Illustrators of the Future Contest

Illustrators of the Future 3rd Quarter 2017 Winners Announced

The judging results are in! And here are the winners for the Illustrators of the Future Contest—3rd Quarter 2017


Congratulations to the winners:

Alana Fletcher from Vermont

Maksym Polishchuk from Ukraine

Jazmen Richardson from Florida


Alana is currently a student at Ferris State University in Michigan. She is studying mastering the art of storytelling through illustrations and in concept art.

Maksym is studying art and considers himself a renaissance man, in that he is also a student of architecture and music. A fellow student in his art class suggested that he enter the contest.

Jazmen is currently a student at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida and entered the contest on the advice of a former contest winner Dustin Panzino.

Orson Scott Card

Are We at the End of Science Fiction?

These aren’t the best of times for science fiction.

The magazines, from the venerable Fantasy and Science Fiction to the once-dominant Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine are at astonishingly low circulation levels, and even that bastion of idea-oriented (“hard”) science fiction, Analog, is hurting.

But those are the short stories, and they have long been an anomaly inside the genre. Long after short stories became a dead issue in popular reading, and the old fiction magazines either died or found new kinds of content, science fiction stories persisted. It’s possible that the decline of the magazines only means that science fiction is catching up with—or falling down with—the rest of the literary world.

When you look at the science fiction section of the major bookstores, it can seem that science fiction is doing just fine. In Barnes & Noble there’s a healthy section labeled science fiction, with lots of titles and …

Oh, wait. It’s labeled science fiction and fantasy, and when you look at the covers of those books, what do you see?

Trees. Horses. Mythical beasts. The only sheet metal seems to be on medieval armor.

What happened to the science fiction? Oh, wait—there’s a Benford. And ah, yes. We have a spaceship here on this Niven, and that Barnes, and … and the very fact that we can count the covers with a science fiction look tells us something.

It’s a conspiracy! Fantasy is crowding science fiction off the shelves!

Relax. There are no conspiracies, except insofar as capitalism might be considered one. Bookstores and publishers are in the business of making money by selling books. If the reading public were snapping up science fiction books in numbers anything like the sales of big thick fantasy trilogies (or infinite series like Jordan’s Wheel of Time), then science fiction’s space on the shelves would not be declining relative to fantasy.

The only part of the science fiction market that seems impervious to this decline in sales is that portion devoted to Star Wars, Star Trek, and other media-based fiction. And in some ways those are the opposite of science fiction. For science fiction has long functioned, not as a predictor of the future (we usually get it wrong), but rather as a rehearsal for it.

That is, when readers plunge into a science fiction novel, they set aside at least some of their assumptions about the present reality and try to absorb a new set of rules. Whether it’s the physics, the biology, the psychology, or the history of the world that is transformed, the very thing that makes it science fiction is that the story takes readers out of this world and into another.

The very process of picking up the cues and learning how the world differs requires that readers be observant and analytical — they have to notice changes and induce new rule sets and deduce new conclusions (or, reasoning backward, premises) in order to navigate in this invented environment.

In effect, then, the process of reading a science fiction novel prepares you to adapt to the changes that are coming at a rapid pace in our world. That’s one reason why adolescents are much more likely to read science fiction than adults are — because that adolescents’ world is already in flux, as is their role within it, and exploring alternate realities is in some ways closer to the practical issues of an adolescent life than strictly realistic fiction.

But science fiction is not, contrary to some assertions, a branch of children’s literature. There have always been adults who continue to thrive on the fiction of reinvention and transformation long after their adolescence is behind them. The best science fiction is almost always written for those adults, and adolescents only adopt it as their own after the fact. (There are exceptions, of course, like the great William Sleator; nor can we forget Heinlein’s and Andre Norton’s “juveniles” from fifty years ago.)

So … what has happened in the past decade or so?

The world hasn’t stopped changing. The need for transformative literature can’t have disappeared.

I’ve heard (or thought of) several speculations:

1. Science Has Moved On. The cutting edge of science has moved to theoretical or submicroscopic or beyond-cosmic levels that don’t lend themselves to storytelling — because they don’t lead to new machines or cool new creatures. We don’t even understand the science when you do try to use it in a story. So we turn to fantasy or alternate history to give us interesting stories contrary to the present reality. Therefore science fiction isn’t so much dying as changing clothes, because we ran out of science that was accessible to readers.

2. We Used Up the Ideas. All the really cool stories that were possible within science fiction have been written. With the exception of Carter Scholz’s unforgettable “The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke,” you really can’t rewrite the classic idea stories. “Nightfall” and “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” and “To Serve Man” have already been written. Now we’re just getting retreads of the same old stories: Another time travel paradox story, another persecuted mutant story, another meet-the-aliens-and-find-out-they-really-are/aren’t-trying-to-kill-us story.

