douglassmith's blog

Convention appearance: Limestone Genre Expo, Kingston

Limestone Genre Expo logoI'll be attending the 2018 Limestone Genre Expo in Kingston, Ontario on May 26-28 (Sat-Sun). I'll be giving a workshop on marketing and selling short fiction, participating on panels, and selling and signing my books. 

Limestone Genre is a fun con that has quickly grown from a part-day event to a full weekend in just a few years. Unlike many genre conventions that focus on visual media, this expo has a clear literary focus and consciously caters to actual (gasp) book readers. Like you, or you wouldn't be here, right? 

From the website: "The Expo is a two-day literary event, celebrating the best in Canadian genre fiction. We offer panel discussions, workshops, readings, pitch sessions, a large vendor area, and many opportunities to interact with our attending authors, editor and publishers.​"

Kingston is a pretty town and this is a great time of year to be there. I hope you'll mark this expo in your calendar. 

Reading in Toronto on May 8: Parliament branch library

I'll be reading as the special guest at the Open Mic programme at the Parliament branch library in Toronto on Tuesday, May 8 in the evening. There will be a number of short readings starting at 6:30p, and then I'll read up to 8pm. I'll also be selling my books at discounted prices and signing. If you're in the area, I hope you'll drop by or tell some friends.

Details:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018
6:30-8:00 pm
Toronto Public Library
269 Gerrard Street E.
Toronto

Writing workshop (short notice)

Playing the Short Game coverFor Toronto-area peeps: I'm giving a 2-hr workshop on marketing & selling short fiction at the Albert Campbell branch library tomorrow from 1-3pm. The workshop is taken from the first part of my Playing the Short Game book and covers the benefits of writing short fiction, rights and licensing, a strategy for marketing your short fiction, how to find markets, how to select the best markets, how to submit, the no-nos of submitting, and much more. 

If you're a short fiction writer or if you know someone who is, please spread the word.

Details:

Friday April 13, 1-3pm
Albert Campbell branch
Toronto Public Libraries
496 Birchmount Road
Toronto
 
Cost: $20, which includes a copy of the book

Thanks.

The Creative Penn interview: How to Make Money Selling Short Fiction

YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYIf you're a writer as well as a reader, you'll be interested in this. NY Times and USA Today best-selling author, Joanna Penn, recently interviewed me on her webcast / podcast, The Creative Penn, about my guide for writers, Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction. Much of the discussion focused on how writers can make money from a short fiction career or by adding short fiction to a novel career.

The interview covers a lot of topics, including:

  • The differences between short stories, novellas, novelettes and novels
  • How to know the ‘size' of an idea – whether it's a novel or a shorter piece
  • Finding good markets for short fiction
  • Submitting short fiction vs. publishing it indie
  • How to track submissions and why it's so important
  • Has the magazine market been disrupted the way the book industry has?
  • On rights, including language and territory
  • The audio market for short fiction

You can watch the video interview, listen to the podcast or read the transcript here

Playing the Short Game is available in both trade paperback and as an ebook from all major retailers

"Out of the Light" reprinted in Black Infinity

Black Infinity #2My urban fantasy shapeshifter story, "Out of the Light," has been reprinted in issue #2 of Black Infinity. The theme for this issue was "Blobs, Globs, Slime, and Spores." Check out the great retro cover at the right.

"Out of the Light" first appeared in Dark Wisdom Magazine (#11) in 2007. It was nominated for an Aurora Award, but as I had another story on the ballot that year, I asked for it to be removed from the ballot so I wouldn't compete with myself. 

Black Infinity #2 is available now on Amazon and will be available shortly on Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and other ebook retailers. From the Amazon page:

Black Infinity #2 features 13 tales of blobs, globs, slime, and spores, plus a brief history of gunk and goo in SF magazines, movies, TV and comics; not to mention science fact, retro movie reviews and comics. 200 pages of slimy fun, with new stories by Rhys Hughes ("Swallowing the Amazon"), Gregory L. Norris ("The Tree Surgeon") and Marc Vun Kannon ("Boarding Party"). Plus Douglas Smith's "Out of the Light" and Kurt Newton's "The Old Mill."

