Mormon Lit Lab: Book Mentoring Program

Book Mentoring Program: Mormon Lit LabOver the past 10 years, the Mormon Lit Blitz contest has published more than a hundred unique works of Mormon microliterature—short essays, stories, and poetry that stretch our sense of what literature can accomplish in a community of faith.

We’re excited to take the next step. This year, we’re mentoring four prose writers  and four poets as they develop books. We’ve already brought together a volunteer team of people with expertise in writing, editing, publishing, and advertising to provide monthly classes and personal consultations. We also aim to raise a $1,000 to $2,000 budget in support of each project. Even a small budget can help make someone’s dream project a reality.

To help bring these new titles into the world, make a tax-deductible one-time or monthly donation to the Mormon Lit Lab today. Whether you are able to contribute $20 or $100, any and every contribution will make a real difference.

If you would like to designate a specific project as the preferred beneficiary of your gift, you may do so. The writers and projects are:

PROSE

Book Mentoring Program Prose (Mormon Lit Lab)

Luisa Perkins

Mid-Century Murder is the first novel in a mystery series featuring Annette Van Doren, a 54-year-old recently widowed Latter-day Saint. Through Annette’s employment at a business specializing in historic real estate, each mystery will involve different houses and architectural styles. At the same time, the book will explore how a Mormon woman redefines herself after years when her energy was far more focused on family needs.

Target draft completion date: Fall 2021

Luisa’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:

César Fortes

César Fortes has been the most popular Portuguese-language writer in the Mormon Lit Blitz. He is working on a collection of autobiographical short stories featuring Mormon experience in his family and ward in Cape Verde. These slice-of-life stories, at turns humorous and poignant, give a strong sense of place and community while raising important spiritual and social questions.

Target draft completion date: Fall 2021

César’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:

William Morris

The Courtship of Elder Cannon is a short literary novel about a recently widowed member of the Seventy and a U of U literature professor who are set up on a blind date in 2009 in the wake of scrutiny over the Church’s involvement in California’s Proposition 8. Told through conversations, journal entries, talks, emails, scriptural commentaries, and so on, the novel explores how Mormon conceptions of grief, eternal marriage, and personal revelation impact Elder Cannon’s relationships with the woman he courts, his family, her family, and his identity as a husband, father, and church leader.

Target draft completion date: Summer 2021

William’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:

Gabriel González

El periplo de Melitón González Trejo [The Quest of Melitón González Trejo] is a historical novel steeped in magical realism. Based on the life of the primary translator of the Book of Mormon into Spanish, it recounts his travels from Spain to the Philippines to Utah to Mexico during the second half of the 19th century. As an immigrant and translator himself, the author will explore the sense of gain and loss that comes with immigration and crossing boundaries.

Target draft completion date: Late 2023

Gabriel’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:

POETRY

Marianne Hales Harding

Halfway to Heaven: Poems Crafted in Utah’s Wild Places is a poetic trail guide. Written on hikes in Utah and linked to specific trails, the work lends itself to being read in the space where it was written. Framed by her grandfather’s work as a landscape photographer of Utah’s Grand Circle of National Parks, this book is a tribute to the land and an exploration of how the land has mixed into Mormon consciousness and seeped into our sense of self.

Target draft completion date: Fall 2022

Marianne’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:

Jared Forsyth

How does our view of God relate to our views of money? In a collection of poems about money and religion, Jared Forsyth explores individual attitudes and shared financial structures, looking at both our shortcomings and the possibilities we have to exercise discipleship in our own finances and in our society.

Target draft completion date: Spring 2022

Jared’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:

Scott Hales

Scott Hales’ Hemingway in Paradise and Other Mormon Poems is a poetry collection about lives and afterlives. Exhibiting the same wry humor and unique Mormon perspective that made his The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl a beloved webcomic, Hales invites readers to join him at the crossroads of fact and fantasy, memory and invention, and life and death. Hemingway in Paradise is a deep dive into a Latter-day Saint imagination, moving freely from playful engagements with Church history and doctrine to poignant meditations on the everyday incidents and occurrences of Mormon experience.

