Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

April 2013 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge


Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

Reviewer Honor Roll

On Shelves Now

Membership Info





Welcome to April. It looks like 2013 is starting to build steam. This month, we're pleased and proud to bring back OWW alum Ian Tregillis in our spotlight feature. His book NECESSARY EVIL comes out this month in both the US and UK, but in this issue he discusses the preliminary but necessary evil that is editing. No one ever said an author's life was glamorous.  Read what he has to say and consider whether you will ever "fight like a starving honey badger" over corrections to your work.

The OWW Crit Marathon will return in May. Get ready to critique! More information coming soon.

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

Write a scene or a story in which a character expresses an opinion that contradicts your own feelings on the matter. Try to get into his/her/its head and understand what it is that makes the character feel that way, whether it's an opinion on religion, human rights, fetal rights, violence, philosophy--anything. Try to make it something you feel passionately about, and about which your character thinks the opposite. Try not to make the character seem like an idiot for feeling the way they do.

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 people can find it.

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


OWW Workshop Crit Marathon: Sharpen your red pencils and submit your work for the Annual Crit Marathon held at the OWW workshop. This year, the marathon starts in May. If you're not already a member of the OWW Workshop, now is a good time to join.

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, Leah Bobet, Elizabeth Bear, and C.C. Finlay. 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!

Editor's Choice, Fantasy

LAST SUMMER IN AVERNUS, Chapter 4 by Kelly Grant

Early chapters of Grant's fantasy novel promise intrigue, politics, and complex characters leading complex lives. The author has a good command of language, and has done an excellent job of setting up complications to trouble poor Laura... but unfortunately, given the three available chapters of this book (1, 2, and 4), I've noticed some ongoing problems with the narrative.

My most immediate concern is that I'm not sure any of this is starting in the right place. The narrative of Chapter 1 begins with a protagonist waking up and flirting with a prostitute, then discovering that he's late for work, more or less, and hustling off. While this does a decent job of establishing character and letting us know that we're in an Italianate second-world fantasy, there are two general problems. The first is that, while the book starts with a character in a situation with a problem, it's a mess of his own devising that is hard to make readers care about. This kind of opening, with its humorous rushing about, tends to work better in visual media where you can get some business going to engage the audience. In a textual format, it's often better to start with some immediate tension: somebody who wants something and is in the midst of action to get it.

So I think in general this book is probably starting in the wrong place, and spending too much time establishing things.

The second immediate problem is over-summarization. Much of Chapter 2 is presented in narrative rather than being dramatized (by which I mean, told, and not shown) and this problem redoubles in Chapter 4. This chapter--a party at a courtesan's house--has the potential to be the most engaging action so far. We have a character here who desperately needs something--a patron--and who has a host of interesting people in her house. But instead of allowing tension to build and revealing the threads of intrigue by dramatizing the confrontations and conversations that might occur, the chapter is told in a very distanced omniscient point of view, with a good deal of exposition stretching back years.

It would be better to allow readers to see that Laura needs money badly rather than giving years of backstory on her life, especially when the important thing--how she lost the small fortune she was already bequeathed--is so very glossed over. Readers will always be more invested in information that has been demonstrated for them, or that they have been lead to figure out on their own, than in what they have been told. It's the literary version of hands-on learning.

The omniscient point of view is one of the strengths of this author's writing. The transition from the bravo in the street at the beginning of Chapter 4 to Laura in her boudoir is very smooth. However, omniscient point of view also lends itself to rambling and over-exposition, and to a distanced and emotionally unengaging narrative. There are ways to correct this, but they require a very good control of focus--which is a skill that can be learned.

I would recommend this author read Ellen Kushner's THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SWORD, with an eye toward how Kushner handles point of view, emotion, and--most importantly--intrigue and politics. I suspect that a lot of the techniques Kushner uses can be adapted to work with the current text. A lot of what makes Kushner's book work is the banter--witty dialogue can carry a scene!

And it counts as action when characters are conversing from different goals. Let them cross verbal blades, when writing intrigue and politics.

