Jennifer Brozek | All posts by jennifer

WorldCon 2012 Schedule

Here’s where I’m going to be for Chicon 7 / Worldcon 2012. If not here, I’ll be around, in the bar, and hanging out. If you want to hang out, email or text me. Sometimes, Twitter does get to me as well.

 

Fri Aug 31 10:30:am

Fri Aug 31 12:00:pm

The Ghosts Talisman: A Fumetti in Four Parts

Buckingham

Author Jennifer Brozek and photographer Amber talk about the creation of the photographic novel from script and casting to shooting and layout.

Amber Clark Jennifer Brozek

 

Sat Sep 1 10:30:am

Sat Sep 1 12:00:pm

Creating Exciting Anthologies

Crystal C

We're in a golden age of science fiction and fantasy anthologies with clever new ideas coming out monthly from major and minor publishers. But where do they come from? How do editors interest publishers and writers in their ideas? How do you make the hard decisions between great stories and great writing (when you can't have both)?

Ellen Datlow Jennifer Brozek Joan Spicci Saberhagen John Helfers John Joseph Adams Richard Gilliam

 

Sun Sep 2 1:30:pm

Sun Sep 2 3:00:pm

It Doesn't Have to Be War

Columbus KL

Writers and Editors want the same thing - a well written story or document that sells. So, why does it seem like they're always at loggerheads? How to get along with your editor/writer.

Janice Gelb Jennifer Brozek Jim Frenkel Sheila Williams Ty Franck

 

Sunday 5:00pm – 6:00pm – SFWA dealers room table – Manning the SFWA table in the Dealers room.

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

“Toby thought the last year was bad.  She has no idea.”

ASHES OF HONOR is the sixth book in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. For those who have not read this series, think changeling noir set in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have been a long time fan of McGuire and this series. There are few books that make me want to dance around, shouting “You’ve got to read this book!” ASHES OF HONOR is one of those books. It is an emotionally satisfying and wonderful addition to the October Daye series.

However, for the first time, I have to say that this is not a book in the series that you should pick up and read first. The previous five books are well set up to jump right in and then go back to the previous books. McGuire does an excellent job of giving readers enough of the relevant background to keep up with what is going on while giving good story. This is not to say that ASHES OF HONOR does not do the same thing. It’s just that readers who pick up this book first will not get the emotional impact of it and what it means in the scope of the rest of the series.

While the ASHES OF HONOR story is unusually straight-forward, intriguing, and sometimes heart racing, this book is about relationships. Toby’s relationships with Tybalt, Etienne, May, Quentin, Raj, the Court of Cats, and traditions. There are some huge pay-off moments throughout the book—some that we’ve been looking forward to since book one, ROSEMARY AND RUE. These pay-off moments will not have the same impact for readers who have not read what comes before.

As usual, one of the things McGuire excels at is expanding the world of Faerie. In ASHES OF HONOR, we learn about some of the lands that have been sealed away by Oberon, we learn more about the Court of Dreamer’s Glass, and we learn a whole lot more about the Court of Cats. I love these nuggets of Faerie history and culture. They are a part of why the October Daye series is so engaging. There is a weight to the history. A sense of long years and traditions.

Finally, I most appreciate how October herself continues to change, to grow, to mature. She is not a static character. She has her flaws. When she deals with her flaws, new ones pop up. Just like life. Make no mistake, McGuire is mean to her characters and Toby gets the worst of it. However, Toby always makes it back—with healing and a whole lot of help from her friends.

ASHES OF HONOR is the book that October Daye fans have been waiting for. It is a great story to read, an interesting mystery to solve, and a shifting of relationships to cringe through as well as enjoy. This book is not for the first time reader of the series but it is exactly the kind of book the series craved and the fans have been clamoring for. 

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

*Note: This reviewer was sent an ARC of the book for review.

