Starting this month, Leah Bobet--former OWW support person, publisher and editor of Ideomancer, and author of just-out YA novel ABOVE-- rejoins OWW as as our Resident Editor for short stories! Welcome back, Leah!
This month we also welcome OWW alum Deb Coates into the spotlight. Her debut novel WIDE OPEN is available now, so be sure to check it out, but not before you read her interview below.
And behind the scenes, OWW is getting a redesign, finally. We want to get it right, so it's taking a while. We're deep in the middle of it now with our graphic designer and soon the retro 1999 look will be a thing of the past and it will be easier and more logical to find your way around the workshop. We'll also finally have WYSIWYG editing for submissions.
As always, contact us if you have any questions, publication announcements, or ideas for improving the OWW Newsletter.
Maria Zannini, newsletter editor
news (at) onlinewritingworkshop.com
Write a revenge story. What was the slight? Is the comeuppance proportional to the slight? Does the vengeful character go through with their revenge or change their mind last minute?
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. Put "April challenge" in your title.
Challenges can be suggested by anyone and suggestions should be sent to Maria (news (at) onlinewritingworkshop.com). This month's challenge was submitted by Lindsay Kitson.
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/Gary A. Braunbeck, Elizabeth Bear, Karin Lowachee, and Leah Bobet. 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!
PATTERNS, Chapter 1 by Mark Postma
This is a well-written early chapter of a book that seems to need a sense of urgency and a better-developed voice. The author's writing is quite competent on both a sentence and a paragraph level--in general, meaning is clear and the prose stays out of the way--but the narrative is sometimes confusingly organized, and the workmanlike nature of the prose tends to prevent enough playfulness and energy from infusing the storytelling. It's functional, in other words, but the author has not yet relaxed enough into his prose for his own voice to suffuse it, and to impart enthusiasm to the reader.
That said, however, the prose is clean and direct--a major accomplishment. What it lacks is vividness, specificity, and muscularity--and that's a matter of practice. Better verb choice and attention to word repetition will go a long way to develop voice here.
And that voice and muscularity will help address the other immediate issue: that of underdeveloped urgency. This is a story that, however well-written, is currently without narrative pull. In three thousand words--the most critical twelve pages of a novel, more or less--while the author has established characters and backstory, he has not introduced conflict (except for the several-times-repeated mention of Cam and Lenny's mother's desire for grandchildren). The protagonist does not have a goal, and there is no threat to the existing order, his health or happiness--no stakes, in the commonly used terminology.
There is an intriguing hole in the ground, but not much is made of it. The narrative also loses velocity when one thread of action--the cave exploration--is paused so that dinner with the parents can happen, and then returned to. It would be much more efficient and more interesting for most readers to focus on each thread in turn. As it is, the author is disrupting what momentum he's managed to develop each time he changes topics.
There's a verisimilitude problem with a couple of experienced cavers going to visit a potential cave without their gear. I've known too many cavers; just try to keep one out of any likely or inviting crevice! A keyfob flashlight is pretty much de rigueur equipment for that set.
The verisimilitude and narrative energy problems are compounded when we actually make it into the cave. The cave exploration should be a big, interesting setpiece. I've been in wild caves--they're fascinating. And exceptionally difficult to navigate and move through, and full of rich sensory detail and gorgeous and strange geology--and in many cases, archaeology.
The people who "push" caves--who explore and map new caves or new caverns in previously-explored caves--are a peculiar blend of wildcat and meticulous. They are really fascinating people--but they also risk their lives for their hobby, and there are regular precautions that the author should familiarize himself with. It wouldn't hurt to spend some time in a couple of wild caves (tourist or "show" caves are not the same) with an experienced guide, in order to get a feel for what it's like in there--or at least find some experienced cavers to interview.
Also, a new, unexplored cave is a big deal: I want to feel some of that excitement. That goal right there, the exploration of a new cave system, and Cam's being thrilled about the opportunity could do a great deal to bring in the kind of character-must-want-something drive that makes a story grab a reader's interest. So too could a really vivid description of a caving experience. Setting can *be* tension, if it's handled right.
