Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest — Winning Author Profiles, Group 3

January 21st, 2019

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…..On March 11, 2019, .Jerry Jazz Musician .will publish the 50th .winning story in our thrice-yearly Short Fiction Contest. To celebrate this landmark event, we have asked all the previous winners (dating to 2002) to reflect on their own winning story, and how their lives have since unfolded.

…..Beginning on January 7 – and on every Monday through March 4 – we will publish five or six profiles of participating authors, along with their winning story.

…..For this feature, authors were provided with a list of the following questions as a guideline for creating their profile:

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What do you remember about your winning story?

Did winning this contest impact your writing career? 

What did the publication of your story mean to you?

Are you still writing?

What are five books you have recently read that you would recommend to others?

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…..Many writers responded in a short essay, and others did so via a “question and answer” format.

…..These profiles are an entertaining, enlightening, and at times emotional look at the stimulating, rewarding process of creative writing, and the people whose work has made important contributions to this publication over the years.  Many thanks to everyone who took the time to so thoughtfully participate.

…..I would also like to thank everyone who has thought enough of this publication to submit their work for consideration.  In 49 contests spread out over 16 years, we have chosen 46 winners from over 7,000 stories submitted — a stark reminder of the challenges of this art form.

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This week’s edition covers authors of winning stories #’s 12- 16

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To read the edition for winning stories #’s 1 – 6, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 7-11, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 17 – 23, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #24 – 28, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 29 – 34, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 35 – 38, click here

 To read the edition for winning stories #’s 39 – 44, click here

To read the edition for winning stories #’s 45 – 49, click here

 

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Mary Jo Marcellus Wyse

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #12

Mute

Published July, 2006

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I wrote “Mute” shortly after graduating in January 2006 from Vermont College’s MFA program. I was living in Ann Arbor, practicing my violin, and needed a mute due to the close quarters of student housing. I went to a strings shop in town and the events that unfolded are mostly what I describe in my winning story. (Megan Watson, the main character in my story, and I have the same initials!) After a few revisions and some creative liberties, I submitted the story to the Jerry Jazz Musician fiction contest and was surprised and thrilled to hear I won. My husband and I had moved to Alaska not long after I submitted the story, so we had barely settled into our new home when I got the news. I remember meeting the principal of the high school where I was about to start teaching and feeling proud as he googled my winning story.

Winning the JJM contest gave me a boost of confidence. The years that followed were very busy with the births of my two children, another move to Boston, and a final move back to Michigan. During that time, I wrote several nonfiction pieces and published two with the Cup of Comfort series and five with the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Now I’m working on a middle grade fantasy novel – something a little different! – which is inspired by my children.

Since writing “Mute,” I spent five years teaching my son how to play the violin but now that he’s a big 5thgrader, he has decided that the trombone is more his thing. As a family, we have switched from listening to mostly classical music, to mostly jazz.

 

I love finding books that make me want to drop everything and read. Here are 5 books that did the trick:

 

  1. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio – I recently read this book to my children and it was not only an awesome book for them, but it held and captivated my attention easily. Wonder contains so many wonderful lessons and is written so exceptionally well.

 

  1. Fierce Kingdom, by Gin Phillips – Heart-pounding, gripping story. These days, I never stay up late to read, but I couldn’t put this book down. The dialogue between mother and son is exceptional and so realistic. I found myself relating to Joan, the mother, at almost every word.

 

  1. Tell Me You’re Mine, by Elisabeth Noreback – This is a debut novel by a Swedish writer and is about a baby who goes missing while the mother always believes she is still alive. Many years later, the mother thinks she spots her child and tries to get to know her. You don’t know what’s really true until the end when it all comes together beautifully.

 

  1. Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell – I read this book about five months ago, and I still find myself thinking about it. A teenage girl disappears and the mother is told that her daughter ran away and died. But, of course, the mother thinks otherwise. The novel has so many twists and turns and such a surprise ending that I couldn’t put it down.

