Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

July 2014 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge


Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

Reviewer Honor Roll

On Shelves Now

Membership Info





August! It's still summer in this hemisphere, but the crew at OWW is hard at work. No drifting around the pool on inflatable rafts for us! Updates and upgrades are happening in the Workshop, including some bigger changes in the works than we've seen for a lot of years. I can't wait to see what improvements Jon and the OWW team have in store for us.

Three small changes have already gone live. First, you can have reviews on your submissions e-mailed to you at anytime. Click the new link on the "read submission" page, and your submission and all current reviews will be sent to your email address. This also happens when you delete a submission.

Second, when looking for a story to review, you can now filter submissions by length. Check out the Read, Rate, Review page for the new filter.

Third, it's now easier to find our very impressive Member Book Gallery, where we display the many books published by our members. Look for it linked from the Results panel of the homepage or in the bottom-of-the-page navigation. If you haven't visited the Gallery, check it out: it's an inspiring collection of this community's successes.

Coming next, in the not-so-exciting department: new password-handling protocols for improved security.

Workshop members and alums keep accumulating honors! And send us your publishing news so we can share it--we know there are more publications out there than we have to crow about this month. Finally, this month's Spotlight is a piece on the importance of word choice, with tips and tricks, written by me.

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

On to the good stuff, then back to writing for all of us. Until next month, keep writing and keep learning!

Jaime Lee Moyer, newsletter editor
news (at)

Monthly Writing Challenge

Challenge dictator Leah Quire doesn't plan to make it easy on us this month. This is a much harder challenge then it appears at first glance.

"Write a complete story--beginning, middle, and end-- in fifty words or less."

Remember: Challenges are supposed to be fun, but don't forget to stretch yourself and take risks. If you normally write fantasy, try science fiction. If you've never tried writing in first or second person, here's your chance. The story doesn't have to be a masterpiece, this is all about trying new things and gaining new skills, and most of all, having fun. Challenge stories can go up at anytime. Put "Challenge" in the title so people can find it.

Challenges can be suggested by anyone and suggestions should be sent to Jaime (news (at)


Our very own C.C. Finlay is editing two more issues of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 2015. Complete details and reading periods can be found here.

Collidor is a new Science Fiction zine for smartphones and tablets. It's looking for new fiction and reprints of between 2,000 and 18,000 words. Payment for new fiction is 25 cents a word for the first 5,000 words, 20 cents for the next 5,000, and 10 cents up to 18,000. Reprints are 10 cents a word. Complete details can be found here.

Inscription is a free online magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy for teens. They are seeking original stories of between 500 and 9,000 words featuring protagonists between 11-19, and they will consider reprints. They pay pro rates of 6 cents per word. Complete details can be found here.

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 Gemma Files, Leah Bobet, Liz Bourke, 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

Keeper of the Crimson Blade (Prologue & Chapter 1) by Erin Fitzgerald

Keeper of the Crimson Blade (Prologue & Chapter 1) caught my eye for the vigour of its description, and the intriguing possibilities of Chapter 1's opening sentence: "It was a good day for treason." That's a sentence that offers a lot, but that chapter that follows has a little ways to go before it lives up to that promise of tension and action.

Let's summarise what's going on in the prologue and chapter together. In the very short (~400-word) prologue, two named characters are tracking two ...people? beings? ...through a forest. They are apparently near the town of Nellice.

In Chapter 1 (~3000 words), the reader meets Tazia, our viewpoint character, who is an apprentice ("aspirant") in what looks like a religious/charitable order in the town of Nellice. As the chapter opens, Tazia is about to go somewhere. Before she leaves, she has a conversation with her superior/mother-figure, Mirem. Then she heads off to do something of which she knows Mirem won't approve. After some to-ing and fro-ing, we learn that Tazia is involved in a movement that opposes her town's current overlords, the Taveno. While a comrade stages a distraction, Tazia enters a Taveno guardhouse and steals papers and a coinbox. She's surprised by a guard--who gets a good look at her--as she's leaving. The guard chases through the streets to a cobbler's shop belonging to her unofficial "grandfather" where she hides, overhears a conversation, and then departs through a secret tunnel. The chapter concludes with a shadow moving in the tunnel and a challenge: "Hey, who are you?"

Before I bring the hammer out and start harping on about what the writer could do better here, I should mention what's done well. As a whole, Keeper of the Crimson Blade (Prologue & Chapter 1) demonstrates a solid grasp of telling detail, an eye for the turn of phrase or line of description that grounds a scene.

