O | The Online Writing Workshop for SF, F & H Newsletter, June-July 2007 W | http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com W | Become a better writer! | - - CONTENTS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | _Fantasy & Science Fiction_ has its annual anniversary double issue, _Asimov's_ has its double issues, and U.S. publishers split big books into two volumes... Whoops! One of these things is not like the other. What we're trying to say is this: it's time for OWW's summer double issue. Not only do we have twice as many SF & F Editor's Choice reviews, but we have twice the sales and publications to announce. It includes two multi-volume first novel sales, and for the first time, an OWW author's book has climbed into the top tier of the New York Times bestseller list. (On the minus side, we are missing a short-story review and a horror review--which we will post to the Editor's Choice area when they come in.) Now it's time to act like a cover letter by shutting up and getting out of the way so you can read the good parts. A business-sized SASE has been enclosed for your reply... Whoops! Carried the metaphor too far again. What we're trying to say is this: enjoy! - Workshop News: Newsletter plans and Request for Proposals August writing challenge Membership payment information - Editors' Choices for May-June 2007 submissions - Reviewer Honor Roll - Publication Announcements - Workshop Statistics - Tips & Feedback | - - WORKSHOP NEWS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | NEWSLETTER PLAN AND REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS It's time to bring our quaint little text-only OWW newsletter into the modern age. The rationale for plain text and 72 characters per line is so Year 2000! And as the workshop has grown and changed, the structure and content of the newsletter has come to need a change as well. So we are looking for someone with Web and graphic design skills--and a knowledge of OWW and its values--to transform and improve the newsletter, making it a better outreach and communication tool for current workshoppers, workshop alumni, and others. As more and more members go on to make significant professional sales, we want to celebrate their accomplishments with more depth as well as let workshoppers know about current opportunities and Editor's Choices. So if you've ever said to yourself, "If _I_ ran the workshop, the newsletter would be so much better!" now's your chance. You won't get to run the workshop, but you might get to be our newsletter visionary (a temporary but paid position). And as Charlie becomes more and more of a professional author, we will also be looking for a managing editor to prepare the newsletter 11 times per year (another paid position). If you're interested in either of these positions, send your resume, credentials, and a brief proposal to us at firstname.lastname@example.org (examples of your work are required if you're interested in being our visionary). We plan to complete this work by the end of the year at the latest. Thanks! AUGUST WRITING CHALLENGE You too can be omniscient! Common wisdom has it that third-person limited POV (point of view), where we follow one or a few characters through a story or novel from the inside of their heads, is the best model for new writers to follow. And yet you can point to numerous examples of recent books that successfully tell the story from the third person omniscient POV, knowing what all the characters think. One example is Elizabeth Bear's WHISKEY & WATER. If you need more explanation, wikipedia offers an introduction to POV at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_of_view_(literature) This month's challenge is to make an attempt to use omniscient POV without causing that old vertiginous head-hopping feeling. Remember that it's better to fail spectacularly and learn something useful than to play it safe and never grow... even if all you learn is that you never want to write omniscient again! Please don't post your challenge pieces to the workshop until August 1st. Include "Omniscient Challenge" in your title so your other omniscient friends can find it. For more details on the challenges, check the OWW Writer Space at: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/tiki/tiki-index.php?page=Challenges MEMBERSHIP PAYMENT INFORMATION How to pay: In the U.S., you can pay by PayPal or send us a check or money order. Outside of the U.S., you can pay via PayPal (though international memberships incur a small set-up fee); pay via Kagi (www.kagi.com--easier for non-U.S. people); send us a check in U.S. dollars drawn on a U.S. bank (many banks can do this for you for a fee); or send us an international money order (available at some banks and some post offices). If none of those options work for you, you can send us U.S. dollars through the mail if you choose, or contact us about barter if you have interesting goods to barter (not services). Scholarship fund and 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. Or you can donate to our scholarship fund, which we use to fully or partially cover the costs of an initial paying membership for certain active, review-contributing members whose situations do not allow them to pay the full membership fee themselves. 