[Submit your Ghost Story to Saugus.net. The best stories will be posted online this Halloween. Every author whose story gets posted wins a T-shirt. Age categories include: Elementary, Middle School, High School, and Adult. Entries must be received no later than October 26th; the earlier the better.] As the copy of the poster to the left indicates, Saugus.net is now accepting Halloween stories that are FAXed to 781-231-4719, or dropped off in our drop slot in the Saugus Town Hall (if you can't get it to us by any of these methods, give us a phone call at 781-231-2621 and we'll figure out something else -- if all else fails there's always U.S. Mail) for our eighth annual Ghost Story writing contest. The rules below are pretty much the same as last year, but we're adding a new contest option for the computer-savvy.

Our judges will pick out the stories they feel are best (based on scariness, originality, entertainment value, and writing quality) for four different categories including: Adult, High School, Middle School, and Elementary School. "Does spelling count" you ask? Yes, somewhat, but not as much as the creepiness and entertainment value of the story. In any case, all of the chosen stories will be posted online here by Halloween night, Monday, October 31, 2005. Don't forget to tell us in which category you belong and provide some means for us getting back in touch with you. Let us know your town, and if you go to school (even college) let us know which one; if you win, we'll mention both.

If your story gets posted, you'll win a Saugus.net T-shirt (different from the first year's model, the same as last year's model; see below -- these feature a glow-in-the-dark logo on a black background) to be handed out in mid November 2005. We'll have something else for repeat winners.

Entries must be received no later than October 26th. The earlier the better, though; keep in mind that if we receive dozens of stories on the 26th we'll have to rush through them to get everything ready for Halloween, and thus a story submitted early probably has a slight advantage because it can be read more leisurely.

Please try and keep them fairly clean -- lots of people of all ages will be reading them. Favor the suggestive over the explicit, and keep in mind that needless obscenities aren't apt to help your chances any but are likely to cost you points in the "writing quality" department.

The ideal length is a few typewritten pages, but both longer and shorter are welcomed. The upper limit (not hard & fast) is around two dozen typewritten pages -- there is no lower limit. The preferred format for is regular text, although we'll also accept HTML, MIF, StarOffice / OpenOffice (SDW), AbiWord (ABW), ClarisWorks / AppleWorks (CWK), and Acrobat (PDF) formats. Please note that we can not accept handwritten entries; it really isn't fair to our volunteer judges. We also don't officially accept MS-Word (DOC) format as it has known bugs that affect its transmission and often cause subtle errors; we're willing to try to work with such files, but we cannot guarantee that we'll see the exact same thing that you wrote (in fact, missing characters, words, sentences, and even paragraphs are not unknown) if you submit your story in that format.

Although Saugus.net reserves the rights to print and potentially reprint all entries received (giving proper credit on each printing, of course), we aren't claiming them as our own property -- that means that you retain the copyrights to your work and are free to reprint it and/or publish it elsewhere, too, without getting any further permission from us (although a little blurb like "first appeared online on Saugus.net" would be appreciated in any future publications). Of course, even though it need not be mentioned, entries must respect existing copyrights and may not be based on copyrighted material without the written consent of any applicable copyright holders, and material should not have been published prior to the contest deadline.

We decided to try the interactive fiction option again this year for the more adventurous writers out there who aren't afraid of working with computers. As with last year, we will be judging interactive fiction entries in addition to the traditional prose entries. All the regular rules apply (as appropriate) for interactive fiction entries. The different medium does impact the rules on length and file format, however. Judges have been instructured to work on the story for only an hour to an hour and a half, so use that for figuring ideal length. Accepted formats include Z-machine (typically Z5) and Glulx (ULX). While (as with the prose entries) we will not claim copyright, we reserve the right to make entries freely downloadable (and even usable) directly from the Saugus.net web site. In fact, we also strongly encourage that submissions be made to the world-wide IF Archive, but this is by no means required. If you're interested in this option but don't know where to start, send us an and we'll provide some pointers.

Halloween is a fun time of year and we're likewise holding this contest completely in a spirit of fun. The results will hopefully be entertaining to all. Send us your entry (or even entries, if you'd like) today, and good luck.

Also, on a different note, if you'd like your own personal copy of the Ghost Story poster, it can be downloaded as a PDF file and printed. You have our permission to repost it.