This Week in Mormon Literature, July 8, 2011

A trifecta of Mormon artistic superstars–Jerusha Hess, Shannon Hale, and Stephanie Meyer–are teaming up to make the film Austenland. Lots of other film news, tons of new magazines and stories, and another speculative fiction award finalist. Go read!  Please send any suggestions or announcements to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.


Shannon Hale’s novel Austenland is being made into a feature film. Jerusha Hess, who co-wrote Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre, and Gentlemen Broncos with Jared Hess, will direct the romantic comedy.  It is her directing debut. Jerusha Hess and Shannon Hale co-wrote the screenplay. Stephanie Meyer is one of the producers and financers of the movie, through her Fickle Fish Film company. Meyer was an executive producer of her Twilight movies, but this is the first time she had produced a film where she was not the original author.  Filming starts this week in the United Kingdom. The cast includes Kari Russell, JJ Field, Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Concords), Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Seymour, and Rupert Vansittart. It is the story of a single, thirtysomething woman with a secret obsession with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice–Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy in particular. She decides to spend her life savings on a trip to an English resort catering to Jane Austen-crazed women, where she finds her own chance for romance.  Shannon Hale talks about the cast and the film here.

17 Miracles, a month after its release, continues to play at over two dozen theaters in four intermountain states.

A KSL article about Christian Vuissa’s new movie, “Joseph Smith Volume 1: Plates of Gold.”  In an odd move for a Mormon film, Vuissa is screening the film in a variety of East Coast and Midwest states this summer.  It is screening this week, from July 7 to July 18, at the Palmyra Inn in Palmyra, New York.  There are plans for the film to play in Western states in September.

KevinB reviews a DVD version of the Saturday’s Warrior sequel Star Child at LDS Cinema Online. After a detailed, scathing review, he grades it: “C for the music, B for Chuck and Marie’s story, D for all the other characters, C+ for the slightly better narrative and doctrinal ideas.”  My fuzzy memory of a stage production I saw years ago tells me that Kevin is being generous with his grades.

The LDS Film Festival announced the winners of the 2011 screenplay competition. The three First Place winners were Cherie Julander, Mahonri Stewart, and Gregory Williams.

Davey Morrison is trying to raise funds through Kickstarter to produce a film based on Anna Lewis’s play WWJD, which premiered this past March at New Play Project. They have only have nine days left to raise $1,870. The Kickstarter page has more information on the project, including a teaser/pitch video, quotes from press and audience members, and a free link to the script.

Magazines and Short Stories

As you can see on the right-hand side of the blog, the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Irreantum is now available.  If you care enough about Mormon literature to be reading this column, you certainly should subscribe.  Get yours now!

The new Mormon Artist #16 is now available, and features an all-female cast of interviewees.  They are essayist Tessa Meyer Santiago, poet Marilyn Bushman-Carlton, visual artists Megan Rieker, Eilisabeth Bell and Leslie Graff, dancer Sara Webb, and storyteller Marilyn McPhie.  The issue also has greetings from outgoing editor Ben Crowder and incoming editor Katherine Morris.

Analog, the leading science fiction magazine, will have short stories by two Mormon authors in its September issue. They are Emily Mah’s “Hostile Environment” and Brad R. Torgersen’s “The Chaplain’s Assistant” (which has some LDS characters in minor roles).  Torgersen is becoming quite the favorite at Analog recently, with a story published there in 2010, and two more coming up before the end of 2011.

BYU Studies Volume 50:2 is now available. It contains poetry by Lon Young and Dixie Partridge, an essay on the educational philosophy of Eliza R. Snow, and a review by Susan Elizabeth Howe of Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry, edited by Jill Mulvay Derr and Karen Lynn Davison.

Writers of the Future, Vol. 27, (released in June 2011), the latest of the annual series of stories from the prestigious L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, includes “The Sundial,” a finalist story by Mormon author John Arkwright.

Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show announced a new anthology of reprints from its webzine.  Stories by LDS authors include “The End-of-the-World Pool” by Scott M. Roberts and “The Robot Sorcerer” by Eric James Stone.

Eric James Stone’s short story “Freefall” is available at Daily Science Fiction.

News and columns

Eric Swedin’s 2010 novel When Angels Wept is one of five finalists for the Sidewise Award for Alternative History (long form). The award will be announced at the World Science Fiction Convention in August. The novel’s scenario is that the Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in a nuclear war.

