This Week in Mormon Literature, March 11, 2011

Typing while keeping an eye on the TV.  We live in Fukuoka, which is in the Southwest of Japan, far from the earthquake.  We live on the ocean, but on the West coast, facing Korea, so there is no chance of any flooding.

And so, on with Mormon literature.

The 2011 Mormon Scholars in the Humanities/Association for Mormon Letters Conference

will be held March 24-26, on the Utah Valley University campus. Here is the schedule. The two groups are holding their conferences together for the first time.  The theme of AML is “Liberating Form”, while the MSH theme is “Mormonism and embodiment”.  See the bottom of this post for a list of literature-related talks at the conference.

Tyler Chadwick blogs about which AML/MSH sessions he is looking forward to the most.

Columns and Articles

Review: Orson F. Whitney, “Elias—An Epic of the Ages” (Blair Hodges, Life on Gold Plates). Ever wonder what the Whitney Awards are named after? It is the turn-of-the-century apostle Orson F. Whitney. Hodges reviews Grandin Press’s new edition of Whitney’s Miltonic epic poem, first published in 1904.

Through Death Valley: The Mormons in Pulp Fiction, 1907 (Glen Nelson, Keepapitchinin). About a 1907 play featuring Mormons, Danites, and Indians.

Some Thoughts on Mormon Historical Fiction, by Scott Hales

Best SFF Novels of the Decade Readers Poll Results ( Brandon Sanderson came in 9th for his Mistborn series, 11th for Towers of Midnight, and 12th for The Way of Kings. Brandon Sanderson received the most votes of any author, and that did not even including any votes received for his Wheel of Time books written in collaboration with Robert Jordan.   In honor of Sanderson’s selection, also ran an article in appreciation of Mistborn by Jason Denzel.  Old Man’s War by John Scalzi came in first.

Six Questions for Eric James Stone, Assistant Editor, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show (Jim Harrington)

Several posts on independent ebook publishing.  There have been several examples of individuals publishing successfully without a publisher recently, which spurred these posts.

A Shortcut or an Alternate Route?, by Jeffery Savage (Six LDS Writers and a Frog). Ebook publishing.

I think I’m a Convert, by Sariah S. Wilson (Six LDS Writers and a Frog). Ebook publishing.

Thoughts on indie ebook publishing, by Joseph Vasicek, a young SF writer out of BYU. Includes advice from Brandon Sanderson, who teaches a class at BYU.

More Thoughts on Judging the Whitneys by Jennie Hansen

Interview with LDS Publisher at Mormon Mommy Writers.

Playing Jane: The history of a pioneer black Mormon woman is alive today, by Max Perry Mueller. Harvard Divinity School Bulletin, Vol. 39, Nos. 1&2 (Winter/Spring 2011).  About the Genesis Group and the Margaret Blair Young play I am Jane. Mueller is a PhD candidate in American religious history at Harvard, researching early black Mormon pioneers.

Have you heard of the YA Mormon Mafia faux controversy?  Apparently some YA authors feared that Mormon YA authors support each other to the exclusion of others. It may have surfaced with this December 2009 blog post at Editorial Anonymous, a Children’s book blog (the author was dismissive of the idea that the Mormon authors really had any influence on getting their friends publication deals).  Note the many Mormon authors who make comments below the post.

This Publisher’s Weekly article from March 4, about Michelle Witte, a former Gibbs Smith editor who is opening a children’s bookstore in Salt Lake City, contained the term “Mormon Mafia” when talking about all of the Mormon YA authors.  Witte meant it as a joke, and says she is embarrassed that the PW article seemed to take it at face value.

Shannon Hale on the Mormon YA mafia myth, and Rock Canyon, a Utah children’s writers listserv

2 New Orson Scott Card Books Hit the Shelves by Sharon Haddock, Deseret News.  A feature story about the two latest Card novels, and the status of the Ender’s Game movie (no real news here).


Aquilo que nos move, edited by Rex P. Nielson and Kent S. Larsen (Nicole Woodbury Empie at AML-List). A collection of twelve short stories selected from the submissions to the 2010 Parley P. Pratt Mormon Short Story Contest for Portuguese language. Very favorable.

Honeymoon Heist, by Anna Jones Buttimore. (Gabi Kupitz at AML-List. Favorable.)

A Time to Die, by Jeffrey S. Savage (Shelah at Shelah Books It. Favorable).

Cold as Ice, by Stephanie Black (Shelah at Shelah Books It. Favorable).