3. The Good Writers All Got Old (or Died) and the Younger Ones Suck. Depending on whether you class me as old (I’m over fifty) or young (compared to Bradbury or Clarke), I can’t help but take this one rather personally. Still, the idea is that without the real masters to lead us, we’ve lost our way, and now the best new writers simply refuse to keep company on the bookshelves with the a genre that has become so much worse than it used to be.

4. Science Fiction Was Always Lousy. I really hate this one, but I hear it a lot, so I have to include it. Science fiction was never good, but it felt new, so it attracted a lot of attention. Now it doesn’t feel new anymore, so it’s more obvious than ever how very bad it has always been.

5. Print Sci-Fi Can’t Compete with Computer Graphics. Readers are now impatient with science fiction that can only hint at fantastic new worlds; they’re used to seeing those fantastic places and devices and creatures on the screen. So the audience that used to read in order to see wonders in their minds eye now buy DVDs or videogames to get that thrill.

6. Women Prefer Fantasy. This might sound sexist, but it’s a publishing reality that most books are bought by women. For decades, however, science fiction remained a bastion of primarily-male reading. Women began reading sci-fi in greater and greater numbers from the sixties on, and they brought their tastes with them, so tech-centered stories began to give way to character-centered stories. But character-centered stories can be written as easily in a fantasy world as a science fictional world, and so the women readers have caused fantasy to rise as a portion of the speculative fiction genre.

7. Writers Are Lazy and Fantasy Is Easier to Write. After all, you don’t have to know any science, you just make stuff up. In fantasy, anything can happen.

8. The Audience Has Moved On. The new generation of readers is either too lazy to do the work required to process science fiction, or has such elevated tastes that sci-fi is now beneath them. I hear both theories, and sometimes from the same people.

Which, if any, of these explanations is true?

1. Yes, a lot of exciting science is in areas where it’s hard to explain them to readers and harder still to find a compelling story to tell. It’s not as if you can put your characters back at the Big Bang. (I refuse to count the story where a spaceship slips into a black hole, goes back in time, and causes the Big Bang.) But the fact is that there are still plenty of great stories left to tell in all of the subgenres of the field. We haven’t thought of every alien race or transformed human society; we haven’t dealt with ever scientific point of interest or every biological oddity that might be thought of. We have not run out of science.

2. Nor have all the good ideas been told. It’s true that the pure idea story, in which characterization does not matter — “Nightfall,” “The Star” — is harder to come up with nowadays, in part because the more obvious ones have been taken. But there are still inventive writers who spew out ideas like a leaky firehose. To claim that the good ideas are used up is to be like that legendary patent official who resigned in 1800 because everything had been invented.

3. It’s simply not true that the younger generation of writers cannot compare with the older ones. Good new writers come along every year, and great ones show up, too.

4. It is true that when you go back to some of the early sci-fi that first created an enthusiastic audience for the genre, much of their work does not hold up well. E.E. “Doc” Smith’s work does not hold up well compared to later writers. But it’s worth pointing out that he was helping invent a new genre, pioneering new ground. As was once said of the classics: “If we see farther, it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants.” When they were busy inventing science fiction, our literary forebears did not think of everything at once. But it is an arrogant epochist who sneers at older writers for not being modern. I personally find Slan unreadable — but van Vogt changed science fiction and like it or not, I am one of his heirs. There was an audience for my work because he created it. Besides, what does that have to do with today? Anybody who knows the average quality of high school and college graduate today has to laugh at the idea that the new generation is so sophisticated that they’ve finally caught on that sci-fi has always been lousy.

5. This one has some truth to it. When a new art form emerges, it sometimes forces the older art forms to adapt or die. The advent of movies began to kill vaudeville, and talkies threatened to kill theatre. Why see local actors perform when you could see world-famous movie stars every time? And once color film came long, neither plays nor fiction could compete for sheer spectacle. Once you might read a book in order to imagine faraway or magical places. Now you just went to the movies. In response, plays stopped trying to be realistic and concentrated on dialogue, while books retreated to the one place where movies can’t go: inside the characters’ minds. The same thing happened to movies when television came along — the intimate comedies and dramas became far more rare, since television could take you closer to the actors and put them in the living room or bedroom; movies became dominated by the movies that showed things you couldn’t put on tv. So now, with computer graphics allowing movies and games to show things that have never existed and could never exist, print science fiction has less to offer. It has to find something that films or games just can’t do in order to continue to exist.

6. Blaming the decline of sci-fi on women is just silly, I think. It might explain why fantasy sells more than sci-fi, but since I don’t know of any women who’ve gone around killing male sci-fi readers, their entry into the audience can hardly explain the decrease in sci-fi readership.