Too much of the conflict and backstory is handled in exposition long before we've come to care about any of it, and too much of it is badly organized. Ideally, narrative exposition--except in the case of writers who have the gift of writing fascinating nonfiction--should be paid out to answer questions that have already started to ask ourselves as readers. Then it's interesting, a reward, rather than being a chore.
Major scenes here are being dispensed with by "telling" rather than "showing," which is to say, narrated rather than dramatized. A bit of the dinner conversation is shown, but it doesn't do much work. Every sentence in a novel has four jobs: it needs to establish or develop character, create or resolve tension (move the plot), illuminate theme, or establish setting.
For the rest of this review, visit the Editor's Choice area of the OWW site!
Author of THE SEA THY MISTRESS
DOOMSEEDS Ch. 1 by Tam Linsey
With a wonderful opening sentence that creates the perfect image and sets the tone and place of the book, this month's selection brings together a clash of cultures, one of which is called the Cannibals.
With the nervous crowd skittering across the hard-packed earth below, the skeletal trusses of the barn reminded Eily of a ribcage picked clean by hungry vermin. A familiar keening drew her attention to the figure balanced high on the barn's roof ridge.
Though this seems like familiar, historical surroundings, the next few details - of green-skinned Protectorate liaisons - swiftly changes the tenor of the narrative. We are now on strange ground and the threat is effectively implied. The prose here draws on specificity of image and distilled dialogue, so nothing about this strangeness comes off half-thought. Eily is an immediately engaging protagonist whose role will, one assumes, be expanded upon throughout the novel. She is a convert to a new way of living, but by force, and it is explained early that she might not be as converted as claimed. The religious overtones are there but not overbearing, and the various factions involved in these cultures comes off complex and deep-rooted.
Perhaps a little too complex for the first 3000 words. While the "action" of drawing Lisius down from the barn roof is smoothly executed, the interiors and infodump - though none of it longwinded - is numerous and the reader barely has time to grasp what one new, unfamiliar culture is before we're given another and the intricacies of their relationship carved for explanation.
"Why would you want to go back out there? There are no Hunger Times here. No fear of Hunters. Shelter from wind and rain-"
"And the sun that makes us sick."
Eily took a shaky breath, reminded of the alkaloids drifting through her system which she had learned to ignore. The high was a side effect of the photosynthesis, and the sensation would still be new to Lisius. Some converts liked it. Some insisted it dulled their survival instinct. "You will get used to it."
"I don't want to get used to it. I don't want to let them tell me what to do. Or these Holdout people, either." He spat and looked with disgust at the unconverted crowd below. The people at the Holdout had made a bargain with the Protectorate; no forced conversions, no euthanizations, and the Protectorate could maintain a peaceful base within the electric fences.
All of these details are built on, but rapidly, with other phrases like the Tox, and the Order, Haldanians, body photosynthesis, etc, and the weight of it all is sort of lost in the morass of the new world. It is of course tempting to situate the reader as soon as possible through giving them a lot of information so the fiction world could be laid out early on, but sometimes a slower trickle of details is better to orient the reader. Let them acclimate first to the concept of the Cannibals and what exactly they are and what the significance of the flesh feast is, and then move on to why that's banned, and how it came about, and give enough details that it sticks in the readers' mind beyond just a flurry of really interesting details. As all of these details are. Or use whatever order comes naturally to the narrative, but give all of these new cultural details time on the page to be discovered and understood.
The character descriptions are well-drawn, though, and give an immediate impression that doesn't get lost in dialogue or other parts of the narrative.
He still wore his occulus strapped to his blonde head, straw hat resting askew above the lens, and his beardless face with its criss-crossing of scars looked even paler than usual.
Similarly, the dialogue is spot on and natural-sounding, even if the context is strange, and the prose is smooth overall. This is a truly fascinating take on what seems to be colonial issues, after a fashion, and being this intriguing from the word go only means that the reader can't wait to turn the page. Just make sure their eyes aren't forced to glaze over by too much, too fast.
