Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy is holding another of its Flash (very short story) contests, with the incentive of a $20 prize - so you can buy a new tip for your quill, plus the glory of being published in their esteemed mag. Below is the contest rules and regs with touches of glibness, scribbled down on a black napkin in a distressed diner by Nate Kailhofer.
At one time, you were a proud hero.
Now, everyone saw. Everyone knows.
The reality of it is burned in your brain--the looks in their eyes, the mocking tones in their voices. You are now the butt of jests.
It's the worst-case scenario for a self-conscious adventurer, and your hero will be caught up in the middle of that in this fantasy challenge: Take a protagonist who failed in his or her attempt at something heroic last time, and set them on the task of making it right. Risks should be high, and the potential for reward should be just as high.
And speaking of reward, there's money in it for you writers out there, too. Thanks to a generous donation from someone who wishes to remain anonymous, the winner of this challenge will receive $20 U.S. dollars paid via Paypal direct from the donor to the winner.
That's right, this time you could get paid for writing flash!
Give it a try, it will be fun!
REQUIREMENTS: (1) Your fantasy story must put a failed, self-conscious hero on course to try again at their task; (2) You must have at least two characters that "talk" to each other in some fashion. (3) 1,000 words or less, not counting title, byline, or "The End"; (4) The characters, setting, and story must be fictional and not previously published, even in these challenges; (5) One entry per author; (6) Give your story a title and a byline; and (7) Keep it clean. Rated 'PG-13'. (Basically, think, "Could I see this on CSI?" That allows a lot, really.)
CHARACTERS & SETTING: No copyrighted characters or settings, or references thereto. Famous, non-copyrighted fictional characters like Santa Claus, or religious figures such as the Devil, named angels such as Gabriel, or gods like Thor, etc. as supporting characters at best and at my discretion. The Wicked Witch and Dracula may be in the public domain, but don't expect me to allow them. No person that was ever a "real life" human being may be used as a character, but can be referred to, as in "President Kennedy had declared it would be so." Except as noted above under non-copyrighted fictional persons, character names may not be copied from fiction or real life, even if changed, i.e. Char-less Darween. All non-copyrighted settings are ok. Famous, unique sites like Stonehenge may be used over and again. No fan fiction or sequels, so don't bother putting your story in the Land of Oz or that great place you thought up two challenges ago.
DISQUALIFICATIONS/REFUSALS: If, in my judgment, any requirement or rule is missed, I won't post the story for voting, but authors are free to resubmit with changes until the deadline. Should a story be initially accepted and posted in the challenge, but then later judged by me to be in violation, the story may be disqualified and removed from contention at any time before contest end. Authors who feel a story may be in violation should send me a PM and state their case.
HOW TO ENTER: Stories must be sent by PRIVATE MESSAGE, and NOT posted into a thread. Just click the 'PM' button at the bottom of this post and paste your story in the message. You are responsible for doing your own formatting, and leave an extra line between paragraphs, just like when you see them in the 'zine. I will allow different colors, but not changed fonts or sizes, artwork, or any other embedded or external links.
DO NOT send a regular email to me.
Stories will be posted "blind"--without the author's name on them. All the story titles are literally tossed into a pith helmet and chosen at in random order. When the poll closes after the voting week, I'll post a list of the stories and who wrote them. All entries will then be reposted in the Flash Archive with the author's byline.
Entries from new authors are strongly encouraged. C'mon. Give it a try!
NOTE: ONLY REGISTERED MEMBERS who have posted at least one message may submit a story. Without that one post, the system will not let you send a PM.
DEADLINE: Stories should be in by 9 p.m. Central Standard Time (GMT-6), Sunday, April 22, 2012. The stories will then be posted for voting at 10 p.m. Voting will close on Sunday, April 29 at approximately 9 p.m., GMT-6.
VOTING: Stories are rated on a scale of 0-10 in whole numbers in 6 different categories by filling in scores in a form that is posted by me immediately following the post containing the stories for this challenge. Voters copy and paste the form into a PM and send it to me for tallying. One vote per user (that is, per ip address), and authors may not vote for their own story.
Every effort will be made to keep the voting fair. In the past, some voters have abstained from voting for some of the stories while voting for the others. Since total points scored decides the winner, this put the stories that weren't voted on at a disadvantage. Should this happen again, the skipped stories will be given marks equaling whatever the story's average is at the time of contest close. IF YOU WISH TO SCORE A ZERO FOR A STORY, YOU MUST ENTER A ZERO IN THAT POSITION ON THE VOTING FORM. A challenge entrant who does not vote for the other stories will receive a 10% deduction in their own score at the time of contest close, and the other stories will be given marks equaling whatever their story's average is at the time of contest close.
If more than two stories are tied at the end of voting, there will be a succession of one-day runoff votes until a single winner is chosen or the number of winners is reduced to two.
WHAT YOU WIN: Writers get improved short fiction skills, increasing their chances in the marketplace, without the lengthy investment in time a longer story would take. That, as well as bragging rights and pride--there is stiff competition each month amongst some great stories.
LEGAL STUFF: I'll try to do my best lawyer impersonation: By entering this challenge you are technically granting Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy perpetual electronic rights only to post and archive your challenge entry. Aphelion would rather not lay any claim on them at all, but by posting them on a public site, they'd legally count as being published no matter what.
Ok. A real lawyer would have been less interesting. I tried.
Any monies paid to the winner do not in any way transfer ownership of the winning story. The story belongs solely to the author and Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy retains rights to use the story as listed above. Transfer of funds is the responsibility of the donor, and yes, it has to be via Paypal. I'm not involved, so leave me out of that. The money is just a gift, so lighten up about it, will you?
Readers can click here to find the original post with link to post their story at Aphelion's website.
Image Courtesy: Flickr