When Characters Decide

Lately I’ve been mulling over the importance of having fictional characters make decisions. It’s something that’s easy to overlook as a writer (I know I sometimes do), caught up as we are in the logical flow of the plot and trying to wrangle the story from this scene to that scene in order to reach a satisfying story conclusion.

The decisions a character makes within the context of a story paints a vivid picture of who they are: their ideals and motivations and all the things that matter to them. For a reader, seeing which way a character jumps when faced with a critical choice is probably far more illuminating than any amount of description or self-reflection through interior monologues. We cheer when they decide to act in a way that feels right to us, and we cringe when bad choices are made. The consequences of those decisions – right or wrong – are often what keeps us reading.

Pushing a little deeper, it’s not hard to see that there are many different kinds of decision, for example:

  • The unexpected decision which puts a character on the spot. What is their instinctive reaction to a situation (and what has shaped those instincts)? Do they trust their own instincts? Can they think on their feet or do they become flustered and confused?
  • The tortured decision. A character knows what they must decide, but it comes at a cost – often a great cost. Do they do the ‘right’ thing (and who has decided what the right thing is?) or do they rebel?
  • The head versus heart decision – perhaps not so different from the tortured decision. Does the character act according to rational principles based on hard facts, or do they throw caution to the wind and take a leap into the unknown?
  • The carefully planned (but oh so wrong!) decision. This slow unravelling of their hopes may be based on a character’s self-delusion or the lies and misinformation they’ve been fed by others – leading to dire consequences (or so we hope, as readers!)

I’m sure there are many other types of decision we could categorise, but the point is these decisions must be made in a way that is true to each character. If you’re a ‘plotter’ and have a story outline to follow, that may not always work out the way you intended. But let the characters decide in their own ways! Let them be true to themselves. Characters who make different choices about the same thing create the conflict that propels a story forwards.

Arguably, this is where those writers who don’t follow an outline (aka ‘pantsers’) have the advantage. Their stories flow from character actions (and interactions) – often in completely surprising directions – because the writing is drawing on an intimate understanding of their attitudes and behaviours which determine the choices they make. The danger is that the thread of the story wanders, or the plotting is vague and doesn’t hold together – which is where plotters score, because they always have a roadmap to refer back to, even if the story wanders away from it now and then.

So. Characters deciding things (actions, goals, how they feel about places, events and people, how to best achieve those goals) – these are the things that draw the reader along for the ride. They may not be decisions the reader agrees with – in fact, it’s often better if they’re not – but they need to be self-consistent with all that we understand about that character. Get that right and you’ll trigger the best possible reaction in your readers: And then what happened?

Places to write

Like many writers, I’ve done my time in coffee-shops, and I can make it work if I need to, but most of my writing gets done at home, sitting at a desk in my own little space. Which is fine. It’s convenient, I can shut the door and focus, and I don’t need to buy over-priced coffee to do it. But sometimes I do feel it’s nice to shake things up a bit and a change of (non-distracting) background can be energising.

Libraries (obviously) are a wonderful alternative. I used to frequent the Guildhall Library in London during my lunch hour. I also tried writing in the main space of the British Museum (usually crowded, no guarantee of space to sit) or outside on a bench (usually wet or cold!)

Driving somewhere remote but scenic and working in the car is another perennial favourite, but rarely executed. I don’t travel much, so can’t really say I work on planes or in hotel lobbies as I’m usually too caught up in the novelty of the experience.

For a few years, I got an hour’s writing done on the train travelling to work every day. (But not on the way home because I was invariably in a brain-dead state by then and only fit for dozing). At first, I felt incredibly self-conscious. Plenty of other commuters had their laptops out but they had spreadsheets open, or poked at what were obviously work-related documents, or just noodled away at their email. I, on the other hand, might be describing the scintillation of energy bolts in some space battle far beyond Earth’s orbit or plotting the subjugation of humanity by our AI overlords. I could never be sure what others on the 7.10 to Waterloo would make of it if they shoulder-surfed my screen.

So I bought myself a screen filter that made shoulder-surfing difficult and worked in a light grey font that was microscopically small – so that even I struggled to read my words.

Gradually things changed, or at least, my attitude changed. When some of those stories began to get published and I even won an award or two, the inhibitions dropped away. No stranger has ever actually approached me and said, “Excuse me but are you writer?” but I rather like the idea that they might.

