February 2009 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge


Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

On Shelves Now

Membership Info



There's something about February that always makes me a little frantic. Maybe it's because it has fewer days than any other month. Or maybe it's because the major holidays are behind us and it's time to get back to work.

Whatever the reason, I can already sense the flurry of activity both in cyberspace and the brick and mortar bookstores.  Your readers are waiting. Let's tell them a story.

For the first time ever, two of our Editor's Choices this month are by the same author. Each Resident Editor chooses his or her monthly submission independently, based on its merits--so it was bound to happen some day, to one lucky member who gets professional feedback on two submissions in the same month.

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

Maria Zannini, newsletter editor
newsletter (at) onlinewritingworkshop.com

Monthly Writing Challenge

February's challenge is the "don't write no stinking stories about no stinking elves nor dwarves" challenge. The key is to write a good one.

You know, where the dwarves don't stink or something like that. Give them a bath--or better yet, give the concept a fresh look. After all, humans have been telling stories with elves and/or dwarves in them for countless centuries, but I've never seen one about elf cannibalism or dwarf birthing rituals. Go into that good night, confront the genre cliches, and give us vampiric dwarf maidens, or elven hazing. However you twist it, Give us Good Stories with Elves and/or Dwarves!

Remember: Challenges are supposed to be fun, but don't forget to stretch yourself. If you normally write fantasy, try SF. If you've never tried space opera, here's your chance. It doesn't have to be great. It's all about trying new things. There's no word limit, no time limit, no nothin'. Just have fun.

Challenges can be suggested by anyone and suggestions should be sent to Maria (newsletter (at) onlinewritingworkshop.com) or Walter Williams via the discussion list. For more details on the challenges, check the OWW Writer Space.


Proposal Package Focus Group
It's not too late to register! From February 9th through March 2nd we will hold another Proposal Package Focus Group. This time it will run on the oww-sff-focus mailing list. Long-time member Jennifer Dawson will lead the group. Pre-registration will be required; there is no limit to the number of participants but we will not accept registration after February 8th. Registration begins on January 26th; to register, just join the oww-sff-focus group.  

Participants will be able to post their query letters for everyone in the group to comment on. They will also be able to upload their synopsis and first three chapters as one package for critique. Given the high word count, reviewers of these proposals will not do line nits, but instead give general feedback regarding plot hook, the quality of the writing sample, the likeability of the characters, etc. The fun will begin on Monday, February 9th. If you'd like more information, contact Jennifer at: jenn001 (at) mac.com

The more participation, the more fun, so whether your book is in circulation or you're still on the first draft, join the focus group to get some feedback on your proposal package(s), see what others are doing, and offer up your feedback to other writers trying to get their books published.

Odyssey Writing Workshop
The 2009 workshop for science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers will be held from June 8th to July 17th at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Odyssey is a great opportunity to improve writing and meet editors and authors. Jeanne Cavelos, Odyssey's director, founder, and primary instructor, is a best-selling author and a former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing, where she won the World Fantasy Award for her work. Being a writer/editor makes Cavelos uniquely suited to provide students with constructive and professional critiques of their work. "I give the same unflinchingly honest, concrete, detailed feedback that I provided as a senior editor," Cavelos said. Her typewritten critiques average around 1,000 words, and her handwritten line edits on manuscripts are extensive. In addition, she guides students through the six weeks, gaining in-depth knowledge of their work, providing detailed assessments of their strengths and weaknesses in private meetings, and helping them target their weaknesses one by one.

Odyssey class time is split between workshopping sessions and lectures. An advanced, comprehensive curriculum covers the elements of fiction writing in depth. Students learn the tools and techniques necessary to strengthen their writing. More information can be found at www.odysseyworkshop.org. The director, Jeanne Cavelos, is always happy to answer questions and discuss the workshop. She can be reached by email at jcavelos@sff.net.

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, Karin Lowachee, John Klima, and Karen Meisner. 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!