Pausing for a Moment

Yesterday I sent off Act Three of the Nellus Academy Incident to my Battletech Think Tank. I plan to hand it in by the end of the week and to start Act Four on Monday the 20th. Act Three ended up being about 12,000 words and I’m pleased with it. I’ve killed off another main character. Kidnapped the McGuffin. Set up the interpersonal conflict between the two leading cadets. It’s all good. Act One of the Nellus Academy Incident is live on Battlecorps.com right now. Three episodes in. It is publishing once a week on Fridays.

This week is going to be all about editing the Coins of Chaos anthology. I’ve got the 17 stories I want. Some really excellent stories in this horror anthology by some of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to tell you the TOC.

The Beast Within 4: Gears and Growls anthology is ramping up at the end  of the month. I do so love doing these anthologies with Graveside tales. The Beast Within 3 is off to the publishers and I will see when the release is. Hopefully soon. And I hope to release the cover art by Shane Tyree or some of the interior art by John Ward soon.

Tomorrow, I have a business meeting that might end up with some side fiction. We will see.

I think I might just do the business part of writing today—email, phone calls, schedules, blog posts, interviews. All that stuff that is required for writers. Though, with the new AC in my office (so happy I have it), I might get some editing done today.

Tell Me - Minerva Zimmerman

Working with an editor isn't like working with a critique group. A critique group helps you learn how to drive a car. By the time you're working with an editor you're already a race car driver. An editor is like the crew chief for your race team; they make sure everything goes smooth on race day. They fine tune the mechanics, provide guidance on your strategy, and work with the pit crew to contribute to your success. They're on your team and you're working toward the same goals, but you're the one driving.

For The Place Between, I had two editors. Cobalt City is a shared world full of superheroes and deities with general editorial oversight provided by Nathan Crowder. He made sure everything fit within the world continuity, including stories not yet published. He also answered questions I had about the world or established characters and provided research materials I needed about it. I like Norse Mythology and I knew there was already an established avatar of Thor along with the method of how one becomes his avatar. But I also knew that this character, Cole Washington was ill-fitted for the type of story I wanted to tell.

“Does Cole Washington have a daughter?” I asked Nate.

He had a daughter named Tera, and Nate saw no reason I couldn't make her the new avatar of Thor.  I wanted to tell the story of Tera learning what becoming a superhero means for her and about what she thought she knew. When Tera's father has a near-fatal heart attack during an attempted mugging, Thor's powers pass to her. There was already an established avatar for Loki; the anticape TV pundit Lyle Prather, but I needed additional interference. So I did what any completely irrational writer of tricksters would do, I asked to add a second Loki to the equation. Which believe me, had me talking fast to justify, but Nate eventually let me do most of what I wanted with the addition of some world-restrictions.

Caroline Dombrowski worked with me to improve my first submitted draft. She noted some holes in the story structure and expressed confusion about inclusion of a few incidents whose purpose seemed completely self-evident to me. Apparently not everyone walks around with as much information about Norse Myths in their head as I do, and that was something that needed to be addressed for the reader to fully appreciate.

The solution she suggested and I immediately loved, was adding additional information in the form of excerpts of fictional written material taken from the world but not directly from the narrative--newspaper articles, website entries, even store advertisements. Alone each of these bits of information is just a single block, but in the context of the story they stitch together to form a quilt of additional information that deepens the story and the world. It's a technique I've always admired and long tried to emulate without success. The first time I read the full manuscript with them in place I was amazed at how well they worked together. When I got Caroline's comments complete with the places she'd laughed out loud, I knew I'd nailed it. 


Buy Cobalt City Double Feature on Kindle, or in a mobi/pdf/ePub bundle from Timid Pirate Publishing.
Read an excerpt (PDF).
Visit the author's site.

