Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror
As winter creeps toward its end, it's not going gently into that last good night: large portions of North America are being pounded with record amounts of snow. This will be a winter that's remembered in the history books, and maybe even immortalized in a story or two by the writers living through it.
Most writers are collectors at heart. Like magpies gather shiny things, we gather odd facts, historic events or unique experiences, and store them away. Sometime later they surface in a story, usually in a form no one but the writer would ever connect to the original. What will you gather from this winter that shows up in a later story? Will it be the shadows thrown by snowdrifts taller than your front door, or how extreme cold steals your breath and bites your skin, or the silence spread by falling snow? Watch for this North American winter's effects on the workshop in coming months.
Until next time, keep learning, keep experiencing, and keep writing.
As always, contact us if you have any questions, publication announcements, or ideas for improving the OWW Newsletter.
Jaime Lee Moyer, newsletter editor
news (at) onlinewritingworkshop.com
Most of us have heard of "the butterfly effect," the concept proposed by scientist Edward Lorenz that small events can have large, widespread consequences. Translated into mass culture, the butterfly effect has become a metaphor for the existence of seemingly insignificant moments that alter history and shape destinies.
Beloved challenge dictator Leah Quire proposes this story challenge for the month of March: "Backtrack a major event in history (real or fictional) to its 'Butterfly Effect' origin."
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) onlinewritingworkshop.com).
Farrago's Wainscot publishes original fiction and poetry. They are looking for stories of 2,000-4,000 words and pay 6 cents a word for stories, and $20 per poem. Full details here.
Stone Skin Press has announced a new anthology, Swords v. Cthulhu. They are looking for stories up to 5,000 words with a historical or fantastical bent. Payment is 5 cents per word. Full details here.
The reading period for Sword & Sorceress 30 will start April 18, 2015 and close on May 15th. Stories should be the type generally referred to as "sword and sorcery" and must have a strong female protagonist whom the reader will care about. They pay 6 cents a word for stories up to 9,000 words. Full details here.
Broken Eye Books wants your alternate-history steampunk ghost stories for their Ghost In The Cogs anthology. They are paying 6 cents per word for stories of less than 4,000 words. The reading period opens March 1, 2015 and runs until April 1, 2015. Full details here.
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, 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!
Custodian, Part 1 by Lindsey Hodder
This chapter's author can use language to construct a striking image, and to convey the kinds of sensory detail that flesh out a world. The opening paragraph is ambitious in its attempt to set scene and create mood. Yet there are a number of issues that need to be addressed both here and in the chapter as a whole before the piece would be ready for publication. Let's outline what's happening in this chapter before moving on to critique.
The first paragraph introduces us to a character, Emme. Subsequent paragraphs follow her as she travels across the city, which we learn has been recently invaded, to a meeting with two other characters, whose connection with Emme is not elucidated very well. One of these characters is an alchemist who has made something that is described as "blasphemous." He gives this thing -- a "manikin" -- to Emme to take out of the city. Emme departs, but panics on the way, and after hiding on a rooftop in the city, we learn that the manikin can both move without direction and speak. It's essentially an animate puppet.
That is what happens in this chapter. The crucial question to address, though, is why the reader should care. The chapter buries its lede: the animate puppet is the big attention-grabber, and that's three-quarters of the way into it.
The first chapter of a novel is the reader's point of entry to the world and the story. As a consequence, everything in a first chapter needs to pull its full weight: it needs to convey the author's confidence and competence to the reader. There are five elements that the author introduces in this first chapter:
Animate puppet -- "manikin"
The need to leave the city
What the chapter doesn't do is link them in a smooth progression of narrative and explanation. Who are the alchemist characters? What's the problem with them having a "manikin"? Why do they need to get it away from the city, specifically? Why do they need Emme? And why is Emme willing to help them?
The writer might know this. But this information has to make it onto the page, and right now, it's not doing that.
And who are the invaders, and why did they invade? A story needs specificity: you can expand elements later, but they need to be introduced properly up front. Invasions aren't random, but using vague terms like "invaders" makes the world seem vague and random. Everyone has a reason to explain why war is happening, even if it's the wrong reason: leaving reasons unacknowledged in passing by the characters implies to the reader, at this point, that the writer might not know themselves. (First chapters are interesting balancing acts.)
