• “Reconstruction Work” by Bruce Holland Rogers; Flash Fiction Online, December 2007


  • “Incident in Itawamba” by Gary R. Hoffman; Food Writing, August 7 2007
  • “Killer Shift” by Michael Giorgio; Workers Write! Tales from the Cash Register
  • “100 Pounds of Ugly” by Diane Arrelle; Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine, January/February 2007
  • “The Painter’s Wife” by Kirk Nesset; The Kenyon Review, Fall 2007
  • “Passage” by Christopher Woods; Pequin, August 2 2007
  • “Powers” by David Ramsey; Subtropics, Fall/Winter 2007
  • “Stockyards” by Zachary Amendt; Underground Voices, July 2007
  • “Swimming Pond” by Larry Caldwell; Pearl 38, Fall/Winter 2007
  • Clark Brown
  • Len Fulton
  • George Keithley
  • Robert Laughlin
  • Winner: $50 US & Trophy
  • Total: 33
One might say that the winning story was predictable. It was written by a top-ranked contemporary author of short short stories. What’s more, it was released in a magazine that publishes nothing but short short stories and pays professional rates, thus attracting submissions from the most gifted authors.
I was impressed, though, with the unpredictable nature of the other nominees. I had initially considered asking that story submissions be typed with the names of authors and publications in the cover letter only; I was worried that only a blind taste test could avoid judicial bias in favor of “name” authors and publications. In the end, I decided to trust the objectivity of my judges, and my faith in them was justified. Most of the authors whose stories made the cut were people I had never heard of, and more than one well-known author did not survive the preliminary ballot.
The publishing venues were an interesting mix, too. There were prestigious and well-paying general literary magazines; magazines and ezines which, like Flash Fiction Online, cater only to short shorts; theme anthologies; defiantly uncommercial “little” magazines; and publications you simply would not expect to harbor anything like quality literature. Excellence is where you find it, and when one is trying to round up the best writing, a contest that allows outside submissions has the advantage of bringing attention to work that would otherwise be overlooked. Wigleaf publishes an annual list of 50 recommended short short stories published outside their pages, and I consider this a useful resource for anyone interested in the contemporary short short story. But all of the stories are drawn from the reading of Wigleaf’s editorial staff, and this imposes a limitation—I doubt that any of the Wigleaf editors have read Food Writing or Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine lately.
Two of our original three judges, George Keithley and Clark Brown, have gone on hiatus, and two well-qualified newcomers will take over for the 2nd Annual Micro Award. Their authority will be enhanced because I have instituted a “judge’s choice” rule, allowing each judge to pick one preliminary ballot nominee from his or her outside reading.
No more news—please mail in those submissions by December 31.
Robert Laughlin, Micro Award Administrator
December 1, 2008
The submission window for the 1st Annual Micro Award is closed. Submissions already mailed will be accepted through October 31.
I would like to thank all of the people who sent us stories. The enthusiasm expressed in the cover letters was heartening, and it pleased me that several submissions came from abroad (no small tribute, considering the cost of international postage).
In one particular, however, I was disappointed: the submission volume was well below my expectations, even allowing that this is our inaugural year. To insure that all of the nominated stories were truly notable, I made a last-minute rule change and reduced the number of nominees from each judge to just three stories.
I am determined never to trim the ballot in future years. Apart from adding some new publications to the next round of press releases, I have made rule changes—effective as of the 2nd Annual Micro Award—that should drive up submissions. First, I have abolished submission fees. I wanted the Micro Award to pay for itself, but the submission fee for authors suppressed their turnout, and the revenue from author submissions did not even offset the service charge on our non-profit bank account!
Second, any member of the reading public is now welcome to submit a story. I wanted to permit this at the start, but finally decided that we might have too many stories to read and judge. Our problem has turned out to be too few stories, not too many, so the Micro Award is now open to submissions from anyone with an interest in the contemporary short short story.
The 2nd Annual Micro Award has a rather front-loaded calendar. Stories must be mailed this December and received by January 15, 2009. I have closed our post office box, and submissions should be mailed to 683 E. 4th, Chico CA 95928. As promised, results for the 1st Annual Micro Award will be posted on or about December 15.
Robert Laughlin, Micro Award Administrator
October 1, 2008
There is no greater challenge to any artist than that of extreme concision. Only an artist with the utmost command of his medium can create a memorable effect with a few brush strokes or a few bars of music or a few lines of verse.
Or a few paragraphs of narrative prose. The short short story, known also as flash fiction and micro fiction, attracted past short story masters as diverse as Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Grace Paley, Donald Barthelme and Raymond Carver. Today the short short story enjoys an unprecedented vogue. Almost every magazine or anthology that prints fiction allows submission of short short stories, and dozens of publications specialize in the form. There are even internet chatrooms devoted to discussion of the short short story.
But no official literary honor exists for the finest examples of the contemporary short short story. To remedy this situation, the Micro Award has been created. The Micro Award is presented annually to a work of prose fiction not over 1000 words in length, published during the previous calendar year. Authors and editors may submit stories for consideration through September, and the 1st Annual Micro Award shall be presented in December. The titles and authors of the winning story and all non-winning nominees will be posted on our website. In time, I hope to edit a series of anthologies in which Micro Award winners and nominees will be collected.
The Micro Award rules are posted below and will be amended as necessary. Please note that submissions must be mailed; we do not wish to cope with the security and logistics issues of email at this time.
Robert Laughlin, Micro Award Administrator
March 11, 2008