Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

July 2015 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge


Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

Reviewer Honor Roll

On Shelves Now

Membership Info





One of the first and hardest lessons for writers to learn, from shy newbie to seasoned professional, is that the world has an endless capacity, and an endless appetite, for stories. No matter what kind of story you write, someone, somewhere, will love it. Your audience might be small and fierce in their devotion, or noisy and contain legions, but if you stick with writing they will find you.

The second lesson is, as Josh Vogt says in his Spotlight piece, writing isn't a zero sum game or a competition. We really are all in this together. Read what he has to say about writers helping each other, and learning from critiques.

Award-winning horror writer Gemma Files joins the EC team for another summer, filling in for Jeanne Cavelos. Jeanne is away for six weeks teaching at the Odessey Writing Workshop. A big thank you to Gemma for sharing her insights with us again!

Until next month, keep learning and keep writing.

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

Leah Quire, challenge maven, brings us this pretty puzzle to solve: "What happens when you run toward something instead of turning away? How would a character's life be different if she or he had taken on a challenge rather than avoiding it?"

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) 


Crossed Genre opens a new submission period each month for a new theme. From July 1-30, they're looking for stories that fit the theme "Anticipation." They pay 6 cents per word for stories between 1,000 amd 6,000 words. Full details are here.  

Diabolical Plots is looking for speculative fiction stories -– science fiction, fantasy, and horror -- of no more than 2,000 words. Every story should have a speculative element, including horror pieces. Payment is 6 cents per word. Full details here.

Myriad Lands:An Anthology of Non-Western Fantasy is looking for secondary world fantasy between 1,000 and 6,000 words, where the world building and story telling is based on sources other than medieval Europe. Payment is in British pounds and comes to about 5 cents per word USD. 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 Leah Bobet, Liz Bourke, C.C. Finlay and guest horror editor Gemma Files. The last four months of Editors' Choices and their editorial reviews are archived on the workshop. Go to the "Read, Rate, Review" page and click on "Editors' Choices." 

Congratulations to the current Editors' Choice authors!

Editor's Choice, Fantasy

Chapter 1  by Steven Hicks

I would like to see a title attached to Steven Hicks' long novella/short novel, if only for greater ease of reference. (Trust me to start with a quibble.) What we've got here is the opening chapter of something that looks a lot like your standard-issue sword-and-sorcery fantasy, perhaps somewhat influenced by RPGs, either tabletop or videogame. This can be a solid foundation to start on, but Hicks' beginning here is going to need a significant amount of work before I would consider it ready for professional publication.

The positives: This chapter demonstrates writing that has a solid understanding of grammar (a mislaid apostrophe or two aside) and a good approach to sentence structure. Hicks varies sentence construction so that it's not all subject-verb-object, uses strong verbs, and deploys its adjectives and adverbs in (for the most part) useful directions. This is a foundation that can be built upon.

But it needs tearing down and its guts looked into, first. Let's look at the first paragraph  --  actually, since I spend a lot of time in these Editor's Choice reviews talking about first paragraphs, and first chapters, let's look at the second paragraph, instead:

The aroma of roasted fowl permeated the air; his nose led him to the door of the Boar's Head Inn. Peeking in, Flynn saw a young mountain bard performing. He was a real talent, based on his voice and his ability to draw a crowd. Flynn couldn't see an empty seat anywhere in the place. Usually the Boar's Head had a loud and boisterous crowd. Tonight, other than the bard's singing, there was virtually no other sound in the Inn. The owner of the Inn was behind the bar, where he could usually be found on busy nights. Horst wore a white apron that was stained by spilled drink and food. Flynn listened to the music – He was nine-years-old on Fortner's Isle, lying in the tall grass on a summer day when – someone bumped his arm and brought Flynn back. He grinned and decided to come back after he met with Atrune."

Let's break this down. "The aroma of roasted fowl permeated the air" --  that's good, nice non-visual sensory involvement. The semi-colon isn't the best choice here. It's probably best to have two separate sentences: "The aroma of roasted fowl permeated the air. His nose led him to the door of the Boar's Head Inn."