Intrigue is one of the hardest things to write well, and it's one of my favorite things to read--so it always excites me to see an author trying to play the "Dangerous Liaisons" game. In this case, I think there's definite potential here--interesting characters with very real flaws and needs, real things at risk (someone's livelihood, someone's life)--but we as readers need to be led to care deeply about those characters, which is the thing that, for me, this novel is missing so far.

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

--Elizabeth Bear

Editor's Choice, Science Fiction

TSK - THE BEGINNING, Chapters 1 & 2 by Dawn Chapman

Two things drew me to choose TSK - THE BEGINNING for this month's Editor's Choice. First, there is the premise: an entire planetful of people trying to make a desperate escape from their violently dying sun. Take any disaster evacuation scenario you can imagine--New Orleans as Katrina hits, Micronesia sinking beneath the rising ocean, the fall of Atlantis--and this has the potential to be bigger, badder, and more epic in every way. Dunkirk on a planetary scale!

It's a great plot not only for technology-based adventure, but also for exploring the effects of sudden and absolute social upheaval. How do people react? Who rises to the occasion and who fails as a human being? Any aspect of society you want to explore can be magnified and tested in interesting ways. With a second threat added to the premise--the genocidal extraplanetary Zefron, hinted at in the first chapter--there's more than enough here to drive a complex, compelling, multi-layered science fiction story.

Despite this intense science-fictional premise, as the story evolves it feels much more like a fantasy novel. This is an observation, not a criticism. The main character of the story is Kendro, the king of the planet; the setting is the Royal Palace on the eve of the Evacuation; the people are ruled by five great competing Houses. Despite a capacity for interplanetary travel, the danger from the sun was not discovered by scientific instruments but through the king's visions. As the sun flares in its sudden and unexpected death throes, protection for the planet is not provided by the atmosphere, magnetic fields, or orbiting solar mirrors--it's provided by the "magical energy," first from Kendro and then his brother Nax. The focus of the story is not on the social effects, but on the sacrifice of Nax, who must stay behind to protect the departing ships.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any sufficiently advanced technology will resemble magic. As a result, I am willing to allow for great leeway in science fiction novels, especially in space opera, by interpreting "magic" as technology we just don't understand yet. But this novel is true space fantasy--it doesn't even make minor hand-waving gestures at technological explanations and refers to the king's powers directly as magic.

This absence of science shows up in other ways: we learn in the first chapter that the evacuation is taking place over three days. Heck, even Dunkirk took nine. The evacuation is being coordinated among four large ships in a central location, all proceeding in a very orderly way, so that there's not even a sense of panic until the sun emits a "massive explosion" near the end of Chapter 2.

The result is a dislocation of verisimilitude. The relationship between Kendro and his pregnant queen, Mika, feels real, and there is some pathos in the Nax's decision to sacrifice himself. But overall, these chapters resist any effort to think about them critically. I felt like I had to turn off even basic knowledge about the sun and things like logistics for the story to work. While this works in movies, because you see events unfold quickly before your eyes, it can be less effective in books, which naturally provide for time for questions and reflection.

In fact, since the story is so obviously fantasy in space, I wanted the fantasy elements brought to the forefront and made more explicit. What is the magic system? How does it work? Why would a civilization develop interstellar space technology--instead of, for example, astral travel--if they have the capacity for magic? One way for this novel to work better is for it to commit more fully to the type of story it really is.

That's the second thing that made me choose this the submission for critique. The two chapters together provide a good opportunity to discuss novel structure and the way structure can support or undermine a good science fiction/fantasy premise.

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

--C.C. Finlay

Editor's Choice, Short Story

"Naturally" by Rebecca Schwarz

"Naturally" turns on the pivot of one major speculative element: Its protagonist, Abby, is a witch of sorts, and she turns her hapless lover into a dog. And that speculative element works beautifully, in an elegant and nuanced way, until it meets a second speculative element--dead, mutilated deer showing up at the side of a highway that does not end--and the whole thing comes to a halt.

It's a good piece with which to ask a craft question: Why does Mike's transformation into a wire-haired terrier ring so entirely true and, well, natural, but the story's final scenes--with the bloodied deer, the open road, the ambiguous ending--feel disconnected and less like an ending than a full stop? How do we integrate and set up speculative elements in a short piece, and if one isn't quite gelling, what can we do about it?