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. So here's your chance to award us with a bonus on top of your membership fee. For example, is the workshop worth five dollars a month to you? Award us a $11 bonus along with your $49 membership fee. 25% of any bonus payments we receive will go to our support staff, sort of like a tip for good personal service. The rest will be tucked away to lengthen the shoestring that is our budget and keep us running! For more information: Payments: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/memberships.shtml Bonus payments and information about our company: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/bonuspayments.shtml Price comparisons: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/memberships_comparison.shtml | - - 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 Susan Marie Groppi, John Klima, and Karin Lowachee. 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 Chapter/Partial Chapter: UNTITLED--CHAPTER 5 by Dena Landon It's always a little awkward walking in on someone naked. And that's exactly where we find our protagonist Meli, a young half-witch, half-warlock. (This is the author's quick description in a recap, but I think she means the offspring of a witch and a warlock--which in Meli's world, is not supposed to happen--as opposed to actually being half-witch, half-warlock, which seems to imply Meli is half-man, half-woman if you use the traditional definitions of witches and warlocks. It would help to be clear on this!) A lawyer Meli knows, named Matthew, has arrived on the scene to rescue her, although the ensuing embarrassment to Meli seems to be worse than the fate from which she was saved. Of course, Matthew is more than he appears to be, which only continues the downward spiral of Meli's night. There's a really nice set up in Meli's world of the families/covens of witches and warlocks; in my opinion, it adds sort of a Mafioso feeling to the whole affair, although I'm not sure if that's what Landon is going for. As the chapter progresses, the reader finds out that Matthew--in fact, all the witches and warlocks of this community--are taking turns protecting Meli. Again, where this could fall into a typical "chosen one" overdone storyline, here it reads more like mafia maneuvering to gain power by knocking off those in their way while others protect different people and interests to maintain their current standing. For the most part, there is great interaction between Meli and Matthew. Having read earlier chapters, I know that Meli looks forward to Matthew coming into the coffee shop where she works, and of course now he's seen her naked and completely vulnerable. However, there are a few occasions where Meli's conversation, both internal and external, don't fit with the set up the reader has for the character. For example, at one point she talks about how it's been five years since someone has tried to kill her. Meli is only 23 years old; five years is almost a quarter of her life--that's a lot of time. When she's flip about it being some sort of record, it makes me wonder how often the attempts were before. At the same time, five years is more than a record for someone 23 years old, it's forever. Five years before she would have been in high school; and I don't know about everyone else, but the changes I went through in the five years of my life post high school...well, they were pretty significant. I would think the five years would be more important than "It was kind of sad that was a record" and be something more along the lines of "No one's tried to kill me in forever, at least five years!" While my suggestion makes Meli sound more like she's 16 than 23, I think someone along those lines works better. Shortly after this snippet of conversation, Meli gets sick after Matthew explains that in the past year he's stopped ten attempts on her life. As she's wiping her mouth clean Meli quips, "Definitely not my sexiest moment." Now this is great. Meli has been set up as a smart-ass and prone to a lack of concentration. She's had an attack on her life, she was discovered naked in the yard of a dead witch, she just got sick in front of a warlock, and the warlock happens to be a cute guy she likes.... Why wouldn't she think about how dorky she looks/acts? All the same, this comment feels like it's only referring to the getting sick part, and not about the rest of the night. Landon could add some Meli thoughts here about how the whole night has not been her sexiest moment. The same happens for Matthew. After Meli gets sick, he says that he should not have been so direct. I think it would work better if Matthew said something like "I should have been more tactful." There's also one point where he curses, and it's not really within character but in the moment it could work, but it really doesn't. The tone it too vernacular for how the reader has come to know Matthew the lawyer. The conversation that explains why he's protecting her, and the whole set up of how she's protected alternately by the witches and the warlocks, comes too fast. The reader is given a lot of information to assimilate quickly, and then they get moved on to something else. Landon would be better served to draw out this conversation a little more and build in reactions by Matthew and Meli. The tension between the two of them is great; the reader would be happy to spend more time in it. For instance, when Meli tries to relate what she was doing in the witch's house and the types of magic she did, the reader gets some great double takes from Matthew, who quite