Jeremy Szal has a . . . book club?

I’ve finally gotten off my arse and launched my newsletter/book club/email list. It’s so everyone who likes my stuff (surprisingly, such people exist) can remain in touch, hear about upcoming book releases, early cover reveals, etc. I’ll also be doing free giveaways, posting free short stories, and posting news in advance. In addition, all subscribers will get a free novelette that’s set in the world of The Common, and acts as a sort of prequel to STORMBLOOD.

It’ll be the best way to hear what I’m up to, as I despise WordPress and don’t see myself sticking around here for long.

I’ll be sending these updates very infrequently – perhaps three to four times a year, but I’m still ironing out the kinks.

You can subscribe to my Book Club by clicking this link here!

Alternatively, you should be able to do right below…

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Stormblood US Book Launch with Mysterious Galaxy

The great Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore is hosting the virtual US launch of STORMBLOOD tonight, on April 6 at 7pm PT, along with my good mate Jackson Ford, aka Rob Boffard. It’s free to attend, so if you’re keen to watch us talk nonsense about beers and books and roast each other senseless, do come along.

The link to register for the event is here.

Oh, and all copies of STORMBLOOD with Mysterious Galaxy will include signed bookplates, since I know some of you guys like that.

STORMBLOOD US launch!

After nearly 2 years (thanks COVID), STORMBLOOD will *finally* be releasing locally in the US and Canada in print format! In actual bookstores!

Even better, Mysterious Galaxy in CA will have signed copies available in a few weeks time. So, if a gnarly military SF/space opera adventure about two estranged brothers on opposing sides of a drug war looks up your alley, and if having my chicken scrawl signature defacing your book happens to be your thing, you can pre-order a copy here.

Other stores that have signed copies include:

Borderlands Books

White Dwarf Books

Barnes and Nobles, Lafayette IN

Considering this is basically a soft relaunch for the book, pre-orders are hugely hugely helpful. I can’t understate how essential they are for newer authors, especially with indie SFF bookstores.

BLINDSPACE Hardback Available at Goldsboro

At last, it can be announced! The fabulous Goldsboro books are doing a special, limited hardback run of BLINDSPACE, just as they did with STORMBLOOD, with fabulous dark-purple sprayed edges. They’re all accompanied by my hand-crafted, vintage, bespoke signature, with some witty turns of phrase included for good measure. I do it for you, dear readers! I do it for you!

There’s only going to be 250 copies available (one of which is MINE), so if you’re looking for a hardback edition I do suggest you grab one quickly. . .

You can go ahead and buy it on the Goldsboro website, here.

Writing Update: Stormblood Edits

At the tail end of the year, my good good agent John Jarrold has sent me edits for my next book, Stormblood. It’s The Wire meets Mass Effect set on an asteroid that’s comprised of a hundred cities stacked on top of each other. Contains first-person snark, alien drugs, drug culture, religious cults, armor, gangs, neon-dunked streets,, food porn, and booze. Lots and lots of booze.

I’ve been tackling the edits for a few weeks now, they’re going pretty smoothly. It’s been slowly climbing in word count to where it sits at a solid 120k, 15k longer than The Rogue Galaxy, but John told me not to worry, since 140k is not unusual for a debut novelist, especially in the UK.

So I’m letting my legs stretch a little, letting the slow moments between characters linger, letting them shoot the breeze and grow on-screen rather than rushing because I’ve got to keep the pace up (nailing this balance down is no easy feat). It’s cathartic to keep refining and discovering things about your world and characters and know that you’ve really nailed a scene. It’s always my favourite part of the writing process, where you’re giving each chapter the last few polishes and finally see the gems and realise how pretty they are, to con a cliche. In earlier drafts, I knew I was onto something, but it was too broad, the waters too muddy for me to sharpen it to a fine point. Now that I’ve got the shape of the narrative burned into my head, it’s easier to take that paragraph, or that chunk of text and realise what it’s doing in context, and improve upon it until I’ve got exactly what I want on the page. I go over each chapter like this, honing the emotions, the narrative development, the scenery, until it’s as good as I think I can make it. It’s so, so easy to overstep and turn a quiet, sedated moment into a melodrama of sentimental monologues that are shamelessly trying to exploit sympathy from the reader. The line’s harder to walk than you’d think. I’ll forever believe that characters are the true heart of any narrative, and I want their emotions and desires and conflicts to be on-point as possible. So I’m going through the book and trying to make that happen.

