[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
Yes indeedy, cousins and friends, it is that time of the year again, when our thoughts turn to adorable Napoleon and Illya elves feasting on cookies and vodka, and jolly secret-agent Santas who are eager to fill our stockings with all sorts of fabulous fanfic.

Well, OK, maybe not quite yet... but it is time to sign up for DtCA already, in order to have plenty of fic in our collective stocking come the wintry end-of-year.

Can you believe we've been doing this for 13 years already?!

How The Down the Chimney Affair works

The Down the Chimney Affair is a secret santa-style story exchange, which means that you write a story based on another fan's prompts and someone else writes a story for you, guided by your prompts. If you want to receive a story, you must also be willing to write one.

This is the post to register for the exchange. Sign-ups will be open beginning today for one week. After November 6th, the agents at UNCLE North Pole will match Secret Agent Santas with recipients according to preferences noted on the entry form.

Once again the exchange will be hosted and archived on the Archive of Our Own, although all admin posts and discussion will be here on muncle.

The gift exchange rules and this year's timetable are noted below.

Down The Chimney Affair Guidelines

Secret Agent Santas agree to write a story of 1,000 words or more. Longer stories are welcome, but 1,000 words is the required minimum.

Stories are published anonymously on December 25, 2016. Stories should not be shared publicly before January 1, 2017, when the Secret Agent Santa authors are revealed.

The Down the Chimney Affair is a fiction exchange. Art and vids have been popular additions in the past and are absolutely welcome if the author so chooses, but are not required.

Stories set in either the original TV 'verse or the 2015 move 'verse are welcome. Gen, slash (m/m and f/f), OT3 and het are all welcome. You will need to specify fandom (TV or movie) and genre such as gen or slash on the sign-up form.

Two considerations to keep in mind when choosing prompts: 1) Plot outlines are not prompts, and 2) Prompts are things you'd like to see in a story, not an attempt to stump the author.

Participants cannot express a preference regarding who they write for, or who they would prefer as their author. Writers are matched to recipients based on preferences listed on the sign-up form.

And last but not least, the ugly: Authors defaulting on an assignment are prohibited from participating the following year. Two DtCA defaults result in prohibition from further DtCA exchanges.

All signups will be done via the sign-up form on the profile page of Down the Chimney Affair 2016. Just click the "Sign-Up Form" button to open up the form. Instructions are included within the form. Be sure you are first logged into your AO3 account (there is a "Log In" button on every AO3 screen, in the upper right corner).

The Down the Chimney Affair 2016 profile page contains extensive FAQs and also some detailed step-by-step instructions on how to sign up for the exchange. An AO3 account is required in order to participate; if you do not have one please contact vysila AT comcast DOT net for an account invitation.

We also have a link to the AO3 Down the Chimney collection on our [livejournal.com profile] muncle links bar.

2016 Timeline

All times noted are U.S. Central Standard Time Zone. Please visit a time zone converter to calculate the date and time of day for your locale.

Signups will be open for seven days, beginning Sunday, October 30 at 8:00 pm and closing at 8 pm on Sunday, November 6, 2016. (Sorry for the short sign-up period.)

Assignments will be sent out within 24 hours after the close of signups; that is, no later than the evening of Monday, November 7, 2016. That will give participants six weeks to complete their gifts.

The pinch hit sign up will be posted to [livejournal.com profile] muncle on LJ on Saturday, November 19, 2016.

Stories are due no later than 8 pm on Saturday, December 17, 2016.

Pinch hit assignments will be sent out no later than 8 pm on Sunday, December 18, 2016.

Pinch hit stories are due no later than 8 pm on Friday, December 23, 2016.

Stories will be revealed at 10 am on Christmas Day, December 25, 2016.

Authors will be revealed at 10 am on New Year's Day, January 1, 2017.

If you have any questions regarding the Down the Chimney Affair or how to sign-up, please add a comment to this post and I will respond as soon as possible. (I'm completely sure I screwed something up somewhere - please point it out to me so I can fix my inevitable mistakes!)

Thanks so much, and looking forward to the awesome fic!

(P.S. If any of my friendly volunteer helper elves want to step in and help handle questions or problems, I'd be super grateful.)
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
The story deadline for the tenth annual Down the Chimney Affair is rapidly approaching! Due date is TOMORROW, 8:00 pm EST on Sunday, December 13, 2015.

