Jennifer Brozek | All posts by jennifer

Blowing Up Felicia Day AKA the Origins Report

I have to say, Origins rocked my socks so hard.  I had a much better time with it than I thought I would. Better than any Gen Con I have gone to because it is a smaller, more intimate convention centered in a single hotel.

We started off to a slightly rocky start with the discovery that the tables in the Library where all of the writing seminar authors were in the Dealers room would not fit into the allotted space. Dylan Birtolo and I took charge and fixed it as best we could, figuring that it was easier to ask for forgiveness. Fortunately, Jean Rabe and Mike Stackpole were both pleased with the effort.

Dylan (AKA the Iron Writer) is the perfect convention buddy. He is awesome “booth cake” getting people into the Library and then selling books. Plus, he had my back at all times. Comforting since the Husband could not be at the convention. We both had moments where we needed to accommodate each other and it worked out well.

The conversation with my fellow Library denizens was spectacular. In particular, Maxwell Alexander Drake, his PA Evan, Ryan Kaelin, Bryan Young, and Daniel Meyers were particularly amusing. Getting to know them was brilliant. All of the denizens were fun to hang out with and speak on panels with.

Though it was a smaller convention, the opportunities to network, brainstorm, and have a really good time with other gaming professionals were abundant. There are several contacts I need to follow up on for future work. I particularly like the Big Bar on 2. First, I like truth in advertising. Second, it was a great place to mingle. I spent so much time with people I rarely get to see. It was wonderful.


***



The geektastic highlight of the convention occurred on Friday night when I happened upon John Scalzi, his wife Krissy, Robert (owner of Geek Chic), Pat Rothfuss and Wil Wheaton.  I knew Pat was at the con. I had already spent time talking with him. But John surprised me. I was so pleased to see him and to meet his fierce and lovely wife.  John introduced me to Wil and we talked about the time he crashed my convention 17 years ago* and talked about mutual friend, Ryan Macklin**. Then, I wandered off to go talk to Mike Stackpole again.

When I returned, they were gone from their seats but a jacket was left. I found the group in the Geek Chic room and returned the jacket to Krissy. Then I sat down to watch the gaming. Honestly, you had to be there to believe it. Boyan Radakovich (assistant producer of TableTop) was running a game for the crew and the trash talking was amazing.

Just before Felicia got there, Wil spilled his beer, prompting a flurry of activity and John to move his glass out of the way… which was then knocked over and broken. While that clean up went on, Krissy moved to a different seat and Felicia arrived. She promptly kicked a glass left on the floor—breaking it, too. All of which happened in less than five minutes.

This prompted someone to declare they were as destructive as rock stars. That demanded a rock star photo and Felicia handed me her phone, insisting on the photo. I got two pictures. You can see the best one here on John’s write up of the evening. Did I think to ask if I could get a picture with them? No***. Did I think to ask to get a photo with even one of them? No. Too much in the moment having a good time.

As soon as Boyan showed up with more games (Felicia did not like the game that started the rock star behavior) and I was suddenly roped into a game of BANG! by Wil. Oh, twist my arm. I used my naivety at the game to pretend to not be a bad guy, helped kill one of the deputies, and pretend to be a good guy… Until I tried to blow up Wil the Sheriff with dynamite.  He was able to pass it on, there by blowing up and killing Felicia. Oops. She turned her trash talk on me****.
Then Wil then murdered me like the punk I was. It was hilarious. A good time was had by all.

After that, I left. It was getting late and as much as I wanted to play Cards Against Humanity, it wasn’t fair for me to keep other fans from enjoying some time at the apex alphageek table in the room. It was so good to see John again and to meet Krissy—fierce and welcoming. I really enjoyed the whole thing.




*Wil didn’t remember the convention, StarQuest 95, but apologized anyway because he said it was 'a dick move and he was old enough to know better' even back then. I said it was all cool.

**I got to explain to Wil that I knew Ryan before he was Ryan Fucking Macklin from the Internet.

***Dammit. Will I ever learn?

****Felicia is an extremely talented trash talker. I’m also kind of sorry I blew her up.

Origins Schedule

 

Here is my Origins schedule. If I’m not in one of these panels, I’m in The Library at my table in Exhibit Hall C (PDF), top left corner near concessions. As Cherie Priest likes to say, there is a “No Shyness” zone around me. Come up and say Hello! I’m happy to chat while I sell books. I’m bribable—take me out to lunch or for a drink and I’ll talk your ear off.

