We’re into the last month of the 2015 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest! Have you sent in your stories yet? Not only would we love your support, but this is a great opportunity for writers at any stage of their careers. Over the next few posts, we will be presenting interviews with past winners of the contests, from hobbyists to now-established pro writers of short stories!
Today we are pleased to re-introduce you to last year’s winner, Andrew Wilmot!
Your story, “When I’m Old, When I’m Grey,” was the winner of the latest Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest. You have since sold it for publication. Can you tell us a little about the publication and the journey from contest winner to sale?
It was a short but humbling journey, actually. For some time I’d been feeling as if I had arrived at a new stage in my fledgling writing career—namely, I had been receiving more and more personalized rejections. However, with “When I’m Old, When I’m Grey,” I received my first blunt form rejection in quite some time, and within just 72 hours of winning the award. In my excitement I remember submitting it right after winning and feeling invincible—after all, it was a contest winner. Surely others would see its beauty? Ha! Not so much. I don’t think I’ve ever been rejected so quickly. It didn’t detract in any way from the elation I felt winning the award, but it was a nice reminder of the subjectivity of our medium—of any artistic medium. It’s something I’ve encountered many times throughout my life and myriad careers, but everyone needs a reminder now and then.
Soon after this rejection, and subsequently submitting to Analog (from which I never received a response), I was able to sell the story to the kind people at Found Press, who published my novelette Glass Houses in September 2014. The publisher at Found Press, Bryan Ibeas, is a good friend, and we’ve spent a fair bit of time discussing our mutual love of writing that blurs the lines between spec and lit, which is something I tend to do with my work, so I’m always thrilled when I find we’re on the same page with a new piece. They picked up my winning story alongside two others I’d sent previously. Together with Glass Houses, we’re putting together a mini-collection of sorts titled Absolutely Nothing Out of the Ordinary, to be released in Spring 2016. It will include the two aforementioned stories as well as the short “What You’re In For,” a surrealist piece dealing with anxiety disorders, and a sci-fi noir novelette A Little Dreaming is Dangerous. Oh, and it’s worth noting that the stories will be available individually as well.
Tell us a little about your writing history. What you are working on now?
My writing history is a bit odd. It’s something I’ve loved doing since I was a child—I wrote my first two books in grades seven and eight—but I didn’t really start to pursue it with any sincerity until 2005. It was 2011, however, while working at a small press out in Edmonton, that I started to work at writing as if it were a full-time job (which it is now, though it fights for time and headspace with my other full-time job as an editor).
I actually started in music—played Conservatory piano for many years as a child and teenager—before transitioning into visual art for my undergraduate degree. I worked as an exhibiting visual artist, specializing in oil painting, for a year or so after graduation before realizing that I just didn’t care for the art world all that much—I was terrible at creating art and presenting myself for the purposes of exhibition and sale. Writing was always something that was there in the background that I loved doing, but for some reason I’d not made the connection that “oh, this is something I could do for a living.” It wasn’t until I was nearing the end of my undergrad degree that I started to really discover the knack I had for editing, which is what gradually pulled me from the art world and into publishing. And as I gained more experience as an editor and went to grad school for publishing, that love of writing waltzed back into my life in a big way. After nearly two years in Edmonton as the marketing and production coordinator for NeWest Press, I started to feel frustrated at working only on other people’s books (amazing though they were) while mine remained unrealized. So I started waking up early and writing in the hours before I went to work (which if you know my hatred for mornings you’ll understand why this was a big deal). After a couple of months I finished the first very rough draft of a novel, right around the time I realized I’d had enough of the 9-5 existence. I then decided to move to Toronto to become a freelance editor and reviewer, thus giving myself the flexibility to also pursue writing full time.
As for what I’m working on now, well I have a number of things cooking at once. I’ve not had as much time to write recently as work has been busy: I’m a substantive editor for Chizine Publications and Broken River books; I edit PhD dissertations for OISE students, with special focus on feminist studies in the area of women’s health related to body image, size acceptance, and eating disorders; and I review for a number of publications includingBroken Pencil and subTerrain. In terms of writing, my first novel The Death Scene Artist is currently with publishers, seeking a home. My second novel, Matryoshka, is just now going out into the world. The latter is actually the first of a generational sci-fi quartet I’m working on (and will be working on for years to come). Apart from those, I’m still writing and seeking homes for many of my shorts, and have also written a script titled High Maintenance Machines that I hope at some point to turn into a graphic novel.