Author of THE GASLIGHT DOGS, BURNDIVE and CAGEBIRD
"Perennial" by Jay Reynolds
"Perennial" has some incredible strengths for a story this short, the most important of which is that it demonstrates the kind of solid craft that makes a story spill off the page and convince a reader it's real: the thing we're all, on a certain level, going for! There are a few elements going into that, ones that prove how much paying attention to what we might sometimes consider "little things" adds up into an overall feeling of clear, confident prose.
First, the occasional bits of rhythmic alliteration -- "cramping comedown-shits" or "the soiled sanitary system" -- are a small trick that keeps the generally declarative prose style dynamic and interesting: like little filigrees on a stone building.
Second: The inclusion of all five senses in the author's descriptions. Lines like "As he sits on the toilet, he wipes his nose with toilet paper, feeling tiny bits of the tissue catch on his three-day stubble" are perfect examples of grounding detail: the kind of detail that's specific and concrete and sensory, not at all cliché. Those details do great work in two ways: They make sure that the readers are paying close attention by not letting them skim over and fill in the words they expect to come next (and probably get bored, because they feel like they already know what comes next). They also signal to readers that this is a real thing, happening to real people, who exist not just as characters on a page -- and that makes sure your readers are invested in what happens next.
A third element that makes the world-building in "Perennial" work and feel real is the way Tenner refers to people, places, and things he's familiar with without always stopping to explain them to the reader, letting the details add up into a picture of his life as the readers put those things together themselves. Mentioning his bandmates, Sidney, and the river and street names as a part of his real and complete world keeps readers from feeling that Oh right, this is a story and I'm reading it, and so avoids reminding them that none of this is real. In short, there's strong use of showing, not telling in this piece.
Charles Coleman Finlay has a great writing tip: that an excellent story doesn't come from what we don't do wrong, but what we do right. And where "Perennial" could be improved is by playing to those strengths all the way through: its immersive, elegant, detailed world-building and giving the reader enough information to put all the pieces together. Specifically, there's room to play to those strengths in the alternating scenes: the dialogue taking place outside the recording of Tenner's dead mind, in the story's present day. Compared to the lush world of Tenner's recorded mind, the alternating dialogue-only scenes feel not just spare, but unfinished, like they might be placeholders because the story committed to that alternating structure and has to keep it until the end. In any story, each scene should be there because it adds something to the story and moves the narrative forward.
While it's clear there's a stylistic choice going on here on the part of the author, what I'd like to suggest is to reconsider how that stylistic choice is carried out. Dialogue-only scenes have a bad habit of kicking readers out of the story: Instead of taking in information, world-building, and characterization, readers stop reading, and wonder who's talking and what they're doing there (wherever "there" is!). If the goal is to create a feeling of stripped-down distance compared to the richness of Tenner's internal experience, think about how the narrative strengths displayed in Tenner's scenes can achieve this: describe cold and stripped-down and distant things and people. And think about what pieces of the puzzle, what clues and hints and real-people information, those scenes can add to the whole picture. Providing contrasting detail in those scenes, instead of no detail, might give this story the balance it needs and avoid the structural problem of the dialogue scenes feeling like unfinished bits or extras, or the reader investment problem where they have to stop and figure out what's going on.
Author of ABOVE
Black Friday, Ch. 1 by David Starnes
This chapter has a very interesting idea underlying it: that its main character has killed five women and sold their organs--horrific actions--to pay for treatment for his cancer-stricken brother. The contrast between his goal and the means he uses to achieve the goal is quite striking and sets up good tension. This type of tension has the potential to create a compelling character and powerful internal and external struggles. This seems great material for a novel; if I read this premise on the back of a book, I would want to read the book.
Unfortunately, I don't feel the chapter is introducing and developing this premise in the best possible way. Writing an opening chapter is hard. It's very difficult for the author to step back and figure out how to introduce the plot and characters to the reader, when the author knows them so well. Novels are such complex things, it can also be difficult to craft a scene that efficiently establishes the key elements and simultaneously draws the reader into a compelling stream of action.