 

THURSDAY

3 p.m. Flash Your Fiction: In how few words can you tell a story? Flash fiction has been gaining in popularity, but it’s not an easy art form. Brevity is tough to tackle, but if you can master it, there are markets for your scant words. Learn the secret to “Kissing Your Fiction.” KISS . . . keep it short, sister. Then consider entering our flash fiction contests Friday and Saturday.

Donald J. Bingle, Jennifer Brozek, Kelly Swails

 

4 p.m. Writing For Games: Writing opportunities about in the game industry for persistent and talented freelancers. Our panelists found success writing for various game companies, and they provide helpful hints for landing work amid the dice and battlemaps.

Jennifer Brozek

 

FRIDAY

3 p.m. The Care and Feeding of Your Editor: Award-winning editor Jennifer Brozek has published dozens of authors in her many anthologies. She explains what it takes to get an editor’s attention and respect, offering suggestions that will move your submissions higher in the slush pile and closer to publication.

Jennifer Brozek

 

4 p.m. Write What You Don’t Know: We remember English teachers lecturing: “Write what you know.” Well, we think you ought to write what you don’t know. How else can you write about space travel and alternate history and fire-breathing dragons and vampire detectives? We’ll discuss how a little research and common sense can give you just enough background to really write what you don’t know.

R.T. Kaelin, Jennifer Brozek, Bryan Young

 

6 p.m. Reading: Jennifer Brozek: Award-winning editor Jennifer Brozek offers up a serving of one of her favorite fantasy tales.

Jennifer Brozek

 

SATURDAY

10 a.m. Slaying Writer’s Block: There’s debate whether there is such a beast as writer’s block. We’ll not argue that point here. Rather, we’ll show you what you can do to knock down the barriers that are keeping you from typing away at your keyboard. Writer’s block . . . or whatever you want to label it . . . we’ve faced it and beat it to a bloody pulp.

Aaron Allston, Jennifer Brozek, Bryan Young

 

11 a.m. Practice Makes Perfect: How can you tell if you’re getting better as a writer? How can you judge your progress? And what does it take to get to that next level of expertise? We’ll talk about benchmarks, writer’s groups, and how to analyze your fiction. You have to grow as a writer to compete in the marketplace; we’ll teach you how to measure your skills and to improve them.

Kelly Swails, Jennifer Brozek, Brad Beaulieu, R.T. Kaelin

Gruntz

I’ve been doing this social networking thing on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Livejournal for a while. I consider all of it to be an investment in my career. There is nothing more annoying about looking up an author or editor and finding nothing about them. Right or wrong, it makes me think that they either aren’t very good at the business or marketing aspects of being in the publishing industry.

That said, I always try to temper my business side with remaining a real person. I chat with people. Talk about stuff that isn’t work. Or talk about where I am in what I’m doing—the easy parts, the hard parts. I do like to be social.  Some of the social stuff is play and I do like to play. I think I’m pretty successful at balancing the two.

About a week ago, after talking about work I’m doing on the Battletech web series, a stranger on twitter pinged and asked if I was open for a gig. I get this question a lot and my answer is always: “It depends on my schedule, the subject matter, and the pay rate.”  Then we shifted to email for the rest of the conversation.

Short story still short, Robin Fitton has hired me to work on the fiction part of Gruntz. “Gruntz is a dedicated 15mm fast play wargame designed for skirmish level play with between 10 to 40 figures per side using combined arms (squads, support vehicles, tanks, VTOL's and artillery).”

I’m excited about this because I get to make up a lot of canon information about the Gruntz universe. Every faction will have signature leaders, houses/groups/etc.  With 11-12 stories to come up with, I’m still deciding on how this will happen. But believe me, there will be a variety. I’ve got permission to go wild and nothing is off limits.

I love jobs like this.

I also love getting jobs like this because I’m just being me on Twitter.

As an aside, there is an Indiegogo fundraiser for an Gruntz Army Builder App that is already funded and is into stretch goals.

Human for a Day SFRevu

http://www.sfrevu.com/php/Review-id.php?id=12890

 

"...Greenberg and Brozek have put together a nice balanced mix of happy, sad, funny and bittersweet stories. Also, unlike many themed anthologies, in Human For A Day, the theme of the title is consistently carried out in all sixteen stories. For readers who enjoyed the stories and want to read more by authors with whom they may previously have been unfamiliar, the anthology helpfully includes contributor bios that reference websites and other stories and books by the authors. Human For A Day is definitely worth reading. Highly recommended."

