In Seattle Thursday? I’ll be giving a reading with several other Writers of the Future winners at 7 pm, in the University Bookstore. Come have a listen!
Buy a copy of this year’s Writers of the Future before Midnight tonight and I’ll joyfully ship you a first-edition paper, hardback,* eBook or audiobook of The Jack of Souls!
Barnes & Noble (paperback | Nook) < $ 11.63 paperback, $6.49 Nook
THIS IS THE BEST WEEK TO BUY Writers of the Future!
off the grid for 24 hours
When last I posted, we’d all been assigned the task of writing a short story in 24 hours. I was given a random object (a 38 Special shell casing) and told to go interview someone on the street, and then use these things to inspire and craft a story.
And that’s what we did for the last day. I didn’t come up for air for basically fourteen hours (in two 7 hour chunks), which is why I didn’t post the schedule for yesterday
But I did it! I wrote a 5K story in a day, and it has all the bones of a decent story. It’s a rough draft, sure, but it has all the bones. There were valuable lessons in that for me. Perhaps the most valuable lesson of this exercise was to see that I could in fact do this from scratch, with random inspirations; the other was that I could do that in a 24-hour window. That makes me feel good.
So here’s what we’ve been doing:
You’ll notice the right-hand column is the schedule of the Illustrator’s track.
the illustrators arrived today
The Illustrators got here yesterday, and we just met them today and saw for the first time the illustrations they did for the stories that will appear in the anthology. I’ll get a close-up of the illustration for my story. The artist (as you can see in the picture) is a young woman; her name is Maricella, and she is from Mexico.
3 Days left! Larry niven, Mike resnick, nancy kress…
NANCY KRESS: “Develop writing rituals to train the ‘Little Man in the Basement.'”
LARRY NIVEN: “If Lucifer’s Hammer gets humanity to do something about this threat, I’ll feel my life was justified.” 🙂
MIKE RESNICK: “You sell your first 3 books on promise. You sell your 4th on record.”
This program was a closely guarded secret until we arrived
In fact, before we came, I searched the internet for one of these from previous years, to no avail. Now that we’ve all got a copy and permission to share, I can post mine. I’ll post one every day this week.
And yes, you see that right: 8 hours today with David Farland and Tim Powers, talking plot construction, characters, theme, conflict, etc., and hearing stories about bar-hopping with Phillip K. Dick. Fantastic. Such a wonderful opportunity.
Below, David and Tim, after they distributed story props to all of us. In the foreground is the prop that is to inspire a story I write tomorrow. In case you’re not familiar, that’s a 9 mm shell casing, which makes my job easy.There are lots of those in fantasy.
Woke to a lovely day in LA. Our hotel is right on the walk of stars, and wouldn’t you know it, certain members of my family are into American Idol and the American Idol contestants are staying here too?
IBut I saw the Hollywood sign: if you look closely in the picture below, you can see it on the hill behind the palms. This place reminds me of Vegas.
Steampunk Formal – to Goggle or Not to Goggle
Building on the steampunk theme of this year’s Writer of the Future cover, the gala in April is “steam punk formal.” That means instead of renting a regular tux I can wear some kind of hybrid Victorian dinner jacket top-hat thingy with sword-cane and gyro-boots.
I’m excited. It’s like Halloween in April.
Announcing the cover for this year’s Writers of the Future Anthology (vol. 32)!
I love this cover. In my opinion it is the best in all 32 years. I think Steampunk lends itself well to this kind of whimsy. And such colors!
What’s in the Anthology?
The anthology, which includes all twelve of this year’s winning short stories (including mine) as well as stories by Brandon Sanderson and Dave Wolverton, is now available for preorder on Amazon.
More in the Anthology
The anthology also features essays on writing by Tim Powers (who wrote On Stranger Tides, from which Pirates of the Caribbean was made), and others.
My story is now in final edits. I got to work with the fabulous Dave Farland (Dave Wolverton), who will also be at the conference. How lucky was I that my spring break coincides with the week-long conference and gala? Can’t wait.
Since I was a finalist already, I knew this was either going to be good news (that I didn’t place in the contest, but I could be happy to be a finalist), or astounding news (that I’d placed).
“Are you ready?” she said. “Your story is one of the winners!”
I’m not sure what she said after that. Something about this being the biggest quarter in the history of the contest (8,000 plus submissions?) and how they were flying me and the other eleven winners (three for each quarter) to LA in April for an all-expense-paid week of workshops and parties and classes with instructors like Tim Powers and K.D. Wentworth, and guests like Larry Niven, Ken Scholes, Robert Sawyer and Mike Resnick.
I’m still stunned just thinking about it. And yes, I’m incredibly excited.
I couldn’t get to sleep that night. I had to step out for a walk. I felt, and still feel, overwhelmingly grateful. I am so thankful that something in my story caught someone’s eye. I know how subjective story judging is. There were surely stories better written, funnier, smarter, sexier. But someone noticed something in mine that set it apart, and I thank my good angels for that.
The Conference is the Real Prize
Yes, there is a generous cash prize, and yes, they publish the twelve winning stories in an anthology. But the real prize is the conference and the intangibles of learning and exposure that week.
A 2010 Winner Explains the Benefits of the Contest and Conference
Brad Torgersen wrote a complete breakdown of the value of the contest and all of its intangibles on his website, here.
Thank you, Writers of the Future! : )
I just learned that my short story, “Outside the Game,” won first place in the Southwest Writers International Writing Competition!
Many thanks to David Levine and Fairwood Writers, who helped me develop it.
“Outside the Game” is an alternative first chapter to The Jack of Souls, set in the same place the novel begins, but an hour before the events that start the novel.
I wrote it as a tool to gain attention for the novel (and because Harric is so much fun to write about!).
Here’s the link, if you want to check it out:
A week ago last night, I learned that my fantasy novel, The Jack of Souls, won the Pacific Northwest Writers Association’s unpublished novel competition for the Science Fiction/Fantasy category. I’m just getting over the shock, so I feel I can post it.
The announcement ran after they cleared plates from the awards dinner at the conference. Before announcing winners, they announced the names of all eight finalists and their novels, ala Oscars format.
It took a long time. Cruelly, they served no wine at the tables.
As they listed each finalist and the title of their novel, I imagined a door of probability slowly closing. Six years ago I submitted to the contest and didn’t even make the finalists, so now with each finalist name, it seemed the door closed a little more. When they announced the second place winner, only a crack of light remained, so it was extremely surreal when they announced my name next and I saw The Jack of Souls on the screen.
I rose and accepted the award and sat again. I know this because I found myself at the dinner table with the same people I’d eaten with, the award folder in my hands.
Here’s the link to the results of all the category winners for the competition:
An agent/editor party followed, where I met some fun and interesting people including the agent who judged the contest. Good things in the offing!