October 2011 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge


Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

Reviewer Honor Roll

Membership Info



How did we get to October already? The wheels of time keep turning and we hope you're writing, submitting, and selling.

In this month's issue we have the prolific and successful member AA Bell as our interview guest. She is a best-selling author who carved her career without an agent. We hope you enjoy this interview!

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

Take your favorite character you've ever written, or plan to write, and then kill him or her. It doesn't have to be something that happens in the story you wrote--it might happen years after the story ends. Just write the death scene. Maybe your hero dies in bed surrounded by family decades later, or your damaged, broken anti-hero dies in an alley with no one to remember him or her. How does your character face death (if he or she sees it coming...)?

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). This month's challenge was suggested by Lindsay Kitson.


Here's a new publishing company with a distinct slant.

Hellicious HorrorsTM Epublishing is an e-publishing company dedicated to horror stories starring straight, bi, gay, lesbian, transgender or transsexual pre teens through young adults...give or take the innocence. This is an under-presented population in this genre. Hellicious HorrorsTM Epublishing looks to deliver their wicked tales of hellishness tastefully yet with an open mind.

For more information, please go to the Hellicious Horrors web site.  If you dare.

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, Elizabeth Bear, 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

THE RETICENT EAGLE, Chapter 4, by Victoria Bellamy

In this early chapter of what appears to be a blend of high and low fantasy in the traditional mode, Ms. Bellamy offers us a character study of both a prince--Nasrin, one of her coprotagonists--and a place--the palace in which he resides. The author has obviously devoted a great deal of time and energy to imagining this setting and its history, and the problem that remains for her is evoking that worldbuilding in such a fashion as to hold the reader's interest and keep the narrative moving.

Immediately, I noticed the wealth of visual detail, such as the richly imagined throne room--which is nicely unusual in its description and color scheme of blue and copper, rather than the fantasy defaults of gilt everything. However, the author tends to overuse vague adjectives such as "elegant" and "imposing." A specific and concrete detail is almost always superior to a generality.

The visual detail could also be supported most strongly with other senses: the author notes that the marble floors are cool, but there is no sense of the smell and noise of the bustling castle she describes. I'd also like some sense of the economy and industry of this population center: "bustle" is a generality, whereas specifics of what craftsmen or servants are doing would ground the reader more strongly in this world and make it feel like a realized and rounded fantasy realm,

There are a couple of places where the tense wanders--it's important to be careful of this!--and a dangling participle or two.

Nasrin's conflict with his father the king makes him sympathetic, especially since the king's position is so untenable. The conflict itself is also well-handed. However, if this were my book, I would look for a way to move the conversation out of flashback, as it interrupts the flow of the narrative. Jumping backwards and forwards in time requires extra effort of the reader, and tired readers do tend to get bored and wander off.

As with the palace, the town is obviously vividly realized and very alive in the writer's head. I again would recommend focusing on specific details rather than generalities, and looking for ways to strengthen the language. The writer has a tendency to rely on vague adjectives, and occasionally to misuse words. As an example: "He travelled a circumvent route, doubling back and using quiet alleyways to make sure that he wasn't followed." I am reasonably certain that the word she means to use here is "circuitous," not "circumvent." It's often more effective to write clean, sharp prose that relies on common English words and active verbs in direct sentences than it is to struggle with unfamiliar vocabulary.

I should note also that it will bother some readers to see a prince addressed as "your majesty." In English, that form of address is usually reserved for kings, and princes are "your highness." Of course, in a fantasy world the forms of address may be anything that the writer desires. However, there are dangers inherent in challenging reader assumptions: the reader may decide that the author is not to be trusted, and the trust of readers is the single most important tool we have for bringing them into the story.

My greatest concern with this chapter, however, is that very little actually happens in it. Nasrin is an interesting and self-willed character, but we mostly see him journeying to meet a secret confidante and then meeting with said confidante, without much being accomplished in that meeting. It's a writer's axiom that in a good scene, under most circumstances, something should change. A good scene, in other words, is revelatory in some fashion. But Nasrin's course through the city--with the exception of the flashback--is largely an occasion for exposition, not character growth or conflict or plot development. And the focus of the conflict that does exist is presented as a flashback, thus robbing it of its immediacy.

These scenes need to be stronger and performing more work--and moving the narrative forward in an immediate and understandable sense. The scene-setting and world-building are beautiful, and obviously a strength of this work--I just need to see some plot development and conflict layered in around those things.

