Vote in the 2016 Mormon Lit Blitz and you will be blessed

Voting for the twelve finalist of the 2016 Mormon Lit Blitz is now open through this Saturday, June 11. The editors have made it super easy to vote this year. Just click on the link above, open up the links to each of the eligible works in a new tab, narrow your choice down to four, rank those four and then fill out the form on the original page.

Also: if you feel compelled to publicly comment on any or some or all of the entries, do leave a comment on the discussion post. We authors appreciate it when readers engage with what we wrote.

It’s a fascinating group of finalists this year — some names that are familiar from LitBlitzes of yore; some that are new. And quite the eclectic mix of poetry, personal essay and poetry. Kathy Cowley and James and Nicole Goldberg have done a wonderful job. So much so that I’m going to say something about each of the entries. You might want to wait to read the commentary below until you’ve read all of the entries. But I’m not kidding when I claim that you will be blessed if you do the reading required to vote for the finalists. I was:

“Foolish and Wise” by Lisa Barker: Lisa gets at something that I can really relate to — parables often present contrasts of two or three types of individuals. But most of us don’t fall cleanly into one of those types. We’re both or all.

“Fresh Courage Take” by Bradeigh Godfrey: when it comes to flash fiction the most difficult thing to do is fit a robust premise into 1,000 words. Bradeigh chooses the right situation for his story. We’re so familiar with the post-apocalyptic/trek back to Zion tropes that he doesn’t need to worldbuild those out. Instead he shows us the emotional impact and let’s us fill in the blanks to add even more weight to the story.

 “Leaving Egypt” by Tyler Chadwick: When I taught the Old Testament, I was a bit harsh on the Children of Israel at points, but I also tried to show how they weren’t all that different from us and tried to provide context for their experience. Tyler captures in a few lines what weeks of clumsy lecturing on my part barely got across. That’s the power of poetry, folks.

“Ghost” by Merrijane Rice: I’m going to repeat a comment I left on the discussion post — If “Ghost” is about what I think it’s about, then Merrijane has given me quite the bittersweet view of the future (my daughter is currently 12). Actually: already starting to glimpse it. But then again: isn’t that exactly a type and shadow of our relationship to our Heavenly Parents? — and then add that this line continues to resonate with me: “let me haunt the corners of your mind”

 “Requiem for Those People Who Lived Briefly in Your Ward” by Rose Green: Transient ward members are such a pain. The ones who live in a place too long to be visitors but not long enough to settle in. The ones who you have to reorganize home and visiting teaching around. Who you want to get to know, but not too well because, well, it’s painful when people you love leave. Read that third to last paragraph again. What a perfectly observed metaphor with a multitude of meanings.

 “The Gift of Tongues“ by Annaliese Lemmon: I love, love, love that Annaliese takes this initial (very interesting and unique) conceit and then complicates it in a way that is so very Mormon.

 “Branch 9 ¾” by Kaki Olsen: I have a thing about the personal essay form. I so often find it frustrating. Too crafted. Too earnest. Not fiction. But here Kaki takes one of the major themes that preoccupies me on an abstract level — that of the interaction between Mormonism and the broader culture — and presents us with something very real and meaningful.

“Golden Contact” by Lee Allred: Lee’s story is a joke. I mean that literally not as a commentary on the story. But I like that even in a story that is a joke Lee can include lines like “There’s sort of a unnatural sharkskin texture to them that almost glows.” He’s one of our best at expressing the uniqueness of Mormonism in a unique way.

“The Back Row” by Kelli Swofford Nielsen: Kelli’s essay does for me some of the same things that “Branch 9 3/4” and “Requiem for Those People Who Lived Briefly in Your Ward” did but with the added bonus that because I’m a back row sitter (who underwent a similar process to that described in the essay), I can very much identify with her observations.

“Rumors of Wars” by Zachary Lunn: An impactful poem because it connects the wars of today with the Church of today with the Church and wars of before and does so with some simple, powerful imagery.  