A little while ago my wife bought my one of those notebooks with “Careful – or you might end up in my next novel,” inscribed on the cover in bold letters. I don’t flaunt it, but I don’t hide it away either if I’m out and about. (And it’s a lovely thing to write in). I’m still hoping for the day when someone (probably another writer) says, “Oh, are you a writer then?” and I can smile and say self-deprecatingly, “Why yes. As it happens, I do scribble now and then.”

But it hasn’t happened yet.

Music to write to

For the last few weeks, I’ve been putting music on in the background while I’ve been writing. That’s not something I’ve done much of in the past. I tend to find songs with vocals distracting, and often the tempo and mood of the song clashes with the ideas I’m trying to get down on paper (too upbeat, too downbeat, too much damn fun that I tend to stop writing to listen!). But ever since author Gareth Powell shared his “Writing” playlist on Spotify, I’ve changed my mind.

Almost all of the music in this playlist is instrumental, and that helps. A lot of it is drawn from film scores which seem especially good at capturing mood in a non-invasive way. It’s music that to some extent can disappear into the background (which is what I want) yet works its magic in terms of mood and inspiration.

And boy is there a lot of it! About 96 hours all told, so little danger of getting bored hearing the same tracks over and over. I’m familiar with some of the work, but much of it is new to me and there are some real gems in there–another bonus!

So if working to laid back, subtle-but-inspirational background music is your kind of thing, then I urge you to give it a try. (And many thanks, Gareth, for sharing!)

Here’s the link to the playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/112472346/playlist/2Wg8GUdE42nN7usTMkRomo



While this blog has been frozen in the interstices between quantum wave-states (or dozing, if you prefer) for the last few months, there’s been exciting news for the Writers of the Future Volume 35 anthology.

There have been awards! Not one, not two, but three (count ’em!), which I’m told hasn’t happened before.

Of course, it’s great to get the buzz of recognition and achievement that an award brings. I’m sure all the authors and artists with work featured in Volume 35 are just as thrilled as I am. But these awards are also a testament to the fabulous work of many people behind the scenes: the contest administrators, organisers and many folk at Galaxy Press who work so tirelessly to promote the Writers and Artists of the Future contest and publish the anthology every year–not forgetting the illustrious roll-call of judges. It’s a huge team effort that brings equally huge changes to the lives of those authors and artists it boosts. Just look at the extraordinary number of successful careers it has kick-started over many years.

So what were the awards? In no particular order, Volume 35 won “Best Anthology” in the Critters Annual Readers Poll, The New York City Big Book Award and the Benjamin Franklin Award (given by the Independent Book Publishers Association). Yay! Go us!

I’ve started to dip into this year’s award anthology – Volume 36 (ah, how time flies!) and the standard this year is also extremely high. I hope to post a review of these new stories here just as soon as I’ve read them in their entirety. I can tell you that based on what I’ve seen so far, I suspect there will be a strong award showing for this coming year, too!

Many congratulations to all concerned.

Here’s the link for the latest anthology, Volume 36: https://www.writersofthefuture.com/l-ron-hubbard-presents-writers-of-the-future-36-now-released/

A picture’s worth a thousand words….

But some pictures are priceless.

Case in point: I give you this wonderful piece of art by Vytautas Vasiliauskas, one of the twelve Illustrators of the Future winners this year. It’s the accompanying illustration for my story “Dark Equations of the Heart.”

But you’ll have to read the story (published in Writers of the Future, Volume 35) to understand just why this is such a clever and well-executed piece of artwork.

It captures all the key elements of the story in a way that is so vivid and yet subtle, that I would have scarcely believed possible.

Indeed, one of the highlights of the week-long Writers and Illustrators of the Future workshops is the ‘art reveal.’

This is the moment where, for the first time, all the winning authors get to see the accompanying piece of artwork produced by the winning illustrators.

The atmosphere in the room is absolutely electric – and it can be quite an emotional experience for all concerned.

Without exception, all the art was absolutely stunning – and yet at the same time, distinct and varied. The authors joked beforehand about what we’d do if any of us was confronted by something we didn’t like, but in hindsight it was obvious this was never going to be a problem. The talent and professionalism of this year’s group of illustrators is mind-blowing.

So if you’re into great works of futuristic art and you like reading great science fiction and fantasy stories, what are you waiting for? Writers of the Future, Volume 35 deserves a place on your bookshelf!

Publication Day!

