Jennifer Brozek | All posts by jennifer

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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The First Words

by Jennifer Brozek 7. February 2017 10:50

Yesterday, I began writing the first book of a new teen horror series. The series is called Fever County, thus the first book has the temp title of FC01. I’ve got another title in mind, but I’ve discovered that, sometimes, in the writing of a novel, a new title will present itself. I don’t know if that will happen here or not. We’ll see.

I do know that the day flew by. It wasn’t the only thing I had to do. There’s a myriad of tasks I do each day / week. But when it comes to writing, new writing always comes first. I ended the day content and feeling productive. It was one of those days when I looked up from my last task and saw that it was 4:55pm. I was surprised. Some days drag on and on. Not yesterday.

Not today either.

The first words to a new novel always come slow for me. It’s like warming up an engine. I schedule no more than 500 words a day for the first week and I don’t worry at all if I make that or not. If it’s only 200 words—so be it. If it’s 700 or a thousand words—awesome. It’s not until the second week that I usually drop into a minimum of a thousand words a day or more. By the third week, I’m writing as fast as I can.

I’ve scheduled myself to finish the first draft of FC01 by Mar 31st.  April will be for the short stories I know I have to do. The first part of May will be the first edit pass. Then I’ll hand the novel off to Alpha Readers. While that’s going on. I’ll fully outline FC02, write the 2 page synopsis, and generally begin the mental stewing process. Maybe I’ll figure out the 1 paragraph synopsis for FC03. June will be for fixing FC01 before handing it off to my agent for her thoughts. While she’s reading/critiquing it, I’m going to be writing FC02.

Of course, that’s all in the future. For now, I am content. I’m writing new words again. Not just editing. Not writing in another IP’s world. Fever County is all mine. I can’t express just how right everything feels.

Also, I have the best map ever. I commissioned Elizabeth (she's fab!) to draw it for me. It is the perfect reference doc.

(P.S. Yes, Mom. I really am feeling better.)

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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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Making the 2016 Bram Stoker Prelim Ballot

by Jennifer Brozek 23. January 2017 10:24

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 am so happy to see this. After the thrill of discovery wore off, like last year, saner thoughts prevailed.

Quoting from my previous post, “I can look at what this really means. The preliminary ballot is not an official nomination. That will come after the active and lifetime members of the HWA vote. I won’t know until Feb 23rd if I’m officially nominated or not. In the meantime, I can enjoy being that much closer to the award.”

It does appear that Feb 23 is the official date again. All I can do is hope that I wrote a good enough novel that it is nominated. HWA Active and Lifetime members vote from Feb 1 to the 15th.

In a more personal thought, I’m thrilled to be on the ballot 2 years in a row. There’s something validating in this fact. Other creatives will understand what I’m talking about. Heck, anyone who competes understands getting a repeat nod is worth a lot.

I’m really happy to see the list of people I see on the ballot. Everyone is excellent at what they do. I’m particularly pleased for Stephen Graham Jones and Paul Tremblay; Bill Gorman and Stephanie Wytovich; Cullen Bunn, Nicole Cushing, Aric Cushing, Victor LaValle, Mark Matthews, Tim Waggoner, Laird Barron, Joyce Carol Oates, Pete Kahle, and so many more. I stopped when I realized I was going to repeat more than half the ballot. My category for Young Adult Novel makes me both proud to stand side-by-side and quake at the competition. I wrote a fine novel… but so did they all.

At the end of the day, I’m thrilled to be listed on the 2016 Bram Stoker prelim ballot. It makes me happy. Of course, I want the official nomination and to win. But that part is out of my hands. It's up to the voters now. So, I’m going to enjoy this ride for as far as it will take me.

 

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Tell Me - Joe M. McDermott

by Jennifer Brozek 16. January 2017 16:57

Joe is spot on with one of my complaints about glorifying war and the military through fiction in his novel The Fortress at the End of Time. I come from a military family and background. His thoughts hit the nail on the head.
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The student loan crisis is also a spiritual crisis. We tell students this dream, sell them on the idea of a future where anything is possible. Then, we encourage them to sign up for the dream, and to take out loans. Then, after schooling and the promise of the bright, shining future arrives, it's not so bright, and not so shining, because wages have not kept up with the cost of tuition. That college degree becomes an anchor that holds aspirants down into the lower classes for the crime of trying to lift themselves up.