7. Maybe there was once a kind of fantasy that was “easier to write,” but it sure isn’t the mammoth eternal epic that is selling is such vast numbers today. Today, in fact, what’s making the best fantasy literature so good is the fact that fantasy is finally being written to science-fiction standards. That is, instead of stealing the tropes of Robert E. Howard or J.R.R. Tolkien, changing the names, and pumping out words, fantasy writers today are required by their readers to account for the economy, to carefully think through the rules of magic, to create plausible multi-layered societies — in short, to fully invent their worlds, just as good sci-fi writers have to do. It’s every bit as hard to do what Robin Hobb or George R.R. Martin do in fantasy as to do what Larry Niven or Jerry Pournelle do in science fiction. (And it’s worth pointing out that even less-talented writers usually sweat just as much blood to create mediocre fantasy novels as mediocre sci-fi novels.)

8. Today’s college and high school grads are, in fact, less well-educated and seem, at least, to be lazier than their predecessors. I have written diatribes elsewhere on the reasons why our schools are training a lot of kids to hate literature; this isn’t the place for that. But this still wouldn’t explain the relative decline of the science fiction audience. While those graduates who do strive to be part of the literary elite have always despised science fiction or appreciated only those sci-fi stories that are least like sci-fi and most like li-fi, and as li-fi writers and editors will tell you, that audience has not increased in numbers at all in recent decades.

There are some vaguer theories, too — so vague as to be impossible to prove or disprove. Like the idea that sci-fi is declining because instead of being excited about the future and eager to move on into it, the general public is now more likely to be discouraged and pessimistic, especially with science-centered futures, since science in so many ways seems to have failed to live up to the high expectations that people were led — in part by older sci-fi — to expect.

I suspect that it might also be a generational thing. It is still possible to write great science fiction, but many young writers may feel that the field has been saturated, that they cannot compete with the great ones who went before. So it’s possible that a higher proportion of our talented young writers are simply moving into other genres where they feel it’s more possible to do important, original work.

Or it might be a different generational shift. Maybe it’s just that fantasy seems to offer clearcut moral decisions to a world that has lost hold of any sense of universal verities. While some kinds of religion make a lot of news, the fact is that in the Western world, belief in traditional religion and scripture has radically declined in the past decades, leaving people hungry for religion but unable to believe in the old ones. Good science fiction doesn’t fill the void, but good fantasy can. So fantasy isn’t a replacement for sci-fi, it’s a replacement for the Bible.

Or it might be that sci-fi has simply run its course and it’s time for another revolutionary wave to transform American literature. Just as science fiction was the revolution after Modernism (“post-Modernism” is just Modernism with a new tie), perhaps the new wave of realistic character-centered mysteries are the revolution after sci-fi; or perhaps the new realistic fantasies are; or both. And perhaps the next literary revolution already has its seeds planted somewhere else, and we simply haven’t noticed it yet. These things move in cycles that are beyond our control and are rarely identified until well after the fact. Maybe sci-fi simply got old and is now on life support simply because the life cycle of literary revolutions is only forty to sixty years and we’ve already had longer than we could have hoped.

Pick-your-speculation is a game we could play all day without coming up with a useful answer.

But let me suggest another set of possibilities:

1. Maybe most or all of these ideas contain some speck of truth, but the real fact is that all we need is some brilliant writer to bring science fiction back into preeminence, the way that J.K. Rowling put children’s literature at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List for so many months that the big whining babies in the New York literary scene were able to pressure the Times to create a special children’s list in order to get Harry Potter out of the way. (To which my response is, why not give Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Tom Clancy, and John Grisham emeritus status and open up even more slots on the list to those pathetic, needy writers who think somebody is cheating them out of their rightful measure of fame?) All it would take is one great writer to make all the hand-wringing about the death of sci-fi seem … premature.

2. Maybe the writer who will do that has just had his or her first story published in the annual Writers of the Future anthology, which continues to thrive, continues to discover eager and talented new writers, and continues to please thousands of readers who become the audience for yet another generation of sci-fi writers.

Science fiction has always happened first in the short stories. Novels bring each new movement to fruition, but the new ideas, the new trends, the new techniques have always surfaced first in the short form.

And if newsstand science fiction dies, maybe that’s because the newsstand itself is dying; maybe the internet will eventually become the new home for sci-fi short stories.

The internet—and Writers of the Future I tell my writing students that they owe it to themselves to submit their stories to this contest and, therefore, this anthology first. Because Writers of the Future actually delivers on the promise. When you win, it can build you an audience; it can lead you to a career.

So. Maybe science fiction is dying. If it is, you’ll find the best last gasps of the field here in these pages.

And if it isn’t dying, it’s in large part because of this book, this series of books devoted to the science fiction short story and the newly-hatched writer, revivifying the field year in and year out. Perhaps not quite like the Nile flood or the monsoon, but at least like the April showers that bring May flowers.

In 2006, Writers of the Future judge Orson Scott Card addressed a very simple if not vital question which was published in Writers of the Future Volume 22

A chef

The Fine Distinction Between Cooks and Chefs

A lot of people want to give you writing advice. I’ve felt it—trust me, I’ve been there. During my long years trying to break in as a writer, I felt that I never lacked for someone jumping in to tell me how this writing thing had to be done.