What would you like to accomplish in your creative life? What are your goals as a writer and an artist?
Well, I suppose I want what so many of us desire—the ability to write full time and survive off my writing without needing to worry about picking up extra work on the side. I love what I do outside of writing, but if I had the luxury to write and just write, I likely would. I’ve also been re-introducing painting into my life, and would jump at the chance to be able to divide myself between just those two things going forward. Do I ever think that will happen? Well, anything’s possible, but for now I’m simply happy to get my work out into the world by whatever means possible—and more importantly, to get the ideas out of my head, because real estate in my brain is limited.
To get more to the point, I’d love to finish this series I’m working on, as it encapsulates many of the ideas and concepts nearest and dearest to me. And I’m also interested by what ideas I might come up with when this larger series is put to bed—right now it dominates much of my waking thoughts. I’d also love to make progress with the graphic novel I’m working on as that’s been a life-long dream (I remember wanting to be an illustrator for Marvel comics when I was in sixth grade—unfortunately, my figure-drawing skills are and always have been lacking. Abstraction is more my visual style). I’ve also in the past worked in film and would jump at the chance to do more screenwriting. Actually the first award I ever won, for anything, was for best foreign screenplay at a South American film festival. So I definitely want to try working in that arena again. Basically, if I can create, whatever the medium, and survive to some extent off my creations, then that’s it—that’s really all I need to be happy.
If you could have one thing – realistic or completely insane – to help you achieve these goals, what would it be?
Is it too predictable to say all the money and time in the world? Because that would be great.
Seriously, to not need to worry about money. As I said previously, I love what I do apart from writing, but I won’t lie—I have a difficult time switching my brain over from editorial work to writing. If I didn’t need to worry so much about things like bills and rent and not starving to death, I’d still edit, but I’d be far more selective with respect to the projects I take on, and would likely do only one or two a year, to keep my skills up, so that I could simply spend more time writing—and when not writing, painting. That, absolutely, would be my impossible, candy-falling-from-the-sky desire.
Thank you, Andrew! Best of luck to you!
ANDREW WILMOT is a writer, editor, and artist living in Toronto, Ontario. He is a graduate of the SFU Master in Publishing program and spends his days writing as much as possible and painting stupidly large pieces. His fiction has been published by Found Press, Drive In Tales, The Singularity, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and the story “When I’m Old, When I’m Grey” was the winner of the 2015 Friends of Merril Short Fiction Competition. He works as a freelance reviewer, academic editor, and substantive editor. For more on his work and creative pursuits: http://andrewwilmot.ca/about/cv/
We have been open to submissions for two months now, with one month left!
Submissions have been strong so far, but we have a ways to go. Overwhelmingly, our entries this year are from… Toronto! The local scene seems to get stronger and stronger every year, but don’t worry, our submissions are blinded to the readers – and we love to read stories from all over the world!
In addition to more international submissions, we would love to see more submissions from women, POC, and members of the QUILTBAG community. We strongly encourage those unique pieces you worry won’t fit anywhere else. We are a open and welcoming Contest with a great love of work that challenges us!
For the locals – not sure about your story? Consider bringing it down to SFContario/Canvention this weekend (November 20th-22nd 2015.) In addition to a great schedule of readings, panels, and shows, there are some great workshop opportunities for emerging and established writers both.
On Saturday, November 21st, 7-9 pm, Douglas Smith will be running a workshop version of his popular Amazing Stories series (also available as a book and a course at the University of Toronto,) “Playing the Short Game.”
On Sunday, November 22nd, 10-11am, AE SciFi publisher Duff McCourt will provide an authentic “First Page Slush Experience,” critiquing and commenting on the first page of your story.
So submit soon, and submit often! The contest closes on Sunday,December 20th, 2015. We look forward to reading you!
Aaaaaand, we’re off!
The reading period for the 5th Annual Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest is now OPEN!
From now until December 20th, 2015 our readers will consider speculative short fiction up to 6000 words for the top prize of $500, with two honourable mentions of $50. ALL ENTRANTS will receive a free ebook of Innsmouth Free Press’s Lovecraftian short story anthology, She Walks in Shadows.
The long-listed stories will be passed to our panel of judges, who choose between them the three winners. We encourage multiple submissions, simultaneous submissions, strange submissions – well, for more information on exactly what we want from these submissions, have a look at our guidelines.
All entries must be accompanied by $5 CDN (payable by PayPal). If you would like to enter multiple stories, each entry must be accompanied by its own entry fee. All entry fees will go toward supporting the many activities of the Friends of the Merril Collection at the Toronto Public Library, so don’t be shy! Donations to the Friends can also be made directly here.
To enter, send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org, then click the button below to pay your fee. Please make sure the name of the story on your payment matches the story you have submitted to us!
Good luck, everybody!
Submission for the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest open on Friday – are you ready? Maybe you need a little extra incentive?
We are pleased to announce that Innsmouth Free Press has donated ebook copies of their latest Lovecraftian short story collection, She Walks in Shadows ed. Silvia Moreno Garcia, to all entrants.
That’s right – you don’t even have to place in the contest. Everybody who enters will receive a complimentary e-copy of the anthology when their submission is confirmed. Epub and mobi formats available.
HUGE thanks to Innsmouth Press for their support!
Potential sponsors can contact Charlotte Ashley at email@example.com for our sponsorship package.
It’s here, and sooner than you expected! We are very pleased to announce the 5th Annual Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest!
The Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest is an annual fundraiser and outreach event in support of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculation at the Toronto Public Library. Writers are encouraged to submit their unpublished speculative short stories (up to 6000 words long) for their chance to win the top prize of $500, or one of two runner-up prizes of $50. Each submission must be accompanied by a donation of $5 CDN – simultaneous and multiple submissions welcome! This year’s reading period will open Friday, September 18th 2015 at noon, and close Sunday, December 20th 2015 at midnight. Winners will be announced at the Friends of the Merril Collection AGM on Thursday, January 28th, 2016. For full submission guidelines, visit our contest rules.
Last year, we saw a wonderful spike in the number of entries submitted by writers all over the globe, and this year we hope to do even better! Watch this space for interviews, success stories, writing tips, and more prizes! We hope you will join us in spreading the word, participating, and helping to support this wonderful institution.
This year’s final judging panel:
Hiromi Goto is the award-winning author of many books for youth and adults. Her adult novel, Chorus of Mushrooms was the recipient of the regional Commonwealth Writer’s Prize Award for best first book as well as co-winner of the Japan-Canada Book Award. Her second adult novel, The Kappa Child, was awarded the James Tiptree Jr. Award. Her YA novel, Half World, was winner of the 2010 Sunburst Award and the Carl Brandon Parallax Award and was long-listed for the IMPAC-Dublin Literary Award. Her latest YA publication is Darkest Light. Hiromi is also a mentor at Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio, an editor, and mother of two grown children. She is at work on graphic novels and short stories.
Tanya Huff lives in rural Ontario, Canada with her wife Fiona Patton, two dogs, and, as of last count, nine cats. Her 30 novels and 75 short stories include horror, heroic fantasy, urban fantasy, comedy, and space opera. She’s written four essays for Ben Bella’s pop culture collections and the occasional book review for the Globe and Mail. Her Blood series was turned into the 22 episode BLOOD TIES and writing episode nine allowed her to finally use her degree in Radio & Television Arts. Her next novel will be a new Torin Kerr book, Peacekeepers #1: An Ancient Peace (Oct 2015). Titan UK has recently reprinted the entire Valour series – returning her u’s – as well as The Silvered and the Emporium series. When not writing, she’s learning to play the djembe.
Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, about music, magic and Mexico City, was released in 2015 by Solaris. The Guardian said it is “a magical first novel,” Locus called it “one of the most important fantasy debuts of the year” and Kirkus described it as a “rich, elaborate symphony of awesome that defies simple definitions.” Silvia’s first collection, This Strange Way of Dying, was a finalist for The Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her stories have also been collected in Love & Other Poisons.
Questions? Contact Charlotte Ashley, Contest Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Potential sponsors are invited to inquire at this address about our sponsorship package.
The results have been tallied, and we are proud to announce the winners of this year’s 2014/2015 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest!
1st Place: “When I’m Old, When I’m Grey” by Andrew Wilmot (Toronto, ON)
Runner-Up: “The Book of Far Mountains” by Ariella Elema (Toronto, ON)
Runner-Up: “Notes on the Magician’s Collection” by Shivaun Hoad (Toronto, ON)
Congratulations to the winners as well as the other finalists! We had a wonderful crop of stories this year and final competition was fierce. We hope to see more from all of you in the future!
Thanks to our hard-working judges, Leah Bobet, Julie Czerneda, and Caitlin Sweet as well as our SWAMPED first readers, Claire Humphrey, Tonya Liburd, Kelsi Morris, and Adam Shaftoe! Thanks also to our poster artist Jenn Desmarais, the board of the Friends of the Merril Collection, and of course Lorna Toolis and the staff of the Collection.
Watch this blog for features and interviews with the winners, past FotMSSC “success stories”, reader profiles and more! And of course, check back next fall for details on the 2015/2016 contest!
Sorry, folks! The judges are still making their decisions, but we’re getting close! We thank you for your patience while we sort through these great stories!
Thank you, everybody, for your patience! The semifinal results are now in and the reading team has settled on the finalists in the 2014/2015 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest!
The 12 longlisted stories are*:
The Korus Coda
Up, Up, Up
Blanche’s Last Spike
When I’m Old, When I’m Grey
The Book of Far Mountains
Notes on the Magician’s Collection
One, Two, Three
Responses have gone out to all entrants. If you have not heard from us about your submission, please query! The judging panel will now go over the finalists and decide between them who will take home the top three prizes. Good luck to everyone!
* Author names have been omitted to maintain anonymity. Titles provided for entrants to confirm their submission’s status.
Just a reminder and an apology! The submission period closes at midnight on FEBRUARY 15th 2015 and not the 14th. We jumped the gun a little! But the good news is you have a day left to submit! Good luck!
Well, folks, you have a little more than one day left to submit your stories. By now, the story is written, probably polished, and you’re basking in the glow of creation. You wrote a thing and soon, other people will read that thing. The gift of story from you to the world.
Who will read it? Once you submit it to the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest, it will be read by the Contest Administrator, who has no say whatsoever in what happens to your story, but who enjoys reading. Then, it will be passed to one of our first readers, all of whom are experience slush readers from other SF/F/H magazines and publishers.
If they like it? That’s when it will be passed on to our final judging panel. All three of our superstar judge/authors – Leah Bobet, Julie Czerneda, and Caitlin Sweet – will read your story and they between them will decide which three will carry away the prizes.
But what then?
Because the FotMSSC is a contest and not a publication, we do not publish your story. We do not claim any rights. Your story is considered completely unpublished – and you can still publish it elsewhere.
If you have been at the short story game for a while, you probably know where you want to send this story – you might have sent it already. If not? Here are a few resources to get you started.
Ralan.com has been listing SFFH markets online now for 18 years. One of the oldest net resources for writers, it remains nevertheless up to date, thorough, and free. You can browse potential homes for your story by pay rate, but just as helpful are the other writing resources Ralan provides. It’s hard to beat the institutional knowledge that has built up here.
The Submission Grinder is another free database of short fiction markets. Though it doesn’t focus on SFFH in particular, the bulk of its listings some from SFFH writers. Submission Grinder also lets you track your submissions, giving you a handy way of keeping track of who you have submitted to, how they replied, and in how much time. Of note: they don’t list contests or poetry markets.
Probably the biggest of the market databases, Duotrope.com lists just about everything – poetry, literary, SFF, contests. But to get access to this mother-of-all-databases, you have to pay – $5 US/month. The fee is absolutely worth it to many writers. The data Duotrope has built up over time will give you as complete a picture as you will be able to find of what a market’s response times are like, their acceptance rates, and more. if you’re not sure if that’s worth it – give them a try. They offer a 1-month free trial.
Need something a little more human-scale? There are also Facebook Groups dedicated to listing submission opportunities. OPEN CALL: SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY & PULP MARKETS and OPEN CALL: HORROR MARKETS are lightly-moderated communities where submissions calls are not only posted, but can be discussed with other writers. These groups aren’t as thorough or easy to search as the database sites, but they give you the opportunity to compare notes with other writers submitting to the same places.
Good luck out there! We look forward to hearing from you in the next 36 hours – and hearing about you after that!