ooh, I wonder if I can make a better Mango sorbet recipe. Wait, what if I added some cayenne pepper to it? What about a swirl of chocolate? The ideas just cascade all over the place. Not to mention when other people get involved! Anyone I've ever talked to about ice cream immediately wants to share their favorite flavor, or suggest flavors to me. A lot of the suggestions are really, really good!

Starting a business isn't just about the ice cream, though. As with many creative arts, you end up spending a lot of time tackling the business side of things instead of actually creating. So I do tons and tons of research. I read books, articles, and websites. I talk to friends and family who have done any number of the things I'm pretending to do. I spend waaaay too many hours at the computer, staring at spreadsheets and sending emails.

When it gets to be too much I go over to my notebook full of my own ice cream recipes. I flip through each page and remember how good it all tastes, I let myself daydream up more and more ideas (hmm, what about honey lavender ice cream? Or a chocolate blueberry sorbet?). If the day job and the small-business-starting tasks aren't too demanding then maybe I get a chance to actually get in the kitchen, churn something up, and scoop up a bowl full of sweet, delicious ice cream. Tonight I'm making chocolate hazelnut. What flavor would you like?

If, like me, you love ice cream, please consider backing my ice cream business on Kickstarter. We only have until March 3rd to get funded for this summer. I have some snazzy rewards for my backers, plus you get the opportunity to enjoy more of my out-of-this-world ice cream this summer.

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When not making ice cream, Kelly Berger spends way too much time reading, playing board games, and roleplaying. Kelly has been making ice cream as a hobby for almost ten years. Her successes (Blackberry/Lemon ice cream, Mango/Cayenne sorbet!) and disasters (Turkey ice cream) have led to the creation of Cosmic Creamery.

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Tell Me – Erik Dahlman

by Jennifer Brozek 18. February 2013 11:02

Over the past year we’ve had to license game mechanics and intellectual property from a variety of game designers and authors. I’ll be honest, this used to seem like the most complicated and expensive endeavor in the world and scared the hell out of me. I always envisioned a week-long meeting with a roomful of high powered attorneys discussing terms and conditions, finally culminating with a contract signed in blood with a clause for my firstborn.

Fortunately, I’ve begun to look at licensing for what it really is: an additional revenue stream that you can leverage if you choose the right people to partner with.

This definition is of course from the side of the person licensing the IP. A good way to look at it is that you are partnering with someone that has the time and resources to take the world that you’ve built and introduce even more people to it. And as a nice side effect, you’ll hopefully make some extra cash along the way!

So what are a few things to look at? Let me turn the tables and tell you what it is we look for as a game publisher:

Strength of the brand
The greater a following your IP already has, the more likely there is to be some crossover with a new product. If you have a strong fan base, you can usually negotiate for a higher percentage.

Terms
I don’t make a game thinking that it’s going to fail, so I want to leave myself open to as many opportunities as possible to cash in on that success. This means I’m going to ask for the rights to produce expansions and a digital version of the game. Since we have the skill set to convert the assets we’ve already created in order to have them do double duty, this makes a lot of sense for us.

Another stipulation here is normally the length of time that a license can be utilized. Typically, I’ve seen a length of five years during which time the licensee should be actively producing and/or marketing the products using the license. Of course the term ‘actively’ can be pretty arbitrary so you have to be a bit careful with this one.

How much do we like the person we’re licensing from?
You may think that money is money and this doesn’t matter. Maybe for some people it doesn’t, but for us, we don’t want to deal with someone that’s going to turn what should be a fun endeavor into tedium. We tend to gravitate towards those with a similar vision and approach.

How well do we know the license material?
I think it’s difficult to really immerse yourself in a product and capture its full flavor if you don’t really know it. Our company doesn’t deal with anything if at least one of us doesn’t have intimate knowledge of the subject material. This is really the only way we can tie in little nuances that true fans would appreciate and make something that truly captures the essence of the IP in our products.