Target draft completion date: Summer 2021

Scott’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:

Selina Forsyth

Selina Forsyth is currently pursuing a PhD in social work. She’s interviewing Latter-day Saint social workers and writing a collection that mixes nonfiction with poetry to explore the principles in Matthew 25:31-46. What insights can social workers give us into Christ’s call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoner?

Target draft completion date: End of 2022

Selina’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:

Please note that, while we want to help every  project reach completion, the Mormon Lit Lab does not guarantee the success of proposed projects. Funds will be disbursed to writers for use on approved book-related expenses. In the event that a book project stops progressing, we reserve the right to shift its budget to support other projects. Donations are not refundable. 


10th annual Mormon Lit Blitz Call for Submissions

Since 2012, the annual Mormon Lit Blitz contest has encouraged people to use Latter-day Saint ideas, values, beliefs, or imagery in very short stories, essays, poems, or other forms of writing. An anthology of contest finalists over the contest’s first five years is available here. We are now accepting submission for our tenth annual contest. 

Submission details: 

Submissions for the Tenth Annual Mormon Lit Blitz writing contest are due on 30 April 2021 to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com. Submitted works may be in any genre so long as they are under 1,000 words and designed to resonate in some way with a Latter-day Saint audience. Previously published material and simultaneous submissions are acceptable. Up to three submissions are allowed per author.

Finalists will be posted on the Mormon Artist magazine website (lit.mormonartist.net) in June. At the conclusion of the Lit Blitz, readers will vote for their favorite pieces, and a $100 prize will be given to the audience choice winner. All finalists will later be published in a print anthology, and their authors will become eligible for our new book development program.

To facilitate the judging process, we prefer to receive submissions as .doc, .docx, or .pdf attachments with the author’s name and contact information in the body of the email but not included in the attached text. Please email submissions and any questions you may have to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com.

As a writer, you retain the right to republish your piece in your own collections or other venues. By submitting, authors give us nonexclusive rights to publish their work electronically and in a future print anthology (with an anthology copy as payment). As stated above, previously published work is fine if you still have the rights to the piece and if it meets the above contest requirements.

Stay in touch: 

For updates about the 2021 contest and other Mormon Lit Lab news, follow the Mormon Lit Blitz Facebook page or sign up for our email list.

If you would like to support our efforts to create space for Mormon literary work, please consider making a monthly donation pledge on our Patreon account.

Thank you for your interest in Mormon Literature!

Giving Birth to Books: A Call for Proposals

In Nauvoo, women like Ann Carling, Vienna Jacques, and Patty Bartlett Sessions were called to an important work: serving as midwives for the Latter-day Saints gathering from different backgrounds to build new communities and a new identity together. As the Saints crossed the Plains and settled in the West, midwives and others cared for the needs of Zion’s mothers and regularly met in council to discuss women’s and maternal health. Though many converts had left networks of family and community to settle among the Saints, pioneer women were not alone in the work of giving birth.

At the Mormon Lit Lab, we take inspiration from our forebears in the faith. Though a book hardly has the same value as a baby, we recognize that opportunities for support and counsel and ease any creative process. Over the past nine years, we’ve created opportunities for dozens writers to create short work that reflects their identity as Latter-day Saints or plays with Mormon themes and heritage in some way through the Mormon Lit Blitz contest. We’ve connected contest finalists with thousands of readers, who have seen new possibilities for Mormon literature in their work. At the release party for The Mormon Lit Blitz: The First Five Years, we made an announcement about a next step in our group’s work as literary midwives. We are launching a new program to support past Mormon Lit Blitz finalists who want to develop a book.  

Our literary midwife program will consist of three main elements:
1. Each accepted writer will attend a group orientation and get a one-on-one follow up planning session with an experienced Mormon Lit Lab advisor, culminating in approval of a process and budget plan.
2. We will match writers with a sponsor or sponsors who provide a small budget, typically up to $1000, to cover costs associated with the book’s production and promotion. Grants will be dispersed in stages, according to the pre-approved plan.
3. We will hold a series of online council meetings to provide guidance on different elements of writing, publishing, and promotion. Attendance at each will be optional, based on writers’ plan and sense of their own needs.

Writers interested in publishing under the Mormon Lit Lab brand (along with our test crop of Grace Like WaterSong of Names, and the Mormon Lit Blitz anthology) will have that option at the end of the development process. Publishing with us is not, however, a requirement. Writers who are accepted into a given year’s development class retain all rights to their work and are free to submit their book to other publishers. Our interest is helping books come into being.  

Through March 31, 2021, we will be accepting book proposals to be considered for inclusion in our inaugural development class. Only past finalists from a contest sponsored by the Mormon Lit Lab are eligible to apply. Book proposals should consist of brief responses to the following four prompts:
1. Tell us about the book you’d like to write.
2. What does this book offer to Latter-day Saint readers or others interested in Mormon ideas, imagery, and experience?
3. What parts of the writing, publication, or promotion process are you most interested in getting help with?
4. What is your anticipated timeline for completing the manuscript?
If they have already started a manuscript, writers may also attach a sample. 

If you are interested in making a small contribution to support our general book development efforts, you can make a monthly contribution on our Patreon account or send a one-time donation by PayPal to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com. If you are interested in making a larger contribution and would like the chance to be matched to a project you feel strongly about, please reach out to us via email or Facebook message

Anthology Online Release Party

If you haven’t already seen, we wanted to share the good news. Our Kickstarter ended today, after funding early–and passing both of our stretch goals!

We plan to start shipping the books from the printer in the next couple days, to both contributors and Kickstarter backers. For those in the U.S., at least, books should arrive before Christmas. Fingers crossed for the rest…though it might be Three Kings’ Day.

In the meantime, we really wish there were a way for us to gather writers and readers together from the many cities, countries, and continents in which you live into one physical room to celebrate, but the constraints of space and a pandemic make that impossible.

A Zoom call is hardly the same, but we’d love to see your faces, hear a sample reading to represent each of the seven contests in the book, and take time for your questions and comments. We’ll be gathering virtually at 7 pm MST on Thursday, December 10. We’re asking people to RSVP: you can pick up the call link on the RSVP form. (The form even has a “maybe” button, so if you might be able to attend, still RSVP.)

Look forward to seeing some of you, sharing with you, and hopefully hearing a little about your favorite Lit Blitz pieces or memories!

-Nicole and James Goldberg, Mormon Lit Blitz editors

Anthology Kickstarter!

Yesterday, we launched a Kickstarter campaign for the anthology of finalists from the first five years of the Mormon Lit Blitz and related themed contests. Eric Jepson, who has work in the book, reminded me today to put up a post here. Between the time I started and the time I went to copy the link, the campaign reached its funding goal!

That means you can now pre-order a copy knowing we’ll be sending it out in early December. You can also help us reach our first stretch goal: funding enough to get started on a second anthology next year, covering 2017-2021.

Thank you to everyone who contributed. It means a lot to us to know these stories will be finding a good home on your shelves. We’ve loved all the work that’s come out of the contest and are glad to have it in print. These pieces stand the test of time.

Palabras de Mormón contest winners in El Pregonero de Deseret

This summer, we published English translations alongside original Spanish texts for the top three stories in the Palabras de Mormón contest, which we co-sponsored with the Cofradía de Letras Mormonas. All the winners, including several unpublished honorable mentions, were just released in the beautifully designed fall issue of El Pregonero de Deseret.  Take a look!

2020 Mormon Lit Blitz Winners: Audience Choice and Judge’s Choice

This year’s contest will stand out in our memories. The year when the Church marked the 200th anniversary of the First Vision has turned out to be one where we also wrestle more than usual with the weight of mortality. By the time the call for entries went up, we were well into a pandemic with a high death toll and no end in sight. Between the writing and the contest itself, racist violence in the United States drew sustained international attention to the cause of racial justice. There was a lot for readers to reflect on as they read the finalists.

