Monthly Archives: July 2012

An Update on Coming Changes, and the Opportunity to Offer Input

What with the restructuring of the contest (in terms of prizes and rules) that’s taking place in advance of the 2012-2013 contest year, a lot of things are currently being floated as possible ways to improve the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest. We’ll be unveiling a complete list of changes once everything has been settled on, but there are some things that are, in fact, already being firmed up:

We will be bumping the allowable word count to at least 5,000 words. Whether we ultimately go with 5,000 words, or a higher limit, that limit will be firm; send a story over the stated limit and you will be asked to cut it down to the allowable limit or submit something else in its place – this to be done because we would very much like to offer people the opportunity to meet the guidelines rather than simply disqualify entries.

We will have no restrictions on story content as long as it meets the requirement of being speculative (sf/fantasy/horror, fabulist, magic realist, slipstream, etc.) fiction. Technically, this relies on one other thing happening re the contest planning, but given that we are attempting to foster diversity in all respects, give writers the option to explore even the most extreme and/or challenging edge(s) of whatever subject(s) they choose, as well as promote the best possible writing in whatever form that takes, I, for one, will be pushing for this particular change.

The reading period is going to remain three months, and will run from November 15th, 2012, through February 15th, 2013. The deadlines for determining finalists and winners, however, may change depending on any structural changes enacted as we go forward.

The entry fee is going to remain $5.00 (CDN) per story. Relative to that is the allowable number of entries, which we are still debating altering. There are good reasons both for and against changing the number of allowable entries (the current limit is three – and, yes, we did have someone who submitted more than one entry get a story into the finalist round, so there’s room to argue in favour of both sides of this issue), so this will be one of the things we mull over in terms of rules questions when the Friends of the Merril Collection convene to discuss the contest and hash out the changes.

In light of the fact that there are some things settled, but many more not, this seems a perfect time to get some input from you, our potential entrants, and anyone else interested in contributing ideas.

So, I’m going to do something (not actually all that) radical here, and offer everyone reading this the opportunity to have an impact in (re)shaping the 2012-2013 contest. There was some input given in response to the In the Green Room post I made earlier this year, but now is your opportunity to offer any and all suggestions or ideas concerning the contest. Is there something we’ve overlooked doing that you’d like to see as part of the coming year’s contest? Or even feedback on the last go round? Let us hear from you.

You can either do this here, in the Comments field below, or, if you’d like your input to remain more private, you can feel free to send an e-mail to Michael Matheson, at

I’ll be sharing whatever information/feedback/ideas/concerns come in with the Friends of the Merril Collection when we next sit down to discuss the contest, so anything you want to put forth will get an airing.

We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Incidentally, if your post doesn’t show up immediately in the Comments field below, that’s because we’re manually approving all Comments at the moment as we’re getting an inordinate amount of spam on the site. I’ll be approving Comments as soon as I’m able to, so thank you for your patience .

And on an entirely different note, the Friends of the Merril Collection are currently seeking a new home for the Friends website, so if you’ve been encountering some Friends related links on the website which aren’t actually going where they’re supposed to, that would be why. You can, however, still access the old Friends of the Merril Collection website in the interim. We’ll let you know once the new website is up and running again.

Victory Celebrations! (And You’re All Invited)

It’s been a little while since our last post, but what better way to get back into the flow than with the announcement that we’re having a party!

Well, participating in one while someone else throws the party, but that shouldn’t stop us (or you) from having a good time.

It’s been a long road pulling together the inaugural year of the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest, and laying the foundations for the next. So to celebrate the truly exceptional results and turnout of the contest’s first outing we’re going to fete the winners and finalists from the 2011-2012 year. Specifically, Sarah Ennals, James Bambury, Suzanne Church, Claire Humphrey, and Kari Maaren are all going to be reading from their contest stories at the July 11th edition of the Chiaroscuro Reading Series here in Toronto. Sandra Kasturi, one of our 2011-2012 contest judges and the co-publisher of ChiZine Publications, who also co-organizes the CRS, has put together a Facebook events page with full details here:

Several of the judges will be in attendance – possibly all of us if schedulin allows, and Mike Bryant is also slated to put in an appearance, so the evening should be a blast.

If you’re local or feel like coming in to Toronto (or are already going to be in the city on the 11th), you’re cordially invited to drop by and spend an evening in some thoroughly awesome company.

Also, by the time the 11th rolls around, the Chiaroscuro Reading Series will be the only place you’ll be able to read (or, in this case, listen to) Sarah Ennals’ winning story “The Emmet” since the story will no longer be available on the website after July 4th.

Yes, it’s true, all of the the 2011-2012 winning stories are coming off the website EoD July4th (approximately Midnight, UTC -05:00, July 4th). So if you haven’t already read them, now is the time to do so.

We look forward to seeing all of you who can make it out for the celebrations!