It's June! What are your writing goals for the summer? The experts tell us to write every day, but that doesn't mean you can't take the day off now and again and enjoy doing nothing at all. So take a moment and relax. The writing projects will still be there when you get back, and maybe in the meantime you will have solved a plot problem in the shower.
The results of the May critique contest are in, and the winners are:
- First prize for most substantive critiques contributed: Lorraine McKay
- Second prize: Gio Clairval
- Third prize: Erin Stocks
- Honorable mentions: Kendra Highley, Suzanne Lazear, Sandra Panicucci, Rhonda S. Garcia, and Josh Vogt
First prize is a set of Charles Coleman Finlay's Traitor To The Crown trilogy, signed and personalized. Second prize is a year's free membership, and third prize is six months of membership. Congratulations to our winners, and above all, thanks to everyone who contributes useful critiques to the workshop.
As always, contact us if you have any questions, publication announcements, or ideas for improving the OWW Newsletter.
Maria Zannini, newsletter editor
newsletter (at) onlinewritingworkshop.com
Take me to your leader? This month's challenge is to write a scene involving a vacuum of power, whether it's the death of the galactic Emperor or the head of a thieves' guild's eventful vacation. What kind of terrible -- or hilarious -- doings go down when there's nobody at the top?
(Incidentally, we at the OWW are still looking for a new Challenge Dictator! Applicants must be able and willing to come up with one fun, chewy challenge per month in time for publication of this newsletter.)
Remember: Challenges are supposed to be fun, but don't forget to stretch yourself. If you normally write fantasy, try SF. If you've never tried space opera, here's your chance. It doesn't have to be great. It's all about trying new things. There's no word limit, no time limit, no nothin'. Just have fun.
Challenges can be suggested by anyone and suggestions should be sent to Maria (newsletter (at) onlinewritingworkshop.com).
Sharpen up those claws, er, pencils, and dig them stories out of your virtual trunk and post them on OWW, because another Annual Crit Marathon is just around the corner. Starting July 1st through the 21st, all OWW'ers get a chance to participate in the event that hones our writing skills, clears the review backlog, gets our competitive juices flowing, and restores the global economy to its former glory.
Ahem. OK, maybe not the last one.
Crit Marathons are of course purely voluntary. For those who decide to participate, requirements are modest: Write at least one substantive crit and post it to the workshop every day of the Marathon. (We forgive you if you have to skip and double up--if you have 21 crits posted by the end, you can consider yourself to have crossed the finish line).
Finishing of course is its own reward, an exhilarating euphoria mingled with a sense of peace which verges on the mystical, not to mention the legion of benefits to your own writing skills gained from reviewing others. However, to raise interest to a fever pitch, we will be offering modest prizes to the top three finishers. We are still in the process of emptying out our pockets and begging influential donors, but we'll be announcing them before the start of the event.
Here are the guidelines for the contest:
• Only crits posted to the OWW count.
• All crits must be substantive, meaning they must follow the OWW's guidelines to count. You can find the guidelines here.
• Each substantive crit posted will earn ONE marathon point.
• The 'official' Marathon list will be updated using telltales from the workshop.
• Official starting time is midnight between June 30th and July 1st, EST. However we will allow crits through end of July 21st, PST, so you get 3 extra hours.
• We will try for daily updates, but, well, things happen. Final results will be posted July 22nd, and appeals about missed crits will expire at midnight PST of the same day.
• Participants are free to crit any posted submission; however, one of the traditional goals of the marathon has been to clear the under-reviewed list. It may also be a good opportunity for those who are set within their crit circle to venture a bit further afield and get to know other/newer members.
If you choose to participate, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list, with subject line "Crit Marathon Participant." If you send the e-mail message to the list it may be missed, although we'll try to count you in even if you start late.
That's it! Hope to see you on the starting line, and good luck (and thanks) to all those who choose to participate. Top critters will be announced in the July newsletter.
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 Jeanne Cavelos, Karen Meisner, 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' Choices."
Congratulations to the current Editors' Choice authors!
