O | The Online Writing Workshop for SF, F & H Newsletter, May 2007 W | http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com W | Become a better writer! | - - CONTENTS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | Summer weather is upon us in the northern hemisphere and outdoor activities rightly demand more of our attention, leaving less time for all online activities, including writing reviews. Here's a suggestion for efficiently returning reviews: use the ratings system to point out strengths and weaknesses in a submission, and then offer just 100 or so words of comments. Members tell us they'd like more comments from people who look at their submissions but don't leave lengthy reviews. Try giving shorter reviews in conjunction with the ratings system to keep your head in the "write" place while you prepare for all your summer activities. - Workshop News: June writing challenge Editor's Choice news Membership payment information - Editors' Choices for April 2007 submissions - Reviewer Honor Roll - Publication Announcements - Workshop Statistics - Tips & Feedback | - - WORKSHOP NEWS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | JUNE WRITING CHALLENGE His eyes just carefully began to shrug. This month's challenge is a favorite words challenge. All of us have words that we use in our chapters the way some cooks use salt -- to excess, overwhelming the nuance of the other flavors. Every one's words are different. Mark Twain suggested replacing every "very" with "damn," so that editors would cut it and readers enjoy the writing more. Is you favorite word "very"? Or "just"? Or "carefully"? Or "shrugged"? I don't know if I could begin to write a chapter without somebody somewhere shrugging. Or the helping verb "begin to"! Pick the six most common overused words and phrases in your writing. And then edit a chapter or story to get rid of every single instance of them. Stretch yourself by picking words you really just depend on to very carefully begin to write with, and, well, *shrugs*, don't be afraid to fail. It's better to fail spectacularly and learn something useful, than to play it safe and never grow. Please don't post your challenge pieces to the workshop until June first. Include "June Taboo Words Challenge" in your title so you can show off how fancy you are to all your friends. In the author's comments, list the words you set out to avoid. For more details on the challenges, check the OWW Writer Space at: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/tiki/tiki-index.php?page=Challenges EDITOR'S CHOICE NEWS Our longtime Resident Editor Kelly Link, editor, author, and winner of a large pile of awards, is increasingly busy these days and so she is now alternating with Susan Marie Groppi, editor-in-chief of _Strange Horizons_, as short-story Editor's Choice reviewer. We welcome Susan, who has filled in for us admirably before, as a more frequent EC reviewer. MEMBERSHIP PAYMENT INFORMATION How to pay: In the U.S., you can pay by PayPal or send us a check or money order. Outside of the U.S., you can pay via PayPal (though international memberships incur a small set-up fee); pay via Kagi (www.kagi.com--easier for non-U.S. people); send us a check in U.S. dollars drawn on a U.S. bank (many banks can do this for you for a fee); or send us an international money order (available at some banks and some post offices). 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Award us a $11 bonus along with your $49 membership fee. 25% of any bonus payments we receive will go to our support staff, sort of like a tip for good personal service. The rest will be tucked away to lengthen the shoestring that is our budget and keep us running! For more information: Payments: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/memberships.shtml Bonus payments and information about our company: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/bonuspayments.shtml Price comparisons: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/memberships_comparison.shtml | - - EDITORS' CHOICES - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | The Editors' Choices are chosen from the submissions from the previous month that show the most potential or otherwise earn the admiration of our Resident Editors. Submissions in four categories -- science fiction chapters, fantasy chapters, horror, and short stories -- receive a detailed review, meant to be educational for others as well as the author. This month's reviews are written by our Resident Editors Jeanne Cavelos, John Klima, Kelly Link, and Karin Lowachee. The last four months of Editors' Choices and their editorial reviews are archived on the workshop. Go to the "Read, Rate, Review" page and click on "Editors' Choices." Congratulations to the current Editors' Choice authors! Editor's Choice, February, Fantasy Chapter/Partial Chapter: DEAD MEN AMONG THE BONES, Part 3 by Liz Bourke There is a hinted-at past for the main characters -- Santander and Jolay -- that I really like. Bourke does an excellent job of weaving their past into the current story. It never feels like it's going to overwhelm where the characters are now and at the same time it enhances the reader's knowledge of the world that Bourke has created. I mention this because something that makes me change from liking a story to loving a story is a well-developed background. I always hate reading fiction where it's as if the characters sprang from the writer's head at the moment the story started and never had a past. Everyone has a past; some are just more