Let's look at the next two sentences:

"Peeking in, Flynn saw a young mountain bard performing. He was a real talent, based on his voice and his ability to draw a crowd."

This is ineffective. With "aroma of roast fowl" you've already demonstrated that non-visual sensory cues are coming from this location. Here, instead of continuing to build on that, these two sentences use visual cues to describe a musician's performance. What kinds of auditory cues is the musician creating? And the crowd?

Take the emphasis off Flynn for a moment. What kind of music is the bard playing? (It's an inn, apparently early in the evening: one presumes lively music for drinking and dancing -- the sad stuff usually comes later. And I can tell you from experience, no one's ever quiet for a performance in a crowded place where food and drink is sold.)

"Lively music swirled out into the street, loud enough to carry over the buzz of the crowd." (For example.)

Let's look at the rest of the paragraph:

The owner of the Inn was behind the bar, where he could usually be found on busy nights. Horst wore a white apron that was stained by spilled drink and food. Flynn listened to the music -- He was nine-years-old on Fortner's Isle, lying in the tall grass on a summer day when -- someone bumped his arm and brought Flynn back. He grinned and decided to come back after he met with Atrune.

What does this add to the scene? What information does this give the reader? How does it hook the reader along?

"The aroma of roasted fowl permeated the air. His nose led him to the door of the Boar's Head Inn. Lively music swirled out into the street, loud enough to carry over the buzz of the crowd." 

To keep the scene moving along, perhaps "Flynn ignored the rumbling in his belly and kept moving." Or something along these lines, anyway; I'm going to go back to The Elements of Style and repeat the injunction to Omit needless words. Everything that goes into a chapter needs to have a purpose: each sentence should do as much work as possible, and so should each paragraph. Anything that doesn't build towards the whole should not be there.

I don't mean, by this, that one should cut everything down to the very barest bones. Just that you need to know what work each paragraph is doing, and you need to evaluate whether or not it is communicating the right things to the reader.

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

Escape and Run, Chapter 1, by Senner D

 I found this chapter to be an easy and compelling read. Two things I loved here were the complete immersion in the character’s experience and the commitment to staying in the present moment of the story. Good use of details make the writing vivid and immediate.

 I lick the dew off the leaves to get water to my lips.
. . .

I feel a gush of thin liquid like warm sweet-water. It trickles down my legs and washes some of the caked blood and mud off my feet.

. . .

I rip grass and stuff it into the pack. I rip and rip until most of the pack is stuffed with green and wet grass. Then I put the baby inside and stuff more grass around it until it is tightly packed in the pack with its head poking barely out.

. . .

I pull out the map and it is wet in places and some bits tear off on its way out

So this chapter delivers exactly what the title promises, a character who escapes and runs -- and gives birth and breastfeeds! -- and then keeps running.

Though to be fair, the opening paragraphs skimp a bit on the first part of the promise: 

Escape and run.

That’s it and only that. Escape is done. Now run.

I run.

At some point, the story is probably going to have to move back in time and tell us what the unnamed protagonist escaped from and why and how she escaped. The story hints at some of the details.

I sit in the crushed meadow again. I take my pack off and shuffle carefully around the baby through the grass to find my map. He had given me a map. He had told me to go toward the spot he had marked. Might be people there he said.

But if, or when, the story moves back to cover the escape, it’s going to lose its forward narrative momentum.

In the author’s note, the writer tells us that this “started off as a short story and will likely end up at least novella length.” One thing to keep in mind is that a novella doesn’t give a writer as much room to work with as a novel. Once the story is moving, a pause for a flashback or extended exposition can break a story. So starting the story in the right place and integrating just enough information as the story goes can make or break the story.

We also know, but only from the workshop categories, that this is a “Near Future Science Fiction” story. There are very few clues to this in the text of this section, and I suspect that they will look like clues only in retrospect:

The com tower recedes in the background. . .

. . .

I am bred to be a warrior.

