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Bewildering Stories

Writers of the Future:
28th Annual Achievement Awards

by Harry Lang

H. Lang and book
Books hot off the press are bound with hot glue.
On April 15th I was one of thirteen writers and twelve artists honored at the 28th Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement awards, held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The event celebrated the annual winners in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future contests. My story “My Name Is Angela” placed third in the first quarter of the competition and appears in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, volume XXVIII, available in bookstores across the U.S. It was my first professional sale.

All of which is fairly cool but not nearly as impressive to a writer as the events of the week leading up to the awards ceremony. The purpose of the competition is to find promising new writers, publish them, and give them a boot-camp type experience to prepare them for a professional career.

H. Lang and Mago Huang
Harry Lang with Mago Huang,
illustrator of “My Name is Angela”
On the first day of the week writers arrived at the Hollywood Hilton Garden Inn from all over the U.S. and as far away as the UK and Australia. There was plenty of meeting and greeting, scouting restaurants and grocery stores and whining about jet lag.

The work began bright and early the next morning as we all hiked to the headquarters of Author Services Inc. on Hollywood Boulevard to begin the workshops. Led by authors Tim Powers and Nina Kiriki Hoffman, the workshops provided densely packed lessons on everything the well prepared writer needs to know. Story mechanics, the mysteries of the submission process, if, when and how to find an agent and how to behave at conventions were just a few of the essentials covered by the pros.

The most memorable event of the workshops was the twenty-four hour short story. Each student was given a small object to stimulate story ideas. We were then taken to the local library to select books (preferably at random) from which to gather a body of information. Finally, we were turned loose on Hollywood Boulevard to interview strangers. We were then given twenty-four hours to synthesize the data from these disparate sources and write a short story. Three completed stories were selected at random to be critiqued by the entire class.

The results were surprisingly inventive, coherent and polished. It was a real boost to learn that our capabilities surpassed our own estimations of ourselves.

Off-hours (almost exclusively late night) were spent hanging out with the contest judges and previous winners who were there to give us the benefit of their past contest experiences. A highlight for me was a chat with Dr. Jerry Pournelle, a former Boeing employee with loads of stories about his work in human factors during the Cold War. Dr. Pournelle also spoke to our group about the future of electronic publishing; his grasp and vision remain among the most astute and far-reaching in the science fiction community.

The awards ceremony was a real Oscar-style event that began with interviews on the red carpet at the Ebell Theater. A black tie dinner fortified us for the three-hour ceremony and book signing that followed. The ceremony can be viewed in its entirety at; my presentation shows up at 2:07 into the program. Bewildering Stories did not go unmentioned.

H. Lang and G. Inbinder
Harry Lang and Gary Inbinder
The day before I returned to the relative calm and sanity of Prospect Park, Pennsylvania, I finally got to meet another member of the Bewildering Review Board. Gary Inbinder and I met for brunch at the Hilton. What a pleasure! It was clear from our all too brief conversation that BwS is an invaluable venue that provides a rare opportunity for serious writers to hit their stride. It also provides a rare opportunity for readers to discover new favorite writers. This reminder of Bewildering's part in all this was a nice way to end the trip.

Copyright © 2012 by Harry Lang

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