Jennifer Brozek | All posts by jennifer

Tell Me - Loren Rhoads

I’ve known Loren Rhoads for years online and I don’t know if I’ve ever told her that cemeteries fascinate me. Today, she tells me how she fell in love with this macabre subject.

The first time I visited a cemetery on vacation was an accident. I’d discovered a lovely book of cemetery photos — who knew such a thing existed? — in the bookshop at London’s Victoria Station. My husband Mason decided he would rather see beautiful, overgrown Highgate Cemetery than the Tower of London. Once we were there, surrounded by angels clothed in ivy, I fell in love with cemetery statuary.

One of my friends in San Francisco recommended I stop by the Rand McNally store and pick up a cemetery guidebook (my first!) called Permanent Parisians. At her suggestion, we’d already planned to work Pere Lachaise Cemetery into our trip to Paris, because Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, and so many other famous people were buried there. Permanent Parisians led us to the cemeteries of Montparnasse and St. Vincent and the Paris Municipal Ossuary. That was an amazing trip!

After that, I simply stumbled across cemeteries everywhere I traveled. My mom saw a sign for the Pioneer Cemetery in Yosemite while I was looking through the anthropology museum. Jack London just happened to be buried at the State Historical Park that bears his name. A friend was touring St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans and encouraged me to come along.

Other places had such an impact on history that I wanted to see them for myself. When Mason and I went to Japan for the first time, I wanted to see Hiroshima and the Peace Park. When my mom took me to Honolulu, I went alone by tour bus on Easter morning to see Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. I ducked out of a family trip to Washington DC to visit Arlington National Cemetery.

Then I started to get a reputation. Japanese friends took us to the old capitol of Kamakura to show me a monks’ graveyard. A friend who’d grown up in Westchester County said I shouldn’t miss the Old Dutch Burying Ground in Sleepy Hollow. Other friends gave us a private tour of the Soldiers National Cemetery and battlefield at Gettysburg.

By the time Mason and I went to Italy in 2001, we built our vacations around cemeteries. In Rome, I targeted the Protestant Cemetery, final home of Keats and Shelley. In Venice, I wanted to see the island set aside as a graveyard, where Stravinsky is buried. In Florence, we managed to score an hour alone in the English Cemetery, where Elizabeth Barrett Browning is buried. That cemetery had the most amazing iconography: hourglasses and ouroboros and a life-sized skeleton with a scythe.

Despite the occasional death figure, I don’t find graveyards at all frightening. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing better than sunshine and birdsong, green grass and trees, cemetery statuary and epitaphs. Especially these days, we could all use a moment alone with our thoughts, remembering what is important. As I always say, every day aboveground is a good day. Cemeteries help me keep that in mind.

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Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She’s also the editor of Death’s Garden Revisited: Personal Relationships with Cemeteries, an anthology of 40 essays from tour guides and travelers, genealogists and geocachers, horror authors, ghost hunters, and pagan priests about why they visit cemeteries. Death’s Garden Revisited is funding on Kickstarter from March 17-April 14, 2022.

Shadowrun: Elfin Black Has Been Released

For the Ides of March comes my latest Shadowrun novel, Elfin Black! It isn’t a direct sequel of any of my other Shadowrun releases, but it does have characters from Makeda Red, A Kiss to Die For, and DocWagon 19 in it. At least one with a major role (ahem, Imre Dahl).

 

TIES THAT BIND…

Mage Jonathan Leeds has built himself a comfortable life owning and operating an exclusive night club in London, far from the iron grasp of his family. But when his father, Gordon, abruptly summons him to the Seattle Metroplex, John finds himself a stranger in a strange land, thrown into the wilds of the ’Plex to manage a situation apparently only he can handle. Although he’d prefer to ignore his father’s wishes, John knows that no one—family or foe—says no to Gordon Leeds. At least, not if they want to live to tell about it.

But family obligations aren’t the only reason John is in Seattle. His patron back in England, Lord Callen Nassau, has asked him to look for a missing woman. John is only too happy to oblige, as the elegant elf noble is everything his father is not. But when Gordon’s and Callen’s tasks intertwine in unexpected ways, John is forced to question everything he knows about both men, and soon discovers not all that glitters is gold.