So, while I enjoyed reading this opening section, I also feel like it sets up the potential for problems later. Without reading the rest of the novella, my gut reaction is that the story would be stronger if it backed up to the moment of escape and fulfilled the full promise of the title. The story could go that far without losing its immersion in the character’s experience or its commitment to staying in the present moment of the story. A few details about the escape would also establish the science-fiction setting and premise of the story, making the story stronger in the long run.

Of course, there is no rule in storytelling except “Do What Works.” If the story uses flashbacks successfully or if it unfolds the mystery of the escape and the world in an interesting way, then that’s all that matters.  But if your story starts off strong and then works itself into a corner, remember that sometimes the best way to solve that is to start the story a little sooner.

Best wishes,

C.C. Finlay
Editor, Fantasy & Science Fiction

Editor's Choice, Short Story

"Omens for the Volva" by Shiloh Carroll

The smooth narration and tidy sentence-level work of "Omens for the Volva" is what caught my eye this month, as well as its multisensory detail and solid imagery.  However, its format unfortunately is its greatest weakness.  So this month I'd like to talk about folktales and mythological fiction, some of the common traps those stories face, and how to overcome them.

"Omens for the Volva" is a fairly solid folktale-style story with a good sense of paragraph-to-paragraph pace and a solid sense of a world that exists off the page.  It's also great to see a story with an older protagonist who isn't the stereotypical outcast witch-woman, but a central part of her community who rethinks the practicality of her house in the woods. 

However, it makes a tradeoff that costs perhaps a little too much: By letting the reader in on Odin's identity -- but taking that knowledge away from Svanlaug until the end of the piece -- "Omens for the Volva" deftly avoids becoming either too obvious, or a story with a punchline (and then it was Odin!), but pays the price in narrative tension.

The conflict with Loki is over quickly enough that it's somewhat peripheral and unthreatening, and the importance of the alliance is there and gone so quickly that it's hard to argue that's the central driving conflict of the story.  What's more, the final line of the story -- which tells us what was supposed to be important here, what grew or changed or mattered -- is that revelation that Blindr was actually Odin, and it's not a revelation at all.

With the answer effectively handed us in the first third of the piece -- and then set up as the core of the story -- it's hard to feel there are narrative stakes to "Omens for the Volva." Svanlaug heads out, and then an obstacle happens, and then a god takes care of it; and then an obstacle happens, and a god takes care of it again.  There's very little she faces that's legitimately challenging or that isn't taken care of by the narrative; very little struggle or impetus for growth.  There's definitely a market for this kind of story, and readers who are comfortable with it, but with the lack of stakes or bigger picture, it's a hard kind of story to make satisfying.

What I'd suggest as a first step to the solution is to consider what "Omens for the Volva" is about on a thematic level: What does this story have to say for itself, and why does the telling of it matter?

It may or may not be helpful to hear, but this question of thematic significance is a fairly common one in terms of folktale or mythological fiction.  Folktales and myths are cultural stories: They have a function when they're told inside that culture of either perpetuating a cultural identity, linking people to their history, or (in the Brothers Grimm sense) educating people about important facts of life, ie "Don't go into those woods or you will get your face eaten off by that wolf."  Or, more seriously: "Marriage is hard sometimes and here are some signs it's time to leave," or "It is very, very easy for power and violence to get out of hand even when you're the underdog."

Since as writers, we come to a lot of those stories without their social and era-specific contexts, there's a common tendency to read -- and then reproduce, in our own work -- just the top layer, the plot layer, of the story.  As with anything else, when we write just the top layer, we're not telling a story -- we're giving someone an anecdote: Stories happen when we both relate the incidents that happened and connect for readers why they were important, why they matter.

And this is why it's extra important to consider the thematic layer in the folktale or mythological format: Those are stories that come, ready-built we think, with the reason they matter.  They should intrinsically matter, right?  But if you're not living in that culture, that time, or that society…no, they don't, and you have to make them matter for the readers who pick them up.

So what I'd suggest -- and a good rule of thumb for writing folktale-style fiction -- is that it's important to think about why the folktale format speaks to you as a writer, why you're getting something out of it, in order to communicate that feeling to others.  Consider where the resonance in a folktale lives for you, and where your own invented folktales live in the general ecology of the world as well as the conversation that is SFF short fiction.