How passionate are we about it?
A game can take up to six months for us to produce (not counting manufacturing time). That’s a very long time to work on something that you don’t like, so we make sure that it’s something we really enjoy.

If you’d like to see the result of one of these licensing endeavors, check out Dragon Whisperer. We licensed the game mechanics from the legendary game designer Richard Borg and crafted a rich and vibrant world around them that we’re really proud of.



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Erik Dahlman is CEO of Albino Dragon, a game publisher based in Austin, TX. Within the past year, Albino Dragon has launched and successfully funded five Kickstarter projects that have raised over $180,000 to date by leveraging licenses ranging from Richard Borg’s game mechanics to Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu. An avid gamer and businessman, Erik strives to maintain transparency with Albino Dragon in an effort to help others also realize success in the industry and give back to the community.

 

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Tell Me - Mary Alexandra Agner

by Jennifer Brozek 11. February 2013 10:56

LEGO Friends hit stores in January 2012. By then there had already been weeks of arguments online: is pink good for girls? These are dolls not building blocks! Who's going to play with them?

Olivia, the main Friend, has an inventor's workshop. I looked at that little LEGO lab and I knew she had adventures in the offing. I knew she had a love of real science and that she was going to grow from a young tinkerer to an adult engineer.

From my own experience in science and technology, I understand the importance of role models. I wanted to kick down the door LEGO left partially open by giving Olivia a hobby that was nearly masculine. I wanted to subvert the stereotype of science and make it something okay for a girl to love. While I may personally dislike pink, it doesn't matter the color of your oscilloscope. If you want to work with one, you want to work with one. If the color makes you stop and get interested, then good.

So I went to Kickstarter and some wonderful backers supported my project that twisted stereotypes about scientists and throw open the field for people who enjoy pastels. I wanted to write about how collaboration between adult scientists has its roots in being, and staying, friends. I wanted to be gleefully and unashamedly in love with the cool aspects of science, giddy about electrons and x-rays. I wanted to showcase the women working in science, both today and in the past. And I wanted to build telescopes and x-ray machines and microscopes out of LEGO and show Olivia using them.

Thanks to my backers, the stories are out there for anyone to purchase. Each one includes a color picture of Olivia, often with her friends, using computers and lab apparatus. She's got a whiteboard and a blackboard and she's not afraid of putting up equations.


Subvert scientist stereotypes by supporting stories of Olivia the Inventor as she recreates some of the grand experiments of science.

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Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets in poetry, prose, and Ada. As a freelance science writer, she's worked with Under the Microscope, Argonne National Laboratory, and other markets. Her latest book of science poetry is available from Parallel Press. She was born in a United State made for lovers and currently lives halfway up Spring Hill. Her advanced degrees include Earth & planetary science and creative writing. She can be found online at http://www.pantoum.org.

 

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Tell Me – Brian White

by Jennifer Brozek 4. February 2013 10:09

Blown away.

That’s how I feel every time a story or a piece of artwork arrives in my inbox for Fireside, my multigenre fiction magazine. We’ve been publishing for a year now, and you’d think I’d be used to it, these sparks of brilliance (like the gorgeous fire scene Galen Dara did for our current Kickstarter pictured below). I think maybe that’s a sign of good art, that no matter how much you’ve read or how many pictures you’ve looked at, when something is beautiful, or powerful, or whatever it is that is grabbing you by the soul, you can’t help but be moved. And I’ve been lucky to have found so many brilliant people to work with on this magazine, people who get what we’re trying to do: tell great stories.

Before I launched Fireside, I had all these ideas: focusing on storytelling rather than genre, paying creators fairly, experimenting with crowdfunding. Then came all the work: finding writers and artists, figuring out how to write contracts, putting together the Kickstarter, running the Kickstarter, succeeding in the Kickstarter (WHEE!). Then I waited, because the deal I had with everyone was that they’d write and create the art only if the Kickstarter succeeded. I didn’t want people doing work they wouldn’t get paid for, if the Kickstarter failed. It was a gamble, I guess, since I didn’t know what the stories were going to be, and I was locked in with the writers I had signed up. What would I do if I got a bunch of stuff I hated?

