Blog Archives

One Week Left to Enter – Don’t Be Left on the Outside Looking In

Well, there’s now one week remaining to submit your entries to the 2012-2013 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest.

If you’re not already familiar with the guidelines or other specifics of the contest, you should visit either the Contest Rules page, or you can see the last post on the website, “It’s Time: The 2012-2013 FoMSSC Reading Period Opens at Midnight“, for a breakdown of the basic information and some more in-depth information on what kind of work we hope to see for this year’s contest.

We’ve seen a fair number of entries thus far, but we are well short of our goal for this year. Now, admittedly, that will have no impact on the prize monies to be disbursed to the three winners (though the entry fees do go toward the prize monies, the total value of that pool is guaranteed regardless). Nor will it affect any of the other prizes we’re awarding/providing this year (see the Prizes page for more information). But, as the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest is a fundraising initiative designed to aid the Merril Collection of the Toronto Public Library system,  we obviously hope, every year the contest runs, to do better than break even.

As we’ve mentioned in prior posts, we lowered the total value of the monetary prize pool offered this year, and opted to offer a set of non-monetary prizes in addition to the cash winnings, because the amount we offered in the first year turned to be a good, if not yet, entirely feasible pool. The Friends of the Merril Collection is a volunteer organization whose activities are funded by memberships and donations, so there’s a delicate balance to be maintained. While we certainly do want to offer larger monetary prizes, in addition to being able to offer interesting and useful non-monetary prizes as well, we’re still looking into ways to make that work.

Now, in the first year of the contest, we talked about the idea of sponsors. And we do actually on the Sponsors page mention that we’re open to direct contributions to help fund the prize pool, and/or have that money accrue toward the fundraising efforts once the value of the prize pool is met. We never really did get off the ground with doing that, but I think this might not be a bad thing to come back to.

We initially talked about offering space on the Sponsors page for a link to the website of contributing organizations, but there’s certainly also the possibility of doing individual posts on the website highlighting sponsors as a form of thank you.

It’s all worth looking into at this point, and we’d love to have your input (whether you would be considering contributing or not). Any and all can get in touch with me, Michael Matheson, at, or you can get in touch with us on Twitter (@fomcontest).

Anyone who has any other questions relating to the contest should also feel free to use that contact information.

And to those of you who are still considering entering the contest, but haven’t done so yet, please note that there is a base entry fee of $5.00 (CDN) per story, with no limit on the number of stories you can enter in the contest this year, and that the deadline for entries in the 2012-2013 contest is midnight (UTC -5), February 15th, 2013. Also, though you can enter either electronically or by hard copy submission, your hard copy entries need to be postmarked no later than February 15th.

Many thanks to all of you who have submitted your entries so far this year, and we look forward to seeing whatever else comes our way in this year’s contest.


An Update on Coming Changes, and the Opportunity to Offer Input

What with the restructuring of the contest (in terms of prizes and rules) that’s taking place in advance of the 2012-2013 contest year, a lot of things are currently being floated as possible ways to improve the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest. We’ll be unveiling a complete list of changes once everything has been settled on, but there are some things that are, in fact, already being firmed up:

We will be bumping the allowable word count to at least 5,000 words. Whether we ultimately go with 5,000 words, or a higher limit, that limit will be firm; send a story over the stated limit and you will be asked to cut it down to the allowable limit or submit something else in its place – this to be done because we would very much like to offer people the opportunity to meet the guidelines rather than simply disqualify entries.

We will have no restrictions on story content as long as it meets the requirement of being speculative (sf/fantasy/horror, fabulist, magic realist, slipstream, etc.) fiction. Technically, this relies on one other thing happening re the contest planning, but given that we are attempting to foster diversity in all respects, give writers the option to explore even the most extreme and/or challenging edge(s) of whatever subject(s) they choose, as well as promote the best possible writing in whatever form that takes, I, for one, will be pushing for this particular change.

The reading period is going to remain three months, and will run from November 15th, 2012, through February 15th, 2013. The deadlines for determining finalists and winners, however, may change depending on any structural changes enacted as we go forward.

The entry fee is going to remain $5.00 (CDN) per story. Relative to that is the allowable number of entries, which we are still debating altering. There are good reasons both for and against changing the number of allowable entries (the current limit is three – and, yes, we did have someone who submitted more than one entry get a story into the finalist round, so there’s room to argue in favour of both sides of this issue), so this will be one of the things we mull over in terms of rules questions when the Friends of the Merril Collection convene to discuss the contest and hash out the changes.

In light of the fact that there are some things settled, but many more not, this seems a perfect time to get some input from you, our potential entrants, and anyone else interested in contributing ideas.

So, I’m going to do something (not actually all that) radical here, and offer everyone reading this the opportunity to have an impact in (re)shaping the 2012-2013 contest. There was some input given in response to the In the Green Room post I made earlier this year, but now is your opportunity to offer any and all suggestions or ideas concerning the contest. Is there something we’ve overlooked doing that you’d like to see as part of the coming year’s contest? Or even feedback on the last go round? Let us hear from you.

You can either do this here, in the Comments field below, or, if you’d like your input to remain more private, you can feel free to send an e-mail to Michael Matheson, at

I’ll be sharing whatever information/feedback/ideas/concerns come in with the Friends of the Merril Collection when we next sit down to discuss the contest, so anything you want to put forth will get an airing.

We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Incidentally, if your post doesn’t show up immediately in the Comments field below, that’s because we’re manually approving all Comments at the moment as we’re getting an inordinate amount of spam on the site. I’ll be approving Comments as soon as I’m able to, so thank you for your patience .

And on an entirely different note, the Friends of the Merril Collection are currently seeking a new home for the Friends website, so if you’ve been encountering some Friends related links on the website which aren’t actually going where they’re supposed to, that would be why. You can, however, still access the old Friends of the Merril Collection website in the interim. We’ll let you know once the new website is up and running again.

One Week Until the Contest Reading Period Opens

As of today there’s only one week to go until the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest reading period opens on November 15th.

Once the contest officially opens we will activate the PayPal Entry Fee button and all entrants can begin submitting their stories.

If you want to take some extra time after the reading period opens to make sure your submission(s) are honed to a razor edge you’ve got three months to do so. The reading period will be open from November 15th, 2011 through February 15, 2012. But please don’t leave your submissions too late as we can’t accept anything submitted after 11:59 p.m. EST on February 15th, 2012. For hard copy submissions we need to have received your submission by February 15th, 2012, so we suggest you mail it at least a week sooner to make sure it gets to us in time.

If you have any questions to ask before the reading period begins, or during the open reading period, please query Michael Matheson at

Also, please be sure that you’ve read through the Contest Rules and FAQ pages to be sure that there are no problems when you submit your entry.

We look forward immensely to the submissions coming in, and we wish you all good luck!

A New Addition to the Prize Pool

As you may have noticed from the general theme around here, and the fact that the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest is about writing, we absolutely love books. So, you can imagine how ecstatic we were when the Merril Collection staff offered us a very special prize to be added to the 2011-2012 contest prize pool:

The Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest is adding a very limited edition (5 copies) hand crafted booklet, containing the stories of the 2011-2012 winning authors, to the prize pool. One copy will remain in the Merril Collection as part of the permanent archives. One copy will be retained by the artist producing the booklets, and the others will be distributed, one booklet each, among the winning authors. The details for the production of the booklet are not yet fixed as the design specifics are dependent on the length of the winning works, among other factors.

However, we think you’ll agree that the limited edition booklets are a fantastic addition to the already excellent prize pool. And, of course, once the booklets themselves have been produced (sometime after the conclusion of the 2011-2012 contest) we’ll post photographs of them to the website.

We’ll be updating the information on the contest website to reflect the new prize listing over the next few days as part of the runup to the official opening of the 2011-2012 reading period.

In the meantime, if you have any questions relating to this, or anything else about the contest, you can get in touch with us at

Keep an eye out for more updates to the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest relating to our Judges and other aspects of the contest. Also, if you’d rather we came to you with our updates, you can follow the contest blog (using the Subscribe widget to the right) to stay on top of updates and news items.

And remember, the 2011-2012 contest officially opens on November 15, 2011. So get writing.

The Inaugural Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest

The Friends of the Merril Collection are running a 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

The Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest, as we are referring to this contest – which we plan to make an annual event – will distribute cash prizes to three winning entrants, as judged by a panel of authors, editors and other notables in the Canadian Speculative Fiction community.

The contest is open to international entrants without restriction on country of residence, entrants’ 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).

The contest will be open to original, previously unpublished entries from November 15, 2011 through February 15, 2012. On November 15th we will post a PayPal button to the site which may be used to pay entry fees online. In the meantime we ask that entrants please wait until the contest officially opens before sending any contest entries.

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.

If you have questions relating to anything about this website or the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest please address them to Michael Matheson at