ROV-E says hello to winners

Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop – Day 6

Writers Workshop, Day 6: All-Star Guest Lectures

Excitement in the writers’ workshop always ramps up on Thursday. The writers have recovered from their 24-hour stories, and a parade of big-name authors have arrived for talks and presentations.

Farland, Powers, and Card started the morning session with a quick talk on profanity, sex, and gore in short stories and fiction writing. While the specific amounts vary by genre, too much of any of these can turn off readers and limit sales. If you’re aiming to write a bestseller, do some research in your genre to determine what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman (Catalyst: A Novel of Alien Contact) treated winners to a demonstration of her dice-powered system for creating stories.

Dean Wesley Smith (Dead Money) gave an impassioned, data-driven presentation about potential success in the world of indie and self-publishing.

Dr. Doug Beason (Ignition), who has a doctorate in physics, talked about rocket ships, asteroids and the importance of getting the science right.

Jody Lynn Nye (Moon Tracks) offered tips, insights and cautionary tales on professional and convention etiquette for writers.

Dr. Gregory Benford (The Berlin Project) shared stories from his long and illustrious career as a writer and physicist.

Dr. Beatrice Kondo, a board member for The Heinlein Society and Ph.D. in molecular biology, discussed natural selection, genetics and the limits of CRISPR.

Past winners Kary English (“Totaled”), Martin L. Shoemaker (Today I Am Carey), Darci Stone (“Mara’s Shadow”) and Eric James Stone (“An Immense Darkness”) talked about life as a neo-pro and how winning the contest has advanced their careers.

Liza Groen Trombi, editor of Locus, gave a short talk on industry trends.

When the lectures ended, judges and winners headed for the event venue to rehearse for tomorrow’s award ceremony. They’ll be up late practicing their speeches tonight!

Contributed by Kary English, Writers of the Future First Reader and winner from WotF 31.

Illustrators Workshop, Day 5: Guest Instructors and One-on-One Portfolio Reviews

The winning illustrators started Thursday morning presenting their finished (or Work-in-Progress) pieces from L. Ron Hubbard’s short story, “The Idealist,” to the judges, guests and workshop instructors. It was a pleasing variety of artistic interpretations with an impressive quality—particularly under their tight deadline of only a few days. Echo and Lazarus Chernik gave some constructive criticisms and helpful advice on the skill of presenting one’s art.

Special guest, Craig Elliot (who has worked for the likes of Disney, Blizzard, DreamWorks, and several other juggernaut entertainment studios) presented samples of his work and artistic experience, giving an invaluable and motivating lecture while scrolling through his varied portfolio.

Brian C. Hailes (Illustrator winner from 2002) also had a chance to present with a portfolio slideshow, speaking of his experience and artistic journey over the last seventeen years since he sat in the very same seat at the 2002 Illustrator’s workshop.

Rob Prior, illustrator, fine artist, and ambidextrous painter / performer extraordinaire, was next to present, and gave a stirring rock-n-roll lecture on his unique artistic approach as well as sharing a preview to his upcoming BBC documentary, focusing on his process and motivations moving from photo realism to a looser, more spontaneous style of work. He and Larry Elmore worked off each other with some fun stories and bits of advice.

Next came the portfolio review, where each winner was able to spend ten minutes one-on-one with each of the judges and special guests—an invaluable opportunity that any up-and-comer could use to take their work up a few notches.

Bob Eggleton (cover artist for volume 35), finished out the Illustrators’ day with a lecture on his life, loves, and early career experiences meeting some of the field’s most influential fantasy and sci-fi heavy-hitters in the commercial art world (and also playing off Elmore—as they’ve been long-time friends).

Then it was up to Award Ceremony orientation and rehearsal for tomorrow’s big night! Bring it on. It’s sure to be an evening long remembered, especially for this year’s winning writers and illustrators.

Contributed by Brian C. Hailes, Illustrators of the Future winner from WotF 18.

Writers of the Future Vol 35 Book Signing

Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop – Day 5

Writers Workshop, Day 5: Guest Lecturers

Day 5 of the Writers Workshop was a full day of guest lectures by Contest judges.