Editors' Choices, Fantasy

KNIGHT'S HONOUR, Ch. 4 by Pam L. Hullin

If you've been reading my editor's choices over the months, you've probably noticed some things come up again and again: creating believable characters, realistic-sounding dialog, and sensible story flow (meaning one part sets up the next part and so on). Pam L. Hullin's chapter from her novel KNIGHT'S HONOUR does a good job with all three of these.

This chapter is devoted to the characters of Aggis and Elicia. Aggis is an old herbal-remedy lady who actually has magical powers and a connection to the magical realm. Elicia is the daughter of an Adept, another person with magical powers, who knew Aggis. Major trouble is afoot, and Elicia is left, literally, with the key to the solution.

Normally I don't break down a lot of story content, but it's relevant here. It's part of what helps Hullin get through some large pieces of exposition in this chapter. There are things that Aggis knows that Elicia doesn't based on their age and life experience. Elicia is confused as to why the Incaris Knights, a sort of armed United Nations, have apparently decided to stop protecting people and enforcing justice, and are now instead causing destruction and ruin.

Hullin has the two women talk back and forth about what they know about the Incaris Knights and their inception. This conversation is very important in moving the plot of the novel forward. There is only one part that felt lecture-y to me, and that was Elicia's explanation of how the knights are formed of groups of five knights who go through a probationary period after their training. Even though the training comes up in a later conversation, I think this paragraph could be cut. It doesn't do a lot to move the plot forward, and as I said, it feels like a lecture.

When Aggis talks about the probationary period later, it isn't necessary that the reader has heard about it before. There's nothing so unique about it, other than the fact that newer recruits aren't going through it, that giving it detailed explanation helps the story. Regardless, the conversation between the two women feels like real conversation. No one uses phrasing that feels awkward, and other than the one spot, no breaks into a long lecture on a topic.  It's a good example of how to deliver a lot of information in a natural way.

Hullin also does an excellent job of moving the plot along by revealing small pieces of the plot as the chapter progresses. It seems like a minor thing, but I'm always amazed to read through chapters of a book that are filled with information that doesn't move the plot forward. In this case, Hullin keeps the reader intrigued by introducing different things, be it a person or an actual thing, making it sound mysterious, and then explaining the mystery later.

Hullin also does a admirable job of making the two women sound different from each other. Aggis sounds like an old lady and has concerns and worries that one has later in life. Elicia sounds like a girl who is on the verge of becoming an adult and learning what responsibility means. They are both quite believable, although I'd like to see some more emotion from Elicia, who just lost her father--watched him die, actually. There are times when she appears thoughtful or introspective when I would expect her to be angry or upset. The characters are real enough that I was devastated by the end of the chapter as Aggis learns her fate.

Now, despite succeeding in major areas of story telling, there were a few rough spots that I encountered. With two female characters, or any time all your characters in a scene are of the same gender, you need to be careful with your pronoun use. Make sure it's clear who you're describing, and if it isn't absolutely clear, substitute their name or a physical description so that your reader doesn't get confused. In dialog it should be straightforward as you go back and forth among the characters who is speaking, but in expository sections, pronouns can lead to confusion.

I also had a little trouble early on in the chapter with the geography of Aggis' hut. There were things she interacted with that seemed to appear out of nowhere. This could be partially due to more complete description in the previous chapters, but it could also be something that needs just a little clarification to help out. For example, when Hullin writes "Aggis removed the heated jugs" my first thought was, from where? Aggis then proceeds to ease a blanket over Elicia, which gave me the absurd thought that the heated jugs were on Elicia. Perhaps they were. But if the jugs were heating over the fire and they're being removed to prevent overheating, and then separately Aggis is easing a blanket over her patient, then Hullin should be more explicit.

This is a minor thing, but it happens early in the chapter and little stumbling blocks like this early in chapters can really throw a reader off. Someone who bought your book will likely keep going, knowing there is much more to read and enjoy. Someone reading this deciding to represent or acquire you might stop reading and move to the next thing in the submission pile.

All in all though, this was a strong chapter. And because it was strong, the little problems stand out even more. Hullin has done the hard work of building good characters and interesting dialog and a compelling story. Now she just needs to go over the manuscript carefully and clean it up.