 

  1. The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers and Life, by Richard Russo. I have enjoyed Russo’s fiction, so I was eager to read this book when it came out. He’s funny, observant, straightforward, and relatable and his advice on writing is mixed with anecdotes which makes it easily digestible.

 

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Mute

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Mary Jo Marcellus Wyse

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #12.  Published July, 2006)

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…..Megan Watson pushes open the front door of the old house, escaping the cold. On the left, a welcome mat, wet from snow, rests before the entrance to a vegetarian restaurant. She’s not hungry. Turning to the dry stairwell with the faded violin painted on the wall, she begins her ascent to the shop upstairs.

…..Paper taped at the top stair reads, “Press Doorbell.” When the door draws open, an older gentleman with a full, white mustache, smiles down at her. Running his palm over the top of his head, he looks tired, but curious.

…..“Is the store still—?”

…..“Til’ six, yes. Come in and tell me what you’re looking for.”

…..Megan steps up, passes over the threshold, and finds herself in the cross-section of three rooms. The man directs her to her left then squeezes around the glass counter.

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Bruce Golden

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician.Short Fiction Contest #13

“Mystery in C Minor”

Published November, 2006

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My winning story, “Mystery in C Minor,” was inspired by a short documentary I saw about the mysterious disappearance of famous band leader Glenn Miller during World War II. This caused me to research the subject even more, and I discovered there were several theories about what happened to Miller — but none of them proved. Because I primarily write science fiction, I thought about “what if” a swing music loving time traveler came back in time to try and save Miller. Of course things didn’t work out as he’d hoped. I tried to incorporate most of the theories to his disappearance as well.

Another interesting facet that drew me to this tale was that Jimmy Stewart portrayed Glenn Miller in the 1954 film The Glenn Miller Story..  Stewart was an U. S. Army Air Corps colonel during WWII, serving in England where Miller was stationed. Stewart was also my father’s commanding officer in an 8th Army bombing group.

I was happy to hear I’d won the Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest with this story, because it gave more people an opportunity to read it, and maybe influence them to find other things I’d written.

I’m currently working on my eighth book — something that’s been in-the-works (in my brain mostly) for decades.

If you enjoy intelligent science fiction, I’d recommend David Brin’s Earthclan series, Greg Bear’s Darwin novels (soon to be a TV show), or my own novels Evergreen and Red Sky, Blue Moon.(this one if you’re especially into Native American culture or Vikings). If you’re a big Marilyn Monroe fan, you might want to read Better Than Chocolate.

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Bruce Golden’s short stories have been published more than a hundred times across a score of countries and 30 anthologies. Asimov’s Science Fiction described his novel. Evergreen, “If you can imagine Ursula Le Guin channeling H. Rider Haggard, you’ll have the barest conception of this stirring book, which centers around a mysterious artifact and the people in its thrall.” His latest book, Monster Town,. is a satirical send-up of old hard-boiled detective stories featuring movie monsters of the black & white era. It’s currently in development for a possible TV series.

Bruce Golden’s website

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Mystery in C Minor

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Bruce Golden

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #13.  Published November, 2006)

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…..January 30, 1946 — Allied Headquarters, Paris, France

…..“What is it, Captain? I’m very busy.”

…..“Sorry to disturb you, Colonel, but you said you wanted a report as soon as I completed my investigation.”

…..Colonel Washburn searched his desk muttering, “Yes, yes. I’ll read your report as soon as you’ve filed it.”

…..Captain Mercer didn’t move. He was hesitant to annoy his superior officer when the man was so obviously distracted by other concerns, but he was convinced it was necessary.

…..“Pardon me, sir, but I know the directive for this investigation came from the top, and I believe you should hear my findings before any official documents are filed.”

…..The colonel looked up at his subordinate for the first time. “What do you mean? What did your investigation reveal?”

…..“Well, sir . . . .” Captain Mercer hesitated. He’d rehearsed this, but now wasn’t certain where to begin.

