Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

September 2013 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge

Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

Reviewer Honor Roll

On Shelves Now

Membership Info





October has always been one of my favorite months. The seasons shift and along with it, our priorities. How much have you written this year? Where have you queried recently? It's time to start assessing where we've been and what's still ahead for us.

To that end, this month we profile OWW alum Joshua Palmatier and his exciting new Kickstarter project. Read on to find out how he funded his writing project and how you can, too.

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 from the point of view of a character from a minority that you do not belong to. It can be as simple as writing from a female's point of view if you're a man, but try and stretch yourself into something you're less familiar with. White males are the default of our society -- try a POC character, or writing one who's LGBTQ, or disabled. Most importantly, try not to write to stereotypes.

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 challenge was submitted by Lindsay Kitson.


Masque Books is Prime Books' new digital imprint, with an emphasis is on both general sf/fantasy and sf/f romance. The first three titles launch in July 2013. For now, please send only the first three chapters and a synopsis of completed manuscripts. Royalties: 50% of digital receipts. Go here for more information.

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


This urban fantasy chapter with a YA-aged protagonist shows a lot of promise at the story level, but currently suffers from an overabundance of exposition and too little tension and forward momentum. The author has good story instincts. He has started with his protagonist in an interesting and untenable situation: orphaned, hunted, broke, and on the run. This is all excellent, and the painful situation of being unjustly accused of one's own parents' murder -- while meanwhile holding one's self at least partially responsible -- has an awful lot of narrative juice to it.

Problems, however, are arising in the execution. I'm not sure if this book is starting in the wrong place: there's definitely an argument to be made for this sort of in media res opening. However, it's definitely relying too much on info-dumping to set the scene. Now, I'm definitely a big fan of exposition -- I think it's often unfairly denigrated, when the problem is actually uninteresting exposition -- but in this case too much information and too little narrative progress is contributing to the feel that nothing is going on here.

What should be a tense situation -- protagonist arriving in a strange city with two distinct sets of hunters on his tail and no resources to speak of -- gets lost under his tell-y recitation of how he got there. Far better in this case to move the story, get us into the meat of things, and allow the exposition to happen organically, after we as readers have started to care and wonder what's going on.

It's a show versus tell problem, in other words: too much past is being told, while not enough present is being shown. We don't actually need all this backstory now. Hold it back, and provide it when readers have started to wonder and want it. Then it serves as a reward rather than a penance. In the meantime, a focus on the tense and scary current situation will help give the story wheels and an engine.

A related problem is that the protagonist seems emotionally under-engaged in his situation. His entire family is dead; he's on the run; and yet he doesn't seem to be feeling any fear or remorse. He tells us that he regrets his family's death and that he accepts responsibility for it, but in the absence of any evidence or grounding, he comes across as a sociopath attempting to evoke pity to manipulate readers, rather than a genuine and engaging tormented soul. Instead, he's focused on the first young woman he encounters, who he proceeds to treat as -- more or less -- a piece of meat, before eventually summoning up a demon (!) so he can get a look at her face.

I'm afraid that's the point at which, as a reader, my tolerance for adolescent hijinks pretty much evaporated, and I was ready to leave him to his fate.

It's a pity, too, because the situation here is so full of rich opportunities for this protagonist to become likable or engaging.

Be careful with point of view and character knowledge, by the way. Our protagonist seems to be seeing things and knowing things he has no reasonable means of seeing and knowing. For example, the young woman in the hoody-he has a very good view of her body for somebody who is sitting behind her on a bus, with bus seats in the way. We need to remember that we can't easily change camera angles when we're in a tight point of view. Also, how does he know that the two young women are sisters? He can't see their faces. If the demon is providing this information, that'd be a good time to drop a hint about its existence, so its set up when he uses it later.

In terms of dealing with the protagonist's unlikability, there are some techniques that can help. Letting him want something a little less questionable than a masturbatory fantasy, and letting readers see him taking positive action toward that goal from the start, would be one way to go about it. Another tactic would be to show us his emotional turmoil rather than merely describing the horrors he's witnessed dryly. Also, it would help to put us in Etchie's body-give us some access to his other senses, rather than describing everything only visually. (The visual descriptions are often quite effective, and there are a couple of places where scent and sound are used very well. Tight, precise detail is very helpful in grounding a narrative.)

