Category Archives: Announcements

A Call for Volunteers!

I’m looking for people to help put up posters for the FotM short story contest! Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to take one-or-more posters to your local library branch, bookstore, college/university campus or cafe and ask them very nicely if they would be willing to display them.

Volunteers must be able to pick their posters up from the Bob Miller Book Room at Bloor & Avenue Rd (Toronto.) I also have a limited ability to arrange other pickup points – let me know what might work for you!

A FotM Contest poster in the wild.

 

If you are interested, drop me an email at fomsscontest@gmail.com. Thanks!

We’re Open!

The Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest is open to submissions!

From now until February 15th, 2015 our readers will consider speculative short fiction up to 6000 words for the top prize of $500, with two honourable mentions of $50 available as well. After that, 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 fomsscontest@gmail.com, 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!

Announcing the 2014/2015 Judges!

With only two months until we open for submissions, we’re thrilled to be able to announce the 2014/2015 Final Panel Judges!

The three Final Panel Judges for the 2014/2015 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest are Leah Bobet, Julie Czerneda, and Caitlin Sweet.

Leah Bobet‘s first novel, Above, was nominated for the 2012 Andre Norton Award and the 2013 Aurora Award, and her short fiction has appeared in several Year’s Best anthologies and as part of online serial Shadow Unit. She is the publisher and editor of speculative quarterly Ideomancer Speculative Fiction and works as a bookseller at Bakka-Phoenix Books, Canada’s oldest science fiction bookstore. Her second novel will appear from Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2015.

Photo courtesy of Roger Czerneda Photography.

Since 1997, Canadian author/editor Julie E. Czerneda has poured her love of biology into SF novels published by DAW Books NY. A Finalist for the John W. Campbell Award (Best New Writer), as well as for the Philip K. Dick Award (Distinguished Science Fiction), and nominated for several Nebulas, she has won the Prix Aurora Award (Canada’s Hugo) in three categories: Best Long-form (In the Company of Others), Best Short-form (“Left Foot on a Blind Man”), and Best Work (Other) for her anthologies (Space Inc. and, with Jana Paniccia, Under Cover of Darkness.) Her work on the use of science fiction to develop scientific literacy lead to the publication of the Tales from the Wonder Zone anthology series, winner of the 2002 Special Award for Science & Technology Education from the Golden Duck Committee, with the most recent, Polaris: In Celebration of the International Polar Year becoming the first work of science fiction to win the 2007 Canadian Science Writers Association’s Award (Best Science in Society for Youth). Julie has fifteen novels and fifteen anthologies in print, as well as numerous short stories. Her latest release is the epic fantasy A Turn of Light, set in the valley of Marrowdell, itself based in large part on early pioneer settlements. There are house toads as well as dragons, and not all is what it seems. Julie continues to be active in the SF/F community, conducting workshops and appearing at conventions. She served as Toastmaster for the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal and will be GOH at Chattacon 2015, in Tennessee. Coming fall 2014: Species Imperative, the 10th anniversary omnibus edition of her acclaimed SF trilogy, and A Play of Shadow, sequel to Turn and next in what is now the five book “Night’s Edge” series. Julie’s back to science fiction again, hard at work on This Gulf of Time and Stars, first volume of the concluding trilogy to her Clan Chronicles series (Reunification), www.czerneda.com for more.

Caitlin Sweet has been a writer since she was seven and her grade two teacher informed her that her stories were “too long.” Since then, she has been a trombone teacher, a bookstore clerk, an ESL instructor in Mexico and Canada, an administrative assistant at the University of Toronto, a stay-at-home mother and a labour doula. Now she works full time for the Ontario government and part time for the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. Caitlin is the author of A Telling of Stars (2003) and its prequel, The Silences of Home (2005), both published by Penguin Canada and both nominated for a variety of awards. “To Play the Game of Men,” her one and only short story, appeared in 2009 in the Ages of Wonder anthology. Her third novel,The Pattern Scars, was published by ChiZine Publications in November 2011. It too was nominated for some awards, including the 2012 CBC Bookie for Speculative Fiction, which it won. Her re-telling of Beauty and the Beast via Minoan Crete, The Door in the Mountain, was released in June 2014, and she’s now scrambling to finish its sequel for release in fall 2015.

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More announcements to come! Subscribe to the blog for automatic updates, or follow us on Twitter @FotMContest!

Gearing up for 2014/2015!

Hi everybody!

We’re gearing up for the 2014/2015 Friends of the Merril Collection Short Story Contest, and the first item of business is to update our contact information!

Effective immediately, Charlotte Ashley will be taking over from Michael Matheson as Contest Administrator. Michael will be staying on board in an advisory capacity, but the switch has meant some new contact information. Our primary contact email is still fomsscontest AT gmail.com, but the NEW Twitter account is @FotMContest. We hope you’ll follow along for news and updates as the contest draws closer!

