Blogs

Hidden Gems podcast interview

Craig Tuch and Roland Hulme of Hidden Gems Books interview me here on their "Fully Booked" podcast for authors about "Untangling the Complexities of Short Story Rights." Here's the teaser:

Just as writing short stories is very different to writing novels, there’s a lot more to selling them as well. Generally, a short story is sold for a fixed amount to a publisher, meaning you don’t get ongoing royalties – but if you do things properly, you can have the opportunity to sell that same story to other publishers again and again.

The most important thing is to understand all your rights. That way, you can only sell which rights are strictly necessary to each publisher, while ensuring that at some point most of these rights revert back to you. Multi-award-winning author Douglas Smith is an expert in this subject, having written extensively on how authors can maximize the value of their short story rights. Today, he sits down with Craig and Roland to go through everything you need to know on the subject: From understanding the different markets, to the format you’re selling in, to the various dimensions of rights that need to be considered like geography, language and occurrence.

By following Douglas’ advice, authors can maximize the reach of their stories as well as their earnings, ensuring that each one has the potential to bring in income for years to come.

If you're a writer interested in this subject, give the interview a listen here. If you want to know more, I cover all of this and much more in my writer's guide, Playing the Short Game: How to Market Sell Short Fiction.

Another great review for The Crystal Key

The Crystal Key, book 2 in my YA / adult crossover urban fantasy trilogy, The Dream Rider Saga, continues to garner critical praise. The latest is from Kirkus Reviews. Some highlights:

"The author’s sequel to the excellent The Hollow Boys (2022) ups the ante for adventure and suspense and continues to deftly fuse superhero and fantasy tropes. The trio of protagonists have relatable inner struggles and compelling story arcs that work well both independently and when woven into the overarching storyline of Will’s parents’ fateful expedition. Smith excels at strong action sequences, worldbuilding (introducing engaging new characters and the concept of the multiverse), and humorous dialogue. …There is plenty here to entice readers to return for the grand finale. A fun and engrossing superhero sequel."

Kirkus Reviews

You can read the entire review here. The Crystal Key is available from all major retailers, and if you haven't yet read the first book in the series, The Hollow Boys, you can find it here.

Wait…I have "Hallmarks"? The Crystal Key an "Editor's Pick"

The Crystal Key coverThe Crystal Key, book 2 in my new YA urban fantasy trilogy, The Dream Rider Saga, has just been selected by BookLife as an Editor's Pick.

BookLife also made The Hollow Boys, book 1 in the trilogy, an Editor's Pick. So they're loving the series so far. You can read the entire review on BookLife, but here are some highlights:

"The richly inventive Dream Rider adventure continues in this second appealing entry, pushing the young heroes of Smith’s epic YA series to face new realms, old villains, wild dangers, and, most terrifying of all, the truths of their pasts."

Epic! Very nice, but then we have this next bit (italics are mine):

"Smith deftly blends ongoing tensions between these characters…with an exciting plot… always enlivened by the Smith hallmarks of crack dialogue, fun sleuthing and puzzle-solving, a strong throughline of emotion, a swift pace…and a principled refusal to settle for the familiar."

Wait. I have "hallmarks" in my writing? Okay, now that is cool. Please, do go on…

"Be ready for memorable beasts, weird magic, and fantasy worlds that are truly fantastic… For all the wonders, though, the series is also compellingly engaged in Toronto street life and its characters’ very human hearts. New readers should start with book one. Takeaway: This thrilling superpowered urban fantasy series continues to grip." —BookLife (Editor's Pick)

"Editor Pick" reviews by BookLife appear in Publisher's Weekly, the main trade magazine for the publishing industry, and in BookList, the journal of the American Library Association.

You can buy The Crystal Key here, and if you haven't read it yet, the first book in the series, The Hollow Boys here.

B&N picks The Crystal Key as a "Top Indie Favorite"

B&N Top Indie FavoritesBarnes & Noble has selected my new book, The Crystal Key: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 2, as one of it's recommended titles in its Top Indie Favorites collection for April - May 2023, under their "Teens & YA" category.

Last fall, they made the same recommendation for The Hollow Boys, the first book in the trilogy, when it was released. Thanks for the love, B&N!

You can find The Crystal Key at B&N for their Nook reader and in print by clicking on the image at the right, and at all major book retailers by clicking here.

Full workshop series for Playing the Short Game in May

I'll be giving my entire three workshop series covering my writer's guide, Playing the Short Game, for the Markham Public Library in May.

Each workshop will be presented online via Zoom. Attendance is free, but you need to register ahead of time, and attendance is capped.

