October 2009 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge

Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

Reviewer Honor Roll

Membership Info



As we move into fall, we are in still in search of a permanent Challenge Dictator, but I want to thank those who've sent in individual suggestions. If you have an inner dictator that's aching to come out, please contact me, whereby I will hand out the appropriate whips and salt water for your dictating pleasure. 

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


Monthly Writing Challenge

When I think of October, I think of Halloween. But what happens once the masks come off? Your challenge is to tell us what's on the other side of that mask.

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).

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 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!

Editors' Choices, Fantasy

DEMON'S BANE, Chapter 9 by David Douglas

The coming-of-age story in genre is one of its oldest tropes. When writing about coming of age, you need to take care not to tread ground that has been worn bare by all the writers before you. There are many stories about a young person who has some destiny (whether to be a King/Queen or a powerful wizard does not matter) but is unaware of said destiny. As these stories go, nearly everyone else in the story knows about the destiny of this person, but refuses to tell them about it so that the protagonist can struggle gaining the knowledge of who they are.

But what about a coming-of-age story where the protagonist knows as much and perhaps more than the characters around him? That would put the protagonist in a unique spot. And being a coming-of-age story, the protagonist could reveal as much or as little as he wanted. The people around the protagonist might not believe the information revealed, chalking it up as immaturity or crazy stories that kids tell. Alternately, the protagonist might not have the confidence to bring up information that would be helpful to the people around him.

This is what David Douglas has done in his fantasy chapter DEMON'S BANE. The protagonist, Senn, starts the story knowing that he has magical powers, and due to his heritage, may have pretty strong power at that. He also knows that his father has caused demons to come into their world due to his dabbling in things he should have left alone. In some part of his mind, Senn has to know that he may have to come to conflict with his father to set things right. That's a pretty powerful theme to set up for the novel (see Hamlet, Star Wars, et al.).

The novel begins with demons overrunning Senn's village. Senn and a few friends escape, and he has no idea what's happened to the rest of the people he grew up with, including his mother. He knows that the demons have possessed some of the villagers, but remains in the dark about the fate of the rest. Douglas has created a lot of great potential conflict in the opening chapters of this novel. On top of that, Senn is going through all the awkwardness of maturity, which only serves to complicate things.

However, there are some things in the text that I believe need to be clarified. Occasions where Douglas talks about the passage of time don't seem to work with each other. Senn has several magical devices of his mother's that he was able to retain when he escaped the village. In this chapter, Senn and the people he's traveling with are preparing an ambush for the demons. Senn lets Aiden, a more experienced wizard, know that Senn will be able to provide the ambush with some warning of the demons' arrival: "Maybe half an hour or more. I have a... magic item... from my mother, which gives me an alarm when spirits are getting near." I think giving a time frame to this is a mistake.

What if the demons are moving REALLY fast? What if they're moving REALLY slowly? Assuming that the device is actually using proximity to raise alarm (i.e., 50 ft away, 1 mile away, etc. rather than an amount of time away) the speed at which the "spirits" are moving could greatly affect the amount of time before they arrive. Walking two miles in a half hour isn't necessarily tough exercise. Something two miles away isn't exactly near when we're talking about a setting where horse-riding is the swiftest form of travel. You'd never see someone two miles away in a forest, but on an open plain you would.

Instead, Senn could say something like "the time varies, but if they're on foot, maybe a half-hour or more of advance warning." That way, Senn acknowledges that the device might only give them thirty seconds of warning, but most of the time it's longer than that. It could also be that Senn has no real sense of how much advance warning he'll be able to give and he doesn't want to admit that he doesn't know. If that's the case, what Douglas needs to do is to have Senn acknowledge his ignorance internally so that the reader knows what Senn knows. Senn doesn't have to say it out loud, but it needs to be explained.

They are making poison darts to use on the demons. I have a few issues with this. Some of the demons are people they know who are possessed; do they go ahead and poison people they know? Can they be saved? Can the demons be removed and the person returned to normality? If that's the case, do we want to poison them?

Secondly, Aiden tells Senn to remember that the poison "will take time to affect them, maybe hours--don't count on it during the battle!" Um...so why use it? When they're preparing the poison, they're told to be very careful with it. And if it won't affect the demons for hours, wouldn't it be better to use something stronger to knock them out more immediately? I suppose the poison could be in case they run. The demons could be tracked, knowing that the poison would take them down eventually.