The Golden Spiral, by Lisa Mangum, won the ForeWard Magazine Book of the Year Award in the Young Adult Fiction category. ForeWard Magazine covers the world of independent publishers. This is the second year in a row that Lisa won the award.

Tyler Chadwick discusses BYU Studies Poetry Editor Casualene Meyer’s article “Would that All God’s Children Were Poets” at A Motley Vision.

Scott (looking it up to make sure, yep, it is) Hales at The Low-Tech World gives ideas for “Five Mormon Stories I’ll Never Write” for free! They include the steampunk “The Orson Pratt Cannon” and a pioneer metahistorical romance.  Which gave me the chance to look up what a “metahistorical romance” is, you can too!  Scott also provides a rumination on being American by Nephi Anderson for Independence Day, and talks about the place of racist literature in our Mormon past in “500 Words On What To Do With Racist Mormon Novels.”   

Stephen Carter, the editor of Sunstone Magazine, announced a “call for submissions for The Best of Mormonism 2009–2010, to be published by Zarahemla Books at the end of the year. The purpose of the collection is to bring together the best published writing produced by Mormons of all stripes. The previous edition of The Best of Mormonism included work published by the Black Warrior Review, the Iowa Review, the South Loop Review, and Prick of the Spindle (a web publication), and work honored by the Best Creative Nonfiction, the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry, and the Pushcart Prize.   I’m looking for previously published short stories, poetry, creative non-fiction, comics, novel excerpts, exceptional blog posts, hybrids, and anything else that can be committed to paper. I’m especially looking for work that has been published in non Mormon-related venues, since that work has likely not made its way into the Mormon reading community; but I will definitely consider Mormon-published work as well. I prefer work that has Mormon content–explicit or subtle–but I’m willing to make exceptions for exceptional work. I hope to include work from a variety of genres: from literary, to sci-fi, to horror, to humor, to devotional. All entries should have been published in 2009-2010.  Send submissions to by September 30, 2011. Include your name, title of work, publication information, and a link to proof of publication if possible. Attach your submission as a PDF. The author must have retained nonexclusive reprint and electronic rights to the work.”

BYUtv “Latter Day Profiles” series features children’s author Rick Walton and Covenant editor Kirk Shaw.  Features Walton’s new book, “Much Ado About Mormons”, a collection of quotes by non-Mormons about Mormons.   Then, at the 10:00 into the video, Shaw talks about the Mormon publishing market.

The Merry-Go Round”, a serialized story by Alice Morrey Bailey, published in the Relief Society Magazine in 1941 and 1942, is being posted chapter-by-chapter by Ardis E. Parshall at Keepapitchinin. Chapter 2 is here. So far it is the story of a husband who loses his job, and finds a less lucrative but fulfilling job in horticulture.  His wife, however, who was raised with certain expectations, is not happy with him.

Capturing Temple Photographs: An Interview with David Sidwell”, is featured at Glimpses, the Mormon Artists Group’s online magazine.

Podcasts: Writing Excuses does a Q and A and talks Query Letters, Writing Snippets on Avoiding Cliché Characters.

New Books

Voice Across Time, by Linda Todd Bush. Covenant. Conversion/historical fiction. The story of an inactive women’s conversion, with a parallel story of a pioneer ancestor. First novel.

Montana Summer, by Jeanette Miller. Covenant. Romance. A BYU girl visits her fiancé’s family in Montana, and finds herself in a romantic triangle with her fiancé’s troubled brother.

Inside, by Brenda Novak. Mira. Suspense. The Bulletproof Trilogy, Volume 1. 

The Hainan Incident, by DM Coffman. Covenant. Thriller. A Chinese-American spies in the PRC, confronts terrorism.  First novel. Coffman taught English in China as part of a BYU program.


Voice Across Time, by Linda Todd Bush. Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine. Fairly Positive. “It is beautifully written and almost literary, invites a great deal of thought and pondering, but is slow.  There is not a lot of action and the plot line is predictable.  It is more about the process than the achievement of self-discovery, of testimony, and of learning the meaning of lasting worth.”

