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

May 8, 2011

3rd Lap: Time for the Watery Grave Invitational!

Spring! It's May, it's Mother's Day, and it's time once again for that Challenge of Challenges! Gird your loins, o holy ones, this is your official announcement of the return of the Watery Grave Invitational Short Story Contest. Seems like just yesterday that Hilary Davidson was winning the inaugural WGI and only this morning that Nigel Bird put his stamp on short crime fic with the Spinetingler-nominated Beat on the Brat. And Chad Eagleton's Ghostman on Third was also nominated by Spinetingler this year. Are you guys good or what?

Once again there may be some minor rule changes so please 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 contest each get an automatic invitation without any further requirements. Those five writers with automatic invitations are:
Nigel Bird (accepted)
Joe Hartlaub (accepted)
Chad Eagleton (accepted)
Dan Ames
Liam Jose (accepted)
Also I'm adding a new twist this year: Personal invitations will go to five writers of my choosing before the competition for the remaining ten invitations. Note: writers who get these personal invitations will only ever receive one of these. They may win automatic invitations via the rules, but a personal invitation will be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, whether the invitation is accepted or declined.

Here are the five writers who will receive a personal invitation today:
Ian Ayris (accepted)
David Cranmer (accepted)
Jane Hammons (accepted)
Todd Mason (accepted)
Paul D. Brazill (accepted)

And now, THE RULES for those who want to play:
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.

The story must have been published within the twelve months ending April 15, 2011.

Email a link to your story (the link must connect to the online posting of your story) to no later than noon EST, Saturday, May 15, 2011. 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 issued.
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 ten 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.
Phase Three: Original Stories
Writers who accept the invitation will have until noon EST, Sunday, June 5, 2011, 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. That's only two weeks to write and polish a good short story, so clear your calendars and knuckle down.
Prizes (sorry, only slightly more than last year):
1st Prize: $50
2nd Prize: $35
3rd Prize: $20
Other notes:
I'm seeking three volunteer judges who will adhere to a demanding schedule: Winners will be announced on June 19. That means twenty stories to read and evaluate in only two weeks.

If any of the ten authors who received an automatic or a personal invitation declines to participate, no replacement will be named. However, if any of the ten authors invited via the Phase Two (the drawing) 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 20.

The top five finalists will again receive automatic invitations to the next WGI.
Everybody ready? On your mark... Get set. GO!


  1. Great to see this come around again, Naomi.

  2. So cool that you're doing this. Fantastic.

  3. Chuffed to be part of this. Ta much!

  4. I'd just like to add my sense of extreme chuffedness to that of Mr Brazill. Proper honour. Thank you for the opportunity, Naomi.

  5. Published in the last year or any time?

  6. Hooray! Can't wait to hear about all the good stories that come out of this year's tourney.

  7. Woops, you caught me, Patti. Should be within the year ending 4//15/2011. I'll amend the post. Thanks for catching that.

  8. PCN, I don't hear the sound of a volunteer this year -- or am I losing my hearing?

  9. My pleasure, David. I'm looking forward to your story as I think the theme I've chosen will, of all the entrants so far, suit you to the proverbial T.

  10. If I don't get drawn, would be happy to serve.

  11. Patti, that would be great. Thanks for the offer, and I'll keep you in mind but hope for the best for you in the drawing.

  12. Thanks for the invitation, Naomi. Coming to the end of a semester filled with paper grading, I look forward to the theme and can't wait to start writing.

  13. Thanks, Naomi, for the invitation. I look forward to seeing the theme. I tried to say this a few days ago but google was funky and wouldn't let me!