May 2012 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge


Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

Reviewer Honor Roll

On Shelves Now

Membership Info



Does it feel as if the year is finally settling in? The last few months seem to have been a period of reassessment and revision, at least around here.  And we've had quite a few major sales by many of our longtime OWW members--it's inspiring to see their hard work finally being recognized and rewarded.

The OWW is well underway and our graphic designer is working on bringing the look of OWW into the 21st century. We're excited to be improving the workshop for you!

Two of our Editor's Choice reviews this month focus on sensory detail and the way a story's world and characters are reinforced by its storytelling style.  Take a look!

For our interview this month we are pleased to welcome David Vandagriff, the author behind The Passive Voice. Mr. Vandagriff is an IP attorney who regularly parses contract clauses and shares links to all the latest industry news. If you're a writer, you'll want to add his blog to your reading list.

As always, contact us if you have any questions, publication announcements, or ideas for improving the OWW Newsletter.

Maria Zannini, newsletter editor
news (at)

Monthly Writing Challenge

Robots or golems or clones. Somebody made the protagonist or maybe brainwashed the protagonist to think that they did. How does the protagonist cope with the fact that it was created by finite beings. How do others cope with this? Is the protagonist is some way inferior, not able to experience the spiritual or emotional depths it's creators can or only thought to be so?

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.  Put "Challenge" in the title so others can find it.

Challenges can be suggested by anyone and suggestions should be sent to Maria (news (at) This month's challenge was submitted by Elizabeth Porco.


Tor/Forge announcement: Tom Doherty Associates, publishers of Tor, Forge, Orb, Starscape, and Tor Teen, today announced that by early July 2012, their entire list of e-books will be available DRM-free. Go here for more information. This is pretty big news. (DRM is technology that prevents digital content from being shared.)

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, Elizabeth Bear, Karin Lowachee, and Leah Bobet. 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

Five Against The Night Ch 2, by Jon Paradise

Jon Paradise's "Five Against the Night" is fast-paced, well-written, and interesting. His prose is tight and evocative--this is writing that, on a sentence level, is better than a great deal I've seen in published novels.  He does an exceptional job of immediately grounding the reader in the perceptions and the physical sensations of the viewpoint character--not through heavyhanded exposition, but through the immediacy of Hawk's sensorium. We feel what he feels, with well-chosen adjectives doing a lot of the heavy lifting. (This is an excellent example of how one can imbed description in the flow of the story, making it do more work than when it's set off in skimmable blocks by itself.)

The writer could, however, trust the reader more. A tendency to spell out things that should be left implicit actually weakens the prose.  For example:

He'd failed Cory, just like he'd failed Carolina, just like he'd failed--he didn't let himself go there. Just like he'd failed everyone.

"he didn't let himself go there," here, is awkward and unnecessary. It adds scaffolding and a distracting break to a paragraph that otherwise flows naturally and immediately in stream of consciousness. We're inside Hawk's head, floating in his internal narrative--until the writer breaks in and kicks us out again with an observation that only tells something that the internal monologue already demonstrates. This paragraph could simply read:

He'd failed Cory, just like he'd failed Carolina, just like he'd failed-- Just like he'd failed everyone.

It gets the point across without being heavyhanded. It is always better to let readers figure out for themselves what to think or feel rather than telling them. They'll feel clever. If you lead them around by the nose, they'll feel resentful. It's better to make the reader feel clever, because everybody likes to spend time with people who bring that out in them.

Another example of the same problem:

But he was sick with what he'd done. What he'd been unable to do. And Dow had been good to him in the brief moments before she'd thought he was confessing to a murder. He found himself talking.

And in the next sentence, we see Hawk talking. It's awkward to tell readers something that has just been or is about to be shown. As part of the revision process, search out similar repetitive constructions and eradicate them to streamline the prose.

Mostly this chapter does very well with making emotion properly palpable. Hawk's numbness, shock, and grief shine through, and his rueful generosity toward the young woman who tells the police he is not the killer makes me like him. The one place I think this flags is that I want to feel his explosive anger at the end of the chapter a little more.  I feel as if the intensity of the sensory data falls away here. The narrative drops back to very bare dialogue, and thus the conversation--which should be an emotionally tense moment for readers and characters alike--feels disconnected and floaty.

Where are Hawk's physical sensations of stress and anger? Readers, especially those who have been keyed in by the sensorily rich earlier portions of the chapter, will often cue to those unconsciously and experience a physiological response that heightens their own engagement with the text.

