One Month to Go (2015 Version)

Toronto Skyline by chasewolfman

We have been open to submissions for two months now, with one month left!

Submissions have been strong so far, but we have a ways to go. Overwhelmingly, our entries this year are from… Toronto! The local scene seems to get stronger and stronger every year, but don’t worry, our submissions are blinded to the readers – and we love to read stories from all over the world!

In addition to more international submissions, we would love to see more submissions from women, POC, and members of the QUILTBAG community. We strongly encourage those unique pieces you worry won’t fit anywhere else. We are a open and welcoming Contest with a great love of work that challenges us!

For the locals – not sure about your story? Consider bringing it down to SFContario/Canvention this weekend (November 20th-22nd 2015.) In addition to a great schedule of readings, panels, and shows, there are some great workshop opportunities for emerging and established writers both.

On Saturday, November 21st, 7-9 pm, Douglas Smith will be running a workshop version of his popular Amazing Stories series (also available as a book and a course at the University of Toronto,) “Playing the Short Game.”

On Sunday, November 22nd, 10-11am, AE SciFi publisher Duff McCourt will provide an authentic “First Page Slush Experience,” critiquing and commenting on the first page of your story.

So submit soon, and submit often! The contest closes on Sunday,December 20th, 2015. We look forward to reading you!

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, 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 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 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!


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.


Just a reminder and an apology! The submission period closes at midnight on FEBRUARY 15th 2015 and not the 14th. We jumped the gun a little! But the good news is you have a day left to submit! Good luck!

Wrapping Up

Reading Time by sinlaire


Well, folks, you have a little more than one day left to submit your stories. By now, the story is written, probably polished, and you’re basking in the glow of creation. You wrote a thing and soon, other people will read that thing. The gift of story from you to the world.

Who will read it? Once you submit it to the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest, it will be read by the Contest Administrator, who has no say whatsoever in what happens to your story, but who enjoys reading. Then, it will be passed to one of our first readers, all of whom are experience slush readers from other SF/F/H magazines and publishers.

If they like it? That’s when it will be passed on to our final judging panel. All three of our superstar judge/authors – Leah Bobet, Julie Czerneda, and Caitlin Sweet – will read your story and they between them will decide which three will carry away the prizes.

But what then?

Because the FotMSSC is a contest and not a publication, we do not publish your story. We do not claim any rights. Your story is considered completely unpublished – and you can still publish it elsewhere.

If you have been at the short story game for a while, you probably know where you want to send this story – you might have sent it already. If not? Here are a few resources to get you started. has been listing SFFH markets online now for 18 years. One of the oldest net resources for writers, it remains nevertheless up to date, thorough, and free. You can browse potential homes for your story by pay rate, but just as helpful are the other writing resources Ralan provides. It’s hard to beat the institutional knowledge that has built up here.

The Submission Grinder is another free database of short fiction markets. Though it doesn’t focus on SFFH in particular, the bulk of its listings some from SFFH writers. Submission Grinder also lets you track your submissions, giving you a handy way of keeping track of who you have submitted to, how they replied, and in how much time. Of note: they don’t list contests or poetry markets.

Probably the biggest of the market databases, lists just about everything – poetry, literary, SFF, contests. But to get access to this mother-of-all-databases, you have to pay – $5 US/month. The fee is absolutely worth it to many writers. The data Duotrope has built up over time will give you as complete a picture as you will be able to find of what a market’s response times are like, their acceptance rates, and more. if you’re not sure if that’s worth it – give them a try. They offer a 1-month free trial.

Need something a little more human-scale? There are also Facebook Groups dedicated to listing submission opportunities. OPEN CALL: SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY & PULP MARKETS and OPEN CALL: HORROR MARKETS are lightly-moderated communities where submissions calls are not only posted, but can be discussed with other writers. These groups aren’t as thorough or easy to search as the database sites, but they give you the opportunity to compare notes with other writers submitting to the same places.

Good luck out there! We look forward to hearing from you in the next 36 hours – and hearing about you after that!

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

Hope to hear from you soon!