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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » WOTF - 4th quarter finalists and

   
Author Topic: WOTF - 4th quarter finalists and
meg.stout
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They've announced the finalists for 4th quarter -

http://wotfblog.galaxypress.com/2007/11/4th-quarter-writers-of-future-finalists.html

Also,

quote:
Tim Powers, Writers of the Future judge, New York Times bestselling author and Writers of the Future workshop instructor, will be a guest at the forum at www.writersofthefuture.com this Friday, November 16th!

Between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (PST), he will be joining us for a lively discussion on all things related to Writers of the Future. Tim worked with Algis Budrys when Algis was still instructing the Writers of the Future workshop and has been instructing it with K. D. Wentworth, the coordinating judge of the Contest, for the past several years.


The link for the forum page is

http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/index.php


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kings_falcon
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A big Congrats to Chris Owens who is one of the finalist!
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ChrisOwens
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Thanks!

Of course, as I keep reminding myself: "Only a 37% chance of winning. Only a 37% chance." Expect the worst and you won't be disappointed. I am by no means an optimist. The glass is half full, true, but it's probably poisoned...

[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited November 15, 2007).]


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InarticulateBabbler
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Congratulations, Chris!!!
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annepin
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quote:
The glass is half full, true, but it's probably poisoned...

Lol, Chris, this is the best response I've ever read. Stated like a true pessimist!

Anyway, I'm sending good thoughts your way. Good luck!


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ChrisOwens
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Thanks. I'll need them.

Here, I believe, are the probabilities. The quantum waveform for my story can collapse into one of six states:

60.0% : Nonwinning, nonpublished finalist
2.5% : Nonwinning, published Finalist
37.5% : Third place
25.0% : Second place
12.5% : First place
3.1% : Gold

[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited November 16, 2007).]


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Rahl22
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I can't help but point out that such break-downs of statistical (un)certainties only hold water for the case in which each story is equally brilliant. As I am sure yours is exceptional, that ups your chances considerably.
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ChrisOwens
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Or it might be a fluke that'll be weeded out by further screening...

It's funny. Sometimes, I like the third place stories better than the first placers. In a previous year's anthology, I've wondered why one story took the Gold over another first placer. It may come down to taste, mood, and subjectivity--all which can change from day to day.


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Silver3
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Congrats, Chris!

I often like the third or second places more than the first places. I suspect that the combined judges and I don't quite have the same tastes.


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ChrisOwens
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Thanks.

I can't imagine how much research went into Obsidian Shards--the combination of Aztec mythos with hardboiled detective was a good, original fusion.


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JeanneT
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I have very differing tastes from the. But GOOD JOB job to anyone who can get through the stringent vetting process. While the stories they pick tend to not be to my taste, they are absolutely well-written.

Edit: I must admit I'm a bit miffed in not having even received something saying my story wasn't considered though.

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited November 17, 2007).]


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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ChrisOwens, I like your probabilities because they seem to imply that my nonwinning published finalist story which appeared in volume 9 did better than the Grand Prize winner in beating the odds.

Regardless of that, I wish you luck. And, FWIW, I was told that one of the criteria in choosing which finalist stories to include in the anthology with the winners was what stories would balance out the winners. In other words, if most of the winners were science fiction stories, then the editor would be inclined to pick horror and fantasy stories from the finalists to fill out (and balance out) the anthology. And vice versa if most of the stories were horror and/or fantasy, and so on.


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ChrisOwens
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Thanks.

It's a spurious calculation to be sure. I figure there are a pool of 20 nonwinning finalists to select from. So it's a 1 out of 20 shot, or a 5% chance. But some years, there are no published finalists, so I halved the number to 2.5%. Far more likely to win the Grand Prize.

Thanks for the insight on the selection process for published finalists!


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Silver3
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quote:
I can't imagine how much research went into Obsidian Shards--the combination of Aztec mythos with hardboiled detective was a good, original fusion.

Glad you liked it!

I did a lot of research beforehand for other stories, but not so much for this one--I just built on what I already had.


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ChrisOwens
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So it was a Write-What-You-Know? Even more impressive!
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Silver3
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More Write-What-I-Learnt

Thanks!


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ChrisOwens
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Oops. I just looked at the historical numbers for published finalists and had to update the odds!

59.03%: Nonwinning, nonpublished finalist
3.8% : Nonwinning, published Finalist
37.5% : Third place
25.0% : Second place
12.5% : First place
3.1% : Gold

[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited November 21, 2007).]


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meg.stout
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Congratulations!

But I must say your probabilities don't add to 1. Confusing that...


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ChrisOwens
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Thanks!

First,second,&third all truthfully have equal odds (12.5%). But under the theory that third is a more likely outcome than second and second more likely than first, I took certain fictional liberties.

[[There's a 56.5% chance that the numbers are wrong, but then 72% of everyone here knows that, and only 42% care. Okay--it's past my bedtime. Tommorow, I'll probably look at this post and wonder, "What on Middle Earth was that!" ]]


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Spaceman
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80% of statistics are made up.
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ChrisOwens
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Edit: Deletion of a redundant statement. I need to post here only when I'm fully alert...

