Blogs

Another New Story in On Spec

On Spec issue #124 coverI had another new short story published over the summer. My tale "Oregon Shooters" appeared in the wonderful Canadian speculative fiction magazine, On Spec, in their July issue.

This is my fifth appearance in On Spec. Prior appearances included an Aurora Award winner, an Aurora finalist, and a recent finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards for Fiction.

This story is a mash-up of a private eye yarn and an SF tale à la X-Files or MiB. It was written as a workshop exercise at a Master Class course put on by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. The goal of the exercise was to focus on setting. The place they took us to (for a wonderful lunch) for use as a setting in our stories was a seafood restaurant, popular with both locals and tourists on the Oregon coast.

Here the highlights of a review of the story in Amazing Stories:

“An unlicensed private eye is upset two people died while eating his favourite snack. He decides to help the restaurant owner out, since the authorities seem in no hurry. Odd, seemingly unconnected details begin to pile up. Then things get weird, really weird. ... I found this story quite entertaining. … Can this be the real reason H.P. Lovecraft was so terrified of sea food? I like to think so. Have the feeling he would wholeheartedly approve.”

—R. Graeme Cameron, Amazing Stories

You can order copies of the issue from On Spec.

Cover reveal for The Lost Expedition

Question mark symbolOooh! So exciting! (and if you can name the Wesley Snipes' movie that line came from, email me, and I'll enter your name in a draw for a free ebook of your choice).

Since The Hollow Boys just won the Aurora Award and The Crystal Key has been out for a few months, this seems like perfect time for a cover reveal of the third and final book in The Dream Rider Saga trilogy: The Lost Expedition.

Okay, technically, I've already revealed the cover, assuming any of you have checked out my online store or clicked through on the link in the back of The Crystal Key. I mean, The Lost Expedition has been available for pre-order for a while, with a release date of January 15, 2024.

But I've never done a formal cover reveal here, and this cover is so gorgeous, it deserves it. Deserves it so much that I'm not going to insult the cover by showing it in some little image scrunched up at the side of this post.

Nope, you get to see it in all its full-sized glory by clicking on the question mark image above or by going here. So, click way. I'll wait.

You back? Gorgeous, right? Jeff Brown is the cover artist for all of The Dream Rider titles, and I've loved each one he's done. But if I had to pick a favorite, it would be The Lost Expedition.

I provided a code earlier to get the first two books in the trilogy at a discount in my online store. If you also want to get a deal on The Lost Expedition, then you're best to pre-order it below from your favorite retailer. Its price will go up shortly after it comes out.

Pre-order The Lost Expedition

Use this code for 40% off The Hollow Boys or The Crystal Key

Thanks to all who've sent congratulations for my Aurora Award win for The Hollow Boys: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1.

If you haven't yet read The Hollow Boys or its sequel, The Crystal Key, here's a special offer for my followers on this site to get 40% off on those titles in my online store. Just enter the following code at checkout to save 40% on either or both books.

88JU

Offer expires October 31, 2023. Enjoy!

Award, meet book. Book, meet award

2023 Aurora Award trophy and bookOoh! So exciting! Together at last!

Here is my 2023 Aurora Award for Best YA Novel alongside the book that won it, THE HOLLOW BOYS: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1

The Canadian SF & Fantasy Association, which administers the award, redesigned the trophy in 2020, and I must admit, I love the new look. Very classy.

Thanks again to all of you who nominated and voted for The Hollow Boys. Your support is much appreciated.

Click on the pic to see it full-sized.

Woo hoo! The Hollow Boys wins the Aurora Award!

The Hollow Boys coverI am thrilled to announce that on Saturday night, my novel, The Hollow Boys: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1, won Canada's Aurora Award for Best YA Novel. You can find the complete list of winners in all categories here.

The award ceremony took place online. I didn't attend because of a conflict, plus, I'll admit to being a tad superstitious about the Auroras. Any time I've attended in the past, I've lost, and the three times I've won, I did not attend, so now, going 4-for-4, I will likely be even more superstitious.

Canadian writer, Mark Leslie, was one of the hosts and was kind enough to read my acceptance speech for me:

Wow! Fantastic news. My apologies for not being virtually here to virtually accept the award in virtual person, but my granddaughter's band, Housewife, is playing at the Riverfest music festival, and this will be the first time I’ll get to see her perform live since the pandemic, and, well, she’s more important to me. Nothing personal.