The day opened with Kevin J. Anderson (Spine of the Dragon) and Rebecca Moesta (The Young Jedi Knights series) giving their popular and informative talk, “Things I Wish Some Pro Had Told Me When I Was Just Starting Out.” They promised the writers: “We’ve made all the mistakes so you don’t have to.” The talk started with Heinlein’s Rules for Writing, and then shifted to the topic of professionalism and how crucial it is to your career.

Next Dr. Robert J. Sawyer (Quantum Night) joined the class to share a message which arose again throughout the day: there are multiple ways to have a career, not just One True Path.

After Sawyer, lead instructors Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game), Tim Powers (On Stranger Tides), and David Farland (The Runelords) returned to add their own comments on business processes for writers, and also to lead the writers in a critique group to examine one of the 24-hour stories.

Toward the end of the day, Eric Flint (1632) addressed the writers, reiterating that there is no one way to succeed, and they must learn what works from many writers and then forge their own paths. He also discussed the tools and the limits of promotion, and explained that self-discipline and consistent production can be their most effective promotional tools.

The last guest lecture for today was from Larry Niven (Ringworld), who explained that a writer’s experiences feed their writing. And consciously or unconsciously a writer’s work is informed by that of their predecessors, so it helps to know the history of science fiction.

After the guest lectures, the writers joined the illustrators and the judges to see the unveiling of Volume 35 and to autograph copies. Tomorrow the guest lectures will resume.

Contributed by Martin Shoemaker, Writers of the Future winner from WotF 31.

Illustrator workshop, Day 4: Professionalism, Self-Promotion and Guest Instructors

With their final projects moving toward completion, the illustrator winners alternated between studio time and presentations from all-star guest speakers.

Echo and Lazarus kicked off the morning with a presentation on branding, professionalism, and self-promotion, including tips and tricks for how to run a successful Kickstarter. The illustrators worked on their tight drawings, hoping to win final approval to proceed to a finished piece.

Contest judge and former Illustrator winner Sergey Poykarov regaled the illustrators with tales of winning the contest as a young artist from the Soviet Union who spoke no English. Poykarov has gone on to spectacular success as an artist, sculptor and television personality. His message to the illustrators focused on never giving up.

Poykarov is a hard act to follow, but Larry Elmore is the right person for the job. With more than 50 years of experience in the art world, Elmore’s name is synonymous with Dungeons & Dragons, Dragonlance, and SnarfQuest. Elmore is a rarity in an industry increasingly dominated by digital art. He still creates most of his work by hand, using paint, ink, and brushes.

How does it feel to be a grown man who makes a living drawing dragons? Neither Poykarov nor Elmore would trade it for anything.

Contributed by Kary English, Writers of the Future First Reader and winner from WotF 31.

2019 Big Reveal

Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop – Day 4

Writers Workshop, Day 4: 24-Hour Stories and the Big Art Reveal

There are 960 minutes from midnight to 4 pm, and the writers felt each one tick by as the clock counted down to the deadline for turning in their 24-hour stories. After a mad rush for printer paper, a stapler and extra staples, the stories landed safely in the hands of Tim Powers (On Stranger Tides), thus freeing the writers to head back to Author Services, Inc. for the big art reveal.

The art reveal is one of the highlights of the workshop, second only to the awards ceremony itself. In many cases, it’s the first meeting between the writers and the illustrators.

The writers are nervous. For most of them, this will be the first time anyone has illustrated their work, and they have no idea what the illustration will look like, or which illustrator will be working on their story. What scene will the illustrator choose? Will the characters look like the author imagined? Will they recognize the illustration for their story on sight?

Inside the conference room at ASI, the doors are closed. Twelve easels stand in a semicircle, each displaying a single, framed image. The illustrators gather in the back of the room. They’re nervous, too. The illustrations they’ve worked on will determine which one of them wins the Contest’s Golden Brush Award. But it’s more than that. What if the writer can’t tell which illustration is theirs? What if the writer doesn’t like their art?