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Ellis J. Biderson was the winner of the 14th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest.  His story, “The Red Underwear,” was published in March, 2007.    Attempts to reach him concerning this feature were unsuccessful.  

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The Red Underwear

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Ellis J. Biderson

(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #14.  Published March, 2007)

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…..I have a problem, Father.

…..No, no “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” and the rest. Not this time.

…..And that’s it, really: I’m here again, in confession with you, as I have been for a long time, but I don’t think I’ve sinned.

…..Yes, of course, Father, I understand about confession. Penance, really, because that’s a sacrament, that’s how a person gets forgiveness of sins. There is absolution by a priest, but you – I, because I am sitting here now – have to have true sorrow and confess your sins, and do something about your behavior. You really have to mean it, not just want a pass for what you’ve done – and may do again, unless you’re genuine in your confession and really want to change.

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Joanne Seiff

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #15

The Prayer for Swift and University

Published July, 2007

 

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Winning this contest was important to me!  At the time that this story went live, I’d been touring the US, doing research for my first book, Fiber Gathering…but in the middle of the research, both my publisher and agent dropped me.  It was a difficult moment.  I was lucky; a colleague helped me connect with another great publisher. Things worked out.  However, having this story win a prize and be published was a real morale-booster at a hard time.

I’m definitely writing.  I work part-time, as I am also a mom of twins. I focus mainly on non-fiction, because, although I love writing fiction, I’m on a non-traditional career path.  None of my graduate degrees are in writing, and I’ve never done a residency.  Instead, I work from a home office whenever I can.  I am proud of my work…but I also need to be paid for it.  As a result, I write opinion pieces, personal essays, columns, and non-fiction, design knitting patterns, (which is fairly technical work,) and edit for others.

I’ve still got those novel manuscripts though, in case anyone might be interested in reading them!

 

Five books I’ve read recently that I’d recommend:

(My attention span is somewhat distracted by two seven year old boys and two bird dogs.  I listen to a lot of audio books, and some of them are “lighter” in tone…but I love to read and think there is no shame in admitting this!)

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The Radical King (a compilation of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work, edited by Cornel West)

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

The Maggie Hope Series by Susan Elia MacNeal

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Joanne Seiff is the author of three books: .From the Outside In, Knit Green, and .Fiber Gathering. She works as a freelance writer, editor and knitwear designer.  Her work appears on the CBC website, and she writes columns for newspapers in Winnipeg and Vancouver.  She lives with her twin sons, two bird dogs and her absentminded professor husband in Winnipeg.

Check out .her books on Amazon, read more at her blog,. Yarn Spinner, and see. her designs here.

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Joanne Seiff
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(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #15.  Published July, 2007)
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…..Stories burst out of her as a magician’s trick pulls out scarves; multi-colored patterns, solids and conservative checks spilled out of her mouth and hands when she least expected it. In the end, of course, she recognized it as it was. These were the stories of all our lives, every human soul’s experience could produce that knotted, impossibly long scarf string that sprung out of the local magician.

…..Yet, most people did not have a new story to tell very often at all. At first, this was a wonder to her — why did all the interesting things happen only to her? But of course, this was self-centered, she realized. These things do happen to all of us on this earth. It was just that few people noticed the stories as they blossomed. It’s in the observation of it, she discovered, that one finds a good story.

…..Watching, waiting, even expecting intrigue and anxiety in one’s daily life was the best way to capture a story. Like mice, they hide when you’re trying to catch them, and run rampant havoc through our dreams. When night falls, the moldings of old houses become their race tracks, and our day’s stories are their Grand Prix. Our unconscious risks and bucks, bets like the mice bookies, making millions of seed bets on the lack of observation skills in our waking souls.…..

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Colleen Anderson

Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #16

Cipher

Published November, 2007

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When I wrote “Cipher” I was experimenting with forms. Since I tend to write mostly speculative fiction (fantasy, SF, etc.) this was a test of writing without any fantastical element. It’s not overtly about music either but more about communication, what imprints us and how stories form us. Rereading it, I find I captured something that was fresh yet relatable to many of us as we try to make relationships work.

