Jennifer Brozek | All posts tagged 'writer advice'

Top 5 Tips for At-Home Authors

One of the things that people tell me when they quit their day job to write (or shift to working at home) is that they spin their wheels and they don’t seem to do enough (or anything) done. They’ve had a structured day job for so long that they don’t know how to structure themselves. This happens to remote workers, to full-time freelancers, and to people who temporarily stuck at home for whatever reason.

1. Dress for Work.

You are working even if you can do it in your underwear. Until you have come to a workable system, I recommend getting “dressed for work” every workday. This doesn’t mean a suit and tie unless you need to have a Skype meeting with someone who expects you in a suit and tie. It does mean getting up, putting on (relatively) clean clothes, and grooming yourself. It does mean getting out of the kind of clothes you like to relax in. Dressing for work (even if is comfortable) puts you in the correct mindset to sit down and work.

2. Daily Schedules.

I keep a number of schedules to keep me on track. The most important is the Daily Schedule. What do you have planned for every single day this week? What is a priority? What can slip? What has an immediate due date? What is a huge project that you have to get a little done each day to succeed? Daily schedules allow you to be productive and to feel productive. They also get you back on track when you come back from playing with the cat or come back from a doctor’s appointment. It tells you what you need to get done. It also tells you how much you can get done on an average week. And once you’re done with your daily task list, you can walk away and go do whatever.

3. Monthly and Yearly Goals.

The only way you can get Daily Schedules written is if you know what you want to accomplish that month. Monthly Schedules are created out of Yearly Goals. Yearly Goals gives you a starting point to break down into Monthly Schedules. These are living documents. As new projects are added, you need to adjust your Monthly Schedule. I keep a running 6-9 month Monthly Schedule with due dates. My Daily Schedule comes out of the Monthly Schedule I’m in. I always know what is due went and who it is due to. This way, you won’t over schedule yourself

4. Get a Timer.

There will be times where you just don’t wanna. Don’t wanna write or edit or do anything you need to do. I have a 15 minute, a 30 minute, a 45 minute, and a 60 minute timer. Depending on what project needs doing, I set my timer and focus on just that one project for the amount of time I’ve bargained with myself. “All I have to do is 30 minutes. Anything else is extra.” Usually, I will do my set time and then continue on. I’ve gotten over the hump of “Don’t wanna.” and can get on with the rest of my day.

Conversely, I will give myself recess. 30 minutes to read. 60 minutes to crochet. 45 minutes to go walking. The timer allows me to set an amount of time to play hooky. But when that timer bings, I know I need to get back to work.

5. Isolate Yourself.

Sometimes, your biggest problem is all the shiny things around you. You  need to shut your door, close the curtains, and turn off all your chat programs. Sometimes, all you really need to is hunker down and get to work. A lot of times, this works best in conjunction with a timer. Put away all (or most of) the distractions and work.

Freelancer Summary January 2014

Ever wonder what a freelance author/editor does? Each month, I’m going to list my daily notes on what I do. As I always say, being your own boss means you choose with 70 hours of the week you work. None of this talks about the random pub IMs, time doing research, time reading books for blurbs, introductions, and reviews, or short author questions. “Answered pub industry email” can be anything from a request for an interview, to contract queries, to reading anthology invites, to answering questions about dates… and the list goes on.




Emailed 3 authors about final edits for BYMH. Set up in-person meeting with Intern for 2014.01.10.


Wrote 2000 words on “Kelpie Storm” for Origins “monsters” anthology. Finished rough draft.


Answered 2 BYMH emails. Consulted on KEYSTONES cover art. Answered email on BYMH cover art. Wrote 1000 words on “Janera” for Athena’s Daughters anthology.


Interview for Reading Recommendations. Editor meeting with AIP author Dylan about The Shadow Chaser. Answered email for BYMH.


Answered email for BYMH and for Norwescon and for AIP.



Sunday 2014.01.06


Posted Tell Me, email about THE NELLUS ACADEMY INCIDENT, email about an unsolicited novel editorial review request. TOC of BYMH to publisher. Phone call about Gen Con. Edited “Kelpie Storm” and sent it to editor. Edited 3 stories for BYMH.


Submitted a story. Edited 3 BYMH stories. Blog post about THE NELLUS ACADEMY INCIDENT. Wrote 101 words on “Janera.”


Dealt with artwork for BYMH. Answered AIP call for submissions questions. Passed on the editorial novel review to Lily. Task list for PA. Edited 7 BYMH stories. Wrote 252 words on “Janera.”


Edited 4 BYMH stories. Wrote 227 words on “Janera.” Eligible awards blog post. Post to FB about AIP being open for query subs. Answered questions about AIP’s call.


In person meeting with Intern. Interviewed for new PR person. Wrote 616 words on “Janera.”