An easy way to address this is to develop the mystery that Blaise and Evander bring to Nasrin at the very end of the chapter. If the balance of the narrative can be turned more toward action--and I don't necessarily mean action in the sense of fights: merely seeing our heroes making concrete plans and preparing to take action in the final scene will help--that will alleviate some of the slowness of this chapter.

It would also be helpful to integrate some tension into the descriptive passages. Adding some opportunity for plot-advancing conflict and choice will make a big difference in reader engagement there. One of the best ways to get a reader to engage with a character is to give that character a goal and show him moving towards it. Nasrin's goals and his choices were still a little fuzzy to me.

I think clarifying that would do a great deal to make this narrative more gripping to the reader.

--Elizabeth Bear

Editors' Choices, Science Fiction

LEGACY SOLDIER, Chapter 11, by Rob Gilliam

This month's EC utilizes a scene that many writers might find themselves needing to handle: a group of characters speaking, intermixed with an action scene -- in this case it's a simulated space battle. There are many opportunities in the narrative to enhance a book with these specific things -- a group of characters interacting (as opposed to just two in a scene) can fulfill plot development, expose details about the characters in a way that might be too heavyhanded if it were just two of them talking or if it were purely interiors, and provide a colorful change in the cadence of the prose. The rhythm of the narrative in a group conversation is different. Similarly, a battle is a different cadence in any book -- or should be -- when compared to more "domestic" scenes.

These opportunities weren't quite fulfilled in this chapter, but the attempt is still competent, the bare bones of it there, and the idea of drafted kids with telepathic abilities, while not new, is still plum to explore. The personalities of the characters are diverse enough to provide great potential for natural conflict, and there are a few great turns of phrase that enhance this (like "telepathic friendly fire").

The scenes are told through the limited third person point-of-view of Mark, one of the candidates. He's a likeable enough point-of-view, but comes across somewhat bland. Having a limited third-person viewpoint can work in some ways like first person, and this is an opportunity for the writer to show the personality of the character in sharp and different ways. This doesn't all have to be told through Mark's direct thoughts, either (indicated by italics); effective use of interior dialogue (and I don't mean telepathically) could give us a brighter impression of Mark's personality, what he thinks of his classmates and the mission overall. Since the reader knows already that this is Mark's point of view, his observations should be colored by his personality -- the more the better, with the author's voice being a minimal intrusion.

For example, this paragraph:

This is not working well. Mark tried to think of another approach. Everything from pleading, to the old "we don't have to like each other to work together" line he had heard in some vids back home. That's the biggest load of bull I'd ever heard. They did have to get along. To survive, they had to care. Now they just needed a reason to care about each other. Obviously being blood relatives meant nothing.

The italics are redundant. If we know that the viewpoint is all Mark, we're assuming his thoughts aren't anyone else's and it could read "This wasn't working well." The telegraphing of his actions (Mark tried to think of another approach) is also unnecessary. Here is a possible way to show the above paragraph from a tighter Mark-centric point-of-view:

This wasn't working and there didn't seem to be any other solution. Lip service like ‘we don't have to like each other, just work together'? Right. Some line from a vid wasn't going to help here. If nobody gave a damn about being here or cooperating, nobody was going to survive. Blood meant nothing, and while he wasn't convinced it meant all that much to him either, he didn't want to die. Focus. Care had to start somewhere, and then maybe survival would follow -- a mutual need for survival, instead of this lone gunman bullshit Tony was pushing, this division of their ranks.

Hopefully this illustrates the ways in which the narrative could come across from Mark's point-of-view. It can be fast and loose, like a first person viewpoint; just make it consistent. Even if you switched viewpoints in another chapter, it would just be another opportunity to show another character's voice and personality in this manner. This would make the prose jump to the next level and engage the reader much more.

Now it was Mark's turn to tuck his chin to his chest. What the hell do these people expect from me? First, I'm expected to be a driving force for FTL development back home, then I'm supposed to defend Earth and the whole system from alien monsters, and now be a team counselor? His mind balanced between worry and terror thinking about his fate if he had to go into battle now. I'm going to end up a casualty in a war I've got no business being in.

This seems to be the crux of Mark's story in the midst of the larger tale. This worry, this stress, should be somehow embedded or permeated throughout his narrative, and it doesn't have to be so expressly stated here. We don't need Mark's italicized thoughts if we can get it through seeing him interact, and react, to what is going on around him.

