This Week in Mormon Literature, Jan. 21

Hi, and welcome to my first This Week in Mormon Literature.  I hope to turn this in to a one-stop place for Mormon authors and readers of all kinds to become aware of the various goings-on.  I will cover fiction, literary non-fiction (memoirs, essays, etc), theater, and film.  It is going to be a lot of links and very little deep thinking–I hope the deep thinking will go on once you get to the sites I introduce.  I am a historian by trade (I teach Japanese history at a Japanese university), but my interest in linking all of these literary strands together shows that I have a bit of librarian in me. The meta-nature of all this somewhat disturbs me, gathering all of these links calls for quick web-surfing that I fear dulls my mind. So I hope you all get involved and send me links, so I do not have to go out and find them myself!  Send them to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

A short introduction. My parents are very literary people, participating in several book groups in the Los Angeles area, and our house was full of books. These included Mormon fiction, like Orson Scott Card, Douglas Thayer and Donald Marshall, and I read a bit of that in my teens.  Then, married at BYU at 22, my wife took Eugene England’s Mormon Literature class, and I sat in on it a few times.  I read Margaret Blair Young, Levi Peterson, and Dave Wolverton, and was hooked on the idea of a literature that spoke to my culture and interests. Soon thereafter, in 1995, Benson Parkinson and the Association for Mormon Letters began the AML-List  email discussion list, and I found a community of others who shared my passion, and became an active participant.  Since 2000 I began writing an annual “Mormon Literature Year in Review” for the AML-List, going over the state of the publishing field, and recording some of the best reviewed and best selling Mormon-authored fiction in both the national and Mormon markets.  In 2007 the blog A Motley Vision began publishing my annual review.  My 2010 review, my longest yet, will be published at A Motley Vision next week.  I hope to republish some of my old 2000-2006 reviews, currently unavailable on-line, sometime soon.  In between all of this, my family and I shuttled back and forth between Japan and the United States, as my wife and I completed graduate school and began our lives as academics.  I am working on a book on Japanese colonial policy in the 1931-1945 period.  We have adopted three children, and currently are being foster parents to a Japanese 8-year old.

Today’s post will be extra long, as I will try to cover the first three weeks of January, a bunch of year-end lists, and the LDS Film Festival, which takes up a lot of room.  Okay, away we go.

Book Reviews

Lewis, L. C. Oh Say Can You See (Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine)  Effusive praise for the 4th in this War of 1812 historical fiction series.

Anne Perry, The Sheen on the Silk (Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine) Enthralling history, okay mystery.

David J. West,  Heroes of the Fallen (Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine) Jennie usually does not like it when novelists speculate in scripture based historical fiction.

Kristen Landon, The Limit(reviewed by Gamila)

Gregg Luke, Blink of an Eye,(reviewed by Karen Hamilton , AML)

G. G Vandagriff, Pieces of Paris (reviewed by Jeffrey Needle, AML)

Alan Rex Mitchell, Angel of the Danube (reviewed by Karen Hamilton, AML) One of my favorite Mormon novels of 2000!

Jacob Young, Harvest: Memoir of a Mormon Missionary (unique memoir reviewed by Shelah).

Dan Wells, Mr. Monster, Theric reviews it, and is thrilled to the marrow.

Bumpy Landings by Donald J. Carey (Shanda-LDS Women’s Book Review)

2 great romances & 6 reasons why you should read them- Courting Miss Lancaster & Cross My Heart (Shanda-LDS Women’s Book Review)

Growing Up Gracie – Maggie Fechner  (Mindy-LDS Women’s Book Review)

Meg’s Melody by Kaylee Baldwin (Shanda- LDS Women’s Book Review)

Pillage – Obert Skye (Mindy-LDS Women’s Book Review)

Jonathan Langford, No Going Back (reviewed at I Swim For Oceans) Non-Mormon reviewer is surprised to be so touched and impressed by an LDS novel.

Blog posts

Here I will link to blog posts that take on interesting issues of Mormon literature, or other things that take my fancy.  The best LDS literature discussion blogs, besides Dawning of Brighter Day, are  A Motley Vision, Segullah, LDS Publisher and Six LDS Writers and a Frog.  I will assume all of this blog’s readers are following those blogs as well, and so I will not link to all of their posts.  I will link to a few I am particularly taken with.

