Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

April 2015 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge


Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

Reviewer Honor Roll

On Shelves Now

Membership Info





The writers I know all say that there is always something new to learn about writing. I have to agree. As beginners, we all work hard to internalize the basics of plot, pacing, and character, but most of us learn pretty quickly that isn't enough. We start to develop a "process," which is a fancy way of saying how each writer tells a story is a unique combination of skill and imagination.

The milestones and the learning curve are different for each of us, and what stands out as the most important thing we've learned -- so far -- is different as well. For April's Spotlight, I asked some OWW alumni what is the most important thing they've learned about writing. I got some great answers.

Until next month, keep writing and keep learning.

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)

Monthly Writing Challenge

Challenge dictator Leah Quire wants us to give this story idea a try: "You open your front door one morning and find someone--or something--has left a basket with a baby inside on the porch. At least you think it's a baby. What do you do?"

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)


The 2016 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide anthology by Dreaming Robot Press is now open for submissions. They're paying 6 cents per word for space adventure stories of between 3,000 and 6,000 words aimed at middle grade readers. Full details here.

Unidentified Funny Objects 4 is an annual anthology of humorous SF/F. For UFO4 they're specifically seeking dark humor stories between 500-5,000 words. Payment is 7 cents per word and a contibutor's copy. Full details here.

Meerkat Press is seeking stories of 1,000 to 5,000 words for their new anthology, Love Hurts. They except love stories that hurt in all genres and subgenres, and payment is 1 to 4 cents per word. Full details here.

DAW books is taking unagented, unsolicited novel submissions. Paper copies of full manuscripts only via snail mail, and an approximately three month wait. Full details here.

In a change long-awaited by many beginning authors, SFWA memberships are now open to small press and self-published authors. Full details 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 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!

Editor's Choice, Fantasy

The Wolf's Grave, Chapter One by Anita Siraki

This submission caught my attention because it does (almost) all the things you could ask for in a novel opening, and it does (almost all of) them right. The reader is immediately introduced to the protagonist, whose first-person voice -- foul-mouthed, abrasive, irritated, and not, clearly, the most understanding of people -- gives a solid sense of personality from his first line. The reader is cued right up front as to place and, from the choice of internal dialogue, time:

God, I forgot how much I hate the way Quebecers speak English.

Oh, shit, that means I'm in maple syrup territory. Motherfucker. The one part of Canada they know I can't stand and they ship my mangy wolf ass here.

Straight away, the reader understands we're dealing with a modern time period in an urban fantasy framework that probably includes werewolves; that the protagonist is a werewolf and probably an Anglophone Canadian; that he doesn't like Quebec; and that the action has opened in Quebec. These four sentences do a neatly efficient job of conveying a lot of important context, and do so in a way that gives the text character and personality: voice.

So, let's summarize what's going on in the rest of this chapter. It opens with the protagonist, Bergeron, face-down and naked in a snowbank. The reader is not informed as to how he got there. He is surrounded by enemies from, apparently, another werewolf pack, led by a man called Patrick Leduc. We learn that Bergeron is old enough to remember when Haiti was called Hispaniola, and that without the assistance of a talisman, which is now a) in Leduc's possession and b) seemingly broken, he is unable to control his shift to wolf-form under the moon. Leduc pulls him up and is about to kill him with a machete. The section ends.

What this chapter does right: the voice is effective. The prose is decent, the description adequate to the needs of the text, once or twice viscerally powerful -- "a deep, gravelly laugh that sounds so coarse I can picture the mucous rubbing up and down in his throat as he's doing it" -- the line of direction passable, and the through-line of tension adequately sustained. It has good What happens next? about it.

There are points where the rhythm and structure of the sentences could be improved to create a better flow and a more effective reading experience, but these issues are relatively minor -- there's only so much that messing around with commas and prose structure can improve, in the absence of a strong narrative drive, and this piece already has the voice and drive. Better, here, means relatively small improvements for much more effective prose; take this paragraph as an example:

One of the pack members, I can't tell which one since they all smell like dog shit, pulls me up by the back of the neck and slaps me across the face with a glass bottle before he throws me onto my back. I shiver on the ground as buck naked as the day I was born three hundred years ago.

Now consider the same paragraph with a few minor changes:

All of Leduc's pack smell like dog shit, so I can't tell which of them pulls me up by the back of the neck. He hits me with a beer bottle -- right in the face -- and throws me down on my ass. I sprawl on the ground, buck naked as the day I was born and shivering.

