Jennifer Brozek | All posts tagged 'Misc'

There Was So Much Blood

AKA…How The Husband Scared the Life Out of Me. Before I begin, per the rules, the Husband is fine now. Also, I’ve already talked to my MIL about this and she’s not finding out about it on social media.

Last night around 9:45pm, I heard a strange thud sound. I call out: “You okay?” and I waited about ten seconds. In that ten seconds, Isis freaked out—she is noisy, but not like that. I got up and hurried into the bedroom where I found my husband lying face down on the floor, unmoving, blood pouring from his face.

A lot of thoughts crashed through my mind at once. So many that a day later, I’m still processing them all. They included but aren’t limited to:

  • …Why is he on the floor? Is he looking for something?
  • …That’s not right.
  • …He’s dead.
  • …No, he can’t be dead.
  • …He’s bleeding. Oh fuck, that’s a lot of blood.
  • …Should I call 911?

All these thoughts happened at once in an instant. Then I reacted.

Folks, I am here to tell you if my husband is ever murdered and I find his body, I will most definitely be covered in his blood. There is an absolute panicked animal instinct to touch, to help, to wake up, your loved one when you find them like that. I don’t even remember diving to the floor before I was shaking him, yelling his name, shifting him from face down to face to the side so he could breathe. His blood was all over the carpet, his face, and my hands.

He didn’t respond to me for about twenty seconds. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. Then he made a noise and my heart skipped a beat. I was certain, until that moment, my husband had died.

I helped him up. He was still bleeding profusely from his nose where he’d lacerated the bridge of it. Dripping blood everywhere, I helped him to the sink and gave him a cloth to staunch the bleeding. There was so much blood: the carpet, the bathroom floor, him, me. I kept telling him “We have to go to the hospital.” By the time I was dressed and had discovered that our local walking emergency clinic was closed, he was calm and coherent enough to tell me he didn’t need an ambulance, but yes, he needed the emergency room.

I haven’t driven at night in over 2.5 years. I wasn’t going to let that stop me. The problem is that I don’t have good night vision because I had eye surgery about twenty years ago. It makes my depth perception wonky at night. Still, we made it to the emergency room about fifteen minutes away without incident. The whole time, the Husband was calm and coherent. I kept him talking because I didn’t know if he had a concussion and I couldn’t remember if you were supposed to keep a concussed person awake or not.

Evergreen Emergency was amazing as always (this is the fourth time I’d been there—twice for me, once for Heather, and now the Husband). They immediately started processing him. He explained that he’d had an abdominal pain and had gotten up to walk it off…and that was all he remembered. While he was talking, his nose was still bleeding. I vibrated with the need to help but knew I couldn’t. I talked when he couldn’t. And, while they were checking him in, he passed out again, but had the wherewithal to use his words and warn us. I held him up, keeping him from falling out of the chair. That lit a fire under everyone’s butt and we were taken to a trauma room.

For the medically minded among you: The Husband has a cut and broken nose. The laceration needed three stitches. The break is a minor fracture on the tip of his nose. He has bruising around the eyes, the nose, and the lips where his teeth impacted them in the fall. At this time, the passing out (syncope) is believed to be due to a vagal reaction that caused his blood pressure to fall. He will be following up with an ENT specialist in a week to get the stitches out and to see what else needs to be done about his nose. He will also be following up with his regular doctor to investigate the abdominal pain and the passing out.

We were at the emergency room for about 3.5 hours. Pretty damn good in the grand scheme of things. During that time, I got a chance to wash the dried blood off my hands and wrists. It’s amazing how much the face bleeds when lacerated. It’s awful the way it gets everywhere.

A day later, the Husband is looking rough. Like he’s been in one heck of a fight. However, he’s feeling much better. I can see, for now, his profile has changed. There’s a distinct bump in his nose. We’ve also cleaned up the carpet. It was disturbing to walk around the blood stains. There was so much of it…the biggest splotch of blood was bigger/wider than my hand. A neighbor had a steam cleaner we borrowed.