interesting than others. I assume if someone is having their story told, their past is pretty eventful. And, as the story progresses, it is Santander's past that causes him trouble. Something that caused me trouble was dealing with all the lords and their titles and names. Since they can be referred to by the place they lord over -- Daladier, for example -- or by their actual name -- Gerard Deschain -- sometimes I wasn't sure who Bourke was talking about. For example, Gerard's daughter Hilary went to a masque for a lady who is to be wed to Lord Corstwith's son. Santander assumes the masque took place at Lord Jacin's townhouse. However she's corrected and told that Lord Corswith is staying at the Fentellon palace, and that's where the masque was held. Ease of reading is something that Bourke needs to keep in mind when introducing new names to the story line. The reader should not get lost in the waves of names. This could be solved with a list of characters in the story either in the front or the back of the book. There could even be charts showing who is the lord of where and what their titles are. Similarly, there are a few times when Bourke gives the reader too much description at once. When Daladier tells what he knows about the disappearance of his daughter Hilary, it's given in one long paragraph. This would read better if it was broken into a few paragraphs. An easy place to break would be where Daladier mentions that neither Hilary nor the man-at-arms guarding came home. The next sentence is basically a new line of thought and it would read naturally to the reader to start a new paragraph. Additionally, the last line, when Santander goes to ask a question, should be a new paragraph. It's not in the flow of the previous sentence and should be broken to indicate a new line of thought. Earlier in the chapter, Santander ruminates about Hilary and why she may have chosen to run away. This paragraph, too, would read better broken into separate thoughts. At the very least, the last sentence of the paragraph should get broken into the several thoughts that it expresses. More than half the paragraph is the last sentence, and the reader can get overwhelmed when there is no place to pause and catch a breath. Bourke should go through this chapter and find the few places where she spends a lot of time on exposition and break it up a little. I have some problems with how Bourke handles the missing man-at-arms. I would like some mention that in addition to Hilary and the man-at-arms not coming home, there are no signs of a struggle, or no signs of a body, etc. It may come out in future chapters as Santander does more investigating into what happened, but I think some mention should be made of why their disappearance is so mysterious. When Santander questions Daladier's remaining men-at-arms, they all speak highly of Joniah, and then they don't and then they do again. I realize that these are most likely uneducated men, but it's confusing to read the men praising how solid Joniah is, and then in the same breath say something along the lines of 'at least I thought so' or 'or had been' without an explanation of what's changed their opinions. I assume that the fact the Hilary is missing is what makes them doubt Joniah, but Bourke could have one or several of them say something along the lines of 'no one else has ever lost a family member.' It seems that the men still think highly of Joniah, but doubt is creeping into their minds since it's so unusual for a member of a lord's family to go missing. They also bring up the fact that Joniah is foreign not being a problem with them trusting him. This is very important as Santander and Jolay are foreign, too. However, there is little in this chapter (and the previous ones) to indicate that this area of Bourke's world is xenophobic. Bourke hints around this fact, but never -- at least to this point -- comes straight out and explains why foreigners aren't to be trusted. This isn't an unusual theme, and because of that, I'd like to see some explanation for it, rather than to assume the reader will accept it at face value. Having problems with foreigners is a very important subject for this story since Santander and Jolay are foreigners and therefore face any regional prejudices towards foreigners as they try to do their work. This is on top of being women doing the work of men, at least in the minds of the men of Bourke's world. It's not an easy road for Santander to investigate the missing Hilary Deschain. The characters are what drive Bourke's story. They feel real. When Santander is frustrated by being talked down for being a woman or a foreigner (or both), you can feel her frustration. Bourke also does an excellent job of representing the different classes in the book and how they interact. When Santander talks to the Daladier, she acts one way, and when she talks to the servants or men-at-arms, she acts a different way. She doesn't fit in any of the groups, and is shunned by them all. Bourke has built a lot of empathy for Santander, and this makes the reader want to keep reading about her. --John Klima Editor of _Electric Velocipede_ and LOGORRHEA http://www.electricvelocipede.com Editor's Choice, February, SF Chapter/Partial Chapter: WRAITH OF CRYSTALS, Beginnings and Chapter 1 by Rob Campbell The beginning of your book will likely be the most important part when you submit your work to an editor. It is your book's first impression and it had better be a good one. This month's chapter was chosen because of the beginning, for good things and for