After a helpful note by a LJ reader last week, I realized that today was International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day. I forgot to post something last year, as I didn’t find out about the thing until too late.
The problem is, I’m already offering a lot of content on my website for free. Most of the sorts of ‘bonus’ things I could pull out at this point wouldn’t be of professional level, and wouldn’t really apply. It’s too early for Mistborn 3 sample chapters (sorry). In the end, I decided to just post an extra chapter from the Warbreaker HTML project this week. Then, as a special bonus, I’ve posted something else below.
The next piece requires an introduction. In 1994, I was a senior in high school. By this point, I’d gotten into reading fantasy and SF quite passionately. I’d tried my hand at a few stories, but nothing very extensive. One of my teachers gave me a flyer for a science fiction writing contest being held by a local sf convention called Andromeda One. It’s the first I’d heard of a literary sf convention. The guest of honor was Katherine Kurtz, who’s books I’d read and enjoyed.
I grew really excited, went home, and tried my hand at writing a REAL story. I’m not sure what I thought a REAL story was, but I guess I figured it was something with a lot of drama and multiple viewpoints. The writing contest had a student category, where they said they were looking to encourage “The next generation of Nebula and Hugo Winners.” I remember that phrase for some reason.
I don’t know how many students submitted to the contest. However, I was shocked and excited when they sent me an invitation to the convention giving me free entrance. Apparently, I was one of the five finalists for the contest. I can still remember sitting in that ball room as they announced the winners, one at a time, starting with fifth place and counting upward.
I ended up winning the contest. Probably one of the proudest moments of my life to this date. The award was a fifty dollar savings bond or something like that. I still have the fanzine they published the winners in; I seem to recall that there weren’t enough submissions in the adult category, so the fanzine only contains the five stories by us students.
I had a blast at the convention, hanging out with the other sf/fantasy student writer nerds. To this day, I wish that I’d somehow been able to connect with that community earlier. I left for college a few months later, and eventually hooked up with the sf community at BYU. However, I look back at my high school years, and wonder what would have been different if I’d actually been able to find sf/f geeks like myself to hang out with. Ah, well.
Katherine Kurtz, by the way, was awesome. I can still remember in detail the few minutes when I happened to be sitting in the lobby and she came to sit down and wait for a ride. We chatted for a good ten minutes, with her offering a lot of encouragement my direction. She was the first pro I ever met, and she left a great impression on me in regards to the entire community. I sent her a copy of ELANTRIS when I got published eleven years later.
Anyway, enough reminiscing. I’ve posted the story that won the contest to the bs.com library. Warning, I did NOT edit this. I think there’s a run-on sentence in the first or second paragraph. It was written by an inexperienced high school student who really had no idea how to write. But it is a glimpse into my mind when I was that age, I suppose. Enjoy.
The story is called Centrifugal. (And, we’re working out some bugs in the coding, so there’s an extraneous ‘chapter’ in the title of the page on my website. Sorry; that should go soon.)
Oh, and one more note. If any of your reading attended or–more importantly–were part of organizing ANDROMEDA ONE in Lincoln NE in 1994, fire me off an email. I’d like to give you guys a personal thank you. I may not have won a Hugo or Nebula yet, but I think I’ve come a long way riding that boost you gave me fourteen years ago.