We now hold three contests each year:
Short Story, Flash Fiction, and Poetry.
We get a lot of entries—about 1,000 or
more for each of our recent contests—
and we don’t want to miss anything
that might have possibilities. So here’s
how the selection process works:
On the first go-round we break the
entries down into two categories:
MAYBE and NO. We take a quick look at
each one (sometimes a longer look),
and if there’s a spark or something that
even remotely captures a reader’s
interest, we put it into the MAYBE pile.
For emailed entries we do this by
clicking “Flag for Follow-up.” A cool
little red flag appears. So what happens
if we’re not sure? We click “Mark as
Unread” and this entry gets a second
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. I don’t call this
a slush pile. I call it a gold mine.
All entries are read blind—without the
authors' names or any identifying
information. We delete this information
when forwarding pieces to readers so all
they see are the title and body of the
story or poem. I'm a reader too, and if
I recognize a writer's style, I let
someone else take the first read to
eliminate any potential bias on my part.
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.
Entries that seem especially interesting
sometimes get an additional check, and
the title of the piece might get written
on the envelope to jog our memory.
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 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
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 was about 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.
—David Bright, Editor