Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

May 2015 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge


Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

Reviewer Honor Roll

On Shelves Now

Membership Info





When I first got serious about being published, I listened to lots of "this is what you need to do" and "this is what you need to know" stories, both from other writers further along in their careers, and from random people who knew how "publishing worked." I paid attention to everyone, even when what they had to say was hard to hear.  I learned a lot that way. And one of the important things I learned is that as much as new writers want to dress it up in rainbows and stardust and dreams, publishing is a business rooted in numbers of copies sold.

Author Joshua Palmatier takes the Spotlight this month to talk about the reality of not making your numbers, setbacks, and hope for the future. Hope is the most important part.

Spot Comments: This month we're launching a new workshop enhancement members have been asking for: the ability to review by selecting text within a submission and commenting on it in the right margin (like the commenting in Google Docs or Word). Overall comments are still required, and the new "spot comments" are optional.  They will be really useful for authors who invite nitpicks and for reviewers who like to call out particular lines or usages within a submission.  

Screenshot of new spot-comment interface

Along with adding spot comments, we've also revamped the way you can navigate through reviews of a submission: a new floating navigation bar in the All Reviews tab lists the current reviewer and allows you to move forward and back in the list of reviewers, as well as forward and back in the spot comments.

When reading the spot-comment section of a review, you can view comments either as text bubbles in the right margin or in-line as colored text.  To switch back and forth, just use the "Show in-line"/"Show in margin" button on the new floating navigation bar. 

A few more details of how it works: If you want to see all the reviewers' comments merged together, use the "Show merged comments" link at the bottom of the All Reviews tab to generate a print-ready table showing selected text, comment, and reviewer. And finally, if you're a reviewer who is not interested in using spot comments, click the "Spot Comments" header to hide that whole section of the Review tab.

(For those of you who use the workshop via mobile devices, note that spot comments don't work quite as smoothly on some devices as they do on desktop browsers.  We plan to fix what we can within the constraints of the mobile interface. So if you find a problem on a mobile device, please let us know, and specify exactly which mobile device you're using.)

We want to hear what you think!  And since this is a new set of features with a lot of complications under the hood, please let us know if you encounter any problems: write to support (at) and describe what you were trying to do and what happened.  We hope you like this latest OWW feature.

Until next month, keep writing and keep learning, and enjoy this new way to review.

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

Jaime Lee Moyer, newsletter editor
news (at)

Monthly Writing Challenge

Our challenge dictator, Leah Quire, wants us to think about the story behind this distress call, and what we might do if these words suddenly came out of our CB radio, shortwave rig, or even our cell phone: "May Day, May Day, May Day.  This is the module Red Genie.  Base.  Do you read me?  This is the module Red Genie.  Please.  Can anyone hear us?  May Day, Ma—"

Remember: Challenges are supposed to be fun, but don't forget to stretch yourself and take risks. If you normally write fantasy, try science fiction. If you've never tried writing in first or second person, here's your chance. The story doesn't have to be a masterpiece, this is all about trying new things and gaining new skills, and most of all, having fun. Challenge stories can go up at anytime.  Put "Challenge" in the title so people can find it.

Challenges can be suggested by anyone and suggestions should be sent to Jaime (news (at) 


"Futures" is the award-winning science-fiction section of Nature, "a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology."  (It's a hugely influential science journal.) Contributions are usually commissioned, but unsolicited submissions are welcome. Each Future should be a self-contained scientific SF story between 850-950 words. Stories should be e-mailed as a Word document attachment to futures (at), including full contact details and a 30-word autobiographical note to be appended to the story if published.

Pornokitsch is looking for stories of between 1,500 and 3,000 words. They are open to anything from superheroes and fairytales to dinosaurs and zombies. Genre isn't important. Payment is a flat $50 USD, or 30 pounds. Digital rights only. Full details here.

Sci Phi Journal is looking for science fiction stories that explore a philosophical idea or have a philosophical hook. They want stories of between 100-5,000 words and pay 5 cents per word. Full details here.

