Archive for March, 2010

Jennifer’s mom was kind enough to pitch in for the roast. She was the first volunteer in fact. She was also the first person to turn in a story. That must run in the family.

Ms. Sigrid Brozek takes the mic:

In this life there are those people who never have a nickname … and those who have nicknames galore.  Jennifer is one who “collects” nicknames.  One of the nicknames she had was “Calamity Jane”.  She earned that.  It started with all the usual childhood accidents/injuries/mishaps that everyone goes through, then added a few more notable incidents.


  • She and her twin brother were born in Alaska at Elmendorf AFB outside of Anchorage.  When she was three, Mom, Dad and older sister were in the backyard working.  She and her brother were supposed to be taking a nap – or at least having quiet time.  Well, Jenn really, really wanted to be outside with us.  Not sure exactly what she was trying to do – watch, or escape through the window, but somehow she got stuck half in and half out of the window (no screens).  She couldn’t go the rest of the way out and she couldn’t get back inside.  We were called to the window by cries of “Help me, somebody, help me!”  She was clearly stuck and in no danger. It was so funny, I laughed till I cried. It has become a watchword in our family.


  • Belgium was a dangerous place for Jennifer. 


  • She went to school in a Belgian school that only spoke French (she didn’t.) and survived. 


  • That was also where she decided to see if a 220 light bulb was hot and stuck her thumb on it.  It was!  She got a badly burned thumb for her efforts.


  • She cut her hand to the bone with a bread knife and had to be rushed to the ER.


  • She tried to drive and put the car into neutral causing it to roll out and completely block the roadway.  We lived on a very sharp curve, not 90 degrees but probably 75 or 80.  It was down the road a half mile or so from a sugar beet factory and huge trucks raced past our house all the time. Needless to say, it ended well. 


  • And there was the time she fell from a second story window inches from an old style water pump.  We were living in a 300 year old house that had 18 foot ceilings.  She should have been badly hurt.  But another trip to the ER showed only a small bruise on her shoulder.


Through it all she was usually stoic and didn’t complain.  She has always been my adventurous one.  She always wanted to try new things and was never afraid of getting lost.  She wanted to be different.  She wanted to be the eccentric auntie.  She’s pretty much achieved whatever she set her mind to.  It was not easy most times, but if she set the goal, she kept at it until she attained it.  If someone else set the goal, maybe she would do it, maybe not, depending on whether it suited her. 

Jenn’s Response:

I am a danger to myself though rarely to others.


I suppose it is a good thing that I don’t remember much of Alaska. It might have been traumatizing otherwise. However, I have to admit, the image of a kid, perfectly balanced in a window so that they could not go forward or back, is a funny one. Especially Mom’s mimic of what I apparently sounded like.


Belgium was an interesting time. To be fair, I was actually trying to turn off the light when I stuck my thumb on it. It was Dad’s “Oh, look, fried thumb for dinner” that made me holler louder.  Actually, the more I think about Belgium, the more surprised I am that I survived it.


And people wonder why I’m content to be the weird aunt to my nieces. I know what kids do to themselves.


Oh, and the part about getting lost… I can’t help it. I have a heroically bad sense of direction.


That’s a wrap for the Jennifer Brozek Roast. Please visit the landing page for more entries!


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HaxanMy good friend, Kenneth Mark Hoover, volunteered to roast Jennifer Brozek. No sooner had I agreed, than I had one heck of a roast post on my hands.

Mark takes the mic:

I first became aware of Jennifer Brozek when the totality of the published words she was putting out threatened to overload the speculative fiction landscape and doom us all to an existence in Literary Black Holedom. An existence in which she is the literary center and the rest of us revolve around her in the knots and whorls of some gravitational word-vortex.

Seriously. This woman writes. Some of us talk about writing. She does it. And she never stops. I wouldn’t be surprised if she actually completes hardcopy in her sleep.

Result? She has success after success. Rightfully so, I might add. Because not only is she prolific, she’s just downright GOOD. And that’s an awesome combination.

Okay. I’ve had a modicum of success myself. I ‘ve had a few things published. Limited. That stunted Leprechaun jumping up and down and waving his arms in a frantic gesture? That’s me in the speculative fiction world. *waves*

But Jennifer? She’s that iron ziggurat over there with a foundation that goes directly to the Earth’s core and a peak that scratches the stars.

