Thursday, 1 March 2012 11:47
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-1-bw)
Still In The Hunt

One of my short stories has been shortlisted as one of the nine finalists to The Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest. This contest is in support of The Merril Collection of the Toronto Public Library.
The Merril Collection, originally the Spaced Out Library and later renamed for the late Judith Merril, is the foremost North American public assemblage of Speculative, SF and Fantasy Fiction and is an invaluable tool for enthusiasts, researchers and authors.

A Special Collection of the Toronto Public Library system, the Merril Collection houses a comprehensive array of over 72,000 (and growing) items. The reference stacks include hardcover and paperback fiction, first and rare editions, TPB graphic works and comic collections, pulp and later era magazines, fanzines, research material and critical essays/reference works and compendia – as well as donated original manuscripts from authors such as Phyllis Gottlieb and Guy Gavriel Kay.

The prizes include C$350, C$100 and C$50 cash awards and publication on their website. But then there's this cool new addition/edition (grin):
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.

So good luck to all the nine finalists!

Dr. Phil

PS - a few of you might be able to figure out which story is mine when they list the nine finalist titles later today. Please respect the contest and don't say anything linking my name and the story title together until they have announced the winners. Thanks!

Intentionally Bad

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 18:00
dr_phil_physics: (lifesavers-winslet)
Award Winners! And Not...

The 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest winners and runners-up and dishonorable mentions have been posted. There are some real howlers here, along with some that try very hard.

They actually have a lot of categories these days, including SF, fantasy, westerns, romance, historical, bad puns, etc. Of course this is all in honor of someone who wasn't trying to be funny...
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

--Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

Cue the writings of that epic novelist, Snoopy. "It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon..."

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (darth-winslet)
A Novel Contest Which Might Be A Little Too Novel

This is burning up on a number of sites, including John Scalzi's Whatever, and these two blogs

Anyway, First One Publishing is holding a contest for first novels of up to 65,000 words for digital publishing. No genre restrictions. An open call for new writers. What could be so bad about this? Well, I see four red flags off the bat:

(1) The contest fee is $149 per entry. $149!

Sure, there are contests with entry fees. But this one is steep and the thought is that they only need to get 34 entries to cover the $5000 Grand Prize award. After that, the contest becomes "profitable" to them.

(2) The contest rules include some rights grabbing language -- sounds like ALL entries become the property of the publisher to do with as they wish. Wait, you mean if you DON'T win, they STILL get to keep your story? How's that work again?

(3) Other people have noted some other details -- or in some cases lack of details -- regarding how much of a publisher or how much experience this operation has. In other words, they say they're offering a great opportunity to non-professional writers, but we just have to trust them? Um-mmm, no. Legitimate operations don't work this way.

Also they don't guarantee that anyone will actually win the Grand Prize. This is supposed to be an example of quality control, one thinks, but it also makes things worse for those who enter.

(4) Then the publisher, Karen Hunter, showed up on Absolute Write to defend First One Publishing's contest and didn't do a great job of explaining the rationale for the problematic aspects of the contest or a real understanding of what professional writers and people in the publishing business were objecting to.
Whatever is telling you that something is amiss, is lying to you. And we accept your apology because you are wrong as it relates to the contest. To judge a book before you've read it is unfair. Let us launch the contest (Feb. 11). Join it. And if you have a problem, then you have a right to criticize. But it's not even officially launched yet.

Since when is quoting the relevant sections of the rules and pointing out what the language is saying tantamount to lying? And accepting an apology for said lies when they weren't lies and those who have objections are not apologizing? What kind of fantasy world does this person live in?

And to say that the contest hasn't even started yet and to hold off objections until February 11th is pure nonsense IMHO -- because you put the contest announcement on the Internet a month ahead of the contest opening so that you will have people working on their manuscripts to have something to submit. A month from now is NOT the time to start a discussion about whether you should have wasted your time on such a project or not.

All In All...

... at best this person is very naive about how publishing, contests and contracts should work, in which case one would be advised to stay away and not invest $149 in an unprofessional operation OR it really is a rights grabbing, money sucking scam operation, in which one would surely be advised to stay the hell away from it. At the very, very least this contest does not pass the smell test today.

We shall see how this develops. But for now I'd strongly recommend staying away from First One Publishing's contest. Money is supposed to flow to the writer -- schemes where the money flows the other way (with the exception of the option of reasonable entry fees) are either scams, vanity presses or both.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (cinderella-fabletown)
I Didn't Win The Contest But...

Artist Chrissie Zullo recently ran a contest on her blog:
This incredibly handsome feline in the poster is my pet cat, Seph. He has been missing for some time now, and I'm asking you all to use your supersleuth skills to find him. Rumor has it that he has been hiding in each of the Cinderella covers. If you can find him in each cover, your name will be entered in a raffle to win some prizes!

Now I've been meaning to blog about Chrissie's art for some time -- I found her about the time her first Cinderella in Fabletown cover art came out -- and I truly love her work. So naturally I entered the contest, which wasn't easy.

Today Chrissie announced the winners. Alas, I didn't win, but my "art" was featured prominently in the entry. (grin)

It seemed obvious to me at the time that the way to prove I'd found all six black cats was to show the six black cats. I know most of you experts use PhotoShop, but I'm no artist. Still, I've got some skill at image manipulation and I've used Ulead PhotoImpact, versions 3.02 and 5.0, for a decade or so. Don't know how anyone else entered the contest, but as I said, it seemed obvious to me. Guess I did good.

