Jennifer Brozek | All posts tagged 'writer advice'

The Danger of Writing Too Fast

by Jennifer Brozek 6. March 2017 12:57

At the Rainforest Writers Retreat, I wrote 28,000+ words in 5 days. This was a mistake for me and the way I write. I’m not saying that I regret my adventure at Rainforest. I don’t. Here’s pictures of me in the waders and wading through Lake Quinalt to get to my cabin. That part was awesome.

I say writing that much was a mistake because the moment I got home and started editing my work, I realized a few things:
1. My prose was a disaster.
2. My story foundation was on shaky ground.
3. My pacing was off.
4. I forgot a number of pivotal scenes and details.
5. There was so much to fix, I wasn’t sure where to start.

In the end, I determined that while I understood where my story was going, I had to treat the 28,000+ words as a long outline and reset my manuscript to the point I was at before I arrived at Rainforest. It would’ve been too much work to try to patch up what I’d written.

There’s something else I realized: I’m tired.

I’ve written 2+ books / year for more than three years. I’ve edited three times that many. I’ve pushed myself hard. I need to slow down. Just a little. This is the first book in a new series in a sprawling world. I love what I’m creating for Fever County. That’s why I need to do this first book right. Yes, I know what the second book is already. But it depends on me getting the first book set, grounded, and written to my satisfaction.

I’m not saying that I won’t write two novels this year. I’m saying that I’m going to give myself permission to slow down. If that mean only one novel and a couple of short stories? So be it. I know I have novel revisions coming. At least 2 of them. So, if that means I’m writing only 500-1000 words a day, then spending the rest of the time cleaning out my drawers, cupboards, and closets, before doing novel revisions? Awesome.

I’m a little surprised that it’s taken me this long to get to this point. To realize that Fever County is too important for me to rush through it. I suppose this is one of those leveling up things as an author.  Not to mention a reminder that every author approaches their work differently.

 

 

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Awards and Imposter Syndrome

by Jennifer Brozek 27. February 2017 09:43

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: Yay!
Jenn: Yay?
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!
Seanan: 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.

 

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Rainforest Writers Retreat AKA An Adventure

by Jennifer Brozek 21. February 2017 08:42

Five days in the rainforest with minimal internet, an outline, and someone to compete with = 28,356 words written. I am brain fried and dead. I don’t actually recommend this to anyone. I took Monday off writing to recover a bit and it was needed.

All day Monday, while I did other things and played PokemonGO, I kept thinking of things I forgot to add into the manuscript. From descriptions to full scenes. I’m probably going to spend the next two days editing what I wrote to see what else I missed and add it in. Then I’ll feel comfortable enough to continue on. I just feel like my narrative foundation is a bit too cracked and shaky.


View from the 2nd floor Parkside Suite, Thursday morning. Before they brought me a boat and waders.

Beyond teaching a session at RWR, I got to experience the adventure of having Lake Quinalt rise two feet. The Husband thought we might have to evacuate. We didn’t, but I did have to borrow thigh-high waders to get to and from the rest of the resort for two days. A couple of attendees who didn’t know me thought I was part of the Park Service. It was a fun and interesting experience. I’m glad the lake didn’t have a current. I put more pictures and a video of it up on my Facebook.


What Lake Quinalt usually looks like. Saturday morning.

Also, while I was in the land of no internet, the podcast of my short story, “Endless and the End,” went live on The Overcast. My story is episode 49. It’s my creepy little steampunk story inspired by the likes of The Mummy and the casual game Bejeweled. The end of the story includes an afterword by me and a "warning" from The Overcast. I hope you listen to it.

 

 

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Bubble & Squeek for 13 Feb 2017

by Jennifer Brozek 13. February 2017 13:25

Article: Learn From Autistics - Voices From the Spectrum #26: Jennifer Brozek on Creating Neurodiverse Characters.

Article: How to Escape the Slush Pile: A self-editing checklist for short story writers by Brandon Taylor. Just an article I think is worth reading.

Awards: The Last Days of Salton Academy is listed on the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel. I will find out if it a finalist on the 23rd. So, yay! Cross your fingers for me.