--John Klima, Editor, Electric Velocipede

Editors' Choices, Science Fiction

ALIEN ANGELS, Chapter 2: ALIEN LOVE SONG by Boz Flamagin

This month's selection is certainly a unique one, incorporating angels, exorcisms, rock stars, and archaeology. While this may seem like too many ingredients for a streamlined tale, what emerges instead is an intriguing mix of elements, interesting characters, and a near future setting that still holds enough of today's features to make the world recognizable. If this were set in the far future on some other planet that might have been overkill, but as it is, the narrative is believable. The characters are well drawn, though perhaps the weakest one is Eva, in whose head we are traveling in a tight third person. It's a difficult thing to blend plot and character in this way, especially in a mystery story, because the writer is often concentrating on how to disseminate information properly and get in pertinent details about the people with whom the point-of-view character interacts. So while Dennis, Slade, and especially Sister Terese come off crystal clear, with an immediate impression on the page, Eva is a little more blank and her personality not as strong. Which isn't to say that it isn't there at all, but compared to the others, and because the world and situation is primarily seen through her eyes, it's important to characterize her strongly.

I read the first chapter leading up to this and while launching people into a narrative is often a way to catch immediate interest, there is a curious vacancy to the world in Chapter 2 still, and what sets it apart specifically from the one we're in now (politically, environmentally, socially). This by no means implies that any sort of infodumping should take place, but while Eva and the readers are concentrating on the mystery of the Mayan symbol and the curious qualities of Slade, Dennis, and Sister Terese, a sentence here and there to bring the readers up to speed to the basic situation might be an efficient thing to do. The author is more than skilled enough to do this.  Eva and Dennis' dinner illustrates that well--all of his information about the symbol and Mayan fertility reads basically smooth, and one expects the mystery to somehow incorporate what he said even if Eva can't see the connection at this time (otherwise it's a sort of wasted conversation). The brief reminders in Eva's interior thoughts do well to emphasize her "mission" in Amsterdam, and the seamless incorporation of the technology also serves to remind the reader that we are not in 2009.

Gorgeous descriptions appear throughout the chapter, as here:

The hostess, in her white sheath, holified with iridescent blue butterflies, didn't bat an eye at their jeans. She led them through in a string of connected rooms. The startlingly blue wings of her gown opened and closed at random, picking up golden highlights from the pools of light that pulled each table from the warm shadows. As she stopped for them to settle with menus, the butterflies swarmed in a cloud around her upswept hair. 'I recommend the ristoffle," the hostess said, with a crispy accent and the air of a frequently practiced joke.

While creating a strange image befitting a science fiction environment, it's constrasted well with the familiar aspects. Be careful of typos (extra periods, odd quotation marks) and tightening up sentences with extraneous words, as mainly the draft is clean and any small error can serve to pull readers out of the story or make them stumble. Perhaps the most interesting and well-written part of the chapter is the section introducing Sister Terese. We soon learn that she is connected to Eva, making this scene a direct reference to the people and plot we've been with all along, but her own narrative is set up so well that we can't help but hope we see more of her as the chapters progress. From her on-mark description/impression of the slick secretary...

The secretary silently appeared in the doorway. A gorgeous man, with lazy bedroom eyes and sculpted face, who could have sleazed his way across the pages of Vogue. His sleek black suit, cut from fine wool, certainly cost the church a fortune, if only in air-conditioning expense to keep him comfortable in the Brazilian tropical climate.

...to her canny interaction with the priest--all of it read perfectly. As I'm not familiar with the religion, though, is a name like "Guillotine" a satiric reference or actually plausible for a nun?

The last thought upon getting to the end of the chapter involves the mentioning of a crystal skull. For better or for worse, the Indiana Jones franchise has tainted what is (probably?) actual myth, so just be aware of that and what the vast cultural reference might be for many of your readers. The title also reads too generically, but as titles often come at the end of a full draft, don't worry too much about it. Just be conscious of images or concepts for alternatives, and keep writing! This is a fascinating book so far.