Just a reminder that if you do not post your story by the above deadline, unless I hear otherwise immediately, your story will be considered in default and a pinch hit author will be assigned to write to those prompts.

However, the safety valve is that once you have posted your story it can be edited and tweaked and changed up until practically the moment the stories go live on Christmas Day. This has been verified with the AO3 support staff. Please do not stress if you feel your story isn't quite ready for publication upon submission - you still have time! Because DtCA is an anonymous exchange, no one but you will be able to see your story before the reveal date of December 25th.

For those DtCA participants who are either new to the Archive of Our Own, or those who post their stories using the URL import method, here are the step-by-step instructions on how to post your DtCA story using the AO3 direct upload interface. Please note that some of the screens may have changed slightly, and buttons may not be in the exact position described below but they will be somewhere on the screen.

This way to the step by step instructions )
And that's it, you have successfully posted your Down the Chimney story. Now just sit back and wait for the Big Reveal on December 25th.

(And if you're like me and tweak a story forever, go all the way back up to Step 4 so you can access and edit the story after it has been posted.)

Finally, if you just can't quite figure out how to post your story successfully or run into problems, contact me. I will be able to help you.
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
Yes indeedy, cousins and friends, it is that time of the year again, when our thoughts turn to adorable Napoleon and Illya elves feasting on cookies and vodka and jolly secret-agent Santas are ready to fill our stockings with all sorts of fabulous fanfic.

Well, OK, maybe not quite yet... but it is time to sign up for DtCA already, in order to have plenty of fic in our collective stocking come the wintry end-of-year.

Can you believe we've been doing this for 12 years already?!

How The Down the Chimney Affair works

The Down the Chimney Affair is a secret santa-style story exchange, which means that you write a story based on another fan's prompts and someone else writes a story for you, guided by your prompts. If you want to receive a story, you must also be willing to write one.

This is the post to register for the exchange. Sign-ups will be open for 9 days. After October 24th, the agents at UNCLE North Pole will match Secret Agent Santas with recipients according to preferences noted on the entry form.

Once again the exchange will be hosted and archived on the Archive of Our Own, although all admin posts and discussion will be here on [livejournal.com profile] muncle.

The gift exchange rules and this year's timetable are noted below.

Down The Chimney Affair Guidelines

Secret Agent Santas agree to write a story of 1,000 words or more. Longer stories are welcome, but 1,000 words is the required minimum.

Stories are published anonymously on December 25th. Stories should not be shared publicly before January 1, 2016, when the Secret Agent Santa authors are revealed.

With the release of The Man from UNCLE film this year, DtCA will now include both our beloved TV 'verse and movie 'verse fiction. Historically DtCA stories have been limited to either gen or M/M slash, but with the fabulous female characters in the movie, it seems a little ridiculous to exclude them, so het, F/F and OT3/multi stories are now also welcome.

The Down the Chimney Affair is a fiction exchange. Additional art and vids have been popular additions in the past and are absolutely welcome if the author so chooses, but are not required.

Two considerations to keep in mind when choosing prompts: 1) Plot outlines are not prompts 2) Prompts are things you'd like to see in a story, not an attempt to stump the author.

Participants cannot express a preference regarding who they write for, or who they would prefer as their author. Writers are matched to recipients based on preferences listed on the sign-up form.

And last but not least, the ugly: Authors defaulting on an assignment are prohibited from participating the following year. Two DtCA defaults result in prohibition from further DtCA exchanges.

All signups will be done via the sign-up form on the profile page of Down the Chimney Affair 2015. Just click the "Sign-Up Form" button to open up the form. Instructions are included within the form. Be sure you are first logged into your AO3 account (there is a "Log In" button on every AO3 screen, in the upper right corner).

The Down the Chimney Affair 2015 profile page contains extensive FAQs and also some detailed step-by-step instructions on how to sign up for the exchange. An AO3 account is required in order to participate; if you do not have one please contact vysila AT comcast DOT net for an account invitation.

We also now have links to the AO3 Down the Chimney collection on our [livejournal.com profile] muncle links bar.

2015 Timeline

All times noted are U.S. Eastern Standard Time Zone. Please visit the time zone converter to calculate the date and time of day for your locale.

