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.

Mormon Lit Blitz Contest Semi-Finalists (part four of four)

Out of 200 submissions, a panel of judges has selected 32 semi-finalists. Out of these 32, twelve will be selected to compete in the final round for audience votes and the prize Kindle.

Today, we announced the last eight semi-finalists on Facebook and Twitter. As a recap, here they are:


“The Hearts of the Fathers”
“My dad thinks he only taught me one thing growing up. Every chance he got he would remind us, ‘Kids, never fight a monkey.’”


“Holding My Grandchild, Come to Land this Morning”
Of gravity, air, earth, and the startling newness of life outside the womb.

Tribute to a vanishing tradition and the women who sustained it for so long.

Thoughts on the quiet dance between freedom and faith.


“The Shattered Backboard”
How an elder in the Bucharest district got drafted to play one game for Club Dinamo.

“Frank’s Leap”
A leap of faith has landed Frank in an impossible decision.

“Flowers from Alan”
“Miracles. Maria thought they’d be cool, until one happened to her.”

“The Road Not Taken”
What regrets would you have if you could see the path you didn’t take?

Mormon Lit Blitz Contest Semi-Finalists (three of four)

Out of 200 submissions, a panel of judges has selected 32 semi-finalists. Out of these 32, twelve will be selected to compete in the final round for audience votes and the prize Kindle.

Today, we announced eight more semi-finalists on Facebook and Twitter. As a recap, here they are:


Giving up social cola drinking to symbolically support an alcoholic brother is only the beginning of Jared’s legendary powers of self-restraint.

Giovanni doesn’t see a light just after he dies; he has a hard time seeing anything at all until he learns to focus.

“The Shoe App”
Because she’s 5’10 and loves high heels, Catherine is excited to meet two tall, handsome men in nice suits—and black nametags.


“London Portraits”
“He gazes at the dust-charged sunbeams/ as though they are angels.”

“In Bulk”
An ode to giant jars of Costco mayonnaise, endless desert skies, and other manifestations of Wordsworthian abundance.

“I Teach Six-Year-Olds about Jesus in Sunday School”
You’ve been showered in spit and had your skirt soaked with a little girl’s tears. But you know that this is the world God so loved.

“Red Rock”
“What is it about this place that unwinds the soul, one chink at a time?”


“A Lesson in Conversational Slovene”
Two new missionaries struggling to master the language find reliable, if reticent, teachers in a retirement center.

Mormon Lit Blitz Contest Semi-Finalists (part two of four)

Out of 200 submissions, a panel of judges has selected 32 semi-finalists. Out of these 32, twelve will be selected to compete in the final round for audience votes and the prize Kindle.

Today, we announced eight more semi-finalists on Facebook and Twitter. As a recap, here they are:


She’d love to read about the “Mother and Baby” sculpture, but she’s got to stumble over her children just to get to the placard.

“Cada Regalo Perfecto”
Though unprepared, this poet seeks to give the best gifts.

“Second Coming”
Some simple advice for William Butler Yeats.

“She looked old, and he was old…”


“Oil of Gladness”
What it meant to one sister to carry a vial of consecrated oil in her purse.


A scholar in Babel wrestles with the loss of the old language.

“Count the Tear Stains on the Page”
Who do you talk to when you hate yourself?

“The Elder Who Wouldn’t Stop”
“He had seen too many companionships ruined over petty things. Had ruined a few of them himself. And this was not a mistake he was going to make again.”

Mormon Lit Blitz Contest Semi-Finalists (part one of four)

Out of 200 submissions, a panel of judges has selected 32 semi-finalists. Out of these 32, twelve will be selected to compete in the final round for audience votes and the prize Kindle.

Today, we announced eight semi-finalists on Facebook and Twitter. As a recap, here they are:


“Without Compulsory Means”
One of the most famous passages in the Doctrine & Covenants calls for persuasion through long-suffering and love. But how long will a couple have to suffer as they try to gently persuade their three-year-old son with Down Syndrome to make a change he doesn’t want?

“The Gloaming”
There’s day and there’s night, but there’s also twilight. There’s the world of the living and the world of the dead: but what’s in between?


“No Substitute for Chocolate”
Fathers’ Day brings calorie-laden sweets; Mother’s Day means flowers—and one more thing to take care of. That’s a cold, hard tradition one woman is determined to shake.

“Forgotten Memories”
If you could lock up memories that come unbidden, which would you choose to protect yourself from?