I particularly like the elegant moment where the author writes, "The man was downwind. The mole on his neck smelled cancerous." We have just learned all kinds of things about Hawk's powers, and the dry, unornamented tone of the narrative reinforces the disquieting image. The prose is spare and clean, but it's also got strong rhythm. It is not merely workmanlike; it is craftsmanlike, and manages to handle a good deal of worldbuilding and exposition in two simple declarative sentences.

I also like Dow, and her relationship with Hawk. She's obviously a good cop, tough and observant and no-nonsense. But she's also capable of being gentle and generous, although not in a sticky and melodramatic fashion. Instead, she comes across as compassionate but well able to do her job. She deals well with challenges and with antagonists. This complex of traits, a web work of characteristics far more interesting than merely the "tough cop in the protagonist's way" archetype she could have easily been, makes her stand out as a character, and makes her somebody I look forward to spending more time with.

The chapter maintains good narrative tension and pacing from beginning to end. Plot complications are not arbitrary nor out of scale. Instead, Hawk begins the chapter in a difficult situation, experiences several transformative events, and ends the chapter in a different sticky situation--and with just a bit of casual indifference from the universe to be the cherry on the sundae of awfulness that currently is his life. He's still homeless, still sleeping on a friend's couch... and now he's witnessed a supernatural murder and gotten involved with the cops, and he can't even get drunk because the reporters detained him until the liquor stores were closed. This is a beautiful example of how to escalate a plot with linked actions and reactions without going over the top into ridiculousness--and how to give a character small victories that relieve enough tension that the reader doesn't give up in irritation.

Hawk always remains an active protagonist; another strength of this chapter is that he keeps moving forward. He always wants something, even if it's Vonnegut's proverbial glass of water. Excellent work, which I suspect will be even more excellent after revision.

--Elizabeth Bear

Editors' Choices, Science Fiction

AVENUE C: Chapter 2 by C.R. Steevens

A cross between Superman's origins and the recent movie Chronicle, this is a tale of a regular Joe (or in this case, Ken) who through extreme circumstances, becomes an extraordinary superhuman being. He seems to be assisted, or at least observed, by an alien going by the name of Traci; the setting is sunny beachfront property. By turns both gritty and humorous, the narrative deftly describes the confusing and incredible changes Ken goes through as he awakens to a new form of himself. How will he adapt? And what are the consequences?

Of course we've seen this type of story before, either through comic books or a TV show like Heroes, but the tight third person point-of-view and a kind of witty journalistic style sets this story apart from the others. It's faster, more hip, and Ken is a struggling actor (with "Beatle Paul" looks, he self-describes) -- not exactly hero material or farmboy innocent. The premise is intriguing, the character vibrant enough to follow, and the prose spot-on with its fast and loose (but target-precise) rhythm and descriptions. The first thought, however, is that the book's title is reminiscent of the stage musical Avenue Q.

But that aside, the problems with the narrative are more in the line-edit realm: redundancy in parts, and over-describing when it would be more effective to be succinct.  For example, "The air still held an oiliness, a sticky texture..."  The "sticky texture" is implied with "oiliness." Describing the owner of the Porsche as "too easy" more than once in the same paragraph sounds like filler. A couple of parts used repeated words that should be excised, and in the very beginning, describing the car as "a car" instead of "the car" makes it sound like it's a random car, not the one the protagonist of the scene is driving. These are all tightening issues -- fix the problems and the prose will read much more smoothly.

However, the cadence of the narrative thoroughly works:

Silence all around, a cone of weak light overhead. Sharon stretched luxuriously, leather seat creaking. She lit her cigarette, watched blue smoke curl up and out the sunroof.

She scoped for the apartment. There it was, darkened and off the street a tad. His motorcycle lay flat on the sand in front. Looks to be toppled over?

She took another careful drag on the cigarette; no ash burns on a very expensive skirt. If that slut Suzi caught her here lurking around Ken... she tugged at the hem. Wait, a crack of light from the front of the bungalow. She flicked away the cigarette.