The Beast Within 3

Table of Contents for The Beast Within 3: Oceans Unleashed
Edited by Jennifer Brozek


Foreword by Jennifer Brozek
The Roe Girls by Mae Empson
Dry Run by Pete Kempshall
Wreckage by Rosemary Jones
Rites of Justice in Civilized Societies by Amanda C. Davis
Beyond the Reach of Moonlight by Jamie Lackey
The Murmur of Lorelei by Jason Andrew
Salt on the Dance Floor by Nisi Shawl
Mother Water by T. S. Bazelli
Beneath Feather and Fur by Minerva Zimmerman
Woman of War by Ivan Ewert
Trolling by Michael West
Safe by Mari Ness
Spawning Season by Montgomery Mullen
The Wedding Seal by Josh Reynolds
Hunger by Jennifer Pelland
The Summoned by Wendy Wagner

Cover art by Shane Tyree
Interior art by John Ward

Publisher: Graveside Tales

Bubble and Squeek for 30 July 2012

Here are some very cool odds and ends.

I've seen the new Shane Tyree cover for The Beast Within 3: Oceans Unleashed from Graveside Tales and it is to die for. Were-shark for the win!


I have a new review of Industry Talk: An Insider's Look at Writing RPGs and Editing Anthologies by the esteemed Richard Dansky. He liked it and that makes me happy.


Danielle of Dark Quest Books emailed me a new review of Human Tales anthology on the Billion Light-Year Bookshelf by Liegh Kimmel. Liegh had a very interesting point of view of the dark stories within this anthology.


If you like Battletech fiction, my new episodic gritty YA story, The Nellus Academy Incident, has begun on Battlecorps.com. You need a subscription to the site to read the story. Here is the announcement about it.


That's it for me. I hope all is going well with you.

Guest blog - 12 ways to die badly

12 Ways to Die Badly (Ingloriously)
By Benjamin Kane Ethridge

 

It has been mentioned that my new novel, BOTTLED ABYSS, contains inventive death scenes. As much as I wear this praise as a badge of honor, conjuring up morbid wonder isn’t something I ever purposely set out to accomplish. To be honest, I’m not much of a gore hound. I do feel, however, that you have to be true to the tale and true to the genre; you can’t and mustn’t hold back. Much of my new novel involves Greek mythology, though it’s broadly redefined and adjusted in terms of lore. Countless examples of gruesome and strange deaths are inked on the pages of Greek history and some make up this list I’ve created below. Twelve deaths made the cut, although you probably could go on and on with this sort of thing (see the TV show 1000 Ways to Die).


Anyway. Enjoy, but put prepare your stomach.
 
1) Being unable to move and then devoured. In 6th century BC Greek wrestler Milo of Croton came upon a tree-trunk split with wedges. Putting his wrestler’s strength to the test, he tried to split it barehanded. The wedges fell and trapped his hands inside the tree. This was embarrassing for a macho man like Milo, but things became much worse when a pack of wolves wandered by and decided to have beefcake for dinner.

2) Scaphism. This Persian form of torture (that ultimately is execution) is probably the most horrendous and humiliating I’ve ever heard of. I need describe little else, for this Wikipedia excerpt says it all: “The intended victim was stripped naked and then firmly fastened within the interior spaces of two narrow rowing boats (or hollowed-out tree trunks), with the head, hands and feet protruding. The condemned was forced to ingest milk and honey to the point of developing severe bowel movement and diarrhea, and more honey would be rubbed on his body to attract insects to the exposed appendages. He would then be left to float on a stagnant pond or be exposed to the sun. The defenseless individual's feces accumulated within the container, attracting more insects, which would eat and breed within his exposed flesh, which—pursuant to interruption of the blood supply by burrowing insects—became increasingly gangrenous. The feeding would be repeated each day in some cases to prolong the torture, so that dehydration or starvation did not kill him. Death, when it eventually occurred, was probably due to a combination of dehydration, starvation and septic shock. Delirium would typically set in after a few days.” The land of milk and honey is paved in skulls, it turns out.

