Category Archives: Announcements

The 2016 Mormon Lit Blitz and Thoughts on Writing

Call for Entries

This is a guest post by Katherine Cowley¸ a mother of three living in sunny Arizona. In between writing and chasing kids, she likes to gorge on books and European chocolate.

This year, I’m a guest editor for the 2016 Mormon Lit Blitz. It’s a great writing contest with a $100 prize, and we’re seeking micro-literature in any genre—fiction, essay, poetry, etc.—that will resonate, in some way, with an LDS audience.

But before I get into the details of the Mormon Lit Blitz, I want to tell you about my very first published story.

Like many LDS women, I’ve always had an urge to create. And from a young age I wanted to be a storyteller. But when I had my first child, I decided to push those dreams aside.

In 2012, when my daughter turned one, I became pregnant with my second child. And then I spent the next six months struggling with depression. I went through the motions of my life, but despite reading my scriptures, praying, and attending church, I felt very little joy.

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Finally, I told my husband and my doctor about my depression, and with their help and the help of the Savior I slowly made the climb back to emotional and mental health.

During this slow climb I heard that the Mormon Lit Blitz was throwing a contest titled “Four Centuries of Mormon Stories.” At first I didn’t have any ideas. Fast-forward to the final day of the contest. I was 39 weeks pregnant and physically miserable. But I woke up that morning with the idea of a visiting teaching visit gone wrong. In a day I wrote a science fiction story set in the 22nd century about a pregnant woman waiting for her baby, waiting for the Second Coming, and waiting for her husband to come home from war. In her time of trial, she finds hope in the Lord.

My story “Waiting” was selected as a finalist in the contest. It was my first story to ever be published, and it was empowering. It was an opportunity to share my faith through the written word.

Since then, I’ve kept writing. In the last few years I’ve published a number of additional stories, including one in the Segullah 2015 fiction contest. (Of course, in 2014 and 2015 alone, I also received 27 rejections for my stories and essays. When this happens, I submit them to new online magazines or contests, publish them on my blog, or decide to save them for later.)

Writing has been a lifeline for me. It gives me joy and purpose. I now have three young children, and writing helps me process my life experiences and approach motherhood with more energy. Looking at the world with a writerly view helps me find more fulfillment in ordinary, everyday experiences.

Just as there is value in every member of the church bearing testimony or giving a talk, each one of us has stories to tell. Whether you’re a published author, an aspiring writer, or you just have one story waiting inside you, we want you to submit to the Mormon Lit Blitz.

As in years past, we’ve set a 1000 word limit. We’re open to entries that have been previously published, as long as you have the rights to republish them.

Fiction: in the past, the Mormon Lit Blitz has published everything from historical fiction to contemporary fiction to science fiction. One of our other contests even published an LDS zombie story. Within fiction, any genre is fair game.

Essays: the personal essay is a great form to explore some aspect of your own life experience. We would love to see more of the sort of essay you find in Segullah’s Literary Journal. Personal stories don’t need to have tidy conclusions or didactic messages. Often, some sort of challenge or struggle is at the heart of an essay or short memoir.

Poetry: poetry has the power to get to the heart of the matter very quickly. The Lit Blitz has published many poems over the last four years, and we hope you continue to submit your poems to us.

Other Forms: We are open to other forms—a short play or screenplay, a comic, etc. We would also love to receive experimental forms within any genre. You could write a fictional newspaper article, an illuminating grocery list, journal entries, letters, a photo essay, or a text message conversation. If you can write it, we want to read it.

Diversity of perspectives: We are part of an international church, and we would love entries that represent a diversity of perspectives, settings, experiences, and people.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, all past finalists are linked to in our call for entries.

I hope you’ll take the time in the next month to submit to the Mormon Lit Blitz. Read our call for entries for details on how to submit, and feel free to email us with any questions at everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com.

NEW GENERAL WOMEN’S MEETING: OPEN DISCUSSION THREAD

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In a historic move, the First Presidency sent a letter to Church leaders, announcing a new semi-annual General Women’s Meeting. Rather than separate General Relief Society and Young Women’s meetings, all female Church members ages eight and older are invited to attend a meeting the Saturday before each General Conference. This meeting will be conducted by the Relief Society, Young Women and Primary.

