Publisher’s Spotlight: UFO Publishing

On April 1st UFO Publishing opens submissions for their sixth Unidentified Funny Objects anthology!  From Terry Pratchett to Douglas Adams, comedic speculative fiction is some of the most beloved of the genre and unfortunately too often overlooked by publishers.  So channel your inner comedian and get to submitting!

Not sure how to write comedy?  Check out these articles for my advice on where to get started.

  • In their own words: “We’re looking for speculative stories with a strong humor element. Think Resnick and Sheckley, Fredric Brown and Douglas Adams.  We welcome quality flash fiction and non-traditional narratives. Take chances, try something new, just make sure that your story is funny.”
  • Genres they accept: Speculative Fiction.
  • Word count limit: 500-5000 words.
  • Payment: $0.10 per word + contributor copy. Payment will be made upon acceptance. Our preferred method of payment is via PayPal, but you may request a check.
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: Unknown; my advice is don’t.
  • Multiple Submissions**: No.  Limit of 1 submission per author — even if you receive a response before the submission window closes please do not send another story unless directly invited to do so.
  • Schedule: Submissions open April 1 – April 30, 2017

Additional tips: “Puns and stories that are little more than vehicles for delivering a punch line at the end aren’t likely to win us over.  The best way to learn what we like in general is to read a previous volume. You can buy it here and also read the online stories for free.”  They also include a list of tired tropes.  Click on their submission guidelines page for details.

*This means whether they will allow you to submit this story to another publisher at the same time or not.

**This means whether you can send them more than one story at at time.

Reminders when submitting:

Read the publication:  Their stories are freely accessible on the site.  You have no excuse not to do your research and see what kind of style gets their attention.  It will also give you an idea of what’s been done before so you don’t end up sending them something too similar to a recently published story.

Read the guidelines: I don’t post everything required for their submissions, just the basics.  Furthermore, this is a static post.  Publishers change their submission requirements at will so it’s always a good idea to read and re-read them, even if you’ve submitted to them before.

Follow the rules: Do I really need to say this?  Don’t send pieces over the word count.  Don’t send content they specifically warn against.  Don’t send weirdly formatted manuscripts if they give you specific instructions.  “But Liz, I–” Nope!  No, no, no.  If you do not follow the rules you risk being a pariah to that magazine – and worse, editors can exchange notes on who’s being a pain.

Happy submitting!

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Publisher’s Spotlight: Third Flatiron

It’s been awhile since we highlighted a themed anthology publisher, so let’s take a look at the speculative fiction interests of Third Flatiron!  Details below:

  • In their own words: “We are looking for submissions to our quarterly themed anthologies… Please send us short stories that revolve around age-old questions and have something illuminating to tell us as human beings. Fantastical situations and creatures, exciting dialog, irony, mild horror, and wry humor are all welcome.”Role models for the type of fiction we want include Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur C. Clarke, Dan Simmons, Connie Willis, Vernor Vinge, and Ken Kesey. We want to showcase some of the best new shorts available today.”
  • Genres they accept: Our focus is on science fiction and fantasy and anthropological fiction. We want tightly plotted tales in out-of-the-ordinary scenarios. Light horror is acceptable, provided it fits the theme.
  • Word count limit: 1,500 – 3,000 words. Inquire if longer.
  • Payment: 6¢/word (U.S./SFWA professional rate)
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: No
  • Multiple Submissions**: No
  • Schedule: Please see the main page for upcoming themes.  Current themes as of this posting are:
    • Cat’s Breakfast” Reading period: Feb 15 – April 15, 2017
    • Strange Beasties” Reading period: May 15 – July 15, 2o17

Bonus Feature: “For each anthology, we will also accept  a few very short humor pieces on the order of the “Shouts and Murmurs” feature in The New Yorker Magazine (600 words or so). These can be written from a first-person perspective or can be mini-essays that tell people what they ought to do, how to do something better, or explain why something is like it is, humorously. An SF/Fantasy bent is preferred.”

*This means whether they will allow you to submit this story to another publisher at the same time or not.

**This means whether you can send them more than one story at at time.

Reminders when submitting:

Read the publication:  Their stories are freely accessible on the site.  You have no excuse not to do your research and see what kind of style gets their attention.  It will also give you an idea of what’s been done before so you don’t end up sending them something too similar to a recently published story.

