They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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A Missed Opportunity

One of the reasons that I support certain SF writing contests is that it is good to have a deadline. My publishing credits are too small and too few to count towards professional SFWA qualification, so I've only outgrown one of the contests that I've entered the last few years. But since Clarion, I've cut back on contests and concentrated more on the pro paying markets. Which is fine. But it's harder to force myself to have made-up deadlines. It's too easy to make up extensions to made-up deadlines. The real deal is better if you're going to realistically force yourself to work.

Longer Works

Most markets and contests are for shorter pieces. Writers of the Future goes up to 17,000 words, so that gives you some leeway. Then there's the Barcelona novella contest. It's not based on word count, but "70 to 115 pages (between 150,000 and 240,000 characters)" which is roughly 25,000 to 40,000 words.

I entered "Out of Ashes" in the 2005 UPC Science Fiction Award contest, which was good great fun for putting together a novella and shipping manuscripts off to Europe. But, I didn't win. (sigh) €6000 and publication would be a nice prize. (grin)

A Summer of Good Intentions

I had great plans for writing this summer, but things didn't work out that way. May and June were tied up with teaching, July had too many other things -- it just flew by. And August? Trying to catch up with things missed in May, June and July.

I wanted to get together another novella, but it didn't happen. This week I took a story which had been yanked from an epilogue to my first novel (it needs a new ending) and had been expanded to 20,000 words. I realized that I could pull a section from that original novel and make it a better story in the longer range. But timing was critical and I really couldn't plan on doing much work on it Thursday night, since I had to print out two copies of the manuscript for the judges and ship on Friday.

But I've done quick edit jobs before and this Frankenstein operation appealed to me -- and I'd have a 2006 entry.

A Secret Identity

One fun aspect of the Barcelona contest is that you are required to come up with a pseudonym, then provide a sealed envelope with your true identity.

I also, just because I could, had fun with buying a couple of reams of real European A4 paper and getting a spare paper tray for my HP LaserJet 4ML at home and using that instead of American Letter size.

Reality Check

Alas, I looked over the wording of the rules -- which could be problematic in the English translation -- and what I did last year.

The final date for presentation of manuscripts for the 2006 edition is September 15, 2006.

That doesn't sound like "postmarked by Friday" to me. It sounds like "in our hot little hands" (grin) and last year I shipped my entry the week before. So before I spent some hours late at night rushing and stuffing and making a hash of it all, I made the executive decision that this Frankenstein would not be rushed but treated with the care and kindness it deserved -- and would be ready for the 2007 contest.

A Good Plan

Since June of 2002, when I started submitting things anywhere, I've only ever missed about three contest deadlines. And two of those were for contests I wasn't too sure about -- and both of them turned out to be pretty dodgy operations. So I ended up twice deciding to do and twice deciding to skip submitting a 2006 entry. My general procedure, which is to recheck the rules and/or submission guidelines before starting or re-starting a project, held me in good stead. And actually, I'm feeling pretty good about the whole thing.

Besides, I'm going to have a wonderful novella to submit next year.

Dr. Phil

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