Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

January 2016 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge


Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

Reviewer Honor Roll

On Shelves Now

Membership Info





Starting in 2016, OWW will be sharing news via the OWW blog rather than a monthly newsletter. This allows us to share breaking news without delaying until the first of the next month.

Read our blog here:

Old issues of the newsletter will remain available in the archives.


A new year means a fresh writing start for many of us. We set new writing goals, make new plans, and vow to keep working toward milestones we haven't quite reached.

The newsletter is undergoing a transformation this year as well--we are replacing it with a blog, which will be updated throughout the month as news and reviews come in.  We'll be providing the same content on a more timely basis, with opportunity for your comments and discussion. After fifteen years of the newsletter, we figured it was time for a change!

For those working toward publication with one of the Big Five, finding an agent is a major milestone with a capital M. Ask any published author what his or her agent story is, or how they felt about getting "the big call," and they are eager to tell you.

All of us have a different story and a unique path for getting to that moment, which is part of the fun. In this month's Spotlight, OWW member and author Tony Peak tells us his very own agent story.

Until next month, keep writing, and keep moving toward the next milestone.

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

Jaime Lee Moyer, newsletter editor
news (at)

Monthly Writing Challenge

Something a little different this month, a first line challenge from your intrepid editor. Write a story, either fantasy or science fiction, that starts with the following line: New bone cured slowly in starlight, but strong and straight was more important than finishing quickly.

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) 


The Odyssey Writing Workshop, widely considered one of the top residence programs in the world for fantasy, science fiction, and horror writers has set the dates for their 2016 summer workshop. This year's session will be held from June 6th to July 15th at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. More information can be found on the Odyssey website.

recompose is looking for flash fiction up to 1,000 words, and poems up to 50 lines, that walk the line between one of the speculative genres and the literary genre. Payment is 6 cents per word for prose, and 25 cents per line for poetry. Full details here.

ChappyFiction LLC is now accepting submissions to its new science fiction/fantasy anthology on time travel (title pending). They will take stories of up to 7,000 words, but all stories must have a time travel element. 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

Tales of Rona, Chapter 1 by Alissa Bumgardner

This is a promising first chapter, although it will take significant work to bring it up to solid publishable standard. The good news: the prose is competent, the sentences well-constructed, and the line of direction is mostly straightforward. This is a good foundation to work from.

Before I begin to make any substantial criticism, let's lay out what takes place in this chapter. We can divide it into roughly three parts.

Part one: opening. The viewpoint character, Mara, and some other (apparently young) people are racing in a wood. The mood is playful, even though Mara loses to her friend(-rival? romantic interest?) Talin. There is no hint of potential danger. A number of characters are introduced by name, but the reader gets little sense of personality from their interactions.

Part two: threat. Mara and Talin have another solo race to a mill on a road. Here they encounter soldiers from a group called the "Nasaru." The soldiers take them for rebels (which they are) and attack. Mara and Talin escape, but Talin is wounded. Mara uses Magic (capitalised throughout) to speed both of their escapes, and they return to a city in the middle of the wood that is apparently home to the rebellion. Brief exposition is given on Mara's relationship to the leader of the rebellion (said leader is Mara's mother).

Part three: collapse/recovery. Mara collapses from the expenditure of Magic. She wakes up days later in the presence of her sister. She then gets up, finds Talin, has a conversation with him about his social status and obligations (he'd be Mara's near-social-peer without a treasonous relative, but some mystical connection to the Land still acknowledges his status while people do not: this part is not particularly clear), kisses him, and has a minor confrontation with her mother over her actions and her untrained Magic.

There are three things in particular that need work in this chapter: tension, emotional intensity, and getting well-rounded characterisation onto the page. These things are naturally interrelated, and part of why they're not here up front has, I think, quite a bit to do with how this chapter is structured.

(An aside: the author would do well to consider logistics as well. A not-insignificant collection of people - a town/city - in the middle of a forest? A city whose inhabitants are at war? How are they supplied with food? Premodern towns, even villages, rely on their agricultural hinterland, due to the problems of transporting perishable goods over any distance, and agriculture is labour-intensive at certain points of the year. How is the city defended? Walls? Magic? If a nearby road is commonly used by the enemy in small groups, the city is not exercising control over the surrounding countryside  --  and its inhabitants should be able to deny the area to an enemy that is not present in force: this is one reason that invading armies commonly laid siege to towns rather than bypass them and leave them in their rear, because that leaves the army's supply line vulnerable. I digress, but logistical considerations can provide interesting sources of narrative conflict and tension)

(I may have something of a Pet Cause in logistics.)