The character's age is already established by the Hispaniola line, so you don't need to re-establish the fact that he's several hundred years old. The other changes are on the advice of the Elements of Style: Keep related words together, which is best done here by splitting up the ideas held in the first sentence into two related sentences. I'll quote Strunk Jr., because he says it better than I can:

The position of the words in a sentence is the principal means of showing their relationship. The writer must therefore, so far as possible, bring together the words, and groups of words, that are related in thought, and keep apart those which are not so related.

The subject of a sentence and the principal verb should not, as a rule, be separated by a phrase or clause that can be transferred to the beginning.

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

Blighters, Part 1 of 3 by Tim Major

A strong narrative voice and fast pacing can often be enough to drive a story. The first section of BLIGHTERS by Tim Major is a good example of this. The voice belongs to Becky, a young, damaged woman at the end of her resources. Becky is smart and tells it like she sees it. The story starts in a crowded pub on New Year's Eve:

It's starting to look like most of the groups are la-di-dah snobs who probably all work together. There's a publishing company somewhere around here and if it wasn't for that then there'd only be hotel workers and fucking jobseekers. I hear words like 'jollies' and 'promoted' and 'SMART objectives' and who the hell talks like that on New Year's Eve?

Nor does she excuse herself from her scathing perspective, which we see in this passage later, when she and her friend Gail are out in the woods.

We keep on walking.

I swear it's an hour later before Gail speaks again. She's been doing all these CIA moves, ducking from tree to stone to tree. Which is all very impressive, except then there's me just tramping along behind her, so what's the point?

Even when the narrator has a strong voice like Becky's, part of the trick of pacing is letting the main character want something in every scene and every interaction. It doesn't have to obvious, or overtly stated, but it needs to drive the character's decisions. Becky fits this bill. First she wants into the pub, even though it's packed and Lee, the bouncer, is keeping people out.

Lee lets me in because we used to be mates.

Once she's inside, she wants someone to hang with for New Year's Eve.

I pick a group. There's a knack to this. The trick is to hang around near the edge and just laugh when they all laugh. There are six of them already, so who'll mind another one, especially if they're a livewire like me?

In every scene, from the pub, to the country hike the next day with her bartender friend Gail, to Becky's trip to the police station to report murders, she wants something. She has an immediate purpose. It's important to note that her goal in each scene doesn't have to tie into the big plot of the novella, which deals with the alien creatures called the Blighters, at least to start. The writer deftly puts those into the background:

Lee's on the door of the Beast, arguing with some guy wearing a T-shirt with a cartoon Blighter on it. A star-shaped explosion at its arse-end and underneath the words 'NATO shot first.'


The TV's on in the corner. There's no sound and the settings are messed up so the reds are like blood smears. Some guy's talking, acting all superior. His specs look like they'll slip off his nose even though it's massive. Some Review of the Year on Channel 4, it looks like. The giant words 'JULY 2018' fade out from behind him and now there's a video of a Blighter, except all fuzzy because it must have been nicked from Youtube and you can't see the ridges on its shell or whatever they have on their backs.

Becky doesn't have any goals regarding the Blighters when the story starts. But when she goes off with Gail to chase down a rumor of a Blighter in the woods, we've been anticipating it. And we know Becky is smart and will act with purpose, no matter what comes up. This is all very well done and made the chapter an easy pick for this month's EC.

There aren't high stakes to start the story and Becky doesn't have any big plan, so the pacing keeps us reading. That means that the story needs to value action, movement, over exposition. The danger in this comes in leaving out or delaying the delivery of minor orienting details. Any thing that causes a bump in the reader's understanding, that makes us stop to reread or parse a sentence for meaning, slows the pace down.

For example, in science fiction and fantasy stories, the metaphor is often externalized and made real. The Green Dragon can be an inn or the name of a spaceship or a literal emerald-scaled dragon. In a pacing-driven story, sometimes clarity is important. For example, I bumped on the second sentence here: "Lee's on the door of the Beast, arguing with some guy wearing a T-shirt with a cartoon Blighter on it."

I was still processing the Blighters mentioned in the first sentence and at the end of this one, so I don't have a clue what the Beast is and I'm not oriented in the scene physically. Three extra words would have grounded me immediately in the setting: "Lee's on the door of the Beast, my local pub, arguing with some guy wearing a T-shirt with a cartoon Blighter on it."

For this kind of story, a good Beta reader will point out every bump. Then it's up to the writer to decide if three extra words will slow the pacing down too much or if it's better just to keep things moving. There's no single right answer. It's a matter of feel that you have to develop over time and a lot of words.

