2015 Mormon Lit Blitz Winner

Declaring a winner in a literary contest is silly in many ways. As the ballots and comments make clear, different pieces resonated with readers for different reasons–a piece might resonate with you because you feel a deep connection to the theme, because the story speaks to your life experience in some way, because of a line that lingers with you days after you read the piece, or because on the day you read the piece, you needed the emotional experience it offered.

We love it when people vote, though. Several of you commented on how you enjoyed the process of going through the pieces again. Some kept writing after ranking their top four and told us what they loved about a few other pieces that hadn’t quite made their ballot. And a few people mentioned how the pieces inspired them to start working on their own short-form writing, or how they changed their ideas about Mormon Lit.

The purpose of this contest has been to show off Mormon writers, but an important side-effect has been to reassure us that engaging Mormon readers also exist.

Here’s what you voted for this time around:  Continue reading 2015 Mormon Lit Blitz Winner

Lit Blitz Voting Instructions

We have enjoyed all twelve finalists. But we only have one Grand Prize. Help us decide which piece wins this year’s Lit Blitz by emailing a ranking of your four favorite pieces to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com by the end of the day on Saturday, June 6th.

The contestants are:

Monday, May 18th: Eric Jepson, “Angry Sunbeam
Tuesday, May 19th: Heather Young, “Best Wedding Advice Ever
Wednesday, May 20th: Tyler Chadwick, “Three Meditations on Fatherhood
Thursday, May 21st: Scott Hales, “Child Star
Friday, May 22nd: Emily Harris Adams, “Faded Garden
Saturday, May 23rd: Katherine Cowley, “The Five Year Journal

Monday, May 25th: Annaliese Lemmon, “Disability, Death, or Other Circumstance
Tuesday, May 26th: William Morris, “The Joys of Onsite Apartment Building Management” Wednesday, May 27th: Darlene Young, “Echo of Boy
Thursday, May 28th: Lehua Parker, “Decorating Someone Else’s Service
Friday, May 29th: Julia Jeffery, “Should Have Prayed for a Canoe
Saturday, May 30th: Merrijane Rice, “Mother

Again: in order to be counted, votes must contain a ranking of the reader’s four favorite pieces and must be emailed to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com by the end of the day Saturday, June 6th. Voters should have at least skimmed all twelve pieces. We also welcome comments and feedback on the contest in vote emails.

For those who are interested, a public discussion of the pieces is taking place on the Mormon Midrashim blog. We’d love to have you share your thoughts on the contest there.

Come back to this blog on Monday, June 8th to find out who won this year’s Lit Blitz and for the announcement of our fall contest theme.

“Should Have Prayed For a Canoe” by Julia Jeffery

As soon as Brother Gardner opened the door, Shelley held out Sister Black’s old flip phone to him. “Do you have anything bigger or better than this?” she asked.

“Something you’ll trade us?” Abbie added.

Brother Gardner took the phone and looked to me with raised eyebrows.

“It’s a game the youth are playing,” I said, feeling our time limit tick nearer. “For their activity tonight.”

“Is that so?” Brother Gardner beamed at my three charges: a Mia Maid, a Beehive, and a Deacon. Then his eyes lit up. “I have something much bigger. Wait here a tick.”

Much bigger? From an eccentric like Brother Gardner, that could mean anything.

Dear Heavenly Father, I prayed, please don’t send us a canoe. Continue reading “Should Have Prayed For a Canoe” by Julia Jeffery

“Decorating Someone Else’s Service,” by Lehua Parker

Last night my daughter stormed into the kitchen spitting nails after her Young Women’s activity. “Do you know what we did?”
“Is this a trick question?” I asked. “Do you need bail money?”
I put down the frying pan and placed a finger on my temple, channeling my inner psychic. “I’m getting a picture.” I fake swooned. “Lots of teenage girls. Loud girls. All in a room. An LDS church, maybe? The mists of time are unclear.”
My daughter sighed and grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl. No one knows how she suffers with a mother like me. Continue reading “Decorating Someone Else’s Service,” by Lehua Parker

“Echo of Boy” by Darlene Young

My son hunches into the storm in his oversized coat
to collect fast offerings, a two-hour route
…..because the other mother’s sons stay in when it’s cold.
…..He is mine.
………..His wrists

out-hang his sleeves. His hair
squirms out of his well-slicked part, and he is mine. He’s out there
…..in the snow and I can’t settle. Thirteen years old; thirteen,
…..the way he slides a little to the right of us on the Sunday pew,
……….like someone has hit “tab” on the keyboard, though still
……….he’ll let me pull him back to drape my arm around
……….those slumping shoulders.
……………Shadow of boy.

