Judges and Winners at the 34th Annual Awards Ceremony

34th Annual Writers & Illustrators of the Future Winners Announced

Darci Stone, a writer from Orem, UT and Kyna Tek, an illustrator from Gilbert, AZ were this year’s Grand Prize Winners at the 34th Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards for Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contests in Science Fiction and Fantasy held at The MacArthur in Los Angeles, California. The gala event, presented by Author Services, Inc. and Galaxy Press was held on Sunday evening, April 8, 2018. A capacity crowd of 450 people attended the black-tie event, which had a theme of “Magic and Wizardry.”

We’ve experienced that history sometimes has a way of repeating itself. Thirteen years ago in 2005, Darci Stone’s husband, Eric James Stone stood on stage as a Quarterly Award Winner of the Writer’s Contest. And now his wife, Darci, who started dabbling in writing speculative fiction while dating and attending Eric’s weekly writing group sessions, has walked off with the Grand Prize as Writer of the Year.

For illustrator Kyna Tek, who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and whose family later immigrated to America, winning the Illustrators of the Future Grand Prize is a dream come true.

In keeping with the evening’s “Magic and Wizardry” theme, the gala celebration opened with magician/mentalist Spidey and magician/illusionist Joel Meyers performing a visually stunning dueling wizards routine with floating objects appearing in mid-air. Later in the evening, they performed a very interactive routine with the participation of celebrities and audience members.

Coordinating Writer Judge David Farland and fellow Writer Judge Brandon Sanderson announced writer Darci Stone as the Golden Pen Award winner while presenting her a check for $5,000. Darci’s story entitled “Mara’s Shadow,” was illustrated by artist Quintin Gleam.

Coordinating Judge Echo Chernik and actress Marisol Nichols announced illustrator Kyna Tek as the Golden Brush Award winner while also presenting him with a check for $5,000. Kyna illustrated writer Erin Cairns’ story, “A Smokeless and Scorching Fire.”

Over the years, submissions for the Writer and Illustrator Contests have come in from over 175 countries. And this year we received entries from three new countries: Andorra, Seychelles and Benin. Selecting the two Grand Prize Winners from the thousands of contest entries submitted every year was not an easy process.

In her acceptance speech, Darci Stone commented, “My husband won a Nebula Award. I am fairly certain that this is a much bigger trophy. I would like to thank my artist, Quintin Gleim, for illustrating my words into an image. I hope one day that all of us will see our names, stories and artwork in best-selling books.”

Kyna Tek, who was visibly in shock when he heard his name called out said, “When I saw everyone else’s illustrations in this Contest I never imagined I had a chance. Thank you for this moment. I’m never going to forget it. I will cherish it forever.”

The awards show was held in the Elks Hall of The MacArthur, a historic Los Angeles landmark conceived in a visually opulent Gothic Revival architectural style with cathedral-like ceilings. The book signing and reception, which followed the awards event, was held in the equally well-appointed Grand Ballroom.

The keynote speaker was Ruben Padilla, a magician and founder of Narrative Strategies. In his address, Ruben delivered a heartfelt presentation to the winners and guests and stated, “The entire purpose of tonight is to celebrate, in all its fantastical forms, the creation of words and illustrations. Something magical happens to you when you write something down.”

Artist and Illustrators of the Future Judge Larry Elmore was presented with the L. Ron Hubbard Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts. Larry has been an inspiration for countless artists over the years including this year’s winners Kyna Tek and Anthony Moravian who thanked him from the stage. It was Larry who told Kyna to enter the Contest after seeing Kyna’s artwork at a convention—and the rest is history.

Actress Judy Norton sang “My Father’s Song” written by composer/lyricist Pauline Frechette as part of an In Memoriam tribute to two of our esteemed Contest Judges who passed away over the last year, Jerry Pournelle and Yoji Kondo.

Galaxy Press’ President John Goodwin unveiled the print and audiobook editions of L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 34. The book was edited by David Farland and features artwork by artist Ciruelo on the cover. It includes stories and essays by well-known authors and artists Orson Scott Card, Brandon Sanderson, Jody Lynn Nye, Jerry Pournelle, Ciruelo and Echo Chernik.

