Writers of the Future, the Real Part One: Where I Tell the Beginning and the End

This is an incredible time in my life. I feel very lucky to be experiencing so many new milestones, so close together, that it’s hard to process them into some sort of linear, coherent timeline, but I’m still going to try. (And, there’re pictures!)

Almost exactly a year ago I received a rejection on my story, “Acquisition,” from C.C. Finlay at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. (Actually, it was rejected by “Charlie”, which, apparently, is a much bigger deal.) He said he enjoyed it, but didn’t buy the ending with the way it was set up. I’d left a gap in my story–I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, about gaps in my stories, so I’ll move on. I fixed the gap (to my own satisfaction) with a five-word sentence and submitted it to the Writers of the Future contest even though it was only the first month of the 3rd quarter. I could’ve kept the story, tinkered with it, for a few months, but I wanted it gone. I didn’t want to think about it all summer, if I could help it.

On April 2nd, I claimed my award for 1st place. I was a nervous wreck, but managed to stumble out my Thank You speech and not make a complete ass of myself.


Aw! Look how happy I am!

Then, later that night, they announced the grand-prize Golden Pen winner–and holy shit it was me!

I kinda went bananas.


I high-fived everyone. I shook hands with everyone. I hugged David Farland and Erika Christensen and was simultaneously overjoyed and overwhelmed. I know when you win something you’re supposed to be subdued, but I really, really wasn’t. I feel a little bad now (after all, for me to win three other dudes didn’t), but I hope they know I love them each dearly and would’ve absolutely cheered the loudest if any of them had won instead.

I love cheering for friends.

I said some stuff. Was interviewed. Did a sweaty, manic signing. Said more stuff. Stayed up too late, soaking up wisdom from Laurie Tom and Martin Shoemaker and Megan O’Keefe and I was KO’d by the time I rolled back to my hotel room and conked out.

A week later, I’m still ragged. I’ve given the beginning and the end of this thing, but there’s a whole lot of middle (including guest stars Tim Powers, Robert Sawyer, and Nnedi Okorafor, among a bevy of others!)

I’m going to document everything. Not linearly, and not coherently, but as truthfully and honestly as possible. I’ve been a secret writer, struggling over story and prose and characters and motivations, with my lovely and talented wife Jaime for TWENTY FREAKIN’ YEARS. I can’t help but be jubilant, and I can’t help but want to scream to the rafters about how exciting this is for me.

Luckily, this is my blog. I get to do what I want. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share as much as I possibly can. I’ll excerpt notes, I’ll give away secrets of my personal success, and I’ll be as honest as I know how to be.

That was probably the best lesson of this entire experience. When I felt joy, I told someone. When I was nervous, I owned up to it. When I wanted success for someone else I just fuckin’ said so. I don’t think I’ve EVER IN MY LIFE been so genuine with strangers, and you know what? It felt GREAT. Really, really great. I wasn’t trying to be cool. I wasn’t trying to be tame. I was on an emotionally exciting roller coaster, and instead of pretending that I wasn’t, or that I should just fit in, I grabbed whoever was around me and threw them on board. I stopped worrying about being obnoxious, or abrasive, or unpleasant. I was me, and I trusted that those around me would steer clear if I got on their nerves. We’re all grown-ups, right?

The link below is full of nice things Ron Collins said about me. It makes me blush, so I’m just going to leave this here:


(and I think this next one is the same as the last, but on the Galaxy Press site instead):


So, Writers of the Future, Part 1. If you want to read what all the fuss is about, HERE’S A LINK TO THE BOOK. Get yourself a copy, and let me know what you think.

More later! Love you all!




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6 responses to “Writers of the Future, the Real Part One: Where I Tell the Beginning and the End

  1. Kelly Varner

    Watching your jubilant win was nothing short of beautiful. I was so excited for you, a person I did not yet know, as you came down the aisle with this amazing smile across your face. You could tell that you were absolutely pumped. Your acceptance speech​ was good and you radiated happiness up there on stage.

    And you didn’t look like a sweaty mess at the signing. You looked like a professional writer (which you are).

    I’m looking forward to reading more about your incredible journey.


  2. Jaime

    I agree with Kelly!! Your jubilant win WAS beautiful! And I’m also looking forward to what you have to share about your experiences during the workshop week. 🙂

  3. Martin L. Shoemaker

    I hate to make an obvious comment, but: How could you be a secret ANYTHING? You’re hard to miss. And I don’t mean your size, I mean your outsize personality. You have presence.

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