The Deep, Dark Woods anthology is open for submissions until May 31, 2015. They are looking for horror stories of between 500 to 8,000 words, and payment is 5 cents per word. Full details here.

Editors' Choices

The Editors' Choices are chosen from the submissions from the previous month that show the most potential or otherwise earn the admiration of our Resident Editors. Submissions in four categories -- science fiction chapters, fantasy chapters, horror, and short stories -- receive a detailed review, meant to be educational for others as well as the author. 

This issue's reviews are written by Resident Editors Jeanne Cavelos, Leah Bobet, Liz Bourke, and C.C. Finlay. The last four months of Editors' Choices and their editorial reviews are archived on the workshop. Go to the "Read, Rate, Review" page and click on "Editors' Choices." 

Congratulations to the current Editors' Choice authors!

Editor's Choice, Fantasy

The Exoneiric, Chapter 1 by Auriana Geist
The Exoneiric has some good turns of phrase, and shows some solid potential in terms of presenting interesting characters. But it still needs quite a lot of polish. I know I've harped on in several of these Editor's Choice reviews about the purpose of a first chapter. Its first and most important purpose is to immediately offer the reader a reason to engage with the text -- a reason to care. It must do this as it:
  1) introduces characters,
  2) establishes an initial situation,
  3) begins to set forth the context of the world in which the story takes place, and
  4) begins to indicate the kind of story the reader can expect.
Not necessarily in that order. It's a complex challenge, and a difficult balance to strike. I chose this chapter for review this month because it comes close to doing all these things, but stumbles before it manages to tie them together. And since at the sentence level, in terms of solid descriptive turns of phrase, the writer shows a good deal of promise, I think it might be productive to consider how structural improvements might be made.
It is on points 1) and 3) that this chapter stumbles most. It's very rarely a good idea to open with an unnamed character in a third-person narrative. (It's enough of a cliché in crime novels, for example, that you can say "Anonymous Serial Killer POV" and practically everyone knows what you mean.) And the thing is that keeping a character's identity or name from the reader rarely works effectively: anonymizing the character adds a layer of distance and removes a layer of distinctiveness. This presents an additional barrier to immediate reader engagement  --  and makes it harder, too, for the writer to write from a consistent close third-person perspective. Don't be seduced into playing with style and register in your opening paragraphs unless you're absolutely certain you can pull it off: the M. John Harrisons and Catherynne M. Valentes of this world are few and far between, and invested a lot of practice to get to where they are.
So, what do you gain by opening with a naked, anonymous woman on the edge of a cliff -- a woman who's spent days walking through a desert because she wants to die?
Nothing that you don't lose in reader confusion. You've opened with too many questions that need answering: Who is she? Why is she naked? Why's she going to all this effort? If she wants to die, why didn't she stay put in the desert and die of thirst? Where is she? Who's following her? What does it mean?  Present readers with too many questions too quickly and they'll start backing away, all the while muttering, "Why should I care anyway?"
(I would like to make a brief aside here on the matter of names. Names are important. "Renegarde" is a name that does not do its job effectively: it is too easy to read as "Renegade," and implies renegade-ness by its closeness to the English term. Also referring to things by Proper Nouns --  without qualifiers --  is a bit of a cliché. The Order, the Rift -- are they the only Nouns of their kind in the world? Adding specificity with a qualifier -- the [Something] Order, the [Something] Rift  -- is a way to make the world feel a little more lived-in.)

The second section of POV, with the man named Auren, does better at both establishing character and providing context for the world. Not amazingly better in terms of context, but some. It is important to remember that readers know nothing about your setting and your characters, and that you need to provide information to them clearly, on an as-needed basis.

I feel like I say this a lot. It's one of the hardest things to get right. And because there are so many different ways to accomplish it  --  tools, techniques, ways of incluing information, or of making exposition engaging  --  the best advice I have to give is: read the opening chapters of your favorite novels. Look at how they build the world of the narrative. Break down how they introduce information about the world. Do it in a programmatic fashion. Then take those tools back to your own work and look at it again.