If you have a good reason for that story to be there -- if it says something true, important, novel, brave, or difficult -- then you'll already be over the biggest hurdle, and on your way.  If not, it's back to the drawing board.

Best of luck!

--Leah Bobet
Author of Above (2012) and An Inheritance of Ashes (October 2015)

Editor's Choice, Horror

 “Confetti,” by Meredith Lopez

“Confetti”'s premise is one many readers can no doubt identify with -- the classic idea (see Stephen King's It, etc.) that even though clowns are socially coded as child-friendly fun, they can actually be scary as hell when given just the right contextual twist, even for non-coulrophobics. 

Our main character, Alicia, has a genuine terror of clowns, but when her children -- who don't know about her fear -- beg her to come to the circus with them, her husband -- who does -- backs them up. Outvoted, she becomes trapped in a waking nightmare, perceiving the circus's clown acts as increasingly violent, sexual and threatening, while everyone around her literally sees nothing but merriment, “confetti and ribbons.” Her husband mocks her fears until her anxiety rises to such a pitch that she finally blacks out and has to be treated by paramedics. The next year, she stays at home, only to discover that the clowns' influence has rubbed off on her children, leading to a final twist.

I'll begin by pointing out that although slightly predictable, the story has a strong backbone, and the imagery employed throughout is undeniably inventive and definitely disturbing, with some of the middle sequences achieving a sort of surreal grandeur. Unfortunately, however, the end product is far longer than it needs to be, becoming repetitive as well as internally inconsistent, and undercutting the reader's ability to fully engage with the narrative.

One of the central problems lies with Alicia herself. She's our viewpoint character, but remains strictly passive from beginning to end, rarely making any decisions which affect the plot directly, beyond her initial choice to go to the circus at all. She talks about not wanting to impose her fears on her children, so perhaps she thinks she's setting a good example for them, but in hindsight, it looks like she's being not-so-subtly bullied into it by her husband, who becomes less and less sympathetic to her fears the longer they remain at the show.

This, in turn, has the effect of making her look sort of bad for being involved with him in the first place, especially as the disparity between what she's seeing and what he claims to see gets wider and wider. (At least he's nice to her after she faints, though he never apologizes for his minimizing behaviour or admits her phobia had anything to do with what happened; is “no more skipping breakfast” meant to be an explanation for the kids? If so, maybe mention it, and have him say he's proud of her for at least trying to face her fears later on.)

One quick fix might be to make going to the circus Alicia's idea, in the first place. Perhaps this clown phobia, which began in her childhood, has become more and more crippling, so she makes herself go as a sort of exposure therapy. Her experience could then become more and more difficult to deal with, a Kafka-esque social anxiety scenario in which she can't admit to how freaked out she's getting, for fear of freaking out her kids in return. Her husband might notice her mood and be supportive rather than undercutting, which would make things all the more horrifying once she's stuck under the big top watching clowns set themselves on fire, have a Cronenbergian orgy and vomit crows onto a crowd of laughing, cheering children.

This brings us to a secondary problem: the clowns' behaviour is so very extreme and grotesque right from the beginning that Alicia's reactions seem simply logical, while her husband's derision appears so perverse by comparison that it briefly led me to wonder if he would turn out to be an evil clown himself. As I've said, the performance sequences are genuinely unsettling, but there are too many of them and they're all at pretty much the same hysterical pitch, which means there's very little suspense.

If they started out slowly and built gradually instead, however, teasing the reader by occasionally showing Alicia's perceptions to be unreliable -- oh wow, how could I have thought that clown was throwing his own severed fingers into the crowd? That's candy! What's wrong with me? -- then it'd create a sense of creeping dread that would make notes like the wonderful moment when Alicia's son says “Mommy, open your eyes, you're missing the whole thing!” really pop. The contrast between the crowd's/her family's innocent enjoyment and her growing horror would be two-fold, because she'd not only be disgusted and shocked, but also questioning her own sanity.

