• “Let x” by Chad Simpson; Esquire.com Napkin Fiction Project, August 15 2008


  • “Between the Keys” by Robert Swartwood; elimae, July 2008
  • “Cracked Open” by Jane Banning; Birds By My Window, December 9 2008
  • “Custard’s Last Stand” by Matt Bell; Dogzplot, February 2008
  • “Ice Water, Here on Earth” by Damian Dressick; Pittsburgh City Paper, September 25 2008
  • “Offerings” by Desmond Warzel; Shroud Magazine #4, Fall 2008
  • “Silent Notes” by Jessica Hollander; The First Line, Spring 2008
  • “Spring Melt” by Gay Degani; Every Day Fiction, June 6 2008
  • “A Wizard of MapQuest” by Alex Wilson; Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #23, November 2008
  • Benjamin J. Biesek
  • Stefanie Freele
  • Len Fulton
  • Robert Laughlin
  • Winner: $50 US & Trophy
  • Total: 33
This is our second roster of nominees, so let us make some useful comparisons with the first. The winning publication, once again, pays lofty rates, and that is no surprise; money attracts talent. But the winning author is relatively unknown this time, proving that it is not necessary to be a literary celebrity—as last year’s winner, Bruce Holland Rogers, is—to carry away the Micro Award.
There were a lot of precedents in our second slate of publications. The winner was the first-ever men’s magazine to make the cut, and we also had a horror magazine, a fantasy/sf magazine and a local newspaper for the first time. I complained about the increasing homogeneity of submitted publications in my last update, and apparently the judges felt the same when they chose nominees: they wanted some exotic spice.
The Bell and Swartwood stories are both drabbles, exactly 100 words long, and the first examples of subcompact fiction ever to be nominated. David LaBounty, editor of The First Line, is also the editor of Workers Write!, so he is the first editor to publish two nominated stories: “Silent Notes” this year and “Killer Shift” last year.
At the urging of my correspondents, I have decided to make two important rule changes for the 3rd Annual Micro Award. First, editors will be allowed to submit two stories, provided that both are from their own publications. Most awards for short fiction take multiple submissions from editors, so this rule change will hardly raise eyebrows. Second, the submission period will begin October 1. Submissions for the first two Micro Awards were taken in the last nine months of 2008, and the second submission period had to be compressed. This year there is no reason to deny people a more generous submission window.
Let me take this occasion to thank my judges for their hard work, and also to tell the world that none of my judges has yet committed to serve for the 3rd Annual Micro Award. I need judging talent, ladies and gentlemen, so mail in those resumes, please; the sooner, the better.
Robert Laughlin, Administrator
February 25, 2009
The grace period for late-arriving Micro Award submissions is over and judging is due to begin.
The biggest news, as far I am concerned, is that the number of valid submissions is unchanged; there were 33 last year and there are 33 this year. There are differences in where and whom the stories are coming from, and I will have more to say about that, but competitor interest has stayed absolutely flat. This means that my judges will once again choose only three stories for their preliminary ballots. I have decided to give up and make this a permanent rule change, at least until such time as the Micro Award attracts a lot more participation.
I assumed that removing submission fees would increase the volume of author submissions, and so it did. What unpleasantly surprised me was a plunge in submissions by editors. Only four editors bothered to send stories this year—perhaps a sign of waning fad interest, perhaps a snob reaction to my having opened the door to submissions from the general public. Said public sent four stories also, so all of the rest came from authors. I hope that editor participation is better next year. Even more, I hope that many more submissions will come from Virginia Woolf’s vaunted Common Reader; this award was not established to prove that the only people who care passionately about literature now are the ones who produce it.
When last year’s winner and nominees were announced, I added that the nominated stories came from a diverse lot of publications. That was true of the submissions as a whole; it is less true now. Stories submitted from online publications barely outnumbered those from print publications on our first go around. Only six stories came from print magazines this time. Logistics and security concerns aside, I opted for postal submission so that stories from online venues would not swamp traditional print stories...but it happened anyway. Another difference from last year is a sharp increase in submissions from short short story specialty magazines. Last year they were a token presence, and this year, fully a third of submissions come from magazines like last year’s winner, Flash Fiction Online, which publish short short stories and nothing else. Genre magazines (science fiction, mystery, fantasy, horror, historical fiction) had a respectable presence in last year’s body of submissions and now they are practically gone. The present trend was fashioned by the authors who dominated this year’s submissions. While that trend lasts, we will presumably see Micro Award submissions come from publications that fall to a fairly consistent pattern: online format, featuring contemporary realist fiction, with strong emphasis on the shorter lengths and relatively little poetry and non-fiction content.
Last August 18, CNN.com ran an interesting article on the short short story, accessible at http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/08/15/short.stories/index.html. The article links to a story that the editors considered emblematic of the genre—“Reconstruction Work” by Bruce Holland Rogers! My judges and I were unaware of this article when the story was chosen the winner of the 1st Annual Micro Award; I think you must admit we made an astute choice.
Speaking of Mr. Rogers, he was not entirely impressed with the Lucite plaque presented to him. Humorous photos in which he examines it on his desk—with tweezers and a magnifying glass—have circulated widely. Sadly, I cannot publish any of them on this website. When inserted into the Firefox scroll required by my service provider, they simply will not resolve on Windows. I tried for hours, but it appears there is no short-term solution. The long-term solution is to get another service provider and I plan on doing that when my present lease expires.
Robert Laughlin, Administrator
January 15, 2009
© 2009 Micro Award