Read the guidelines: I don’t post everything required for their submissions, just the basics.  Furthermore, this is a static post.  Publishers change their submission requirements at will so it’s always a good idea to read and re-read them, even if you’ve submitted to them before.

Follow the rules: Do I really need to say this?  Don’t send pieces over the word count.  Don’t send content they specifically warn against.  Don’t send weirdly formatted manuscripts if they give you specific instructions.  “But Liz, I–” Nope!  No, no, no.  If you do not follow the rules you risk being a pariah to that magazine – and worse, editors can exchange notes on who’s being a pain.

Happy submitting!

Publisher’s Spotlight: Strange Horizons

Strange Horizons is back!  After a brief hiatus, they are once again open for submissions weekly starting on Monday, and close when they reach their cap.  Details below:

  • In their own words: “We want good speculative fiction. If your story doesn’t have a speculative element, or strong speculative-fiction sensibilities, it’s probably not for us.   Some particular things we love, or are interested in:
    • Fiction from or about diverse perspectives and traditionally under-represented groups, settings, and cultures, written from a non-exoticizing and well-researched position.
    • Unusual yet readable styles and inventive structures and narratives.
    • Stories that address political issues in complex and nuanced ways, resisting oversimplification.
    • Hypertext fiction. If you have a work of hyperfiction you think might be a good fit for Strange Horizons, please query us to discuss how to submit it.
  • Genres they accept: Speculative Fiction.  (That’s the usual sci-fi, fantasy and various flavors of slipstream, etc.)
  • Word count limit: “We prefer stories under 5,000 words, but we consider stories up to 10,000 words. Note, however, that the longer the story is, the less likely we are to be interested…we have no minimum wordcount requirement; we consider short-short stories.”
  • Payment: We pay 8¢/word (USD), with a minimum payment of $60. SFWA officially considers us a professional market.
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: No
  • Multiple Submissions**: No
  • Schedule: Opens every Monday; “if and when the queue begins to significantly outstrip the reading, we’ll close for the week to give ourselves room to catch up.”

Bonus Feature: If you’ve never read Strange Horizon’s guide to tired tropes, give it a glance.  In addition to being hilarious it’ll hopefully make you rethink some of your trunk stories and challenge you to go beyond common slush problems.

The downside is that they don’t often explain why these tropes don’t work so it can be tempting to rationalize why your piece breaks the mold.  My advice?  Don’t.  Just don’t.  Find a different story to submit and in the meantime shop the other one out to trusted beta readers who can guide you away from the tropes.

*This means whether they will allow you to submit this story to another publisher at the same time or not.

**This means whether you can send them more than one story at at time.

Reminders when submitting:

Read the publication:  Their stories are freely accessible on the site.  You have no excuse not to do your research and see what kind of style gets their attention.  It will also give you an idea of what’s been done before so you don’t end up sending them something too similar to a recently published story.

Read the guidelines: I don’t post everything required for their submissions, just the basics.  Furthermore, this is a static post.  Publishers change their submission requirements at will so it’s always a good idea to read and re-read them, even if you’ve submitted to them before.

Follow the rules: Do I really need to say this?  Don’t send pieces over the word count.  Don’t send content they specifically warn against.  Don’t send weirdly formatted manuscripts if they give you specific instructions.  “But Liz, I–” Nope!  No, no, no.  If you do not follow the rules you risk being a pariah to that magazine – and worse, editors can exchange notes on who’s being a pain.

Happy submitting!

Publisher’s Spotlight: Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines

Hello genre lovers!  You all know how much I love speculative fiction, but what magazines are out there for other genres?  Today we look at Mystery stories in the sister publications,  Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine!  Their guidelines are almost identical, but EQMM is more specific, so I’ve included their info below.

  • In their own words:Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine welcomes submissions from both new and established writers…  Almost any story that involves crime or the threat of crime comes within our purview… With the exception of a regular book review column and a mystery crossword, EQMM publishes only fiction. We are especially happy to review first stories by authors who have never before published fiction professionally. First-story submissions should be addressed to EQMM‘s Department of First Stories.
  • Genres they accept:We publish every kind of mystery short story: the psychological suspense tale, the deductive puzzle, the private eye case—the gamut of crime and detection from the realistic (including the policeman’s lot and stories of police procedure) to the more imaginative (including “locked rooms” and “impossible crimes”). We need hard-boiled stories as well as “cozies,” but we are not interested in explicit sex or violence. We do not want true detective or crime stories.
  • Word count limit: EQMM uses stories of almost every length. 2,500-8,000 words is the preferred range.  (But they’re open to almost anything.) AHMM suggests anything  less than 12,000.
  • Payment: $0.05 – $0.08 per word, sometimes higher for established authors.
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: Don’t submit to both at the same time:

Stories submitted to AHMM are not also considered by or for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, though we share the same address. Submissions to EQMM must be made separately.