Jeff Savage (6 LDS Writers and a Frog), on Mormon authors Great (or Not So Great) Expectations

Michele Page Holmes on Judging for the Whitney Awards—part 1

Jonathan Langford talks about his first novel, No Going Back, a 2009 Whitney Award finalist for best general fiction, in Gay and/or Mormon: A Storyteller’s Perspective, at Segullah.

Interview with Covenant Communications Senior Editor, Kirk L. Shaw at “A Story Book World”.

Here are a bunch of “Best books of the year” posts by Mormon reviewers.

Sheila’s Top 10 or 20 List for 2010 (LDS Women’s Book Review)

Mindy’s Top Ten of 2010 (LDS Women’s Book Review)

Hillary’s Top Ten List for 2010 (LDs Women’s Book Review)

Shanda’s Top Ten Reads of 2010 (LDS Women’s Book Review)

Emily M.’s Top 10 Books of 2010 (Segullah)

Annette Lyon’s Best of 2010: Books

Inksplasher’s My Top Ten 2010 Reads

LDS Publisher ran a 2010 Best Book Cover contest, with lots of interesting comments from LDSP and her readers about each cover.  In a bit of an upset, the readers chose Carole Thayne Warburton’s Sun Tunnels and Secrets, while LDSP chose Sheila A. Nielson’s The Forbidden Sea.  (Hmm, I guess I do not know how to upload an image here.  I’ll work on that later).

Mormon magazines and short stories

Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought

Volume 43 No. 4 / Winter 2010 includes an interview with Brady Udall, the author of The Lonely Polygamist.  The link will take you to a PDF file of the entire interview.  Don’t miss it.

Annette Haws, whose debut novel , Waiting for the Light to Change (2008, Cedar Fort) won the 2008 Whitney Award for Best General Fiction, Utah Best of State award, and the Diamond Quill Award for Best Published Fiction in 2009 from the League of Utah Writers, has a short story “Fish Stories,” about “the both toxic and healthy ways women interact with one another”.  Fish Stories

The issue also includes two reviews: Phillp A. Snyder’s “The World According to Golden: A Review of Brady Udall, The Lonely Polygamist” and Holly Welker’s “The Plan of Stagnation: A Review of Elna Baker, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance.”

Irreantum: A Review of Mormon Literature and Film

The Fall/Winter 2010 volume, mailed out in December 2010, is Angela Hallstrom’s last as co-editor.  Josh Allen, who currently teaches creative writing, professional writing, and American literature at BYU-Idaho, will join Jack Harrell (who also teaches at BYU-Idaho) as co-editor.  Over the last five years Hallstrom has arguably been our most important proponent (and producer) of LDS literary fiction, and I appreciate all she has done, and will continue to do.  Thanks Angela!  The new issue is chock full of short stories, poems, essays, and reviews, and an interview with Ally Condie.  I hope creators and fans of Mormon literature will take greater advantage of the magazine.   Here is Theric’s review of the latest issue.

Mormon Artist

Issue 13, a special science fiction and fantasy issue. Includes interviews with Orson Scott Card, Ally Condie, Dave Wolverton, Aprilynne Pike, Tracy Hickman, Mette Ivie Harrison, Brandon Mull, James Christensen, Derryl Yeager, and Keri Doering, along with a special Writing Excuses podcast by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler.  Readers should start with the article “Is It Something in the Water?”Why Mormons Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, by Katherine Morris & Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury

Provo Orem Word

January 2011, issue no. 12.  I wonder if many people are aware of this magazine, available entirely online.  This month it features an interview with LDS Film Festival founder Christian Vuissa, an excerpt from Dennis Marden Clark’s epic poem about the life of Joseph Smith, “Rough Stone, Rolling Waters”, movie reviews from Eric Samuelsen, a serialized young adault novel by Krista Nielson, and Annie Poon’s AML Award winning movie The Book of Visions, an animated retelling of the visions of Joan of Arc, Black Elk, and Joseph Smith.