I appreciated most of it. Writing is, in most cases, a solitary art. Every bit of advice helps, in its own way, even if all it does is express solidarity. But in most of the sincere suggestions, I also sensed a kind of worried paternalism. The authors offering advice seemed to be saying, “You poor thing. You have no idea what you’re in for.”

Trouble is, neither did they.

You see, every writer’s path is unique. What works every time for one of us will fail brilliantly for another of us. Each bit of writing advice has to be tempered with this terrible knowledge: that for the writer listening, your advice might be the most spectacularly wrong thing that has ever been suggested to them.

For one of us, an outline is a vital tool. For another, it’s a black hole that sucks the life from our story. For one of us, trimming words in revision is the only path to crisp, evocative prose. For another, cutting leads to a sense of empty, white-room syndrome in scenes. Some authors should never stop midstory to do revisions, lest they get lost in an endless cycle of tweaking, and lose all momentum. For others, this process is an essential step in discovering the voice of their characters.

As a writing instructor, this knowledge is daunting. At the same time, it’s intriguing. Each new writer is at the cusp of a grand journey—a journey we have all taken before, yet one where certain tools that worked for me will be useless for you. And at the end, we all arrive at a different place. That’s what makes writing so grand; each of us has something to add, and each of us has something new to discover that no one else could have found.

All of this leads to a question: If the usefulness of writing advice is so unpredictable, then why bother giving (or listening to) it in the first place? Well, unpredictable does not equate to unusable.

Your job as a writer is not to slavishly take every word uttered by a pro as gospel. Instead, you should envision yourself as an explorer. Or, if you will, as a chef.

There are two basic ways to bake a cake. The first, and the one that most of us use, is to follow a set of instructions. I can make a perfectly acceptable cake by doing this, as can most of us. However, I’m not a chef—just a cook, in this metaphor. You see, I don’t know why adding eggs to a cake is important, or what the real difference between baking soda and baking powder is. (I mean, both look like powders to me.)

If you want to make your way from journeyman writer to one creating professional-quality works, you can’t afford to be a cook. You can’t be the person who looks at a list of story ingredients and says, “Huh. Guess I just add these in the order listed.” I read far too many books (and see even more movies) that seem to have been created this way. Take everything that has been successful before, stick them in, bake at 375. Success, right?

That can’t be good enough for you. I want you to think consciously about the choices you make in writing. That’s how you find your way through the journey, and arrive at your unique destination. Just like a good chef knows what happens when you add a specific seasoning at a specific time, I suggest you start analyzing the fiction you love and ask yourself the hard questions.

Many “hero’s journey”-type stories start with an orphan. Why? What does this do to the story? Can you get this effect in a different way?

What really makes people turn the pages in a thriller? What creates this sensation of anxiety in the reader, and why do they enjoy it? What kinds of endings satisfy this emotion, and which ones fall flat for you?

Why do some romances work, while others feel contrived? What ingredients lead to a relationship plot that readers gobble up, and which kinds of relationship plots continue to work after the two characters have gotten together?

Every bit of writing advice you get is a tool that worked for someone. It might work for you. However, chances are that even if it does, it will do something slightly different in your stories than it does in mine. You are the chef, you are the master of your own writing. Don’t just follow a list someone tells you, own the process that you use to create.

At least, that’s the best advice I can give. Unfortunately, it might just be the most spectacularly wrong thing that’s ever been suggested to you.

Try it out and see.

This essay was originally published in Writers of the Future Volume 32.


Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson’s novels include the Mistborn books, Words of Radiance, The Rithmatist, and Steelheart, among others. He completed Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; the final volume, A Memory of Light, was released in 2013. Brandon also teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University and is a judge for the Writers of the Future Contest.

Author Ken Liu, photo by Li Yibo (李一博)

Focus on Ken Liu: Writers of the Future Volume 19 Finalist

“Treasure your time at the workshop,” Ken Liu says when I ask how he would advise a new prizewinner going to the Writers of the Future workshop, “but don’t make too much of it.”

This is Ken Liu in a nutshell. He’s a well-spoken man who puts conflicting ideas side by side and then makes you think about what they mean.

He does it in his award-winning fiction and he does it in his conversation. He even does it in his press bio wherein he challenges the reader by describing himself in intriguing juxtaposition as: American/Chinese, Christian/Daoist, Confucian/Populist. To this, let me add lawyer and computer programmer. And, lest we forget: Hugo-winning translator of speculative fiction (The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin, the first translation to ever be so honored), and winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards (for “The Paper Menagerie,” 2011). His debut novel, The Grace of Kings (2015), the first volume in The Dandelion Dynasty, won the Locus Best First Novel Award and was a Nebula finalist.

“The workshop was a great experience,” Liu says. “I went as a published finalist (his story “Gossamer” was included in Volume XIX, in 2003), and it was my first and only real workshop. I was really excited. It was an important milestone for me.”