Signups will be open for nine days, beginning Friday, October 16 at 10:00 am (10:00) and closing at 8 pm (20:00) on Saturday, October 24, 2015.
Assignments will be sent out within 24 hours after the close of signups; that is, no later than the evening of Sunday, October 25, 2015.
The beta reader sign up will be posted to muncle on LJ on November 14, 2015.
The pinch hit sign up will be posted to muncle on LJ on November 28, 2015.
Stories are due no later than 8 pm (20:00) on Sunday, December 13, 2015.
Pinch hit assignments will be sent out no later than 8 pm (20:00) on Monday, December 14, 2015.
Pinch hit stories are due no later than 8 pm (20:00) on Wednesday, December 23, 2015.
Stories will be revealed at 10 am (10:00) on Christmas Day, December 25, 2015.
Authors will be revealed at 10 am (10:00) on New Year's Day, January 1, 2016.

If you have any questions regarding the Down the Chimney Affair or how to sign-up, please add a comment to this post and I will respond as soon as possible. (I'm completely sure I screwed something up somewhere - please point it out to me so I can fix my inevitable mistakes!)

Thanks so much, and looking forward to the awesome fic!

P.S. I apologize for only having icons and a banner that feature the TV characters. I'm not an artist and I'm using the DtCA art we've had for a long time. Maybe we need an icon/banner contest for all our fabulously talented artists, so we can have DtCA art that includes our marvelous movie characters too!
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
I just realized that as I am contacting Down the Chimney Affair participants with their posting date and instructions, that the html coding for the post format is not always coming through. That's my bad; I didn't realize LiveJournal auto-formats all html coding in private messages.

Below is the proper format, complete with html coding, that should be used when posting your DtCA works to [livejournal.com profile] muncle.

The subject line should be typed as follows, except of course that you will substitute the appropriate user name inside the quotation marks and drop the blank spaces inside the <> marks.
Subject: Down the Chimney Affair gift for < lj user="recipientname" > (genre)

In the post body, please start off with this format. Once again, substitute appropriate user names inside the quotation marks and drop the blank spaces inside all of the <> marks.
< center >< font size="+2" >TO: < lj user="recipientname" > FROM: < font color="#006600" >< lj user="yourname" >< /font> < lj-cut text="Open Your Gift!" >< /center >

Beneath this, you may post the entire contents of your work, if you so desire, or simply post a direct link to your finished work wherever it is hosted.

For an example of what your final header should look like, here's an example. Of course, we're not doing secret posting, so be sure to put your own name as the "from" party.

DtCA header example

Finally: please use the tags 'dtc' and 'dtc11' on your post. And if you are hosting your work on AO3, the subcollection for Down the Chimney Affair 2014 has been created, so it would make it easier for readers to find all of this year's Down the Chimney works in one place if you associate your work with the collection (the same way you did for the Mini-Bang).

Any questions, ask away. (And don't worry if you haven't gotten a message from me yet about your posting date; only the early posters have been contacted so far.)

Edited to add: If the above html instructions are a tad too intimidating, please feel free to send me your story and I will post it on your behalf. Or anyone who knows a bit of html could do the same. It's not meant to be stressful in any way - all of your lovely works will be just fine whether they're formatted consistently or not.
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
By popular demand, DtCA is back for this year. I know this has been a year of heavy writing and artistic demands, what with the 50th anniversary celebration, so we will be doing something a little bit different this year.

1. We are switching to a "prompt meme" type event. We are borrowing the format from the Easter Egg promptfest on [livejournal.com profile] mfuwss and the Halloween ficathon on [livejournal.com profile] mfu_scrapbook.) This is not a reciprocal gift exchange. You may post a prompt but are not obligated to claim someone else's prompt.

3. The prompt can be a song, an image, a single word or phrase or any combination thereof. Although we like holiday or winter themes, this is not a requirement. Also please state whether you prefer Gen or Slash (sorry, no het) and the level of explicitness. Additionally, as this event is open to artistic responses of any kind, please state in your prompt if you are open to any media response, or if you specifically prefer a story, or art, or icons, or whatever.

4. Posting prompts will open today - October 12, 2014 - and will close two weeks from yesterday - Saturday, October 25, 2014. Due to the shorter time frame, it may be wise to post your prompts as soon as possible.

