Thursday, April 17, 2014

30th Annual Writers & Illustrators of the Future Contest

30th Annual Writers & Illustrators of the Future Contest
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Los Angeles

by Thomas McNulty

My wife and I flew into Los Angeles on a late flight from Chicago and landed in the City of Angels a few days in advance of the 30th Annual Writers & Illustrators of the Future Contest. As invited guests, I was eager to reconnect with family and friends. Hollywood is the perfect location for the Writers & Illustrators of the Future Awards Ceremony. Like my hometown of Chicago, L.A. is a writer’s town. Driving along the sun-drenched highways past rows of ranch houses and mansions shadowed by banana leaf plants, Australian ferns, or lemon and orange trees, the palms swaying gently in a warm breeze, I was reminded of stories by Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, John Fante and L. Ron Hubbard. It was Hubbard who established the Writers & Illustrators of the Future Contest, and today the contest is superbly administered by Author Services and the staff of Galaxy Press on Hollywood Boulevard.
This year the event was held at the historic Wilshire Ebell Theatre where Judy Garland was discovered in the early 1930s, and where Amelia Earhart made her last public appearance before drifting off into history over the pacific in 1937. The Ebell, as it is formally called, opened in 1927 as a venue for the creative arts. The Ebell is an Italian style building, and its long halls, expansive windows, lush courtyard, and magnificent auditorium all echo a vibrant history.
Thirty years is a notable anniversary, and since my wife and I are also celebrating 29 years of marriage in a few months, we decided to co-join our celebration with that of the Writers & Illustrators of the Future. This turned out to be a wise choice. It was sunny and warm as we joined the crowd on the red carpet for this black tie event. A media camera drone was whizzing above our heads, and I remarked that from that lofty angle the camera would have a splendid view of my bald spot.
The After-Party was packed
The show and awards ceremony were stunning, and I understand you can watch it on the Writers & Illustrators of the Future website. But this was an event where it is no mere hyperbole to state: You really had to be there. This was history in the making. I’m not certain of the exact number, but over fifty media groups covered the event for television, newspaper, radio and Internet news reporting. I was moved by the keynote speech by Leland Melvin, and the vocal performances by Drew Seeley and Cassie Simone. Aerialist Tania Holt nearly stole the show, and the Hollywood Hotshots dance troupe helped keep the tempo lively. Also notable were Anjani’s Kathak Dance of India Company and the bicycle performance by Ryan Russell and Chad Johnston. My favorite song was “Off the Ground” (music and lyrics  by Brandon Slavinski and Josh Skinner) sung by Drew Seeley and accompanied by the choir the Melodye Perry Music Group and included the afore-mentioned aerial performance by Tania Holt. The acceptance speeches by the winners were heartfelt and inspiring to hear. This was the ultimate reason for attending, to show our support for these talented people. A full review of the anthology will follow this essay in a few days. The winners are chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges, famous authors in speculative fiction including; Tim Powers, Kevin J. Anderson, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Orson Scott Card, Robert J. Sawyer, Sean Williams, Dave Wolverton, Brian Herbert, Rebecca Moesta, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Gregory Benford, Doug Beason, Eric Kotani, Mike Resnick, Eric Flint, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, Todd McCaffrey and Nnedi Okorafor.

Afterward, we followed the crowd upstairs for the after-party and book signing. Suddenly, we were awash in a sea of Tuxedos, elegant gowns and glittering jewelry. Typically Hollywood, but refreshing because of its literary origins. The crowd was massive and there was little elbow room. First up was the anthology signing and I was thrilled to talk with so many talented writers and artists. We made our way around the long tables, passing celebrities like Jim Meskiman and Jennifer Aspen, Nancy Cartwright and others. An hour later, the crowd seemed impossibly thicker.
With Tim Powers
Shortly thereafter I found myself face to face with Tim Powers, and I am a bona fide card-carrying fan of Tim Powers. He signed the book for me, and I, still reeling in awestruck fascination, blurted: “The Stress of Her Regard!” (the title of one of his books). Powers is skilled at raising a quizzical eyebrow. He fixed his gaze on me. “Yes?” My tongue, having turned to wood, refused to cooperate, and I may have said “Loovedglobitsomerch” or some such ancient dialect. Eventually I managed to express that indeed, The Stress of Her Regard is one of my favorites. To his credit, Powers took this all in stride. He was gracious, patient and charming. And so it went. I passed Kevin J. Anderson and I also spoke with Dave Wolverton, whom many readers know as Dave Farland, author of the Runelords books. Dave is another favorite, and Orson Scott Card, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, was equally as gracious and charming.
With Orson Scott Card
About a year ago I was asked to participate in a documentary about Errol Flynn, and as I was preparing my remarks I struck upon some facts that I have since included in a long essay-turned speech that has relevance here. The golden age of Hollywood coincided with the golden age of pulp fiction, and it was a truly unique era. L. Ron Hubbard began his career when the United States was experiencing an economic depression, and people were hungry. What do people do when they are hungry? I think we all know the answer to that question. When people are hungry they dream, and they don’t just dream about the food they need to fill their bellies, but they dream about rising above their circumstances and making something better of themselves. They dream about falling in love and having great adventures like the ones they saw in the movies or read about in stories by L. Ron Hubbard. It’s a beautiful dream, and you might even say that it’s the American Dream. It’s a dream that never dies, and today that dream is made real every day by the Writers & Illustrators of the Future. As L. Ron Hubbard once wrote: "A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists."
The Winner's Table
Any individual reading this report with questions about the Writers & Illustrators of the Future Contest should immediately contact the fine people at Author Services. The website is: (click on the link). You will find all of the contest rules and information on the site. The Writers of the Future Contest began in 1983, and this year marks the 25th anniversary for the Illustrators of the Future Contest, all of which attracts entries worldwide in science fiction and fantasy. Twelve quarterly winners receive prize monies and, along with selected finalists, are published in an annual anthology which is sold in bookstores and at and gives the winners high profile exposure. If you have made any attempt at writing or illustration then there is no reason not to enter this contest. I encourage you to do so. The next step you take is only a second away, and it could be really amazing!


30th Annual Writers & Illustrators of the Future Contest
2014 Winners
Memories Bleed Beneath the Mask by Randy Henderson
Another Range of Mountains
by Megan E. O’Keefe
by Paul Eckheart
Beneath the Surface of Two Kills by Shauna O’Meara
Animal by Terry Madden
Rainbows for Other Days by C. Stuart Hardwick
Giants at the End of the World by Leena Likitalo
The Clouds in Her Eyes
by Liz Colter
What Moves the Sun and Other Stars by K.C. Norton
Long Jump by Oleg Kazantsev
These Walls of Despair by Anaea Lay
The Shaadi Exile by Amanda Forrest
The Pushbike Legion by Timothy Jordan

Cassandra Bolan
Adam Brewster
Vincent-Michael Coviello
Kirbi Fagan
Kristie Kim
Seonhee Lim
Bernardo Mota
Trevor Smith
Andrew Sonea
Michael Talbot
Sarah Webb

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