There are other occasions where Douglas' word choice could be better. Senn complains internally about the work he has to do preparing the ambush, but notes that he doesn't mind working hard with his life on the line. Unfortunately, this implies that Senn won't work so hard when things are peaceful, which doesn't seem to be how Douglas has built this character.

Douglas has a great foundation here, but needs to clean up the text to get this story ready. He's taking a familiar story-telling trope, and giving it a bit of turn. It's not truly ground-breaking, but it's different enough to make it refreshing and provide some with fertile ground for story development.

--John Klima, Editor, Electric Velocipede

Editors' Choices, Science Fiction

SUSHI FOR DEMONS, Chapter 1 by Gio Clairval

This month's EC was chosen for its use of voice and the interesting location in which to set a future something-punk story. The prologue begins with an odd point-of-view -- what seems to be an invisible, amnesiac man. This gives immediate intrigue as the major questions of who, what, why all present themselves while offering enough odd details to ground the reader in time and place.

Vehicles rolled over puddles in the ruined macadam, splashing water on his shiny brown oxfords. Jack didn't dodge the sprays. Nothing could soak him, unless he wished to get wet.

Key phrases like "unless he wished to get wet" smattered throughout the narrative provide that "something is rotten in the state of Denmark"' feel that science fiction tends to need in order to let the reader know that this isn't precisely our world, even if we recognize some aspects of it. But the voice and situation change when the prologue segues to the first chapter, and this is where the problems arise.

First, the switch from third to first person doesn't feel as natural. Where the third person point-of-view described both interiors and exterior narrative with ease, the first person voice of the new protagonist -- female toughie Sarasvati (great name, by the way) -- comes across too self-conscious and too authorial. The first person point-of-view is the most character embedded (the writer and thus the reader is eye-deep in the character's head), far more than a tight third person even, and because of this it should not be treated like a third-person narrative in which all of the "she"s are just replaced by "I." When the writing itself is also a little too regular in sentence structure, this gives the overall voice a stilted, unnatural tone. For example:

I pulled with all my strength but the shutter wouldn't come down the last ten centimetres. I kicked the handle once, twice, until, for no apparent reason, the paffing thing unrolled and clanked into place. My back against the corrugated iron, I scouted a ciggy out of my jeans pocket and struggled to light the gasper...

I pulled, I kicked, I scouted ... using this with the first person gives a distant, narrating feel to it all rather than the narrative rolling organically from the character's thoughts, actions, and situation. Because of this the prose is very self-conscious. When characters begin to "observe" things that as a reader we know they wouldn't so markedly point out because it's either obvious to them or something they wouldn't describe in that way, that just enhances the intrusive nature of the author's voice. For example:

My hair spilled down my face, glossy midnight black but hopelessly flat. No use trying to backcomb it for volume. The pigeon rouge made a nice contrast. Could use some makeup more often.

Perhaps she's just vain enough to describe her hair as "glossy, midnight black" and to consciously note what a nice contrast her makeup makes to it (whilst riding pillion down a crowded street) but if this kind of observation isn't part of her character then it comes across as the author's clunky way of getting out a character description to the reader. Two lines later she then states that she wasn't listening to her friend because she was thinking of the odd floating match, but in reality the reader sees that she was in fact thinking of her glossy black hair.

This is where what's happening in the narrative isn't matching the first-person interiors and the reader gets the feeling that the two are being treated separately by the author, when in fact a first-person narrative should be as seamless as possible between the point-of-view character's thoughts and the story that is unfolding around her in action and description. Everything is being filtered through her thoughts and her point-of-view, and nowhere should the author be present to the point that readers interpret what they're reading as an authorial interjection. It's a matter of writing with less transparency, of manipulating the reader into thinking that this is just the character on the page (even when it's obvious that the character is a meticulous construct). When a writer can convince her readers that all they are reading is the character and not the author, that is when first person is the most effective.

The parts of the narrative that aren't focusing so much on Sara's describing her own thoughts or appearance, but rather the city or her friend, are the parts that don't read as "obvious." This might be an indication that the story might work better in a tight third person, which naturally infuses a bit more distance and in a way frees up the author to have a more authorial tone. Not all books sound the best in the point-of-view that the author wants, but are rather dictated by the tone and needs of the narrative.

