Below is our current monthly newsletter. To subscribe, go to our newsletter/lists area or directly to

O | The Online Writing Workshop for SF, F & H Newsletter, June-July 2007
W |
W | Become a better writer!

| - - CONTENTS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |

_Fantasy & Science Fiction_ has its annual anniversary double issue,
_Asimov's_ has its double issues, and U.S. publishers split big books
into two volumes... Whoops! One of these things is not like the other.

What we're trying to say is this: it's time for OWW's summer
double issue.  Not only do we have twice as many SF & F Editor's
Choice reviews, but we have twice the sales and publications to
announce.  It includes two multi-volume first novel sales, and for the
first time, an OWW author's book has climbed into the top tier of the
New York Times bestseller list.

(On the minus side, we are missing a short-story review and a horror
review--which we will post to the Editor's Choice area when they come

Now it's time to act like a cover letter by shutting up and getting
out of the way so you can read the good parts.  A business-sized SASE
has been enclosed for your reply... Whoops!  Carried the metaphor too
far again.

What we're trying to say is this: enjoy!

- Workshop News:
     Newsletter plans and Request for Proposals
     August writing challenge
     Membership payment information
- Editors' Choices for May-June 2007 submissions
- Reviewer Honor Roll
- Publication Announcements
- Workshop Statistics
- Tips & Feedback

| - - WORKSHOP NEWS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |


It's time to bring our quaint little text-only OWW newsletter into the
modern age.  The rationale for plain text and 72 characters per line
is so Year 2000!  And as the workshop has grown and changed, the
structure and content of the newsletter has come to need a change as
well.  So we are looking for someone with Web and graphic design
skills--and a knowledge of OWW and its values--to transform and
improve the newsletter, making it a better outreach and communication
tool for current workshoppers, workshop alumni, and others.  As more
and more members go on to make significant professional sales, we want
to celebrate their accomplishments with more depth as well as let
workshoppers know about current opportunities and Editor's Choices.  

So if you've ever said to yourself, "If _I_ ran the workshop, the
newsletter would be so much better!" now's your chance.  You won't get
to run the workshop, but you might get to be our newsletter visionary
(a temporary but paid position).  And as Charlie becomes more and more
of a professional author, we will also be looking for a managing
editor to prepare the newsletter 11 times per year (another paid
position). If you're interested in either of these positions, send
your resume, credentials, and a brief proposal to us at (examples of your work are
required if you're interested in being our visionary).  We plan to
complete this work by the end of the year at the latest.  Thanks!


You too can be omniscient!

Common wisdom has it that third-person limited POV (point of view),
where we follow one or a few characters through a story or novel from
the inside of their heads, is the best model for new writers to
follow.  And yet you can point to numerous examples of recent books
that successfully tell the story from the third person omniscient POV,
knowing what all the characters think.  One example is Elizabeth
Bear's WHISKEY & WATER.  If you need more explanation, wikipedia
offers an introduction to POV at:

This month's challenge is to make an attempt to use omniscient POV
without causing that old vertiginous head-hopping feeling.  Remember
that it's better to fail spectacularly and learn something useful
than to play it safe and never grow... even if all you learn is that
you never want to write omniscient again! Please don't post your
challenge pieces to the workshop until August 1st. Include
"Omniscient Challenge" in your title so your other omniscient friends
can find it.

For more details on the challenges, check the OWW Writer Space at:


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
( 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).  If none of those options work for you, you
can send us U.S. dollars through the mail if you choose, or contact us
about barter if you have interesting goods to barter (not services).

Scholarship fund and gift memberships: you can give a gift membership
for another member; just send us a payment by whatever method you
like, noting who the membership is for and specifying whether the gift
is anonymous or not.  We will acknowledge receipt to you and the
member.  Or you can donate to our scholarship fund, which we use to
fully or partially cover the costs of an initial paying membership for
certain active, review-contributing members whose situations do not
allow them to pay the full membership fee themselves.

Bonus payments: The workshop costs only 94 cents per week, but we know
that many members feel that it's worth much more to them.  So here's
your chance to award us with a bonus on top of your membership fee.
For example, is the workshop worth five dollars a month to you? 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:
Bonus payments and information about our company:
Price comparisons:

| - - 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 issue's reviews are written by Resident Editors Susan Marie
Groppi, John Klima, 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'

Congratulations to the current Editors' Choice authors!