However, to make up for my absence, Mark will perform a handstand while he reads my acceptance speech in a suitably enthusiastic manner. Go Mark!

Thanks to everyone who voted for The Hollow Boys. The response to this book has been very gratifying, but this is the best news yet. A special thanks to Cliff Samuels, the CSFFA, and everyone involved with the Aurora Awards who work so hard each year to ensure the awards are run smoothly, transparently, and fairly.

The Hollow Boys and The Dream Rider trilogy would not have been possible without the support and advice of the following people:

My writing critique group: Melissa Gold, Sue Witts, Rebecca Simkin, and Maaja Wentz

My Beta Readers: Ami Agner, Emily Bloch, Laura Rainbow Dragon, Kerstin Langer, and Daria Rydzaj

And my editors: Susan Forest and Adrienne Kerr

Again, thanks for voting for me. Okay, Mark. You can resume your normal vertical position. Or lie down. Up to you. Do your thing. And thanks for filling in for me.

As I said, this is my fourth Aurora, but the first for a book length work. All my earlier wins were for my short fiction, so this is especially exciting.

Thanks to any and all of you who nominated and voted for The Hollow Boys. Your support for the book and my writing means a lot to me.

The Hollow Boys and the rest of the trilogy are available for purchase from all major retailers.

Today's your last chance to get FREE Aurora Awards Voter Package

Hey, Canadian peeps. Today is the last day to register to vote in the 2023 Aurora Awards AND the last day to download the FREE Voter Package, containing all the nominated works. Last day to vote is July 29, but today your last chance to get the package of works.

All the info on how to register, download the package, and vote is in my earlier blog post here.

The Hollow Boys is on the Aurora Ballot!

The Hollow Boys cover and reviewsI am thrilled to announce that my urban fantasy novel, The Hollow Boys: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1, is a finalist for Canada's 2023 Aurora Awards for Best Young Adult Novel.

The Auroras are fan-voted awards recognizing the best of Canadian SF & Fantasy published the previous year. You can view the full 2023 ballot here.

Any Canadian citizen or permanent resident may vote for the Auroras. If that's you, I hope you'll consider voting for me.

Below, I explain how to vote, as well as how to download the Voter Package with your complimentary copy of all the nominated works.

 

How to Register to Vote

To vote, you must be a 2023 member of the Canadian SF & Fantasy Association, the body that administers the Auroras.

(If you nominated works for this year's awards, you're already registered and can skip this step. Just jump down to "How to Vote.")

To register for 2023, go here and click on "Not a Member Yet?"

Enter your info, then select a username and password. (If the password box contains black dots, hold down "DELETE" to clear the box, then enter a password.)

Registration costs $10 CAD, which lets you vote and download all the nominated works.

Registration closes at midnight July 22.

 

How to Vote

Log in to the Aurora Awards site, then go to the Member's Home page. From there, click on "Voting," which will take you to the live 2023 Aurora voting ballot.

The Auroras use a ranked voting method (more info here).

To vote, sort your choices from 1 (your favourite) to 5 (your least favourite), by dragging your selections with your mouse (or finger for touch screens).

Drag your choices above the voting line (the line that says, “No pick underneath this line will be counted”).

As you do this, your choice will display its ranking. If you make a mistake, just move your choice to a different position or back below the voting line.

You do not have to rank all nominated works in a category, and you do not have to vote in all categories.

However...

I hope you will at least vote for my novel, The Hollow Boys: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1, nominated under the category "Best Young Adult Novel." Here are some reasons to consider the book.

 

The Hollow Boys

The book has been widely praised by the top publishing review sites. You can see some review highlights in the graphic at the right and can read the full reviews here.

Readers agree, rating The Hollow Boys from 4.8 to 5 stars (out of 5) across the major retailers and book social media sites:

  • Amazon 4.8 ⭐
  • Barnes & Noble 5.0⭐
  • Kobo 4.8⭐
  • Apple 5.0⭐
  • Google Play 4.8⭐
  • BookBub 4.9⭐

Hopefully, you've read the book and agree with those reviews and ratings. If you haven't read it yet, read on to find out how to get it as part of the Voter Package.

 

Submitting Your Ballot

When you've ranked all your choices for the categories you’re interested in, click the “Send Ballot” button at the bottom of the form. This will lock and submit your selections.

