This Week in Mormon Literature, June 3, 2011.

Dave Farland co-founds a new publisher, and Excel Entertainment and T. C. Christensen release an LDS pioneer film. Please send any suggestions or announcements to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

News, Blog Posts, and Podcasts

Dave Farland and Miles Romney have founded a new publishing  business, East India Press. Their first book will be The Nightingale, by Farland (who also publishes under his real name, David Wolverton).  It will be published in the third quarter of 2011.   Romney’s bio says he co-invented DigiClay Animation, has founded many companies, and has done considerable graphic design and multimedia work.

In the announcement of the company’s launch, Farland says East India Press is a re-envisioned publisher for an evolving industry, which embraces emerging technologies and new distribution methods. It will produce every novel in an enhanced multimedia edition, as well as standard e-book and limited edition hardcover editions.  The multiple media will include illustration, photography, filmography, sound design and music.

Farland makes the argument that publishers currently have the incentive to short-change authors on electronic sales as a way of getting through their economic troubles, but ultimately will be found out and sued into bankruptcy. Therefore authors should consider leaving the big corporations. Farland suggests that companies like his, with lower overhead and a focus on at a more limited audience, are on the cutting edge.  

Orson Scott Card is in a legel dispute with his talent managers over alleged commissions due from the film and web adaptations of Ender’s Game.

At A Motley Vision, Wm Morris muses about Paul de Man’s ideas on resistance to literary theory.

The Appendix Podcast, Episode 18.  The hosts talk to author and bookstore manager Frank Cole about how authors can work effectively with bookstores, and writing humor.

Brit Mandelo at Tor.com reviews the nominees for the 2011 Hugo for Best Graphic Story.  He rates Howard Tayler’s Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel at the bottom of the nominees, questioning why it was even nominated.

Darlene Young on being a Mormon author.

An interview (A Storybook World) with Ensign senior editor and aspiring fantasy novelist Joshua J. Perkey.

Rebecca Talley (Writing Fortress) on marketing LDS literature outside of the LDS market.

Remember the Utah Festival of Books will be held Saturday, June 4th, from 10 am to 6 pm on Brigham Square adjacent to the Wilkinson Center at BYU. The free event includes author signings, performances, booths, literacy activities, guest speakers, and food.  Among the guest speakers are Obert Skye, James Dashner, Ally Condie, Kiersten White, and Brandon Mull.

New books

Ammon by H. B. (Heather) Moore. Covenant. Historical/Scriptural Fiction.  The forth in her Book of Mormon Prophets series that began with Abinadi.

If I Should Die by Jennie Hansen. Covenant. Romance/suspense. A woman investigates the disappearance of her friend, finds romance and danger.  Hansen is a veteran author who has had numerous popular books (and reviews!).

Blackberry Summer by RaeAnne Thayne. HQN Books. Romance. A busy single mother and bead shop owner gets in a car accident. She learns to slow down, finds romance with the new chief of police, and begins a new adventure.

Montezuma Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clark. American Book Publishing. Suspense. The first of the The Adventures of John and Julia Evans series, which will involved Mayans, Anasazi, etc.  A family finds a map, and a treasure hunt begins, with danger and family history.  Clark has done several novels through American Book Publishing.

Reviews

“Get Your Hands Off Those Sheep”: A Review of H.B. Moore’s Ammon. A detailed and funny review, by Scott  Hales at A Low Tech World.

Ammon, by H. B. Moore. LDSWBR.  The whole group (Shanda, Sheila, and Mindy) reviewed the book, each gave it 5 stars. They loved it.

Magdalene, by Moriah Jovan. Amelia at The Exponent. Very positive. “I’m writing this review because Jovan writes a book, complete with explicit sex and four-letter words, that better captures Mormonism and its culture than any other book I have read.  Ever.  And I have read a lot of books, including quite a bit of Mormon fiction. . . . This is a very real ward.  I loved reading such an honest picture of Mormonism, one that does not hide warts but which also makes the community and love clear. . . . And, of course, the book is much more than just Mormonism.  It’s an allegorical examination of the atonement.  It’s a story of vendetta and justice.  It’s a celebration of strong people who shape their worlds.  And it’s a very, very sexy read.”

The Perfect Fit, by Michelle Ashman Bell. Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine. Positive. “Most readers become bored with descriptions of clothes and scenery, but Bell weaves the beautiful island scenery and the Manhattan clothing and theater districts into the story so skillfully that they lend to the story rather than becoming tedious . . . it doesn’t take long to get into the story and enjoy both the faster action and the double treat of a love story and a mystery to solve.”

The List, by Melanie Jacobson. LDSWBR (Shanda) 4 stars. “I had a lot of fun reading The List. There were several parts that were so laugh-out-loud funny I had to read them to my husband. I’m a big fan of the romance genre, but finding a good, non-cheesy, clean romance feels a little like Mission: Impossible.”

Sean Griswold’s Head, by Lindsey Leavitt. Gamila. “The author does an excellent job of showing how Payton’s life was impacted by her father’s MS. The author manages to convey the depth of Payton’s distress without the book feeling like a pity party . . . What results is a genuine and honest teenage romance story. I also loved the fact that the author had a light touch with the romance plot line. Not too sappy and just the right amount of sweet.”

Borrowed Light, by Carla Kelly.   Deseret News.  Positive.  