--Karin Lowachee

Editors' Choices, Short Story

"A Bird, A Plane, A Man" by Hilary J. Nowack

This month's story covers a day in the life of an ex-superhero who lost his powers two decades ago and has had to make a new life for himself as an ordinary mortal. John is now retiring from his second career as a teacher, thinking about the past as he prepares to move into the next stage of his life.

Although our narrator describes epic events in his past, this is ultimately a quiet, human-scale story, and that's what makes it so interesting to me: the focus isn't so much on the glamorous life he used to have, but on the narrator's gradual adjustment to human frailty and awareness of his own mortality. The superheroics provide vivid images of youth and vigor, as recalled by an aging man who's looking back on his glory days, but also looking forward to what comes next. It's how he copes with growing older that gives the story a universal relevance.

I find the title a little distracting; it's a good one, but unfortunately sets up an expectation that this will be a story about Superman, so on a first read it took me a while to sort out for sure that the character wasn't him. I'd suggest either changing the title or else strengthening some early detail to make it clear this narrator is a different person. His hair, for example, could be another color than black, or his name could be mentioned sooner; that would be enough to clear up the confusion.

The first paragraph frames the story well and draws me in right away. And I love how his memories of the past are presented, in these glimpses of wonderfully over-the-top events that, to him, were just part of everyday life back then. My favorite is this brief sketch:

I married once, long ago when I wore a cape, but a mishap in another hero's time-traveling adventure caused her existence to end, to be erased from the Book of Life. There was nothing I could do to save her, no way to make it right, to place things exactly as they were. I struggle each day to remember her name, to hold on to an image of her smiling, to keep some last part of her from slipping into the ether. I've never tried to find love again.

This is such a terrific little window into the epic weirdness that was his earlier life, and it brings depth to the character. I'd love to see one or two more stand-out original moments like that. Scattered throughout the depiction of his present-day life, these lively, emotional notes add bright color.

The structure of the story feels somewhat off to me, out of balance. Nearly a thousand words, more than a third of the total, are spent on picking up a woman in a bar, and that doesn't seem like a significant enough event to warrant so much time spent in proportion to the rest of the story. It's not that the bar scene is overly drawn out; what throws me is that it's the only scene that we dwell on for long at all. We catch glimpses of the hero years, but John's second career (ostensibly what this day is celebrating) barely gets a mention, leaving us with the impression that he isn't much interested in that entire stage of his life. Which feels wrong, because his entry into the mundane world is handled so well overall, and it seems a disservice to the story to leave that aspect blank.

We see him as a retiree, and we see his memories of youth as a superhero, but what about the middle age of life as a teacher? I want to know more about that career, especially since I imagine it would be on his mind as he's retiring. What did he teach? How old were the children, and did he like teaching them? Was he good at it? We hear about the difficulty of his transition into being physically mortal, but what about his transition into having to go to work every day, to being challenged not by villains but by kids? How did he adjust to that? It's the stages that fascinate me here, the idea of how he's had to make changes to his life as he ages, coping at each point with his new position in relation to the world.

During his retirement party, the story moves fluidly between the present day and his musing on the past. Reading about the memories pulls me into days gone by, and it takes a moment to recover my bearings when we move abruptly back to the present day and find him being toasted by his former boss. I think that transition needs to be bridged more cleanly. The easiest thing to do would be to set off the memories as a unit within section breaks, but I'm not sure they should be banished to a separate section; I like the effect of his past being so much on his mind right now as he's retiring. So I'd suggest just adding a line or two after "All the pressure expelled from me like a slow breath of air" to bridge the transition back to the present.