frankly can't believe what he's hearing. Meli's magic--being a combination of witch and warlock magic--isn't quite like anything Matthew expects. At the same time, Meli is saying more than she means to because of how comfortable she is around Matthew (and also due to how grateful she feels that Matthew got her out of tight spot). The romantic tension between these two is what makes this chapter click. It doesn't matter that they're some sort of users of magic and that their world is very different from our own; the tension between them is something we've all felt and all experienced, and it's done very well. --John Klima Editor of _Electric Velocipede_ and LOGORRHEA http://www.electricvelocipede.com Editor's Choice, Fantasy Chapter/Partial Chapter: PENRYN CHAPTER 3 PART 1 by Marianne van Gelder This is labeled as cross-genre--a mix of SF and fantasy. To be honest, the chapter feels more science-fictional than fantastic, but there are some important things in it that I think will have relevance for other writers. Whereas this chapter talks about alien races from other planets, it could just as easily be about different races (e.g., elves, dwarves, giants, etc.) in a fantasy setting. Van Gelder's protagonist works as an astrographer--essentially a star charter--who is waiting for a deposition on some events he witnessed. The writing of this chapter is very rich. It's like sinking into a comfy bed with luxurious silk sheets. Seeing the scenes through the astrographer's eyes makes for decadent reading. The chapter is full of details, like a Michael Moorcock book, that really sets the details of the scenery as well as the 'people' in the scene and makes them real before the reader's eyes. Van Gelder brings in all the senses to help the reader feel like they're part of the story. And it's done very carefully so that it doesn't read like a huge infodump of description. It's woven into the story in places where it makes sense. The protagonist occasionally finds himself catching details during moments where he should be paying attention to what's going on in front of him; something I'm guilty of myself. Something that's lost in these details--although perhaps covered in previous chapters--is enough description to help the reader understand more about the different alien races present. Some details come out through the chapter, but they are few and far between. Also, the different races on the two sides of the deposition--the Pherons and the Vergans--act very similarly to each other. It was often difficult for me to remember that they were different races because their actions (e.g., speaking styles, physical actions, etc.) were so alike. Physical clues about the difference between the races are given through the chapter, but they feel more like a reminder to the reader that the Pherons and Vergans are different rather than elucidation on actions they've taken. Again, earlier chapters may have given more information about the two races and whether they have a long history with each other, either good or bad. This chapter gives no indication to the reader about any history between the two races. We are set up that since the event that the deposition concerns occurred on Earth that Earth laws will be used in the trial--should one come--one would think that the races would be very different from each other. When you have different races in your story, you want to make sure that the reader always knows which race you're talking about. While it's important when they are different races on the same world, it's even more important when the races are from different planets. There's no reason why races that originate on different planets would be similar to each other. In this case, there is at least one huge physical difference: the Pherons are nearly ten feet tall while the Vergans are more like tall humans. But I don't know if that's enough. If that is the main difference between the two, it needs to be played to effect. Being over six feet tall myself, I know how difficult it can be to converse with someone significantly shorter. Even seated at the same table, the difference in height is quite significant and could alter the conversation. And in lieu of the fact that the shorter race has command of the deposition in this chapter, it should be evident to the reader that the taller race (i.e., tall = dominant in snap judgments) is being dominated. Of course, if you're trying to make a point of how similar two races are to each other despite physical differences, then it becomes something more difficult to deal with. You don't want to surprise the reader with the physical differences--which is what happened to me in this chapter--by having the races be too similar. The reader shouldn't think that two beings walking down a road together are the same when one is twice the height of the other. Van Gelder has a nice example of this in the chapter. The judge is a race that resembles a crocodile. This physical difference is used with great effect--both comic and serious--throughout the deposition. The judge is not afraid to use his physical presence to intimidate his 'court room,' much like a human judge can. In fact, the deposition is quite fun to read. One of the legal teams is not very good--unfortunately for our protagonist, it's his team--and the other participants take advantage of that. There is some nice banter punctuated by the judge doing things like snapping his jaws and