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

--Karin Lowachee

Editors' Choices, Short Story

"Always Winter" by Leah Bobet

"Always Winter" takes a new look at an old story, as we follow a very minor character from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe  to see what was going on back in England while the Pevensie children were off having adventures in Narnia. This is not a retelling of the story, exactly; it's a different telling, in conversation with the original.  As such, it invites the reader to reach for understanding, to grasp what is being said here that has not been said before.

The story needs to stand on its own, too, and it does. It's a beautifully written piece, sketched out in elegant, restrained prose that's rich on atmosphere but sparing with emotion. The prose itself sets the scene for us, this stark landscape of dusty treasures owned by a man who's barely seen, and the staff who serve him at some distance. The shadow of war hangs over this story, permeating the household so thoroughly that we immediately accept it as right and inevitable: yes, of course this is what the Professor's house in wartime would feel like to its adult occupants, with all the students gone and the country under attack. There is also a pure reader pleasure in revisiting a beloved old place, and I love seeing that house through Margaret's eyes, encountering the familiar items and characters again.

I've got nothing but praise for the language here, which is so good that I read through the entire story simply enjoying it, and only afterward did I feel that something was missing, namely: more sense of Margaret herself. If the premise of this story is that it's introducing the viewpoint of this minor character, then I want to see more of how her experience of life has differed from that of the Pevensie kids. We get some glimpses of her mindset: the vulnerable position of her job and class, her fears that the "gently brought up children" haven't shared, her greater awareness of danger. But these glimpses of Margaret's perspective hint at a depth of experience that comes to feel a little neglected as the story goes on. This narrative does a good job of showing us the place, characters, and plot from a different angle, and while it's neat to see the old story this way, I would like to see that carried through consistently enough to go beyond the initial thrill. It's an indication of the story's success, really: having discovered a new point-of-view character, I want her fleshed out into more than just a conduit for that viewpoint.

Of course part of the point here is that Margaret's life revolves around the needs of others, that her whole personality is largely subjugated into the role of caregiver. Her own narrative isn't even framed in terms of an "I" but is written in second person (put to great use here, which is rare and hard to pull off). We see that the servants handle the problem of the missing children without even mentioning it to their uncle; it's the servants' job to mind the children and run things so he doesn't need to be emotionally present. Margaret is seen not as a real person but as a tool. She is taken for granted by her employer and by the children; she exists in that house, as in the Narnia books, only to serve their story. I think that social imbalance comes through very well, but be careful not to let this story fall into the same trap of erasing her individuality. Surely she has some history of her own that's shaped her to see the world in ways that would reflect more of who she is. How does she feel about the countryside, about children, about family, about any life outside her job? A few hints would go a long way. What about life in this time and place makes it "always winter"? I love the notion that while the children are off having adventures, the true permafrost is found in Margaret's own stark world. But to justify that title (if that's what intended with it), I would like to know a little more of what her life is like.

In practical terms, while the story is already brimming with good details, one thing I'm looking for is Margaret's distinctive attention to those items, her particular perspective on them. For example, she might not view the decor in terms of its grandeur or playtime potential, as the children do; she'd be looking at them as items she knows well, things she's seen hundreds of time before. Objects that need dusting or polishing, to be checked for spiderwebs or rust. I imagine she would cast a professional eye over them to make sure they were in place. This happens once, when she reaches out to straighten a visor, and it's a great bit of action, because in that moment her place within the household suddenly shifts into position and we can feel how she fits into its ecosystem. More of that, please.

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

--Karen Meisner, Editor, Strange Horizons

Editors' Choices, Horror

"Stalking Forster" by Andrew Alford

An aspiring author, Curtiss Kidd, writes a fan letter to his favorite writer, Thurman Forster. When Thurman responds on a whim, Curtiss's demands for time and attention quickly escalate. He accuses Thurman of stealing his story, then tricks Thurman into coming to his farm, where he attempts to have Thurman eaten by pigs. But Thurman turns the tables, and Curtiss is killed.

I love the first half of this story. The letters between Curtiss and Thurman quickly build powerful suspense, and Curtiss is a completely creepy and completely believable character. As I was reading, I kept thinking that if I was currently editing a horror anthology, I would buy this story for it.