Editor's Choice, Fantasy Chapter/Partial Chapter:
UNTITLED--CHAPTER 5 by Dena Landon

It's always a little awkward walking in on someone naked.  And that's
exactly where we find our protagonist Meli, a young half-witch,
half-warlock.  (This is the author's quick description in a recap, but
I think she means the offspring of a witch and a warlock--which in
Meli's world, is not supposed to happen--as opposed to actually being
half-witch, half-warlock, which seems to imply Meli is half-man,
half-woman if you use the traditional definitions of witches and
warlocks. It would help to be clear on this!)  A lawyer Meli knows,
named Matthew, has arrived on the scene to rescue her, although the
ensuing embarrassment to Meli seems to be worse than the fate from
which she was saved.  Of course, Matthew is more than he appears to
be, which only continues the downward spiral of Meli's night.

There's a really nice set up in Meli's world of the families/covens of
witches and warlocks; in my opinion, it adds sort of a Mafioso feeling
to the whole affair, although I'm not sure if that's what Landon is
going for.  As the chapter progresses, the reader finds out that
Matthew--in fact, all the witches and warlocks of this community--are
taking turns protecting Meli.  Again, where this could fall into a
typical "chosen one" overdone storyline, here it reads more like mafia
maneuvering to gain power by knocking off those in their way while
others protect different people and interests to maintain their
current standing.

For the most part, there is great interaction between Meli and
Matthew.  Having read earlier chapters, I know that Meli looks forward
to Matthew coming into the coffee shop where she works, and of course
now he's seen her naked and completely vulnerable.  However, there are
a few occasions where Meli's conversation, both internal and external,
don't fit with the set up the reader has for the character.

For example, at one point she talks about how it's been five years
since someone has tried to kill her.  Meli is only 23 years old; five
years is almost a quarter of her life--that's a lot of time.  When
she's flip about it being some sort of record, it makes me wonder how
often the attempts were before.  At the same time, five years is more
than a record for someone 23 years old, it's forever.  Five years
before she would have been in high school; and I don't know about
everyone else, but the changes I went through in the five years of my
life post high school...well, they were pretty significant.  I would
think the five years would be more important than "It was kind of sad
that was a record" and be something more along the lines of "No one's
tried to kill me in forever, at least five years!"  While my
suggestion makes Meli sound more like she's 16 than 23, I think
someone along those lines works better.

Shortly after this snippet of conversation, Meli gets sick after
Matthew explains that in the past year he's stopped ten attempts on
her life.  As she's wiping her mouth clean Meli quips, "Definitely not
my sexiest moment."  Now this is great.  Meli has been set up as a
smart-ass and prone to a lack of concentration.  She's had an attack
on her life, she was discovered naked in the yard of a dead witch, she
just got sick in front of a warlock, and the warlock happens to be a
cute guy she likes....  Why wouldn't she think about how dorky she
looks/acts?  All the same, this comment feels like it's only referring
to the getting sick part, and not about the rest of the night.  Landon
could add some Meli thoughts here about how the whole night has not
been her sexiest moment.

The same happens for Matthew.  After Meli gets sick, he says that he
should not have been so direct.  I think it would work better if
Matthew said something like "I should have been more tactful."
There's also one point where he curses, and it's not really within
character but in the moment it could work, but it really doesn't.  The
tone it too vernacular for how the reader has come to know Matthew the

The conversation that explains why he's protecting her, and the whole
set up of how she's protected alternately by the witches and the
warlocks, comes too fast.  The reader is given a lot of information to
assimilate quickly, and then they get moved on to something else.
Landon would be better served to draw out this conversation a little
more and build in reactions by Matthew and Meli.  The tension between
the two of them is great; the reader would be happy to spend more time
in it.

For instance, when Meli tries to relate what she was doing in the
witch's house and the types of magic she did, the reader gets some
great double takes from Matthew, who quite frankly can't believe what
he's hearing.  Meli's magic--being a combination of witch and warlock
magic--isn't quite like anything Matthew expects.  At the same time,
Meli is saying more than she means to because of how comfortable she
is around Matthew (and also due to how grateful she feels that Matthew
got her out of tight spot).

The romantic tension between these two is what makes this chapter
click.  It doesn't matter that they're some sort of users of magic and
that their world is very different from our own; the tension between
them is something we've all felt and all experienced, and it's done
very well.