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

--C.C. Finlay
Edtior, Fantasy & Science Fiction

Editor's Choice, Short Story

"Community Service" by JJ Roth

"Community Service" caught my eye this month because of its sense of place, non-standard dystopian future, and complicated relationships. It also caught my eye because of where it falters, and so this month I'd like to talk about how we convey information to readers, and what subtextual messages those choices send.

"Community Service" opens with a tidy first line that instantly establishes conflict and stakes: "Cam covers for her every day, starting as soon as the alien transport drops them at the site." Who is Cam covering for? Why is he or she covering for someone, every day? What's the site? What's an alien transport doing? They're neatly packaged questions that I want answered; my interest is immediately hooked.

Once it's engaged, though, the narrative pull for me is Cam and Dot's complicated relationship: love and weariness and frustration, which circles right back around to love. Most of the time he's talking to her like a child that needs to be handled -- until he bursts into fierce protectiveness over the smokers standing upwind. The overall portrait is of a woman who's exhausted and overwhelmed, and a man in constant crisis mode, dealing with the emergency in front of him at all times and irritable to the point of explosion by comparatively little things -- which just reinforces the despairing landscape they're in and the frantic feel built by the prose rhythm and smart use of present tense.

The prose also creates a great sense of narrative motion with its cadence and choice of imagery (I specifically liked the image of sweat from Dot's hairline to her chin, and how it moved). Those well-observed, kinetic physical details create the feeling that momentous things are happening even when the plot is standing still; when the atmosphere is a still, hot, quiet desert prison.

Where "Community Service" stumbles is that it's three stories in one: One about Cam and Dot's relationship and their soon-to-be-born child; one about the silver heist -- whose logic I personally find questionable, since Cam's leverage, as a prisoner, isn't much leverage at all -- and one about the escape from the pits. And those stories aren't integrated into one cohesive narrative, but stacked end to end, consecutively. This feels less like one story than a very summarized trilogy.

And part of that is because of how "Community Serivce" gives out its information. Information on the world and Cam's next quest, if you think of it in RPG terms, just appears when it's necessary -- when the next conflict drops out of the sky. This creates a feeling where things just happen: Dot and Cam are transferred, and then they meet the resistance, and then coincidentally are cleaning the mint, and then coincidentally the airship comes. There are a lot of coincidences in "Community Service" that don't necessarily need to be coincidences -- that can feel planned for, in the sense that Dot and Cam meet the resistance because they are transferred to the mint -- if the story is rethought on an exposition basis.

I'd like to suggest that instead of dropping in information, information be seeded through the earlier sections of the story to make it feel cohesive. As it stands, plot points such as the underground resistance and the Santorin need for silver just appear in the narrative, attributed to "rumour" or "the gossip mill." But how much rumour can you get in a prison camp for an alien invasion force that's only been here six months? How many people have rumours that just happen to mysteriously check out? I'd seriously rethink this way of including information.

The way that information is placed into the narrative makes it exceptionally easy to miss -- and if not, to miss as something important. I'd suggest that not sourcing the information, when so much else about the plot is sourced, makes the introduction of those facts feel notably sloppier than the rest of the piece. There's thought in the characters and world and alien design; there can be thought shown in how Cam knows what the reader needs to know about the Santorins.

The other downside to the current exposition model is that in general, it's hard to tell what's important to the narrative the farther one gets into "Community Service"; pieces of information are thrown out there, and some of them resurface while some of them do not. I'd suggest looking at the page weight certain pieces of information are given: How long does your metaphorical camera linger on each item? The more space it gets on the page, the more important it's expected to be by readers, and that's something we as writers can use to our advantage, to tip off our readers as to what to keep in mind. I'd suggest a revision for "Community Service" that just considers page weight, emphasizing what matters, and cutting down what doesn't.

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

--Leah Bobet
Author of ABOVE

Editor's Choice, Horror

"Carry On" by Rhen Wilson

One major challenge in writing a short story is coming up with a limited set of actions that have significance and impact. Often these actions illuminate a situation or character; often they change the situation or character. One type of structure that allows such an illumination and change involves two characters meeting each other. This meeting reveals the two characters and creates a major change in the life of at least one of them. (Odyssey Podcast #28 discusses this structure and others here.)

"Carry On" has a nice, compact plot that uses this structure. Michael finds himself seated next to the strange Cronin on an airplane. The story shows Michael getting to know Cronin, illuminating both characters. As we realize that Cronin is doing something horrific, the situation is also illuminated. Michael's contact with Cronin then leads to a life-changing experience. This overall structure works well for a short story.