As I’ve told the Husband, while I appreciate him giving me visceral experiences so I can write about them (and believe me, someone is going to find their most precious loved one dead in some upcoming story because I need to write away these demons), I never want him to do that to me again. I find myself breaking out into half-hysterical laughter and I’m so furious with him in a distant way that I can’t really explain. I haven’t cried. I couldn’t last night, I was the driver. I needed to hold it together. I think I have a stranglehold on my emotions right now because the thought of what could have happened is just too scary to contemplate.

The worst part about all this is that it came out of nowhere. There was no warning. He’s had abdominal pain before. He’s had scar tissue cramps before. They’ve never made him pass out. Also, he was sitting and did not have pain when he passed out a second time. There is nothing we can specifically do or fix right now to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

The Husband is fine now and I am ever-grateful for that. However, this event brings home how quickly life can turn on you; how quickly my whole world could’ve ended. I never want to experience something like this again.

3 Jun 2022 Update. In the Husband's own words: "so, after the ENT follow up today, swelling had gone down, apparent the tip of my nose bone is shifted to the right, and my vomer (a bone like at the base of the nose right above the teeth) is also broken and shifted to my right, both are causing my right nostril to be mostly blocked, I go back on Monday morning when they'll inject me with numbing stuff and then rebreak both to shove them back into the correct position and put some small cast things on."

Taking It Easy

Part of April and May was me taking it easy…kinda, sorta. I never stopped working, but I did change the work from writing to editing (mostly). I did have an in-person convention (Norwescon) and a virtual one (Nebulas). I taught one class and did two interviews. Editing-wise, I’ve been proofing older Shadowrun novels for ebook format—taking this at a leisurely pace—and have completed the final TOC selection for The Reinvented Detective anthology with Cat Rambo. I’ve also started preliminary work on a new anthology I’m editing—it will be announced in June and have a one-month open call July 15 – Aug 15.

It sounds like a lot, I know. But it’s really not that much compared to my regular schedule. I’ve also been able to do some puzzles and to read for pleasure. I’ve decluttered my closet and we’ve restructured the cat room into a more well-rounded cat-workout-podcast pod-convention storage room. I appreciate the space being more effectively used. I’ve gotten the mind break I needed.

June begins the busy season for me. I have one in-person event for the next three months. As with last year, I am torn about this. I’ve managed to avoid the plague thus far by being as careful as I can while still maintaining my publishing career. I’ve been vaccinated and boosted. I minimize my contact with people as much as possible. It’s harder now that half the world seems to have declared the pandemic is over. (Try telling that to the virus and all my friends who have either caught covid, are still suffering from long covid, or have had to take care of a family member with covid.)

There are a lot of things I miss. Wandering the mall just because. Taking road trips so we can find and explore hidden gems. Hell, just sitting in a coffee shop people watching while writing/editing/eavesdropping. I don’t know when (if?) we’ll ever get back to that point. I hope so. Mostly, I’m still here. Still working in the background. Still lurking on the sidelines. There are very rare forays into public spaces that don’t involve a surgical strike for a specific task. I’ve been to the mall twice in the last 2.5 years. Both times with the same person. Both times to hit specific stores then to leave.

One of the things I have appreciated with all the mask wearing and hand washing is the lack of con crud when I do go to conventions. Most times, I can avoid it. But because The Husband deals with money and cash is filthy, he was the one who usually got con crud. The last three conventions, not so. (Of course, for The Husband, the return to the office has included a return to the germ pool of working parents and careless co-workers. He caught a bad cold that set off his asthma in a way that I hadn’t seen in years and scared the pants off me.)

I have hope for the future, but I don’t think that is going to bear fruit for some time to come.

Days Go By 2022 Edition

First blog post of 2022. Yeah. Time got away from me. I spent January writing a science fiction novella for the FiveFold Universe. New to me, this IP has been around for a bit. I’m good friends with one of the authors, Chris A. Jackson, who has written for them. Spent time researching and talking with astronomers to make sure my worldbuilding was correct. Just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean it can’t be good science.