"...her aspirant's sturdy work skirt slapping against her legs..."

"Mirem cradled Tazia's face with her softly wrinkled hands..."

"The statue itself was a little larger than life size, the empty carved eyes staring out over an invisible multitude."

These are the kinds of touches that make a scene come more vividly to life. Olfactory and aural cues (smell and hearing) are less closely observed than tactile and visual ones here, but it's definitely a solid start where scene-setting is concerned.

Also well done: Tazia's character and characterisation. She has a voice and a personality, and comes across as believably young and earnest. For the most part, there's good control of point-of-view: at the start of the third paragraph of Chapter 1, the text refers to Tazia as "the girl," which sits ill with the tight third-person POV displayed by the rest of the chapter, but that's an easy fix.

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

--Liz Bourke
"Sleeps With Monsters" columnist at
Book reviewer for, Strange Horizons, and Ideomancer

Editor's Choice, Science Fiction

Peddler's Canyon, Chapter 1 by Kevin Emmons

One of the advantages of genre fiction is that short stories have been and continue to be a great place to test out characters, settings, or ideas for novels. Great characters often demand the length of a book. Back in 1999, the early days of OWW, one of the very first Editor Choice awards went to a short story about a wizard detective; since then Jim Butcher has gone on to publish fifteen books in The Dresden Files. Elizabeth Bear's short story "Madam Damnable's Sewing Circle" in the anthology DEAD MAN'S HAND is the basis for a novel featuring the same character, Karen Memory, that will be published by Tor in 2015. And Aliette de Bodard's stories about Acatl, Aztec High-Priest of the Dead, grew into the OBSIDIAN & BLOOD series.

Sometimes it's the setting or idea that proves to be worth a novel. The world that Paolo Bacigalupi created for "The Calorie Man" became the basis for THE WIND-UP GIRL. Or, more recently, the water crisis that forms the background for his story "The Tamarisk Hunter" became the setting for his forthcoming novel THE WATER KNIFE. Both books explore the ideas and world of the short story, but with different characters and a larger narrative arc.

And then sometimes the short story is narratively whole when it is incorporated into a book. My novella "A Democracy of Trolls," which was workshopped here on OWW and published in FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, became a section of my first novel THE PRODIGAL TROLL with very few changes. Another approach is that used in one of my favorite novels, CHINA MOUNTAIN ZHANG by Maureen McHugh, which interweaves several short stories that originally appeared in ASIMOV'S into a larger narrative structure. And another approach is used in one of the really good novels I read recently, CALIFORNIA BONES by Greg van Eekhout, released last month, which is an expansion of his short story "The Osteomancer's Son," which also appeared in ASIMOV'S.

I mention all this as prelude to my critique of this month's Editor's Choice selection, PEDDLER'S CANYON CHAPTER 1, a science fantasy novel, that has been expanded from a previously workshopped short story.

My attention was first drawn to this story by the summary in the author's notes. Apprentice stonecutter Sciel lives with her family and mentor in the village of Prelion. The people of the village go mad and start killing each other, but the chaos proves to be a cover that allows someone to get away with murdering and kidnapping people close to Sciel. Sciel has to unravel the madness and track down the killer/kidnapper on a ship that drifts through the clouds.

This seems like a premise that, with proper development and escalating stakes, can support a novel. Sciel is very interesting to me as a character. I like how the story roots us in her experience as a stonecutter from the very first sentence. Her acceptance as a stonecutter--a traditionally male job--comes in part from her status as an outsider. And she has secrets, from the infidelity with her master, which she hides from his wife, to hints of a traumatic experience that drove her from her original homeland. I like her relationships with other characters too, from the mutual respect/kindness that is evident in her conversation with Rialla--where there could have been cattiness or conflict--to the way she tries to be a good foster-parent to Denyl, to her gruff conversation and sarcasm with the huntsman. She has strength, expertise, conscience, and flaws.

There are also some good details in the setting. It may only be a small thing, but I was delighted to see the reference to llamas. That, in itself, promises a world that may not default to medieval Europe. I like the descriptions of the threatening red-ice storm and Sciel's memory of arm-wrestling Brakken, both drunk and sober. Even the minor details of the setting--like the amber color of the sky or the crunch of the snow--are vivid and usually serving double-duty as a revelation of character or link to foreshadowing or plot. And then there's the promise of floating ships to come.