Review: Another review of the Karen Wilson Chronicles. This short one is from Germany. They liked it.

Review: On Goodreads - Just got a lovely review for NEVER LET ME, the Melissa Allen omnibus. These are always nice to read.

Writing: Chuck Wendig: Why Persist As A Writer In Times Of Such Heinous Fuckery?

Writing: Kameron Hurley: How to Keep Writing Through Times of Great Political Upheaval

Writing: Jennifer Brozek: Self Care and the Creative in Turbulent Times.

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Self Care and the Creative in Turbulent Times

by Jennifer Brozek 1. February 2017 10:36

A lot of people—including me—are experiencing a wide variety of distressing emotions in regards to what’s going to on right now in the world. Sometimes, it’s hard to create when the world feels like it’s on the brink of a disaster there’s no turning back from. What good is a short story or a piece of art in the face of that?

Everything. Absolutely everything.

In-between the real life horror of politics, protests, cruel laws, crueler enforcement of those edicts, and numerous other terrible things, those who fight need a space to go to recharge, a respite, a safe fictional place or a piece of beauty to remind them what they are fighting for.

Still, it’s hard to reach for the life-saving, life-affirming creative work. This is why self care for the creative is so important. Here are a couple of suggestions to add into your daily life.

UNPLUG
Daily or at least weekly, schedule time to get away from the 24/7 news. Unplug from the internet. Whatever is happening will still be happening when you get back. I choose at least 2 hours away every other day. Being online is part of my job, but I don’t need to be connected all the time. If it is an emergency, those who need it have my phone number.

COMFORT ACTIVITY
Enjoy an activity you know you like. Watch reruns of a favorite TV show or movie. Listen to music. Listen to an audiobook. Crochet or knit. Read comfort books and comics. Cook a grand meal for one or many. Meditate. Do something you know you enjoy. Let yourself get lost in it. Forget about the world and its troubles as much as you can for as long as you can. It will be there with you get back. Dedicate this time to you. Bob Ross and I are becoming very good friends again.

MOVE
I’m not telling you to exercise—though exercise is a good thing to do. But walk away from your desk, your computer, your phone (turn your phone off if you can’t stand to leave it behind). Window shop at the mall or the bookstore. Go to the lake and watch the waves for a while. Visit that nearby museum that tourists always go to, but you’ve never visited. Get out of the physical space you are usually in. This helps your mindset. Even if it’s just a walk around the block or to pace the stairwells in your office building. For me, I play Ingress and PokemonGO.

These are all coping mechanisms that I use. Creatives have deadlines and decisions to make that don’t go away. Writing, painting, carving… creating… while in the midst of turbulent times can be the hardest thing to do, but that is when the world needs us most.

Finally, after you have taken some time to care for yourself, you can ENGAGE with the world again. Volunteer. Protest. Call your representatives. Donate to the cause. Do as much or as little as you are able to. Remember, your creative work may be the thing that recharges another so that they may also create while working towards their political and social goals.

Cat pictures always help.

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Setting Expectations for 2017

by Jennifer Brozek 3. January 2017 08:25

As I finish up my work from 2016, I’ve decided that 2017 is going to be a year of experimentation. I have very few deadlines scheduled for me. The month of January is taken up with completing the tie-in story due this month and final edits to Sekrit Project Alex. After that, my year is mostly open. I will assign my own deadlines and stick to them.

This is the time to experiment. Under the Apocalypse Ink Productions umbrella, I have two really interesting projects (in addition to the books we’re already doing).

The first is the “Five Minute Stories” podcast. This podcast will run for thirteen weeks. I’ve never done a podcast. This will be a series of flash fiction pieces, old and new, written and read by me; hosted and produced by AIP. This podcast is for me to figure out whether or not I like podcasting as a storytelling medium. If I discover I like it, I’ll write and produce an original podcast story. If I don’t, I’ll consider the next option.

The second is The Prince of Artemis V comic. I’ve wanted to do a comic book for a long time. The Prince of Artemis V is my most popular short story. I’ve signed a contract with an artist to do the comic and, already, she’s bringing the goods to the table. I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out in the end.