Conferences

Life, the Universe, & Everything XXIX, the symposium on science fiction and fantasy held annually at BYU, will be February 17-19, 2011. It is held a new venue this year: the BYU Conference Center (better parking!). Registration is $20 in advance or $25 at the door; any student with a current ID can get in free.
The symposium has panels, presentations, and workshops on writing, art, media, and a lot more. The focus is science fiction and fantasy, but a lot of the information is good for writing in general.
Guests of Honor are James Dashner and Steve Keele; special guests are David Farland, Jessica Day George, Tracy & Laura Hickman, Lisa Mangum, L. E. Modesitt Jr., Howard Tayler, and Stacy Whitman.
You can get more information, including a tentative schedule, at http://ltue.org

19th Annual ANWA Writers Conference: “Writing at the Speed of Life”
American Night Writers Association will hold its 19th Annual Writers Conference in Phoenix, Arizona on February 25 & 26, 2011, with Keynote Speaker Chris Stewart, author of “The Great and Terrible” fiction series, The Fourth War, Missionary Miracles: Stories and Letters from the Field, and other works

New Books

I am linking each of these announcements to the book pages LDS Publisher creates at her LDS Fiction website.  I plan to link the reviews I list to the LDS Fiction pages as well.  This post has been so long that I only got to the first seven books of 2011.  I will cover more next week.

Isabelle Webb: The Pharoah’s Daughter by N.C. Allen (Covenant).  Suspense, Second in the Isabelle Webb series.

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card (Tor Books).  Contemporary fantasy, the first in his Mithermages series.  Card says that this trilogy and the new YA Pathfinder trilogy will be his focus for the next three years.  See the Orson Scott Card news below.

The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M. Eden (Covenant). Regency romance.  If it is set before 1830, Covenant makes an exception for its normal must-include-LDS-references rule.

Spellweaver by Lynn Kurland (Berkley Trade). Fantasy romance, fourth in The Nine Kingdoms series.  Kurland has made the USA Today Bestseller list 14 times. Despite being a national romance author, she keeps things Deseret Bookstore-stockably clean.

Smokescreen by Traci Hunter Abramson (Covenant). Romantic suspense, fifth in the popular Navy Seals Saint Squad series. Third novel in 12 months!

Bumpy Landings by Donald J. Carey (Cedar Fort). Romantic suspense, the adventures of a RM in Hawaii. First time author.

All That Was Promised by Vickie Hall (Cedar Fort), Historical, about a Methodist minister meeting Mormon missionaries in19th century Wales.  First time author.

Theater

J. Scott Bronson’s play Dial Tones will be performed at the The Brinton Black Box Theater in the Covey Center for the Arts, Provo, January 28 – February 14. The play has been around since at least 1987, and was the first show at the small Black Box theater in 2007. It is a “heartwarming and humorous tale of a very unique love triangle.”  Directed by Lynne Bronson, the author’s wife.  Scott is the artistic director for the Little Theater at the Covey Center for the Arts.

The BYU Experimental Theater Company held a 24-hour Theater Project on January 7-8.  It sounded like a lot of fun, videos of several of the plays are available online.  Here is a review from the Utah Theater Bloggers website. The company is sponsoring a 10-Minute play competition in the end of February. They are taking submissions of 10-minute plays until January 31st. The competition will select six plays to be performed in a limited capacity during the March 10th forum. No prior experience is necessary; just send them in to byuexperimentaltheatre@gmail.com with the subject line “10-Minute Play Submission.”

Mattie Rydalch recently had one of her plays, Strange Attractors, nominated as one of ten finalists for the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award, sponsored by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Mattie is a former BYU student, currently an MFA playwriting student at Idaho State University. Strange Attractors played as a full stage production at The University of Idaho Kiva Theatre in February.  The play explores how chaos theory plays out in human relationships in a tale about an amateur fiction writer who, on the way to her mom’s house, stumbles upon a motion-sick chaos theorist hiding in her mobile home. She falls in love with him, much to the sorrow of her current boyfriend, a comic book publisher who pretends to be allergic to peanuts.