The second half of the story is less successful, but it can be strengthened with some focus on characters/plot and point of view.

*Characters/Plot: Both characters become less believable as the story progresses. I start to doubt Thurman as a character on p. 3, when he so completely changes his attitude after receiving Curtiss's second letter. The change in attitude seems unwarranted, because it arises out of his thoughts about his ex-wife rather than out of his reaction to the contents of the letter. It feels as if the author is forcing him to think about his ex-wife and turn against Curtiss. If Thurman reacted more directly to the contents of the letter, and that led him to thoughts of his ex-wife, his reaction would be more believable.

An aspiring author, Curtiss Kidd, writes a fan letter to his favorite writer, Thurman Forster. When Thurman responds on a whim, Curtiss's demands for time and attention quickly escalate. He accuses Thurman of stealing his story, then tricks Thurman into coming to his farm, where he attempts to have Thurman eaten by pigs. But Thurman turns the tables, and Curtiss is killed.

I love the first half of this story. The letters between Curtiss and Thurman quickly build powerful suspense, and Curtiss is a completely creepy and completely believable character. As I was reading, I kept thinking that if I was currently editing a horror anthology, I would buy this story for it.

The second half of the story is less successful, but it can be strengthened with some focus on characters/plot and point of view.

*Characters/Plot: Both characters become less believable as the story progresses. I start to doubt Thurman as a character on p. 3, when he so completely changes his attitude after receiving Curtiss's second letter. The change in attitude seems unwarranted, because it arises out of his thoughts about his ex-wife rather than out of his reaction to the contents of the letter. It feels as if the author is forcing him to think about his ex-wife and turn against Curtiss. If Thurman reacted more directly to the contents of the letter, and that led him to thoughts of his ex-wife, his reaction would be more believable.

Other than that, Thurman's character works pretty well until the halfway point, when he discovers Curtiss has published a story under Thurman's name. Thurman goes to the police to complain, and then he giggles and says, "This little piggy went home." I don't believe Thurman would laugh or say that. That's something Curtiss would do. Earlier in the story, I had formed the hypothesis that these two characters were part of someone with multiple personality disorder, and I was reminded of Stephen King's novella "Secret Window, Secret Garden." This seems to be evidence in that direction. But since Thurman doesn't have this disorder, this behavior doesn't fit with his character. (And I'm glad the similarity to the King story is only minor.)

When Curtiss follows up with an explicit threat, Thurman doesn't go back to the police, which again is hard to believe. He instead asks to stay with his ex-wife. It doesn't seem believable that Thurman would believe himself safe with his ex-wife, since the story previously revealed that Curtiss knows where the wife lives and has been stalking Thurman. So Thurman's actions seem manipulated by the author; they don't feel like decisions he would actually make. He ought to know better.

Later, when he learns that the farm he's run to has many pigs, he should know that Curtiss owns the farm and instantly jump in his car and run. I know it immediately, because of Curtiss's obsession with pigs; why wouldn't Thurman? When a pet pig attacks him, he still remains at the farm and goes to sleep. Again, his actions feel manipulated by the author. At this point, I lose belief in him as a character, and I no longer care whether he lives or dies. I feel the author is going to make the story end however he wants it to end, so I no longer feel suspense. Suspense depends on me worrying whether Thurman will be able to find a way out of this. But if I don't believe in Thurman, then I can't feel suspense. And the showdown in the pigpen feels like it's been set up by the author.

When Thurman finally tries to outwit Curtiss, which is potentially fun and suspenseful, I'm afraid I don't believe that either, because he has been so clueless for so long. Thurman doesn't feel like a unified character.

Turning to Curtiss for a moment, I think his character is very strong, rich, and convincing in the letters. But when he appears in person, he becomes a flat, much more standard villain. It seems convenient (i.e., manipulated by the author) that he doesn't feel the pigs eating him.

Since character and plot are so closely intertwined (the main character's decisions form the plot), another way of looking at this issue is to consider plot. Act 1 ends when Thurman forms the goal to end his relationship with Curtiss. Act 2 should show Thurman pursuing this goal, but all he does is file a report with the police and then go to the farm. He doesn't struggle very hard to end this relationship. Thurman remains reactive rather than active up until the climax. A reactive character simply reacts to what others do rather than actively pursuing his own goal, like a worm that will only move if you poke it. Readers tend to like active characters and dislike reactive ones. Often a protagonist can be reactive in Act 1, but then at the end of Act 1 he forms his goal and becomes active.

