Robert Swartwood

USA Today Bestselling Author

Category: Contests (page 1 of 3)

Hint Fiction Contest IV Top 20

After much consideration and counsel with close friends — one of whom is Ben White, the editor of Nanoism — I now present to you the top 20 finalists of this year’s Hint Fiction Contest.

It’s always tough narrowing down the best stories, and several stories came extremely close to making the final cut. In fact, I could have easily included a top 30. But a top 20 is much more reasonable, especially as I’m now going to open it up to you to vote for your favorites. Out of the 20 stories here, you can pick up to 3 stories. Tell your friends, family, whoever! Every vote counts.

Voting will remain open until the end of the month. Then the top 10 will be sent to Benjamin Percy to pick the winners. The poll box can be found at the bottom of this post (note: for some reason the poll box was not compatible with my current theme, so this rather boring layout is only temporary).

Now here are the top 20 Hint Fiction stories, in no particular order:

EDIT: The stories have been deleted.

Hint Fiction Contest IV

From now until the end of this month, submissions are open for this year’s Hint Fiction contest, judged by Benjamin Percy.

What is Hint Fiction? 

A story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story. Think of Hemingway’s apocryphal six-word story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” It doesn’t have a title, but those six words convey a punch. Not only that, they stand on their own. They’re not the first line of a story, or a random sentence plucked from a longer story.

About the judge: 

Benjamin Percy is the author of two novels, Red Moon and The Wilding, as well as two books of stories, Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk. His honors include an NEA fellowship, the Whiting Writers’ Award, the Plimpton Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and inclusion in Best American Short Stories and Best American Comics. His story “Impact” appeared in the Hint Fiction anthology.

Prizes: 

  • 1st place $100, 2nd place $50, 3rd place $25.
  • All winners and runners up will receive signed copies of the Hint Fiction anthology, as well as signed copies of my very short fiction collection Phantom Energy.
  • Perera-Hussein Publishing House has generously donated copies of their Sri Lankan Hint Fiction anthology Short & Sweet to the winners and runners up as well.
  • Finally, the 1st place winner will also have his or her Hint Fiction story animated by Dustin Grella, who has animated a few Hint Fiction stories in the past (here and here and here).

There is no entry fee.

Not sure what Hint Fiction is? It’s strongly recommended you check out the anthology, which is still available in paperback. Also, Norton has kindly lowered the price of the ebook for a limited time, so you can purchase it for just $2.99 on KindleNookKobo, and iTunes.

You can submit up to two Hint Fiction stories using the form below (subscribers to my newsletter can submit up to three; directions on how to submit the third story can be found in the welcome email). After April 30th, a top 20 will be chosen and will be published online, where readers can vote for their favorites à la American Idol. Then from there a top 10 will be narrowed down, which will be sent to Benjamin Percy (please note that I hold veto power, so if a story I feel strongly about in the top 20 doesn’t make the top 10, I may include it anyway).

Stories should be no longer than 25 words. This does not include the title. If the story is longer than 25 words, it will be automatically disqualified.

Please note: Unless you’re a newsletter subscriber, submit no more than two stories. If you submit more than two stories, you will be automatically disqualified.

Using one of my own Hint Fiction stories as an example, please format your stories like this:

CORRECTIONS & CLARIFICATIONS

It was Fredrick Miller, not his murdered son Matthew, who was executed Monday night at Henshaw Prison.

Good luck!

Edit: Submission period over. Thanks to everyone who submitted.

New Hint Fiction Contest

It’s been almost five years since my essay “Hint Fiction: When Flash Fiction Becomes Just Too Flashy” was first published at Flash Fiction Chronicles. Since then Hint Fiction has really taken on a life of its own. Besides the anthology published by W. W. Norton four years ago, there’s been an art show, a film contest, and even recently an anthology of Sri Lankan Hint Fiction. There have been three contests in the past — judged by Stewart O’Nan, James Frey, and Joyce Carol Oates — and this year I thought it was time to host another contest.

