Owl Canyon Press Short Story

Hackathon #3 FAQ


Order your copy of the Summer 2018 anthology No Bars and A Dead Battery

Order your copy of the Winter 2018 anthology, 27 Stories.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who owns the finished short stories?

The author. Owl Canyon Press only requests permission to publish and publicize the winners’ and finalists’ short stories in an anthology, and authors retain copyright for their submitted short stories.


When is the deadline?

September 30, 2019.


How much does it cost to enter the contest?

Nothing, and you can win $3000, $2000, or $1000.


How do I submit a story?

Easy, just click here… or here


What kind of stories are you looking for?

Pretty much any kind, literary, sci fi, fantasy, dystopian, romance, whatever, but take a look at the Hackathon 1st and 20th paragraphs on the Submittable site since they may not work for all genres.


Are there any exclusions?

No, as long as the short stories are in English.


Can I enter more than one short story?

Sure, as long as they’re different stories with unique titles.


Will I get feedback?

The winners and finalists certainly will, and if a strong voice is heard in any of the others, they’ll probably get some feedback and encouragement too. 


Is there a maximum length to the short story?

No.  Though the guidelines specify 50 paragraphs of at least 40 words each, the minimum would be about 2000 words, but the maximum is up to you, so write whatever you need to tell your story; however, you only have the open submission period to write it.


Who can submit a story?

Anybody anywhere in the world, as long as the story is in English. 


How are stories judged?

The first round will be judged by prior winners of Owl Canyon Press Hackathons based on the opening and closing paragraphs below. The final selection will be made by the publisher on the basis of story, character, voice, the usual.


What happened to some of the prior Hackathon stories?

All of the prior Hackathon winners and finalists have had their short stories published in anthologies and one winner expanded their short story into an award-winning novel.



What are the first and 20th paragraphs of the current challenge?

The 1st and 20th paragraphs are found on the Owl Canyon Press Submittable site.  Just copy and paste the opening paragraph and paragraph #20 from the entry form into your favorite text editor, write the other 48 paragraphs, and then upload your complete 50-paragraph short story to enter the contest. Please note that the first paragraph is the same paragraph used in the Winter2018 Hackathon. The idea of the Hackathon is to link the previous stories together some way. In this case, we used the same first paragraph; the second paragraph supplied is taken from the winning story of the last contest."


But here they are so you can get a sneak peek at them…

Paragraph #1

Beyond the cracked sidewalk, and the telephone pole with layers of flyers in a rainbow of colors, and the patch of dry brown grass there stood a ten-foot high concrete block wall, caked with dozens of coats of paint. There was a small shrine at the foot of it, with burnt out candles and dead flowers and a few soggy teddy bears. One word of graffiti filled the wall, red letters on a gold background: Rejoice!


Paragraph #2 thru #19 – you write these paragraphs


Paragraph #20

When the ride ended, she was lifted again. The kid slid her body onto a soft pile of clothing among the boxes in the garage. He pulled an old coat over the top, creating a cave that emanated the sweetness of old ladies who frequently powdered themselves—a light rose motif that played ironically well in the deep recesses of Rainbow’s ancestral brain. The pizza kid lifted her head to help her lap water from a hubcap. He broke bits of pepperoni and crust into bite-sized pieces and left them where her tongue could reach them. Much later, she heard him practicing his orations like songs. Like monks chanting in the distance, they were a comfort.


Paragraph #21 thru #50  – you write these too and finish the story