Jennifer Brozek | All posts by jennifer

Declutter Monday for 7 Jan 2019

The first “Declutter Monday” of the new year is complete. I tackled the parts of my bedroom I hadn’t actually gotten to in the last quarter of 2018. This meant today I tackled my closet, my bedside drawers, and my dresser.
•    In the closet, I tackled all my drawers and the shelves at the top.
•    For the bedside drawers, this included the top and all the drawers.
•    For the dresser, this meant “only” the two slender “stuff” drawers, the top of the dresser, and all my jewelry. (I tackled the main dresser drawers in 2018.)
In essence… a lot.

First thought: I owe Marie Kondo an apology. The thought that I need to thank things as I decluttered them was weird to me. I understood the animistic approach, but I thought it was a bit much. I was wrong. I was so wrong. I ran into not one, but two, boxes of stuff from my past. In my early twenties and thirties, I was a dreamy, fantasy Jenn. I don’t know how to explain what I did, other than to say that I collected a lot of stones, rocks, runes, and other fantasy accoutrement.

I was thrown back into a time of “just dreaming” before I worked to realize my dreams. It was a lonely time where I took much pleasure in my fantasy lives—mental, spiritual, and gaming/LARPing. It hurt my heart to get rid of these things. And, in truth, I kept a scant few items I just wasn’t willing to part with. The rest I thanked and said good-bye to. I felt better saying, “Thank you for giving past me so much joy. I will miss you. Good-bye.” as I put each thing in a donate or trash pile.

I always joke I’m an intellectual magpie. I used to be a physical one, too, collecting every shiny bit and bob I could find. Most of what I had packed away was trash.

Second thought: It is perfectly fine to “nope out” of decluttering sentimental items. The bottom bedside drawer is now designated “sentimental.” When I ran into the piles of letters I’d kept from when I went to boot camp, I knew I wasn’t ready to tackle them. After considering reading and shredding them, then maybe selling them (there is a surprisingly robust market for personal letters and journals on eBay), I decided I just couldn’t do it. Same with the surprise! more pictures to sort—from my wedding no less. I labeled it sentimental for tackling in round 2 (or 3) of decluttering.

Third thought: There is real satisfaction to be found in decluttering and getting rid of old things. Of looking at something and knowing it needs to go elsewhere. I’ve got three bags of trash and one full basket to donate waiting to go out.

Fourth thought: The method of sort-purge-organize is best. After sorting and purging, you can see what you need to organize and what organizational things you need/want. Right now, I know I want a dresser tray to hold my hair pins, mirror, and perfumes. These are things I want out because I use them a lot.

Final thought: I’ve already decided/realized that I’m going to need to do at least one more full round of decluttering in every place I declutter. Round One is to hit the low hanging fruit and do as much of the clean up as possible. Round Two will refine this and tackle the sentimental things and to re-examine all the things I put in the “maybe” pile because I wasn’t willing to part with them yet.

Here’s to a good start to 2019, The Year of Decluttering.

The Plan for 2019

Now that you’ve seen what I did in 2018, here’s the basic plan for 2019.

Writing/Editing:
•    Finish processing publisher edits on BattleTech Rogue Academy 1: Iron Dawn.
•    Write two BattleTech Rogue Academy novels – Complete Rogue Academy 2: Ghost Hour (writing and publisher edits), complete Rogue Academy 3: Crimson Night first draft.
•    Edit Shadowrun long fiction – First, edit the novella, A Kiss to Die For. Next, in-between Rogue Academy novels, process publisher edits for my long-ago written Shadowrun novel, Makeda Red.
•    Release a limited run Shadowrun Flash Fiction Podcast called Shadow Bytes. This includes three excerpts from DocWagon 19 and five loosely linked original pieces of fiction.
•    Edit/manage a brand new, soon-to-be announce project. It is super exciting and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Expand My Creative Horizons:
As it’s turned out, I’ve received the opportunity to try some new things in 2019. Each is new to me and something I’ve wanted to for a while.
•    I’ve joined a Twitch RPG game. It will be set in the Emberwind universe. I believe we’ll be playing once a month.
•    I’ve joined the cast of the Dire Multiverse podcast as voice talent. I’m voicing two characters so far and I’m already having a lot of fun with this ensemble podcast.
•    I’ve joined Curious Fictions. It’s a little like Patreon, but is focused on writers. I’ll be posting weekly. Two weeks will be open to the public, two weeks will be for my subscribers only. I’m not completely sure how this will go, but if you become a subscriber, know that I appreciate you immensely.

Travel:
I have five conventions scheduled for 2019. There will, most likely, be a couple of one-day driving events that I do with Raven Oak or with Books & Chains. I’m really making the effort to do less travel because I have a heavier writing schedule this year. Also, me and the Husband plan to spend a couple of weeks in New Zealand in 2020.
•    Mar - Rainforest, WA (Teaching a workshop)
•    Apr - Norwescon, WA (Dealers table)
•    May - StokerCon, MI (Teaching a workshop)
•    May - MisCon, MT (TBA – I haven’t heard if I’m in the dealers room or on panels yet.)
•    Aug - Gen Con, IN (TBA – Author’s Avenue most likely)

Personal Growth:
I’m 48 now. Something clicked in 2018 that proved I really need to take control of my space, my work-life balance, and my health—both physical and mental. I worked 316 days last year. That is too many. I should be closer to 260 days. Also, there’s not that much in my life I have complete control over. Based on the business I’m in and the world at large, I need to take control over what I can control.
•    Physical health – I’m eating better and I’m exercising more. This isn’t a resolution. I started this back in August 2018. I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing.
•    Declutter – I have now lived in one place, one home, for longer than I ever have in my life. 10+ years. For someone used to moving every 2-5 years, I’ve gotten good at decluttering and downsizing my stuff. That hasn’t happened in 10 years. Needless to say, the house is a mess. A cluttered mess. Because I have a hard time being motivated to work on Mondays and because I can’t seem to actually take a weekend day off, I’m scheduling Mondays to declutter, downsize, and clean. I can write/edit on Monday if I want, but Mondays are guilt-free no publishing work days for 2019.
•    Crafting – Finish craft projects. Compared to most, I am not a crafter. I’m a dabbler. I’m okay with this. I have one baby blanket and a couple of nebulous projects in the works. I want to get those done and evaluate if I get any joy out of crafting or if they are just added stress.

That’s it for me. What’s on your plate in 2019?

What Did I Do in 2018

End of the Year. Time to take stock. According to my 2018 Freelancer Summary sheet, I worked 316 days. I may not have done a lot each one of those days, but I wrote down “Nada” only 40 times in 2018. There were a lot of those days where I wrote on two different projects, edited, and had a phone call. Almost all of those work days included some form of email. Blah. Blah. Blah. Yes, freelancers work a LOT.

So, what did I accomplish in 2018? These are just facts and figures.

Published: (Incidentally, these are all eligible for 2019 awards)
A novella, an ABC book, and four short stories. Not a bad set for the finally reaching the published stage.
•    Arkham Horror: To Fight the Black Wind (novella)
•    A is for Apex (ABC book)
•    “An Open Letter to the Family” - Disabled People Destroy SF issue, Uncanny Magazine
•    “The Silence of Coventry Shrine” - Masters of Orion: To the Stars anthology
•    “Home and Hope Both Sound a Little Bit Like ‘Hunger’” - co-written with Seanan McGuire, Chiral Mad 4 anthology
•    “Feathers In Deed” - Choices: All-New Tales of Valdemar anthology

Wrote:
About 160,000 words of new fiction and not counting any articles, blogs, or other miscellaneous writing. It’s not as much as I wanted, but acceptable in the long run. I had a couple of bad writing months with house renovations.
•    14 new short stories
•    2 novellas
•    1 novel

Short story submission scorecard:
I wish my acceptance percentage was higher, but when you’re submitting to some of the hardest markets to get into, a lower acceptance rate is expected.
•    5 acceptances (35%)
•    9 rejections (65%)
•    3 outstanding pieces

Conventions/events attended: 12
This made it for 48 days of business travel. I really am going to cut this down in 2019. I have to. I have a heavier writing schedule in 2019. Though, I will never regret going to Launch Pad. That was an amazing week. Still highly recommended.

And, of course, there’s the Jennifer Award for 2018. Too many good things to read and not enough time. My to-read bookshelf grows larger with every passing week.

The Jennifer Award for December 2018

From now until I decide I want to stop doing this, I will be giving out a monthly “Jennifer Award” for the best new-to-me thing I read that month. This can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be an essay/article, a short story, a novelette, a novella, or a novel. It doesn’t matter when it came out. It only matters that this is the first time I read it and I thought it was the best thing I read all month. Yes, it is completely subjective and biased towards what I like to read.

The winner will receive a shiny digital badge of honor and a $5 gift card.

The December winner of the Jennifer Award is “On the Day You Spend Forever with Your Dog” by Adam R. Shannon.  It’s available right now on Apex Magazine. This one is a beautiful tear-jerker of a time travel story about one person’s love for their pet. Have a tissue ready. It’s gonna stick with you for a time. Both for the SF aspect dealing with time travel and the story itself.

2018
Jan: Godfall and Other Stories by Sandra M. Odell
Feb: “When We Fall” by Kameron Hurley
Mar: The Alastair Stone Chronicles by R.L. King
Apr: Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys
May: “The Soul of Horses” by Beth Cato
Jun: “Daddy’s Girl” by Jennifer R. Donohue
Jul: “By Claw, By Hand, By Silent Speech” by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry & A. Merc Rustad
Aug: Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire
Sep: Immortal House by Elizabeth Guizzetti
Oct: Planetside by Michael Mammay
Nov: “The Shaman’s Tale” by Ari Marmell
Dec: “On the Day You Spend Forever with Your Dog” by Adam R. Shannon

 

The Jennifer Award for November 2018

From now until I decide I want to stop doing this, I will be giving out a monthly “Jennifer Award” for the best new-to-me thing I read that month. This can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be an essay/article, a short story, a novelette, a novella, or a novel. It doesn’t matter when it came out. It only matters that this is the first time I read it and I thought it was the best thing I read all month. Yes, it is completely subjective and biased towards what I like to read.

The winner will receive a shiny digital badge of honor and a $5 gift card.

The November winner of the Jennifer Award is “The Shaman’s Tale” by Ari Marmell. It’s a free story that Ari posted just because. I read it because I know Ari and I like his writing. I didn’t expect the story I got and I am a serious sucker for origin myth stories. I didn’t catch on to where it was going until almost the very end. I love that. It’s free on Google Docs and worth the read. Ari also writes the Mick Oberon novels that I enjoy.

2018
Jan: Godfall and Other Stories by Sandra M. Odell
Feb: “When We Fall” by Kameron Hurley
Mar: The Alastair Stone Chronicles by R.L. King
Apr: Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys
May: “The Soul of Horses” by Beth Cato
Jun: “Daddy’s Girl” by Jennifer R. Donohue
Jul: “By Claw, By Hand, By Silent Speech” by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry & A. Merc Rustad
Aug: Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire
Sep: Immortal House by Elizabeth Guizzetti
Oct: Planetside by Michael Mammay
Nov: “The Shaman’s Tale” by Ari Marmell

 

Perimenopause Rant

This is a rant. This is about the hellish transitional period a woman goes through between being fertile and menopause. It’s called perimenopause and I didn’t hear of it until I turned 47. It’s like a particularly evil right-of-passage that women go through to say, “Have a baby, now or never! In the meantime, your body is going to be one whacked-out mess of hormones where NOTHING will act as it once did.”

I’ve been dealing with perimenopause for almost a year and it sucks. You want to know what’s worse? Perimenopause lasts between 4 months and 10 YEARS (on average). Yes, I said “years.” That isn’t a joke and this isn’t a laughing matter.

The reason I didn’t hear about this from my mom is the fact that she had a hysterectomy after “bleeding every day for a year” and never dealt with it. She had her own brand of hell to walk through.

You want to know what some of the symptoms of perimenopause are? These are the ones I’ve personally experienced:
•    Heat flashes
•    Night sweats
•    Insomnia
•    Dry skin
•    Irregular periods (We’re talking 16 to 36 day periods, randomly.)
•    Morning poop explosions (Like spending an hour on the toilet 2-3 times a week in the morning while your butt goes through the equivalent of dry heaves. I literally need to make all my appointments for the afternoon now because I never know when my body is going to act up on any given morning.)
•    Mood swings (Crying at commercials, laughing at unfunny things, general moodiness—oh, you think you [or your loved one is] are being moody now? You ain’t seen nothing yet.)

Some I haven’t experienced but was told about:
•    Tender boobs
•    Fatigue
•    Depression
•    Urine leakage (laughing, coughing, sneezing, living)
•    Increased PMS symptoms
•    More that I can’t remember or don’t know of because bodies are all different

Remember… these symptoms, on average, last between 4 months and 10 YEARS.

You wanna know who has or is dealing with this in your life? Mention the word “perimenopause” to any group of women and see who makes a face and that “ugh” noise.

You wanna know how you might be able to treat this? Birth control pills. Not to keep you from having kids, but a low dose to try to regulate your hormones. But birth control pills come with their own set of problems. Between side effects, political talking points, and religious I-know-what’s-right assholes, that’s something I don’t even want to think about.

Why don’t more women talk about perimenopause? We know all about men and their erectile dysfunction AKA the much more polite and less embarrassing “ED.” No, women have to talk around the bullshit happening to their body because it’s too embarrassing, it’s “TMI.” It’s not polite.

Fuck that.

This is something almost all women have to go through. I’m tired of it being a secret rite-of-passage for older women who are already facing enough discrimination in health care. Thank goodness my doctor is plain spoken and blunt about what’s happening to me. It sucks and I wish I’d known sooner this was going to happen to me. There’s no real physical way to prepare for it, but there are mental ways.

And knowing is half the battle.

Holiday Books From Me For You

Tis the season to be giving and getting; the holiday season. For those of you who want signed books by me, there are a couple of ways to go about it. I’ve been asked about this several times. I’m putting it all in one place this year. 

My preferred way: the University Bookstore in Seattle, WA. Visit the website or call: 1.800.335.7323. They have many of my books, even obscure ones. All of them are signed. If they are not, they can contact me and I’ll head over and sign them.

Alternative 1: Buy a physical book from the Apocalypse Ink Productions website and email, requesting that I sign it.

Alternative 2: Buy the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your retailer of choice, then mail me a bookplate to sign with all the appropriate information.

Jennifer Brozek
6830 NE Bothell Way, STE C #404
Kenmore, WA 98028

The above address is excellent for sending me holiday cards or birthday cards (Dec 9) as well.

OryCon and SF Authorfest Schedule

Here is my OryCon and SF Authorfest schedule. If I'm not at my table, I'm at a panel. Come say hello, buy books/ebooks, get stuff signed, and get holiday gifts for your loved ones! I've got some out-of-print books as well as collectible books to sell. I'm going to be right next to Angelwear Creations.

Friday, Nov 9
3:00:pm-4:00:pm, Horror For Beginners, Room: 166 B   

Want to write a scary story, but don’t know where to start? Advice from some of our favorite horror authors!

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Saturday, Nov 10
12:00:pm-1:00:pm, Willing suspension of disbelief, Room: 166 B   

A discussion of earning the willing suspension of disbelief, why you need it, and when to overstep it.

1:00:pm-2:00:pm, Are You Doomed by Your Muse?, Room: Pettygrove   
Creatives have a reputation for self-destructing, suffering, starving, succumbing to various illnesses and addictions... How much of this is self-fulfilling prophecy, how much is sensationalism and cultural influence, and how much is it the nature of being a writer, poet, artist, musician, or other creative?

7:30:pm-8:00:pm, Jennifer Brozek Reading, Room: 152 Readings   
Jennifer Brozek reads from her works—one published, one not published.


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Sunday, Nov 11
10:00:am-11:00:am, Horror vs Modern Technology, Room: Pettygrove  
 
A discussion of how things like cellphones and the internet impact horror stories, and how to write stories incorporating them.

1:00:pm-2:00:pm, Autograph Session, Room: TBA   
Get your books signed by Jennifer Brozek, Dayle A. Dermatis, David D. Levine

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SF AUTHORFEST, Nov 11, Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
4:00:pm-5:30:pm, 20-25 authors all signing books!

The Jennifer Award for October 2018

From now until I decide I want to stop doing this, I will be giving out a monthly “Jennifer Award” for the best new-to-me thing I read that month. This can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be an essay/article, a short story, a novelette, a novella, or a novel. It doesn’t matter when it came out. It only matters that this is the first time I read it and I thought it was the best thing I read all month. Yes, it is completely subjective and biased towards what I like to read.

The winner will receive a shiny digital badge of honor and a $5 gift card.

The October winner of the Jennifer Award is Planetside by Michael Mammay. It’s a military space book, but it’s not. Not a standard one. Anyone in the military, or former military, will recognize the customs and courtesies, the different chains of command and how one power structure is often at odds with another. Planetside, at its heart, is a mystery and it’s about the relationships that people build. Enjoyed the heck out of this one. If you like mysteries and reading about military culture (from an author who was in it), you’re going to like this one.


2018
Jan: Godfall and Other Stories by Sandra M. Odell
Feb: “When We Fall” by Kameron Hurley
Mar: The Alastair Stone Chronicles by R.L. King
Apr: Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys
May: “The Soul of Horses” by Beth Cato
Jun: “Daddy’s Girl” by Jennifer R. Donohue
Jul: “By Claw, By Hand, By Silent Speech” by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry & A. Merc Rustad
Aug: Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire
Sep: Immortal House by Elizabeth Guizzetti
Oct: Planetside by Michael Mammay

 

Music and Memory

I took an honest-to-goodness vacation recently. I spent a lot of time listening to audiobooks or music, crocheting, and staring at the ocean. It was so needed. I didn’t understand how much I needed an actual vacation. Not a convention or event where I was “on stage” or selling books. The Husband saw the need and insisted we take it. I’m so glad.

One of the things I noticed while I was on vacation and afterwards was that certain songs made me think of certain people. Mostly because of old LARPing characters interactions. But others, I have no idea why and it mystifies me. It was something I wanted to note.

These are all of the people and songs I’ve noticed recently.

  • Chantelle – “I Miss the Misery” by Halestrom (RPG character interactions.)
  • David – “A Dangerous Mind” by Within Temptation (RPG character interactions.)
  • Evan – “War” by Poets of the Fall (RPG character interactions.)
  • Eric R – “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” by Fall Out Boy (RPG character interactions.)
  • Johanna – “Vampires” by The Pet Shop Boys (No idea, but I also think about drinking red wine, too.)
  • Jeff – “Tide” by Tarot (RPG character interactions.)
  • Rae – “Paint It Black” by Ciara (Not a clue, but I have to assume it’s LARP related.)
  • Rich T – “Eyes of a Stranger” by Queensryche (RPG character interactions.)
  • Ross – “Let You Down” by Three Days Grace (RPG character interactions.)
  • Thea – “I’m with You” by Avril Lavigne (No idea. Seriously.)
  • Toni – “Life is Beautiful” by Sixx A.M. (RPG character interactions.)
  • Yonatan – “My Immortal” by Evanescence (Probably because we once dated.)

What about you? Do songs make you think of people?