My family members all served in the military. (Yes, all of them. My parents met in the Army. My sister is a West Point graduate and decorated Iraq war veteran. My brother is a retired Marine. I got an MFA in Writing. I chose a different path than them. That is another story, though, for another time.) The military sells folks a dream of glory. There are all these videos of people jumping out of planes, and running, and shouting, and it's very exciting. On TV and Film, it all looks so vigorous and important and intense. Yet, that is not true to the stories I hear around the kitchen table. Even my sister, a decorated war veteran, an MP (the only combat MOS available to women at the time), who has jumped out of planes and all of that exciting stuff, will not tell you about shooting a weapon in the direction of an enemy. I will leave her stories for her to tell; they belong to her.

I just think that there's this huge disconnect between what is sold and what is experienced. In fact, from where I stand, military service looked like a lot of paperwork and a lot of training for something that, for most soldiers, never comes. The vast majority of military personnel will never stare down a gun barrel at the mythical enemy. The gunships will be kept ready, but rarely fire. What little extreme violence occurs will be rare, I hope, very short and precise. It's not a bad thing, that so few actually face down the guns and bombs, comparatively, but it is also the opposite of what is being sold to us in the stories of military service that are often not at all like 24 or Saving Private Ryan.

While I was reading Military Science Fiction, I felt that this fact of military life was not present. Very few members of the military actually train for combat. The rest live and work inside an exceptionally brutal version of a government bureaucracy. Inside this massive bureaucracy, the facade of war is maintained, and desk clerks shout HOORAH! but even in an actual war, most members of the service are not hopping between houses hunting after bad guys. The majority of the military is a bureaucratic support structure for those few and proud that do that dangerous, bloody, patriotic work. And, I did not see a lot of military science fiction about this side of the military: the soul-crushing bureaucracy that chews up bright, young, energetic people and dumps them out on the other side more broken than when they began, and nary a shot fired, nary a moment of the glory they dreamed about.

It's a hard career, and it isn't for everyone. And, everything around it, everything inside of it, sells this dream of glory; for an overwhelming majority, the glory never comes.

This is one of the things I was thinking about when I thought about writing an old-fashioned space opera. There are all these huge, beautiful exciting ships and battles and weapons. But, most of the people who spend their whole careers inside those ships will never get what they want. They will never experience the dream that they were sold when they were young.

That crisis of spirit, when the revelation comes, is what I wanted to write about inside this deep space universe, inspired by Ursula K. Leguin and Dino Buzzati and Julian Gracq. I wanted space to be the thing that strips the dreams away, to reveal the self, and the lengths that people will go to survive, mentally, the soul-crushing bureaucracy wrapped in a shell of the dream of glory. What happens at the deep space stations when the enemy is not imminent? What happens in those long stretches of darkness where nothing and everything is looking back, and you don't even know what you're looking for? What happens when you realize all those dreams you had are narrowed to a room more like a prison cell than a home?


Different characters deal with this crisis of spirit differently. Captain Ronaldo Aldo deals with this by committing a crime against every human colony in the universe, and calls his crime his triumph.

His confession is out in January from Tor.com, called FORTRESS AT THE END OF TIME, and I hope you check it out. Thanks, Jennifer, for letting me come around and talk about it.

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JOE M. McDERMOTT is best known for the novels Last Dragon, Never Knew Another, and Maze. His work has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. He holds an MFA from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast Program. He lives in Texas.

 

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Tell Me - Glenn Rolfe

by Jennifer Brozek 10. January 2017 09:56

I've worked with Glenn in the past and I appreciate his deft story telling. I also like the way music inspired him unexpectedly. I love it when that happens.

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Three years ago, I began a short ghost story for a writing group. I was trying to come up with something when Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town” came through my headphones. Bruce is one of my favorite artists of all-time, and although I had listened to this song about half a million times, I heard a line in it that I’d never really heard before:  “tell ‘her there’s a spot out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge….and tell ‘em there’s a darkness on the edge of town.” The lyrics go on to tell about how “every man has a secret” and how they carry that secret with them “every step that they take.”  I took notice. I asked myself what kind of darkness, what kind of secret was out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge?

My short story quickly turned into something larger. The deeper I went, the more the mystery aspect of the story began begging to come out. At that time, I’d never written any kind of real mystery piece, and I wasn’t comfortable trying to do so, but at the end of the day, the story dictated where it wanted to go. I took a shot and let go of the reigns.

Aspects of the book are heavily influenced by two of my favorite writers: Mercedes Yardley and Ronald Malfi. Without Yardley’s Beautiful Sorrows and Malfi’s Floating Staircase, I’m not sure this story would have ever come to fruition. Yardley showed me it was okay to write something sweet into the horror we create, while Malfi showed me how to capture atmosphere, and how to funnel that swirling danger into an explosive and effective crescendo.