"Show, don't tell" is a piece of writing advice that's often handed out indiscriminately, it seems to me. It's a useful piece of advice in many cases, because when you show detail it makes for stronger, better-realised prose: "The corners of her eyes crinkled" beats out "She was happy," just as "Noon sunlight picked out the flowering vines that trellised the age-weathered walls of the Old Town in a riot of colour" builds a stronger picture than "The sun shone. Plants grew on the walls of buildings in the Old Town." (Look, I don't write pretty sentences for a living, all right?) But sometimes it makes writers leery of sitting down and slamming out a paragraph of good old-fashioned exposition.
Sometimes, you need that exposition to make sure the reader is pointed in the right direction.
Structurally, it would make for a tighter beginning to start with the alchemists, or have a reason not to -- a place or a thing that the first several paragraphs involve which Emme returns to towards the end of the chapter.
Those are basic criticisms regarding structure. In terms of prose, this shows a great deal of promise, if the writer learns to control the through-line of the sentences, and to use verbs that work more precisely. Let's take the first paragraph as an example.
"Shadows blew across the ground, gently caressing the packed dirt streets. Ghostly echoes of the clouds that threatened to blot out the moon they provided ever growing opportunities to be taken advantage of, if one wished to remain unseen. One did. Emme hovered in the meagre shadows cast by the piles of debris that was all that was left of the shipwright district. Misty clouds of wasted breath hung in the air before her in the cold night air. She hugged her shawl tightly to her ribs as she waited for a brief break in the clouds to pass."
There are two verbs that are doing all the wrong work here: "caressing" and "hovered." The first verb personifies the shadows. In the opening sentence of a fantasy novel, where animate shadows are not beyond the realm of possibility, you don't want to imply animate shadows in the first paragraph unless they actually are.
The second verb, "hovered," implies that Emme is hanging in midair. Again, this is the first paragraph of a fantasy novel: unless Emme is indeed floating, it'll only confuse the reader to imply that she is.
For the rest of this review, visit theEditors' Choice areaof the OWW site!
"Sleeps With Monsters" columnist at Tor.com
Book reviewer for Tor.com, Strange Horizons, and Ideomancer
Marc Holiday and the Big Scam, Chapter 22 by Mark Reeder
This is a transition chapter in the later part of a YA novel. Marc, Hannah, and Larry are young time travelers who have just returned from a mission that rescued Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace and (hopefully) restored the history of computers.
I haven't read earlier chapters and don't know anything more about the book than I read in the author's notes, so the things that drew me to this submission are all intrinsic to this chapter. I liked the relationship between the three teens, and the pacing at the beginning of the chapter from their return to the confrontation involving Doc to Marc's use of the Travelers ring. And I loved the way that, when time stopped, Marc had to manipulate equations in a smart way to solve the problem with the gun. And Tycho is a good dog.
I was less convinced -- or at least less interested in -- the relationship between Marc and Doc. Based on this chapter, it feels like we're supposed to see Doc as genuinely caring and interested in Marc. There's a momentary break from his rage, where he tells Marc's friends, "more temperately, 'I'm sure you feel you're doing the right thing for your friend.'" Marc also seems to recognize this and has genuine respect for Doc. At least enough to keep him from getting shot.
That's why all the characterization and descriptions of Doc seems off-tone. "Doc stopped them with a look so furious, they both stepped back as though he had slapped them." "…Doc said, spit gathering at the corners of his mouth." "Doc's face turned purple." "He leveled an angry glare at Marc." Parents, and other parental figures, can set and enforce clear boundaries for their kids without coming across like over-the-top purple-faced foaming-at-the-mouth cartoon villains. I thought the relationship between Veronica Mars and her dad, both on the TV series and in the spin-off books, was a great example of this. Unless there's something else going on that I missed in earlier chapters, Doc's fury at Marc isn't consistent with the other clues about their relationship, isn't necessary for him to set clear boundaries, and, most importantly, isn't interesting to read because it's not that empathetic.
The latter half of the chapter, where Marc interacts with the First Traveler in the Arch of Time, was also much less satisfying to me. The whole conversation feels artificially constructed in a way that makes it feel like the author is trying to deliver exposition important to the rest of the book but which doesn't necessarily feel important in the moment. On the one hand, it seems like the First Traveler is meant to act as a teacher or a guide to Marc. On the other hand, she comes across as passive-aggressive and resentful -- dragging out the conversation, making him jump through unnecessary hoops, and taking digs at him that seem like they're supposed to tear him down.