Pathfinder, by Orson Scott Card (Sharon Haddock at Deseret News. Favorable)

The Lost Gate, by Orson Scott Card (Marc Haddock at Deseret New. Favorable)

The Baseball Box Prophecy, by Bruce Newbold (Sharon Haddock at Deseret News. Favorable)

“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made”: Mormon Sun-Whales! (Gabriel MacKee, SF Gospel). Review of Eric James Stone’s Nebula Award nominated novelette.

Dearly Departed, by Tristi Pinkston (Jennie Hansen at Meridian. Favorable)

Midway to Heaven, by Dean Hughes (Jeff Needle, AML-List. Favorable)

Borrowed Light, by Carla Kelly (Gabi Kupitz, AML-List. Favorable)

Journey of Honor: A Love Story, by Jaclyn M. Hawkes (Sheila, LDSWBR. Favorable)

The Evolution of Thomas Hall, by Keith Merrill (Jeff Needle, AML-List. Unfavorable).  A very early review of a galley version of movie director Keith Merrill’s first novel, to be published by Shadow Mountain in May. Jeff says the plot is predictable, but was amazed at the strong language that Deseret Book appears (so far) to have let appear in the book.

Guardians of the Hidden Scepter, by Frank Cole (Kirkus Reviews. Mixed).

Miles From Ordinary, by Carol Lynch Williams (Kirkus Reviews. Starred (highly favorable)).

Miles From Ordinary, by Carol Lynch Williams (Publishers Weekly. Favorable). “The unfolding of details of Lacey’s home life and her anxieties create a suffocating atmosphere; the climax (which brings to mind Norman Bates and Baby Jane) may be too disturbing for some. This is tautly written psychological horror.”

Beyonders, by Brandon Mull (Los Angeles Times. Favorable). The novel will be released next week.

The Horn of Moran, by M. L. Forman (What All The Kids Are Reading. Favorable).

New Books

Abish: Mother of Faith, by K. C. Grant. Covenant, Historical. Sequel to Abish: Daughter of God.  Focuses on the mothers of the stripling warriors.

Einstein’s Trunk by James Haberkorn. Cedar Fort, Suspense. First novel. A farmer from Idaho teams up with a student from Switzerland in an effort to save the planet from imminent destruction.  From the Da Vinci Code/National Treasure school of hidden messages.

The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter, by Frank L. Cole. Cedar Fort, Middle grade adventure. After two “Hashbrown Winters” novels, humorous tales for upper elementary school kids, Cole produces an Indiana Jones-type adventure. It got reviewed in Kirkus.

Hazzardous Universe by Julie Wright and Kevin Wadsen. Covenant, Middle grade science fiction. First of a 4-part series.  Has the feel of an old-fashion science fiction adventure.  This is the first time that Covenant has done science fiction. Wright has published young adult and romance novels in the past.  Artist Wadsen, who provided 29 illustrations for the book, created the original character in a series of illustrations and short stories between 1993 and 1997.  Here is a Deseret News feature.

Miles From Ordinary, by Carol Lynch Williams. St. Martin’s Griffin, Young adult. Williams has written a string of remarkable, serious novels about troubled girls in very troubled situations.  This one is about a 13-year old with a mentally ill mother, who the child-protection system has failed. “Psychological horror.”

The Tomb Builder by E. James Harrison. Cedar Fort, Historical. First novel. Joseph of Arimathea makes a tomb fit for a king. Inspirational.

Vengeance by Clair M. Poulson. Covenant, Suspense. Murderer father is out of jail, and he tries to kill the daughter whose testimony put him away. Poulson is a very prolific author.

Short Stories

Eric James Stone’s story “Girl Who Asks Too Much” will be coming out in Daily Science Fiction’s email edition on March 24.  The web version will come out a week later.

David J. West, “The Hand of Fate” in a new fantasy anthology Shadows & Light, vol. 2. Pill Hill Press, February 2011. “About a desert warrior and his code of honor he must live up to-lot of action and sword fighting & Mongolian Death worms transplanted to my fantasy desert realm.”


Provo Orem Word, March 2011.  Theme of nature.  Includes an interview with Terry Tempest Williams, an excerpt from P. G. Karamesines’ AML Award winning novel The Pictographic Murders, poems by George Handley and Marden Clark, a book review of Ally Condie’s Matched.

Leading Edge, December 2010.  Issue #60.   The BYU Science Fiction and Fantasy journal.  Issue #60 contains the following stories: Cryonic Sushi, by Meagan Hutchins, A Fair Trade, by Emily Adams, Crunch Time, by Teddie Goldenburg, Our Hero Upholds the Law … of Averages, by Peter Johnston, Floracide, by Kevin Kvas, Sketchbook, by Rachel Burt.