Film

Review: You’re So Cupid (B) (Kevin B. at LDS Cinema Online), very detailed.

The 10th Annual LDS Film Festival will be held on January 26-29 at the SCERA, in Orem, Utah.  Here are some of the feature films that look interesting to me.

Midway to Heaven.   A romantic family comedy, made by Michael Flynn (director/producer/co-writer) and Shelly Bingham (producer/co-writer), it will open widely in Utah on February 4, distributed by Excel Entertainment.   It is based on the Dean Hughes novel.  A widower (Curt Doussett) is thrown for a loop when he meets his daughter’s annoying new boyfriend (Kirby Heyborne), and tries to sabatogue their relationship. But then romance sparks for Dad and a neighbor woman.  Curt Doussett runs the ComedySportz franchize in Utah, has had parts in a bunch of Mormon/Utah movies in the 2000s.

Michael Flynn produced three films in the last ten years in the Mormon/independent Utah film market.  Two were very good (The Best Two Years, The Dance), and one was terrible (Heber Holiday).  Here he takes on the role of director for the first time.  This is the first film that Excel Entertainment will distribute widely in Utah theaters since 2008’s The Errand of Angels.

The Book of Life.  Italian comedian and filmmaker Marco Lui directs a sweet romantic film about the plan of salvation and its implications. “This is the story of a man, who before he is born wants to become a teacher. But, in the heavenly school of teachers, he falls in love with a girl that never smiles. To win her heart, a friend suggests that he should make her smile…but the time to be born suddenly comes for the teacher. On earth, he will have to win her heart again, with a flower and a smile.”

A Christmas Wish. Made by Craig Clyde (director/writer), Dave Hunter (producer), and Bryce Filmore (producer). Staring Kristy Swanson (played Buffy in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie), Edward Herrmann (Gilmore Girls grandfather) and Mormon actor KC Clyde. Made by Halestorm entertainment (The Singles Ward), their first movie since 2007. A mom is left at the end of her rope after her husband runs out on her. She finds a job at a sleepy rural diner, formerly famous for its home-made root beer, and good things finally begin to happen.  They hoped for a Dec. 2010 release on cable TV, but apparently it did not happen. At one point it was called A Root Beer Christmas.

Take the Mountain Down. A musical written and performed by Marvin Payne, Steven Kapp Perry, and R. Don Oscarson. Directed by Steven E. Lowe.  A local string band performing at a community picnic. As the band begins a break, a former band member returns after a lengthy absence. To help her realize the importance of repairing her strained relationships with family and friends, the band leader orchestrates a bluegrass retelling of the Prodigal Son.  The musical premired at the 2007 BYU Education Week.  A version was filmed in 2009, and debuted on KBYU and DVD in 2010.

My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.  Romantic comedy written and directed Daryn Tufts. Staring Alyssa Milano and Christopher Gorham (The Other Side of Heaven). Tufts previously made Stalking Santa and American Mormon. It had a limited release on Utah screens in October 2010, and then was released on WB Digital’s pay-per-view and iTunes. It got quite good reviews from Eric Snider (B) and the Salt Lake CIty newspapers (3 out of 4 stars from both).

Joseph Smith and the Golden Plates. Writer/director/producer Christian Vuissa takes on the story at the heart of Mormonism.

17 Miracles. A sneak preview at T.C. Christensen’s new pioneer film. As everything begins to get worse for the Handcart companies, miracles begin to happen.  25 minutes.  Excel says it plans to release the film in theatres in Summer 2011.

HottieBoombaLottie. Quirky high school comedy, directed, written, produced by, and staring Seth Packard.  Packerd is the son of BYU Philosophy of Film professor Dennis Packard.  It was chosen for the prestigious Los Angeles Film Festival in 2008, and was well received there, but this is the first I have heard of it since. About teenager Ethan channels all his ambitions into a deluded obsession with uber-hottie Madison Sweet.

