This Week in Mormon Literature, Jan. 28

First a bit of self-promotion.   My 2010 Mormon Literature Year in Review column is currently running at A Motley Vision.  Part 1, on the National market, is here.  Part 2, on the Mormon market, is coming soon.  I hope to get to a Part 3, on short stories, poetry, etc, in the coming weeks.

Columns

Where Are the Great Mormon Artists? By Kyle Monson at By Common Consent.  Kyle provides a link to and talks about “Perspective: An Exploration of Mormons in the Arts”, a new BYU-Idaho student documentary on the ever-burning question of whether Mormons can be great artists.  The documentary features Kyle Monson (musician), Jack Harrell (author and academic), Preston Pugmire (musician), Garrett Sherwood (poet/musician), Ryan Hayes (writer/musician), Rachel and Adam Kaiser (musicians, “The Neighbors”), Ben Szabo (Artist), and Terryl Givens (historian).

Judging for the Whitney Awards Part 2 Michele Paige Holmes talks not only about her judging process, but gives detailed writing advice.

What I learned from judging the Whitney Awards Heather  Justesen talks about judging the historical category.

Your Protagonist Compass Jeff Savage at 6 LDS Writers and a Frog gives writing advice.

Is Science Fiction Getting More Conservative? Non-Mormon blog, features quotes by Mormon authors Orson Scott Card and Larry Correia.

Reviews

My Double Life by Janette Rallison (Gamila, positive)

The Rogue Shop, by Michael Knudsen (Bloggin’ ‘bout Books, great diversity of atypical Mormon characters, but too many rookie author mistakes in the writing. Grade: C)

The Thirteenth Reality, by James Dashner (The writing is so-so, and story too often drags. Grade: C).

The Peasant Queen by Cheri Chesley (Mindy-LDS Women’s Book Review, 4 out of 5 stars)

Matched, by Ally Condie (Reading for Sanity, 4 out of 5 stars)

Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrcik (Reading for Sanity, 4.5 out of 5 stars)

Smokescreen, by Traci Hunter Abramson (Meridian Magazine, Jennie Hansen, Favorable)

One Against The Wilderness, by Tom Roulstone (Karen Hamilton, AML, mixed)

Trespass, by Sandra Grey (Deseret News, Sharon Haddock).  I get the feeling that Haddock is tired of reviewing Mormon books.

The Wall Street Journal on Orson Scott Card’s “The Lost Gate” and “Pathfinder”.

Magazines

Sunstone Issue 161 contains one short story, “Angina” by Helen Walker Jones. Here is a review of the story by Theric.

Theater

Melissa Leilani Larson’s play Little Happy Secrets will be produced this coming weekend, January 27-31 (minus the Sunday) at Southern Utah University, in their black box.  Performances are at 7:30 and tickets are $5 for the general public. I cannot recommend this play enough.  Little Happy Secrets won the 2009 Association for Mormon Letters Drama award, and was published in 2010 as part of New Play Project’s first anthology Out of the Mount: 19 From the New Play Project.  The play is told through the point of view of a female returned missionary at BYU, struggling with homosexual desires.  Davey Morrison of The New Play Project said it is “The best Mormon play that’s been written.” Mahonri Stewart, in his review of the play, wrote “From the beginning Larson has engaged my mind, softened my heart, and spurred me into action. She has made me re-think certain worldviews, and review my own, not always pure intentions. She has made me see my fellow human beings more clearly and compassionately, as well as drawing me nearer to the heart of God. I don’t know how I can give higher praise to a writer, but Larson deserves every word of it. And in her most ground-breaking play Little Happy Secrets, all of Larson’s strengths are on display . . . Before my wife Anne and I first went to see Little Happy Secrets I was very enthusiastically endorsing the play to her (I had seen the staged reading). But Anne was very hesitant about how she was going to react to the piece. She wasn’t afraid of the subject matter necessarily, but had suffered a bit of burn out about how polarizing and distressingly ugly addressing the issue can be. To Larson’s credit, Little Happy Secrets calmed all Anne’s concerns and the play thoroughly engaged her. We both left the theater with full hearts and a lot to talk about. I don’t ever remember hearing a single complaint about the play. Not during the talk backs, not in reviews of the show, not in discussions with friends.  That is saying something, considering the subject matter. It seemed to resonate with people across the political and religious spectrum. Mormons, non-Mormons, liberals, conservatives, homsoexuals and heterosexuals all seemed to really care about the play.  It’s what makes the play brilliant and… good. Morally and spiritually, it tastes good.  It’s filled with love, sensitivity, and kindness, all of which are extended to the audience.”

Larson and the 2009 cast made a recording of the play, which is available on iTunes, or here.  Larson was also recently a guest on the podcast Mormon Expression, where she talked about the play.

