New Writers of the Future Website Launched | L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers of the Future Contest

 

New Writers of the Future Website Launched | L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers of the Future Contest

Yes, this is what I saw in my inbox. But this is what really caught my eye:

We are pleased to announce that you can now submit all of your stories and illustrations online. So take a look around, submit your contest entries, join our forum and sign up for our newsletter.

No more mailing in by the deadlines? No more paper? WOTF doing online submissions?

OHHHHHHHHHYESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

‘Course, it does also mean more competition. All those people who refused to mail their stuff in can now say, "Sweet! Now I can send my story in for free!"

Then again, if all that was stopping them from submitting was a couple of stamps, then one would question if their stuff is good enough in the first place.

Now, if you excuse me. I need to get back to writing my story.

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Status Update on Willow

It’s been about three months now since I started the second full rewrite of Willow. And today, I just started working on Chapter Five. That means that so far, I’ve been spending roughly 3 weeks on each chapter, instead of just one week like I thought. At this rate, I won’t be finished with Willow until…um…late next year.

Crud.

It doesn’t help that I’ve been going through the whole text with a fine tooth comb. Looking for inaccuracies, trying to make sure I get wording right. I’ve rewritten the prologue and Chapter Two twice because the storyline didn’t sit right with me, and I wanted it to read right. So I threw out whatever I had, and completely wrote the chapters from new points of view, changed the location of a couple of places, and in one scene, decided a man would be better off as a woman.

The thing is, though, I’m having so much fun doing these rewrites. And I don’t feel terribly bad that it’s taking so long. I knew that the first few chapters would probably take the longest to rewrite. It’s like a first impression—I have only one chance to get the reader’s attention, so I want the storyline and the writing to be good. And so far, I’ve been really pleased in how strong the rewriting has made the story so far.

It also helped that I listened to #25 of the Odyssey Podcast by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. They discuss the differences between writing a story and a novel, but they also point out that you don’t know the story until you reach its end, thus, when you go back to rewrite, you can do so with that ending in mind. Hence, the opening chapters of your book will be the ones you’ll rewrite the most often. That made me feel a lot more encouraged.

(By the way, I highly suggest listening to the Odyssey Podcast. It’s not the same as being there, but it’s gives a very good idea on how it works. And they have great advice.)

Speaking of short stories, I’m working on a new one for the Writer’s of the Future Contest. This is probably the first story based on an actual person. It’s also based on some very personal feelings I have. I had a bit of a scare when I thought that the deadline for the contest was June 1, but it’s actually July 1, so I have more time. Which makes me happy.

So that’s the latest writing update I have. Willow’s growing, bit by bit. It’s taking a bit of time, but that’s how good stories get born. Letter by word, sentence by paragraph, page by chapter, until—surprise!—a book.

All right. On to chapter five…

Weekly Cafe update and a little Writing News

Another bunch of links for you. I’m finding it easier to squeeze these kind of posts in between writing and real life.

First, an update on Willow: going slow, but I expected that to happen. I want the first three chapters of this book to really pull readers in, so I’m taking my time to make sure that it’s right. I’m planning to workshop the 1st two chapters at the Wiscon writer’s workshop, so I need to get those done by April 1.

And speaking of Wiscon, yes, I’ll be there, albeit on Friday only, due to some scheduling snafus. But the scheduling looks very good indeed. After the workshop, there will be a Cultural Appropriation 101 class that looks to be very interesting in light of some very interesting discussions that’s been taking place on LiveJournal. (I’m still working on my own thoughts of the matter, but there are a couple of things I still need to do before I set those thoughts into words.) I also plan to go to Odyssey Con April 24-26. Hmm…from writing workshops to geekcons. I’m making my way up the networking ladder.

Other news: “She’s All Light”, the story I poured my heart and soul into for the past year, got Honorable Mention at the 1st Quarter Writers of the Future Contest. I was a little bummed about it, but overall a lot happier over it than I was making finalist at the Oddcon writing contest. It also means that I’m free to send it out, so I’m putting it out on the field. Wish me luck! I’ve already started on a new story for WOTF. I won’t make the 2nd Quarter deadline, seeing that April 1 is already reserved for Willow, but I do plan to take my time so that I can send it in time for the 3rd Quarter, which will be around June.

In other news, one of my favorite podcasts is being put on hiatus. Adventures in SciFi Publishing is not ending—there may be a couple more episodes put out, but it’s not known when it will go back to its regularly scheduled broadcast, if ever. Kudos to Shaun Farrell for putting it all together. I’ll miss his and Sam’s insight on the industry. Mr. Farrell, by the way, also placed as a semi-finalist in this quarter’s WOTF. I bet his was the one that got me knocked down to Honorable Mention. ;-). Mucho, mucho congratulations to him.

In light of that, I’m looking for a new podcast that deals with the fantasy/scifi genre in the writing community. I would love to hear suggestions from any writers out there (and I know you come to the Cafe. I keep needing to refill the coffee machine…)

Back to writing!