And this year, many of the finalists in the contest spoke to the things we were thinking about: sickness and death, closed temples and quiet moments, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, Black experience and our call to discipleship across difference.

Thanks to support from our patrons, we’ll be awarding two prizes this year. There will be a $100 prize for the 1st place winner of the Audience Choice Award, and an additional $100 prize for the winner of the Judge’s Choice Award.

Audience Choice Award

We had over 300 people vote in the contest. Every single finalist had many voters choose it as their first, second, third, fourth place choices. With some help from Excel, we’ve tabulated people’s preferences.

The four audience favorite finalists this year were:

4th place: “Perfection is a Fullness” by Jeanine Bee

3rd place: “Part Heaven” by Madison Beckstrand

2nd place: “In the Locker Room at the Temple” by Darlene Young

 

and for 1st place, an essay from Cape Verde:

O Nosso Cão Stromberg” (“Our Dog Stromberg“) by César Augusto Medina Fortes

Spotlight on César:

César Augusto Medina Fortes was born in the city of Mindelo, on São Vicente island in Cape Verde. He graduated as a teacher with a degree in comprehensive basic education from the Pedagogical Institute of Mindelo, and a degree in educational sciences and praxis from Jean Piaget de Mindelo University; he did postgraduate work in youth and adult education at the Federal University of Paraíba, Brazil; he also holds a Masters in Pedagogical Supervision and Evaluation from the University of Cape Verde (UNICV).

He was a primary school teacher for nine years, taught secondary education for seven years, and since 2017 he had been a coordinator for social action for the Ministry of Education in São Vicente. He has enjoyed writing since high school, and one of his favorite hobbies is writing the stories of his family.

The bio in Portuguese:

César Augusto Medina Fortes Natural da cidade de Mindelo, ilha de São Vicente, Cabo Verde. Formado como professor de Educação Básica Integral pelo Instituto Pedagógico de Mindelo, Licenciado em Ciências da Educação e Práxis Educativa pela Universalidade Jean Piaget de Mindelo; pós-graduado em Educação de Jovens e Adultos pela Universidade Federal de Paraíba, Brasil; mestrando em Supervisão Pedagógica e Avaliação pela Universidade de Cabo Verde (UNICV). Foi professor do Ensino Primário durante nove anos, lecionou por sete anos no Ensino Secundário e desde 2017 é coordenador de ação social na delegação do Ministério de Educação em São Vicente. Gosta de escrever desde o tempo que andaandava no liceu. Um dos meus passatempos preferido é escrever a história da nossa família.

Judge’s Choice Award

This year, we invited Katherine Cowley to select the recipient of the Judge’s Choice award. Katherine Cowley is a past winner of the Mormon Lit Blitz and of Segullah’s annual writing contest. She is currently leading the team creating an anthology of the first five years of finalists in the Mormon Lit Blitz. Her debut novel, The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet, will be released in Spring 2021.

The Judge’s Choice Award goes to:

Part Heaven” by Madison Beckstrand

The following is a brief citation that Katherine Cowley provided for the award:

Madison Beckstrand’s poem, “Part Heaven,” is both brilliantly written and timely. The poem takes a simple moment–a black woman having her hair done by her mother–and uses this moment to expand our understanding of history, culture, race, family, sacred ordinances, and the very nature of God. The poem does not shy from struggle, and addresses the black pain not just experienced in broader society, but in our religious communities (“Divine wrath smells like chemical straighteners–stings like compliments from strangers”). Intrinsic in this experience is the weight of memory, and “the many that bled…for the future.” The imagery of blood has extra significance in light of the current worldwide protests over the killing of George Floyd and the treatment of blacks in the United States and worldwide. The poem also explores the importance of physical moments: touch is used to minister to others as the Savior did, to perform sacred ordinances, to give blessings, and to style hair. The final stanza paints a beautiful picture of divinity, and the way that the act of having a mother do your hair can be a window to understanding the nature of God.