Larson is currently adapting the Jane Austen novel Persuasion for a March performance at BYU, and her play Martyrs’ Crossing, about Joan of Arc and the angels who guided her, will be produced by Rising Star Productions in Kelso, WA in March.

New Books

Impractical Grace by John S. Bushman (Cedar Fort). General/inspirational , subtitled “A story of Christ bringing peace into unlikely hearts.” A Bishop teaches the gospel to his ward.  “Part treatise, part novel,” the blurb says.  First-time novel by a CES instructor.

The Upside of Down by Rebecca Talley (Cedar Fort). Romance/general.  A busy mother finds out she is going to have another baby.  Third novel.

Dearly Departed by Tristi Pinkston (Walnut Springs Press). Comic mystery/romance.  Pinkston moved to Walnut Springs Press for this the second volume of the “Secret Sisters” series.

Bestsellers

New York Times Bestsellers, January 30th.

Hardcover Fiction:

#23 TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (11th week on the list).  I estimate it is the second biggest-selling 2010 Mormon-authored novel.

Trade Paperback:

#17 HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, by Jamie Ford (34th week). The 2009 novel has sold strongly for exactly two years now.   It is #73 on the USA Today list, which merges all adult, children’s, hardback, paperback, fiction, and non-fiction into one single list.

Mass Market Paperback:

#11 RUTHLESS GAME, by Christine Feehan (3rd week). Straight-to-paperback vampire novel debuted at #2.  It is at #39 on the USA Today list.

#21 THE OVERTON WINDOW, by Glenn Beck  (3rd week). I estimate this political adventure, written with collaborators, was the third best-selling 2010 Mormon-authored novel.  Currently #139 on the USA Today list. Interestingly, it has been nominated for a Whitney Award, while Towers of Midnight is ruled ineligible, because one of the co-authors is not Mormon.  I would venture to guess that Brandon Sanderson wrote much more of Towers of Midnight than Beck did of The Overton Window.

Fell off the paperback lists this week:

The Gathering Storm, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. The first of the Sanderson/Jordan trilogy, it spent 9 weeks on the paperback list.

The Christmas Sweater, by Glen Beck.  The 2008 novel returned to the bestseller list for the third Christmas season in a row.

Children’s Chapter Books, Hardback:

#8 MATCHED, by Ally Condie (7th week). Hype might get you on the list, but I don’t think it will keep you there for seven weeks.

Children’s Paperback:

#9 HUSH, HUSH, by Becca Fitzpatrick (16th week).  The first in her series, she is the best-selling Mormon YA author not named Meyer.

#10 THE MAZE RUNNER, by James Dashner (13th week).

Children’s Series:  [Once a series reaches three volumes, the individual books are removed from the Children’s Chapter Books and Children’s Paperback lists, and placed in this Children’s Series list.  This was done largely to keep all of the Harry Potter books from clogging up the list.]

#7 THE TWILIGHT SAGA, by Stephanie Meyer ( 180th week).

Deseret Book LDS Fiction Bestsellers this week

1 The Kingdom and the Crown 3-Volume Set by Gerald N. Lund

2 Smokescreen by Traci Hunter Abramson

3 The Silence of God by Gale Sears

4 The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M. Eden

5 The Great and Terrible Six-Volume Set by Chris Stewart

6 Midway to Heaven by Dean Hughes

7 Dickens Inn 5-Volume Set by Anita Stansfield

8 Isabelle Webb: The Pharaoh’s Daughter by Nancy Campbell Allen

10  The Undaunted: The Miracle of the Hole-in-the-Rock Pioneers by Gerald N. Lund

Lund’s set at the top has been around for years.  Abramson’s new Saint Squad novel goes (almost) straight to the top.  The books by Eden and Allen are also new this month.  The Hughes book is a few years old, certainly being pushed again because of the upcoming film adaption.  The fact that the film has not yet been released, however, makes me think that these numbers represent bookstore orders, rather than actual sales.

Does anyone have any comments about the reliability of this list?  The Deseret Book webpage has a “Top Ten Fiction Bestsellers” on the sidebar, and then there is a longer “General Fiction” list, that seems to be the source of the “Fiction Top Ten”, and seems to include all fiction books.  There are also specialized “Romance”, “Mystery/Suspense”, “Historical Fiction” and “Fantasy/Science Fiction” lists.  Am I right in assuming the “General Fiction” list includes all fiction books, and is the basis for the “Top Ten” list?  Also, Deseret Book and Covenant titles dominate the General Fiction list, with the first Cedar Fort title (Cartels and Combinations by Mike McPheters )appearing at #14 on the current list. Is there any feeling that the list is weighted against non-Deseret Book Publishing titles?

