Day Eight: Emily Debenham

The Shoe App

Catherine liked setting up her laptop in the café because the internet was free and she had hacked the video camera feed outside. From that she had created an app that would ping anytime a man over six feet entered the store.

Graced with her father’s lanky genes, she had hit 5’10 in the tenth grade and stayed there. Worse, she had an addiction to three inch heels, courtesy of her mother, a heritage she clung to since she passed. So she needed the man in her life to tow the 6 feet tall line.

Otherwise the thousands of dollars she had invested in shoes would go to waste on their custom built racks in her generous walk-in closet. Her mother had always said “A good pair of shoes will chase away the blues.” Something Catherine had desperately needed after she was gone. Her obsession was more than mere vanity.

She would burn her shoes before she allowed others to label her as vain.

Catherine was chic, savvy, fashionable, and determined. Not vain. Continue reading Day Eight: Emily Debenham

Day Seven: Kathryn Soper

Oil of Gladness

The Elders’ Quorum president held up the quart-sized bottle for everyone to see. “For anointings we use olive oil—preferably extra virgin,” he explained. The women murmured in approval. They knew that extra virgin, product of the first pressing of the olives, is the best.

The liquid in the bottle shone a rich yellow. Pretty, but not as impressive as the olive oil my grandmother poured freely in the days of my childhood. Imported from Greece, the thick green oil came in square, gallon-sized cans marked in geometric Greek. The filigreed designs in red and gold reminded me of the stained-glass windows in the Greek Orthodox church, where I fidgeted every Easter, nose wrinkling from incense, under the eye of the emaciated Christ hanging above the nave. Continue reading Day Seven: Kathryn Soper

Day Five: Sandra Tayler

The Road Not Taken

Caraline sat at the spaceport cafe table and watched herself walk in. As always, it was a strange experience. The woman paused in the doorway until she spotted Caraline. Then she wove through the tables toward her. The other woman had gained some weight, softened. Caraline straightened in her seat, suddenly conscious of her slender frame and stylish pantsuit. Perhaps she should have dressed down more, to match the other woman’s comfortable jeans and sweater.

“Hello Caraline.”

“Hello Cara.”

Prior to the accident she had been both Cara and Caraline depending on the situation. Now she was just Caraline. It was a simple way to distinguish, to declare some semblance of separateness. Continue reading Day Five: Sandra Tayler

Day Three: Jeanna Stay

No Substitute for Chocolate

“I have some bad news,” her husband said as he came home from Sunday bishopric meetings. “I really tried to suggest it. But they wouldn’t listen. You’re not getting food for Mother’s Day. You’re getting pansies.”

“Seriously?” She shook her head. It’s not that she was surprised, just that she was hoping for a little magic this year.

“I know, I’m sorry. I couldn’t convince them. I’ll try again next year, though.” He kissed her cheek and joked, “But hey, I hear you can eat pansies.”

She stuck her tongue out at him.

I am not getting pansies again next year, she silently vowed. I’ll make sure of that. Then she smiled. She had an idea. Continue reading Day Three: Jeanna Stay

Day Two: Wm Morris

The Elder Who Wouldn’t Stop…

Elder Russell’s greenie was the most diligent, obedient missionary he had served with so far in Spain. There was only one problem: he wouldn’t stop drumming. During breakfast, lunch and dinner; phone calls, visits, and discussions. With his fingers, his fists, his feet, his knees, his mouth. With forks and spoons, pens and pencils, pamphlets and notebooks, twigs and breadsticks. On the bus and on the metro; on the table and on the counter; on the elevator and on the stairs. On his chest and legs and arms. On his scriptures, on his dinner plate, on his backpack, on his bed. On every door frame, every handrail, every seat back, every street sign. And even sometimes on Elder Russell. Continue reading Day Two: Wm Morris

