Jennifer Brozek | All posts by jennifer

Tell Me - Kat Richardson

Kat Richardson is a friend of mine and I could not wait to pre-order her new fiction collection. Today, she tells me why no writing ever goes to waste.

 

I’d been thinking about putting out a collection of short stories for a couple of years, and all my previously-published pieces had reverted to me, so late in 2020 I got in touch with  John Hartness, who owns and operates Falstaff Books, about the idea, and he said “Yeah! Throw it at me!” Et voilà!

Well, not quite. See, I shut down the Greywalker series in 2014 partially because I was tired (which turned out to be cancer) and the characters were at a good place to pause. And the sales numbers were falling, so it seemed the timing was right to do something else. So, after the cancer thing, I sent out a big, fat SF novel that got published and won an award, and then sold so badly that the potential series was dropped by the publisher. Note: Don’t change pseudonyms when the old one still works. Whoops...

So, back to the drawing board, which produced another novel—historical dark fantasy crime (there’s a strange beast...)—that is doing the rounds. But I kept coming back to the idea of a collection of shorts, partially because I had two I really liked that had never been published, and several good ones that had come out in small, obscure volumes that are now out of print. I figured there wouldn’t be a better time, so I put all of the shorts into a file and sent a note to John, who graciously agreed to look over all fifteen. He chose ten—including the two that had never been published before (“Shatter,” and “Single-Edged”) and one that had only been on my website (“Reindeer Games”). Interestingly, one of the stories he didn’t take was in an out-of-print anthology that got re-released on audio in October, so that was a really smart call on John’s part, since that would been a problem contract-wise. (I think John is secretly clairvoyant. He’s also incredibly funny and a good writer, but that’s off-topic.)

Through the Grey is a pretty eclectic collection—science fiction, high fantasy, crime, fairy tales, urban fantasy, dark comedy, maybe a touch of magical realism, some comic satire, three stories from the Greywalker universe, and my usual mashup of mystery-plus-spec fic. I want it to do well, of course, not just because it’s my stuff, but also because John’s been a joy to work with, took a chance on this collection, and I want that to pay off for him, too. And, you know, after a while, I forgot that I’d written some of these, and it’s been fun to go through my old work and discover it’s still pretty good stuff. I hope other people think so too.

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Kat Richardson is currently wandering loose through the mountains of Western Washington in a trailer with two dogs and a husband. It's even her own husband. Along the way she has been an actor, singer, costumer, Renaissance Faire performer, dancer, writing instructor, seller of beanie babies, and a freelance editor. She is the author of nine bestselling novels in the Greywalker series, one award-winning SF novel, and a few unspeakable things that live in an electronic trunk. Trust me, it's better that way....

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.

Bubble and Squeek for 22 Dec 2021

The last Bubble & Squeek for 2021 on the first day of winter!

•    Open Call: The Reinvented Detective anthology, edited by me and Cat Rambo. Closes on Jan 15. SF crime and mystery stories set in the future.

•    Podcast: I voice one of the characters. The Paperflower Consortium: The Value of Patience. A great little podcast with 20+ episodes. By Elizabeth Guizzetti.

•    Published: 99 Tiny Terrors anthology, me as editor. Flash fiction horror from all over the world.

•    Published: Me as author: “Seven Steps to Immortality” in Daily Science Fiction! This is one of my favorite little stories in one of my bucket list venues. I’m so pleased with this.

•    Review of Me: Publisher’s Weekly Review of Last Cities of Earth anthology edited by me and Jeff Sturgeon. They liked it!

•    Writers: Right. So I'm going to take Sandra Wickham's Word Warriors 14 Day Quest in January. Want to join me?

•    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.

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.

Tell Me - Cat Rambo

Cat Rambo tells me all about how even old writers can learn new writing tricks. In this case, it was about writing fast. No. Faster than that. And now double it. There you go, you get the idea…

 

One of the things I learned from this book is that writing fast, and doing so in a (mostly) chronological fashion worked beautifully for me, and paid off so much when it came time to edit. But man, it was hard work.