THE FAERIE LOVER, Chapters 9-11 by Adrienne Clarke (YA)
Depicting someone head over heels in love can be difficult. You want your audience to feel the same elation your character does, but you don't want to push so far that the reader finds the person annoying. It can be an onerous task, to be sure. We've all been around someone experiencing new love, and we know that their perpetual happiness can become grating. Adrienne Clarke tempers that head-over-heels-in-love feeling with a level of shyness and discomfort in portraying emotions in her characters in THE FAERIE LOVER. The young couple in question no doubt loves each other very much, but they live in a world where men do not reveal their feelings and women are taught to be unsure of themselves (sound familiar?).
There's a paragraph in Chapter Ten where Clarke describes the feeling her protagonist Brigid feels as an ache. The reader will really empathize with Brigid's feelings in this paragraph. She really captures that feeling of how the time with the person you love goes by quickly while time apart is almost painful.
But what happens when one of the people slides from being head-over-heels to being bewitched? Then it becomes an entirely different thing. What could be annoying lovey dovey talk becomes sinister, almost lethal. Paranoia grows in your reader as your protagonist steps further and further into danger; everything looks like a threat, every scene has an uncomfortable feeling to it. And yet, the protagonist willfully goes along, never hesitating at the warning signs, never questioning what's happening.
Clarke even does a nice job of other people asking the question that Brigid should be asking. When away from her changed betrothed, Connell, Brigid herself starts to wonder about what they're doing and how the wedding seems to never get planned, and how does all the work at the mill get done when Connell and Brigid are out until sunrise every night. There are so many things to question, but Brigid is not in control of her senses and is unable to confront Connell.
Whether Clarke means for this to represent how women often feel when they got into situations they can't control--how often is the news full of women who stay with men who mis-treat them?--doesn't matter. The connection is there. Brigid literally has no control over her situation and whether she would leave. She cannot. The scenes in these chapters between Brigid and Connell were just chilling to me. I wanted to step into the pages and save Brigid. We can only hope that Brigid will find a way to save herself in chapters yet to come.
This selection is also a great example of a well-written chapter that is rife with small errors. From the selection being called ‘Chapters 9-11' when clearly there is no chapter 11 in this submission to many mis-spelled or mis-used words, they take a promising chapter and potentially ruin it.
First, let's address the naming of the submission versus what's actually there. Clarke's other submission online is called ‘Chapters 6-8' but only has chapters seven and eight. This may seem unimportant, particularly when submitting to your writing group, but this is the type of error that can send your submission into the reject pile without being read at all. If you tell an agent or an editor that you're sending Chapters X - Y, make sure that you send those chapters, and only those chapters. Don't send less, don't send more. It makes you look careless. And if you can't care about your submission, why should someone else?
Second, there are a lot of mis-spelled words in the piece: ‘alright' instead of ‘all right;' ‘current' instead of ‘currant;' ‘meet' instead of ‘meat;' ‘head' instead of ‘heard;' ‘moth' instead of ‘mouth;' and so on. Mistakes like this will drive an editor crazy. It should go without saying that spelling errors SHOULD NOT EXIST IN YOUR MANUSCRIPT, but, well, I just went and said it again. I'm always surprised when I see people complaining that this type of thing shouldn't matter. Too bad, it does. Again, if you don't care enough about your manuscript to make sure that you've spelled all the words correctly, why should someone care to read it?
Third, there are words that used incorrectly. What I mean is, I think a different word was intended to be used. For example: ‘created' instead of ‘greeted;' ‘Midir' instead of ‘Connell;' and so on. Again, this is the type of thing you need to read through your manuscript carefully and weed out. Better yet, this is a great example of why you should have someone else read your manuscript (as you are all doing here)--someone more impartial to the text than you are--to catch this type of errors.
I had a little trouble understanding how time was passing in these chapters. At times it felt like the reader was getting day-by-day descriptions, but later on, it became clear that weeks if not months had passed. There is a paragraph that describes gifts that Connell gives to Brigid, and this could be a great place for Clarke to put in little snippets of time. Each gift could be marked by some arbitrary day or event. This would help the reader know how much time is passing.
Nonetheless, I like how these chapters were constructed. Clarke has done a great job of letting the reader flow along with Brigid as her relationship goes from wonderful and exhilarating to confusing and scary. If she cleans up some of the simple grammatical and spelling errors, this will be a nice, clean manuscript.