The varied sentence length and fragments add a rhythm and style to the prose that makes for fun reading, but also gives the book a Voice. This is more than delivering a story; this is telling it in an interesting way, where the reader gets a sense of the world and the characters through the actual construction of sentences and phrases. The author just has to be careful that the vibrancy doesn't distract from the need to convey more prosaic or necessary details. By the end of the first scene with Sharon, we're not given much time to figure out exactly how much time has passed. Watch that the prose doesn't come off breezy, leaving the reader reader unable to calibrate the details enough to get the most out of them -- or even just to get a handle on what exactly happened. Especially in a story like this, in which people are experiencing strange phenomena and the point-of-view is tight, the reader can't and shouldn't feel confused like the characters.

As an aside, the bit with the transcript is confusing -- why is it there? It doesn't add anything to the narrative and doesn't show up again for the rest of the chapter. It's also such an overused device in science fiction that if it isn't absolutely necessary to tell the bulk and flavor of the story, perhaps it doesn't have to be there at all.

The most impressive part of the chapter is Ken's awakening, his consequent experiment with a couple of new abilities, and his motorcycle ride onto the road -- which reads like a James Cameron scene, including the spectacular chase with a semi and all the consequent vehicle spills. Though Ken is disoriented, the reader never is, and Traci's explanations are just enough to get the idea. The dialogue is sharp, embedded in the character's voice, and this stitches the dialogue and general narrative together rather seamlessly. The "vehicle action" is as illustrative as a movie script -- meaning, there's no question how the images form, all crisp and clean and perfectly timed. If there's anything less than ideal, it is that it seems to go on a few beats too long. Paring it down a tad might make it even more effective.

How Ken negotiates the "tropes" of being a superman is enough to carry the reader through the book. His "single bound" at the end of the chapter echoes the lore we all know, but grounds it (pardon the pun) in a modern reality. It's interesting to see the twist of these abilities in a character like Ken, packaged in energetic prose and sharp dialogue.

--Karin Lowachee

Editors' Choices, Short Story

"Fool's Magic" by Kevin McNeil

In the notes for "Fool's Magic," the author tells us that the "quick-hitting, fractured structure" is an experiment, and asks if it's effective to tell the story. The experiment here's not hard to see: only one thing happens in each scene. Each idea is isolated in its own paragraph, creating prose that's factual and declarative and doesn't flow from one line to the next.

For this reader, it works quite well, but there's a specific reason "Fool's Magic" comes across as deliberate and suspenseful, instead of just choppy and strange: The style experiment the author is performing has all kinds of support -- and balance! -- built into both the prose and each element of the story. It's how those other elements work together with the style, and how other techniques in the style work with the paragraph structure, that turns what could just be an experiment into a piece with a consistent and effective narrative tone.

So, what makes this work, and how? Let's break it down.

One of the major effects of writing a story in simple, declarative sentences is a feeling of emotional distance: what's being said is quiet and objective reporting, without much emotion in it. This can be either a strong advantage or a real stumbling block depending on the story you're trying to tell, for the same reason you have cars flip over and explode in action movies and not in heartfelt family dramas: When the kind of special effect you use doesn't fit the story you want to tell, it comes across as uncomfortable, or comedic, or strange. But when it does fit -- marrying your style and your content -- the story you're telling is made that much stronger, because it's being reinforced by how it's told.

The emotional distance and objective, almost inevitable feeling the style of "Fool's Magic" creates fits this story on every level. It's set in a university --immediate associations of intellectual, unemotional scholarship -- in a world where magic is purely theoretical -- therefore, distant -- and not hands-on. It's a world where magical duels are covered under department bylaws and protocols, not rites of honour or ancient traditions, and the challenge is drafted in advance and memorized. A more dramatic tone wouldn't suit the sense of place.

It's also populated by characters who are archetypes: named Stern, Fool, and Sybil, when they have names at all. Director Stern is pretty stern. The Sybil is a Greek and Roman prophet, and in "Fool's Magic" her major narrative role is foreshadowing. And then there's Professor Fool. We start the story not knowing how, or why, he's a fool. So not only do we get a hint about how to treat the characters from their names -- in the same way we feel differently about a character named Mr. Stingy than, say, Mike -- but the names build in an automatic narrative tension: How is Professor Fool a fool? We want to find out. Already, in the first lines, "Fool's Magic" has set a strong narrative hook.

The place and people, the kind of story told, mean the emotionally distant style is a good fit -- the right special effect. More interesting, though, is how it's balanced to keep the story emotionally engaging for the reader.

