Hugo Nominations 2015 – My thoughts

Before we get started, I’d like to clarify one or two things. Yes, I am aware of all the controversy that’s been going on this year. No, I did not get involved in it. I am not a member of WorldCon, and I did not vote. And quite honestly, the sort of books I read rarely, rarely get covered in the Hugos, with the exception of The Wind-Up Girl (which I loved) and A Song of Ice and Fire.

So, rather than name everything I disagreed with, I’m going to highlight the ones I thought worthy of being there. There’s enough negativity in the world, and I’d rather not get into pointless debates. I don’t have the time for that, and I’m here to have fun, not make enemies. Life is too short for that.

Anyway, the full list of awards is here, incase you wanted to check them out. Here are my highlights:

Abyss and Apex: Very well deserved. I’ve enjoyed almost every story I’ve read of theirs. They’re an exceptional magazine, publishing marvelous stories, and it’s great to see them on here.

Andromeda Space In-Flight Magazine: Now this one is excellent. Based down in the tiny corner of the world that is Australia, they’re one of the last surviving SF/F magazines down here that still publishes regularly in print. PRINT! Not to mention that they have one of the best submission systems I’ve seen for any magazine ever, and the high quality of their stories, their place on this list is very well deserved.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies: I adore this magazine. One of the few on the market that actually (consistently) publishes high/epic/medieval fantasy, their fiction is free to read online and pays their contributors very well. If I could get published by any venue, it would be this one. I’m a fan and always will be.

Anne Sowards: She’s the acquisitions editor for Ace and Roc/Penguin, and she’s brilliant. She edits a colossal range of marvelous books and series and it’s great to see her on this list. Picking what books to publish is no easy task, but she does it. A round of applause!

Black Gate: I’ve been a long-time reader of this publication, and although they no longer publish fiction, it’s still great to check them out and read up on fantasy news and the like. Glad to see them on here.

Laura J. Mixon: She’s only written one major piece that I’m aware of, but that alone makes her worthy of being on here. I won’t say more than that.

Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper”: It’s Game of Throne, what do you expect? If this doesn’t win I’ll take the black. I mean that half-seriously.

Almost everything on the Dramatic Presentation (long form) list: Guardians of the Galaxy, Edge of Tomorrow, Interstellar….great films. It’s going to be hard picking between them!

Anyway, that’s about it. I haven’t read any of the short stories, novelettes, novella, or novels on this list, something that’s seriously going to need to change! Otherwise, I’m more or less pleased with the works that I’ve noted. It will be interesting to see the outcome in August!

Work. And a lot of it.

I’ve been quite in the last few weeks, mainly because I’ve been very, very busy. I’m back at university for my final year, I’m writing a new novel (and sending queries for another), writing short stories, writing reviews, and going over editorial suggestions sent it by my fantastic editors. And then there’s StarShipSofa, which is a mountain of work, but one that I’m happy to do.

And this isn’t even taking into consideration all my university work, and boy, there’s a ton of it.

It’s almost ironic, really. I’m sitting in a “Creative Writing” lecture, listening to my teacher warble on about document writing, metafiction and the blurring of nonfiction and fiction through experimental prose and what have you, and I’m sitting with my friend/beta reader, exchanging feedback for novels and sending stories to magazines. By the time my teacher starts reading out from a “book”, I’m busy signing a contract and going over suggested edits made by one of my many editors.

I hate to say it, but writing and reading short stories (as well as novels, of course!), listening to podcasts and reading author blogs, has taught me more than any lecture ever has. And to top it off, this is all practical. Most of university content is not. I’m telling you now, no lecture has showed me how to write a query letter, or how to format a manuscript, or how to submit a short story. I learned that all on my own.

But long story short (heh) I’m ridiculously busy, and it’s killing me. The only reason I can even type this out is before I’m printing out pages of a reading that I have to do an assessment on. I’ve glanced at it, and I honestly want to cry. It baffles me that people can actually cook up this garbage, let alone think it’s so profound that we as students should study it. And this isn’t fiction. Oh no, that would be too easy. This is about film philosophy and film psychology, the incredibly dense stuff. It’s a bleeding nightmare.

And I just want it to be over.

So I’m going to go back to it now. This is my last year and I’m going to charge my way through it if I have to. But if I do happen to get an agent, I’d be willing to drop everything immediately and give it my all. It’s just getting to that point.

But until then, I’ll be suffering through this…

StarShipSofa SofaCon 2 Panel

So I just got off the Sofa Con 2 panel, chatting with the incredible Rachel Swirsky and Tony Smith about experimental fiction, science-fiction and fantasy, prose, poems, and more. It was fantastic, my first panel as an editor and writer ever, and it certainly won’t be the last. It was a great experience.

If you want to catch up, or see what else we’ve got lined up, check out the website here:

Thanks to everyone who joined in. Your questions were marvelous and I was so glad to be involved.