--John Klima
Editor of _Electric Velocipede_ and LOGORRHEA

Editor's Choice, Fantasy Chapter/Partial Chapter:
PENRYN CHAPTER 3 PART 1 by Marianne van Gelder

This is labeled as cross-genre--a mix of SF and fantasy.  To be
honest, the chapter feels more science-fictional than fantastic, but
there are some important things in it that I think will have relevance
for other writers.  Whereas this chapter talks about alien races from
other planets, it could just as easily be about different races (e.g.,
elves, dwarves, giants, etc.) in a fantasy setting.

Van Gelder's protagonist works as an astrographer--essentially a star
charter--who is waiting for a deposition on some events he witnessed.
The writing of this chapter is very rich.  It's like sinking into a
comfy bed with luxurious silk sheets.  Seeing the scenes through the
astrographer's eyes makes for decadent reading.  The chapter is full
of details, like a Michael Moorcock book, that really sets the details
of the scenery as well as the 'people' in the scene and makes them
real before the reader's eyes.  Van Gelder brings in all the senses to
help the reader feel like they're part of the story.  And it's done
very carefully so that it doesn't read like a huge infodump of
description.  It's woven into the story in places where it makes
sense.  The protagonist occasionally finds himself catching details
during moments where he should be paying attention to what's going on
in front of him; something I'm guilty of myself.

Something that's lost in these details--although perhaps covered in
previous chapters--is enough description to help the reader understand
more about the different alien races present.  Some details come out
through the chapter, but they are few and far between.  Also, the
different races on the two sides of the deposition--the Pherons and
the Vergans--act very similarly to each other.  It was often difficult
for me to remember that they were different races because their
actions (e.g., speaking styles, physical actions, etc.) were so alike.
Physical clues about the difference between the races are given
through the chapter, but they feel more like a reminder to the reader
that the Pherons and Vergans are different rather than elucidation on
actions they've taken.

Again, earlier chapters may have given more information about the two
races and whether they have a long history with each other, either
good or bad.  This chapter gives no indication to the reader about any
history between the two races.  We are set up that since the event
that the deposition concerns occurred on Earth that Earth laws will be
used in the trial--should one come--one would think that the races
would be very different from each other.  When you have different
races in your story, you want to make sure that the reader always
knows which race you're talking about.  While it's important when they
are different races on the same world, it's even more important when
the races are from different planets.  There's no reason why races
that originate on different planets would be similar to each other.

In this case, there is at least one huge physical difference: the
Pherons are nearly ten feet tall while the Vergans are more like tall
humans.  But I don't know if that's enough.  If that is the main
difference between the two, it needs to be played to effect.  Being
over six feet tall myself, I know how difficult it can be to converse
with someone significantly shorter.  Even seated at the same table,
the difference in height is quite significant and could alter the
conversation.  And in lieu of the fact that the shorter race has
command of the deposition in this chapter, it should be evident to the
reader that the taller race (i.e., tall = dominant in snap judgments)
is being dominated.

Of course, if you're trying to make a point of how similar two races
are to each other despite physical differences, then it becomes
something more difficult to deal with.  You don't want to surprise the
reader with the physical differences--which is what happened to me in
this chapter--by having the races be too similar.  The reader
shouldn't think that two beings walking down a road together are the
same when one is twice the height of the other.

Van Gelder has a nice example of this in the chapter.  The judge is a
race that resembles a crocodile.  This physical difference is used
with great effect--both comic and serious--throughout the deposition.
The judge is not afraid to use his physical presence to intimidate his
'court room,' much like a human judge can.  In fact, the deposition is
quite fun to read.  One of the legal teams is not very
good--unfortunately for our protagonist, it's his team--and the other
participants take advantage of that.  There is some nice banter
punctuated by the judge doing things like snapping his jaws and other
crocodile-like actions.  It's a bit of confusion since the judge is so
different from the two parties involved in the deposition; it's hard
to not align them together.

