New Times in San Luis Obispo has held an annual short story writing contestâ€”known as 55 Fictionâ€”for 26 years and counting. In that time, the paper has accumulated quite the collection of murders, loves lost and found, alien encounters, sexy escapades, religious awakenings, and anything else writers can cram into 55 words or less.
The contest began on Californiaâ€™s Central Coast, but it regularly brings in entries from the rest of the United States, Europe, Asiaâ€”literally around the world. Founder Steve Mossâ€™s idea for a brevity-based writing competition has since spawned books, movies, classroom writing exercises, and a mess of imitators.
To celebrate the massive legacy of this tiny endeavor, New Times is publishing all of the contestâ€™s previous winners via Ether Books, an app that delivers stories with smart phones in mind. Itâ€™s bite-sized fiction for handheld readers.
The first volume is available now for free, the rest will be 99 cents each and available over the coming weeks and months.
New Times publishes news, arts, and events for 100,000 readers each Thursday in San Luis Obispo County. The 55 Fiction results appear each July.