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The Messenger’s Second Annual Short Fiction Contest

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We do our best to be informative here at The Messenger, to offer our readers the inside civic and cultural info they need to be super-citizens of the Rogue Valley, things like how upcoming elections will affect you and what upcoming live music you don’t want to miss.

But it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Not everything about life can be conveyed in such concrete terms. That’s where fiction comes in.

Celebrated mythologist Joseph Campbell wrote that it is easy to teach someone to do math, but harder to teach them how to deal with the death of a parent, because the answer is not as concrete. According to Campbell, the purpose of storytelling is to teach lessons that have more abstract answers, like the how to deal with death, or what a place or time feels like to inhabit.

That’s why we run a fiction contest. The stories may be made up, but they’re just as real a part of living in our strange, magical corner of the world as our non-fiction reporting.

This is our second annual contest, and it received several dozen entries.

Each story was capped at 250 words and written using one of two prompts: “It’s all about perspective,” or “Robots, man. Robots.”

Even with those confines, the entries covered a range of topics, touching on topics like polyamory, environmentalism, and of course, a topic no fiction contest would be without: Edward Snowden’s army of robot bees. That one didn’t win, but boy howdy did it stand out.

The stories were read and analyzed by our staff and a team of volunteer judges from the local literary community. The top three were then visualized by local artist and Messenger contributor Aubry Hollingshead. Those illustrations are reprinted here. The originals will be given to the authors as prizes at a reading event we will be holding at Bloomsbury Books on Thursday, May 28 at 7pm.

We hope to see you there. And we can’t wait to see you what you all have in store for us next time around.
-Josh Gross,

Editor in Chief, The Rogue Valley Messenger


About The Judges

Wayd Drake

Wayd has been a professor of speech at and acting at Rogue Community College for eight years. He is also the Theater Manager at Barnstormers in Grants Pass, and the author of the Hamlet on the Range series, which reimagined Shakespeare plays at westerns.

“I like words that paint an image in your mind,” says Drake.

Chelsea Fine

Chelsea has been a writing professor at Rogue Community College for six years, and is a professional freelancer for media outlets around the state including The Rogue Valley Messenger and 1859 Magazine.

“I like pretty words and miss cinnamon rolls,” says Fine. “Cause I can’t eat gluten.”

Josh Gross

In addition to his day-job as Editor of The Rogue Valley Messenger, Josh is the author of two books of fiction, Secrets and Lies, and The Hack, and has more than a dozen produced stage and screen plays to his credit, including The Lost Van Gogh, which won the audience choice award at the Tulsa International Film Festival in 2011.

“Great writing should feel like mischief, in that you’re constantly looking over your shoulder for someone coming to stop you,” says Gross.

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