As the writer you need to keep in mind you they are creating the setting
for the reader.  While you don't want to give minutiae description of
everything in the room, you need to hit important points.  If it's
important enough to have separate races in your story, then it's
important to note how the differences and similarities affect the
interaction between races.  The last thing you want is for the reader
to miss the fact that there are different races.  Then the writer has
put a lot of effort into something--creating alien races--for no

--John Klima
Editor of _Electric Velocipede_ and LOGORRHEA

Editor's Choice, SF Chapter/Partial Chapter:

These are two rather short chapters that the author grouped together
for this post, with brief chapter-by-chapter synopses at the front.
The main idea of the story, garnered from the synopses, is a clash of
humans and aliens in a first contact situation, with a nameless alien
third party that the first aliens want protection from or help

While this set-up isn't particularly new, the content can rise above
the ordinary with original characterization and adept storytelling.
When dealing with politics, as the author does here with one of the
protagonists in the United Nations, there are often scenes where
authoritative figures or leaders are in play; this is not always an
easy task for a writer who may not have any practical experience in
that world. Of course, one does not require direct experience in order
to write about something, and even having direct experience is no
guarantee that it will be convincing to a general audience. It is all
in the execution, in the storytelling.

One pertinent aspect of writing characters in a political forum is the
ability to juggle multiple points of dialogue in a group setting, as a
meeting. Men or women in positions of power have a certain demeanor
that ought to be conveyed, especially when discussing something so
potentially life threatening to entire countries, not to mention what
is at stake between countries that might not agree. The levels in
which the story must operate and engage the reader are many: not only
can the reader connect on the plot level, but infusing some real
interest and understanding of the characters will make a scene like
the one in Chapter 7 be more than an information dissemination from
talking heads. Another tricky point is conveying the dialogue so it
doesn't sound like the author attempting to get across important
points, but rather a natural flow of ideas and information befitting a
political meeting where much is at stake and more than one concern
must be addressed in the context of the story.

By Chapter 7 we have already met Benjamin Kendo, the Secretary General
of the UN. He is someone who likes 'long rambles,' which serves as an
interesting trait for the character. As he appears 'on set' in the
scene he states: "It will be a stormy session unless we are able to
keep them focused on responding to the alien request for a meeting,"
he told his aides as they prepared for the session. "We have to avoid
a split between the countries that want to hear more from the aliens
and those who fear the world is about to be attacked. There is only
one ship. Sure it is big but they would need something that huge to
come as far as they have."

This dialogue sounds rather stilted to me, likely from the lack of
contractions as well as the lack of details surrounding the line. It
reads arid, but with a certain dissonant use of colloquialism thrown
in with 'sure it is big but.' The best way to judge if dialogue sounds
natural is to read it aloud: does it roll off the tongue? Of course a
reader isn't reading it aloud from the book, but remember that even if
people are in a formal setting, as politicians they are used to public
speaking and should have a certain amount of ease in how they speak
and this ease should be somehow translated in the way the reader reads
the lines. Dialogue isn't necessarily direct transcription of what can
be said, but a way to convey the reality of speech while still
manipulating it as writers must do.

Consider this revamping: "It'll be a stormy session unless we're able
to keep them focused on a response to the alien request for a
meeting...We've got to avoid a split between the countries: some want
to hear more from the aliens, some're too afraid the world's going to
be attacked. We need to stress that there's only one ship. It may be
big but they'd need something that size for the distance they've

Kendo is a man that must have had ample experience directing people,
giving orders, and spearheading emergency meetings. Make the cadence
of his speech in this forum sound decisive and to the point. If he is
a good leader he's not going to want to waste time. Using contractions
is a natural pattern of speech and does not come off as slang if used
effectively to tighten up lines. I don't want to point out all of the
instances where things could be tightened, but the author can be more
aware of varying the patterns of speech depending on the character,
making note of accents if there are any for variation, and being
careful of where and how humor is used in a situation such as this. Do
these men and women really want to make light of anything that is
going on, when there is so much confusion as to the ultimate
motivation of the aliens? Also be conscious of details as opposed to
vague suggestions. In the excerpt above it is mentioned that the aides
are preparing for the session. What are they doing specifically?
Specificity adds realism to any scene, even if you don't go into heavy
detail. Mentioning two or three pointed tasks or setting details as
the characters are moving about their environment will go a long way
in fleshing out the scene as well as the overall world.