I also had a story in the debut issue and will have a story in issue #3 as well, which will be the first time I've been published in three consecutive issues of any magazine. Very cool.

The Wolf at the End of the World: 50% off at Kobo

The Wolf at the End of the WorldMy novel, The Wolf at the End of the World is on sale Dec 7-11 at Kobo. Use the gift code GIFT50.

The Wolf is set in my Heroka universe and continues the story begun in my award-winning short story, "Spirit Dance." My other Heroka short stories include "A Bird in the Hand" and "Dream Flight." And yes, more Heroka books are planned.

The Wolf at the End of the World is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on Kobo and 4.3 on Amazon and Goodreads. Yeah, it's good.

So check out the Kobo sale for a chance to pick up The Wolf at a great price. 

Aurora bundle spotlight: Far-Seer by Robert J. Sawyer

Far-Seer CoverThis post wraps up my spotlight series on the current ebook bundle of winners and finalists for Canada's Aurora Award. For this last entry, we have an essay by Canada's Dean of Science Fiction, the multi-award winning, Robert J. Sawyer. In it, Rob discusses how his title in the bundle, Far-Seer, grew from a standalone novel to become the first book in the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy.

(The following essay originally appeared in the premiere issue of The Crystal Tower, the SF newsletter published by New English Library.) 

Copyright © 1995 by Robert J. Sawyer. All Rights Reserved

Far-Seer, which is now volume one of the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy, was originally written as a standalone science-fiction novel, and I sent the manuscript to my agent with trepidation. After all, I was asking him to sell a book that had not one single human being in it. Would an audience identify with the characters I'd created?

To my delight, my agent loved Far-Seer — but said that the milieu I'd created deserved an entire series, not just a single book. All well and good — except I hate series, much preferring to write standalone novels. But my agent kept pushing, and so I set about deciding what I would insist upon in creating a series of my own.

First, I told him I would do no more than three books, with a final, conclusive, overall ending. But more than that, each book would be a legitimate standalone novel (as Far-Seer already was), with its own real conclusion, rather than a cliffhanger ending. And I would use a different narrative technique in each novel, so that they would present fresh creative challenges for me.

Far-Seer was the story of Afsan, an intelligent dinosaur who was his race's counterpart of Galileo. For the second book, I decided to tackle a dinosaurian Darwin, and in the third, a saurian Sigmund Freud. And as I had in Far-Seer, I would up the stakes: for Afsan, discovering the true arrangement of the heavens was not just of scientific interest, but rather a life-or-death issue for his entire world. In the second book (eventually entitled Fossil Hunter), I would make the discovery of evolution much more difficult by positing a fossil record that seemed to prove rather than refute divine creation. And in the final volume (Foreigner), I would make psychoanalysis — of Afsan — key to avoiding the extinction of my dinosaurian race.

I'd done things in Far-Seer I never would have if I'd known it was going to be volume one of a series (most notably, I'd blinded one of my principals and made it impossible for my reptilian characters to lie). But I decided not to go back and change those things: they were appropriate for Far-Seer, and I wouldn't dull its edge simply to make the sequels simpler to write.

The Galileo-Darwin-Freud model suggested moving the action ahead by decades between each volume. Getting to revisit characters I'd first portrayed in their youth again at middle age and then near death appealed to me greatly. As for finding a different narrative voice for each book, the extended timeframe took care of that. As The New York Review of Science Fiction noted:

Sawyer evolves his very style of writing across the trilogy — the first a straight linear exposition, the second alternating story lines between chapters, the third deftly juggling four different story lines within each chapter — a strategy which nicely mirrors the writing styles of the linear Renaissance, dialectic 19th century, and the multi-perspectival 20th, or the milieus of Galileo, Darwin, and Freud on Earth.