First off, let's look at the element in "Naturally" that really, really works: Mike, and Abby, and the dog.

Just starting the story with that offhand "Naturally, she turned him into a dog," gives readers a sense of what to expect from "Naturally." When we're writing speculative fiction, we're always playing off against an established narrative: How our readers know and expect the actual world to be. That opening line is so successful because it establishes not just character and situation, but genre and tone: magic happens here, and we're not going to make a big deal of it. In other words, it tells readers right off that this piece is magical realism, and gives them a framework in which to read.

The reinforcing element comes in fast afterwards: the specificity of the detail that grounds that piece of magic--and by "grounds," I mean in the same sense that a live wire is grounded. Abby doesn't just turn Mike into a dog, she turns him into a wire-haired terrier named Bingo: her pet from when she was a child and "the only steady presence throughout her own chaotic childhood." She feeds him the potion in a "Don't Mess With Texas" mug. The contrast of magic with the mundanity of everything around it, and the precision of how it fits into Abby's life, makes the action feel real. This is a complete situation and world, and magic fits into it three-dimensionally, encouraging readers to treat it as real and emotionally invest.

There's also an emotional depth to Abby's decision to transform Mike, and it's present in the very first lines. Abby is not a reliable narrator, although subtly so. That "naturally" and the "obvious" that follows it aren't just reasons, they're excuses as she protests just a little too much, and the way she protests gently guides readers into looking for the real reasons she's done what she's done: to make Mike a reliable person, just like her faithful Bingo; or to grasp at some stability in a life that, if the eviction and the cops and the boyfriend who's a petty criminal indicate anything, is still completely chaotic. The clues are there for readers to pick up, and those clues make the decision mean more, in a symbolic way. What does Bingo represent to Abby? What does Mike?

In short, the speculative element is integrated into the story: It means something on the thematic level; it means something on the characterization level; it means something to the worldbuilding and the plot. It's a complete part of the story machine.

That's the test we can apply to the question of the dead deer, and when we look at it that way, it's not hard to see why the introduction of this second element is confusing. We don't know how it fits into the theme, because we don't know what they represent in Abby's shadow-play symbolism. We don't know how it fits into the characters or worldbuilding, because the clues of how they interact with their environment aren't there, and Mike, who interacts with the deer, can't speak right now. We don't know how they matter to the plot, because it is the end of the story. They stick out, and readers don't know how to treat them. And I have a theory as to why: The two different speculative elements come from two different sets of genre expectations.

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

--Leah Bobet
Author of ABOVE

Editor's Choice, Horror

"Collecting Secrets" by Michael Pignatella

The first sentence and the first page of this story draw me in with their talk about collecting secrets and the tastes and smells of secrets. The opening makes me think that the story has a strong, unique perspective to convey, and that it will show me things I haven't experienced and reveal ideas that I haven't thought. This is a great quality to try to incorporate into your opening.

Suspense is quickly established as we learn that Ian, the collector of secrets, has discovered his most exciting secret ever: that his friend Clara is a killer. We want to know whom she killed and why, and those questions create suspense. As soon as those questions are answered, the story presents us with new suspense as we learn Clara needs help disposing of the dead body and we wonder whether Ian and Clara will be able to get away with it. Shortly after they do, the plot turns in a new direction as Ian realizes Clara knows his secret--that he is an accomplice to murder--and he must kill her.

Those aspects of the story work well. Other elements, though, could be strengthened.

I don't think the ending is working well yet. Once Ian kills Clara, he suddenly develops the irresistible urge to tell this secret to others. Since the story is told from Ian's first-person viewpoint, we realize that it has been his recounting--to a restrained victim--of his biggest secret, prior to killing that victim. While it's nice to explain why a first-person narrator who claims he can keep a secret is telling us this story, I'm afraid I don't believe at all that Ian suddenly feels this compulsive urge to share his secret over and over again. There's nothing in the story that makes me think he would react to killing Clara in this way, so the ending feels forced by the author, rather than feeling inevitable. This resolution is also somewhat disappointing, because earlier in the story, Ian says, "By the time I realized the true nature of secrets, however, it was too late. They had collected me." That's very intriguing, but that's not what happens.