The chapter opens in the middle of a race. We have very low stakes here, and very little time to get to know the characters  --  and we don't know why they're racing except for the hell of it. This segues into another race that lands the characters right in the middle of an encounter with an armed enemy.

One suggestion for establishing the stakes is to begin prior to the race. Allow a little time to establish the characters' individual personalities. Establish the political situation also, and the potential for an encounter with an armed enemy. It might go far towards establishing character to let the young people be a little reckless and ignore any potential risk in favour of having their competition? Why are they racing in the woods in the first place? Training? A bet? Escaping from other responsibilities? Set the scene a little more, give the reader some more context for these people, and it will be a little easier to fall into sympathy with them.

And it would help to spread out some of the information that the reader receives as exposition in the part of the chapter I'm referring to as Part Three, and intersperse it with more character action.

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

Immor(t)al -- Conclusion by Gene Spears

This is the final chapter and epilogue of an all-but-final draft of a finished novel. I selected it because, even though I haven’t read the previous novel, I can tell that this does the essential things that a final chapter should do.

Tying up loose plot threads? Check.

"As you may expect, I’m getting a lot of phone calls from outraged lawyers, ornery judges and meddlesome Patent Office officials.  I’ve had six calls from Malcolm Bridge, two from the Senior Senator from Utah and dozens more from nosy reporters digging for scoop on Jonah.  Those calls are the only ones I take."

Finishing the emotional arc of the story? Check.

"The call I was dreading comes on Tuesday.

The phone’s set to buzz because Jo-jo’s napping and sound really carries in Erica’s condo.  It sort of just happened, my moving in for good.  As much as I miss my home office, this view of the District more than compensates.  Erica’s so dug in I’d never ask her to move back to Falls Church.  I should probably put the house on the market, though that’s another conversation I’ve been putting off.

“Hello,” I say into my phone.

“Monsieur Hoffman?”

“Oui,” I reply instinctively.  I follow this up with an immediate “yes.”  French and I aren’t the best of friends, and I don’t want to insult this man.

“Your brother, Jonah.  I’m so very sorry, but he is . . .”

“Dead,” I whisper, echoing the polite and earnest Parisian constable who – on account of his English language skills and impeccable bedside manner – has been assigned the task of telling English speakers about family found dead in his city."

A happy  --  or at least a hopeful  --  ending? Check.

"I pull out the key that came with Jonah’s letter.

It fits in the lock, just as it should.  The number on the key – 231, it’s right beneath the Union Bank logo – matches the number on the box.  I give it a twist.  Something clicks then rattles.  I grasp an ivory handle.

I can’t breathe at all.

I tug, and with a grating little rasp, the door swings open to Box 231.  There’s a liter bottle inside.  Clear plastic.  Firm.  Polycarbonate?  The bottle’s maybe four fifths full, full of a liquid that’s not water.  It’s too viscous, and there’s a sickly jaundiced tint to it.  There’s no label on this bottle, no instructions, no list of ingredients.

There’s a sticky note slapped to the bottom.

Two words on that note.

Two words in Jonah’s hand.

For Jo-jo."
Every paragraph in this final chapter is so well done. The story hits all of the important beats --  from the aftermath, to the phone call from Paris, to breakfast with Jo-jo, to the newspaper reports, to the letter and the key, to the travel, to the bank and the safety deposit box, to the final reveal. The threads weave in and out. The pacing is excellent.

But the full power of this chapter comes in the way it consistently creates space for the reader’s emotions. If we’d read this far in the book, we care about Jonah and Jo-jo, and we want something good to balance out the loss. The chapter leads us right up to that final image and stops, creating a space for the reader to imagine the future and feel relieved for Jo-jo and happy about what Jonah has left behind.

But the Epilogue…

Oh, the Epilogue.

Having created a space for the reader to imagine the future, the epilogue wants to go a step further and fill in all the details. To be fair, I like the way it begins:

"When a Roman youth cut his first beard, the family would go whole hog to celebrate.  They’d put on their finest togas, gather their friends and (if they had them) servants and retainers and trundle over to the Temple of Capitoline Jove, where the boy’s cuttings would be offered to the god in a box crafted for that purpose.  Then they’d all get shit-faced on lead-infused wine and if the lad was lucky and his dad indulgent the city’s prostitutes would gain a new customer.