Similarly, I wouldn't start out with having clowns address Alicia by name in the crowd outside the circus's main staging area, but save that for a key transitional moment -- the one where that supremely dsiquieting red-eyed clown pops up in front of her, for example, to announce the final act while blocking her only escape route. Have her trying her level best to have fun and succeeding (buying her kids sparkly toys, eating carnival food, etc.), then watch her and her family settling into their seats, enjoying the first few non-clown acts, before dropping the hammer: Then the clowns came out.

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

--Gemma Files
Author of the Weird Western Hexslinger series



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

We're All On This Adventure Together
(Aka “Growing as a Writer by Helping Others Along The Path”)

Writing is not a zero-sum game. I truly believe that. There is nothing stopping any one reader from reading any and all books they want. Yours. Mine. Any of the books by authors I know in my local community, and am coming to know at conventions across the country. We're growing and learning and having a writing adventure together without any need to compete or feel like we can't be there to cheer one another on -- no matter where we are in the process.

And one of the ways we do that is by pointing out how are stories are broken...and how they might be fixed and made stronger than ever. From that perspective, there are two big reasons why I've found my time with OWW to be so invaluable.

The first, despite what you might think, is that one of the best parts was critiquing others' works rather than having my own critiqued. Don't get me wrong. I got amazing feedback. I got stories ripped to shreds with brilliant insights into how they could be resurrected. That's a big part of why I was able to have two books debut this year. Enter the Janitor, my humorous urban fantasy about a supernatural sanitation company, had a number of chapters scoured by OWW eyeballs.

But when I spent many an hour critiquing other people's chapters or short fiction, I learned so much. I learned how to spot flaws in stories. To pick out stilted dialogue. To determine if a chapter was paced well. To discover what made a character weak or strong. Even how attempts at humor could bust a gut or totally flop.

All by reading and critiquing stories other folks submitted. And learning it by spotting it elsewhere helped me begin to spot the same issues more clearly in my own drafts over the years. I could tell something was off even if I couldn't immediately put my finger on it. I started getting better instincts that a particular scene was accomplishing what I wanted it to, even before the feedback rolled in. That's been gratifying, for sure.

Oh, there will always be more critiques to absorb. There will always be edits and revisions to deal with. There will always be room to grow -- which is something I believe every writer should constantly be striving to do. Yet I'm never going to continue to learn and become a better writer without being connected to other writers (and editors!) who are able to give me honest feedback.

The second main thing I've gotten from my time in OWW is the ability to filter feedback better. One common issue I hear from other writers is that the critiques they've received are all so different, so subjective, they don't know what to with the info.

This played out big-time for me when it came time to write my other novel, Pathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes. It's a tie-in novel to the Pathfinder roleplaying game, and I had an incredible amount of fun writing it. But once the draft was complete, I knew I still needed lots of help to bring it up to its full potential. I managed to gather a great group of beta readers, and received near a dozen novel critiques. The only problem?

Many of my beta readers were greatly varied in their feedback. Some loved it and had quite minor quibbles. Others made it bleed red from beginning to end. So how did I decide which feedback to absorb and which to set aside? Not to say it wasn't all valuable. Each comment or edit made me stop and think it through to determine if it truly needed to be addressed or not—which I learned to do on OWW. 

Because when you submit on OWW (or many writing groups out there), you're going to get critiquers from all sorts of backgrounds, all sorts of genre preferences, and any other demographic spectrum. That's going to impact how they review your work, and you've got to learn to choose what feedback to incorporate and what just isn't aligned with what you're trying to accomplish.

That's a skill that only comes through time and practice. You learn to figure out whether a reader just “didn't get it,” isn't your real audience, or whether something is actually broken in the story that needs reworking.

In the end, knowing those other people took their valuable time to offer their honest opinion encouraged me to do the same in return, which taught me more and hopefully provided them the opportunity to do so as well. It's a great get the point.

So as we continue on this writing adventure, remember that we're in it together. None of us forge quite the same path in the same way. We all have different missteps, stumbles, and struggles along the way. Yet we can also come alongside one another and provide that critical support and motivation to keep going, stronger than before.

And you never know what you might learn in doing so.