The room goes silent.

When the doors open, the writers file in. They’re excited, but silent, too. Some recognize their artwork immediately and go straight to it. Others walk the semi-circle, inspecting each painting. There are gasps, and then, inevitably, there are tears.

Once the writers have found the illustration that goes with their story, the illustrators come forward to introduce themselves. The illustrators share information about their techniques and process, why they chose a certain scene or character, what they wanted to convey with their art.

Nervous silence has given way to excited chatter. This is a moment both the writers and the illustrators will remember for the rest of their lives.

Illustrators Workshop, Day 3: Color Harmony, Guest Instructors and the Big Art Reveal

The illustrators started their morning with a lesson from Echo and Lazarus on how to find clients—an important topic for any artist who wants to make a living from their work. After that, the illustrators selected one image from their nine thumbnails to develop into a tight drawing. If the instructors approve their work, they’ll turn this image into a finished illustration.

Maryse Alexander, Creative Director for Author Services, Inc., visited the workshop for a presentation on color theory. She showed the illustrators how to use color to evoke an emotional response in the viewer, to achieve depth and create a focal point in their work.

Val Lakey Lindahn, a professional illustrator for more than 30 years, talked to the illustrators about the importance of models and costumes for accurate painting and lighting. Val is a sculptor as well as a two-dimensional illustrator, and if she can’t find a suitable model for a project, she’ll sculpt or assemble one out of things like bones, found objects and clay.

After their lunch break, the illustrators spent more time in the studio, collecting references for their drawings, shooting photos where needed, and making progress on their in-class projects.

The big art reveal is a different experience for the illustrators. Most of them have never worked directly with an author before, and some have never worked for a client who isn’t an instructor. They’re not sure what to expect. In the art world, sometimes approval is limited to “good job, here’s your check.”

For the illustrators, the big reveal is nerve-wracking. What if the author doesn’t like the art?

When they see the writers respond, they’re baffled at first. They’ve never heard someone gush over their work like the writers do, and they’ve never seen someone moved to tears by their artwork before.

It’s a heady night the illustrators won’t soon forget.

Contributed by Kary English, Writers of the Future First Reader and winner from WotF 31.

2019 Illustrators of the Futue Winners at ASI

Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop – Day 3

Writers Workshop, Day 3: Writing Short Stories Using Story Prompts

David Farland (The Runelords) opened Day 3 of the writers’ workshop with a discussion of short story markets, when to use pen names, and the financial realities of writing fiction for a living.

Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game) warned the writers to steer clear of politics in their public and professional personas. In addition to alienating potential fans and readers, publishers and editors could have concerns about the author’s politics having a negative impact on sales.

Continuing on the theme of sales, David Farland talked about career arcs in traditional publishing. Ideally, an author sells their debut novel, proceeds to mid-list and lead author status, then reaches the lofty pinnacle of having multiple New York Times bestsellers.

With the 24-hour story looming, the instructors touched on the following:

  • Agents—A good agent can help make your career, and a bad one can break it. David Farland gave specific recommendations for how to conduct an agent search using the dealmakers database in Publishers Marketplace.
  • On trying to write to trends—By the time something is a trend, the caboose is leaving the station. Try to set the trend instead.
  • On MFAs and other credentials for writers—A writer’s best credential is their last book.
  • Rights—Make sure you understand the full spectrum of subsidiary rights (e.g. audio, merchandise, RPGs, etc.) that are part of your novel so you can maximize your income by selling them.

Our trio of famous authors finished the morning with a discussion of Hollywood and movie deals.

After lunch, the writers embarked on their 24-hour story. First, they visited a library for short story prompts from random books pulled off shelves, then they hit the streets of Hollywood to interview a stranger. After yesterday’s discussion of using details for realism in fiction and short stories, the writers should be well-equipped for their challenge.

The clock started ticking at 4 pm, giving writers just 24 hours to draft a complete short story inspired by a random item, random information from the library, and their interview with a stranger.