When Jo-jo cut his first beard, the Hoffman family did much the same thing."

But the casual mention of a hooker in the next sentence felt jarring in tone to the previous chapter and pulled me out of the so-far positive ending. From this point on, the epilogue feels like it’s trying to undo the work of the final chapter.

"My brother was wrong.

About so many things, not the least of which is that MS can be treated with gamma-ISQ7 while allowing the patient to age.  It’s not rocket science.  When Jo-jo shows symptoms, he takes his medicine."
The information about the gamma-ISQ7 is important to explaining what’s happening with Jo-jo’s life. But whatever feelings or thoughts the reader had about Jonah after the last chapter, the narrator now wants to tell the reader how to feel. “Jonah was wrong.”

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

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

Editor's Choice, Short Story

"Ice Giant" by Peter Chen

"Ice Giant" caught my attention this month for its spare, taut pace, surprising but effective ending, and the way its narrative voice and use of detail make it feel like a non-standard, innovative setting for a space opera.  This month, I'd like to look at how that use of information summons up one of the most ephemeral -- and most important -- tools in our toolbox: authorial confidence.

There's a lot in "Ice Giant" that really works: Especially how well information -- technical or otherwise -- is folded into the narrative in a way that keeps the plot moving forward.  We learn about the jet, Uranus's atmosphere, iridiscium, Corporate, Colony, and a whole world without the story breaking stride; each piece of information is introduced when it's important to the plot and in a way that feels organic.

While worldbuilding elements like a planetary corporation, mining colonies, and harsh atmospheres are all pretty standard for space opera, it's how "Ice Giant" deploys -- and juxtaposes -- them that makes that seamless, fresh, organic feel arise out of those tropes.  For one, floating cities, dirigible, and surveying jets don't normally go together when we think about the tech level of a potential story, but the nonchalance with which Jake and Adam treat them makes those pieces fit.  Jake's more concerned about the financial impact of the Assurance's claim than explaining why a dirigible belongs on Uranus or doesn't, or expositing the backstory of how dirigibles got there -- and that makes the dirigible just a part of the landscape, something to be believed in and worked with.

Secondly, note the stronger effect of having a dirigible introduced with a worry about claims, or how de-icing spray works recited in a singsong tone by a boy who's mostly interested in showing his father how ready he is to go out and fly. Each new piece of information is tied to a narrative or emotional concern on Jake or Adam's part.  The readers will get the information, but the core of each sentence isn't delivering information -- it's setting up a conflict, showing a character's emotional state, or showing readers what's at stake if Jake and Adam don't succeed.  That creates a layering effect in "Ice Giant" where each sentence is doing much more than one or two jobs -- and that lets it be a spare, tense, clean story while still bringing the impact of three sentences' worth to readers in one sentence's space.

What "Ice Giant" is making work here, and working with well, is the nebulous -- and crucial -- element of authorial confidence: Building a world below the surface and winding it through other craft elements so that the effect is Of course this is how this world works, because I'm the author and I believe in it.  Science fiction and fantasy are always going to need us to do a little bit of explicit worldbuilding, just because the field of what's possible is so large, but the effect of using our worldbuilding facts to do things, rather than setting, overexplaining or justifying them, can be incredible.

Like with any piece, there are a few places where "Ice Giant" can improve.  It was initially difficult for me to get a solid grasp on what Adam, Jake, and Elaine's relationships were to each other, even though Adam refers to Jake as his father in the first paragraph.  It's important to note that character relationships are something we demonstrate in small gestures as well as defining with labels, and even if Jake is tagged as Adam's father, the way Adam refers to him, and the way both spend the rest of the story interacting in ways that don't seem to reflect a parental relationship or a significant age gap means that as a reader, I don't believe in that relationship.  To me, Jake and Adam read more like brothers or colleagues that parent and child, and it might be worth adjusting both of their behavior so that the emotions and habits of parenthood are visible there -- or changing the relationship label so it reflects what's on the page.

Elaine, as well, as is notably flatter as a character than Jake or Adam.  While it'll be finer work to get her personality on the page, as she's only physically in one scene, in a story with three functional characters that weakness will be noticeable.  It's worth spending some time on the scene she's in -- and on the references to her from Jake and Adam -- to find the right details or memories that'll make her feel fully realized and three-dimensional, even while being in the story just glancingly.

