Sunday, January 10, 2010

Announcing...The 2010 Koala Challenge!

Welcome to 2010 - The Year of the Submission!

This time we all start on zero and gain points by achieving certain submission and writing targets. Each point will raise you up a notch in The Koala's estimation and take you up a challenge level. The Koala will award you a badge, created by JJ de Benedictis *mwah*, to display on your blog.
One point for every short story, poem or other short fiction submission to a competition or magazine. This is one point per publication, so check out the ones that allow multiples, and race up the Koala Love charts. Your blog does not count as a submission, nor does a friend's. However, blog competitions such as Jason Evans' Clarity of Night do count as a submission. (I can see you smiling from here, PJD).

One point for submitting an article (no matter how many mags the article is submitted to).

One point for achieving The Koala's perfectly reasonable writing/editing target of 4000 words a month.

One point for each 2000 words of original writing (not editing) over and above the basic 4000.

One point for each 5000 words of editing over and above the basic 4000.

One point for beta reading a fellow writer's novel and providing feedback. (Nothing shorter than a novel is eligible for this category).

One point for completing and publishing a new author website (not amendments - this is a one-off point for the first time you put it up).

New! One point for writing a query (one-off point for each novel)

New! One point for writing your synopsis (again, a one-off point for each novel)

Big points: whatever level you are on, a novel submission takes you straight up to Koala Approves. (In Paca's case, a dissertation submission will have the same effect, see special furry rules below). While waiting for a response you must keep writing/editing/submitting short stories. Anyone sitting on their laurels drops down a stage.

However, if an agent asks you to make changes to a novel, you get to stay on Koala Approves for the duration of your editing and negotiations, provided you get those changes to him/her in time and remember your manners. Ask for an extension or moan about your potential agent and you drop down a stage.

Report in at the end of every month. The Koala tots up the points. Points cannot be held over for a following month. The Koala wants consistent effort. The Koala is always right.

Each person is allowed one month off in the year - you decide if you want a summer holiday or a Christmas break or to have a baby or get your appendix out.

January counts, and there are almost three weeks left, so get going! The Koala will put up a post at the end of the month for reporting results and will subsequently award the first badges.

Meet your current fellow contestants...

Paca (special furry rules: his target is to work on and submit his dissertation, slightly different rules may apply)
Mother (Re)produces
Chris Eldin
Janey V
Diane. J

Remember to support one another in your attempts to avoid a Koala Shredding.

More sign ups expected shortly! Spread the word, all welcome!


fairyhedgehog said...

This sounds complicated but the main rules seem to be: write lots and submit lots.

I'll be watching with interest!

writtenwyrdd said...

*timidly raises hand*
Can I play, too? My fear of Koala claws might prove useful.

blogless troll said...

I'm with FH. Sounds complicated. I hope you don't invent board games for a living, Koala.

I'm out till at least March.

jjdebenedictis said...

Don't I get a freebie point for drawing the badges?

(PS - Do you want new badges? Something could be arranged, o great and beclawed one. Do not hesitate to ask your favourite syncophant over here.)

pacatrue said...

So we report in every month. Most excellent. I have to now that special furry rules have been invented.

Robin S. said...

I'm so in. I like the idea that sucking up the fear of failure and submitting stories all over hell's half acre gets ya points!

FH and BT, are ya gonna be popping in to push your friends? Hope so!

writtenwyrdd said...

My month off has to be March, because I'm off to Egypt then without a computer. So, no writing for about three weeks.

McKoala said...

Write lots? Why no, my targets are modest... I'm including editing and rewriting, so those working on things for submission will reach the targets easily. As for those who're still writing, well, OK, write lots!

Good, written, I was actually going to track you down to claw you gently into doing it, so you've saved yourself some minor blood loss.

BT, I was so tempted to put you in, just for the excuses, but will have mercy until March.

JJ, let's pick our toenails together...

No excuses, Paca. Every single one of us is watching you.

Robin, can you reach the dizzy heights of this year...

Written, that's fine, just remind me, lest I have to come to Egypt....