New York Times Bestseller lists, March 13th

Hardcover Fiction

#33.  TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (17th week). ↓ Down significantly from #19.

Trade Fiction Paperback

#10. HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, by Jamie Ford (40th week). ↔  Up from #11 on the Paperback list, it settled down after a big spike last week on the three other lists.  #31 on the Combined Hardcover and Paperback Fiction list, down from #20, and down to #26 from #20 the E- book Fiction list.  #23 on the Combined Print & E-book Fiction list, down from #15.

Children’s Chapter Books, Hardback:

#9 MATCHED, by Ally Condie (13th week). ↔

TIGER’S CURSE by Colleen Houck fell off the list after 4 weeks.

Children’s Paperback:

#6 HUSH, HUSH, by Becca Fitzpatrick (22nd week).  ↑ Up from #9.

Children’s Series:

#8 THE TWILIGHT SAGA, by Stephanie Meyer ( 186th week). ↔

#9 FABLEHAVEN, by Brandon Mull (14th week). ↑ Back on the list for the second time in three weeks.

Deseret Book LDS Fiction Bestsellers this week

1 The Book of Malchus by Neil Newell, William Hamblin

2 How to Stuff a Wild Zucchini by Heather Horrocks ↑ Not sure why this 2009 light comedy, that was pretty poorly reviewed and did not make much of a splash when it was released, has been so hot this last month.  It makes me doubt the reliability of this list.

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

4 Blackberry Crumbleby Josi S. Kilpack

5 Shadows of Brierley, Vol. 1: The Wanderer by Anita Stansfield

6 The Silence of God by Gale Sears

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

8 Midway to Heaven by Dean Hughes ↓  The movie theater run is nearly over.

9 Smokescreen by Traci Hunter Abramson

10 Vengeance by Clair M. Poulson NEW

The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M. Eden ↓ Drops of the list


Two of the most respected Mormon playwrights working today, Melissa Leilani Larson and Eric Samuelsen, both have two plays being produced this month.

Jane Austen’s Persuasion.  Adapted for the stage by Melissa Leilani Larson. BYU Pardoe Theater, March 16-April 1. Directed by Barta Heiner.  Daily Herald preview.

There is also a community theatre production of Larson’s Martyrs’ Crossing being done by Rising Star Productions in Kelso, WA, March 22-26, 2011. The play, about the angels who appear to Joan of Arc, has been around in some form since at least 2004.  It had a full production at BYU in 2006 (when it was called Angels Unaware) where it was named by the Deseret News as one of the best Utah Valley productions of 2006.

Eric Samuelsen’s The Plan debuts at the Covey Center in Provo, March 18-April 2 2011.  The script was published in Sunstone, July 2009, #155. The play explores the LDS plan of salvation through the stories of Old Testament women and men, Ruth and Boaz, Jacob and Leah, Adam and Eve.  Through six short conversations, the play examines agency and adversity, choices and the consequences of choices, pain and difficulty and joy.  Samuelsen said it is “a feminist look at the Old Testament”, and “my entire testimony is in that play”   The first part, “Gaia”, appear in the 2010 collection Out of the Mount. Eric P. Jepson says of that section that it makes “stereotypes of downtrodden Mormon women ring ever more hollow” as a pre-mortal Eve stands down Lucifer and proves her strength and worthiness to be the mother of all living only shortly before the days of Eden.”

Samuelsen’s Boarderlands will play at Plan-B Theater in Salt Lake City March 31-April 10.

March 31-April 1. A showing of a student-made production called “To Thine Own Self Be True: Being a Girl at BYU” will be held at 7:30 p.m. in BYU’s Nelke Theatre.  The main author talks about the work at:


Review: Joseph Smith and the Golden Plates (Review by KevinB at LDS Cinema Online, B-).


“The Gulf Between Us”, by Terry Tempest Williams.  An essay from the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Orion magazine, about the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

BYU Lectures (sorry the first two are a day late):

Thursday, Mar 10, Neal A. Maxwell Lecture
7 PM, Assembly Hall, Hinckley Center Novelist and Emeritus Professor Marilyn Arnold gave the annual Maxwell Lecture

Annette Lyon spoke at the BYU College of Humanities Alumni Career Lecture Series.  March 10th, 11:00 am, B190 JFSB.

Thursday, Mar 17 English Reading Series
11 AM, 1080 HBLL Terry Tempest Williams.  This is Williams’ first lecture at BYU since 1988.