Point of view was also a small issue for me.  The question of whose point of view "Ice Giant" is told in slid a few times throughout reading: Is the reader riding in Adam's head, or in Jake's?  This is a very different story depending on whether it's Adam's story or Jake's.  As it stands, there are jumps between them that might not be strictly necessary, and are at this point distracting and a little confusing.  I'd suggest smoothing out the point of view, using a change only when plot-relevant, and making sure that Jake and Adam's thoughts feel and sound differently, so the difference in point of view is a real, tangible difference.  Again, this is fine work, but it's the kind of work that has a huge effect on the general feeling of realism in a story.

All in all, "Ice Giant" tells a story that's gritty, but not despairing, and keeps it at just the right size to make an impact without shorting readers or overstaying its welcome.  It's a story that almost carries itself on its confidence, and on its careful momentum.  A few smoothings and tweaks on the prose level, and it should be ready to find a good home.

Best of luck!

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

Editor's Choice, Horror

From Renita to Reba Clarice, Ch. 1, by Laurie Richards

What stands out for me in this novel's opening chapter is the strong relationship between the protagonist, Renita, and her servant, Adyna.  The descriptions of them interacting feel vivid and immediate, and Adyna's cynicism and world-weariness provide a nice contrast to Renita's romanticism and naïveté.  It's often helpful to have a sidekick for your protagonist who has differing beliefs, since this can create conflict and help to reveal your protagonist's character.  This is what's happening here.  The story-within-a-story told by Adyna is engaging and seems like it may foreshadow events to come.  And in the disagreement between Renita and Adyna about how the story should end, the personalities of both characters are revealed.

    While the opening chapter has a number of strengths, I think several areas could be improved.  Last month, I spoke about voice, and I'd like to bring that up again here.  The novel is told from Renita's first person point of view, in past tense.  She is looking back on her existence, remembering events from 1141.  My understanding is that she becomes a vampire and exists to the present day.  While such a long life could lead someone to occasionally phrase something using obsolete syntax or diction, I would imagine that for the most part she has learned and adapted during her undead existence and now sounds mainly like someone living in 2016.  My mother is 85, born in 1930, but she doesn't call things swell or complain about visiting a clip-joint or refer to a bad neighborhood as skid-row or admire a hepcat.  (Instead, she tells me that she downloaded the Fandango app onto her tablet and asks me how to stream Netflix.)  So if Renita is in 2016 looking back to 1141, why would her voice sound like someone living in 1141?  As she speaks to the reader, why would she say "We shall not tarry long in that century" rather than "We won't spend much time in that century"?  It doesn't seem believable to me that she would speak in a 12th-century voice.

    I think the novel ends in present day, so it would also be nice to begin with a contemporary voice to tie the novel together, creating unity and cohesion, and to cue readers about the vast time period that will be covered, which will excite readers. 

    In many similar narrative situations, as the character recounts events from her past, the voice  gradually transitions into one that subtly suggests that past time period and the younger age of the character.  The problem with that strategy in this case is that the present-day Renita regularly comments on the actions of the child Renita, in sentences like this:  "In those days, I still had a soul, and it fancied romance."  But the present-day Renita should have the present-day voice.  Having the voice jump between 21st century and 12th century would be jarring and distracting. 

    My suggestion would be to reduce these narrative intrusions and limit them to one or two near the beginning of her account.  Then the voice can transition to one that subtly suggests the 12th century, and we won't be thrown out of the past story by any modern intrusions.

    Another issue I'd like to discuss is the opening.  I enjoyed most of the chapter quite a bit, but if I were not critiquing this, I would never have gotten to page 2.  The chapter doesn't really begin until "One night in my twelfth summer . . ."  Before that, we get exposition and setting.  That is not a strong way to open.  I think the first paragraph is intended to hook me, but I've read many books about the undead, so simply learning that the narrator is undead isn't enough to make me want to keep going.  I think some of this exposition and setting can be moved later and some can be cut.

Without knowing the entire story, it's hard to know how to open.  But I think what we may need in the beginning is the occasion for Renita to recount her life.  To whom is she telling the story, and why now?  Is this a compelling situation that would draw the reader in?  The obvious (and overused) choice would be to have Renita on the verge of (undead) death, thinking back over her existence.  A more interesting situation might be for Renita to be facing a difficult decision (one that would be made at the climax), and that she's searching through her past for the answer.  Maybe she has a lover she cares for but can't trust, and she needs to decide whether to kill him or not.  So she might think over her past and the evolution of her beliefs about relationships from romanticism to realism to cynicism.  This would create a subtext to tie her memories together and give the protagonist a goal she is struggling to achieve through these memories, rather than having her telling her story with no real purpose and nothing at stake. 