We but toil in her shadow.

But here’s the real deal. As good as she was she was never a real threat to me because I pretty have my own little corner of the universe where I play with matches. I write westerns, mostly dark fantasy westerns like my Haxan series. And, like I said, I’ve had a little success and gotten a little attention from it.

It’s a paltry existence but it’s mine.

Until I got a letter from Jen asking me for help on a supernatural western she was working on for an anthology.

Have you ever had your blood freeze with uncomprehending fear? Here I was in my own little corner of the world tinkering with my stupid western stories, and the Brozek Ziggurat was prepared to lay down a new foundation. Being intimidated by that (and, of course, loving her anyway) I said, “Sure, I can take a look at your story.”

She wrote it and I pointed out some things I thought might help. She thanked me and I went off to crawl into a corner and assume a fetal position because I knew resistance was futile. Dark fantasy westerns? Soon to be just another feather in Jennifer’s cap, Little Writer Boy. You’ll be lucky if she leaves you scraps.

But, hey, sometimes you have to go with the flow. I for one welcome our new Overlord in western speculative fiction. I mean, it’s only a matter of time.

Oh, and that Literary Blackholedom I spoke of earlier is the result of the impressive quantity and quality of her work. Well, look at it this way. With Jennifer Brozek you know the ride toward the event horizon will not only be memorable, it will be downright fun.

Love you, Jennifer. Lots. 🙂

Jennifer kindly responds:

Well, you know what they say, Mark, “Emulation is a form of admiration.”

Actually, I just made that up but it is still true. I remember looking at the Haxan series and being, 1) entertained and 2) impressed. I truly adore weird west and you do it very well. How could I not try to put something out there in that arena? Think of it this way: you inspired me. You honestly did and that can be rare. Things inspire me all the time but rarely does someone else’s writing send me to my keyboard with the hopes of possibly doing that good.

You are still the king of the weird west arena… for now. But don’t look over your shoulder. You will see me standing there.

Now, how about that joint novella I suggested a couple months back?

Visit the Jennifer Brozek Roast Landing Page

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Apex Book Company Blog

Inertia and the Practicing Writer

My latest blog post is up over at Apex. Please go take a look and leave me some comment love.

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I am lucky enough to have met Dylan through a small crit community we belong to. I knew he and Jennifer were friends and asked him to help roast the lovely lady.

Dylan Birtolo takes the mic:

Let’s see, I submitted to the Edge of Propinquity out of the blue because I had heard about it, read it a couple of times, and thought it would be a good match for my writing style. So, I submitted and was rejected. I tried again, with a separate story, and was rejected again. But, both times they were nice rejections where she said she wanted to see more.

I wound up meeting Jennifer at GenCon the following year. I was working in Author’s Avenue and she came by to talk to authors. We talked for a couple of minutes and her name was familiar. When she handed me her business card I loudly proclaimed “Oh! I know I knew you – you rejected me a couple of times!” It was a very interesting and amusing way of introducing myself to her and she was a little red-faced. We talked and she told me that she really liked my writing and spoke about what exactly I would need to do in order to get accepted. We talked about a story idea I had, and then I wrote the story and submitted it to her and was accepted!

From that point, we exchanged a few emails and she was generous with sending links and opportunities my way that she thought I would be good for. She is a very generous person that way. When she joined me at Author’s Avenue, I tried to return the favor with my previous experience.

I think my favorite smile-inducing experience was at GenCon this past year and having her, pitching her stories, saying to random passerby’s “Are you interested in some mastication?”

Jennifer Brozek responds:

Oh, come on, who can resist a little mastication? I masticate all the time. Alone and with people. Sometimes with many people. I will admit, though, I usually don’t masticate in bed. Most of the time, I masticate with my husband in the family room.

(For those who don’t know, I have a chapbook out called Mastication. It is ten stories about things eating people. My husband is the one who pointed out that I seem to have a thing about writing stories involving odd things that eat people. We had taffy to give away as part of the luring in of potential buyers.)

