FIRST PRIZE: $1,000
SECOND PRIZE: $100
HONORABLE MENTIONS (3): $25 each
Entry fee: $5
Deadline: March 31, 2017
All five finalists will be published online in the June 2017 Issue of Gemini.
We have no rules on content. We are open to ANY subject, writing style, genre or length. Stories must be unpublished but work displayed on personal blogs is eligible.
All entries are read blind—without the authors’ names or any identifying information. We delete this information when forwarding pieces to staff readers so all they see are the title and body of the story. Who can enter? Anyone from around the world. This is our eighth annual short story contest and both new and experienced writers have won the top prize. All three dozen previous winners and finalists may be read online.
PANNING FOR GOLD: HOW THE SELECTION PROCESS WORKS
We get a lot of entries and don’t want to miss any stories that might be potential winners. So here’s how our selection process works: On the first go-round, we break the entries down into two categories: MAYBE and NO. We read each one with an open mind, and if there’s a spark or something that even remotely captures a staff reader’s interest, we put it into the MAYBE pile. For emailed entries, we do this by clicking “Flag for Follow-up.” So what happens if we’re not sure? We click “Mark as Unread” and this entry gets a second chance too.
Snail mailed entries that show promise get a check mark on the back of the envelope. Those that don’t pique our interest get an X. Any undecideds go back into the initial pile for another read. We don’t call this a slush pile. We call it a gold mine.
At last the final story or poem has been read. Now comes the truly fun part because just about any piece we open in the second round will be good. We’re more at ease to enjoy the writing and fall into the world that it creates.
Every single piece that’s been flagged or checked gets another read. If an emailed entry doesn’t make this cut, we clear the flag. If a paper entry doesn’t survive, the check mark gets turned into an X.
At this point, the special pieces have started to rise. The ground starts to rumble. Tension and electricity fill the atmosphere and much discussion is generated. Friends, acquaintances—even complete strangers—are likely to hear a synopsis or a quote. In a way, the world becomes the judge.
By the third or fourth round, we are down to a short list of perhaps a dozen or so stories and it is time to pick the winners. But wait! Just to be sure and fair (and perhaps because the editor is a bit obsessive), we randomly go through many of the NO entries and take another look.
This is how Beverly Akerman’s wonderful story “Pie” was discovered in our first Flash Fiction Contest. It hadn’t been flagged or even marked as unread. But we gave it another look and it leaped to the top when we realized it wasn’t just about a recipe for pie; rather, it showed us a woman who swore she would never again bake her son’s favorite rhubarb pie—or any other pie—until he returned from war.
So here at Gemini, we’re very happy that nearly every entry gets a second look—and a second chance.
What are you waiting for? As Stephen King put it, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
Enter at www.gemini-magazine.com/contest.html.