[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited November 22, 2007).]


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Wolfe_boy
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On a semi-unrelated topic, I'm on the WOTF Mailing list, and I'm more than a little annoyed. I thought the emails might be of some benefit to a writer, hints, pointers, news, interviews, substance, frankly.

Each and every time, well, almost every time, my email bings at me and I see "Writers of the Future" as the sender, I know I'm about to hear a sales pitch. And not even a terrific sales pitch, the same one each and every time! Pick up a volume, pick up a lot of them, the stories are fabulous, they are amazing, they are out of this world, and they were selected by a long list of sci-fi superstars, oh we got him and her and him and the two of them and don't forget him and her too, come buy now we've got a terrific discount to offer to you if you buy seven or seventeen or even seven hundred, buy buy buy buy buy our product!

It's crap like this that makes me question the validity of this contest - the names attached certainly mean something and carry a significant weight all their own, but a part of me can't shake the feeling that WOTF is a great big book selling scheme not that far removed from Literary "contests" where all the entrants win and they can purchase their very own copy for only $19.95.

I'm not really sure why I haven't unsubscribed yet. Come to think of it, maybe now is the perfect time.

Jayson Merryfield


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ChrisOwens
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Frequent and non-substantive advertisements aside, there are a number of points that differentiate WOTF from such a scheme. A bit of research (researching potential markets being an activity every writer should engage in anyway) can easily confirm the validity and distinguish it from a vanity-press fraud.

These are some of the facts that lend validity:

(1) SFWA recognizes WOTF as a legitimate pro market and a market can easily lose its status with SFWA if it's not careful. Thus, a sale to WOTF counts as a pro sale. http://sfwa.org/org/qualify.htm#list

(2) There's no entry fee. Nor do you have to buy the anthology to enter. A writer could always go to the public library and check the book out if they feel it will help them craft a story to their liking.

(3) If you win, you'll get copies of the anthology (that cost as much as any paperback, under $10) for free. In fact, if you go to the free workshop, it's my understanding that many writers scored many free books from previous years.

(4) So many pro authors would not endorse a scheme that would besmirch their hard-earned name. And if WOTF were claiming endorsements falsely, there would be lawsuits-a-plenty.

(5) Orson Scott Card is on video record, giving his endorsement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHCklfUmBws

I understand he has tenuous and entrenched views of late as he's immersed himself into the religion of politics, and his recent works have not been up to par with his past record, but when it comes to the field of writing, it's hard to question him.

(6) Many Hatrackers have been WOTF alumni. Eric James Stone, Aliette De Bodard(Silver3), Kathleen Dalton Woodbury, ect… They all can testify to the validity.

(7) Many winners, such as David Wolverton/Farland, have taken what they have learned at the all-expense-paid workshop and carved for themselves successful writing careers.

(8) I have read two of the anthologies, and while sometimes I've questioned certain aspects(such as endings), the writing is always of professional quality, sometimes daunting. In fact, after reading Schrödinger's Hummingbird I never thought I had a chance.

I've probably missed quite a few. Now, if this is wrong, producing the facts to the contrary would be a public service to us all. However, it takes more than someone's feelings or mismanaged advertizing to sway me. Research and prove otherwise.

By implication, I understand that me being a finalist is probably what is truly calling things into question. "What--him? This can't be legit!" My posts, especially in this thread have not always been professional. I need to be more careful. And in the past, I've aired some dirty laundry in F&F. But I hope I've learned since then. And to be fair, I haven't won. By the odds, my story will be weeded out. But then, my semifinalist story did earn a Yellow Form of Promise and handwritten notes from Realms of Fantasy, giving independent verification in regards to the quality of the story. I'll be the first to admit, I've a ways to go.


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JeanneT
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Pffft. I didn't even place (and wasn't even thought of highly enough even get notification of not placing for that matter) and I'll agree with you Chris that WotF is totally legit. I think I can safely say I have no ulterior motive.

Yes, their advertising is annoying. I just unsubscribed from their mailng list for exactly that reason. I thought I might get help with short stories and instead got inundated with totally meaningless advertising.

But your list of reasons and more show that the contest is one of the few that can really advance a "newer" writer. I wish they'd change their advertising policy because I think it does them no good to look rather shoddy in that regard.

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited November 23, 2007).]


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ChrisOwens
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It may be that if they get enough bold yet tactful feedback regarding the advertising, they might listen and amend.

After all--sometimes it's hard to see ourselves the way others see us. We have to be told, "There's something in your nose! And how about a breath mint? And by the way, can turn down the volume?" But enough about my day...

[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited November 23, 2007).]


