Today I was reminded that back in 2010 I hosted what I believe was the first (and possibly only) Penultimate Paragraph Contest. And because I haven't done much with this blog lately, I thought it might be fun to host another one.
They're pretty simple, actually. In the comments section simply post the penultimate paragraph of one of your short stories. The stories don't have to be published, but if they are published online, please provide a link so we can check out the rest of your story (note that if you do provide a link, my site might think it's spam and hold it for moderation, so if that does happen, don't fret, it will appear shortly).
Deadline is the end of the month, so 7/31 midnight EST, with winners announced at some point during the weekend. This giveaway/contest will have two winners: one person whose penultimate paragraph I'll pick as my favorite, and another person selected randomly.
What do the winners win? How about first place will win a copy of the Hint Fiction anthology, as well as a copy of my flash fiction collection Phantom Energy. The runner-up will win a copy of the Hint Fiction anthology. And, because I stumbled across some old issues of literary journals, a few random people will be sent back issues of journals just for participating.
My most recent ebook, Muse, is now available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play, or directly via Ganxy. I originally wrote this story for a tribute anthology for David B. Silva that was supposed to be published over a year ago. Actually, make it more like a year and a half ago. Maybe some day the anthology will be released, but I finally decided screw it and am releasing it on my own. Why? Because I like this story a lot. It's one of my favorites, and I'm excited for people to read it.
Also, as I haven't done a contest in a while, I thought it was a good time to have one.
Here are the details:
Purchase Muse and leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads. That's it. Let me know in the comments section and your name will be entered to win.
Win what, you ask.
A rare copy of the limited edition trade hardcover of Walk the Sky by David B. Silva and myself which Thunderstorm Books published two years ago. This edition is long sold out and only available on secondary markets like eBay. But you -- yes, you! -- could have your very own copy.
Want more chances to win?
Leave reviews for Walk the Sky or At the Meade Bed & Breakfast or both. Or, hell, leave a review for any of my books between now and the end of the month, and your name will be added again and again. The more books you review, the better chance you have at winning. And if the response is especially promising, I'll add another limited edition copy of Walk the Sky to the mix, so your chances will increase even more.
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.
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.
- 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 Kindle, Nook, Kobo, 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.
Edit: Submission period over. Thanks to everyone who submitted.