Making Thurman more active in Act 2 would help to strengthen his character and would also strengthen the plot. For example, he could contact the magazine that published the story and ask them to print a correction saying the story is by Curtiss. He could ask the magazine to send him a copy of the contract, so he can examine the signature. He could ask where they sent the contract. He could write back to Curtiss. He could try to trace the letters back to the town with the postmark. He could hire a private investigator to get fingerprints off the envelopes. He could hide out across the street from his house and watch for Curtiss. He could get a bunch of cash from the bank and check into a hotel under another name.

The plot then needs a stronger turn between Act 2 and Act 3. A common turn involves the protagonist shifting from trying to escape to deciding to attack. Thurman never really seems to make the decision to attack and defeat Curtiss. The choice is taken away from him, because Curtiss sedates him and ties him up. If, instead, Thurman has the chance to escape but decides to turn and attack, it would show us a powerful moment for his character. Perhaps he does this because Curtiss has brought him to the breaking point; perhaps he does it because he wants to protect his wife. Seeing this moment and understanding the motivation for it allows the reader to feel the impact these events have had on Thurman. It would also allow Thurman's attempts to outwit Curtiss at the climax to be believable and to seem like part of a chain of cause and effect that has changed the character.

*Point of view: The story is told in Thurman's third-person, limited-omniscient viewpoint. I think that's the best option. But the viewpoint fades in and out throughout the story. One area where Thurman's viewpoint fades out and the story seems to become objective is after his ex-wife reads the letter from the magazine. As Thurman talks to her, to the police, and then to her again about coming to visit, the story provides very few thoughts or emotions from Thurman. This weakens his character and increases the feeling that his actions are being controlled by the author.

Of course, all the character's actions are manipulated by the author, but readers need the illusion that the characters are real and are acting on their own and forming their destinies.

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


AA (Anita) Bell is an internationally acclaimed author of HINDSIGHT, the sequel to the award-winning DIAMOND EYES. In her native Australia, Anita is renown for her nonfiction on finance. She is an inspiration and a true role model.  Anita is an alumus of OWW and one of the most generous authors I've interviewed yet. I adored her straight-talk advice and I think you will, too.

Please welcome AA Bell.

author photoHindsight is the sequel to Diamond Eyes. What's the story about?

Sacrifice... Hindsight is something that many people wish they had -- Mira's variety is worth killing for -- but for her it's a curse; painful physically as well as every other way possible because every time she tries to see backwards through time, she ends up hurting her friends more often than her enemies.

Hindsight may be the sequel but it's also a new kind of pilot for the series -- much pacier and grittier than Diamond Eyes, which now serves as the mother concept -- because Mira is out and about in the world. At Serenity, we learned who she was, who she wanted to be, and why she's determined to escape her life of rubber rooms, straitjackets, and medication. Whereas Hindsight kicks her life up a gear.

Not only are you an award-winning fiction writer but you've also written several bestselling nonfiction books on finance. Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you like to have several projects going on at once or do you prefer one book at a time?

Like isn't quite the right word. It's more like need. I love to get and stay focused on one at a time, but I can't always bring the best of my skills and moods to the table that way. If I hit a wall on one, or need time to think my way around a problem, it helps me to escape into another genre for a while. Otherwise I'll get stuck with writers block in various forms, from paralysis by analysis to page fright. So I usually have at least three projects on the go at any time, at various stages, but most importantly, in different genres.

What was the impetus behind Diamond Eyes and Hindsight?

Weird but true:Inspiration first struck me in 1999 -- on my way to an eye specialist for an impairment, when my young son asked how eyes worked. I used my diamond ring to show how lenses refract light like a crystal and that also inspired the title.

I spent the next ten years meticulously researching and developing the story, based on real medical conditions, however my first eight years in the workforce also gave me the experience of working in the spooky halls of a century-old asylum/mental-health sanctuary -- and that provided plenty of "juiciness" for surreal settings and quirky characters.

Do you use critique partners? How do they help you?

Absolutely! They're brilliant for whipping me when I need it, and not just over bloopers. We exchange chapters every month, which also helps to keep the pages coming, even though I run two companies as well as a family and farm, so some months it can be very hard to find the time.

What do you wish someone had told you when you started out in this industry?

