Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Second Place Winner: L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest

The day after the 2012 Olympics ended, I took the silver.

I was the second place winner of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest for the second quarter of 2012.

(For those not familiar with it, here is their site.)

On Monday evening, I received a call from Joni Labaqui, administrator of the contest.  I was on the subway platform at the time, and the train was about to come.

Joni had originally contacted me on July 20 to say I was one of eight finalists, so we had already connected.

On August 13, therefore, I knew I had a one-in-2.66 chance of winning one of the three prizes.

A few moments after we started talking, my train arrived.  It was already a miracle that I was getting a cell signal two stories underground.  I thought about how much I wanted to get home; I have a long commute.  But I let it go.

And we talked.

I knew about the $750 prize for second place.  Joni told me about the week-long workshop (expenses paid).  That was exciting in itself, for my vacation account has been much depleted by rash day trips to luxurious spots such as Walmart and Safeway Grocery.  To get a trip to LA (I've never been there) is a treat in itself. 

More to the point, a full week of talking and networking with the pros of prose is going to be absolutely heavenly!

She asked for my social security number so she could mail me a check.  I looked around the subway platform, walked away from the (certainly honest-looking) people nearby, and told it to her.  Then I told it to her more loudly, because she couldn't hear me otherwise.  Perhaps the other folks heard it as well.

(With the prize money, I will buy credit-report monitoring).

The next train came.  I hesitated.  I thought if we were still connected under two stories of earth and concrete, it must be unbreakable.  Not wanting to delay my journey home any further (I have a three leg commute; if I'm late for the first, I'm later for the second, latest for the third), I got on.

She started telling me about the anthology --

And we were cut off.

Then I emerged from the tunnel.  There was no more underground stuff between me and the end of the line, so I knew I was okay when Joni called back.

"And we'll arrange payment for the anthology," she said.

"Wow, you mean there's an additional fee for my story appearing in the Writers of the Future volume?" I said.  "Didn't even know about that.  A smaller amount than the prize, I assume!  Ha, ha!"

"Ha, ha.  Yes--"

My train went into another tunnel.

Why was my train going into another tunnel?

There were supposed to be no more tunnels between me and the last stop where I hopped onto the bus.

I had been so distracted that I had gotten on the wrong train.

When I pulled into the next underground station, I jumped off, and I got bars again.  Joni called back yet again.  (She is an absolute trooper!)

We hashed out the final details.  "Dave Wolverton will contact you," she said.  "He's editing your story."

"Wow!" I said.  "Doesn't he write under two names, one fantasy and one science fiction?"

"Yes," she said.  "David Farland."

"Yeah!  David Farland!  Er, which one is his real name?"

"Dave Wolverton."

"Oh!  Yeah."

(I had hoped to give future entrants into the contest a sense of what it was like to talk to Joni Labaqui.  Sadly, I think this post gives you more of an alarming sense of what it's like to talk to me!)

Surprisingly, Joni did not revoke the prize on the spot.  After we hung up, I puzzled out which train I had to get on to go home.

I feel the magic.  Do you?


  1. Love this post!! Credit report monitoring and all. And the wrong train? We'll get a long well in April.

    Tina Smith AKA Gower21 (Winner from Quarter One)

  2. I was cooking dinner & had a bubbling pot on the stove when Joni called me with the good news. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to turn the burner down right away, and no one was home to see me struck dumb except the dog and the cats. But, at least I was already home. :) Nice reporting. See you in April.

    Alisa Alering, fellow winner from Q2

  3. That's a great story. I wanted to yell at you for getting onto that train.

    Congrats again! :)

  4. Congratulations, Eric, and welcome to the WOTF Club!

  5. Congrats. You managed to say something more than WOW! which is about all I managed. See you April.

    Steve Sottong (Q1 third place)

  6. As Cruel's long-suffering wife, I can honestly say he is definitely subway-conflicted. Writing some nights beyond his self-allotted bedtime, he will awake on the train the next morning well past his usual stop and into the next state.

    Cruella Cline