What is Hint Fiction? It’s a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story. Think of Hemingway’s apocryphal six-word story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” It doesn’t have a title, but those six words convey a punch. Not only that, they stand on their own. They’re not the first line of a story, or a random sentence plucked from a longer story.

The reason I didn’t host a contest the past two years is because the stories submitted in 2011 seemed rather … formulaic. After all, there is only so much that can be done with a 25 word limit. Having said that, I have a faith that more can be done with the genre, that writers can think outside the box, so that’s why I’m doing another contest.

This year’s judge is the one and only Benjamin Percy. He is the author of two novels, Red Moon and The Wilding, as well as two books of stories, Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk. His honors include an NEA fellowship, the Whiting Writers’ Award, the Plimpton Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and inclusion in Best American Short Stories and Best American Comics. His story “Impact” appeared in the Hint Fiction anthology.

The submission period will be from April 1 to April 30 at this website. You can submit up to two Hint Fiction stories (subscribers to my newsletter can submit up to three, those lucky sons of guns). After April 30th, a top 20 will be chosen and will be published online, where readers can vote for their favorites à la American Idol. Then from there a top 10 will be narrowed down, which will be sent to Benjamin Percy (please note that I hold veto power, so if a story I feel strongly about in the top 20 doesn’t make the top 10, I may include it anyway).

The prizes are as follows:

  • 1st place $100, 2nd place $50, 3rd place $25.
  • All winners and runners up will receive signed copies of the Hint Fiction anthology, as well as signed copies of my very short fiction collection Phantom Energy.
  • Perera-Hussein Publishing House has generously donated copies of their Sri Lankan Hint Fiction anthology Short & Sweet to the winners and runners up as well.
  • Finally, the 1st place winner will also have his or her Hint Fiction story animated by Dustin Grella, who has animated a few Hint Fiction stories in the past (here and here and here).

There is no entry fee.

Still not sure what Hint Fiction is? It’s strongly recommended you check out the anthology, which is still available in paperback. Also, Norton has kindly lowered the price of the ebook for a limited time, so you can purchase it for just $2.99 on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes.

So check back here April 1st. In the meantime, have fun!

EDIT: The contest is currently open.

At the Meade Bed & Breakfast

Ashley and Kyle come to the Meade Bed & Breakfast searching for a ghost — Charles Buford, the Civil War’s most notorious mass murderer.

What they find is even more terrifying.

At the Meade Bed & Breakfast is a 10,000-word ghost story by Robert Swartwood and David B. Silva. This ebook includes an excerpt from Walk the Sky, a forthcoming weird western by Swartwood and Silva, as well as “Goodbye” by Robert Swartwood and “The Night in Fog” by David B. Silva. Also included is a special conversation between the authors.

You can purchase the ebook from the following places:

NOW FOR A SPECIAL GIVEAWAY CONTEST!

Some really exciting prizes are lined up:

  • One “The Night in Fog” chapbook, published by Subterranean Press (#219 of 250-signed and numbered copies)
  • One “Final Touches” chapbook, published by Gauntlet Press (#161 of 200-signed and numbered copies, only given to those who purchased Through Shattered Glass directly through Gauntlet Press)
  • One A Little White Book of Lies, published by Borderlands Press (#23 of 500-signed and numbered copies)
  • One original signed manuscript of “At the Meade Bed & Breakfast” (the draft written by Robert Swartwood before he and David Silva collaborated on the final version)
  • One original signed manuscript of The Silver Ring (the original draft written when Robert Swartwood was in high school; includes an extra 5,000 words)

How do you enter the giveaway contest? By simply purchasing a copy of At the Meade Bed & Breakfast and forwarding your e-receipt to robert (at) robertswartwood (dot) com. That will add your name to a virtual hat. To increase your odds, leave a review at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Goodreads. For every review, your name will be added again. Finally, help spread the word. Post a link on Twitter or Facebook or wherever and let us know in the comment section to add your name yet again. Every participant’s name will be given a corresponding number. At the end of the contest, random.org will help in picking a winner of each prize. Contest ends on November 15, with the winners being announced on November 16.