 

Ian Tregellis, Seanan McGuire, Laura Resnick, Jody Lynn Nye, and Tanith Lee called out.

What I Didn’t Expect

I’ve been a fulltime freelancer for over five years now and the business of freelancing still surprises me. I think one of the biggest surprises is how many publishers—RPG or fiction—have asked me to supply them with a contract for a writing gig.  The conversation usually goes something like…

“We have this work we want you to do.”

“What’s the details?”

“Due date, word count, pay rate.”

“All of that is doable. I’m in.”

“Alrighty, send over your standard freelancer contract.”  (Or)  “Do you have a standard contract you’d like us to use?” (Or) “We don’t have a standard contract. What details would you like in yours?”


All of these have happened to me. It was shocking the first time a publisher asked me to provide them with the contract. I had no idea what to do. I ended up telling them, in my most professional-please-don’t-think-of-me-as-a-hack email voice, that I “preferred to start with the contract the publisher usually used and we would modify it from there.”

I chickened out in other words.  And we did work with their contract and modified it and everyone lived happily ever after.

However, I suddenly realized that I needed to create my own boilerplate contracts. Ones that would be legally binding. Ones that wouldn’t screw me or the publisher.  I ended up going to back to the contracts I already had and modified them. It’s surprising the number of contracts I now have to keep track of.

As an Author:
•    RPG – set number of fiction words for a project
•    RPG – RPG book as author
•    Fiction – short story in an anthology
•    Fiction – short story for the web

As an Editor:
•    Anthology – buying a short story for an anthology
•    Anthology – buying a reprint story for an anthology
•    Anthology – selling an anthology to a publisher
•    Anthology – commissioning art for the book cover
•    Anthology – licensing art for the book cover
•    Webzine – buying a short story for web
•    Editing – Novel consulting
•    Editing – Short story editing

That’s a lot contracts right there that I’ve had to create specific to me and make sure were fair, legal, and appropriate.

But wait, there’s more.  Invoices are a type of contract between the freelancer and the person who hired them. It used to be that my employer would tell me how to log my hours and get paid. As a freelancer, you frequently provide your own invoices. This means they need to be clear, concise, and specific to the project so you don’t lose track of who has paid you and who hasn’t.

If you plan to freelance at all, you need to be prepared to provide your own contracts. You need to make certain they are legal and appropriate. Documentation is part of a freelancer’s world. I knew this from the start. I just didn’t know that I would be the one providing the contracts as well.

INDUSTRY TALK PRESS RELEASE MAY 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

INDUSTRY TALK PRESS RELEASE MAY 2012

Industry Talk; Your guide to breaking into games, editing anthologies and managing your career

Release Date: May 10, 2012.

“Want to write for games? Want to navigate the dark labyrinths and endless mazes of freelancing? Let Brozek be your guide.”
 – Chuck  Wendig, author of Blackbirds and 500 Ways to be a Better Writer


Apocalypse Ink Productions brings you INDUSTRY TALK, by award-winning editor and veteran freelancer Jennifer Brozek, a collection of her previously published columns Dice and Deadlines and The Making of an Anthology. This insider’s guide for freelance game writers and editors contains brand-new content addressing frequently asked questions like "How to pitch an anthology", and includes advice on managing a freelance career.


“If you’re going to make that leap, though, and come over to the freelance side to join us, don’t go blind. Do your research. Ask questions. Read this book.”
– Matt Forbeck, author of Amortals and Vegas Knights


Available: May 10th, 2012

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Industry-Talk-Insiders-Anthologies-ebook/dp/B0081WAGEE/

Drive Thru Fiction: http://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/101746/Industry-Talk%3A-An-Insider%27s-Look-at-Writing-RPGs-and-Editing-Anthologies

Nook and ePub forthcoming.

For more information, please contact: Apocalypse.ink.productions@gmail.com

Newest book cover

Cover design by Ivan Ewert

Industry Talk is a collection of two previously published columns by Jennifer Brozek, Dice & Deadlines and The Making of an Anthology. The collection also contains brand-new content including step-by-step instructions on how to pitch an anthology and advice on managing a freelance career.