It’s not perfect, but I love this book and almost everything about it, and I hope it sees the light of day at point. But if it doesn’t, then I’m still happy to have written it. There’s a lot of personal things in this book, baked into the characters, story and world, and putting them on the page has taught me a boldness that I’m not sure I had prior to writing this. I wrote what I wanted, but there were some things I deliberately avoided because I wasn’t sure how they’d be received, and if I’d want folks close to me reading it. But I went with my gut and spun out a first-person narrator who wasn’t afraid to be forthcoming out his deep, personal traumas, who said what he was thinking and got some pretty messed up things inflicted on him as a result. It even prompted my agent to comment on it.

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He does it to himself, I swear!

Anyway, my current round of edits will continue to consist of refining each scene, tightening up the dialogue and making sure the world-building is in shape and the character arcs are on a smooth trajectory that’s isn’t too blatantly going through the motions of a narrative path. The next round will be more focused on the prose-level. I edit my prose as I go, but this time I’ll be putting the final touches on the work on a sentence level. Some don’t bother with this, but to me, language and choice of words is important, and if I can look fancier by replacing lobby with atrium or blue with cerulean, I will, dammit!

I’ll probably polish off edits this week, and turn it in early next year. Me and John are going to discuss what to do with it. I’ll be posting a yearly round-up soon, so look out for that, and have a great holiday.

The Novel is DOOOOONE

 

finishednnovel

My spacepunk novel about drug cartels, alien narcotics and fanatic cults is complete at 113,000 words.

It’s the first adult novel I wrote in first-person, and it’s also the very novel where I put the characters first. I’ve always included character arcs and backgrounds, but this is the first time where the characters and their voices drove the story. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write another way. Whereas my last novel taught me about world-building and scene-setting, this one taught me so much about characterization and voice and agency. I learn with everything I write, and this one certainly has, too.

I wrote the novel I wanted to write. It took six months because of editing my other work and restructuring, but it’s done and I love the end result. It’s gonna need edits, and beta-readers. But I haz another novel and I am very excited about it. I almost didn’t want to finish it, because I love these people and this world so much, but that’s what a dozen rewrites and rounds of edits are for.

But for now it’s done and I hope to bring it to you guys someday.

Progess Report: 2017

So 2017 has been busy in a lot of ways. We’re already one month down and halfway into the next. Could thing is I’ve kept pretty busy.

I’ve seen a number of films this Oscar season, including La La Land, Lion, Split, Hackshaw Ridge, Arrrival, (loved them all) Passengers, Live By Night, Nocturnal Animals (didn’t think too much of ’em) and read a few books here and there, including Stephanie Garber’s fabulous Caraval. But I’ve been pretty busy with my own work, including the space opera/murder mystery that’s been eating up my creative time since April 2016. I got further feedback from narrators that required some major structural edits in the first crucial third of the novel, which cut a pile of pages and unnecessary words and made the novel much sharper. It’s in the absolute final polish now with the query and synopsis being written and polished in tandem. I’m incredibly happy with it and hope that it finds a home.

But then it’s back to my other novel, which I halted at 50k to edit this previous one. I haven’t written many shorts in this time, which is going to change once I get some novel work done. Although I do have a (great) part time job, earning some dough from fiction never gets old, and so sketching up a cool cool 4,000 words at pro rates is something I’d like to do. Plus it gives me a great chance to experiment with areas I’m weak with or themes and characters I’d like to explore but not willing to donate an entire novel to. So I’m doing that soon.