So character works very well, and the setting looks good, but this chapter falls short in narrative structure. It's comprised of things that have just happened or about to happen, interwoven with foreshadowing of worse to come. There's no big narrative hook here yet, just lots of tiny hooklets. The story starts after Sciel's sexual encounter with her master. She feels ashamed and has no sense of joy from it. Later she'll be accused of trying to break up Rialla's marriage. She feels her only option is to run away. All of this raises questions about why she's doing it, and what exactly her relationship to the stonecutter is like. She's clearly too strong to be forced against her will. Overall, I found this more distracting than engaging. The bigger story is happening somewhere else, but not in this chapter.

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

--C.C. Finlay
Guest Editor, Fantasy & Science Fiction
Author of the TRAITOR TO THE CROWN series

Editor's Choice, Short Story

"Download - A Biographic Recording of Mid-cycle Gravity Waves [Radio Edit]" by B. Morris Allen

"Download - A Biographic Recording of Mid-cycle Gravity Waves [Radio Edit]" caught my eye this month partially due to its high level of polish and craft cohesion, but it inspired some thoughts for improvement due to where that polish is applied and where it isn't. This month, I'd like to talk about the difference between polishing the surface elements of a story and taking our hypothetical rag and brush to the deeper, structural components--and how we can balance the two.

The high degree of care put into the most visible elements of "Download" is obvious, mostly by the way that seemingly small elements of the story are doing a great deal of work. The opening scene evokes its characters and the space in which they live beautifully, mostly by means of the sentence-level work. The prose is paced to reflect Nora's "homecoming, philosophical" walk, with little bits of alliteration that don't push the story into feeling overembellished, but create a lovely, thoughtful tone. The quiet rhythm of the language helps support the reality of the beach and cottage, and establish their feel: Telling me that this is the sound of the waves, and of Nora and Elsie's lives--and introducing me to Nora and Elsie proper.

A fine sense of what details to include on the page also brings both characters and their relationships out neatly in the very first scene. One detail--the question of the footprints, Nora's weight, and Elsie's anxiety over it--paints this relationship in full colour: Elsie's a worrier naturally, Nora's likely thinner and more sickly than she's admitting, and they're both making compromises for each other because this is a good marriage, and they love each other well. When that detail reflects against the standard tropes of fiction (or, for that matter, North American society) and shows a very non-standard attitude to fat and body weight--and an interracial, queer, female couple--it makes a strong statement about what kind of story this is going to be, and how it will likely turn out more interesting than a story that doesn't question any of our storytelling tropes. That is a lot of work for one fact to accomplish in two short paragraphs, and "Download" does it quite ably and impressively.

The different POV sections only embellish this relationship: Elsie and Nora's perspectives play off each other nicely, and the gaps between how they see each other, themselves, and their situation bring both of them into full, three-dimensional, living colour.

It's in the middle spaces that the shine comes off "Download" somewhat, and that's largely because of an imbalance: The pacing and plotting of the piece haven't received quite the same attention as the characterization, thematics, and prose.

"Download" starts to slow notably in Elsie's first POV section: Information is starting to repeat, without adding enough new content or forward narrative motion. Whether it's Nora telling Elsie about the day we just saw, or a recurring circle around the problem of Nora's growing gravity, the story mires as the pair keep repeating the same fundamental, meta-structural action: trying to solve a problem they're not going to solve anyway, failing, and trying it, to no avail, again. The overwhelming impression to me, as a reader, is the feeling of an earlier draft, where the author is still circling to find the plot, and hasn't yet revised to smooth out the thinking being done on the page.

That impression is bolstered by the slightly scattered ends of plot throughout "Download," and how they're resolved, or not. All kinds of signposts, all kinds of clues, are provided through the story—none of which lead anywhere. The seal who crosses Nora's path; the implications of exercise making Nora's post-polio syndrome worse: Neither are followed up upon, or come into play. Whereas the ending of the piece, turning on Elsie's heritage and the question of Thunderbird, comes up only in the ending scenes, without the importance of either of those two elements having been set up, built, or spotlighted in the beginning and middle of "Download".