Yes, meeting Dylan was first for me. He was the first author I did not know who told me I had rejected him—twice. Most people don’t know but one of my greatest fears is to have someone I rejected come yell at me about it at a convention. I’m not sure what I would do if that actually happened.

But Dylan wasn’t that way. He had a huge smile on his face when he said it and his smile only got wider as I told him I remembered his stories and talked with him about why they weren’t accepted. He was a good first “rejected author” to have. He didn’t yell. He listened. He smiled and when he did submit again to The Edge of Propinquity, he wrote a story I bought.

Check out more roast posts on the Jennifer Brozek Roast Landing Page.

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I invited Rick Silva to help me roast Jennifer Brozek because they’ve worked together on The Edge of Propinquity. He was kind enough to oblige.


Rick takes the mic:

I met Jenn Brozek online around the time she was just beginning the project that would become Grants Pass, but I truly got to appreciate her talents during an online freeform roleplaying game that we both played in for a while. Even more specifically, I got to appreciate Jenn while discussing killing off one of her characters. Jenn is a prolific dealer of death in her fiction, a sort of authorial version of The Joker or George Stark from The Dark Half, leaving a trail of fictional bodies strewn in her path through whatever literary ground she treads. So there we were, plotting out this scene where the good guys get ambushed, and there is this one minor supporting character who is just really exceptionally likeable. Fun, spunky, quirky. Totally deserving of her own spotlight. Now this was in a somewhat technology-limited circumstance for me, so the whole conversation was taking place by email. I mentioned the pros and cons surrounding the ways I could see the scene going, and Jenn admitted that, yes, she really did have a soft spot in her heart for this particular character. And although I was separated from her by pretty much the entire United States, and limited to the rather bland medium of email messages, I swear that I could see the grin take shape on Jenn’s face as she followed her admission up with, “Yeah. Let’s kill her.” We ended up inflicting a rather horrible demise on the poor victim. It was one of the best scenes in that game.

Jenn is not only unafraid when it comes to looking at the dark places in the hearts of and minds of humanity, she takes a sort of gleeful delight in it, and enthusiasm that can be contagious. She wrote a series of dark tales every Friday, almost always ending them with murder, and cheerfully inserted friends and relatives alike into the mayhem and slaughter. In the time I’ve been writing for The Edge of Propinquity, I’ve watched as Jenn has done a brilliant job as “Chief Cat-Herder”, managing the various contributors and keeping everyone on deadline (notice how that word “dead” keeps following her around?). In my second year of TEoP, I had an ongoing plot involving rune pendants. I actually went to a local bead shop and bought three rune pendants to use in the photos that accompany the stories. When that year finished up and I was done with the runes, I gave them away, two for my first-readers, and one for Jenn, in appreciation for the opportunity and for all of the work she puts into editing TEoP.

The next Friday, Jenn wrote a story in which I sent her a magical rune. And used it to kill her.

Jennifer responds:

Rick is awesome and I adore him. I vaguely remember the conversation about killing off a beloved character but I am sad to say… I can’t remember which character this was. It was years ago. I’ve killed off so many characters since then. I guess that tells you something about me. What that is, I don’t know.

I still have the pendant Rick gave me and I appreciated the gift. I figured the best way to thank him was to use it in a story. Normally, I would kill him off with it but since he was doing the giving it was only fair that he got to kill me off with it. Now, that story, and many like it, are in my forthcoming collection by Dark Quest Books. It’s called In a Gilded Light: 105 Tales of the Macabre and is out in June 2010.

Please visit the Jennifer Brozek Roast Landing Page

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Wily WritersI asked Angel Leigh McCoy to help me roast Jennifer Brozek. I liked the story she shared with us. I hope you enjoy it as well. Please click the links to check out more information on both amazing ladies.

Angel Leigh McCoy takes the mic:

When I think of Jennifer Brozek, a few words come to mind: exacting, sharp, gung-ho, fearless, and quick. She reminds me of the school teacher who never lets you get away with anything.

I discovered Jennifer online, read some of her writing, and realized that this was a writer who would be going places—and we’d all better get the Hell out of her way or get run over.

I invited her to submit a story to the Wily Writers, and she responded by emailing me that the site was down. She had caught me slacking!

