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

May 12, 2012

If it's spring, it must be WGI time!

Update: Link to the applicants' stories are being posted at the top of the rightmost sidebar.

Yes, time once again for that Challenge of Challenges! Time to sharpen your quills and open the inkwell. This is your official announcement of the fourth annual Watery Grave Invitational Short Story Contest. Fourth! Has it really been a year since Chris La Tray took the honors with his wonderful Run For the Roses? The calendar says yes, so like poor old Michael Finnegan, let's begin again.

(Photo, above, courtesy of Toledo Perspectives.)

As ever, 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. Well, we had a tie for fifth place last year, so six writers will get automatic invitations. And they are:
Chris La Tray (accepted)
Eric Beetner  (accepted)
Chad Eagleton (accepted)
Ian Ayris (accepted)
Patricia Abbott (declined)
Nigel Bird (accepted)
In addition to those six writers, 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:
Sandra Seamans (accepted)
Matthew Funk (accepted)
Chad Rohrbacher (accepted)
Fiona Glass (accepted)
Kathleen Gernert Ryan (accepted)

And now, THE RULES for the rest of you 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 between April 16, 2011 and April 15, 2012.

Email a link to your story (the link must connect to the online posting of your story) to no later than 9 pm EST, Thursday, May 17, 2012. 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, unpublished 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 eleven 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 receive and accept the invitation will have until noon EST, Friday, June 8, 2011, to submit an original crime fiction story of no more than 3500 words That's only about three weeks to write and polish a good short story, so clear your calendars and knuckle down.There will not be a theme this year, so if you feel lucky about your chances at an invitation, go ahead and start writing. I expect to announce the winners around June 25, or before the end of June at least.
Prizes (sorry, the same as last year):
1st Prize: $50
2nd Prize: $35
3rd Prize: $20
Other notes:

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 21.

The top five finalists in this year's contest will again receive automatic invitations to the 2013 WGI.
Everybody ready? On your mark... Get set. GO!


  1. I am thrilled and honored to be invited to participate, Naomi ~ count me in! I appreciate this awesome opportunity :-)

  2. Thanks, Naomi. The invite is an honor and I appreciate the opportunity to take part (especially with this fine company). I'm in.