The third is to publish at least one short story as a Kindle Single. This is mostly to figure out how this works and if it is a viable thing for the future. As a full-time freelance author/editor, I must always diversify my revenue streams. It might be a good outlet for my erotica writing (under a different name).

Getting down to the nitty-gritty of writing goals for 2017, I want to write at least six new short stories and get them out to market. That is a good goal as far as short stories are concerned. They are a good thing to write in-between novels.

As for novels, I plan to write at least two novels in my new teen horror series called Fever County. I’m super excited about this series. I’ve already created the world and set up a map as well as done a lot of the world building. More of that will happen as I write. I’ve got the 2 page synopsis of the first book completed with a paragraph synopsis of the second book completed.

When it comes to travel, I’m limiting myself in 2017. I do have 3 definite conventions and 3 one-day events on the schedule with 4 “maybe” conventions waiting in the wings for me to decide what to do with them. Most likely, I’ll only do 2 of the maybes. It depends on a whole lot of factors including time, effort, and money.

There you have it. There are a couple of other interesting things on the horizon, but nothing is contracted/set in stone. 2017 is going to be an experiment. I’m going to stretch myself in some uncomfortable ways creatively to see what happens. At the same time, I’m going to set up a writing schedule that lets me finish those 2 novels and 6 short stories. It’s a little scary to focus mostly on my own stuff after more than a year of tie-in fiction.

Not only am I ready for it, I’m excited for it. That’s the best feeling.

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2016 Stat Thing

by Jennifer Brozek 31. December 2016 16:56

Since I’ve figured out that I’m not going to write any more this year… Final stats for 2016. As a full-time freelancer, stats are important to me. They give me a concrete, discrete measurement for accomplishments. None of the word count below includes social media or blogs.

Year-to-date stats:
Fiction words written: 195,416 (2 novels, 1 novella, 12 short stories, 3 RPG projects)
Article words written: 25,780
My novels/collections edited: 11
My short stories proofed: 9
Other novels/anthologies edited: 14
Events attended: 12

Short Story Submissions:
Total subs: 19
Acceptances: 6 (35% average)
Rejections: 11
Pending: 2

This year was almost all tie-in fiction. 2017 will be all about my new teen series. (And, of course, all the edits for the turned in novels and novellas.)

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November Monthly Stat Thing

by Jennifer Brozek 1. December 2016 09:33

Sekrit Project Alex already has revision notes back. So, I’m in the thick of that. I’m also almost done with an interview for a conventions and I’ve finished several interviews for The Last Days of Salton Academy as well as turned in another short story. Left this year… revisions and another tie-in short story that has been outlined and started and maybe do quickie RPG splat for a funded kickstarter. The year is wrapping up nicely.

Year-to-date stats:
Fiction words written: 185,645
Article words written: 23,200
My novels/collections edited: 11
My short stories proofed: 9
Other novels/anthologies edited: 14
Events attended: 12

One more of these after the new year, then I’ll have to think of something else to stat for you guys on a monthly basis. I like to mix it up. Next year, I’m going to attempt to do less conventions and 90% original, non tie-in fiction. But, the universe sometimes laughs at my plans.

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Ten Years as a Fulltime Freelancer

by Jennifer Brozek 22. November 2016 13:15

As of this week, I have survived ten years as a fulltime freelance author/editor and created a career I am proud of. The past decade has been nothing like I expected it to be. When I began, I wanted to “just write” and to see if I could make it as an author. Within the first year, I started editing. Time has flown by as well as taken forever. I had a plan and a series of professional goals to meet. I have met every single one of these. Though… the last one, “get an agent,” happened in the last couple of months.

  • Sell short stories to pro markets
  • Get into SFWA with novels or short stories
  • Sell a novel
  • Sell a trilogy
  • Get an agent
  • Be invited to conventions as a panelist

Ten years later, I have discovered there were a whole lot more professional goals I wanted to achieve that I didn’t know I wanted to achieve when I started out. Some of them shocked me when they happened. (Honestly, some of them still surprise me when they occur.)