ANNOUNCEMENT: 2014 Aurealis Awards Shortlist


The finalists for the 2014 Aurealis Awards. A fantastic list, and definitely one you should check out. The SF/F community down here in Australia is ridiculously low, and each time a book is published it’s a giant risk. Do yourself (and them) a favour and pick these titles up and support the industry. :)

Originally posted on Aurealis Awards:

Aurealis Awards - Finalist - high res2014 Aurealis Awards finalists announced

Conflux Inc., organisers of the 2014 Aurealis Awards, are delighted to announce the finalists for the 2014 Aurealis Awards.

Judging Coordinator, Tehani Wessely, said that with over 750 entries across the twelve categories, the judges had a hugely challenging job.

“As is always the case, the judges agreed that entries were of a very high standard and the final decisions were subject to much debate among the panellists. The competition becomes stronger every year.

“The trend towards quality e-published fiction continued in 2014, with a high percentage of entries published this way. Both traditional publishing and the smaller presses are well represented in the shortlists, reflecting the general entry trend.

“We would like to thank all the judges for their time and effort judging of these awards.”

Winners of the 2014 Aurealis Awards and the Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be announced at the Aurealis…

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What’s next?

Things have been a little quite on the publishing front. Far quieter than I’d like. I haven’t sold much fiction in a while now. Almost fearing I’ve lost my touch. Of course, my energy has been focused primarily on my novel, which has received four partials and one full request to date (which I’m waiting to hear back on). And I’m targeting the pro/semi pro markets exclusively.

However, the nonfiction department has been pretty good. Really, really good. I recently sold to Strange Horizons and Grimdark Magazine in the form of reviews, and I have another review coming out from Fantasy Scroll Magazine in the near future, as well as writing up a article for Grimdark Magazine Issue #4. What about, may you ask? Well, that’s a secret. For now. But all shall be revealed soon enough.

In other news, after several months of holiday, I’m back at uni next week. Sigh. Two 13 week periods of essays, lectures, exams, notes, classes and more. Really exciting stuff. It is my final year, though. And if this whole thing with the agent goes well, I could even leave early and just write full time. That’s just a dream, of course. But it’s plausible.

My first novel had over 100+ rejections. No fulls, no partials, nothing but form rejections left right and center.

The very, very first query I sent out for this second novel received a partial request. Ultimately the agent said no, but it was still mind-blowing. And I’m not giving up. Not by a longshot.

I just hope you’re all there to see it through with me.

Interview: Mark Lawrence- What’s Next?


What’s next for one of fantasy’s brightest stars?

Originally posted on The Grimdark Review:

So word has it you’re becoming a full-time writer, are you excited at the prospect? Do you intend to stick with fantasy or write for other genres?

I’ve been writing a book and a bit a year for the past five years or so, and I’m not sure the change will make a huge difference … except I won’t have to cycle five miles to work whatever the weather and ‘do science’ during the day. I’ll probably just get fat and play more PS4.

I don’t plan much of anything. I generally only plan books when I want a publisher to buy them before they’re written, and then I tend never to look at the plan again. So saying what I intend to write in years to come is a tall order. Easier to say that I like variety, so I may well try a children’s book, or a science fiction book…

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StarShipSofa and Hugo nominations

So it’s time of year again when the awards season start opening up, allowing people to nominate stories, podcasts, films, magazines, what have you, for various awards. This time it’s the Hugo award, something that StarShipSofa won back in 2010.

Now, I obviously wasn’t editing the podcast at that point, but even today the thing is a big task to handle. We’re not a paying podcast, and we don’t profit either (in fact it actually costs me cash just for online storage to keep stories and recording safe). Not that it is about the money, of course, but it’s still a hell of a thing to manage, especially as I’m a full time student, have a part time job, and do my own writing in the meanwhile. There’s soliciting submissions, reading unsolicited submissions (you’d be surprised how many I get, and from big, big authors, too) getting the rights to the stories, contacting audio narrators, waiting for them to get back to me, listening to their recordings, working with them to improve their narrations, sorting out files, organizing each and every week’s line up, blah, blah, blah. First world problems and all that.

But you know what? I enjoy doing it. I really do, and I’ll continue to keep doing it for as long as I can.

So what’s the point of this? Well, if you are a listener of the podcast (and why wouldn’t you be?), and really enjoy the poetry, interviews, nonfiction, stories, articles, science news, and all that jazz that we have to offer, I’d encourage you to slot us in your Hugo ballot.

More details can be read here. I’m not legible to vote (I’m not sure if it’s very ethical, voting for the podcast you help run), but if you are, then please do vote for us, or anyone else who you feel deserves your vote. Be fair. There are some fantastic magazines out there, still running strong for decades.

But if you feel that we deserve your vote, then that’s cool as well. But foremost, my goal is to make this podcast the best it can be, for fans of science-fiction, by fans of science-fiction. To have big author, like the ones we’ve had on already such as Sanderson, Moorcock, Hamilton, Watts, Asher, Stross, Lindholm, Levine, Baker, Watson, Gaiman and dozens of others. To introduce new and fresh voices that have never hit big before. To give people countless hours of entertainment and take them to places that only science-fiction and fantasy can take them to.

That’s what I want to do. And I hope you’ll join me and the hundreds of others already on board.

– Jeremy Szal