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Saturday - the Big Event
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           So how do you start the big day? Walk the Canyon Park again for starters and finally get some pictures.  Today though the weather is not as pretty as it was with clouds covering the horizon.  Someone's packed LA in velvety grey overnight.  Then on to Author Services with no time to spare. Next is a nonstop series of sessions with the successful.  Steve Savile and Ken Scholes took the stage and gave us a good look at what it means to be winners who make it work.  Next was Yoji Kando who talked about keeping the science in the science fiction as well as reminiscing about Robert Heinlein. Robert Sawyer gave us his views on keying your work to success- focus on an important timely theme of large scale.  Dave Wolverton had us thinking about all sorts of things even changing our names, well with "Young" do you blame me?  I'll be down with the dustbunnies. <Sorry folks at home, just kidding for now>.Next Eric Flint brought us some solid advice on collaboration and what keeps you going as a writer.   
           Make up? Really? Rescued briefly from that fate, by Maggie Linton of XM radio, who sits me down and asks me about the contest, who influenced me and my story.  After the interview, we chat briefly about radio.  There's no escape from the make up and after at little pat down, I'm told not to mess with what they've done, which is tone down the bits that might shine.  So then it's hurry up and wait until 4:15.  When we're up on stage in full regalia doing pictures.  At this point they hand out the awards - cool we don't have to wait!  But this is only a photo op so after we turn to the right, turn to the left, stand on chairs <calf muscles are hating me now> the awards go back into their hiding place off stage.  But all of us at some point have caught a glimpse of the illusive Golden Pen award award which will go to the best of the first prize winners.  Brent suggests that perhaps the big award should go to whomever can hold their award longest.  I look at his award, twice the size of mine since he was a first place winner, grin evilly and say "Sure."  From pictures to dinner of filet mignon and dessert of creme brule.  A short break to meet my presenting judge Eric Flint <happy noise!> and get pictures.  
           Then there's no more waiting, its time for the award ceremony.  We file in and get seated.  There's a brief moment of surprise when my roommate Brad Torgersen notices 4 figures in strange robes with covered faces.  The entertainment has started and these characters are based on his story.  In Circ De Soleil style the dance and presentation continues - but wait there are figures in a sling like hammock swinging over the stage, could it be? <One of the performers did later confirm that this was taken from Written in Light.>  After the entertainment we are introduced to the celebrities and the judges and received a very inspiring and moving speech from June Scobee Rodgers about the Challenger Centers who invite young children to experience the possibilities of space exploration.   After a presentation of recognition to Galaxy press from a representative of the Arab Emirates, the big moment arrives.  There is a very cool video presentation in which the art work for our stories, which we've all pretty much fallen in love with, is given another dimension through a brief animation and the it's time to start handing out the awards.  One by one the pay off comes and we give our acceptance speeches.  My moment arrives and I trundle up the steps.  I state my piece, totally forget to thank all of my former English teachers like I planned, do remember to thank Yesterday's Dreamers and finally point at the sky and thank Watch the Skies WRITING GROUP - oops, sorry folks, that's reading group.  Blame it on the moment.  But then its back to reality - right?  Wrong.  Next Seth recieves the artist Gold award for his work.  The picture that he created for Jason's story is amazing to say the least and Laurie wins the big award for her story "Living Rooms".  She's just overwhelmed but in the best way.  Great ceremony, great time, got my award - I'm set right? But wait there's more!
         Now we're wisked into the the lobby of the hotel for a mass signing.  Suddenly, I have a line waiting on me- how did that happen?  Well some of the other folks hadn't made it out as quickly as I did.  Nina Hoffman gives me some very much appreciated advice on the right way to do a signing and I lay on.  I make sure that I mark my first signed book as "First signed book ever" and give it back to the young man with the dark curly hair.  He laughs and tells me I need to come back again, but this time as a judge.  After that it's a blur. My name goes down again and again with my tag line for the story "DIVERSIFY!".  I get pulled over for yet another interview this time with Galaxy Press.  Rachel, who's done the artwork that goes with my story is across the table for a little and I start funneling people over to her.  I meet Sherry Robb who is restarting her agency and collect a card as well as Dr. Harry Kloor of Jupiter 9 productions and so many other people.  Chat, sign and sign again.  In a quiet moment I grab a book and start my fellow authors going on a copy for me.  I swear in the mayhem I sign a book to someone else by accident - I hope they get the Lovecraft reference.  The pile of books is getting smaller.  Sarah from author service stops by with Marisol Nichol.  Sarah says Marisol brought a water for me, I jokingly tell her I'll save it forever and quickly admit I will drink it since she's done the hard work of carrying it around.  And signing again, then another interview.  I talk to two folks who've won and will be back for next year's awards as well as people who've entered but are waiting for their chance and others who are having me sign books for hopefuls.  Somebody needs to tie me down before I float off.  What an evening.  When its all winding down, we find out that there is an after party and cheeseburgers.  So it's relax take it easy and enjoy some good food until 3:30AM with the other winners as well as some of the authors and the organizer of all of this Joni Labaqui.  Had a great conversation with Eric James Stone about Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show and other cool stuff.  Finally fall over - tomorrow another signing!

