So, there is this contest for science fiction and fantasy writers that is run by the Church of Scientology (yes, it is kind of funny). And twelve people win every year (three each quarter), and all their stories get printed up in a book that gets sold in Wal-Mart and Target and whatnot, and they also get alot of money (not a fortune, but like $1000) and they also go down for a workshop and awards ceremony to some Scientological complex in LA. And although it sounds very shady, it’s actually very, very legit and all kinds of fairly reputable SF writers have won it (when they were beginners, because it’s a contest for people who’ve published 3 or fewer stories in reputable magazines).
I’ve been entering this contest for like six years, and have never gotten much love from them (in addition to finalists, they also have semifinalists and I’ve never even been one of those). And with my latest publication in Nature, I became ineligible for the contest, which was kind of a relief, because they take a long time to get back, and I was sort of feeling like I was never going to sell to them (they have a reputation for preferring very adventure-oriented stories, I guess). But the story I sent in right before my Nature publication is now one of 8 finalist for this quarter (out of whom the 3 winners will be chosen by a panel of judges). In fact, my first words to Joni Labaqui, the contest administrator, after she called me (I was at a Labor Day barbecue in a vacant lot in Oakland) were that there was a problem because I was no longer eligible for the contest and I had been going to withdraw my submission but I couldn’t figure out how and anyway I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to win. We sorted it out and she said that this entry, at least, was still eligible since I had sent it prior to my publication, So this is pretty nice. I’m glad to know that I’ve somehow, over the years, managed to become a creditable beginning writer.