Fernley resident and fantasy writer KD Julicher has a sharp imagination and an unusual fondness for semicolons.
But she also loves writing outside in Nevada’s bright outdoors and either pulling up a chair or doing a little rock climbing for some inspiration while thinking on her next story.
“We’ll go out and enjoy the scenery and talk about story stuff,” she said about her collaborative process with her husband. “He’s enthusiastic about me doing my thing … and it’s not something I take for granted.”
Julicher has been announced as a winner in the 38th annual Writers of the Future contest. Her story, “The Redemption of Brother Adalum” will be published in the annual anthology, “L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Vol. 37.”
The honor wins Julicher a cash prize and a trip to Hollywood this fall to attend writing workshops, to become paired with an illustrator who will provide the artwork for her story and to receive feedback on how to break into the publishing industry.
Writers of the Future originally was founded in 1983. The Illustrators of the Future contest, formulated five years later, became a chance for editors, publishers, agents and directors to take stock of the current artistic talent and form new networks of support, build new mentorships or careers in some cases and encourage creativity. Previous contest workshops and ceremonies have taken place in Seattle, Las Vegas, New York, Washington, D.C., the Johnson Space Center, the Kennedy Space Center, San Diego and Caltech.
Past winners from the writing contest have gone on to publish 1,150 novels, 4,500 short stories and 32 New York Times bestsellers, with their literary works selling more than 60 million copies. Artists have created more than 6,000 illustrations and 360 comic books and contributed to 624 books or albums and 68 television shows and 40 films.
“(‘Writers’) is the biggest writing contest for nonprofessional writers,” Julicher said. “It’s not like a book contract, so it’s a great way to break in and get your first sale. It’s for science fiction and fantasy writers. I tend to write fantasy, so it’s a great fit.”
The contests are held quarterly and judged anonymously, giving ambitious writers who might not succeed at first an opportunity to try again.
“I really liked that the contest was open to anyone who just isn’t a professional writer yet,” she said. “One of the other writers was under the age of 18. It was a great experience and one I highly recommend to ambitious young writers who haven’t had a lot of credits.”
Julicher previously was a published finalist in “L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Vol. 32” and won the Baen Fantasy Adventure Award, which recognizes the best original adventure fantasy short story written in the style of well-known authors including J.R.R. Tolkien, David Weber and Elizabeth Moon.
The former software engineer received her bachelor’s degree in computer science and lived in Virginia, Florida, Iowa and Colorado before coming to Nevada.
Submitting her own entry helped her personally learn how to better construct and self-edit a story, including backing off from using so many semicolons in a story, a personal habit she had developed in her prose long ago.
She says her winning piece addresses “coming to terms and understanding and accepting your failings and how to move on and what the cost of redemption can be.”
She said this frequently is an authentic human emotion most can relate to in the fantasy genre in which swordfights and dragons predominantly are used.
“I’m a big fan of second chances and believing you can always redeem a mistake if you’re willing to pay the price and that’s what my story’s about,” she said. “I think that’s something people lose sight of.”
She said she looks forward to meeting the illustrator she will be paired with when she makes the trip to Hollywood in the fall, saying she believes the artwork will better bring her own story to life.
“The story in my head doesn’t always do pictures,” she said. “To take the words I wrote and translate it to a visual, that’s almost intimidating in a good way. I can’t wait to see what my artist comes up with. That’ll be a really cool thing to see when that’s revealed.”
For information on Writers of the Future, visit www.writersofthefuture.com.