More color could be added to the scene -- which reads a lot like a
screenplay for the lack of idiosyncratic detail in character or
setting. It's not a long scene but it delivers relevant information
and in order not to lose the reader here, much can be enhanced by way
of, perhaps, subtle character conflict or differing opinions, most of
which could be conveyed through brief descriptions of facial
expressions, tone of voice, gesture and word flow. It's already clear
that the world is layered just from reading the synopses; there is
much going on and plenty of interesting players. Consider all the ways
they can be used to their utmost ability and the book will be able to
sustain much better across hundreds of pages and hours of attentive

--Karin Lowachee

Editor's Choice, SF Chapter/Partial Chapter:

A chapter doesn't have to be long to work well and this selection only
has three somewhat brief scenes but they hold the drama rather well.
As this one is far into the novel, plotting can't really be commented
on in depth (so the questions the author wants to know that the reader
has by the end can't really be applied in isolation; it would require
a reading of the entire work up to now) but there are certainly some
stellar things to point out in Ashes that are worth taking note:

Nezu shifted the pack on his shoulders, grunting beneath its weight
before marching forward through the knee-high snowdrifts. Oaks and
evergreens towered over him, nothing more than dark shapes without the
light of a moon to guide them. Shadows moved over the sheet of white
that reached his thighs, and he craned his neck to see Sibyl detaching
herself from the shadows almost a dozen paces ahead.

These opening sentences are full of stark imagery and don't require
long overburdened description to get across the image of the
environment. By now the reader is, presumably, well familiar with
these characters and their goals, so there is no need to reiterate in
detail about the characters' appearance. Using unusual descriptions
for mundane actions add zing to the narrative as well: Sibyl doesn't
simply walk ahead of Nezu, she 'detaches herself from the shadows.'
This is the sort of language that makes prose a joy to read and not
merely a vessel to deliver a story. The feeling of their isolation is
reinforced by inserting 'reminder' descriptions such as this: _An owl
hooted, strangely the only other sound apart from the crunching of
snow under boots._ Again, it doesn't take a lot to convey a mood and
the author doesn't neglect the importance of auditory description as
well. To make your world the most complete to the reader, use all five
senses (and the sixth if that's relevant). The one line descriptions
also serve to break tension in dialogue: _A bird leapt from the branch
it had occupied overhead, raining a pile of snow on a spot a few
meters ahead._ In the midst of an almost interrogatory exchange
between Nezu and Sibyl, that simple line works effectively to further
emphasize the stark and pointed nature of the scene as a whole --
between characters, their environment, and their single mission.
Working a scene, or indeed an entire novel scene by scene or chapter
by chapter, on this multilevel basis makes the book more complete.

With regard to the dialogue, watch for melodrama and rhythm; minimize
the first and smooth out the second. Some melodramatic lines flagged
or drew the reader out of the story because it seemed too much:

All the while, Sibyl's face remained unchanged; the righteousness, the
look of those who know they were in the right, that expression he
sought in her gaze never appeared. Instead, what he found was a
bottomless sadness. She did not reach to touch him, to embrace him, as
he'd expected. She kept her distance and whispered her words. "Your
hatred is misplaced, *piccolo*. When you tamper with Time, there is
always a price to pay. Someone suffers no matter what choice is made."
A bitter chuckle left her lips, and she had that faraway gaze of hers.

As this is a fairly polished draft, on the second or third pass,
highlight to change the cliches like 'bottomless sadness' and 'faraway
gaze' or as in the other scenes in this chapter, 'bitter laugh' and
'hope sang.' These are good phrases to put in when you want a quick
and dirty image, but can be honed into something more original in
rewrites. If you've heard the phrase before, likely your readers have
too, and you want to minimize that in any piece of writing. Watch also
for the actions of your characters; they can come across overplayed,
noted especially in Miriam's scene where her emotional wrenching was a
little heavyhanded. Unless the character tends to be melodramatic as a
personality issue, people tend to be more subtle in their displays of
emotion. You want your work to sound fresh from as many angles as
possible: characterization, story, and even down to individual phrases
or words.

The rhythm of your prose also affects how a reader interacts with the

	"The second reactor is about two hundred meters ahead." She
	consulted the sky for a few moments, her eyes filming, before she
	returned her attention to him. "Minimal security along the
	perimeter. The other team is approaching from the other flank.
	They should encounter minimal resistance." A small smile lit her
	face in the pale light cast by the stars. "They haven't heard of
	the Vienna reactor yet." Motioning around at the trees, "Bad for
	communication, I guess." She continued on the trail that had yet
	to be blazed when Nezu called her back.