Robin S. said...

Hey McK,'

Is the starting date January 1st so we should look at what we've done so far, or does it start January 10th?

Aniket said...
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Aniket said...

*sneaks into a corner and stays there to watch the prey willingly enter mighty Koalas death-trap*

Mother (Re)produces. said...

oh, wow! Good luck, everyone. I'll be watching from the sideline, waving eucalyptus leaves.

Is there a special catagory for people who don't know how to write?
Like, a point for every writing book I read, a point for every dozen exercises?

Sarah Laurenson said...

The year of submission - Yes, Master Koala (Mistress?)

Looks great, McK!

McKoala said...

Hm, Robin. *sigh* Oh, OK then. Since 1 January it is. See how nice I am?

Aniket...ssshhhh, the death trap is a new feature, nobody's supposed to know about that yet...

Mother, could just start writing? I have plenty of incentives, all of them sharp...

Good, Sarah, good. *pat, pat* You've got the idea and the attitude I like.

sylvia said...

Oh I love this, I saw you mentions points but this is brilliant. I really love that you spread the points system across the board so that people at every stage of their process can take part.

The Koala is indeed a clever and kind Koala.

Also, I'm in first draft mode and have reached the wordcount for this month so I'm feeling somewhat smug. I have a point! Hurray!

Now, did I just see Mother (Re)produces volunteer to collect points by beta reading ?

jjdebenedictis said...

O terrible and razor-fanged marsupial of doom:

Email me regarding what sort of badges you'd like and how many.

jen_deben "at" yahoo "dot" ca

writtenwyrdd said...

You know you want to HAVE to go to Egypt.

I definitely need a bit of impetus. But now that I've lost 2/3 of my weight goal and am pretty much over the surgery and moving, I think I can get my head back in the game....But wait! I DID just get Corel Painter 11 to play with! (Deadly distraction.)

Mother (Re)produces. said...

I *am* writing, but it's all longhand (not to mention all rubbish, but that's the point right?) so I have no idea how many words.

My novel is so far on the back burner, it's over a campfire... somewhere in Western Australia.

Robin S. said...

Where's Whirl?

sylvia said...

I *am* writing, but it's all longhand (not to mention all rubbish, but that's the point right?) so I have no idea how many words.

Can you work out an approx average per page? I take a "full page" and work out how many words per line and how many lines per page. With the average words per line and a "fair" number of lines per page (I don't use lined paper) you can decide on words per page and just don't count the ones where you doodled across the bottom half.

It's only an approximation but I bet that'd be good enough for the Koala.

(I didn't mean to imply you weren't writing, by the way! Just looking to increase readers at the same time)

Robin S. said...

Mother, your blog isn't written in a 'rubbish' way at all. It's a knockout.

Mother (Re)produces. said...

Sorry, everyone- I should start putting names on my responses!

Sylvia, You didn't imply that I wasn't writing. I was talking to McKoala, who said "you could just start writing."

Robin, I'm glad you like my blog. When I meant rubbish, I mostly meant the drivel I'm writing out long hand at the moment (reminded me of a post- Sylvia's, I think? about writing 1500 words and 56 of them are good?)
Some of the stuff on my blog *is* drivel. I started the whole thing as a vent originally, so I guess that's to be expected. But I quite like some of my posts- my favourite one is the one about the polish waitress in Lahinch. :)

Anyway, McKoala, you can count me in, as long as a "smackdown" doesn't include loss of donut privilege (or spell-checker priviliges)

sylvia said...

I'm up to 57 now. :)

McKoala said...

The Koala accepts handwritten novels, notes and cheques. Donut stains only add to their lustre.

Motheree is in.

Whirl 'has a headache'. Probably from trying to make his wordage.

Whirlochre said...

Late in here — busy writing.

But yes, I'm in.

Whup my ass, o marsupe ecosse...

Robin S. said...

Is Miss Chris coming?

Robin S. said...

Ah. Just saw she's listed. Cool.

Robin S. said...