It’s been fun writing in a completely new world. However, now that it is done, with the exception of a few short stories (that I will write while at Rainforest), I’ve moved into the editing / resting phase of 2022. Yes, editing is resting for me. It is so much easier to edit what is on the page than to create it wholesale.

On the editing docket – final edits for Shadowrun: Elfin Black. Editor edits then final edits for the FiveFold Universe novella, and the big thing: reading slush for The Reinvented Detective anthology, making cuts, then full story edits—this will take a couple of months. Starting in March, I’m going to add some novel proofing to the schedule (my cats got to eat).

This month is the one year anniversary of my Mom’s death. It’s weighing on me. So close to my anniversary date. I hope that my anniversary won’t always be tinged with sadness. Thinking of Mom’s death makes me think of Dad’s death which leads to unquiet dreams—like dreaming my father was murdered by someone going after someone else. I woke up and was relieved that it was a dream. Then, of course, I remembered that Dad was still dead. Grief is a hell of a thing to process.

The Husband and I are working on a new puzzle. It’s huge. 2000 pieces and shows all of the eeveelutions. I think it’s going to take all month but it’ll be fun. Worth the backache of leaning over such a large puzzle. Nice to be away from a computer screen to focus on something simple and creative.

The cats are spoiled and loved. The Husband and I are good. The house has heat once more (the heater blower broke for about 10 days in January) and I’m luxuriating in it. I’m looking forward to stuff slowing down and to not being under contract for a bit. Time to refresh the creative well.

Planning for 2022

In a previous post, I said that I’m going to slow down in 2022. I really need to. I ended up taking an unintentional vacation over Christmas week. The words just would not come and I didn’t have the motivation to force them. The last couple years have taken their toll emotionally, physically, and mentally. I’m feeling better now and getting back on the wagon, so to speak.

Here’s what I have planned for 2022, broken up by type of work. Some dates are subject to change due to the vagaries of the publishing industry.

Writing Projects:

  • FiveFold Universe project (Jan, actually quite excited about this project)
  • 3 contracted short stories (2 in Feb, 1 in ?)
  • Shadowrun YA novella #3: Unrepairable (3rd quarter 2022)
  • Shadowrun YA novella #4: The Kilimanjaro Run (Bonus points if I do it at all in 2022)


Editing (This is where I’m going to be resting):

  • Shadowrun: Elfin Black (final polish/proof, Jan/Feb?)
  • The Reinvented Detective anthology (Jan-Jun)
  • Freelance editing (recurring gig, Mar-Aug?)


PR (Social media bits):


Conventions/Events (*Planned for, not yet official):

  • Rainforest Writing Retreat (Feb)
  • Norwescon (Apr)
  • Origins Game Fair* (Jun)
  • Gen Con (Aug)

From one point of view, this is still a lot and it doesn’t cover any pop-up requests or the classes I will teach. What is important is that after January, I have no long fiction writing projects planned until the third quarter of the year. The recurring freelance editing gig actually is rest. I’m working, yes, and it is detailed work, but it isn’t hard.

I need these months to not be under contract. I need to rest and refresh the creative well. I need to let my mind wander and gambol and drift. I’ve been telling all my mentees for years to remember to rest. Mentor, listen to thyself. Besides, there’s an unwritten story I’ve been flirting with for years that has become more insistent and I want to think about it. It might be fun to just play for a while.

Of course, if my fabulous agent sells one of my books currently in circulation…all bets are off.

Putting 2021 in Perspective

We have about two weeks left in the year but I already know I’m done editing for 2021 and all the writing I’m doing on the new project won’t be counted until 2022. It’s just how I log my work.

When looking at my scorecard I was vaguely surprised to discover I had only written 2 new short stories, 1 new novella, and 1 new novel. About 110,000 new words. That seemed significantly less than the year felt like. Then I realized that I had also done full edits on 1 novel as an author and 3 anthologies as an editor. Still it felt like I hadn’t done much. (IE: I do this fulltime, what’s my excuse?)