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

--Liz Bourke
"Sleeps With Monsters" columnist at
Book reviewer for, Strange Horizons, and Ideomancer  

Editor's Choice, Science Fiction

Tenebria, Chapter 3 by Laura Capasso

The clarity and efficiency of the paragraph-level writing in this chapter grabbed my attention from the opening scene:

Lucian followed Skiz and the bobbing flashlight beam through the tunnel. A musty breeze carried a cloying odor that Lucian couldn't identify. He was accustomed to most of Tenebria's scents, or so he had thought.

"The passage only runs for about a half mile before it opens," Skiz said. "We should be between shift changes, so that's good. Still need to be on our toes; those Eldertree guards have a rep for being pretty sharp… and merciless."

Exhaustion weighed on Lucian and he frequently collided with the unforgiving stonewalls. He concentrated on his steps but as the passage sloped, he stumbled, twisting his ankle. He dropped with a hiss of pain.

Argyle knelt at Lucian's side. "Are you hurt?"

Lucian pounded his fist on the ground. "No, I'm fine."

Every paragraph does one thing clearly that moves the story forward. The first paragraph establishes where are characters are, and makes it vivid be evoking the sense of smell. The second paragraph establishes the goal and a possible danger up ahead. The third paragraph adds a complication when Lucian gets injured. The fourth paragraph shows a character reacting to the complication. The fifth paragraph shows a gap between Lucian's action and the lie of his words. And so on.

I'm convinced that one of the main skills involved in writing successful commercial fiction is good paragraphing. A good paragraph works to one effect, whether it's a sentence long or runs on for a full page. Let me be clear about that: good paragraphs don't have to be short. But the writer always needs to know what the paragraph is doing.

Good pacing happens when one paragraph flows inevitably into the next one and pulls the reader forward. I thought this chapter had good pacing in general. There are three main action sequences -- the tunnel, the fall into the stream, and the chase at the end -- and they're all very effective.

The one spot that didn't work for me was when Argyle dumps the backstory. I'm going to quote another long passage, because I think demonstrates something important:

"My reassignment happened right after your father and mother met." Argyle sighed. "Sirana was exquisite, easily the most beautiful woman in all of Tenebria. Her hair was golden ginger, like yours. She had stunning pale blue eyes and was a profoundly good person. I cannot think of anyone who didn't adore her. Even Menahem. When he met her, he knew she would be his queen and he immediately laid the grounds to court her. He threw the biggest ball that Tenebria ever had -- before or since -- figuring she'd be impressed with his power to command the wealthy and elite. She took one look at your father and Menahem didn't stand a chance. Ladies always favored Uriah but there was no other for him after he met Sirana.

"When Menahem found out, he flew into a rage and demanded Uriah stop seeing her. Uriah refused. I don't believe Menahem ever forgave him and resented Uriah until the day he died. His heart burned with hatred for Sirana. Jealousy can manifest itself in the most ruthless ways. Menahem assigned me to your parents' protective detail. I knew what the position required -- my obedience and constant reports to Menahem. On my first day of duty, I met with Uriah and shared with him what the Emperor required of me. Uriah and I decided that we would carefully craft what I shared.

"It was shortly after I came on board that your mother became pregnant with you. I had witnessed unguarded moments between her and Uriah and knew she was Adurian. Her appearances had to be carefully orchestrated because expectant Adurian women glow. Even those who can control their radiance have problems during pregnancy. I guess it's the added stress on the body that contributes to uncontrolled radiance. She tried to conceal it, chalk it up to the pregnancy glow that all women experience, by the last trimester we feigned the excuse of bed rest for all her canceled appearances. At the time we thought we hid it. But in hindsight, I don't know how successful we were.

"After your parents' death, Menahem assigned me to become your butler and protector." Argyle sighed. "I've watched you grow up and have tried to shield you from certain elements in Tenbria. In particular, I've watched for symptoms to see if you're Adurian like your mother. Most Aduria become symptomatic around seventeen. I'd never had cause for concern. I wish I could go back and see if I missed someth--;"

The paragraphing here is fine, in the sense that the long expository monologue is broken up and each paragraph tells us about one thing: falling in love, Menahem's rage, the pregnancy, etc. At the same time, this section didn't work for me and it has nothing to do with the paragraph length. The pacing bogs down here because the paragraphs don't actually flow. And they don't flow because we lose Lucian.