The story also has some vivid description. I enjoy the comparison of the stomach to a purse, and the description of the baby being eaten by the stomach has some horrific details and strong word choices.

I think there are several ways that the story could be strengthened. A couple of them relate to the story structure I discussed. In this structure, it's important to choose the two characters carefully, since the impact and significance of the story will arise from them. For me, it doesn't seem terribly significant that Michael discovers the baby, as opposed to anyone else. The discovery horrifies him, but it would horrify anyone. In what way is Michael's reaction unique, revealing, and powerful? What is the significance of this ending?

Michael's actions and thoughts reveal him to be passive and weak, someone who avoids confrontation and is often taken advantage of by others. That would be fine, if this weakness interacted with Cronin in a way that generated a powerful outcome. But at the climax, we're told that Michael is able to overcome Cronin's influence and get to the baby first because he is emotional, motivated by his heart. Yet the story provides no real evidence of that. The fact that Michael is able to reach the baby first seems random (meaning manipulated by the author) and to lack significance, since it doesn't tie to our previous vision of his character and doesn't change anything (the outcome would be the same if someone else reached the baby first). What seems significant to me, rather than the fact that Michael is first to reach the baby, is that Michael takes so long to reach the baby that he can't save it. Thus the characteristic of Michael's that seems most important, rather than his heart that drives him to action, is his weakness that delays his action.

That would make "Carry On" the story of how Michael's encounter with Cronin reveals (to Michael and to us) the full extent and consequence of Michael's weakness. For this to have impact, Michael needs to be deluded about himself; this will allow him to change at the climax when he realizes the truth. So at the beginning of the story, he is someone who will avoid conflict at all costs, yet he thinks of himself as someone who doesn't push for what he wants because he's thoughtful and considerate, not weak. Perhaps Hannah left him because he'd never come out and say what he wanted, and he'd let problems get worse and worse without taking action. Yet Michael doesn't realize this. The story can gradually reveal Michael's avoidance of conflict through his interaction with Cronin, the old woman sitting on his other side, and the baby's mother. For example, if Michael inadvertently elbows the baby as he's putting his bag in the overhead compartment and gets yelled at by the mother, this could contribute to his hesitance to act at the climax and lead to the death of the baby. This could create a powerful impact as we and Michael realize that a hesitance to act is not an expression of selflessness but a critical weakness that can lead to the death of others.

This is certainly not the only option, but I think the character could be more consistent, with stronger motivation for his actions, and with his nature more strongly tied to the outcome at the climax, so it carries powerful significance.

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

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


This month's Spotlight is a little different. We asked a few authors who got their start on OWW to share their answers to a not so simple question:

What would you tell a brand new OWW member, or any beginner, is the most important thing you've learned about writing?

"cover"Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. This, coupled with a childhood tendency to read the dictionary for fun, led her inevitably to penury, intransigence, the mispronunciation of common English words, and the writing of speculative fiction. She lives in Massachusetts with a Giant Ridiculous Dog. Her partner, acclaimed fantasy author Scott Lynch, lives in Wisconsin.

"The most important thing I have learned about writing is that failure is not just part of the process. It is the process. If we never fail, that means that we're not trying techniques and skills and effects that are beyond our abilities, and not only do we stagnate as artists--our skill sets actually begin to contract. We actually get worse when we don't allow ourselves to overreach and fail."


coverJodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy and the forthcoming ORPHAN QUEEN Duology (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen). Visit her at

*A Kippy is a cat.

"Critique, critique, critique. As exciting as it is to get comments on your own work, it's even more useful to learn how to give thoughtful criticism. For one, it's far easier to see ways to improve others' work. But also, it will help you see your own writing with new and critical eyes."


coverJoshua Palmatier is a fantasy writer published by DAW Books and Baen Books with the PhD in mathematics. His most recent novel is SHATTERING THE LEY, set in a world where cities are powered by the magic of the ley lines. He is also an editor with co-conspirator Patricia Bray of three SF&F themed anthologies, has published numerous short stories, and is the founder of the small press Zombies Need Brains LLC. Find more about him and the small press at and

"Allow yourself to write crap. When you sit down to write, just write. Don't worry about whether it's stunning prose or the perfect simile. Just write. Get the story down first; you can go back and revise it later. Worry about making it great during the revisions."


coverIan Tregillis is the author of five novels, including The Mechanical. His short fiction has appeared in venues including Fantasy & Science Fiction,, and Popular Science. He joined the OWW in 2003, and wouldn't have a career today without it.