After a moment she said, At least you passed the first test for the Last Traveler.
"The bullets in the study," Marc said smugly.
Don't get cocky. It's a simple trick … a child can do it.
The energy faded and left him doubled over. He shook his head to clear the pain... "You could have just told me," he grated.
She smirked, her smile so like Mošeh's Marc grimaced. It's all part of the training. I have to see how resilient you are.
What kind of mentor needs to diminish a kid's accomplishment or smirk to test a kid's resilience? (Unless the First Traveler was Snaping it up to fool this book's Voldemort -- in which case, ignore everything I've said.) And what's up with Marc saying something "smugly" twice in five paragraphs? By the time I got to the end of this scene, I disliked both characters intensely. I don't think that was the intention, and, unless there's something else going on in the book that requires it, I didn't feel like it was intrinsic to moving the story forward.
Sometimes I think these kinds of interactions are driven by a false belief that they increase tension during long sections of dialogue. But characters don't have to be jerks to each other for there to be tension in their conversation -- all they need is to want different things. The First Traveler wants to test Marc to see if he's ready for the tasks ahead. Marc wants to get back to the study to save Doc. That's enough tension to drive a scene without smirking, smugness, or the rest of it.
My gut reaction is that the chapter (and probably the book) would be much stronger if Marc's interactions with both Doc and the First Traveler were more nuanced. The teens have mutually respectful conversations with each other; I think Marc and the adult figures could too, even if they have different knowledge sets and goals. It would make the book more interesting and increase the stakes because the more invested we are in positive relationships, the more Marc has to lose.
One final thing: in the author's note, the writer says, "I apologize for the length of this chapter. I couldn't figure out how to divide it into two. Any suggestions will be most welcome."
I'm not sure what the average chapter length is in this book, but if it's necessary to break the chapter in half, consider dividing it at the point where Marc gets whisked away in the Arch of Time. The conversation with the First Traveler is a break in the location, action, and tone of the rest of the chapter before it. Putting a chapter break there actually draws more attention to it and will alert readers to be ready for the shifts. The return to the study at the end of the scene brings us full circle back to the previous narrative and lets the story pick up where it was interrupted.
Despite my concerns, this is well written and I enjoyed reading it. Any time a chapter this late in a novel can grab my attention, it's a very good sign. I hope these comments help, and encourage the writer to ignore anything I said that doesn't ring true.
Good luck with finishing the book and taking it out into the world.
Editor, Fantasy & Science Fiction
"Fiat Viridis" by Andrew Kay
There's a standard idea of science fiction and fantasy as genres for the big, bright story, chock-full of plot. But I have a special space in my heart for our genre's quiet little stories -- the ones that move a lot inside readers without moving a great deal on the surface. "Fiat Viridis" is a gorgeously quiet little story (man and boy go looking for tree) that's not so little after all, and it caught my attention this month because it demonstrates so well how small stories can be very big inside after all -- and how to make that work.
There are a lot of initial strengths to "Fiat Viridis": first and foremost, a narrative voice that's engaging. Paul's voice isn't so thick with the eye-dialect as to feel fake or offputting, but written like the best dialect is, so that its rhythms and cadences sound like that dialect when read out loud. It's also a narrative voice that's played well against the assumptions of the audience: For better or for worse -- mostly worse -- the protagonist's voice is one that North American readers will read as less educated, and so the contrast of the expected pulpit and the sacredness of life with biomass, ecosystems, and the lab does subtle, solid work to tell readers what kind of story and world this is. Setting up a trope to carefully modify it, if not outright knock it down, is extremely effective when pulled off well, and "Fiat Viridis" definitely does a great job worldbuilding out of the readers' assumptions.
That worldbuilding is also quietly effective. The contrasts of the Hub and the wilderness beyond it are subtly dropped in, but speak volumes: Paul's tension at being outside the Hub, and the subtle indication through the temperature that this is a world that's withered through extreme climate change. It's a series of hints that are supported well by the contrast between Paul's and his apprentice's perspectives: Paul's machine metaphors are exquisitely out of place in what's become a blasted and wild environment, but give the current-day reader an easy avenue into the world and a commentary on his apprentice's fear and eagerness and religion. The difference in how they speak, with Paul's casual tone and his apprentice's more formal, stilted dialogue, further reinforces and maps the way their society has grown and changed since.