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

--Leah Bobet
Author of ABOVE

Editor's Choice, Horror

"Names" by James Sadler

"Names" is a quick yet extremely engaging and sardonically pulpy little fantasy-horror sketch, reminiscent of classic Weird Tales-era work by people like Fritz Leiber, although it also reminded me a lot of Jonathan L. Howard's far more recent Johannes Cabal series (Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, The Brothers Cabal, etc.). It revolves around magician Hrag Ratham, who stands—or rather hangs, over a plague pit—accused of having supposedly brought said plague down on a nameless city (perhaps the city of Hatter, since one part of it is apparently called "Hatterside") by speaking the names of demons. Quickly convicted and imprisoned before imminent execution, Hrag manages to trick his friendly foreign cellmate into mistakenly committing the same crime he's about to die for, then escapes in the confusion and damage after the demon/demigod whose name this unfortunate man has just uttered appears to carry him off.

Told in the present tense—a very good narrative choice, in that it gives the story a far more contemporary feel than it might otherwise have—"Names" begins with a flurry of sharp, evocative imagery which absolutely succeeds in establishing a sense of place through action rather than description, though it's undercut here and there by small moments of delivery-oriented awkwardness. For example:

"It is [M]onday morning and the plague pits are filling nicely. The body collectors will not work on a [S]unday. They honour the sabbath. Naturally, the work piles up. By the gates of the overflow cemetaries. On the streets. In your bed. Come [M]onday morning the whole city is a relay of corpses, from bedroom to doorstep, from doorstep to cemetary gate, from the gates to the ground. The grave diggers dump corpses by the wheelbarrow load.They wear bird beak masks, with long, black beaks stuffed with dried flowers to protect them from the bad air. Flea bites mar their bare arms."

A lot of sentence fragments make up this paragraph; the author may have thought this gives the various points he's trying to make more emphasis. By switching out many of these repetitive periods for commas and adding a few transitional words here and there, however, a far more seductive flow will be created, drawing readers along like a current rather than forcing them to work in order to figure out how each section hooks onto the next—like so:

"It is [M]onday morning, and the plague pits are filling nicely. The body collectors will not work on a [S]unday[, since t]hey honour the [S]abbath[, so n]aturally, the work piles up[—b]y the gates of the overflow cemeteries[, o]n the streets[, i]n your bed. Come [M]onday morning[,] the whole city is a relay of corpses[ being run] from bedroom to doorstep, from doorstep to cemetery gate, from the gates to the ground. The grave[-]diggers dump corpses by the wheelbarrow[-]load. They wear []masks [whose] long, black beaks[,] stuffed with dried flowers[,] protect them from the bad air. Flea bites mar their bare arms."

As we proceed, the writing continues to be intermittently undermined by basic semantic mistakes ("indicates" or "waves toward," not "beckons" to the plague pits) and odd choices of analogy (since this story seems to be taking place in some sort of fantasy analogue world rather than an existing historical place/era, the idea of comparing the way corpses are layered in a plague pit to lasagne or shepherd's pie is a bit jarring). Which is a pity, because we also get lovely sentences ("The air is sweet with death and lime"), as well as some uniquely creepy observations ("He feels like a human divining talisman, seeking something on a grisly map.").

I feel as though this particular paragraph illustrates most of the story's best qualities, though even here, some tweaking has been necessary:

"Judge Orlok is a dramatic man. Who else would think to hold the trial of the plague[-]bringer over an open plague pit? [A]rtists will certainly commit the scene to canvas. They will take great care to show {Orlok's] ramrod[-]straight back[], his leather mask fit for a pamphlet to scare children [with]. They will show his entourage, similarly dressed but sitting on stools[, recording the proceedings] with rough paper and quills. They will show the pits, the ruined houses, the bored grave[-]diggers. They will show Hrag Ratham, Black Hrag, the Dreaded, brought low, sulking in his tiny cage. But will they show the dry[-]eyed little girl staring from that far window? Will they show the [belching] smokestacks from the illegal body burnings down Hatterside? Will they show the [one victim] still moving down there in that pit, ignored by all and sundry?"

Nevertheless, even with all these relatively minor quibbles, "Names" is a remarkably entertaining piece. My largest overall criticism, in fact, is that at a mere three sections, the climax seems to come far too swiftly, making Hrag's plan to escape execution appear less clever than it actually is. It leaves readers wondering what happens next, eager to see how Hrag surmounts whatever new and perilous situation his dangerous choice of career will inevitably place him in. Now that he's tricked someone else into speaking a demon/demigod's name, can doing it himself be far behind? The story reads like a prologue to something far longer, and hopefully even more interesting.