With such an unlikable protagonist, consider either working to give him more charm, or moving to the third person. Sometimes antiheroes work better if we can get a little distance from them, or if they are sarcastic and charismatic. Snark and wit make anybody more fun to read, and they're really helpful in first person narrative.

I do want to reiterate that the situation here is quite strong, and a good start for a story. The problems that are arising are problems of structure and tactic, but the basic premise is quite good. The character is up the proverbial tree, in other words. The next trick is to make us feel it!

--Elizabeth Bear

Editor's Choice, Science Fiction

DAUGHTERS OF THE EMPIRE (CH. 1-3) by Nora Fleischer

This is a critique of all three chapters of the novel because once I finished Chapter 1, I immediately went and read the next two. And that's the highest recommendation I can give any novel, published or unpublished.

DAUGHTERS OF THE EMPIRE is an alternate history in which the British re-conquered America during the War of 1812. Based on references to computers and fiberglass pre-fab buildings, it seems to take place in a very different version of some time closer to the present. I'll have more on that later in the critique. The thing is that a conservative, oppressive British empire still rules and North America is a divided continent, some parts of which are relatively lawless. The story begins when Kate, Baroness Smithson, finds out her brother has been murdered because he uncovered an explosive political secret.

Good things first. The scenes and chapters are short, which I think is very commercial and makes this a quick read. While that's not the right tack for every book -- some books cry out, demanding that we dwell in them and go deep into the scenes -- here I think it's effective because it gives it the effect of a thriller. The writing is dense and the author expects the reader to do a lot of work in putting the pieces of the story together. Getting the story in small bits makes it easier to understand and join those pieces.

The writing is very assured and confident throughout. As a reader, this gives me a lot of trust in the writer. For example, I love the subtlety of the conversation between Kate and Emily in Chapter 3, especially when Kate realizes that she can't trust her old friend and slips the documents about the yacht instead. It's tense scene, with vivid well-drawn characters, and I love that we get to see Kate's intelligence and preparation at the end. The action scene that follows, where Kate has to escape a pursuer, is equally deft and shows the author's ability to write that kind of scene as well, while staying true to the character that has been established. When I trust a writer, I'm willing to stick with them even when I don't understand everything that's going on.

Which is important here, because I don't understand everything, and I think I'm missing some of the clues. For example, I think that Edward Buell and the Dowager Empress are supposed to set the time period for me. But I'm kind of dumb, so they didn't. Parts of the story feel very 21st century to me -- the mention of IT workers in Chapter 3. But other part -- like the entirety of Tom Kidd's story in Chapter 2 except the cars in the street -- feel very 19th century. I'm fine with the ambiguity, particularly this early in a book. But if the author intended me to "get it" and know when the story was taking place, then I didn't. And some readers may want more clarity. There's a sweet spot for this sort of revelation and I don't think the book is quite there.

Chapter 2 also left me wanting to know more. I felt very physically disconnected from the time and space of the events in this chapter. For example, when Tom feels a gun at his head and hears an unseen woman's voice speak to him, I assume that it's the woman holding the gun. When he starts struggling with the gunman I was momentarily confused. The fix for this is as simple as letting us deeper into his perceptions. When he hears the woman's voice, it's from a different part of the room -- he knows that it's not her holding the gun. It would be simple enough to let these observations occur to him in real time as the story unfolds.

On the other hand, the "trick" that Tom does during the gun fight isn't clear to me at all, nor is the outcome, other than the fact that he won. Again, the scene is cool, and I trust the writer to reveal more as the story goes forward. But there's a sweet spot between mystery and over-explanation, and the end of that scene felt rushed and didn't quite hit it for me.

None of these things are make-or-break for me, at least until I had read more of the book. So my best advice at this point would be to not get caught up too much in revising until there's a complete first draft. Finish the book and then think about refining these things.