Jennifer doesn’t do anything in small measure. I asked for one story, and she sent me two. (Honoring the Dead and Nothing Left to Salvage)

I hated them for their talented word use and clever storylines, and I accepted them both for the site. Her stories were dark, scary, and full of dripping humanity. After reading them, I knew Jennifer was someone I never wanted as an enemy!

I finally had the opportunity to meet Jennifer at Crypticon horror convention in Seattle, 2009. She was all that and more in person, adding pretty and charming to my list of words. She started introducing me to her business contacts and tossing out ideas so fast my head was spinning.

Her firecracker energy fed the reading she did that evening, and she had full command of her audience. They, like me, knew better than to let their attention wander. They didn’t want to miss anything—in case Teacher gave us a quiz later. There was no quiz, but Teacher did give out hugs, and she told me I’d done a good job. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.

Now, I go to her when I need advice on publishing, editing, and writing. She’s the teacher you never forget, because no matter how tough she is on you, you always know that it’s for your own good, and you end up a better person because of her.

Thank you, Ms. Brozek, for being such a great teacher and example! Have an apple.

Jennifer Brozek responds:

Aww. This one isn’t so much a roast as a very cool comparison. Everyone had that tough teacher they loved to hate and hated to love because how much they pushed their students to do better.

What Angel doesn’t know is that behind that tough exterior was a person quaking in their shoes. I was terrified to meet someone I had never met, in a place I had never been before, at a venue I had only heard of. Courage is what you do when your voice quavers and your knees shake.

That said, I saw a lot of courage in Angel and the other authors there. I am so happy that Angel invited me to Wily Writers and to meet other Wily authors. I’ve published some of them now.

I am happy to share the love. Advice freely given if asked for. I will tell you what I can with what I know. I’m not always right but I am always sincere.

Thank you Angel.

Visit the Jennifer Brozek Roast Landing Page

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Chocolate Vanilla as made Cups and Cakes BakeryWhen I asked Seanan Mcguire to help me roast Jennifer Brozek, she was happy to do it. She thought, and she thought….

Seanan likes cupcakes especially those made by Cups and Cakes Bakery (see the picture on the left!). Jennifer is sweet. So much so that I don’t think she had the heart to roast Ms. Brozek proper!

This seems to be going around. I am currently investigating Jennifer as a cavity-causing agent.




 Seanan’s turn at the mic:


Sadly, I don’t really have anything roastable about Jenn. 😦 Normally, she’s the one hauling me out of the path of certain doom, not the other way around.


Jennifer’s response:

Perhaps I am too cautious with Seanan and her wants.

Perhaps the world could use genetically modified primeval reptiles (MG’s note: See the link for Seanan’s dinosaur commandos) whose bite delivers venom so toxic that it would kill a 200 pound man in under a minute.

Perhaps we should pay homage to He Who Walks Behind the Rows in the form of unsuspecting people.

Perhaps the world would be better off with slow moving zombies shuffling about and aliens occasionally descending upon the populous. It would keep things lively.

Then again, perhaps not.


Let me give you a little bit of background on Seanan. She is a wonder to behold in the way she handles her writing life and a personal inspiration of mine. She is the author of the October Daye Series. She just got word today that DAW Books has picked up the next two books in the series. Please stop by and congratulate her on the great news. I’ve read the first installment and loved it. I have a long overdue review for that one. I also have the second, A Local Habitation. I bought it the day it came out. I anxiously await the rest. She also has a new series, Newsflesh, as penned by Mira Grant.

Beyond that, and here is where Jennifer and Seanan intersect for me, she is writing the Sparrow Hill Road Series published exclusively at The Edge of Propinquity, Jennifer Brozek’s E-zine. I’d already read Rosemary and Rue by the time Inspirations was published at TEoP. This was before Seanan was added to the regular authors appearing on the 15th of each month. I love that story. Please go check it out if you have a chance. She also has a story, “Animal Husbandry,” appearing in Grants Pass, which you heard about yesterday.

Make sure you play around with the links. I try to use different hotlinks for names so that you can find the folks and their work at different places around the net.

Visit the Jennifer Brozek Roast Landing Page

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