Contests, Contests, Contests

The voting for the first ever Readers’ Choice – Clive Staples Award for Christian Speculative Fiction is over. All that’s left is the counting. Meanwhile, two other contests are still underway. One is the November CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award I’ve mentioned already.

The other is a contest run by Jeff Gerke and Marcher Lord Press to select a book that will be published in the Spring 2010 Marcher Lord Press line.

I received a press release announcing this contest and calling for entries some time ago. The problem is, I never got word that the actual voting had started. Come to find out, the first two phases of the contest are over. Happily, however, anyone can still participate in phases three and four.

The contest was structured to be a kind of American Idol of Christian speculative fiction, with the winner receiving a publishing contract from Marcher Lord Press. Well, actually there are two contests. It is the “Main Contest” that will bring the winner a contract. The other, the “Premise Contest,” will earn the winner an invitation to submit a complete manuscript to Marcher Lord Press.

In Phase One of the Main Contest, voters were presented with the title, subgenre, word count, premise, backcover blurb, and synopsis of 36 entries. Each voter was required to vote for at least three entries. After the votes were in, 18 entries advanced to Phase Two.

At this juncture, potential voters could download the first 500 words of each novel. Voters were instructed to choose between 3 and 6 entries based primarily on whether or not they would want to keep reading the book or perhaps buy it. In many respects this reminds me of the Miss Snark’s First Victim’s Secret Agent contest except the entries receiving the most votes were the ones to advance (rather than a Secret Agent making the determination).

Voting in Phase Two ended Monday. The entries that are advancing to Phase Three, in alphabetical order, are

  • Altar
  • Chase the Shadows
  • H2O
  • The Last Apostle
  • The Sending
  • The Sword of the Patron
  • This Side of Eden
  • Vinnie’s Diner

Apparently there will be a poll once Phase Three goes live. I couldn’t find the information just now, but I read that this phase will be based on a number of pages (found it—first thirty pages) with three finalists being chosen. Phase Four will be sixty pages, I believe, with the winner being the selection with the most votes.

Sounds like fun. I wish I would have known when the contest part actually started. I also wish the instructions were clearer. I found it hard to uncover the information I needed to become a participant. At the Marcher Lord Press site, there’s only a small announcement about the contest, with a link, in the upper right hand corner of the home page, under Latest News.

First, it’s helpful to know that the contest is called Marcher Lord Select. Second, the contest is being conducted at the WhereTheMapEnds forums, called The Anomaly , which is where the link in the announcement takes you. This is the part I found off-putting. I expected to go to a site telling me about the contest but found myself at a forum with threads that did not refer to “Contest.” Third, participation requires registration in the forum, a simple, five minute procedure.

I still haven’t found the polls, but I’m guessing the phase one and two polls were taken down once the deadline passed. In the next few days I’ll look for a Sub-Board called Phase 3—Main Contest (I don’t have time to participate in that and in the Premise Contest).

At any rate, Jeff is trying to decide if there will be a two or three week period before the next vote. I’m guessing he soon will post the link to the download that allows access to the Phase Three entries. I went ahead and downloaded the Phase Two selections and will read the winning entries so I’ll be ready when Phase Three goes live.

Why not jump in and participate? Contests are fun!


  1. “Third, participation requires registration in the forum, a simple, five minute procedure.”

    This is not simple. It requires you to give your birthdate to “US lawmakers”. Unless you were a US citizen why would you do this? They are not a legitimate authority entitled to my personal information. This has always kept me out of the discussion.


  2. Hi, Becky. Thanks for the good write-up of Marcher Lord Select.

    I’m sorry you weren’t informed about when the voting started. I sent a note to all registered members of The Anomaly and of course it’s on both of my monthly newsletters, along with the special announcements I sent out to folks on those lists. Anyone who wants to stay informed about Marcher Lord Select might consider signing up for these newsletters (here: and/or registering at The Anomaly (link given in your blog above).

    I also apologize that you found it difficult to find your way around The Anomaly. As I was contemplating how and where to host Marcher Lord Select, I was looking for a place where people could discuss things together and where a voting mechanism was already in place. It occurred to me that a natural fit for that was The Anomaly, which I already had up and running.