Hosted a SFWA meet-and-greet at the house.


Reviewed cover art for a novel. Answered pub industry email.



Sunday 2014.01.13


Answered pub industry email. Created contracts for Shattered Shields anthology – Mailed 15/17. Posted a “Tell Me” blog post. Contract negotiations for a novella. Wrote 124 words on “Janera.”


Blog post. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts. Hired a new PA/PR person for me and AIP. Wrote 11 words on “Janera.”


Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts. Approved 3 “Tell Me” posts. Answered pub industry email. Bookkeeping / bio collecting on BYMH. Wrote 2004 words on “Janera.”


Wrote 875 words on “Janera.” Answered pub industry email. Finished contract negotiations for a novella. Checked on novella and book release dates.


Answered pub industry email. Contract modifications for one anthology contract. Wrote 1630 words on “Janera,” finishing the rough draft. Poked a cover artist to sign his contract. Sent out Shattered Shields for blurbs.


Polish and edit on “Janera” and turned it in. Signed and returned Athena’s Daughters contract. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts.



Sunday 2014.01.19


Answered pub industry email. Pinged a cover artist on an ETA on a cover modification. Pinged straggling BYMH authors for bios, addresses, photos.


Answered pub industry email. SEGA-16 interview. Collected blubs for THE NELLUS ACADEMY INCIDENT. Posted a “Tell Me” blog post. Mailed first round of payments for Shattered Shields authors. Created and emailed all of the BYMH contracts. Publisher call on new tie-in contract.


Blog post. Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts. Invoice for payment. Answered pub industry email. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts.


Answered pub industry email. Skype call with PA, planning out PR events. Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts. Wrote 555 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony.


Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts. Answered pub industry email. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts. Wrote 1007 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Sent in information on a sold short story.


Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts. Discussion with/task list for new PA. Wrote 579 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Rough draft on a long blog. Updated task list for next week. Edits/revisions on “Kelpie Storm” and turned it in.


Successful search for new artist on AIP book series. Wrote 542 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Book review written. Answered pub industry email.



Sunday 2014.01.26


Answered pub industry email. AIP interview answered. Filled out HWA Library Committee form.


Happy book release day to me, THE NELLUS ACADEMY INCIDENT is live. Lots of social media and email about it. Posted a “Tell Me” blog post. Consulted on novel cover art. Wrote 1708 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts.


Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1202 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Made a blog post. Booked hotel room for Gen Con.


Answered pub industry email. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts. Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts. Posted a book review. Wrote 1310 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. PR discussion with publisher. Contract discussion with publisher.


Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1047 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Booked room for Origins. Blog posts for AIP. Bookkeeping on Shattered Shields contracts. Bookkeeping on BYMH contracts.


Answered pub industry email. Wrote 755 words on Colonial Gothic: Roanoke Colony. Half-day meeting with publisher. Contract negotiations. New book contract signed.

And now you know.

A Month of Letters

If you would like to write to me for A Month of Letters, here's my address. Everyone who writes me will get a letter back. If you want, you can write to one of my characters. That character will answer.

Jennifer Brozek
6830 NE Bothell Way, STE C #404
Kenmore, WA 98028

Book Titles

I finally have the title of the Karen Wilson Chronicles, Book 4. It took a bit of doing and digging and thinking and playing with words.

Originally, I wanted to call it something like “Dreamstalker” or “Dreamstalkers” because it’s about nightmares becoming real. But, frankly, that’s a boring name and doesn’t really tell you what I want you to know about the book. Thus, I have a new title: CHIMERA INCARNATE.

Chimera is a mythical monster. But it is also a “an illusion or fabrication of the mind; especially :  an unrealizable dream.”

Incarnate means “invested with bodily and especially human nature and form.”

CHIMERA INCARNATE is perfect for a novel about nightmares that can both kill you while you sleep or enter this reality through the unprotected mind.

I am beyond happy. This is the exact right novel title. It was part of the reason I was doing so much fighting with the outline. Now that I have the title, the words are flowing.

Fromt AIP: Jay Lake’s Process of Writing Contest

Jay Lake’s Process of Writing is officially out! Of course, we, at Apocalypse Ink Productions, need to have a contest for it. Link this page on Facebook, twitter, or your blog between now and September 30th to be entered into a contest to win the last signed and numbered limited JayWake hardback edition of Jay Lake’s Process of Writing, complete with Howard Tayler’s artwork. You will also receive a JayWake pin and a JayWake smooshed penny. This contest is not limited by geography.

If your entry is on Facebook or on your blog, post that link on Twitter directed to @ApocalypseInk or contact us through email at

Sample Tweet:
Just released from @ApocalypseInk - @Jay_Lake’s Process of Writing. Win the JayWake edition! #contest RT to win.