Day One: Marilyn Nielson

In Bulk

“But as good as the price-per-ounce may be, you just don’t need that much mayonnaise.”
—CBS MoneyWatch, “5 Things You Should Buy At Costco”

It is tempting to begin aggressively,
To ask what you—with your elevators and your “buzzing-in,”
Your taxis and your tiny, drooping houseplants,
Your Holiday Parties, and your solitary coffee breaks—
Know of shouting, giggling masses of children
Bursting like not-quite-sentient maggots
From the secondhand, mortifying Station Wagon.
Continue reading Day One: Marilyn Nielson

Let the Blitzing Begin

“We must read, and think, and feel, and pray, and then bring forth our thoughts, and polish and preserve them. This will make literature.”—Orson F. Whitney

Fifty years ago, most schools taught that making literature was a matter of combining great language and universal human values. Since then, millions of readers have decided that context also counts: that it’s nice to get our grand human dilemmas through the lens of very specific cultures with their unique values, traditions, tensions.

We believe that Mormon experience is rich enough to inspire engaging poems, stories, and essays–and are ready to offer thirteen pieces as proof. We also believe that many Mormons are thirsty for quality work that gives voice to their perspective, or else gives them a new way to think about principles they treasure. These pieces have what many readers are maybe only half-aware they’re waiting for.

Thanks to the internet and social media, it’s easier than ever to share the experience of a minority literature with the audience that will understand it best. Over the past week, for instance, nearly 24,000 people read James Goldberg’s blog post “Whose World is ‘Realer’?,” mostly through individual Facebook links. When a need and a lyrical, articulate piece of writing  intersect, audiences can emerge that no one otherwise didn’t exist.

So please, join us over the next two weeks on this blog for the Mormon Lit Blitz. Join us on our Facebook page to discuss pieces as they’re published. Get ready to rank your top five pieces for the voting in March. And when a piece moves you or gives you something to talk about or just makes you laugh, share the link. Together, we can build a stronger future for Mormon Literature.

Thank you for your interest, and thank you for your support.

James Goldberg and Scott Hales
Mormon Lit Blitz Coordinators

Mormon Lit Blitz Finalists

In our previous announcements of semi-finalists, we included only titles to preserve blind judging. Now that our finalists have been selected, we’d like to congratulate our semi-finalists by name.

So thank you to Emily Harris Adams, Jake Balser, Jeanine Bee, Brandon Caudle, Judith Curtis, Emily Debenham, MacEvoy DeMarest, Deja Earley, Marianne Hales Harding, Wm Morris, Marilyn Nielson, Jonathon Penny, Merrijane Rice, Brittany Rytting, Kathryn Lynard Soper, Kerry Spencer, Doug Staker, Jeanna Mason Stay, Sandra Taylor, Bradford Tuckfield, Cassidy Wadsworth, Amelia Wallace, Terresa Wellborn, and Emily Younker for sharing their fine work.

After testing the semi-finalists with a sample set of likely readers, crunching numbers, rereading piece after piece, and debating back and forth like people with a great dessert menu but a strict calorie limit, we selected thirteen finalists (yes, we said we’d pick only twelve finalists, but were saved from a tough final cut when we remembered it’s Leap Year). They are:

“In Bulk” by Marilyn Nielson

“The Elder Who Wouldn’t Stop” by Wm Morris

“No Substitute for Chocolate” by Jeanna Mason Stay

“Second Coming” by Emily Harris Adams

“The Road Not Taken” by Sandra Tayler

“Stillborn” by Merrijane Rice

“Oil of Gladness” by Kathyrn Lynard Soper

“The Shoe App” by Emily Debenham

“Cada Regalo Perfecto” by Deja Earley

“The Gloaming” by Kerry Spencer

“Babel” by Jonathon Penny

“The Hearts of the Fathers” by Jeanine Bee

“Red Rock” by Marianne Hales Harding

The finalists will be published from Feburary 15th-29th and voting for the Grand Prize (and Kindle) will be open March 1st-15th.