Despite the declarative, distanced format of the narration, the prose itself is quite poetic. Lines like "Fool's response vanishes in his throat," and "People talk of how the magic pulsed and then fizzled in his palm" are very evocative; lines like "At the time, Fool viewed Stern as a mentor. Fool had wanted to view Stern as a father figure," carry a whole ocean of motivations, subtext, and emotional history underneath a relatively objective exterior. It's features like these that keep the style from feeling dry or boring: it's structured and distant, but underneath the distance it's also dynamic and alive.

The level of sensory detail in "Fool's Magic" is also very vivid. Lines like "When he shifts his bulk there are muffled pops from the hidden joints of his knees and spine" both immerse us in the setting through information from several senses and give us subtle character clues: Stern is old, Stern is heavy, Stern frightens Fool anyway. There are sounds, the smell of flowers, the feel of skin. All these things connect us to the story, to the characters.

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

--Leah Bobet
Author of ABOVE

Editors' Choices, Horror

"Family Reunion" by Dy Loveday

This story has some haunting ideas and descriptions. Danielle and her young sisters flee from the family reunion when they discover their brother Sam is on his way. Through a flashback, we learn that their father forced Sam to choose whether he or his baby brother would die. Sam chose the baby. He did other horrible things throughout his childhood. Now a teen, he has been released from juvenile detention. Danielle, Sam's twin, realizes she must return to the reunion to save the aunts and uncles there. When she does, she is raped by Sam, who goes on to kill everyone except her, promising to kill their other siblings and save her for last. Danielle returns to her siblings and waits for Sam's attack.

The father's insanity is conveyed in a powerful way, through his actions, his beliefs about numbers, and the equations on the walls. The description of the dead baby is striking and memorable. The main weaknesses that I see are the plot and the character arc.

Several aspects of the plot could be strengthened. First, I would like to see a clearer escalation of threat and stakes. The story begins with the lives of Danielle and her siblings seeming to be in immediate danger. They are fleeing through the night, and it seems Sam could overtake them at any moment and kill them. Then they stop fleeing, and the danger no longer seems so immediate. Danielle decides to return to the reunion to confront Sam there. The siblings no longer seem to be in danger; aunts and uncles we haven't met are in danger, which limits how much we can care. Danielle is certainly in more danger, but everything else seems less threatening. Then Sam kills all the aunts and uncles, threatens the siblings, and leaves. Danielle returns to the siblings, and the story ends at the same point where it began, with Danielle and the siblings threatened by Sam. Nothing seems to have changed. While a circular plot can certainly work in some stories, I don't think it works for this one, because this story seems to want to tell me about that these family problems are getting worse, not that they are staying the same.

Another de-escalation occurs with Sam himself. The beginning makes me conclude that Sam is a killer, because the siblings are so terrified of him. In the flashback, I learn that he drowned kittens and was forced to make a kind of Sophie's Choice. Later, I learn he used to kill animals and show the bodies to his siblings. The way these things are discussed makes Sam sound more like a creepy annoyance than a murderer. So as a reader, I become disappointed and confused as I learn Sam has never killed anyone prior to the story. Though the girls seemed terrified for their lives at the beginning, by the middle of the story it seems more like they want to avoid an unpleasant encounter. So the threat posed by Sam decreases.

The level of violence/disturbing content also decreases. Once a dead baby rolls out onto the floor, the story has a hard job in trying to match or exceed that. The rape and the murders of the aunts and uncles are barely described and make little impact on the reader. So the story seems to peak early and never reach that level of intensity again.

Before I give any suggestions about how to strengthen the escalation, let me talk about a couple of other points. For me, the plot has some logical problems. If the siblings are afraid of Sam and want to avoid him, I can't imagine why they would flee the diner for their old, abandoned home out in the middle of nowhere. The characters admit Sam would know where they have gone. So why go there? If this is the plan of her older brother, Joe, I don't know why he'd make this plan. Why wouldn't they just ask an aunt for a ride to the police station, or to the aunt's home? If none of the aunts can be trusted (and if so, why go back to save them?), then why not hide in the gas station down the road from the diner, or hitch a ride with someone?

I also found the ending dissatisfying, because I felt nothing had been resolved and nothing had changed, as discussed above.