Reading this chapter, I did not feel drawn into a stream of action that I wanted to follow through the length of a novel. There are several reasons for this. The two main reasons are plot and character.
As I discussed above, the most powerful element of the novel so far is the contrast between his goal and the means he uses to achieve it. Right now, the chapter shows us the means but only tells us about his goal. We don't meet the brother or see Walter's commitment to his brother. This really weakens the contrast. As a reader, I don't really believe he's killing them for his brother's sake, and I don't feel, in my gut, the conflict you've set up. To show us that conflict (rather than tell us about it), I think the novel needs two scenes, or two parts of a scene, that illustrate the two sides of the conflict. My instinct would be to begin with a scene between Walter and his brother, showing us that the brother has gotten worse, that he needs more treatment. The next scene could show Walter entering the garage, finding the sedated woman he has tied up there, and eviscerating her. This would reveal the conflict in a dramatic, shocking, and immediate way.
Another plot issue relates to the believability of his procedure for harvesting the organs. I'm not an expert on this at all, but as a typical reader with some minor medical knowledge, I don't believe that he needs to cut off her head or drain her of blood to remove her organs. That makes him seem like someone who enjoys killing and mutilating, undermining the idea that he's doing this for his brother. If you haven't done research on this, then you need to. If you have, then you have the bigger challenge of making readers believe this is the correct procedure.
The second major area I'd like to discuss is character. I'm afraid I have a very hard time believing in Walter as a real person. Since the story is centered around his character at this point, it's difficult for the chapter to succeed when the character doesn't seem real. I discussed one reason for this in the previous paragraph. Another reason is the crisis he is going through over cutting apart his fifth victim. I don't believe he would be having a crisis at this point. The first victim would most likely cause the crisis. If he was in shock for that one, then maybe the second would cause a crisis. But by the time he's gotten to number five, I feel he would be used to it, and he'd be doing it as quickly as possible to get it over with. The chapter tells us that he cares more about this victim than the others, that there was something special about her. But I don't believe that, since I never met her alive. If it's important that this victim is different (I suspect it is, though I'm not sure), then you need to show him meeting her and show us what's special about her. As is, it feels like the author wants me to be sympathetic to Walter, so the author is making Walter care more about this victim and hesitate to cut her apart. Instead of making him sympathetic, that makes him unbelievable to me. If it is important that she's different, don't have her be the victim he's cutting apart at the beginning. Have that be a typical victim. Then let him go out and grab her next, so you first establish the typical procedure before showing one that's atypical.
His slowness, delays, and preoccupation with other things also make me disbelieve in him, and more than that, dislike him. He doesn't seem to be trying to achieve his goal. The chapter establishes that he has very little time to get the organs out, and I believe that. Yet he wastes endless time and thinks about all sorts of other things. If getting the organs out of the victim isn't important to him, then it's not important to me. And that leaves me with nothing to care about in the chapter. He seems more interested in the songs on the mix tape than in achieving his goal. Readers generally like characters struggling to achieve a goal, and the chapter sets up good suspense with the time limit for getting the organs out. Yet the chapter then undermines that suspense by having the character preoccupied by minor things. The chapter is trying to force too much exposition (background information) into the scene, when what it should be doing is showing us the scene as vividly as possible. Ellyn and other information can be introduced elsewhere.
For the rest of this review, visit the Editor's Choice area of the OWW site!
--Jeanne Cavelos, editor, author, director of Odyssey
Deborah Coates lives in Ames, Iowa and works at Iowa State University in information technology. She has a Rottweiler named Billie and a German Pinscher named Blue. When she's not writing or working, she teaches obedience classes and participates with her dogs in tracking, obedience, and therapy dog visits. She has published short stories in Asimov's, Strange Horizons, Year's Best Fantasy 6, and Best American Fantasy 2008.
