Andrew and Jake signing books for fans at SDCC.

Check Out How SD Comic Con Welcomed Writers of the Future

Over 500 Comic Con attendees had an opportunity to meet Writers of the Future Volume 33 winners Jake Marley and Andrew L. Roberts to get an autographed copy of volume 33 and the beautiful poster of the cover art, Crimson Dawn, painted by Larry Elmore.

We thought we would let Jake and Andy tell you in their own words what it was like. Here is Jake’s overview of the event

“Getting to sign copies of L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future at the San Diego ComicCon was a dream come true. The last time I was in San Diego for the con was eight years ago, and I promised myself I wouldn’t return until I was a professional sitting on the other side of the table.

“Galaxy Press not only got us a pro-badge, but we had a non-stop signing that lasted until we ran out of copies of the book to sell! I’m delighted to know that so many new readers have copies of my story on their shelf. I can’t think of any other possible way my first published story would’ve ever brought me to SDCC, let alone give me the kind of opportunity to meet so many amazing people.

“Once our books were sold out, Andrew L. Roberts and I walked around the enormous convention and managed to find ourselves talking with folks at Simon & Schuster and Penguin/Random House about the contest and our experience as newly published authors.

“There is no other contest that will provide you with the opportunities that Writers of the Future does. You’re part of a group when you win, so you can meet up and go to signings together, you can get tips from some of the biggest pros in the industry, and you can have the confidence to take the next step in your publishing career. The lessons I’ve learned from Writers of the Future are going to help me to achieve all of my writing goals, and they’ve inspired me to dream even bigger.

“Thanks again to everyone at Galaxy Press for making this possible. I had an AMAZING time and if you ever have any other venues you’d like me to hop aboard, let me know and I’ll do my darnedest to make it. I love hanging out with all of you, and I appreciate this more than you can know!” –Jake

Here are Andrew’s thoughts on the signing—

“Jake makes it easy! I learned more from him on the fly than I ever expected. He has a terrific talent when it comes to connecting with people, but more importantly, he really makes the effort to push things to the next level—and he succeeds!

“I think it helped too that he and I click because we are genuine friends, but anyone who signs with Jake is likely to grow and get better at this aspect of being a writer.

“Ultimately though, what really made the event work so well was having the support and energy of the whole Galaxy Press crew. Everyone who was there was a vital part of the process, from our barkers handing out posters and bringing folks in, to Sarah talking to the people one on one in the line and prepping them for us, and finally with Emily who took care of the actual sales—they did the real work so that all Jake and I had to do was happily engage, sign books and be good ambassadors for the Contest. We had the easiest part and the funnest.

“From this experience and from my previous experiences signing with Doug (Souza) and Sean (Hazlett) I have become convinced that signing in pairs or threes is the best way to go. It keeps the energy positive. But man! Having a whole support team was golden.

“I really hope you do this again at other conventions as well as Comic Con. And if you do I hope you include some of the artists as well as the writers, because Jake and I always asked each customer if they were writers or artists and then made a point of promoting both aspects of the contest. We were also quick to express gratitude when the customers identified themselves as ‘readers.’ Because we only get to be writers so long as there are readers.” —Andy

In addition to Jake and Andrew, past winner Steve Pantazis (author of “Switch,” Writers of the Future Volume 31) and his wife came by to congratulate them and wish them well with their signing.


Larry Niven

Writers of the Future Workshop 2017 – Day 6

Saturday is essentially a “Cavalcade of Stars.” For the winners, this means that today they don’t have to go anywhere except the classroom, but about every hour or so a new judge stops by to give them something new to think about (luckily, the brains of the winners are infinite storage cells for all the stuff that’s going on).

Nina Kiriki Hoffman starts the morning out with a fun exercise for creating idea, which gets C.L. Kagmi (3rd place, Q3) pumped. “I loved that exercise,” she said. She has this great idea, now, you see, but she has a problem: All she wants to do is go writer, but there’s a whole day’s worth of learning to sit through. Somehow, she manages. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with, though. Very little is more fun to see than a writer with an idea burning in her mind.

Doug Beason was next up. He talks about focusing on characters and relationships in science fiction. “It’s not good enough to just put cool technology and ideas into pieces anymore,” he says. Nancy Kress and I have a little conversation about this in the cracks of the session. My own little pin on this kind of thing is that, as time moves forward, what used to be considered harder science fiction has turned into contemporary fiction. But then, what do I know, right? Doug spends thirty minutes answering questions that range from the use of metallic hydrogen to the kinds of programs available to get kids interested in space.

Jody Lyn Nye talks about conventions. Specifically, how to work with a convention as a professional writer, giving our winners tips a steady stream of ideas and advice. She echoes Kevin J. Anderson’s talk a few days back about how to be a professional writer. It’s a solid hour filled with great stuff.

Then the group gets to sit with Nnedi Okorafor, who starts by asking “what do you want to hear from me?” and then spends the next 45 minutes answering non-stop questions. She discusses her own journey to becoming a professional writer—which is a topic almost every new writer I know loves to hear. The paths we take are all so different. I mean, there are similarities, of course, but it helps to hear that there is no one “right path.” She talks about writer’s block—or at least why she doesn’t believe in it. “When things aren’t coming, I’m not blocked. But I know I just have to wait. It always comes.” I love this thought pattern. This was an energetic conversation that would probably still be going if Tim Powers hadn’t kept a semi-firm handle on the agenda!

And the highlights keep coming.

Next up is Jerry Pournelle, and then Larry Niven. It’s clear to me that there are more than a couple of our winners who are doing their best not to go into full-out fan mode. Jerry talks about the difference between being an author and being a writer, coming back to that point often, but focusing on the work. “Concentrate on the story,” he said. Larry spent most of his discussion on the act of collaboration. He talked about respecting the other writer, and he talked about matching skillsets. Both he and Jerry talked about using each other’s strengths while creating their stories together.

Then came a session with six past winners including Megan O’Keefe, Laura Tom, Steve Pantazis, Martin Shoemaker, Kary English, Brennan Harvey, and myself. As might be expected with seven voices, the result was a scatter-shot of ideas that were all primarily focused on what happens next. Megan passed around an approach to story structure, and everyone picked out things that struck us as valuable to think about as the winners go home. Questions came in about web presences, how to use critique groups, how to deal with an audience and the pressures that come from having a bit of notoriety. Among others.

Since I participated directly in this session, I found myself looking around the room and thinking of the people I came to the program with back in volumes 14 and 15. Amy Casil and Scott Nicholson were at the forefront. Jim Hines, Steve Mohan, Jason Schmidt. I was remembering Carla Montgomery, who helped me title “Stealing the Sun.” Stephano Donati and Franklin Thatcher, who were my roomates. Don Solasan. Bill Rowland, Scott Huggins. I could go on, but this isn’t meant to be about me, right? (too late, I hear you say, too late!)

Much of the conversation focused on this new community that these winners are stepping into. And it is a great community. But I wanted them to look around the room now and realize that this is their class. These are the people who can still be around year after year. “These are your people,” I tried to say at the end of the session.

And that was that.

Except, of course that since this is Writers of the Future week. There’s always more to do even when the workshop comes to a close.

Next is a session for Q&A on the award ceremony, then a break for dinner, and finally a trip to the Wilshire Ebell Theatre for a rehearsal.

Yes, friends, the Awards Ceremony is tomorrow. [April 2, 2017 – 6:30 PM – Pacific Standard Time]

I think the gang is ready.

Here’s the link to the photos for the day.


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.

Steve Pantazis, national bestselling author

The Win

It was 2009 when I first entered the Writers of the Future (WotF) Contest with my short story, “Apostate,” a tale that takes place, interestingly enough, in the same universe as my winning story, “Switch.” I told the fellow writers of my critique group, “This is the story that’s going to win,” and I believed it. After all, they gave the story high praise. Who could possibly resist it after that kind of endorsement?

Obviously, it didn’t win. I was hasty. I hadn’t read any of the previous volumes of WotF, so I didn’t even know what a winning story looked like. All I knew was that my story met the word count required for submission, and that it was speculative fiction, so that was enough for me.

When I arrived at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood for the awards presentation for the winners of Volume 25 of WotF, I was blown away. It was like the Academy Awards of writing. In fact, the Roosevelt had hosted the first Oscars. Dressed dapper in my suit, I got to sit in the audience and partake in an exciting journey as the awards gala unfolded. I knew then that this annual contest was something special. After all, what contest gave unknown artists the chance to become known authors and illustrators, and with such visibility? Then there were the extras: prize money for winning, a pro-rate sale (and additional money), and a weeklong workshop, hosted by top professionals in the field, not to mention being put up in a gorgeous hotel in the heart of Hollywood.

After the amazing awards presentation, I got in line with the other attendees to congratulate the winners and have them personalize my copy of the just-released Writers of the Future, Volume 25. I had a chance to meet Golden Pen winner, Emery Huang, and Golden Brush winner, Oleksandra Barysheva. When I got home, I dove into the book and read Emery’s fantastic tale and saw Oleksandra’s beautiful artwork—and that’s when it hit me: this was something I needed to be a part of.

Attending the twenty-fifth awards gala was transformative for me. I knew I had to improve my writing and keep entering the Writers of the Future Contest. I had penned thirty short stories and three novels, and had a number of avenues to pursue on the publishing front. Still, WotF was where I wanted to make my first pro sale. I learned that a number of bestsellers had started their professional careers as winners of the contest. So, I poured all my energy into becoming the best I could be at my craft. If nothing else, I would do this for me, as an author.