A final plot issue is the act structure. The turns between acts are weak. Strengthening those will strengthen many of the other plot problems. The first turn occurs when Danielle decides to go back to the reunion. She goes from fleeing to confronting, which is a classic turn and can be extremely powerful and exciting. But this decision seems poorly motivated. Nothing has changed to prompt her to change her strategy. The siblings are still in danger, and Sam is still going to come after them. If you can create a clearer change in circumstance to prompt her decision, that would be stronger. Similarly, we need more of a sense of something changing at your second turn, when Danielle returns to her siblings. It needs to be more than just Sam confirming his threat against the siblings. The danger needs to become worse.

The character arc is important because it ties closely to the plot. Right now, Danielle seems to become traumatized and depersonalized by events, but she essentially seems the same person at the end that she was at the beginning. She doesn't seem to have struggled with an internal conflict whose resolution permanently changed her. Adding a strong internal conflict and character arc would help us to understand the significance of the story--how Danielle changed and why.

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

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


It's not often we have a lawyer as an interviewee, but I've brought you one today. Meet David P. Vandagriff, aka The Passive Guy, the man behind the runaway hit blog The Passive Voice. He parses complex legal language, dissects corporate-speak for the average layperson to understand, and rants for the amusement of his many readers. In between his observations and snarky remarks, he also links to the blogs of many authors and other publishing professionals for a well-rounded view of the industry at large.

Prior to reopening his law practice, Passive Guy's business involved high-stakes intellectual property litigation. He started The Passive Voice as an anonymous blog so his snarky remarks would not show up when opposing counsel performed a Google search.

He's not so anonymous anymore. Please welcome The Passive Guy, David Vandagriff.

You are the voice behind The Passive Voice, a blog that parses publishing news, contracts, and blog content from other industry movers and shakers. What made you decide to start a blog like this?

photoI started The Passive Voice not quite one year ago when I was beginning to prepare my wife's books for publication. I looked around for blogs that would provide me the kind of information I was looking for and couldn't really find a good fit. So I started my own. It took me a while to find my voice, but once I did, I begin to attract readers, at first a few, then more.

One of the reasons I enjoy continuing the blog today is that I receive so many terrific comments from my readers. Often, the comments are more insightful than the blog posts themselves.

How did your pseudonym, The Passive Guy, come about?

This is a classic Internet example of the URL being available (or not). At first I looked for, but it was taken. was available.

When I started, I was still involved in my own business managing intellectual property investments. This business involved some patent litigation from time to time and I wanted to draw a line between that part of my life and my blogging. So, initially, The Passive Voice was an anonymous blog and I called myself Passive Guy. People seem to enjoy it, so I kept on using the pseudonym.

I've been a faithful reader almost since you started and I'm always amazed at how much content you analyze. How do you stay on top of so much information? Do readers send you content or do you dedicate a good chunk of your day to reading industry fodder?

I use a combination of several tools to locate items for my blog. I have a large collection of Google Alerts. I use a feed reader to seine through a lot of blog entries and I have several automatic searches running on Twitter. In recent months, I've started receiving a lot of tips from regular visitors to my blog who understand what my readers will like.

Combine this with a case of ADD and you have the secret formula.

I've always been a big fan of your analytical skills. What trends do you see in publishing's future?

Traditional publishing is in the middle of a disruptive change triggered by the advent of simple tools for self-publishing and the rise of e-books. For many, many years, publishers have been necessary intermediaries between writers and readers. Self-publishing removes the need for such intermediaries.

As with other industries that have experienced disruptive change, traditional publishing doesn't really know what to do because the world in which publishing executives grew up is changing at a rapid pace. Publishing has a cost structure that is way too expensive and, collectively, its management and employees are not very tech-savvy, so they can't look very far down the technology road.

Also, in common with other industries on the receiving end of disruptive innovation, traditional publishing is making some serious mistakes as it responds to this challenge. One of the most prominent of these errors is mistreating its suppliers -- authors who write books and would like them to be traditionally published. Instead of becoming more collaborative and flexible, many traditional publishers are imposing more and more unreasonable contract terms on their authors in an attempt to tie the authors' hands and prevent them from publishing with anyone else or self-publishing.

I think self-publishing will continue to grow and flourish. Even authors who have many traditionally-published books find it refreshing to be able to control the publishing process from end to end. My wife, G.G. Vandagriff, is an author who had about 10 books traditionally published. After I was able to help her obtain rights to those books and we started self-publishing them, she was amazed how much less waiting around the whole process entailed.

Disruptive change is not a neat and clean process. I expect lots of zigs and zags for self-published authors in the future. Today's accepted formula for success may not work six months from now. However, a fundamental truth that doesn't change is that readers always want more stories and authors who write good stories will find a market for their work.