Looking back on the finished Quintaglio Ascension trilogy, I am indeed glad that my agent twisted my arm this once. But I do wish I could get him to stop talking about what I should do for my next series...

~~~

And a short bio for Rob:

Robert J. Sawyer — called "the dean of Canadian science fiction" by The Ottawa Citizen and "just about the best science-fiction writer out there these days" by The Denver Rocky Mountain News — is one of only eight writers in history (and the only Canadian) to win all three of the science-fiction field's top honors for best novel of the year:

  • the World Science Fiction Society's Hugo Award, which he won in 2003 for his novel Hominids;

  • the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America'sNebula Award, which he won in 1996 for his novel The Terminal Experiment; and,

  • the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, which he won in 2006 for his novel Mindscan.

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from now until November 30 at midnight.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Destiny's Fall

DestinysFallCoverNext up in my spotlight series on the current ebook bundle of winners and finalists for Canada's Aurora Award, is an interview with Marie Bilodeau discussing her novel, Destiny's Fall.

Destiny's Fall, the second book in Marie's Destiny Trilogy, begins five years after Destiny's Blood. In this SF space adventure with a feel of myth and legend, Layela is again in danger, this time from both the ruling empire and a usurper within her own world of Mirial. Here's the interview with Marie:

1. Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

I’d say that my favourite character is Captain Avienne Malavant. She’s insane, unpredictable, and yet very loyal to those she considers family. In this book, she’s found her own way and is busy forging her own quirky family, all under the long shadow still cast by her life on the Destiny.

Plus, she likes throwing knives, which just isn’t that advisable, and drinks more than she should, all while captaining her own rusty spaceship. How could I not love her best?

2. Is there something in this book that you consider to be particularly Canadian or that Canadians would relate to or recognize in terms of sensibilities, world view, societal beliefs, etc.?

I realize this is more along Canadian idealism than the reality reflected across our large wintry country, but accepting other’s beliefs and backgrounds as part of what they bring that’s unique and special to a place, as opposed to expecting them to just become like everybody else.

Early on, Avienne rescues a Slont, a very different race from her own. He doesn’t bring special powers to the equation, nor does he really have special knowledge. But he has heart, and is willing to fight for what he believes in, and for her, that’s enough.

I like to believe that most in Canada are not hoping to “melt in” all other cultures (whatever the hell Canadian culture itself might be), but that we can find common footing among all of our differences, and move forward together.

3. What's your strongest memory about writing this book?

It’s not about the book itself so much as the writing of it. I was having such a hard time finishing it up. I couldn’t find enough time, or motivation, or headspace. Eventually, I found a free weekend, from Friday evening to Monday about noon.  I booked a convent near Montreal (an ideal TV and Internet free retreat!), and I hid there.  In that time, I don’t think I slept. I remember wandering the dark halls in the wee hours of the morning looking for some form of caffeine.  I would hear the morning prayer chants traveling through the heaters, and I hadn’t slept yet.  I’d try to get some sleep but the story demanded, begged to be written. So I wrote.  A lot.

That weekend, I wrote 45,000 words, and finished the book.  It needed lots of love, but it was done. I’ve never replicated that level of productivity (insanity?), nor do I know if I could. Or would want to. Took a while for my brain to click back into “real world mode.” But I got it done, which is what mattered.

4. When did you know you'd be writing this story as a series? When you began the first book? During the first book? After the first book was finished?

The first book in the series, Destiny’s Blood, had a very final epilogue. My editor, Gabrielle Harbowy, asked me to rewrite, saying the readers wanted to get the chance to imagine the future of the characters. I loved that idea, so I rewrote.  Then, a few months later, Gabrielle asked for a couple more books in the series.

There was certainly more story to mine (there still is!), so I kept on mining. I have more ideas for Destiny, which someday may see the light of day. There are many more songs to be written in this fast-paced space opera world.

5. The Destiny series was translated into French, which is your mother tongue, so you actually got to read it.  Did you translate it yourself?  And what were some of the noted differences between the two books?

