Weird Christmas Flash Fiction Contest (3rd annual, 2020)

It’s time to announce the THIRD ANNUAL WEIRD CHRISTMAS FLASH FICTION CONTEST!

I want your stories to help keep Christmas weird! We’re in our third year of the contest. Last year’s results are here, and we got over 600 entries, almost three times as many as the first year. The stories keep getting better and weirder. So if you want to mess with everyone’s Christmas by sprinkling in some strangeness, read on…

Me gettin’ ready to read!

The rules are mostly the same as last time:

  • Deadline November 1, 2020. 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. $5 for every “honorable mention” (10-12).
  • Winners will be read on my podcast (preferably by you, but I can find others) and published on my site.
  • Submissions must be EMAILED to weirdxmascontest@gmail.com. Either paste it into the body or attach a file. Please include your name, but writer bios are unnecessary (until we get to the winners).
  • You can submit multiple stories. I will accept poetry, but it must be narrative.
Please don’t put us to sleep.

The general guidelines:

First, make it weird, 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 still needs a strong connection to the winter season’s celebrations.

Third, a few people asked which well known authors I like for comparison. I don’t advise trying to copy their styles, but a few names that you should check out anyway: Connie Willis, Michael Cisco, Steve Aylett, Gene Wolfe, Angela Carter, Kate Bernheimer just to name a few who sort of circle around what seems right for this. The best thing to do is to see what I picked from the previous contests here and here.

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’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”… but if I’m publishing a story and paying at the bottom of the rates, that’s essentially what that works out to. Just want to be totally clear about that.

Finally, on that point, I’m working toward being a “semi-pro” market. Every piece that ends up on the site/show will be paid this year. Thank you Patreon supporters! It’s still modest ($5, or 1.5 cents per word), but at least if you get accepted, you can mark it as a semi-pro sale on your resume/CV according to many writers’ associations definition of “semi-pro.” However, my goal is to meet the Science Fiction Writers of America’s definition of “semi-pro” as at least 3 cents/word, or $10/story, but I’m not quite there yet.

If you have any other questions, please contact me at weirdxmas@gmail.com or weirdxmascontest@gmail.com.

Here’s hoping your story is more interesting than… “Duck.”

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