Our narrator seems to have an odd fixation on other people's weight. I'm not sure what to make of his comment, "Dick's a heavyset man, which I find difficult to overlook. Still, he is kind." Later, he describes Susan's friend as "a redhead with a truck for an ass." It makes sense in light of his character's heightened awareness of imperfection, but since these two descriptions are nearly the only observations we see him make about anyone he encounters, the effect comes across disproportionately, making John seem generally hostile and critical toward humanity. It's hard to reconcile that with him teaching children. Actually, I'd be interested in seeing more of how other people look to him: what else does he pay attention to? And how has that changed over the years? People tend to become more aware of their own physical difficulties as they grow older, so maybe we could see more of that body-awareness applied to himself. I'm interested in the struggle between his old superhuman ideals and his learned compassion for human vulnerability. It's neat that this narrative takes place long after his initial period of bitterness over what was lost, so we pick up the story as he continues to grow into a mature and graceful, if somewhat wistful, acceptance of what is.


--Karen Meisner, Editor, Strange Horizons


Editors' Choices, Horror

"Firsts" by Hilary J. Nowack

This first-person, present-tense account of a sixteen-year-old girl's first transformation into a werewolf and her first kill has a strong, engaging voice. The voice and the descriptions are the biggest strengths of this piece. The voice feels authentic, drawing me into the thoughts and perceptions of an intelligent and perceptive character, Colleen. The story also has some lovely descriptions. With well-chosen details, the setting, a carnival, comes to life. Hilary, you paint a very vivid image of Colleen's best friend, Morgan. The scents you include do double duty--making the reader feel the carnival and showing us Colleen's proto-werewolf nature. I love the comparison of good boys to "puppies, giving sad eyes just before you put them down."

While the first-person voice is one of the strengths of this story, it is also one of the weaknesses. First person offers a number of advantages: it helps both author and reader identify with the narrator; it offers a chance to explore the inner consciousness of a single person; it has a vitality, an authority, an immediacy of life; and it provides the opportunity to create interesting effects if the narrator sees the world differently than the reader. Developing writers are generally very attracted to first person because of these characteristics. Unfortunately, first person also carries with it many potential pitfalls: it can feel overused and tired; the narrator can ramble and be too talky; the author can lose control of the structure and include everything that happens to the narrator; first person doesn't allow for other perspectives; it usually tells a story distant in time, because the narrator is looking back on it; the narrator often doesn't have a good motive for telling the reader the story; first person can create distance between the reader and events; and it tends to tell rather than show.

This story manages to avoid most of these pitfalls, but it falls victim to the last two. As I read, I feel close to Colleen's voice, but I feel quite distant from the events. Colleen is basically standing between me and the events (the carnival, Morgan, Sean, and the killing), with her lovely voice and observations and thoughts, preventing me from experiencing what's happening. Imagine yourself standing at a carnival, looking toward the Ferris wheel, where two people are getting into a fight. Your best friend steps in front of you and starts talking to you, her face in your face. You can't see the fight. That's what's happening here. The voice works very well in the first scene. During the first scene, I'm happy to have Colleen constantly interrupting the action, describing things, explaining how she came to be friends with Morgan, and who Shaun is. I don't really need to feel like I'm in the moment because nothing much is happening yet.

After the first scene, though, the distance between me and the events becomes a liability. I never really feel like I know Shaun, like I'm there with him. I never really feel that I'm on the Ferris wheel with Colleen and Shaun. After almost every line of dialogue or action, there is a digression, piece of exposition, or interruption of some kind that takes me out of the moment. If you separate all the sentences in your story into two categories--those that give specific dialogue/actions of this night and those that convey Colleen's thoughts/exposition, I think you'll find that the former category has far fewer sentences than the latter. We need more about this night and less of Colleen's inner world. You need to make Colleen step a bit to one side and allow us to experience the events.

The other pitfall involves telling rather than showing. First person tends to encourage authors to tell, and generally, showing is much more powerful than telling. Showing means giving specific sensory details (and you are certainly able to do this, since you have some great ones in the story). Telling means giving abstractions, judgments, or conclusions. For example, "I'm afraid of heights" is telling. A way to show this instead of telling it is to say something like this: "The Ferris wheel jerks to a stop. Our cart rocks, and my heart races as I grip the safety bar." Showing generally takes more space than telling and is more difficult. Scenes 2 and 3 need to be expanded with much more showing, to allow us to experience the events more vividly. Colleen's feelings in the moment also need to come across more strongly--through showing and not telling. She should be experiencing powerful emotions as events occur. Instead, she feels emotionally flat and distant. While you tell me she feels "two conflicting desires, each one fighting to consume me," I don't feel those desires, and I don't feel the conflict. When you later tell me she feels "exquisite," I don't feel that either. You need to find a way to show these desires, to show her emotions rather than just telling the reader about them. She seems to be emotionally distant, intellectualizing each moment:

I could restrain myself, fight against my urges like a good little girl. I could shelter myself in adolescence a while longer. All I want is to be normal. Sean makes me feel normal. Fate presses up against my will.

