As of today at 9 a.m., the race for The Telegram's Cuffer Prize has begun. Submissions are now being accepted for the third year of the short fiction competition.
"One thing I like about this competition is it's wide open and you can write in any genre. You can set it in the past, you can set it in the future - so long as you set it here," said prize chairwoman and Telegram story editor, Pam Frampton.
Frampton said submissions for the Cuffer Prize in 2009 included stories from some more experienced writers than in the first year of the competition - evidence of the growing reputation of the contest.
Still, the Cuffer Prize remains open to all full-time residents of the province, age 16 or older, regardless of writing experience.
Submissions must be 1,200 words or less and all other rules on the contest can be found at: www.thetelegram.com.
In the competition, Frampton and editors with The Telegram will select the top 50 story submissions. Those stories are then reviewed by the Cuffer Prize panel of judges, who narrow the field to a shortlist of 10. Following the release of the shortlist, the judges will select the top three entries as prize winners.
First prize comes with an award of $2,000. Second prize is $1,000. Third prize is $500.
Tough contest for potential publication
Last year, there were approximately 160 original short stories entered in the Cuffer Prize competition. In the end, first place was awarded to Chad Pelley for "Holes to China," second place went to Jillian Butler for "The Fairest Season" and third place to Josh Pennell for "Songs My Grandfather Taught Me."
The editor and marketing manager for Creative Book Publishing, Donna Francis, said the three stories, along with a selection of other entries, are now being looked at for potential publication in the next Cuffer Prize Anthology.
The first Cuffer Prize Anthology is available in bookstores.
"There is an awful lot of really great material there," Francis said of the competition entries.
The second Cuffer Prize Anthology will be released as this year's Cuffer Prize award winners are announced.
Francis said the best pieces from the 2010 competition will have the same opportunity for anthology publication.
From the judges
For 2010, the Cuffer Prize's panel of judges will include: Joan Sullivan, Russell Wangersky and Ramona Dearing.
Dearing, host of CBC Radio's "Radio Noon" and the author of the short-story collection "So Beautiful," replaces two-time Cuffer Prize judge Kathleen Winter.
Not that knowing the name of a judge should change your story any. Trying to play to the judges is not going to help if you have a weak story.
Asked for his suggestions for writers, Wangersky said to think about speed, about flow.
"Watch your word length. Be careful about word length and pacing," he said.
On pacing, he also said not to pile all of the important elements at the end.
Go too slow at the start and you will likely lose your audience.
"One of the first things the judges catch is if it's unevenly weighted," Wangersky said.
"Don't rush the ending. Leave enough word length to get there properly."
The Cuffer Prize is sponsored by The Telegram and Creative Book Publishing, and their parent company, Transcontinental Media.
Submissions will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, July 2.
Mail - The Cuffer Prize: The Telegram's Short Fiction Award c/o The Telegram newsroom, Second Level, Village Shopping Centre, 430 Topsail Rd., St. John's, N.L., A1E 4N1
E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
(Word documents) Please note: To be eligible, entries must be received at The Telegram by 5 p.m. on July 2, 2010. Complete rules and regulations are to be made available at: www.thetelegram.com.
Entries should include a title page that also has a word count for the story on it (remember: maximum 1,200). The author's name does not go on the title page. Instead, add a second introduction page that includes the author's name, the title of the story (again), the author's address, phone number, e-mail address (where applicable), and a 25-50 word biographical sketch.