Monthly Archives: November 2013

Clarification on What We Consider a Reprint and Apologies for Any Prior Confusion

(No, the fact that Koyomi is frowning in that image is not a reflection of my mood, it’s just hard to find screenshots where Koyomi isn’t making a weird face.)

So, we’ve been getting some reprint stories submitted. And it’s easy enough for us to just ask people to exchange a story sent (and worst case scenario we’re entirely capable of issuing a refund, which we’ve done in past), so no real worries there. It happens. And we just sort it out when it does.

But as the same reason for the reprints coming in keeps cropping up, I thought I would just take a moment and clarify our position on what the FoMSSC considers a reprint. Because we do allow some, under the right circumstances (and we’re aware that can get a little confusing):

Now, we do allow stories that have been published/appeared publicly in a language other than English, and that have then been translated into English, to be submitted to the contest. However, any story appearing in English and available publicly is considered by us a reprint.

Specifically, if you’ve self-published a story, or have posted it to your own website prior to submitting it, we can’t take it. If the story appears online, but in a non-public/closed environment, say, for example, a members-only critique group accessibly only via login, or a listserve where you’re sharing works in progress, that’s fine. As long as it’s not publicly available, right?

The reasoning for that has to do with the fact that we judge all submissions blind. Our slush readers and the Final Panel Judges all have to be able to read the work without any kind of bias, or indication of the writer’s identity. And if your story is available online, it’s very easy to find it, either by title or by pulling and searching for text. Conceivably, our slush readers and/or judges may even have already come across it if it’s free to read online or you’ve self-published it.

And because this does tend to come up, we do check all submissions to the contest to make sure we can’t find evidence of it being published or posted anywhere prior to assigning a story to a slush reader. Specifically so that anonymity is maintained across the board and we avoid any potential instance of favouritism. The same reason we ask our slush readers and our judges to recuse themselves from reading/evaluating a story if they recognize the text and can identify who wrote it.

We do apologize for any lack of clarity that happens. We’re aware this is not a universal ruling on what will constitute a reprint (there really isn’t a universal constant for that, but still). Nevertheless, we don’t like creating confusion. And, ideally, despite the wealth of text we’re operating under with the Contest Rules and FAQ pages, we’d like things to be as free of frustration, and as clear, as possible.

A contest is supposed to be fun for the entrants, not a headache.

And to that end: we’re always available for consultation. If you’re not sure about how something works given the rules we’ve set up (we’ve covered a lot in the relevant sections, but we’ll not be able to cover everything), or if you just want to make sure that you’ve got everything in order before you submit, that’s totally fine.

By all means, feel free to send us an e-mail at, or you can talk to us on Twitter (@fomcontest).

We’re always happy to hear from you.

Now Awaiting the Crushing Pile of Stories Inbound: The 2014 FoMSSC Reading Period is Open!

Come midnight tonight (according to our local timezone, so UTC-5), the 2014 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest reading period will open for the third consecutive year. And this year’s reading period will remain open until midnight (again, UTC-5) on February 15th, 2014.

For those of you not already familiar with the contest, follow along for a few minutes:

The Friends of the Merril Collection are running our third annual Speculative Fiction Short Story Contest in order to raise awareness of, and funds for, the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy through the Friends of the Merril Collection (whose stated objectives, codified in the organization’s constitution, can be found at

The annual Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest distributes cash prizes to three entrants, as judged by a panel of authors, editors and other notables in the Canadian Speculative Fiction community. This year we’ve adjusted the prize structure to grant the first place winner a prize of $500.00 (CDN), and are awarding additional prizes of $50.00 (CDN), each, to two honourable mentions.

The contest is open to international entrants without restriction on country of residence, entrant’s publication history (or lack thereof), or any other delimiting factors (though entrants not of age of majority will need a parent or guardian’s permission in order to enter).

Entries must be original, previously unpublished short stories with a maximum length of 5,000 words, and must be submitted as an e-mailed .doc or .rtf attachment (composed in Standard Manuscript Format) to We welcome, and indeed prefer, inclusive and innovative stories. Entries must contain some speculative element, however slight, but content is not otherwise restricted in any fashion. For a more detailed rundown of the kind of things we want to see in entries, please see last year’s post “It’s Time: The 2012-2013 FoMSSC Reading Period Opens at Midnight” and scroll down to the section titled “That Content Advice I Kept Promising and Am Finally Getting Around To.”

Again, the reading period runs from November 15, 2013 through February 15, 2014, and each entry must be accompanied by an entry fee of $5 (CDN). There is no limit on the number of entries you may submit.

For full rules see either the Contest Rules or FAQ pages. For all other information please use the menus and tabs to navigate the site.

And Some Final Words Before The Submissions Start Rolling In

Again, as always, we need to take a moment to acknowledge the work of those who keep helping to make this contest enjoyable on all sides. To those of you who have submitted work over the past two years, who’ve helped us to promote the contest, our past slush readers and those who’ve come onboard for this year’s reading period, and our past and returning Final Panel Judges, as well as everyone else who otherwise helps, aids, and supports the Friends, and by extension the Merril Collection, we offer our sincere thanks.

As ever, we’re looking forward to seeing what comes over the proverbial transom. If there are questions or concerns you would like addressed, please feel free to direct them to me, Michael Matheson, at And you can either follow the website here or the contest Twitter feed (@fomcontest) for updates.

Good luck to everyone!

Not Far Now: Two Weeks Until the 2014 FoMSSC Opens

Just a (very quick) reminder that the reading period for the 2014 Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest opens in a little less than two weeks, on November 15th. The reading period will run until February 15th, 2014.

As previously mentioned, this year’s prizes include a first place prize of $500.00 (CDN), and two Honourable Mentions of $50.00 (CDN) each.

Please feel free to browse the site for more information. You can find more information about the 2014 Final Panel Judges on the Judges page. And it’s highly advisable that you have a look at both the Contest Rules and FAQ pages (both have been updated for the 2014 FoMSSC) if you’ve never entered the FoMSSC before.

We’re looking forward to seeing this year’s crop of stories. Our preference for the kind of fiction we like to see holds fairly consistent from year to year. But for those of you not already familiar with some of the posts we’ve put up about the kind of content we always hope to see, you might want to have a look at the “It’s Time: The 2012-2013 FoMSSC Reading Period Opens at Midnight” post (scroll down to “That Content Advice I Kept Promising and Am Finally Getting Around To“) from November of last year.

Luck to everyone entering the contest this year. And, as always, everyone is welcome to direct any queries to Michael Matheson at Or you can find us on Twitter @fomcontest.