More than 3 months ago I announced here the first Portuguese-language Mormon short story contest. Now the period for making submissions has closed, and already the contest has exceeded expectations.
The nearly 40 submissions, from more than 2 dozen authors, totaled over 100,000 words, more than enough to produce a book-length anthology as planned for this fall.
Perhaps more importantly, the quality of the submissions is quite good. The best of them use rich, well-developed language and well-constructed phrasing. The stories also show great imagination, with plots varying from modern fables to poetic slices of life. Like early Mormon stories from the home literature period, many of the stories are a bit didactic or depend on Deus ex-machina plot devices, perhaps understandable given the fact that the only Mormon stories Portuguese-speaking readers are exposed to are those in the Liahona.
A three-person jury of academics, including a native speaker each from Brazil and Portugal and one familiar with the current LDS book industry, will now choose first, second and third-place winning stories and designate which stories should be included in the anthology to be published later this year. The prize-winners are scheduled to be announced on October 1st. I will translate the first-place story, and I’m seeking a venue where it can be published.
Perhaps more interesting could be the effects following this contest. I have already lined up 4 online LDS bookstores in Brazil to carry the anthology (there are a couple more, one a brick-and-mortar store, that haven’t yet responded to my queries), giving me hope of some distribution of the book beyond friends and family of the authors and whatever online audience I can contact. I expect to publish future volumes in Portuguese, and hope that some of these authors will participate.
In addition, I’m trying to figure out how to create a good forum for the group of authors this contest has attracted — a community that will encourage future writing and help authors to improve the quality of their writing. I’m sure that social media will be used, but I’m open to suggestions for further details. Perhaps some kind of online literary magazine?
Of course, given the response, the contest will likely be repeated next year (unless the sales of the anthology are so small that it isn’t financially viable). And I’m encouraged enough with the results to think that it may be a good idea to start a similar contest in other languages.
What do you think? Is there some aspect of this I’ve left out?