The Journey

Update 6/23/14

I'm supposed to be creating posts here every time I submit a story to Writers of the Future. I failed at that already. In March I submitted my story, Tempo, for the second quarter of the contest. The good news is, I just got word back that the story received and Honorable Mention.

There's a funny story here, though. I received the email from Joni Labaqui, the contest coordinator, that my submission had earned an HM. In order to receive a certificate and have my name listed on the website, she requested that I reply to her email with my name, the name of my story, and my address. The problem was, I couldn't for the life of me recall which story I'd submitted. It was kind of a last minute thing in March, and I had a few stories I was subbing around at that time, so I didn't know. Since I'd submitted the story through the WotF website, I didn't have any outbound email I could refer to. I did receive a confirmation email from the contest, but all it said was "Thanks for submitting", no title listed. And I hadn't kept track of the information anywhere myself. In the end, as embarrassing as it was, I had to bite the proverbial bullet and email Joni back to say Thank You, but then ask if she could tell me what story I'd submitted. Joni was perfectly graceful about it and confirmed it was Tempo, which is what I suspected to begin with.

Obviously I would rather have won, but getting HM is no small feat. It means I was in the top ten percent of over a thousand stories submitted. That's still fantastic. It means that story is almost ready for publication. It's been three months since I even looked at that story, so now I can go back to it with fresh eyes, figure out where the fault is, fix it, and start subbing the story to other places.

My record to date:

Honorable Mentions: 3
Semi-Finalist: 1
Finalist: 0
Winner: 0 (yet)

I'd like to see those numbers go up, especially the last one ;).

I have a story almost ready for submission. It's time to get back to work.


The Beginning

In December 2006 I wrote a novelette called, The Edge of Paradise, as a final project for a Science Fiction Literature class I took in college. It was really the first full length story I’d ever written. I mean, I wrote short stuff for school assignments and such, but nothing of this length, (just shy of 17,000 words).

After the class I decided to shop the story around to see if I could get it published. Through the website I found the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest, a quarterly science fiction and fantasy contest designed to help emerging authors break into the business. The contest is only open to writers who have published less than three pieces of fiction with a distribution of 5,000 copies or less. 

 I decided this was as good as place as any to start, so I sent The Edge of Paradise in and three months later got a letter informing me that my story had earned an Honorable Mention! That meant my story was in the top 10-15% of over a thousand submissions.

Well that was it. I was hooked. I made it my personal goal to win this contest, no matter what. It would be my foot in the door of the writing industry. I thought, If the first story I ever wrote could make Honorable Mention, I can have this contest in the bag within a year, easy. 

Not so easy. I’ve been submitting stories to WotF for over six years now, almost every quarter, and in that time I’ve garnered one other Honorable Mention and just this last year, fourth quarter 2012, my story, She Calls Me John, managed to make it to Semi-Finalist. This puts me in the top 10 or so of the 1,000+ entries.

I’m getting closer.

Contrary to my original assumption, this contest is not for the casual writer. The competition is tight. I learned early on that if I’m going to win this thing, I’m going to have make a serious study of writing; learn how to tell a strong and moving tale, how to create interesting and engaging characters, and what makes an award winning story work.

I’ve been at it ever since.

The Journey

To that end, I’ve decided to start sharing my progress on my blog here. I do this for a few reasons; one, to record for my own interests my development and journey from unpublished to winner; and two, to help any others along the way who may share the same goal as me and can learn from my failures and successes.

I call it my “Journey”, rather than a quest or goal, because that’s truly what this is. Quests and goals come with the implication that one can fail, that one might not accomplish that goal. A journey is simply the path travelled from Point A to Point B. I have no doubts that someday I will win this contest, I will arrive at Point B. I won’t stop until I do. This is simply a record of the path I will take to get there.

I will be updating this page of my blog periodically with information relating to The Journey such as new stories I’m developing (sans spoilers), writing tips I’ve learned that apply specifically to the contest, and, of course, my own quarterly results.

So stay tuned. Someday, sooner than later I hope, I’m going to render this page obsolete when I finally reach the end of this long and arduous trail.

Point B, here I come.

1 comment:

  1. My neighbor was named a semifinalist for fourth quarter 2012. She helped edit both my entries in the new Podcastle Flash contest, so maybe it'll rub off. Good luck in your contuining endeavors.