This book is Lucian's story. Here he's learning, for the first time, important facts about his parents' death and his own history. But where is he on the page? He's completely disappeared.

That makes no sense to me. Lucian would be paying close attention to every word that Argyle says. He would be having emotional reactions. After each paragraph of narrative, we should get some reaction from Lucian: a thought, a word, an action. Let them build up in a way that tells a mini-story about Lucian's feelings. I think the rhythm of Arygle and Lucian here, back and forth, would actually speed the story up and make it move faster, even though it would be adding words.

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

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

Editor's Choice, Short Story

"St. George" by Brendan McCrain

"St. George" caught my eye this month because of its precise writing, dreamlike narrative, and a story and characters that quietly and powerfully spill off the page.  It's a great combination for a story that lives mostly in the subtext, and this month that's exactly what I'd like to talk about: subtext, where it's best unearthed and put directly on the page, and where it's a better idea to leave it underground.

One of the highlights of "St. George" for me is definitely the prose.  There's a great cadence to each line. it's evocative, but not baroque; even and factual and driving in its poetry.  Phrases like "The match snickers," or "with my cigarette lipped," paint an entire multisensory picture in precise, economical strokes.  The ship itself is breathtakingly beautiful.  When writers and editors talk about the difference between using five so-so details or one great one, this is what we mean: compact and evocative language.

It also paces well: speeding up and chopping when the protagonist is frightened, and then slowing to "I am afire. Inhale. Calm" -- creating a visceral sense of the narrator's mood.

There's also a surface tension to the prose here that makes its odd logic and gaps in explanation work.  The focus on small things -- the ember of a cigarette, the droning of tires, the speed on the dash -- gives a clarity and precision to every line that makes the surreal battle against the aircraft work.  It's the hyper-detailed awareness of dreams, where the strong implication is that the small things are so sharp and real because they mean something bigger.

"St. George" is also smart about structure.  Chapter structure is a very specific tool for a short story, as is unmarked and implied dialogue, but for this piece they both work: the tight, ephemeral feel of the prose is enhanced by showing the story as a series of beats separated from another, while the unmarked dialogue balances that effect by blurring the activity in the scenes together.  And most importantly for a surreal, dreamlike piece, it doesn't overstay its welcome: It gets in, does its job in the minimum wordcount necessary, and gets out of there.

Which brings us to the question of plot -- and the subtext.

The core of this story is hidden in the subtext.  Specifically, in: "There's no such thing as God. I know because of what I've seen in the faces of the men who stop beside the highway hours after the sun has given up and because of what I saw in El Paso that day when the winter was deep and intractable and the only living things were me and her and later only me."

There's a structural nub of significance in that paragraph -- one that's never explored further -- and it's at that point that the story unmoors for me, going into the symbolic exclusively and not connecting anymore with the concrete.  That's the moment of truth -- what he's done, what he's running from -- but we pass it, and it never connects to the rest of Axel's journey.

The author's notes indicate the author isn't quite sure what "St. George" is about anymore.  I'd suggest there are two choices that stem from this moment: Either Axel's history and motivations are the core that the end of the story is built upon, or they're the lurking subtext, left just under the surface.  And the question behind that question is which story the author is telling, and which the author wants to write.

I would suggest there are clues to what that story might be in the way each chapter is strung together thematically; in the idea of cohesion, the duct tape and string and his will to exist binding him together like the story is bound in chapter fragments; in beginning with things coming undone and ending with the quest to bind them back together.

I think there's also a clue in David's name (and the Goliath implication), in his Icelandic heritage implying the sagas, in his mission ("what could compel a man to give up so much of his own blood?"), the visceral moment of "I am afraid because I am alive," David's "I had to try," and David's question to the protagonist as to whether he's running to or from "the shit." There's a strand of this story that may well be about the difference between running from something and to something: flight versus purpose, and the change from one to the other.

