Douglas Smith's blog

Nomination period opens for 2024 Aurora Awards

The Crystal Key coverThe nomination period is now open for the 2024 Aurora Awards, recognizing the best of Canadian SF & Fantasy published in 2023.

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

BEST YA NOVEL:

  • The Crystal Key: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 2

BEST SHORT STORY:

  • "If I Should Fall Behind" (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • "Oregon Shooters" (On Spec Magazine)

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 works, because all have received a lot of critical notice.

 

The Crystal Key: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 2

The sequel to The Hollow Boys, which won the Aurora Award last year. This second 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:

"Editor's Pick: The richly inventive Dream Rider adventure continues... always enlivened by the Smith hallmarks of crack dialogue, fun sleuthing and puzzle-solving, a strong through-line of emotion, a swift pace…and a principled refusal to settle for the familiar. 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. Takeaway: This thrilling superpowered urban fantasy series continues to grip." —BookLife (Editor's Pick)

"The engrossing second installment ... Smith continues to demonstrate an ability to expertly weave multiple complex fantasy elements into a cohesive whole. … This fast-paced story delivers in a big way." —Blueink Review (★ Starred review)

"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. ... Smith excels at strong action sequences, worldbuilding, and humorous dialogue. …There is plenty here to entice readers to return for the grand finale. A fun and engrossing superhero sequel." —Kirkus Reviews

"An ethnically diverse cast and strong female characters. Smith's take on superheroes and serials is both modern and original ... 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. ... The Crystal Key has everything that made The Hollow Boys work and turns it up a few notches." —Ottawa Review of Books

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

  • You can read the first three chapters for free here.
  • I am also offering a discount from my website store. Use the coupon code "AURORAS24" at checkout to get the ebook for $0.99 (Regular $4.99 US / $6.99 CAD). Note: this coupon expires when the nomination period ends April 22.

 

"If I Should Fall Behind"

(first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Sept/Oct 2023 issue)

The story that finally let me break into my dream market, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Some reviews:

“The story has great emotional appeal and the plight of the two lovers is sure to touch the reader’s heart. … [A] powerful tale.” —TangentOnline

“One of my very favorites of the year. ... with an idiosyncratic but compelling prose style that puts the reader right in the lead’s head... [The ending’s] an emotionally satisfying cap on a tremendous tale, a tale which itself is a tremendous cap on the September/October issue of F&SF...  but the voice is what makes this one exceptional.” —Tar Vol’s 2023 Recommended Reading List

During the nomination period, you can read a PDF of "If I Should Fall Behind" online here.

 

"Oregon Shooters"

(first appeared in On Spec Magazine, #124, July 2023)

My private eye / SF mash-up, told with tongue somewhat in cheek:

"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

During the nomination period, you can read a PDF of "Oregon Shooters" online here.

 

HOW TO NOMINATE IN THE AURORAS

To nominate, you need to be a member of the Canadian SF & Fantasy Association (CSFFA), the organization that administers the awards. If you've nominated or voted in 2021-2023, you're already a member and can just jump down to "Already a Member?" below. Else...

How to Register:

  • Go here and click on "Not a Member Yet?"
  • Fill out your name, email, and home province
  • Select a username and password for the site. One weirdness with this form: the password box will be filled with black dots. Just click in the box, hold down the "DELETE" key until they disappear, then enter your new password there and in the box below to verify it.
  • Registration is CA$10, which lets you nominate (this step) and vote on the final ballot. Not much to pay to support Canadian SF & fantasy, right?
  • Once you're logged in, click on "Pay Membership Fee with PayPal." Don't use PayPal? You can also pay by debit or credit.

You're registered! You'll then be taken back to the Aurora Awards site so you can nominate (see below)!

Already a Member?

  • Go here, click on "Log in" under "You Are A Member?" then enter your username (or email) and password to access the Awards main page.
  • If you haven't paid for 2024, click on "Pay Renewal Fee with PayPal." Don't use PayPal? You can also pay by debit or credit.

How to Nominate

  • Select "Nomination" from the middle of the screen to access the online nomination form.
  • 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 drop down list of eligible works.
  • 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.
  • When you've finished nominating in a category, make sure you click on the "Update nominations" button for the category, then move to your next category.

Again, my eligible works this year are:

  • The Crystal Key is eligible under "Best YA Novel"
  • "If I Should Fall Behind" is eligible under "Best Short Story"
  • "Oregon Shooters" is eligible under "Best Short Story"

The nomination period closes at 11:59 pm on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

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

Ed Willet interviews me on his The Worldshapers podcast

Fellow author, Ed Willett, interviews me here about The Dream Rider Saga and my writing process on his ongoing and excellent The Worldshapers podcast.