    When the setting is described (perhaps after she returns to her chamber and Adyna prepares to tell the story), it would be more compelling to describe the elements that are significant to Renita, since this is from her point of view, rather than to simply describe the place as if it were an establishing shot in a movie.  The description in paragraph 3 seems objective, divorced from Renita. I don't know why any of this is important to her, and I don't really think it is.  What seems important to her is the isolation of the place, which she doesn't like.  If you focused every detail of description on showing isolation, the setting would be more unified and emotional.

    I hope this is helpful.  Most of the chapter read smoothly and carried me along.

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


Tony Peak isn't just a member of OWW, he's an Active Member of the SFWA and an Affiliate Member of the HWA. His debut novel Inherit The Stars was published by Penguin Random House in November 2015. His interests include progressive thinking, music, wine, history, Transhumanism, and planetary exploration. Happily married, he resides in rural southwest Virginia with a wonderful view of New River. This month Tony tells his personal "agent story" and gives some advice. Find out more about Tony and his writing at:



Finding an Agent

For those of us seeking to turn our writing passion into a career, having an agent is crucial. Finding one can be daunting and even intimidating. I’ll share my own experience in finding one, as well as debunk a few agent myths.

I was fortunate enough to get my first novel, Inherit the Stars, published by one of the Big Five without an agent. While that’s a story for another time, this small feat did give me some leverage—I’d proven myself without benefit of a middleman. It still wasn’t a guarantee of representation, though. But it did give me more confidence when querying agents, which is something everyone needs. Many writers fret over their query letters, trying to make them perfect little snapshots of literary genius so that The Agent will go bonkers and offer representation.

Some advice on queries: give agents the scoop on your project, make sure you’ve done the research (so that your book fits that agent’s tastes), and leave it at that. Most will not care if you’ve read their blog, or that you follow them on Twitter, or if you absolutely love the work of their clients. Sure, flattery might help, but you’re offering a business partnership, not selling yourself into literary serfdom in the hopes of Making It Big. Don’t come across as a desperate wannabe who still writes fan fiction -- which leads into my next point.

Be professional. This means more than simply formatting your query correctly, or avoiding emoticons. It means stating your expectations, knowing your genre, and knowing what your plans are (is this book a standalone, or could it be a series?). It means being courteous, humble, and confident, without coming across as arrogant. This is very important if you speak to an agent on the phone, which is the next step.

Don’t call agents directly, unless they ask you to. Send them a query email. A fellow professional suggested that I call agencies directly, since I had a Penguin contract -- I’d made it through the slush pile after all, right? Wrong. You’ll get the agent’s assistant every time, and for good reason. Follow their specified process. If the agent is interested, you’ll know, and within a few days. Sometimes within hours.
The Big Phone Call, the first time it happens, is cool, frightening, and invigorating. Mine came from a well-known New York agent, so I was nervous as hell. To my credit, I maintained my sanity long enough to answer all of his questions. The conversation went very well; he would look over my Penguin novel and let me know if he was interested in having me as a client.

That initial communication is a huge confidence booster. It shows that, hey, I might have a real chance at this after all. It means that so-and-so agent actually took the time to call ME, and talk about MY work. Writers need that boost sometimes. Don’t let it go to your head.

A few days later, the agent emailed me, turning me down. He liked the work, but wanted something else at the moment. I admit, I was a tad depressed…but not for long. I sent out more queries to other agents. The next week, I received replies from five different agents, wanting to read my other manuscripts. I spoke with another on the phone, and she sounded very intrigued. I should have been on Cloud Nine, right? Nope. It was still an exciting process, but The Big Phone Call had prepared me for this. I wasn’t nervous any longer. I could just be myself in these interactions, and let me tell you, that is golden.

Then I got a call from a third New York agent (NY is key, people) who was very interested. Best of all, he had already bought my novel and was several chapters into it—and he was enjoying it! During our first conversation, he offered representation.

I declined for the moment, stating that I had to let the other agents know that I’d received an offer. That goes back to being a professional. Plus, play your options. Weigh the pros and cons of each agent before making a choice.

