Send Us Your Stories, Writers

We're now taking submissions for our sixth annual short story contest.

Amelia Gray, judge of the Observer's 2016 short story contest
Amelia Gray



Amelia Gray was once described in the Observer as “the fairy godmother of Austin writers.” In a few short weeks she will become a sort of fairy godmother to yet one more writer — whoever she, in her role as guest judge, chooses as the winner of our sixth annual short story contest, which is now open to submissions (see the link below).

We asked Gray what she looks for in a good short story. “The best stories have something that needs to be said urgently: now, today, this very moment,” she said. “It’s easy to tell when a story has gotten a little old in the writer’s mind; rather than presenting a perfect statue from which you’ve just brushed away the last bits of dust, try unearthing something fresh.”

Simon Han certainly unearthed something fresh with his 2015 contest winner, “Three Phone Calls,” a convention-upsetting narrative that, according to last year’s judge, Stephen Graham Jones, asks the reader to “participate in the creation of a reality.”

That’s just the sort of tactic that might appeal to Gray, whose short fiction is known for its defiance of rules and norms.

Gray is the author of four books, including her most recent story collection, Gutshot (FSG). She has published short stories in the New Yorker and Tin House, among others, and her nonfiction has appeared in publications such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

As usual, the contest-winning writer receives $1,000, publication in our October issue, and publication online. Two to four finalists will be eligible to have their work published online at the Observer.

So send us your best work, writers. Unearth something fresh.

CLICK HERE for contest rules and to submit your entry.

David Duhr is the Observer's copy editor.

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Published at 2:20 pm CST