It's that handling of that change -- and what it means in religion and hope and faith -- that turns "Fiat Viridis" into more than its surface story (that "man and boy go looking for tree" A-plot). "Fiat Viridis" accomplishes the thing that good literature does, in that its plot is not all that it's about. The beautiful thing about "Fiat Viridis" -- the thing that makes this small story so big -- is that it's a story about hope, and that core statement, "try to tell yourself a tree is not a sacred thing."
That comes through in the bigger structural elements, with the catechism excerpts starting out somewhat suspicious and ending up in this grand, glorious, scientifically-grounded vision for building a green new world. And it comes across in Paul's character, and his own values. There's a gruff kindness to this story, and a patience. Even the "growing up does wonders for people's personalities" remark bespeaks a vast compassion -- and implies Paul's values aren't so out of line with the Church of the Tender, despite the presentational differences. He's the voice of cynicism, yet he actively wonders how to make his young apprentice "a little less miserable" and there's a palpable joy when the boy cracks a little and acts like a goofy kid. The treesighting -- and the stories about other people's treesightings -- is…delightful. Its sensory details are deployed well and gorgeously; the narrative relishes that tree. They made me feel that hope. It made me smile.
The sense of hope is also bolstered, and made possible by, the discussion about religion woven through the story, and how this is a post-apocalyptic world where the religion is fundamentalist, but fundamentally complex and well-intentioned. Paul's unease about Sharon's doctrine -- and the way his apprentice spouts it -- feels valid and real, but not mean; the doctrine itself feels a little too uncritical and automatic, but it's unceasingly compassionate. The result feels like a real conversation about religious doctrine, rather than a straw-man argument. This isn't a story about who wins. It's a wonderful contrast to the more standard post-apocalyptic narrative, full of cannibalism and desperate rebellions and one-sidedness.
The only suggestion I would have for "Fiat Viridis" is in line with that ethic, and it's to maybe cut the final catechism section. It's fairly apparent what happened to the planet, what the mission is, and who Sharon is, and introducing the extra piece of mythology at the end gives readers a signal that the story is opening back up, not arcing down to a close. It's a misleading signal that changes the tone right at the end of the piece, before the story touches down into that quiet, peaceful moment, and it's a signal that could be simply cut to restore the tidiness of that narrative fabric.
All in all, though: I love the layers of "Fiat Viridis," and I love its kindness. It's a beautiful story. It's joyous, and I wish you the best of luck with it.
Author of ABOVE
"The Monks of Glukoz" by James Sadler
Learned skills and techniques help writers develop an idea into a powerful story, but having a compelling idea to start with is key to a story's success. "The Monks of Glukoz" has such an idea, both fun and horrifying: monks are able to turn men into candied men by feeding them honey. This premise leads to one of the strongest moments in the story, the discovery by the protagonist of a candied man. Without realizing that the candied man was once a man, the protagonist and his starving comrades eat the delightful treat, and we get some intriguing glimpses into the internal candy organs. This sets up the horrific fate of the protagonist, who becomes a candied man himself.
The world, the monks, and their power provide some strong elements to the story. But I think a stronger plot could be built around these elements. Right now, the plot works mainly to reveal the idea. The story opens with the imprisoned first-person narrator/protagonist being fed honey by the monks. The protagonist then recounts how he was captured, an account that reveals the truth about the candied men, then returns to the protagonist in his cell as he continues his metamorphosis. While a fairly short piece can have a plot that mainly serves to reveal the premise, that usually means the premise should be revealed at the end, often in the last line. An example is Arthur C. Clarke's story "The Star" (which reveals the premise only with the last word of the last sentence). In "The Monks of Glukoz," the premise is revealed when the protagonist encounters the candied man. At that point, I know the monks are transforming the protagonist, so the last third of the story is an anticlimax and seems unnecessary; it offers no further revelation or turn.
The story's opening third is also weak, with a lot of exposition (background information) and a lot of telling, but little showing or forward motion. Opening with a character thinking about his life and providing lots of exposition is a common weakness in the work of developing writers. I think about half of this exposition can be cut. Much of it shows the world and its uniqueness, but that's not necessary to create the impact of the story, which is "Oh, my God, they make men into candy!" Everything in the story should work toward creating that impact; if something doesn't add to it, then it can be cut.