--John Klima, Editor, Electric Velocipede
GRAVE TIMES, Chapter 13 by Michael Keyton
In this chapter the author effectively utilizes different voices to enhance the different characters, even in the tight third person of the narrative. Sly use of interiors and pacing the sentences can serve to give the prose life and color, instead of a sort of flat line in tone no matter the scene, which many less experienced writers might fall into.
She wanted to know where they were heading, along with any more little surprises the conniving little bigot had up his sleeve.
This is clearly in Dorothy's voice and not the writer's, and so adds another layer to the character in addition to what we see in dialogue and action. This chapter is well into the meat of the novel and so one would expect there to be a certain familiarity with the characters and how they come across on the page. Part of illustrating character on the page is paying attention to the "beat" of sentences as well as to the words themselves and how those words reflect the emotion, tone, and personality of the character in the scene.
Dorothy stared back at him trying to control her anger. Every so often, her gaze shifted to a window that showed only rooftop and sky, both blurred in rain. It was not a good view, though in her experience good was what you made of it. To her left was a brown painted door, and guarding it on either side, two pictures, each showing cottages covered in honeysuckle and roses, a rural idyll, out of place in a house like this, out of place anywhere in this world. Fantasy; though she knew her grandmother had grown up in a cottage very like the ones that saddened her now.
There is no need for long, drawn out descriptions -- Dorothy's observations reflect both interior and exterior; if the author had concentrated merely on what she saw, the prose would seem empty; if only her inner thoughts were portrayed, the environment might lack in details. Striking a balance gives the reader a more holistic view of the story and creates an immersive feeling in both setting and character. If there's one thing to quibble over, it's to beware of thrifty phrases like "trying to control her anger" -- perhaps show that rather than just telling it. How is she trying to control it? Do her eyes squint a little, do her shoulders become tense, does she feel a tightness in her chest from irritation? Small additives like that can flesh out the character even more.
"Do you find something funny?" Just saying it made her feel better, anything but this grey and deadening silence.
As in here...how does she say it?
"And you're not making this up?" The question came from nowhere. Shock perhaps, and the sudden realization that she wanted to believe.
If you say that the question came from nowhere then follow it up with a "sudden realization," be careful not to cheat the reader with such assumptions. Why does she want to believe now? What has changed in her circumstances? You don't need to go into major detail if this is something that has a slow reveal, but some indication to her sudden 180 opinion might add meat to the statements and make them more believable and consistent to her character. Not only should events in plot have foreshadowing somehow, but foreshadowing characters is something to think about as well. People might not realize why they behave in certain ways, but the reader can still track that behavior.
The conversation between Dorothy and Ibn ends on a good hook -- her question about if he still hears voices. This caps off their dialogue nicely. Ending scenes on intriguing breaks helps the reader remember where things were left off so when the narrative returns to that point it's easy to pick up again.
Shamir had heard enough. He moved away from the door as quietly as he could. They'd be wondering where he'd got to. Tea only takes so long to make. The kettle though had boiled. He switched it on again and measured five spoons of tea in the pot. He remembered how his mother had made tea, and smiled, holding the kettle high and allowing the boiling water to tumble down in a torrent of heat and steam. Then he mashed. Most important his mother affirmed. Most important. He stirred the tea vigorously with the spoon, watching the random swirl and pattern of leaves, focusing on one, and wondering where it would settle.
The tone in the next scene with Shamir completely changes now; it's brisk, a little more deadened -- he is a different personality from Dorothy and it's reflected in the narrative. This is good layered writing that gives a book melody and color, rather than being a one-note retelling.
For the rest of this review, visit the Editor's Choice area of the OWW site!
Author of THE GASLIGHT DOGS, BURNDIVE and CAGEBIRD
"Against Forgetting/So Far Faithful" by Sarah Kanning
"Against Forgetting/So Far Faithful" is a story in the form of a journal entry written by Mina, a prisoner in the future. She explains that she was once a political dissident who plotted to overthrow the government forty years ago, and she and her co-conspirators planted blocks in their psyches to prevent them from talking if they were captured. Now, in her old age, dementia is setting in and loosening those strictures, and her doctor/jailer is interested in learning some of the facts about their long-ago plans, for posterity. But as the letter progresses, we get hints that this version of reality may be false, and shadowy clues suggest that perhaps those forty years are only an illusion induced by the doctors to mess with her mind, so she will betray the other revolutionaries and divulge some still-vital information.