Do NOT submit your ballot until all your selections are done. Unlike the nomination process, you will not be able to edit your ballot once submitted. Also, if you close your ballot before submitting it, your choices will be cleared and not saved, and you will have to start again.

In other words, don't start to vote until you know everything you wish to vote for and can complete your voting in one session.

Remember, for your ballot to count you must click the “Send Ballot” button at the bottom of the form. Voting closes at midnight on Thursday July 29.

 

The Voter Package

The Voter Package contains electronic versions of all nominated works, made available through the generosity of the nominees and publishers so that voters may read the nominated works and make an informed decision when voting.

You can download the Voter Package from the Member's Home page (or directly here). Access to the Voter Package closes at midnight July 22, the same day registration closes and a week before voting closes

~~~

Thanks for any consideration you might give to voting for The Hollow Boys. Regardless, thanks for being a fan and supporter of my writing.

For Writers: The 2023 Write Stuff Storybundle

Write Stuff bundle 2023Many people who follow me here are writers as well as readers. If that applies to you, you'll definitely want to keep reading.

Announcing The 2023 Write Stuff Bundle, brought to you by StoryBundle and curated by multi-award-winning author and editor, Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Here's Kris on why you should buy this bundle:

These days, anyone can write and publish a book. The rise of electronic books has made publishing easy and quick. However, not everyone can have a writing career.

Writing careers take patience and a willingness to learn. Writers must learn the basics of craft, which they've always needed to know. But now, writers also need to learn how to run a small business. They must also understand that at times, they'll have to try a few other things to keep their writing business afloat.

Through it all, they must maintain their enthusiasm and avoid pitfalls that have prevented promising writers from having actual careers.

This bundle helps with all of that and so much more.

For craft, look no farther than Darcy Pattison's Start Your Novel. That first book always takes a leap of faith. Darcy makes it easy, by breaking the process into six simple steps. Ron Collins gets even more specific with his latest nonfiction writing book, On Creating (And Celebrating) Characters.

Then we have the process books, such as the Bundle on Productivity. That lovely volume is a bundle within a bundle, all geared at helping writers become more productive. Inside the bundle within a bundle, you'll find four books and a lot of examples on how to be productive, even if you have health issues.

Of course, having a writing career assumes that writers make money at their craft. We have two books to help with that directly. Douglas Smith's Playing The Short Game on how to make money at writing short stories has become a classic in the field. Then there is an online workshop that will teach writers effective ways to increase their writing income, called How To Make More Than Coffee Money.

Publishers Weekly reviews The Hollow Boys

Another great review for The Hollow Boys: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1, this one from Publishers Weekly:

"Smith imbues this series opener with otherworldly intrigue, developing an elaborately layered plot via bouncy prose that capably shifts between the dream realm, with its monstrous inhabitants, and Will’s insular life. Depictions of close-knit relationships shine brightest throughout the novel, especially the familial bonds between Will and his parents and between Case and Fader, as well as the protagonists' budding romance." Publishers Weekly

The Hollow Boys is currently on sale at all major retailers (ebook edition) for just $0.99, but this sale ends on June 11.

Yet another excellent review for The Crystal Key

The Crystal Key coverThe latest praise for The Crystal Key: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 2 comes via fellow speculative fiction writer, Robert Runté, in the Ottawa Review of Books. Here are the highlights of the review:

"If you've already read The Hollow Boys, you don't need me to tell you to buy the sequel. … Smith surprised me again with The Crystal Key, tapping into my deep nostalgia for Saturday matinee serials. … Smith manages to update the genre with an ethnically diverse cast and strong female characters. Smith's take on superheroes and serials is both modern and original, but it recreates the same energy, the same yearning for superpowers, the same subconscious fear of dark places and boogeymen as the best stories of our own remembered youth. High adventure leavened with romance and mystery. …

[Smith] keeps things moving at a fast clip. No spoilers, so all I can say about the plot is that it involves the multiverse, astral travel, ancient cults, hypnotic powers, criminal gangs, private mercenaries, romance, and betrayal. …

Overall, great fun. While it is common for the middle of a novel, or the middle book of a trilogy, to drag a bit, that is definitely not the case here. The Crystal Key has everything that made The Hollow Boys work and turns it up a few notches. I can't wait for the conclusion in The Lost Expedition. "

Robert Runté, Ottawa Review of Books

The Crystal Key is available in ebook, trade paperback, and hardcover from all major retailers.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - blogs