One morning a few weeks later the little (1) appeared next to my email Inbox. It was from Ken Liu, and his story for Issue One, “To the Moon,” was attached. It was the first story I got to read for Fireside.

It was wonderful. And I knew everything was going to be OK.

Fireside is a lot of work, especially running Kickstarter campaigns. We had a Kickstarter for each of the three issues we published last year, and today we’re launching a new one, to fund an entire year of a totally revamped monthly magazine. We’re hoping to put Fireside on a more stable footing. It will still be a lot of work, but it also means even more magic in my email. And then I get to share it with the world. And I hope the world, or the tiny slice of it that we reach, anyway, has one feeling when we arrive every month:

Blown away.

 

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Brian White’s day job – well it’s really a night job – is as a newspaper copy editor. He has a healthy obsession with bourbon and fedoras. Brian lives in the Boston area with his wife, Lauren, and two cats: Bast and Peep.  Find out more about Fireside magazine at its website or on twitter: @firesidemag.

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Tell Me – Tina Shelton

by Jennifer Brozek 28. January 2013 12:52

A Girl and her Rocketship: The Making of The Corsican

No one ever accused The Corsican of being a pretty project. My previous experience with writing had never been anything focused. You know the story; the first four chapters spring forth like Athena from Zeus’s forehead. Then one day you wake up and roll over and the story just isn’t as pretty as it was at three in the morning. You slip away unnoticed, and you never call, and you never write.

Not this time.  I had a directive, given to me by a friend. “Write a story,” she said. And I did. Then what? My project moldered in the ‘holding phase.’ I learned about the joys and pains of waiting to see if my story was accepted. Rejection is a terrible force, but sometimes it can galvanize you.

One day, having just finished an appointment in the unemployment office, my phone rang. My manuscript had been accepted by Anacrusis Press! I was so excited I shook. I had made it past the barrier! The moment felt like I had broken a ribbon, and finished the race.  What I didn’t realize at the time was that this marked where the race began! Pick up any book and you can see how much work has gone into it. Cover art, the font, the inside cover. Not to mention things like distribution channel and percentages.

No one tells authors that they are a small business creating a product line. Anyone knowing a writer knows how far and fast they’ll run screaming if they have to think about their baby as a product.

After suffering the slings and arrows of being a commodity, I’ve learned that marketing is in fact a necessary evil. I have learned how to figure out my target audience. I have learned that I love writing enough to brave a spot on the social stage. Writers tend to need their introverted nature to withstand sitting for hours in front of a computer, turning caffeine into words. It’s a system shock to discover they need other people in order to have an audience.

Stories aren’t meant for an audience of one, after all. No matter how desperately a writer loves their world, at the end of the day they want others to love it too. That desire, more than anything, drives a person to want to be published, to want to put their story on the world market and see how well it does.

Writing a book is an experience that goes on forever. From the first penned word to the special edition with alternate cover, this process transforms the readers and the writers. I loved the challenge of it. I loved it so much that I’m in the middle of editing rounds for my second novel. With luck it should be published around September. From there, who knows where I’ll go? After all, I have a rocketship to take me there.

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Born in Wyoming, Tina Shelton started writing stories in kindergarten and never stopped. Her love of stories grew as she did, taking her to far off planets and mythic realms of magic and swords. She moved to Washington in 1994 and felt instantly at home in the urban sprawl of Seattle. Her storytelling methods were expanded by a group of like minded fiction enthusiasts she met soon after her move. Today she lives in a large town that thinks it’s a city with her husband Luke and son Toby.