5. Interested parties will claim prompts ANONYMOUSLY (i.e., not logged into your LJ account). (We gotta have some "Secret Santa" action here.) Prompts can be claimed as soon as they are posted, no need to wait until October 25th. While authors and artists may claim more than one prompt, please give others a chance to stake a claim before claiming more than one. Also, be sure not to overload your creative plate by claiming too many prompts - remember that the holiday season is a super-busy time of year! Additionally, a single prompt can be claimed by more than one person.

6. As always, we ask for a minimum story length of approximately 1,000 words. However, please do not stress over the story length. If you've told your story in 500 words, or 800 words, or 10,000 words - it's all fine. If you want to do one drawing | photomanip or 10 in response to a single prompt, that too is fine.

7. We will use a daily posting schedule for the claims rather than a mass publication on December 25th. The schedule will depend on how many entries we have. Artists and authors will post their own works according to their assigned date. The details have yet to be worked out but there is still time.

8. Posting platform: Artists and authors may post their works here on [livejournal.com profile] muncle if desired. All works will be posted as logged-in users - there will be no guessing as to who created what. (I'm going to miss that, actually.) I will be creating a sub-collection for Down the Chimney Affair 2014 on AO3, so works may also be posted there to the collection, with a post here in [livejournal.com profile] muncle that gives a direct link to the AO3 work. This would be similar to the way the 50 Mini-Bang works were posted on LJ.

9. On January 1, 2015, authors and artists will be free to post their works elsewhere, such as on a personal website, their personal LJ and other places.

10. If you have claimed a prompt and realize you will not be able to fulfill it, you can do two things:
a) Delete your claiming post so that the prompt is now orphaned and will be available for others to claim and
b) Please let me know as soon as possible, either by private message here on LJ or via email: vysila AT comcast DOT net

I think that covers it for now. Any questions, by all means comment on this post and I will do my best to answer.

Thanks to everyone for wanting to support the Down the Chimney Affair for the 11th year!
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
Here's a primer for those readers who are not familiar with the Archive of Our Own (AO3) where the stories for this year's Down the Chimney Affair are archived.

Since DtCA is a Secret-Agent Santa type gift exchange, stories will "go live" at 10:00 AM Eastern Standard Time (US) on December 25th. Authors will not be revealed until January 1st, allowing an entire week of suspense as we all try to guess who wrote those fabulous stories.

To access the Down the Chimney Affair entries for this year, simply click on the "Down the Chimney Affair on AO3" link on the right side of [livejournal.com profile] muncle. That will take you directly to the stories for Down the Chimney Affair 2013.

This year, stories should display in random order. However, if you prefer a different order, it is quite easy to sort the stories on the page. From the "Sort and Filter" box on the right side of the screen, note that you have multiple sorting options in a drop-down list. Date Updated is the standard setting, but if you click on the down arrow, you will see that items can be sorted by other choices. Once you have made your sort selection, just click the "Sort and Filter" button to resort the list of stories. This should make it easy for you to read the stories in whatever order you prefer.

And remember, you do NOT need to have an AO3 account or be a member of AO3 in order to read the stories, nor is there a super secret password to remember (unusual for spies like us). Down the Chimney Affair stories will always be completely open and available to all readers.

If you have any questions, just send me an LJ private message or an email to vysila AT Comcast DOT net and I'll see if we can't sort it all out.

Woohoo – only about 36 hours to go! Happy Holidays to All!
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
The story deadline for the tenth annual Down the Chimney Affair is rapidly approaching! Due date is 8:00 pm EST on Friday, December 13, 2013. Wow, that's less than two weeks from today! How did it get to be December already?

Just a reminder that if you do not post your story by the above deadline, the automated archive will immediately identify the non-submission as a defaulted story and a pinch hit author will be assigned to write to those prompts. However, the safety valve is that once you have posted your story it can be edited and tweaked and changed up until practically the moment the stories go live on Christmas Day. This has been verified with the AO3 support staff. Please do not stress if you feel your story isn't quite ready for publication upon submission - you still have time!

For those DtCA participants who are either new to the Archive of Our Own, or those who post their stories using the URL import method, here are the step-by-step instructions on how to post your DtCA story using the AO3 direct upload interface. For easy reference, this post will remain "stickied" at the top until after the due date has elapsed.

this way to the step-by-step instructions )
And that's it, you have successfully posted your Down the Chimney story. Now just sit back and wait for the Big Reveal on December 25th.

