Jennifer Brozek | All posts tagged 'writer-advice'

2017 Publishing Recap

by Jennifer Brozek 1. January 2018 14:41

Like most authors, looking back at what I did during the year is a good way to convince myself that I’m not just spinning my wheels and that I really am still headed ‘towards the mountain.’ This is also why I keep track of my daily activities in my private Freelancer Summary document. It allows me to see what I’m doing and when. I think I did pretty good in 2017.

Short stories submitted
•    6 short story acceptances
•    5 short story rejections
•    1 short story outstanding

Newly produced
•    8 new short stories written
•    1 new novel written
•    26 episode podcast produced (with the Husband)
•    12 Author Etiquette blogs produced (with Sarah Craft)
•    5 mini fiction collections and 1 “stealth” fiction collection released
(Not as much as I wanted but I did have two bathrooms renovated in the middle of it all that mucked with my productivity.)

Edited for others
•    3 novellas edited
•    6 EGM Speculate! stories edited
•    9 BattleTech/Shadowrun novels proofed for ebook editions

Social
•    15 events (readings, conventions, signings) attended
•    2 writing groups joined (Wit’n’Word [social writing], TBD Writing [critique group])

Signed
•    3 novel contracts
•    1 novella contract
(Due between now and the end of 2019 = about 300,000 publishable words.)

It’s nice to look at the quantified amount produced and be pleased with what you see. Supposedly, 2018 is going to be a slower, longer set of projects with only one novel, one novella, one anthology, and one short story currently on the docket. We all know this will change. Also, I already have seven confirmed events and four not yet confirmed, but planned for, events.

Then again, I’ve gotten good at producing while traveling. It’s taken me a bit to learn the skill. Now, I think it’s just a survival reflex. If I don’t write, the words will eat me.

Note: I’m leaving out all of the personal blogs, SFWA meetings (when I was a Director), looped edits/revisions, kickstarters participated in, weekly phone calls to various publishing folk, and the myriad of other freelance details.

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Live Your Art Daily

by Jennifer Brozek 15. June 2017 07:55

“Write every day.” I hear this writing advice bandied about over and over as if it were the one golden truth. In some ways it is. In a literal sense, it’s pure poppycock. There is a lot more to writing than stringing words together in some semblance of a sentence and putting it down on paper. For me, “writing” involves everything from daydreaming, brainstorming, outlining, plotting, character creation, world building, putting words to paper, re-outlining, sounding boards, and staring into space while the voices in my head argue without me interfering.

“Live your art every day.” ~John P. Murphy

Yes, putting words on a page in a consistent fashion is important. It is one of the most important things you do as a writer. Write one word at a time until you are finished. However, unless you have a good foundation, your house of words is going to come crumbling down the first time someone (your inner critic?) asks, “Why would that happen?” A good foundation comes from careful thought, long experience, or both.

“Live your art even if you can’t practice it daily.” ~Jason Sanford

Just as important—and largely ignored—is the author’s need to think, to consider, to ponder the work they are creating. You may see me playing a puzzle game on the outside, but on the inside, I’m working out what went wrong in the previous scene. You may see me doing the dishes or pacing around the dining room table and all the while I’m mentally writing the pivotal scene that’s coming up next—trying out different tacks, different reactions, different tones. You may see me sitting somewhere drinking a cup of tea. On the inside I’m watching a furious discussion going on between two characters.  I may not use what I dream up in a specific sense, but it will inform my writing on the world and how the characters act.

What I’m getting at is that thinking, fantasizing, and daydreaming is just as important as putting words to the page. “Write every day” doesn’t cover this. At least, not in a literal sense. This is super important for authors to know. There is value in doing “nothing” on the outside. Even for people who don’t like to outline. It may be more important for those who don’t outline because the more they think about what they’re going to write, the better their foundation will be.

“Do what you have to do in order to ensure that today is not the last day you write.” ~Matthew Bennardo

Also, there is the practical aspect of writing every day. Authors have jobs, families, health issues, and general responsibilities. Sometimes, they can’t physically put words on the page on a daily basis—for whatever reason. A good example of this for me is when my editing schedule goes pear-shaped and I literally only have 15 minutes that day to “write.” Sometimes I write. My log shows “Wrote 12 words on WIP.” Those one or two transitional sentences could’ve taken me three hours to figure out (while I was cleaning, eating, driving, showering) and cleared the way for tomorrow’s 2000 words. Sometimes, my log shows “Re-outlined WIP.” I tend to re-outline my novels 1-2 times during the first draft phase. I often add to the outline when I’m doing my first read-through so I know I need to add in more details, foreshadowing, or an explanation for something that wasn’t as obvious as it should have been.

“Do something writing related daily and no, promotion doesn’t count.” ~Raven Oaks

I know it is important to work on your current WIP as consistently as possible. Sometimes, a direct command to “write every day” is what we need to get things moving forward in the beginning. I want to point out that that doesn’t always mean something as tangible as a word count. Everything else is as important. Maybe this is something you learn as you level up in your craft, but I wish I’d learned it a little bit earlier in my writing career. Then I wouldn’t have beaten myself up as much for not getting my “2000 words a day” in.

I’m just glad, ten years in, I’ve finally figured out a workable meaning for “write every day.” For me, it means “Live my art daily.” When this advice is proclaimed at a convention, event, or online, I add my two cents to the conversation. Thinking is as important as writing.

This blog post is brought you by the letter W, the number 3, and a twitter conversation I had.

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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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Latest Releases


To Fight the Black Wind
Arkham Horror novella

Amazon | FFG


The Prince of Artemis V
All ages comic book

Amazon


The Nellus Academy Incident
YA Battletech
novel
Amazon | DriveThruRPG | B&N

http://www.jenniferbrozek.com/pix/Last-Days-of-Salton-Academy_200px.jpg
The Last Days of Salton Academy
YA Horror

(Out of Print)

http://www.jenniferbrozek.com/pix/NeveLetMeOmnibus200.jpg
Never Let Me
YA SF-Thriller Omnibus

Amazon | Barnes&Noble |
Permuted Press

http://www.jenniferbrozek.com/pix/NeverLetMeDieCover200.jpg
Never Let Me Die
YA SF-Thriller Novel
Amazon | B&N |
Permuted Press


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


Never Let Me Sleep
YA SF-Thriller Novel

Amazon | B&N |
Permuted Press


DocWagon 19
Shadowrun novella
Amazon | BattleShop
DriveThruRPG


The Karen Wilson Chronicles
More InformationBuy Now.


Apocalypse Girl Dreaming
Fiction collection
Amazon | B&N |
Evil Girlfriend Media

http://www.jenniferbrozek.com/pix/JazzAgeCthulhu200.jpg
Jazz Age Cthulhu
Amazon | B&N |
Innsmouth Free Press


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."