Ken Liu at the Writers Workshop

Ken Liu at the Writers Workshop

He then proceeded off on an energetic discussion about K.D. Wentworth, Tim Powers, and all the other instructors that came to the session. He talked about learning craftwork, story structure, and the business as a whole. He talked about the opportunity to be with so many people who shared his passion for the field of speculative fiction. He talked about writing the twenty-four-hour story (which turned into “State Change,” a fantastic piece later published in Polyphony, Vol. 4, and now available on his website). But the thing that strikes me most as I listen to Ken Liu talk about the workshop comes when he talks about understanding what it means to be a professional writer.

“The workshop taught me a lot about how to behave as a professional and what it means to have a career,” he says. “Back then the internet wasn’t as robust as it is now. It was harder to find good information about what to expect on the business end. To have these writers come into the room and give us their personal examples made a difference.”

That became important later because, as many WotF participants find, being a professional writer is a long haul full of emotional ups and downs. “I was a classic case of what not to do,” he says of a several year period after his anthology appearance when he wasn’t publishing work. “I had taken a role doing corporate law and my time was limited so I could argue that my life was too hectic to write, but really I was obsessing over a single story when I should have been doing other work. I kept coming back to this same story over and over again because I thought it was my best work, and it wasn’t selling. Pretty soon it became easier to just not do anything.”

It worked out in the end, though. In 2010 the dam broke to the tune of four stories published, 2011 tallied twenty-one stories published and more than a few major awards. Ken Liu, as they might say, had arrived.

He’s learned it’s important to take it all in stride, though, which is what he means by that don’t make too much of it in his advice to new WotF participants. “Keep working,” he says. “Awards like Writers of the Future are fun, but they are just milestones and they don’t sustain you. Keep working, though. Keep writing. It’s important that you always feel like you’re improving your craft. Every problem a writer has can be solved by writing more.”

So, let’s see…

Ken Liu's Wall of Storms

Ken Liu’s Wall of Storms

The Wall of Storms, the second volume in his series, was published in 2016, as was a collection of short stories, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. Not to mention seven other short stories, including the Locus Award-nominated “Seven Birthdays,” Invisible Planets, an anthology of contemporary Chinese SF in translation that he edited, and Death’s End, his translation of the third volume of Liu Cixin’s hard SF trilogy, each of which saw release in the past year. Among other forthcoming projects, next October will see the publication of his Star Wars book, The Legends of Luke Skywalker.

Yeah, I would say Ken Liu is following his own advice pretty well, and, yeah, it seems to be working just fine.

You can keep up-to-date with Ken at his website and on twitter (@kyliu99).


Ron Collins

Ron Collins

Guest blogger, Ron Collins.
Ron Collins was a Writers of the Future published finalist in 1998 and a prize winner in 1999. He has gone on to publish about 100 short stories in prominent magazines and anthologies. Each volume in his fantasy serial Saga of the God-Touched Mage, hit the top 10 on Amazon’s bestselling Dark Fantasy list in the US, UK, and Australia. His short story, “The White Game” was nominated for the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s 2016 Derringer Award. The first four books of his current SF series, Stealing the Sun, are available now. Find out more about Ron at

Ken Scholes

Focus on Ken Scholes: Writers of the Future Vol 22 Winner

"Hymn" by Ken Scholes

“Hymn” by Ken Scholes

In addition to his Writers of the Future Award for “Into the Blank Where Life Is Hurled” (published in volume XXI of the annual anthology), Ken Scholes’s fiction has won France’s Prix Imaginales and the Pacific Northwest’s Endeavour Award, among others. His work is published internationally in eight languages, and he’s just put a wrap on Hymn, the last in his five-book Psalms of Isaak saga, due out in December 2017 from Tor Books.

He’s also working on a short nonfiction book and has plans to dabble in short fiction as he ponders a YA novel before Hymn comes out.

A check of his bio shows Ken’s background includes “time spent as a label gun repairman, a sailor who never sailed, a soldier who commanded a desk, a preacher, a nonprofit executive, a musician and a government procurement analyst.” But his heart is in fiction, and for that, he’s most grateful to the Writers of the Future Contest.

“I credit the contest for launching me into the pro waters and I continue to recommend it highly. I was just telling another writer about my experience there the other day. It is a great way to break into the field, and the workshop is amazing. I made friends through that experience that I’m still in touch with a dozen years later.”

Ken with fellow writer winner, Eric James Stone, talking to new winners

Ken with fellow writer winner, Eric James Stone, talking to new winners

Ken also puts his time back into the contest, having returned a few times to attend the ceremony and speak at the workshop.

That’s not too surprising, though, is it?

His awards alone are enough to say Ken Scholes is a fantastic writer. Reading his work will confirm it. But he’s also clearly a person who wants to make a difference in other people’s lives.

How better to help new writers than sit down with them and have a talk, eh?

Seriously, how better?

So, yeah, award-winner, family man and social advocate, a supporter of new writers: I’d say Ken Scholes is a guy who’s going a long way toward making the world a better place.


