Tag Archives: Judith Merril

Writing: Friends of Merril Contest Finalist

writing, writing contests, short fiction, stories, competitions, horror, SF

To write or not to write; there is no question. Creative Commons: http://freshink.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html

I don’t often enter contests. There are several reasons: most writing contests cost $20-$30 for an entry and you only have one to three chances of being chosen. The odds of submitting to a magazine are much better. However, I will once in a while enter a contest if the price is right and if it’s for a good cause. I also understand that many magazines do a yearly contest, which fuels their production budget and that it’s a necessity but I certainly couldn’t afford to enter every contest to every magazine. I have in recent years entered and placed in the Rannu Fund poetry and short story competition. It’s smaller and Canadian but takes submissions in English from anywhere in the world. And the price isn’t high.

Likewise the Friends of Merril decided to hold an inaugural short story contest. The Merril is a branch of the Toronto public library and the foremost collection of speculative fiction and poetry in North America. There are over 72,000 works stored there and it continues to grow. Judith Merril, an American by birth, was one of the grand dames of science fiction. She was more background and while she wrote and published in the early years, she was also an editor.

So I thought, why not, the contest is cheap ($5), it’s the first time and supports a good cause, it’s Canadian, and I write. All good reasons. I entered one story though I think you can enter up to three and then forgot about it. Yesterday I was informed that I’d made the shortlist. Of the 102 entries they received for the first year of the contest, nine finalists are chosen. I cannot say which title is mine but here is the list:

Climbing Boys

Muffy and the Belfry

My Profit On’t Is

Rikidōzan and the San Diego Swerve Job

The Emmet

The Mobius Garden

The Ties That Bind

Weathermakers

Your First Real Rocket Ship

Even if I don’t win, it’s nice to know a story or poem are rising to the top. I’ll find out in the next month. But as I’ve found with honorable mentions or even winning, there are no guarantee of getting the piece published so it can work in reverse as well. The Rannu Fund competition has just opened to entries from March 1 to May 31. I’ll probably enter this again as I’ve been shortlisted, won second place and been judge. Now it’s time to win first place, should the gods and the judges (who might be the same) so decide. 😀

And I have finally worked out the kinks and finished the story “Nightingale.” Now I need to shunt that into the feeding tubes of the submission engine and see what comes out.

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Canadian SF Giant Dies

Phyllis Gotlieb left the mortal coil on July 14. She is probably not a name known to many in the world of speculative reading yet she was known by many writers. She was a steady writer; though not as prolific like Rob Sawyer or Charles de Lint, she was in her own way a pioneer in the field.

Judith Merril was known as the grandam of science fiction and Phyllis as the mother of Canadian SF. She began writing and publishing when there were fewer writers in the field altogether and very few women. Canada was a pipsqueak next to the US, yet Phyllis was making her mark. She was a founding member of SFWA, and the only Canadian at its time of inception in 1965.

Phyllis began writing when science fiction wasn’t as popular as it is now, but was a fan of the early pulps. She was known for her poetry and during a writing block in the 1950s her husband suggested she write science fiction. She sold her first novel Sunburst in 1964 and the Sunburst award is named after Phyllis’s book.

Phyllis was known for her no-nonsense, wry wit and intelligence. She was an active member of SF Canada and has been quoted as being instrumental in encouraging such young writers in their careers as Robert Sawyer, Cory Doctorow and Sandra Kasturi.

It’s no easy thing to be a writer in a country with a small population, be a woman, and be writing in a field that wasn’t very popular, yet Phyllis was pretty much the first Canadian speculative writer published and continued unabated, publishing her last novel in 2009. Her matter of fact Valentine’s poems to her husband Kelly were often amusing and hilarious. She gave insights that made one think deeper and longer about topics and sometimes cut straight to the chase without the sugary coating.

SF Canada will miss Phyllis greatly, and I’m glad that we had a chance last year to award her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Her contribution to SF and Canadian writers will be felt for a very long time.

Condolences and memorial messages can be added here: http://www.benjaminsparkmemorialchapel.ca/MemorialBook.aspx?snum=125855&sid=134769

An Interview with Phyllis from Challenging Destiny: http://www.challengingdestiny.com/interviews/gotlieb.htm

CBC’: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2009/07/15/phyllis-gotlieb.html

The Sunburst Award: http://www.sunburstaward.org/

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