You recently added Contract Counsel for authors. What sort of services do you provide?

Several months ago, I started receiving requests for assistance from visitors to The Passive Voice with problems they were having with publishing contracts or questions they had about contracts they were asked to sign.

After a lot of thought, I decided to reactivate my bar membership so I could provide some assistance to them.

At the present time, my practice is focused on authors and the types of contracts they sign. I also represent a couple of small publishers who would like to treat authors as valued collaborators rather than cheap help.

The most common problems I help authors with involve understanding traditional contracts they have signed or that their agents have given to them to sign. As mentioned before, these contracts are including more and more onerous clauses that can have a substantial adverse impact on an author's entire career, not just the book or books mentioned in the contract.

One of the most frequent comments I receive after delivering a publishing contract analysis to an author is, "I never knew all this was in my contract," followed by, "My agent never told me anything about that."

I also help authors negotiate termination of publishing contracts with their existing publishers. Sometimes this involves digging through the contracts to determine whether the publisher is abiding by its contractual obligations. Other times, I conduct an detailed analysis of what the author's obligations are under the contract to see if I can find an escape hatch for the author without violating the contract.

I have also helped some co-authors resolve disagreements they have with one another.

What drew you to contract specialization? Is that your field of expertise?

My legal career has been a combination of practicing in law firms and working as an executive for technology companies. When I was working for the tech companies, I invariably was asked to help negotiate contracts for them. In private practice, I not only negotiated a great many contracts, I also litigated contract disputes, which provided an entirely different perspective on the contract-drafting process.

I have written and negotiated complex contracts with large companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Disney, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citicorp and Fidelity Investments. I have also negotiated contracts with much smaller entities and individuals.

As an attorney, you've had the opportunity to examine contracts closely. Is there any single bit of advice you can give authors if they have to tackle a contract without an agent or an attorney?

My most important piece of advice is, "Read the contract, every bit of it." It's amazing how many authors put their careers on the line without reading the contracts that can substantially affect those careers.

Legal documents have their own language and structure, but, with some work, you should be able to make your way through the entire agreement.

With publishing contracts, pay particular attention to the parts of the contract that are the most difficult to understand. These are the places where gotchas will be hidden. If you feel yourself zoning out, go back to the beginning of that paragraph and look carefully at its structure so you understand it. When I finish with a contract, it's covered in circles, arrows and marginal notes that help me understand how everything fits together.

You've written Child Custody: The Down and Dirty Divorce Guide under a pseudonym. Are there other books on the horizon?

I am in the process of writing a book about the Kindle Direct Publishing Terms and Conditions that apply to authors who self-publish with Amazon. The purpose of this book is to help self-published authors understand their obligations and Amazon's commitments under the KDP agreements. These contracts (and they really are binding contracts) are significantly different from traditional publishing agreements and include some contract provisions that will surprise many authors.

A very strong response to my re-opening my law practice has taken much of the time time I anticipated I would devote to writing this book, but I am definitely committed to completing it within the next couple of months.

Overall, what would you like to accomplish in 2012?

In 2012, I would like to finish my Amazon contract book, help more authors with their problems, and increase sales of my wife's books.  If I can fit a trip to Florence, Italy, into this coming year, that would be a great bonus for both G.G. and myself.

Visit David Vandagriff at The Passive Voice.

Publication Announcements

Tim W. Burke wrote to say: "I sold ‘Shadows Under the Skin' to SNM Horror Magazine. Thanks to Ian Welke, John Goodrich and all who helped me make the story work!"

Kimber Camacho e-mailed us to say, "I've just had one of my stories accepted by Circlet Press for an upcoming erotica anthology -- LIKE A BREATH OF FLAME. I also wanted to let you know that I mentioned having been a member of the OWW in my bio. I received a great deal of assistance and support from my fellow members and the awesome admin of the OWW, and want to give credit where credit's due."  Thanks, Kimber!

Peter Cooper announced: "My short story ‘Dead on the Doorstep' has just been published in the Spring issue of Kaleidotrope. I'll be interested to hear how it goes down. It's slightly different."

Patty Jansen wrote: "I've sold my story ‘Survival in Shades of Orange' to Analog, and just last week another hard SF short story ‘Abode' to Aurealis. In addition to that, Ticonderoga Publications will be publishing my novel AMBASSADOR in 2013."

