14 Questions with Kevin J. Anderson & Rebecca Moesta

Interviews with Contest judges, past winners, current winners, and entrants
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Brad R. Torgersen
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14 Questions with Kevin J. Anderson & Rebecca Moesta

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:59 pm

If you need an intro to either of these authors, you're clearly not paying enough attention to the judging pool!


"...Kevin J. Anderson is the author of over a hundred books, nearly half of which have appeared on national or international bestseller lists; he has over twenty million copies in print in thirty languages. He has won or been nominated for the Nebula Award, Bram Stoker Award, the SFX Reader’s Choice Award and New York Times Notable Book. Anderson coauthored eleven books in the Dune saga with fellow WotF judge Brian Herbert, and eight high-tech thrillers with WotF judge Dr. Doug Beason. Anderson’s epic Saga of Seven Suns and his Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy (including two crossover rock CDs) are his most ambitious works. He has written numerous novels based on The X-Files, Batman and Superman and Star Wars (particularly the Young Jedi Knights series with his wife, Rebecca Moesta, who is also a WotF judge). He has edited seven anthologies (three of which are the bestselling SF anthologies of all time).

...Rebecca Moesta wanted to be an author since her early teens, but it wasn’t until 1991 that she began writing in earnest. She has written or ghost written more than thirty books, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Little Things and three Star Wars: Junior Jedi Knights novels. With her husband, fellow WotF judge Kevin J. Anderson, she wrote two movie novelizations, a novel based on the StarCraft computer game and a Star Trek graphic novel, The Gorn Crisis. As a team, Moesta and Anderson are best known for their series of fourteen bestselling and award-winning young adult Star Wars novels, the Young Jedi Knights. Their original Crystal Doors fantasy trilogy was published by Little, Brown, and the pair penned the lyrics to two rock CDs. They are currently working on Star Challengers, a series of books to promote space and science education, in conjunction with the Challenger Learning Centers. Moesta, who earned an MS in Business Administration from Boston University in 1985, has taught every grade level from kindergarten through junior college. She is CEO of WordFire, Inc., the company that she and Kevin J. Anderson own. In addition to her writing, she serves as final reader and copy editor on her husband’s manuscripts. After being a guest lecturer at the WotF workshop for many years, she became a judge in 2007.

http://www.writersofthefuture.com/judge ... ture-Judge

Brad R. Torgersen wrote:1. Beyond your own blogs, which you use for distributing tips and wisdom on writing, what resources would you recommend for aspirant writers and people trying to break into fiction publishing?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:There are a couple of other very valuable blogs (many of which I read myself and get important tips). No nepotism here, but they are mostly from other WotF judges! [That’s OK...WotF is the way many of us pay forward.] Kristine Kathryn Rusch has an excellent business-of-writing blog at http://kriswrites.com/ and Dean Wesley Smith has http://www.deanwesleysmith.com. Dave Wolverton (David Farland) has his free Daily Kick in the Pants http://www.davidfarland.net and Brandon Sanderson does http://www.writingexcuses.com. All well worth your time — but don’t spend so much time reading ABOUT writing that you don’t spend any time ACTUALLY writing.

Rebecca Moesta wrote:Orson Scott Card offers advice to developing writers on his site hatrack.com under the Writing Lessons tab. Also, the site advicetowriters.com has nuggets of wisdom from a variety of famous writers, past and present.

2. Which writers of the past have been your mentors, and are there any particular nuggets of wisdom they have given you which stand out -- either because they're more important than ever before, or because they've remained true regardless of how publishing has changed?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:Dean Koontz helped me a great deal when I was starting out, giving me advice on projects and contracts. The most important advice I remember was when he said that a writer should push the envelope and make each book bigger (in some aspect) than the previous one. And that you can’t go backward — once you prove you can do a BIG book, you can’t turn around and do a LITTLE book.

Rebecca Moesta wrote:The late Hugo Winner Janet Kagan corrected a bad habit I used to have of starting stories that I never completed. She told me to focus — stop all other writing, pick one of my stories, and finish it. It worked. Kevin J. Anderson often reminds me that publishers aren’t looking for perfect partial stories, but they do accept good finished stories.

3. In your time as judges for the Contest, are there any shared themes or particular qualities you're seeing in the stories you like best?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:Honestly, no. Each quarter I judge contains such a wildly diverse array of subjects and styles, I just work my way through the stack of manuscripts and see what blows me away.

4. What do you think winning The Contest doest best, for people who have never been published before?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:many creative writing classes and other workshops or discussion groups are theoretical and a lot of talk. WotF is a hands-on, real “get the job done” type of workshops that expects you to finish a story in a day, and some of the lectures (including ours) are about the business aspects, which most other workshops never cover. I may be wrong, but I think Clarion spends six weeks and never covers contracts, publishing economics, productivity, career planning.