For the rest of this review, visit the Editor's Choice area of the OWW site!

--Karin Lowachee

Editors' Choices, Short Story

"The Gentleman's Apprentice" by C. Steven Montgomery

Victor is a farmer with a past. When Rory, the young boy who helps out around the farm, announces that a "gentleman" has shown up in town, Victor goes on the run to escape this hired gun, and Rory goes with him. This very entertaining story reads like a Western, but is set in the future, and the feared gentleman appears to be one in a series of o f genetically engineered cyborgs employed as hired guns by the wealthy.

The story starts off wonderfully, establishing a sense of urgency and mystery right off the bat, while setting a Western tone and flavor that remain consistent all the way through. The writing overall is strong and clear, and in places absolutely beautiful; I especially love the ending, which calls out in an unforced way to the story's beginning.

Classic Western archetypes are used well here, and I enjoy the science-fictional story playing out against such a familiar backdrop, but in a few places, I think the story may rely too heavily on Western tropes and stock footage that undermine the SF elements. Here's our view, for example, as Victor rides into town:

"The next day, the forest gradually gave way to low-lying scrub and tallgrass and the land evened out and opened up into a wide, gentle valley. The clear terrain left little to no cover, and an overcast sky dampened an otherwise fine fall day. They picked up the main road--a ten-foot-wide dirt road, partially overgrown with foliage--and made Deepwood by mid-afternoon."

And the town itself:

"The main road went straight through the palisade and was lined on each sides by two or three buildings--including the usual suspects: a saloon, a blacksmith, and a stabler."

Given such descriptions, we default to imagining a landscape that matches the Old West tone of the narrative. Midway through the story, though, we discover that this is all taking place in some kind of future, presumably a post-apocalyptic one. Our first clue is dropped out of nowhere in this line of dialogue:

"They've got more machinery in their bodies than an entire Toyota plant."

This is a pivotal moment, but a disconcerting one, because it doesn't seem to fit with what we've seen up til that point. It nearly achieves a great effect -- letting us settle into the frontier scene, then pulling back to reveal things are not quite what we'd thought -- but this line isn't quite carrying it off, and here's why. The reference suggests a host of related facts about the setting: if Toyota plants exist, that means cars exist, and paved roads, and all sorts of other modern constructions. Do they exist now, but somewhere else? If they no longer exist, what happened to them? Even if an old civilization has been devastated, I'd expect some physical remains would be visible in the world, but we never see them, except in this one mention of an offstage factory. Are there ruins of ancient buildings around, broken chunks of old road, buried shells of old vehicles poking through layers of scrub grown over them? Even if these things are only hinted at subtly (for example, I do appreciate that a town is named "Fallout's Edge"), I'd still like some sense that they're part of the landscape, or if not, why not.

Seeding the story with a previous hint or two would make the difference between deceiving the readers, and giving us the tools to retroactively figure out what's going on. The former throws me out of the story because I feel cheated; suddenly I can't trust the picture that's been painted. Whereas the latter can give a really satisfying sense of "Aha!" as I piece together a new understanding of what I've been seeing.

Another place where I feel the story may be relying too much on Western archetypes is when "...Victor sat listening to the inane banter of these rebels." We haven't witnessed any particular inanity from the rebels, so I wondered if this was meant to tell us something about Victor's sense of superiority. The effect of describing their banter as inane without showing any specifics is to render the rebels as stock cardboard types from central casting, substituting cliches for actual characters. Give us even one sample of actual inane banter and I'm much more willing to believe this scene.

For the rest of this review, visit the Editor's Choice area of the OWW site!

