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.
It has been an eventful couple of weeks. I didn’t have a chance to cheer about the final ShadowBytes podcast episode being released. With that, the eight episode series is done. I wrote and recorded each of the ShadowBytes episodes after Damien from The Violent Life Shadowrun podcast asked if I would like to work with him. Three of the episodes were excerpts from my Shadowrun novella, DocWagon 19. The other five episodes were a loosely linked story that told the origin and motivation of a shadowrunner who’d once been a happy corporate wage slave.
There are a couple of little things in each episode that I really like. The short format of the stories leans itself to hint at a much greater world without spelling it out. In one episode, I foreshadow the end. In another, I get to use a character who starred in a Shadowrun story called, “Between a Corp and a Hard Place.” In another episode, I hint at the origin story of another shadowrunner… assuming she survives long enough to run the shadows. In still another, I play with the trope of an easy run. In the final episode, a take an emo trope and turn it on its head. It’s a fun series.
If you are interested in other podcasts by me, I have Five Minute Stories. All 26 episodes are online and free. Each one is a standalone modern day supernatural flash fiction piece. I am also voice talent in an urban fantasy podcast called the Dire Multiverse. I voice a couple of different characters.
I do like podcasting. I’d like to do more of it. I’m just not sure what. Yet.
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.
Life has been a bit rough lately. Not just for me. It is getting better. Slowly, surely, life moves on. Still working on BattleTech: Ghost Hour. The words are returning. In the meantime, here's a Bubble & Squeek for you.
• Podcast: The Dire Multiverse. I am voice talent on this urban fantasy podcast, mostly playing the character Dana Lessington…who you will find out is more than she seems. I occasionally play other NPC character parts, too.
• Podcast: ShadowBytes 06: Miyazaki – From DocWagon 19. The team rescues someone they know. Trivia: Miyazaki stars in the serialized Shadowrun story in GTM magazine, “Between a Corp and a Hard Place.”
• Podcast: ShadowBytes 07: Literal Milk Run – This is my play on a heist supposedly being so easy it’s like running out for milk. This is the penultimate episode of ShadowBytes.
• Publication: “Written in Red” by Jennifer Brozek and John Helfers. This is my first collaboration with John and it turned out be a good one. Tie-in story for Emberwind, the RPG.
• Recommendation: The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes. My blurb: “This book is messed up in all the right ways. It’s as if Pixar’s Inside Out mugged Toy Story in a surrealist Raymond Chandler novel. Weird, fun, scary, and a great mystery to boot. Hayes sticks the landing.”
• 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.
Spending a lot of time with my head down and fingers on the keyboard. Turned in a couple of lingering projects including an Emberwind story and another Shadowrun novella.
• Release: Shadowrun: Makeda Red has been released! I know this is old news, but I'm super happy with this book.
• Podcast: ShadowBytes 04: Hey Jude. This one is called "Hey Jude" and you learn about this ork's background and one of her surprising hobbies.
• Podcast: ShadowBytes 05: Hunger and the Hand that Feeds It. This is one of my favorite in the series. I think it really captures the fragility of life running the shadows.
• Review: Skiffy and Fanty review: A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods. They liked it.
• Review: Tor.com review of A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods – “Us and Ours” by Premee Mohamed. The snark is beautiful in this review.
• 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.
And a cat picture. Just because.
Now that you’ve seen what I did in 2018, here’s the basic plan for 2019.
• Finish processing publisher edits on BattleTech Rogue Academy 1: Iron Dawn.
• Write two BattleTech Rogue Academy novels – Complete Rogue Academy 2: Ghost Hour (writing and publisher edits), complete Rogue Academy 3: Crimson Night first draft.
• Edit Shadowrun long fiction – First, edit the novella, A Kiss to Die For. Next, in-between Rogue Academy novels, process publisher edits for my long-ago written Shadowrun novel, Makeda Red.
• Release a limited run Shadowrun Flash Fiction Podcast called Shadow Bytes. This includes three excerpts from DocWagon 19 and five loosely linked original pieces of fiction.