More thoughts on the closing of Realms of Fantasy & Year’s Best…

So I’ve been doing some thinking. Serious thinking. And I’ve come to a startling revelation.

Realms of Fantasy closing and The Years Best Fantasy & Horror Anthologies no longer being printed? Their ending don’t affect me at all.

It’s startling because I consider them the highest levels a writer can get in writing. When both of them folded, I was devastated, yes, in learning I won’t be getting any more stories from them. Which is sad, because from those venues I learned about Kelly Link, Theodora Goss, Nalo Hopkinson and other writers who inspired me to write.

But the startling part that got me was this: when was the last time I read either of those?

The Year’s Best Anthologies I haven’t picked up for a while because, well, I’ve been pretty busy; not to mention that my local library doesn’t have them on hand (actually, they do, but I’ll probably have to get it on loan from another neighborhood library, which could take a couple of days—not exactly self-gratifying if I have to put in an order for it instead of just taking it off the shelf I used to do in Chicago. Then again, I could always drive to another library that’s better stocked, but geez, that means that I wouldn’t be able to gripe about here…). And the last time I bought a copy of Realms of Fantasy was…ummm…hmmm…

Nowadays, I’m getting my short story fix online. There are a dozen of websites I go to on a monthly basis, and several more that I download to my mp3 player. (I swear, I will update my blog sidebar to show them) And these are all really good stories; perhaps not as the same caliber as what was in Realms of Fantasy, but I would’ve nominated them in a heartbeat for Year’s Best.

Yes, I’m still bummed that these venues are gone. But there are other markets out there. Markets that are easy to access. Markets that you don’t have to pay unless you want to. Markets that allow everyone to read, yet still have editors to filter out the really good stuff from just your average mediocre story.

This got nailed home to me this Sunday when my short story “The Liberation of Roscoe White” got put up at The Town Drunk. (What do you mean you haven’t read it yet? Stop what you’re doing and go read it! Go! Go now!). Some very good stories are on that sight (besides mine, of course). It’s nice that that I can give people a website and they can go and read my story for free, but it’s extra nice when an editor who runs a ezine tells me, “I like your story so much, I’ll pay for it to put it on my site.” That is nice.

The publishing world is changing. What does that mean to me? Well, it just means that I keep on writing and keep on submitting. I keep my eye on what markets are considered the best and send my best stories to them. And then I’ll keep writing. Granted, I’ll have to look to a new market to set my high standard bar to–

Then again, maybe I’ve already done that.

I just finished reading the Writers of the Future XXII Anthology. The first story was so-so, but there were other stories in there that blew me away.

One of these days, I’m going to get a story in there. Just you wait…

Speaking of which, congratulations to all the winners of the 4th quarter contest. You can find the winners on the WOTF website. The next contest deadline is April 1. All you writers better get writing.

LaShawn’s Project Status Update (or working on my 5th final draft…)

So right around yesterday as I recoved from a full day of hanging out at the Circle M farm by cooking roast chicken and cheesy rutabega, a thought occurred to me as I looked out and to my shock saw tiny flakes of snow flying by the window:

Oh crap. November’s coming up isn’t it? That means I gotta spend the whole month focusing on Willow!

Ever since I learned about NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago, I’ve been using the month of November not so much as a month to put my butt in a chair and crank out a 50,000 word novel, but to focus on the novel I already had, Weeping of the Willows. The first year I did it, I cranked out 50,000 words worth of new material for my book. Ironically, a good deal of that material got stripped out in the first reading, but I still think it did me some good.

Last year, I don’t think I participated. Things were crazy for me that month, what with the possibility of selling our house and moving to Madison and all. It’s a miracle I got any writing done at all during that time.

So here it is, a year later. At the moment, I’m still reading through the first draft of Willow. It’s been slow going, partially because I do it at night, when I’m more likely to be tired and ready to blow it off. Partially because I’ve been focusing on my short story She’s All Light. Yes, yes, I know. A few weeks ago, I said that I was working on my final draft and once it was done, I would send it to Writers of the Future. No ifs, ands, or buts. I was done with it.

But then something happened.  As I worked on the final draft, one of the supporting characters, which in previous drafts had been pretty sublime and quiet, did something so unexpected and bizarre, I actually stopped working and backed away from the laptop. It still gives me chills thinking about it; I don’t want to say that it was violent thing she did, but in the framework of the scene, what she did was something that made me–and the other characters–jump. And just like that, it came out of the blue. As I was working on the final draft.

Well, of course, when a character does something that gives you chills, that changes the whole nature of their persona in the story. There’s repucussions. You want to know why the character did it. You want to know how that one single act impacts the story from that point on. And I knew that I couldn’t call it a final draft anymore, because the story had changed. Which means that I need to do some more work on it.