String-of-10 Four Begins

I’m judging this:

For the week of February 12 through February 18, Flash Fiction Chronicles is having its fourth String-of-10 Contest—String-of-10 FOUR—for the best 250-word story written from a randomly selected string of ten words.

Details on the prompts and prizes and how to enter here.

Good luck!

In Which I Get Stripped

I have a new story in Stripped: A Collection of Anonymous Flash, edited by Nicole Monaghan, which is available in paperback from Amazon and Lulu. Here’s the product description:

Stripped is a collection with a twist. Yes, the fiction contained herein includes works from some of the best-known names in flash fiction as well as the work of emerging writers, but the bylines have been removed so you can’t tell who wrote what. What’s more, the stories hinge largely on gender roles — but with the authors’ identites stripped from their stories, editor Nicole Monaghan has created a bit of a guessing game. Did a woman, for example, write that piece about ambivalence toward motherhood? Or was it a man? More to the point, does it really matter? Or is there something bigger going on when men and women stretch their minds and imagine what it might be like to be the other?

Yes, that’s right — I have a story in this wonderful collection, but I can’t tell you what that story is. What I can tell you is this is one of my recent favorite flash pieces. I wrote it last summer on a whim, taking a break from a novel, and wasn’t sure where to send it. Then Nicole emailed asking me if I would like to contribute, which was ironic timing because the story itself was perfect for what she was looking for. So I’m very pleased to be included in here with my story, which will be matched up to my name (as well as the rest of the authors in this collection) next year at Nicole’s website.

I must say, it’s a great concept, because really, does the author’s gender (or racial background, or religious views, etc) influence the reader?

Of course it does, even if they don’t want to admit it.

There have been books in the past that I read where I immediately assumed the gender of the narrator based on the author’s gender. The most recent example is Death Wishing by Laura Ellen Scott. I knew the basic idea of the novel before I started reading it, but not about the main character. So at first I thought the narrator — the novel is written in the first person, you see — was a woman. I was wrong.

Ultimately, does it matter what the author’s gender or racial background or religious views or whatever are? Or is the story the only thing that matters?

Besides bringing readers great entertainment, hopefully this anthology will spark a lively conversation among writers and readers about the important (or lack thereof) of gender in storytelling.

There will be a launch party for Stripped on Saturday, February 4th, at Fergie’s Pub in Philadelphia. It starts at 2 pm. If you’re in the area, try to stop by. I’ll be there, as well as will several other contributors. We’ll be reading randomly from the anthology. It will be fun!

And while I’m there, I plan to get Nicole and as many contributors as possible to sign a copy of the anthology that I plan to give away … now.

To win a copy of Stripped signed by the editor and several of the contributors, let me know what novel or story you’ve read with a narrator whose gender was opposite of the author (like Death Wishing which I mentioned above, or Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King). The deadline for this giveaway contest is this Friday at midnight, EST. A name will be picked randomly as the winner the next day. Get to it!

5th Annual Micro Award Open For Submissions

It’s that time of year again:

The 5th Annual Micro Award is now open for submissions through Dec 31, 2011. The Micro Award is presented annually for flash fiction not exceeding 1000 words. Stories of all genres published originally in 2011 are eligible. Editors may submit two stories; writers may submit one. The winner of the $500 prize and all other finalists will be announced on Feb 29, 2012. Please see the official rules for all requirements and guidelines before submitting. Good luck!

Get the word out, submit your micro stories, because, hey, how often is there a contest like this with no entry fee?

Microstyle Writing Contest

Last year the Gotham Writers’ Workshop held a Hint Fiction Contest in conjunction with the anthology’s release. This year they’re having a Microstyle Contest in conjunction with the release of Christopher Johnson’s new book (which I reviewed here).

Here are the details:

Inspired by the July publication of Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little, Gotham is pleased to present a Microstyle Writing Contest. We are honored to welcome the book’s author, Chris Johnson, as the finalist judge.