I hope you'll give it a listen, and while you're at it, subscribe to Ed's podcast. It's a great way to meet authors and discover new reads.

Another Glowing Review of THE LOST EXPEDITION

Another great review of THE LOST EXPEDITION, the concluding book in The Dream Rider Saga trilogy, this one by Kelly Jensen at SF Crowsnest Reviews.

"Epic ... it exceeded every expectation. I enjoyed every minute I spent with these characters, and I will miss them now that their story is done."

Nice! Read the full review here.

The Lost Expedition is a "Top Indie Favorite" at B&N

Barnes & Noble has picked THE LOST EXPEDITION: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 3 as a "Top Indie Favorite" under Teen & YA (but I wrote it for adults, too, wink wink). Check it out, along with one of the most insightful reviews of the book I've come across.

Books, Kindle Fire ... and Buffy Swag!!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Swag ContestOk, if you know me, you know how much of a Buffy fan I was (am). So this bundle was a natural for me to throw a book into (The Lost Expedition).

I’ve teamed up with 15+ fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of paranormal novels to 2 lucky winners!

It's a great chance to win a bunch of books and some cool Buffy swag valued at $450USD, just for following some authors on Bookbub and their newsletters. The more authors you follow, the more entries you get in the draw.

Enter the giveaway by clicking here

Hope you'll try it out. Good luck!

More Interviews on THE DREAM RIDER SAGA books

The Lost Expedition coverHere are some more recent interviews, all focusing on The Dream Rider Saga trilogy and the recent release of the final chapter, The Lost Expedition:

Speculating Canada interview — Activist, author, artist, editor, and educator, Derek Newman-Stille interviews me on his award-winning Speculating Canada podcast about The Dream Rider Saga trilogy, including its themes of disability, income disparity, racial diversity, found family, and setting it in Toronto.

The Richard Crouse Show — Canada’s most recognized movie critic interviews me on his nationally syndicated iHeart Radio Show about the release of The Lost Expedition: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 3; my writing process; and more. Note: it will open in SoundCloud. My segment starts at about 19:55, and is about 18 minutes long. You don't need a SoundCloud account to listen, but you do need an account (and be signed in) if you want to skip ahead.

CBC Radio’s Fresh Air — Fresh Air host, Ismaila Alfa, interviews me on being an indie author and the release of The Lost Expedition: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 3.

Enjoy!

Some Recent Interviews

Some recent interviews with me, focusing on the January release of The Lost Expedition: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 3, but also on a variety of writing topics. I hope you'll check them out:

640AM Talk Radio's "Toronto This Weekend" interview — Ben Mulroney interviews me on the release of The Lost Expedition: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 3 and about setting books in Toronto and Canada (it opens up in Spotify, but you don't need an account to listen)
 
105.9 FM interview — interview on 105.9 FM (York Region Radio) about the release of The Lost Expedition: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 3, and also about advice for anyone wanting to chase a writing dream as a second career (interview starts about the 42.52 minute mark)
 
The Lost Expedition interview — New in Books interviews me on the release of The Lost Expedition: The Dream Rider Saga, Book 3 and on writing in general.

Kobo Makes THE LOST EXPEDITION a "Best of the Month" Pick

Kobo Best of the Month PickKobo has made my just-released book, The Lost Expedition, the final book in the multi-award-winning trilogy, The Dream Rider Saga, a "Best of the Month" pick under Science Fiction & Fantasy.

Thank you, Kobo! Much appreciated.

You can check out all the best of the month picks on the Kobo site here.

Release Day for THE LOST EXPEDITION!

January 15 is release day for The Lost Expedition, the final book in The Dream Rider Saga, my multi-award-winning trilogy!

Print editions, both trade paperback and hardcover, actually came out last week, but only on Amazon.

Today, the ebook edition is available on all major retailers, including Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Google Play.

As well, the print editions are now available through Ingram around the world. So if you prefer reading a physical book but don't use Amazon, just ask your local bookstore or library to order The Lost Expedition from Ingram.

Here's a description of the book, plus some critical praise of the books in the series:
 
 
The Lost Expedition
 
Will is the Dream Rider, the superhero who walks in our dreams but never in the streets of his own city. Case is his girlfriend, a survivor of those streets who hears voices warning her of danger. Fader, her brother, is very good at disappearing.