--Karen Meisner, Editor, Strange Horizons

Editors' Choices, Horror

"Peeling" by J Westlake

"Peeling" follows Bill's efforts to nurse his wife, Eva, who is dying of a disease that makes her skin flake and peel off.  The story throws us right into the situation and builds good tension as we see Eva deteriorating--along with the rest of the country, as the plague spreads.  The story's vivid, horrific imagery and the growing feeling of inevitable doom are some of the strongest elements of this story.  
One area that I feel could be improved is the style.  Several stylistic weaknesses distracted me from the story and weakened the impact of some of the events.  These are fairly simple issues that can be pretty easily addressed.
* Filtering:  Filtering is a stylistic technique you want to avoid as much as possible.  Filtering means using phrases like "he saw," "he watched," "he looked at," "he squinted at," "he felt," "he smelled," "he heard," "he could hear," etc.  Filtering means you are establishing the means of perception of a certain sensory detail.  If you're describing a sight, you tell us who is seeing it, or with a sound, who is hearing it. Filtering should be avoided, because with it, you are stressing the means of perception rather than what was perceived.  Almost always, though, you want the reader's attention on what was perceived.
With filtering, we're standing at a distance, and the events have little emotional effect.  Without filtering, we're closer to the action and experiencing it along with the character.  An example is on p. 5:  "She raised a hand to rub her eyes and Bill saw that her arm was an angry pink.  It almost looked like sunburn.  She rubbed her eye and Bill saw miniscule flakes of skin float away in the air like dust."
The phrase "Bill saw," repeated twice here, is filtering.  With filtering, the author places the reader outside the POV character and stresses the action of perception.  When we read this, we are looking at Bill looking at Eva.  Instead, we should be inside Bill's head, looking through Bill's eyes at Eva.  We can achieve this by removing the filtering:  "She raised a hand to rub her eyes.  Her arm was an angry pink, as if sunburned.  She rubbed her eye, and miniscule flakes of skin floated away in the air like dust."
In this version, we are inside Bill's head, looking through his eyes at Eva, which is where we should be.  And the emphasis is on Eva--her arm and her flaking skin, not on Bill looking at her.  In some cases, removing the filtering will provide a stronger verb, as in the final sentence of the example, where "saw" is replaced by "floated," which provides a much more vivid image.  In other cases, removing the filtering will reveal some other weakness in the sentence.  The second sentence above is an example of that, in which "saw" is replaced by "was," another weak verb.  We might instead say,
"She raised a hand to rub her eyes.  A swath of angry pink skin, like sunburn, ran from elbow to wrist.  She rubbed her eye, and miniscule flakes of skin floated away in the air like dust."
This provides a stronger verb--"ran"--and a more specific image.
The only times you might want to use filtering are at the beginning of a story or scene, where you need to establish who the point-of-view character is, or in specific cases when the means of perception are important.  Otherwise, try to avoid it.
* Weak phrases ("there was," "there were," "it was"):  One of the weakest verbs in the English language is "to be." Verbs are the action words of sentences--running, jumping, kissing, puking, shooting, punching--but this verb describes only being.  It's not very dynamic and is often overused (as in this very sentence).  Combining a form of to be with "there" or "it"--vague words--creates weak phrases.  These are weak wherever they appear, but are especially weak ways to begin a sentence.  The beginning of a sentence is a place of power, where the reader is paying a lot of attention.  You want to put important words in this position.  Starting a sentence with "There was" tells the reader nothing about the sentence and wastes this place of power with generic words.  This story has quite a few of these phrases.  For example, on p. 2, "The small pharmacy on Daniels Street was almost empty.  There was one other customer.  She was old and she shuffled about at the other end of the aisle, looking at hair products."
Besides "There was," we also have two other forms of to be.  The verbs can definitely use some help here.  If we remove the phrase, we can revise it as follows: "The small pharmacy on Daniels Street was almost empty.  One other customer, an elderly woman, shuffled about at the other end of the aisle, looking at hair products."
We've gotten rid of the weak phrase and one of the other to be verbs.  I'd like to get rid of the other "was" and to give a more specific image of the elderly woman: "The small pharmacy on Daniels Street had only one other customer, her gray hair in curlers.  She shuffled about the other end of the aisle, looking at hair products."
Each sentence is accomplishing more here, which relates to the next point I'd like to discuss.
* Halting rhythm:  The story has many short sentences.  I think the author is trying for a slow, halting rhythm at times, perhaps to reflect Bill's powerlessness to stop events and his despair.  I think this could work at a few key moments, but carried throughout the story, it makes the story feel slow and wordy.  Many sentences don't seem to be accomplishing as much as they ought to, similar to the sentences we discussed above.  You want the reader to feel that the prose is tight and each word is important.  Also, long sentences are more effective at conveying emotion, while short sentences convey impact.  So using a lot of short sentences makes us feel pummeled, and the short sentences lose effect.  We also don't feel the intensity of emotion we should as Bill struggles to save Eva.  An example is on p. 2: "Bill panicked.  He grabbed the nearest pot of skin cream, plus five tubes of Savlon.  He went to the counter."
Because of the rhythm, Bill's actions seem deliberate, not panicked.  Bill's panic would be much better conveyed by combining sentences 2 and 3:  "Bill panicked.  He grabbed the nearest pot of skin cream plus five tubes of Savlon and hurried to the counter."