Here are the dates and registration links for the series:

Workshop #1 (May 4, 2023, 7:00-9:00pm): Topics covered include the benefits of writing short fiction, avoiding traps for the beginner, understanding rights and licensing for short fiction, finding short fiction markets, selecting the right market for your story, submitting short fiction to a market, what not to do when submitting, what to do after submitting

Workshop #2 (May 11, 2023, 7:00-9:00pm): Topics covered include understanding how editors and slush piles work, why editors choose or reject stories, what to look (and look out) for in short fiction contracts, and how to ask for changes, how to work with an editor during the editing process for your story, how to handle rejections and reviews, how much promotion is reasonable when you sell a story, cool things that might happen: Awards, “best of” anthologies…and even movies

Workshop #3 (May 25, 2023, 7:00-9:00pm): Topics covered include leveraging your backlist, selling reprints, selling in foreign languages, selling audio rights, publishing a collection, the indie option for short fiction, discoverability tools and promotion for established writers, career progression in short fiction

Hope to see you there!

"Scream Angel" published in Romanian magazine, Helion

Helion magazine coverMy Aurora-award-winning story, "Scream Angel," has been translated and published in the Romanian magazine, Helion. This is my second translation into Romanian (and for this story, too) and comes with this very cool cover.

If you're able to read Romanian, you can read the translation here.

"Scream Angel" first appeared in the anthology Low Port from Meisha Merlin in 2003, and won the Aurora Award the following year for best speculative short fiction. It remains one of my favourite stories and one a lot of fans cite as their favourite of my SF tales.

"Scream Angel" has been translated into thirteen languages and is the opening story in my collection, Chimerascope. It's also available as a stand-alone ebook.

Two new interviews

A couple of recent interviews are now up and available, if you're interested:

Re-Creative podcast interview — Fellow writers Joe Mahoney and Mark Rayner and I discuss one of my favourite paintings, which has a connection to a favourite writer, on their Re-Creative podcast.

New in Books Interview — New in Books interviews me on my new release, The Crystal Key, and on writing in general.

Enjoy!

Nominations now open for the 2023 Aurora Awards!

The Hollow Boys coverThe nomination period is now open for the 2023 Aurora Awards, recognizing the best of Canadian SF & Fantasy published in 2022.

This year, I have two works that are eligible to be nominated:

  • The Hollow Boys: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1 is eligible under "Best YA Novel"
  • "Gypsy Biker's Coming Home" is eligible under "Best Novelette / Novella"

Any Canadian citizen or permanent resident may nominate for the Auroras. If that's you, I'd truly appreciate any consideration you'd give to nominating me.

I explain how to nominate below, but first, let me talk up my two works, because I'm very proud of them, and both have received a lot of critical notice.

The Hollow Boys: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 1

This first book in my new trilogy has received universal praise, sitting at between 4.8 and 5.0 stars on all the major retailers plus garnering great reviews from top book review sites:

"This arresting series kickoff from Smith grips from the start as it introduces its inventive milieu, its flawed but fantastically powered hero, its playful worldbuilding, and a host of tantalizing mysteries. … Takeaway: Thrilling YA fantasy." —BookLife (Editor's Pick)

"An assured, confident novel with strong world-building, sharp dialogue and the perfect balance between action and emotional growth for its main characters. … In short, this is a must-read story for YA fantasy fans." Blueink Review ( Starred review)

"Inventive, engaging, and boundless fun. … I enjoyed The Hollow Boys a great deal, turning pages long after I should have been abed. Smith has produced the best Canadian superhero adventure since James Alan Gardner's Dark vs. Spark novels." The Ottawa Review of Books

If you haven't read The Hollow Boys but would like to, here are some options.

  • You can read the first four chapters for free here.
  • I am also offering a discount from my website store here. Use the coupon code "AURORAS23" at checkout to get the ebook for $0.99 (Regular $4.99 US). Note: this coupon expires when the nomination period ends April 22 and is restricted to the first 100 downloads.

"Gypsy Biker's Coming Home"

The story has also received recent recognition. It's currently a finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards under the "Fiction" category, as I wrote about earlier. So, yeah, it's a good story. Thanks to the same Alberta Magazine Awards, the story is available to read online.

How to Nominate in the Auroras

To nominate, you need to register to be a member of the CSFFA (Canadian SF & Fantasy Association). Go here and click on "Not a Member Yet?" to register for 2023.

