Jennifer Brozek | All posts by jennifer

Update to Fantasy Jenn

This year, I decided I wanted to work on Fantasy Jenn. IE: the Jennifer I think I want to be or think I should be. I’ve been doing one-month sections at a time. And yes, CoVid did interrupt this little exploration of shifting fantasy to reality, but I’m still keeping on as best I can.

First up, Fantasy Jenn and pretty polished nails. You might remember in the past of 2-3 years ago, I spent a significant amount of time with hard gel on my nails. I got my nails done every 3 weeks or so. It was expensive, but I was doing between 10 and 14 events a year. I considered it image upkeep. Then my fabulous nail artist moved. Her apprentice did pretty well, but she was much farther away and the gel nails popped off. This was something that didn’t happen with my first nail tech.

Thus began an 18 month attempt at not doing gel nails and only getting shellac done the day before a long convention. Otherwise I did my nails at home. Badly. Thus, this month, I’m officially giving up on polished nails. Regular nail polish doesn’t last. One chip and I start picking at it. And during The Great Pause, I’m working at home anyway. It is sad, but I’m saying good-bye to Fantasy Jenn nails for now.

Next up, Fantasy Jenn and stretching. I’m happy to say that I’ve kept up on this “should have” habit. I can’t touch my toes yet, but I’m getting closer and steadily better. I spend time, on average, stretching five days a week. So, not all is lost when it comes to Fantasy Jenn. That’s a nice feeling.

Finally, Fantasy Jenn and cutting the cable cord. This is the newest decision for Chez Brozek. Now, me and the Husband have talked about it for years. The last time we decided we were going to cut cable (keeping internet), we got talked into lowering our bill and getting even more channels. It felt like a loss then and I decided to keep an eye on what I actually watched. What I recorded on DVR. What would I miss?

This time when the Husband brought up the idea, I jumped all over it. I told him to cut it because the only thing I would really miss was PBS and we could get that over streaming. So, he did. And, wonder of wonders, they didn’t try to hard sell him an upgrade. Possibly because we were keeping internet. In the end, after adding PBS Passport to our streaming line up, we are saving $90/month on the cable bill. That’s over $1000 a year saved.

I wondered if I would miss it. I don’t but I have noticed that I really need to be much more deliberate about my TV watching. I can’t just turn it on and flip through channels until something catches my eye. I like this. It means I have the shows I want to watch and I have time to do more reading/listening to audiobooks (another Fantasy Jenn thing that I’m not specifically working on but I want to).

Next up for Fantasy Jenn…Declutter Round 3. As of the end of August, I will have not decluttered for a full year. As I’ve decided The Great Pause is the new normal, it’s time for me to get my declutter on. I suspect it’s going to be harder this time around. More emotions. More to think about. More difficult to get rid of things.

Though, it may have to wait until October. I need to get BattleTech: Crimson Night written, edited, and turned in first. It’s what is taking most of my cycles right now.

On Tooting One’s Own Horn

Yesterday, Jeff Sturgeon came over with the hardback Last Cities of Earth anthology to sign for the kickstarter backers. It was, of course, socially distanced and masked at a table set up in the garage. It’s the only way I see people now who are not in my socially distanced bubble. He gave me my copy of the anthology and I put it up on my brag shelf.

The last time we updated my brag shelf, I thought about posting pictures of it online. I didn’t because, well, there was (is) a lot going on in 2020 and it didn’t seem like a good time. I took pictures and did nothing with them. I figured it would be in bad taste. It wouldn’t be appropriate. It wouldn’t be [insert whatever excuse here].

Still, after I added the new anthology, I took more pictures then paused and wondered if it would be appropriate to show off the shelf. As a woman, I’ve been taught to not take up space. That if I talk about my own accomplishments, I am arrogant and should be more humble. If I announce that I have works that are available for reading and even awards consideration, I am being a gold digger. It doesn’t matter that none of these things happen to my male counterparts. I am the one who hesitates because I’m the one who gets hit with it inside and out.

No more. I can’t allow that. If I don’t believe in my own work, no one else will.

