The season’s about to start, so let’s talk about Christmas! Christmas stories, to be exact. This will be the 2nd annual Weird Christmas Flash Fiction Contest. You can see the results from last year’s contest here. I’m starting this one VERY early because I made the mistake of trying to get everything done in a couple of weeks during the season last time. This go around, tho, we’re planning ahead!
Here are the details:
- Deadline November 2, 2019. Winners will be announced on the podcast/site as soon after Thanksgiving as I can get the podcast out.
- 350 word max limit (title not included).
- $50 first prize, $25 second prize. (Maybe more depending on how the funds work out.)
- Winners will be read on my podcast (preferably by you, but I can find others) and published on my site. (I’ll include 10 or so honorable mentions as well to be narrated and published.)
- Submissions must be EMAILED to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The general guidelines:
First, it should be weird or strange or odd. It can be “Haha!” weird or “Oh, Jesus, no!” weird. It can be genre (sf, fantasy, horror/weird, bizarro, etc.) or it can just be off-kilter. Sentimental is fine, but it better be sentimental in a way that leaves me feeling…uncomfortable. As long as it’s something about the holidays we aren’t expecting, it fits.
Second, it must be related to any winter holiday (Christmas, Hannukha, Kwanza, solstice celebrations, “Yule,” etc.). You can include other holidays like Halloween or Easter, but it has to still have some strong connection to the winter season’s celebrations.
Third, and this is new: try to avoid “evil Santa” stories. At least 1/4 of the submissions I got last time had “Monster Santa” or “Cthulhu Santa” or “Diabolical Santa.” That’s fun, but unless you have a REALLY original take on the idea, I’m gonna say the idea’s played itself out.
Fourth, a tease: I’d love to collect and publish all of these after another round or two, and I started looking into it. So keep in mind that it might be more than just a random online contest somewhere down the line…And that leads me to…
Fifth, rights: I’m asking for first rights to publish your story here and on the podcast. Beyond that, feel free to submit it somewhere else simultaneously, as long as the other venue doesn’t ask for exclusivity while the contest is ongoing. I’ll also contact everyone individually before publishing them, so if you’re only interested in winning and don’t want to be added as an “honorable mention,” say, you’ll have that option. Note that if I publish it, and you do want to take it somewhere else after the contest, it will technically count as a reprint. Keep that in mind if you’re hoping to get this published somewhere that pays more than I can, and, truth is, reprints won’t be as attractive to most markets. I just want to be up front about that, especially with the “honorable mentions” because I’ll be publishing them without paying. But, like I said, I won’t put anything up without your consent, and I’ll talk to each winner individually before publishing anything. This contest is mostly for fun, and I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m exploiting your hard work for “exposure”…which, if I’m publishing a story without paying, is essentially what that works out to. Just want to be totally clear about that.
If you’re looking for tips: I didn’t get a lot of straight science fiction submissions, so that’s an untapped area. Retelling old myths about the season is a good start for inspiration. And, if you’re totally stuck, go back through Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram and tell a story about one of the old vintage cards I post.
The judgment here is unapologetically subjective. Last year I chose the stories because they stuck with me. There were some perfectly crafted entries that just didn’t grab me for whatever reason, so it’s not really a “writing craft” contest.
If you have questions, feel free to email me or catch me on social media. And please feel free to share this with any writing groups or friends. The more the merrier. Also, if you submitted last year (or even won) YES you can submit again. And you can also submit multiple entries — just be sure they’re all high quality…this won’t work like a lottery, so more doesn’t really up the odds. Heh heh.
Otherwise, let’s have some fun! There’s a HUGE lead time on this (six months), and we really had a blast last year. I also made a bunch of new friends, so I’m looking forward to doing this again!