We are going to continue. That said, there will be significant changes to help make this as enjoyable for us as it is for you. ;-) dysonrules and I have bounced around several ideas, and this is what we have come up with (and yes, it is just me and her now).
I am not going to say that these are set in stone - this is a community, and as such, you do have a say. After all, if we did not care what you thought, this would have been a prompt fest this year...but it was not. Because you did not want it. Ergo, we listened and kept it as is. See how that works? It's as close to a democracy as you're going to get.
Max author participants will be lowered to 60. This allows us roughly two fic posts per day, still lets us open and close with double the awesomeness, and gives us Christmas Day off from posting. Additionally, the two remaining mods (myself and dysonrules will not be counted in the max should we choose to participate). Why just authors? Because art is effortless for us. Artists will be unlimited and not included in this max participant count. We crave it every year. We do not want to limit this. WE WANT THE PRETTY!!
Two lotteries. Anyone brand-spanking new to the fest goes into one lottery, anyone who is returning goes into another. This should allow for an even split on new people and returning fest participants, which we think is the most fair considering the lower max count (we don't want reserved slot folks taking up all the spaces, in other words). *If you dropped out this year, you are not permitted to participate. If you dropped out in a prior year (say, 2008) and haven't played since, you will go into the returning members lottery. Very, very rarely will exceptions be made due to the fact that we've been burned on this in the past. Please contact us privately if you want to participate but are ineligible. We are not entirely heartless - one year, a brand new participant had a death in the family shortly after assignments were sent and they had to bail...obviously we let them participate the following year. Anyone who has dropped out twice, consecutive or nonconsecutive rounds, is banned.
Sign-ups go back to August since the extra amount of time meant little to 80% of participants this year. Ergo, I am not going to let sign-ups and assignments interfere with a huge obligation that I have coming this July and we'll bump them to August 1st. We would have assignments out no later than 7 days after sign-ups close (so...mid August, allowing for roughly 9-10 weeks to work on your recipient's wishlist).
The due dates will no longer be scattered - November 1st for everyone. That gives you through the final weekend in October, and allows myself and dysonrules to have ample time going over submissions, catching any errors like broken html tags, etc, and for me to get longer fics and art uploaded to the server and ready to go on December 1st.
Extensions...this is where it gets hairy. If you request an extension, you will be required to show us your work in progress. I don't care if it's scans of your notebook that you've handwritten the fic in - we need a show of good faith that you haven't been yanking our chain for a month only to turn around and drop out in mid December. This is not meant to sound harsh or mean, but we think it will be easier on the folks who are so convinced they will finish, stress themselves into a frenzy, only to bail last minute without so much as an opening paragraph...won't happen, because we'll just kick you out. Problem solved. In short, extension requests without an attachment will be ignored. Additionally, we reserve the right to say no, you cannot have an extension, based on the WIP received and the date that it is received. Due date of November 1, you come to us for a second extension request on November 15th with two paragraphs riddled with SPAG errors? You likely aren't going to get that second extension. Lastly, it will be extremely rare for us to issue more than two extensions to a participant. This will be determined based on WIP received, circumstances, prior history, etc.
We feel that, in terms of extensions, this is fair and also allows for a more smoothly run fest. We understand that things happen and that everyone works at their own pace (looking at you, folks who only produce under threat of public shaming and constant harping on by the mods *g*). However, I refuse to leave my Christmas celebrations early for yet another year so that I can come home and format fics for uploading that are due to post on the 26th. I refuse. There is zero reason why the schedule for the final two weeks has to be changed umpteen times because of outstanding work from people who are not pinch-hitters. dysonrules has been such an amazing partner to have, and I do not want her to leave me, so I want to lighten her burden as much as possible by not, for example, begging her to check over 30k+ word fics for possible issues on December 29th so I can post it that day. So the days of extremely liberal extension requests are gone. No more 4th and 5th requests - nada.
This will remain an exchange fest - I think it is the last H/D fest of its kind. If you prefer to participate in a prompt fest, allow me to direct you to our partner fest, hd_smoochfest. We also mod that, so...stuck with us. But the rules are a little different there.
So that's that. Before I open the floor for comments/suggestions/hate and rage over the new rules, let me just say that WE APPRECIATE ALL OF YOU for your heartfelt gratitude and well-wishes, and the desire for hd_holidays to live on. The future of this fest is entirely in your hands, we are merely the house-elves working behind the scenes. Granted we're very pushy and a bit more like Kreacher sometimes and less like Dobby, but hey...
I have been in this fandom for nearly a decade. From the days where the majority of discussion was on HP4GU, and Yahoo Groups and ff.net ruled HP fanfic. I started off as a Harry/Ginny shipper over at sugarquill.net (dodges rotten fruit), but ever since I fell in love with H/D at the same time that Harry fell in love with Draco in Rhysenn's Irresistible Poison (man, I remember when she first published the chapter with that kiss...you know the one...), it's been my hardcore OTP. hd_holidays has been the platform for so many fandom greats that I would hate to see it die. We can keep it going if you help us.
We now open the floor to you. Have at it.
taradiane and dysonrules