other crocodile-like actions. It's a bit of confusion since the judge is so different from the two parties involved in the deposition; it's hard to not align them together. As the writer you need to keep in mind you they are creating the setting for the reader. While you don't want to give minutiae description of everything in the room, you need to hit important points. If it's important enough to have separate races in your story, then it's important to note how the differences and similarities affect the interaction between races. The last thing you want is for the reader to miss the fact that there are different races. Then the writer has put a lot of effort into something--creating alien races--for no reason. --John Klima Editor of _Electric Velocipede_ and LOGORRHEA http://www.electricvelocipede.com Editor's Choice, SF Chapter/Partial Chapter: CHAPTERS 7 & 8 OF SAVING GRACE OF HUMANS by Alex Binkley These are two rather short chapters that the author grouped together for this post, with brief chapter-by-chapter synopses at the front. The main idea of the story, garnered from the synopses, is a clash of humans and aliens in a first contact situation, with a nameless alien third party that the first aliens want protection from or help against. While this set-up isn't particularly new, the content can rise above the ordinary with original characterization and adept storytelling. When dealing with politics, as the author does here with one of the protagonists in the United Nations, there are often scenes where authoritative figures or leaders are in play; this is not always an easy task for a writer who may not have any practical experience in that world. Of course, one does not require direct experience in order to write about something, and even having direct experience is no guarantee that it will be convincing to a general audience. It is all in the execution, in the storytelling. One pertinent aspect of writing characters in a political forum is the ability to juggle multiple points of dialogue in a group setting, as a meeting. Men or women in positions of power have a certain demeanor that ought to be conveyed, especially when discussing something so potentially life threatening to entire countries, not to mention what is at stake between countries that might not agree. The levels in which the story must operate and engage the reader are many: not only can the reader connect on the plot level, but infusing some real interest and understanding of the characters will make a scene like the one in Chapter 7 be more than an information dissemination from talking heads. Another tricky point is conveying the dialogue so it doesn't sound like the author attempting to get across important points, but rather a natural flow of ideas and information befitting a political meeting where much is at stake and more than one concern must be addressed in the context of the story. By Chapter 7 we have already met Benjamin Kendo, the Secretary General of the UN. He is someone who likes 'long rambles,' which serves as an interesting trait for the character. As he appears 'on set' in the scene he states: "It will be a stormy session unless we are able to keep them focused on responding to the alien request for a meeting," he told his aides as they prepared for the session. "We have to avoid a split between the countries that want to hear more from the aliens and those who fear the world is about to be attacked. There is only one ship. Sure it is big but they would need something that huge to come as far as they have." This dialogue sounds rather stilted to me, likely from the lack of contractions as well as the lack of details surrounding the line. It reads arid, but with a certain dissonant use of colloquialism thrown in with 'sure it is big but.' The best way to judge if dialogue sounds natural is to read it aloud: does it roll off the tongue? Of course a reader isn't reading it aloud from the book, but remember that even if people are in a formal setting, as politicians they are used to public speaking and should have a certain amount of ease in how they speak and this ease should be somehow translated in the way the reader reads the lines. Dialogue isn't necessarily direct transcription of what can be said, but a way to convey the reality of speech while still manipulating it as writers must do. Consider this revamping: "It'll be a stormy session unless we're able to keep them focused on a response to the alien request for a meeting...We've got to avoid a split between the countries: some want to hear more from the aliens, some're too afraid the world's going to be attacked. We need to stress that there's only one ship. It may be big but they'd need something that size for the distance they've traveled." Kendo is a man that must have had ample experience directing people, giving orders, and spearheading emergency meetings. Make the cadence of his speech in this forum sound decisive and to the point. If he is a good leader he's not going to want to waste time. Using contractions is a natural pattern of speech and does not come off as slang if used effectively to tighten up lines. I don't want to point out all of the instances where things could be tightened, but the author can be more aware of varying the patterns of speech depending on the character, making note of accents if there are any for variation, and being careful of where and how humor is used in a situation