Amateur Writing Contest
Welcome to the page for the Baltimore Science Fiction Society Amateur Writing Contest. For those who don't know, BSFS is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, charitable, literary and educational organization, dedicated to the promotion of, and an appreciation for, science fiction in all of its many forms.
As a literary society, we run regular events such as a bi-weekly critique circle, a monthly book club, quarterly writing workshops at our building in Baltimore
[directions], and now a writing contest.
To promote the creation of quality genre literature in the state of Maryland, we're holding this contest and encouraging everyone to enter. Anything that falls into the "speculative fiction" genre--science fiction in all its forms and fantasy in all its forms. Urban fantasy, hard science fiction, dark fantasy, it all counts. That is to say, the work must have a speculative element.
What are the basic rules?
You have to be 18 or over to enter, a Maryland resident or currently a student at a MD two or four year college, and you cannot either be a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America or have been published in a professional science fiction/fantasy magazine ("professional" as defined by the SFWA list here: http://www.sfwa.org/join-us/sfwa-membership-requirements/#shortfiction). This contest is to help amateurs reach the next level, not assist those who are already there.
Word minimum is 1,000 words. Word limit of 5,500 words. In other words, your story has to be at least 1,000 words, and cannot be more than 5,500. All submissions should be formatted using the standard short story submission format (courier font, 12 size, double spaced, etc. see William Shun's example here: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html)
The contest opens on March 1st. We will be accepting entries until June 15th. The winner will be announced at Capclave on October 12th.
BSFS Officers and Board members, and the Chair, Vice Chair and Department Heads for Balticon MAY NOT ENTER.
Is there an entry fee?
No. The contest is absolutely free to enter.
How many entries may I submit?
You may submit only ONE entry.
What are the prizes?
1st place is $250
2nd place is $100
3rd place is $50
1st place winner will be published in the BSFSFan (our convention guide at Balticon) and invited to Balticon to do a reading of either a selection of their winning story or the entire story (depending on length and the availability of time and the wishes of the winner). The top five entries will all receive free memberships to Balticon.
The winner will be announced in October at Capclave, the convention put on by the Washington Science Fiction Association, which focuses on the short fiction form, and sponsors the WSFA Small Press Award . The top three entrants will be invited to the convention and the ceremony.
Who judges this contest?
BSFS members and volunteers.
How do I submit?
You can only submit electronically. The story should be in a word document (.doc format, please no .docx) and attached to an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject heading should be "BSFS Contest Submission: [Insert story's title here]" Anything else will be deleted.
What are you looking for?
Gripping openings, quality stories, interesting characters, strong plots, powerful images, biting satire, unique word choice, touching endings.
Do you accept fan fiction?
Due to copyright conflicts, do not submit fan fiction.
Do you accept poetry?
No. However, we do have a separate Balticon Poetry Contest here: http://www.bsfs.org/bsfspoetry.htm
So I'm a writer who is under 18. What can I do?
Well you can't enter THIS contest, but we do have the Jack L. Chalker Young Writer's Contest which you can find out about here: http://www.bsfs.org/bsfsywc.htm
I'm a writer based inside of Washington DC or in Northern Virginia. Can I enter this contest?
No, sorry, you have to reside in or go to school in MD. You may want to talk to our friends at the Washington Science Fiction Association and ask if they'll start something up. At the least, you should go to the convention they run in southern Maryland every year in October called Capclave. George R. R. Martin will be their guest of honor this year!
WSFA is here: http://wsfa.org
Capclave is here: http://www.capclave.org/
I'm a BSFS member/WSFA member/Maryland Writers Association member/Maryland Romance Writers/[insert other organization here], will I have an advantage?
NO, absolutely not. A project manager will remove all names and contact information from entries before giving them to the judges to read. Only the quality of your story will matter.
If I bring my piece to the BSFS critique circle to get critiqued, will I have an advantage?