I have a five year paper journal that I’ve kept for almost four years now. I flipped through it to see what I’d missed. What took up my time? Why did I feel so busy? Why didn’t I get more done?

  • January: A “simple” house renovation ended up with a hole in my house for 8 days and 3 weeks of renovation work, including people in and out of my house.
  • February: Mom went into the hospital on the 14th, came home, returned to the hospital on the 26th and died on the 28th.
  • March: Had to write my Mom’s obituary. Flew to NC for Mom’s memorial and spent a week helping my sister with the house. First Covid vaccine when I got home.
  • April: Had my credit card stolen. Second Covid vaccine shot.
  • May: Had annual exam and found 2 major issues: 2 masses in my breast, several nodules on my thyroid. First breast biopsy. Throat biopsy.
  • June: Breast surgery for 2nd mass: Benign. Throat nodules: Benign. Had encroaching trees on the side of the house removed. Ear infection #1.
  • July: Traveled for family reunion on the Husband’s side.
  • August: Shingle’s shot #1. Best friend dealing with divorce. My favorite keyboard died. 2 year anniversary of my Dad’s death.
  • September: Contracted tonsilitis. Went to Gen Con (physically). My doctor of almost 20 years retired.
  • October: Went to Origins (physically). Ear infection #2. Isis is diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and needs radiation therapy.
  • November: Shingle’s shot #2, flu shot, Covid booster shot. Isis gets radiation therapy and there is a two-week recovery period.
  • December: Ear infection #3. Had a lot of overgrown trees in the backyard removed. Began search for new primary care doctor. Isis and the one month follow up. (I have a doctor’s appt next week, but I’m hedging my bets and saying nothing major is going to happen during it. I just want to scope her out and get my meds refilled.)

Yeah. So, there was a lot. A lot, a lot. I just skimmed things. I didn’t talk about helping my sister with estate stuff or teaching virtual classes/conventions or mentoring people or losing the Bram Stoker and British Fantasy Awards or…other stuff.

I wrote in my journal: “2020 was like being grounded on prom night. 2021 has been all about being kicked in the shins while I’m down.”

So, when I say I “only” wrote 2 new stories, 1 new novella, and 1 new novel in 2021, I did damn well. I am proud of myself. It was a hard year.

No, 2021 has not been kind. However, through it all, good things have happened. Really good things. I still have the house, the Husband, my career, and my kitties. I still have relative safety and security. I am grateful for it all.

I want to slow down in 2022. For real. I know I’ve said that before. I mean it this time and won’t feel guilty.

(At least I’ll try not to.)

When Look For An Agent...

Because I was asked this by a friend and the email turned out to be, basically, a blog post...

Not exact, but a good start on the path if you are Jon Snow and know nothing.

When searching for an agent, do the following:
1. Search:
www.agentquery.com
www.1000literaryagents.com

2. Look for the exact kind of agent you want:
MG, YA, SFF, Fantasy, Romance, etc...

3. Look to see if they are open for submissions.
- Should say on their profile

4. Go to their agency website:
- Make /sure/ they are open for submissions (most up-to-date, hopefully)
- Make /sure/ you understand what their sub guidelines are (IE: first 10 pages, first 3 chapters, etc...)

5. Make some decisions:
- Sub to one agent and wait?
- Sub to multiple agents?
(IE: are simultaneous subs allowed? or is it exclusive?)

6. Submit your query (whatever the guidelines say)
- Follow the guidelines to the letter

7. Wait.
- This is the hardest step.
- Write something else while you wait.

8. When you get an answer either:
- Rejection: mourn, repeat the process
- Acceptance: panic, follow what the agent is asking for in a timely manner

9. Wait.
- Again, the hardest step.
- Seriously, write something else while you wait.

10. Final answer:
- Rejection, mourn, begin again
- Offer of Representation: panic, realize the agent works for you, have questions ready. If you don't know what questions to ask, consult author friends and social media.

