Today we’re excited to share the two finalists in our 2023 Spring Flash Fiction Contest, as well as a few words from our judge Sabrina Hicks on the finalists and the winning flash, “Pinch Hitter,” by Michelle Ross, published yesterday. We hope you’ll take a few moments to read Michelle’s piece if you haven’t had the chance.
Our top two finalists are:
“George Gershwin Invites Arnold Schönberg Over for Table Tennis,” by Laton Carter
“Love Says My Husband,” by Jill Witty
Congratulations to all three writers and a big thank you to Sabrina for narrowing the flash fiction to a long list of seven stories, and then a short list of three. In total, we received 175 stories to the contest and accepted 23 for publication (including our winner and finalists). We will publish both finalists this week, and the remaining stories over the coming weeks. We are grateful to all the writers who submitted their work.
About her choices, Sabrina wrote:
- Pinch Hitter checked all the boxes for me: setting, characters, conflict that moves, from the very first sentence, building towards a conclusion that is as earnest as it is undeniable. Not a sentence is wasted in this tightly woven story. We are with this character every step of the way as the writer reveals telling details and descriptions, tying the desert landscape together with the larger theme, leading us down a path that feels precarious and inevitable. Layered and fraught with tension from years of complacency, their world simmers, then picks up speed, creating a sense of urgency for this character to discover her agency—landing on a perfect last sentence. Excellent storytelling!
- George Gershwin Invites Arnold Schönberg Over for Table Tennis is packed with vivid details, beautiful language, and interesting movement. What made this story shine is the unique storytelling, playfulness, and stunning lines like “But a mind is not a brain, and tumors travel without sound,” and “There was an inexpressible humor to a nose, a protrusion that couldn’t contain its own charm.” Loved the ruminations on life and the imagery at the end was especially poignant.
- Love Says My Husband at first feels like a common story, but it’s the author’s intimate storytelling that captured my attention. It is unflinching in its examination of a relationship that has seen hardships and disappointment. We are exposed to a marriage that is being tested, vulnerable, in need of a reminder that with all things delicate, imperfections are inevitable and worthy of home.
Our winning writer received a cash prize of $750. Each finalist will receive $100 upon publication. (All awards are in addition to our regular payment for published fiction.)
To contact or to read more about Sabrina, check out her website sabrinahicks.com and find her on Twitter @desertdwellera3. Her work has appeared, among other places, in The Sunlight Press, Stanchion, Cleaver, Flash Frog, JMWW, Brevity, Split Lip, Milk Candy Review, Five South Journal, and Pidgeonholes. She was the grand prize winner of the 85th Writer’s Digest Competition, first prize winner of Five South Journal‘s 2022 Spring Flash Fiction Contest, and most recently the first place winner of Cleaver Magazine‘s 2022 Flash Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in numerous anthologies including Best Microfiction 2023 and Best Small Fictions 2021, and has earned a spot on Wigleaf’s Top 50 (2020, 2021, and Long-listed 2022).
In other news, we remain closed to all submissions until Monday, September 18. We continue reading submissions and apologize to writers waiting for word on their work. Thank you for your patience. We will let you know the status of your submission as soon as possible.
Speaking of reopening, The Sunlight Press has decided to accept work in a new category — micro fiction. We will accept original submissions of less than 400 words beginning September 18 when we reopen. We will pay $40, our current rate for published fiction. We’re excited to try something new and will evaluate if it becomes a permanent category for submissions.
As always, we are grateful to our volunteer staff for their ongoing work: Caroline Packard, Clive Collins, Meg Freer, Elizabeth Spencer, Annie Scholl, and Susan Pohlman. We’re always looking for volunteer readers. If interested, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy fall to all!
Beth Burrell and Rudri Bhatt Patel
Editors and Founders