Film

The LDS Film Festival takes place this weekend in Orem.  Here is a feature article on the festival, discussing some of the films, in the Daily Herald.  Daily Herald: ‘Golden’ mission: LDS filmmakers get a chance to share their creations at annual festival

Intrepid Mormon historian Ardis E. Parshall, who runs the Keepapitchinin web site, this week wrote a column about The Miracle of Salt Lake: A Mormon Movie You Probably Never Heard OfThe Miracle of Salt Lake was a 1938 MGM 11-minute short, directed by Basil Wrangell.  Parshall tells us what she can about the short through a script, some stills, and newspaper reports.  It is not currently known wether a copy of the film survives.

Italian comedian ‘Mr. Him’ makes a movie for LDS Film Festival (Deseret News).

Contests and Events

I was a little confused by this, so in case you were too, let it be known that there are two Eugene England personal essay contests ongoing, both sponsored by the Eugene and Charlotte England Education Fund. One is the 2011 Eugene England Memorial Personal Essay Contest. It is run by Sunstone, applications are due Feb. 28, 2011, and essays must be 3500 words or fewer.  The second is the 2011 Charlotte and Eugene England Personal Essay Contest, run by the Association for Mormon Letters and Irreantum, applications are due May 31, 2011, and the essays may be up to 5000 words.
Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and Concerts
February 4-5 in Provo, Utah
http://ce.byu.edu/cw/tsf/

19th Annual ANWA Writers Conference
“Writing at the Speed of Life”
February 25-26 in Phoenix, Arizona
http://anwa-lds.com/conference.html

BYU Publishing Fair

March 16, noon to 5:00 PM, BYU Wilkinson Center.  BYU’s Honors, Editing, YPublish Club, and BYU Counselling and Career Center sponsor the fair, providing students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends the opportunity to meet with editors from a range of markets, including publishers of books, magazines and academic journals.

LDStorymakers Conference
May 6-7 in Salt Lake City
http://www.ldstorymakers.com/conference_2011.php

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference
June 13-17 in Sandy, Utah
http://www.wifyr.com/

24th BYU Symposium on Books for Young Readers
July 14-15 in Provo, Utah
http://ce.byu.edu/cw/bfyr/

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10 Responses to This Week in Mormon Literature, Jan. 28

  1. Wm Morris says:

    So at the risk of turning these in to weekly plaudits for Andrew, let me just say that, although I’m pretty plugged in, so far there’s always been something in this column that I didn’t know about.

    I should also add that I make an appearance several times in the comments to that By Common Consent post. And that I was confused about the essay contests so I’m happy for this clarification.

  2. One event you don’t have on your radar that you should is Life, the Universe, and Everything at BYU from Feb. 17-19: http://ltue.org/LTUE_2011.html.

    It’s hosted by Conferences & Workshops this year instead of at the Wilkinson Center and they’re charging $20-25 (depending on whether you register early) for non-students—students are free—but these are good changes that will ensure that the con doesn’t suffer from the threats of discontinuance it had when it was required to be free by the Wilk.

    Pretty much every single one of Utah’s science fiction and fantasy authors will be in attendance (I believe Brandon Sanderson might not be making it this year, though he’s gone pretty much every year before this). I’ll be there, too, discussing publishing/editing/being edited/YA and children’s lit. It’s a nice little SFF con, but you don’t have to be a fan to attend and get a lot out of it as a writer.

  3. Marny says:

    Seems like I’m always picking on your details, but I do appreciate your hard work. I know you’ve found a number of books I’ve missed over the years that needed to go into my Mormon SF bibliography. Today’s correction: Christine Feehan’s book is not a vampire book. Her Dark series is about vampires (and are by far her most popular), but this book’s series (GhostWalkers) is about genetically enhanced ESPer soldiers. She has another series about ESPers (Sea Haven) and one about shapeshifters.

  4. Marny says:

    Stacy–

    Andrew covered LTUE last week, but thanks for the extra plug! :)

    • Jonathan Langford says:

      That raises an interesting question. For upcoming events, should the announcement be repeated multiple weeks until the event (at least in abbreviated form), so that people don’t have to go back through multiple weeks to make sure they haven’t missed anything? Andrew?

  5. Th. says:

    .

    Somehow I missed this post. I’m not sure how. But I am, already, finding this series comforting — suddenly I feel much more at home in the world…..

  6. I’m sorry to leave this comment here, but I couldn’t find a contact address. I noticed that you cited “Reading For Sanity” as giving a 4 Star review for “The Peasant Queen” when it, in fact, received a 2.25 Star review. Perhaps you have us confused with someone else?

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