Good luck!
Jenn

2021 Eligibility Post

Despite the fact that 2021 was another emotional kick in the shins for me, I did produce a number of works I believe are worthy of notice.

 Short Fiction
Seven Steps to Immortality” – Daily Science Fiction
Science fiction/Fantasy
(I am particularly pleased with this one.)

 “Unsavory” – Boundaries: All-New Tales of Valdemar anthology, DAW
Fantasy, Tie-in

Novella
Shadowrun: See How She Runs, Catalyst Game Labs
YA, SF, Tie-in

Novel
BattleTech: Crimson Night, Rogue Academy 3, Catalyst Game Labs
YA, Military SF, Tie-in

 Anthology (edited)
99 Tiny Terrors, Pulse Publishing
Flash fiction horror anthology

Audiobook
BattleTech: The Nellus Academy Incident, Catalyst Game Labs
YA, Military SF, Tie-in

If you are on the jury for anything you believe these works qualify for, contact me and I will send you an electronic version of the work.

Grief Two Years Later

Dad died two years ago today. I said good-bye to him over Memorial Day 2019. I grieved him for those 112 days before he died. We said what we wanted to say to each other. The rest was a series of declining medical reports. It was so hard on my sister. To this day, I still marvel at her fortitude.

Grief comes for us in subtle and unsubtle ways. I didn’t write for the six months around my father’s death. My editor and publisher understood. I tried. It just didn’t happen. This was one of the unsubtle ways grief affected me.

Subtle was the way it affected my reading. I don’t know exactly when I stopped reading fiction novels for fun, but I know when I realized that is what had happened. It was April 2020. I picked up Stephen Blackmoore’s GHOST MONEY. This was a book I had been looking forward to for a while. I opened the book and this greeted me:

Dying is easy. Grieving is hard.

Right then and there I “noped” out of the book. I closed it and didn’t look back. A week or two later I realized I’d been doing something similar to fiction novels for months; picking them up and putting them back down. There was something about fiction novels I couldn’t deal with.

I still read. I shifted to nonfiction. Autobiographies and health books. If I read fiction, it was for work. Short fiction for the anthologies I was editing or the novels I was proofing. I have a very different mindset when I read for work than I do for pleasure.

Fifteen months after Ghost Money, I realized that I missed my fiction novels. Mom had died in February of 2021. She was the main reason I was a reader. I took some of her novels home after her memorial. Two things happened to make me realize I missed reading fiction novels: LATER, a short novel by Stephen King had come out and I received an ARC of Seanan McGuire’s 15th October Daye novel, WHEN SORROWS COME. At that point, I realized I hadn’t read the 14th novel, THE KILLING FROST.

So, I sat down with one of my favorite authors and read Later. My mind was hungry for it. Then The Killing Frost. This one was a little harder. I’m still not completely sure what it is/was about fiction novels that my grieving mind wanted to avoid, but I still enjoyed it. Then came a road trip to Utah. We fell back on an old favorite, listening to the Dark Tower series by King. We started WOLVES OF THE CALLA. Once we got home, I was able to move to When Sorrows Come.

(As an aside, I have to say that When Sorrows Come is one of those books that October Daye fans have been waiting for. In essence, despite its name, it’s a happy book—one of the happiests that a character like October can have. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Toby finally gets married. I also very much enjoyed the added novella. This isn’t a book to start the series with, but it is one to look forward to.)

I shifted back to listening to Wolves of the Calla after that because I don’t like leaving favorite books half-finished. But I’ve also gone back to Ghost Money. I needed to. This time, when I read the opening two lines, I didn’t wince. I empathized and understood. I’m halfway through and enjoying it. Eric Carter is one of those characters that can get under your skin. I’ve already bought DEMON BOTTLE (Eric Carter #6) in anticipation of wanting to dive in head first as soon as Ghost Money is done.

