The Bloody Parchment team is proud to announce the release of Bloody Parchment volume 1, which is available as a free electronic download.
If you missed the boat with regard to entering last year's short story competition, don't fear, as the entries for this year's Bloody Parchment short story competition are open.
The first prize includes one round of professional editing of a novella or novel-length work. Bloody Parchment will publish an anthology of the top 13 finalists, to be released in anticipation of the 2012 SA HORRORFEST.
Email your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org as attached .rtf or .doc files and place : “Submission: Bloody Parchment 2011 – [insert author name]” in the subject line. Standard manuscript format applies (Times New Roman, 12pt font; indented paragraphs; double spacing). Please include your contact details (full name, pen name, email address and telephone number if South African resident). This competition is open to South African and international entrants.
Please be a darling and read our rules and regulations for the finer details. The competition is open until October 31, 2011. Winners will be notified by e-mail, and announced on the HORRORFEST websites:
Impress us. We do not claim to know what makes the perfect story, but as we are the judges and we get to choose the winner, it's only fair that we give some idea what we are looking for. In short, we are going to give the prize to the story that impresses us most and irritates us least. We don't think we're particularly irritable but with a stack of submissions to narrow down to a few winners, any small thing is likely to condemn a story to the larger pile. It's much easier to describe what will irritate us than what will impress us, so we've done that below.
More importantly, what will impress us is a narrative-based story with strong characters and an interesting plot. We know that's what everyone says and that desspite the huge amount that has been written on the subject, it still defies definition. We're not going to try to define it here because we're looking forward to reading entries that show us what it means. If you're looking for a concise description no more than a click away, we recommend http://www.internet-resources.com/stash/weirdtales-1.html
Genre. As this is part of the SA HORRORFEST, we are looking for stories of horror or dark fantasy. We are not going to be prescriptive about what that means as our definitions are fairly broad. A horror story need not contain a supernatural element, nor must a dark fantasy story give us nightmares. All we really ask for is the sense that the story belongs on the dark side.
Having said that, simply inserting an element associated with the darker genres will not be enough. A romance story about a tall, dark handsome vampire is still a romance story. A crime story about a demonic detective is still a crime story. Which leads on to the list of things that will irritate us.
Things guaranteed to count against you...
Bad usage. We are not going to throw your story out for one spelling mistake but we are all in love with the English language and we don't like to see her abused. Besides, repeated mis-spellings and grammatical errors are guaranteed to irritate.
Fanfiction. Any characters or settings still under copyright are likely to get us sued if we publish them. The idea of being sued irritates us so much that if we're in any doubt, we're not going to touch it even if the story is brilliant. As a general guide, anything published by Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/) is in the public domain.
Bigotry. Your characters may be as bigoted as you like but we're all pale-livered liberals and will be irritated by the sense that a story is derogatory toward any particular group of human beings. We don't mind stories derogatory toward imaginary beings.
Derivative stories. Between us, we've read quite a few books and seen quite a few films, and if any of us think a story is a rehash of one of them with slightly different characters, we are likely to be irritated. That's not to say that a story can't share ideas with other stories or films, and in fact it's practically impossible not to, but retellings nearly always have the sense of being second rate.
Twilight knock-offs. Need we say more?
Things that may irritate us if not handled carefully.
Gratuitous sex. There's nothing wrong with a bit of sex in a story, but the competition is part of the Horrorfest, not the Sexpo, and we are not looking for erotica.
Gratuitous violence. As with sex, violence may be an essential part of the story and we enjoy a good punch-up as much as the next reader, but pornographic descriptions of violence get boring very quickly.
Excessive gore. We are not particularly squeamish and we are asking for horror stories, but gore is another element that gets boring when overdone.
Exposition. There are probably things that we need to know in order to care about the characters and understand the setting, but conveying information is a way that makes us feel we are being given an orientation briefing by the author is not conducive to a good narrative.
Tropes such as vampires, werewolves, serial killers, etc. These are staples of horror and dark fiction and we believe they have a lot of life in them yet. However, the fact of their being tropes also means that a lot has been done with them so a story that uses them will need to do something new.
Trying to shock us. We believe we are immune to being shocked. It may be interesting to be proved wrong, but depending on shock value to the exclusion of narrative and characters will not give us the impression that we are reading a good story.
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Rules and regulations:
1. The entrant confirms that s/he is the original author of the work and has full copyright of the submitted work and that it is not subject any publication restrictions as a result of prior obligations (including, but not limited to previous publication) or disputes.
2. The entrant confirms that the work s/he submitted does not violate the trademarks, copyright, and/or rights of others and that any liability that may arise from their work will be solely theirs.
3. The entrant accepts that by entering this contest no obligation (direct or implied) exists for the submitted work to be published and/or any compensation accruing to the entrant.
4. The entrant will retain copyright of the submitted work. In the event that the work should be selected as a finalist in the contest, the entrant agrees upon submission that the contest organisers may publish in hardcover and electronic format an anthology containing their work (properly attributed to the author).
5. The entrant accepts without reservation that the decision of the contest judges are final and that no further correspondence will be entered into.
6. The contest is open for submissions from midnight on (July 7, 2011) until midnight on (October 31, 2011).
7. The contest is for short original fictional work written in UK or SA English within the theme of Halloween, horror, urban fantasy or dark fantasy. No fan fiction will be accepted. Work that is not narrative-driven and/or containing explicit and gratuitous violence, sex or any form of bigotry will be rejected.
8. The submitted work must not exceed (3 500) words in length and must be a complete work, not an extract from a longer piece.
9. A submission must be in the following format (or it will be rejected without correspondence to the entrant): an email attachment, saved as a rich text file (.rtf), only the title (without the author’s name, which will be recorded according to rule 10 below) and the text, no images or graphics, Times New Roman, 12pt font, double line-spacing, with page numbers in the right bottom corner of each page. The author's name should not appear in the attachment since the judging process relies on the majority of the judges not being aware of the author’s identity—those works that are selected as finalists will be reunited with the correct author name before the finalists are announced.
10. Submissions must be sent to the following address only: email@example.com with the subject line: “Submission: Bloody Parchment 2011 – [insert author name]”.
11. The entrant accepts that once a work has been submitted it cannot be updated/edited in any way whatsoever by the entrant, other than changes that may be recommended by the judges of the contest. Resubmissions of works already submitted will be ignored.
12. The entrant undertakes not to withdraw a work once it has been selected as a finalist (barring cases where the contest organisers become aware of a violation of these rules or any other serious transgression involving the submitted work).
13. The contest organisers do not have the administrative capacity to enter into correspondence with entrants and will not confirm receipt of entries; entrants are advised to utilise the “request delivery receipt” function available with many email applications.
14. The entrant acknowledges that any violation of the letter or spirit of the above contest rules will lead to the immediate disqualification of his/her submission.