For the rest of this review, visit the Editor's Choice area of the OWW site!

--Jeanne Cavelos, editor, author, director of Odyssey


This month we bring you Karen Meisner, OWW's Resident Editor for short stories. Karen is a Fiction Editor and Associate Editor at Strange Horizons, a weekly web-based magazine of and about speculative fiction.  She ran the Speculative Literature Foundation's Fountain Award. Karen grew up on the East coast, moved to the West Coast, and currently resides in the northern middle of the country.  With great pleasure, I bring you Karen Meisner.

How did you get started as an editor (and also with Strange Horizons)?

photoBack in 2000, when I lived in Berkeley, I was in a writing group with Jed Hartman and Mary Anne Mohanraj. When Mary Anne first got the idea to start up this little grassroots online SF magazine, she and Jed came to me and asked me to be an editor. I said yes, but then dropped out before the magazine launched, mainly because I'd gotten pregnant and didn't think I'd have time for an extra side project.

Three years later, I had left California to live in Madison, Wisconsin, and I had a baby on my hands, and I was feeling the need to connect with the wider world of people who cared about some of the stuff I cared about: reading and writing and weird fiction. I saw that the Strange Horizons fiction department was looking for a new editor. Susan Groppi was about to take over running the magazine as Editor-in-Chief, and was also one of the fiction editors, along with Jed. I respected them both and thought we could work well together, even though we all had very different personalities, and I believed in what Strange Horizons was doing, so I applied for the job. At the time, I didn't expect to be with Strange Horizons for more than a couple of years; they'd already gone through several other fiction editors during that start-up period. But it's been the three of us ever since. The magazine has become an amazing part of my life, and I'm proud of what we've done there.

Are you strictly an editor, or do you write too?

I do write; I've been playing around with a novel for a long time and am finally getting close to finishing it. It is set in modern-day San Francisco and involves a secret history of Emperor Norton.  Writing and editing use different muscles, and sometimes focusing too much on editing can get in the way of allowing myself to write, but I'm learning to compartmentalize my mind so that I can get out a damn paragraph without immediately picking it apart too much.

As an editor for short fiction, what's the first thing that jumps out at you when you read a submission?

I want to be pulled into a story right away, and all sorts of different things can do that: voice, characters, an interesting situation, the language itself.

I do like to be surprised, but the opening has got to tell me something about the story, not just try to wow me with flashy pyrotechnics. Sometimes writers, especially in genre, are taught the old adage that they need to hook the reader with the first sentence. Maybe so, but the distinction isn't made between an interesting sentence and cheap thrills. Which is how we end up with so many bomastic opening lines like "When the moon exploded, Captain Rodman grabbed his jetpack and parrot and leaped headfirst into the firepit." There might be a good reason to throw all this drama at the reader, but I'm already suspicious that this story will be more about whiz-bang action and an attempt to shock the reader than something that's really going to mean much to me. Still, you never know, so I try to give them all a chance and keep reading.

I have no problem with a story that starts at a gentle pace, as long as there's something about the beginning to make me think it's going to be good.

The truth is that a clear declarative sentence is often the best way to draw me in. Interesting, believable characters, especially in unusual situations, also go a long way with me. But every story is different.

Have you ever edited a new author that you knew had the right stuff--and then proved it with major sales?

The joy of discovering exciting new authors is one of the great pleasures of editing! Honestly, I feel like that happens all the time, but I suppose it depends on how you define "major sales," which is a pretty elusive goal. Many of the writers I've worked with are still at the start of their careers. They're just now getting book deals or publishing their first novels, and their work tends to be critically well-received; in this field, I consider that a success. Sure, I could point to several authors who published their first stories in Strange Horizons and are now selling really well -- it's thrilling when that happens! But I've edited other authors who haven't yet sold as well, and I still believe they have the right stuff, even if they don't make the bestseller lists. Literary history is full of brilliant writers who never achieved huge popular success in their time. So we're talking about different kinds of right stuff here.