(And if you're like me and tweak a story forever, go all the way back up to Step 4 so you can access and edit the story after it has been posted.)

Finally, if you just can't quite figure out how to post your story successfully or run into problems, contact me. I will be able to help you.
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
It's time to put out a call for pinch-hit authors for the tenth annual Down the Chimney Affair. While we always hope there will be no need for pinch-hit authors, we know this is a busy time of year.

Stories are due no later than 8:00 pm EST on Friday, December 13, 2013 so I will know by late on December 13 whether any authors have defaulted.

Pinch-hit assignments will be sent no later than December 14 and are due by 8:00 pm EST on December 23, 2013, allowing slightly over one week to produce a story of 1,000 words.

If you are willing to serve as a last minute pinch-hit author, please leave a comment to this post. All comments are screened.

Information needed in your comment:
Your AO3 account name and associated email address (stories will be posted to AO3 and you must have a user account there or request one from me)
Kind of story you are willing to write (ie, gen, slash, either)
Anything you prefer not to write (ie, explicit sex, graphic violence, etc.)
Required turn-around time (number of days)

Thanks so much to all those adrenaline junkies who embrace this challenge!
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
Just wanted to remind everyone who signed up to participate in Down the Chimney 2012 that your stories are due TOMORROW, Sunday December 16, by no later than 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (U.S.) More than half of the stories have already been submitted.

The bad news is that authors who do not submit a story by that time will be considered in default. The GOOD news is that you can still edit your story after it has been submitted. This has been confirmed by the AO3 support team. Please do not hesitate to submit your story even if you are not completely satisfied with it - you still have that last week to polish it to perfection before your story is revealed.

Step-by-step instructions on how to submit your story are in this post

Instructions on how to access and edit your story after it has been submitted are in this post

[livejournal.com profile] elmey has thoughtfully reminded me that tomorrow is also the due date for the ginormous Yuletide exchange on AO3 and that the servers may be overwhelmed tomorrow with a lot of uploads. It might be wise to upload your stories today rather than tomorrow. Don't forget, you can still edit after submitting.

I should be available most of the weekend. Any questions or problems, you may do any of the following:
send a private LJ message to vysila
email me directly to vysila AT comcast DOT net
call me if you have my personal phone number

Don't know about you, but I am excited about all those yummy stories hanging on the muncle mantle, just waiting to be read!
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
I've gotten several queries from participants about editing a story after it has been posted, so I thought perhaps it would be good to clarify this point.

Yes, you can still edit your story once it has been uploaded. As noted in the upload directions here, once you have actually posted the story, you as the author will still be able to access your story by:

1. log into your AO3 account
2. go to your profile page
3. click on Works
4. then click on Works in Collection (a button at the top of your Works page)
5. you will see your story (it will say 'by anonymous' because it is unrevealed)
6. click on the story title to open the story file
7. click on edit to open the editing pane and make any changes

You should be able to edit your story right up to the time the collection is revealed. This has been confirmed by AO3 support staff.

Please be aware that it is very important to upload and post your story by the due date. If you do not post your story by that time, you will automatically be noted by the system as defaulting on your assignment and a pinch-hitter will be substituted. Because the system is automated, there can be no late submittals. Please make sure to post your story on time and, if need be, make your edits (be they large or small) afterwards.

Any questions, feel free to email or PM me, or leave a comment to this post, and I'll try to explain it more fully. I know the new process takes a little getting used to.

And - we now have TWO stories completed and posted. I'm getting excited and anxious to read all the lovely new fic!
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
The story deadline for Down the Chimney Affair 2012 is rapidly approaching! Due date is 8:00 pm EST on December 16, 2012. That's two weeks from today.

For those DtCA participants who are either new to the Archive of Our Own, or those who post their stories using the URL import method, here are the step-by-step instructions on how to post your DtCA story using the AO3 direct upload interface.

this way to the instructions )
And that's it, you have successfully posted your Down the Chimney story. Now just sit back and wait for the Big Reveal on December 25th.

(And if you're like me and tweak a story forever, go all the way back up to Step 4 so you can access and edit the story after it has been posted.)


Finally, if you just can't quite figure out how to post your story successfully, contact me. I will be able to help you.
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
It's time to put out a call for pinch-hit authors for the twelfth annual Down the Chimney Affair. While we always hope there will be no need for pinch-hit authors, this is a busy time of year.