More updates soon!

The 2014 Winners/Honourable Mentions: One Stands Alone

It took us a fair bit longer than it has in past years to choose a winner for this contest. Couple of different reasons for that, all of which are largely internal, so we’ll not be sharing them here. Though we do apologize for making everyone wait so long (especially the finalists) after the promised deadline to see the results of this year’s contest.

So, without further ado, we present to you the first place winner of the 2014 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest:

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First Place ($500.00 CDN):

Scott Shank (Unnamed)

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And we have two honourable mentions to award, respectively, to the following shortlisted writers:

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Honourable Mention ($50.00 CDN):

Star Spider (The One in Green)

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Honourable Mention ($50.00 CDN):

Barry King (The Politics of Bird Flight)

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We’re again this year not purchasing the winning stories. Though there has been some debate about going back to doing so, which we’ll talk more about once we’ve come to a decision on that. But in the meantime, we also need to mention who the remaining finalists (or, technically, finalist) were, and attribute the remaining story to its rightful author, who we will once more congratulate for making it to the shortlist. So:

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Charlotte D’Arcy (The Walk)

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Now, ordinarily, the remaining shortlist attributions would have three names. But we had a, well, an interesting year, and we’ll go into more about that with the forthcoming numbers breakdown post.

In fact, we’ll have updates aplenty to follow on forthcoming changes to the contest in advance of next year (based on what worked and what didn’t this year we’re changing things up again), along with the promised numerical breakdown and additional information that we provide every year.

But, for now, we’re going to give everyone some space before we do that. It’s taken us this long to decide on a winner, and for the moment we’d like to just let all the winning parties/recipients of their honourable mentions revel in their victories, and give us a breather so we can get in touch with everyone and get them their prize monies.

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In the meantime, we would like to, once again, take the opportunity to thank everyone who has helped with, participated in, otherwise aided or supported the contest this year. We’d also like to take a moment to again congratulate this year’s winner, honourable mentions, and shortlisted writers, and very much hope you will take the opportunity to do likewise.

As always, if anyone has any questions, or needs to get in touch with us for whatever reason, you can do so by e-mailing me, Michael Matheson, at fomsscontest@gmail.com, or you can find us on Twitter @fomcontest.

A Breather Before Returning to the Fray: The 2014 Finalist Shortlist

Well, that’s another reading period and rush to get a finalist list compiled done and over with. We had an interesting, and … well … strange year three, actually. This year’s finalist list is compiled from about half of the number of submissions we had in the first year, despite having a significantly larger prize available this year than in either of the first two initial years.

It was an interesting shift in submissions, and not just because of the numbers. From year to year we see slightly different submissions patterns. The first two legs of the three month submission period have been more or less identical all three years running. It was the last third of the contest this year that was odd. And unexpectedly slow. We have a fair bit of number crunching to look at and see what we can shift to amend that. Though I’m inclined to think that part of it relates to the prize structure we used this year.

I’m always interested by the reasoning contests employ for using the significantly larger first prize and a couple of honourable mentions as opposed to offering a scaled three tier (first, second, third place) set of winning placements. I’ve heard differing accounts of how people react to the former, but given the first hand evidence gleaned from trying it this year I think we’re going to go back to a three tier placement system. People seem to feel better about having a larger number of chances to actively place, and to effectively be on the pedestal, as it were; the idea of being a mere honourable mention seems to lower interest–this based on feedback I’ve heard, and the significantly smaller pool of entries themselves this year. We have a small core of dedicated entrants from year to year, but the rest of the submissions we receive are totally reliant on a combination of prizes offered, our outreach (general and specific), and how we talk about the contest. Those, let us call them casual entrants, are the equivalent of people who purchase gratuitous or upsell items while shopping, or who purchase things off the impulse bays in a retail environment (the racks set up with candy, magazines, and other often low-cost per unit/relatively high-margin items near cash registers, for those of you who’ve never worked retail). Those are the people who are going to end up entering because they came across the contest while planning on doing something else. And I suspect that offering fewer placement prizes actively hurt us with that potential pool of entrants this year.

Anyway, the full numeric breakdown is coming after we announce the winners and I’ve had time to look at all the information and organize it. But the numbers are going to be a fair bit different from prior years. And the discussion of what’s going to change from this year to next year will come up then as well. And, of course, that’s one of the excellent things about not being tied to a specific structure from year to year: we can alter how the contest is set up from as we go both in order to experiment and to refine what works for us.

Though a sneak preview would be to say that from conversations had thus far this year and from a preliminary l0ok at the numbers we’re likely going to revert to the three tier prize structure I just mentioned, and will also quite likely be opening the contest up to simultaneous submissions next year.

But all of that is for down the road.

Right now, we’re focusing on the finalist shortlist from the 2014 contest. And to start that off, thank you to everyone who entered this year. Especially given the smaller number of entries, as every one of those that did come in was very much appreciated. And we’ve posted the finalist list below, but we will, as always, be getting back to everyone who entered.

Again this year we ask that all of the finalists please refrain from mentioning which of the stories below is theirs, though they are as always free to mention that they have a story on the 2014 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest finalist shortlist. We just don’t want to bias the Final Panel Judges before they see the shortlisted stories.

As to the final round of adjudications: The finalist stories will be passed on to the Final Panel Judges over the next few days, and the First Place winner and the Honourable Mentions will be decided upon and announced no later than April 1st, 2014.

In the meantime, the shortlisted finalist stories for the 2014 FoMSSC are presented below, sans author names:

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The One in Green

The Politics of Bird Flight

Unnamed

The Walk

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As was the case last year, once the winner/honourable mentions have been announced, we’ll release the names of all the writers of the remaining shortlisted works as well. And there is a reason there are only four shortlisted stories out of a possible six on that list, and I will discuss why that was the case in the coming numerical breakdown of the 2014 contest.

There are fewer response e-mails to send out this year, so we’ll hopefully be able to get through those in short order, though it will still take us a few days to get to everyone. Also, some of the slush readers this year have attached feedback to their responses, so any feedback earmarked for entrants will be passed along in the response letters.

For the time being, a well-deserved thank you to all of the entrants, our dauntless team of slush readers, everyone who helped promote the contest, and to those of you who have helped in various capacities since the contest’s inception.

And, that being said, any questions or comments you want to send our way? Address them to Michael Matheson at fomsscontest@gmail.com, or hit us up on Twitter (@fomcontest).

We’ll see you back here when we announce the winning story/honourable mentions and reveal the writers of all the shortlisted works.

The 2014 Reading Period is Now Closed!

We’ve had our local midnight, and the 2014 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest reading period is now officially closed. (The PayPal button on the Pay Entry Fee(s) page is gone again and everything–it’ll return with the opening of the 2015 reading period come November.)

And so now the contest staff retreat to our individual lairs, libraries, and other congenial places, to read and reflect on this year’s entries in aid of preparing the coming shortlist.

Indeed, the next two weeks are for slush reading and making sure that any stray physical entries get accounted for. Everything else looks to be in order at the moment. I believe we’ve replied to everyone who sent us an entry (or entries), but if you’ve not heard from us at this point please do give us a shout. You can do so via e-mail (address your query to Michael Matheson at fomsscontest@gmail.com) or via Twitter (@fomcontest).

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And while we focus on getting everything organized and read on this end, I’ll take a moment to thank everyone who has been good enough to help out with the contest in any capacity:

A sincere thank you to those of you who submitted; to those of you who spread word about the contest; and to those who have been generally supportive of our efforts to promote and fundraise for the Merril Collection. This year’s contest was an odd one (no other way to put it really) in terms of the submissions patterns we saw. The first two years were fairly consistent. This one not so much. So everyone’s continued support has been distinctly appreciated.

In any case, there’ll be number crunching in that regard later. And we will, of course, share that breakdown with you once it’s ready.

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In the meantime, keep an eye on the blog for any updates, and in a couple of weeks’ time we’ll have the shortlist up and running.

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And as always, if you have questions, queries, or just need to get in touch for whatever reason, use the fomsscontest@gmail.com e-mail address, or ping us on Twitter (@fomcontest).

See you all again in a couple of weeks.

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Now Awaiting the Crushing Pile of Stories Inbound: The 2014 FoMSSC Reading Period is Open!

Come midnight tonight (according to our local timezone, so UTC-5), the 2014 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest reading period will open for the third consecutive year. And this year’s reading period will remain open until midnight (again, UTC-5) on February 15th, 2014.

For those of you not already familiar with the contest, follow along for a few minutes:

The Friends of the Merril Collection are running our third annual Speculative Fiction Short Story Contest in order to raise awareness of, and funds for, the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy through the Friends of the Merril Collection (whose stated objectives, codified in the organization’s constitution, can be found at http://www.friendsofmerril.org).

The annual Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest distributes cash prizes to three entrants, as judged by a panel of authors, editors and other notables in the Canadian Speculative Fiction community. This year we’ve adjusted the prize structure to grant the first place winner a prize of $500.00 (CDN), and are awarding additional prizes of $50.00 (CDN), each, to two honourable mentions.