What kind of story is WIDE OPEN? What drew you to this genre?
When I talk about WIDE OPEN, I generally call it contemporary fantasy. However, I've seen it described as dark fantasy, urban fantasy, and rural fantasy. It does have murders and some mystery, but I always figure that fantasy trumps mystery when classifying. It's basically the same genre as a lot of my short stories ("Chainsaw on Hand" and "How to Hide Your Heart" are examples). Not the same "world" exactly, but the same sort of contemporary fantasy.
WIDE OPEN opens with the ghost of the heroine's sister. Have you had any experiences with ghosts that led to this story?
I haven't actually had any experience with ghosts, but I like ghost stories and I wanted ghosts that were a bit different than those in some current incarnations. I wanted ghosts that didn't sit around and talk to the main character as if they were people, just less substantial. For much of WIDE OPEN, Hallie's never entirely sure whether the ghosts are even aware that she exists. They're really really cold, at least to Hallie, and they make her life miserable, but some of them are also ghosts of people she knows--her sister and a good friend to name two--and she's torn between wanting them gone and wanting the reminder of people she's lost and misses.
Can you tell us your call story? How did you find out your book was sold?
Well, it was more an e-mail story than a call story and was pretty straightforward compared to some I've heard. My agent sent out WIDE OPEN and told me not to expect to hear anything for about six weeks, which was really helpful as it meant I wouldn't chew my nails to the quick for at least a couple of weeks. Well before that deadline, we heard back from Stacy Hill at Tor. She really liked WIDE OPEN and ended up making an offer for it and two books to follow with the same characters and setting.
You're an OWW alumna. Do you still use critique partners?
Critique partners are essential for me, partly because I've been particularly lucky in my critique partners, many of whom are also OWW alumni. They're smart and insightful and can tell me when I'm not managing to do the things I'm trying to do. I go down a lot of false alleys when I'm writing and it's really helpful to have people who can help me get back on track.
Tell us a little about your writing process.
In general--and this varies by particular project--I get a feel for character first, at least a part of a problem, maybe an opening paragraph or two. Then I generally get three or four key scenes, usually character-revealing and probably setting-specific. Then, I spend almost all the first draft and sometimes part of the second figuring out the situation, the larger specifics of the problem, the limitations and constraints on solving the problem, and where it's all going.
My favorite parts of the process are probably the first draft, where I'm getting to know the characters and inventing new things, and the nearly final draft where things slow down and I can concentrate on individual scenes and making them work rather than worrying about how to get this scene to feed into the next scene.
Is there any writing advice you've happily ignored?
You know, I think I consider all writing advice, but some of it doesn't work for me. I'm definitely a discovery writer. A lot of the story issues sit in the back of my brain and I think--I'll never solve this problem, but then, when I least expect it some brilliant (I hope!) solution arises. I'm currently trying to learn how to harness this ability and use it a bit more efficiently. I'd like to be able to put together decent synopses before I write the book, something that at least somewhat resembles the final story and in some ways subs for my first draft so I don't have to write quite so many drafts from scratch.
So, I guess I haven't happily ignored the advice to do outlines, because I can see that they're efficient and useful. But they don't particularly work for me except in the loosest sense, and certain bits of advice (like, write a one sentence summary of your book before you start) make me all panicky because unless that summary resides in the title (and sometimes it does) then it's not something I can do before I write the book.
I'd actually love to work on more than one project at a time and I did when I was writing short stories, but with novels and a full-time job besides, I have to give all the attention I have to the novel I'm working on. Maybe someday!
What advice do you wish someone had given you when you were starting out?
Enjoy the journey.
Because the journey lasts forever. Maybe your goal is to finish a book. You finish a book. Then your goal is to get an agent. You get an agent. Now your goal is to sell your book. You sell your book. And your goal is to sell your next book. Or write a New York Times bestseller. Or become a full-time writer. There's always a next goal. Always something that you want to achieve. You get to that summit you've been striving and striving for and--look--there's another mountain. If you don't enjoy the process--the writing, the querying, the editing....then you'll never get to enjoy anything.