But something pretty cool is coming: just a week ago I interviewed Colin Gibson for StarShipSofa. Name sound unfamiliar? But you know his work: he was the head production designer for Mad Max: Fury Road. The man designed and built the weapons, the sets, the look, the aesthetic, and all 150 cars for the film. He also got to work on the background, the storyline and the world-building for one of the most striking and critically acclaimed documentaries films ever put to screen. This guy won an Oscar for his work, beating out Bridge of Spies, The Revenant, and the Martian. 

I’ve met him a number of times in person outside of my work for StarShipSofa and spoken to him at length about Fury Road and the industry (and got shown a few things related to the film that I can’t actually reveal or talk about). I told him about the podcast and he agreed to be interviewed. So I interviewed him about this fantastic, insane monstrous of a motion picture and how he helped bring it to life in all it’s Australian glory. It’s going to be out soon and I do hope you’ll check it out then!

Yearly Round up and arbitrary award eligibility

Say one thing about 2016: it’s been one interesting year. I graduated from university (still haven’t found a job in my field, though) officially moved into my own apartment, and started really living on my own accord. It was also the year where I trudged through the last 1/3 of a novel hating every word of it, splashed out on a 125k epic space opera (currently on draft 8 of it) and wrote 45k of a new month within one month. Not bad, I think. I managed this partially because I’m only working three days a week (my current job is a laborer, so work begins and ends at the jobsite). Between cooking, cleaning, housework and General Life Nonsense, writing is what I do. I don’t get up and watch films or play games on my days off, although I very well could. But I sifted through more than 200,000 words in novels alone this year because I made myself have a schedule and I stuck to it, vicariously. ADHD doesn’t make that easy, but sometimes you have to shove a 12-guage in its mouth, pull the trigger and get back to work. And work I did.

From this point on it’s safe to say that novels will be my focus. The sort of material I want to write and my style of writing just doesn’t jive with the shorter form. Short fiction is economic, tight and demanding, and the top markets even more so (along with finicky and very specific in what they want. Quality is top notch, some of the best SF/F material you’ll find. It’s just not what I’m writing), and novels give you that 100,000 words of leg-stretching smoothness and room to write a character arc worthy of a HBO show (looking at you, Boardwalk Empire). I’ll still be writing short stories, but they’ll be quick desserts between the main meal that is a 130k word chiwawa killer.

It’s also the year that I didn’t sell many original short stories. I had quite a few published from 2015 sales, most noticeably one story that was reprinted six times, including in audio, in Flame Tree Press’s Dystopia Utopia hardback anthology, and in China’s SF World magazine. But I got my first anthology invitation, which netted me my longest sale at 7,000 words, which is also my first non-flash, original pro sale.

In 2014 and 2015, I’d churn out a swathe of so-so stories and scattershot them until I got a sale. This year I’ve been deadshotting each one: didn’t have many sales, but almost all were neither to major venues and projects or at pro rates. Pretty happy there.

 

Anyway: this is what I had out:

FICTION:

 

The Galaxy’s Cube – published in print at Abyss & Apex and in audio at The Overcast.

Walls of Nigeria – published in Nature

Skies of Sand and Steel published in Fantasy Scroll Magazine

The Bronze Gods – published in Dimension 6 (website appears to not be working?)

Last Age of Kings – published in audio at Fantasy Scroll Magazine

(All are short stories)

NONFICTION:

We’re Going Places – published in Lightspeed’s People of Colour Destroy Science Fiction

Five Slavic SFF Novels You Should Have On Your Shelves published at Tor.com

 


I’m also eligible for the John W. Campbell Award and for the Hugo and Nebula Awards. And of course, as an editor the podcast I edit, StarShipSofa, is up for Best Fancast at the Hugos. If any of these strike your fancy, you’re more than welcome to throw my dottings on your ballot pile.

Onto next year!

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