The above illustration, "Blowing Bubbles," has been adapted for use here by generous permission from the artist, Cyril Rolando.

May 1, 2010

Feel like I'm fixin' to drown: The 2nd Watery Grave Invitational

Last year Corey came up with a brilliant idea to support writers of short crime fic: A contest. But Corey being how he is, he added a twist. He made it interesting by pitting only ten writers against each other in The Watery Grave Invitational Short Story Contest. Last year's winner was none other than Hilary Davidson, whose novel, The Damage Done, is scheduled for publication this autumn. Second place was taken by Sophie Littlefield, whose debut novel, A Bad Day for Sorry, is Edgar-nominated. I believe that this year's contestants will prove just as talented as last year's.

That's right: this is your official announcement of the return of the WGI, and I'm delighted that Corey trusts me to run this contest for him. I've made some minor rule changes so everyone should read the rules carefully, even if you participated last year. Before I get into the rules though, I want to remind everyone that according to last year's rules, the top five contestants from that first contest each get an automatic invitation without any further requirements. Those five writers are:
Hilary Davidson
Sophie Littlefield
Keith Rawson
Jimmy Callaway
Mike Wilkerson
And now, THE RULES:
Phase One: Apply for an invitation.
In order to apply for an invitation the author must have a crime fiction story of no more than 3000 words already published in any format that is available for the public to read. Web, print, digital (e.g. Smashwords, Kindle, etc.) -- they all qualify. Your story posted on your own blog does qualify this year.

The story must have been published on or prior to April 15, 2010.

Email a link to your story (the link must connect to the online posting of your story) to no later than noon EST, Friday, May 7, 2010. For authors whose work is in print or digital format, please email the story in the file format of your choice. The subject line should simply say FICTION SUBMISSION, and the body of the email should contain only your name, the name of your story, and the link to your story or the file attachment with the publication identified. Do not send original material unless and until you are invited to do so.

An author may submit only one story. Not one at a time, just one. So choose your best work, as long as it doesn't exceed 3000 words, because you only get one shot at an invitation.
Phase Two: Invitations.
If I like your story and style, your name goes into a hat from which I'll do the drawing. Ten lucky writers will join the five writers named above in receiving an invitation to write an original story (unpublished anywhere, ever) for the contest. As Corey wrote in his original rules, "you won't know whether your name went in the hat to be randomly chosen. You could have the written the finest story on the web to date and still have Lady Luck give you the cold shoulder. So if you don't get an invitation, don't assume I didn't like your story." Whether you receive an invitation or not, you will be notified. I won't leave you hanging.
Phase Three: Original Stories
Writers who accept the invitation will have until noon EST, Monday, May 24, to submit an original story of no more than 3500 words and based on a theme which will not be revealed until all invitations are accepted. There won't be much time to write and polish a new story, but look on the bright side: You'll have it out of the way in time to relax and enjoy the Memorial Day weekend (if you're a Yank).
1st Prize: $25
2nd Prize: $15
3rd Prize: $10
Other notes:
The judges will not be identified until after the winner is named. I'm sure none of the writers would try to influence a judge (except for Keith Rawson and Paul Brazill -- I got my eye on you guys!), but this way the temptation is removed.

If any of the five authors who received an automatic invitation declines to participate, no replacement will be named. However, if any of the ten authors invited via the Phase Two process declines to participate then a new name will be drawn as a replacement. There will not be fewer than ten authors in the final phase of the competition, and not more than 15.

The top five finalists will again receive automatic invitations to the next WGI.

Okay, I'm braced for the whirlwind. Ready. Set. GO!


  1. Hey, now, I do not try to influence a judge. I'll simply win with skill and a superior story.

  2. Do you know how much it costs to send all that cocaine to you, N?

  3. You stick to that story, Keith. Somebody'll buy it.

    Paul, I appreciate the cost but could you try sending it to the right address?

  4. Can I win by sending the judges their favorite pizza?

  5. Sure. You just send that pizza care of me. I'll make sure they get it. Uh huh.

  6. I think the pizza ploy is a disgrace! How low can you get? But, I'm sure the extremely handsome Mr. Rawson and the equally stunning Mr. Brazil and the drop-dead-gorgeous Ms. Johnson will, with their tremendous wisdom, award the prize to someone who can appreciate the uber-wonderfulness of every judge in this the best of all contests ever.

  7. Damn, it's getting pretty deep in here. Anybody bring a shovel?