How to bag an agent... Hilarious; there's only one experienced lit agent in my whole state, so I've lost count how many I've approached worldwide. Well over 200 in the last 12 years. Consequently, I wrote to that one agent three times in the first year, virtually begging her by the end because I needed help to negotiate my first three contracts, which were backing up. I had no trouble hooking up directly with the top five major publishers (hallowed be the Internet!), but I had no idea what to do with their offers or fine print... Eight bestsellers later, I was at a posh literary event and overheard that agent telling another; "Oh, Anita? Yes, I wish... unfortunately, she's that big fish that got away. Does all her own deals, apparently."

I nearly snorted out my champagne.

Thirty titles later, and I still don't have an international agent to handle Europe, UK, USA etc. In all fairness, they'd need time to read over my next unsold manuscript before they could make a decision; however all my works (minus two) have sold long before I've made it halfway into writing them. Most sell from a draft one-page concept. (Diamond Eyes even scored a three-book deal and literary award as an unpublished two-thirds draft, and has gone on to secure another major award after publication.)  So to secure an international agent now, they'd need to contact me with an expression of interest 3 to 12 months in advance, and that simply never happens in this universe. So thank goodness I have great relationships with all of my Aussie publishers, who act as my international agents, or else I'd never be published in as many countries as I am.

Has there been any writing advice you've happily ignored?

Heaps! Yes! And I've copped flack for it, especially in regards to the submission process. I've had writers tell me I was "published the wrong way" because I don't have an agent, or because I submitted work to more than one agent or publisher at a time. However, I'm always respectful of a publisher's submission guidelines, so the only times I multi-submit work is when it's only a sample AND when each of the publishers understand and accept that my work or sample thereof is also in submission elsewhere.

And the only time I approach a publisher who will not ordinarily accept unagented work is when I've been to a major literary event AND I've heard them speak about what it is, specifically, that they're currently looking for AND if I have it or can supply promptly... Then I leave the event quietly (never speaking to them at the event, because that's when all the crazies bombard them). Instead, I make my approach by writing to them within the next week or so using a brief e-mail (no attachments and very short so there's no scrolling), and my success rate that way is nearly 100%.

Is there any advice you'd like to pass on to newer writers?

It's hard, give up now. You only have to compete against me. LOL...

Seriously; don't be discouraged by rejection letters. In the beginning, I aimed for 12 rejections for everything I wrote. Sounds crazy, I know, but it worked for me when I looked at it this way: My first book was rejected 147 times. (Not counting the rejections from approaching the same publishers more than once whenever they hired new managing editors. In fact the publisher who finally took that first book as far as the shelf had already rejected it twice but ended up buying it off my first publisher during editing -- at a higher cost than accepting me directly in the first place! Go figure.) From this I learned three things:

1) Just because a publishing contract can be scored, doesn't mean that's the publisher who ends up taking it all the way to the shelf. That's happened three times in nearly 200 deals, including short stories, where small presses can be bought out by the bigger players.

2) Religious publishers write the nicest rejection letters.

3) Don't use the scattergun approach of submitting to every publisher for your genre. Make sure your work also fits their main tastes and objectives, which can be judged by either looking at all their other authors to see what they already publish, or better yet, spot something they're missing within their existing niche(s).

4) My average for getting useful feedback for improving my work or submission process was about 1 in 12 rejections.

So when I wrote and sold 60 short stories in 60 days across all genres as part of my self-inflicted apprenticeship, I aimed for a minimum of 12 rejections each -- and in the process, achieved 100% publication, with many selling three to five times each. Nowadays, I know the industry well enough to score deals within the first three emails. So it can be done -- assuming that's the way you wish to go.

What's next for you? Will we see more of Mira in Leopard Dreaming?

Absolutely. I've had a lot of positive feedback about readers loving the way she can see back millions of years, and glimpse the future through tears when she cries, and I haven't had a chance to play with either of those concepts enough yet. Just glimpses now and then. Others want heaps more of the juicy bits she can see behind closed doors, while some fans love the grittiness of the modern crime scenes -- and I personally love writing Mira's unique style of "flashbacks" with the duality of two scenes happening at once in the same space at different times. The misunderstandings that happen between spoken and body languages are also heaps of fun to play with.

It's extremely challenging writing with one sense tied behind my back all the time, but very enjoyable when it all finally clicks into place. So plenty more of Mira to come, I hope. She hasn't learned who she really is yet. Or why coincidence seems to follow her everywhere. For that, you'll need to wait for Leopard Dreaming...