Fast-forward to 2015.

After a half-dozen entries in the contest, I received the magic call: “You’ve been selected as a winner for the fourth quarter—congratulations!” Are there any sweeter words? None that I can think of!

The best part: I got to share the wonderful news with my family. My mother was beside herself. “I knew you would do it,” she told me. “I had no doubt.” My father unfortunately had throat cancer, and had an operation that removed his vocal chords. I couldn’t hear him tell me how proud he was, but he was able to express himself with tears of joy. It was one of my fondest memories. All my parents wanted for me was to succeed in life, and I was making my dream come true—I was getting published!

Then came the fun part: attending the workshop, meeting bestsellers in the industry, forming lifelong friendships with the other winners, going up on stage at the awards gala, and meeting future aspiring winners, this time with me on the same side of the table as Emery and Oleksandra.

After our workshop in Hollywood concluded, the real work began: promoting our anthology, marketing ourselves as professionals, doing book signings, attending conferences to spread the word about the book and contest, and now, a new path—the journey as national bestsellers. After hitting the seventh spot on Publishers Weekly’s top-ten list, we arrived: national bestseller status! It was a first for the storied thirty-one-year anthology. Not only is it a first, but it paves the way for future generations of winners to build upon the “Class of 31’s” success and generate groundswell for reaching the ultimate goal, the New York Times bestseller list. The current class has that goal in mind too; but the next generation of winners will have all the lessons learned from our endeavor at their disposal, so they can do what we did well, and find a way to do it even better. And that makes me feel like a proud papa!

My advice to anyone who wants to get their professional writing or illustrating career started is this: study the greats, see what they did well, hone your craft, buy and study the winning stories in WotF, and enter the Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest. The more you read, study and do, the better chance you have to succeed, and to become the professional you want to be. After all, if you can dream it, you can achieve it!

Steve Pantazis

Steve Pantazis

Guest Writer post by Steve Pantazis
Writers of the Future Winner, author of “Switch,” Writers of the Future Volume 31

Author Steve Pantazis signing Kevin J. Anderson’s copy of Writers of the Future Volume 31

Author & Artist’s Creative Efforts

In addition to hosting the Writers and Illustrators of the Future winners who come to Los Angeles for the week-long workshop and awards celebration, I get to meet all these new and upcoming writers and artists.

Steve Pantazis is one of the writer winners for his story “Switch.” He said he got the inspiration for his short story from his novel, Godnet. Both are set in the same universe, but in “Switch” he created a separate microcosm that focuses on a finite set of events and a limited set of characters, unrelated to the novel. The subplot of his story links back to the one in Godnet, connecting the smaller story to the larger one through a future version of the Internet called the Mindnet.

I wanted to know what stood out for Steve in his story and he had this to say:

“I would like to feature the technology in the story—in particular, the Mindnet. The Mindnet allows you to browse, shop and communicate online using a revolutionary neural implant and a network connection—no computer, no phone, no tablet. Just your mind. I see it as the direction we are all headed. We’ve caught glimpses of it with Google Glass, Oculus Rift and Microsoft HoloLens. Fast forward, and you won’t need a pair of glasses to see an overlay of the digital world on top of the real world. It will come together seamlessly in a perfect brain-computer interface, and mark a paradigm shift for society. This is exciting stuff! There’s a sneak peek into the impact of what the Mindnet can hold for future generations when my protagonist shares with the reader his view on his four-year-old daughter, Caitlin: ‘My parents would laugh, recalling a time when a networked computer was a marvel. Now it’s the brain, and little Caitlyn will think of the Mindnet as I did of its predecessor [the Internet], and how she never knew a time before it existed.’ That’s the heart of my subplot, and a standout moment for me in the story.&dquo;

An intense action-packed story which you can read in Volume 31.

As with the other stories in the anthology, one of our Illustrators of the Future artist winners, Daniel Tyka, was assigned Steve’s story to do the illustration.

Artist Daniel Tyka (left) talking to artist and Illustrator Judge, Sergey Poyarkov after the event.

Artist Daniel Tyka (left) talking to artist and Illustrator Judge, Sergey Poyarkov after the event.

Daniel was born in Warsaw, Poland and was raised with the smell of paint as his father was a painter. In high school, Daniel loved art, but instead of art school, he followed a path into the financial industry where he lost nine years of his life trying to fit into the financial corporate life.

Luckily for us, Daniel changed course and is now a full time artist. At the Awards Celebration, he received a very special introduction by Illustrators of the Future judge and 1993 Golden Brush Award Winner, Sergey Poyarkov. You can see the video of both Steve and Daniel’s acceptance speeches here.

I overheard Steve and Daniel discussing a possible collaboration in the future. I would love to read and see more of their creative efforts.

Writers of the Future Volume 31 is releasing on International Star Wars Day. And so …