Writers of the Future 2015

Last Wednesday I got a message from my friend, Jenna, asking if I would like to go to California that weekend. Since I’m always up for an adventure, I said yes. And then asked why.

We had been given the chance to blog about the Writers of the Future awards ceremony and interview people while we were there. I asked a few people what I should do, and their responses were, “Why is that even a question? GO!”

Soooo … Saturday night we (Jenna Eatough, DawnRay Ammon, and I) bundled up in Jenna’s car and headed off to sunny California.

We showed up to the awards ceremony all dressed up, and we were pulled into the world of Writers of the Future. And it was awesome.

Alexi Vandenburg met us and handed us our folders and brand new, signed versions of the Writers of the Future 2015 book. Then he led us around, showing us where everyone would be and when. He introduced me to Peter Wacks, Kevin J. Anderson, and many other big name people.

On our way to find an ice pack for DawnRay (Red carpets can be tricky when they’re hiding holes. Not good for heels! Or ankles), we lost her, but found our way to the dining room. She was seated with David Farland, his wife and daughter, and a few other people. Jenna and I went to sit with a few of the winning illustrators and ate dinner.

The winners were excited to share where they were from and talked about the workshop (Something I’d like to attend someday).  While they got pictures, I chatted with friends of the contestants.

After dinner, we headed off to take pictures of people as they walked down the red carpet. It was awesome! I apologize for the fuzziness of any of the pictures.

Those included on the red carpet were:

Writer winners—Auston Habershaw, Kary English, Sharon Joss, Martin Shoemaker, Tim Napper, Amy M Hughes, Steve Pantazis, Daniel Davis, Scott R. Parkin, Samantha Murray, Michael T. Banker, and Zach Chapman

Illustrator winners—Tung Chi Lee, Michelle Lockamy, Emily Siu, Amit Dutta, Taylor Payton, Shuangjian Liu, Quinlan Septer, Choong Nyung Yoon, Alex Brock, Megan Kelchner, Megen Nelson, and Daniel Tyka

Writer judges—Tim Powers, Eric Flint, Mike Resnick, Jerry Pournelle, Rebecca Moesta, Doug Beason, Kevin J. Anderson, Sean William, Gregory Benford, Todd McCaffrey, Nancy Cress, Robert Sawyer, Larry Niven, David Farland, and Orson Scott Card

Illustrator judges—Cliff Nielsen, Val Lindahn, Ron Lindahn, Dan Dorman, Sergey Poyarkov, Laura Brodian Freas, and Larry Elmore.

And past winners—Tina Smith, Eric James Stone, and Laurie Tom

After the guests had finished on the red carpet, we moved into the theater for the ceremony. Everyone was so courteous and my favorite part was that we all got the same jokes. I loved it! The show was started with the “Voices of the Future” Anthem.

It was followed by an amazing video that I wish I could show in this post. My jaw was dropped for most of it. It talked about the history and importance of writing and the science fiction world.

Gunhild Jacobs, Executive Director for Author Services, Inc. was the emcee for the ceremony. She did a wonderful job.

She announced new judges for both the illustration and the writing contests, but I couldn’t write fast enough to get all of the illustration judges. Nancy Kress and Brandon Sanderson are the new writing judges.

Kent Colby presented the Pen Award. He is “The Voice of Alaska” for KTKN. I enjoyed hearing how The Writers of the Future got started up in a small town in Alaska. It’s amazing how much it’s grown since then.

Orson Scott Card presented that Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts to Tom Doherty, the owner and creator of TOR publishing.

Past winners of this contest include: Charles N. Brown, Jerry Pournelle, John Schoffstall, Anne McCaffrey, etc.

William Pomerantz was our keynote speaker, and he was fantastic. He works on the Virgin Galactic, a ship that will make it possible for anyone to have their dream of going into space come true. He said that everyone has one wanted to go into space at least once in his lifetime.

We are all also interested in the future. Fifty-four years ago in 1961, the first human flew into space. On the same day in 1981, NASA’s first space shuttle took off. In those fifty-four years, five hundred and forty-seven people have been to space.

William also mentioned that he learned hope through science fiction. It helped him to push through the best days and helped him through the hard days.

He also mentioned that sometimes we’re told our work is absurd, but we know better.

We should help others on their journey as well. And when you discover that you have sparked a fire in someone, encourage them to follow their goals. You never know when they will be there for you, encouraging you on your way.

And then it was time for the winners! Each winner had their book summarized and they were introduced. The speeches were fantastic. I have included a few of my favorite quotes.

Auston Habershaw – Writer of “A Revolutionary’s Guide to Practical Conjuration”

Shuangjian Liu – Illustrator

“Keep going!”

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Kary English – Writer of “Poseidon’s Eyes”

Megen Nelson – Illustrator

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 Sharon Joss – Writer of “Stars That Make Dark Heaven Light”

Choong Yoon – Illustrator

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Martin Shoemaker – Writer of “Unrefined”

Tung Chi Lee – Illustrator

“Never give up. You will get there.”

 “Help the next person in line. Keep dreaming up the future of this world.”

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Tim Napper – Writer of “Twelve Minutes to Vinh Quang”

Quintan Septer – Illustrator

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Amy M Hughes – Writer of “The Graver”

Taylor Payton – Illustrator

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Steve Pantazis – Writer of “Switch”

Daniel Tyka – Illustrator

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Daniel J Davis – Writer of “The God Whisperer”

“Daydreaming isn’t wrong.”

Alex Brock – Illustrator

“Go out there, talk to people. Get involved. Making the work is only half of it.”

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Scott R. Parkin – Writer of “Purposes Made for Alien Minds”

“Without vision first, there can be no accomplishment.”

Emily Siu – Illustrator

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Samantha Murray – Writer of “Half Past”

Megan Kelcher – Illustrator

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Michael T. Banker – Writer of “Wisteria Melancholy”

Michelle Lockamy – Illustrator

“Your persistence is what gets you to where you want to be.”

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Krystal Claxton – Writer of “Planar Ghost” (Absent)

Amit Dutta – Illustrator

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PUBLISHED FINALIST

Zach Chapman – Writer of “Between Screens”

“I’m here because I got over the fear of being rejected.”

“Keep pushing it. Keep going. Keep getting critiques, and keep submitting.”

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John Goodwin presented the the unveiling of the Writers of the Future Volume 31 book just before the announcement of the grand prize winners. He also announced that there would be a Writers Educational Unit Plan that would be sent out and implemented in many colleges throughout the country. I was very excited to find out that BYU would be one of those.

I loved the way they brought in the envelopes of the winners. The top illustrator’s envelope came in by drone, and the top writer’s envelope came in by hot air balloon.

The Golden Brush Award

Michelle Lockamy

“Be persistent, even when ties are tough. Find that inner fire.”

Golden Pen Award

Sharon Joss

“Read a lot. Write a lot. Submit a lot. Repeat.”

And with that, the show was over. We all filed out into the reception area where we were allowed to speak with any of the guests and interview them. We were served little hors d’oeuvres and drinks while we talked. The winners of the contest were there to sign books for those who wanted them. 


I was able to interview a few different people, and those posts will come later. I look forward to the awards ceremony in 2016!

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