--Josh Vogt

Publication Announcements

Gregor Hartmann wanted us to know "My story 'A Gathering on Gravity's Shore,' which was critiqued at OWW earlier this year, sold to F&SF. Editor Charles Finlay says it will appear next year. My thanks to everyone who weighed in on it."

Roger Lovelace has a new story coming out: "Creeping Up On Titan" will appear in the July 2015 issue of Chrome Baby.

Nicole Minsk wrote to tell us that her book I Know How You Feel: The Sensate, which won an EC while being workshopped at OWW, has been published and is available as a Kindle book on Amazon.

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.

June 2015 Honor Roll Nominees

Reviewer: Jose Cruz
Submission: I Don't Care About Clifton Clowers by B. Morris Allen
Submitted by: B. Morris Allen

Reviewer: Alex West
Submission: RIFT on JANUS (Part 2 of 3) by Rita de Heer
Submitted by: Rita de Heer

Reviewer: David Zweig
Submission: Crossfire by Andrew Hodges
Submitted by: Andrew Hodges

Reviewer: Ryan Smith
Submission: INGENUE  - Chapter 1 (part 1) by J Rachel Kelly
Submitted by: J Rachel Kelly

On Shelves Now

coverIn Midnight's Silence: Los Nefilim: Part One by T. Frohock
(Harper Voyager Impulse, June 2015)

Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can't get to him directly, they do the one thing he's always feared. They go after Miquel.

Now, in order to save his lover's life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world's next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed. A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock's In Midnight's Silence shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he'll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.


coverThe Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato (Harper Voyager, June 2015)

Narrowly surviving assassination and capture, Octavia Leander, a powerful magical healer, is on the run with handsome Alonzo Garrett, the Clockwork Dagger who forfeited his career with the Queen's secret society of spies and killers—and possibly his life—to save her. Now, they are on a dangerous quest to find safety and answers: Why is Octavia so powerful? Why does she seem to be undergoing a transformation unlike any witnessed for hundreds of years?

The truth may rest with the source of her mysterious healing power—the Lady's Tree. But the tree lies somewhere in a rough, inhospitable territory known as the Waste. Eons ago, this land was made barren and uninhabitable by an evil spell, until a few hardy souls dared to return over the last century. For years, the Waste has waged a bloody battle against the royal court to win its independence—and they need Octavia's powers to succeed.

Joined by unlikely allies, including a menagerie of gremlin companions, she must evade killers and Clockwork Daggers on a dangerous journey through a world on the brink of deadly civil war.

coverThe Hidden Prince (Orphan Queen, Book 1) by Jodi Meadows (Epic Reads Impulse, June 2015)

The city of Skyvale is in trouble. Magic use is rampant. Crime is spreading.

Told from the perspective of Tobiah, the crown prince with a dangerous secret, and set two years before the heart-racing action of The Orphan Queen, this novella brings to life one of Jodi Meadows's most beloved characters.

Tobiah Pierce knows he is a spoiled, sheltered prince, and he's tired of it. His only chance for freedom is if his cousin, James Rayner, passes the trials to be one of his bodyguards. But when Tobiah takes a rare opportunity to escape a courtly celebration and he witnesses a horrible—and magical—crime, he must make a momentous decision: return to the ignorance and comfort of the palace, or risk everything to discover the truth?


coverPathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes by Josh Vogt (Paizo Publishing LLC, June 2015)

A decade ago, the dwarf warrior Akina left her home in the Five Kings Mountains to fight in the Goblinblood Wars. Now, at long last, she's returning home, accompanied by Ondorum, a silent companion of living stone. But once you've traveled the world, can pastoral pastimes and small-town suitors ever be truly satisfying?

Adding to Akina's growing discomfort is the fact that her father has disappeared into the endless caverns beneath the city. In an effort to save him, Akina and Ondorum must venture below the surface themselves -- and into a danger greater than they could ever have imagined!

From bold, new voice Josh Vogt comes a fantastic adventure of subterranean battle and the bonds of friendship, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.


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

Del Rey author Katie Waitman on on handling criticism and rejection (like in a workshop!)

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!

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