3) Crucified on an inverted cross. St. Peter decided he wasn’t worthy the same death of Christ, which strikes me as peculiar since you can debate that this sacrifice (on a physical level anyway) is much more terrifying and painful. Being crucified is not something one looks forward to, but being crucified upside down is sort of like asking, “Please may I use hydrochloric acid with my Chinese water torture?”
 
4) Roasted on a BBQ grill. Saint Lawrence of Rome was roasted alive on a giant grill, during the persecution of Valerian. So, yeah, being burned to death would be extremely painful, but that’s ogling the obvious. What about the smell? Cooking baloney. Charred steak. Prime rib of human. These are the smells in your nostrils while your flesh bubbles and crackles and spits—yikes.

5) Poisoning. It goes without saying that symptoms from poisoning are very undesirable, but I’ll take that foaming mouth you see in most movies over what Arius, presbyter of Alexandria, endured. Legend describes that he died of sudden diarrhea followed by bleeding and anal discharge of the intestines while he stumbled across the imperial forum in Constantinople. He may have been poisoned either through chemical or food borne bacteria, so the exact cause is murky. Either way though, holy crap and all that houses it!
 
6) Being Conched to Death. Another great dose of Greek history. Hypatia of Alexandria, a mathematician, philosopher and last librarian of the Library of Alexandria, was murdered by a Christian mob that ripped off her skin with sharp sea-shells. That isn’t the ocean you hear inside the shell, it’s the roar of a thousand screams!

7) Being clubbed with your prosthetic.  Sir Arthur Aston, Royalist commander of the garrison during the Siege of Drogheda, was beaten to death with his own wooden leg, which the Parliamentarian soldiers thought concealed golden coins. This one strikes me as sadder than the others. Aston had to live regretting the loss of his leg and then he had to die regretting the loss of his leg. In a fashion, he never really survived that maiming; it came back to claim him in another form.

8) A basketball of lightning to the face. Professor Georg Wilhelm Richmann, became the first recorded person to be killed while performing electrical experiments when he was struck in the face and killed by a globe of lightning. The lesson here is simple: when God passes the ball, be ready.

9) Locomotion. William Huskisson, statesman and financier, was crushed to death by a locomotive (Stephenson's Rocket), at the opening of the world's first mechanical passenger railway. You’ve awaited this moment for a long time and the very thing you’ve devoted all your time and energy into is also your undoing. It’s romantic, but doesn’t mask the fact you’re just as dead as the guy who took a ball of lightning to the head.

10) Slowly, sweetly. In the Boston Molasses Disaster, 21 people were killed when a tank containing as much as 2,300,000 gallons of molasses ruptured and released a flow that traveled at approximately 35 mph through part of Boston. Ever been eating something and get to the point where you say, “Eh, this is too sweet,” and you put it down? Imagine you can’t put it down and you keep eating it until you die. Gulp...

11) Chim-chim-ch-rooed. Actress Sirkka Sari died when she fell down a chimney into a heating boiler. She mistook the chimney for a balcony. Upon making a literal slip-up, you’re now in hot water. Very hot water. So watch your step.

12) Stubborn starvation. This is the one I'm afraid will befall my wife (I'm the cook in our house). I hope she takes note because Kurt Gödel, the famous logician, had something of a problem that landed him dead. Gödel died of starvation when his wife was hospitalized. He suffered from extreme paranoia and refused to eat food prepared by anyone else. I hope for my wife’s sake, I live long enough to keep her well nourished. Then again, looking over entries 1-11, there are worse ways to go.