Writers of the Future - Friday
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Friday - so in the morning we all piled into a bus with all of the illustrator winners and headed to The Valley and Delta press where the anthology is being produced.  We got a very nice tour of the facility and some tantalizing looks at the books.  We were given signatures which are essentially newspaper sized sheet that contains the pages for two books.  Wouldn't you know it, the last page of my story was on top.  This of course means that I couldn't get a sneak peak at the art work for my story.  Yes, I am like a bad kid in the candy shop.  I got caught trying to pick up one of the copies off of a pile of finished books and had to put it back unopened.  Now the secrecy is there for a reason which we'll come to later.  I'd like to thank Jordan, one of last year's winners who spent some time talking to me about writing, screen writing and whatever.  He's a firm believer in the contest and is definitely paying it forward.  So we got back on the bus and headed back to LA.  Meliva, who was involved in the layout and design of the anthology went to each one of the illustrators and talked to them about how their design turned out.  All the while not letting any of us writer folk get a look at the artwork.  So we adjourned to the Author Services building after lunch and heard from Jerry Pournelle about the state of the publishing industry and writerly advice.  Jerry really put it to us that things are changing rapidly and we are the generation of writers that will see a great deal of change.  After Jerry, Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta took the stage to review Heinlein's rules of writing and then launch into a great presentation of writerly advice that finished out with the Dirty Secrets of Writing.  All of this has so much value because it is the practical and the common sense all packaged together to keep us on the path to a continuing career.  So late in the afternoon we were all shuttled down to the theater which was guarded by the watchful eye of KD Wentworth to keep us from sneaking in early.  You see they were finally going to show us the art associated with our stories.  The trick was they weren't going to tell us which art was ours, we had to find it.  So after a wait they let us in and like kids on Christmas we all scattered throughout the theater peering at all the pictures.  So I looked at one after another and by the time I got to the end of the line I began to get worried.  I hadn't recognized any of them.  Had my artist chosen to do something abstract?  How was I going to admit that I couldn't even recognize their work?  Then I realized that the artist's name was on their piece.  Now I knew that Rachel Jade Sweeney had been tasked with illustrating "Written in Light" so all I had to do was find her name.  It was about that time that I realized there was one piece of artwork that I hadn't seen.  It was behind a pillar, so that when you entered the theater it wasn't immediately visible.  I think poor Rachel was wandering around wondering what had happened to me when I walked up to her picture.  I must admit I just stared at it for at least a minute.  She'd done such a fantastic job of encapsulating the moment that really sets the events in motion that I was stunned.  I looked up and found her there looking at me and she asked, "Do you like it?" I think I scared her a little, because I didn't say anything immediately.  I just walked over and gave her a big hug and then of course I couldn't shut up about the picture.  We talked for awhile and she showed me portfolio which was rather astonishing.  I was really lucky that she was assigned my story,  This girl has a lot of talent is definitely going places.  Then she dropped the bombshell - we get to take the art home.  I'm still stunned by that.  Going to have to find a wall to hang that on.  So how does it get better than that?  We after dinner, we went through rehearsal for Saturday night, practiced acceptance speeches, figured out how to get on and off stage without causing a catastrophe and practiced handling the award with a stand in pencil jar that looked like an oversized oil filter.  From there time to grab the tuxedo, then back down stairs where my writing class partner interviewed me for for the Innsmouth Press, the magazine she edits.  After that I was snagged for an interview with the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society's Neverending Panel <will post when these become available>.  Finally all the hard work done, I joined the Locus party in room 428 for cool beverages, outrageous stories and good advice from such pundits as Mike Resnick, Tim Powers, Steve Savile, Doug Besson and Kevin J. Anderson.  As a matter of fact, the Horton Hears Cthulhu shirt was a hit.  One full day - and tomorrow are the awards.
PS: I have determined the source of the nasty viral stuff that attacked the lap top was the new MP3 player - so folks scan those as soon as you plug them in to avoid this type of situation!

Five no Three - or what happened to Tuesday
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Tuesday - Writers of the Future
                   So this was really the first full day of class and we all trooped over to Author Services and got the tour.  We do most of the class time in The Hubbard Library where we are surrounded by the works of the author as well as a massive stack that contains the manunscript for his Battle Field Earth series (I will add a picture later).  Around the back in a side aisle are an astonishing collection of original copies of golden age pulp magazines like Amazing, Argosy and others with names like A.E. Van Vogt, Clifford Simak and of course Robert Heinlein as contributing authors.  From there we went into the Winners library, here there are shelves containing the books published by the winners of the contest.  Also we were shown the lounge and told to make ourselves at home.  KD Wentworth and Tim Powers wasted no time and we started straight away into a days worth of discussion, tips and tricks as well as reviewing writing essays.  We were assigned our twin - mine is Paula who is winner from 2008 who was able to join us and is a magazine editor as well, which makes her a great source of info on the writing game.  The twin is someone who is an extra resource in case we need to bounce ideas off of one another and we also do our reading assingment discussions together.  Later in the afternoon we were given our objects.  KD chose these and they need to figure in the story that we are going to write.  How can I describe mine?  Well imagine a cylinder of brown plastic, about in inch in diameter, with rectangular designs on the surface.  One end is capped and the other open end has a ragged finish to it.  So what they heck is it? I can't tell and that is the beauty of it.  You see other folks got things like peso, a pocket knife, a postcard which are all fairly concrete.  The best part with mine is that its so odd that it sparks the imagination right away.  I almost have to put it away so I don't start getting ideas - we're also supposed to incorporate our interviews and research from Wednesday too.  That pretty much wraps things up.  It so nice out, I take a long lesiurely walk around the area.  I'm looking for entrance to the Runyon Canyon Park (which I'll find the next morning) and the Hollywood sign, (which we finally saw when we walked to the library) Instead I find lots of amazing houses, The Magic Castle hotel and make it back to the room just in time for sunset. 

(Sorry for the day skip - things are back in order for Friday soon!)

Writers of the Future Week Wed and Thursday
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So you might ask why no blog yesterday - well thereby hangs a tale of one part triumph and one part woe.