It’s snowing and he is fine out there. He’s fine. At home
he sprawls on the couch behind those heavy eyes. Outline
of boy. Echo of boy. I tell it to him straight: “The reward
for showing up,” I say, “is that you’re the first one they call
…..next time. Find a way to be proud of that.” He looks
…..away. Should I apologize for this burden of duty I’ve bred
……….into him, for the fact that from here on out
……….he’ll never be able to leave a ward party
………..without putting away chairs? Welcome
………..to Mormon guilt, my son. Welcome to the wilderness.
Sometimes a suit is a front bumper, silver plating, deadweight.                         Sometimes it is wings.

Those heavy-lidded eyes. Let there be a man
…..behind there. The still-narrow shoulders, crooked
……….tie. Does he slump to parenthesize the space
……………he’ll leave when he’s gone? Look
………………..forward, son. Look forward,
………………..mother. On the horizon
……………………..in the chalky dusk:
……………………………contrail of boy.

“The Joys of Onsite Apartment Building Management” by William Morris

Someone had made a spray paint stain on the second floor landing in the stairwell of Building B, and Maria couldn’t get it out. It was brick red and shaped like a slumping letter ‘M’. Clearly, some idiot had put down two pieces of semi-overlapping newspaper and gone all the way to the edges and accidentally over, staining the concrete floor. She tried a variety of cleansers but only managed to fade it a bit.

She mentioned it to Craig when he got home from a study session.

Does it pose a danger to any of the residents?” he asked.


“Will it scare off potential renters?”

“Probably not.”

“Then let it go, Maria. You and I can only do so much.”   Continue reading “The Joys of Onsite Apartment Building Management” by William Morris

“Disability, Death, or Other Circumstance,” by Annaliese Lemmon

1. My husband is not a cockroach.

If I had woken up next to Kafka’s “monstrous vermin,” I would have run and sprayed an entire can of Raid into the bedroom. As it was, I thought the six foot rabbit crouched under the covers was a very elaborate (it even included nose twitching) joke, even though it wasn’t Easter, April Fools, or Halloween. Nor had David ever done anything remotely similar in our twelve years of marriage. It was only when he didn’t come down for breakfast that I started to worry. Continue reading “Disability, Death, or Other Circumstance,” by Annaliese Lemmon

“The Five Year Journal” by Katherine Cowley

This journal belongs to Hannah Bolt (Rinehart!)

February 20th
2010: I know you’re supposed to start journals at the beginning of the year, but this was on discount at Deseret Book. Journaling=righteousness points, right? And anyone can write a couple sentences a day.
2011: I’ve written in my journal every day for a year. Wow. Now that I’m on year two, it should be cool to always see what I was doing exactly a year ago. Also, Derek brought me flowers.
2012: Surprise date: bowling, dinner, and a photo scavenger hunt. People keep saying the honeymoon stage ends, but I don’t believe it.
2013: I finally gave in and went to group therapy. Embarrassing amounts of tears. I hated it. But I’ll probably go back.
2014: A doctor’s appointment this morning. Heard the heartbeat. I’m happy…but nervous. Can we handle a baby? Continue reading “The Five Year Journal” by Katherine Cowley

“Faded Garden” by Emily Harris Adams

I don’t remember the time
of nameless animals.
The lions have been lions too long
for even Adam to think of them as anything else.
My calloused feet have forgotten the luxury
of a thornless silt-soft ground.

Grandchildren often ask me to describe the face of the serpent-man
who came to tempt me,
but the details of his jawline, eye color,
and skin-tone have all rubbed free of my mind—
scrubbed away by a thousand other faces I’ve seen since. Continue reading “Faded Garden” by Emily Harris Adams