Spotlight on Madison Beckstrand:

Madison Beckstrand is a writer and university student majoring in English Education. She loves writing, sewing, creating, and uses her talents to connect with her family and community. Madison is involved with her local chapter of Black Lives Matter, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ Genesis group, and the Humanity Sews project. She plans to write much more and is only encouraged by everyone’s support.

 

Please join us in congratulating César Augusto Medina Fortes and Madison Beckstrand on their awards in this year’s contest.

We hope you’ll join us in August to read the top three finalists in the Spanish-language “Palabras de Mormon” contest, co-sponsored by the Cofradía de Letras Mormonas and the Mormon Lit Lab. And stayed tuned for updates on our forthcoming anthology and future publishing projects.

-Nicole and James Goldberg, Editors

2020 Mormon Lit Blitz Voting

Voting Instructions

Time to vote in the 2020 Mormon Lit Blitz!

To vote, take a look at each of the twelve (very short) finalists and rank your top four in the form below by the end of the day on Saturday, June 26th. You must enter four ranked favorites in order to submit a vote. We’ll announce the winner on Monday, June 29th.

The finalists are:

Resurrection by Easter 2020” by Selina Forsyth
Perfection is a Fullness” by Jeanine Bee
Orpheus Sings to Mary and Martha” by Emily Harris Adams
Family Tree” by Merrijane Rice
Three Generations of Sonder” by Chanel Earl
Airplanes that Crashed: A Book of Mormon Coloring Book” by Jared Forsyth
Final Report” by Mattathias Westwood
Portal Friends” by Annaliese Lemmon
Part Heaven” by Madison Beckstrand
O Nosso Cão Stromberg” (“Our Dog Stromberg“) by César Augusto Medina Fortes
In the Locker Room at the Temple” by Darlene Young
Brother and Sister” by Scott Hales

 

While you’re here, you might be interested in some updates:

Palabras de Mormon Contest Winners

This year, we also supported the Cofradía de Letras Mormonas in running a Spanish-language contest for Mormon Literature. Winners will appear in the July issue of their periodical, El Pregonero de Deseret. English translations of the top three pieces will be published on this website in August.

Mormon Lit Blitz Anthology

Thanks to encouragement from our patrons, we’ve also been working on a print and ebook anthology of finalists from the Mormon Lit Blitz and related contests (Four Centuries of Mormon Stories, Meeting of the Myths) from the contest’s first five years. We anticipate launching a Kickstarter later this summer as we prepare for print. Stay tuned for details.

New Program for Alumni

Finally, we’ve been working on a program to support past Mormon Lit Blitz finalist writers who are interested in developing a book-length work for publication. Details are forthcoming, but if you’ve been a finalist in any of our contests, this is advance notice that we’ll be inviting people to submit book proposals this fall.


Congratulations once again to all this year’s finalists. If you’re interested in additional updates, you can follow us on Facebook or sign up for our email list.

“In the Locker Room at the Temple” by Darlene Young

First, in goes the coat
and her oldest’s failure to get a job.
With the black shoes go
her husband’s sarcasm this morning;
with her scarf goes her own.
The blouse carries the lesson
she hasn’t prepared,
the dirty bathroom tile,
and the dying tree in the backyard.
Her teenager’s refusal to get up
and all of those tardies
hang from her skirt like tassels.
Insidious,
gathered in the folds of her half-slip
with tentacles like clammy drier lint:
all the ways she is a terrible mother.

Her white stockings, hope
that there is another page,
another day, a horizon somewhere,
stay on her calves, enduring.

She stands a moment, shivering.

Then,
silky slip washing down her
like good enough.
Dress of standing straight
and facing forward.
Slippers of small things,
little graces, daily manna
that can’t be hoarded
but can be found
unlooked for,
just in time.
She takes up her packet of
God’s daughter
and steps out into the light.