Wed. - So another fine morning of the whys and how to's by Tim Powers and K.D. Wentworth.  These two know the works and approach the sessions with a good sense of humor and a willingness to address whatever questions we can concoct.  After the classroom work, we're turned loose to track down our interviews.  We need to talk to people and gain what we can about them as a person.  Not tremendously successful on this one but I do talk to a woman who is a professional cleaner about moving into the area.  She tells me about an apartment that has recently become available because the former owner has passed away.  I'll have to find some elements from this to use.  Probably the best is the conversation that I overhead as I was getting ready to enter the hotel - a man approaches two other men leaning against the wall - "Hey Chupacabra, where you been?  You think you're the big hunter right?  It will catch you and skin you alive."  At this point the conversation dissolved into spanish.  Pretty sure I can't use second hand conversation.  After lunch we take a field trip to the LA library.  I see plenty of interesting things along the way that are sticking in my head for this story.  My favorite is on the front of the TV station across from Author Services - "Being here, does not mean you you belong here"  Now that line is destined to be in the story.  So at 5:04pm we are kicked out and told not return until Thursday at 5:00pm with our completed stories that we've writen in 24 hours.  We go back to the hotel and I discover that something has happened to the lap top.  The crazy thing is suddenly chock full or malware and keeps setting off the virus alarm.  So I fight the stupid thing into submission and then I turn to the story.  At 12:00PM there's 2400 words in the bank of an offword embassy story.

Thurs.- So since I know I'm going to be sitting for awhile to finish this story, I take off for Runyon Canyon park which is literally about 6 blocks away.  I put in a nice long walk through beautiful landscape that I can't photograph because the stupid MP3 player/camera ran out of juice after the first picture taken. Looking down on LA as the sun just starts hitting the city, I'm really missing the D50 and know I'm missing some good shots.  Then grabbing the laptop, I set up in the lobby and push along until 1PM on the story.  Tim stops by and checks on me and about 4 other authors set up shop in the open space.  At about 400 words from the end, I call it quits for lunch and a food run to the Fresh and Easy, a sort of mini-supermarket that's right down from the Roosevelt and very reasonably priced.  Suitably set now with my shins barking from this morning's walk, I plunk down on the bed and head for the finish line only to find that once again the laptop has had another hiccup.  I wrestle with the recalcitrant thing until I get the safe mode on and get Word running.  So I type the rest of the story in the huge font that this gives you.  Saving, I go hammer and tongs to get the stupid computer going and finally succeed.  Now I rework the story and literally finish the first rough edit and reformatting at 4:40PM with 20 minutes to go on the clock.  At Author Services we have a brief class with John the President of Galaxy Press about handling the media.  Then it's tux measurements followed by a barbecue where I meet Sarah who is the Galaxy Press publicist and she's all gung ho about setting me up with booksignings.  After an animated conversation with her, our photographer who is a very pleasant lady with a good sense of humor sets us all up for a head shot photo.  Dinner, drinks around fire pits surrounded by palms and famous authors who will be sharing their wisdom with us tomorrow.  Only a day before the awards.  Still haven't met the young lady who's illustrating my story, but I understand the reveal is tomorrow.  Also its an early start Friday, so maybe no tromp through the highlands again - my calves are thanking me already. 

Writers of the Future adventure - travel day
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So the travel day is over.  Really a good day, forgot how much I enjoy flying- especially if someone else is paying for it.  Relatively clear day so it was like watching a Google earth roll slowly by.  Put a soundtrack of Astral Projection's in the Mix behind that and occasionally stop to read some of The Serpent and the Rainbow and the trip went quickly and more importantly - smoothly.  Great luck meeting the folks from author services almost moments after I got my luggage.  We weren't as lucky picking up the other folks, but eventually set off to the Roosevelt Hotel.  After some down time, enough to go outside and realize the walk of fame is literally in front of the hotel and learning how to avoid people stopping at random intervals to make sure they get their picture taken with Chuck Norris's star, grabbed a quick chicken wrap across the way and then met everyone else.  I've said it before, I'll say it again- I get lucky and tend to fall in with the right people.  Quick warm up with Tim Powers and KD Wentworth and we're talking writing.  Got the run down on the week and a few moments to chat with Tim about classic scifi.  Then the group just talked writing and publishing for another half hour or so before calling it a day.  Right now on the way to Author Services to start day #1 of the real thing.  Can't wait- more later.
          cheers

(no subject)
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What's it like when the worm finally turns in one's writing career?  Let's see if we can find out....

We'll start with L.Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future 26 - a week long writing camp with Tim Powers and KD Wentworth as instructors, followed by a gala award ceremony and two signings.  Look out Hollywood, California, here I come.