I'd also advise the author to re-think literally describing Hrag's easily-bamboozled cellmate as "the black man," an obviously African-analogue runaway, because it comes off as a very old-school, borderline-racist caricature. It might be more interesting to flip the paradigm in an Ursula K. LeGuin-type way, in fact, and present Hrag's pseudo-Mediaeval world as being inhabited by dark-skinned people with "woolly" hair, while the disposably naive runaway is white, blonde and blue-eyed.)

Finally, though "Names" works as a provisional title, it too implies a larger magical system we could do to learn more about -- for example, do the names in question only work to summon supernatural creatures when spoken out loud, or can you also perform lower-level magic by writing them out, thus evoking a portion of the named demon/demigod's power without actually putting yourself in danger of it appearing? Etc. By exploring these questions and extending the narrative, the author may eventually stumble across a better title as the story grows and changes. I wish him good luck with its continued evolution.

--Gemma Files
Author of the Weird Western Hexslinger series


Word Choice and the Importance of Description
by Jaime Lee Moyer

Words are a writer's most important tools. That probably seems self-evident, but it's still worth repeating. And how you use your tools – your words--allows you to plant an image in a reader's mind, or convey emotion, tone, and affects pacing and the rhythm of the prose. Carefully chosen words can build plot and lead readers down the path you want them to take.

If there is one hard and fast rule I follow it is this: Use the right word for what you're trying to make the reader see or feel. Not the safe word, not the easy word or the weak word that pops to mind right away, not the ten dollar word your character couldn't know or use; the right word.

Oh. I almost forgot the second rule I follow. No word is off limits if it is the right word.

I admit I'm probably the pickiest person on the planet about this. I sometimes stare at a perfectly good sentence because something is Just Not Right(tm). Usually that means the tone is wrong, or the image isn't exactly what I want. All those years of writing poetry play into this. Poetry teaches you to be concise, to build strong images and not take the easy route.

Well, it does if you want to be a good poet. Same goes for writing strong prose and being the best writer you can be.

Showing people what I mean is usually better than just telling them. I'm going to use myself as an example.

This is how I go about building an image. First draft of a paragraph as I was flying through a writing session:

"In the center was a photograph of a rather plain woman dressed in a simple choir robe, arms outstretched. She smiled broadly, a garland of flowers crowning dark hair. Across the top of the handbill were printed dates and times for meetings and lectures, and an address on Clement Street."

This was okay and it was easy, but it really didn't convey what I wanted the reader to see, or what my character was seeing. So I thought about it and then I fiddled:

"In the center was a photograph of a rather plain woman dressed in a crimson choir robe, arms outstretched as if to gather someone into an embrace. She smiled broadly, a garland of flowers crowning unbound dark hair. Across the top of the handbill were printed dates and times for meetings and lectures, and an address on Clement Street."

This is better, more layered. A crimson choir robe plants an entirely different image than a simple choir robe. Crimson can be sexual, or make a reader think about blood.

Gathering someone into an embrace is an entirely different image than just holding her arms out, both with in terms of being welcoming, and its possible sexual overtones. All of this was good, and much closer, but this still wasn't exactly what I wanted.

I'll cut to the chase and show you what I ended up with. Getting this involved a bit of research, but I do that a lot. It's longer, more detailed, slightly rearranged, and I'm hoping, more sinister. I'm all about the sinister and planting subtle doubts.

"Across the top of the handbill were printed dates and times for meetings and lectures, and an address for a church on Clement Street. The name of the speaker was printed in neat block letters underneath: Effie Ladia Fontaine.

In the center was a color photograph of a rather plain woman dressed in a crimson choir robe, arms outstretched as if to gather someone into an embrace. She smiled broadly, a garland of pale blue flowers crowning unbound dark hair. Even reproduced on cheap paper, the colors were bright and the image lifelike.

Officer Maxwell had explained about Lumiere Autochrome plates after showing Gabe some color photographs in a National Geographic magazine. He'd confirm his hunch with Maxwell later, but he was dead certain this photo was taken the same way. The process was much more expensive than hand tinting black and white photos, putting it out of reach of most amateur photographers. Reproducing images taken with Autochrome plates was expensive as well.

Effie Fontaine couldn't be more than a step up from a tent show revivalist. That a traveling speaker would have that kind of money to throw away on handbills gave him pause."

Not every writer goes through this process, but I do. I know what I want my readers to see, what I want them to feel, hear and smell. In this case, I wanted readers to begin to wonder about the woman on the handbill, to think about her and start to suspect she wasn't what she appeared to be. The right words, in the right order, will do that.