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

--Leah Bobet
Author of ABOVE

Editor's Choice, Horror

Friends of the Deceased, Chapter 1 by C. Ryan Bowling

Books for young adults have changed a lot over the last twenty years.  Subject matter that used to be considered unacceptable is now commonly embraced.  But one requirement hasn't changed: novels for young adults must deal with issues that are important to young adults.  Such issues include friendships, dealing with the opposite sex, and finding one's place. 

This opening excerpt of Friends of the Deceased puts friendship front and center, showing us Seph's close relationship with Gunnar, establishing how their friendship began, and introducing a possible threat to the friendship:  Gunnar's new girlfriend Nyla.  The chapter opens strongly, throwing us into the middle of Seph and Gunnar's confrontation with an undead man.  The confrontation builds some nice suspense, particularly when threatening moments are dilated with description.  The scenes generally end strongly with a revelation that adds to the suspense. 

I think there are three elements of the excerpt that aren't working as well as the rest.  These prevent me from falling into the chapter and really feeling like I'm there with the characters.  The first is the style.  The sentences often draw attention to themselves, pulling me away from the characters and the situation.  Let's look at the opening sentences as an example: "Rotten brown teeth snapped in the decaying mouth. Patchy brows were drawn down above gaping, empty eye sockets in a horrible, dead glare. The crumbling flesh around the missing eyes was pocked and torn."
In the first sentence, I'm enjoying the vivid image of the "rotten brown teeth" but then am thrown out by the word snapped.  A jaw can snap; teeth can't, unless they are breaking into pieces.  I think the intended meaning is that the man snapped at Seph.  But all I'm picturing is the teeth spontaneously snapping into pieces.  I'm okay with the "decaying mouth," but this could be stronger with more vivid showing.  How does Seph deduce that it's decaying?  Are the lips swollen and blue?  Is the mouth surrounded by sores?

The second sentence starts well, giving me a very vivid image, but then "horrible, dead glare" is telling, not showing, and adds nothing to the image I've already formed.  I think the sentence would be stronger without those words. 

The first and second sentences also create a bit of a blip in their organization.  When describing a person or a place, it's often helpful to use spatial organization, which leads the reader's eye in a single, consistent direction, like a pan in a movie.  For example, one can describe a person from head to toe, or from toe to head.  But describing head, stomach, shoulders, toes, and knees has the reader's eye jumping around chaotically.  In the first two sentences, we start with our attention on the mouth, then go up to the brows, and then back down to the eyes.  It would be better to move from teeth to eyes to brows, or brows to eyes to teeth.

The third sentence seems to provide contradictory details.  The flesh around the eyes is described as "crumbling" but also "pocked and torn."  Pocked implies it is smooth enough to identify a pock mark.  Crumbling causes me to imagine skin that has lost its smoothness or continuity, so it would be impossible to tell whether the skin is pocked or torn.

This may seem picky, but a story is made of words and sentences, and every time these create imprecise or contradictory images, or distract or confuse, or tell something that would be better shown, the story is weakened.  Going through the piece and looking closely at each word and each sentence could make this much more powerful and effective.

The second area that I think can be improved is the point of view.  The excerpt is generally told in third-person limited omniscient, with two scenes from Seph's POV, one from Nyla's POV, and one from Gunnar's POV.  That's fine, but sometimes when we're in a character's POV, we jump out into a more omniscient viewpoint, which is jarring.  For example, in the opening scene from Seph's POV, we're told, "Seph's wiry arm jerked up."  Seph is not going to think of his own arm as wiry.  This is something another character might notice, or an omniscient narrator might notice, but not Seph.  He's lived with his arms all his life and knows they are wiry.  He has many more important things to focus on as he fights this undead man; his attention would not be on his own arm.