In The Hollow Boys, they defeated a body swapper and a witch to save the world. In The Crystal Key, they battled warring cults to protect an ancient artifact tied to Will's affliction.

The Chakana. The Crystal Key. But the key to what? To finding answers, they hope, to the questions that rule their lives.

What caused their strange powers? And Will's crippling agoraphobia? Can he be cured? Why did their parents travel to the jungles of Peru eight years ago? Are they still alive?

Behind every question is the Chakana. What is the mysterious relic? Why will people kill to possess it? What hold does it have on Will?

As creatures from Inca myths haunt the three friends, another attack on the Chakana threatens Will's life. To save him and solve the mystery of the lost expedition, only one choice remains.

Return to Peru. With the Chakana.

There, they find friends and foes, both old and new. And behind it all, an unseen enemy moving them like pieces on a chessboard.

To win this deadly game, Will, Case, and Fader must master new powers to defeat the most dangerous adversary they've ever faced—a god.

At stake this time? Every life, every world, every universe. Everything.

Indiana Jones meets Teen Titans in The Dream Rider Saga, a fast-paced urban fantasy trilogy from “one of Canada’s most original writers of speculative fiction” (Library Journal).
 
 
Praise for The Lost Expedition (The Dream Rider Saga, #3)

BookLife just made The Lost Expedition an Editor's Pick. This means that every book in The Dream Rider Saga has received an Editor's Pick review, a sweep for the trilogy. The review highlights:

"Smith powers to an explosive conclusion in the finale of his Dream Rider series, a lavishly concocted ride brimming with magic, mystery, and mayhem [and] bursting with dark magic, beastly protectors, and a slew of extraordinary fantasy characters—including a sinister presence whose roots can be traced back to Incan rule.

Smith skillfully probes deeper messages behind all the fun, as the main players face the consequences of humankind’s disregard for the Earth—and each other.

Takeaway: Explosive conclusion to this spectacular fantasy joyride."

BookLife (Editor's Pick)"

 
Praise for The Hollow Boys (The Dream Rider Saga, #1)
 
2023 Aurora Award Winner for Best Young Adult Novel
2023 IAP Award Winner for Best Young Adult Novel

“This arresting series kickoff 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. … [A] vigorously imaginative scenario. ... Takeaway: Thrilling YA fantasy” —BookLife (Editor’s Pick)

“An assured, confident novel... A must-read story for YA fantasy fans.” —Blueink Review (Starred review)

“Inventive, engaging, and boundless fun.” —The Ottawa Review of Books

“A fun supernatural tale with well-developed characters and a touch of romance.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
 
Praise for The Crystal Key (The Dream Rider Saga, #2)

“The richly inventive Dream Rider adventure continues in this second appealing entry…of Smith’s epic YA series. … An exciting plot…always enlivened by the Smith hallmarks of crack dialogue, fun sleuthing and puzzle-solving, a strong through-line of emotion, a swift pace…and a principled refusal to settle for the familiar. … This thrilling superpowered urban fantasy series continues to grip.” —BookLife (Editor’s Pick)

“Smith continues to demonstrate an ability to expertly weave multiple complex fantasy elements into a cohesive whole. … This fast-paced story delivers in a big way—and Smith has all his ducks lined up for an explosive conclusion that readers won’t want to miss.” —Blueink Review (Starred review)

“Smith’s take on superheroes and serials is both modern and original … High adventure leavened with romance and mystery. … 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.” —Ottawa Review of Books

“A fun and engrossing superhero sequel.” —Kirkus Reviews

~~~

Get your copy soon, as the ebook price will be going up shortly, from $2.99 to $4.99:

Buy The Lost Expedition

 

Last Chance to Pre-order THE LOST EXPEDITION

Today is the last day you can pre-order the ebook edition of The Lost Expedition, the final chapter in the multi-award-winning Dream Rider Saga trilogy. The ebook releases tomorrow on all major retailers, including Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Google Play. This is also your last chance to lock in the release price of only $2.99 USD as the ebook price will be going up shortly after release.

Here's a recent review:

“Smith powers to an explosive conclusion in the finale of his Dream Rider series, a lavishly concocted ride brimming with magic, mystery, and mayhem… [and] bursting with dark magic, beastly protectors, and a slew of extraordinary fantasy characters … Takeaway: Explosive conclusion to this spectacular fantasy joyride.” — BookLife (Editor's Pick)

Hope you'll check it out. You can find all the books in the series on your favourite retailer here.

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