Film

17 Miracles is being released today, June 3.  T. C. Christensen was the writer, director, producer, and cinematographer of this retelling of the experiences of the Willie Handcart Company. It is distributed by Excel Entertainment, which is part of Deseret Book Company.  It was filmed in Utah, especially on the Sevier River. Excel is doing a limited release in 12 Utah theaters, during the competitive summer season. Excel says it hopes to expand to theaters in nearby Western states.

Christensen has been the cinematographer on dozens of Utah-based films and documentaries over the last 20 years.  Among the films he has co-directed are the 2005 Legacy Theater film Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration, and the 2008 feature film Emma Smith: My Story. The film cost “less than 1 million”, considerably less than the six to eight million spent on each of the three Work and the Glory films, none of which did well enough in the theaters to turn a profit (they may have recouped their losses since through DVD sales). The first Work and the Glory film in 2004 made over $3.3 million dollars in the theater, but the third one in 2006 made only $1.3 million.  Emma Smith, the last LDS epic to appear in the theaters, made only $882,000.  Clearly LDS historical epics have been making diminishing returns since the LDS film boom of the early 2000s.  We’ll see if this film changes the trend.

Feature stories in the Daily Herald and Deseret News about the production.   

Salt Lake Tribune review (Sean Means): 2.5 stars. “A dramatic, thoughtful account . . . Christensen’s eye for composition and sumptuous scenery gives the movie a glossy look, though the script’s episodic structure is wearying and the production’s limited budget — exemplified by the StyroFoam fake snow and the frostbite makeup effects — can be distracting. Jasen Ward’s (sic) rugged performance as Levi Savage, the returned missionary who helps lead the party in spite of his misgivings, holds the movie together.”

KSL/Deseret News Review (Doug Wright): 3 stars.  “I lost count of how many times I teared up while watching this film. Some of these stories I’ve heard before, others were new to me, but there’s something in the way T.C. Christensen brings them to life that is stunning. While there are many admirable performances in “17 Miracles,” I can’t say enough about Wade’s Levi. In many ways, the story is told through the joy, concern, shock and sorrow in this character’s eyes.”

KevinB at LDS Cinema Online reviews Bonneville, and gives it a B-.  Bonnevile was distributed by 20th Century Fox in 2008 (delayed after poor reviews at 2006 and 2007 film festivals), staring Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, and Joan Allen. The writer, Daniel D. Davis, came from a Mormon family, although he apparently did not consider himself a Mormon when he wrote the script. It is the story of three middle aged women on a road trip to bury the ashes of one of their husbands. At least two of the three characters are presented as Mormons, although Mormonism is not central to the film.  Kevin says, “Bonneville has strong characters and a good spirit; however, its contrived plot and limited appeal make the film not quite live up to the potential brought by its three stars . . . Good characters, so-so story, limited appeal — that about sums it up.”  I think it is a bit of a stretch for Kevin to call it a “LDS film”.

Bestsellers

New York Times Bestseller lists, May 29th   

Trade Fiction Paperback

#16 HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, by Jamie Ford (52nd week) ↓. Down from #10. This marks a year on the paperback list. Dropped off the Combined Print Fiction list.

Mass Market Paperback

#16 SAVAGE NATURE, by Christine Feehan (4th week)  ↓.  Down from #12.

#26 ONE MAGIC MOMENT, by Lynn Kurland (3rd week) ↔. Up from #27. 

Children’s Chapter Books

#5 THE TWILIGHT SAGA: THE OFFICIAL ILLUSTRATED GUIDE, by Stephanie Meyer (6th week). ↔ Stayed pat.

Deseret Book LDS Fiction Bestsellers this week

1 Shadows of Brierley, Vol. 2: A Far Horizon, by Anita Stansfield  ↔

2 Shades of Gray by Rachel Ann Nunes   ↔

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

4 Blackberry Crumbleby Josi S. Kilpack   ↔

5 The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill  ↔

6 Foggy with a Chance of Murder by G. G. Vandagriff  ↔

7 The Butterfly Box, Vol. 3: The Perfect Fit by Michele Ashman Bell  ↑

8 Messiah: A Novelby Toni Sorenson

9 The Silence of God by Gale Sears

10  Attack the Lusitania! by Jerry Borrowman  ↑

11. The List by Melanie Jacobson  ↓

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8 Responses to This Week in Mormon Literature, June 3, 2011.

  1. Macha says:

    thanks for posting, added a few of those books to my amazon wish list!

  2. Wm Morris says:

    To be fair to Kevin, he doesn’t say that Bonneville is an LDS film, he says that it’s a film with LDS connections.

  3. Th. says:

    .

    Fantagraphics released the first collected volume of Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse. More to follow.

  4. Wm Morris says:

    I find the East India Press notion interesting, in particular, the emphasis on music and visual art as complements to the text (and a website that reinforces this). I don’t know if enhanced ebooks are going to be all that successful as a user experience — but as a marketing tool, the emphasis on extra-textual work is intriguing.

  5. Roger Layton says:

    17 Miracles is based on the diaries of Levi Savage. His diaries can be read online through the BYU library’s web site, lib.byu.edu. Search for “Levi Savage Diaries.” You can see the scanned pages, read transcripts, or compare the two side by side. http://catalog.lib.byu.edu/uhtbin/pcnum/1579986

  6. Kevin Burtt says:

    I don’t know if Bonneville was ever explicitly marketed as an “LDS film”, or even a film that would be attractive to LDS audiences at all, but an LDS (by birth) screenwriter + LDS characters = close enough to review and discuss.

    My own review and discussion of 17 Miracles is up, if anyone cares: I gave it a B+, but with some pointed complaints.

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