such as this. Do these men and women really want to make light of anything that is going on, when there is so much confusion as to the ultimate motivation of the aliens? Also be conscious of details as opposed to vague suggestions. In the excerpt above it is mentioned that the aides are preparing for the session. What are they doing specifically? Specificity adds realism to any scene, even if you don't go into heavy detail. Mentioning two or three pointed tasks or setting details as the characters are moving about their environment will go a long way in fleshing out the scene as well as the overall world. More color could be added to the scene -- which reads a lot like a screenplay for the lack of idiosyncratic detail in character or setting. It's not a long scene but it delivers relevant information and in order not to lose the reader here, much can be enhanced by way of, perhaps, subtle character conflict or differing opinions, most of which could be conveyed through brief descriptions of facial expressions, tone of voice, gesture and word flow. It's already clear that the world is layered just from reading the synopses; there is much going on and plenty of interesting players. Consider all the ways they can be used to their utmost ability and the book will be able to sustain much better across hundreds of pages and hours of attentive reading. --Karin Lowachee Author of BURNDIVE and CAGEBIRD http://www.karinlowachee.com Editor's Choice, SF Chapter/Partial Chapter: ASHES CHAPTER 16-IN THE HANDS OF AUTUMN by Treize Aramistedian A chapter doesn't have to be long to work well and this selection only has three somewhat brief scenes but they hold the drama rather well. As this one is far into the novel, plotting can't really be commented on in depth (so the questions the author wants to know that the reader has by the end can't really be applied in isolation; it would require a reading of the entire work up to now) but there are certainly some stellar things to point out in Ashes that are worth taking note: Nezu shifted the pack on his shoulders, grunting beneath its weight before marching forward through the knee-high snowdrifts. Oaks and evergreens towered over him, nothing more than dark shapes without the light of a moon to guide them. Shadows moved over the sheet of white that reached his thighs, and he craned his neck to see Sibyl detaching herself from the shadows almost a dozen paces ahead. These opening sentences are full of stark imagery and don't require long overburdened description to get across the image of the environment. By now the reader is, presumably, well familiar with these characters and their goals, so there is no need to reiterate in detail about the characters' appearance. Using unusual descriptions for mundane actions add zing to the narrative as well: Sibyl doesn't simply walk ahead of Nezu, she 'detaches herself from the shadows.' This is the sort of language that makes prose a joy to read and not merely a vessel to deliver a story. The feeling of their isolation is reinforced by inserting 'reminder' descriptions such as this: _An owl hooted, strangely the only other sound apart from the crunching of snow under boots._ Again, it doesn't take a lot to convey a mood and the author doesn't neglect the importance of auditory description as well. To make your world the most complete to the reader, use all five senses (and the sixth if that's relevant). The one line descriptions also serve to break tension in dialogue: _A bird leapt from the branch it had occupied overhead, raining a pile of snow on a spot a few meters ahead._ In the midst of an almost interrogatory exchange between Nezu and Sibyl, that simple line works effectively to further emphasize the stark and pointed nature of the scene as a whole -- between characters, their environment, and their single mission. Working a scene, or indeed an entire novel scene by scene or chapter by chapter, on this multilevel basis makes the book more complete. With regard to the dialogue, watch for melodrama and rhythm; minimize the first and smooth out the second. Some melodramatic lines flagged or drew the reader out of the story because it seemed too much: All the while, Sibyl's face remained unchanged; the righteousness, the look of those who know they were in the right, that expression he sought in her gaze never appeared. Instead, what he found was a bottomless sadness. She did not reach to touch him, to embrace him, as he'd expected. She kept her distance and whispered her words. "Your hatred is misplaced, *piccolo*. When you tamper with Time, there is always a price to pay. Someone suffers no matter what choice is made." A bitter chuckle left her lips, and she had that faraway gaze of hers. As this is a fairly polished draft, on the second or third pass, highlight to change the cliches like 'bottomless sadness' and 'faraway gaze' or as in the other scenes in this chapter, 'bitter laugh' and 'hope sang.' These are good phrases to put in when you want a quick and dirty image, but can be honed into something more original in rewrites. If you've heard the phrase before, likely your readers have too, and you want to minimize that in any piece of writing. Watch also for the actions of your characters; they can come across overplayed, noted especially in Miriam's scene where her emotional wrenching was a little heavyhanded. Unless the character tends to be melodramatic as a personality issue, people