I’m proud to announce today is publication day for Writers of the Future, Volume 35. I’m one of the 12 writers fortunate to have their stories published in this volume. Each story has been illustrated by one of 12 illustrators who won the Illustrators of the Future competition – and they are all fantastic works of art.

There really is something for everyone in this collection: a broad range of styles and themes in science fiction and fantasy.

Published by Galaxy Press and available to order from your local bookshop, or from online venues such as:

Writers of the Future Awards Gala

A longish post, but here’s everything you ever wanted to know about the WotF #35 Awards Gala! If you are in the area this is sure to be a night to remember!


Sunday, April 5, 2019
1201 Vine Street (at Lexington Avenue),
Hollywood, CA  90038
Valet Parking
Red Carpet Arrivals at 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Banquet Starts at 6:00 p.m.
Awards Show Starts at 7:30 p.m. 

            Hollywood, CA (March 20, 2018) – Author Services, Inc. and Galaxy Press will present The 35th Annual Writers of the Future and the 30th Annual Illustrators of the Future L. Ron Hubbard Gala Achievement Awards celebrating the winners of the Contests, honoring 12 writers and 12 illustrators from around the world for their excellence in the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
           The Black Tie Event, with celebrity award presenters, will be held at the Taglyan Complex, 1201 Vine Street (at Lexington Avenue, the entrance for Valet Parking), Hollywood, CA  90038.  Red Carpet Arrivals begin at 4:30 p.m.  Emceed by Gunhild Jacobs, Executive Director of Author Services, Inc., the Invitation Only Event will be catered by Divine Catering.  The Awards Banquet will start at 6:00 p.m.  Members of the General Public can watch the Awards Show streaming live from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. PST at www.writersofthefuture.com.  A Book Signing and Reception with follow the Awards Show in the lobby of the Taglyan Complex.
            Joni Labaqui, Director of the Contests for Author Services, Inc.
 said, “This year marks a historic milestone in our contests with simultaneous benchmark anniversaries, both the 35th Anniversary of our Writer’s Contest and the 30th Anniversary of our Illustrator’s Contest.  On the evening April 5th Author Services, Inc. will present awards to 24 Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers and Illustrators of the Future that have been chosen as winners of the 2018 contests adjudicated by world renowned Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer and Illustrator Judges.  Our theme for this year’s two-hour awards show is ‘Retro Robotics.’”

            John Goodwin, President of Galaxy Press, 
said, “One Grand Prize Writer Winner and One Grand Prize Illustrator Winner will be selected from a field of 12 Quarterly Writer Winners and 12 Quarterly Illustrator Winners, respectively.  Our contests promote the arts welcoming diversity, ethnicity, creativity and equality, with no age limits.  The Awards Show and Banquet will be held in the Taglyan Complex’s Grand Ballroom, and will be followed by a Book Signing and Reception.”
            Labaqui continued, “Our show will open with a Sci-Fi Stomp and Body Percussion Dance featuring a Robot from NASA’s Jet Propulsive Laboratory in Pasadena, CA and dancers from EM Cirque, a world renowned aerobatics and dance troupe.”

           Goodwin added, “Bob Eggleton, a Founding Judge of the Illustrators of the Future Contest will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  Ed Hulse, an award-winning author, journalist and historian, will serve as our Keynote Speaker.  The Heinlein Society, named after the late Robert Anson Heinlein, an American Science Fiction author, aeronautical engineer and Naval Officer, often referred to as the ‘Dean of Science Fiction writers,’ will present Author Services, Inc. with a Special Recognition honoring the 35th Anniversary of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.”
Awards Show Celebrity and VIP Guests and Presenters will include:

  • Sibongile Mlambo (“Dark/Web,” “MacGyver,” “Siren,” “Lost in Space,” “Teen Wolf,” “Black Sails”) 
  • Lee Purcell (Primetime Emmy Award Nominee, “Secret Sins of the Father,” “Long Road Home,” “J.L. Family Ranch,” “Kids Vs Monsters,” “Valley Girl”) 
  • Steven L. Sears (Co-Executive Producer, “Xena:  Warrior Princess,” Executive Producer, “Sheena,” Producer, “Raven”) 
  • Sean Cameron Michael (“The Last Victims,” “Black Sails,” “The Mummy,” “MacGyver”) 
  • Hank Garrett (“Death Wish,” “The Amityville Horror,” “Serpico”) 
  • Phil Proctor (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Assassin’s Creed,” “Flightplan,” “Dr. Doolittle 2”) 
  • Judy Norton (“The Waltons,” “Stargate SG-1,” “Bluff,” “Nowhere To Hide”) 
  • Jim Meskimen (“Parks and Recreation,” “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” “S.W.A.T.,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “NCIS”) 
  • Taylor Meskimen (“Superstrata,” “The Hollywouldn’ts,” “Chastity Bites”) 
  • Edwin Gagiano (“Snake Park,” “Proper Manors,” “Broken Darkness,” and “Villa Rosa”) 
  • Kelton Jones (“Dry Blood,” “Townies,” “The Passion of the Christ”) 
  • Daniel Kotto (“Forever,” “Blood Orange”) 
  • Jesse Kove (“On Wings of Eagles,” “Show No Mercy,” “The Shadow”) 
  • Gino Montesinos (“NCIS,” “Adopted,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) 
  • Jeffrey Patterson (“Another Day in Paradise,” “Finding Harmony”) 
  • Autumn and Paige Patterson (Twin Sisters, “Another Day in Paradise,” “Hot Bath an’ a Stiff Drink”) 
  • Brittany and Brianna Winner (Twin Sisters, national bestselling, multiple award-winning Science Fiction novelists, and Pinnacle award-winning teachers) 
  • Ed Hulse (Keynote Speaker and award-winning journalist and historian who specializes in documenting American popular culture of the late 19th and 20th  Centuries) 
  • Bob Eggleton (Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient, Hugo Award and Chesley Award-winning Artist; Founding Judge of the Illustrator’s Contest) 
  • Dr. Beatrice Kondo (Assistant Program Director for the Masters of Science in Biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University and on the Board of Directors of the Heinlein Society.)

Gunhild Jacobs, Executive Director for Author Services, Inc. will Emcee the event, and Joni Labaqui will present The Golden Pen Award and a $5,000 Grand Prize Check to the winner of the of the Writers of the Future Contest, and The Golden Quill Award and another $5,000 Grand Prize Check will be presented to the winner of the Illustrators Contest.  John Goodwin will unveil the 35th edition of “L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 35,” with a cover painted by internationally renowned artist, Bob Eggleton.

            This year’s live awards show will be simultaneously broadcast to a worldwide audience via the Internet.  Streaming will be live beginning at 7:30 p.m. PST and continue to 9:30 p.m. from www.writersofthefuture.com.  The airing time of the broadcast will vary depending on the time zone viewers are residing in.  Directly following the awards show the winning authors and illustrators will sign books at a reception to be held in the well-appointed lobby of the Taglyan Complex.  This year’s contest winners will also have the opportunity to attend workshops held here in Los Angeles one week prior to the awards show to network with the renowned writer and illustrator judges of this year’s competitions to gain valuable feedback to help them advance their careers in their chosen fields of interest.

This Black Tie Event is by Invitation Only.  Members of the General Public can watch the awards show streaming live from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. PST on Friday, April 5, 2019 at www.writersofthefuture.com.  To view a B-roll link of this year’s show announcement, please visit:  www.writersofthefuture.com.

For more information, on the Contests, please visit the website, www.writersofthefuture.com.  Network with Writers of the Future at https://www.facebook.com/WritersAndIllustratorsOfTheFuture and on Twitter and Instagram @WOTFContest.  #WOTF35
The 12 Writer Winners of the 35th Annual Writer’s Contest include:

  • Kyle Kirrin of Creede, CO (First Quarter Winner) 
  • Preston Dennett of Reseda, CA (First Quarter Winner) 
  • Kai Wolden of Eden Prairie, MN (First Quarter Winner) 
  • David Cleden of Fleet, Hampshire, UK (Second Quarter Winner) 
  • Rustin Lovewell of Gaithersburg, MD (Second Quarter Winner) 
  • Carrie Callahan Bardstown, KY (Second Quarter Winner) 
  • Elise Stephens of Seattle, WA (Third Quarter Winner) 
  • Christopher Baker of Ramsbury, Wiltshire, UK (Third Quarter Winner) 
  • Mica Scott Kole of Westland, MI (Third Quarter Winner) 
  • Andrew Dykstal of Arlington, VA (Fourth Quarter Winner) 
  • Wulf Moon of Sequim, WA (Fourth Quarter Winner) 
  • John Haas Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Fourth Quarter Winner)

The 12 Illustrator Winners of the 30th Annual Illustrator’s Contest include:

  • Emerson Rabbitt of Minneapolis, MN (First Quarter Winner) 
  • Vytautas V of Paris, France (First Quarter Winner) 
  • Yinying Jiang of Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK (First Quarter Winner) 
  • Alexander Gustafson of Essex Junction, VT (Second Quarter Winner) 
  • Christine Rhee of San Francisco, CA (Second Quarter Winner) 
  • Sam Kemp of Birmingham, West Midlands, England (Second Quarter Winner) 
  • Allen Morris of Cleveland, MS (Third Quarter Winner) 
  • Jennifer Ober of Atlanta, GA (Third Quarter Winner) 
  • Josh Pemberton of Seattle, WA (Third Quarter Winner) 
  • Qianjiao Ma of Dublin, CA (Fourth Quarter Winner) 
  • Alice Wang of Bellevue, WA (Fourth Quarter Winner) 
  • Aliya Chen of Fair Oaks, CA (Fourth Quarter Winner)

This year’s 23 Distinguished Writer Contest Judges include:

  • Kevin J. Anderson (An international bestselling author of more than 100 books, as well as a comic writer, anthology editor, record and film producer.  Co-Author of the “Dune” prequels.) 
  • Dr. Doug Beason (Has written 14 high-tech novels.  He also served in the President’s Science Office in Washington, D.C.) 
  • Dr. Gregory Benford (Has won four Hugo Awards and is an astrophysicist who is on the faculty of the Department of Physic and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine.) 
  • Orson Scott Card (New York Times bestselling author of several novels including “Enders Game “ which was made into a feature film in 2013.) 
  • David Farland (Coordinating Judge for the Writers; Editor of “L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume 35;” Grand Prize Winner of Writers of the Future Volume Three; a New York Timesbestselling author as David Farland (his pen name for fantasy stories) and as David Wolverton (his real name that he uses for science fiction stories.) 
  • Eric Flint (A former contest winner from 1993, Flint has written over 40 novels, both solo and in collaboration and is Founder and Editor of Jim Baen’s “Universe.”) 
  • Brian Herbert (Co-Author of the “Dune” prequels.) 
  • Nina Kiriki Hoffman (A 1985 contest winner, Hoffman is the winner of the Nebula and Bram Stoker Awards.) 
  • Nancy Kress (Multiple award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy, two Hugo, six Nebula, one Campbell and one Sturgeon awards.) 
  • Katherine Kurtz (Author of the “Deryni” series, “Templar” series and “Adept” series.)
  • Todd McCaffrey (Best known for continuing the “Dragonriders of Pern” series in collaboration with his mother Anne McCaffrey.)
  • Rebecca Moesta (Co-Author of The New York Times bestselling “Star Wars:  Young Jedi Knights” series as well as the “Star Challengers” books.) 
  • Larry Niven (Winner of every major Science Fiction award.  The legendary creator of “Ringworld” and the”Known Space”series.) 
  • Jody Lynn Nye (Authored or co-authored over 50 books and over 150 short stories and she has written everything from science fiction, fantasy, military to humor.) 
  • Dr. Nnedi Okorafor (Hugo and Nebula Award Winner, “The Binti Trilogy,” Publisher’s Weekly Best Book for Fall 2013, “Kabu Kabu,” Amazon.com Best Book of the Year, “Akata Witch,” Comics: “Black Panther:  Long Live The King” (Marvel), “Shuri” (Marvel), “Wakanda Forever” (Marvel) 
  • Timothy Thomas “Tim” Powers (American Science Fiction and Fantasy author.  He has won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels “Last Call” and “Declare.” His 1988 novel, “On Stranger Tides” served as the inspiration for the “Monkey Island” franchise of video games and was optioned for adaptation into the four “Pirates of the Caribbean” films.) 
  • Mike Resnick (The genre’s all-time leading award-winner for short fiction, authoring 62 novels, over 250 short stories and editing more than 40 anthologies.) 
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch (New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and editor.) 
  • Brandon Sanderson (Best known for the Cosmere universe, in which most of his fantasy novels are set.  He is also known for finishing Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series “The Wheel of Time.”) 
  • Dr. Robert J. Sawyer (Dean of Canadian Science Fiction.  Sawyer has won every major Science Fiction award.  One of his novellas was the basis for the ABC-TV series,“Flash Forward.”) 
  • Robert Silverberg (He is a multiple winner of both Hugo and Nebula Awards, a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Hall of Fame, and Grand Master of Science Fiction.) 
  • Dean Wesley Smith (He is known primarily for his “Star Trek” novels, film novelizations, and other novels of licensed properties such as “Smallville,” “Spider-Man,” “X-Men,” “Aliens,” “Roswell,” “Men in Black” and “Quantum Leap.”) 
  • Dr. Sean Williams (Multiple New York Times bestselling author from Australia.)

This year’s 18 Distinguished Illustrator Judges include:

  • Echo Chernik (Illustrator Contest Coordinating Judge) (Award-Winning Illustrator for advertising, packaging and publishing, whose work has been featured in many commercial design magazine articles.  Her artwork has also been displayed in many galleries.) 
  • Lazarus Chernik (An experienced Creative Director, Brand Manager, and award-winning Designer.) 
  • Ciruelo (Argentine Fantasy Artist known for the “Eragon Coloring Book.”) 
  • Vincent Di Fate (American artist specializing in Science Fiction, Fantasy and realistic space art illustration.) 
  • Diane Dillon (Two-time Caldecott Award-winning artist.) 
  • Dave Dorman (A Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy illustrator best known for his “Star Wars” artwork.) 
  • Bob Eggleton (This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award Winner.  Founding Judge of the Illustrators of the Future Contest.  Winner of seven Hugo Awards and 11 Chesley Awards.  His art can be seen on the covers of magazines, professional publications and books in the world of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror around the world.  He is also a conceptual illustrator for movies and thrill rides.) 
  • Larry Elmore (Well known as a fantasy artist for “Dungeons & Dragons.”  He worked on “Dragonlance”amongst dozens of magazines and book covers.  Cover Designer of “L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume 33.”) 
  • Dr. Laura Freas Beraha (She was married to the famous artist, Frank Kelly Freas.  She won a Chelsey Award for illustration.) 
  • Val Lakey Lindahn (Illustrator Judge since the inception of the contest.  Lindahn was nominated twice for the Hugo, Chesley, Frank R. Paul and Jack Gone Awards.) 
  • Stephan Martiniere (Has received a Gold Award from Spectrum in 2004 and Thea Award in 2001 for his work on Paramount’s “Super Saturator” theme park ride.  He was personally nominated for an Emmy Awardâ in 1994 for directorial work on Family Channel’s “Madeleine” series.) 
  • Gary Meyer (Master of the College at the Pasadena ArtCenter College of Design.) 
  • Cliff Nielson (Best known for his work on “Star Wars,” “The X-Files” and “Chronicles of Narnia.”) 
  • Mike Perkins (Comic book artist best known for “Captain America,” “Ruse” and Stephen King’s “The Stand.”) 
  • Sergey Poyarkov (A 1991 contest winner from the Ukraine, who has now become a contest judge and has gone on to a successful career as a fine artist with works displayed in exhibitions across Russia, the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA.) 
  • Rob Prior (Artist who paints with two hands, event paints two separate paintings at the same time.  He has created comics, most notably “Spawn,” “Terminator,” “Deep Space 9” and “Heavy Metal.”) 
  • Shaun Tan (Australian artist, writer and filmmaker.  Won an Academy Award for “The Lost Thing” in 2011.) 
  • Stephen Youll (Science Fiction and Fantasy artist)

About The Lifetime Achievement Award Winner:
Bob Eggleton was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1960 and became interested in Science Fiction art at an early age.  Today he is a successful Science Fiction, Fantasy and landscape artist.

            Winner of seven Hugo Awards and eleven Chesley Awards, his art can be seen on the covers of numerous magazines, professional publications and books in the world of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror across the world including several volumes of his own work.  He has also worked as a conceptual illustrator for movies and thrill rides.

            Of late, Eggleton has focused more on private commissions and self-commissioned work.  He is an elected Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists and is a Fellow of the New England Science Fiction Association.

            He has been an Illustrators of the Future judge since 1988.  Find out more at: www.bobeggleton.com.

About The Keynote Speaker:
Ed Hulse is an award-winning journalist and historian who specializes in documenting American popular culture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  His books include ”Distressed Damsels and Masked Marauders,” “The Blood ‘N’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction,” “The Films of Betty Grable and Frances Dee:  A Film History.

            As a journalist Ed Hulse covered the home video and consumer electronics industries for trade and consumer publications alike between 1980 and 2005.  His columns, reviews and articles appeared in such outlets as Premiere MagazineEntertainment WeeklyVarietyVideo BusinessThe New YorkerThe New York Times, andThis Week In Consumer Electronics.  Between 1986 and 1990 Hulse edited Video Review’s Previews, a nationally circulated magazine spotlighting current home video releases.  During this same period, his entertainment-industry coverage was syndicated by the The Washington Post’s Writers Group.  Between 2001 and 2007 he reviewed new releases, wrote feature articles and conducted celebrity interviews for the Video section of www.barnesandnoble.com.

            As a film historian Hulse has written numerous books about vintage motion pictures and their stars.  These include:  The Films of Betty GrableZane Grey and the MoviesFrances Dee:  A Film History, and Distressed Damsels and Masked Marauders.  His most recent book, Wage Slaves in the Dream Factory:  Low-Budget Filmmaking During Hollywood’s Golden Age, will be published in September 2019.  Between 2002 and 2016 Hulse edited and published Blood ‘n’ Thunder, an award-winning journal devoted to the study of adventure, mystery and melodrama in pop-culture media of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  In 2018 Murania Press published the revised second edition of his Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction, which has been sold in 23 countries and is used as a text in nearly a dozen American universities.

About The Contests:
           Following the 1982 release of his internationally acclaimed bestselling Science Fiction novel, “Battlefield Earth,” written in celebration of 50 years as a professional writer, L. Ron Hubbard created the Writers of the Future Contest (www.writersofthefuture.com) in 1983 to provide a means for aspiring writers of speculative fiction to get that much-needed break.  Due to the success of the Writing Contest, the companion Illustrators of the Future Contest was created in 1988.

            The annual Contests draw entrants from around the globe and are free to enter.  Winners retain full rights to their work and each are given cash awards.  Grand Prize Winners receive an additional $5,000. The Contest flies out all winners to Los Angeles for an expense-paid, weeklong workshop given by Contest judges and culminates in a Black Tie Gala Awards event.

           In the 35 years of the Writers of the Future Contest, there have been 416 winners and 80 published finalists.  The 416 past winners of the Writing Contest have published 1,150 novels and nearly 4,500 short stories.  They have produced 32 New York Times bestsellers and their works have sold over 60 million copies.

            In the 30 years of the Illustrators of the Future Contest, there have been 346 winners.  The 346 past winners of the Illustrating Contest have produced over 6,000 illustrations, 360 comic books, graced 624 books and albums with their art and visually contributed to 68 television shows and 40 major movies.

           The Writers of the Future Award is the genre’s most prestigious award of its kind and has now become the largest, most successful and demonstrably most influential vehicle for budding creative talent in the world of contemporary fiction.  Since its inception, the Writers and Illustrators of the Future contests have produced 35 anthology volumes and awarded upwards of $1 million in cash prizes and royalties.  For more information please visit www.writersofthefuture.com and www.galaxypress.com.

# # # 

Event Calendar Listing 

WHO & WHAT:        
The 35th Annual Writers of the Future and the 30th Annual Illustrators of the Future L. Ron Hubbard Gala Achievement Awards celebrating the winners of the Contests, honoring 12 writers and 12 illustrators from around the world for their excellence in the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
 WHEN & HOW:    
Sunday, April 5, 2019.  This Black Tie Event, with celebrity award presenters, is By Invitation Only, and will be held at the Taglyan Complex, 1201 Vine Street (at Lexington Avenue), Hollywood, CA  90038.  The theme for the event is “Retro Robotics.”  Red Carpet Arrivals are from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.  Emceed by Gunhild Jacobs, Executive Director of Author Services, Inc., the event will be catered by Divine Catering.  The Awards Show Banquet is from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.  Members of the General Public can watch the Awards Show streaming live from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. PST at www.writersofthefuture.com.  A Book Signing and Reception will follow the Awards Show in the lobby of the Taglyan Complex.

# # #

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov was born Jan 2nd, 99 years ago. He was hugely influential on me as I grew up, and that influence (and admiration) has persisted throughout adulthood.

I’m guessing I was about 9 or 10 when I first discovered his science fiction, but it may have been earlier. My dad would drive me to the town library every week and I remember hunting through the shelves, burning through whatever Asimovs I could find (and there seemed to be a lot!). Later, I fell in love with his science books too, loving the uncomplicated prose and the ease with which any difficult subject could be simplified. It was only logical that I started to pursue science-based subjects whenever I could. I might still have ended up doing a physics degree had I never read Asimov, but once I started reading him, I think it became inevitable.