There is a lot of back-and-forth between description and dialogue here
for one character (as well as the repeat of 'minimal') that tends to
give it a stop-and-start rhythm. Aim for more flow, see what lines can
be grouped instead of separated and then reread it to check how it
sounds. It's easier for a reader to ingest details when they are in
chunks as opposed to back-and-forth.

In the final scene between Bishop and the Master, I'm not sure if this
is the first time we are seeing the Master in such a state but the
descriptions here seemed too brief. They are gruesome and thus
fascinating. Perhaps spend a little more time on what Bishop is
seeing; it works well as a contrast to the previous scene which is
much more domestic but still holds a tone of foreboding. Though I
haven't read all of the previous chapters, the last line revelation
still left an impact that one can assume is only more strong with the
weight of the novel before it.

There is no doubt the writer here knows how to pace even in chapters,
and spin great descriptions to move the book along. Just be attentive
to the more nitty gritty details, don't be afraid to bulk up on
descriptions when required, and watch the actions of the characters so
they come off as realistic as possible. The novel will shape into
something very saleable indeed.

--Karin Lowachee

Editor's Choice, Short Story:
"Detours on the Journey Home" by John Chu

It would be possible to sum this story up with a bit of movie-poster
promotional copy: "On the train to Washington, Jacob meets an
attractive young woman who changes his life forever!"  Interestingly,
in this case the phrasing is more accurate than most: the young woman
in question, Sam, has the power to reach back into Jacob's past and
make small changes that irrevocably alter his reality.

This story has a lot of strengths, not least of which is the core
concept.  I think the idea that small decisions can have enormous
repercussions will resonate with many readers--who hasn't sat around
in an idle moment and mentally played out these same possibilities?
The idea is extended in a natural-feeling and generally realistic way,
which I appreciated--I think it's a smart narrative choice to make the
differences between Jacob and Jake (and Jack as well) ones that stem
from internal mental states.  Even the obvious physical differences
between the iterations of Jacob seem to follow logically from states
of mind at various points in his life.  This is entirely in keeping
with the idea that Sam is changing decisions that people made, not
things that happened to them; the consistency here makes the whole
concept more coherent.

A fully-developed and successful work of fiction needs more going for
it than just a good concept, though, and this piece also succeeds in
building a good, character-focused story on top of that conceptual
frame.  The emotional toll on Jacob of being pulled between his
long-shot work project and his dying mother is nicely understated, but
still evident.  That's a difficult balance to strike, and I think you
achieve it.  I also like that Sam has her own story, and her own
problems.  She's not dropped magically into this story simply to act
as a plot device, and in the end she has no expectation that Jacob
will solve her problems for her.  Sam is still a little bit of a
cipher, but she at least has her own independent motivations.

Even though I found the core concept intriguing and the characters
engaging, I had some concerns about the way it actually all plays out
in the story.  You're attempting a fairly intricate bit of story
construction here, but I'm not sure that the structure as it stands
can hold up to close scrutiny.  There are a lot of inconsistencies and
unanswered questions throughout the piece.  To give an example from
early in the story: Jake says that he first became aware of having
been Jacob at the moment that he first saw Sam's face, but it's very
clear in the story that Sam hasn't made any changes to Jacob's past
yet at that point.  She's insistent that she needs to change something
in order to make the seizure stop, so she hasn't yet changed anything,
so why is Jake aware of Jacob at that point? There's a clear
indication of the overlapping sense of identities just a few lines
later, when Jake describes the sense of vertigo and the wash of
Jacob's memories.

I would suggest leaving out all mention of the doubled identity up
until that point--the narrator's third-person references to himself,
the distinction between Jacob stretching out in his train seat and
Jake scrunching up in his, all of that seemed to me to violate the
internal logic of the story. Neither Jake nor Jacob was aware of the
other's existence at this point, so why retroactively apply those
memories to the narrative? (For that matter, where is Jack in all of
this?  If Jake has access to Jacob's memory, why not Jack's as well?
It shouldn't matter that Jack only makes a brief appearance in the
story--isn't his existence as valid as that of the other two?)  What
this all boils down to is that it's not clear in the story what the
rules are surrounding Sam's power. Whether it's magic or technology,
it needs to have consistent implications and consequences, and in this
story's current incarnation it appears to have significant

I had a number of smaller issues with this piece as well, many of them
related to word choice and writing style.  Throughout the story, there
are examples of awkward phrasings and slightly flat sentences. My
advice would be to read the story out loud and listen to the cadence
and rhythm of the language, to try and identify places that sound
forced or unnatural.  My final suggestion for revising this story
involves Jacob's sister.  Jean plays such an important role in his
character development, and is handled with an admirable sympathy given
the nature of their relationship, that I was surprised and a little
disappointed by the following exchange:

	"Sam, I need you to visit my sister."