Think about the words you've chosen next time you're editing a story, and don't be afraid to experiment with substitutions. You might be surprised at the difference a word can make.

Jaime is the author of Delia's Shadow and the new A Barricade in Hell, both from Tor. More from Jaime can be found on her blog.

Publication Announcements

B. Morris Allen has three forthcoming stories we should look for: "Blind" coming in Song Stories, Vol. II, "Drive Like Lightning...Crash Like Thunder" coming in Novo Pulp 2014/14, and "Blackthorn," which will appear in the Genius Loci anthology.

Roger Lovelace has something to brag about this month:"My short piece 'You Bind Us, Joanna' has been accepted by NonBinary Review for their September 2014 publication."

Tim Majors wrote to let us know: "I have publishing news! I've just sold my novella, 'Carus and Mitch,' to Omnium Gatherum Books – it'll be published in February 2015. The first part of the story was an Editor's Choice and I'm immensely grateful to Jeanne Cavelos and many OWW members for their helpful feedback!" Congrats, Tim! We always feel a thrill when an Editor's Choice gets published.

OWW's own Amy Raby was awarded the Romance Writers of American Prism Award for Fantasy on July 26th, for her novel Spy's Honor.

And workshop alum Elizabeth Schechter was awarded the RWA Passionate Plume award for her novel House of Sable Locks.

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.

Reviewer: Gio Clairval
Submission: When No One Remembers REVISED by Kathryn Flaherty
Submitted by: Kathryn Flaherty

Reviewer: Robert M Graves
Submission: Chapter 1 I Know How You Feel by nicole minsk
Submitted by: nicole minsk

Reviewer: Heidi Kneale
Submission:Fighting Demons: Chapters 1-2 by Erica Chandler
Submitted by: J.L. Stovall

Reviewer: Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Submission: Suicide Knight_C1 (Revised 7/14/14) by Jeff Stanley
Submitted by: Jeff Stanley

Reviewer: Jon Paradise
Submission: Suicide Knight_C1 (Revised 7/14/14) by Jeff Stanley
Submitted by: Jeff Stanley

Reviewer: Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Submission: Enmeshed, V2 by Jon Paradise
Submitted by: Jon Paradise

Reviewer: Sharon Bennett
Submission: Enmeshed, V2 by Jon Paradise
Submitted by: Jon Paradise

Reviewer: Jon Paradise
Submission: C4C--To Hear Even Your Cry--Chapter 1 by Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Submitted by: Allan Dyen-Shapiro

On Shelves Now

One-Eyed Jack by Elizabeth Bear (Prime Books, July 2014)

The One-Eyed Jack and the Suicide King: personifications of the city of Las Vegas -- its history, mystery, mystical power, and heart! When the Suicide King vanishes--possibly killed--in the middle of a magic-rights turf war started by the avatars of Los Angeles, a notorious fictional assassin, and the mutilated ghost of Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel--his partner, the One-Eyed Jack, must seek the aid of a bizarre band of legendary and undead allies: the ghosts of Doc Holliday and John Henry the steel-driving man; the echoes of several imaginary super spies, decades displaced in time; and a vampire named Tribute, who bears a striking resemblance to a certain long-lost icon of popular music.

Shattering The Ley by Joshua Palmatier (DAW, July 2014)
Erenthrall—sprawling city of light and magic, whose streets are packed with traders from a dozen lands and whose buildings and towers are grown and shaped in the space of a day. At the heart of the city is the Nexus, the hub of a magical ley line system that powers Erenthrall. This ley line also links the city and the Baronial plains to rest of the continent and the world beyond. The Prime Wielders control the Nexus with secrecy and lies, but it is the Baron who controls the Wielders. The Baron also controls the rest of the Baronies through a web of brutal intimidation enforced by his bloodthirsty guardsmen and unnatural assasins. When the rebel Kormanley seek to destroy the ley system and the Baron's chokehold, two people find themselves caught in the chaos that sweeps through Erenthrall and threatens the entire world: Kara Tremain, a young Wielder coming into her power, who discovers the forbidden truth behind the magic that powers the ley lines; and Alan Garrett, a recruit in the Baron's guard, who learns that the city holds more mysteries and more danger than he could possibly have imagined . . . and who holds a secret within himself that could mean Erenthrall's destruction--or its salvation.

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

Nicola Griffith, winner of the 1997 Nebula Award for Slow River, on observation, the pitfall of the favorite word, and avoiding clichés

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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