English alum takes second prize in short story contest

Posted February 24, 2011

More than 400 writers entered The Austin Chronicle's annual short story contest, but Abilene Christian University alumna Lydia Melby nabbed second place.

Melby's prize came as a result of rewriting her award-winning story, "Fruit." She was inspired to change the original tale while working on ghost stories with the middle school students she teaches.

"I outlined a new way to write 'Fruit' with a different crisis and ending, and went home that night and rewrote it," says Melby, "Reading what I had written the night before was exciting and chilling; I felt a lot more involved with the narrative. So I workshopped it a few times with the writing group I attend, and when it was ready to go, I sent it to the Chronicle’s contest."

Melby's story beat out hundreds of others in the first round of competition, where all stories received two blind reads from the Chronicle’s panel of readers. It was one of 10 stories to move on to the final round, in which four judges from the Austin arts community chose the winning pieces.

Dr. Shelly Sanders, assistant professor of English at ACU, recalls seeing Melby's talent displayed in her work as a student

"Lydia has a wonderful observational eye, and her fiction has a quirky realism, always bordering on other-worldly, that can make the reader sigh or squirm. It's no surprise that 'Fruit' won second place," says Sanders. "I'm sure we'll be hearing more from her. We're so proud of her for her accomplishments and for representing ACU's English department in such a great manner."

Melby graduated from ACU in May 2010 with an English degree and decided to defer admission to Emerson College for a year. She moved to Austin for the numerous artistic outlets and to save money before attending graduate school. Melby currently works for Austin Pets Alive! and volunteers once a week at Keeling Middle School, teaching creative writing.

Read Lydia's short story, "Fruit," and learn more about The Austin Chronicle’s annual short story contest here.


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