"The best advice I could give a brand new OWW member -- or any beginning writer -- is this: Be humble! Remember there's always room to grow. (Come to think of it, that's good advice for writers at all stages...) Truly useless feedback is quite rare. But sometimes you have to swallow your pride, or come back later, to hear the message."


"photo"Josh Vogt has been published in dozens of genre markets with work ranging from flash fiction to short stories to doorstopper novels that cover fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel, Forge of Ashes, adds to the RPG Pathfinder Tales tie-in line. You can find him at or on Twitter @JRVogt. He's a member of SFWA as well as the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

"Perseverance is everything. Persist in the face of rejection. Keep pushing yourself to become better. Don't let a hundred "no's" stop you from reaching a single "yes." In the end, you can have talent, but if you don't keep striving, no amount of skill is going to make your writing dreams real. Perseverance is what will set you apart in the end."


(For more tips on getting read, getting reviewed, and other aspects of workshopping, see our Tips & Reviews area.)

Publication Announcements

Elizabeth Bear has announced the official publication date for her next novel. Look for An Apprentice To Elves, co-written with Sarah Monette, on October 13, 2015.

Aliette de Bodard just revealed the cover of her newest novel House of Shattered Wings on her web site. Look for the book in September.

David Busboom says, "I have another success to report: my story "The Duelists" was accepted for the upcoming British anthology Swords Against Cthulhu by Rogue Planet Press!"

Gregor Hartmann wrote to tell us: "My story 'The Stuff of Heroes,' which was critiqued at OWW last summer, sold to Perihelion. The editor doesn't like titles that start with 'The,' so I renamed it 'Pink Adventure 87.' My thanks to the folks who critiqued it." The story is online now!

J.J. Roth has reason to celebrate: "Though the completion of this story predates my membership in OWW, I wanted to report that I've had an original fairy tale in flash fiction form, "Matryoshka," accepted for publication in Parsec Ink's Triangulation: Lost Voices anthology."

K. B. Rylander wrote to share this great news! "I won the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award for my OWW-critiqued and Editor's Choice story 'Human Natasha' (now titled 'We Fly'). It should appear on in June or July 2015."

Seth Skorkowsky has great news this month: "I wanted to announce that I've released two new books this month with Ragnarok Publications: Mountain of Daggers, a collection of sword and sorcery thief adventures, including my Editor's Choice story ''Thieves Duel,' and Hounacier, the sequel to my urban fantasy debut Dämoren. Thank you so much for all of the help and support that OWW has given me over the years."

Henry Szabranski sent a few more announcements on the story acceptance front: "In the Maze of His Infinities" was published in February at Perihelion SF, my story "The Osteomancer's Husband" has been accepted by Diabolical Plots and will appear on their site in January 2016, and finally but by no means least, "Dance of the Splintered Hands" -- the very first story I put up for crit at OWW way back in 2010 -- has been accepted by Kaleidotrope and should be out later this year."

Fran Wilde has a story appearing April 12 in the online publication Lakeside Circus: "With Regrets, the Official Report of the Ballot Incident at the Academy Scientific."

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.

[March 2015] Honor Roll Nominees

Reviewer: Heidi Wainer
Submission: The Human and the Hunted (1) by R. Neil Burg
Submitted by: Bel Ysra

Reviewer: C Ryan Bowling
Submission: EVER AFTER by Shannara Johnson
Submitted by: Shannara Johnson

Reviewer: Laura Capasso
Submission: Mists of the Crossworlds - Chapter 1 by Elena Linville
Submitted by: Elena Linville

On Shelves Now


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.

Membership Info

Fees: $49/year, $30/6 months, or $6/month. First trial month free. (more)

How to pay: PayPal, Kagi, check in US dollars, money order in US dollars, barter (more)

Scholarship fund: We accept scholarship fund donations and award full or partial scholarships to active members in need. (more)

Gift memberships: You can give a gift membership for another member; just send us a payment by whatever method you like, noting who the membership is for and specifying whether the gift is anonymous or not. We will acknowledge receipt to you and the member.

Bonus payments: The workshop costs only 94 cents per week, but we know that many members feel that it's worth much more to them. 25% of any bonus payments we receive will go to our support staff; the rest will be tucked away to lengthen the shoestring that is our budget and keep us running! (more)


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

Alternate-history author Harry Turtledove on researching your setting...knowing your stuff...and not dumping it all on the reader

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
support (at)