I wrote You Sexy Thing over the course of a month, in which every weekday I got up at 5:30 AM, went to the gym and worked out while thinking about what I was going to write, and then came home and wrote furiously in half hour sprints that were a mix of rapid typing and sometimes dictation when the words were coming too quickly for my fingers to put them down. And—this is a key point—I did not allow myself the Internet in any form till I was done. No checking email, no looking at social media, nothing in virtual space until the words were done, which was usually sometime between noon and one.

I averaged 5-6 thousand words each day, and every day I amazed myself by being able to hit my target. I did give myself the weekends off from writing, since I teach most Saturdays and Sundays, and the respite was welcome. I made myself go out to enjoy the world.

It was exhausting. I snagged more than one 15 minute nap midway through mornings when my energy flagged. It wasn’t a pace that would be sustainable for me on a daily basis, but I used a similar process to write the second book, and I know I’ll do it again with the third. I have an inchoate idea, a vision of a blue and steel installation hanging in space, and once I am done jotting down notes and embark on my journey, I’ll find out what the crew is doing there.

Something about that pace helped me hold the book in my head much better than happens when I’m writing slower, picking various scenes to focus on according to my interest rather than where they fall in the text. That’s what I’ve done with the Tabat books and they are a much harder edit, pulling out repetitions and echoes, removing places where I’ve contradicted myself.

It is perhaps that immersion in the book that happens with this process that has enabled something to happen with these characters than has with other, past ones. These characters live in my head and express their opinions much more readily—and frequently—than any other cast I’ve dealt with, and I love them for it. I know these characters, but they also have plenty to tell me in forthcoming books, and that is truly exciting.

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Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Their 250+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. In 2020 they won the Nebula Award for fantasy novelette Carpe Glitter. They are a former two-term President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Their most recent works are space opera You Sexy Thing (Tor Macmillan, November, 2021), as well as an anthology, The Reinvented Heart (Arc Manor, February, 2022),  co-edited with Jennifer Brozek.

Nothing Better Than Typing The End

There is nothing better than typing “The End” on a novel. Once you do that, you finally understand what the whole story is about. You are aware of your beginning, middle, and end. You, the author, have brought forth a new story into the world and it is the best thing ever. There is the moment of completion to revel in. Raise your mug (of whatever; coffee, tea, beer…) high and celebrate.

There is nothing worse than typing “The End” on a new novel. The original act of creation is done. You know the whole story now. You see your early flaws, the holes, and your needed systemic rewrites. You, the author, are aware the pacing is wonky, the prose is substandard, and it is the roughest manuscript ever. There is a moment of revelation of how much more work there is to do. Raise your mug (of whatever; blood, sweat, tears…) high and prepare to dig in. The real work is about to begin.

I’ve finished Draft Zero of Shadowrun: Elfin Black. I’m going to take one or two days to do nothing and rest my brain. Then I’m going to begin again. I already know what I need to add beyond filling out the [Brackets] that past Jennifer left me to figure out. I am aware that a lot more details need to be filled in to help with the foreshadowing. I know of a couple early scenes that need to be added. I’m an adder type of author rather than a subtractor type of writer. This is how I write.

This novel makes me happy. I’ve brought in characters from my short story “Dark Side Matters”, my podcast ShadowBytes, and from my novel(la)s Makeda Red, DocWagon 19, and A Kiss to Die For. If do this writing stuff correctly, every single Shadowrun short story, podcast, novella, and novel I write will be interlinked in some way. This pleases me to no end.

Now...I rest.

Tell Me - Kris Katzen

Today Kris Katzen talks about what it is like to discover you share a Table of Contents with one of your favorite authors.

Dreams, Fantasies, then Beyond...

To quote my bio, I wrote my first ‘novel’ (seven handwritten pages!!) at age seven. As a kid, the only thing I did more voraciously than write, was read. Ok, maybe they tied. Either way, I lost myself in books. Drove my mom nuts. She’d be standing literally right beside me and I would not hear her calling my name until the third time. Drove. Her. Nuts.