	"And what, Jack, do you think she would choose differently?"

	"Nothing." This was how Jean showed love. Everything she had ever
done, to Mom and to me, she did out of love. She never let me help so
that she could better express her own love for Mom.

The implication here is that, while Jacob's whole life could have been
changed with just a few small decisions made differently, Jean is
instead walking some narrowly-defined and deterministic path.
Jacob/Jake/Jack has chosen to be three different people; Jean can't
help it, that's just how she is.  It's unfair to Jean as a character,
but more importantly, it sells out the basic message of the story,
which is that all of our lives are contingent on the choices we've

Overall, this is a good start--the story has a solid idea at its core,
and some interesting character development.  It needs some close
editing, though, with attention paid to both the logical structure and
the use of language.

--Susan Marie Groppi
Editor of _Strange Horizons_ and co-editor of TWENTY-ONE EPICS

| - - REVIEWER HONOR ROLL - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |

The workshop's Reviewer Honor Roll 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

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 Your
nomination will appear on the first day of the next calendar month.

The Honor Roll will show all July nominations beginning August 1.
Meanwhile, here are two advance highlights from this month:

Reviewer: Sharon Ramirez
Submission: The Orchard Street Messiah (End) by Arnold Schwartz
Submitted by: Arnold Schwartz
Nominator's Comments: "Sharon has read my entire novel. Her expertise
with the subject matter as well as overall comments have contributed
in a way that cannot be measured. I would not have a story without

Reviewer: Eric Lowe
Submission: "Climbing Boys" by Barbara Gordon
Submitted by: Barbara Gordon
Nominator's Comments: "A thoughtful, penetrating and well-argued review
that stuck me with revising a hopefully-sf story over into fantasy.
The worst of it was that the sf trappings stripped off so easily that
I realised Eric was right. Arrrgh. But it's the good kind of pain."

Reviewers nominated to the honor roll during May and June include:
Ethan Archer (2), Vince Blackburn, Pablo Carapella, Jeanette Cottrell,
Anita Dalton,  Jennifer Dawson, Ruv Draba (2), Daniel Eley, Bonnie
Freeman (VC), Crash Froelich (2), elizabeth hull, Patty Jansen, Terra
LeMay, Ranke Lidyek, Sandra Panicucci, and Sylvia Volk.
We congratulate them all for their excellent reviews. All nominations
received in June can be still found through July 31 at:

| - - PUBLICATION ANNOUNCEMENTS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |

We can't announce them if you don't let us know! So drop Charlie a
line at whenever you have good
news to share.

OWW Member Sales and Publications:

Tom Barlow's story "The Hard Way" has been podcasted by _Well Told

Elizabeth Bear's CARNIVAL was named to the "Top 10 SF/Fantasy" list in
the may issue of _Booklist_.

Orson Scott Card contracted with TOR to publish an anthology of
stories that have appeared in the first four issues of his online
magazine, _ OSC's Intergalactic Medicine Show_. It will include OWWer
Brad Beaulieu's story "In the Eyes of the Empress's Cat." Brad also
has a new story comming out in the DIMENSIONS NEXT DOOR anthology that
will be published next year by DAW.

Susan Curnow sold her workshopped story "The Hawk, the Hound, and the
Lady Fair" to _Aoife's Kiss_.  When she can stop dancing, she sends
her "thanks to all who reviewed it."

Earl P. Dean's short story "The Heat Tailor" will appear in
_SAY...What's the Combination?_ edited by Christopher Rowe and Gwenda
Bond. He admits that "it has not been workshopped on the OWW, but I'm
sure the final edit before submission was informed by the observations
of this community, so thanks. And way to go to all the OWW members who
work so hard." Indeed.

Aliette de Bodard's story "Deer Flight" is going to be in _Interzone_
211, the special Michael Moorcock issue.  And her story "Sea Child"
sold to _Coyote Wild_ for their Fall 2007 issue. Aliette writes: "I'd
like to extend my thanks to those who critted it on OWW.
Unfortunately, while I know I workshopped it, I haven't kept tabs of
who took a look at it...."   Just consider yourself thanked.

