Review of THE TRADE by C. Winspear

science fiction helmet author

Written with tight, no-nonsense prose, C. Winspear’s THE TRADE confronts questions of humanity, first contact, and the need for a particular astronaut’s wanderlust.


The opening line speaks about fulfillment, or how it has become unattainable for our protagonist–which outlines the story’s purpose. What is it to be fulfilled, and to what cost? It’s great to see the goal or troubling deficiency in the story’s first sentence.


C. Winspear wrote this short in the first-person, where internal thoughts are written as regular prose, meaning no parenthesis or stand-alone punctuation. I prefer this. Orson Scott Card does this masterfully in Ender’s Game. It allows the reader to flow into the story, become immersed, and zoom to the end, wanting more.


I’ll admit, at first, I wasn’t sure about this one. The first page didn’t hook me, but we quickly (page 2) got into a fascinating, unprecedented situation demanding the reader’s attention. Then the tension builds with mystery beats, and action beats, and some clever humor beats coming from the alien.


I’d guess the story is around 6,000-7,000 words, but it felt more like 3,000. I was surprised when I went back to check the page count (approximately 20). The tension builds throughout, the characters develop quickly through the scenario, there are no info-dumps, and the prose is mostly invisible.


It’s no wonder the judges at Writers of the Future decided to place this story first in Volume 36.

Visit C. Winspear’s website

Writer’s of the Future Volume 36

Sidenote: every Writer’s of the Future winner has an accompanying illustrator for their story. C. Winspear’s THE TRADE was illustrated by Arthur Bowling. Visit his website here.

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March 2021 Bookshelf

March 2020 Bookshelf Jesse Cunningham Author

I recently installed a bracket-less—about three foot—shelf above my writing chair. I think there’s a fancier name for them, maybe a shadow self?

Anyway, here are the books I have for reference and casual reading.

Dragon Wing has beautiful prose.

Consider This is a wonderful, no nonsense, look into prose and structure of a story with “postcards from tour” where the author relates story telling to personal experiences while on book signing tours.

Winter’s King is a quick story that spans generations. Super fun and mind-blowing. Beautiful.

Prey is a good one. Simple prose that works. It’s all about the story. The author is invisible.

Fight Club is Fight Club–a force of its own.

Dune is a masterpiece.

Shadow of the Giant is a great read. The author has wonderful prose and is a master, of course.

This anthology from Neil Clarke had some nice ones, specially Nancy Kress’s Law of Survival.

The Way of Kings is an epic fantasy. Super popular and it’s obvious why.

Ender’s Game is great. Masterpiece in my opinion.  

So that’s it. There’s the quick rundown.

Hopefully, I’ll be receiving the outcome of the latest Writers of the Future contest. The submission, To Azra, was written a few months back before I had enrolled in Dave Farland’s 318R class. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about the proper structure of a story. And looking back at that story, I’d be surprised if it got anything above an honorable mention (which is the lowest mention on the tier of mentions). Winner>Finalist>Semi-Finalist>Silver Honorable Mention>Honorable Mention>Rejection.

The next story that I’ll be submitting is titled: Albert the Robot’s Ice Cream Dream.

It was written in a very methodical, know the ending, type of way. Three try-fail cycles with a reversal in the end.

It’s a story of hope, of life, of what it means to be “living” or human.

Stay tuned.

Writers of the Future 4th Quarter Honorable Mention for Volume 37

J Cunningham - The Man Under the Kitchen Sink - Writers of the Future 4th Quarter Winners Announced for Volume 37

My recent story, The Man Under the Kitchen Sink, received an honorable mention for the 4th quarter of the Writers of the Future contest (WotF).

Click here to read it.

If you are unfamiliar with the contest, especially if you are an aspiring author, check it out here.

Created by legendary author L. Ron Hubbard, the contest holds a quarterly contest for non-professional authors and visual artists (for cover art on books).

And best of all, it’s free to enter.

Also, there is an online forum found here.

And last but not least, the WotF judges and proctors have put together a comprehensive guide on writing found here.

Big industry names, such as Orson Scott Card, contribute to the lessons.

They are informative and palatable.

Anyways, I have submitted for the next quarterly deadline (which was December 31st, 2020) with a story titled To Azra.

Fingers crossed.