Tag Archives: writing contest

The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade

jbmtfdSince 2007, Baen Books and The National Space Society have sponsored The Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award, to honor the legacy of Jim Baen and to promote the ideals of forward-thinking, positive science fiction.

Back in 2013, thanks to Martin Shoemaker, I discovered this contest. My little story placed third. And then, miracle, in 2014 my next story won. I was stunned and honored with the win. And I’m as honored now to have that story in this First Decade anthology. Among some remarkable company too (the estimable Martin Shoemaker among them).

Here gathered together for the first time are the best of the best of the first decade of the Jim Baen Memorial Award. Stories that dare imagine a bright future in which humankind has shaken off the shackles of gravity and moved into that limitless realm known as “outer space.”

Edited by Nebula Award winner William Ledbetter the book collects a variety of stories.

Set in plausible, near-future settings, these stories display variations as limitless as the imaginations of the array of authors represented. Stories that ask, “What if?” Stories that dare to say, “Why not?” Stories that continue the grand science fiction tradition, looking to the future with a positive outlook on humanity’s place in the universe. (Borrowed and paraphrased from the blurb).

The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade, is available at Amazon, and other retailers.

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Improvising at Branson SixAs a side note, my third placed story, from 2013, “Improvising at Branson Six” is available as a standalone ebook. Available from Amazon and Smashwords, and other ebook retailers. Coming soon in print.

Cover © by Abidal | Dreamstime.

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Penny of Tharsis Montes – out now in Amazing Stories

amazing-stories-logo-r-375My winning story in the “Gernsback Amazing Stories” contest is now available to read for free at the Amazing Stories website. “Penny of Tharsis Montes” is nicely complemented by an illustration by Vicktor Antonov – sums uppennyoftharsis the core of the story nicely.

“A potentially deadly asteroid fall causes a Martian farmer to remember the days he spent on the red planet…and, perhaps, the days to come. A Gernsback Contest winning short story.”

My thanks to editors Steve Davidson and Ira Nayman for their faith in the story, and also their hard work getting the issue out.

Final entry into the Writers of the Future Contest

I have made my final entry into the Writers of the Future Contest. For the last five years I’ve entered every quarter, but with my forthcoming story in January’s issue of  Asimovs, my eligibility comes to an end.

WOTF-FINALIST-#31Writers of the Future is perhaps the premier writing contest for non-professional speculative writers.

I’ve been a finalist, and I’ve had straight rejections. My tally over more than twenty entries also includes numerous honorable mentions, a silver honorable mention and three semi-finalist placings. So often feeling so close.

I felt a bit sad clicking ‘submit’ with my final entry. This thing is over. I have numerous friends who’ve won the competition and been published in the anthology. I would have liked to join them (well, I still have this one last shot, right?).

Flipside: I feel elated. I wouldn’t be losing eligibility if I hadn’t been having success with my writing. And I wouldn’t be having success if I hadn’t been tenacious. Taking those non-winning stories (and other stories) and sending them to other markets. Writing and learning and sending off and writing some more.

Now of course, I have my sights on some other prizes and awards. Aim high.

 

Why I didn’t enter the Sunday Star Times Short Story contest this year.

sst-logoThe Sunday Star Short Story Contest is an established New Zealand contest. For the most part it’s run annually. With the disappearance of The Katherine Mansfield Short Story Award, the Sunday Star is now, as far as I can tell, the major New Zealand short story contest. And one of few that does not ask entrants for an entry fee.

The prize is substantial. $1000. For a 3000 word (maximum) story. That’s about thirty-three cents a word. Getting into the non-fiction per word payment range. Pro-fiction rates get up around ten cents a word, mostly around six to eight cents.

That tells me I should enter.

I’ve been long-listed for the contest in the past. My writing’s getting better. I’m losing eligibility for other contests because of my pro/almost-pro status.

So I wrote a story. I’m pretty pleased with it. I got it proofed and ready to go.