I think I would find it more convincing and more horrifying if Ian was trapped within himself at the end. Earlier in the story, you might stress the way that other people give off signals that they have a secret (which you currently mention), and that he can sense the type of secret it is by the way they behave and the things they say. After killing Clara, he realizes that he has never had a major secret of his own to keep, and to keep it securely, he must not give off any signal that he has a secret, or say anything or do anything that hints at the type of secret it is. Perhaps he tries to go to work, but he realizes that the way he said "hello" to the receptionist, his refusal of a lunch invitation by his colleague are all hinting at his secret. He decides that to keep his own secret, he must not move, speak, or do anything--that's the only way to keep his secret. For me, that would better reflect the two sentences I quoted in the previous paragraph, and it would be far more disturbing than Ian becoming a serial killer.

The other area I'd like to discuss is the balance of showing and telling in the piece. First person often leads authors to tell too much and show too little, and that's exactly what's happening here. I often feel I'm not experiencing the cool new perspective about secrets because I'm being told about it rather than being shown it. For example, on p. 1, "I collected them all, each and every one of them [the secrets], saving their taste, their smell, each one a treasure, each one a delight." I love the idea of secrets having a taste, but the story doesn't allow me to experience this, because it doesn't describe the taste of a single secret. Earlier in this same paragraph, several specific secrets are listed. If we got the taste and smell of each of those, then the story would be fulfilling its promise to me, allowing me to experience things I've never experienced before. Instead, I feel held at a distance; Ian is smelling them and tasting them, but I'm not allowed to. That's no fun.

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

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

I also often find Ian's emotions, changes, motivations, and actions unbelievable, because I am told about them rather than shown them. For example, after seeing the dead boy in Clara's trunk, Ian thinks, "I was unprepared to handle it." This tells us his emotion rather than showing it. I don't feel his inability to handle it. I don't believe he can't handle it. In fact, he does handle it, helping her to hide the body. If he turned away and vomited, or cried out, or his hands shook, or his thoughts showed him to be losing coherence, then I might believe he can't handle it. This needs to be shown. Similarly, once he realizes that Clara holds his secret, the impact on him must be shown. It's not enough to tell us, "I couldn't stand it." Does he lie awake at night thinking of his secret inside of her? Does he pace back and forth for hours, or find himself unable to concentrate at work, or take up smoking? Does he see her giving off signals that show the world she's got a secret? What are those specific signals--the way she hold her coffee cup? the way she says "hello" when answering the phone? Giving specific, sensory details (showing) allows us to experience the story and form our own opinions, which we will believe far more than any opinions the story tries to tell us.

Finally, I'd just like to mention that a dash should have no spaces before or after it (unless you end a sentence with a dash). Any good style guide or grammar handbook (except the AP Stylebook) will explain this. I realize there is a lot of misinformation on the Internet, and many, many authors make the error of putting spaces before and after a dash, but it is incorrect, and as an editor, I am irritated and distracted every time I see this in someone's work. Since the formatting, style, and grammar in this story is otherwise quite good, I wanted to point out this one error. Here's an example from the story with the excess spaces removed: "we struggled to carry--at times drag--him to the river."

I think if the end is strengthened and the balance is shifted to more showing and less telling, this can be an exciting and powerful story.

I hope this is helpful.


Editing, the Necessary Evil
by Ian Tregillis

authorAs is probably the case for most members of the OWW, every book and story I write begins as a labor of love. But by the time I reach the point where I can permanently shelve the work on a novel, I'm sick of it. Really sick of it. Toss-it-in-the-fireplace-and-douse-it-with-kerosene sick of it. I find it very difficult to read my own work objectively, and that shortcoming can lead to a great deal of frustration during the process that takes it from an empty word-processor file to something on a bookstore shelf.

I often tell people that I'm a better rewriter than writer. By the time I send a manuscript to my editor, I've already performed two heavy polishing passes on the entire thing. Once to transmute the nigh-incomprehensible jumble of the first draft into something that won't drive my beta readers to despair. Later, I do another end-to-end pass through the book to incorporate their feedback (and to iron out any issues I discovered along the way). That's usually the longest and most labor intensive of the revision passes, because it's the stage at which I print out the entire book and pore over every page with pen in hand. (And yes, the pen is red.)