 “Last Tuesday” by William Morris: I hope other readers find that it balances the things I wanted to balance; otherwise, it’s kind of ridiculous. But what am I if not a leading Mormon purveyor of the ridiculous and the sublime?

 “From the East” by Merrijane Rice: While up until this year Steve Peck might have some claim to the crown, I think it’s now obvious that Merrijane owns the Mormon Lit Blitz contest. This poem is another proof why. Pay especial attention to the rhythm of it and the use of alliteration which seems profligate in its abundance until you read it out loud and then it seems perfect.

Vote in the 2014 Mormon Lit Blitz

Voting in the 2014 Mormon Lit Blitz contest ends at midnight Saturday, July 5. Please take a few minutes to vote. Here are the links you need:

Voting instructions for the 2014 Mormon Lit Blitz

My voting method for the Mormon Lit Blitz (it makes the process easier and faster). Please note that this year you’re asked to provide 4 finalists rather than 5. And there are 12 finalists rather 13. And you email everydaymormonwriter At gmail Dot com. But the core methodology for selection still works.

And congratulations to the AMVers who are finalists this year:

“The Primary Temple Trip” by Laura Hilton Craner


“Living Scriptures” by Scott Hales

How to beat me in the Mormon Lit Blitz

Friends of AMV: you have a singular opportunity facing you — the chance to increase my currently dangerously low levels of humility by beating me soundly in the Mormon Lit Blitz. Mormon Artist is hosting the contest this year. See all the details in the Call for Submissions.

I already have my story written. I’m feeling quite confident about it. That feeling must not stand. Really, you’ll be doing me a favor by entering.


All you need to do is find 4 hours between now and May 31. You could probably even do it in 3, depending on how fast you can write your rough draft. Here’s how:

  1. Spend 45 minutes coming up with ideas. Remember that you aren’t limited to flash fiction — poetry, comics, plays are all welcome. These 45 minutes don’t even have to be in a row. They can happen in the shower or as you’re driving or folding laundry. Just make sure you have something close to capture your ideas.
  2. Spend 2 hours (also don’t need to be in a row) writing your first draft.
  3. Spend 1 hour revising. It really doesn’t take long to revise 1,000 words (or less).
  4. Spend 15 minutes copyediting and then format and submit.


Have no idea what to write about? Here are some freely offered ideas to get the creative juices flowing:

  • The story of Balaam and his ass, except Baalam is a PR flack, Balak is a CEO, and the ass is an Audi TT.
  • Parley P. Pratt: Vampire Hunter
  • First line: The Bishop’s wife was worried that he was spending so much time on Pinterest.
  • Title: The Laurel Class President’s Lament
  • Comic: Nursery toys/books/activities through the decades
  • A story about a handsome, righteous, well-coiffed commercial pilot for Lufthansa who is inspired to re-route a flight to Istanbul thus avoiding a sudden deadly storm and the political crisis that would have ensued because one of the passengers that would have died is a moderate Turkish general traveling incognito.
  • First line: As far as she knew, Tiffany was the only Mormon female jockey in the world.
  • A pair of sister missionaries is contacted by the manager for a controversial female pop star who was raised Mormon and would like to be taught the discussions (and possibly re-activate).

That should be enough to get you started. Feel free to share more ideas in the comments section. But more importantly: get brainstorming.

Liner Notes: The Elder Who Wouldn’t Stop…

Wm reveals the genesis of his story The Elder Who Wouldn’t Stop… and its’ long, twisty road to publication.

Liner notes for The Elder Who Wouldn’t Stop…, published Feb. 2012 on Mormon Artist as part of the Mormon Lit Blitz contest.

This story was born out of frustration and anger. It was early June 2009. I was upset with myself because I hadn’t managed to pull anything together in time to enter the Irreantum fiction contest. In fact, I was depressed about my fiction writing in general. But after wallowing a bit I decided to buck up and see what else I could do and ran across Sunstone’s short short fiction contest. The deadline was fast approaching, but I figured if I could come up with an idea for a story, I could finish it in time. But what?