    It’s true that folks unfamiliar with forums might be lost for awhile when they first arrive. That’s why I invite people to come on over and get familiar with the lay of the land before the next phase of voting starts. It’s also true that we have lots of things going on besides the contest. The forums site had been running for 2+ years before the contest began.

    I didn’t know about the “U.S. lawmakers” thing. LOL. Well, there’s nothing that says you have to give your correct birthday. I think maybe that’s a mechanism to try to ensure that no one is underage, though there’s nothing “adult” about The Anomaly.

    I would be sad if people didn’t come enjoy the fun we’re having with Marcher Lord Select because of these difficulties. Finally you have the chance to tell a publisher which Christian SF or fantasy novel ought to be published. I think that’s worth enduring a bit of a learning curve.

    Come on out, one and all. Phase 3 is underway and the excerpts are all available.

    Thanks again!



  3. I think this idea of Jeff’s has been great overall.

    First, all the exposure for Marcher Lord Press (that there is indeed a place where Christian speculative novels can call home).

    Exposure for the Anomaly (I’ve been a part of the forum for over a year and never seen so many people there until the contest started).

    And there’s something about seeing the work of others to put the flame under you and get you writing again. It also helped me to tighten my own summary and synopsis.

    If you haven’t checked it out, I’d highly recommend it!


  4. Ken, my point was that nothing about registering is hard. I don’t consider my birthday a matter of privacy, but if you do, I can see why you wouldn’t like that question.



  5. Jeff, I appreciate how hard it is to get word out. You can only do so much.

    When I was looking for contest info, I saw the thread where you discussed the pros and cons of putting the poll on The Anomaly (thanks for the plug for the Clive Staples Award, by the way). I wanted to respond, but thought the decision was a done deal, so what I had to say would be irrelevant.

    But since you brought the issue up here, I want to let you know, I’m very familiar with forums. I “lived” at FIF—Dave Long’s discussion board—for the first year or more of my Internet life. The idea of a blog tour was born in the ACFW discussion forums. I’ve commented from time to time at the Sword Review (now Mindflight) forum. My not finding easy access to the contest information had nothing to do with my familiarity with forums.

    I was looking for something like “Contest Voting Instructions.” When I did figure out that Marcher Lord Select referred to the contest, the four sub-boards appeared on my screen at the top, and these said nothing about how to vote. I didn’t realize at once that there were other threads that held some of the information I was looking for.

    To be honest, I almost quit several times because it was so time-consuming to ferret out what I was looking for. If I hadn’t been well into writing this post, I may have given up.

    I like the contest concept and do want to be supportive. I hope lots of readers get on board and voice their opinion. It reminds me a little of the World mag short story contest they held years ago. Lots of interaction about stories—what others thought worked and what didn’t. It was very informative.



  6. Morgan, thanks so much for stopping by. When I started blogging, my time on forums dwindled, but I do like what I saw at The Anomaly (though I admit, I don’t find the color scheme restful on the eyes … but that’s just me).

    Anyway, I think MLP may be on the cutting edge of all the changes bombarding publishing, and that’s a good thing. I’ve wanted to see Christians step up and take the lead, not follow dutifully behind secular culture. I’d like that especially in content, but I’ll take it in the utilization of technology. Jeff’s courageous to step out and do something newish. 😉



  7. Thanks for your clarifications, Becky.

    You’re right that I didn’t give a “contest rules” thread, mainly because I didn’t consider it mainly a contest. It is, of course, but to me it was this radical experiment in acquisitions. I could’ve titled a thread that way, but thought it wouldn’t be helpful either [grin]. I settled for telling everyone I could that our experiment/contest thing was called Marcher Lord Select, and put the board by that name at the top of The Anomaly, then described it in the text beneath.

    It could certainly have been clarified, though. And so could the instructions about how to vote.



  8. Thanks for continuing this discussion, Jeff.

    Live and learn, I say. I know I learned things I want to improve in the Clive Staples Award.

    I think your experiment was a cool idea and I hope you get a real winner to publish as a result.



Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: