Jennifer Brozek | All posts by jennifer

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.

---
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.

---

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

Tell Me - Aaron Rosenberg

Today, Aaron Rosenberg tells us how he allows research to inspire his writing in other people’s worlds without getting bogged down in it. And how it inspires his original works.

I love research. Maybe it’s the failed academic in me (I have a Master’s in English Lit and had finished all my PhD coursework before I left the field) but I do, I love getting stuck into history and mythology and language and culture and clothes and so many other things you can read about and learn about. And of course the Internet makes that all so dangerously easy, you click on just one link and it leads to a dozen others and pretty soon you’ve spent the past three hours reading about some obscure headgear and the rites associated with it and your eyes are killing you and you’ve completely missed dinner.

This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Not the eyestrain and missing dinner part, that’s all bad. But falling down the research rabbit hole. Because it can lead to so many amazing story ideas.

That’s even more true when you combine it with my favorite way to come up with stories in an existing IP (or intellectual property), which is to “mind the gap.” When I start thinking up ideas for an IP, I like to look around, see what’s where, and see where the spaces are, the little chinks between the big bricks of worldbuilding and history and character development. Those chinks are missing material, spots that weren’t necessary to create the setting and the main story—but they often contain fun little moments a writer can exploit, throwaway mentions you can tease out into an interesting tale that helps fill in the space and make the wall that much more solid and believable. And fun.

Most of the time, I only use that technique for tie-in writing. After all, if it’s my own world I’m the one creating those big blocks in the first place.

But that’s not how things went with Time of the Phoenix.

When Steve Savile and I first had the idea, we just had the one setting, Elizabethan London, and the playwriting scene there in particular. But we knew we’d want more. So we started looking at history, and especially at major literary figures.

Hence the rabbit hole.

What we found initially, and what I found later as I continued the project on my own, were lots of little gaps, the kind that occur naturally all the time—a person’s life documented here and there but nothing between those two moments, a single brief mention of a strange incident with little context and no follow-up, a bit of folklore wrongly attributed but now indelibly linked to that person. All those fun little gaps that can lead to exciting, amazing stories that both fit into real-world history and are wholly original fiction at the same time.

I wonder if I should go back and thank my old professors for getting me hooked on that? Maybe I should just send them some of my books instead. They’re clever, they should see what I mean.

---

Aaron Rosenberg is the author of the best-selling DuckBob SF comedy series, the Time of the Phoenix historical dark fantasy series, the Relicant Chronicles epic fantasy series, the Dread Remora space-opera series, and, with David Niall Wilson, the O.C.L.T. occult thriller series. His tie-in work includes novels for Star Trek, Warhammer, World of WarCraft, Stargate: Atlantis, Shadowrun, and Eureka. He has written children’s books (including the award-winning Bandslam: The Junior Novel and the #1 best-selling 42: The Jackie Robinson Story), educational books, and roleplaying games (including the Origins Award-winning Gamemastering Secrets). You can follow him online at gryphonrose.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/gryphonrose, and on Twitter @gryphonrose.

Surviving Cons in the Time of Covid

Two major conventions within three weeks is not something I wanted to do even before the pandemic happened. Imagine trying to navigate travel, talking to people, and handselling books after almost two years of limited contact. That was Gen Con (40,000 attendees) then Origins (8000 attendees).

It was both wonderful and horrifying. It was like slipping on a favorite pair of shoes and discovering too late a tiny rock jabbing your foot. It was way better than it was bad. It was worth doing despite my paranoia.

The Good:

Friends and Peers – It was so, so, so wonderful to see good friends and peers. So good to talk to people face-to-masked face (and occasionally, naked face). There is a connection in person that you cannot get online. It’s different. It’s indescribable. It’s one of the reasons I go to conventions.

People/Gamers taking this seriously – At Gen Con, I’d say that 98% of everyone was properly masked and making an effort to distance as much as you can at a con. We all know that we can roll a “1” on a con check. I’ve heard of only one case of covid from Gen Con. Nothing from Origins yet (early days).

Old convention friends – There are some people you only see at convention. You know them in the convention sense and that’s it. You may or may not recognize them outside of the convention scene, but there, in the right context, you know exactly what to expect. And it’s good. You remember about their pets. You know which of your books they’ve read. You know. There is a beautiful familiarity that is worth everything.

Hungry customers – The convention goers were hungry for product. For new books. For something they hadn’t seen. For something that had a touchstone to the author. As a business woman and an author, it was astounding. I felt like a rockstar half the time. I’ve never seen people come running to my booth at a convention before. To see me, in specific.

Exciting conversations – Though they were few, there were some exciting conversations and great networking for the next year. I got to talk to an excellent editor and plan some stuff. I had a conversation with an author that turned my brain inside out and I’m still thinking about it. This is why I go to conventions. It sets up success for the next year and it engages my brain in new and wonderful ways.

The Bad:

The rules don’t apply to me – There were, of course, people who flat out did not want to mask up, who did not care about any rules, and who got angry when you enforced it. One couple came to my table to look at my books. Another guy walked up in a gater that barely covered his mouth. The woman asked him to raise his mask, told him it made her uncomfortable. He flat out ignored her. My husband backed her up and told the man he needed to raise his mask. Now. It was making people uncomfortable. The man complied with a grump, but only because my husband insisted.

Chin warmers/naked faces/people are hell – Origins shared the convention hall with a dentist convention and those people didn’t give two shekels about the mask mandate. There were a LOT of masks warming chins and people carrying their masks instead of wearing them. They really didn’t care. Added insult to injury? Some of the dentists came by the Origins Library with a bemused and condescending attitude of “Oh, you write things? Isn’t that cute.” Some of them just wanted you to entertain them and had no actual interest in the books or the author. I compared it to being a zoo exhibit.

It’s all a LOT – The travel, the people, the convention, the messed up schedule. It was a lot. A whole lot. I enjoyed what I could, took the zen approach as much as possible, then was grateful when I hid in my room after working the booth. Most of the time, I didn’t have the energy to do anything else. My convention muscle has atrophied.

Paranoia – I was paranoid most of the time. I had a total of two meals with someone that wasn’t my husband. Both were at Origins. The first night there, a bunch of the Origins Library people were together at the Big Bar on 2. We confirmed we were all vaccinated. Big open space, very few customers. That was nice. The second was a meal with my Eberron GM. It was a nice quiet meal talking all things gaming/twitch/writing/etc. They were both good meals, but part of me was very, very aware that we were flirting with danger.

Overall:

Was it worth it? – Yes. Absolutely. There were way more successes than not. Way more good people than bad. I feel like I set myself up for success for next year. I did enjoy the convention. I also missed the interactions. They were worth the pain and paranoia.

Am I glad I’m done for the year? – Yes, Absolutely. Like I said, my convention muscle has atrophied. I don’t have the same kind of hunger/energy that I once did. I appreciate the travel, but I am glad to be home, safe and sound, in my own territory where I know what to expect, where I can go, and who I can see.

Thoughts on Going to Gen Con

As DragonCon winds down and I hear both good and bad things about the convention (mostly good), I am working hard not to be utterly useless the week before I go to Gen Con. It’s a hard battle, but I have so much to do. I am a conflicted person. I am excited. I am wary. I am hopeful. I am paranoid.

Why am I going? I’ve been asked this a couple of times. The main reason is to set myself up for success in 2022. It’s been two years since I’ve been to an in-person convention. I’m so out of practice preparing for it physically and mentally. Don’t get me started on the idea of pitching my novels. My steel trap is rusted shut and I don’t remember how to people. Plus I’m going to have the added complication of a mask.

But then there’s the small fact that I had multiple books come out in 2020 and 2021. Two BattleTech books in my Rogue Academy series. Multiple anthologies plus A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods was nominated for two major awards in 2020. I have a small, but dedicated group of fans who want to say hello and get their books signed. I want to sign books for people.

Mostly, I’m going to Gen Con because Author’s Avenue has a new manager and I want to make a good impression on them. Plus, those who are in Author’s Avenue get grandfathered into the next Gen Con. I don’t want to have to apply/compete for a spot in 2022. (Yes, I would like the world to be less virus-ridden by then. I have hope.)

 

I know there is a chance me or the Husband will catch Covid. But I also know we will do absolutely everything we can to remain as safe as possible while traveling and while there at the convention. The Husband is also of two minds about things, and he will be safe about stuff, but he’s the less high-strung one of us. Me? I’ve got masks, hand sanitizer, healthy paranoia, and a decent Gen Con Covid policy to fall back on. The Husband and I will not be eating in any restaurants. All meals will be take out or store bought. All socializing will be masked and as socially distanced as possible.