Eventually the book goes to my editor. And before long a new version of the manuscript comes back, replete with sharp-eyed editorial comments. Sometimes the suggestions are simple clever things that can be addressed quickly. But sometimes (and these are the times that make an author truly grateful for their editor) they're brilliant insights that will make the book sing in a way it didn't before. . . but which therefore resonate through the entire manuscript.

So I reread the entire book again, this time with an eye toward incorporating my editor's suggestions. This stage of the process sometimes involves a bit of iteration as we zero in on the best possible manuscript. But eventually the editor signs off and the book officially goes on the production schedule. That's always a good day.

Next it goes to a copyeditor with extremely sharp eyes. Impossibly, perhaps superhumanly sharp. Some time later, a copyedited manuscript arrives.

And I read the entire manuscript again.

This time it's with an eye toward all of the copyeditor's revisions and queries. The vast majority of these are innocuous: typesetting marks for the compositors (somebody has to make sure those umlauts make it home), corrected ellipses, en-dashes replaced with em-dashes and vice-versa. (At this point, some authors will choose to plant their flag on a heap of discarded commas and fight like a starving honey badger for each and every one. But I figure that anybody capable of catching the most minute problems could probably teach me a few things about slingin' words together.) But other issues do require consideration: did the CE correctly emend a misspelling, or was I deliberately suggesting a new word here? (We can't all be James Joyce.) Did the CE for this book adhere to the same punctuation style used in the previous book of the series? Why do I keep overusing the same trite phrases? (And why do I never notice until the CE points them out?)

Meanwhile I've been chipping away at the next book. Once in a while, this means discovering a potential continuity error or some other problem that requires alterations to the previous book. So then I have no choice but to slip the changes into the copyedited manuscript, hoping like crazy that I'm not also inserting major copyediting errors. But I have to risk it because this is the last stage where major changes to the manuscript are allowed. (After this it's getting typeset, and major revisions at that stage mean a lot of work for everybody when the pagination changes. Throughout the production process the author's goal should be to minimize stress for the people responsible for actually making the book. You've never seen somebody get free drinks more quickly than the person who says, simply and honestly, "I'm the last person who sees your book before it goes to press.")

By now I'm feeling pretty tired of the book. Every time I cast my eyes over the pages, all I see is word salad.

But there's more.

Next come the galley pages, aka the first-pass pages, aka the proofs. These are images of the actual typeset pages as they'll appear in the book, with all the design elements in place: running heads, chapter logos, a title page. . . It's looking like a real book at this point! But sometimes errors creep into the composition process. So I read the book cover-to-cover again. (If you're counting along at home, this is pass number five.)

And this is the stage at which I should read with the greatest possible attention to detail. This is the last chance to catch errors: misspellings, double quotes that became single quotes, a single word in the middle of a sentence that wasn't italicized as intended. By this point the errors are generally quite small; everybody and their cat has poured over this thing.

So this pass is essentially an arms race between the size of the errors and my dwindling attention to detail. Some people are truly excellent at this stage; I am not one of them. (At least one seasoned pro has told me that she reads her galleys backwards to confound the over-familiarity problem.)

At this point I'd pay serious cash money if it meant never having to read the book again. The galleys go back to the publisher. Eventually, the book is published, and thanks to the hard work of editors and book designers, I start to feel good about it again. Until a sharp reader points out a glaring typo, prompting me to pull out the galleys whence it jumps from the page, obvious as can be.

(If I were truly industrious, I'd also proof the ebook editions. Or pay somebody to do it.)

But all is not lost. Eventually the paperback edition goes into production. The differing page sizes cause the pagination and possibly some design elements to change, which means another set of galleys to review.

So I read the book again. . .

Ian Tregillis lives in northern New Mexico, where he consorts with writers, scientists, and other disreputable types. His latest book, NECESSARY EVIL, comes out on April 30 in the US and the UK.

Publication Announcements

B. Morris Allen writes: "'The Digital Revival' comes out in Antipodean SF--April 2013."

Eliza Collins announced: "'The Big, Bad Wolf' will be in Enchanted Conversation (March 2013)."