This is nice writing, but it does not belong at the climax of the story. We need immediacy and power and emotion, not distance and introspection. The story seems caught in the distance and introspection; you need to break out of that trap.

(As an aside, another part of the problem is that present tense tends to create a dreamy, emotionally flat tone, so you have to fight against that if you want to keep the present tense.)

The other weakness I see in the story, beyond those connected to the point of view, is plot. We pretty much know what's going to happen from the beginning of the story. There's a small question about whether she'll have sex with Shaun or kill him, but since this is a horror story, we pretty much know she's going to kill him. I don't feel much uncertainty or suspense about that. In the story's climax and conclusion, the very events we expected occur. The story would be stronger if the events had some unexpected turn. In addition, the events that do occur could be made more powerful and dramatic. I don't feel that she has a difficult decision to make at the climax, and usually, a protagonist should have a difficult decision to make. She's picked Shaun to be her first victim because she doesn't know him well and doesn't care about him, so she's set things up very well for herself. That minimizes the conflict and drama. A plot that brings out more conflict and does not progress in such a straight line would strengthen the story.

I've touched on a lot here (as usual), but you are obviously a very strong writer, with some great skills for description and voice. I hope these comments are helpful.


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



What a thrill it is to welcome Elizabeth Bear to the author spotlight this month. Many of you know her as a longtime resident of OWW. In the past she's popped into the OWW list group to answer questions. Do a search for her name on the Yahoo site and you'll walk away with a treasure trove of sage advice filtered from hard earned experience.

When I asked her for a bio, this is what she told me:

Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. She is the author of over a dozen novels and more than fifty short stories, and the recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a Hugo for Best Short Story, among other awards and nominations. She lives near Hartford, Connecticut, with a presumptuous cat and a collection of houseplants.

Her most recent book is ALL THE WINDWRACKED STARS. (Coincidentally, this was the first novel she workshopped on the OWW, though in a much, much different form.)  ALL THE WINDWRACKED STARS is published by Tor and is in bookstores now. (See On Shelves Now for details.)  Here now, a glimpse into its author, Elizabeth Bear.

photoYou're a long time member of OWW. What brought you here?

A friend sent me a pointer to it back in 2001. I remember that quite clearly, because it was right after 9/11 and I had just been laid off from my horrible more-than-full-time job. And so I had just started writing again.

The OWW has been a great resource for me, and I suspect without that happy accident--finding a community--I might not be a writer today.

You have a lively blog, an extensive bibliography and a vast network of fans. What keeps you focused?

One of my editors, the redoubtable Beth Meacham, says I'm disciplined. I would say that actually, I have no life. Also, writing is what I do. It's my job, at this point, and so I have to do it even when I don't really feel like doing it, because it's how I keep bread on the table.

Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you like to have several projects going on at once or do you prefer one story at a time?

I always have a bunch of things simmering away, but there's usually one dominant project--whatever the novel is on the tightest deadline! Because my work tends to require a fairly long cooking process, I can't just sit down and write one thing. I have to write part of it, walk away, let it simmer, come back--

I have this reputation as a really fast writer, but honestly I'm just dogged. I'll spend eight or twelve hours a day to grind out six pages if that's what it takes.

You run a very humorous and witty blog. Have you ever considered writing comedy?

I'm a lousy comedian. I do okay with dry wit and sarcasm, however. (Funny: I don't think of my blog as funny!)
I don't often like a lot of humorous fantasy, so I've never really thought about writing it.

What do you wish someone had told you when you first started writing professionally?