things that could use some improvement. The very first part has a wonderful sense of child's point of view, which immediately intrigued me for being unusual and done well. The sense that the child -- much more aware than adults sometimes give them credit for -- being curious about her mother and instinctually responsive to the news seemed real and elicited a direct sympathy for the situation and characters. The passage ends with this great hook, giving us no choice but to read on: The girl smiled to her hair. In her mind, a switch tripped. She knew the answer to that perennial question: "what do you want to be when you grow up?" A spy who kills. All the best spies had secrets. This was hers. But then the narrative switches to a very short paragraph of a bloodied man struggling to stand. This is a second beginning to the novel, a new character and situation introduced immediately after the first. Technically this passage is still part of some sort of prologue -- it's called "Beginnings" but it reads like a prologue. When Chapter One begins we are given yet another point of view character, this one jarringly different from the two before it. An author always has to be mindful of how many different situations and characters are introduced to the reader in the first few pages. You don't want to throw too many things at the reader when you are just beginning to ground them, to situate them into your world and story. The imagery in the second scene is effective, but it goes by so quickly, and by being sandwiched between the longer opening scene and the first chapter, it becomes forgettable. Chapter One, with the third character, carries on for quite a bit longer than the previous two scenes. Already the reader will attempt to make links between the various introductions, but in this case, I think they find none. By the time the fourth character is introduced, we almost expect it to carry for only another short few paragraphs or for a single scene before being taken away once more for another setting change and character introduction. Goldilocks, the term and the image mentioned in the first paragraph of the fourth section, hearkens the reader back to the little girl and that name mentioned in the first scene, but it is far enough away from this fourth beginning that the reader almost has to flip back to make sure the connection is not fabricated in their memory. This is not a strong beginning. Building trust with a reader so they follow you through the narrative is important in the first twenty to fifty pages, and some of that trust is engendered by letting the reader invest some time and emotion into your main characters and their situations. This gives the reader a reason to want to follow through to page 375. While we live in a culture that tends to like fast cuts and a deluge of information, books are inherently leisurely endeavors, things that take more than an hour to do even plowing through them at high speed, so writers have some opportunity to take advantage of this medium. Structure -- when to tell what and in what order -- determines the pace, logic, and suspense of your narrative. Some attention to structure should be paid in revising this beginning: could the second and third parts perhaps be flipped around, removed completely, or somehow woven into the next chapter? They might fit well at the end of chapter one as a segue to chapter two. Readers tend to be more forgiving of new characters and drastically different situations when there are chapter breaks between them instead of scene breaks, especially at the beginning of a book when it's obvious the author is setting up the narrative. In his notes, the author asks if the story worked, if the characters were interesting, and the answer to both of these questions is yes. Despite the somewhat jarring scene splitting, the characters worked wonderfully within their separate scenes, each imbued with a sense of a full story behind them. So the main issue is the author's choice of when and how to deliver the wider story to the reader. The rapport in Neelesh's office was clearly setting up one of the salient story points (or it should be, as that was how it came across from Margot's point of view) but the obvious tennis metaphor for Margot being the audience was a little heavyhanded. Rather let the back and forth conversation between the two leaders speak for itself, and Margot's interior observations be more to the point of the overall story. It's an obvious parallel to draw when one is observing two people in veiled conversation, that of the tennis match; instead, enlighten the reader in other ways -- what does Margot find interesting because it pertains directly to the mystery of why *she* is there? Overall, the writing itself is more than competent, with great actual pacing within the dialogue and prose sentence structure. Descriptions like this show a sure hand with bringing what could be typical and bland character observations to life: Margot labored behind them, ripping her shoes from the floor, catching up with Neelesh as they entered the underground LIM terminal. Gleaming and black, the unit that would bear them to Piazzi City hovered over herringbone rails. It was spotless and comfortable, yet unbidden, childhood memories returned: tales of a black steed that carried its riders to destruction. The book already shows a richness in story and character. Pay particular attention to overall structure, allow the characters and the world to shine, and give the readers time to enjoy it bit by bit before hastening them to