David Crosby says, "Artema Press has contracted with me to publish a short story that was reviewed last month on OWW called 'Rain over Ghaidhealtochd.' The story will be published in April, 2013, in an anthology entitled MAGIC CREATURES FROM CELTIC MISTS."

Richard Fuller announced: "My story 'The Spotted Horse' has been accepted for the April/May issue of Plasma Frequency. Initially inspired by a Monthly Writing Challenge, it was subsequently critiqued into shape by the OWW community. Thanks to all, especially to Christine Lucas who provided helpful technical advice concerning the medical aspects of the story."

May-Lin Iverson tells us: "My short story 'The Thief' has been accepted by Artema Press and can be found in their anthology 
MAGIC CREATURES FROM CELTIC MISTS, where it is in good company with other short stories from OWW members. The story is published under my full name, May-Lin Iversen Demetriou."

Elizabeth Shack writes: "I made my first pro sale! 'Pictures in Crayon' will appear in Daily Science Fiction some time in the next several months."

Rebecca Schwarz says: "My story 'The Count is the Kingdom' is currently at Electric Spec. My story 'The Gyre' is forthcoming at The Colored Lens."

Henry Szabranski announced, "'The Unforgiven Dead' will appear in the anthology MAGIC CREATURES FROM CELTIC MISTS from Artema ePress."

Reviewer Honor Roll

Reviewer: Wade Albert White
Submission: The Kraken and the Clownfish-C4C by Joshua Michaels
Submitted by: Joshua Michaels

Reviewer: Jesse Bangs
Submission: Pilot--(C4C)--revised ending based on reader input--by Joshua Michaels
Submitted by: Joshua Michaels

Reviewer: Albert White
Submission: The Apothecary's Cure--Chapter 1 by barbara barnett
Submitted by: barbara barnett

Reviewer: Jane Forni
Submission: The Garden of M. Vuerloz by Ellis Knox
Submitted by: Ellis Knox

Reviewer: Jane Forni
Submission: The Nameless, Chapter One: Lies Set in Stone by Paul Rando
Submitted by: Paul Rando

Reviewer: Gio Clairval
Submission: A Rose In Time by Charlie Hoopla
Submitted by: Charlie Hoopla

Reviewer: Gio Clairval
Submission: Godfire Query Blurbs by Elissa Hunt
Submitted by: Elissa Hunt

Reviewer: Laura Capasso
Submission: Bringing Home the Good War, Part 3--revised by Dave Crosby
Submitted by: Dave Crosby

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.

On Shelves Now

Necessary Evil, by Ian Tregillis (Tor Books, April 2013)

12 May 1940. Westminster, London, England: the early days of World War II.

Again.Raybould Marsh, one of "our" Britain's best spies, has travelled to another Earth in a desperate attempt to save at least one timeline from the Cthulhu-like monsters who have been observing our species from space and have already destroyed Marsh's timeline. In order to accomplish this, he must remove all traces of the supermen that were created by the Nazi war machine and caused the specters from outer space to notice our planet in the first place.


His biggest challenge is the mad seer Greta, one of the most powerful of the Nazi creations, who has sent a version of herself to this timeline to thwart Marsh. Why would she stand in his way? Because she has seen that in all the timelines she dies and she is determined to stop that from happening, even if it means destroying most of humanity in the process. And Marsh is the only man who can stop her.


Assassin's Gambit, by Amy Raby (Signet, April 2013)

Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s acover trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.
As the ruler of a country on the brink of war and the son of a deposed emperor, Lucien must constantly be wary of an attempt on his life. But he’s drawn to the stunning Caturanga player visiting the palace. Vitala may be able to distract him from his woes for a while—and fulfill other needs, as well.
Lucien's quick mind and considerable skills awaken unexpected desires in Vitala, weakening her resolve to finish her mission. An assassin cannot fall for her prey, but Vitala's gut is telling her to protect this sexy, sensitive man. Now she must decide where her heart and loyalties lie and navigate the dangerous war of politics before her gambit causes her to lose both Lucien and her heart for good....


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This month's featured article from our Tips and Advice section:

Former Del Rey editor Ellen Key Harris on the difference between developmental editing, line editing, and copyediting

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!

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