• Edit/manage a brand new, soon-to-be announce project. It is super exciting and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Expand My Creative Horizons:
As it’s turned out, I’ve received the opportunity to try some new things in 2019. Each is new to me and something I’ve wanted to for a while.
• I’ve joined a Twitch RPG game. It will be set in the Emberwind universe. I believe we’ll be playing once a month.
• I’ve joined the cast of the Dire Multiverse podcast as voice talent. I’m voicing two characters so far and I’m already having a lot of fun with this ensemble podcast.
• I’ve joined Curious Fictions. It’s a little like Patreon, but is focused on writers. I’ll be posting weekly. Two weeks will be open to the public, two weeks will be for my subscribers only. I’m not completely sure how this will go, but if you become a subscriber, know that I appreciate you immensely.
I have five conventions scheduled for 2019. There will, most likely, be a couple of one-day driving events that I do with Raven Oak or with Books & Chains. I’m really making the effort to do less travel because I have a heavier writing schedule this year. Also, me and the Husband plan to spend a couple of weeks in New Zealand in 2020.
• Mar - Rainforest, WA (Teaching a workshop)
• Apr - Norwescon, WA (Dealers table)
• May - StokerCon, MI (Teaching a workshop)
• May - MisCon, MT (TBA – I haven’t heard if I’m in the dealers room or on panels yet.)
• Aug - Gen Con, IN (TBA – Author’s Avenue most likely)
I’m 48 now. Something clicked in 2018 that proved I really need to take control of my space, my work-life balance, and my health—both physical and mental. I worked 316 days last year. That is too many. I should be closer to 260 days. Also, there’s not that much in my life I have complete control over. Based on the business I’m in and the world at large, I need to take control over what I can control.
• Physical health – I’m eating better and I’m exercising more. This isn’t a resolution. I started this back in August 2018. I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing.
• Declutter – I have now lived in one place, one home, for longer than I ever have in my life. 10+ years. For someone used to moving every 2-5 years, I’ve gotten good at decluttering and downsizing my stuff. That hasn’t happened in 10 years. Needless to say, the house is a mess. A cluttered mess. Because I have a hard time being motivated to work on Mondays and because I can’t seem to actually take a weekend day off, I’m scheduling Mondays to declutter, downsize, and clean. I can write/edit on Monday if I want, but Mondays are guilt-free no publishing work days for 2019.
• Crafting – Finish craft projects. Compared to most, I am not a crafter. I’m a dabbler. I’m okay with this. I have one baby blanket and a couple of nebulous projects in the works. I want to get those done and evaluate if I get any joy out of crafting or if they are just added stress.
That’s it for me. What’s on your plate in 2019?
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.
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.
February’s winner of the Jennifer Award is “When We Fall” by Kameron Hurley. Technically, I heard it first on the Escape Pod podcast, episode 611. But, I’ve gone back to read and reread passages from it throughout the month. It really is a thought provoking story about acceptance. I recommend you take a listen or a read.
Jan: Godfall and Other Stories by Sandra M. Odell
Feb: “When We Fall” by Kameron Hurley
All twenty-six episodes of Five Minutes Stories is now up on the Apocalypse Ink Productions website. As a first podcast, I think it’s pretty good. I don’t hate my voice, the Husband did an amazing job on the post production, and one of my favorite podcasters, Alasdair Stuart, gave it a good review. I even have other podcasters who want me to work with them. I’m thrilled by this.
A couple of my favorite episodes of the series are: Train to Topeka, Elevator of the Damned, Responsible, Questions, and Two Letters. It’s not just the stories themselves, it’s the reaction I’ve received from listeners. I love it when I take someone’s breath away with a story.
Will I do this again? Absolutely. Now that I have some experience under my belt, I want to write an original podcast fiction serial. I even know what the basic story is about. I've got the beginning and the end plotted. I still have to figure out how I get from A-to-Z. Podcasting is a completely different type of storytelling, but it is also one of the oldest: the oral storytelling tradition. Now for computers.
I love the fact that, ten years in, I'm still learning new ways to get my stories out. It was a great experience to produce Five Minute Stories as a practice run. I'm glad I finally jumped on the bandwagon. I look forward to what I work on next.