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Wolfe_boy
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I suppose I might have worded that last bit more strongly than I intended. I don't question the validity of WOTF - there is enough independent evidence of it's success in the marketplace and value to new authors to be ignored. I suppose I am just experiencing a little cognitive dissonance - a prestigious contest has annoying and snake-oil-ish advertising, and a website that is decidedly Web 1.0. You'd think that a contest that is essentially a beacon to the scribbling masses would operate with a little more decorum and go about its business with a little more humility while at the same time carry itself with the dignity commensurate from its success.

Jayson Merryfield


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ChrisOwens
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Congrats to Erin Cashier, Sonia Helbig, and Jeannette Cheney!

I didn't win, but then, like Groucho said, "I wouldn't want to be part of any club that would have me as a member."

Looks like 2007 was the year of Almost for me. Other almosts:

*Placed Semifinalist in Q107.

*Made it to the final rounds of a local writing contest(of course that wouldn't have been a pro sale) in August.

*A Yellow Form Of Promise from Realms of Fantasy in October.

Hopefully 2008 will be the year of Acceptance...


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JeanneT
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That sounds like a great year to me, but I'm betting next year will be even better. Way to go!
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ChrisOwens
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BTW, JeanneT, that's two quarters in a row where the wins have gone all to the ladies...

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JeanneT
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I never said that the preference was for men writers as opposed to women writers. It's blind judging.

I write female protags and ones who are warriors. I questioned whether that put me at a disadvantage--I still suspect it does. I also write epic or sword and sorcery type stories. I question whether that puts me at a disadvantage. Tim Powers for one said he was very unlikely to like such a story when he posted recently on the WotF forum. Science fiction also seems to win more often than fantasy.

You mistake a discussion about whether one type of story or protagonist or another has an advantage for an accusation of prejudice.

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited December 17, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited December 17, 2007).]


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ChrisOwens
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Sorry. Didn't mean to offend.

Alas, my story was fantasy, and it seems there were already some good fantasies this quarter.


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InarticulateBabbler
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You'll get it, Chris.
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JeanneT
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No offense taken, Chris. I think people just misunderstood some of the discussion. I was just interested in whether there were trends in the winners. It's natural there would be at least to some extent.

I haven't read this years stories. Buying the anthology isn't high on my priorities with all the other books on my list.

I know you'll get it next time. You're doing great.

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited December 18, 2007).]


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kings_falcon
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You'll get there Chris. Also now when you send Obsidian Shards out you can say it was a finalist in WOTF.

Great job getting to that point.


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ChrisOwens
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Obsidian Shards was Silver3's winning story in Volume 23.

I have been debating with myself if it would be professional to list in a cover letter--or whether it would carry any merit.


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luapc
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I would definitely say that a Finalist finish is something to put on a cover letter. I've seen a smattering of comments around that indicate that it's a good thing to do, and is a plus, not a negative.


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JeanneT
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I've also read that being a finalist is considered a positive and is worth mentioning. That definitely puts it in the top 1% or better.
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ChrisOwens
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Okay, I'll give it a shot...

If I can find the right wording, avoiding the phrase "losing finalist", I should be okay...


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kings_falcon
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Doh!! Sorry about that one.
Serves me right for typing when rushed.



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annepin
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I think if you say "it was a finalist", it sort of implies it didn't win, otherwise you'd say "it won the WotF contest." No need to put the "L" word in there!
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JeanneT
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I agree with annepin here.
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Silver3
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For my semi-finalists, I just said, "I have been a semi-finalist in WOTF". That way, it's part of your credits, and not associated with the story (so they can't work out whether you're sending them something that WOTF rejected or not ).

And bummer on your not placing. Though there's always the published finalist...Fingers crossed!


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ChrisOwens
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Thanks. Yep, I'm on published finalist watch, combing the blogs for any news. But I can't cross my fingers--not without generating lots of typos.

Out of curiosity, did the semi-finalist story get published with the blurb in the cover letter?

I was tempted to add a mention of it after my Q107 story came back semi-finalist--but then I thought I'd get a "Oh, yeah?" and a quick reject. At least, now, I can add: "I have been both a finalist and a semi-finalist in WOTF."


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ChrisOwens
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Alas, I just found out that Journeyman is canceled--what a week.
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JeanneT
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There is some kind of rule that the holidays have to be blech for writers as I just found out myself.

Sorry to hear that, Chris.


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ChrisOwens
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The next few days will be a final marathon proofreading for the Q108 story. It's sink or swim time. Then again, I am tempted to send it to ROF instead.
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JeanneT
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Blech. I have a story I could send, but I haven't had a chance to get it critted. I doubt it's good enough anyway, although probably more to their taste than my last one.

It's hard to know. I agree with annepin that judging ones own work is just hard. I never know if it's any good or not.


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ChrisOwens
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Last year, I decided NOT to get any feedback on the Q107 story. I didn't want any doubts from causing me to chicken out. It came back semifinalist. Not 100% success, but it was a personal best at the time.
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JeanneT
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Feedback doesn't cause me to chicken out. Without feedback, I'm always convinced that anything I do sucks.

But now that I think about this story, I know they wouldn't like it so there's no point in tying it up for months.

[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited December 22, 2007).]


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