Stories are due no later than 8:00 pm EST on December 16, so I will know by late on December 16 whether any authors have defaulted.

Pinch-hit assignments will be sent no later than December 17 and are due by 8:00 pm EST on December 23, allowing one week to produce a story of 1,000 words.

If you are willing to serve as a last minute pinch-hit author, please leave a comment to this post. All comments are screened.

Information needed in your comment:
Your AO3 account name and associated email address (stories will be posted to AO3 and you must have a user account there or request one from me)
Kind of story you are willing to write (ie, gen, slash, either)
Anything you prefer not to write (ie, explicit sex, graphic violence, etc.)
Required turn-around time (number of days)

Thanks so much to all those adrenaline junkies who embrace this challenge!
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
I've heard from a couple of authors that their stories are completed, so it sounds like it is time to put out the call for beta-reading volunteers.

If you are interested in serving as a beta reader for Down the Chimney, please comment on this post, leaving your name and particular expertise as a beta-reader (if any).

Authors, please feel free to contact the beta-reader of your choice via LJ private message and make arrangements with her/him.

Mark Your Calendars - December 16 (two weeks from today!) is the due date for stories!

Thanks so much to everyone who is willing to volunteer.
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
The elves at UNCLE North Pole were especially efficient this year. (It doesn't hurt that the AO3 automated matching service does a decent first pass.) All participants were assigned a random recipient based upon the category and rating specified in their sign-up forms. A second pass took prompts and comments into consideration.

All assignments have been emailed out to participants. If you signed up for DtCA and do not receive your assignment email by tomorrow evening, please email me at vysila AT comcast DOT net to let me know. Don't forget to check your spam filter before assuming you did not receive the email, though.

Instructions on how to upload your story should have been included in the assignment email. Stories are due by December 16 and can be edited after they have been posted, if need be.

Soon we'll be posting for beta reader and pinch hitter sign-ups, so stay tuned to [livejournal.com profile] muncle for updates.

Any questions, please feel free to post them as a comment here or PM or email me.
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
[livejournal.com profile] mayamaia pointed out in a separate discussion that the option for a M/F pairing (category) is available on the AO3 sign-up form, which begged the question: is het fic now allowed in DtCA?

[livejournal.com profile] sithdragn and I discussed this very question earlier. Traditionally we have not allowed het fic in this exchange, for several reasons: 1) [livejournal.com profile] muncle is a slash community and we are gen friendly (i.e., no mature or explicit ratings) but het just doesn't float our boat, and 2) it is difficult to fulfill a request for het fic, as very few people write it.

We are considering the possibility of adding het fic to the options list -- but NOT this year. If enough interest is expressed in having that option (maybe in a post-DtCA poll or discussion), it may become an option for the 2013 Down the Chimney Affair. However, because the 2012 exchange is already underway, we do not like to change things in mid-stream. The DtCA has always been focused on slash and gen, so we have opted to stick with the existing status for this year.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] mayamaia for raising the question.
[identity profile] vysila.livejournal.com
Q. What is the Down the Chimney Affair?

A: It is an annual story gift exchange for the Man from U.N.C.L.E. fandom. The exchange is a one-on-one reciprocal "secret-Santa", meaning that participants provide both a request for a story to receive and an offer to write a story for another participant. Recipients and authors are randomly matched according to stated preferences. Both requests and offers remain anonymous (except to the gift exchange moderators). Stories are revealed anonymously on Christmas Day and authors are revealed on New Year's Day.

The DtCA is the brainchild of [livejournal.com profile] sithdragn , who moderated the exchange on [livejournal.com profile] muncle from 2003 through 2011. In 2012 the hosting site for the exchange was moved to the Archive of Our Own, although the exchange is still run from LiveJournal's [livejournal.com profile] muncle community.

Q: What is the timeframe for the challenge?

A: The exact dates will change from year to year. This information will be updated annually to reflect the dates for the current year's exchange.

All times noted are U.S. Eastern Standard Time Zone. Please visit the time zone converter to calculate the date and time of day for your locale.

