Category Archives: Status Updates

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 We do not publish any entries, and so you are welcome to submit them to our contest as well as to other publishers.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!

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.

Interview With Andrew Wilmot

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/

On Your Mark, Get Set…

“Zodiac Run” by Nendil

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 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!

New Prize Announcement!

Submission for the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest open on Friday – are you ready? Maybe you need a little extra incentive?

nullWe 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 fomsscontest@gmail.com for our sponsorship package.

Announcing the 5th Annual Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest!

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:

Photo courtesy of Dana Putnam.

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 fomsscontest@gmail.com. Potential sponsors are invited to inquire at this address about our sponsorship package.

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