Only in the sense that critique which addresses the flaws of a piece and serves to strenghten many elements (characters, story, diction, etc.) is always beneficial to both the writer and a piece. You can get that critique at the BSFS Critique Circle, but you could get it from other sources, too. In the meantime, although a couple (not all, not even most) of the judges do attend our critique circle and will happily offer any attendee feedback, each judge is different and might demand different things from a piece. Plus you have no way of knowing who will read your piece anyway. Plus, with the way that we're judging, eventually all of the judges will read and vote on pieces. Therefore trying to tailor an entry to a specific judge would be a terrible mistake. You just have to make the story as good as possible.
Are simultaneous submissions allowed?
Are reprints allowed?
No. Please do not send us anything that has been published anywhere else, including on your own blog/website/Facebook.
I turn 18 before the contest ends. Can I enter?
As long as you turn 18 by June 15th, and meet all of the other requirements, yes.
What if I get published in a professional magazine after I submit to the BSFS Contest?
If you submit, but get notified that you'll be published in a professional magazine before the contest end date (that is, you receive your acceptance letter by June 15th), please let us know.
How long does BSFS hold the printing rights to the story?
For the first place winner, we'll hold exclusive digital and physical printing rights until it is published in the BSFSFan for the Balticon which follows the announcement. So the announcement of the winner is made in Oct 2013; we hold the exclusive rights up to Balticon 2014 where we will publish it in the BSFSFan. Afterwards we hold non-exclusive rights to publish the story for up to five years afterwards. So years later we might decide to do an anthology of some kind of the winners (we would inform you beforehand), but after its published in the BSFSFan you may still submit your story elsewhere and have it published without our consent. We encourage you to attempt to get it published elsewhere.
For second and third place winners, we reserve the right to ask them if we may publish their stories on our website, or in an anthology of some kind. Otherwise we will not retain any publishing rights.
Will I be required to submit proof of residency and age?
Possibly. Please be prepared to submit proof of residency in MD (a bill, piece of mail, copy of ID, student transcript, etc.), as we do reserve the right to check that potential winners meet all requirements.
The Baltimore Science Fiction Society sounds interesting. What else do you do? How can I participate and support you?
BSFS does a lot. Throughout the year, we have a monthly book club that meets every 4th Saturday at 6:30 PM. We have a critique circle for writers that meets every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 6:30 PM. We have quarterly writing workshops run by professional writers: the next is June 15th when Morgan Keyes will lecture on, "The Business of Writing," and then on September 21 Dr. Catherine Asaro will teach, "How to use Science in Science Fiction." We also have monthly Anime Socials on 4th Saturdays, Gaming Socials every 2nd and 4th Sunday, and Business Meetings on the second Saturday of the month.
See our events calendar here: http://www.bsfs.org/bsfscldr.htm
Also follow BSFS on Social Media:
Our Facebook group page is here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/BaltimoreSciFi
You can 'like' BSFS here: https://www.facebook.com/BaltimoreSciFi
Our twitter is here: www.twitter.com/BaltimoreSciFi or @BaltimoreSciFi
Our Meetup group is here: http://www.meetup.com/Baltimore-Science-Fiction-Society/
And of course, we run the annual regional science and science fiction convention Balticon every Memorial Day Weekend, this year with literary guests Joe Hadleman and Nnedi Okorafor. Find out more here: http://www.balticon.org
We accept donations, both monetary and of books and supplies.
I have a question not addressed here. Where can I get it answered?
Send it to BSFSEvents at BSFS dot org. (E-mail address has been obfuscated to foil sp*mmer mining, so replace "at" with "@" and "dot" with "." before sending)
Follow BSFS on:
You can 'like' BSFS here: https://www.facebook.com/BaltimoreSciFi
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BaltimoreSciFi or @BaltimoreSciFi
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Version DA-6 - 6/1/2013
World Science Fiction Society, an unincorporated literary association.
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