Signups will be open for ten days, beginning Tuesday, October 1 at 8:00 pm (20:00) and closing at 8 pm (20:00) on Friday, October 11, 2013.
Assignments will be sent out within 48 hours after the close of signups; that is, no later than the evening of Sunday, October 13.
The beta reader sign up will be posted to [livejournal.com profile] muncle on LJ on Saturday, November 9, 2013.
The pinch hit sign up will be posted to [livejournal.com profile] muncle on LJ on November 30, 2013.
Stories are due no later than 8 pm (20:00) on Friday, December 13, 2013.
Pinch hit assignments will be sent out no later than 8 pm (20:00) on Saturday, December 14, 2013.
Pinch hit stories are due no later than 8 pm (20:00) on Monday, December 23, 2013.
Stories will be revealed at 10 am (10:00) on Christmas Day, December 25, 2013.
Authors will be revealed at 10 am (10:00) on New Year's Day, January 1, 2014.

Q. What are the rules for the exchange?

A: Secret Agent Santas agree to write a story of 1,000 words or more. Longer stories are welcome, but 1,000 words is the required minimum.

Stories should not be shared publicly before January 1, 2014, when Secret Agent Santas are revealed.

The Down the Chimney Affair is a fiction exchange. Additional art and vids have been popular additions in the past and are absolutely welcome if the author so chooses, but are not required.

Two considerations to keep in mind when choosing prompts: 1) Plot outlines are not prompts 2) Prompts are things you'd like to see in a story, not an attempt to stump the author.

Participants cannot express a preference regarding who they write for, or who they would prefer as their author. Writers are matched to recipients based on preferences listed on the sign-up form.

And last but not least, the ugly: Authors defaulting on an assignment are prohibited from participating the following year. Two DtCA defaults result in prohibition from further DtCA exchanges.

Q: I know that The Down the Chimney Affair has traditionally included slash and gen fiction; what about het fic?

A: Sorry, but the moderators have reviewed the question and decided to remain with the existing slash, gen or threesomes genres. It is difficult to match requests for het fiction. If you have an story idea you're not sure meets our guidelines, please contact vysila AT comcast DOT net.

Q: Must I have an AO3 account to participate in the Down the Chimney Affair?

A: Yes. Please email vysila AT comcast DOT net. She will send you an AO3 invite so you can set up your personal account if you do not already have one.

AO3 has thoughtfully provided detailed instructions on how to create your account here.

Q: How do I sign up to participate?

A: The profile page of the Down the Chimney Affair 2013 is here. Be sure to log into your AO3 account and then click on the "Sign-Up Form" button. Specific instructions are included within the sign up form.

Further assistance on how to sign up for a gift exchange challenge can be found in this AO3 tutorial.

Q: Can I get some details on how to fill out the sign-up form?

A: Sure. The sign-up form has two parts: your request (what you want to receive) and your offer (what you are willing to write). Each part must be filled out.

Category (gen, M/M, F/F, etc.) is a required field. Your request allows you to select one category. Your offer allows you to select more than one category.

Rating (gen, teen, explicit, etc.) is a required field. Your request allows you to select one rating. Your offer allows you to select more than one rating.

Description: This is where you type in your specific story prompts for your request. You may have up to three prompts and they can be pretty much anything. Remember that plot outlines are not prompts and that prompts are things you'd like to see in a story, not an attempt to 'stump the author'.

On the offer side, the Description field can be used to identify things you will NOT write, such as tentacle sex or death fic.

Optional tags: Tags are used to further define your request: genres such as "hurt/comfort" or "angst"; locations such as "New York City" or "Paris"; relationships such as "Illya Kuryakin/Napoleon Solo"; and characters such as "Napoleon's Aunt Amy". Tags are completely optional on the offer side, but can be used to indicate writing preference, such as "angst", etc.

Below is an example of how to complete your request:
Category: M/M
Rating: Explicit
Description: My prompts are black silk, music, holiday
Optional tags: Napoleon Solo/Illya Kuryakin, angst, hurt/comfort

Your Secret Agent Santa will then understand that you want an IK/NS explicit angsty slash story that is about hurt/comfort and that you specifically want black silk, music and a holiday to be featured in the story.

Here is an example of how to complete the offer form:
Category: Gen, M/M, F/F
Rating: Any
Description: I will not write tentacle sex or death fic. Otherwise, just about anything goes.

Q: Can I change my signup form after it's been submitted?

A: Yes. You can edit your signup form after submitting as long as the signup period is still open. Once the signup period closes, the form can no longer be edited. You can find your form by logging into your AO3 account and clicking the "Signups" link in the left-side navigation bar of your profile page.