Please do not simultaneously submit the same story to AHMM and EQMM. If we reject your story, for whatever reason, you are then free to submit it to EQMM (and vice versa).

As for whether you can sim-sub to other publications, they don’t say.

  • Multiple Submissions**: Unknown
  • Schedule: Open.  EQMM responded in about 3 weeks.  AHMM is longer, with a 6 – 8 month queue for their slush pile.

*This means whether they will allow you to submit this story to another publisher at the same time or not.

**This means whether you can send them more than one story at at time.

Reminders when submitting:

Read the publications:  You’ll need to purchase an issue of the magazines to see what kind of style gets their attention.  It will also give you an idea of what’s been done before so you don’t end up sending them something too similar to a recently published story.

Read the guidelines: I don’t post everything required for their submissions, just the basics.  Furthermore, this is a static post.  Publishers change their submission requirements at will so it’s always a good idea to read and re-read them, even if you’ve submitted to them before.

Follow the rules: Do I really need to say this?  Don’t send pieces over the word count.  Don’t send content they specifically warn against.  Don’t send weirdly formatted manuscripts if they give you specific instructions.  “But Liz, I–” Nope!  No, no, no.  If you do not follow the rules you risk being a pariah to that magazine – and worse, editors can exchange notes on who’s being a pain.

Happy submitting!

Publisher’s Spotlight: Grievous Angel

Who likes Short Shorts? Grievous Angel likes short shorts!  They’ll pay Pro-rate for anything under 700 words (and accept poetry too!)  Details below:

  • In their own words: “We are looking for original Poetry and Flash Fiction…At the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious, apart from the word length, the key factor with Flash Fiction is it has all the elements of a traditional self-contained short story, including a beginning, a middle and an end, even if some aspects may be implied. Flash Fiction is NOT an extract or vignette from a longer story and should never end with the words To Be Continued…
  • Genres they accept:We are a SFF&H genre-only webzine. This means Science FictionFantasyHorror and related speculative fiction sub-genres, including Urban Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Mythos, Steampunk and Magical Realism, as well Humour/Satire riffs on these genre.” (Emphasis is theirs.  Copy/paste did something funny today.)
  • Word count limit: Flash: 700 words max. Poetry: max 36 lines each, up to 5 poems submitted at one time.   They encourage micro-fiction.
  • Payment: $0.06 per word or $1 per line of poetry.  $5 minimum for the short stuff.  (Note: You’ll need a PayPal account to accept their payment.)
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: No
  • Multiple Submissions**: No (but up to 5 poems at a time.)  Please do not submit again until 6 weeks have passed (it helps keep the slush pile down.)
  • Schedule: Open.

So get to it and submit those short shorts today!

*This means whether they will allow you to submit this story to another publisher at the same time or not.

**This means whether you can send them more than one story at at time.

Reminders when submitting:

Read the publication:  Flash is short and their stories are freely accessible on the site.  You have no excuse not to do your research and see what kind of style gets their attention.  It will also give you an idea of what’s been done before so you don’t end up sending them something too similar to a recently published story.

Read the guidelines: I don’t post everything required for their submissions, just the basics.  Furthermore, this is a static post.  Publishers change their submission requirements at will so it’s always a good idea to read and re-read them, even if you’ve submitted to them before.

Follow the rules: Do I really need to say this?  Don’t send pieces over the word count.  Don’t send content they specifically warn against.  Don’t send weirdly formatted manuscripts if they give you specific instructions.  “But Liz, I–” Nope!  No, no, no.  If you do not follow the rules you risk being a pariah to that magazine – and worse, editors can exchange notes on who’s being a pain.

Happy submitting!

Publisher’s Spotlight: Deadline Round-Up

Have you been keeping track of all the publishing deadlines coming up this summer?  No?  Well, let’s see if I can make that a touch easier for you.  Below is a list of all the Publishers featured on our Publisher’s Spotlight with links to the original posts AND the deadlines for their current calls.

Also, here’s a link to all publishers with rolling submissions, meaning they do not have a deadline (but they might close for the holidays; check individual pages for details.)

Freeze Frame Fiction is currently CLOSED for submissions.

As always, don’t forget to check out their individual sites as it will have all updated info.

Happy Submitting!

Publisher’s Spotlight: Haunted Waters Press

It’s time for another three-for-one special on this week’s Publisher’s Spotlight!  Haunted Waters Press is a small, independent publisher that offers several opportunities to submit, including the following open calls below.

From the Depths 2016: Outsiders Theme
  • In their own words: “From the Depths is the annual literary journal of Haunted Waters Press. Featuring works of prose and poetry, the journal is released in the fall of each year. Described as “one of the most compelling and beautifully illustrated literary journals,” From the Depths was created to showcase and celebrate the writing of new, emerging, and established authors.

    Inspired by the Grand Prize Winning Entry and Runners Up in the 2016 Haunted Waters Press Fiction & Poetry Open, the theme for the 2016 issue is Outsiders. We seek fiction and poetry highlighting the unique struggles, circumstances, and journeys that set individuals apart from others. We look forward to reading your work!

  • Genres they accept:  Any. “We are interested in stories that entertain us, stories that captivate us, but most of all, stories that haunt us.”
  • Word count limit: 7,500 or less for fiction and flash fiction; poetry any length.
  • Payment: $0.01 to $0.04 per word for fiction and $20 for poetry.
  • Reading Fee: $3-$10 donation for their Expedited Decision.
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: No Simultaneous Submissions unless submitted via Expedited Decision.  Expedited Decision submissions are reviewed within seven days.
    • Note: Expedited Decision is the only option currently open, so Yes, they do.
  • Multiple Submissions**: One active submission per contributor. Please wait until a decision has been reached prior to submitting additional work.
  • Previously Published Submissions: Yes, but “entries must not have appeared in print. Please be certain there are no known copyright restrictions.”
  • Schedule: March 1, 2016 – September 20th via Expedited Decision.

So what is “Expedited Decision?”  Essentially it’s a reading fee – you send them a contribution between $3 – $10 and they’ll fast-track your submission so you get it back within a week.  They do have a free reading period, but the deadline for 2016 has passed.

“Hey Liz, I’m strapped for cash.  Any chance of a free submission?”  Why, yes!  Check out…

Penny Fiction Competition 2016
  • In their own words: “Tell us story in exactly 16 words—no more, no less.  Extra points will be awarded for those writers who adhere to the rules. Not really. There are no points. Just read the contest rules below and impress Penny with your ability to follow instructions.”
  • Genres they accept:  Any, but “no poetry, tag lines, or jokes.”
  • Word count limit: 16.  No, really.  But on the plus side, “One entry per author, per round. (Contributors are encouraged to submit multiple stories in a single entry, but may only transmit one submission per round.) One story is fine. Four is cool. Twenty is borderline obnoxious. We like obnoxious! Just remember: a single entry with multiple stories!”
  • Payment: Grand Prize: $25 and publication in the 2016 issue of From the Depths.  Selected Runners Up will also receive publication.
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: No.
  • Multiple Submissions**: See above.
  • Previously Published Submissions: No.
  • Schedule: Round Three – June 1, 2016 – July 31, 2016

“I mean, that’s great and all, but $25 won’t go far.  You got anything with a bigger pay out?”

Yes, increasingly particular imaginary construct!  I do!

Short Shorts: A Summer 2016 Flash Fiction Contest
  • In their own words: “We seek flash fiction of 500 words or less.  Winning entries will contribute to our upcoming “Outsiders” theme highlighting the unique struggles, circumstances, and journeys that set individuals apart from others.”
  • Genres they accept:  Any.
  • Word count limit: 500 or less. Up to three works may be included in each entry.
  • Payment:
    • Grand Prize
      • $250
      • Publication in the 2016 issue of From the Depths

      • Featured Author Interview to accompany published work in print.

    • Runners Up
      • All entries eligible for publication in the 2016 issue of From the Depths.

      • Contributors to be paid $20 for each published story

      • Online Featured Author Interview.

  • Reading Fee: $10
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: Yes (see Submission page for details and limits.)
  • Multiple Submissions**: Yes (see Submission page for details and limits.)
  • Previously Published Submissions: Yes, but “entries must not have appeared in print. Please be certain there are no known copyright restrictions.”
  • Schedule: May 5, 2016 – September 20, 2016

Keep this in mind in case there’s a Short Fiction you want to submit to From the Depths.  Since it’ll cost you either way, it’s probably worth it to pay your $10 here in case you’re selected for a Runner Up slot.

Ok guys, I think that’s plenty of info for now.  Don’t forget to refresh your memory with the reminders below and check out the links for more info on these opportunities!

*This means whether they will allow you to submit this story to another publisher at the same time or not.

**This means whether you can send them more than one story at at time.

Reminders when submitting:

Read the publication:  Flash is short and their stories are freely accessible on the site.  You have no excuse not to do your research and see what kind of style gets their attention.  It will also give you an idea of what’s been done before so you don’t end up sending them something too similar to a recently published story.

Read the guidelines: I don’t post everything required for their submissions, just the basics.  Furthermore, this is a static post.  Publishers change their submission requirements at will so it’s always a good idea to read and re-read them, even if you’ve submitted to them before.

Follow the rules: Do I really need to say this?  Don’t send pieces over the word count.  Don’t send content they specifically warn against.  Don’t send weirdly formatted manuscripts if they give you specific instructions.

Happy submitting!

Publisher’s Spotlight: Phobos

Let’s get back into the swing of things and get back to a typical Publisher’s Spotlight.  This week we’re looking at the Deep Black Sea theme for Phobos magazine.

  • In their own words: “For our fourth issue, Deep Black Sea, we want short stories, flash, and poetry hauled from the brine of oceans both real and fantastic: the shipwrecked rocket bobbing in the black ocean waves of a starless planet, its bloodied crew and their flashlights at the hatch that opens into the perfect dark, and the heavy thump against the hull; the work song of a dozen sailors, and the lilting mezzo-soprano that begins to harmonize from the empty crow’s nest; the fleeing galleon’s dreadful captive gnawing the last rivet from its iron box; the granddaughter that chucks a sharpened stick and spears a skull-sized opal blob galloping across the sand on its little wet fingers.”
  • Genres they accept: Any, but especially the weird stuff.  “We publish macabre, astounding, unsettling, thrilling, baffling, and terrifying stories in the tradition of Shirley Jackson, Ambrose Bierce, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.”
  • Word count limit: 2,500 words for short stories and poetry, up to 1,000 words for flash fiction.  “Flash stories under 1,000 words have a much greater chance of being accepted.”
  • Payment: $0.05 per word or $20 minimum for poetry.
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: Unknown
  • Multiple Submissions**: Unknown
  • Schedule: Reading from May 1st to July 31st, 2016

*This means whether they will allow you to submit this story to another publisher at the same time or not.

**This means whether you can send them more than one story at at time.

Reminders when submitting:

Read the publication:  Past issues can be found here.  You have no excuse not to do your research and see what kind of style gets their attention.  It will also give you an idea of what’s been done before so you don’t end up sending them something too similar to a recently published story.

Read the guidelines: I don’t post everything required for their submissions, just the basics.  Furthermore, this is a static post.  Publishers change their submission requirements at will so it’s always a good idea to read and re-read them, even if you’ve submitted to them before.  They also have an FAQ page for anything not covered in the guidelines.

Follow the rules: Do I really need to say this?  Don’t send pieces over the word count.  Don’t send content they specifically warn against.  Don’t send weirdly formatted manuscripts if they give you specific instructions.  “But Liz, I–” Nope!  No, no, no.  If you do not follow the rules you risk being a pariah to that magazine – and worse, editors can exchange notes on who’s being a pain.

Happy submitting!

NYC Midnight: Flash Fiction Challenge

This is going to read less like a Publisher’s Spotlight and more like a personal story, because it is.  If you only care about the contest, skip to the  quick and dirty.  The rest of you, feel free to join me in a little reminiscing.


The end of July will mark the one-year anniversary of me getting my writing life back on track.  I was in a bit of a writing funk.  Diving in here and there but never really devoting the time and energy to my writing that I ought to.  It had been a year and a half since my short story, Needs More Salt, was published and I didn’t have drive to keep it up.

Then in July I saw an ad on Facebook for a contest: NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Challenge.  The entry fee was steep – if you know me at all you know I hate paying entry fees at all, so $50 made me cringe.  But skeptical as I was, I did a little digging and here what I found out:

  • NYC Midnight runs four contests a year on a rotating basis, one of which is the Flash Fiction Challenge (FFC).  (The others are screenplay-related or for Short Stories.)
  • The entry fee for the FFC gets you:
    • two rounds of competition with two unique sets of prompts
      • an additional two rounds should you place high enough in your groups
    • official feedback from the judges
    • unofficial feedback from the forums should you choose to participate
    • access to prizes, given out to the top 10 writers of the final round competition

So, why did I join?

I hadn’t written finished anything in a awhile.

Lord, what would I become without a deadline?  Don’t answer that.  For perspective, I had the idea for a superhero story sitting around in my computer since early 2014.  I only wrote/finished it on May 6th because of a certain Heroes vs. Villains contest deadline.  (It was well received; thank you for asking.)

I liked the odds.

Because they split the contestants into different groups, you’re only really competing against 30 – 40 writers.  That said, some of the finest writers I’ve had the pleasure to meet were in my group.  That hurt my chances a bit, but on the plus side, we made friends with each other on the forum and I was invited into a writer’s group who have kept me active over the last year, even when the contest wasn’t in session.  So, win-win.

Also, you only have to beat out half of the group (roughly) to get points for this contest.  With two rounds built into your entry fee you have two chances to score high enough to move on.  Your points for both rounds are tallied together, so even if you get 8th place in round one (8 points) and 5th place in round two (11 points) you’re still going to do better than someone who took 1st (15 points) in round one and 14th for the second (2 points), even if you didn’t get in the top 3 for either round.

It was an even (more or less) playing field.

George R.R. Martin would not win this contest.  If you want to win you have to come up with good ideas – fast – and polish it as best as you can within the time limit.  Prompts like “Action-Adventure, a Dumbbell, and an Underwater Cave” will throw anyone for a loop.  You could get a genre that you’re not familiar with, but chances are, there are other writers in the group who are just as lost as you are.

I got to read the competition.

Here’s the thing: when you’ve collected as many rejections as I have you start wondering whether you’re really any good.  Did I come really close to getting published or am I at the bottom of the pack?  I did my first round of the FFC without any beta readers at all – no help, no outsiders allowed.  I did that partially to test myself.  How well can I write when left to my own devices?  It turns out I’m pretty good at being creative under pressure.  The judges didn’t think so, but that’s another matter.

The judge’s opinions are subjective, but at least in this contest you get to read what the competition wrote (assuming they submitted it on the forum, which is locked to outsiders, so it counts as a workshop, not a first publication.)  Some are going to be better than yours, and that’s great!  Learn from them!  Be awed and take notes!  And also, some are not.  Be kind.  Give advice to help someone improve.  That’s what you’d want for your piece, right?  Advice, not mockery?  And yes, enjoy the ego boost it gives you when you find a piece that isn’t quite as awesome as yours.  You worked hard.  Celebrate.

Oh, and one more note before moving on… Just because you thought someone else’s story was awful, doesn’t mean you get to trash it if they scored higher than you.  Not cool.  To be 100% on the level, the judging for this contest is erratic.  I got 0 points on both of my stories.  That sucked.  Hard.  You put on a brave face, you bitch to your friends, you send a note to the contest runners if you think the judges (legitimately) screwed up.  But do not trash the other contestants.

I couldn’t can’t afford a writer’s workshop.

Listen, writing conferences are expensive, take up valuable time, and rarely exist within driving distance to me.  96 hours of balls-to-the-wall writing without having to leave my apartment?  Literally hundreds of stories to read through on the forums to critique (and compare myself to?)  Yes, please.


And that’s my biggest take-away from this experience.  For me it’s not about the contest (because again, the judging isn’t always the best) but about the writer’s workshop portion.  If you really want to get your money’s worth, invest in the forums.  There’s a camaraderie with participating with thousands of other entrants and seeing what you all managed to crank out.  And really, $50 for a writer’s workshop is the cheapest I’ve ever heard of, and I don’t even have to take time off work to join it.

For the record, I also participated in the Short Story Challenge and made it all the way through to the final round, something I’m extremely proud of despite my last story not placing in the finals.  There were many talented writers, so being among the top 40 was no small matter.  I say this because the judging is erratic, not necessarily bad.  And that’s frustrated a lot of participants to the point that I can’t blame them for not joining.

But then again, what other contest is this transparent?  In any other contest you get to read your entry and maybe a handful of the finalists that get published at the end.  You’re tossed into a group with a thousand other participants all writing to the same prompt hoping that you’ll rise to the top.  That’s a lot of pressure and a lot harder than out-writing 15 other people who got the same crazy prompts 48 hours ago.  And you just have to trust that the judges are ranking you fairly, you don’t get feedback, you don’t get ranked, you don’t know.

Am I going to participate this year?  I’ve thought about not.  Partially because I’ve had the experience, I’ve met my people, I don’t technically need to pay to play anymore, I’ve got the motivation and support I need already.  And Lord it is expensive.

But I can honestly say that my writing has improved and I know it will continue to improve by participating.  I know I need a deadline to get things done, and I know it forces me to test my skills by making me write for genres I’d never considered.  I hate writing Mysteries, but I wrote one I’m really proud of that’s currently under consideration at a publication.  That’s a story I never would have thought of, much less written, and it’s close to being a new credit on my resume.  How cool is that?

And more than anything, I really don’t think I can wait another year after this for it to come around again.  Even though I placed higher in the Short Story Challenge, it was a much more stressful experience.  I need the rush of 48 hours, which is just enough time to get an idea and get it out the door before I overthink things.

So yeah, sign me up!


All right, all right, I promised you some quick and dirty details, so here we go:

  • In their own words: “The Flash Fiction Challenge is an international creative writing competition, now in its 8th year, that challenges participants to create original short stories (1,000 words max.) based on genre, location, and object assignments. “
  • Genres they accept: Depends on your prompt.  “When the competition begins, writers are placed in groups where they will be judged against other writers within their same group.  Each group receives its own unique genre, location, and object assignments (see past examples here).
  • Word count limit: 1,000
  • Time limit: Prompts are e-mailed at midnight on Friday-into-Saturday.  Submissions are due by midnight on Sunday evening.
  • Entry Fee: The entry fee is US$45 by the Early Entry Deadline of June 16th and US$55 until the Final Entry Deadline of July 21st.  Click here to register.
    • You also can get $5 off the entry fee just by tweeting.  Click here to make a post to your Facebook or Twitter account to receive a promotional code for $5 off.
  • Prize: The top 10 entrants after four rounds of participation get cash prizes.
  • Schedule: 
Early Entry Deadline: June 16, 2016
Final Entry Deadline: July 21, 2016
Challenge #1: July 22-24, 2016
Challenge #2: September 16-18, 2016
Challenge #3:* November 4-6, 2016
Challenge #4:* December 9-11, 2016

*Note: you must place high enough to participate in Challenge #3 & #4.

For more Information:

How the Contest Works

The FFC 2015 Winning Entry

FAQ

Who to Contact if I have trouble registering/technical issues

My handle on the Forums, if you want to be friends.  You can also check out my stories for FFC 2016 if you’re a registered member.  (I share all my stories in the forums but I have removed the links to stories written for previous contests.)

Still not sure?  Check out the entry on Jen’s Pen Den that convinced me to join a year ago or ask me questions below in the comments.

The Diana Woods Memorial Award in Creative Nonfiction

Since we just posted our winner for this week on the topic of Self Portraits, let’s expand on that by giving you a Creative Nonfiction contest to submit to in August!

  • In their own words: “The Diana Woods Memorial (DWM) Award in creative nonfiction was established in Diana’s memory by her family, friends, and the Antioch University Los Angeles MFA community. DWM serves as a special opportunity for authors worldwide to be published in the literary journal Lunch Ticket.”
  • Genres they accept: Creative nonfiction
  • Word count limit: 5,000
  • Number of Entries I can submit: One per reading period.
  • Entry Fee: None!
  • Prize: The winning submissions will be published in Lunch Ticket and the recipient will receive $250. One author will be chosen for the Summer/Fall issue of Lunch Ticket and one in the Winter/Spring issue.
  • Schedule:  The next reading period is the month of August for the issue that publishes in December.  They open again in February for the issue that publishes in June.  (So check out the published entries next month and work on your piece to submit in August!)

Lunch Ticket lists all their submission guidelines on their website, and their Submittable portal reopens again in August for the contest and other writing submissions.