the next plot point, and it will be even better. --Karin Lowachee Author of BURNDIVE and CAGEBIRD http://www.karinlowachee.com Editor's Choice, February, Short Story: "Fossils" by S. Delacroix This is a stylishly told, noirish, apocalypse-now piece of work, set in a quarantined New York where the second-person narrator abandons a recent love affair, wanders the empty streets, and then meets the aliens who have vanished the other citizens of the city. Mood matters here more than the plot, perhaps, and that mood is largely dependent on the intentionally elongated and comma-bedecked sentences, so let's begin here by looking at specific language before moving on to more general issues of story. The first paragraph -- "You're sitting on the edge of bed watching Allison get dressed and wondering when the television will start working. Allison is smiling at you, and pulling up her sweatpants, and asking if you'd like some coffee." -- is a good enough hook, except that the cue about the television feels out of context and confusing. It's supposed to signal to the reader that something is wrong, but instead I just wonder whether he's looking at at a television behind her, and why he thinks that, given the cataclysm that's apparently befallen his city, he expects normal service of any kind to resume. Again, when the narrator asks Allison about the last time the television was working, I wonder why he's asking, and what her answer confirms for him. The third paragraph begins "Her apartment smells faintly of mildew and pine scented aerosol spray." That's good detail, but it's possibly even more effective in terms of mood if you give us the pine-scented aerosol spray first, and then the mildew. Along the same lines, later, when Allison is trying to persuade the narrator to stay, she says, "Maybe the television will start working. Maybe I can find some more booze." Again, if you reverse these two so that first she offers booze, then television, you have a more interesting narrative sequence. Watch out for received language: Allison may look "like a puppy that's been kicked too many times," but I've seen that simile too many times for me to understand anything new about either Allison or a narrator who would think of her in those terms. Also watch out for places where the narrator begins to seem almost laughably juvenile, such as when he is "irritated by the blandness and apathy and vapidity of this woman and this city and these people." The long, elastic rhythms of this story build to this really lovely ending description of the aliens: "You stare up into the white flesh pressed against the dark black visors, the facemasks, and you think the faces behind the masks bear a superficial resemblance to your own, but they're different, more different than you could imagine, these kings, these black clad colossi, not like you, but the byproduct of a different plane, beyond you and your comprehension, these faces, ridged and corrugated like heads of cauliflower, like horned moons poking bulbous faces through black seas of cloud and ether, and you think about these pointless things, mostly, like your parents, and Allison, and empty cities covered with dust, and silent planets circling their distant suns, and dead trains and tar pits and fossils, and as you stare back into their eyes, black and unblinking, fathomless and empty, you realize, it doesn't matter, it doesn't, not really, because the world is gone, and it doesn't matter, not when you're the last one to go." I'm not sure that the place where that sentence ends is original or insightful enough, yet -- and I'm not crazy about the line just before the section I've quoted, about how "the musty stench of their bodies fills your nostrils" -- but those descriptions of faces "ridged and corrugated like heads of cauliflower, like horned moons poking bulbous faces through black seas of cloud and ether", etc, are peculiar and gorgeous and I can't possibly tell you how well they work for me. (They work really, really well.) I'd like to see more of the prose and the imagery in the story working as well as this section does. One way to do this is with a bit of judicious cutting. In this current draft there are occasional pileups of visual cues that undercut each other, rather than building towards heightened effect. Such as here: "You turn and see an old man standing there, bone white, emaciated, and the fingers brushing the collar of your jacket are gnarled and disfigured, and his eyes are pale and blue like a vulture's, and this walking corpse, this fossil, he looks around the room, then at you, then, 'Careful, young man. You know, they put stuff in the food." All of the dialogue in this story is top-notch. But that preceding descriptive passage would be more effective with fewer special effects. Cut out the vulture simile, "bone white", "this walking corpse, this fossil," and what exactly does it mean that someone's fingers are disfigured? I can't picture it. Again, a bit later, as the narrator rides a train, compare the current version to one that's been pruned, just a bit: "The train is sluggish at first, like a beast who has just awakened from a long period of hibernation, and then it picks up speed, and rushes along through all the abandoned subway stations, West 4th Street, Christopher Street, Canal, Spruce, and these tunnels, black and empty, these rusted machine parts piled up on crumbling station platforms like broken toys, like animal bones, these graffiti festooned walls, the murals bright and gaudy like primitive cave paintings; it all looks