I was on the commuter bus one morning. My thoughts were on my frustrations. I had recently acquired Metric’s album Fantasies because it had been on sale on Amazon for $5. I put my headphones in and fired it up. I needed some music to get me out of my head. The first song “Help I’m Alive” came on. It has a strong drumbeat, which I love. I started drumming with my fingers. And then Emily Haines sang “Can you hear my heart beating like a hammer? / Beating like a hammer? / Help, I’m alive, my heart keeps beating like a hammer.” I pulled out my mini yellow legal pad and wrote “Elder Russell’s greenie wouldn’t stop drumming.” I jotted down a few more notes. Continue reading “Liner Notes: The Elder Who Wouldn’t Stop…”

Mormon Lit Blitz post-game

Wm congratulates the winners of the Mormon Lit Blitz, thanks those who made it happen, ruminates a bit on the experience, and makes a plea for submissions to Everyday Mormon Writer.

A few post-game thoughts on the Mormon Lit Blitz

1. Congratulations to Merrijane and the rest of the top 5! In case you didn’t know, Merrijane has a blog where every Friday she posts a poem (sometimes one by her; sometimes one by someone else) plus a few thoughts. Check it out.

2. I’m not going to reveal my ballot, but I will say that I voted for two of the five works that placed. And while the finalists didn’t get a complete breakdown of voting, the organizers did let us know that all of us got a good number of votes. What’s cool is that each of the finalists were able to bring in their readership, which meant we all benefited, in terms of readers, from each other’s efforts.

3. Many thanks to James, Nicole and Scott for running the contest and to my sister Katherine and Ben for hosting it at Mormon Artist and to anybody who helped with the graphics, which were very cool (Anneke and ??). I thought it was all very well managed and promoted and am pleased that I decided to participate. Continue reading “Mormon Lit Blitz post-game”

Five easy, quick steps for Mormon Lit Blitz voting

I’m sure you had good intentions. Maybe you read two or three of the entries at the beginning of the contest. Or perhaps you came in at the end, but didn’t quite make it back to the earlier entries. And you really did mean to get around to it. But what if you haven’t read all of the Mormon Lit Blitz entries yet but you do want to vote in it? (which you really should).

I have the solution:

First: open up your email program, create a new message, type VOTE in the subject line, and then the numbers 1-5 (each on its own line).

Second: click on this link. If you have a lot of browser tabs open, you might want to close them or open a new browser window.

Third: Scroll down and right click on each of the Mormon Lit Blitz entries, which are linked to from the post I linked to in the second step. You should now have 13 open tabs. Click on each one and read as far as your interest is captured — or just skim. If you like what you read, go on to the next tab. If you don’t like it or have “meh” feelings, close the tab. That entry is now out of contention. Do this with each open tab. Try to get down to at least six or seven in your first read through. If in the end you don’t have it down to five, click on the tabs, re-skim, read deeper if you want to. If you are having a hard time making a decision, take a deep breath or two and just go with your gut.

Fourth: Now that you have your final five, click through them real quick and think about which ones you responded to the most strongly. If your browser allows you to do this (and most should) begin re-arranging the five tabs with the piece you like most to the left and the one you like least to the right. Keep re-arranging until the order feels right. The moment you feel like it feels right STOP and go immediately to the next step. If you don’t, there’s a danger you’ll second-guess yourself and then the process will drag out. Don’t let that happen.

Fifth: Type the name or title in your email in the order in which your tabs are arranged (left to right  slots into 1 through 5). Copy and paste this email address into the “To:” field: . Hit send. And you’re done.

The whole process should only take 20 minutes. Maybe 30. And quite likely less, depending on how ruthless you are and how fast you can read. So do it. The deadline is next week, but you’ll have more time this weekend — so go for it. You’ll be doing a good thing AND avoiding nagging feelings of guilt. And thank you for supporting the Mormon Lit Blitz.

