Monthly Archives: February 2015


Just a reminder and an apology! The submission period closes at midnight on FEBRUARY 15th 2015 and not the 14th. We jumped the gun a little! But the good news is you have a day left to submit! Good luck!

Wrapping Up

Reading Time by sinlaire


Well, folks, you have a little more than one day left to submit your stories. By now, the story is written, probably polished, and you’re basking in the glow of creation. You wrote a thing and soon, other people will read that thing. The gift of story from you to the world.

Who will read it? Once you submit it to the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest, it will be read by the Contest Administrator, who has no say whatsoever in what happens to your story, but who enjoys reading. Then, it will be passed to one of our first readers, all of whom are experience slush readers from other SF/F/H magazines and publishers.

If they like it? That’s when it will be passed on to our final judging panel. All three of our superstar judge/authors – Leah Bobet, Julie Czerneda, and Caitlin Sweet – will read your story and they between them will decide which three will carry away the prizes.

But what then?

Because the FotMSSC is a contest and not a publication, we do not publish your story. We do not claim any rights. Your story is considered completely unpublished – and you can still publish it elsewhere.

If you have been at the short story game for a while, you probably know where you want to send this story – you might have sent it already. If not? Here are a few resources to get you started. has been listing SFFH markets online now for 18 years. One of the oldest net resources for writers, it remains nevertheless up to date, thorough, and free. You can browse potential homes for your story by pay rate, but just as helpful are the other writing resources Ralan provides. It’s hard to beat the institutional knowledge that has built up here.

The Submission Grinder is another free database of short fiction markets. Though it doesn’t focus on SFFH in particular, the bulk of its listings some from SFFH writers. Submission Grinder also lets you track your submissions, giving you a handy way of keeping track of who you have submitted to, how they replied, and in how much time. Of note: they don’t list contests or poetry markets.

Probably the biggest of the market databases, lists just about everything – poetry, literary, SFF, contests. But to get access to this mother-of-all-databases, you have to pay – $5 US/month. The fee is absolutely worth it to many writers. The data Duotrope has built up over time will give you as complete a picture as you will be able to find of what a market’s response times are like, their acceptance rates, and more. if you’re not sure if that’s worth it – give them a try. They offer a 1-month free trial.

Need something a little more human-scale? There are also Facebook Groups dedicated to listing submission opportunities. OPEN CALL: SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY & PULP MARKETS and OPEN CALL: HORROR MARKETS are lightly-moderated communities where submissions calls are not only posted, but can be discussed with other writers. These groups aren’t as thorough or easy to search as the database sites, but they give you the opportunity to compare notes with other writers submitting to the same places.

Good luck out there! We look forward to hearing from you in the next 36 hours – and hearing about you after that!

Last Week! Submit!

The Writer by WilloeIsATree

This is it – the final recruitment drive! Submissions for the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest will close THIS SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14th 2015 @ MIDNIGHT! Full guidelines are here!

Unsurprisingly, the biggest pocket of Merril-love so far is from the local team, with 35% of our submissions coming from Toronto. 48% come from Southern Ontario more generally, and a whopping 75% are from Canadians.

This is wonderful to see, but it is always incredible to get those submissions from abroad: our neighbours to the south, of course (15%), but also from Ireland, England, Spain, India, and Dubai. In January, we had more visitors from India and Malaysia than from all of Europe combined.

And why not? We welcome entries from all over the world. The Friends of the Merril run local events, but the library is a resource open to researchers, students, and queries from anyone, anywhere. Our newsletter, Sol Rising, is available in pdf form here, and contains great articles on the history of science fiction and fantasy literature, interviews and spotlights on internationally-renown authors, staff recommendations, and the opportunity to pick the brain of the Merril’s Collection Head, Lorna Toolis. You can follow the Friends of the Merril on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest library acquisitions, story-identification mysteries, recordings of readings and panels, and more. The library is, after all, a public good, and we want to share its wealth as widely as possible!

So, no matter where you are or where you are from, we hope you’ll consider participating in the contest or just connecting with us. Submissions, queries, and even just comments can be directed to Charlotte Ashley at

Hope to hear from you soon!

Spit & Polish

Repair by Cuson

Repair by Cuson

There is just a little less than TWO WEEKS left to submit to the Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest! If you’re ready, delay no more and submit now. But if you are still polishing your piece, you might find yourself fretting. Is it ready? How will you know if it is ready? How does anyone ever know?

Well, you don’t ever really know (and, probably, there is no such thing as really ready,) but when you’ve done everything you can in your writing pod, the next step is to test the story. That’s right: you send it to readers.

Beta readers, writing groups, and critique swaps are an invaluable part of the writers’ process. You will never see your story the same way a reader will. They will read things into your story that you never dreamed and they will see the holes that you had subconsciously filled in. They provide feedback, even if it’s not as critical – or too critical – as you’d like.

Even experienced writers can always use new first readers. People move on and grow tired, and you can always use a new perspective. But where do you find these readers?


There are a lot of writing forums on the internet. There’s the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (OWW),‘s writing forum, and Codex for more experienced writers – but Critters is the grandmother of them all. Conceived as a hub for getting your work critiqued in exchange for critiquing the work of others, it now does that and more. With (literally) tens of thousands of members, extensive tools, industry information, and codified participation rules, Critters is easy to drop in to, participate in, and use. You are all but guaranteed to get some useful feedback here.


Wattpad is a platform for posting your work and having it made available for free to millions of readers around the world. These readers can then like, favourite, or comment on your work. While the comment system is not designed for (and is not very good for) thorough critical feedback, it will give you a far more personal idea of whether your story is resonating with your readers. Readers are not shy about cheering when they need to cheer and hating when they need to hate! You can get useful information from the site’s metrics as well: have you got five thousand reads on your first scene, and ten reads on the second? You’re losing readers. Something needs to be changed. NOTE that Wattpad and other sites like it (e.g. BookCountry) are public, and so anything posted there counts as “published” in the eyes of other publishers.

Your Local Convention

Fan-run conventions are a great way to network as a new or established writer. Most cons will have programmed events and workshops for writers, but even when they don’t, attending panels dedicated to craft can be helpful. The other bums in the chairs next to you? Those are probably other writers, and probably eager to swap stories! Don’t be shy about “outing” yourself as a new or emerging writer. Those panels and workshops are for your benefit. Likely, most of the attendees would be happy to help you meet the right people in your local scene.

How did you meet your readers? Everyone has a story. A good reading and critiquing relationship is one of the more engaging ways to know a person!

Don’t forget: the deadline for submissions is February 14th, 2015. Polish those stories and send ’em in! Guidelines, as ever, right here.