Other News

This announcement appeared on Orson Scott Card’s Hatrack River website earlier this month: “Orson Scott Card suffered a mild stroke on Saturday 1 January 2011. He is now back home, retraining his brain so that the fingers of his left hand strike the keys he’s aiming for. He will not be responding to most emails because his typing time must be devoted to finishing his fiction. But he is grateful for your good wishes and he promises not to die with any series unfinished.  For the foreseeable future, OSC will not make any public appearances or undertake any travel. Since his speech is unimpaired, he will still conduct radio and recorded interviews. “  Last week Card wrote,  “I’m walking mostly without a cane now, and while I’m still tired all the time, I’m up to walking the treadmill a couple of miles every other day and am typing at about half-speed, with few errors. In short, I’m back … tho I’m still not traveling anywhere.”

Hmm, pretty poor formatting, I’ll try to improve that next week.

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20 Responses to This Week in Mormon Literature, Jan. 21

  1. Jonathan Langford says:

    Outstanding inaugural issue! I really think this could have an immense value for the community of Mormon letters.

  2. Moriah Jovan says:

    That is simply awesome, Andrew! Thank you!!!

  3. Melissa says:

    Thank you very much for linking to my review of NO GOING BACK by Jonathan Langford. It was truly a touching and inspiring novel, and one that I can’t promote enough to those who would normally avoid such sensitive material.

    This is a great feature and post, and I’ll be sure to drop by regularly!

  4. Angela H. says:

    Wow, Andrew! This is amazing. What a resource. Thank you so much!

  5. Absolutely fantastic! Thank you so much for doing this column.

    And thanks for the mention of the Six LDS Writers blog!

  6. Pingback: Tweets that mention This Week in Mormon Literature, Jan. 21 | Dawning of a Brighter Day -- Topsy.com

  7. You’ve done a ton of work on this, and it’s great to have so much information in one place. Thanks for putting it together.

  8. Julie Wright says:

    This really will be a wonderful value to the various communities. There is a wealth of information here!

  9. Emily M. says:

    Wow, this is quite an impressive roundup! Thanks so much–it will be a great resource.

  10. Great compilation of info. I’m looking forward to the year in review!

  11. Andrew, I knew you were planning this and I must say I’m impressed. This will be a wonderful resource for writers. I’m looking forward to reading your blog on a regular basis.

  12. Braden Bell says:

    This is a wonderful resource. I am so glad you are doing this. Thank you.

  13. Your vision of available information is amazing! You have got to be “superman” of motivation! Is there a place for doctrine in your collection of fiction and literary publications? My book, “Unlocking the Idioms” considers literary forms and expressions that determine doctrines that scripture based. Idioms such as “washed in the blood of Christ,” “shake off the dust of your feet,” and “shall take up serpents” are among the two hundred scriptural idioms that must be considered. Sorry to suggest another category to consider. But I hope you would enjoy the look. George

  14. Andrew,
    Best wishes for a long and productive run. It’s nice to have a clearing house of sorts.

  15. Pingback: Tweets that mention This Week in Mormon Literature, Jan. 21 | Dawning of a Brighter Day -- Topsy.com

  16. Katya says:

    I browsed through the Provo Orem Word a few months ago, but found the navigation frustrating (especially when compared with Mormon Artist, for example). Are there any plans for improvement?

  17. Th. says:

    .

    In case Provo Orem Word stops by, I have to agree re:navigation. They had an issue a few months ago with several pieces I wanted to read, but, in the end, it wasn’t worth the bother.

  18. Andrew H. says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments. George Peacock, your work sounds great. I value and often when preparing a lesson turn to my copy of Richard Rust’s “Feasting on the Word”, which sounds like it is in the same genre you are working in. I will not be covering that genre in this column, however.
    The first part of my 2010 Year in Review, on the National market Mormon authors, is up at:
    http://www.motleyvision.org/2011/2010-mormon-literature-year-in-review-national-market/

    Also, people should go look at the BYU-Idaho student documentary “Perspective: An Exploration of Mormons in the Arts”. Kyle Monson, a BCC blogger who is one of the main talking heads in the film, blogs about it at:
    http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/01/26/where-are-the-great-mormon-artists-2/

  19. Pingback: Storytelling & Community: Mormon Literary Bazaar | Dawning of a Brighter Day

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