THE SET-UP
This is the age of the Incredible Shrinking Message. Tweets, status updates, text messages, email subject lines, blog post titles, and other miniature messages are tools we all need to grab a bit of people’s precious attention. Everyone is a copywriter now.

Expressive economy is the key to this new world of miniature messages. And there’s no better way to maximize the expressive potential of a short message than to get two interpretations for the price of one. Wits, lyricists, and sloganeers have always been keen to seize upon a felicitous ambiguity:

If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?
-Groucho Marx (later used by songwriter David Bellamy)

You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.
-Dorothy Parker

Labour isn’t working.

- Saatchi and Saatchi for the Conservative Party in Britain

THE CHALLENGE
Your job is to use double meaning to create your own memorable quip, using twenty words at the most. It might, like the quote from Dorothy Parker, highlight an accidental and unexpected second interpretation of a word or phrase, or it might, taken as a whole, express two distinct and equally apt meanings, like the quotes from Groucho Marx and Saatchi and Saatchi. (For writing tips, read Johnson’s “Use Ambiguity for Good, Not Evil.”)

THE PRIZE
The author of the winning entry will receive bragging rights and:

  • 10-week Gotham Writing Workshop
  • $50 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
  • One-year Subscription to The Writer (12 issues)
  • Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little

In addition, the winner and four finalists will each receive a copy of Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little.

Enter here.

The Serial Killer’s Wife Giveaway

So that’s what was in the mail today, ten copies of The Serial Killer’s Wife (which is now available) and the proof copy of The Calling (which is not yet available).

It’s cool to have the actual physical book, I guess, though it doesn’t really mean much. After all, the reason self-published writers never made much money in the past is because there is no distribution. Bookstores don’t normally carry self-published books. And self-published books printed by CreateSpace? Don’t even think about it. So it’s very unlikely any of these self-published books will ever appear in bookstores. The only way they can be sold is a) via Amazon or b) via me hand-selling them at some conference or convention, which can become a very big pain in the ass and could, most likely, not even be worth my time.

So why even bother?

Well, because readers prefer the choice between electronic and print, that’s why. And because it’s not really a big deal when it’s all said and done — the print on demand aspect makes it so I don’t have to rent out a warehouse or at least clear out a space in my house for extra books. If someone wants to buy the book, they can order the book and CreateSpace prints a copy and ships it. Simple as that.

I am going to try something, though, which may be successful but will most likely fail, which is to offer the option to order a copy directly through me so I can personally inscribe and sign the book. The cost would be retail (for TSKW that’s $13.95) plus an extra dollar for shipping in the US, for anywhere outside the US … email me.

So if you live in the US and are interested in a inscribed signed copy of The Serial Killer’s Wife, you can PayPal me at robert (at) robertswartwood (dot) com with $14.95 and I’ll ship one out. If you’re outside the US, email me first to see how much more shipping will be (probably only an extra buck or two).

Or, if you’re in the US, you could always sign up for five free copies that I’m giving away at Goodreads.

A “Multiplicity” Contest

The Best of Every Day Fiction Three is now available, which features my story “Multiplicity” along with 99 other fine stories published last year at Every Day Fiction, including stories by K.C. Ball, Gay Degani, Ben Loory, Aaron Polson, and many more. Many thanks to Camille Gooderham Campbell and Steven Smethurst and Carol Clark for including me. The anthology comes in two formats, hardcover and trade paperback, which you can purchase here. Or, if you’d like, you can win a free signed copy from me.

Last year when I gave away a copy of The Best of Every Day Fiction Two, I tried to do it as a Twitter giveaway. That had mixed results. So this year I’ve decided to keep it simple. You know how in high school you would take those math classes and always ask when you’ll ever need to know any of those equations in real life? Well, here you go. If you’d like a chance to win a copy, simply enter some kind of mathematical equation in the comments section. That’s it. The crazier the equation, the better, though honestly at the end of the week a random name will be picked. This contest runs until the midnight Friday EST. Have fun!

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