It's a great premise, neatly and effectively handled through a wandering, slightly disjointed narrative that reveals just enough to make us wonder if something about this picture is off, right up until the end when Mina makes her own suspicions explicit. We never learn anything specific about the conspirators or what kind of government they're fighting against, and I think that absence of detail actually works well here. They could be any rebels, against any establishment, fighting for any revolution; right or wrong doesn't enter into the picture, so what we're left with is the stripped-down fundamental dynamic of this individual vs. the institutional power, struggling for control over her life. I do, however, want to feel there's more at stake in an immediate, practical way: for example, is there any piece of information in particular that her jailers are trying to find out? We only know that they are looking for "names, crimes, locations, details of the plan." This is an area where getting a bit more specific might sharpen the tension, and help us read a sense of urgency between the lines. We don't need to know about the political situation, but I think that in the here-and-now of these events, it would ratchet up the suspense if we saw just a touch of the jailer angling toward some direct goal.
The epistolary form implies a certain relationship between the document's fictional writer and an audience, so it's important to establish right away who the writer expects to be reading it, and to make sure the prose reflects that expectation. In this case, Mina is supposedly writing in a journal to help focus her memory, with the understanding that her doctors will read it. But there are a few places where the prose undermines that structure by addressing an imaginary reader who doesn't seem to fit the situation. One spot where the story breaks tone is the line, "I am having A Good Day (although as you'll see, that's relative)." This suggests an overarching control of narrative better suited to an author who's plotting out a complete story, rather than figuring out what she means to say as she goes along, and it throws me out of my belief that Mina is scribbling in a journal. The very second sentence -- "Why does a solitary activity rate pro-social points, you may ask?" -- seems out of place, since neither the doctors or herself would need to ask or be told. So it triggers the question: to what "you" is this journal entry addressed, and for whom is it really intended? I think it's too soon to bring in any ambiguity about those facts, because in that first paragraph we are still getting a grip on the basic premise, and to break from it so early is just confusing. Whereas if the story starts out grounded in a tight sense of who she's supposed to be writing for, then the moment at the end when she suddenly speaks directly to her "fellow revolutionaries, lovers, and friends" becomes more powerful: it's not only a shift in focus, but a triumphant wrenching of reality away from the framework that's been imposed on her life.
One of the neat things about the epistolary form is how it can be used to create a sense of immediacy, the feeling that things are happening as the writer is writing about them -- and in "Against Forgetting/So Far Faithful," we see this in full effect: the very act of writing down the story is what's altering events, helping Mina to understand her situation and decide on a course of action. She may have a notion from the start of where she's heading, but the choice to write about it makes more sense to me if she's using the journal to feel her way toward that conclusion. Even if she's suspected for a while that things aren't quite right, I get the impression that when she begins writing the entry, she is in a different mental place than where she finishes. It's wonderful that in the middle of all this elaborate high-tech deception, a simple ballpoint pen becomes the instrument of her self-awareness, allowing her to organize her thoughts independently without being monitored. The way her narrative moves from one view of reality to another is a great strength of the story, and the journal-entry format offers the chance to bring that experience forward, to show us her dawning comprehension. I'd like to see just a bit more of that motion in the story. Maybe a moment or two when she questions herself, as people often do in journal entries, or contradicts something she'd said earlier, or makes an observation and then corrects it? Whether due to dementia or brainwashing, her mind is in chaos, fighting against itself, so it seems as though that could be reflected more in the flow of the narrative.
I wonder about the cliff. It seems very convenient. Surely it would pose a constant danger to the prisoners? Without over-emphasizing that feature of the landscape, I'd like to see some plausible explanation for why or how often they're allowed to be near it, something to make me buy that it could be a realistic part of a prison environment. The ease with which Mina can opt to kill herself makes me think the cliff can't be real, that it's an illusionary escape route. Whether or not it exists, though, I want that cliff to feel less like it's only there to serve the plot. When dealing in this much ambiguity, it's good to provide a few strong concrete physical details (such as the service robots, which are terrific), so the content doesn't end up feeling too wishy-washy and vague. This story does a beautiful job of riding the line between possible interpretations of what's really going on, and I enjoy that it leaves the question open. But I'm diverted from the impact of the ending by this lingering dubiousness about the geographical layout, and I don't want to be thinking "No way" at the end -- I want to be thinking "I wonder...?"