I wonder if Janey'd want to 'play'?

fairyhedgehog said...

Robin, you have a strange definition of the word "play". I didn't know it meant "suffer unbearable torments at the claws of a fierce marsupial".

Robin S. said...


writtenwyrdd said...
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writtenwyrdd said...
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writtenwyrdd said...

McKoala, I require some clarification. How many points per month to avoid the claws of doom????

Aniket said...

Erm. I just re-read the post O' mighty Koala - I don't have a novel yet. But I'm working on one. So if I write 4000 words a month, will the Koala approve of my existence?

If such is the case, it shall be my honor to serve thee.

McKoala said...

Written, a mere point per month will keep you out of my claws. But I won't be happy. You may be awarded a badge with a grumpy koala on it.

By the way, points do not accumulate You must write/edit/submit/critique something every month (except your month off) or I'll be over at your place, claws unsheathed.

Aniket, I approve of your submissiveness. Yes, writing still counts - plus if you submit a short story or two, you might race up the charts... You are in!

Robin, Janey's on my radar... Sending out some emails to a few other people this weekend.

writtenwyrdd said...

Hmmm.... Do we get a point for every 4k we write per month?

Laurel said...

I'm in!

iasa said...

is it too late to join? if not count me in.

McKoala said...

Good idea, productive writers can ask for extra points if they get to 8000, 12,000 etc. - but only for new words beyond the 4000, not editing. Blog posts don't count, though.

Laurel, goody, you've saved me an email chasing you down!

Iasa, jump right in!

Watch out for new badges appearing in the sidebar later this weekend - and for the first post requesting you to report in - that will be up at the end of the month.

Angie said...

I've never done well at these things before, but what the heck. [brave look] I'm in.

I'll probably get clawed this month 'cause we're moving (and then moving again next month -- I hope next month -- but we'll see what I can manage. 4K words/month isn't that bad. [crossed fingers]

Angie, following link from WrittenWyrdd's blog

McKoala said...

Angie, you are very welcome!

(See how nice I am at the start of the month...just wait until the end, heh heh)

Written, I've added in more points for new writing - see the instructions. One point for each 2000 over and above the 4000 target. Only 2000. I know, I must be feeling soft today. (No editing beyond the 4000 point, though. Not entirely soft.)

Robin S. said...

Hey McK,

I'm rereading the points to be sure of what counts, and how it counts.

For the next six weekends, I'm going to be digging down hard on edits to seven ultra-long chapters in the middle of my novel - that each need a substantial shaving. This weekend ( a three-day-er here in the U.S.), I'm working on taking approx 17,300 words down to approx 12,000 after reading this week and making notes on changes - scenes that can come out, scenes that should be much more abrupt, scenes where too much is explained, etc. Bottom line - by the end of this weekend I will have read and read and edited 17,000 words, approx.

I'm also submitting stories this month, so Im not worried, but only asking - does any editing word count above 4K count as 1 point? Just wanna make sure I don't end up down in the points with the mad koala comin' after me!!

McKoala said...

Robin, hmm. The Koala is thinking about how to credit additional editing.

mdames60 said...

Sarah Laurensen suggested I join the 2010 Koala Challange. So here I am. Too bad a blog post doesn't count because I put so much time into testing the recipes that I post. Oh well, maybe this will help me focus on my actual writing.

Merry Monteleone said...

Okay... I'm in... *shudders with fear*

Here's a question, though. I've been working on submissions for regional parenting magazines, along with my wip and a few occasional short story submissions.

With RPM, I submit to around the ballpark of 50 different magazines for 1 article, which can result in multiple sales for the same article. Do I count all of that as 1 submission per article, or does each sale count as a point? I feel like it should just be a point per article, though.

sylvia said...

@mdames60 oooh, what's the url? New recipes are always good!

McKoala said...

Welcome mdames60 and Merry!

Alas, Merry, I also feel that it should be one point per article. But The Koala respects your honesty. And your shuddering.