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

--C.C. Finlay

Editor's Choice, Short Story

"Vigil" by Tom Greene

"Vigil" is not the most technically polished piece on the workshop this month: it needs deliberate redrafting, restructuring, and rethinking before I'd personally say it's ready to go. But it was, to me, the most attention-grabbing piece I read this month -- and that's because of something Resident Editor C. C. Finlay said best: That fiction sells not in spite of its weaknesses, but because of its strengths. That's what I'd like to talk about this month, as well as the perils -- and possibilities -- of political fiction.

There were several aspects, finished and polished or not, in "Vigil" that caught my eye. Its worldbuilding is brushed in quickly but in a way that's detailed and three-dimensional; the clocks nestling next to Chinese good-luck cats and the Occupy-style encampment give place and flavour immediately. Its narrative voice quickly picks up a reserved yet intimate cadence, drawing readers in. Its themes are supported carefully by the worldbuilding details (the free tote bags with new bank accounts are an especially cutting detail) and the anecdotes sprinkled throughout; the subway metaphor also ties in beautifully.

But most importantly, while undeniably a post-apocalyptic piece in tone, "Vigil" doesn't use the familiar tropes that one expects from SFF. The feel it creates -- the endlessly resetting clocks, the crowded sepia-toned world, the throwing readers into the deep end -- has more of the flavour of Latin American magical realism, or a Terry Gilliam dystopia. It's not your standard SFF world, and that calls readers to pay attention, because they can't assume they know exactly where each trope and idea fits. It makes things interesting.

Which brings us to the issues still to be addressed:

The author's notes ask if "Vigil" is too preachy, and that's a question worth asking. In the current incarnation, I'd say it might be -- but I'd also suggest thinking of this as a craft issue, not a side effect of writing a political story. Just about any story can be written -- political fiction included -- if it's written well, and that means focusing not on message, but on telling the story. I suspect that the better "Vigil" functions as a story -- one focused on these two brothers and how they've diverged from each other, on the deliberate ethical choice one makes -- the better it will function as a piece of political fiction.

The thing is, it's already mostly there, just in the way the politics are presented. "Vigil" does present the first brother's choice as being his choice alone. It's not winking at the audience, or more to the point, staring at us unimpressedly to make sure we know This Is The Moral. The second brother isn't painted as a villain. In the paragraphs before the end, it's made clear that they were in this together; that they are both complicit. They're complex characters, presented without stereotype or explicitly binary morality, and that makes this piece more than a message.

The second good foundation "Vigil" has is that it shows positive action, rather than condemning negative action: It shows someone making what the story feels is a better choice. By keeping away from the emotionally immature "do a bad thing and this story will gleefully punish you" sort of morality, "Vigil" acknowledges a complex world -- and makes the first brother's limited choice, where all he can do is mitigate harm, both very much his own choice and one that's deeply meaningful.

But that choice drowns in a certain lack of clarity throughout the piece. The first brother's choice to bring up his past affair so he's killed in passionate rage -- and not for ideology -- is amazingly poignant, but it's lost under the vague characters, the back-and-forth structure, all the debris and detritus that are in the reader's way. The redrafting, rethinking, and restructuring I mentioned at the beginning is all about getting all the verbal underbrush out of the way of that choice.

So the first thing I'd recommend is rethinking the choice to intercut past and present in the narrative structure. While sometimes a good trick to build suspense, in this case the only question in the past-thread is what the aliens want; there isn't a real narrative there. So the past thread ends up feeling simultaneously like it's stalling and like it's playing coy with key information; the present thread suffers because all its suspense is interrupted for what feels like nothing much. It's a structural choice that's coming at a high cost, and dragging the pacing.

I'd also recommend something that feels small, but might have a large impact: Naming the two brothers. While I understand why the choice was made and how it highlights their connection, it means they're both tagged in readers' heads as "brother", and it's a little too hard to keep their personalities straight. Vague characters -- or a too-vague idea of which personality goes where -- are not what one wants in the last scenes of this kind of story.

The third strategy that might be useful is spotlighting, just a little more, the notion that the second brother is there to kill the first. Put it in his body language; put it in their personal space. Keep that tension between them through all their conversations. By doing so, it can stay top-of-mind for the readers: the primary source of conflict, and the issue most likely to see a resolution.