When the desires of these rich and powerful beings collide in the Sixth World, John finds himself a pawn in their vicious game. If he’s to escape the Emerald City in one piece, John knows he must take control of the situation—any way he can—or suffer the lethal consequences.

Happy book birthday to me! I’m very happy with this book. I’ve had it mind since I wrote “Dark Side Matters” for the Shadowrun: Drawing Destiny anthology. I hope you enjoy it.

Tell Me - Russell Zimmerman

Today, Rusty Zimmerman tells me what it’s like to put together a collection of game fiction that was written over many years. It’s a walk down memory lane.

 

Down These Dark Streets is a Shadowrun first-ever; a collection of a writer’s short fiction, gathered up from across all the various sourcebooks, setting books, rule books, magazines, and where ever else it first showed up.  A lot of Shadowrun fiction is spread out in intro pieces, short, punchy, stories that separate big chapters in sourcebooks, and that sort of thing, and The Powers That Be took a shot at gathering mine all together between one set of covers.

Readers can follow along as a handful of threads and characters weave from story to story, a sort of universe-within-a-universe that started with my very first piece of Shadowrun work, intro fiction for Attitude, two editions and *mumble* years ago.  The protagonist of that short piece shows up as part of a team in some later intro fics I published, that team shows up alongside Jimmy Kincaid in Dirty Tricks, Jimmy Kincaid’s entangled with Ms. Myth and the Shadowrun Fifth Edition crew in his novels, their nemesis Rook first showed up in some adventure intro fic, etc, etc. 

I’ve long felt like Shadowrun works best when the shadows feel small, tangled, and reputation-centric – everyone knows everyone, word gets around, and when you’re looking for reliable talent, the odds are good they’ve worked together before.  I wanted that feeling, and a sense of continuity, even in my seemingly-unrelated pieces that were initially scattered across books (and even editions).  Getting to see them all side by side in this book was a lot of fun.

What else was a lot of fun?  Writing intros!  In addition to a sappy love letter to Shadowrun that kicks off the whole collection, each and every piece has a small writer introspective from me.  In them, I talk about what the original pitch for the story was, I talk about cover art (sometimes changing cover art!) that inspired the piece, or I just share my thoughts on how it came together and what I think about the finished product.  Having the chance to open up and ‘chat’ with readers was a lot of fun, and I hope I’m not too cringe-worthy when I talk about what fun, and what an honor, it’s been to get to do what I do.

Also included among the already-published sourcebook and Game Trade Magazine-exclusive pieces are four brand new, never before published, short stories.  Some of them spun out of the ‘enhanced fiction’ line before finding a home here instead, but the largest story in the collection was written just for this book.  It’s a novella-length Jimmy Kincaid story, set as an ‘in-betweener’ in his novel trilogy, fitting in there any place before his latest novel, On The Rocks.

Assembling this collection was a good time, and the short walk down memory lane for the dozen years, now, I’ve been writing Shadowrun stories.  I was very excited to get to share a little bit of the creative process with readers, I was excited to hear there are paperback and hardback versions available right off the bat, and I’m excited for the future, to hear what fans think of the whole kit and caboodle. 

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Russell Zimmerman got started in writing as a freelancer for wargames like Warmachine, and since then has contributed to dozens of projects including fan-favorite fiction in Shadowrun and writing the international award-winning PC game Satellite Reign. His most noteworthy work has been for the Shadowrun role-playing game and associated properties, but he's spilled some ink in the universes of Vampire 20th Anniversary, Earthdawn, Wrath & Glory, and Mutants & Masterminds, and more!

The Reinvented Heart eBook is Live

Life is exciting. Time is a construct. Schedules get changed. Things get forgotten. This post is about all of those. Due to life being as it is, we have the wonderful opportunity to have two release celebrations for the same anthology! THE REINVENTED HEART anthology had its ebook version released on time yesterday (Mar 10, 2022) and, due to supply chain issues, its print book version will be released on May 31st .

The Reinvented Heart is released in eBook form now.
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Reinvented-Heart-Jane-Yolen-ebook/dp/B092JNGX85

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-reinvented-heart-jane-yolen/1139229735?ean=2940165273438

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-reinvented-heart

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1562923075

The print copy will be released on May 31st. It can be pre-ordered now.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-reinvented-heart-caezik/1139312391?ean=9781647100421

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=9781647100421&ref=nb_sb_noss

What happens when emotions like love and friendship span vast distances — in space, in time, and in the heart?

