Around the World in Mormon Literature: Call for Volunteers

Submissions are currently open for the 11th annual Mormon Lit Blitz.  We’re also preparing, though for another Around the World in Mormon Literature contest this fall, based on the multi-language contest we held in 2019. That contest was a pioneering effort in bringing together Latter-day Saint creative writers working in different languages: the twelve finalists included stories in Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Estonian, Tagalog, and English. 

We love hearing from Latter-day Saints in their own languages. Sharing stories helps us feel closer to our brothers and sisters around the world. We need help, though, to work across languages! In 2019, a team of volunteers gave their time to help translate the call for submissions, spread the word about the contest, read submissions, and translate winning stories into English.

Are you excited about Mormon literature? Do you speak English and another language, or have social connections outside the United States? If so, we hope you’ll consider volunteering to help us with our 2022 contest.

Fill out this survey to let us know how you’d like to help. 

11th 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 submissions for our eleventh annual contest!

Submission details:

Submissions for the Eleventh Annual Mormon Lit Blitz writing contest are due on
30 April 2022 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. Submissions may be written in any language. 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 two prizes will be given: a $125 prize will be given to the audience choice winner and a $125 prize for a judge’s choice award. 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.  Please include the author’s name and contact information in the body of the email but not in the attached story 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 2022 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!

Saints, Spells, and Spaceships Finalists

A message from our guest editor, Jeanna Mason Stay

Hands have been wrung, dithering has been ongoing (and ongoing and ongoing), stories have been shuffled and reshuffled, and finally we’re down to the finalists. It was such a hard decision, but I’m really looking forward to sharing these stories with you. Congratulations to all the finalists–and thank you to everyone who shared your talents by submitting to the contest!

The publishing schedule for the Saints, Spells, and Spaceships finalists is:

Oct 25: “What Have You Against Being Baptized” by Whitney Hemsath
Oct 26: “The Gift of Undoing” by Katherine Cowley
Oct 27: “The Apocalypse of Kemet III” by Hillary Stirling
Oct 28: “Ministering Blood Brother” by Terrance V. McArthur
Oct 29: “Remote Control Mama” by Rebecca Birkin
Oct 30: “There Is No Release” by Jon Olfert

Nov 1: “Aboard the Nursery Barge” by Sarah Chow
Nov 2: “Gleaners” by James Goldberg
Nov 3: “The 37th Ward Relief Society Leftovers Exchange” by Liz Busby
Nov 4: “The Other Commander” by Whitney Hemsath
Nov 5: “Hie to Kolob” by Emily Adams
Nov 6: “The Gift to Be Healed” by Annaliese Lemmon

We will be featuring the stories at https://lit.mormonartist.net/ and talking about them on the Mormon Lit Lab Facebook page. We’d love to have you join the conversation. Once all the stories have been posted, we’ll put up voting instructions and all our readers will get a chance to weigh in on their favorite stories.

-Jeanna Mason Stay

Love the Mormon Lit Blitz? This year, we’re working to give you more. Past contest finalists were invited to propose a book-length Mormon literature project they’ve been dreaming about. We selected eight to go through a mentoring program, helping give them encouragement and funding to finish a book. If it matters to you to have stories in our religious language, consider donating to support one of the projects. 

2021 Mormon Lit Blitz Voting Results

We really enjoyed this year’s Mormon Lit Blitz–and are looking forward to compiling all the finalists in a second print anthology next year. Votes for our audience choice prize are in an we’re pleased to announce the results:

3rd place (tie):
Not of Necessity” by Jeanine Bee
Sacrament in Solitude” by Marianne Hales Harding

2nd place:
Final Exam” by Jared Forsyth

1st place:
Unfit Mother of the Year” by Susan Law Corpany

Congratulation to the winners! Thanks, as well, to all of you who support the contest by reading and voting each year.

Stay tuned over the next two weeks as we spotlight the different writers involved in our book mentoring program. We hope you’ll also consider entering our fall “Saints, Spells, and Spaceships” speculative fiction contest.

