Contributed by Kary English
Stumbling bleary-eyed into the seminar room, the writer winners submitted their 24-hour stories. Some finished in four hours and got a full night’s sleep. Others typed until the final moment. But in the end, 17 writers finished 17 stories in 24 hours or less.
Workshop instructors Jody Lynn Nye and Tim Powers chose three of the 17 stories to be workshopped. Author Services President John Goodwin rushed the files to the printer while Powers and Nye spoke about life as a professional author.
Nye delivered further remarks about presenting at conventions. “Never be their problem. Always be their solution,” Nye said.
Powers shared the path a manuscript takes from the moment it arrives in the slush until it is accepted, edited, proofed, and published.
Nebula winner and multiple Nebula nominee Rob Sawyer delivered a motivational talk telling the writer winners that each one of them had already proven they were capable of writing award-winning work.
He encouraged the writers to challenge themselves, to write the best, most distinctive stories they could. Sawyer also stressed the importance of theme, telling the writers that it was OK to get angry, and to use their work to make people angry. Planet of the Apes, said Sawyer, was a great movie because it engaged with the two most controversial topics of its era, race relations and nuclear war.
“Do things that are hard, not easy,” Sawyer said. “Your job is not to be blandly acceptable to a vast number of people. Your job is to be the favorite author of a much narrower swath.”
Noted author Todd McCaffrey gave the writers an overview of the self-publishing industry, covering formatting, covers, sales platforms, marketing, and income potential.
Illustrator Workshop Day 3—Guest Instructors from Across the Business
Contributed by Martin Shoemaker
Art & Communication
The morning started with Joe Spencer (a sculptor and illustrator, including work for Battlefield Earth) and Tamra Meskimen (actress, artist, educator). After introducing themselves to the students (and vice versa), they delved into an L. Ron Hubbard essays on the fundamentals of art, emphasizing the primacy of communication. As the Illustrators heard on Sunday: “Art is a word which summarizes the quality of communication.” That led to a discussion of when and how to build technique, and how viewer expectations may shift from viewer to viewer and from time to time.
Then Joe Spencer displayed some of his work and discussed his career. They followed this with an exercise for the students, as quickly as possible, to draw a sketch to communicate an idea. Due to limited class time, they had only a few minutes in which to work, forcing them to think about the elements most essential to communication. The instructors encouraged the students to repeat the exercise on their own over longer periods to get comfortable with assessing the right amount of technique for a given project.
In the next reading on “Message,” the students discussed how “Art is for the receiver.” Do you have a receiver in mind? How do you “speak” directly to that receiver?
After their final reading on “How to View Art,” the students discussed art from different perspectives, both your own art and others, to discover elements that were hidden in your ordinary perspective. Then students reviewed their portfolios in light of the day’s lessons.
Drawing from References
After lunch, Coordinating Judge Echo Chernik taught lessons and led exercises on drawing from references, another way to prompt your artistic eye both for your current work and for future projects. She discussed both finding references and shooting your own, including hiring models.
A Visit from Bea Jackson
Next, Bea Jackson (2007 Illustrator Contest Grand Prize winner and judge) joined the winners via Zoom to discuss her career and opportunities that may come to the Illustrators—as well as pitfalls and choices. She said that it is key to know what your strengths are and to sell to those, because those jobs will build your reputation; and it is equally crucial to listen to feedback and to stretch yourself outside your comfort zone so you can grow as an artist.
Live Figure Drawing Salon
Bea wrapped up with a homework assignment for the Illustrator winners: a pair of artist’s models joined the class to strike poses on the stage for the Illustrators to sketch. Then overnight, the winners will convert these sketches into fantastical illustrations, and tomorrow the instructors will review them!
Late in the afternoon, Writer and Illustrator winners gathered with judges and staff at the Roosevelt Theater for one of the most popular sessions of workshop week: the Art Reveal! Within the theater, each illustration commissioned for the Writers’ stories was on display. Then the Writers came in and looked the pieces over until they found their illustration! The theater filled with a dozen excited conversations as Writers met their Illustrators for the first time, and they discussed the story and the art that readers will forever put together as a fantastic story experience.
Selling Yourself and Your Work Through Your Portfolio
In an evening session, Illustrator judge Lazarus Chernik spoke to the Illustrators about the importance of your portfolio, including specific ways to structure it and use it to catch the interest of art directors. He stressed that it is more than a collection of pieces, it is your presentation of your art brand for a specific client.
Kary English is a Writers of the Future winner whose work has been nominated for the Hugo and Campbell awards. She grew up in the snowy Midwest where she read book after book in a warm corner behind a recliner chair. Today, Kary still spends most of her time with her head in the clouds and her nose in a book. Her fiction has appeared in Galaxy’s Edge, The Grantville Gazette, Daily Science Fiction, Far Fetched Fables, the Hugo-winning podcast StarShipSofa, and L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 31.
Martin L. Shoemaker (Writers of the Future Volume 31), is a programmer who writes on the side … or maybe it’s the other way around. He told stories to imaginary friends and learned to type on his brother’s manual typewriter even though he couldn’t reach the keys. (He types with the keyboard in his lap still today.) He couldn’t imagine any career but writing fiction … until his algebra teacher said, “This is a program. You should write one of these.”
Fast forward 30 years of programming, writing, and teaching. He was named an MVP by Microsoft for his work with the developer community. He wrote fiction, but he gave up on submitting until his brother-in-law read a chapter and said, “That’s not a chapter. That’s a story. Send it in.” It won second place in the Baen Memorial Writing Contest and earned him lunch with Buzz Aldrin. Programming never did that!
Martin hasn’t stopped writing (or programming) since. His Nebula-nominated short story “Today I Am Paul” explores the logical consequences of a medical care android with empathy, able to understand how its actions affect its patient’s emotional state. He expanded that story into his debut novel, Today I Am Carey (Baen Books), in which the android learns more about humanity through life with its human family. His novels The Last Dance and The Last Campaign (47North) are mysteries set on Earth, on Mars, and in the space in between.
Learn more at http://Shoemaker.Space.