Q: What the heck are tags and how do I use them?

A: Tags are words or phrases that describe content. The optional tags help to define the kind of story you want. AO3 has many pre-defined tags: relationships such as "Napoleon Solo/Illya Kuryakin"; genre such as "angst", "action/adventure", "hurt/comfort"; locations such as "New York City", "Paris"; and so on. Start typing and suggestions will pop up. Select the appropriate choice and press ENTER to add the tag to your form. We are limited to using existing tags, so please add details for your story, such as non-tag prompts, in the Description field.

Check out the AO3 tutorial on tags over here.

Q: How are authors and recipients matched?

A: AO3's automatic process matches by category (gen, M/M, F/F, etc.) and rating (gen, teen, mature, etc.). Optional tags and information from the description field are taken into consideration during the second-pass manual review performed by the moderators.

Q: How do I find out about my assignment?

A: You will receive an email at the address registered to your AO3 account. The email will contain details of your assignment and will include the date your story is due, as well as instructions on what to do if you are unable to meet the deadline. If your spam filter ate the email, you can log into your AO3 account and click the link for "Assignments" on your profile page. Your assignment should be there. If it is not, please contact vysila AT comcast DOT net

Q: Can I switch my assignment?

A: No, that is not possible. If you are unable to complete the assignment for any reason, you can default.

Q: How do I submit my finished story?

A: Sign into your AO3 account and click the "Assignments" link on the left-side navigation bar. Select the Down the Chimney Affair 2013 challenge. At the bottom of the page are two buttons. Click the "Post to Fulfill" button. The posting form will open, with the challenge name and your recipient's name already filled in.

Complete the rest of the form. Remember that this challenge is secret-agent santa style so don't reveal too much about yourself in the summary or in the notes. If there are notes to the story check the appropriate location box. The name of the collection/challenge should already be filled in, but if it is not, please start typing in "down the chimney" and then select the correct collection name (make sure you have the right year) when it is suggested via pop-up. The next box is the "Gift this work to" field. If that is not filled in, please enter the AO3 account name of your recipient here.

Finally, in the large "Work Text" box, cut and paste the body of your offering into this box. Please be sure to preview your work to make sure it looks the way you want. You can edit this text any number of times until you are satisfied. (It's very similar to posting a work to LJ.) When you're ready to upload the story, click the "Post" button at the bottom of the page.

Once again, AO3 has published a detailed tutorial on how to submit a story to a challenge collection. You can find the tutorial here.

Q: When should I post my story?

A: You can post your story at any time after you receive your assignment and before the date and time that stories are due. Any stories that have not been posted by the due date|time will automatically be considered as defaults.

Q: Can I edit my story after I've posted it?

A: Yes. A submitted story can be edited multiple times, almost up until the moment the stories "go live" on Christmas Day (this has been verified by AO3's support staff). You can access your own story by logging into your AO3 account and clicking the "Works" link on the left-side of your profile page or the "Works" link from the profile page of the Down the Chimney Affair 2013 challenge.

Q: What if I can't finish my story in time?

A: You can default. To default, log into your AO3 account, click the "Assignments" link on your profile page and select your Down the Chimney assignment. Click the "Default" button at the bottom of the page, and then click to confirm on the pop-up screen. The moderators will be notified and will have time to find a pinch hitter writer for that assignment.

Please note that anyone who does not submit her/his story by the due date|time will be counted as an automatic default. The assignment will be given to a pinch hitter to complete.

Q: How do I sign up to pinch hit?

A: The moderators will post a request for pinch hit authors in the [livejournal.com profile] muncle community on LJ. All responses will be screened. Should there be any defaults, those who signed up as pinch hitters will be contacted in the order in which they signed up. All pinch hit assignments should be issued no later than Saturday, December 14, 2013. Pinch hit authors will have until 8:00 pm (20:00) on Monday, December 23, 2013 to submit their stories.

How do I sign up to beta read?

A: The moderators will post a request for beta readers in the [livejournal.com profile] muncle community on LJ. Please identify your strengths as a beta reader (grammar, plotting, spelling, etc.), the amount of time you require for beta reading and your preferred contact information (private message on LJ, email, etc). It will be the responsibility of the authors to contact the beta reader. Authors - do not respond directly and publicly to the beta reader, remember this is a secret-santa exchange.

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