For a complete listing of the contents of the book and the names of all the winners, go here.

Awards for each of the Quarterly Finalists of the Writers and Illustrators Contests were presented by actors Nancy Cartwright, Jade Pettyjohn, Sean Cameron Michael, Catherine Bell and Lee Purcell, along with judges from the Contests. Photos from the event are posted below.

All in all, a very magical evening for all this year’s Writer and Illustrators of the Future winners.


Larry Niven talks to the Writer winners

Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop – Day 5

2018 Writers Workshop

By guest blogger Eric James Stone (Writer winner WotF 21)

The final day before the awards began with a guest lecture from Nancy Kress, winner of four Nebula Awards and two Hugo Awards. She shared some of her insights about writing scenes, writing with multiple levels, and the importance to worldbuilding of considering the economics and power structure of a society. She also shared the three most common mistakes she sees in student stories.

She was followed by Doug Beason, a Ph.D. physicist and retired Air Force colonel who has written several novels. He talked about where to find information about recent scientific developments and how to develop science fiction ideas.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman, who was a winner in the first year of the Writers of the Future Contest and went on to publish over a hundred short stories and many novels, explained how to sign books and how to use journals of your life as a resource for stories. She then gave all the winners a copy of her story-generating tool, Stone Story Soup: A Story Cookbook, and a twenty-sided die. The winners then spent twenty minutes writing about their randomly generated characters.

Bill Fawcett, a book packager and writer who has worked with New York publishers for decades, took the winners through a detailed examination of all the steps a book goes through from manuscript submission until the published version hits the shelves.

Robert J. Sawyer, winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, plus many others, talked about some of the problems in the publishing industry today, many of which are the result of Amazon’s dominance in selling books. He then encouraged the winners to write ambitious, powerful, moving, and distinctive books, rather than just trying to follow the trends of popular fiction.

Liza Trombi, editor-in-chief of Locus Magazine, explained the importance of having a good agent.

Eric Flint, a 1993 winner of the Writers of the Future contest (Vol 9) and author of the bestselling 1632 series, spoke to the winners about promoting your book and summed it up by saying, “The best promotion for a book is your next title.”

Gregory Benford, two-time winner of the Nebula Award, talked about being an astrophysicist first and then becoming a writer and how that helped give him a rich variety of resources to bring to his fiction writing.

Larry Niven, a recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, as well as a Hugo and Nebula Award winner, gave advice about collaboration, the criteria to pick the right partner and the rules to follow. Namely, one of the writers has to have the power to veto. In a collaboration, the two writers can’t have equal rights. Second is picking a partner who is not a faster or slower writer. He then told some personal and affectionate stories about working with Jerry Pournelle.

At the end, three former winners, Eric James Stone (Vol. 21), Kary English (Vol. 31), and Sean Hazlett (Vol. 33), spent an hour answering questions from this year’s winners, sharing things they had learned since winning the contest.

2018 Illustrator Workshop

By guest blogger Illustrators of the Future judge Val Lakey Lindahn 

We reviewed everyone’s finished assignments, an illustration for the short story “The Death Flyer” by L. Ron Hubbard. We were all amazed at so many wonderful and varied scenes drawn from the story.

Next was a special guest speaker, animator Jeff Snow from Disney Studios who is known for his animation work on Zootopia, Batman, Spider-Man, The Simpsons, Tarzan; and over with Dreamworks—Shrek.

Jeff Snow shared his knowledge of visual thinking, intuitive editing, and developing storyboards. With humor and wit, he got all of us laughing about his experience advancing in the field of storyboarding.

He recommended the goal of an animator is first “Communicating” and then second you must be able to draw! Another recommendation is a book The 5 C’s of Cinematography. He emphasized using social media to make sure you play well with others and prove you are “easy to work with.”

Maryse Alexander, the Creative Director of Author Services then followed with a seminar on Color covering the use of color harmony and color depth in art.