So I read. Tons. And among my most favorite authors, Andre Norton loomed large. I favored science fiction and fantasy even then and loved her wonderful novels.

The older I got (and the more I learned about the publishing business) my idea of making a living as a writer…shifted. But that didn’t bother me. I write for the love of it and always will. Sales count as an added bonus. If whimsical thoughts of the New York Times Bestseller list moved from dream to fantasy, that never dulled my love of writing.

Another added bonus: all the wonderful writers I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of meeting. They fall on every part of the spectrum, running the gamut in what they write, why they write, where they are in their careers, and what they aim to accomplish. Some are even on that New York Times Bestseller list. Many are acquaintances; some are close friends. I’ve learned a great deal from all of them.

Also the older I got, the more I realized Andre Norton’s standing in the history of science fiction. It made perfect sense to me that I wasn’t alone in absolutely adoring her stories. As time passed, I found many, many new authors I enjoyed, but I always retained a special fondness for and admiration of Norton.

Which brings us to present day. Most of the time, I write my own novels and short stories. Some end up in anthologies, which is always fun. I’ve even collaborated on a few novels, which completely changes the process of writing. I enjoy the change of pace. Basically, though, I write in my own worlds. That works just fine, seeing as I make most hermits and recluses look like extroverted party-animal social butterflies.

I’ve had the good fortune to band together with a bunch of incredible authors in the form of a StoryBundle. I jumped at the chance because I’m a huge fan of the other writers. Even better, one of the volumes included is a cat anthology. My own beloved swarm of felines approves!

So I knew the StoryBundle included the anthology. After a day or two, I got around to checking out the table of contents.

One of the names leapt out at me!

ANDRE NORTON!

Wait, what??

Andre Norton!

A novel of mine is in a collection that includes Andre Norton.

When I say “Dreams, Fantasies, then Beyond”, I truly mean beyond. I never imagined this, never even conceived of it, that my writing would ever in any universe in any timeframe have any association—however ephemeral—with that of Andre Norton.

The seven-year-old ‘novelist’ in me is gleefully, joyfully dancing among the stars.

The present-day author is too.

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Kris Katzen wrote her first novel—all of seven! pages!—at age seven and hasn’t stopped since. Now with more than twenty novels and eighty short stories published, she writes mostly science fiction and fantasy. Occasional forays into other genres include action, romance, historical, and even a hockey novel. Her most recent novel Escapes is book one in the Interstellar Exiles series. Other series include Tales of Mimion and Sorcery & Steel. Visit www.BluetrixBooks.com/bibliography for a complete list of titles including those under all her pen names.

Two October Events

First, I have a class with Cat Rambo’s Academy for Wayward Writers on Sunday, 24 October 2021 -  Class: Self-Editing: From First Splat to Professional Finish. Slots and scholarships still available. Also, if you don’t need the scholarship, still tell Cat that you heard about the class from my newsletter and you will get $20 off!

http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/class-self-editing-from-first-splat-to-professional-finish/ 


Second, I have a brand new Kickstarter that just started. It’s a short one. From today until 31 October 2021 for my 99 Tiny Terrors anthology. I’m super proud of this anthology. I hope you support me in this endeavor.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1133704229/99-tiny-terrors-an-anthology

 

There’s nothing better than a short, sharp slice of flash fiction to get the mind working. 99 Tiny Terrors is an anthology that the reader can dip into for something deliciously dangerous in a short amount of time or spend an afternoon trolling through blood soaked stories from all over the world including Canada, England, Germany, Greece, Ireland, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United States, and Wales.

Featuring stories from the devious minds of Seanan McGuire, Ruthanna Emrys, Meg Elison, Wendy N. Wagner, Scott Edelman, Cat Rambo, Tim Waggoner, and more. 

“99 TINY TERRORS is an absolutely wild ride through some truly weird territory. Fast, freaky, furious, and fun! Highly recommended!” --Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of INK and V-WARS