The contest is open to international entrants without restriction on country of residence, entrant’s publication history (or lack thereof), or any other delimiting factors (though entrants not of age of majority will need a parent or guardian’s permission in order to enter).

Entries must be original, previously unpublished short stories with a maximum length of 5,000 words, and must be submitted as an e-mailed .doc or .rtf attachment (composed in Standard Manuscript Format) to fomsscontest@gmail.com. We welcome, and indeed prefer, inclusive and innovative stories. Entries must contain some speculative element, however slight, but content is not otherwise restricted in any fashion. For a more detailed rundown of the kind of things we want to see in entries, please see last year’s post “It’s Time: The 2012-2013 FoMSSC Reading Period Opens at Midnight” and scroll down to the section titled “That Content Advice I Kept Promising and Am Finally Getting Around To.”

Again, the reading period runs from November 15, 2013 through February 15, 2014, and each entry must be accompanied by an entry fee of $5 (CDN). There is no limit on the number of entries you may submit.

For full rules see either the Contest Rules or FAQ pages. For all other information please use the menus and tabs to navigate the site.

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And Some Final Words Before The Submissions Start Rolling In

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Again, as always, we need to take a moment to acknowledge the work of those who keep helping to make this contest enjoyable on all sides. To those of you who have submitted work over the past two years, who’ve helped us to promote the contest, our past slush readers and those who’ve come onboard for this year’s reading period, and our past and returning Final Panel Judges, as well as everyone else who otherwise helps, aids, and supports the Friends, and by extension the Merril Collection, we offer our sincere thanks.

As ever, we’re looking forward to seeing what comes over the proverbial transom. If there are questions or concerns you would like addressed, please feel free to direct them to me, Michael Matheson, at fomsscontest@gmail.com. And you can either follow the website here or the contest Twitter feed (@fomcontest) for updates.

Good luck to everyone!

Announcing Our 2014 Final Panel Judges

With almost three months to the day to go until the 2014 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest opens to entries, we’re now ready to announce our 2014 Final Panel Judges:

The winner(s) of the coming contest year will be decided on by Leah Bobet, Julie Czerneda, Sandra Kasturi, Caitlin Sweet, and Chris Szego. We are delighted to welcome back Leah, Sandra, and Chris, and to have the chance to work with Julie and Caitlin this year. For full bios of all this year’s judges, you can visit the Judges page.

We will be using a shortlist structure again this year, and the Final Panel Judges will select the winner of the First Place prize ($500.00 CDN), and decide on the two recipients of the Honourable Mentions ($50.00 CDN each).

And, as always, if you have questions about any aspect of the contest, please feel free to get in touch with Michael Matheson at fomcontest@gmail.com, or you can catch up with us on Twitter (@fomcontest).

Brave New World (The 2014 FoMSSC)

Okay, it’s official:

The 2014 FoMSSC will be awarding a $500.00 (CDN) first place prize and two $50.00 (CDN) honourable mentions to the runners up. There will again be a six person shortlist, from which the contest judges will choose the winner and the the two runners up. Entry fees will be holding steady at $5.00 (CDN) per story, and there is again this year no limit on the number of entries you may submit (provided each entry is accompanied by a separate entry fee).

I haven’t updated the other pages on the site to reflect these changes at the time of this post, and will be doing that page by page. And we’re still confirming all of our judges at this time, so I won’t be posting the names of the Final Panel Judges today. However, most of the information for the FAQ will be the same, despite the fact that we’re revamping the prize structure. And the core of the contest is that we still want to see inclusive, innovative, brilliantly written fiction (and only original, unpublished speculative material please). Them’s the basics.

So, polish the holy hell out of your work before the contest begins, and send it in once the reading period opens on November 15th – as with the two previous years of the contest the reading period is three months, from November 15th, 2013 to February 15th, 2014 (entries will be allowed until 11:59:59 pm, UTC-5, on February 15th).

While we’re still changing everything over on the website, or after, you can address any questions, concerns, or comments to me, Michael Matheson, via e-mail, at “fomsscontest@gmail.com,” via Twitter (@fomcontest), or in the various Comments fields on the website.

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Oh, and Some Nice News

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Ada Hoffmann, who won the first place prize last year for her story, “The Mother of All Squid Builds a Library,” went on to sell that story to Strange Horizons. We are absolutely delighted for her.

Situations like that are, it’s worth mentioning again, why we don’t purchase the winning stories anymore – so that the winners can get a payday (or at least some money from us) and then sell that story again without losing out on the money from the sale of first use rights.

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Further Updates to Come (You Know, Obviously)

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We’ve still got the list of Final Panel Judges to announce once everything is settled, and we’ll post more information and relevant updates as we get closer to the opening of the coming reading period.

That said, we look forward to seeing what everyone submits this year!

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