I don’t know how many of you have heard of Confluence, a nice little SF/F convention held out in Pittsburgh every July. I discovered them a few years back, when I was just getting started with one book and looking for ways to get known. I found a contest that they ran, although I’m not sure if it’s under the name Confluence or PARSEC. In any case, it’s a contest for a very short story to go into their convention program guide. In addition, they take the best of the submitted stories and self-publish an anthology called Triangulations. The two are not the same, by the way. Submitting a story for Triangulations is not the same as submitting for the contest, and the submission requirements are a little different.
So far I haven’t yet won the contest, but one of my stories did get into the anthology for that year, a piece that was sort of a sequel to a story I’d written for Echelon called ‘Off the Map’. The Confluence contest uses a theme each year, and the theme that year was “Metallic Feathers”. In OTM I had a griffin that had, you guessed it, metallic feathers. Something of a mistake, actually, I thought griffins had metallic feathers and wrote them that way. Only afterward did I check the lore and find that they had regular feathers. Which was OK since I managed to turn that error to good account in ‘Ex Libris’, the follow-up featuring my armored griffin.
My other stories for the PARSEC contest haven’t fared so well. I’ve already mentioned ’Boys Will Be Boys’, the story I wrote for their Hard Port theme, but I didn’t do even that well with ‘Undermind’, the story I wrote for the Dark Glass theme. They have some beliefs about how to structure a story that I don’t always hold with, one of which is that the story should always start off strong, with an explosion, say. Ex Libris did that, but my other stories often start in media res but not necessarily with a literal bang. I like in media res for starting anything, a story or a chapter, plop the reader down right in the middle of some kind of action.
But even so I like the PARSEC contest and check it every year, even though some years I don’t even enter a story. It’s a great way to get ideas for stories, even if I can’t figure a way to create a story that fits within their parameters. Most of my Dark Glass ideas involved vampires, for example, and vampires are slow and careful hunters, not the sort to pounce. Between slow and non-pouncy there wasn’t much there for a short story. I have those ideas, though, and bits of story written for them, and some day those stories will see the light of my readers’ eyes, aglow as they read my words.
They’ll be here soon.