Friday, June 22, 2007

Jenna Black: Funny, Crazy, Upsetting Publishing Stories

My story of frustration revolves around the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. For brand new fantasy and science fiction writers, this is the premiere contest to enter. It's run quarterly, and every year an anthology is published of all the stories that placed in the contest. To give you an idea what a big deal winning this contest can be, the first prize each quarter is $1,000. The grand prize winner for the year gets an additional $4,000. And then there's the all-expense-paid trip to L.A. for a week-long writer's workshop. Not to mention additional money for having your story published in the anthology.

As you can see, this is a prize well worth trying for. And I tried for it. Repeatedly. I entered quarter after quarter, year after year. I never even made the semi-finals.

Enter my dear husband. Before he married me, he'd never read science fiction or fantasy, but he was a writer--of humor columns. He helped me edit one of my novels and some of my short stories, and he developed a taste for the genre. So he decided to try to writing some. He sat down to write not knowing if he was going to write a short story, or a novel, or even a screenplay. But he didn't need a plan, he just winged it.

When he was finished, he had a novelette somewhere around 15,000 words. I knew he was thinking of entering it in the Writers of the Future contest, but come on . . . This was his first attempt EVER at fantasy and science fiction. Surely it couldn't be any good.

Then, of course, I read it. And I knew there was going to be trouble. It was good. REALLY good. Funny. Quirky. Original. *Sigh*

I'm sure everyone can guess what happened: he won. First prize. The trip to L.A., the anthology . . . the works.

So what's the silver lining? Well, for one thing, I let my husband live. I thought that was very big of me. For another, he was very, very nice to me for a long time thereafter. (Of course, he might just have been trying to avoid losing any body parts.) And best of all, I did eventually manage to sell some of my own novels (About five years later, but who's counting?)


Blogger Tempest Knight said...

OMG! What a great story! *wg*

9:19 PM  

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