Rebecca Moesta wrote:The Contest opens doors for its winners by introducing them to respected professionals in other specialties, inviting the winners to participate in autograph and media events, and giving them a chance to network with experts and peers in their artistic fields.

5. What are some of the best habits or truths you think beginning or aspirant writers need to focus on?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote: Write. Don’t dink around. Don’t talk about writing instead of writing. Don’t say “I wish I had more time to write.” All of the other advice kicks in after you’ve written something.

Rebecca Moesta wrote:Submit your story or novel (following the publisher’s guidelines) to the top market for which it’s appropriate. If it gets rejected, submit to the next highest market, and so on. Don’t start at the bottom, just because you think you can make an easy sale. Aiming too low can keep you from developing the skills you need to become a professional.

6. What are some of the worst habits or myths you think beginning or aspirant writers need to jettison?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:I think that rolls into what I said above

Rebecca Moesta wrote:Aspiring writers often tell themselves, “I’ll start writing in earnest when my life calms down and I have more time.” As a rule, life gets more complicated, and extra time doesn’t just appear. If you plan to be a writer, make the time to write.

7. In your time as editors, what are some of the most painful mistakes you've seen new writers make?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:One common mistake we see is that new writers so often write LONG stories. 40 pages, 70 pages. They don’t know how to get to the core of the story and tell the part that needs to be told...or, they’re embryonic novels and need to be fleshed out.

8. Does judging for the Contest mirror at all your time spent editing for anthologies?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:Actually, it rather works in reverse. My WotF judging has changed how I go through the slushpile of anthology submissions. When I read WotF submissions, I have no idea who the author is and I judge the stories solely on their merits without any attention to who wrote them. Now, for anthologies, I read the stories and — unless the author is somebody with such a big name that traffic stops — it doesn’t really matter to me at all what other credits you have. If it’s a good story, it’s a good story.

9. What kind of "homework" reading would you recommend for people entering the Contest?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:Other than reading all Kevin J. Anderson novels? :) Since it’s a different, unknown group of judges each quarter, you can’t necessarily draw any parallels. It never hurts to read the annual anthologies to see what else won.

10. For people scoring regular Honorable Mention or Semi-Finalist, how best might they "amp up" their future entries so as to put themselves into the coveted Finalist circle?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:Wow, you’re asking someone who never managed to do it himself, so I can’t offer any advice. Actually judges don’t really get involved with that part — we read the mss. And mark which ones we like best.

11. What kind of legacy do you hope to leave for future writers just coming in, or about to come in, or who might come in during the next couple of years?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:I want a new batch of writers who will write the kind of books I like to read. (Hey, I’m not just a writer—I read, too.) Just today in the mail I received a pre-release copy of a new novel from an author who was one of my WotF students years ago...and I think it looks fantastic; I can’t wait to read it. I want winners to look at writing as a career, as a business, and behave as professionals instead of flaky artistes.

12. What are your thoughts on the emergence of electronic self-publishing? Are new writers jumping too soon, or not soon enough?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:I wouldn’t go straight there with a new manuscript, but attempt to sell to a professional paying market first. Remember, you need to get an audience for your work...and that’s a lot harder than just writing and uploading the text.

13. Should new writers "target" stories to markets, or find markets to fit their stories?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:It depends. If there’s an open market anthology looking for stories about purple unicorns, then write a story about purple unicorns. Otherwise, write the story that really consumes you and then send it to markets that are appropriate.

14. Are there any last thoughts, messages, or ideas you want to plant into the brains of all the entrants and other aspirant writers who are reading this?

Kevin J. Anderson wrote:You have to finish it before you can submit it. Get it done, turn it in, then work on the next one.

Rebecca Moesta wrote:The world of publishing changes constantly. Stay informed about those changes and learn to adjust to them.

When you go down to Los Angeles for the workshop, you will discover that Rebecca and Kevin are two of the best, most experienced resources you'll have access to during your stay. But they're not accessible through WOTF exclusively. As I have mentioned before, they're both part of the SUPERSTARS WRITING SEMINAR, the latest of which is being held in Salt Lake City in January. If you want to get some of the best wisdom from the WOTF workshop blown up into three days of full-blown professional expertise and from-the-horse's-mouth advice, please give the Seminar a look?


And of course, please drop in to either of their blogs and let them know if you thought this interview was insightful or otherwise valuable!


HUGE thanks to these two judges for taking time out of their busy holiday schedules to share their thoughts with the forum.

Coming up: "Life Flight," in Analog magazine
Coming up: "The Chaplain's War," from Baen Books
Nebula, Hugo, and Campbell nominee.

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Re: 14 Questions with Kevin J. Anderson & Rebecca Moesta

Postby A.R.Williams » Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:08 pm

Great interview! I really enjoyed it :)

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