Category Archives: Announcements

The 2014/2015 Winners!

Balloons by kalinatoneva

 

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!

-Charlotte

Slight Delay!

Delay-trains by artfactotum

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!

The 2014/2015 Longlist!

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
Molly Finder
Up, Up, Up
Blanche’s Last Spike
When I’m Old, When I’m Grey
The Book of Far Mountains
The Cellist
Still Life
Root Mother
Luminous Kingdom
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.

Last Week! Submit!

The Writer by WilloeIsATree

This is it – the final recruitment drive! Submissions for the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest will close THIS SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14th 2015 @ MIDNIGHT! Full guidelines are here!

Unsurprisingly, the biggest pocket of Merril-love so far is from the local team, with 35% of our submissions coming from Toronto. 48% come from Southern Ontario more generally, and a whopping 75% are from Canadians.

This is wonderful to see, but it is always incredible to get those submissions from abroad: our neighbours to the south, of course (15%), but also from Ireland, England, Spain, India, and Dubai. In January, we had more visitors from India and Malaysia than from all of Europe combined.

And why not? We welcome entries from all over the world. The Friends of the Merril run local events, but the library is a resource open to researchers, students, and queries from anyone, anywhere. Our newsletter, Sol Rising, is available in pdf form here, and contains great articles on the history of science fiction and fantasy literature, interviews and spotlights on internationally-renown authors, staff recommendations, and the opportunity to pick the brain of the Merril’s Collection Head, Lorna Toolis. You can follow the Friends of the Merril on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest library acquisitions, story-identification mysteries, recordings of readings and panels, and more. The library is, after all, a public good, and we want to share its wealth as widely as possible!

So, no matter where you are or where you are from, we hope you’ll consider participating in the contest or just connecting with us. Submissions, queries, and even just comments can be directed to Charlotte Ashley at fomsscontest@gmail.com.

Hope to hear from you soon!

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.

*

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:

First Place ($500.00 CDN):

Scott Shank (Unnamed)

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

Honourable Mention ($50.00 CDN):

Star Spider (The One in Green)

Honourable Mention ($50.00 CDN):

Barry King (The Politics of Bird Flight)

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:

Charlotte D’Arcy (The Walk)

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.

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:


The One in Green

The Politics of Bird Flight

Unnamed

The Walk

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.

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