Slowly, I am teaching myself that it is fine, it is right, it is appropriate to take up space. I am allowed. I can show off my accomplishments. I can tell the world that I have works to consider for reading, and dare I say it, awards. It’s so easy for me to tell my friends that they and their work deserve space, notice, and praise. Why not me?

I am learning that I can be my own friend. I can toot my own horn. I can cheer for myself as much as I cheer for others. I have to learn this to be a good example to others like me.

It’s hard. My fingers stumble over the keyboard keys as I type this. I hesitate. I am not sure.

That doesn’t matter. I will damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead anyway. Because if I won’t, who will? Sometimes, you must be your own cheering section.

Jennifer Brozek’s Virtual Gen Con 2020 Booth

Hello everyone. I wish we were at Gen Con in person but circumstances have dictated that we cannot be. I miss you. Considered yourself hugged, or given a handshake, or a smile and a wave. I will be on twitter to celebrate one of my all-time favorite conventions.

Below are the books I have available. If you already have them all and would like to support me, please buy me a coffee. I really am made of caffeine and I sincerely appreciate your support. You are the reason I write. (That and the fact that I need to feed my cats.)

BATTLETECH

 

BattleTech: The Nellus Academy Incident. Eight cadets and a general on a PR event gone horribly wrong. This one will break your heart.

BattleTech: Iron Dawn, Rogue Academy One. A pair of war orphans lead their academy to rescue their own when the adults can’t do it.

(New!) BattleTech: Ghost Hour, Rogue Academy Two. After sibling cadets, Jasper and Nadine Roux rescue Emporia’s MechWarriors and ’Mechs, the enemy fights back because they—like the siblings—have nothing left to lose.

SHADOWRUN

(New!) Shadowrun: A Kiss to Die For. When Sartorial meets Kintsugi at a jabber—an illegal warehouse party—they fall in love as only teenagers can do. But the world conspires to keep them apart…as do the secrets the teenagers hold. (Novella)

Shadowrun: Makeda Red. It was supposed be a simple extraction from the Brussels2Rome party train. With an eclectic crowd, a willing target, and a lot of nuyen at stake, what could go wrong?

Shadowrun: DocWagon19. DocWagon—saviors of the needy, rescuers of the desperate. Reporter Amelia Hart has embedded herself with a DocWagon team to see what their life is really like. When the past comes to haunt the team, Amelia is in for a wild ride. (Novella)

URBAN FANTASY

The Karen Wilson Chronicles. Omnibus. Karen Wilson is a 911 operator in the city of Kendrick, who receives a very strange phone call and discovers that her city is not at all what it appears to be. Pulled into Kendrick's hidden, supernatural world, she finds herself appointed as the mysterious Master of the City's visible representative to-well, everyone-and then gets adopted by a baby gargoyle. Can things get any stranger? In Kendrick, they probably can.

Join Karen and her allies as they fight to protect not just themselves, but the entire city and its denizens, from dangers within that threaten to consume them whole. This omnibus contains all four of the Karen Wilson Chronicles novels (Caller Unknown, Children of Anu, Keystones, Chimera Incarnate) as well as bonus content including a never before published short story, "The Fool's Path."

A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods. Bram Stoker award finalist anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek. The ongoing battle against the immortal Elder Gods enters the modern age. Magic, mayhem, and murder no longer reign in dusty books discovered in decrepit libraries. Today’s monsters can be called by more than uncanny rituals in candlelit basements. Madness lurks on the internet and lives in the locker room. It breeds in the mall and ambushes its victims outside the club.

But those who fight this vast evil have also moved into the modern age. Teenagers from every walk of life use whatever they can to defend our world. Sometimes they win. Sometimes they lose. Sometimes…they give into the temptations of eldritch power.

If you didn’t find anything you liked, check out my podcasts: Five Minutes Stories and Shadowrun: ShadowBytes.

Sands Through the Hourglass

We are well past the halfway point in 2020 and part of me doesn’t understand how that could happen. How is time slipping by so fast? What have I been doing with my time. (I mean I know what I’ve been doing, but still, the question lingers.)