I suspect I will continue with the Dark Tower series until it is done after that. Then, I think I will go to the Sandman Slim novels by Richard Kadrey and start them over from scratch. I’m 4-5 novels behind on the series and I’ve just read that the final Sandman Slim novel has come out. Kadrey is one of those authors that can turn off my writer brain. I think that’s what I need these days: reading for the joy of reading.

Grief at the loss of my parents in less than two years is still strong, but I think, little by little, I am healing.

"Benign"

Life has been interesting in the most complex sense of the word. The medical stuff I’ve been dealing with for the last six weeks has cumulated in the word: benign. It means, in a medical sense, “Not harmful in effect.”


Once you turn fifty, a whole lot of extra medical checks happen. This meant my body was looked at with more rigor…and will continue to be looked at for various and sundry things. (After this first set, I had to take a break. Did you know, after 50, all people should get a colonoscopy? Yeah.) The worst thing a doctor can say is, “Uh, that’s odd.”


That’s what happened to me in two places. Both required biopsies and needles. Breast and neck. Neither fun. But as I said, benign. Except there was still a suspect mass in my breast. That required surgery to remove—more in a preventative measure than not because abnormal and malignant cells have a higher tendency to grow in the type of mass I had. It was also benign.


The worst (then best) thing that happened was the thought that I would lose my thyroid. That was the initial recommendation. However, after the biopsies (needles in the neck) and “benign,” the doctor walked back her initial assessment and decided on a wait-and-see approach. Ultrasound in a year. No meds. No surgery. No nothing.


I’m really happy about this. Believe me, I am. However, I feel a bit like someone who has studied hard for a final only to discover that the professor cancelled it at the last minute. No one wants to do a final, but darn it, I did the work! I studied. (I mourned the potential loss of a part of me and worried about the future.) I did all the emotional investment.


Benign.


The more I think about it, the happier I get. Even if I feel like I got contracted to write a story, started it, then had the contract pulled for no fault of my own. The story’s not done. I still got the kill fee. Mildly incomplete but getting over it fast. That story may not be done but there are many other stories to write.


So, that’s been my last few weeks or so. There’s other stuff going on. Sad and scary and happy all at the same time. 2021 is not a year I will forget, but at least, for now, it is benign.

It's Not Ideal But It's Not Terrible

Generally, if I’m silent on my blog, it’s because something major is going on in my life and I am distracted by it. This is so true. Whoever is writing my life right now needs an editor, because if I wrote what I’m experiencing (many things, all bunching up—kinda like deadlines), my own editor would tell me to dial it back and spread the excitement out.

Some of it has been personal, some of it legal, some of it professional, some of it medical. I’m not going to go into detail on any of it. At least, not yet. The excitement that’s good is wonderful. Seriously. The excitement that is not good is…well, my sister and I have a saying these days: “It’s not ideal, but it’s not terrible.” This has been our mantra for 2021.

Aside: You know, I used to think 2020 was a bad year. It wasn’t. It was the equivalent of being grounded on date night—seems like the end of the world when you are experiencing it but in retrospect, it wasn’t. 2021 is a bad year. It’s been the equivalent of having your shins kicked while you’re already down. I don’t like it.

Much of the personal excitement is already done and over with or was a false start to begin with. Some of it I am now going through. Especially the medical. Nothing mortal, but nothing fun. I may end up with scars—emotional and physical. When it is all said and done, I’ll talk about it. What it does mean now is that my attention span is short and my thoughts are distracted.

In the meantime, I’m working on my newest Shadowrun novel: Elfin Black, starring Elfin John (from “Dark Side Matters”) and a previous protagonist, Imre Dahl (From Makeda Red). A couple of characters from my YA novellas will also be making an appearance. All of this is making me very happy. It’s nice to be distracted by a handsome pair of fictional characters who will get along like a house on fire once they meet up. Of course, I’ve had an inkling of what my next Shadowrun YA novella will be about. Thus, it is threatening to eat my brain while I work on Elfin Black. Isn’t it always the way?