Right now the pieces of this story have been created and are there, on the ground: The early-draft work is done. I hope these thoughts are useful in putting them together into something smoothly functional and complete.

Good luck!

--Leah Bobet
Author of ABOVE

Editor's Choice, Horror

"Electric Ghouls" by Shiloh Wrathman

One of the biggest challenges of submitting stories to theme anthologies is finding an original way to address the theme. Usually what happens is that many writers read about the theme and come up with the same basic idea. That means the anthologist receives many similar submissions and has to choose the best one or two out of all those, rejecting the rest. Any submissions that take a different approach to the theme have a much better chance of being accepted, because the anthologist needs variety, and these stories have much less competition.

"Electric Ghouls" has been written for an anthology celebrating George A. Romero's original "Night of the Living Dead" movie. The story, in which a cemetery's dead come to life, is fun and suspenseful, and it has an original twist. One of the characters, Zoe, has an ability to calm the spirits of the dead. When she's struck by lightning, this ability seemingly reverses, causing the dead to become agitated and rise.

I see two main ways in which this story could be improved. The first involves originality, making this story stand out from all the other submissions this anthology will receive. Since "Night of the Living Dead" begins in a cemetery in which the dead start to rise, the setting and situation will seem pretty familiar with anyone who knows the Romero movie (and these will be the readers of the anthology). I imagine many submissions may have similar scenarios.

So many zombie stories have been written and so many zombie movies made, it can be tough to find ways to innovate. The characters' strategies for evading the zombies -- running, climbing a tree, getting in a vehicle -- seem fairly familiar. The story has this original twist that Zoe's power may be the cause of the problem, but this never affects the story aside from causing the initial rise. If this connection could be made the central focus of the story, that could make it stand out. It wouldn't be helpful to have Zoe's power allow her to solve the problem; that would seem too easy and convenient. The story would be stronger if Zoe's power made things more difficult.

Making her power central to the story would probably involve exploring why she has this power. Perhaps she had a twin sister who killed herself. She might have always felt connected to her sister, and after her sister's death, still feels connected, to her sister and to all the dead in the cemetery. Zoe feels guilty for not saving her sister, so she walks in the cemetery each night and tries to calm her sister's spirit and her own. The inciting incident (the event that makes this day different from every other day) should also be connected to Zoe. Right now, the inciting incident is a thunderstorm, which seems to occur for no particular reason. Instead, perhaps on this day, Zoe has finally given up fighting despair and is going to kill herself on her sister's grave. Mark, the first-person narrator of the story, sees Zoe and stops her from killing herself. Zoe is so enraged to be kept from her sister that her sister rises, and the other dead as well, and then Mark and Zoe have to fight them. Once Zoe sees her zombie sister, she realizes this is no longer her sister and doesn't want to die and be with her. At the end, perhaps, to placate the dead and send them back to sleep, Zoe must kill herself, though she no longer wants to.

This is nothing brilliant, but I hope it shows how the Zoe's power could be made more central to the story, carrying the plot in a different direction than most zombie stories. It could also make Zoe's character more distinctive; right now, the characters seem underdeveloped and fairly standard. Something like this would allow you to explore some of the underlying symbolism of the zombie motif, of the dead consuming the living, of our memories of dead loved ones consuming us.

The other major area that I think could be improved is the style. I was quite distracted while reading by style weaknesses. One is commas: the story is lacking numerous necessary commas. Rules dictate where commas belong, and authors should follow those rules except in rare cases where an exception is warranted. Readers subconsciously know these rules, so the commas guide them in how to read each sentence. When commas are missing or misplaced, they send readers the wrong signals, and readers get tripped up by the sentences. This article on the Odyssey Writing Workshop site explains the main rules regarding commas:

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

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


Kickstarter: My Experience

by Joshua Palmatier

I recently ran a Kickstarter campaign that had two goals: generate funds in order to put together a new SF&F anthology called CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS and to start a new small press called Zombies Need Brains LLC. The folks here at OWW asked me to pass on my thoughts about Kickstarter and its role in publishing.

