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Filipina writer wins prestigious ‘Writers of the Future’ contest

A Filipino writer has won first place in the Writers of the Future Contest, a renowned international competition now in its 34th year, whose judges include premier names in speculative fiction.

Vida Cruz, 26, formerly a journalist with GMA News Online, bagged a $1,000 cash prize and a trip to Hollywood for a week-long intensive workshop and a gala awards ceremony.

Her winning short story will be published in the annual L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 34, and will have a shot at winning the Golden Pen Award.

In an interview with GMA News Online, Cruz said she never imagined that her work would reach this far and earn her such success.

Submitting her work in Writers of the Future was a shot in the dark, one she wasn't afraid to take because she felt she had nothing more to lose.

"Lots of rejection letters [drove me to join]. Every time I've polished a story, I send it to different online publications. This story racked up three rejections from different publications and anthologies. Being used to rejection by now, I had nothing to lose by submitting to the contest," Cruz said.

"Every mentor has told me that a career in writing takes years to build. In that sense, the Writers of the Future contest gives beginning writers a boost that no other contest does. I'm really lucky to have something like this at the beginning of my career," she added.

Writers of the Future is a competition for new and amateur aspiring writers worldwide in the genre of science fiction or fantasy.

Learning that she placed first was an overwhelming experience for Cruz.

"[I was] shocked, because I'd never won first place in anything before, and because I'd forgotten that I submitted to the contest at all! But I was also very happy. After a 20-30 minute phone call with the contest director, I went into my parents' room and started crying into their pillows," she recalled.

Cruz said that she hopes to get to publish novels someday. The opportunities provided by her recent win got her foot in the door, but she has learned that it will take a lot more for her dream to be realized.

She learned that to be able to write, sometimes you have to stop doing just that.

"Many writers will tell you not to stop writing. I’m going to be contradictory for a bit and tell you that yes, you should stop—at the right time, for the right reasons," she recently wrote in a blog post.

"That and if you want to get your work published, grow a thick skin," she added.

In 2016, Cruz was one of the Silver Honorable Mentions in Writers of the Future. In 2014, she won a slot in the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop in San Diego.

Her fiction stories are inspired by her interest in Philippine history, culture, and mythology. — MDM, GMA News