Sample Facebook status update:
New from Apocalypse Ink Productions, Jay Lake’s Process of Writing. Now available in physical and e-book formats. Win the JayWake edition!

What will you win? We’re glad you asked. Take a look.

Hardback limited JayWake edition of Jay Lake’s Process of Writing. #47/50 and signed by Jay Lake.

The smooshed JayWake penny gifted by Janna Silverstein.

The JayWake pin designed by Howard Tayler and gifted by Minerva Zimmerman.


Evolution of a first line.

This the evolution of the first line of my newest Karen Wilson Chronicles background story. I don't know if the last version of the sentence is the final version but I'm happy with it right now.

The meeting place was a large, unnatural boulder. (Too passive.)

They met in the shadow of a large, unnatural boulder. (Active. Better but who is “they”?)

The Grey Lady and Sees-the-Wind met in the shadow of a large, unnatural boulder.  (Good. Who is meeting but why?)

The Grey Lady and Sees-the-Wind met in the shadow of a large, unnatural boulder on the anniversary of the Pact.  (Better but… meh.)

The Grey Lady and Sees-the-Wind met in the shadow of a large, unnatural boulder that marked the beginning of the Pact between the Makah tribe and the Fair Folk. (Great. Who, where, why, culture.)

Time to Think

A couple weeks back, the Husband bought two iron rocking chairs for the back deck along with a sun umbrella and a little matching table. We also go a found lovely little fountain. Suddenly, the back deck is a welcoming place to hang out and enjoy the greenery of the backyard. Just in time, too. Temperatures have been stupidly hot lately and in the evenings, the back deck has been a cool haven.

I’ve spent a lot of time outside on the deck since we made it a place where we could be comfortable and I’ve discovered something: the benefits of just sitting and thinking in the quiet. If I have music, it’s instrumental music like the Elder Scrolls soundtrack, Two Steps From Hell, or Classical. I discovered that the more I sit in the rocking chair, sipping my coffee, watching the squirrels and birds, the more my mind wanders, noodling over plot problems, story ideas, and daydreams.

This is something John Pitts talked about in his Genreality piece, Finding My Way Back to the Sea. He talks about rocking in a chair his family gave him and looking into himself to find his inspiration, to find the story. A lot of this is all about the ability to stop being distracted… or distracting yourself… and letting yourself be alone with your thoughts, to have the time to think, to consider, to ponder whatever comes to mind.

The more often I just sit and think, the more creative well is refilled, the more the story I’m telling becomes clear. I don’t sit and think for long. Just 10-15 minutes at a time… the length of a cup of coffee. But it’s enough. It also makes me realize how much we are overwhelmed with stuff every single day and how little we have time for our thoughts.

As an author, I need time to think. I didn’t realize it but it explains why activities like driving without music, showering, and gardening are so good for the soul. And why I usually have some of my best ideas when I’m nowhere near pen and paper. It’s in these times that you refill the creative well and your mind quiets enough to hear past the static and stress of everyday life.

I’ve been a professional author / editor for over a decade now and I’m still learning things every day. I’m glad I realized this need for time to think and daydream… and that I now have the perfect spot to do so.

A Writer's Life on Deadline

"Okay. That was fun. You guys enjoy game night. I need to get back to work if I want to play Pathfinder on Sunday." -Me, 8:30pm on a Friday night

Have some kitties.

The Magic of Reading

As we celebrate Children’s Book Week, I thought I’d talk about when I discovered the magic of reading. Not that reading could bring you stories but that reading could transform your world and take you into a new world so deeply that, for a short time, you don’t realize you’re not there.

The book series that gave me this epiphany was The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. It is a retelling of the Arthurian tale—as told through the eyes and experiences of an eleven year old boy and his friends. His friends included a girl, Jane.

I was nine at the time, living in Belgium, no TV, no real friends. My home was a 300 year old mansion complete with bell tower and escape tunnel (that I wasn’t suppose to know about but I did), and a backyard as big as a football field with an eight foot stone wall. It was easy to get into the books. I was already out of my element and looking for an anchor.

The tale told by Susan Cooper opened my eyes to the magic of reading the day I sat down to read “Over Sea, Under Stone” one afternoon and I came up for air only when I was called to dinner. I was dazed, still in that other world. All through dinner, I was torn between wanting to get back to the book and wanting to tell everyone about it.

In the end, I finished my meal, did my chores as quickly as possible, and went back to my room and into that other world without sharing. I knew the rest of my family would never understand. Except, they did. My parents, especially my mom, were always reading. From that day on, going to the library to get a new book (or five) was my special treat. Ransacking my parents’ library was high on the list, too.

I reread The Dark is Rising series about once a year. They are old friends that bring me comfort and joy with every page turn. It was this discovery of magic that eventually made me into the author I am today.