The past two weeks have been momentous. I had the honor in the first quarter of 2012 to be picked from among thousands of worldwide entries as one of the winners of the Writers of the Future contest. From April 8 to 15 I was part of a group of 13 highly talented writers and 12 illustrators who experienced a week of intensive training topped off by an award ceremony (it's three hours long, I'm at two hours four minutes) that resembles the Oscars. The week of classes were taught by several of the top names in Science Fiction: Tim Powers, Dave Wolverton, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Todd McCaffrey, Robert J. Sawyer, Eric Flint, Mike Resnick, Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta as well as past winners and now published authors Brad Torgersen, Jordan Ellinger, Eric James Stone and others. With such an outstanding group of teachers, the learning experience was unsurpassed.
The Writers of the Future contest is a chance for new writers in Science Fiction and Fantasy to get exposure and enter into the world of publishing. It is a showcase for new writers. I cannot recommend it too highly. The judging is blind and strictly on the merits of the story. Send in one with strong characterization, good plot and competent language and you stand just as much chance as the next person. I've been published locally but Writers of the Future, Vol. 29 (totally unsubtle plug for the book) is my first national publication. Submit your story. Among the many advantages of the contest is that it's free to submit.
One last point. If anyone is worried about the connection of L. Ron Hubbard and the contest and Scientology: the contest is separate from Scientology. Hubbard endowed the contest, but it and Galaxy press are under a distinct corporate entity. None of the judges, to my knowledge, has any connections to Scientology, and Scientology was not brought up during the week.