Ron Collins

Ron Collins

Guest blogger, Ron Collins.
Ron Collins was a Writers of the Future published finalist in 1998 and a prize winner in 1999. He has gone on to publish about 100 short stories in prominent magazines and anthologies. Each volume in his fantasy serial Saga of the God-Touched Mage, hit the top 10 on Amazon’s bestselling Dark Fantasy list in the US, UK, and Australia. His short story, “The White Game” was nominated for the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s 2016 Derringer Award. The first four books of his current SF series, Stealing the Sun, are available now. Find out more about Ron at

Writers of the Future Workshop 2017

Writers of the Future Workshop 2017 – Day 1

After as long as a year’s wait, fourteen writers (and one illustrator!) from around the world descended on Los Angeles today as the 33rd Annual Writers of the Future workshop commenced. They came from Finland, and from Utah. From Poland, and Kentucky. From the United Kingdom, Michigan, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Missouri, and, yes, even California. This international flavor has always been one of the most exciting things about the event as far as I’m concerned. How better to show the pure human nature of creativity than to see it coming from across the entire planet?

After settling into the hotel and getting situated, the evening’s main event was an introductory gathering of the winners in which each took a few moments to share their backgrounds. Then it was the instructors’ turn. Tim Powers and Dave Farland each gave a few words on how they expected the week to go. The discussion was light-hearted and energetic. You could feel the energy building in the room as Tim and Dave talked about the purpose of the event, and the purpose of the contest itself—to move writers to a different level of thinking about the craft, art, productivity, and perseverance it can take to be successful as a writer.

As a returning participant, it was a total blast to watch the reactions around the group to the idea of writing a story in 24 hours. Sure, everyone knew it was coming, but the idea got more real as Tim described the three “prompts” the gang would get: A seemingly normal object, a book on some random thing, and a conversation with a random stranger. “Put them all together,” Tim said. “And come back with a complete story.”

“I can’t wait to get started,” Jake Marley said. “I’m excited!”

By the end of the night it seemed clear that this was a sentiment shared by everyone.

Here are some of the highlights of the day in pics.

A ton of cool pics from today’s highlights can be seen HERE.


Ron Collins, guest blogger Guest blogger, Ron Collins.
Ron Collins was a Writers of the Future published finalist in 1998 and a prize winner in 1999. He has gone on to publish about 100 short stories in prominent magazines and anthologies. Each volume in his fantasy serial Saga of the God-Touched Mage, hit the top 10 on Amazon’s bestselling Dark Fantasy list in the US, UK, and Australia. His short story, “The White Game” was nominated for the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s 2016 Derringer Award. The first four books of his current SF series, Stealing the Sun, are available now.

Image of a knight facing off with a dragon

Why Is It Not an Adventure Worth Telling If There Aren’t Any Dragons?

This heading, of course, is referring to the famous J.R.R. Tolkien quote: “It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.”

Dragons have been with us in myths tracing back as far as 4000 BC. Not only have stories, both verbal and written, been passed down through history about these scaly winged creatures but they’ve also been sculpted, drawn, painted and incorporated into legends in almost every culture on earth. Our fascination with the fire-breathing beasts continues to grow in the 21st century thanks to films, video games and entire websites dedicated to these iconic creatures.

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 33For this reason, the theme of our upcoming Writers and Illustrators of the Future annual awards event is around “Dragons and Dreamers.” It just happened that way when we chose Larry Elmore’s dragon art, Crimson Dawn, for the cover of the latest edition of L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 33. (For more about the cover art, see our blog Dragon Art Inspiration for New Story.)

Naturally, it was appropriate to include in this year’s anthology an article on writing by Grand Master Anne McCaffrey entitled, “A Thousand or So Words of Wisdom.” Anne is best known for the Dragonriders of Pern fantasy series and her son, Todd McCaffrey, is carrying forward that tradition. Todd is also featured in the book with his original short story, “The Dragon Killer’s Daughter.”

I decided to pull some advice and quotes from our judges and other creative minds, not on writing and not on illustration, but on how to deal with dragons in a world that is full of them. These insightful quotes might also explain why J.R.R. Tolkien said what he did about dragons.

Read on. These quotes are sure to inspire budding writers and artists.