tend to be more subtle in their displays of emotion. You want your work to sound fresh from as many angles as possible: characterization, story, and even down to individual phrases or words. The rhythm of your prose also affects how a reader interacts with the book: "The second reactor is about two hundred meters ahead." She consulted the sky for a few moments, her eyes filming, before she returned her attention to him. "Minimal security along the perimeter. The other team is approaching from the other flank. They should encounter minimal resistance." A small smile lit her face in the pale light cast by the stars. "They haven't heard of the Vienna reactor yet." Motioning around at the trees, "Bad for communication, I guess." She continued on the trail that had yet to be blazed when Nezu called her back. There is a lot of back-and-forth between description and dialogue here for one character (as well as the repeat of 'minimal') that tends to give it a stop-and-start rhythm. Aim for more flow, see what lines can be grouped instead of separated and then reread it to check how it sounds. It's easier for a reader to ingest details when they are in chunks as opposed to back-and-forth. In the final scene between Bishop and the Master, I'm not sure if this is the first time we are seeing the Master in such a state but the descriptions here seemed too brief. They are gruesome and thus fascinating. Perhaps spend a little more time on what Bishop is seeing; it works well as a contrast to the previous scene which is much more domestic but still holds a tone of foreboding. Though I haven't read all of the previous chapters, the last line revelation still left an impact that one can assume is only more strong with the weight of the novel before it. There is no doubt the writer here knows how to pace even in chapters, and spin great descriptions to move the book along. Just be attentive to the more nitty gritty details, don't be afraid to bulk up on descriptions when required, and watch the actions of the characters so they come off as realistic as possible. The novel will shape into something very saleable indeed. --Karin Lowachee Author of BURNDIVE and CAGEBIRD http://www.karinlowachee.com Editor's Choice, Short Story: "Detours on the Journey Home" by John Chu It would be possible to sum this story up with a bit of movie-poster promotional copy: "On the train to Washington, Jacob meets an attractive young woman who changes his life forever!" Interestingly, in this case the phrasing is more accurate than most: the young woman in question, Sam, has the power to reach back into Jacob's past and make small changes that irrevocably alter his reality. This story has a lot of strengths, not least of which is the core concept. I think the idea that small decisions can have enormous repercussions will resonate with many readers--who hasn't sat around in an idle moment and mentally played out these same possibilities? The idea is extended in a natural-feeling and generally realistic way, which I appreciated--I think it's a smart narrative choice to make the differences between Jacob and Jake (and Jack as well) ones that stem from internal mental states. Even the obvious physical differences between the iterations of Jacob seem to follow logically from states of mind at various points in his life. This is entirely in keeping with the idea that Sam is changing decisions that people made, not things that happened to them; the consistency here makes the whole concept more coherent. A fully-developed and successful work of fiction needs more going for it than just a good concept, though, and this piece also succeeds in building a good, character-focused story on top of that conceptual frame. The emotional toll on Jacob of being pulled between his long-shot work project and his dying mother is nicely understated, but still evident. That's a difficult balance to strike, and I think you achieve it. I also like that Sam has her own story, and her own problems. She's not dropped magically into this story simply to act as a plot device, and in the end she has no expectation that Jacob will solve her problems for her. Sam is still a little bit of a cipher, but she at least has her own independent motivations. Even though I found the core concept intriguing and the characters engaging, I had some concerns about the way it actually all plays out in the story. You're attempting a fairly intricate bit of story construction here, but I'm not sure that the structure as it stands can hold up to close scrutiny. There are a lot of inconsistencies and unanswered questions throughout the piece. To give an example from early in the story: Jake says that he first became aware of having been Jacob at the moment that he first saw Sam's face, but it's very clear in the story that Sam hasn't made any changes to Jacob's past yet at that point. She's insistent that she needs to change something in order to make the seizure stop, so she hasn't yet changed anything, so why is Jake aware of Jacob at that point? There's a clear indication of the overlapping sense of identities just a few lines later, when Jake describes the sense of vertigo and the wash of Jacob's memories. I would suggest leaving out all mention of the doubled identity up until that point--the narrator's third-person references to himself, the distinction between Jacob stretching out in his train seat and Jake scrunching up in his, all of that