I do want to include articles this year, because it is excellent training in the art of writing and submitting. But the Challenge is mostly about fiction, so blog posts remain outwith its remit. (OK, so some blog posts are total fiction...but, no.) Although - possible exception - if you are writing a non-fiction book, such as a recipe book, and posted some recipes the words would count, because then they are more than a blog post, they are part of your WIP. But putting up a blog post is not a submission. (Is that clear or confusing?!)

Updating the editing counts now for those who are interested...

Robin S. said...

Just saw the editing counts - thanks for the rule-making!

writtenwyrdd said...

My only hope of not teetering on the brink of claw slashing is to write more than 4k per month.

Also, just thought I'd mention that when I critique a friend's novel, it usually takes me at least a full week of work, as in at least 40 hours sometimes 80. Isn't that worth a bit more than you are offering here? (Yes, I anticipate having one and possibly two to crit this year.)

writtenwyrdd said...

"some blog posts are fiction" Wait a sec...are you trying to say we are making that stuff up?

pjd said...

Yes indeed, I was smiling at that point.

If all it takes to avoid claws is to submit a poem or story each month, this is a piece o' cake. Avoiding claws shouldn't be the goal, though... Excellence should be, and She only smiles for true excellence. Isn't that correct?

I am SO up for this challenge.

I skipped last year's, and I fell way short of Aerin's monthly challenge last year, but I did keep it up for 7 or 8 months. This year I'm all in.

Bring on the claws!

McKoala said...

I know, Wyrrd - and critiquing is important, because it helps fellow writers and is also a good way to learn to think critically. point. Sorry. Gotta keep the writing going!

You got it PJD. I won't come and slash you to pieces if you write a little and submit a little. But I won't smile at you unless you display true dedication!

Diane J. said...

(Gulp!) I would like to join in. Hopefully, my love of happy Koalas will keep me burning up my keyboard. Wouldn't want to make a Koala angry.

McKoala said...

Excellent attitude, Diane. You are in!

Robin S. said...

I just counted up the members of this yearlong writing-fest contest, and counting you, there are twenty of us! Cool.

I'm going now, to count up my January points to date...

pjd said...

Does anyone have a good online resource for submission opportunities? I'm thinking "little & literary" journals that publish a few times a year, or reasonably reputable online journals.

I have a very small list that I know of, like
The First Line (short fiction that must all start with the provided first line, quarterly) and THEMA, where all entries must relate to the specified theme.

I am sure there are online lists of journals like this. Anyone have a favorite source for submission opportunities? (mostly flash, short fiction, and poetry... novel submissions would be a different animal)

Merry Monteleone said...


Have you searched through duotrope?

They have a pretty large and frequently updated list of both print and online publishers for fiction, poetry, and essay.

Merry Monteleone said...

Also, I love Pedestal Magazine - some of their flash fiction and poetry is amazing. You might like to check them out, PJD.

Robin S. said...


Also go to New Pages. They have good lists of Lit Mags as well. It's a good tool to use with Duotrope.

JaneyV said...

Look I'm not going to be doing any submissions any time soon so I'm approaching this purely on a word-count level. I have started a new novel so that's my main focus for 2010.

All the rules scare me.

You're scary.


McKoala said...


fairyhedgehog said...

I'm confused as to how many points you need each month. Just as well I'm not playing!

sylvia said...

Just one, unless you are aiming for furry cuddles, as I see it.

fairyhedgehog said...

Thanks, sylvia!

sylvia said...

I've done a quick reference sheet for myself as this month is turning into somewhat of a hodgepodge of work.

Can I just check this is correct?

Submissions: 1 point each

Writing 4,000 words: 1 point and an additional point every 2k thereafter

Editing 5,000 words: 1 point and an additional point every 4k thereafter

Beta reading novel: 1 point

Website creation: 1 point

Query written: 1 point

Synopsis written: 1 point

stacy said...

Is it too late for me to join in? I'm ready to join the, er, "fun."

fairyhedgehog said...

stacy, fear the claws, the terrible claws, aaaggghhh!

Lauren K said...

Hi, can I play too?