That’s Time, 2017!

Antique Stopwatch by Amethystia

Pens down!

Well done, Class of 2017, you have acquitted yourselves admirably! With a flood of last-minute submissions, this turned into our second-best year ever, with an overwhelming majority (80%!) of our entries from Canadian writers! Thank you so much for your support, and I hope you will come enjoy the Merril Collection when you are in Toronto!

All entries have been responded to and assigned to our readers. If you have not received an acknowledgement of your entry, please query! Otherwise, we have quite a heap of reading ahead of us, so look back for our list of finalists in early May!

Laaaaast Call, 2017!

Cheerleader by Shiba-Aku

This is it! Today is the last day to submit to the 2017 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest! We’re taking submissions until midnight EST, but I will tell you secret: I won’t officially close the contest until I wake up tomorrow morning. So send those stories in!

I was quieter than usual this year, but I am just thrilled with how the community has picked up my slack! The Toronto community, in particular, has shown up and showed us how vibrant and strong a specfic we have here, how many writers truly appreciate what the Merril has given us over the years. Our submissions from Toronto and area writers are up almost 50%!

But remember, you don’t have to be local, or even Canadian, to submit! We encourage international submissions, pan galactic submissions, interdimensional submissions – we don’t discriminate, just send ’em in!

Best of luck!

Drabble Winner!


Happy Tuesday, Writers! Hope you had a weekend of hard work and inspiration, or at least a coffee and a frenzied paragraph or two. You take what you can get!

We loved reading your drabble entries last week. You guys took that prompt and ran with it, but both of our readers had a favourite. The prompt, you will remember was:

[Pronoun] only had one [something] left.”

From that, Clare Wall brought us the following drabble!

She had only one entropic regenesis left. This system would be her last stop before her final physical expiration. Corporeal existence was lonely with only the orchestral pulses of the cells within her for company; she looked forward to becoming Nexus again. First, though, she had to finish her mission and continue seeding the melody until it emanated from every cellular structure in the galaxy. Once completed, she will finally reassimilate with Nexus and listen to the melodies and their evolutions, reveling in each cosmic symphony. Then, in one cacophonous climax of ecstasy, a new universe will be born.

Thank you, Clare!

***

Getting started is easy, but following through can be hard. Next up: plotting! Still struggling to find the story’s trajectory? We’ve got some advice for you. And if you have already hit your stride? Submit your story! We’d love to hear from you!

So You Want to Write a Story

Art by ALRadeck

The deadline for the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest is April 23rd, 2017. Maybe you have a story on your hard drive just ready to send out – but maybe you don’t. Maybe you haven’t written in a while, or you don’t feel great about the stories you have on hand. Maybe you’d like to write something for the first time.

You have 8 weeks to cook up something new for the contest. And that is immensely doable, even if you work full time, even if you have a family who demand your best time, even if you have another deadline. You can do it. Trust me.

We accept work up to 6000 words here, but there is no minimum length. A good-sized short story, one that would qualify for many other short story magazines, would be 4000-5000 words. Over 8 weeks, that is 70-90 words per day. A couple of paragraphs, at the most.

But spewing words isn’t really the hard part. There is some really great advice out there on how to write as many as 10,000 words per day, so that even if you are busy all week at your day job, you could hypothetically write a story in a weekend.

No, the hard part is coming up with the idea, doing your research, and planning the story.

Sure, there is a lot of debate out there about “pantsing” versus “planning” – that is, making it up as you go along, or sticking to a plot outline. But if you want to write quickly and efficiently, planning is the way to go. Pantsing can be exhilarating, creativity at its most raw, but it often leads to a lot of rewriting, the need to work out plot holes and knots, and getting stuck when you’ve written yourself into a corner. It works, but it can be slow.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll cover the short story process here, from brainstorming to plotting to writing and revising. But today, let us start at the beginning.

A little stretch, if you will. A warm-up, to loosen those writing muscles. Here’s a micro-contest.

I want you to write a drabble based on the following prompt. A drabble is a 100-word story. All it needs is a beginning, middle, and end. Post your drabble in the comments below by midnight on March  5th, 2017, and I will post my favourite one to the blog on Monday, March 6th! No other prize beyond bragging rights, but I will happily plug you on Twitter and link your website from the blog.

Ready? Here is your prompt:

[Pronoun] only had one [something] left.

Don’t overthink it – just write! Post your drabble in the comments and we’ll see what we have by Sunday. And if you have a longer story ready, do submit it to the short story contest! We’d love to read what you have either way!

The 2017 Submission Period is Open!

“Candies library” by Ryowazza

Today is the day!

Welcome to the 2017 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest! We’re excited to read your short stories!

Remember:

  • Anyone can enter! No matter how old you are, where you are from, how you identify, how much experience you have, or how many publications you have, you are welcome to enter your work!
  • All entries should be blind. And if you forget to remove your contact information, I will do it for you. The readers and judges will have no idea who you are!
  • We welcome simultaneous submissions! We do not publish any entries, and so you are welcome to submit them to our contest as well as to other publishers.
  • We welcome multiple submissions! There is no entry to how many stories you can send us. The entry fee is $5 per entry and will support a wonderful cause.
  • Entry is only $5 – Canadian! These days, that’s less than $4 US – one of the cheapest writing contests out there!

You can read the full contest rules here. If you have any questions afterwards, feel free to contact Charlotte Ashley, Contest Administrator.

So, pay your entry fees here and then send your speculative stories to fomsscontest@gmail.com. The submission period will close at midnight on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017.

Best of luck, everyone!

Announcing the 2017 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest!

Hope you’ve been writing like crazy, short story writers! Because we’re back and ready to do everything we can to give you that boost you need! We are very pleased to announce the 2017 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, February 17th 2017 at noon, and close Sunday, April 23rd 2017 at midnight. Winners will be announced at the end of May 2017. For full submission guidelines, visit our contest rules.

Last year, we saw tonnes of entries from 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! We hope you will join us in spreading the word, participating, and helping to support this wonderful institution.

This year’s final judging panel:

KelleyArmstrong

Photo thanks to Kathryn Hollinrake.

Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers’ dismay. All efforts to make her produce “normal” stories failed. Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She’s the author of the “Otherworld” urban fantasy series, “Darkest Powers” & “Darkness Rising” teen paranormal trilogies as well as the “Cainsville” modern gothic series, Age of Legends YA fantasy series and “Blackwell Pages” middle-grade fantasy adventure trilogy (co-written as K.L. Armstrong with M.A. Marr). She lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets.

_dsc7893Indrapramit Das (aka Indra Das) is a writer and editor from Kolkata, India. He is the author of debut novel The Devourers (Del Rey / Penguin India), which was shortlisted for the 2016 Crawford Award. His work has appeared in several publications including Clarkesworld Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com, and has also been widely anthologized in collections such as The Year’s Best Science Fiction (St. Martin’s Press). He is an Octavia E. Butler scholar and a grateful graduate of the 2012 Clarion West Writers Workshop. He completed his M.F.A. at the University of British Columbia (class of ’11) in Vancouver, where he wore many hats, including dog hotel night shift attendant, TV background performer, minor film critic, occasional illustrator, environmental news writer, pretend-patient for med school students, and video game tester. He is currently working as a consulting editor for Indian publisher Juggernaut Books while writing a second novel. He divides his time between India and North America, whenever possible.

alyx-portrait-2014A.M. Dellamonica‘s first novel, Indigo Springs, won the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her fourth, A Daughter of No Nation, has won the 2016 Prix Aurora. She is the author of over forty short stories in a variety of genres; these can be found on Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed and in numerous print magazines and anthologies, most recently Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and was co-editor of Heiresses of Russ 2016. She teaches writing in person at UTSC and online through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.

Alyx is married to fellow Aurora winner Kelly Robson; the two were able to make their outlaw wedding of 1989 legal, in 2003, when the Canadian Supreme Court conferred full equality on same sex couples.

Dellamonica tells people she is bigendered, bisexual and bisectional. (The latter means she sings both alto and soprano.) Her website is at http://alyxdellamonica.com.
Questions? Contact Charlotte Ashley, Contest Administrator, at fomsscontest@gmail.com. Potential sponsors are invited to inquire at this address about our sponsorship package.

The Winners of the 5th Annual Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest!

Happy 2016! by TornTethers

The results have been tallied, and we are proud to announce the winners of the 5th Annual Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest!

 

1st Place:”The God Beast of Duolunduo” by Michael Reid (Burlington, ON)

Runner-Up: “The Hole in the Wall” by Andrew Leon Hudson (Madrid, Spain)

Runner-Up: “Changed” by Stacy Sinclair (Waterloo, 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 judges, Hiromi Goto, Tanya Huff, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia as well as our SWAMPED first readers, Claire Humphrey, Kelsi Morris, and Adam Shaftoe! Thanks also to our sponsors, Innsmouth Free Press and Laksa Media, the board of the Friends of the Merril Collection, and of course Lorna Toolis and the staff of the Collection.

You are all welcome to join us in celebrating the Merril & the winners of this year’s contest at the Friends of the Merril Annual General Meeting this Thursday, January 28th at 7pm. Have a look at the Facebook event for more details! Members and guests are all welcome.

-Charlotte

The 5th Annual Contest Longlist!

“Trophy” by snaku6763

Thanks everybody for your patience! The semifinal results are now in and the reading team has settled on the finalists in the 5th Annual Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest!

The 12 longlisted stories are*:

The Hole in the Wall
Changed
Remembrance of Worlds Past
The Jungle Between
In Her Footsteps
The God Beast of Duolunduo
Listen and You Will See
The Promise of Iron
Pests and Perfection
Old Crow
Two from the Field, Two from the Mill
Memories of Clover

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.

Interview! Editor & Publisher Lucas K. Law

Tomorrow‘s your last day to submit to the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest! Get cozy, rat-a-tat your keyboards, and get those stories in! Don’t forget that every participant will receive an e-copy of She Walks in Shadows ed. Silvia Moreno-Garcia, not to mention the chance to win $500!

Today we present to you an interview with Lucas K. Law, publisher of our sponsor, Laksa Media Groups, and editor (along with Susan Forest) of the forthcoming anthology, Strangers Among Us: Tales of the Underdogs and Outcasts.

 

Strangers Among Us is Laksa Media’s first anthology. Did you solicit stories or draw from an open submission period? Can you tell us a little about how those processes differ?

Susan Forest (my co-editor) and I discussed the different type of submissions for Strangers Among Us: Tales of the Underdogs and Outcasts: close (solicitation/invitation), open, or a combination of both. We chose the best process for us, which was submission by invitation.

Closed submission means we solicit stories from a list of writers. It doesn’t give a guaranty for publication. The submission still has to meet the anthology’s theme and fit the editor’s vision. An anthology is not just a collection of short stories thrown together; it is like a novel—a series of connections between stories, giving the anthology its overall pacing, cadence and structure.

Using the solicitation process controls the number of submissions (to a point), and the rate of acceptance is higher than that of an open submission. We invite more writers than we can have spaces for in the anthology.

We didn’t want an open submission for Strangers Among Us because we didn’t want to flood the speculative fiction market with rejected submissions based on a similar theme—mental health/mental illness.

How do you decide who to solicit for stories? What do you look for in a writer before approaching them?

Strangers Among Us is an all-Canadian original anthology. We look for diverse stories–to reflect our wide reading taste—and not the same type of great story over and over again.

Some writers are recommended by other editors, publishers, and writers. Some are based on the writers’ works we have read and we connect with their stories emotionally and/or intellectually. Some are passionate about the subject. Some work in the field or related field. Some write both literary/mainstream and genre fiction. Some write across the categories and genres.

Strangers Among Us looks like a gorgeous book with some stellar contributors. Is the final product what you imagined when you set out to put the anthology together? Did it surprise you in any way?

Thank you for the compliment. Samantha Beiko (Managing Editor of ChiZine Publications and ChiGraphics) did a wonderful job with the cover and interior layout.

The final product is better than what we have imagined because of the writers and people working in the project. The depth of generosity towards this anthology is exceptional. We were surprised by the number of stories we received from writers who had originally gave us a ‘maybe’. So there were more stories than open slots, and it was very tough having to reject some of the stories we loved.

Another surprise was the diversity in how each writer approached the theme and structure. The anthology has a good mixture of established professionals and up-and-coming writers. We even have a first professional fiction sale.

Are there any plans for more anthologies in Laksa Media’s future?

Laksa Media has two speculative fiction anthologies for 2017. Susan and I are back working together on The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound, which is a follow-up to Strangers Among Us. This time, we explore the world of caregiving and caregivers.

Derwin Mak and I are co-editing an Asian SF&F anthology, Where The Stars Rise. In addition to solicitations, this anthology is opened for submission until May 31, 2016. Writers, here is your opportunity to send us your stories. (Hint: My taste is eclectic.)

I love short fiction, and I have too many anthology ideas than I have time to do them all. So, I am always on the look-out for anthologists/editors to co-edit with me. I am fleshing out a few ideas for 2018 (I do look that far ahead)—having enough time to do a project well is important to me.