Science fiction often focuses on future technology and science without considering the ways social structures will change as tech changes — or not. What will relationships look like in a complicated future of clones, uploaded intelligences, artificial brains, or body augmentation? What stories emerge when we acknowledge possibilities of new genders and ways of thinking about them?

The Reinvented Heart presents stories that complicate sex and gender by showing how shifting technology may affect social attitudes and practices, stories that include relationships with communities and social groups, stories that reinvent traditional romance tropes and recast them for the 21st century, and above all, stories that experiment, astonish, and entertain.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Foreword by Cat Rambo
HEARTS
Poem: They: A Grammar Lesson by Jane Yolen
Retrospect by Seanan McGuire
Lockpick, Locked Heart by AnaMaria Curtis
Touch Has a Memory by Lisa Morton
Ping-Pong Dysphoria by Madeline Pine
In Our Masks, the Shadows by Sam Fleming
Ships of Theseus by Felicity Drake
With All Souls Still Aboard by Premee Mohamed
More than Nine by Beth Cato
HANDS
Poem: There Is a Hand by Jane Yolen
The Shape of the Particle by Naomi Kritzer
No Want to Spend by Sophie Giroir
Little Deaths and Missed Connections by Maria Dong
Sincerely Yours by Lyda Morehouse
Photosynthesis, Growth by Devin Miller
No Pain but That of Memory by Aimee Ogden
Go Where the Heart Takes You by Anita Ensal
MINDS
Poem: Mars Conquest by Jane Yolen
The Star-Crossed Horoscope for Interstellar Travelers by Fran Wilde
Canvas of Sins by Mercedes M. Yardley
If My Body Is a Temple, Raze It to the Ground by Lauren Ring
PerfectMate™ by Xander Odell
Etruscan Afterlife by Rosemary Claire Smith
Our Savage Heart Calls to Itself (Across the Endless Tides) by Justina Robson
Afterword by Jennifer Brozek

I am super proud of this anthology. I've enjoyed the heck out of working with Cat Rambo and am happy to being working with her again on THE REINVENTED DETECTIVE.

The Reinvented Detective Slushpile Tweets

Early in my writing career (and even now), I was fascinated by editors who talked about slushpiles as they went through them. I learned a lot—both good and bad—about the submission process. The Reinvented Detective will be the 22nd anthology I’ve edited or co-edited. (Though, I don’t think it’ll be the 22nd anthology released. The publishing industry is complicated.) I figured that if I got something out of that kind of information, I should past it on and share some of my thoughts as I read 20-40 subs a day. I tweeted these out on my Twitter account: @JenniferBrozek.

Note1: These “Editor Tips” are not picking on anyone in the slushpile. Some submissions reminded me of issues as I went through. If you submitted a story, do NOT assume a tip is about you. Please. I’ve read a lot of slush (Apex Magazine, Edge of Propinquity, 22 anthologies…) and my thoughts are linked to all of them.

Note2: These are my opinions. I’m made them as generic as I could with an effort to not name names. These are based on experience and my likes/dislikes. “No shit, there I was stories” need to be in person with a libation in hand.

1. From the Slushpile: While you won't be rejected for a typo in your second sentence, it doesn't look good on you as a writer. Spellcheck is not your friend. It is a double agent who will let you write "barley" when you mean "barely." Do not trust it!

2. From the Slushpile: If the story is so generic that I can't tell what genre it is supposed to be, the writer has not done their job. Body language and descriptive word choice is worldbuilding. Details matter—even more so in short fiction.

3. From the Slushpile: If you use track changes in your document, please remember to accept all changes before you turn in your story. I really don't need to see your edits. This happens way too often.

4. From the Slushpile: If the guidelines say original fiction only and/or no reprints, that means NO REPRINTS. If the story has been sold/printed/posted anywhere, it does not qualify per the guidelines. If the writer still submits the story, it does nothing but wastes the editor’s time.

5. From the Slushpile: When the guidelines ask for a specific type of story, especially genre (IE: SF), a writer’s story, no matter how good it is, will not qualify if it is the wrong genre (IE: Fantasy). It is a waste of time on both sides to submit it.