Fill out your name, email, and home province, then select a username and password for the site. NOTE: one weirdness with this form—you'll find the first box to enter your password is filled with black dots. To get rid of them, just click in the box, then hold down your "DELETE" key until they all disappear. Then enter your password in that box and in the one below to verify it.

Registration costs $10 CAD, but this allows you to both nominate (this step) and vote on the final ballot. Not much to pay, imo, to support Canadian SF & fantasy.

Once you're logged in, click on the "Pay Membership Fee with PayPal" button at the bottom to be taken to a PayPal screen. Don't use PayPal? You'll have the option to pay by debit or credit.

You'll then be taken back to the Awards site. Click on "Log in" under "You Are A Member?" then enter your brand new username (or email) and password. You'll then be on the Aurora Awards main page. Select "Nominate" from the middle of the screen to access the online nomination form.

You can nominate up to five works in each category, but you don't need to nominate in every category or that many in any category.

To nominate a work, just click on one of the boxes under the category and select the appropriate title of the work you wish to nominate from the dropdown list of eligible works. Click on the "Update nominations" button for the category, then move to your next category.

The Hollow Boys is eligible under "Best YA Novel" and "Gypsy Biker's Coming Home" is eligible under "Best Novelette / Novella."

The nomination period closes at 11:59 pm on Saturday, April 22, 2023.

Thanks again for any consideration you give to nominating my writing!

"Gypsy Biker's Coming Home" is an Award Finalist

On Spec #120 coverWell, this is cool. My SF short story, "Gypsy Biker's Coming Home," is a finalist in the Alberta Magazine Awards in the "Fiction" category.

These are annual juried awards, administered by the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association (AMPA), which "honour and celebrate the work of magazine makers – the editors, art directors, writers, photographers, illustrators, and other creators" in Alberta. Here's a link to the full 2022/23 ballot.

"Gypsy Biker's Coming Home" first appeared in On Spec, the excellent, long-running Alberta-based Canadian speculative fiction magazine, in their July 2022 issue (cover shown here). On Spec also has another story on the ballot: "Bottom's Dream" by Glenn Clifton. So a big congrats to On Spec (and Glenn).

Even better, you can read all of the stories on the ballot online. The AMPA has made PDFs of the finalists available on their website. You can read "Gypsy Biker's Coming Home" here. For the Canadians out there, this is probably a good time to mention "Gypsy Biker" is eligible to be nominated for the 2023 Aurora Awards.

Enjoy!

PS—A big thanks to Diane Walton, Executive Editor, and everyone at On Spec, for publishing "Gypsy Biker." This was my fourth appearance in On Spec. Those four stories have resulted in an Aurora Award winner, an Aurora finalist, and now this. 

And a shout-out to Susan MacGregor, who edited "Gypsy Biker" and also edited another On Spec story of mine, "The Walker of the Shifting Borderland," which won an Aurora. I have another story coming out in On Spec in 2023. Guess who I want to edit that one?

Please share! The Crystal Key has been released!

The Crystal Key coverToday is the day! March 15!

The Crystal Key, book 2 in my new urban fantasy trilogy, The Dream Rider Saga, and the sequel to The Hollow Boys, released today on all major retailers around the world. If you pre-ordered the ebook, it will appear on your reader today.

If you've been waiting until today to purchase, you can buy The Crystal Key on Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, and many more retailers. Click on the link below, then select your preferred site. You'll be taken to that retailer's store in your home geography:
 
 
The book is available in ebook, trade paperback, and hardcover editions from multiple retailers. If you want to support your local bookstore, ask them to order the paperback or hardcover from Ingram (the major book distributor to bookstores).

Barnes & Noble has selected The Crystal Key for their "Top Indie Favorites" list for their spring promotions, under the Teen-YA category, a pick supported by early editorial reviews, as well as reader reviews:

Amazon: 5.0
BookBub: 4.9
Goodreads: 4.8
 
The release price of $2.99 USD will be increasing soon, so buy now before the price goes up! Still need to be convinced? You can read the first three chapters here before buying.
 
Also, The Dream Rider Saga is one large mystery, one single story, told over the course of three books, with each book building on what went before. That means if you want to enjoy The Crystal Key, you first need to read The Hollow Boys.
 
To celebrate the release of The Crystal Key, I'm running a one-day sale, today only, where you can buy The Hollow Boys for only $2.99 (reg. $4.99), from any of Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Apple, or Google Play. Click here and select one of those five. Remember: today (March 15) only. You can read the first four chapters of The Hollow Boys here for free before buying.

I'd appreciate any support you can give to spreading the word about The Crystal Key. Feel free to share this post with your friends and fellow readers.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give with making people aware of the book.

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