I think it’s because we are in the middle of what would’ve been my convention season. Norwescon, Westercon, Origins…and coming up Gen Con and Worldcon. For the last ten years, spring and summer have been broken up with travel—be it local or not. Everything used to hinge on what convention did I just do and what convention do I need to prepare for next? It chopped up the months nicely.

Now, I’ve got “before Rainforest” and “after Rainforest.” I went away for a writing retreat and the world changed. Possibly—probably—forever. The only things marking time right now are “when I said good-bye to dad” and “when dad died.” These are not things I want to mark my time. I’m trying to find other things to focus on.

A Kiss to Die For BattleTech Ghost Hour

I did have two books come out last month. Shadowrun: A Kiss to Die For and BattleTech: Ghost Hour. Both are doing all right, but this would’ve been the convention season I would’ve touted them, showing them off, and signing copies for old and new fans alike.

I was recently (in the grand scheme of things) nominated for two awards: the Scribe award for BattleTech: Iron Dawn and the Bram Stoker award for A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods. I lost both of them, but, as they said, it is an honor to be nominated. (Of course, not going to lie, I would have rather have won one or both of them.)

I do miss traveling to conventions or for weekend trips with the Husband. They were much needed vacations from reality. I think both of us have realized how much we miss them, even though conventions were so much work. They filled the creative well for me and allowed the Husband to get away from the computer. I hope we get back to them again someday.

In the meantime, we’re doing a bunch of virtual events for conventions. My next one is Gen Con. My author card will be linked to this blog and I’ll be posting books for sale and such. I don’t have any panels. I just did a series of panels for “JulyCon” on Arvan Eleron’s twitch channel. There’s a recording of the panels on YouTube.

Virtual events are fun, but they are a stop gap measure until we find the new normal for conventions and other writing/fan events. Mostly, they just make me miss going to conventions and seeing my friends and peers all the more. Plus, I miss the business aspect of them where me and my editors/publishers can get some face-to-face talking time about what’s the plan for the next year. That said, we are lucky to have the opportunity to host and participate in virtual events.

In the meantime, I’ve got my last BattleTech novel to write. I’ve got a deadline to meet. It’s good to have something keeping me busy. I hope everyone else out there has stuff to keep them busy and is doing as well as they can be. I miss my friends. Know you are missed and loved.

BattleTech: Ghost Hour Has Been Released!

BattleTech: Ghost Hour...
Rogue Academy, Book 2
A BattleTech YA Novel.

BattleTech: Ghost Hour

CADETS UNDER FIRE…

Jasper and Nadine Roux are cadets at the Ritza MechWarrior Academy…the only thing stopping a megalomaniacal Draconis Combine general with aspirations of claiming a piece of space as his own—starting with their home planet. Emporia is at war, and cadets are now frontline soldiers as Tai-sa Takeji Yoshizawa shifts tactics in a brutal effort to subjugate their entire world.

It’s up to the siblings and their friends to stop the madman bent on conquest, but while Jasper believes Nadine is too reckless, Nadine believes Jasper is still living in the past. As both struggle to do what they think is right, the Ritza Academy comes under assault once more. It takes a shocking sacrifice to make them both see the true face of the enemy.

Reunited by the same purpose, Jasper agrees to Nadine’s audacious plan to make Emporia too much trouble for the leader of the Seventh Ghost Regiment to conquer. Unfortunately for them, Tai-sa Yoshizawa has his own secrets, and nothing left to lose. And even if Nadine’s plan works to perfection, the cunning general has one last trick up his sleeve that could bring about the end of everything Nadine and Jasper hold dear…

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Tell Me - Elizabeth Guizzetti

Elizabeth is an author friend of mine. We have a lot of interested in common. Today we hear how she accidentally created a podcast for the Paper Flower Consortium.

The Paper Flower Consortium

The Paper Flower Consortium is the universe where several of my vampire novellas are set. It is also the name of the largest vampire coven in Seattle and the title of my new Podcast. Every 1st and 3rd Friday, Loretta Fabron Onfoy, the current historian and librarian covers all topics concerning a vampire’s existence: legal and illegal transformations, vampire powers, crosses and the sleep of the dead, the importance of an Earth collection, and an eternity of taxes. She then recalls an applicable story from a vampire or enthralled human.