6. From the Slushpile: Don’t begin a short story with historical backstory or an infodump. Begin your story in a way that catches the attention, necessary details can be sprinkled in later like spice. Trust the reader to keep up.

7. From the Slushpile: While every anthology may have its theme, many of the choices are subjective and based on the Editor’s likes and dislikes. Sometimes it is good to know what kinds of stories the editor loves or hates. (IE: I love “hidden world” stories. I hate “hurt the woman/child to turn on their power” stories.)

8. From the Slushpile: Beginnings are extremely important. Hooking the reader with emotion, a provocative thought, or interesting action allows the writer to pull the reader along as the story unfolds. Start with what is important.

9. From the Slushpile: Endings are as important as beginnings. Learn when and how to end a story without cutting it off too quickly or stringing it out too long. This is the last impression the story will leave on the reader.

10. From the Slushpile: I don’t care how avantgarde the writer wishes to be, writing a story with little (or no) punctuation is going to be a HARD sell. It is difficult to read and even more difficult to edit.

11. From the Slushpile: Stereotypes and cliches are not usually a good look in a story. They are often too familiar, trite, and boring. If the writer is going to use one, make it different and interesting.

12. From the Slushpile: Cover letters should be simple and to the point without extraneous information. Also, don’t say “aspiring author” in a cover letter. The writer is an author by the mere fact that they have submitted their work. Doesn't matter if they are unpublished.

13. From the Slushpile: A short story title is a promise from the writer to the reader. Don’t make the short story title too generic. Make the promise and give the reader something to look forward to.

14. From the Slushpile: Sometimes a brilliant first line/first paragraph is all that’s needed to keep me reading through the parts that need to be edited. Though, a brilliant first line won’t save a story that isn’t right for the anthology.

15. From the Slushpile: Flashbacks in a short story are hard to do well. More often than not they are infodumps or backstory that could be told in better ways. Consider that for future stories.

16. From the Slushpile: Using specific, named media/personalities (TV shows, movies, songs, actors, politicians, CEOs, etc…) or modern day slang in a short story can date them quickly. Try to avoid this unless this is part of the anthology call.

17. From the Slushpile: Humor and sarcasm are subjective. Understand the reader is not in the writer’s head and may not understand what was meant. Deploy with care.

18. From the Slushpile: Seriously, learn how to write a simple, effective cover letter. All the writer actually needs: Writer’s name, the story’s title, word count, (optional: anything else specifically asked for,) thank the editor for their time. The end.

19a. From the Slushpile: Now that I’m done reading slush for The Reinvented Detective, here is a controversial topic: reading stories from writers the editor has met. There is a certain joy or pain that comes from name recognition in the slush pile. This emotion can bias the editor towards or against the writer.

19b. Often, if the editor knows the writer in a favorable context, it will make them more patient with the story they are reading. More willing to consider edits. This includes reading stories from writers who have been in classes, workshops, and/or kaffeeklatsches with the editor. Or bought them a drink/meal and picked their brain.

19c. The converse is true. Editors can be more impatient with stories or less willing to entertain edits if the writer is known in an unfavorable context. Especially if the writer is a known “repeat offender” (virtually or in person) for whatever reason.

19d. That said, if a story does not stand up against its peers in an anthology, it doesn’t matter how much the editor likes the writer, the story must be rejected as it is unsuited to the work in progress. I speak as someone who has rejected Ed Greenwood and Seanan McGuire. (Ya'll know I adore both Ed and Seanan. Ed was one of my first co-authors and taught me a lot. Seanan...one of my best friends.)  

19e. Editors want to publish you, /if/ the story is good and suits what they need. Editors love finding new talent or that story that wins the awards. Editors are human with likes, dislikes, and inherent biases. I try to be as fair and professional and transparent as possible.

19f. I hope this peek into my editorial thoughts has been helpful. Don’t forget that you can pre-order/buy The Reinvented Heart anthology, edited by me and the ever-talented Cat Rambo, now. (https://www.arcmanorbooks.com/reinvented) The Reinvented Detective will be released in 2023.


 
Here’s a cat picture (a blast from the past) to sooth author anxiety.

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.

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.)