You practice tracking with your dogs. Has that experience helped your writing career in any way?
Hmm...good question! In tracking it all comes down to a given test on a given day. You train and practice and work under every condition you can imagine, run every sort of track you can invent. You learn to read your dog and your dog learns what you want. But the test is you and your dog on that track on that day. The judges try to make the tracks as similar as possible--similar distance, similar difficulty, similar conditions. But things happen. Fifteen deer run across the track in front of your dog. It starts to sleet. The wind comes up. It gets hot. Sometimes, for some reason no one quite figures out, every single dog on that day fails (there is a reason; you just don't know what it is).
Some people blame external forces (and sometimes it is external forces). They blame the judges (they blew the whistle too soon; my track was harder). They blame their dog. They blame the wind or the rain or the sleet.
But here's what I've learned over the years--you are out there on that day. With that dog. On that track. You do the best you can. You own your mistakes. You pass. Or you fail. And if you fail, you do your best to learn something.
That is the most valuable thing I have ever learned--ever--about anything.
Lots of things about publishing are out of our control as writers. But we can write the best book we know how. And if things don't go the way we want them to and hope they will, then at least we can learn something.
What do you think readers will love most about WIDE OPEN?
I think that's a hard question for me to answer as the author because what I hope is that readers love the whole thing! I mean, in my dreams everyone loves it, they can't stop talking about it, they tell all their friends and their friends love it too! But if I could be me as a reader coming upon WIDE OPEN (like in an alternate universe where someone else had written my book), I hope that I would love the setting and the characters, the development of the relationship between Hallie and Boyd, and Hallie's re-connection with a place she thought she'd left behind for good four years before.
What's next for you?
There will be two more books in this series. I've finished book two and it's with my editor and I have a very rough draft of book three. I'm not sure I can tell you much about either of them without being spoilery for WIDE OPEN, but they're about Hallie and Boyd and ghosts and other strange things. And, of course, South Dakota and the prairie.
Kimber Camacho tells us: "Former member, here, with a success story. I've just had one of my stories accepted by Circlet Press for an upcoming erotica anthology -- LIKE A BREATH OF FLAME. I also wanted to let you know that I mentioned having been a member of the OWW in my bio. I received a great deal of assistance and support from my fellow members and the awesome admin of the OWW, and want to give credit where credit's due."
Rob Greene's story "It Pays to Read the Safety Cards" is in the March 2012 issue of Something Wicked.
From Vylar Kaftan: "Just signed a contract for 'Lion Dance' to appear in Asimov's."
Deborah Kalin posted: "Twelfth Planet Press is delighted to announce that fantasy author Deborah Kalin has joined the Twelve Planets series with a collection featuring her beautifully horrific story, 'Wages of Honey.'"
Heather Marshall, writing as Hanna Martine, sold the paranormal romance LIQUID LIES (July 3, 2012), plus a sequel and a novella, to Berkley Sensation/Penguin Publishing. She says, "OWW taught me how to give a critique and, perhaps more importantly, how to receive one. Constructive criticism is key to growing as a writer. Here on the workshop, I learned how to listen, evaluate comments, and incorporate suggestions without losing my voice."
Ian Tregillis wrote to say, "I wanted to share some good news with the OWW (which I tend to think of as my alma mater). I recently sold my fantasy noir mystery novel, SOMETHING MORE THAN NIGHT, to Tor books. Hooray! This is my second novel deal, the first being a trilogy (The Milkweed Triptych) which began as an Editor's Choice short story on the OWW way back in 2003 :-) Thanks for everything you do. The OWW is a tremendous resource, and I continually recommend it to beginning writers."