It’s a treat to have them in French, especially by a great editor like Les Éditions Alire.  I didn’t translate them myself, but they were translated by the amazing Élisabeth Vonarburg.  It was an amazing process. Élisabeth, who’s a celebrated novelist (if you don’t know her, you need to change that immediately. She’s a force of Canadian SF, and many of her titles are available in English).  She was tough, and it was like going through the editing process all over again, but (I dare say), the French books are better because of it. I was early on in my career, after all, and some of the mistakes were fixed by her eagle eye.

The title changes were fun, too.  In English, we focus (and play on the double entendre) of Destiny, which is actually the first ship. In French, the editor asked that we focus on Mirial, which is the mystical First Star of which Layela Delamores becomes Keeper, and is the main focus of all three books.

The French versions were picked up all at once, after all, so they saw the length of the series, and marketed accordingly.  Different than in their original English versions, where book 1 was out before book 2 was even under contract.

And a short bio for Marie:

Marie was born in Montreal (Canada) to a family with nomadic tendencies. As a result her childhood was spent roaming from town to town in Eastern Ontario. In 1996 she roamed further west in the province, attending Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. Along with earning a Bachelor's Degree in Religion and Culture with a minor in Archaeology (fields she has never once come close to working in, although they do come in handy for plot development), she also served two terms as President of the school's Science Fiction and Fantasy Club, an honor that she will never live down. Not that she cares to.

When not writing fantasy novels, Marie can be found engaged in the act of storytelling in any location where two or more people have gathered. She tells mostly original stories of her own creation or adaptations of fairy tales and myths. Visit her official website at www.mariebilodeau.com.

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from now until November 30 at midnight.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Steel Whispers

Steel Whispers CoverI continue my series of posts spotlighting the current ebook bundle of winners and finalists for Canada's premier speculative fiction award, the Aurora Award. Today we have an interview with Hayden Trenholm talking about his novel Steel Whispers, the second book in The Steele Chronicles trilogy.

Steel Whispers combines classic noir with near-future science fiction in this police procedural tale of a series of murders in a society increasingly divided by evolving cyborg and genetic technology.

1. Who is your favourite character in this book and why?

Like all the Frank Steele novels, this one is told from multiple points of view; Frank in first person, all the rest in third. It would be easy to say that Frank is my favourite—after all, I wrote three books about him.

However, I have a real affection for Buzz Wannamaker, the Aboriginal cyborg from northern Alberta. He has a teasing sense of humour and is the closest thing to an action hero in the book (Frank is in his mid-fifties and badly out of shape). Buzz’s philosophy combines a strong sense of the social outsider with a deep desire to be part of something larger than himself. Much of this book is about what constitutes a family and Buzz, more than anyone else, understands that often the best families are ones we build ourselves.

2. What's your favourite relationship between two characters in this book and why?

My favourite relationship is between Frank and his dead son. No spoiler alert there, as Frank discovers his son’s body at a crime scene in the first chapter. His gradual discovery of who his son was and why he was the way he was drives the entire action of the book. Suffice to say, by the end Frank knows Joshua better than most father’s ever know their sons and in ways that almost no one can imagine.

3. Is there something in this book that you consider to be particularly Canadian or that Canadians would relate to or recognize in terms of sensibilities, world view, societal beliefs, etc.?

The setting of course is purely Canadian in the city of Calgary and the country that surrounds it. Beyond that, a lot of the themes have to do with fairness and social justice, a belief that a society where everyone has a chance—and not just the rich—is a better place for everyone. The book is also very much about how you construct an inclusive society, rather than one that only works for those in the privileged class.

4. When did you know you'd be writing this story as a series? When you began the first book? During the first book? After the first book was finished?

I call the Steele Chronicles my accidental trilogy. I had no intention of writing a second novel (let alone a third one) until my publisher asked me to take it on. As a result, Steel Whispers is as much of a stand-alone book as Defining Diana and, I think, can be read without knowing much of what happened in the first. While some characters, like Steele and Wannamaker are carryovers from the first book, most of the others are brand new or had very minor roles in book one. The same by the way can be said—up to a point—about book three, Stealing Home.

