Exciting New Competition in January 2012!

The SpecFicNZ Core has been working with member Pip Ballantine to cook up a hot little summer short story competition for you.

Pip Ballantine and her husband Tee Morris are authors of Phoenix Rising: a Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel, a 2011 Airship Award-winning steampunk adventure. As well as having written the novel, Pip and Tee commissioned and released a podcast of stories by different writers set within the world of the Ministry. This collection is called Tales from the Archives. Listen to the first Tales from the Archives podcast here.

To support the upcoming second book in the Ministry series, The Janus Affair, Pip and Tee will be releasing Tales from the Archives: Volume the Second as a podcast and as an ebook series. We have worked with Pip and Tee to organise a competition for one kiwi writer (citizen or resident) to have a story published in Tales from the Archives.

Are you a fan of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series?

Do you like writing steampunk?

Are you someone who has never written steampunk before, but would be interested in giving it a go?

Would you like to have a bit of fun playing in another writer’s sandbox?

Then why not enter the SpecFicNZ Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Competition?

Please see below for the full competition details:

Welcome to the Ministry – in association with the fine folk of SpecFicNZ.

We are thrilled to have you all on board for this competition, and we also hope that you’ll all have some fun while you are at it. We’re excited to offer this opportunity to New Zealand writers!

Here’s a review of everything you need to know concerning this project and the competition:


“Tales from the Archives: Volume the Second” is a collection of short stories taking place before the events of the Janus Affair: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel.

Pip and Tee are pretty open minded as to what these events can include, but the basic outline is:

  • other cases and agents of the Ministry (whether they are agents featured on the Ministry website or mentioned in Phoenix Rising or Tales from the Archive: Volume 1)
  • cases featuring the House of Usher (mentioned and appearing in Phoenix Rising).
  • Cases eluded to or mentioned in Phoenix Rising (you will need to read the book and listen to the free podcasts to get an idea of what has already been covered.)

However, in the case of this contest the stories must include either a New Zealand character, or a New Zealand setting. That shouldn’t be difficult.

Keep in mind that this anthology takes place before or around 1895, and the Ministry has fifty years of history. Even with its relatively brief history, the Ministry is a global agency with its share of agents, artifacts, and mysteries. If you do go to other parts of the Empire or the world, brush up on your history. Make sure that relations were decent enough for British and British Colonials to venture there. (If not, even better! More action!)


Entries should be between 3000 and 5000 words long. Pip and Tee will record the audio for you.


Please send your entries to SpecFicNZ(at)gmail(dot)com between 1 January 2012 and midnight (New Zealand time) on 31 January 2012 with “MOPO Competition Submission: (name of story)” in the subject field.

Please send your entry as two .doc or .rtf files: one containing the story, and one containing your details. Send the story in standard manuscript format with the title of the story and the word count on the first page, and a short title and the page number on all subsequent pages. Please DO NOT include your name: the stories will be sent to Pip and Tee without details so they can judge blind on the merit of the writing only. Please include all the details (your name and contact details, the story’s name and word count) in the second file.

All entries will be sent to Pip and Tee on 1 February 2012, and the winner will be announced on March 31st 2012 at both www.ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com and www.specficnz.org.


“Tales from the Archives” will be available as an ebook, and also made available as a free audio podcast, distributed primarily through http://www.ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com. Under the 3.0 Creative Commons license, others will be invited to syndicate the anthology on their respective blogs and podcasts. The winning writer will also be encouraged to run their respective episode via syndication on their website if they have one.


Once the text is finalised, the winning writer will receive US$50.00 (via PayPal) from Pip and Tee for the story rights, in addition to US$25 of competition prize money from SpecFicNZ, sent to the email or PayPal account of their choice.

As this anthology is in association with Harper Voyager’s Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences and Pip and Tee are commissioning these works, the rights of the winning story will belong to them.


Finally, there is a bragging right that the winning writer may want to take to heart: This anthology, while not officially commissioned by Harper Voyager, is the official anthology series for Harper Voyager’s Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. This is not a fancast, nor is this fanfic: the short story collection is commissioned and approved by the authors of the Harper Voyager steampunk series. The winning writer can let people know in their bibliographies that they are a part of this anthology, an anthology edited and compiled by the authors of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at [email protected] (Pip), [email protected] (Tee), or SpecFicNZ(at)gmail(dot)com.

Best of luck, and welcome aboard.

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