Publication Announcements

Jesse Bangs tells us: "I just wanted to announce that my workshopped story 'The Judge's Right Hand' has been sold to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, AND it's been selected for their podcast. Look for the story sometime in November, and for
the podcast a few weeks after that. This is my first sale to an SFWA-recognized "pro" market. Thanks to everyone who read it and helped out with crits and comments!"

Karl Bunker wrote us to say: "My OWW-critiqued story 'Overtaken' is in the current (Sept/Oct) issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction."

Tracy Canfield told us: "I sold a short story, 'The Chastisement Of Your Peace' to Strange Horizons. This is my third sale to SH. (The story was written before I joined the workshop, so I don't have any critiquers to thank this time around.)"

Rae Carson's THE GIRL OF FIRE & THORNS is finally available in hardcover!

Vylar Kaftan announced: "I'm up at Escape Pod with 'Kill Me.' Professional masochist hires herself out to be murdered. You can listen here. Also, Lightspeed Magazine just purchased "The Sighted Watchmaker," which will run in December."

Elizabeth Hull has sold 'The Last and Best Hiss' to CAT'S EYE NEW BELLA ANTHOLOGY.

Dinesh Pulandram's fantasy story "Evangeline Vicare" is online at Residential Aliens.

Reviewer Honor Roll

September 2011 Honor Roll Nominees

Reviewer: Arshad Ahsanuddin
Submission: The Chosen of the Light: Soul Seeker - PROLOGUE by Matt Campbell
Submitted by: Matt Campbell

Reviewer: Arshad Ahsanuddin
Submission: The Chosen of the Light: Soul Seeker - PROLOGUE by Matt Campbell
Submitted by: Theda Berry

Reviewer: Billy Catringer
Submission: How Little Our Eyes Permit Us to See by David Rees-Thomas
Submitted by: David Rees-Thomas

Reviewer: Rob Smythe
Submission: C4C - The happy torturer by Mark Ward
Submitted by: Mark Ward

Reviewer: Gio Clairval
Submission: The Mouse, the Emperor and the Blimp by Steve Brady
Submitted by: Steve Brady

Reviewer: Elissa Hunt
Submission: The Downfall of Jesse James by Anthony Eichenlaub
Submitted by: Anthony Eichenlaub

Reviewer: Rob Smythe
Submission: Paper Man, part 2 of 2 by Tom Jolly
Submitted by: Tom Jolly

Reviewer: James Thomson
Submission: Illusion Ch 1, 2 by Dy Loveday
Submitted by: Dy Loveday

Reviewer: Laurence Pittenger
Submission: That Which Lies in Shadows (C4C) by Darryl Knickrehm
Submitted by: Darryl Knickrehm

Reviewer: James Thomson
Submission: Dyed in Blood, Part 2 by Louise Smith
Submitted by: Louise Smith

On Shelves Now

Ashes of a Black Frost: Book Three of The Iron Elves by Chris Evans (Gallery Books, October 2011)

coverAmidst a scene of carnage on a desert battlefield blanketed in metallic snow, Major Konowa Swift Dragon sees his future, and it is one drenched in shadow and blood. Never mind that he has won a grand victory for the Calahrian Empire. He came here in search of his lost regiment of elves, while the Imperial Prince came looking for the treasures of a mystical library, and both ventures have failed. But Konowa knows, as do the Iron Elves--both living and dead--that another, far more important battle now looms before them. The campaign in the desert was only the latest obstacle on the twisted, darkening path leading inexorably to the Hyntaland, and the final confrontation with the dreaded Shadow Monarch.

In this third novel of musket and magic in Chris Evans's Iron Elves saga, Konowa's ultimate journey is fraught with escalating danger. A vast, black forest finds a new source of dark power, spawning creatures even more monstrous than the blood trees from which they evolve. The maniacally unstable former emissary of the Shadow Monarch hungers for revenge, leading an army of ravenous beasts bent on utterly destroying the Iron Elves. A reluctant hero, Private Alwyn Renwar, struggles to maintain his connection to this world and that of the loyalty of the shades of the dead. And in a maze of underground tunnels, Visyna Tekoy, whom Konowa counts among those he has loved and lost, fights for her life against the very elves he so desperately wants to find.

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