And a short bio for Hayden:

Hayden Trenholm is an award-winning playwright, novelist and short story writer. His short fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies and on CBC radio. His first novel, A Circle of Birds, won the 3-Day Novel Writing competition in 1993; it was recently translated and published in French. His trilogy, The Steele Chronicles (Defining Diana, Steel Whispers and Stealing Home), were each nominated for an Aurora Award. Stealing Home, the third book, was a finalist for the Sunburst Award.

Hayden has won four Aurora Awards – twice for short fiction and twice for editing anthologies. He purchased Bundoran Press in 2012 and is its managing editor. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and fellow writer, Elizabeth Westbrook-Trenholm.

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from now until November 30 at midnight.

Aurora bundle spotlight: Tesseracts14

Tesseracts 14 CoverNext in my spotlight series on the current ebook bundle of winners and finalists for Canada's premier speculative fiction award, the Aurora Award, is an interview with Brett Alexander Savory, who along with John Robert Colombo, edited the anthology, Tesseracts14.

The Tesseracts series of anthologies is Canada's longest running, year after year showcasing the best in Canadian speculative short fiction. Tesseracts14: Strange Canadian Stories is no exception, with 23 amazing tales from some of the brightest lights in Canadian genre fiction.

1. Aside from being excellent examples of Canadian spec fic, was there something specific as editors you were looking for when selecting stories for this antho? Or did a unifying theme or tone emerge as you assembled the stories?

I think a particular brand of strangeness emerged as we read, so we might have leaned in that direction, yeah. Hence the subtitle: Strange Canadian Stories.

2. What is your strongest memory from editing this anthology / assembling this collection?

I remember most that I thought John and I would diverge greatly in some respects with regard to what content would appeal to us for this antho, but we were on the same page entirely, so there was really no disagreement at all about what should be included.

3. Is there something in these stories that you consider to be particularly Canadian or that Canadians would relate to or recognize in terms of sensibilities, world view, societal beliefs, etc.?

I don't think there's anything particularly Canadian about the stories, no. I've never been all that interested in that aspect of things; I always just want the best stories I can find for any anthology or magazine I'm editing. Since the authors are all Canadian, I'm sure that sensibility is in there, regardless, but we didn't seek it out.

4. What music would be the ideal listening soundtrack for readers for this book?

Hmm, I dunno. Slayer is always a good bet for anything I'm involved in, so let's go with that. *laughs* ;-)

Here are short bios for Brett and John:

Mr. Colombo is the Toronto-based author and anthologist whose byline has appeared on over 200 books of quality. These range from volumes of poetry to compilations of quotations. Colombo has been variously dubbed: “The Master Gatherer” for his compilations of Canadiana; “John ‘Bartlett’ Colombo” for his ‘quote books; “Canada’s Mr. Mystery” for his collections of told-as-true ghost stories; and,“Superfan” for his pioneering interest in Canadian fantastic literature. John is a towering presence in Canadian letters, a member of the Order of Canada – Canada's equivalent of knighthood – and is Canada's premiere folklorist and collector and compiler of Canadiana, as well as a significant poet, broadcaster, editor, and publisher.

Brett Alexander Savory is the Bram Stoker Award-winning Editor-in-Chief of ChiZine: Treatments of Light and Shade in Words, Co-Publisher with Sandra Kasturi of ChiZine Publications (CZP), has had nearly 50 short stories published, written two novels and penned the foreword to Tesseracts Twelve. In 2006, Necro Publications released his horror-comedy novel The Distance Travelled. September 2007 saw the release of his dark literary novel In and Down through Brindle & Glass, and November brought his first short story collection, No Further Messages, released through Delirium Books. In the works are three more novels. When he's not writing, reading, or editing, he plays drums for a band that his wife wants him to call Magic Pussy. Acknowledged by Quill & Quire's "Best Books of the Year" list in 2007 for his novel In and Down, Brett lives in Toronto with his wife Sandra Kasturi, whose writing has been featured in previous Tesseracts anthologies.

Check out the bundle here for more information and details on each of the included titles. And remember, it's available for a very limited time only, from now until November 30 at midnight.

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