AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – An Amherst writer is getting her big break after becoming a 1st place winner in the 40th L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest.

Author L. Ron Hubbard created the contest in 1983 to help aspiring writers like 65-year-old Marianne Xenos succeed. Xenos received an invite to Hollywood for a gala Award ceremony, a week-long master class, and to be featured in the international bestselling anthology, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 39.

Xenos is unable to reveal the title and plot of the winning fantasy short story at this time. As it is up for a grand prize, the Golden Pen Award, and a $5,000 cash prize.

This will be her first professional sale as an author, but not her first publication. As she has two other publications called ‘Like The Ladies from the Outside’, ‘Out of the Darkness’ Anthology, and ‘Angels in the Square, Not One of Us’.

Prior to her win, she was a finalist in 2021 where she sent one of the first stories she felt good about. She explains how the judges reading the story were writers she looked up to. “I sat there thinking someone’s book I just bought is reading my story and I literally cried because that is what made me a writer,” Xenos said. Despite not winning last year, and only being named an honorable mention in Writers of the Future 3rd quarter this year, she took feedback from workshops and editors to help her win this month.

Winning this contest was always a goal of hers and she wasn’t going to stop until she got there. “I feel like I thought I’m going to do this, I’m going to win Writers of the Future, and actually decided this was one thing I was going to do and I was excited.”

However, the short story she chose had been rejected twice before it finally was praised. “I think rejection is a step in a series of steps because every story has to get rejected,” she said.

Xenos says this contest is great for new writers who are looking to get coaching and mentoring. The previous 452 winners of the writing contest published 1,150 novels and almost 4,500 short stories. While 32 of those stories became New York Times bestsellers.

Xenos’s short story in Writers of the Future Volume 39 will be published on May 2, 2023. She also has three other developing stories set to be released in the Spring. Also by Spring, Xenos will be making her decision on whether or not she will be joining other accompanied writer and illustrator winners at the Hollywood gala Award ceremony.