seemed to me to violate the internal logic of the story. Neither Jake nor Jacob was aware of the other's existence at this point, so why retroactively apply those memories to the narrative? (For that matter, where is Jack in all of this? If Jake has access to Jacob's memory, why not Jack's as well? It shouldn't matter that Jack only makes a brief appearance in the story--isn't his existence as valid as that of the other two?) What this all boils down to is that it's not clear in the story what the rules are surrounding Sam's power. Whether it's magic or technology, it needs to have consistent implications and consequences, and in this story's current incarnation it appears to have significant inconsistencies. I had a number of smaller issues with this piece as well, many of them related to word choice and writing style. Throughout the story, there are examples of awkward phrasings and slightly flat sentences. My advice would be to read the story out loud and listen to the cadence and rhythm of the language, to try and identify places that sound forced or unnatural. My final suggestion for revising this story involves Jacob's sister. Jean plays such an important role in his character development, and is handled with an admirable sympathy given the nature of their relationship, that I was surprised and a little disappointed by the following exchange: "Sam, I need you to visit my sister." "And what, Jack, do you think she would choose differently?" "Nothing." This was how Jean showed love. Everything she had ever done, to Mom and to me, she did out of love. She never let me help so that she could better express her own love for Mom. The implication here is that, while Jacob's whole life could have been changed with just a few small decisions made differently, Jean is instead walking some narrowly-defined and deterministic path. Jacob/Jake/Jack has chosen to be three different people; Jean can't help it, that's just how she is. It's unfair to Jean as a character, but more importantly, it sells out the basic message of the story, which is that all of our lives are contingent on the choices we've made. Overall, this is a good start--the story has a solid idea at its core, and some interesting character development. It needs some close editing, though, with attention paid to both the logical structure and the use of language. --Susan Marie Groppi Editor of _Strange Horizons_ and co-editor of TWENTY-ONE EPICS http://www.strangehorizons.com/ | - - REVIEWER HONOR ROLL - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | The workshop's Reviewer Honor Roll recognizes members who have given useful, insightful reviews. After all, that's what makes the workshop go, so we want to give great reviewers a little well-earned recognition! If you got a really useful review and would like to add the reviewer to the Reviewer Honor Roll, use our online honor-roll nomination form -- log in and link to it from the bottom of the Reviewer Honor Roll page at http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/honorroll.shtml. Your nomination will appear on the first day of the next calendar month. The Honor Roll will show all July nominations beginning August 1. Meanwhile, here are two advance highlights from this month: Reviewer: Sharon Ramirez Submission: The Orchard Street Messiah (End) by Arnold Schwartz Submitted by: Arnold Schwartz Nominator's Comments: "Sharon has read my entire novel. Her expertise with the subject matter as well as overall comments have contributed in a way that cannot be measured. I would not have a story without her." Reviewer: Eric Lowe Submission: "Climbing Boys" by Barbara Gordon Submitted by: Barbara Gordon Nominator's Comments: "A thoughtful, penetrating and well-argued review that stuck me with revising a hopefully-sf story over into fantasy. The worst of it was that the sf trappings stripped off so easily that I realised Eric was right. Arrrgh. But it's the good kind of pain." Reviewers nominated to the honor roll during May and June include: Ethan Archer (2), Vince Blackburn, Pablo Carapella, Jeanette Cottrell, Anita Dalton, Jennifer Dawson, Ruv Draba (2), Daniel Eley, Bonnie Freeman (VC), Crash Froelich (2), elizabeth hull, Patty Jansen, Terra LeMay, Ranke Lidyek, Sandra Panicucci, and Sylvia Volk. We congratulate them all for their excellent reviews. All nominations received in June can be still found through July 31 at: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/honorroll.shtml | - - PUBLICATION ANNOUNCEMENTS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | We can't announce them if you don't let us know! So drop Charlie a line at email@example.com whenever you have good news to share. OWW Member Sales and Publications: Tom Barlow's story "The Hard Way" has been podcasted by _Well Told Tales_. Elizabeth Bear's CARNIVAL was named to the "Top 10 SF/Fantasy" list in the may issue of _Booklist_. Orson Scott Card contracted with TOR to publish an anthology of stories that have appeared in the first four issues of his online magazine, _ OSC's Intergalactic Medicine Show_. It will include OWWer Brad Beaulieu's story "In the Eyes of the Empress's Cat." Brad also has a new story comming out in the DIMENSIONS NEXT DOOR anthology that will be published next year by DAW. Susan Curnow sold her workshopped story "The Hawk, the Hound, and the Lady Fair" to _Aoife's Kiss_. When she can stop dancing, she sends her "thanks to all who reviewed it." Earl P. Dean's short story "The Heat Tailor" will appear in _SAY...What's the Combination?