 

~~~~~~~~~

 

Benjamin Kane Ethridge is the Bram Stoker Award winning author of the novel BLACK & ORANGE (Bad Moon Books 2010) and BOTTLED ABYSS (Redrum Horror, 2012). For his master's thesis he wrote, "CAUSES OF UNEASE: The Rhetoric of Horror Fiction and Film." Available in an ivory tower near you. Benjamin lives in Southern California with his wife and two creatures who possess stunning resemblances to human children. When he isn't writing, reading, videogaming, Benjamin's defending California's waterways and sewers from pollution.

Say hi and drop a line at ben@bkethridge.com

 

Awesomeness Happening

July has been kind of a crazy month. Between Westercon and catching up on all sorts of things that I was behind on, I have barely time to breath but such cool things are happening.

I have turned in my Gruntz fiction.

Alliteration Ink has posted the TOC for Dangers Untold.

Lily’s kickstarter for the Guidebook to Village by the Sea has funded and as of today has 7 days to go. I am cheering my little heart out for her.

Stoneskin Press has funded its anthology kickstarter and is in the process of funding stretch goals. This one is close to me because I have a story in The New Hero II anthology set in my weird west Mowry universe. The story called “Iron Achilles Heel” is about the first known weakness in my spirit hero, Joseph Lamb. I wrote this story because I think perfect or invulnerable heroes are boring. Joseph needed to be knocked down a peg so that his host, Eric Hamblin, could step up and show that he is a hero, too.

The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting received a really nice review from Curled Up reviewer Douglas R. Cobb.

My non-fiction book, Industry Talk: An Insider's Look at Writing RPGs and Editing Anthologies, has been sitting in the top 100 on Amazon’s Authorship list for a week now. I’d love to see it continue on like that. It is available in Kindle and paperback form.

I also had an article on Booklife Now go live. On Mentoring is my take on why being a mentor is such a good thing for both the mentor and the mentee.

Finally, I wanted to mention that a friend of mine emailed me a couple of days ago to rave about my non-fiction finance book called The Little Finance Book that Could. This is my story and daily rules that helped me get out of debt and to stay out of debt. They told me that I helped them pay of their credit cards—more than $7000—in two years. This is a great book for grads and those people going back to school. Debt sucks. Especially in this economy. It makes me pretty darned happy when someone says I helped them.

Now that I’ve shared all my good news, what’s yours? I’d love to hear about it.


Insomnia

Looks like insomnia and I are close friends these days. Instead of lying in bed and wishing I was asleep, I thought I’d give you a “State of the Jenn” post.

Had surgery. Started to recover. Got sick. Not surprising after two surgeries and a convention within three months. Recovered from being sick just in time to go to Westercon. It was a quiet convention but a convention nonetheless. Thus, it killed my productivity in my already running late schedule.

Now that the convention has been over for ten days, I feel like I’m starting to catch up. This catching up on has been on “actually late” stuff and not “Jenn’s idea of a schedule running late” stuff. I’m still behind but things are getting better.

  • I should have Gruntz fiction off my plate by the end of the week.
  • I should have the Coins of Chaos anthology stories read by the end of the weekend.
  • I should have the Dangers Untold anthology off my plate by the beginning of next week.
  • I should have the full draft of the Beast Within 3: Oceans Unleashed anthology done by mid-next week.
  • I should be back on editing/writing the Battletech webseries by mid-next week. (This poor neglected project.)
  • I should have the SFWA article on anthologies done by the end of the month.


I know it is a lot of “shoulds” but that’s where I’m at right now. I know what I’m doing with my schedule and I’m working hard to keep my future plate ‘empty’ as things drop off. I do have things that I’ve agreed to do that haven’t dropped yet. So, they don’t count. Hopefully by November I’ll be working on the second book of the YA series.

Though, right now, I really could use a massage. My whole upper back is one giant mass of pain. My neck and shoulders hurt all the time. I can’t tell if it is stress or if I did something stupid to myself and just didn’t realize it at the time.  I’m seriously looking at getting a massage. I wince at the projected cost of such an endeavor but I really do hurt.

On the home front, we finally have a company who not only has looked at the siding, they’ve given us a nice, low estimate, and have scheduled to start early next week! I’m so excited. This means the exterior painting can go on as planned for early August. I’m very excited. The things that make homeowners happy.