Douglas Smith's blog

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.

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.


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!


Subscribe to RSS - Douglas Smith's blog