The podcast was not planned. It sort of developed out of a series of mistakes I made.

I created the Paper Flower Consortium Universe when writing my comedy-horror novella, Immortal House in 2018. Laurence Roch, the main character in the novel, is seeking his forever home within Seattle while trying to remain within budget. However, in the book, there are four segments when we learn about Laurence’s history and meet vampires of his acquaintance most who are members of the local coven: Paper Flower Consortium. This book was supposed to be a standalone. Something to clear my mind.

Immortal House Death Sticks a Pixie

However, by pre-release reader’s response, even before Immortal House released, I decided to write a book following the character Norma Mae Rollins. However, trying to write a book about the too-young vampire in the same vein as Immortal House, proved to be a challenge. Though I wrote funny lines, this coming of age story wasn’t funny. After all, it starts with the attack and accidental transformation of a fourteen-year-old girl. I also knew since this was an illegal transformation, the Paper Flower Consortium didn’t just take the girl in, train her in her gifts, and held her when she got overwhelmed—though from Laurence’s perspective that is what happened. I also knew Norma never stopped missing her mother, her dog, her friends. And I knew Norma would always be an outcast.

So I had a not-funny vampire comedy with plot holes someone could drive a truck through, because it made the book even less funny. I set that book aside and wrote a novellas, about Norma’s vampire “grandpa” Derrik Miller, thinking that might help me fill in the gaps of Norma’s story. Nope. It just gave me more material. So I set that aside, but I still wanted to write a book about Norma.

I started fresh during the 3-day novel writing challenge. (Be clear I did not write a novel in three days! I wrote 19,000 words of garbage.) I thought about the story I wanted to tell: who Norma is today. Not her tragic past or who characters (and readers) think she is when they see her, but the fast thinking, fast talking, Norma of Norma’s Cleaning Service the most profitable subdivision of Paper Flower Consortium who employs a shade and watches out for the other vampires of the greater Seattle area. She is especially close to her vampire grandpa, Derrik, and his wife, Pascaline, but is an outcast within her coven due to her outer appearance. What genre of book makes sense for that Norma?

I decided to do something I do not recommend authors do. I moved this series away from horror comedy that was Immortal House and wrote three cozy mysteries: Death Pulls a Stake Out followed by Death Hears a Siren and Death Sticks a Pixie (and two more coming!) While working on The Norma’s Cleaning Service Mysteries, I wrote the other back stories for the vampires of the coven who helped Derrik raise Norma.

Agata’s story is told in Honor Among Vampires 2019 and Jakub’s story is in, Chivalry Among Vampires, 2020. There will be books for Pascaline, Loretta, Charles, Derrik, Xiao, and Alice for sure. Perhaps one for Norma’s creator, William. These novellas are being released in chronical logical order from oldest vampire to youngest, not in order written. Some are tragic, others are just adventures.

Even so, I still had a ton of material that didn’t fit into any planned or unplanned book, about the younger vampires, enthralled humans, merfolk, werewolves and zombies. I even have a story about a vampire horse and another about a ghost dog which Norma brought home. Not to mention the Initiation Guidelines and other laws.

What was I going to do with all this stuff?

Using the questions fans asked when I saw them at the 2018 and 2019 conventions, I realized all these little stories could be a podcast! As I already have a heavy outline of Loretta’s book (not yet written) As she is the historian and librarian, I knew it made sense that Loretta was the narrator.

The genre is paranormal horror, though some of the stories lean towards horror comedy, paranormal fantasy, or even Gothic horror.

I have twenty-five regular episodes planned and 3 bonus episodes for Summer Solstice, Halloween and Christmas Eve. I just have finished recording Episode 7: Crosses and Coffins which will release on June 19th (June 12 for patrons! https://www.patreon.com/paperflowerconsortium ).

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Listen to the Paper Flower Consortium on Buzzsprout, Spotify, ApplePodcasts, or on your favorite podcast player. Learn more about Elizabeth Guizzetti and the Paper Flower Consortium at her website.