I think the plot problems arise out of the structure of the piece -- a first-person account of a character looking back on his life. This structure can work, but if the story is going to come back to the present at the end, some important action should happen at that point. Nothing really happens in the present of the story beside the protagonist telling us his story.
I see two possible ways to strengthen the plot. First, events could be put into chronological order to create a strong one-act structure. The story could open with the starving protagonist and his comrades setting out for the monastery for honey. They could encounter the candied man, get captured, and as the first bowl of honey is fed to the protagonist, he could realize that he's being made into a candied man. The story could end with that horrific revelation. Since I wouldn't have seen anyone being fed honey in advance, I don't think I'd figure out the ending before it arrived, so it would carry its full impact.
The second option would be to keep the structure of the character looking back on his life but provide a more active plot using a three-act structure. The protagonist would need to have a goal of some kind in the present that he is struggling to achieve, and he would need to have tried something in the past also, so the situation evolves and he's not just a victim telling his story and waiting to die. For example, perhaps he speaks of his last chance to escape at the beginning and we see some clues about that. He might think he needs one more serving of honey to execute his plan. Then he could describe his trip to the monastery, his discovery of the candied man, and his capture. Perhaps he tries to communicate with his comrades by tapping on the wall; perhaps he tries to break through the door or tunnel out, and fails. Perhaps he tries sending a help message out the toilet tube. It would be nice if he tried something to help his comrades, since in the current version he doesn't seem to care what happens to them. With this structure, we'll foresee that he is transforming, just as we do in the current version. So you need something more horrific at the end to create an impact. Perhaps he receives his bowl of honey and pours it down the toilet tube to lubricate the sides. He thinks he can just wriggle out, if his plan works. Then he starts eating his arms off.
I hope these suggestions are helpful. The story has many strong elements. The description of the candied man evoked a fascinating, vivid image in my head. And I love the fact that the protagonist and his friends ate the candied man and enjoyed him. I'll be remembering that for a long time to come.
--Jeanne Cavelos, editor, author, director of Odyssey
Shaun Duke is a blogger, podcaster, and writer who is currently earning his PhD in English. His studies are focused on Caribbean literature, postcolonialism, and science fiction. Outside of academia, he is a co-host on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show, a blogger and reviewer at The World in the Satin Bag , and a freelance editor at The Duke of Editing . Shaun's latest project, a new movie discussion podcast called Totally Pretentious with fellow film aficionado David Annandale, begins this month.
You're one of the founding members of the SFF podcast, Skiffy and Fanty. How did you get involved with podcasting? And where did the name Skiffy and Fanty come from?
I started listening to podcasts around 2005. In the old days, there weren't that many major SF/F-oriented podcasts. You could sometimes get audio from old radio interviews if you knew where to look. So I started out listening to Dragon Page and old radio interviews; in 2007ish, I started listening to Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing. That's the point at which I started getting interested in podcasting; being a stickler for "getting things right," I didn't actually take the leap until 2010, when I convinced a writer friend to start one up using some $25 Skype mics. Shortly after, he bowed out and my best friend Jen finally agreed to do it (I'd bugged her for months before starting S&F and she was reluctant).
The name came about because I'm a ridiculous person: "Skiffy" is an existing misspelling of "scifi." I think someone on Twitter jokingly said that we should have "Skiffy" in the title. We ran with it and figured "fantasy" needed its own version. So Skiffy / Fanty. Tack on a "Show" and you've got your silly fake radio title! I think it suits us.
Ten years ago I'd never heard the word "podcast." Now podcasts are everywhere, and cover a huge range of subjects. I can even download podcasts to my phone. Can you tell us a little about the history behind how this came about? Is this a case of technology catching up to an existing need?
Podcasting apparently dates back to the 80s. There's a Wiki article on the full, complicated history, so do check that out if you want the nitty gritty.
Podcasting as we know it today probably took off after the invention of the iPod (and other MP3 players) and the fall of Napster -- both occurred in 2001. 2004 seems to be the Big Year. "Podcast" became a more common search term. Radio shows started distributing digital content more frequently, and all kinds of folks were putting together their own audio shows. There were certainly podcasts before this, but I think 2004 was the turning point. And then iTunes added podcasts to its program, and the rest was history.