It's an insecure business for everyone: writers, editors, publishers. You never know for sure what's going to sell. But I am happy when various steps go well for them: solid book deals, support from their publishers, the respect of their peers, awards and critical acclaim, etc. And then every now and then, someone actually gets rich writing books.

Can you pass on any tips for good editing?

I don't think there's a formula for how to edit well, alas! You have to have an affinity for the work, and it takes time and practice to get really good at it. I've been doing this for six years now and I feel like I've just begun; I'm still learning all the time. Every story has new things to teach me.

One of the most challenging aspects of editing is to listen to the writer's voice and work with him or her to bring out his or her own vision and style, rather than try to turn it into something it's not. At the same time, an author can't always accurately judge how the story comes across to other readers, and it's the editor's job to reflect that back. So there's a careful line to ride between imposing your own ideas and challenging the author to improve the story.

Remember to look at the story's strengths as well as its weaknesses, to help you understand and envision what it can be at its best.

It's easy enough to notice when something isn't working, but it's often hard to put a finger on exactly where the problem lies. There's an art to pinpointing what needs to change, and coming up with ideas for how it could be made to work better. And then you need to communicate those ideas to the authors in constructive ways that will help spark their own inspiration to make it happen. When the editor and author can collaborate this way, it's a beautiful thing.

If you could do anything else other than editing, what would it be?

Well, I do a number of things other than editing! But at heart I'm all about the fiction, one way or another. In an alternate life, I'd love to be running a small press and bringing beautiful, odd new books into the world; Gavin Grant and Kelly Link set such an inspiring example with their heroic work in the field.

Or I'd like to own a bookstore that stocked all my favorite books, so I could help new readers discover them. And I'd want for there to be lots of comfy chairs and tea and iced mocha in the shop. Whenever I get too carried away in this fantasy, I remember that I don't actually want the hassle and heartbreak of trying to keep an independent bookstore afloat. So instead, I just invite friends over to the library in my house, which is a big red room with a deep blue ceiling painted with stars, lined wall to wall with beloved books I can press into their hands. Also, I make a good iced mocha.

What one piece of advice would you give to anyone submitting to Strange Horizons?

Send us work you love, the stories that really mean something to you. Stories that are exciting and surprising. Don't be afraid to pour yourself into fiction, to reveal your inner strangeness. Not everything is going to work for us, but so what? We'd rather read something startling and new than just a competent, flat rehashing of the same types of story we've seen before. Think about where your true interests lie, the ideas you care about, the elements and characters that genuinely matter to you, and bring them into your work. Be brave. Or what's the point?

Publication Announcements

Aliette de Bodard squeed: "My first translation! I've just been given official permission to post about this: my story 'The Lost Xuyan Bride,' originally published in Interzone, will form part of the upcoming release of Polish online library Skryptorium at the Katedra site, edited by Jan Zeranski."

Big congrats to Karl Bunker. "My short story 'Under the Shouting Sky' appears in the current issue of Cosmos magazine, and also won first place in The Robert A. Heinlein Centennial Short Story Contest. As always, I got lots of good advice on this story from OWW."

Stephen Gaskell annouced: "I've recently had news of a couple more sales: 'Aquestria' has sold to Interzone, while 'Napier's Bones' has gone to Pseudopod. It seems Clarion '06 stories are suddenly coming into vintage, as this makes three sales in the space of a month for stories I wrote at that workshop! More info can be found on my website at stephengaskell.com. Thanks, OWWers!

Ilan Lerman wrote us to say: "Just wanted to say that the Scottish literary journal The Ranfurly Review will be publishing my story 'Woe is Me' in their March 2010 issue. It was workshopped here a few months ago, so thanks are due to OWWers Sharon Ramirez, Crash Froelich, Erin Stocks, Ursula Warnecke, Owen Kerr & David Kernot for their help."

Mark Lord says: "I just wanted to share the good news with you and other members that my short story 'Bird Talk,' which was critiqued at OWW, has been accepted for publication by Theaker's Quarterly Fiction. It should appear in issue 30 or 31 hopefully. Thanks for all the helpful advice that helped get this story published."