Luckily, we had a writer’s group meeting, so I brought my “final” draft in. Turns out that I don’t have to rewrite the whole story from scratch, which is a great relief. However, the group confirmed what I felt after finishing the ‘final’ draft–the sections I had to change were so strong on their own, it made some other scenes unnecessary. So basically, I need to do some cutting.

Which is fine. My word count for this story had been pretty high, roughly around 12,000 words. Cutting out some scenes will trim it nicely. The hard part will be structuring the story after those cuts. I’ll have to take a couple of weeks to think on how the best way to do that…

And now you see my dilemma? For me to do this, I’ll have to either put aside working on Willow, which is something I don’t want to do, or I’ll just have to continue doing what I’m doing now, which is spend the afternoon working on the story, and the evening working on Willow.

Then again, it’s not like my writing schedule is set in stone. I can be flexible. The WOTF deadline is not until January 1. I don’t necessarily have to wait until November to focus on Willow. I can start doing that…well…today…

So how does this look: this week, I’ll focus exclusively on Willow in both my afternoon and evening writing sessions. Then, next week, start working on the She’s All Light cuts during the evening session. It means I’ll be putting more of my energies on working on Willow still, but in switching the two, it will help me focus on something new at night. At least, that’s the theory. Then, when the story is done and finally out the door, go back to doing Willow twice a day until I’m done with the readthrough. My goal is to start working on actual revisons at the beginning of 2009. (Oh, and what fun that will be…)

I’ve realized that this means that I will have spent the whole of 2008 working on two things: She’s All Light and Willow. Doesn’t make for a productive year, does it? Well, I don’t feel terribly bad. Actually, I have written other stories for fun, and there are several that I want to focus on when I get the chance (I may actually focus on one after I get SAL out the door–it’s a flash, so it should take up much time). But in light of all that’s happened this year, I’m just grateful that I have the chance to write at all.

So thank you for being with me as I sort all this out. All of this will pay off, I promise you when both of these stories get published. Don’t know when, mind you, but I can tell you it will happen.

More Thoughts on the Writers of the Future Contest

So I had a little more time to ponder my Honorable Mention for the contest and wanted to get my thoughts down.

I didn’t mention anything about entering the contest because it was a last minute thing. Before, I didn’t feel that I was at that level of writing to get in it. Plus it seemed like such a hassle–instead of emailing your submission in, it had to be printed out in a special format and mailed before a deadline. It just seemed too much work. Plus, the fact that it’s sponsored by L. Ron Hubbard put me off. I’m still sore after the whole Battlefield Earth thing.

But I bided my time and did some research on the contest. I also scored a couple of the anthologies from my library and skimmed through them. The stories were pretty good, and plus it wasn’t just all science fiction as I thought–there was some good fantasy stories in there too. Then around the beginning of May, a couple of weeks before we moved to Madison, I had a short story rejected and I thought, what the hey? Send it in to Writers of the Contest. It won’t hurt.

So I did, with the expectation that the most I would get out of it would be an Honorable Mention. Now, if I understand the Honorable Mention category, those are the stories that have something going for them, but are lacking something that would push them over the top into the Semi-Finalist category. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I got nothing. I’d probably feel pretty bad and get all dramatic, saying I’m done with writing and going into full-time organic farming. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, though when they started listing the first sets of HMs, I did get a little nervous. Strangely, the fact that I was on the final list makes me feel pretty good. I don’t know what being on the final list really means–if it meant that it took them that long to decide on the entries, or if they just stuck them all in boxes and my story just so happened to be in the last box, I don’t know. I’m going to pretend it’s the former. It’s more motivational that way.

Since entering the contest, I’ve been checking out the WOTF forum and I’ve just listened to AISFP #63, where Shaun Farrell interviewed the winners of last year’s contest. Plus, the WOTF website has a 10 minute overview of the award ceremony (winners of the contest are flown out to Los Angeles where they attend a week-long workshop plus the ceremony). At one point, it had me in tears when Brittany Jackson won the Gold Award. A black female artist! How awesome! It made me want to rush out and buy the book just so I can have her illustration on my bookshelf. (Well, the book trailer made me want to get the book anyway, but her illustration would be a nice bonus.)

So my excitement for the contest has gone considerably up. I think I’ll continue sending stuff to the contest. I already have my next submission in the works–I just got to finish it up and send it out. Of course, I think every writer that enters the contest has the goal to keep submitting until they win or disqualified by a professional market printing their story. I think my little fantasy involves learning that I’m a finalist at the same time I get a notice that Realms of Fantasy has accepted another story.

A pleasant futile dream. But it’s still fun.

Here’s the WOTF Awards Ceremony from 2008.

And weirdly enough…

I made the Honorable Mention list for the Writers of the Future Contest.

http://wotfblog.galaxypress.com/2008/09/final-honorable-mentions-for-3rd.html

And that was the first story I ever sent to them. Huh.