I have previously mentioned that I will be entering the 2011 Iowa Short Fiction Contest.  Today, I throw down the gauntlet and ask you, the readers, to join me in this challenge.  I know that we have writers in our midst – so join me in this plunge.

You can read all of the details here, but these are the basics:

  • Submissions are accepted between August 1 and September 30, 2010
  • Submissions must be a 150+ page (typed, double spaced) collection of short stories.  Stories that have previously been published in periodicals or in self-published works are acceptable.
  • There are no reading fees or fees of any sort.  Your only out-of-pocket costs are printing and shipping.  (Emailed submissions are not accepted).
  • The contest is open to US residents, as well as non-Americans who are writing in English.  However, current students at the University of Iowa are not eligible.

Note: this is my paraphrased version of the rules, and not the official version.

What happens if you win?  You get your book published, and you’re able to claim a prestigious award.

I need to get going on my latest longer story, Hollywood. Once that story is completed, I’ll begin the work of compiling my entry for the contest.  While 150 pages sounds like a lot, it should entailed around 40,000 words, which I should be able to meet with just the stories I have written in the last 15 months or so.  Happily, I should have enough content that I should be able to pick and choose the stories I want to include, instead of cramming in every last story in an effort to get to 151 pages.

For several months, I have been kicked around possible titles.  Since my writing covers a multitude of different topics, most of the titles have been some sort of “stew” variant.  Then, last night, it hit me – Mountains, Meadows, Ravines, and Chasms.  The mountains represent the stories that detail the very high points in life; the chasms represent the low points, and the meadows and ravines the stories that are more neutral.  I doubt that this will be the final version of the title, but it’s the working title for right now.

What are my odds of actually winning the contest?  Not particularly good.  I’d actually be pretty shocked if the debut submission of my work won an award like this.  However, the actual submission is a goal within itself.  Not only have I been forced to produce enough fiction to meet the minimum requirements, but I’ll also have to act as an editor and separate the wheat from the chaff.  I think that some of my stories are pretty good, but I’ll be competing against some writers who are seasoned veterans – including writers who have frequently been published in large periodicals.

However, as the saying goes, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”  In a few shorts months, I’ll be printing out my manuscript and sending it off.  Who among you is with me?  (Martin Kelly, are you reading this?)

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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