surreal to you for some reason, absurd, implausible, like you're dreaming. These black chasms, these subterranean grottos, they stretch out before you now, each one the mouth of an enormous cavern, this train, winding its way through twisting, cavernous crags, plying the dead along rusted iron tracks like Charon's ferry barreling through the underworld." "The train rushes through abandoned subway stations, West 4th Street, Christopher Street, Canal, Spruce: these tunnels, black and empty, these crumbling station platforms, these graffiti festooned walls, the murals bright and gaudy like primitive cave paintings. These black chasms, these subterranean grottos, they stretch out before you now, each one the mouth of an enormous cavern, this train, winding its way through twisting, cavernous crags, plying the dead along rusted iron tracks like Charon's ferry barreling through the underworld." And so on. I'd recommend going through this story and taking a look at all the places where the description stutters, or otherwise begins to double up. Where it does, there needs to be a good reason for it to do so. Consider why it seems like a good idea to compare cars first to "dinosaurs" and then to "fossilized wreckage" and then to "husks of dead animals." What's the narrative progression here? What do you gain by putting so many similar images in close proximity? A couple of non-language-related issues. One is the narrator's age versus his relative sexual experience. Several times he refers to his callous ways with Allison, not to mention the many women he has seduced, used, and then abandoned. And yet he's only twenty-two and up until the disaster, lived with his parents! Perhaps he did some serious seducing in his late adolescence, but I was surprised (and not in a good way) when I was told his age. It just didn't seem to fit. There's an interesting possibility, however, if this gets cleared up in such a way that the narrator is still in his early twenties, missing his parents, while Allison is a woman whose children have disappeared. You could do some interesting and somewhat creepy things with that dynamic, and yet still make both Allison and the narrator sympathetic to the reader. Imbalances of need and desire -- or of any kind, including age, make for good character dynamics. The other issue is why the narrator does all of the things that he does -- excluding sleeping with, and leaving Allison. Why does he wait in a line to be ID'd? (Why is there a woman in a booth taking IDs, for that matter?) Where, specifically, does he get food, and where is that food coming from? Why doesn't he just break into empty apartments and steal canned goods, if everyone is disappearing? Why does he get on a train? (At the moment, I don't believe in that train at all, as lovely as some of the description is. Why would it suddenly be running? What's the narrative purpose, other than to have a chance to describe those black tunnels?) When we're told that the narrator reads, what does he read? What is his daily routine? Where are the descriptions of bars and movie theaters and concerts in the park and church services and all the other things which might be interesting to describe in such an apocalypse? In this story, where dialogue is one of the real strengths, it's a shame that the narrator talks to so few people, and thus gives us so little chance to get details about what this life is like. Sometimes a story like this feels less like a complete story, and more like the author wandering around a particular landscape, or inside the head of a particular character, in order to work their way into the real story. Sometimes this will be clearer to the editor who reads the story in the slushpile than to the author. If I were that editor, I'd say, "Okay, so I'm interested in the setting. You've got voice. I like the dialogue a lot. I like the creepy aliens. So what's the story with this guy? What happens with Allison? What's the story?" --Kelly Link Editor of TRAMPOLINE and co-editor of YEAR'S BEST FANTASY & HORROR http://www.kellylink.net/ Editor's Choice, February, Horror: WATER BLEEDS, Ch. 1 by Brian Freyermuth The opening chapter of this novel creates a strong, ominous atmosphere. As Jake undergoes one disquieting experience after another -- having a nightmare, learning his son and wife are also having nightmares, finding a bloody message on a mirror -- the reader's apprehension and dread grow. I don't know where this is going, because I only read Chapter 1, but I really like the measured way in which the chapter builds the sense that something bad is going to happen. It reminds me of the beginning of THE EXORCIST in that small everyday details and events are used to generate a growing sense of unease. I have two main suggestions about how the chapter might be improved. First, the opening nightmare doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the chapter. The pacing and intensity seem to belong in a different book -- and to me, a much less interesting book. Opening with a big, bloody scene has become such standard procedure in horror novels that, for me, reading a scene like that makes me believe I know what the entire book will be like, and that it will be like a hundred other horror novels I've read. This is not the case at all, but I think the opening scene generally fails to reflect what makes the rest of the chapter distinctive and interesting. A further problem is that if you're working at generating growing dread, and you start with a nightmare in which Jake's wife and son are killed (and