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 2012 Honor Roll Nominees
Reviewer: Susan Cartwright
Submission: Doomseeds (working title) by Tam Linsey
Submitted by: Tam Linsey
Reviewer: Jane Forni
Submission: Cactus Blooming, Ch 1, revised x2 by Frances Snowder
Submitted by: Frances Snowder
Reviewer: Daniel Connaughton
Submission: Cactus Blooming, Ch 1, revised x2 by Frances Snowder
Submitted by: Frances Snowder
Reviewer: Dani Myrick
Submission: Enchanter by Erin Pike
Submitted by: Erin Pike
Reviewer: Dani Myrick
Submission: A Healthy Choice by Kevin McNeil
Submitted by: Kevin McNeil
Reviewer: Laurence Pittenger
Submission: Where the Fire Is Not Quenched by Jesse Bangs
Submitted by: Jesse Bangs
Reviewer: Frances Snowder
Submission: Doomseeds (working title) ch 1 by Tam Linsey
Submitted by: Tam Linsey
Reviewer: Dave Crosby
Submission: "C4C--Caliban's Cameras" by Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Submitted by: Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Reviewer: Brent Smith
Submission: A Face in the Wind by Melinda VanLone
Submitted by: Melinda VanLone
Reviewer: Daniel McMinn
Submission: Five Against the Night: Remember - Chapter 1 by Jon Paradise
Submitted by: Jon Paradise
Reviewer: Crash Froelich
Submission: Bringing Home the Good War, Part 6 by Dave Crosby
Submitted by: Dave Crosby
Reviewer: Sandra Panicucci
Submission: Mysterious Freighter by Carlos Amrhein
Submitted by: Carlos Amrhein
ABOVE by Leah Bobet (Arthur A. Levine Books, April 2012)
"Above pulls off that rare trick of being convincing and utterly magical at the same time."
-- Emma Donoghue, NYT bestselling author of ROOM
"Leah Bobet's ABOVE is that rarest of creatures, combining the outspoken honesty of a good first novel with the craft of a seasoned professional." -- Elizabeth Bear, Hugo Award-winning author of DUST
Matthew has loved Ariel from the moment he found her in the tunnels, her bee's wings falling away. They live in Safe, an underground refuge for those fleeing the city Above--like Whisper, who speaks to ghosts, and Jack Flash, who can shoot lightning from his fingers.
But one terrifying night, an old enemy invades Safe with an army of shadows, and only Matthew, Ariel, and a few friends escape Above. As Matthew unravels the mystery of Safe's history and the shadows' attack, he realizes he must find a way to remake his home--not just for himself, but for Ariel, who needs him more than ever before.
WIDE OPEN by Deborah Coates (Tor, March 2012)
Hallie Michaels has had a near-death experience in Afghanistan and since then she's been able to see ghosts. She's still adjusting to this new reality when she's called home to South Dakota to her sister, Dell's, funeral. Her friends and the sheriff tell her that Dell committed suicide, but Hallie can't believe that. It doesn't make any sense. Trailed by her sister's ghost, she starts asking questions-of her sister's friends, of the people Dell worked with, of a young deputy sheriff who keeps turning up where he's most not wanted.
Hallie soon discovers there's a lot more going on than just her sister's death. Things someone will do anything to protect. Hallie's threatened. Her father's barn is burned. Another young woman disappears. New ghosts follow her. Now, she's going to need all the help she can muster in order to stop a villain with ancient powerful magic at his fingertips.
THE KINGDOMS OF DUST, Book 3 of The Necromancer Chronicles, Amanda Downum (Orbit, March 2012)
With her master dead and her oaths foresworn, necromancer and spy Isyllt Iskaldur finds herself in exile. Hounded by assassins, she seeks asylum in Assar, the empire she so recently worked to undermine.
Warlords threaten the empire's fragile peace, and the empress is beset by enemies within the court. Even worse, darkness stirs in the deep desert. Ancient spirits long held captive are waking - spirits that can destroy Assar faster than any army.
Accompanied by an outcast jinn, Isyllt must travel into the heart of the desert to lay the darkness there to rest once more. But her sympathies are torn between the captive spirits and the order of mages sworn to bind them. And whichever choice she makes could raze the empire to dust.
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)
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) sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com and we'll do the rest.