Christmas in July–Weird Christmas!

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Many merchants try to amplify their sales with a “Christmas in July” promotion. Craig Kringle (that’s what he goes by!) holds a contest called Weird Christmas. ( and his submission period is open now, July! (And it lasts longer until early November–see below). So, if you have a mystery that includes a weird aspect about Christmas, and other late winter holidays, take a look at Chris’ responses and check out the url for last year’s selections.

Joan: Do you want the entries in the body of the email or attached? Single or double space?

Craig: As long as I can read it, I’m happy, whether pasted into the body of the email or included as an attachment. As for spacing, double spaced is always easier for me to read. I know that’s starting to be old fashioned since everyone’s using small screens now, but I’m ancient.

Joan: I appreciate the tip in your general guidelines about looking at the cards (weird Christmas cards) on your website and re-telling old tales, in a “weird” way but are you also open to crime fiction for this contest?

Craig: If it’s just straight crime fiction, I may not be as interested. But if it’s really strange crime fiction, I’m open to it. As for what counts as “weird” or “strange”…if you have to ask for much guidance on that, this probably isn’t a contest for you.

Joan: Do you sponsor other contests?

Craig: At the moment, this is my only contest.

Joan: May I reprint the other guidelines as well as the ones for this contest?

Craig: Sure!

Here are the guidelines on the website:

Deadline November 2, 2019. Winners will be announced on the podcast/site as soon after Thanksgiving as I can get the podcast out.

  • 350 word max limit (title not included).
  • $50 first prize, $25 second prize. (Maybe more depending on how the funds work out.)
  • Winners will be read on my podcast (preferably by you, but I can find others) and published on my site. (I’ll include 10 or so honorable mentions as well to be narrated and published.)
  • Submissions must be EMAILED to

The general guidelines:

First, it should be weird or strange or odd. It can be “Haha!” weird or “Oh, Jesus, no!” weird. It can be genre (sf, fantasy, horror/weird, bizarro, etc.) or it can just be off-kilter. Sentimental is fine, but it better be sentimental in a way that leaves me feeling…uncomfortable. As long as it’s something about the holidays we aren’t expecting, it fits.

Second, it must be related to any winter holiday (Christmas, Hannukha, Kwanza, solstice celebrations, “Yule,” etc.). You can include other holidays like Halloween or Easter, but it has to still have some strong connection to the winter season’s celebrations.

Third, and this is new: try to avoid “evil Santa” stories. At least 1/4 of the submissions I got last time had “Monster Santa” or “Cthulhu Santa” or “Diabolical Santa.” That’s fun, but unless you have a REALLY original take on the idea, I’m gonna say the idea’s played itself out.

Fourth, a tease: I’d love to collect and publish all of these after another round or two, and I started looking into it. So keep in mind that it might be more than just a random online contest somewhere down the line…And that leads me to…

Fifth, rights: I’m asking for first rights to publish your story here and on the podcast. Beyond that, feel free to submit it somewhere else simultaneously, as long as the other venue doesn’t ask for exclusivity while the contest is ongoing. I’ll also contact everyone individually before publishing them, so if you’re only interested in winning and don’t want to be added as an “honorable mention,” say, you’ll have that option. Note that if I publish it, and you do want to take it somewhere else after the contest, it will technically count as a reprint. Keep that in mind if you’re hoping to get this published somewhere that pays more than I can, and, truth is, reprints won’t be as attractive to most markets. I just want to be up front about that, especially with the “honorable mentions” because I’ll be publishing them without paying. But, like I said, I won’t put anything up without your consent, and I’ll talk to each winner individually before publishing anything. This contest is mostly for fun, and I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m exploiting your hard work for “exposure”…which, if I’m publishing a story without paying, is essentially what that works out to. Just want to be totally clear about that.

Joan: What additional advice would you give my readers?

Craig: The best advice is to check out last year’s podcast episode or the printed version. There was a lot of variety there, but you can also get a better sense of what makes me sit up and pay attention. Here is the link to last year’s results:

WC #14: Weird Christmas Flash Fiction (contest results episode)

Joan: Just to get an idea of what appeals to you, what magazines do you read?

Craig:Mostly sf/f stuff like, well, F&SF, Analog, Asimov’s, Weird, a ton of online things like Strange Horizons. Like most people at this point, social media often gets you drawn to particular stories first and you become followers of an outlet later, so my habits are changing.

Thank you, Craig! And Happy Holidays!


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