Mormon Lit Blitz Voting Instructions

It’s that time of year again–just a week left to choose the winner of the Mormon Lit Blitz!

Voting Instructions

As per tradition, the audience chooses our annual Mormon Lit Blitz winner. To vote, look through the pieces and choose your favorite four. Then cast your vote here.

The finalists are:
116 Pages” by Merrijane Rice
Unfit Mother of the Year” by Susan Law Corpany
Final Exam” by Jared Forsyth
Reformed Egyptian” by Lee Allred
Oh, a Dove” by Aiko Tokuzawa
We Must Overcome” by Jonathon Penny
The Lord’s Multiform Prayer” by Gabriel González Núñez
Not of Necessity” by Jeanine Bee
Golden Plate Controversy Erupts with ‘Mormon Storm’” by Devin Galloway
Weight of Souls” by Selina Forsyth
Sacrament in Solitude” by Marianne Hales Harding
Perspective” by Jonathon Penny

Voting is open from Monday, June 14th until the end of the day on Saturday, June 19th. The winner of the $100 Grand Prize will be announced on Monday, June 21st.

We’ll also select one voter at random to win a copy of our anthology, Mormon Lit Blitz: The First Five Years

Next Contest

This fall, past Mormon Lit Blitz finalist Jeanna Mason Stay will be guest-editing a special contest, “Saints, Spells, and Spaceships,” for speculative flash fiction with a compelling Mormon angle. See the complete rules here.

Book Mentoring Project

We love what people do with 1,000 words. If you enjoy the kind of literature you’ve read in the Mormon Lit Blitz, though, we hope you’ll also consider donating $5, $10, or $20 to support the eight authors currently in our book mentoring program.

 

Saints, Spells, and Spaceships: A Flash Fiction Contest

Guest Editor Jeanna Mason Stay introduces this year’s fall contest:

 I am an unabashed lover of speculative fiction. For my entire reading life, fantasy has drawn me in, with both sweeping, heroic tales and small, quiet ones. For the past couple of years, I worked first as a slush reader and then as a board member for the speculative fiction publisher Deep Magic E-zine (which, to my great sadness, is closing). I love a story that says something meaningful about the human condition—especially if it’s got a bit of magic.

Authors who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are well-represented in fantasy and sci fi literature, but the majority of that representation is written for general, not Church-specific, audiences. Every year when the Lit Blitz comes around, I’m excited to read all of the pieces, but I have a special place in my heart for those that combine the Church and the speculative in fascinating ways.

I still regularly think about Stephen Carter’s eerie, thought-provoking piece “Slippery” (https://lit.mormonartist.net/2014/06/slippery/). Rereading Jonathan Penny’s zombie apocalypse tale, “A Voice Not Crying in the Wilderness,” last year felt particularly poignant in the midst of a pandemic (https://lit.mormonartist.net/2014/11/a-voice-not-crying-in-the-wilderness-by-jonathon-penny/). And Annaliese Lemmon’s “Disability, Death, or Other Circumstances” always catches me by surprise at how both funny and heartbreaking Kafka-esque rabbits can be (https://lit.mormonartist.net/2015/05/disability-death-or-other-circumstance-by-annaliese-lemmon/).

This year’s specialty contest is all about continuing to explore the constellation of doctrine, culture, and quirks that make up the LDS experience through the lenses (or perhaps spaceships) of speculative fiction.

What We’re Looking For:

Stories that draw the fantastical and the Church together in interesting ways—ways that will resonate, entertain, or challenge, ways that are thoughtful, fun, and everything in between.

Like all Mormon Lit Blitz contests, a primary ingredient is that these stories must in some way resonate with who we are as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The theme for this contest suggests magic or spaceships are required, but any fantasy/sci fi content is welcome. Hagoth and the kraken attack? Sure. The next-door neighbor who ministers by bringing over magical potions along with cookies? Yep.

What We’re NOT Looking For:

  • Alternate history, unless it also includes fantasy/sci fi elements. For example, an alternate world where John Taylor is the second prophet of this dispensation isn’t enough, unless it’s because his fellow apostles were eaten by dragons.
  • Stories that are hostile, denigrate the gospel, or have a “flying spaghetti monster” feel/theme. However, stories that challenge how we look at the world or ask questions are welcome.
  • Stories in restricted intellectual property (e.g., no Disney, no Star Wars, etc.).
  • Stories where there is no interplay between the story and LDS topics/themes—for example, a story where the main character just happens to be LDS but that doesn’t affect the plot or character arc at all.

 

The Details:

Word Count: Up to 1500 words

Deadline: 13 September 2021, end of day (your time zone is fine)

Prizes:

  • $100 first place
  • Additional prizes may be added
  • Finalists will be published online. After all pieces have been published, first place will be decided by audience vote.

Format:

  • No use of author name on the document itself.
  • Preferably a Word document.
  • Spacing and font: preferred Garamond or Times, 12pt, 1.5-inch spacing, but anything reasonably readable will be accepted.
  • Include the story title in the filename.
  • Send up to three entries to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com, with files attached. Include the author’s contact info in the body of the email BUT NOT in the attached stories.

Feel free to email any questions to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com.

Fine Print: 

By submitting your work, you grant us non-exclusive rights to publish your story on the web and in the planned Mormon Lit Blitz 2017-2021 anthology. For the anthology, authors will receive a copy, and additional proceeds go to support Mormon literature (including future contests). Previously published stories are acceptable so long as the author retains publication rights. Collaborations are acceptable and count toward all collaborating authors’ three permitted submissions.

“Sacrament in Solitude” by Marianne Hales Harding

The Sunday squirrels were the most aggressive, tumbling over each other to get the holy leftovers, biting and scratching as if their souls depended upon it. He took the sacrament at different times to try to avoid the scuffle, but they always knew. The air grew thick with the Spirit and they perked up even before the scent of bread came wafting down from the canopy.

If he left out the biting, this would make a lovely Sunday School story—the purity of the woodland creatures resonating with the purity of the ordinance. But he had seen squirrels lose an eye over this. It was not an element of the Sabbath that he relished.

Sundays used to be a time when squirrels stayed away. For the first three years that he had lived on the platform a sympathetic Bishop sent intrepid deacons each Sunday to bless the sacrament at the base of his tree and hoist it up with some Sabbath rations. The Relief Society sisters took turns baking individual serving casseroles and a variety of cookies (the cakes and pies were a mess and abandoned early in the project). A filmmaker documented it all one year and got an award at Sundance.

But when church shut down, the deacons couldn’t carpool, and the sisters worried about sending covid with the cookies. A few hearty wilderness types kept coming but it became intermittent, and the Bishop authorized him to bless the sacrament himself. Sundays stopped being so noisy for a little while.

He had always felt that the trees were a temple and had carved suns and all-seeing eyes into the wood of his temporary refuge. He had meant to spend a single summer in solitude but at every self-imposed deadline he couldn’t find a reason to leave. It felt like walking away from the face of God. Now, even more, he felt the peace of prayer, even in the prewritten piety of an official, unchanging one. With no distractions, he felt his words slowly spread upwards as if through water, the echo-less silence a full-throated amen.

Out of habit, he broke the bread in the same small pieces he had learned as a deacon. He remembered after the first few that he only needed one and then he had a slice of bread that seemed entirely out of place in his pantry lockbox. It felt sacrilegious to spread peanut butter on the holy remains, even for Sunday dinner, but he was too frugal to throw it out, so it sat apart for a week and grew stale.

Eventually he noticed the squirrels that would reverently gather to worship with him. Slowly, tentatively, they took the bits of blessing-adjacent bread he offered. He thought they even bowed their heads briefly. It had been months since he had shared food with anyone; he took their silent gratitude as camaraderie and wondered if he could minister even in the treetops.

Now he woke to them turning out his pockets. He had lost track of the original group and grew resentful of the friends of friends of friends who were more interested in the loaves and fishes than they were in the miracle.

In the end it was the squirrels that sent him seeking salvation at ground level. It wasn’t so much their relentless begging as it was their relentless hunger. It reminded him that this moment of pause, however it met his soul’s immediate thirst, didn’t quench it. He couldn’t live forever on borrowed peace. His God didn’t live exclusively in retreat. His God made peace in the multitudes and at the tables of sinners. His God went into the wilderness, but He also came out.

He knew he had to return to the noisy sacrament meetings and busy days. He had to find peace in a forest of fellow flawed followers. He had to trust that he could hear his own prayers through the cacophony because now he knew exactly what they sounded like all by themselves.

“Golden Plate Controversy Erupts with ‘Mormon Storm’” by Devin Galloway

Nevada Gazette-Journal
1 September 2031

In the heart of Salt Lake City, an estimated 600 people stormed the iconic Salt Lake Temple over the weekend. Operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often called the “Mormon” church, the Salt Lake Temple has been a landmark of the west since its forty-year construction was completed in 1893. The temple has been in the national spotlight over recent months as it is believed to house the so-called “golden plates,” which have been at the heart of the latest controversy surrounding the church.

Church leaders teach that the golden plates are a religious record kept by inhabitants of the ancient Americas. The founder of the church, Joseph Smith is said to have translated a portion of this record, now known as The Book of Mormon. Smith and The Book of Mormon have been the subjects of many attacks against the church since its founding as Smith’s translation–or even the existence of the golden plates–have never been verified by an independent party. Smith claimed that an angel forbade him from showing the plates to more than a handful of supporters and that after completing his translation he delivered the plates to the angel.

Controversy flared up in April last year at a conference marking the church’s 200th anniversary when the current president of the church, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, announced that the angel had returned the plates to him with instructions to translate and publish another section. The alleged translation is expected to be released next month, coinciding with the church’s annual October conference. The church has not issued an official statement detailing what the new release will contain, but leaks suggest it will bear a strong resemblance to the book of Revelation in the Bible.

Critics both within and outside of the church have called for the plates to be examined by third party experts and the translation verified by independent agencies. The church has firmly refused these calls, fueling speculation that the plates do not exist. Some detractors have also pointed out that Uchtdorf is the first president of the church born outside the U.S. since John Taylor, who died in 1887. They see recent events as Uchtdorf’s play to leave a legacy, particularly after the numerous sweeping changes made by his predecessor Russel M. Nelson
who led the church from 2018 until his death at age 104 in 2028.

Reacting to the church’s repeated refusal to release the plates or even photographs of them, and amid doubts about their actual existence, rioters organized on social media and stormed the temple on Saturday, August 30th, interrupting ceremonies that were in progress. Guided by rumors of a high security vault that was installed in the temple’s basement during a 2019-2023
remodel, rioters focused on searching the lower levels of the temple, although some ventured as high as the third floor. Police arrived on the scene within minutes, expelling the rioters and making over 50 arrests.

Initial estimates place the cost of repairing damage to the temple at $3.4 million, with another $1.2 million for damage incurred to some gardens and an adjoining office building that are part of the same church-owned complex. The temple is expected to be closed for up to 6 months as repairs are completed and security measures increased.

The riot, which has been dubbed ‘Mormon Storm,’ follows on the heels of the Vatican invasion in May by a mob looking for the ark of the covenant. Government and church officials were quick to condemn the riot, with President Uchtdorf stating that, “the purpose of this life is to develop and exercise our faith. Oftentimes this requires us to accept, believe, and support things that we
do not have direct evidence for…Illegal acts such as looting, defacing, or destroying public or private property cannot be tolerated.”

While another church official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the event as “reminiscent of the mob violence our ancestors faced in Missouri,” law enforcement believes that the majority of the rioters were members of the church.

The riot is expected to be a focus at the church’s conference on October 4th and 5th. There is no word yet on whether the golden plate translation will be released as planned.