Vylar Kaftan says: "Just sold "Skin Deep" to Redstone SF. It'll be great to be back there again."

Catherine E. McLean recently sold KARMA AND MAYHEM, a paranormal-fantasy-romance novel, to Soul Mate Publishing. No release date has yet been set. For years, Catherine has sold short stories as C.E. McLean, but this is her first novel sale."

Marshall Payne posted recently: "It pleases me to announce that I've sold my short story 'Professor Dingleberry and the Peripatetic Coxcomb Abode' to Polluto Magazine. This will be my third appearance in this unique and often outrageous little Brit printzine."

Walter Williams announced: "I received an offer from Dragonwell Publishing to publish my novel THE GARDEN AT THE ROOF OF THE WORLD. I am very excited, and thrilled to share this news with all of you. A special thanks to everyone who reviewed the various drafts of this novel and helped me bring it to the point where it received a wonderful review as part of the ABNA contest and now this sale."

Maria Zannini tells us, "After forgetting about this novel for almost a year, I submitted it to Samhain Publishing and got a rousing acceptance in TWO days! That's got to be a record. MISTRESS OF THE STONE has a release date of August 18, 2012. Huzzah!"

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.

April 2012 Honor Roll Nominees

Reviewer: L. K. Pinaire
Submission: C4C Chapter 1 Wolf Revenge by Susan Cartwright
Submitted by: Susan Cartwright

Reviewer: Kit Davis
Submission: Birth of the Eternals by Michelle Hill
Submitted by: Michelle Hill

Reviewer: Ann Winter
Submission: Cactus Blooming, Ch 10, rev 1 by Frances Snowder
Submitted by: Frances Snowder

Reviewer: Susan Cartwright
Submission: The Gramlin (1 of 2) by Daniel McMinn
Submitted by: Daniel McMinn

Reviewer: Brent Smith
Submission: "Emily Lane" by Phillip McCollum
Submitted by: Phillip McCollum

Reviewer: Tam Linsey
Submission: C4C Partial Chapter by Susan Cartwright
Submitted by: Susan Cartwright

Reviewer: Frances Snowder
Submission: "Chapter 3" REVENGE and Careless Rocks by Susan Cartwright
Submitted by: Susan Cartwright

Reviewer: Stephan Gordon
Submission: C4C Chapter 1 by Susan Cartwright
Submitted by: Susan Cartwright

Reviewer: Kim Allison
Submission: The Gramlin (2 of 2) by Daniel McMinn
Submitted by: Daniel McMinn

Reviewer: Laura Strickhart
Submission: The Winter Rose by Kathleen Cadman
Submitted by: Kathleen Cadman

Reviewer: Jane Forni
Submission: Carrier of All Spirits, Chapter 4 by Shanon Huston-Willis
Submitted by: Shanon Huston-Willis

Reviewer: Carlos Amrhein
Submission: C4C Chapter 1 by Susan Cartwright
Submitted by: Susan Cartwright

Reviewer: Erica Lovell
Submission: A Cherished Grief by Peter Mason
Submitted by: Stelios Touchtidis

Reviewer: C.S. Kane
Submission: "Terra Ignota"  (horror/fantasy, Adults Only) by l.s. johnson
Submitted by: l.s. johnson

On Shelves Now

ABOVE by Leah Bobet (Arthur A. Levine Books, April 2012)

An extraordinary debut urban fantasy about dangers outside and in.

"Above pulls off that rare trick of being convincing and utterly magical at the same time."
-- Emma Donoghue, NYT bestselling author of ROOM

"Leah Bobet's ABOVE is that rarest of creatures, combining the outspoken honesty of a good first novel with the craft of a seasoned professional." -- Elizabeth Bear, Hugo Award-winning author of DUST

Matthew has loved Ariel from the moment he found her in the tunnels, her bee's wings falling away. They live in Safe, an underground refuge for those fleeing the city Above--like Whisper, who speaks to ghosts, and Jack Flash, who can shoot lightning from his fingers.

But one terrifying night, an old enemy invades Safe with an army of shadows, and only Matthew, Ariel, and a few friends escape Above. As Matthew unravels the mystery of Safe's history and the shadows' attack, he realizes he must find a way to remake his home--not just for himself, but for Ariel, who needs him more than ever before.
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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) and we'll do the rest.

Until next month--just write!

The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror
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