My plan for the convention is to work the dealers room during the day (doing all my social stuff there) then go back to the hotel room at night. To be fair, I also have a Shadowrun novel due soonish and I’m on “deadline mode”, so I would be doing a lot of that whether or not there was a dangerous virus running around. Right now, I only have one meeting scheduled and, to be perfectly honest, it could be done over Zoom, but I’d really like to have a masked face-to-face meeting with this person for the discussion. It’s just better for creative types in order to feed off each other’s excitement.

That’s the thing I miss most: that excitement and renewed love of the business. To spend time talking with other like-minded people who really get it. To be inspired. To feel refreshed mentally. (Physically is always another story when it comes to conventions.)

So, yes, I will be at Gen Con in Author’s Avenue, Booth A, on the corner, across from the entertainers (Downloadable PDF). I will have Shadowrun, new BattleTech, Karen Wilson, Melissa Allen, several new anthologies, and some very special enameled cat pins. If you are going to be there, please come by and say hello and get a book signed or pick up a pin. I don’t know if I will be signing at the Cat Labs booth or not. I’ll be somewhat active on Twitter as my schedule updates itself. Follow me there @JenniferBrozek.

Tell Me - Loren Rhoads

Loren Rhoads tells me where her morbid sensibilities come from and they led to her memoir.

Putting together a memoir is a very strange thing. There are so many stories from you that have to pick though and choose which to tell. A book by its nature seems to indicate some kind of thread to tie them all together—but you have to decide which thread you’re going to follow. My thread is summed up pretty well in the title: This Morbid Life.

It took me a long time to own up to being morbid. I discovered horror movies on TV as a kid and spent my Saturday afternoons watching the old black & white Universal monsters. Eventually my mom, who’d been a ninth-grade English teacher, pointed out that a lot of the monsters I loved had started out as characters in books. That led me to Dracula, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein.

That led me to writing. I wrote short stories for years to escape from the farm where I lived, the small town where I grew up, the dying city where I went to college. Nothing about my life seemed interesting enough to write about until I moved to San Francisco in the late eighties.

Before I really got settled, I met the owners of RE/Search Books just before they released Modern Primitives. It’s hard to recapture that time now. Before Modern Primitives was published, very few people had tattoos. Most tattoos weren’t artistic. Body jewelry was limited to the S/M underground. RE/Search didn’t create the movement, but they documented it at exactly the right moment. And I was there, standing on the fringes, watching.

The first essay I ever wrote about my life was about accompanying my friend Christine to get her labial piercing. Christine had been my roommate when we attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop. She introduced herself by asking me to shave her head and touch up her mohawk. She was brave and fierce and I was honored when she asked me to come to her piercing. The experience was so amazing that I had to record it.

Once the essay was written, I sent it to a zine I loved called File 13. The best part of File 13 was the editor’s introductory essays, which were smart and honest. He inspired me to risk sharing my life with the world. To my amazement, he accepted the essay. He even featured it on the cover of the next issue.

I wrote for other zines after that: Cyber-Psychos AOD and Tail Spins, Gothik Voluptuary, Chaotic Order, and Zine World. Each one had its own focus, but they all allowed me to record and examine my life from facing my best friend’s HIV diagnosis to the days I spent exploring a cadaver lab to dealing with my dad’s catastrophic heart attack to my thrill at donating blood.

I started my own zine in 1996. The only name I ever considered for it was Morbid Curiosity. It collected first-person confessional essays from contributors around the world. It also gave me a platform where I could follow the inspiration of File 13’s introductions and talk about my own life.

My memoir This Morbid Life collects all those essays and more. It opens with a piece I wrote for Gothic.Net about taking prom pictures in two cemeteries in Flint, Michigan. It explores what it was like to publish Morbid Curiosity. It goes on to celebrate following my curiosity wherever it led.

In the end, being morbid is the thread that stitches my life together. It’s the element that brings joy to the darkness. It makes every sunny day that much sweeter. Every day above ground is a gift, which is exactly what This Morbid Life is about.

---
Loren Rhoads is the author of a space opera trilogy, a duology about a succubus who falls in love with an angel, and a collection of short stories called Unsafe Words. You can find out more about her work at https://lorenrhoads.com/