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Tell Me – Matthew Marovich

by Jennifer Brozek 21. January 2013 11:06

Matt and I have been friends for a while. He's a budding writer and podcaster. When he told me about his charity fundraiser, I knew I had to have him on "Tell Me." Also, listening to him and Tyler talk about the various books is really funny. Good guy. Good heart. Good cause.

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It started last year when I said on my blog and Facebook that I was going to read Twilight in the month of February. The reason behind doing so was a challenge by a friend of mine to read something I frequently hated on, because how could I know my objections, gleaned from other people's reviews and snippets read on the Internet, were really valid without having ever really read the book. I admitted that he was right at the time, albeit grudgingly, and made it a project: a month of Twilight, "live" blogged as I made my way through Stephanie Meyer's first novel.

And then my friend Tyler had to go and screw it up by making it worse.

Instead of just one book he challenged me to read all four, the entire Twilight "saga", in one month and I agreed with one caveat, that if I suffered he had to suffer with me. With February being a short month and me on vacation in the middle of it we pushed our reading to March.

It was from this that our podcast Your Book is Why Daddy Drinks was born. We decided to record our impressions of these first four books, discussing what we didn't like, what few parts we did, and everything else about Stephanie Meyer's works, to the background of us drinking. And people seemed to like them. We moved on from there to other stories, touching on science fiction, fantasy, military thrillers, gonzo/bizarro, romance, and a host of other genres in the months since. The podcast grew into one part book review, one part comedy through suffering as other people used Tyler and I to suggest books they might want to read and hear about without having to suffer through actually reading them.

However, this post isn't really about that. That's just the history. This post is about the charity drive we've got going on right now, This Charity is Why Daddy Drinks.

Before every podcast, having been friends for over a decade, Tyler and I usually talk about the things we've got going on in our lives and we started discussing doing something to give back. We make no bones about the size of our listening audience, we've got a loyal but small following, but we wanted to see if we could use that to do something cool in an effort to give back and contribute to a charity. We discussed a number of ways we could go about raising money, and which charities we could give to, and eventually decided on Indiegogo for ease of use and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation because we both have people in our lives, adults and kids, who currently live with diabetes.

Here's how we're doing it: you, because the JDRF is awesome, donate money and, should we hit our mark of the very low $500 (we wanted an attainable amount), we will pay full-price admission to go see Stephanie Meyer's The Host on opening night in March of this year, surrounded by squealing, squeeing tweens. If you know Tyler and I, you know that the only way we could possibly ever be forced to do this would be for a good cause and we both agree that we'd suffer a LOT of bad science fiction for the sake of the JDRF. This possible outcome is especially painful for Tyler as he lives in SoCal and would have to drive himself up to the Bay Area, a journey of several hundred miles, because I have a kid and I'm not going down there.

Beyond suffering through The Host, we have a variety of stretch goals attainable if people are feeling particularly generous and/or have it in for making the two of us suffer. For every $200 past the initial $500 we will add a Twilight movie and watch them as part of a Google+ hangout. If we hit $1200 Tyler and I will do the hangout in costume as a member of the Cullen family. We do have a $1600 stretch goal but we're leaving that as a surprise if we get closer to the mark.

So that's our charity drive. If you want to make two guys have to suffer through angsty tween supernatural romance movies, or (and more importantly) you just want to give to a good cause, come on over to the Indiegogo page and donate and look us up on iTunes or at whydaddydrinks.net. We record every month!

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Matthew Marovich is a semi-professional author living in the Bay Area of California with his wife, son, and their two dog. His works have appeared on The Edge of Propinquity and in books by Blood Bound Books, Flying Pen Press, and Dagan Books; his next story will be appearing in the Beast Within 4: Gears & Growls anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek.

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Tell Me – Miss Violet DeVille

by Jennifer Brozek 14. January 2013 15:41

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.

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Tell Me - Jody Lynn Nye

by Jennifer Brozek 7. January 2013 09:58

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.

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Tell me – Ripley Patton

by Jennifer Brozek 31. December 2012 18:43

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.

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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."