Three-Minute Fiction Winners: Where Are They Now?

Three-Minute Fiction is All Things Considered's creative writing contest where our listeners submit an original short story that can be read in about three minutes — 600 words — or less. After weeks of reading a couple thousand submissions, a judge picks a winning story. Over the last two years, contestants have submitted about 29,000 stories, and only six have won. Next week our judge will announce the winner of Round 7, so we decided to catch up with past Three-Minute Fiction champions.

And The Winner Was...

  • Round 1: Molly Reid

    Round 1 winner Molly Reid. i i
    Courtesy of Molly Reid
    Round 1 winner Molly Reid.
    Courtesy of Molly Reid

    Story: "Not That I Care"

    Molly Reid was teaching freshman composition at Colorado State University when she won the first round of Three-Minute Fiction in 2009. She recently moved to Portland, Ore., where she's applying to writing residency programs.

    Reid says her winning story, Not that I Care, was the start of her new interest in writing about animals. She finds herself returning to the theme over and over as she works on her short story collection.

  • Round 2: Cathy Formusa

    Story: "Last Seen"

    Since winning Round 2 of Three-Minute Fiction two years ago, Cathy Formusa has continued working on a novel she's had in her head for years. She says her main character has been waiting for far too long to journey out of the Amazon rainforest.

    In the meantime, she works full time at "making muscles smile" as a massage therapist in Port Townsend, Wash. She asks if anyone knows of a good hideaway where she can hammer out the ending of her book in isolation.

  • Round 3: Rhonda Strickland

    Round 3 winner Rhonda Strickland. i i
    Courtesy of Rhonda Strickland
    Round 3 winner Rhonda Strickland.
    Courtesy of Rhonda Strickland

    Story: "Please Read"

    Rhonda Strickland says winning Round 3 of Three-Minute Fiction in 2010 is what inspired her to start writing the memoir she'd been contemplating for years. "It made a difference in me," she says. "It made me realize that I can still write very well, which I'd kind of lost sight of."

    Nowadays, she tutors middle school students. She says when her clients' parents find out that she won the NPR contest, "they think they're getting a real bargain."

    Strickland also makes and sells fused glass art. "Finding the most vivid word in writing is similar to finding that exact correct detail in fused glass," she says.

  • Round 4: Yoav Ben Yosef

    Round 4 winner Yoav Ben Yosef. i i
    Courtesy Yoav Ben Yosef
    Round 4 winner Yoav Ben Yosef.
    Courtesy Yoav Ben Yosef

    Story: "Not Calling Attention To Ourselves"

    Yoav Ben Yosef has officially overcome the "identity crisis" he admitted he had when he talked to Round 4 judge Ann Patchett. Now he knows that writing is the career for him.

    Soon after NPR announced his win, he got a call from a literary agent interested in representing him. Ever since then, it's been easier for him to motivate himself to write. "It's been really great just knowing that someone was waiting for it on the other side," he says.

    He's now working on a longer fiction piece. He says his writing process has changed since he won the contest in 2010. Now, he writes "away from the page" more often, letting his characters play in his mind while he's riding the train, for example.

  • Round 5: Zach Brockhouse

    Round 5 winner Zach Brockhouse.
    Courtesy of Zach Brockhouse

    Story: "Roosts"

    Zach Brockhouse traces his renewed passion for fiction writing back to his Round 5 win. He has written about a dozen short stories and hopes to see them published soon. "Some of them are like the swampy, mutated love child of Mark Richard and John Cheever," he says. "I might live in Maine, but my heart is still in the South."

    Brockhouse also completed a chaptered book for 10-year-olds. "It's a wacky adventure story about an 18th-century explorer that encounters a scary, giant chicken in the Smoky Mountains," he says.

    He says he's "much obliged" to NPR and Michael Cunningham, Round 5's judge, for inspiring him to pursue this new chapter in his life.

  • Round 6: Lauri Anderson

    Round 6 winner Lauri Anderson. i i
    Courtesy of Lauri Anderson
    Round 6 winner Lauri Anderson.
    Courtesy of Lauri Anderson

    Story: "A Saint And A Criminal"

    Lauri Anderson still has two years left in her creative writing Ph.D. program at Texas Tech University, and she hasn't lost any momentum since her Round 6 win.

    She won a fellowship to attend the Tomales Bay Workshops at the University of California, Davis, where she worked with writers like Benjamin Percy and Pam Houston. Anderson also won Bellingham Review's Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction. She has fiction and poetry forthcoming in multiple literary magazines.

    She says winning Three-Minute Fiction boosted her confidence. "It gave me the sense that if only I would just go out there and take it, I could have what I wanted," she says.

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