When I was finished writing, I knew I had something special. Abram’s Bridge is a about a twelve-year-old boy named Lil’ Ron, and Sweet Kate, the ghost girl he meets beneath Abram’s Bridge. Ron sets out to discover who or what is responsible for her death. He discovers is that the small Maine town his father has moved him to is full of secrets. When he starts asking about Kate, he disturbs a slumbering darkness that digs deeper and closer than he could ever know.

Part ghost story, part mystery, and part coming-of-age, this novella is still one of my favorite pieces in my catalog. Not the blood and gore horror of some of my other works, Abram’s Bridge is more of a supernatural-tinged thriller. I am extremely proud of this book and happy to see it back in circulation thanks to Crossroad Press.

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Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Hunter Shea, Brian Moreland and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

 

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Awards Eligibility for 2016 Publications

by Jennifer Brozek 9. January 2017 12:10

The nomination period for the 2017 Hugo Awards is now open. Below is what I am eligible for and what I published in 2016 I believe deserves to be nominated.

Novels
The Last Days of Salton Academy, YA horror novel - Ragnarok Publications
(While I had two other omnibuses and a fiction collection published, none of those are eligible and I am not eligible for the John W. Campbell award.)

Short Stories
“ARMIN LAAS” - ROBOTS! Origins Game Fair anthology (Science fiction)
“Inky, Blinky, and Me” - Man and Machine anthology (Science fiction)
“Dark Side Matters” - Drawing Destiny, a Sixth World Tarot anthology (Science fantasy)
“The Unfortunate Case of Sister Ruth” - Shockwaves, a V-Wars anthology (Urban fantasy)
“Feathers in Flight” - Tempest, All-New Tales of Valdemar anthology (High fantasy)

Editor – Short Form
I edited both EGM Shorts and Speculate! short fiction in 2016.

Remember, you need have been a member of last year’s Worldcon, and/or be a member of this year’s Worldcon, and/or be a member of next year's Worldcon to be eligible to either nominate or vote.

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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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Bubble & Squeek for 14 Dec 2016

by Jennifer Brozek 14. December 2016 09:19

I'm working on revisions for the Sekrit Project Alex extras and the final tie-in story for 2016. They both have fiddly bits to get correct. So, here's a Bubble & Squeek for you.

All I want for my Birthday (and Christmas for that matter). Please consider buying one of my books for yourself or as a gift for someone else. It helps keep my cats in kibble and me working on the fiction you know and love.

Article: On the Qwillery – The Perfect Line in the Sand on why zombies are the perfect kind of monster and why we used them so much.

ebook Release: The kindle version of THE LAST DAYS OF SALTON ACADEMY is live! Here is the Barnes and Noble link.

Interview: On Wag the Fox focused around THE LAST DAYS OF SALTON ACADEMY and YA fiction.

Interview: On Ginger Nuts of Horror. This was one long, meaty interview filled with intriguing questions I’ve never had to answer before.

Release: TEMPEST, All-New Tales of Valdemar. I've got my second story of Hadara and Kitha in here. This is the fourth Valdemar anthology I've written for. I'm still pinching myself at how lucky I am I get to play in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar world.

Review: Ginger Nuts of Horror reviewed
THE LAST DAYS OF SALTON ACADEMYIt doesn’t look like the reviewer liked it very much. But they are correct in saying the book was written for a different age group. (I much prefer these kinds of reviews. :) )

And a picture of Mena being oh-so-dignified. I love this picture of her.

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Latest Releases

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The Last Days of Salton Academy
YA Horror

Amazon | Barnes&Noble |
Ragnarok Publications

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Never Let Me
YA SF-Thriller Omnibus

Amazon | Barnes&Noble |
Permuted Press

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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


Chimera Incarnate

Karen Wilson Chronicles #4
More InformationBuy Now.
Amazon | DriveThruFiction


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

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Jazz Age Cthulhu
Amazon | B&N |
Innsmouth Free Press


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

Jennifer Brozek: Writerholic

Jennifer Brozek is a Hugo Award nominated editor and a Bram Stoker nominated author. Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited fifteen anthologies with more on the way, including the acclaimed Chicks Dig Gaming and Shattered Shields anthologies. Author of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, Industry Talk, the Karen Wilson Chronicles, and the acclaimed Melissa Allen series, she has more than sixty-five published short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions.

Jennifer is a freelance author for numerous RPG companies. Winner of the Scribe, Origins, and ENnie awards, her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity, Savage Worlds, and White Wolf SAS. Jennifer is the author of the YA Battletech novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, and the Shadowrun novella, Doc Wagon 19. She has also written for the AAA MMO Aion and the award winning videogame, Shadowrun Returns.

When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. Jennifer is a Director-at-Large of SFWA, and an active member HWA and IAMTW. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniferBrozek.