Tag Archives: contest

Why I’ll avoid the Sunday Star Times Short Story Contest again in 2017

sst-logoLast year I posted about not entering the Sunday Star Times Short Story Contest, New Zealand’s “premier” short story contest (free entry, up to $3000 prize, has launched many careers, etc.), because the rules were egregious. That is, designed to have writers forfeit rights to their stories.

That’s just plain wrong.

And this year, the contest is doing the same thing.

Last year I was disappointed. This year I’m kind of mad. Not because I would expect to win–I’m far too much of a learner-writer to be so bold–but because the organisers should know better than to have conditions or rules that make it possible to prey on naive writers. Especially young writers.

Here’s the rule I take exception to: “Fairfax Media and Penguin Random House New Zealand have the right to publish the winning and highly commended manuscripts of the Open Division and Secondary School Division entered without fee” (my bolding).

So effectively the newspaper can publish any entry they choose. The publisher could even publish and anthology without paying any writers. There’s no definition of ‘highly commended’, nor how many entries might be judged as such–as I said last year: from my perspective anyone who makes the effort to get it together and write a story should be highly commended. Well done. For the effort at least. I’ve known plenty of “writers” who never get around to actually writing.
The kicker is that the newspaper reserves the right to publish those stories “without fee”. This misses a basic tenent of writing: writers get paid.

I know newspapers struggle in this fluid environment, but they still pay their journalists. They pay the delivery people. They pay the printers.

If the newspaper is going take the right to fill a page with someone’s hard work, they need to pay for the rights to do so. With that rule they are effectively licensing a writer’s copyright for free.

A few years back I did enter a contest a couple of times. The Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest, run by the National Space Society, and Baen Books. Their rules are straightforward: if they publish your story, they will pay. It used to be that they just paid for, and published the winning story, but over the last few years they’ve started publishing (and paying for) the stories of the placegetters.

In 2013 I placed third in the contest. I didn’t get any prize money, but I retained the jbmassc-coverrights to my story. Baen didn’t publish it.

In 2014 I won. My story got published and I got paid. Decent money. And as it happens, this November Baen are publishing an anthology of some of the winning and place-getting stories from the first decade of the contest. My story will be in the volume. And I get paid again for the reprint rights.

That’s how it works.

The Sunday Star Times runs a contest, but publishing a story is still effectively licensing copyright. Getting paid is how writers make a livelihood. Actually, when I think about it, getting paid is how anyone makes a livelihood.

Shame on the Sunday Star Times, and those associated with the contest for preying on the enthusiasm of writers. And most-especially on young writers.

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My story “Low Arc” wins a prize.

Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest
Though some of you already know, I’m still thrilled to announce that my short story “Low Arc” has won the Grand Prize in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest.

The contest is sponsored by Baen books in conjunction with the National Space Society to celebrate the role science fiction plays in advancing science.

The brief is to write a short story that shows the near future (no more than about 50-60 years out) of manned space exploration. I stuck my guy on the moon, with an orbitting Orion capsule, and a busted up lander. And I got to use the very cool word “pericynthion” (which I learned during reading up and preparing the story).

So my next step is to get myself to L.A. in May to pick up the trophy, and, as part of the prize, attend the 2014 International Space Development Conference. Very excited.

Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest 2014

jbmwc2014finalistsI’m thrilled to be joining a group of esteemed writers as a finalist in the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest 2014. Amazing to see my name on that list.

There are a few names I know there, and some dark horses. Some have been finalists in the Writers of the Future contest and others have been place getters in the Jim Baen contest previously (including myself in both of those categories). I do feel humbled being among such luminaries as Brad R. Torgersen (Writers of the Future winner, Hugo, Nebula and Campbell award nominee), Martin L. Shoemaker (stories in Analog and Galaxy’s Edge, and forthcoming in Gardner Dozios’s Year’s Best Science Fiction), Marina J. Lostetter (Writers of the Future winner [in the same quarter when I was a finalist, grrr], stories in Galaxy’s Edge, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show). Sheesh, I need to stop now, after all there are only three podium places.

Best of luck to everyone.

Flashes in the Dark – Worst of Love contest results in

Jodi MacArthur’s extraordinary story “Spindled Souls” has won the Worst of Love contest for flash fiction at Flashes in the Dark. Jodi’s story is complex, dark and very multi-layered – absolutely a clear winner. Laura Eno’s wonderful “Ironies” came in second and my own “Fiancees Among Us” made third. Well deserved honorable mentions to Graeme Reynolds and Erin Cole.

Thanks to Lori and Bob for running such a challenging contest. Writers – check out Flashes in the Dark for their next contest: Lycanthropy. That contest closes on March 21st.