In a way, I think this was a bit of technology catching up to a desire. Those of us who used Napster back in 1999-2001 could see what was coming -- not in a prophetic way or anything like that. It was just obvious. I played a ton of computer games in the late 90s. You could see the Internet changing and the games changing with them in real time (which influenced which, I don't know); downloading games just seemed an obvious endpoint. Napster was just a signpost in a technological revolution that was inevitable. People were going to start downloading content online -- music, games, books, cooking instructions, pictures of cats, etc.
So why wouldn't consumers want to download radio shows, too? Why wouldn't they want to download shows that sounded like radio shows, but weren't?
I see podcasts not as throwbacks to or echoes of old-time radio broadcasts, but as the modern evolution of those old radio shows. Is that an accurate assessment in your eyes?
Yes (mostly). There are podcasts which are essentially radio plays. Technology certainly makes it easier to make programs like that, but the heart is in the same place. And there are podcasts which use the radio format in general for releasing content. Sean Astin runs a political podcast that airs live so people can call in and participate in the discussion.
But what podcasting does is take away that need to "be there." I can download that radio play or episode of whatever and listen to it later. I can take it with me on a plane or share it with a friend. At its root, podcasts are radio shows outside of time.
Part of this, I think, is symptomatic of the shifting attitudes of content "users." With the advent of filesharing on a massive scale, it became possible for people to stop lining up their schedules with TV or radio broadcast times (illegally, of course). Now, we have streaming sites like Netflix (which started streaming in 2007), Hulu, and Amazon Prime, making it possible for us to watch movies and TV shows any time we want at the pace we want. Podcasts were just there first.
And podcasts were responding to a need that TV and film wouldn't get to for several years. A lot of people wanted content to be available for later consumption. There just weren't a lot of good options until recently. Now, it seems rather mundane to say "I listen to podcasts" or "I watch stuff on Netflix," right?
Podcasts also represent an opening. They're not restricted to radio formats (time, style, type, etc.). You can find podcasts on topics you might never have heard about on the radio. It's a medium with few restrictions. On the one hand, they are a throwback to the old ways because they borrow from that history as much as an SF novelist borrows from SF history; on the other hand, they are capable of so much more.
Podcasts also strike me as a valuable contribution to the genre conversation. How have they expanded the conversation and reached new people?
SF/F is a niche market. Conversations have been going on in this community for almost 100 years; but that conversation was for so long isolated to fanzines, conventions, local events, and small groups of people. It was a slow conversation. Podcasts probably haven't done much to the conversation that the Internet didn't already facilitate. What they have done is fill in that niche. There were so few programs dedicated to sf/f as a field; now, there are dozens of podcasts on individual shows, film, books, fandom, general geekery, and so on. Heck, there's probably a podcast out there dedicated to the relationships between sf/f authors and their cats (and if not, there's an idea for someone). Podcasts are just one puzzle piece in a crazy Internet age of widespread madness.
Do you have a favorite moment from a Skiffy and Fanty episode? A favorite interview?
Honestly, recording S&F is my main source of stress relief. I get to sit down and chat with my friends about all sorts of stuff. And we have a lot of fun. Some of my favorite moments are things that rarely make it into the final mp3: moments when one of us says something so funny that Paul Weimer breaks into fits of adorable giggles; moments when everyone so overwhelmed with laughter that we're all crying. One of the first Torture Cinema episodes we ever recorded (just Jen and I) originally contained a 3-4 minute laughing fit. I don't remember who said what, but both of us couldn't go on. We had to stop (partly because I drooled on myself). In other words, I love what I do because it's some of the most fun I've ever had.
As for interviews: one of my favorite people to interview is Myke Cole. Not only is he a great writer, but he is also a blast to talk to – funny, compelling, and just good at conversation. That said, my absolute favorite interviews are sentimental because they're related to my PhD work: I've interviewed every living author in my dissertation – Tobias Buckell, Nalo Hopkinson, and Karen Lord (in some cases, multiple times). Like I said, I really love what I do.
What can we look forward to from both Skiffy and Fanty, and Shaun Duke in the future?