For reasoning behind the change, the letter states, “As the women of the Church gather together–sisters, mothers, and daughters–they, their families, and the Church will be strengthened and blessed.”

What are your thoughts on this change? How do you feel a meeting like this will differ from the previous General Relief Society and Young Women’s meetings of the past? Share your ideas and impressions in the comments below.

For more information, see this article from UtahValley360.

UPDATE: Here’s the official announcement from lds.org.

A Mother Here Art and Poetry Contest

There have been LDS art contests in the past, either sponsored by LDS church institutions or by private organizations, but none have yet focused on Heavenly Mother as their theme. That changed this month with the newly announced A Mother Here Art and Poetry Contest. Aiming to stimulate the visual and poetic expression of Heavenly Mother, as well as highlight the nascent divinity lying in women as well as men, monetary prizes in excess of $2200 will be awarded to the best entries.

The contest accepts two-dimensional art submissions to be considered in its visual arts awards, and all forms of poetry for the poetry awards. The contest will accept submissions until March 4, 2014, after which award-winning entries will be chosen by judges Susan Elizabeth Howe (esteemed poet, playwright, and professor) and Herman Du Toit (former head of the Durban Art School and former head of museum research at BYU’s Museum of Art). Winning entries will be announced on May 11, 2014 (Mother’s Day) and they, with other merit-worthy entries, will be collected in an online gallery and a printed booklet for all to enjoy.

With the kick off of the contest’s website, amotherhere.com, an impressive collection of historical Mormon literature and music addressing Heavenly Mother has been hosted online. It contains works from early Mormon history, beginning with the work of William W. Phelps, up until the present. In addition, the site provides some historical analysis of the portrayals of Heavenly Mother in these and other artworks.

The contest is generously being sponsored by Exponent II, Peculiar Pages (publisher of literary anthologies like Fire in the Pasture and Monsters & Mormons) and LDS WAVE. However, to fully fund the prizes and pay judges, the contest is still looking for donations. Visit amotherhere.com to contribute or to find out more information.

Artist Spotlight: Caitlin Connolly

caitlin c looking for lightWe are excited to introduce to you a new artist whose work we will be featuring here at Segullah for the next little while.

Caitlin Connolly is an artist, wife to a guitarist, musician, and creative enthusiast. Born and raised in Utah, the only girl in a family with three brothers, Caitlin grew up coloring the walls with crayons while becoming well acquainted with boy scouts and power tools. She graduated from the University of Utah in 2009 with a BFA emphasizing in Painting and Drawing and has been passionately pursing and cultivating her creative path since that time. She now lives in Provo, UT with her curly haired husband and almost-as-curly haired miniature dog, Albus. She loves spending time in her studio, touring on the road with her husband, journaling, song writing, and watching a good TV show.listen same time 11x14
You can see more of her work at http://caitlinconnolly.com

Caitlin says about her work “I make art founded on the human experience.  Life, death, tragedy, joy, loneliness, spirituality, and progression are concepts central to how I view this experience.  Growing up in a family with all boys, it was difficult for me to identify with women.  My work often explores the feminine experience as I attempt to understand myself and all women more fully and view them the way I see them – powerful yet flawed.”

 

Call for Guest Posts: Working Women

I have noticed for many years now that the narrative we tell about women and work in the Church does not reflect the reality I see around me. Women are encouraged to get an education and to develop their talents and skills, but we are also told that women who have children should make mothering their families their primary responsibility and forgo employment outside the home. The most common dichotomy I see presented to women is a choice between some sort of high-powered, high-prestige full-time career, and staying out of the workforce for years to be a full-time mother. Yet, when I look around at my friends and family who are members of the Church, I see hundreds of different lives with diverse, individual choices. I know women who have a high level of education who have followed the promptings of the Spirit to stay out of the workforce. I know women who have a high level of education who have followed the promptings of the Spirit to have established careers with high levels of responsibility and prestige. I know other women who have never worked and who started families at a young age. I know women who don’t have a high level of education and work low-prestige jobs. I know women who work part-time, who work full-time, who run businesses with their husbands, who do occasional childcare for extra income, or who do freelance work from home. I know women who have stayed out of the workforce for twenty or more years before returning, either out of necessity or desire. I know women who want to work outside the home but don’t, and women who don’t want to work outside the home but do. Continue reading Call for Guest Posts: Working Women