It was hero-worship from afar, but Isaac was a role-model tailor-made for me. I loved the little autobiographical snippets in the introductions to his long-running series of science essays published in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, and in the short story collections and anthologies he edited. When his autobiography was published across several volumes, I was in heaven. I loved the detailed, diary-like format (closely based on the diary entries that he kept throughout his life) although I can understand that it wasn’t to everyone’s taste.

When he took the trouble to reply to a couple of my fan letters, you can’t imagine the delight I felt. They are still treasured to this day, safely tucked inside the cover of a first edition hardcover of “In Memory Yet Green.”

He left us far too early in 1992. I still get a buzz of excitement though, every time I walk into my study where there is an entire floor-to-ceiling bookshelf of Asimovs. (And there are always more waiting to be sought out!) His books, and the voice that speaks so clearly when reading them, are my lifelong companions. The author may be gone, but the works left behind are just as fresh and vibrant as when they were encountered for the very first time.

Happy National Science Fiction Day!

2018 – the year I became a single-spacer

It’s one of those things that can turn pleasant, rational people into raving maniacs if you happen to find yourself in the opposing camp. Choose wisely, because not only can you lose friends over this, but I think there are still some places where they’ll burn you in a wicker man if you fall into the wrong camp.

I’m talking about how many spaces to leave after a period (or full stop, as we Brits like to call it). One? Two?

Three? (Seriously? What kind of monster are you?)

Does it matter? Not really–except to those who care deeply about such matters and are perfectly willing to bend your ear for a couple of hours if you happen to hold the opposing view.

I’ve always put two spaces after a period.

There I’ve said it. That is my confession. I learnt to touch type when I was seven (a story for another time, perhaps) when my mother gave me a Pitman’s Typing Tutor–an old copy even then and possibly one that she herself had used when training to be a secretary (back when the world was still mostly monochrome). It left one in no doubt that a properly typewritten document always had two spaces after a period. There was no explanation; none was needed. It was just what you did. If you wanted to be taken seriously, there had to be two spaces. I’m not sure where or when that rule was invented. (Quite possibly, God used two spaces after each commandment. The typing tutor didn’t come right out and say that, but it was implied.)

So that’s what I did. Year after year; two spaces at the end of each sentence. School reports and scholarly essays. Work documents, emails, story manuscripts. Much later, in the course of my day job, I would often have to edit other people’s work. (Not fiction-editing, just dull business-related documents). I would regularly add the missing space at the end of a sentence before the document was returned; the text just didn’t look right without it. A few people may have complained or at least gnashed their teeth, but I suspect most of my work colleagues never even noticed.

Then one day I remember a heated debate with work colleagues–all of whom seemed to belong to the Cult of the Single-Space, for some reason. “But it’s not the proper way,” I tried to explain. “I am a touch-typist and typing DNA runs in my blood. Therefore I know about these things! Thou shalt always hit the space bar twice after a full stop or risk the wrath of God!”

“Poppycock,” they told me. “It’s not what the internet generation does anymore.” And sadly, when I researched a little more deeply, I came to see that they were right. Things had changed and the trend had shifted. What’s more, I found an increasing number of online fiction outlets requested manuscripts that were formatted with a single space after periods. And then I noticed that long-standing MSS format guidance no longer mandated two spaces. Well… The sky had fallen and it was a case of be crushed or climb out from under the wreckage.

So earlier this year, I decided to switch from being a two-spacer to a single-spacer. I thought it would be hard. I thought it would take weeks if not month to train my thumb to hit that space-bar just the once. It was deeply ingrained. In an average year, across all styles and form of writing at the keyboard, I reckoned I could easily have typed a hundred thousand sentences, each with a double space after it. Unlearning that, unwiring the instinctive impulses was going to take some effort.

About a day, as it turns out. There might have been the odd relapse now and then, but definitely by day three I was mono-spacing without a thought, almost as if I’d been doing it all my life. Now, when I occasionally pull out some old manuscript to work on, it looks distinctly odd to see all that space between those 12 point Courier sentences.

I’m not sure what all that says about me, so it’s probably best that I don’t ask. But at least now, no one can accuse me of being too spaced-out.