On Dragons ─ from Writers of the Future Judges

“How much can a dragon carry? As much as it thinks it can.” ─Anne McCaffrey

“There are all kinds of dragons, including those of the mind: our own fierce, sometimes untamable thoughts and desires. Even if a story contains no physical dragons, dragons are there. They are always there.” ─Nancy Kress

“Dragons come in many forms. They can be a friendly mysterious beast. They can also be fire breathing terrors. They can come in the smoky cloak of fear and cripple you until you stand up and slay it. And so on. What all dragons have in common is that they breathe the heat that is life. An adventure isn’t an adventure without dragons. Tolkien was correct.” ─Nnedi Okorafor

“Dragons represent the great power and creativity that is inherent in all people. Having them in a story allows us to explore that potential.” ─Todd McCaffrey

“Dragons add magic and power that mere humans lack. A story about humans is a tale. A story with dragons is an epic.” ─Jody Lynn Nye

“Dragons were dangerous in the sky. Of course, they were dangerous on the ground too. Just less dangerous. In the same way that a sword is less dangerous so long as it’s pointed at someone else.” ─Brandon Sanderson from I Hate Dragons

On Dragons ─ from Many More Creative Writers, Poets and Artists

“Focus on the princess, not on the problem. You can’t marry the princess without killing the dragon. So when you see the dragon, just remember: There’s a princess on the other side.” ─Doug Wead

“Always speak politely to an enraged dragon.” ─Steven Brust

“We think, sometimes, there’s not a dragon left. Not one brave knight, not a single princess gliding through secret forests … What a pleasure to be wrong. Princesses, knights, enchantments and dragons, mystery and adventure … not only are they here-and-now, they’re all that ever lived on earth!” ─Richard Bach

“And what lesson can we draw from Volantene history?

“If you want to conquer the world, you best have dragons.” ─George R.R. Martin from A Dance with Dragons

“The objection to fairy stories is that they tell children there are dragons, but children have always known there are dragons. Fairy stories tell children that dragons can be killed.”  ─G.K. Chesterton

“People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.”  ─Ursula K. Le Guin

“Never laugh at live dragons.” ─J.R.R. Tolkien

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” ─Rainer Maria Rilke

“In life, you need courage to fight the dragons. The ones who live inside and the ones who live outside.” ─Ernesto Neto

And finally, I couldn’t resist…

“You know you’ve written a good book when even the people who hate it admit it’s entertaining.” ─Sully Tarnish about The Dragon and the Apprentice: A Wizard’s Wager

For more info about the annual awards event themed “Dragons and Dreamers” on the 2nd of April 2017 and to RSVP, click here.

Writers of the Future 4th Quarter Winners 4th Quarter Writers of the Future Winners

4th Quarter Writers of the Future Winners


Writers of the Future 4th Quarter
Winners, Finalists, Semi-Finalists and Honorable Mentions


Congratulations to you all!


First Place – Andrew Peery from North Carolina
Second Place – Ziporah Hildebrandt from Massachusetts
Third Place – Andrew L. Roberts from California



Karen Bovenmyer from Iowa
Jeanette Gonzalez from California
Paul Hamilton from California
Christian Monson from Arkansas
Jeff Soesbe from California


Anthony Bell from Washington
John Culver II from California
Nicholas Diehl from California
Philip Hall from Scotland
Jason McCuiston from South Carolina
John Walters from Greece
J. Deery Wray from California

Silver Honorable Mentions:

K.G. Anderson from Washington
Kristen Batstone from Pennsylvania
L. R. Braden from Colorado
Steven R. Brandt from Louisiana
Mark William Chase from Indiana
Paul E. Harmon from Arizona
K.R. Horton from Oregon
Storm Humbert from Ohio
Art Kasyanoff from Latvia
E.B. Koller from Minnesota
Annaliese Lemmon from Washington
J.L.A. Mathijsen from the Netherlands
Shawn R. McKee from Texas
Mel Melcer from the United Kingdom
Johan Persson from Sweden
Rajeev Prasad from California
Steve Rodgers from California
Rei Rosenquist from Hawaii
Jeff Suwak from Washington
Jeremy A. TeGrotenhuis from Washington
M. Elizabeth Ticknor from Michigan
Neal Williams from Colorado
Ramez Yoakeim from California
Tannara Young from California

Honorable Mentions:

Linda Maye Adams from Virginia
Nicholas Adams from Utah
Ryan Adams from Massachusetts
J.J. Adamson from Vermont
Mike Adamson from Australia
Atreyu Addams from New York
Amanda Alix from Massachusetts
James Beamon from Puerto Rico
Godfrey Bedstedter from Illinois
Brenda Bensch from Utah
Rebecca Birch from Washington
Hilary B. Bisenieks from California
Hugh Blackthorne from Canada
Megan Branning from Pennsylvania
Z.T. Bright from Utah
Michael D. Britton from Utah
Thomas K. Carpenter from Missouri
Anna Cates from Ohio
Steve Cave from Washington
Alicia Cay from Colorado
Kyla Chapek from Oregon
Joanne Chapman from Utah
Chan Yuk Chi from Singapore
Rui Cid from Portugal
Erin Cole from Oregon
Joshua Cook from Tennessee
John Cornell from Colorado
Emily Craven from Australia
Marc A. Criley from Alabama
Matthew Cropley from Australia
Andreea Daia from Massachusetts
Donavan Darius from Michigan
Brandon Daubs from California
James Davies from England
Gabrielle DeMay from Texas
Destiny A. Donelson from Ohio
Wade H. Dunham from Canada
Terrance Dunnavant from Tennessee
Heather Lee Dyer from Idaho
Jacob Edwards from Australia
Joshua Essoe from California
Jen Finelli from Puerto Rico
AJ Fitzwater from New Zealand
Ron S. Friedman from Canada
Lana Elizabeth Gabris from Canada
Ismael G. Galvan from California
Katharina Gerlach from Germany
Debora Godfrey from Washington
Bryn Grunwald from Colorado
DW Harvey from California
Kola Heyward-Rotimi from Massachusetts
Patrick Hurley from Washington
Martha Husain from Colorado
Mitchell Inkley from Utah
Jose Pablo Iriarte from Florida
M. Kay from New Jersey
Art Van Kilmer from California
Marjorie King from Texas
Michael Kingswood from California
Benjamin C. Kinney from Missouri
Michael Kortes from Canada
R. J. K. Lee from Japan
Jordan Legg from Canada
Greg W. Lyons from California
L.J. Martin from South Carolina
Samuel Marzioli from Oregon
Zoe Mathers from Canada
Perry McDaid from Northern Ireland
Keith McDuffee from Massachusetts
L.D. McEwing from California
Rob Milligan from Utah
C.T. Miner from South Dakota
Mark Minson from Utah
Sean Monaghan from New Zealand
Rosie Oliver from England
John M. Olsen from Utah
Sarah Lauren Ortega from Florida
Y.M. Pang from Canada
Stephen Patrick from Texas
Florian Pekazh from Bulgaria
Beth Powers from Indiana
Lisa J. Prince from Alabama
Timothy Reynolds from Canada
Meghan Rodela from California
Sid Roe from Texas
Elizabeth Sadler from Georgia
H.J. Sandgathe from Utah
Patricia L. Shelton from Arizona
Austin Shirey from Virginia
Robert Anthony Smith from New Jersey
J.R. Spencer from Texas
Elise Stephens from Washington
Robert N. Stephenson from Australia
Xariffa Suarez from Texas
Travis Sullivan from Japan
Jeremy Szal from Australia
Alex C. Telander from California
Ryan Toxopeus from Canada
Nikki Trionfo from Utah
Michael T. Wells from Pennsylvania
Robert Luke Wilkins from California
Marc Venema from Canada
Nick Wood from the United Kingdom
Neil V. Young from California
Lech Zdunkiewicz from California


31st Anniversary Writers & Illustrators of the Future Winners!

Here is the full list of the 31st Anniversary Writers and Illustrators of the Future Winners:

First Quarter
1st place – Tim Napper from Australia
2nd place – Auston Habershaw from Massachusetts
3rd place – Martin Shoemaker from Michigan

Tung Chi Lee from California
Michelle Lockamy from New Jersey
Emily Siu from Pennsylvania

Second Quarter
1st place – Kary English from California
2nd place – Samantha Murray from Perth
3rd place – Scott R. Parkin from Utah

Shuangjian Liu from California
Taylor Payton from Minnesota
Amit Dutta from New Zealand

Third Quarter
1st place – Daniel Davis from North Carolina
2nd place – Amy M. Hughes from Utah
3rd place – Michael T. Banker from New York

Quinlan Septer from Michigan
Alex Brock from Arizona
Choong Nyung Yoon from New York

Fourth Quarter
1st place – Sharon Joss from Oregon
2nd place – Steve Pantazis from California
3rd place – Krystal Claxton from Georgia
Finalist – Zach Chapman from Texas

Megen Nelson from Florida
Megan Kelchner from New York
Daniel Tyka from Poland

Congratulations to you all and we will see you in Hollywood for the 31st Anniversary of the L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers and Illustrators of the Future Awards Gala!

Tanget Magazine Best Sci Fi Stories of 2014

Tangent — the only magazine that reviews short science fiction — has listed their choices for the best stories of 2014. Of the 15 winners, 10 are Writers of the Future Winners!

The 2014 winners are (with Writers of the Future Winners in bold):

Here are Tangent’s Best of 2014 picks
“In a Green Dress, Surrounded by Exploding Clowns”, by Robert T. Jeschonek
“The Wings, The Lungs, The Engine, The Heart”, by Laurie Tom
“Zombies at Work”, by Leena Likitalo
“Fate and Other Variables”, by Alex Shvartsman
“Holland: 1944”, by Steve Cameron
“The Nechronometer”, by Brad R. Torgersen
“Pocket Full of Mumbles”, by Tina Gower
“Honey, Plums and Cinnamon”, by Andrea Stewart
“Matial”, by Lou J. Berger
“Song of the Sargasso”, by Marina J. Lostetter
“Ima Gonna Finish You Off”, by Marina J. Lostetter
“Through the Eons Darkly”, by Brian Trent
“Upright, Unlocked”, by Tom Gerencer
“Hark! Listen to the Animals!”, by Lisa Tan Liu & Ken Liu
“Neep”, by K. C. Norton