Mostly what I'm thinking at the end is "Wow." This is a powerful and original story. Good luck with it.
--Karen Meisner, Editor, Strange Horizons
"Good Cheer" by Christopher Cornell
"Good Cheer" tells the story of three homicidal maniacs who live together and decide one day to make a statement against Christmas by killing store Santas. Later, when they go to buy some drugs from the local dealer, Tico, he complains that they've brought too much police attention to the area. That night, Tico sends some goons to kill them, but they are forewarned by one of Tico's employees, Slim. They kill the goons and launch an attack on Tico's place. One of the three is killed, but Slim appears and helps the remaining two to escape. Slim joins their gang and they drive off happily.
The strongest element of the story is the description of the three killers. They have some fresh, creepy characteristics, including fingers they have cut off for various reasons. The story provides some powerful details about them. The opening scene, the murder of a Santa, certainly gets my attention and pulls me into the story.
The biggest weakness in the story is the lack of emotion elicited in the reader. Horror is all about emotions. In his essay "The Subject Matter of Horror," Steve Rasnic Tem says, "At its best, horror deals with the range of feelings--awe, terror, compassion, fear--which people experience when faced with the darkness of existence." Later in the essay, he mentions additional emotions: anger, pity, unease, apprehension, grief, shame, even "the shock of self-recognition," and he suggests that the purpose of horror is "to probe the darker conflicts of the human heart."
While I feel a moment of shock when the Santa is killed, and a bit of unease at the description of their mangled hands, I feel very little while reading most of the story. I think this lack of emotion has two causes: description and plot.
The story lacks sufficient description to allow me to really see these three killers, to see where and how they live, to understand their way of life in all its horror. The family of killers is a motif we see in much horror, such as THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, and HOUSE OF A THOUSAND CORPSES. This family can create many of the emotions Tem lists. But we need to see how they live, how they treat life and death, to see that they are truly, terrifyingly other. I'm not asking for more gore; I'm asking you to show us the characters vividly enough that we are "faced with the darkness of existence." I don't feel that I am yet.
The second part of the problem relates to plot. In most cases, the killer family serves as the antagonist, and our sympathy is with their victims. We feel the terror of the victims as they run from the family. On rare occasions, the killer family can serve as the protagonist. This is very tricky to pull off, and it's what you're attempting here, which is bold and gutsy, but not quite working. To make us root for the killer family, they must be up against something we hate worse than them. We must feel contempt for the teens doing drugs and having sex in the back of the van, or for the land developer attempting to buy up the family's land for a song, or for the child molester who pulled over to the side of the road in the wrong spot. We think that the family is only killing those who "deserve it," so that's not so bad. If you don't have an antagonist worse than the protagonist, then we need to see the killer family doing something good that somehow balances their bad actions. We see the killer family saving a cat or offering some extra fried liver to a homeless man. Or, another option, we see that the protagonist is up against nearly insurmountable odds, so we sympathize with the underdog.
Right now the plot doesn't contain any of these elements. I don't feel the desire for the killer family to succeed in their conflict with the drug dealer, and I don't particularly feel the desire for the killer family to fail. You've only shown me one murder, of a Santa I don't know, and the other deaths are the result of self-defense. That doesn't generate a lot of emotion. The antagonist is the drug dealer Tico. While you could portray a drug dealer as a horrible person who preys on children of the neighborhood and drives them to overdose, Tico is not developed much and seems like a fairly level-headed and reasonable guy. I don't feel any desire for him to die, yet I don't particularly care if he lives, so when he's killed, I don't feel much of anything. The family's raid on Tico's place feels more like something out of an action story than a horror story. It doesn't feel frightening or disturbing at all, and the point of view remains distant from the characters most of the time. I don't have a dog in the fight.
For the rest of this review, visit the Editor's Choice area of the OWW site!