You know, because I was pretty plugged into the OWW grapevine, I think I had an advantage over most neopro writers. There were not a lot of nasty surprises.

Have there been any surprises on your road to publication?

Getting published at all! It still really hasn't sunk in that this is my job. In my head, I'm still racking up rejection slips.

Tell us about your books for 2009.

Okay. There's a novella from Subterranean, Seven for a Secret, which is the sequel to NEW AMSTERDAM. It's a contrafactual novel of intrigue in Occupied London, with sorcery, secret agents, and horrific plans. There's BY THE MOUNTAIN BOUND, a Norse fantasy novel from Tor, which is the sequel to ALL THE WINDWRACKED STARS....I think that's everything for this year.

Is there any one book you've written that's become a personal favorite?

My favorites right now are the two Stratford Man novels, INK AND STEEL and HELL AND EARTH. There was such a long road to publication with those, and I think they're really my best work.

What would you be doing right now if you weren't a writer?

Starving in a gutter.


Publication Announcements

Leah Bobet speaketh of good news: "I am chuffed (well chuffed?) to announce that "Mister Oak," a Wildean fairy tale about a tree and the girl he loves, will appear in a future issue of Realms of Fantasy. This'll be my third story to appear there."

Aliette de Bodard has sold sold "Melanie," an urban fantasy set in the world of her university days, to Realms of Fantasy. "This was workshopped at OWW, where it received a number of helpful crits from Patty Jansen, Sylvia Volk, and Camille Picott. Other people who took a look at it offline included the ever-helpful Marshall Payne, Oliver Dale, and Pat Lundrigan. Thanks to everyone for making the sale possible!"

Charles Coleman Finlay says: "My novella from last August's Fantasy & Science Fiction is on the Nebula prelim ballot and has been selected by Gardner Dozois for the Year's Best Science Fiction Volume 26."

Deborah Kalin, aka damselfly, has alerted us that her novel SHADOW QUEEN is on shelves now. Also: Cemetery Dance Magazine has accepted her short story, "Teratogen" for publication. "And "The Wages of Salt" has sold to to Postscripts
, for Spring publication.

Marshall Payne's flash story "Mud Wrestling in a Distant Land" will be published at Polluto:The Anti-Pop Culture Journal. It'll be in issue #5, "A Steampunk Orange." Also, "Tyree Campbell at Aoife's Kiss wants my 4k fantasy tale 'Jimmy French-Fries.' A story I wrote a while back. An offbeat tale that took a while to find a home."

On Shelves Now

coverSHADOW QUEEN by Deborah Kalin (Allen & Unwin, January 2009)

Matilde of the House of Svanaten has spent her life in training for when she will ascend the Turasi throne. Yet, two years past Matilde's coming of age, her indomitable grandmother remains reluctant to hand over power. When Matilde's exiled aunt, Helena, turns up for the most important festival of the year, suspicion abounds. Why has Helena - long married into the despised Ilthean nobility--suddenly returned? And what of the Ilthean soldiers massed at the southern border?

Hard on Helena's arrival, Matilde is struck by a vision warning of doom. And it isn't long before a forceful new enemy strikes at the very heart of power, leaving a trail of death and destruction in his wake. After narrowly surviving the conflagration that shatters her entire world, Matilde must pit herself against her family's conqueror in a battle not just for the throne, but for her very existence.


coverALL THE WINDWRACKED STARS by Elizabeth Bear (Tor, January 2009)

It all began with Ragnarok, with the Children of the Light and the Tarnished ones battling to the death in the ice and the dark. At the end of the long battle, one Valkyrie survived, wounded, and one valraven - the steeds of the valkyrie.

Because they lived, Valdyrgard was not wholly destroyed. Because the valraven was transformed in the last miracle offered to a Child of the Light, Valdyrgard was changed to a world where magic and technology worked hand in hand.

2500 years later, Muire is in the last city on the dying planet, where the Technomancer rules what's left of humanity. She's caught sight of someone she has not seen since the Last Battle: Mingan the Wolf is hunting in her city.

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The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror
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