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Meet the Authors and Guest Judge

A note from Jeanna Mason Stay:

While I knew and recognized most of the authors who ended up as finalists this year, there were a few names I was unfamiliar with and a few names whose works I had forgotten about and needed to rediscover. I love the things the authors have done for this contest, and I’m looking forward to following their work more closely in the future.

If you’re in the same boat (hopefully not a barge full of nursery-aged children), I hope you’ll take the time to learn more about the authors, check out their other works, and follow them on social media.

Stay tuned tomorrow for an announcement of the winners!

Emily Harris Adams is the mother of three children, a community theater enthusiast, a benevolent people watcher, an avid singer, and a reluctant housekeeper. She also writes in the copious spare time she manically carves out for herself between diaper changes and shower-time arias. Her works have appeared in the New Era, Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought, Leading Edge, Segullah, and, of course, the Mormon Lit Blitz. Emily is also the author of For Those with Empty Arms: a Compassionate Voice for Those Experiencing Infertility. Find her at

Becca Birkin has an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College of Fine Arts along with a dusty law degree. She has taken first prize in many writing competitions, including Grand Prize in the Storymakers First Chapter Contest. She has worked with the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference, taught at the American Night Writers Conference, and has articles in print and online magazines. She enjoys art, chocolate, and travel, and is the happily married wife and mom of four. She is still hoping one of her four will invent that time-pausing remote. You can find her Friend magazine story here and a recent novella here.

Liz Busby is a writer of speculative fiction and creative nonfiction. She also writes book reviews and other literary criticism, particularly about the intersection between Mormonism and science fiction/fantasy, including a recent paper on Mormon themes in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. Liz recently moved from Bellevue, Washington, back to her home state of Utah, where she lives in Highland with her husband George and their four children. Follow her writing and reading exploits at, on Twitter @lizbusby, or on Facebook.

Sarah Chow is the mom to three small children, whom she believes to be human even though they insist they are a dragon, a cheetah, and a robot. She writes professionally for Cesium, a software company that allows users to create custom 3D maps. Her first writing love is children’s literature, and she has published over thirty stories in the Friend magazine. She does not approve of licking anything but popsicles.

Katherine Cowley is the author of The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet and the forthcoming novels The True Confessions of a London Spy and The Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception. She has also published a number of short stories and novellas and is on the board of directors for the Mormon Lit Lab. Her blog, Jane Austen Writing Lessons, was selected by The Write Life as one of the 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2021. She teaches writing classes at Western Michigan University, and lives in Kalamazoo with her husband and three daughters.

James Goldberg’s family is Jewish on one side, Sikh on the other, and Mormon in the middle. A poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, documentary filmmaker, scholar, and translator, he’s become one of the major contributors to Mormon literature in the early 21st century. Goldberg is a co-founder of the Mormon Lit Lab, president of the Association for Mormon Letters, and on the advisory board for the Center for Latter-day Saint Arts. To support his future work as a Mormon literary pioneer, visit Goldberg came of age in Columbus, Ohio. He now lives in American Fork, Utah, with Nicole Wilkes Goldberg and their four long-haired children.

W.O. Hemsath has a BA in screenwriting and loves teaching and presenting at conferences. She has multiple flash fiction and short stories available in anthologies on Amazon and is currently working on longer projects including a YA scifi, an adult fantasy romcom, and some LDS nonfiction. Her secret love, however, is writing song parodies. She is the mother of four boys, currently lives in Minnesota while her husband finishes his PhD program, and dreams of moving back west to be closer to family. Find her at, on Facebook @AuthorWhitneyHemsath, and on Twitter @WhitneyHemsath.

Annaliese (rhymes with pizza) Lemmon likes to eat, play board games, and catch virtual creatures on her phone. In addition to the Mormon Lit Blitz, her fiction has appeared in The ArcanistFlash Fiction Press, and Leading Edge. She also published a cookbook of recipes developed for her son who was allergic to gluten, dairy, and nuts (now he’s outgrown all but the nut allergies). She lives in Arizona with her husband and three children. Learn more at or follow her on twitter @AnnalieseLemmon.

Terrance V. McArthur is a storyteller, puppeteer, magician, and retired librarian, living in California’s San Joaquin Valley (Sanger, east of Fresno) with his wife, daughter, and the cremains of a twenty-one-year-old cat. One of his stories appeared in the Monsters & Mormons anthology.

Jonathan Olfert is a whittler, analyst, Stone Age enthusiast, and occasional writer of speculative fiction. Various stories reside at Hunkered down in the Halifax region, Jon and his partner Jess are attempting to raise three Homo sapiens and one recently blessedly neutered Felis catus.

Hillary Stirling is a paralegal by day and writer by night. She lives in Utah with her husband and two teenage children on a suburban homestead (which also happens to be the home owned by her husband’s parents and by his maternal grandparents). Despite being a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she’s not a Utah Mormon; she grew up in Michigan and Montana. She loves gardening, singing, and dabbling in politics. She still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up.

Guest Judge:

This contest’s guest judge, who will be awarding a judge’s choice award, is the incredible Eric James Stone.

Eric James Stone is a past Nebula Award winner, Hugo Award nominee, and Writers of the Future Contest winner. He has twice been a finalist for an Association for Mormon Letters Award, in the short fiction and short fiction collection categories. Over fifty of his stories have been published in venues such as Year’s Best SFAnalog Science Fiction and Fact, and Nature. His debut novel, a science fiction thriller titled Unforgettable, published by Baen Books, has been optioned by Hollywood multiple times. Eric’s life has been filled with a variety of experiences. As the son of an immigrant from Argentina, he grew up bilingual and spent most of his childhood living in Latin America. He also lived for five years in England and became trilingual while serving a two-year mission for his church in Italy. He majored in political science at BYU (where he sang in the Russian Choir for two years) and then got a law degree from Baylor. He did political work in Washington, D.C., for several years before shifting career tracks. He now works as a systems administrator and programmer. Eric lives in Utah with his wife, Darci, who is an award-winning author herself, in addition to being a high school science teacher and programmer. Eric’s website is

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