I think that Kickstarter offers a viable alternative for the writer in the current publishing market. Essentially, it provides another option for getting an author's work to the public. In my case, I wanted to continue co-editing anthologies with Patricia Bray. However, the major publishers were no longer interested in this type of anthology (except in rare cases) and even though we approached some small presses, no one else seemed willing to take the chance. Ten years ago, that would have meant the project was dead in the water.

Not so with Kickstarter in the picture. It gave me a platform to launch a new small press AND at the same time see if readers were interested in a particular anthology idea. Kickstarter is a final option, if all other avenues for getting a book published have failed. It has the additional advantage that it can be used to judge the viability of project ideas: if readers are interested, they'll fund the project; if not, then the Kickstarter fails. You are essentially "test-marketing" a book idea, something that big publishers haven't been able to do . . . ever. They make a risky bet that an idea will capture the reader's imagination with every book they produce. That risk is nullified with Kickstarter.

I used Kickstarter to test-market an idea. Readers are essentially preordering the books they are interested in. If there are enough preorders, then the anthology or novel will be produced; if not, then I simply move on to the next idea. This alleviates most, if not all, of the risk on my part, as a publisher, while still giving the readers what they want. I'm surprised that others haven't caught on to this advantage. (Actually, I'm seeing more and more anthologies and book projects being proposed on Kickstarter, so people are catching on now.)

I also see additional advantages for authors in Kickstarter. An author whose series has been dropped after a few books can potentially get the funding to finish off the series on their own by running a Kickstarter campaign. Novels that have been turned down by every publisher, big or small, can perhaps find enough interest on Kickstarter to be self-published. And a writer's backstock -- books that are currently out of print -- may also find a new audience through Kickstarter.

But there is a downside. Successfully running a campaign on Kickstarter requires a lot of time, work, and energy. It's exciting, yes, but also extremely stressful. There will be little time to do anything much EXCEPT run the Kickstarter while it's in progress, and there is significant planning far in advance and additional work afterwards. Any writer considering Kickstarter needs to weigh the advantages and disadvantages ahead of time, and decide whether it's worth it, or if they should just spend that energy and time writing something new instead.

Here are a few pointers for those of you who may be considering running a Kickstarter campaign of your own:



A professor of mathematics at SUNY College at Oneonta, Joshua Palmatier has published five books with DAW: the Throne of Amenkor series (The Skewed Throne, The Cracked Throne, The Vacant Throne), and the Well of Sorrows series (Well of Sorrows, Leaves of Flame) under the pseudonym Benjamin Tate. A new series will begin in July 2014 with the novel Shattering the Ley. He has also published numerous short stories: "Mastihooba" in Close Encounters of the Urban Kind and "Tears of Blood" in Beauty Has Her Way (both edited by Jennifer Brozek), and "The River" in River (edited by Alma Alexander). With Patricia Bray, he has edited two anthologies (After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar and The Modern Fae's Guide to Surviving Humanity). Recently, he has become the founder/owner of a new small press called Zombies Need Brains LLC, whose first anthology, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs Alienswill be released in May 2014. Find out more at and, or at You can also find him on Facebook under Joshua B. Palmatier and on Twitter at @bentateauthor.

Publication Announcements

Bo Balder announced: "‘The Doll Is Dead' sold to Penumbra Ezine for its Hitchcock-themed issue (October 2013)."

Oliver Buckram wrote, "‘Un Opera Nello Spazio' has been published by Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine."

Sarah Byrne announced: "‘Loved and Lost' has been published by Ideomancer."

Tim Major's horror story "The House Lights Dim" appears in Issue 11 of Sanitarium Magazine.

Rebecca Schwarz says: "'Cattle Futures' has been published by Stupifying Stories." 

Cory Skerry tell us, "'Castle of Masks' will be published by Prime Books's Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales." 

Erzebet YellowBoy announced: "'The Mirror Tells All' in Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales (anthology) from Prime Books, October 2013."