Portfolio Critique

The Illustrator winners really look forward to receiving a review and critique from our Illustrator Judges—Larry Elmore, myself (Val), Echo and Lazarus Chernik. We sat around our “U” shaped tables with an extra seat on either side of us. The winners then sat on each side of us and received a 10-minute review of their portfolio, then in pairs rotated to the next judge.

And oh, what wonderful work and stories they tell with their illustrations. Can’t wait for you to see them in the new anthology, Writers of the Future Volume 34.

Echo, Lazarus, and I would like to thank our returning winners Bea Jackson and Dustin Panzino for helping with the portfolio reviews.

Brandon Sanderson addresses the Writer winners

Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop – Day 4

2018 Writers Workshop

By guest blogger Eric James Stone (Writer winner WotF 20)

The writers began the day by critiquing two of the 24-hour stories they had turned in the day before. Rumor has it that the two stories are singled out for critique by the process of David Farland throwing the manuscripts down the stairs and Tim Powers picking up the ones that traveled the farthest. (So far, however, there is no photographic proof of that process.)

For each critiqued story, the winners—other than the author of the story—offer their critiques in two minutes or less. Tim and David then offer their own critiques. The exercise is less about these two particular stories and more about teaching the winners how to be an effective critiquer.

After lunch, Tim and David spoke to the winners about the pros and cons of traditional publishing versus self-publishing.

That was followed by three guest lectures by Writers of the Future Contest judges.

Mike Resnick, the field’s all-time leading award-winner for short fiction and the editor of Galaxy’s Edge magazine, focused on the business side of writing. Among other things, he explained the importance of reprints and foreign sales, contract option clauses, and various tax provisions.

Jody Lynn Nye, author of dozens of novels and over a hundred short stories, talked to the winners about science fiction conventions, including practical advice on how to become a panelist or presenter at conventions, and how to act like a professional once you get there.

Best-selling epic fantasy novelist Brandon Sanderson explained his three “laws” about writing:

1. Your ability to solve problems with magic in a satisfying way is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic.

2. Limitations are more interesting than powers.

3. In worldbuilding, depth is better than width.

He also revealed the existence of a “Zeroth Law” that takes precedence over the others: Always err on the side of what’s awesome.

After the guest speakers, writers and illustrators, winners and judges all got together for a very large book signing party of Writers of the Future Volume 34.

2018 Illustrator Workshop

By guest blogger Illustrators of the Future judge Val Lakey Lindahn 

Early morning 8:00 a.m. and the Illustrator winners are learning about client management, networking, direct contact, mailing lists, website inclusion, in addition to directories used to find illustrators, and agents covered in detail by Echo and Lazarus.

Echo recommended sites important for artists to be on; such as Art Pic and Workbook. Our winner Reyna Rochin, also recommended “Up Work.”

At 11:00, Illustrator Judge Larry Elmore enchanted us with his original art including traditional painting for National Lampoon and Heavy Metal in the 70’s.

He described colors as flavors in traditional paintings when studying clouds and the different levels of colors in trees and nature depending on the light, time of day, and depth of field. He discussed how we each may see colors differently.

I mentioned that scientists recently discovering that 1 out of 3 women can see a color that no one else can and no males can because extra cone(s) were detected. Lazarus reminded us of the effect of color blindness and found a website that showed the same painting with the loss of red, then blue, or green. Each example would be how a colorblind person views the painting and lack of that specific color. Pretty impressive!

Larry in his talk emphasized that most people don’t “see.” Artists, however, “learn to see” —and training your eye is essential to see a Level 10 of color. Sometimes we achieve a level, say of a 7. Until you reach a higher level you cannot paint at a level 10, let alone appreciate the beauty and depth. It is something to strive for.

Judge Sergey Poyarkov was next with several unique and brilliant ways to market yourself. He lives in Ukraine, is quite well known there and throughout most of Europe. He has 6 large tomes ( beautifully designed and printed) coffee table size books of his work. With good humor, he dropped one of the heavy books on the table with a loud thunk and said “Here! —This is my business card!”