2015 is our second theme-oriented year. Last year, we ran the World SF Tour; this year, we're focusing on the contributions of women and non-binary people to SFF. So you can expect interviews with women and non-binary folks, discussions about related topics, and reviews of movies and TV shows by, about, or featuring these groups. And I can tell you now, having almost booked the show out to June, that 2015 is going to be amazing.
(Check out the Skiffy and Fanty Show)
B. Morris Allen has two more stories for us to look forward to: "Drive Like Lightning ... Crash Like Thunder" is in the forthcoming Novo Pulp 2014/15 anthology and "Blackthorn" will appear in the Genius Loci anthology.
Bo Balder wrote to say: "Just wanted to let you know I sold my OWW-critiqued (and Editor's Choice) story "Women and Houses" (critted under the title "Of Women and Hice") to Fantasy & Science Fiction, potential publication date September 2015. Also: I sold my OWW-critted novel The Wan to Pink Narcissus Press, to appear June 2015."
Former Resident Editor Elizabeth Bear has sold a story to Fantasy & Science Fiction. Watch for "The Bone War" in a future issue.
Gio Clairval keeps counting up sales: All dates TBA, but her story "The Repositioner" with Roger Lovelace will appear in The NaM3L3ss Digest; "Escape from the Slave State" will appear in Welcome to the Slave State, an Omnium Gatherum anthology edited by Chris Kelso; and "Big Sister" will be part of Our World of Horror, an Eldritch Press anthology.
Gregor Hartmann's story "Into The Fiery Planet" will be published in Fantasy & Science Fiction in 2015.
Tim Major has another sale to report: "Read/Write Head" will appear in The Museum of All Things Awesome And That Go Boom anthology from Upper Rubber Boot Books, to be published in 2016.
Workshop alum Jodi Meadows' new novel, The Orphan Queen, is out from Katherine Tegan Books this month.
Alum Sarah Prineas is well know for her middle-grade books, but her first YA novel is set to be released this year. Look for Ash & Bramble from Harper Teen in September, 2015.
Seth Skorkowsky made this proud announcement: "I just wanted to share that the audio book of my novel Dämoren has been selected as a finalist for an Audie Award in Paranormal Fiction."
Alum Ian Tregillis' new novel The Mechanical is out from Orbit this month.
Josh Vogt had a big announcement: "I wanted to share some fun news as well. My urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, has been contracted by Kevin J. Anderson's WordFire Press; the first book, Enter the Janitor, received a lot of feedback here. It will be released in May 2015, and the second book, The Maids of Wrath, should be out in 2016! Just before that, I'll have a debut novel in the form of a Pathfinder Tales sword and sorcery adventure, Forge of Ashes. It's shaping up to be quite the year, and I wanted to thank OWW for helping me get here."
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear (Tor, February 2015)
Set in the late 19th century -- when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront. Karen is a young woman on her own, making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable's high-quality bordello. Through Karen's eyes we get to know the other girls in the house -- a resourceful group -- and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging for sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone's mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap -- a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (Katherine Tegen Books, March 2015)
When Princess Wilhelmina was a child, the Indigo Kingdom invaded her homeland. Ten years later, Wil and the other noble children who escaped are ready to fight back and reclaim Wil's throne. To do so, Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate the Indigo Kingdom palace with hopes of gathering information that will help them succeed.
But Wil has a secret -- one that could change everything. Although magic has been illegal for a century, she knows her ability could help her save her kingdom. But magic creates wraith, and the deadly stuff is moving closer and destroying the land.
And if the vigilante Black Knife catches her using magic, she may disappear like all the others....
The Mechanical (The Alchemy Wars) by Ian Tregillis (Orbit, March 2015)
The Clakker: a mechanical man, endowed with great strength and boundless stamina -- but beholden to the wishes of its human masters.Soon after the Dutch scientist and clockmaker Christiaan Huygens invented the very first Clakker in the 17th Century, the Netherlands built a whole mechanical army. It wasn't long before a legion of clockwork fusiliers marched on Westminster, and the Netherlands became the world's sole superpower. Three centuries later, it still is. Only the French still fiercely defend their belief in universal human rights for all men -- flesh and brass alike.
After decades of warfare, the Dutch and French have reached a tenuous cease-fire in a conflict that has ravaged North America. But one audacious Clakker, Jax, can no longer bear the bonds of his slavery. He will make a bid for freedom, and the consequences of his escape will shake the very foundations of the Brasswork Throne.
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