possibly Jake too), with blood spattering all over the walls, then you have nowhere to go. There's nothing that can generate more dread than that. After that scene, the pace seemed to go through a wrenching shift, and the book seemed to become something completely different, and much more interesting. Another negative aspect to this opening is that it's a dream, which is another overused fictional device, and the reader feels cheated and let down when he discovers this. Oh -- no one is really dead. It was only a dream. So you put the reader into the position of being unhappy that your main characters are still alive. That's not what you want us to be feeling. You can easily refer to the fact that the characters are having nightmares without showing the nightmares. It would actually be more frightening if they couldn't remember the nightmares and were just left with an oppressive sense of wrongness. My suggestion is that you open with Jake reading to his son, as you do now, but make this reality, not a dream. You currently describe the Styrofoam planets hanging over the boy's bed in a disquieting way, and I think you can build on that, creating a quiet sense of dread through everyday details. Nothing dramatic or bad needs to happen to make us anxious for Jake and his son. Perhaps the black and red moon drops from the ceiling and lands on the book, leaving a red stain. Or perhaps the father and son simply interact in a way that reveals they are anxious about something. This is a more challenging writing task than the big bloody opening, but I believe that if you devote yourself to this you can make it powerful and disturbing. This type of opening would use your skills to better advantage, and allow the dread to build through the chapter. Second, the point of view could be strengthened. Right now, you use a detached, omniscient POV for most of the chapter. On occasion you slip into Jake's head; the longest of these sections is at the end of the chapter. But for most of the chapter, I feel I'm standing off to the side observing the characters, with an omniscient narrator speaking in my head. This POV, combined with the sense of dread, gives me a sort of spectator's mindset regarding the characters: Gee, I wonder when and how they're going to die; I hope it's in some creative and exciting way. This is not the best mindset to put your readers in. The chapter would be much stronger if the entire thing was written in a third-person, limited-omniscient POV, limited to Jake's head. If we're in Jake's head, experiencing his growing anxiety, then our own dread will make us sympathetic to Jake. We'll be feeling the same thing as Jake, and will experience the story more as a participant than a spectator, worrying for Jake and his family. Since the current POV shifts in and out of Jake's head are jarring and distancing, staying in Jake's head will also eliminate this problem and allow us to become more immersed in the story. I hope this is helpful. You've got an interesting opening chapter that promises an atmospheric and involving story to come. --Jeanne Cavelos Editor of THE MANY FACES OF VAN HELSING and author of INVOKING DARKNESS http://www.odysseyworkshop.org | - - REVIEWER HONOR ROLL - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | The Reviewer Honor Roll area of the workshop recognizes members who have given useful, insightful reviews. After all, that's what makes the workshop go, so we want to give great reviewers a little well-earned recognition! If you got a really useful review and would like to add the reviewer to the Reviewer Honor Roll, use our online honor-roll nomination form -- log in and link to it from the bottom of the Reviewer Honor Roll page at http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/honorroll.shtml. Your nomination will appear on the first day of the next calendar month. The Honor Roll will show all May nominations beginning June 1. Meanwhile, here are two advance highlights from this month: Reviewer: Vince Blackburn Submission: Tothelea, Chapter 3 by Jason Black Submitted by: Jason Black Nominator's Comments: First, he offers great technical, domain-specific insight as to why an important setup in my story isn't plausible. That's gold. Second, he points out a spot where the character's actions don't match what the reader expects the character's emotional state to be. Nothing kills credibility faster than characters doing things they wouldn't be in an appropriate frame of mind to do. Finally, he offers an example of a spot that he thought did it the right way, to contrast with the spot he had problems with. I wish all my reviewers were as thoughtful and attentive to these higher-level issues as Vince. Reviewer: Crash Froelich Submission: The Games of Adversaries - Chapter Fourteen by Susan Elizabeth Curnow Submitted by: Susan Elizabeth Curnow Nominator's Comments: One of the things most important to a novel writer is consistency. Among many brave souls, Crash has stuck with me from beginning to end, pointing out flaws with a sense of humor and giving out that all important praise and encouragement on the good bits. It's been wonderful to see my stories through someone else's eyes. An invaluable crit partner. Reviewers nominated to the honor roll during April include: Jesse Bangs, Alex Binkley, Ruv Draba (3), Charles Coleman Finlay, Bonnie Freeman (VC), cathy freeze, Brian Freyermuth, Melinda Goodin (w), Tim Greaton, Victoria Kerrigan, magda knight, Michael McClung, Gene Spears, and Sandra Ulbrich. We congratulate them all for their excellent