--Jeanne Cavelos, editor, author, director of Odyssey
Ginger Clark has been a literary agent with Curtis Brown LTD since Fall 2005. She represents science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, literary horror, and young adult and middle grade fiction. In addition to representing her own clients, she also represents British rights for the agency's children's list. Previously, she worked at Writers House for six years as an assistant literary agent. Her first job in publishing was as an editorial assistant at Tor Books. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College. She is a member of the Contracts Committee of the AAR. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.
OWW is very pleased to bring you Ginger Clark!
Does it hurt or help if an author mentions in his query letter that he is a member of a recognized writers' group like OWW?
It doesn't hurt, so go ahead and mention it.
What is the biggest mistake authors make when they query you?
Putting aside typos, mass e-mailing, addressing me as "Sir or Madam" or "Dear Agent", calling me by another person's name, etc. etc., I would say the biggest mistake is describing the book in such vague terms that I have no idea what the plot is, who the main character is, how old they are (which is important when writing a children's book), or what kind of book it is. People are often unable to identify or discuss their work in an intelligent and clear manner.
What do you think is a hard sell in the current climate? What do editors seem to ask for most?
Of the fields your newsletter covers, I think hard SF is a hard sell. I think military SF and post-apocalyptic fiction is selling well. Urban fantasy continues to boom. There is always room for high fantasy. And of course, paranormal romance is still huge.
With the sobering economic news and publishers announcing cutbacks and layoffs, what has changed for you as an agent?
You mean, besides regular hand-wringing over what will happen to editors I know and love who have been laid off? I can say I'm focusing on building the children's side of my list more than the adult side. I'm trying to think more of what is working abroad when I'm trying to sell a work, in the hopes that if I sell it for not great money here, it might work well in another country.
How has the rise of digital media affected authors and agents?
I think the rise in e-book sales (which sounds like it's growing astronomically fast, but it still represents just a few percentage points of sales, if even that) has affected agents. We almost always grant electronic book rights to publishers now. But over the past few years, they have consistently reduced their e-book royalties and subrights splits from something fair to something far less fair. Considering that, as far as I can tell, the actual production costs of an e-book are rather low, this is frustrating for authors and agents.
I do think electronic books can work very well as a promotional tool. Readers can get quick access to a writer's book and decide if they like the writing or not.
From my own personal use, I love my Sony Ereader (which I bought in early March, in anticipation of the Bologna Book Fair--I wanted to bring work reading, but was no longer willing to lug manuscripts with me), and I do read for pleasure on it sometimes.
In your opinion, what is the worst contract clause in a typical boilerplate?
Oh, well--it all depends on what a contract actually says! I think the clause that is often one of the more tricky ones is the Out of print clause. With technologies like Print on Demand and e-books, we have to be careful about how the publisher defines a book being out of print.
Is there a publishing house you've especially enjoyed working with and why?
I am a huge fan of Diana Gill and Eos--they have my client Richard Kadrey and are doing a bang-up job with his first book in his new urban fantasy series. Jennifer Heddle at Pocket is doing great work with her line of urban fantasies. And I love working with everyone at Ace--particularly Jessica Wade and Anne Sowards, who are not only sharp, hard-working editors, but wonderful friends.
On the kids' side of my list, I have been very impressed with the editors I'm dealing with at Simon Pulse, Razorbill, and the newish Egmont US.
Can you tell us your favorite story of how you found one of your clients?
Most of my clients are referred to me by other clients, by authors I know, by editors, by a former boss...but I actually did meet my client Jon Armstrong (GREY) at a party about four years ago. It was hosted by one of my former boss's clients, about ten blocks from my place in Park Slope. We were introduced and he told me very briefly about his book, and he was very funny and charming. I read the book a couple of weeks later and fell in love with it. But I do want to point out that meeting an agent at a party and then having her represent you doesn't happen very often!
What's been the most surprising thing that's happened to you since you started agenting?
It's all about reading something before someone else, being a very fast reader, and offering representation first. Recently an author I really liked and was friendly with e-mailed me after the holidays to say that, though she had queried me about her new novel on December 30th, she already had an agent. This agent had spent an hour with her on the phone on New Year's Eve discussing edits, and the author just couldn't wait to hear from other agents. I was very disappointed, but I understood her rush to take the first offer in front of her.