_ edited by Christopher Rowe and Gwenda Bond. He admits that "it has not been workshopped on the OWW, but I'm sure the final edit before submission was informed by the observations of this community, so thanks. And way to go to all the OWW members who work so hard." Indeed. Aliette de Bodard's story "Deer Flight" is going to be in _Interzone_ 211, the special Michael Moorcock issue. And her story "Sea Child" sold to _Coyote Wild_ for their Fall 2007 issue. Aliette writes: "I'd like to extend my thanks to those who critted it on OWW. Unfortunately, while I know I workshopped it, I haven't kept tabs of who took a look at it...." Just consider yourself thanked. Chris R. Evans (OWW member 1999-2001), sold the Iron Elves series, which he describes as "Shanarra meets Sharpe's Rifles," to Pocket Books. A DARKNESS FORGED IN FIRE, the first book, will come out in hardcover in 2008. Margaret Fisk's short story "Unique Worlds" won first place in The Twelfth Annual PARSEC Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Story Contest! She tells us: "This is my first sale since joining OWW! As part of the prize, my story will appear in the Confluence 2007 program book for everyone to read. I'll be going if any of you are. Special thanks to David Cummings, Swapna Kishore, Matt Herreshoff, and David Weisman, who are now saying, 'Huh? What?' because they reviewed 'Unique Worlds' under its first title of 'Out of Warranty,' but I took Matt's advice and went through two titles before settling on 'Unique Worlds'." One of Stephen Gaskell's stories, originally titled "A Shadow Over Bedlam," recently sold to _Pseudopod_. Stephen informs us that "The piece was completely re-written after a fantastic critique by Ruv Draba, who helped immensely in the story's reincarnation as a somewhat different beast called 'Everyone Carries a Shadow.' Props to everyone at the workshop for helping me get to sale number two so soon after the first one! The story should be available for download in three to six months." Vylar Kaftan's story "Dinner Made Willing" is up at _The Town Drunk_ (http://www.thetowndrunk.org/2007/kaftan_dinner.aspx). It was workshopped as "Eat Organic." Vy sends "Thanks to everyone who helped improve the story!" "Godivy," a former EC story, sold to the PAPER CITIES anthology. "Something Wicked This Way Plumbs" sold to _Shimmer_. And Vy's story "Galatea" appears in Heliotrope (http://www.heliotropemag.com/Issue02/galatea.html). Wow! Melissa Marr's first novel, WICKED LOVELY, which grew out of a story she workshopped on OWW, debuted at number 8 on the _New York Times_ bestseller list, and then climbed to number 2 and 3 for a few weeks. Which is pretty darn cool! Jill Myles, who belonged to OWW under a different name, sold SEX STARVED, the tale of a nerd-turned-succubus, and a sequel to Pocket Books for release in Fall 2008. Ruth Nestvold's story "The Leaving Sweater" was published by _Strange Horizons_ (http://www.strangehorizons.com). "The Nurse's Tale" by Sharon Ramirez received an Honorable Mention in last quarter's Writer's of the Future contest. Sharon says, "I'd like to everyone who reviewed this story, especially Crash Froelich, Katrina Kidder, Matt Herreshof, Mike Keyton and others--sorry, but I misplaced some names, you know who you are. Everyone made such great suggestions, and helped so much in the rewrite process. I'm excited because while I didn't place in the top three, I know this is how a career in writing is built, one brick at a time. Again, many thanks!" David Reagan sold "Solitude Ripples From the Past" to _Futurismic_. It's his third sale this year! Rachel Swirsky's story, "A Letter Never Sent," is up at the _Konundrum Engine Literary Review_. Jeremy Yoder has a story in the humorous fantasy anthology entitled BASH DOWN THE DOOR AND SLICE OPEN THE BAD GUY (http://fantasistent.com/books/anthologies/BASH.php). | - - WORKSHOP STATISTICS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | Number of members as of 7/19: 537 paying, 49 trial Number of submissions currently online: 389 Percent of submissions with 3 or more reviews: 67.10% Percent of submissions with zero reviews: 3.60% Average reviews per submission (all submissions): 4.74 Estimated average review word count (all submissions): 702.28 Number of submissions in May: 231 Number of reviews in May: 910 Ratio of reviews/submissions in May: 3.94 Estimated average word count per review in May: 770.46 Number of submissions in June: 228 Number of reviews in June: 784 Ratio of reviews/submissions in June: 3.44 Estimated average word count per review in June: 844.85 Number of submissions in July to date: 117 Number of reviews in July to date: 469 Ratio of reviews/submissions in July to date: 4.01 Estimated average word count per review in July to date: 818.06 Total number of under-reviewed submissions: 82 (21%) Number over 3 days old with 0 reviews: 6 Number over 1 week old with under 2 reviews: 34 Number over 2 weeks old with under 3 reviews: 42 | - - FEEDBACK - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - | 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do the rest. Until next month -- just write! The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com email@example.com | - - Copyright 2007 Online Writing Workshops - - - - - - - - - - - |
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