Annual Writers & Illustrators Barbeque

To top off this wonderful day, the judges, winners and their families joined the Author Services and Galaxy staff on the roof of Author Services for a barbecue. Round tables set with deep blue velvet chairs were surrounded with lovely twinkle lights. A dozen heaters with tall yellow flames danced to keep us warm and the aroma of Al grilling burgers, sausages, and Wild Salmon lured us up to the rooftop. Joann and many of the staff contributed homemade slaw, potato salad, barbos, not to mention the dessert table with Haagen-Dazs chocolate walnut vanilla ice cream, toppings of berries and nuts, freshly homemade fruit cobblers, pies and a large assortment of coconut ice creams! Yum and Nom nom, nom.

I looked around at the tables and will never forget the smiles, happy faces, and laughter of the winners!

Best and Cheerios’

Writer & Illustrators winners with their art for the stories

Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop – Day 3

2018 Writers Workshop

Throughout the late afternoon, the writer winners returned with their 24-hour stories which were due at 5:00 p.m. sharp.

After that was the “Big Reveal.” This is when the illustrator winner’s artwork is displayed on easels in the L. Ron Hubbard Library. The artists and guests stand back and watch as the doors open and the writers flood in to find the illustration for their story.

Authors and artists connect and it’s a joyful and oft times emotional meeting.

Brandon Sanderson was also there and meet the artist (Bea Jackson) who did the illustration for his story “The Lesson,” which is in Writers of the Future Volume 34.  Bea is an Illustrator Winner from 2008 and featured in Writers of the Future Volume 24.

See all the photos below. The pictures tell the story.

The Writer Workshop reconvened after dinner and the winners heard from bestselling authors and Contest judges Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. Their presentation, on the theme of “Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was First Starting Out,” focused on how to act like a professional.

Kevin and Rebecca regaled the winners with stories illustrating lessons learned during their years of experience in the publishing industry. The discussion covered a wide variety of subjects, including how to dress like a professional, how to take responsibility for your own writing career, and how to meet your commitments as a writer.

Illustrator Workshop

From guest blogger Val Lakey Lindahn

Echo and Lazarus covered some important issues about Contracts and working with Clients. An excellent detailed advanced Illustration discussion with the three of us preparing for their homework assignment, but first a treat!

Ven Locklear (Illustrator winner from 2010), presented the process of developing the “Star Dynasties” Project. He explained how he collected references and created a 3D retro-futuristic city, society, and environment using Sketch-Up and Handyman Art Reference Tools (both free). He showed his step-by-step process to design the elements for seven different roughs.

He then demonstrated Photoshop techniques, using the Transforming Tool & Smart Objects for background textures (which were gorgeous), and Clipping Masks for Glow Effects — like fire and magic (which were equally stunning!)

Adar Darnov commented on Ven using and working with a full spectrum of tools in Photoshop. And Ven emphasized the importance of working with other artists initially for a faster learning curve.

Bruce Brenneise asked about budget and number of pieces, and Alana Fletcher contributed quite a few excellent questions throughout the workshop about “work in progress.”

Next, the Homework Assignment: Every illustrator has to do an illustration for the short story, “The Death Flyer,” by L. Ron Hubbard which is in Writers of the Future Volume 34. To do this, they first create thumbnails of their illustration. Next, they were shown by Lazarus and Echo how to do reference photos for their sketches. Using the Prop closet at ASI, costumes were found for the early 1900’s. The winners took turns modeling and photographing each other from their thumbnail sketches. [See photos below.]

What great fun trying different lighting for the optimum scary effects of zombies on a train and a damsel in distress (Jazmen Richardson). The only thing missing was her shoes. Echo and I, along with illustrator Maksym Polishchuk, set out to solve the problem. Luckily we found Emily Goodwin; who happened to have the perfect sized high heels to borrow so we could complete the damsel’s costume!

I so enjoyed seeing the comradery developing as they assisted one another directing, adjusting costumes and photographing the poses for a common goal —references for their final illustration.

Several artists chose to use everyone as zombies. That’s a dozen zombies! Photos below.

Stay tuned for more!

Best and Cheerios’

Writer winners along with Tim Powers arriving for the workshop at Author Services, Inc.

Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop – Day 2

2018 Writers Workshop

Today the 2018 Writer Winners got into full swing with a day of instruction by David Farland and Tim Powers, along with practical assignments. Then the authors were sent off at 5:00 p.m. to write their 24-hour story.

What sets this Writing Workshop apart from others is that everyone attending is already a writer and a very good writer at that (evidenced by the fact that their stories won out over thousands of other stories submitted to the Contest). In fact, both instructors agreed that within the year, many of the winners attending will have gone on to publish one or more stories and many will begin garnering awards for their efforts.

So if they already know how to write, what is the point of holding a Writers Workshop?

Breaking the Speed Barrier

Both David Farland and Tim Powers, award-winning and bestselling authors in their own right, know the biggest barrier for a writer is breaking what they call the artificial speed barrier that can be the make-break point between dreaming and being a successful author.

As Farland described it, back in the early 1950s no runner had broken the 4-minute mile. In fact, it was commonly held to be impossible, with many athletes believing it couldn’t physically be done without the runner’s lungs bursting. That is, until 1954 when the first runner, Roger Bannister, broke it. And since then it has become the standard for all male professional middle distance runners.

David likens the process of writing a story in 24-hours to breaking the speed barrier for a new author. So this is the challenge each Writer winner is given at the end of today’s Workshop.

But as professional authors, David and Tim don’t just throw out the challenge without also providing the means of how to do it, and how to do it successfully. This is covered in detail in the “Story Ideas, Where They Come From” section of the Workshop.  Advice our authors readily took in.

Then, at the end of today’s Workshop, at 5:00 p.m. sharp, they were on the clock.

While the writers may be feeling the pressure and a bit anxious, Farland remarked that he only remembers 1 writer in the last 15 years who didn’t complete their story. In fact, many go on to sell the tales, as in the case of Tim Napper (WotF Vol 31). He wrote the short story “Flame Trees” in the writing workshop and not only sold it, but it was nominated for a Ditmar Award.

As Farland put it, “These are great writers, but many of them have never been tutored by a professional writer. As a college student, I was taught mainly by non-writers. My professors told you to ‘wait for inspiration from the muse.’ But in this workshop, we teach the authors how to hunt her down in her lair. In college, we were given weeks to write a simple short story, but in this class we will ask you to do it in a day. It isn’t hard, and I want our authors to begin stretching their literary legs, to learn just what amazing things they can accomplish!”

So, looking forward to tomorrow and reading the great tales the Class of 2018 are producing.

2018 Illustrators Workshop

Guest blog by Illustrator judge Val Lakey Lindahn

What a fantastic first day for our artist winners!

Workshop instructors Echo and Lazarus Chernik filled them with so much information about the business end of illustration as a career from 8:00 a.m. (Lazarus a self-confessed tyrant for starting so early) until 11:00 and then a well-deserved break to process it all.

During the week we’ll have guest speakers such as Larry Elmore, Rob Prior,  Sergey Poyarkov, Jeff Snow, Ven Locklear as well as myself talk to the winners. Today was my turn. In addition to showing my 40 years of art (in less than 5 minutes) I passed along my tips and techniques for creating props (nothing was sacred in my son’s arsenal of toys), lighting and taking reference photos for illustrating.

In the afternoon, after the winners shared their portfolios with everyone, Echo and Lazarus dived in on the subject in detail, including help and advice on how best to arrange them, including how to attract specific clients and where to put your strongest pieces. A key tool for any artist.

We have some returning winners, Bea Jackson 2008, and Dustin Panzino winner from 2011 who encouraged Jazmen Richardson—one of this year’s winners—to enter the Contest and she won. Dustin commented, “The quality of the art has really gone up in the portfolios!” And I agree. It is the best I’ve seen in my 30 years serving as a judge.

One of my favorite parts of the Workshop is the Salon featuring professional models dressed in fantastic costumes and makeup. Tonight the salon was decked out with large spiders, skulls, a jawbone and other props artfully arranged around the models in keeping with this year’s “Magical Wizard’s” theme. For a few hours, the Workshop was transformed into a terrific temporary studio for all the artists.

End of a long day with the artists returning to the hotel to review their homework—more about that tomorrow!