The last scene in the excerpt is told from Gunnar's POV, but the opening sentence seems to be in Nyla's POV:  "Nyla had one dainty fist raised, ready to pound on the door again, when Gunnar yanked it open."  I think this sentence is intended to be from Gunnar's POV, but it doesn't read that way.  Often, tiny things like word choices or the order of details in a sentence can throw the reader out of the POV when the author intended no such thing.  In this case, we picture the details in the order they are described, so we first see Nyla with her fist raised and then see Gunnar opening the door, so we seem to be on Nyla's side of the door.  A change in the order of the words could solve the problem:  "When Gunnar yanked the door open, Nyla had one dainty fist raised to pound on the door again."

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

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


OWW alumn Joshua Palmatier is a fantasy author with a PhD in Mathematics. His first novel was The Skewed Throne, finalist for the Compton Crook Award, "Joshua Palmatier photo"followed up by The Cracked Throne and The Vacant Throne, all published by DAW Books.  The first two books in his Well of Sorrows series are currently available from Baen Books in ebook format.  His most recent novel is Shattering The Ley, the start of a new series from DAW Books.  He has also edited numerous anthologies with co-conspirator Patricia Bray and has founded a small press called Zombies Need Brains, which publishes SF&F-themed anthologies.  Find out more about his books and short stories at and, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @bentateauthor.  Learn more about the small press at

Hope:  When a Series Fails

Many writers think that once you've been published, life's a breeze.  Unfortunately, that's not how the business works.  The reality is that "things happen" and it's a good idea for aspiring writers to know some of these realities ahead of time.  I'm here today to talk about the dreaded "series cancelled" reality and perhaps to offer some hope in case this happens to you.

My first trilogy, the Throne of Amenkor series, was published by DAW Books and while it didn't skyrocket to the bestsellers, it didn't do horribly either.  It midlisted.  Because of this, DAW was interested in my second trilogy, the Well of Sorrows series, but they wanted to try to expand my audience from the first series, so they suggested using an open pseudonym, Benjamin Tate. Once the first book came out, I could announce that Benjamin Tate and Joshua Palmatier were the same author, hopefully snagging new readers at the bookstore with the Tate name, but capturing all of the Palmatier fans at the same time.
For various reasons -- not just the pseudonym -- the series tanked, with numbers far worse than the Throne of Amenkor series.  Most people never heard the announcement that Palmatier and Tate were the same person -- I still get shocked surprise at conventions when I introduce myself (and Ben) on panels -- so the Palmatier fans never found the new books.  And the cover for the first book in trade paperback on release was . . . less than stellar.  DAW tried to recoup by changing the cover for the mass market paperback, but the damage had already been done.  By the time the second book in the series came out, bookstores such as Barnes & Noble didn't even want to put the second book on the shelf.  The series was dead in the water and at this point no one could save it.  So DAW cancelled the series.

The news was devastating, even though I knew it was coming.  I'd already written the third book in the series, and I was worried that DAW wouldn't be interested in any future series from me either.  What was I going to do with this new book I'd spent so much time writing?  And what was going to happen to my career?  Was it dead as well?

In some cases, the answer is yes, but this is where the hope comes in. My agent, Joshua Bilmes, approached DAW and asked for the rights to the entire Well of Sorrows series back.  After some negotiations, DAW returned the rights for the entire series and expressed interest in my next series (which began with Shattering The Ley).  So at least my career wasn't dead.  But what about Well of Sorrows?  My agent felt confident that he could find a publisher for the series even though the first two books had already been released by DAW. I was . . . less than confident.  But I'd already written the third book and I knew there were fans waiting for its release, so I told him to see what he could find.cover

Back in the day, if my agent had found no interest from publishers, that really would have been the death of the series and the time I spent writing that third novel would have been wasted. It would have been trunked, with the thin hope that in the future, maybe it could be resurrected.  Today, I knew that I could always self-publish the entire series myself and give those fans of the first two books some closure, if nothing else.