When I found the story had won the .Jerry Jazz Musician .contest, in a way I felt that like the character in the story, I had finally connected my words to others. We often write for different reasons; for fame, for joy, to explore, to share, because we must, for a host of reasons. For me, it’s a combination and a bit like a drug. I don’t always like writing but I cannot stop. And some stories flow smoothly, a gift from the muse. While there are others that come from great labors, pain, doubt and struggle before they are birthed. If I recall correctly, “Cipher” was mostly a gift from the muse.

Winning the contest did not necessarily change the direction I was headed with my career but it did add to my confidence that I could write well. Indeed, I’d been writing before “Cipher” and have continued, and since then have co-edited two anthologies,. Tesseracts 17,. and .Playground of Lost Toys..In 2018 I did my first solo editing of the anthology .Alice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland, .comprised of stories and a couple of poems based off of Lewis Carroll’s characters but set in a modern or future world. My collection of fiction, .A Body of Work, .was also published in 2018.

I continue writing short fiction, poetry and working on several collected works and novels. In 2017-2018 I received a Canada Council Grant to work on my writing. I hope to edit another anthology in the future too. I’ve also served on the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker award juries and the British Fantasy Award juries. When it comes to writing, I’m not leaving any time soon.

Being on juries I have read a great deal. .Bird Box .by Josh Malerman was one I had the privilege to read and is currently a Netflix movie. It was an edge of the seat type of book and very well handled. I’m reading a nonfiction book calledGladiatrix, by Amy Zoll looking at archeology that shows the existence of female gladiators and what life was like for the successful ones as well as those who were slaves. Two extremely beautiful books areThe Steel Seraglio .by Mike, Louise and Linda Carey, and .The Story of Jin-Shei. by Alma Alexander. And I will shamelessy offer the anthology .Alice Unbound .because I liked what I bought.

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Colleen Anderson is a three-time Prix Aurora Award finalist (twice in poetry), was longlisted for the Stoker Award in short fiction and the Rhysling Award in poetry. She placed second in the Balticon, Rannu and Crucible poetry competitions, and has performed and read her work before audiences in the US, UK and Canada. Colleen also co-edited two Canadian anthologies, .Playground of Lost Toys .(Aurora nominated). and Tesseracts 17,. and her first solo anthologyAlice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland, .was published in 2018. Her fiction collection,.. A Body of Work, .was published by Black Shuck Books, UK, in Fall 2018. Some of her work can be found in Evermore!, .Beauty of Death, Shoreline of Infinity, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, OnSpec, Polu Texni, The Future Fire .and. Cemetery Dance.

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www.colleenanderson.wordpress.com

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(Winner…Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest #16.  Published November, 2007)
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…..It had been warm all day, the type of day where the heavy air presses into you and makes it hard to move. It didn’t help that her shift had been spent calling customers and listening to endless streams of why they couldn’t make their hydro payments. And they would yell, swear at her as if she had caused their loss of job, their alcoholism, their way of life. She absorbed it all, the words sinking through the membrane in her ear and resonating within the membrane of her mind long after the calls had stopped.

…..If there’d been a breeze, or a slight coolness to the air, then those words could have lifted from her. They heated her, churning and boiling within so that by the time she got the apartment door open her flesh looked glossy with the sweat.

…..Brian wasn’t home yet, but she didn’t care. A tall cool glass of water swirled down her throat but it didn’t lessen the heat or dissolve the words that filled her. Instead, it seemed to bloat them till her head throbbed with their need to become a story. She pressed her head into her hands and rocked on the couch. The pounding became a drumbeat thumping against her skull. A primal beat, a heartbeat that pulsated her body as she rocked. Her head reverberated. She was the drum and drumskin; sound formed from the vibration of air and skin to become words.

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