Reviewer Honor Roll

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

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

September 2013 Honor Roll Nominees

Reviewer:Joseph Ahn
Submission: The Spume Horse by Bo Balder
Submitted by: Bo Balder

Reviewer: Carol Ryles
Submission: The Eyes Have It by Tim Major
Submitted by: Tim Major

Reviewer: Brent Smith
Submission: The Other Reindeer Pt 1 - Revision by Mark Owens
Submitted by: Mark Owens

Reviewer: Michael Godfrey
Submission: The Call (2nd Revision) by Dick Stokes
Submitted by: Dick Stokes

Reviewer: Jane Forni
Submission: Coeurmorph 1 - Chapter 22 by Katrina Oppermann
Submitted by: Katrina Oppermann

Reviewer: Dragon Paradise
Submission: The League: Rise of the Shadow Chapter One by Desmond Leach
Submitted by: Desmond Leach

Reviewer: John Cimock
Submission: The League: Rise of the Shadow Chapter One by Desmond Leach
Submitted by: Desmond Leach

Reviewer: Caroline Norrington
Submission: "Father of White Fire" by Jonathan White
Submitted by: Jonathan White

Reviewer: Caroline Norrington
Submission: BLACKOUT IN THE KINGDOM OF THE SOUTH POLE, Chapter 1 - C4C by Jonathan White
Submitted by: Jonathan White

Reviewer: Leah Bobet
Submission: "The Veteran" by Roberta Ecks
Submitted by: Roberta Ecks

Reviewer: Mark Owens
Submission: Plunging Upward by Donna Hinman
Submitted by: Donna Hinman

Reviewer: Dragon Paradise
Submission: Gift Traffic Chapter 1 (C4C) by Elena Patrick
Submitted by: Elena Patrick

Reviewer: Debra Crichlow
Submission: A Little Help by Linda Robbins
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Tom Greene
Submission: Dogville (re-write) by D.L. Young
Submitted by: D.L. Young

Reviewer: Roberta Ecks
Submission: Black Widow by Dragon Paradise
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Jane Forni
Submission: Black Widow by Dragon Paradise
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Seth Skorkowsky
Submission: Black Widow by Dragon Paradise
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Mark Reeder
Submission: Black Widow by Dragon Paradise
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Rob Smythe
Submission: Tales from the Age of Legends Chapter 1 (part 1) by Jon Fabris
Submitted by: Jon Fabris

Reviewer: Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Submission: Black Widow by Dragon Paradise
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Kathryn Jankowski
Submission: Black Widow by Dragon Paradise
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Kim Allison
Submission: Black Widow by Dragon Paradise
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Michael Godfrey
Submission: Black Widow by Dragon Paradise
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Michael Keyton
Submission: Black Widow by Dragon Paradise
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Phillip Spencer
Submission: Black Widow by Dragon Paradise
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Darlene Brown
Submission: Black Widow by Dragon Paradise
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Maria Guglielmo
Submission: Black Widow by Dragon Paradise
Submitted by: Dragon Paradise

Reviewer: Durand Welsh
Submission: The Moon Crofter by John Lovero
Submitted by: John Lovero

On Shelves Now

DELIA'S SHADOW by Jaime Lee Moyer (Tor Books, September 2013)

It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia's most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.

Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free...until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.

It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again.

And who is now aware of Delia's existence.


SPY'S HONOR by Amy Raby (Signet, October 2013)

Rhianne, mind mage and Imperial Princess of Kjall, cannot openly challenge the emperor. Instead she acts in secret to aid the victims of his worst excesses. But now the emperor plans to wed her to the cruel Augustan, the man leading Kjall's attack against the nation of Mosar. Soon she will be torn from her supporters and shipped overseas, where she can help no one.

Mosari crown prince Janto is desperate to save his country from invasion. When one of his most trusted spies disappears while gathering intelligence at the Kjallan palace, Janto takes his place and continues searching for information that could save his people. But falling for the Imperial Princess was not part of his plan. Nor was having his true identity revealed....

Now Rhianne must make a choice -- follow the path of tradition or the one of the heart, even if it means betraying her own race.

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

Sarah Prineas, published author and workshop member, on the place of basic grammar rules in fiction

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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