Coffee’s brewing, words are flying, and the sun is setting on a long night of writing.

Illustrator workshop, Day 2: Art as a Business

Day 2 of the Illustrators of the Future Workshop kicked off with a tour of Author Services, showcasing book covers, illustrations, paintings, graphic novels and other fantasy and sci-fi art produced by previous contest winners.

Back at the hotel, the illustrators settled in to learn the business of art from instructors Echo Chernik and Lazarus Chernik of Echo-X Illustration. Echo and Lazarus taught illustrators how to put together a portfolio, including how to tailor a portfolio to showcase different styles, for presentation to a particular client or to bid for a particular project.

The instructors introduced the illustrators to the difference between commercial and fine art, covering contracts, the creative process, delivery and payment, and how to communicate with everyone from indie authors to game designers to art directors and CEOs.

The illustrators wanted to know more about where to advertise their art and which venues gave the best value.

Echo and Lazarus talked about the financial realities of starting out as a freelance artist, chuckling about the idea that you only have to work half-days, and you even get to pick which 12 hours those are. Since we’re talking science fiction and fantasy art, those might not be Earth days, either!

The illustrator judges wrapped up the day with an assignment: the illustrators have until tomorrow to turn in nine thumbnails, small sketches designed to test concepts before moving forward with a finished piece.

After dinner, the illustrators returned for a live drawing session featuring models in sci-fi and fantasy costumes. Some drew with traditional media such as ink and charcoal, while others drew on laptops and tablets. Echo brought out her brand new Staedtler blues and joined in!

2019 Writer Winners Group Shot

Writers & Illustrators of the Future Workshop – Day 2

Writer Workshop: Day 2, Story Ideas and Outlines

While Sunday was arrival day for the illustrators, it was the first full workshop day for our twelve writer winners. The day began at 9 am with a tour of Author Services, Inc. including the magnificent Writers of the Future library which features books, magazines, and graphic novels written or illustrated by contest winners past and present.

On their return to the workshop space, Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game) kicked off the day of writing tips with a history and overview of tense and point of view in fiction. The writers learned the nuances and limitations of everything from first person present to third person omniscient. Card even discussed second person future (which you will appreciate soon).

Tim Powers (On Stranger Tides) gave each writer the random items they’ll be using as story prompts when they begin their 24-hour stories on Day 2. The writers pondered their items, brainstorming what they might do with things like a blank 3×5 card, a tea bag or a tiny book of whale pictures.

David Farland (The Runelords) discussed story structure, teaching writers about the importance of try/fail cycles when writing short stories. Card supplemented the lesson with highlights from his popular MICE quotient theory (detailed in his book Characters & Viewpoint for those following along at home).

After their lunch break, the writers returned for talks on how to get the most out of writing workshops, different approaches to sensory details, and how to transport the reader into your story physically, emotionally and intellectually.

Our trio of famous authors wrapped up the day by talking about where story ideas come from and how to get more than a thousand story ideas in an hour by asking yourself just four questions.

Day 1 of the writer workshop ended with homework assignments designed to keep readers in suspense. Will the writers take the lessons to heart? Will they ever write in second person future POV? Will they ever be able to get the words “beaver water” out of their heads?

Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Reporting by Kary English, Writers of the Future Contest First Reader and winner from Volume 31.

Illustrators of the Future Art Workshop: Day 1, Arrival

Illustrators of the Future Contest winners arrived today from across the US including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Vermont, 3 from the Seattle area, 2 from California, as well as 2 from England. It turns out that Josh Pemberton, Allen Morris, and Christine Rhee were all introduced to the Contest by Volume 34 Illustrators of the Future winner, Bruce Brenneise. Looks like Bruce knows how to pick ’em! Thank you, Bruce!

Their art styles and aspirations range from sci-fi art to fantasy art, character design, concept art, and story illustration.

Upon arrival, the illustrator winners were whisked off to do video interviews and podcasts for social media promotion for themselves, the Contest, and the book. Sharing their sources of inspiration and their hopeful plans for the future. These talented artists are definitely people to watch for.

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.