But thankfully, Baen Books was interested in taking a chance on them. They picked up the first two books in the series and have released them in ebook formats.  If those sell well enough, then we'll negotiate for the third book in the series and hopefully it will then see print. If not . . . well, I'll release the third book myself. The main point here is that even if a series "fails," there's still hope that the books will find a home with another publishing house if you can get the rights back.  And even if that doesn't happen, there's always self-publishing.  Nowdays a series will never die, unless the author simply doesn't want to continue it.  So while a "failed" series is emotionally traumatizing to an author (as well as the series's fans), it can certainly be survived and, in some cases, even lead to greater success.

I'm hoping for the latter for Well of Sorrows. *grin*

Publication Announcements

Beth Cato says, "Harper Voyager Impulse released my short story 'The Deepest Poison' on April 28th. This is a prequel to my steampunk fantasy novel The Clockwork Dagger, which was partially critiqued on OWW. The story is available at all online retailers. Also, my sequel novel The Clockwork Crown will come out on June 9th!"

J.J. Roth writes: "I'd like to report that I sold a short cyberpunk-ish science fiction piece, 'Heartworm,' to Nature."

Allan Dyen-Shapiro had great news to share: "A story I had workshopped on OWW, 'Salvation Seller's Last Customer,' just sold to Nebula Rift within 24 hours and came out digitally within the week. I am both astounded at their speed and totally psyched about the sale. Big thanks go out to those who critiqued the story: Daniel Connaughton, Kit Davis, Sue Cartwright, Daniel McMinn, Zed Paul, Zvi Zaks, Oliver Buckram, and Thomas Norwood. And thanks to everyone who makes up this community. You'll make a writer out of me yet."

Jess Hyslop's story "Spare a Prayer" appeared in the latest issue of The Colored Lens: Speculative Fiction.

Clint Spivey's story "Dumpster Dive" appears in the April issue of Perihelion. And Clint's story "Faster than the Speed of Sleight" was included in March's anthology Love, Time, Space, Magic: Tales of Love for the Imaginative and Fanciful as well.

Fran Wilde wanted us to know that her poem "The Ghost Tide Chantey" appeared as part of the National Poetry Month celebration at

Reviewer Honor Roll

The Reviewer Honor Roll is a great way to pay back a reviewer for a really useful review. When you nominate a reviewer, we list the reviewer's name, the submission/author reviewed, and your explanation of what made the review so useful. The nomination appears in the Honor Roll area of OWW the month after you submit it, and is listed for a month. You can nominate reviewers of your own submissions or reviewers of other submissions, if you have learned from reading the review. Think of it as a structured, public "thank you" that gives credit where credit is due and helps direct other OWWers to useful reviewers and useful review skills.

Visit the Reviewer Honor Roll page for a complete list of nominees and explanatory nominations.

April 2015 Honor Roll Nominees

Reviewer: Kim J Zimring
Submission: Fighting demons Ch4-5 by Erica Chandler
Submitted by: Erica Chandler

Reviewer: Owen Richards
Submission: Luminescence Ch 1-3 by S W Owen
Submitted by: S W Owen

On Shelves Now

Dreams of Shreds and Tatters by Amanda Downum (Solaris, May 2015)cover

When Liz Drake's best friend vanishes, nothing can stop her nightmares. Driven by the certainty he needs her help, she crosses a continent to search for him.

She finds Blake comatose in a Vancouver hospital, victim of a mysterious accident that claimed his lover's life--in her dreams he drowns. Blake's new circle of artists and mystics draws her in, but all of them are lying or keeping dangerous secrets.

Soon nightmare creatures stalk the waking city, and Liz can't fight a dream from the daylight world: to rescue Blake she must brave the darkest depths of the dreamlands. Even the attempt could kill her, or leave her mind trapped or broken.

And if she succeeds, she must face the monstrous Yellow King...

Membership Info

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

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

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

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

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


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

Ruth Nestvold, workshop alum and published short-story author, on POV (point of view) in fiction

Got a helpful tip for your fellow members? A trick or hint for submitting or reviewing, for what to put in your author's comments, for getting good reviews, or for formatting or titling your submission? Share it with us and we'll publish it in the next newsletter. Just send it to support (at) and we'll do the rest.

Until next month--just write!

The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror
support (at)