I went to the site to enter. That’s easy. Fill out the form, attach the document, click the ‘enter’ button. By entering I agree to the rules.

You know those sites we sign up for and we tick the box to accept the terms and conditions? Some of those documents are massive. We put our trust in them. Mostly that’s just fine.

Anyway, I decided I should read the rules. Really there were only eighteen. A little more than a page. Compared to some of those ‘terms and conditions’ documents, nothing more than an eye blink.

In the past the Sunday Star Times Short Story Contest. offered prizes to the first, second and third place-getters. Now, it’s just one prize. That’s okay. Things change.

– Open to permanent residents only. Check.

– Maximum of 3000 words. Check.

– Maximum of one entry per category. Check.

– Original work. Check.

– The finalists’ names, entry details, biographical information and photographs will be required by Fairfax Media and will be used for promotional purposes without compensation. You consent to this use of your details by entering the competition and agree to your name being published without notification or prior approval.

Uh. Hold on. “Without compensation”? Oh well, I suppose that’s all good promotion. Name and photo in the paper, if I happen to be a finalist. Nice for the ego and so on.

Okay. On with the rules.

– All entries submitted remain the property of the entrant. However (my italics), Fairfax Media and Penguin Random House New Zealand have the right to publish the winning and highly commended manuscripts of the Open Division, Secondary School Division and Non-Fiction Essay entered without fee. (my bolding).

What? “Without fee”? Really? So that amounts to: If I enter they’ll be able to publish my story without paying me.

It does say ‘winning and highly commended’, but it doesn’t say what constitutes highly commended. From my point of view anyone who gets it together to write a story and send it off should be highly commended. It takes courage and effort. Well done. If that’s the criteria, then any and every entry could qualify for publication ‘without fee’. Oh, except for the winning entry.

While I’m having a rant; right now there’s a New Zealand magazine that publishes a short story each month. As I understand it they take a vote or something at the end of the year and choose a winning story from those twelve and give that writer a prize. The other eleven do not receive anything save publication. I’m not even clear that they get copies of the issue in which they were published. Effectively those stories appear ‘without fee’.

This is why I didn’t enter. Writers get paid. The journalists in the paper and magazine who write the articles about the treaty and the housing crisis and climate change all get paid.

And that’s why I didn’t enter. That story I wrote? I’ll be sending that off to a paying market.

Finalist Badge

WOTF-FINALIST-#31Some years ago I was a finalist in the Writers of the Future contest (WOTF).

Since that time I’ve entered every quarter. I’ve had numerous Honorable Mentions and a Semi-Finalist placing. Never made it to that lauded “Finalist” again though.

Now I find myself creeping closer to pro-ing out. The contest is open to non-professional writers only, professional being counted as more than three pro-rate sales. With this August’s issue of Asimov’s I’ll have my third pro sale publication. One more after (or before) that and I’ll no longer be eligible for WOTF. I wonder how many more quarters I’ll be able enter.

In the meantime, the WOTF organization sent me this nice badge (thanks Joni). I figure I’d better display it. It might be my highest WOTF accolade.

First equal in the Gernsback Writing Contest

writing-contest-logo-with-trademark-e1432910614435I’m thrilled that my story “Penny of Tharsis Montes” is one of the three winners of the innaugural Amazing Stories Gernsback Writing Contest.

The contest asked writers to visualize how the solar system would look in 250 years time. Mine ended up set on a somewhat terraformed Mars (hence Tharsis Montes).

The story will be published in the first issue of the Amazing Stories Bi-annual anthology early next year. Can’t wait.

Jim Baen Memorial Award – presentation.

Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest

I know this photo has already shown up on facebook, but still. It was my priviledge last week to receive the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest Award at the International Space Development Conference in L.A. I’m the little guy without hair and the bugged eyes (stunned? I think so). On my right is Jim Minz from Baen Books, and on my left are Marina Lostetter and William Ledbetter (both Writers of the Future winners). It was great to hang out with such esteemed company at the conference and talk writing and sci-fi and all things good.