Since 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 Decadeanthology. 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.
As 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.
My 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 up 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.
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.
Writers 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.
2019 update – I note that they haven’t changed the rules, so the below still applies. Disappointing. Not even bothering to write a new post this year.
The 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.
Some 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.
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.
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.
The results have been out for a few days now – my story “Improvising at Branson Six” placed third in the 2013 Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest. I’m pretty thrilled. I’ll be looking for somewhere to publish the story sometime. Well done Patrick and Ronald.
So it’s the end of March and I’m looking at where I am with my writing. My goal is to write 300,000 words during the course of the year. Publishable words, that is. Certainly the goal is changing as I go, and feedback on the rejections, the hold-requests and acceptances is helping with my focus (I did add into the goal that I also want to publish 300,000 words during the year – not counting reprints).
One thing I hadn’t figured on, however, was a big change in the structure of tutoring: much more online, more hours and more deadlines spread through the year. I had been looking at having big blocks of time between the portfolios to really focus on writing, and those blocks have turned out to be very small. This spread has, at the moment, meant that I’m writing alongside the tutoring and so, somehow, still maintaining my minimum of 1000 words a day (I do have a day job as well as the part-time tutoring in case you think I’m just goofing off).
I have written a complete novel, seven stories of various lengths (from 665 words up to 13,000) and I’m currently half-way through the next novel. The first novel has been (self) published, as have four of the stories (two under pen names) – one of those on MicroHorror, rather than self-published (that’s the 665 word flash fiction piece). The other stories are on submission with publishers, or still being tinkered with (I might be writing pulp, but I’m going to fine-tune the literary story for the national competition).
So, a quarter of the way through the year and I’m just a little ahead of a quarter of my publishing target (80,000 words published) and more than halfway towards my total goal: more than 150,000 words written so far. I’m surprised, stunned and stoked that it’s going this well this early. I don’t know if I’ll manage another 150,000 in the next quarter (tutoring does hot-up a little), but the momentum is there. And I still have more ideas than I have time to write.