Writer winner Paul Eckheart.

Welcome to Day 3 Behind-the-Scenes of the Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contests

The writer winners resumed their workshop at 9:30 AM on Wednesday morning, gathering in the 4th floor library at Author Services, Inc., to review the previous night’s reading homework and to discuss the day’s coming events. Having absorbed many hours of wisdom from instructors Dave Wolverton and Tim Powers, the main topic for Day 3 was: how to research in preparation for writing novels and stories. Towards that end, all of the writer winners spent their late morning and early afternoon out on the street — talking to different people as part of the “anonymous interview” process, and also visiting the Francis Howard Goldwyn library.

Visiting the library is part of the tradition of the Contest workshop, for new writer winners. Even in the 21st century with instant lookup via the internet, it never hurts to actually do a little book work. All of the winners spent time combing the shelves for references and other works — both fiction and non-fiction — which might lend themselves to the coming challenge of creating a complete piece of short science fiction or fantasy in just 24 hours. So the writers — having been given their mystery object on Day 2 and having done their anonymous on-the-street interviews on Day 3 — looked to combine these things with whatever caught their eye at the library; in order to germinate the seed of their pending story.

Having completed the day’s research activities — and eager to get indoors and out of the warm sun — the writer winners regrouped at Author Services for a final half hour of guidance and pep talk from Tim Powers, before being dismissed to complete their 24 hour stories. Most winners returned to the Loews hotel, where a few of them immediately sat down to work in the lobby.

The winners won’t reconvene again until 4:00 PM on Day 4 — exactly 24 hours after being given the “go” sign by Tim Powers — at which time three of the stories will be randomly selected for special critique by not only Tim Powers and Dave Wolverton, but the rest of the winners as well.

Day 2 for the Illustrators:

9:00 AM sharp. The illustrators met in the Loews lobby and were then shown the back “secret route” to Author Services, Inc. And off they went: through the windy, multi-level, indoor-outdoor mall connected to the Loews hotel, down a musical staircase — Trevor Smith couldn’t help himself and tap-danced along the keys, while Michael Talbot did a rat-run up and down, to hear his shoes sing — at which Kirbi Fagan just laughed. Then past the Wax Museum, dodging the Spiderman and Captain Jack Sparrow impersonators on Hollywood Boulevard. Until, finally, they made it to the Author Services building.

Inside Author Services, they were taken on a tour similar to the one the writer winners got on Day 2. On their way up to the 4th floor, the illustrator winners ogled the incredible Hubbard pulp-fiction cover art lining the walls. Up the stairs they were met by the staff of Author Services and Galaxy Press — the super hard-working, ever-gracious people who run the Contest machine and keep it well oiled.

Next up, the winners toured the L. Ron Hubbard Library, where the cover art by Illustrator titans and judges, such as Cliff Nielsen, sparked exclamations of admiration. Meanwhile, the Edd Cartier collection in the executive conference drew a close examination of technique. Another enticement is always the Winners’ Room, brimming with works and awards from the judges and former winners. Also, four examples of the Writers and Illustrators of the Future trophies — under glass, and displayed prominently.

Back on the 1st floor, Cliff Nielsen kick-started the illustrator workshop by having the winners introduce themselves. He did a breakdown of career paths in the art industry, to help each winner identify where their interests lay now that they’ve won the Contest.

Winner Kristie Kim of North Carolina is already an intern at Disney, doing animation. Winner Sarah Webb of Alaska is likewise interested in animation—as well as pre-production art. Considering that pre-production includes film and games, winners Cassandre (Cassy) Bolan of Pennsylvania, Vincent Coviello, and Bernardo Mota, were also in on that action—Trevor specifically for card games, like Magic. Cassy and Bernardo, as well as winners Andrew Sonea of Canada, Kirbi, Trevor, and Michael would also like to pursue the publishing route, specifically book covers. Kirbi is the most passionate about children’s middle-grade and Young Adult. Comics too. Michael would like to do graphic novels. He has an eye for gallery and art shows. Same with Andrew — along with entertainment and advertising. Adam Brewster already works for an animation company, so he’s open to anything. Opportunity knocks!

This year, coordinating illustrator judge Ron Lindahn’s introduction to the workshop came complete with pyrotechnics. Literally, fire with sparks shot out of his hand! And it was so fast! Illustrator judge Cliff Nielsen didn’t even see it. “Dude, what?” he looked up from his computer slides. Adam did about five double-takes, trying to determine if he wasn’t going crazy. “Is he a magician?” whispered Andrew to Bernardo. Bernardo just sat there blinking.

There was a lesson in the display.

“You have exactly one second to catch a viewers attention,” explained Ron, with an impish smile. Needless to say, the winners were instantly attentive.

Before the illustrators broke for lunch, illustrator judge Stephen Hickman gave a wicked presentation of his commission artwork, complete with a breakdown of several of his pieces. After lunch, Ron and Val Lindahn gave their mind-blowing “Val & Ron Show,” exhibiting their collaborative artwork, set to rock music. Ron worked for ten years as a professional photographer for Fortune 500 before he met Val, who inspired him to do illustration too. Val had already been illustrating since the 70s for publishing companies. But as soon as she met Ron, they became a team. The intrepid duo have even been known to go so far as to make their own reference material for their collaborative projects. Of course, this was before Photoshop—and it usually ended with Ron bedecked in machine parts or wrapped in some dubiously concocted material.

Ron ended the day with assignment for the illustrators. After being released to dinner at Johnny Rockets with Meghan, a gaggle of the illustrators coagulated in the Loews lounge for a night of sketching fun.

Be sure to log on to www.writersofthefuture.com on Sunday night to watch the LIVE stream of the Achievement Awards where the Grand Prize winners are announced!

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