Writers of the Future, Day Two and Three

I felt incredibly invigorated after my first evening in Pasadena. With the advice of Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, and Dave Wolverton buzzing in my ears, I sat down in my nasty hotel room and completely shredded a short story I’ve been working on. I rewrote the first nine pages, and I’m very happy with the results. And, yes, I will submit it to WOTF when I’m done.

The Awards Ceremony

The Athenaeum of Caltech is a stone castle etched with perforated arches and carved columns, something inspired from Roman and Greek architecture. Lush greenery threatens to burst from thriving flower beds, and thick green ivy ascends the walls, climbing Babel, stretching leafy fingers towards the gods of imagination and wonder.

And standing proudly on stone steps leading into the Athenaeum, a sign: L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers and Illustrators of the Future Achievement Awards.

Such is the setting, and the message is clear. For thirteen writers and eleven illustrators today shall be a day that changes their lives forever.

The Galaxy Press staff spares no expense to bring the WOTF award ceremony the reverence and awe many of these winners must feel in their hearts. Under the evening sky the stage juts forth from three arches, and each arch frames an image. At stage left, a large portrait of L. Ron Hubbard, who seems to smile with pride at the assembly before him. The middle arch contains the WOFT banner, and the last arch holds a navy blue velvet curtain. A projector screens hangs next to the stage, displaying images from the dozen or so video cameras taping the event.

Thousands of guests fill the white, cushioned seats. They wear tuxedos and gowns, are adorned in jewelry, cufflinks sparkle, and even in my nicest clothes I feel underdressed. Before I can become too uncomfortable, the festivities begin. First there is an overview of the WOTF program and why L. Ron Hubbard started it. Then the judges of the contest are introduced, including Rebecca Moesta, who joined the team this year.

The Illustrator Awards come next, with Lorraine Schleter winning the L. Ron Hubbard Gold Award, which includes a prize of 5,000 dollars.

Before the writers received their awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award is given to Charles N. Brown. He says he wants to fill the large trophy with champagne and chocolate, and then he praises the contest for its commitment to finding tomorrow’s great writers and artists.

The Writers of the Future Awards come next, with Stephen Kotowych winning the Gold Award for his story, Saturn in G Minor.

With the awards distributed, speeches delivered, and praise for all given by both the winners and an enthusiastic audience, we retreat into the Athenaem to meet the winners, eat food, and share drink. I leave fairly early in the evening, knowing that I will have the opportunity to congratulate everyone the next day. I also get a little claustrophobic when I’m trapped in a room stuffed with a thousand people.

All in all, the WOTF Awards ceremony is one of the most impressive displays the science fiction field offers. The only thing that equals its splendor in form and presentation is the sincerity and kindness of the Galaxy Press staff and the humbled acceptance of the winners. My congratulations to everyone.

Day Three

I slept in as best I can considering my room smells like a musty ashtray (which is ironic considering the manager at the desk said he would fine me 250 bucks if I smoked in the room. . . .)

The WOTF book signing is held at the Pasadena Borders. Strategically placed banners announce the event, and about 200 people come to get their books signed. It is quite a sight, 36 people participating in one signing! I spoke with Tim Powers for a minute, met K.D. Wentworth, Stephen Hickman, and Ron Lindahn, and took a picture with Dave Wolverton.

After the signing I conduct interviews with some of the winners and judges. First I talk with Jeff Carlson. His first novel, Plague Year, hit the shelves a few weeks ago. Then I talk with winning writers Tony Pi, Doug Texter and Stephen Kotowych, winning illustrators Artem Mirolevich and Bryan Beus, and celebrity judges K.D. Wentworth and Laura Brodian Freas. My thanks to all of you for talking with me, and these interviews will be available soon in the podcast.

There you have it. My experience with the Writers of the Future ceremony is complete. You can learn more about this contest by visiting their website, and if you are an aspiring writer or illustrator, I highly recommend that you start submitting your work.

Take care, and good luck.

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  1. Shaun,
    It was great to meet you. I don’t know if I’ll ever be treated as well as I was during the workshop week and awards ceremony. I encourage any aspiring writer or illustrator in the science fiction or fantasy genre to consider submitting to the Writers of the Future contest. The rewards are terrific and, as mentioned, you are treated like a luminary in the field just as you are starting out.
    Good luck,
    Randall Ensley

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