Do check out Chrissie Zullo's artwork.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (ASIM-39)

Dear Andromeda Spaceways,

On 18 September 2009 I received not one, but two copies of ASIM #40. Now I received more than one copy of issues #38 and #39 because I had stories in those issues, so I received my subscription copies as well my contributor copies. But I do not have a story in issue #40.

If you are willing, I would take the extra copy of ASIM #40 and give it away to a good home via my LiveJournal blog -- . Perhaps we can get someone else to subscribe -- I've certainly been pushing ASIM the last few months.

Thank you!

Dr. Phil

And Fixed

Hey Dr. Phil,
Thanks for that. All fixed up now. Very happy for you to pass on your extra copies and drum up any business you can for us.

kind regards,


A Free Copy of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine

So I have this extra copy of ASIM -- Australia's premier Science Fiction magazine -- and I'd like to give this Issue #40 to a good home. As I've mentioned before, anyone can subscribe to Andromeda Spaceways, either in print or as PDFs. I'm very fond of ASIM -- and I was fond of them long before they published two of my stories. (grin)

The Giveaway Rules

So the same people don't win all the time, I'm going to annoy my closest friends and request that this giveaway is NOT open to my extended SF/F family. That'd be (1) my actual family, (2) 2004 Clarion attendees, (3) WOTF XXIV winners, and (4) fellow members of the nefarious UCF. Also, (5) people who already get ASIM -- after all, the goal is to get a copy to someone who hasn't had a chance to get this Australian SF magazine before.

First person who requests in the comments in this posting and isn't a member of (1) to (5) above -- it's yours. Don't put your snail mail address in the posting -- no point in making it easy for the Nigerian Ministry of Oil people -- I'll let you know how to get an address to me. (grin)

And Yes...

... I do have a pile of books I promised in an earlier giveaway -- I haven't forgotten you. Really! I have all the mailers and just have to go back and find the emails and print the address labels.

Someday I have to remember I don't have a shipping department who does this stuff for me.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
War of the Words Short List

The novel I sent to the UK first novel contest apparently didn't make the short list. C'est la vie.

They actually posted the short list back on Tuesday 8 September 2009, the day after they were going to make contact to the authors. I wasn't sure they were sticking to the schedule, since they'd mentioned they got a lot of entries and then on Friday 4 September 2009 said they were going to expand the short list from I think six to ten authors. But, sigh, I hadn't heard from them and so remembered to go looking on the SciFi Now U.K. site.

Ah well. Nice thing is that I have this novel, which I'll look over one more time, then I'll start sending it out again.

It's all good. (grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
I Made The Deadline

At the beginning of July I posted about a first novel contest out of England via Tor UK. First three chapters and a complete synopsis were to be received "on or before the closing date of 20 August 2009 17:30 GMT." That's 13:30 EDT here in West Michigan.

I sent the e-mail with both RTF attachments at 13:18 EDT. What? I still had 12 minutes.

A lesser person might have been nervous or upset. I kept on double-checking the files, proofing the synopsis and the e-mail text until I was happy. Or as happy as I was going to be. (grin) But see, I have plenty of experience with deadlines -- like end of semester grades. (double-trouble-grin)

So Is This Contest A Good Deal?

I haven't decided. But because Tor UK is involved, I didn't think they'd like the publicity of really screwing over new writers, so that was the deciding factor. Besides, one of the goals of my sabbatical was to complete a couple of novels and we've done one now. And at worst, I'll be free to send it off again at the end of November, which is pretty fast for a novel rejection.

On to the next project. After I clear up some loose files and take a breath. (triple-word-score-grin)

OAS Project

Due Date: Thursday 20 August 2009

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (WOTF XXIV)
"Open The Pod Bay Doors, HAL."

Shaun Farrell was invited to the WOTF/IOTF Workshop and Event in August. He recorded some interviews with the writers and illustrators for his podcast Adventures in Science Fiction Publishing right after the writers had first gotten to see the illustrations for their stories and meet up with their illustrators -- it was a very joyous occasion.

A couple of days ago, that podcast was brought online: AISFP 63 - Writers and Illustrators of the Future.

Fast Forward

The whole show is listed as 52 minutes 21 seconds -- I haven't had time to listen to the whole thing yet. But I'm in the first group that got interviewed, which starts at 4:50 and goes to 16:22. This group also contains fellow 2004 Clarionite Al Bogdan and his story's illustrator, and the wonderful William Ruhlig, who illustrated both my "A Man in the Moon" and Sonia Helbig's story.

Spanning the globe: Sonia Helbig from Australia, William Ruhlig from South Africa and Dr. Phil from North America.

Al's illustrator.

Thumbs Up!

Shaun's a great guy and very enthusiastic about his job. Which is pretty damned cool when you think about it. Thanks, Shaun -- you're making us look good, er, sound good. (grin)

As Long As I Have You Here

Here's a couple nice pictures of me. (grin)

Nice picture of me by Sonia Helbig -- I guess I lean my head to the side sometimes. (grin)

And another natural picture by Kim Gillett -- what could be more natural than me talking? (double-grin)

Dr. Phil


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