Happy Book Release Day to Me!

Shadowrun: A Kiss to Die For...
A Shadowrun novella.

A Kiss to Die For

LOVE VERSUS DUTY...

When Sartorial meets Kintsugi at a jabber—an illegal warehouse party—he falls hard and fast for the beautiful human girl. She is everything he didn't know he wanted—and everything his family hates. Kintsugi is drawn to the handsome elf boy like no other, but her future has already been planned. A future she intends to thwart. But now there's something worth staying around for, she's torn over what to do.

Unfortunately, they both have secrets that will not be kept, and powerful families that have their own goals. It seems like the entire world is trying to keep them apart. Can Sartorial and Kintsugi overcome all obstacles to be together—even after their secrets are revealed?

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Bubble & Squeek for 15 June 2020

Today’s Bubble & Squeek is brought to you by galley proofs, workshops, and the letter “C” for cover reveals!

Cover reveal and Release: Pre-Order/Order Shadowrun: A Kiss to Die For. Meet Sartorial and Kintsugi. This happens the night they meet. The cover is by the ever fabulous Peter Tikos.

Review: Way of the Laser: Future Crime Stories. Five star review. “I’m very glad I picked this book up to review, and I know any science fictions fans will be glad they picked it up to read.” This one has the story, "When a Patch Won't Do" by me and Katie Cord.

Cover reveal for BattleTech: Ghost Hour. Jasper and Nadine are having a very bad time of it. The blonde is Lyric, Nadine’s girlfriend and all around “Death Pixie.” This is by the wonderful BattleTech artist Marco Mazzoni. He does such a good job!

Workshop: Clarion West - The Business of Writing, June 30. NOTE: However, sign-up will take place through a lottery system and you have to register for the Write-a-thon in order to sign up. They are closing the class lottery next Wednesday, June 17, so anyone interested needs to have signed up by then!

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.

 

12 Weeks in Self-Isolation

Twelve weeks ago, I drove home from the Rainforest Writers Retreat to discover the world had changed more than expected in the five days I had almost no internet and even less motivation to look to the outside world. That’s what writing retreats are for.

When I left for RWR, there was worry about the growing pandemic, but it was still more of a threat than an actual thing. When I came home, well, that was another thing.

  • …The Husband was now required to work at home.
  • …Voluntary self-isolation had begun but wasn’t yet government mandated. Since the Husband’s work had decided to cancel all his business trips and send him home, that was enough of a sign for me.
  • …Masks were becoming common.

All of these things had a learning curve to them. At the same time, I started watching the news and the numbers of the United States versus the World in Infected, Dead, and Recovered rates.

According to my journal, my first recorded notations were on March 18. All numbers are from the COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

As of Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
US: 10,775 infected. World: 235,701 infected; 9,786 dead.

As of Sunday morning, May 31, 2020.
US
Infected: 1,773,106
Dead: 103,906
Recovered: 416,461

Worldwide
Infected: 6,104,980
Dead: 370,078
Recovered: 2,593,237

These are not good numbers and I’m pretty sure things are only going to get worse as the summer continues on.

I’ve had my moments of pain over the last twelve weeks. Mostly grieving for my father who I last saw alive over Memorial Day weekend 2019. I do miss sitting in coffee shops, gaming in person with my friends, and having my weekly writing group at my house. Overall, I’m fine. I’m an author and an editor. I spend most of my time at home anyway. My biggest sadness is the necessary cancellation of my convention season. It’s the best thing the world can do right now, but I really do miss going to conventions. More than missing the revenue I got from them (ko-fi anyone?), I miss meeting up with my editors, publishers, and peers.

The Husband and I have worked out the new daytime working routine. We take walks. Cook a lot more at home. Occasionally order out to help support our local mom-and-pop restaurants. We are incredibly privileged and we know it. It’s why we do what we can to help out.

Twelve weeks in and we’re doing fine. I don’t see this pandemic burning itself out anytime soon. I have no idea how long this is going to last. So, we make the best of it as we can. It’s all we can do.