If you could do anything else other than agenting, what would it be?
I really do love being an agent. But I do love animals, so I'd probably want to work for an animal sanctuary, or a very well run zoo. Or else be a philanthropist--but I'd have to be very rich to do that.
Editor's note: If you would like to contact Ginger Clark, please visit the Curtis Brown Ltd. website for more information.
Andrew Alford received word from AlienSkin that his micro-horror piece "A Jury of His Peers" will appear in the June/July 2009 issue.
Jesse Bangs says, "I just sold a flash fiction piece 'Lights on the Highway' to Everyday Weirdness! The story came out April 29. For anyone who hasn't heard of it, I highly recommend Everyday Weirdness to flash writers and poetry writers. They don't pay much, but their site is very nice, their stories are good, and their publication schedule is great for reading (one flash or poem per day)."
Nicole Cushing announced: "My short story 'The Snail Man Contagion' (which I workshopped probably about a month ago) was bought by the e-zine Reflection's Edge. I have some non-fiction coming out in Doorways Magazine and that first sale to the Cemetery Dance anthology should finally (after seven years!) be seeing print this fall in the anthology In Laymon's Terms."
April Grey wrote us: "Good news in my e-mail this morning, my story "When Alexander Died" is going to be published by Chaos Theory: Tales Askew."
Rochita Loenen-Ruiz tells us: "Ann VanderMeer wants 'Catching an Angel.' This 146-word story will be appearing online and on video as a one-minute Weird Tales publication. Yes, yes...I did the jumping up and down with joy thing...and each time I read the acceptance e-mail, I smile from ear to ear. My first sale after five months of rejections and close calls."
Marshall Payne announced happily, "So ends my three-month 28-rejection dry spell. Kaleidotrope published my flash story 'The Blue Testament' in issue #5, and will now be publishing "Danny's Magical Toe Jam" in an upcoming issue. This one is a 4k urban fantasy and one of my faves. Kaleidotrope is a nifty little print zine and I'm happy to be in it again. Special thanks to Aliette de Bodard, Linda Steele, and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz for their help, comments, and abiding my off-beat, twisted fantasy tropes. *g*"
Elizabeth Schechter says: "I just got the e-mail from Circlet Press that they want to include my short story 'The Succubus' in their upcoming steampunk anthology! Now THIS is the way to end the week!"
THE DEMON REDCOAT by Charles Coleman Finlay (Del Rey Books, June 2009)
The War of Independence appears to have no end in sight. Discouraged by the bloodshed and suffering their magic can do nothing to prevent, Proctor and his wife, Deborah, dream of starting a family. But when Deborah gives birth, a powerful demon called Balfri, summoned by the secret society of European witches known as the Covenant, tries to possess the child. Though the attack in unsuccessful, it makes Proctor and Deborah realize that there can be no safety for them, or for anyone, until the Covenant is destroyed.
Proctor embarks on a desperate journey to take the fight to the heart of the Covenant's power: Europe. There he will uncover a dark, necromantic design of chillingly vast proportions. His only chance to defeat it will be to join forces with the very king the Revolution opposes, King George III. Meanwhile, back in America, Deborah will face Balfri again--only this time the demon will have the whole British army to command.
A SPELL FOR THE REVOLUTION by Charles Coleman Finlay (Del Rey Books, May 2009)
After making early gains on the battlefields, General Washington's struggling young armies are being relentlessly pressed back by British troops and Hessian mercenaries. Among the enemy's ranks is a mysterious force from the Covenant, a secret society of witches that for centuries has been pulling the strings of European history: a Hessian necromancer who drinks the power of other witches like a vampire and whose allies include devils and ghosts. Now this man seeks to sap the fighting spirit of Washington's troops by means of a pernicious curse, chaining the souls of the dead to the spirits of the living.
Against him stands Proctor Brown and Deborah Walcott, two young patriots who lead a ragtag band of witches as much in danger from their own side as from the enemy. Proctor and Deborah must find a way to break the Hessian's curse before the newborn revolution is smothered in its cradle-and the Covenant extends its dark dominion to the shores of America, extinguishing forever the already sputtering torch of liberty.
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