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GUY RAZ, HOST:
Just a reminder now that Round 9 of our Three-Minute Fiction Contest is open. It's where we ask you to write an original short story that can be read in about three minutes, so no more than 600 words. In each round, we have a judge with a new challenge. And this time, it's novelist Brad Meltzer, and he's come up with this.
BRAD MELTZER: Your story must revolve around a U.S. president who can be fictional or real.
RAZ: Now, remember, the story has to be under 600 words and only one entry per person. Now, the deadline to get your story in is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time one week from today, September 23rd. Once we get all the submissions in, we're going to start posting standout stories at our website, npr.org/threeminutefiction.
We're also going to be reading excerpts from some of those stories. The winning story will be read on the program in its entirety, and the winner will appear on this program as well. And for the first time, the story will also be published in the December issue of the Paris Review. Now, if you missed last round, here's an excerpt from the winning story. It's "Rainy Wedding," written by Carrie MacKillop of Charlotte, Vermont.
SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: (Reading) When the boy became ill and had to miss his first day of kindergarten, he had asked what school would be like. She started a ritual that day, explaining to him in detail everything he was missing so that he and she could experience the life he would never have.
RAZ: That's an excerpt from the story "Rainy Wedding." That was the winner of our last round, Round Eight of Three-Minute Fiction. It was written by Carrie MacKillop, and the story was read by our own Susan Stamberg. And Carrie MacKillop from Charlotte, Vermont, is on the line with us now. We reached her over the phone. Carrie, it's great to have you back.
CARRIE MACKILLOP: Thank you. It's great to be here.
RAZ: How have things changed for you since you won Three-Minute Fiction?
MACKILLOP: Well, winning Three-Minute Fiction, it was - is a little like winning the "American Idol" of creative writing.
MACKILLOP: I have three agents that have been courting me since they heard the story on NPR. And I was invited to a writer's workshop out in Oregon called Fish Trap where I got to meet Luis and...
RAZ: Luis Alberto Urrea, the judge of our last round.
MACKILLOP: Yup. I spent a week with he and his family out there. And my day-to-day life hasn't changed a whole lot, but there's an incredible amount of opportunity. And it's been really fun and exciting.
RAZ: And remind us, you run a shop, right, in Charlotte in Vermont. You sort of sell breads and organic foods and things like that.
MACKILLOP: Right. It's a little country store in a little town in northern Vermont.
RAZ: Do people ever stop in and say, oh, I heard your story on NPR.
MACKILLOP: Every single day. In fact, it amazes me.
MACKILLOP: I just - two days ago, someone came in and said, I heard your story on NPR six months ago, and it was so moving I haven't ever forgotten it.
RAZ: It was such an amazing story. Are you working on something new right now?
MACKILLOP: I'm working on several different things. The main focus right now is to turn "Rainy Wedding" into a novel. I've talked to a lot of people and thrown this idea around. And it's really fleshed out in my mind. I'm working a lot on that. I'm actually trying to put together a sitcom about my store, because it's just, you know, some of the reality is stranger than fiction. And that's a lot of fun.
RAZ: Carrie, as you know, Round 9 of Three-Minute Fiction was launched last weekend with our new judge, Brad Meltzer. There is still another week for listeners to submit their stories. You have been in the exact position that many of our listeners have been in in the past. So what advice would you give people who are kind of either on the fence or in the middle of writing stories right now?
MACKILLOP: My advice is to just go for it. When I wrote the "Rainy Wedding" story, it was the last day you were taking submissions. And I knew that there were already over 6,000 people that had entered. And I didn't think anyone would actually read my story. And I really wrote it from the heart with the idea that no one would read it. And that was a really effective thing for me to just go for it.
RAZ: That's Carrie MacKillop, the winner of our last round of Three-Minute Fiction. Carrie, thanks so much for the update.
MACKILLOP: Thank you. Thanks for calling.
RAZ: To find out more about Three-Minute Fiction, the rules and how to submit your story, go to npr.org/threeminutefiction, and Three-Minute Fiction is all spelled out with no spaces. And good luck.
(SOUNDBITE OF CLOCK TICKING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.