Margaret McGaffey Fisk tells us: "My short story 'When the Shoe Won't Fit' was published by the new ezine Aurora Wolf and can be read here."

Carole Ann Moleti has a two-fer woo-hoo. "I sold my recently workshopped story 'Hot Chocolate Kiss' to Eternal Press. It's due to be published in January 2010. Here are the folks who did crits during the most recent marathon and were instrumental in helping me make the sale: Erin Stocks, L.David Holbrook, Steve Brady, William Brown, Julie Klumb.  I won first prize for Best Nonfiction in Oasis Journal's contest! $100.00 and a big mention for the 'Someday I'm Going to Write a Book excerpt "Everything Must Go."' The anthology is due out in late October."

Erin Stocks has another two-fer woo-hoo. "'The Light Stones' will be published in the anthology DESTINATION: FUTURE, edited by Z.S. Adani and Eric T. Reynolds, to be released early 2010. This story made it through the OWW rounds twice, the first probably in early 2008, and the second about 8 months later; I owe Gio Clairval, Steve Chapman and David Fortier for their help with both versions, and I'm sure there are over a dozen more members who helped in some way -- thanks!  Also, 'Skinned' will be published by The Absent Willow Review in December 2009. I owe my thanks to over 20 OWW members who offered critiques, and especially to Adrian Firth, who offered an even more in-depth look at the near final draft, and went through it line by line on his own."

Reviewer Honor Roll

The Reviewer Honor Roll is a great way to pay back a reviewer for a really useful review. When you nominate a reviewer, we list the reviewer's name, the submission/author reviewed, and your explanation of what made the review so useful. The nomination appears in the Honor Roll area of OWW the month after you submit it, and is listed for a month. You can nominate reviewers of your own submissions or reviewers of other submissions, if you have learned from reading the review. Think of it as a structured, public "thank you" that gives credit where credit is due and helps direct other OWWers to useful reviewers and useful review skills.

Visit the Reviewer Honor Roll page for a complete list of nominees and explanatory nominations.

September 2009 Nominees

Reviewer: Michael Staton
Submission: The Emperor's Edge -- Chapter 2
Submitted by: Lindsay B

Reviewer: L. David Holbrook Jr
Submission: First Heir: Alternate Chapter 1
Submitted by: Jennifer Dawson

Reviewer: Boz Flamagin
Submission: Castle Street
Submitted by: Ilan Lerman

Reviewer: Carlos J. Cortes
Submission: Darkspire Reaches and Project Arthur
Submitted by: Elizabeth Hull

Reviewer: Erin Stocks
Submission: May You Stay, chs. 1-3
Submitted by: Bobbie Goettler

Reviewer: Kendra Highley
Submission: May You Stay, chs. 1-3
Submitted by: Bobbie Goettler

Reviewer: J.R. Hoch
Submission: Matt Archer -- THE END (25 and Epilogue)
Submitted by: Kendra Highley

Reviewer: J Westlake
Submitted by: Christopher Kilna

Reviewer: Owen Kerr
Submission: The Payload
Submitted by: Duff McCourt

Reviewer: Nicole Cushing
Submission: Two by Steven Lidster
Submitted by: Steven Lidster

Reviewer: Michael Staton
Submission: GODFIRE, Chapter 12 by Elissa Hunt
Submitted by: Elissa Hunt

Reviewer: Corie Conwell
Submission: The Emperor's Edge -- Chapter 7 (synopsis included) by Lindsay B
Submitted by: Lindsay B

Reviewer: Michael Staton
Submission: The Emperor's Edge -- Chapter 7 (synopsis included) by Lindsay B
Submitted by: Lindsay B

Reviewer: Gregory Clifford
Submission: Battle Healer: Chapter 1 (Revised) by Jennifer Dawson
Submitted by: Jennifer Dawson

Reviewer: Nora Fleischer
Submission: Battle Healer: Chapter 2 (Revised) by Jennifer Dawson
Submitted by: Jennifer Dawson

Reviewer: duff mccourt
Submission: Battle Healer: Chapter 3 (Revised) by Jennifer Dawson
Submitted by: Jennifer Dawson

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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 support (at) sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com and we'll do the rest.

Until next month--just write!

The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror
support (at) sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com