I want to expand into narrative non-fiction, mainstream fiction and other genre (such as noir, mystery and interstitial) anthologies, all related to our mission of bridging subjects (social causes) that aren’t getting enough attention to the written word—paying forward and giving back.

Tell us about your dream project!

Oh, boy… I have too many.

If I have the time and budget, I love to combine art and written word into a unified voice—getting a group of editors, writers, illustrators, songwriters, scriptwriters, filmmakers, playwrights, actors, singers, readers, publishers and teachers into a room and develop a series of fiction and non-fiction books (reluctant readers/children/YA/adult/graphic), comics, plays, films, documentaries, songs and in-between, all related to a single social cause—to showcase experimental/traditional takes, mainstream/genre, and literary/commercial and blur the lines between those ‘so-called’ groups. We have festivals or showcases throughout the year in different cities and towns, rural and remote communities.

I enjoy collaboration and its challenges. Collaboration isn’t easy, but I do believe a miracle can happen when we all work together for a single cause. This aligns with Laksa Media’s tag line: Read for a Cause, Help a Cause, Help a Cause.

Thank you, Lucas!

Lucas K. Law is a Malaysian-born freelance editor, published author, engineering consultant, and business coach who divides his time and heart between Calgary and Qualicum Beach. He had been a jury member for a number of fiction competitions including Nebula, RITA and Golden Heart awards.

When Lucas is not editing, writing or reading, he is a consultant, specializing in mergers and acquisition (M&A) activities, asset evaluations, business planning, and corporate development.

Interview! Author, Anthologist & Judge, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This is it – the last week to submit to the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest! Submissions close at midnight on December 20th, 2015 – so get your entries in!

Today we bring you an interview with one of our judges, Silvia Moreno-Garcia!

You have edited a number of anthologies for Innsmouth Free Press and Exile Editions, ultimately publishing stories that were solicited as well as chosen from open submission periods. Can you tell us a little about how those processes differ?

Open submissions are like panning for gold. You are reading a large set of stories, 200 to 400 in my case, and seeing if there’s anything that catches your attention. Solicited stories are much more of a sure thing. You know you are going to probably get some high quality stuff that is on mark, you just don’t know if it’ll be what you ultimately need.

How do you decide who to solicit for stories? What do you look for in a writer before approaching them?

I look for people I would like to work with, whose writing I admire. Some are folks I regularly work with (Molly Tanzer, E. Catherine Tobler) and others are writers I have never worked with but who I hope to publish one day. For example I had published a Gemma Files reprint in an anthology before so I asked her if she would contribute an original piece for She Walks in Shadows, both because I thought she might have an interesting point of view and because I hadn’t had a chance to buy an original Lovecraft story from her. I read a lot of short fiction and when I find a story I like I tend to drop the person’s name into a folder so if an opportunity ever comes up, I’ll contact them. That’s why you should have a website with a clear way to get a hold of you, writers.

She Walks in Shadows is a gorgeous book with some stellar contributors. Is the final product what you imagined when you set out to put the anthology together? Did it surprise you in any way?

Going in I never know what an anthology will look like. I have some preconceived notions but because I’ve done open submissions periods for everything I’ve bought I have had a more amorphous view of the final product. I think I was, maybe surprised is not the right weird, but there is a strand of concerns about the body and identity running through the anthology which I did not expect. At one point I wondered if it was too-heavy handed, but it’s something that just kept popping up in the stories. For better or worse this seems to be a concern of women, at least the women writers who submitted to us, so I let it bloom in the book rather than trying to cull it. You get these weird little tics in anthologies, things that bubble up and tie it all together, and that’s one of the things which ties the book together in a subtler way.

Are there any plans for future anthologies in your or Innsmouth Free Press’s futures? Tell us about your dream project!

Nothing with fiction. We are going to publish a book of non-fiction by Orrin Grey, but we are still working out the details for that. It’ll be related to movies. I’m not in a hurry to edit anything in the next few years. My novel writing career has taken off. My debut Signal to Noise came out this year and did well critically and I sold another novel to Thomas Dunne, which will be out next year. So I’ve been revising that second book and just sent in my final version. It’ll be called Certain Dark Things and is about a garbage picker in Mexico City who meets some narco vampires. Oh, and Lavie Tidhar and I are putting together this avant garde zine project. We’ve roped some interesting writers and artists into it.

Thank you, Silvia! Everybody who submits to the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest will receive a free e-book of She Walks In Shadows as well as the chance to have Ms. Moreno-Garcia read your work – so get those stories in!

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.