Writerly Preparations

I’m better at managing my nerves than I used to be, but I still struggled to calm the ragged edge in my breathing as I dialed Dave Wolverton’s number into my phone.

Dave is the coordinating judge for the Writers of the Future contest. He’s a Hugo-winning and New York Times bestselling author, writing science fiction under Wolverton and fantasy under the moniker David Farland. I’ve wanted to meet him for years; he’s mentored authors like Brandon Sanderson, James Dashner, and Stephenie Meyer, among others. Writers of the Future gave me my chance.

I first submitted to Writers of the Future back in 2017. That story received an honorable mention, which convinced me to keep submitting. I didn’t expect it to take three-and-a-half years and fourteen submissions . . . and I’m glad I didn’t. The process of creating and submitting those stories taught me a lot, but it was hard work. I’ve finally received a second-place win, and I’m determined to use the opportunity well.

I called Dave last Wednesday at his invitation, and he was gracious enough to give me forty minutes of his time, answering questions about marketing, networking, and how best I can prepare myself for the week-long writing workshop and awards ceremony in Hollywood, as well as the anthology in which my story will be published. He was friendly and accessible, and said encouraging things about my writing quality and my skills as a self-editor. My essays used to bleed red ink near the beginning of college, so I owe those skills to Linda Taylor, an extremely talented editor who taught many of my classes.

My call with Dave helped me clarify my pre-conference goals. My to-do list for the next few months:

  • Creating and updating this website.
  • Releasing some of my short stories in print and audio formats. I’ve created a YouTube channel and a podcast to achieve that.
  • Reading at least one book by every WotF judge, past and present. There’ve been thirty-seven judges altogether; I’m currently on book fourteen. They read like a who’s who of sci-fi and fantasy authors over the past decades.
  • Marketing and networking things, which I confess are not my strong suits. If you have suggestions of networking books I should read, please hit me up in the comments or social media!
  • Interviewing my fellow contest winners—aspiring illustrators and writers like myself—as well as some of the judges, hopefully. Fingers-crossed, I plan to ask Dave Wolverton if I can interview him! I’d love to share what I’m learning with the readers of this blog.
  • Working out regularly and pursuing other hobbies. That may seem unrelated, but it’s important for maintaining energy and mental balance as life gets busy. I am very much a reluctant gym rat, but I’ve enjoyed it more than I expected.

I’m in the happy position of having a novel that’s ready for me to shop it around, so I don’t need to scramble to put something together. I’ve created a submissions packet: query letter, proposal, elevator pitch, the whole deal. I intend to edit those materials and make final changes to the manuscript as I receive beta-reader feedback. In the meantime, I’m working on a sequel. After many false starts, I’ve finally gained some momentum—I’m about 20k words in; far enough to glimpse the shape of the story, despite being a free-writer rather than an outliner.

That about covers my current status. Thank you for reading this! I hope your day is going well, and that you’re finding traction in all your pursuits, artistic and otherwise.

Bye for now!

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