Friday, Mar 25English Reading Series
12 PM, 1080 HBLL Professor and novelist John Bennion

Selected AML/MSH panels (see the pdf at the top for the full list):

Thursday, March 24

UVU Annual Eugene England Mormon Studies Lecture

Phil Barlow, Leonard Arrington Professor of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University, ―To Mend a Fractured Reality: Joseph Smith’s Project‖

Friday, March 25

MSH Keynote: James K.A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College, ―Religion is for Bodies: Embodied Ritual in Postmodern Fiction

AML: Graham St. John Stott, ―Gates to Magery

Brooke Brassard, ―Vampire Rules Aren‘t Enough For You? You Want to Worry about the Human Ones Too?

MSH Panel: ―Responses to the Theme of Embodiment in George Handley’s Home Waters

Adam Miller, chair, Jennifer Webb, Christopher Oscarson, George Handley

AML: Jacob Bender ―A Post-Structural Approach to the Book of Mormon

Bruce Jorgensen, ―Toward a Hermeneutics of Grace and Charity (Mormon or Not)

MSH: Poetry by Jonathon Penny, Scott Hatch, Susan E. Howe, Michael Hicks, Lance Larsen

AML: Dennis Clark, ―Liberating Form and Liberty Jail

Kim Heuston, ―Eternity Made Manifest: Form and the Art of Coming Home

Harlow Clark, ―Liberating From

AML: Helynne Hansen ―Mormonism 101 as LDS Literature Enters the Mainstream: Elna Baker‘s The New York Regional Singles’ Mormon Halloween Dance

Glen Gordon, ―Faith-Based Fiction: Bibliotherapy for the Soul?

Cameron Scott, ―Revelation‘s Disruption: The Need for Uncertainty in Jack Harrell‘s A Sense of Order and Other Stories and Flannery O‘Connor‘s ‘Revelation’

Saturday, March 26

AML: Matt Hall, ―Communicating the Mormon Experience to a Non-Mormon Audience:What Disaffected LDS Writers and Active LDS Housewife Bloggers can Teach Us

Nicole Davis ―The Depiction of Female Characters in Clothing Esther, Thanksgiving, and A Time to Dance.

AML: Tyler Chadwick ―21st Century Lyric Mormonisms

Nancy Chaffin ―’The Other Women‘: Polarity and Articulation

AML Keynote: Marvin and Sam Payne, ―Form and the Watering of Plants

AML: Josh Allen, ―Good Epiphany, Bad Epiphany: Handling Revelation in Mormon Fiction,

Jack Harrell, ―Making Meaning in Mormon Fiction

AML: Phyllis Barber ―The Pros and Cons of Writing Confessional Memoir in the Mormon Context‖

Presidential Address

AML: Gideon Burton, ―Eugene England Online: Liberating Mormon Biography in the Digital Age‖AML: Reading from Recent Memoirs: George Handley, Stephen Carter, Kathy Soper, and Doug Thayer

MSH: Brooke Brassard, University of Victoria, British Columbia, ―Popular Bodies: How Humans, Vampires, and Shape Shifters Represent the Sacred in the Twilight Saga

AML: John Bennion, Nature Writing Documentary

AML:  Gerrit van Dyk, ―’Miltons of Our Own’: Form and Convention in the Mormon Epic Poem

Toni Pilcher, ―Mormon Themes in Contemporary Young Adult Literature

Rebecca Hay, ―The Book of Mormon 2.0

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5 Responses to This Week in Mormon Literature, March 11, 2011

  1. Jonathan Langford says:

    I’d like to add a link here to the latest addition in my Writing Rookie series over at A Motley Vision, titled The Writing Rookie Season 2, #2: Choose to Write! (When a Choice Is Placed Before You):

  2. Andrew, sometimes when a book looks oddly out of place on Deseret Book’s Bestseller list, there is a good reason. When a book that isn’t selling well or there are a lot of copies left, Deseret Book marks it really low to get rid of it and the sales jump. Voila! The book lands on the bestseller list. This only happens with their own books. If you look at the book in question you’ll see it is marked down from $17.99 to $4.99.

  3. Th. says:


    Lots of exciting stuff. As usual. (!)

  4. Th. says:



    Incidentally, the most exciting thing for me this week was AML’s release of mp3s of a bunch of AML sessions. Very cool. I’m listening to Jack Harrell as I type.

  5. Andrew H. says:

    Here is a post at The Exponent website about the “To Thine Own Self Be True: Being a Girl at BYU” project, playing March 30-April 1.

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