Chris R. Evans (OWW member 1999-2001), sold the Iron Elves series,
which he describes as "Shanarra meets Sharpe's Rifles," to Pocket
Books. A DARKNESS FORGED IN FIRE, the first book, will come out in
hardcover in 2008.

Margaret Fisk's short story "Unique Worlds" won first place in The
Twelfth Annual PARSEC Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Story Contest!
She tells us: "This is my first sale since joining OWW!  As part of
the prize, my story will appear in the Confluence 2007 program book
for everyone to read.  I'll be going if any of you are. Special thanks
to David Cummings, Swapna Kishore, Matt Herreshoff, and David Weisman,
who are now saying, 'Huh?  What?' because they reviewed 'Unique
Worlds' under its first title of 'Out of Warranty,' but I took Matt's
advice and went through two titles before settling on 'Unique

One of Stephen Gaskell's stories, originally titled "A Shadow Over
Bedlam," recently sold to _Pseudopod_.  Stephen informs us that "The
piece was completely re-written after a fantastic critique by Ruv
Draba, who helped immensely in the story's reincarnation as a somewhat
different beast called 'Everyone Carries a Shadow.'  Props to everyone
at the workshop for helping me get to sale number two so soon after
the first one!  The story should be available for download in three to
six months."

Vylar Kaftan's story "Dinner Made Willing" is up at _The Town Drunk_
(  It was
workshopped as "Eat Organic."  Vy sends "Thanks to everyone who helped
improve the story!" "Godivy," a former EC story, sold to the PAPER
CITIES anthology. "Something Wicked This Way Plumbs" sold to
_Shimmer_.  And Vy's story "Galatea" appears in Heliotrope
(  Wow!

Melissa Marr's first novel, WICKED LOVELY, which grew out of a story
she workshopped on OWW, debuted at number 8 on the _New York Times_
bestseller list, and then climbed to number 2 and 3 for a few weeks.
Which is pretty darn cool!

Jill Myles, who belonged to OWW under a different name, sold SEX
STARVED, the tale of a nerd-turned-succubus, and a sequel to Pocket
Books for release in Fall 2008.

Ruth Nestvold's story "The Leaving Sweater" was published by _Strange
Horizons_ (

"The Nurse's Tale" by Sharon Ramirez received an Honorable Mention in
last quarter's Writer's of the Future contest.  Sharon says, "I'd like
to everyone who reviewed this story, especially Crash Froelich,
Katrina Kidder, Matt Herreshof, Mike Keyton and others--sorry, but I
misplaced some names, you know who you are.  Everyone made such great
suggestions, and helped so much in the rewrite process.  I'm excited
because while I didn't place in the top three, I know this is how a
career in writing is built, one brick at a time. Again, many thanks!"

David Reagan sold "Solitude Ripples From the Past" to _Futurismic_.
It's his third sale this year!

Rachel Swirsky's story, "A Letter Never Sent," is up at the _Konundrum
Engine Literary Review_.

Jeremy Yoder has a story in the humorous fantasy anthology entitled

| - - WORKSHOP STATISTICS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |

Number of members as of 7/19:  537 paying, 49 trial
Number of submissions currently online: 389
Percent of submissions with 3 or more reviews:  67.10%
Percent of submissions with zero reviews:  3.60%

Average reviews per submission (all submissions): 4.74
Estimated average review word count (all submissions):  702.28

Number of submissions in May: 231
Number of reviews in May: 910
Ratio of reviews/submissions in May: 3.94
Estimated average word count per review in May: 770.46

Number of submissions in June: 228
Number of reviews in June: 784
Ratio of reviews/submissions in June: 3.44
Estimated average word count per review in June: 844.85

Number of submissions in July to date: 117
Number of reviews in July to date: 469
Ratio of reviews/submissions in July to date: 4.01
Estimated average word count per review in July to date:  818.06

Total number of under-reviewed submissions:  82 (21%)
Number over 3 days old with 0 reviews: 6
Number over 1 week old with under 2 reviews: 34
Number over 2 weeks old with under 3 reviews: 42

| - - 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 and
we'll do the rest.

Until next month -- just write!

The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror

| - - Copyright 2007 Online Writing Workshops - - - - - - - - - - - |

Visit our newsletter page to subscribe!

[an error occurred while processing this directive]