Please vote in the Mormon Lit Blitz

All 13 Mormon Lit Blitz finalists have been posted and voting is now open. Please do read the finalists (if you haven’t already) and cast your vote, which involves selecting your top five favorites and ranking them.

Note that I’m not asking you to vote for my story. I’m much more interested in the friends of AMV actually reading each of the pieces and making aesthetic and/or emotional choices. I think the experience of doing so is much more interesting and valuable than whatever the final results might be. Besides I already have most (perhaps all) of the works that will be loaded on to the Kindle. So please do take the time to vote. This is one of the best things to happen in Mormon letters, and I’d like to see it be a success.


Read my Mormon Lit Blitz story

My short short story “The Elder Who Wouldn’t Stop…” is now live and begging to be read.

If all went according to plan, my short short story “The Elder Who Wouldn’t Stop…” is now posted over on the Mormon Artist blog as part of the Mormon Lit Blitz contest. Discussion of contest entries can be found on the Mormon Lit Blitz Facebook page.

Edit to add: click here for a direct link to my story.

My piece is the second to go up. The posting of the finalists kicked of yesterday with the poem “In Bulk” by Marilyn Nielson. It’s a great poem that features the awesome phrase “the potato salad of my indignation”. A finalist a day will go up every day (except Sundays) through Feb. 29. I’m looking forward to reading all of them and encourage you to do the same — hey, each is 1,000 words or less.

Mine is actually 1,000 words right on the nose. It was 999, but I threw in an extra adjective to make it an even grand.

Also: I will be posting Liner Notes for “The Elder Who Wouldn’t Stop…” like I do with most of my published work, but I will be holding off until after the contest ends.

A preview of my Mormon Lit Blitz contest entries

Read them and despair fellow Mormon Lit Blitz contest entrants. Wm eats your puny entries for breakfast. Behold: Zombie Porter Rockwell sniffed the air. etc. etc.

Read them and weep, people. I’m so winning that Kindle

Entry one:

Zombie Porter Rockwell sniffed the air. The smell of singed hair slowly triggered the synapses in his decaying brain. He needed brains soon. But he had business to take care of first. He was on the trail of Cain, and this time, he was going to take the hairy wanderer out.

He jiggled the tank strapped to his chest. It sloshed reassuringly — still at least half full. His bulbous, unblinking eyes scanned the dessert. Cain had managed to survive P-Rock’s trap, but little did the large-footed fellow know that fire, which was his only weakness, was now portable. Zombie Porter sniffed the air again and fell into a jerky, but surprisingly fast lope. It was bbq time and [MORE]

Entry two:

The rain always made her sad. It reminded her of her grandmother. It also reminded her of her dead husband. And that cat she had had for two weeks in seventh grade. The rain was coming down in sheets now. It made her feel like the world was crying. She was crying too. But even though she was crying, she knew that she was not alone. The footprints in the sand were not hers. The battered violin that was her soul could still produce a beautiful tune in the master’s hands. So she decided to cheer herself up by firing up her Provo Craft cricut and breaking out her brand new six-inch by 13-inch Cuttlebug Cutting Mats. [MORE]

Entry three:

Truth was a complex, ever-evolving thing for an educated man like Walter C. Habermavinaseiggeridastraullard. Nuance was his watchword. Context his Title of Liberty. Which was why he spent so much time commenting on blogs.

Walter loved his fellow Saints with a pure love, but he also knew that too many of them were in danger of having their simplistic testimonies fall to pieces at the slightest breeze of opposition, the tiniest crack in the correlated shell. In short, they were in need of maturation, and it was up to him to be the sunshine, the water and the soil — not to mention also taking the role of the fertilizer, the pruner and the grafter. [MORE]

(Obviously these aren’t really my entries. Revealing the real ones would be against the rules. Also: you have two weeks to polish up your entries and get them in.)