This last agent represented some high-profile science fiction authors, and on top of that, he completed my novel over the weekend, and loved it. That finalized my decision. No one else had expressed that much enthusiasm, coupled with such credentials, in my work. That’s what you want in a business partner.

So I accepted his offer.

Everyone’s experience will be different, but remember: agents are not Superhuman Gatekeepers of the Literary Realm. They are real people, who love what they do. Love what you do, don’t give up, and I’m sure you’ll find an agent who is right for you.

Publication Announcements

Kate Ellis' story "Liarbird" was the grand prize winner of the 2015 Defenestrationism Short Fiction Contest, and her story "At the Sixes' and the Sevens'" will appear in a forthcoming issue of Crossed Genres.

Gregor Hartmann wrote with great news: "Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful" (my "uber-nerd" story), which was critiqued here last summer, has been bought by F&SF. My thanks to Tom Greene, George Allen Miller, Gene Schiappa, Allan Dyen-Shapiro, and R.M. Smythe for their close readings and thoughtful suggestions.

L.J. Kendall wants us all to know that his book Wild Thing, Vol 1 of The Leeth Dossier, is now available on Amazon. You can find it here.

Tim Major's story "Read/Write Head" will appeart in The Museum of All Things Awesome And That Go Boom anthology from Upper Rubber Boot Books, to be published in 2016.

Clint Spivey's story "Kara's Ares" appeared in the December 2015 issue of Fantasy Scroll Magazine.

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.

[December 2016] Honor Roll Nominees

Reviewer: JJ Roth
Submission: The Geometry of Silence by Christine Lucas
Submitted by: Christine Lucas

Reviewer: Brendan McCrain
Submission: Fields of Marble in the Deep (New Ending) by Christine Lucas
Submitted by: Christine Lucas

Reviewer: Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Submission: The Mummy's Curse by Christine Lucas
Submitted by: Christine Lucas

On Shelves Now

coverThe Burning Hand (Orphan Queen Book 3) by Jodi Meadows (Epic Reads Impulse, December 2015)

Tobiah Pierce is no longer simply a prince. He wanted to be more and do more after he watched his tutor's brutal murder and uncovered a plot that threatens the safety of Skyvale.

With the help of his cousin, James, and the guidance of a girl who knows her way around the city's rooftops, Tobiah is gaining confidence in his new role.

He can no longer be just a witness to the evils occurring in his city, but is he willing to risk his reputation—and maybe even his life—to make things right?



Inherit the Stars by Tony Peak (Roc, November 2015)

Wanderlust runs in Kivita Vondir’s blood. She dreamed of salvaging like her father when she was young, and now it’s her addiction, getting her through pit stops filled with cheap alcohol and cheaper companionship and distracting her from her broken heart.

Her latest contract to hunt down a fabled gemstone is exactly the kind of adventure she craves. But this job is more than meets the eye. For one thing, her duplicitous employer has hired rebel Sar Redryll -- Kivita’s former lover -- to stop her at any cost. For another, Kivita’s recovery of the relic unleashes in her powerful new abilities. Abilities that everyone in the Cetturo Arm -- human, alien, and in-between -- desperately wishes to control…

As she avoids a massive galactic manhunt, Kivita teams up with two unlikely allies: Sar and his enigmatic new partner. Only, as the gem’s mysteries are revealed and danger draws near, Kivita begins to wonder if her ex has truly changed, or if he’s just waiting for the right moment to betray her once again...


The Rising (The Alchemy Wars)by Ian Tregillis (Orbit, December 2015) cover

The second book in the Alchemy Wars trilogy -- an epic tale of liberation and war.

Jax, a rogue Clakker, has wreaked havoc upon the Clockmakers' Guild by destroying the Grand Forge. Reborn in the flames, he must begin his life as a free Clakker, but liberation proves its own burden.

Berenice, formerly the legendary spymaster of New France, mastermind behind her nation's attempts to undermine the Dutch Hegemony, has been banished from her homeland and captured by the Clockmakers' Guild's draconian secret police force.

Meanwhile, Captain Hugo Longchamp is faced with rallying the beleaguered and untested defenders of Marseilles-in-the-West for the inevitable onslaught from the Brasswork Throne and its army of mechanical soldiers.


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:

Tara K. Harper, author of WolfwalkerCat Scratch Fever and other books, on agents: what do they do and are they worthwhile?

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)