  • Sell a short story collection
  • Have a story listed in a “Best of” collection
  • Have my books become audiobooks
  • Have a stranger squee over my forthcoming presence at a convention
  • Have a stranger come to a multi-author event to see me specifically
  • Learn how to say “no” to a gig
  • Be nominated for an award – any award
  • Be nominated for a Hugo award and a Bram Stoker award
  • Be mentioned in Locus Magazine and Kirkus Reviews
  • Win an ENnie award, a Scribe award, and/or a Cleo (Origins Game Fair) award
  • Be a Guest of Honor of a convention in America
  • Be a Guest of Honor of a convention abroad (Sweden, Finland)
  • Become a Director-at-Large in SFWA
  • Become an adjective (a “Brozek” book or a “Brozek” anthology)

It’s been ten years. I’ve achieved so much and I’m so grateful to the people who have helped me along the way—editors, publishers, other authors, fans, cheerleaders, shoulders-to-cry-on, friends, family, and my husband. I’m not going to stop now. I just have to set goals for the future. Here are the ones I know I want to achieve:

  • Sell stories to Analog, Asimov, Psuedopod, and EscapePod
  • Sell stories to Ellen Datlow and to John Joseph Adams
  • Create a long-running Teen/YA series (6+ books)
  • Create a successful fiction podcast
  • Have someone option my work
  • Have my work become a TV pilot, TV series, and/or movie

The more I know about the publishing business, the more I can narrow down what I really want out of my career. Now that I have a wonderful agent, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.

In celebration, and out of duty, I have filed ten years worth of editing and writing contracts… much to the enjoyment and annoyance of my cats. (The red folder is filled with 10 years worth of editing contracts and the black one has 10 years of writing contracts.)

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October Monthly Stat Thing

by Jennifer Brozek 3. November 2016 13:43

I’m about to turn in Sekrit Project Alex and begin work on the extra bits I’ve been contracted for. Then I will work on the contracted short stories. With that, I will end my year of tie-in fiction and begin a year of my new YA series.

Year-to-date stats:
Fiction words written: 174,450
Article words written: 18,300
My novels/collections edited: 11
My short stories proofed: 8
Other novels/anthologies edited: 14
Events attended: 9

Event-wise, I should have only three events left and all of them are in November.

This November is very special to me. I’ve got a forthcoming blog post to explain why. It’s a milestone. A big one.

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Latest Releases

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The Last Days of Salton Academy
YA Horror

Amazon | Barnes&Noble |
Ragnarok Publications

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Never Let Me
YA SF-Thriller Omnibus

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Permuted Press

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Never Let Me Die
YA SF-Thriller Novel
Amazon | B&N |
Permuted Press


Never Let Me Leave
YA SF-Thriller Novel
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Permuted Press


Never Let Me Sleep
YA SF-Thriller Novel

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Permuted Press


DocWagon 19
Shadowrun novella
Amazon | BattleShop
DriveThruRPG


The Karen Wilson Chronicles
More InformationBuy Now.


Apocalypse Girl Dreaming
Fiction collection
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Evil Girlfriend Media

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Jazz Age Cthulhu
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Innsmouth Free Press


The Nellus Academy Incident
YA Battletech
novel
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| B&N

Jennifer Brozek: Writerholic

Jennifer Brozek is a Hugo Award nominated editor and a Bram Stoker nominated author. Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited fifteen anthologies with more on the way, including the acclaimed Chicks Dig Gaming and Shattered Shields anthologies. Author of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, Industry Talk, the Karen Wilson Chronicles, and the acclaimed Melissa Allen series, she has more than sixty-five published short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions.

Jennifer is a freelance author for numerous RPG companies. Winner of the Scribe, Origins, and ENnie awards, her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity, Savage Worlds, and White Wolf SAS. Jennifer is the author of the YA Battletech novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, and the Shadowrun novella, Doc Wagon 19. She has also written for the AAA MMO Aion and the award winning videogame, Shadowrun Returns.

When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. Jennifer is a Director-at-Large of SFWA, and an active member HWA and IAMTW. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniferBrozek.