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[sticky post] Welcome to My Blog

Hello and welcome to my professional blog. In this blog, I will mostly write about writing, editing, publishing, slush reading and the calls for submission I am making or responding to. There will be writer advice based on whatever lesson I am relearning, interview links for current projects and random bits that relate to writing in some emotional or technical way. I have no filters and make liberal use of the tag system.

See my profile for my event appearances, book covers, bio and other such things.

My personal blog, gaaneden, is where I talk about my husband, my cats, my gaming and other randomness of everyday life. It is a lot less structured and a lot more fluff. Feel free to add my personal LJ as well.

November Monthly Stat Thing

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Sekrit Project Alex already has revision notes back. So, I’m in the thick of that. I’m also almost done with an interview for a conventions and I’ve finished several interviews for The Last Days of Salton Academy as well as turned in another short story. Left this year… revisions and another tie-in short story that has been outlined and started and maybe do quickie RPG splat for a funded kickstarter. The year is wrapping up nicely.

Year-to-date stats:
Fiction words written: 185,645
Article words written: 23,200
My novels/collections edited: 11
My short stories proofed: 9
Other novels/anthologies edited: 14
Events attended: 12

One more of these after the new year, then I’ll have to think of something else to stat for you guys on a monthly basis. I like to mix it up. Next year, I’m going to attempt to do less conventions and 90% original, non tie-in fiction. But, the universe sometimes laughs at my plans.

Ten Years as a Fulltime Freelancer

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

As of this week, I have survived ten years as a fulltime freelance author/editor and created a career I am proud of. The past decade has been nothing like I expected it to be. When I began, I wanted to “just write” and to see if I could make it as an author. Within the first year, I started editing. Time has flown by as well as taken forever. I had a plan and a series of professional goals to meet. I have met every single one of these. Though… the last one, “get an agent,” happened in the last couple of months.


  • Sell short stories to pro markets

  • Get into SFWA with novels or short stories

  • Sell a novel

  • Sell a trilogy

  • Get an agent

  • Be invited to conventions as a panelist

Ten years later, I have discovered there were a whole lot more professional goals I wanted to achieve that I didn’t know I wanted to achieve when I started out. Some of them shocked me when they happened. (Honestly, some of them still surprise me when they occur.)


  • Sell a short story collection

  • Have a story listed in a “Best of” collection

  • Have my books become audiobooks

  • Have a stranger squee over my forthcoming presence at a convention

  • Have a stranger come to a multi-author event to see me specifically

  • Learn how to say “no” to a gig

  • Be nominated for an award – any award

  • Be nominated for a Hugo award and a Bram Stoker award

  • Be mentioned in Locus Magazine and Kirkus Reviews

  • Win an ENnie award, a Scribe award, and/or a Cleo (Origins Game Fair) award

  • Be a Guest of Honor of a convention in America

  • Be a Guest of Honor of a convention abroad (Sweden, Finland)

  • Become a Director-at-Large in SFWA

  • Become an adjective (a “Brozek” book or a “Brozek” anthology)

It’s been ten years. I’ve achieved so much and I’m so grateful to the people who have helped me along the way—editors, publishers, other authors, fans, cheerleaders, shoulders-to-cry-on, friends, family, and my husband. I’m not going to stop now. I just have to set goals for the future. Here are the ones I know I want to achieve:


  • Sell stories to Analog, Asimov, Psuedopod, and EscapePod

  • Sell stories to Ellen Datlow and to John Joseph Adams

  • Create a long-running Teen/YA series (6+ books)

  • Create a successful fiction podcast

  • Have someone option my work

  • Have my work become a TV pilot, TV series, and/or movie


The more I know about the publishing business, the more I can narrow down what I really want out of my career. Now that I have a wonderful agent, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.

In celebration, and out of duty, I have filed ten years worth of editing and writing contracts… much to the enjoyment and annoyance of my cats. (The red folder is filled with 10 years worth of editing contracts and the black one has 10 years of writing contracts.)


Tell Me - Jon Del Arroz

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I am completely biased on this one. I edited Jon's new book, Star Realms: Rescue Run. I think it's a hoot. Especially the singing AI. A great tie-in novel.
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One topic I often am approached on for Star Realms: Rescue Run is regarding my artificial intelligence who bursts into song when he starts going haywire. I have a lot of lyrics interwoven throughout the text, and people ask if I wrote them myself, if they come from favorite bands, or if the songs in the story have any deeper meaning.
 
To the first question, yes I write all the lyrics myself. A lot of people don’t know that I write songs but I actually released an album in 2006 with the band Aprilsrain, and a couple of those songs were picked up by MTV’s Real World: New Orleans and actually play in the background of that show.
 
I love music. I am versed in piano and guitar, and can sing decently well. As of late I haven’t had a lot of time to play music, so sometimes I have to live vicariously through my characters, which I had a lot of fun with while writing this book.
 
The singing AI also served as a nod to one of my favorite writers, Anne McCaffrey, of which I tend to write a lot of references to her in my book. This particular one is in homage to her short story, “The Ship Who Sang,” which is one of the most powerful emotional stories ever written. As much as I hate to admit it, I cry every time I read that story. I wanted to have my main character have a reference to an emotionally powerful piece while she saw her best friend and AI slipping away.
 
Beyond that, I tried to put some thought into the lyrics, but wanted them to flow naturally as if randomly from an AI’s archive. Though most of the AI’s singing is couched in silly romance songs, as I imagine most pop songs from here to eternity will have those themes, I tried to have the lyrics match/mirror the story to some degree whether that be in the feel of the song or more directly what's going on around it. The AI has an awareness of what’s going on and is at least trying to communicate.
 
I started out with a longer verse to get the reader used to the fact that the AI would be singing, and then did short one-off lines from that point forward to try to highlight the glitchiness of the AI’s virus that slowly overwhelmed its programming throughout the course of the book. 
 
Lyrics and poetry have a long tradition in sci-fi and fantasy. Tolkien used them to great avail and another of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, weaves them into a lot of her work. I had a lot of fun continuing that tradition with these and hope to be able to work them into future pieces as well.

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Jon Del Arroz began his writing career in high school, providing book reviews and the occasional article for the local news magazine, The Valley Citizen. From there, he went on to write a weekly web comic, Flying Sparks, which has been hailed by Comic Book Resources as “the kind of stuff that made me fall in love with early Marvel comics.” He has several published short stories, most recently providing flash fiction for AEG’s weird west card game, Doomtown: Reloaded, and a micro-setting for the Tiny Frontiers RPG. Star Realms: Rescue Run is his debut novel. You can find him during baseball season with his family at about half of the Oakland A’s home games in section 124.


 

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OryCon and Authorfest SF Schedule

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Here is my OryCon and Authorfest SF schedules. If I'm not at a panel, I will be at my dealers table. Come by, say hello, get a book signed, and/or buy gifts for friends! I'd love to see you there. I'm even going to have some of my signed, numbered, limited edition books.

FRIDAY
Writing in Other People's Worlds

Meadowlark (3)
Fri Nov 18 8:00pm - 9:00pm
Christina Hartley, David Boop, Diana Francis, Elton Elliott, Jennifer Brozek

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SATURDAY
Freaking Me Out, Not Grossing Me Out

Salon C (LL1)
Sat Nov 19 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Colleen Anderson, Jennifer Brozek, Judith Conly, Laurel Anne Hill, Matt Haynes

Reaching Readers Who Don't Know You Yet
Meadowlark (3)
Sat Nov 19 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Anthony Pryor, Blythe Ayne, Deborah Ross, Jennifer Brozek, Josh Boykin

Reprints
Salon A (LL1)
Sat Nov 19 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Bruce Taylor, Jennifer Brozek, Maura van der Linden, Wendy Wagner

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SUNDAY
SFWA Meeting
Sunstone (3)
Sun Nov 20 10:00am - 11:00am
Jennifer Brozek

Synopses, Summaries, and Blubs, Oh My!
Meadowlark (3)
Sun Nov 20 12:00pm - 1:00pm
DongWon Song, Jennifer Brozek, Mary Rosenblum, Ripley Patton, William Hertling


AUTHORFEST SF 10
Cedar Hills Powells Bookstore, Beaverton, OR
Sun Nov 20 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Many authors

Bubble & Squeek for 9 November 2016

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Here's a Bubble & Squeek for you. I'm going to keep on writing. There's not much else I can do right now.

Article: On Risingshadow. The Apocalypse Has Come and Gone. I talk about where The Last Days of Salton Academy is set.

Article: On Ragnablog. The Idea That Won’t Leave You Alone. I talk about what prompted me to write a YA zombie novel when I don't like zombies.

Article: I got mentioned on Kirkus Reviews in 13 Horror Books to Put You in the Mood for Halloween for The Last Days of Salton Academy! The fact that I got mentioned in Kirkus has me over the moon. Then, to be in such good company...

Ingress: In completely non-writing news, I got mentioned by a major Ingress character on his blog. So, that was exciting. I also was awarded a really hard badge to get: the EAW badge.

Review: Slap Happy Fun Time reviewed The Last Days of Salton Academy and really liked it – “…this is the kind of novel that you simply don't read. It consumes you, it demands your attention just like a great novel should.” 

Review: Goodreads review of The Last Days of Salton Academy – “Gothic zombie book.”

October Monthly Stat Thing

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I’m about to turn in Sekrit Project Alex and begin work on the extra bits I’ve been contracted for. Then I will work on the contracted short stories. With that, I will end my year of tie-in fiction and begin a year of my new YA series.

Year-to-date stats:
Fiction words written: 174,450
Article words written: 18,300
My novels/collections edited: 11
My short stories proofed: 8
Other novels/anthologies edited: 14
Events attended: 9

Event-wise, I should have only three events left and all of them are in November.



This November is very special to me. I’ve got a forthcoming blog post to explain why. It’s a milestone. A big one.

Tell Me - C.T. Phipps

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I'm reading CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON and I have to say... Charles is an entertaining writer. His mythos inspired apocalyptic western is exactly the kind of popcorn reading I love. I think you'll love it, too.
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Developing Doomed Characters

A lot of people talk to me about how to write horror stories. I've written quite a few short stories in the genre and I've recently released my post-apocalypse horror novel CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON which does it's best to mix action with the macabre.

However, the trick of creating true horror is a tough one to master because it asks the reader to become invested enough in the storyline that they care enough about the characters that they're worried they might come to harm. Then you must convince them they will.

This is why I recommend a strategy of developing doomed characters. Basically, if you really want to sell a horror story then you had best have a selection of cannon fodder for the monster to eat which the audience cares about. It's a simple enough strategy, right? I mean, slasher movies have been doing it for years. You have a bunch of likable or semi-likable characters and only one of them makes it out alive. Should be a piece of cake, really.

Well, yes, and no.

One of the reasons which The Walking Dead, in all its incarnations, has been so successful is they're not afraid to decimate the cast in both surprising as well as heart-rending ways. However, it's a series which also has suffered from killing characters which the audience cared about while sparing those they didn't.

It's easy to drift into a dark sinkhole of apathy where the audience for your story just doesn't care what happens to the survivors. If everyone is rooting for Character A instead of Character C, Character A dying could make them tune out. Worse, Character C as the star makes the entire purpose of killing Character A pointless. So what's the best strategy for making sure you keep a careful balance of development as well as risk?

My first recommendation is you should make it so the doomed characters are ones who feel like they're going to be a major supporting character to begin with. Heck, make it so they are. You should always kill characters who feel like they have more room to grow.

If Jane, John, Jack, and Wilma go to a cabin in the woods then make it so they have a complex web of personal relationships. Jane is dating John, Jack is brother to Wilma, and Wilma is cheating on her girlfriend with Jane. The death of even one of these characters will send reverberations throughout the story which should followed up on.

Next, you should follow up on the deaths of the characters you do kill so their deaths have meaning for the survivors. A lot of novels effectively drop the dead once they leave the narrative. If you keep the loss fresh in the mind of the characters, then that will have more meaning.

It’s best to avoid making any character's fate related to their likability. Jerks shouldn't die any more than innocents unless you're making a point about behavior and that may undermine the terror of death. Likewise, deaths shouldn’t be telegraphed too much either. If you can make someone look like the hero before killing them without alienating the audience, you’ve really accomplished something special.

In conclusion, it's not just an art form to create characters. It's an even greater art form to make a character's death which exists to make the story scarier.

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C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is the author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, Straight Outta Fangton, and Esoterrorism. He is also a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles."


 

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Happy Book Release Day to Me!

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

The Last Days of Salton Academy has been released! This YA horror novel is getting some love.



Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Ragnarok Publications


It's referred to as 'The Outbreak,' and it happened just over three months ago, casting the world (or at least this part of it) into a state of powerlessness and chaos. The Salton Academy has become a rare sanctuary for those few students who remained behind over fall break.

As winter approaches, cracks are revealed in the academy's foundations as it's discovered someone is stealing food, another is taking advantage of a captive audience, and yet others have banded together and are thinking about mutiny, even murder. One thing's for certain — a supply run must be made soon, or everyone will starve before winter's end.

Oh yes, and then there’s the matter of the headmaster’s son and his undead dog…



The Last Days of Salton Academy is a dark, twisted rollercoaster of a book. Jennifer Brozek knocks it out of the park.” — Stephen Blackmoore, author of City of the Lost and Broken Souls

“If Lord of the Flies had occurred during a zombie outbreak, it would read something like this. A bloody good tale you can really sink your teeth into.” — Timothy W. Long, Author of the Z-Risen series.

The Last Days of Salton Academy is a delightful character study which combined boarding school antics with the survival horror of a post-apocalypse thriller. The characters are fresh, the dynamics interesting, and the story engaging from beginning to end. It is a YA story I heartily recommend.” — C.T. Phipps, author of Esoterrorism and Wraith Knight

“As much as I love all things undead, what kept me turning pages wasn’t the zombie horde, but something far more horrible: the students and staff of a pretentious prep school. The Last Days of Salton Academy is compulsively readable—I devoured it in one sitting. With a cast of all-too-believable characters and a set of ever-ratcheting disasters, this novel is guaranteed to keep you up past your bedtime.” — Wendy N. Wagner, author of Starspawn and Skinwalkers

Bubble & Squeek for 11 October 2016

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Still elbow deep in the current novel. About 2/3rds of the way through. So, here's a Bubble & Squeek for you. Plus a cat picture. Hope all is well with you.

Release: Pre-order The Last Days of Salton Academy - According to Amazon and IPG's schedule, the book will be out on 25 Oct 2016. Yes, there will be an ebook version, too. I will be reading with Mira Grant from this book on November 17th at the university bookstore. It will be an evening of zombie goodness!

Review: New review of Chicks Dig Gaming - I'm pretty happy with this review. It's a good one.

Review: Praise for the Karen Wilson Chronicles - It's always good to hear when someone likes the books you've written. They take so much time to write and to get right. :)

SFWA: SFWA Speakers Bureau - If you're looking for a speaker on something in your local area, the SFWA Speaker's Bureau is a good place to start. Here's my profile.

And, as promised... kitties!