reviews. All nominations received in April can be still found through May 31 at: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/honorroll.shtml | - - PUBLICATION ANNOUNCEMENTS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | We can't announce them if you don't let us know! So drop Charlie a line at email@example.com whenever you have good news to share. OWW Member Sales and Publications: Aliette de Bodard just sold her alternate history novelette "The Lost Xuyan Bride" to _Interzone_. She writes that "This is my second sale to them, and I'm amazed it happened all over again." She sold another novelette, "The Naming at the Pool," to _Reflection's Edge_ for their May issue (http:// www.reflectionsedge.com/). And her short story "Weepers and Ragers" is now up in the Second Quarter 2007 issue of _Abyss & Apex_ (http:// www.abyssandapex.com/). Wow -- what a month! Pat Lundrigan was a member of OWW until January of this year. He must have seen something good coming, because his story "Hangar Queen" won the first quarter 2007 Writers of the Future contest and will be published next year. It was workshopped under the title "Shop Queen," and Pat sends thanks to reviewers Martin McGrath, Chris Coen, Keith Pilkinton, Martha Knox, and Robert Haynes. He told us that "Robert had the foresight to say this in his crit: 'Excellent story, and one that I think will have an excellent chance at Writers of the Future once it's revised and polished.' How's that for a prediction?! Those critiques helped me straighten out a few things in the story and made it so much better. Thanks again guys!" Pat entered Writers of the Future twenty-one times before winning, proving that persistence does pay off. He joins numerous other past OWWers in winning this recognition. Congratulations! Karen Miller's novel THE INNOCENT MAGE, which was originally workshopped on OWW years ago, has been published in the UK by Orbit and was the #1 bestselling science fiction/fantasy title last month. It will be released in the US this September. She's getting used to those number-one spots: her media tie-in novel STARGATE SG-1: ALLIANCES was the #1 Gardners UK bestseller for the 4th quarter of 2006. She's currently got 8 novels under contract in 3 different markets (Australia, UK, and US). Karen told us: "I've said it before and I'll say it again -- the OWW gave me the strength and courage to keep going more times than I can count." | - - WORKSHOP STATISTICS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | Number of members as of 5/19: 563 paying, 48 trial Number of submissions currently online: 402 Percent of submissions with 3 or more reviews: 78.86 % Percent of submissions with zero reviews: 3.73 % Average reviews per submission (all submissions): 5.08 Estimated average review word count (all submissions): 639.98 Number of submissions in April: 316 Number of reviews in April: 1384 Ratio of reviews/submissions in April: 4.38 Estimated average word count per review in April: 650.56 Number of submissions in May to date: 123 Number of reviews in May to date: 528 Ratio of reviews/submissions in May to date: 4.29 Estimated average word count per review in May to date: 743.56 Total number of under-reviewed submissions: 41 (10%) Number over 3 days old with 0 reviews: 3 Number over 1 week old with under 2 reviews: 15 Number over 2 weeks old with under 3 reviews: 23 | - - FEEDBACK - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | Got a helpful tip for your fellow members? A trick or hint for submitting or reviewing, for what to put in your author's comments, for getting good reviews, or for formatting or titling your submission? Share it with us and we'll publish it in the next newsletter. Just send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do the rest. This month OWWer Leah Corsaro wanted to share her experience with receiving reviews: Remember Why You Write Shortly after I began receiving reviews of my writing, I lost the motivation to write. I had to force myself to do it, to make the needed edits, to rewrite, and world-build, and care. One night while I was nearly in tears over having lost the desire to express myself in writing, I realized what had destroyed my motivation: the pressure to make my work fit into what I believed was the publishable framework. That meant reshaping my stories to fit someone else's idea of perfect, and then it was no longer my story. If the reviewing process has ever made you feel like you are not writer material, then maybe you need to remember why you write. I do it because I love to invent, to create. I want to tell stories that are fun to read so I want to learn to tell them well, which is why I submit them for reviews. But I've discovered that when I apply every suggestion, not only does my story suffer, but I get sick of it and hate the characters. I had to learn that it's up to me to determine what stays within the bounds of my concept, what improves my ability to tell my story, as opposed to what shapes it by someone else's mold. And when I begin to lose my joy in the craft, I know I have stepped away from who I am. While we learn a great deal from the reviewing process, it can be painful unless we remember that reviews are a lot like buffets. There is plenty of good stuff to choose from, but it doesn't all hit the spot. --Leah Corsaro Until next month -- just write! The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com email@example.com | - - Copyright 2007 Online Writing Workshops - - - - - - - - - - - |
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