So, a man walks into the end of the world…and realizes he’ll have to improvise on that whole lamps-prepared-with-oil thing…


“The Cordwainer”

What a Montevideo cobbler didn’t know he taught one sister missionary.
“The New Beginning Ghazal”
A slice of Eden’s story contemplated in an ancient Iranian poetic form.

Where does faith fit when the most beautiful plans melt away?

Mormon Lit Blitz Semi-Finalists

THANK YOU to everyone who submitted work to the Mormon Lit Blitz Contest. We received roughly 200 submissions in many different forms and styles, and about as many different topics. Having read through a significant portion of the submissions as a member of the judging panel, I was impressed by the sheer conceptual imagination of the writers. You took various elements of Mormon life and approached them in ways that helped me see them anew, that gave dimension and weight to your experiences, values, and dilemmas. It made judging both enjoyable, because we got to read so much engaging work, and difficult–because we were supposed to turn a list of 200 into a list of 20-30.

We almost made it. We’re down to 32.

Between now and Wednesday, we’ll be introducing eight semi-finalists a day. You can catch a new title and teaser on Facebook or Twitter every few hours, or else wait and read about the featured semi-finalists on this blog at night. Only 12 of the 32 semi-finalists will go on to be featured as contest finalists and vie for your votes and the prize Kindle, but I think even the short descriptions of the semi-finalists will be a testament to the range of ways in which Mormon faith and creativity can intersect.

Thanks again to everyone who submitted. And enjoy the coming sneak peek at the fruits of the Mormon Lit Blitz Contest.

James Goldberg
Contest Co-Coordinator

Mormon Lit Blitz Contest: 1 Kindle for 1k words

Mormon Artist is pleased to announce a new collaborative project: the Mormon Lit Blitz contest. The project was conceived by James Goldberg and Scott Hales and will be hosted here on the Mormon Artist blog (check back regularly for updates). Send up to three submissions of 1,000 words or less to by January 15, 2012 and you may win a Kindle.

Contest Call for Submissions

What we want: Short work for Mormons to be published and read online.

The details:
“Short” means under 1,000 words.

“Work” means creative writing in any genre, from literary realism to far future science fiction, and in any form: fiction, essay, poetry, even play or screenplay if you can keep it under 1,000 words. Give us a tiny, polished gem we can show off to people who love Mormonism and love great writing but  “know not where to find” a place where the two meet.

“For Mormons” means for committed Latter-day Saints. Yes, that’s an extremely diverse audience (see the “I’m a Mormon” campaign–and your ward members), but it’s also an audience with distinctive shared values and history that don’t often get attention in creative work. We want you to write something that will appeal to us as people who believe in the sacred, who have ridiculous numbers of brothers and sisters we see every week, who worry about being good and faithful servants no matter what our day jobs are and wonder what it will be like to meet our grandparents’ grandparents in heaven. We don’t need your pieces to preach to us. We do need them to combine your creativity and religious commitment in a way that excites us and gives us something cool to talk about with our Mormon friends.

“To be published and read online” means we’re going to post six to twelve finalists’ pieces on the Mormon Artist blog and then ask readers to vote on their favorites.

One catch: since even 1,000 words can be intimidating on a screen, your piece needs a strong hook of no more than 120 words (or eight lines for poetry) to be visible on the main blog page. Mark the end of your hook with [MORE]. Even our editors will only read further if you’ve piqued their interest.

Submission Guidelines: Submissions must have fewer than 1,000 words with a hook no longer than 120 words (or eight lines for poetry). Submissions must be engaging to Latter-day Saints and engage with their Mormon identity in some way.

Authors may submit up to three works. Each submission must be attached to an email as a .doc or .pdf file. The selection process is blind, so the author’s name should not appear on the document.

Email any questions and your submissions to Submission emails should contain the author’s name, the titles of each submission, and contact information (telephone number or email address).

By submitting, authors give us the one-time rights to publish their work electronically. Previously published work is OK if you still have the rights to the piece and if it meets the above contest requirements (don’t forget to add a [MORE] tag to the end of your hook).

The prize: The contest editors will select six to twelve finalists. All finalists will have their short works published online starting in mid-February 2012 and actively promoted across the LDS blogosphere by the Mormon Lit Blitz team.

After all pieces have been published, readers will vote on a single Grand Prize Winner, who will receive a Kindle pre-loaded with LDS literary works, including Parley P. Pratt’s classic short “A Dialogue Between Joseph Smith and the Devil,” Peculiar Pages’ recent Monsters & Mormons anthology, Zarahemla Books’ Dispensation: Latter-day Fiction, the poetry anthology Fire in the Pasture, and recent issues of Mormon Artist magazine.