Montana Summer, by Jeanette Miller. Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine. Positive. “Being a romance, the plot is formulaic to a large extent, but by bringing LDS elements and the use of a dramatic setting into a prominent role in the story, it becomes fresh and new.  The characters are developed well with distinct personalities.  Miller has avoided the traps many new LDS romance writers fall into of converting everyone and bringing a positive conclusion to each dilemma.  This isn’t a conversion story and it isn’t preachy . . . Miller is one of the better romance writers to come along and will likely attract a strong following in a short time.”

Magdalene, by Moriah Jovan. fMhLisa at Feminist Mormon Housewives. Very positive. “Seriously awesome. There’s nothing like a man of God trying to live up to his deeply felt morals to help build the sexual tension. Zoinks! . . . The most interesting aspect of this book is that it is one of the most realistic portrayals of Mormon culture I’ve read in fiction. Ever. The wonder beauty and strength of it, and our warts and weaknesses too. With no apologies for our peculiarities, just rich and honest matter-of-fact portrayal.”

Attack the Lusitania, by Jerry Borrowman. Landon Walters, for the Deseret News. Positive.

The Devil Colony: A Sigma Force Novel, by James Rollins.  Reviewed by Blair Dee Hodges (Life on Gold Plates). “If you’re into early American and Mormon History without being meticulously picky or averse to fictionalization, and you like a gripping spy novel and don’t mind a few cheesy one-liners, occasional melodramatics, a couple of f-bombs, and exploding skulls and brain matter, The Devil Colony will make great summer reading.”

Sunstone Symposium

The Sunstone Symposium, held on August 3-6 at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, includes several panels that relate to Mormon literature.


Abstract Romantic fiction comprises 25% of books sold in the U.S.; its readers represent a diverse group. Popularity notwithstanding, the genre is regularly challenged as trashy and prurient and for reinforcing the limitations of traditional gender roles. This panel will examine what the themes, trends, and traits of the genre and its readership help reveal about Mormons and their culture: What connections exist between female desire and Mormon women’s claiming priesthood and voice? How do romance characters and plots provide insight into both male and female Mormon gender roles? Why do Mormon women consume these “soft porn” works of fiction?

Moderator/Panelist AMELIA PARKIN received an MA in English from the University of Virginia and works in academic publishing. She has blogged at THEEXPONENT.COM since its inception in 2006 and recently joined the panel for the podcast Daughters of Mormonism.

Panelists CAROLINE KLINE is a graduate of Scripps College with an MA in classics from UC Santa Barbara. She is the co-founder of THEEXPONENT.COM and began the PhD program in women’s studies in religion at Claremont Graduate University in 2010. MARGARET MERRILL TOSCANO is an assistant professor of classics at the University of Utah; she has been on the board of the Mormon Women’s Forum since its inception in 1988. She has published widely on the topic of Mormon feminism.


Abstract Sparks fly—sensual and spiritual collide, alluding to the forbidden, insinuating a route to the secret and the hidden in all of us, rallying the spirit. Love poetry can walk this line and do it openly and unashamedly, claiming our deepest affections, healing our contradictions, inducing us to laugh and cry at our fears. Sexy, funny, and provocative, four poets whose work appears in the new anthology Fire in the Pasture: 21st Century Mormon Poets get under the skin and the senses to the heart.

Moderator PAUL SWENSON is a journalist and poet whose second book of poems, In Sleep and other poems, will be published later this year by Dream Garden Press, Salt Lake City.

Panelist TYLER CHADWICK is pursuing a PhD in English at Idaho State University. His poems have appeared in an array of literary journals. He’s also editor of Fire in the Pasture: 21st Century Mormon Poets. NICOLE HARDY is the author of two poetry collections: This Blonde and Mud Flap Girl’s XX Guide to Facial Profiling. One of her essays was recently featured in the Modern Love column of the New York Times. HOLLY WELKER has a PhD in English literature from the University of Iowa. Her poetry and prose have appeared in publications ranging from the New Era to the New York Times and from Best American Essays to Bitch.


Abstract Mormons love a good laugh–and sometimes are willing to laugh at themselves. Join us for a lighthearted and light-minded Thursday evening plenary session wherein we will enjoy a closer look at the amusing, the humorous, and the absurd in Mormon creations. We will examine Jana Riess’ Twible project, a slide show featuring LOLcats with a Mormony twist, a look at Mormon kitsch, and comedic performances.

Panelists JANA RIESS is the author, co-author, or editor of nine books, including What Would Buffy Do? And Mormonism for Dummies. She has a doctorate from Columbia University, teaches religion at Miami University, works as an editor, and blogs at BLOG.BELIEFNET.COM/FLUNKINGSAINTHOOD/. Jana Tweets humorous synopses of Biblical stories one chapter/story at a time. Follow her Twible updates @janariess (as far as they are translated correctly). DAI NEWMAN has a BA in religion and culture from the University of Utah and will pursue an MA in religion this fall at Syracuse University. He is fascinated by the interplay between popular culture and religion and by the commercialization of faith. SLIDESHOW PRESENTATION: A thread on the Further Light and Knowledge (FLAK) message board grew to more than 100 pages. The subject? Mormon-flavored versions of LOLcats captioned photos. Tonight, we’ll show a selection of these images for your viewing pleasure. We hope you’ll be LOLing with enjoyment. Other panelists and comedic entertainments to be announced.


Abstract The Book of Mormon musical plays to sold-out audiences who leap to their feet for standing ovations as the show ends; the play has earned critical raves and won “Best Musical” in the 2011 Tonys. Whether “God loves Mormons and he wants some more,” as the lyrics to “Two by Two” declare, Broadway seems to love Mormons–at least, fictional ones. Given that the play explores how made-up truths can offer redemption and hope, what can Mormons learn about themselves from the made-up missionaries, fake faith, and concocted conversions depicted in the hottest musical of 2011–if not one of the most irreverent and profane musicals ever?

Moderator HOLLY WELKER has a PhD in English literature from the University of Iowa. Her poetry and prose have appeared in publications ranging from the New Era to the New York Times and from Best American Essays to Bitch.

Panelists CLIFTON H. JOLLEY, PhD, was a columnist for the Deseret News and a writer for The Spoken Word. His work has appeared in such publications as Dialogue, Ensign, New York Times, SUNSTONE, Utah Historical Quarterly, and Western Folklore Review. MARC E. SHAW has a PhD from UC Santa Barbara and teaches theatre arts and dramatic literature at Hartwick College in central New York. His recent publishing credits include co-editing Performing American Masculinities: The 21st-Century Man in Popular Culture. GEORGE D. SMITH is the author of Nauvoo Polygamy: “…but we called it celestial marriage,” winner of the John Whitmer best book award for 2009. He also edited Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton. Additional panelists to be announced.


Presenter ROD MILLER’s works include the nonfiction book Massacre at Bear River—First, Worst, Forgotten, a limited edition poetry chapbook, New Dreams, and the collection Things a Cowboy Sees and Other Poems. The Assassination of Governor Boggs is his second novel and sixth book.

Abstract On 6 May 1842, an unknown assailant shot Lilburn Boggs, former governor of Missouri and author of the infamous Extermination Order against the Mormons. Given up for dead and widely reported killed, Boggs survived. The crime was never solved. Twenty-five years after the fact, seeking closure if not justice, his family hired a Pinkerton agent to examine the evidence and identify the killer. From the West Coast to the banks of the Mississippi, from the Missouri River to the shores of the Great Salt Lake, the detective follows a trail that leads, inevitably, to the notorious Mormon gunfighter Porter Rockwell.


New York Times Bestseller lists, July 3rd, July 10th     

Trade Fiction Paperback

#16, #19 HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, by Jamie Ford (57th  week) ↔. Hovering around the low teens.

Mass Market Paperback

X, #32 ENDER’S GAME, by Orson Scott Card.   Where did this come from?   

Children’s Chapter Books

#7, X. TIGER’S QUEST, by Colleen Houck (2nd week). ↓ Second in the series. Down from #5, then off the list after two weeks.

X, #9  MATCHED, by Ally Condie (16th week). ↑ Back on the list for the first time since April 10th.

Children’s Paperback

THE MAZE RUNNER, by James Dashner, fell off the list after 16 weeks.

I usually do not write about non-fiction here, but I do want to mention how Glenn Beck’s book-recommending power has not abated.  Chris Stewart (who also writes fiction, see the Deseret Book list below) and Ted Stewart’s conservative history The Miracle of Freedom: Seven Tipping Points that Saved the World (Shadow Mountain) hit #11 for its first week on the NYT Nonfiction Hardcover list, based largely on Beck’s support on his media programs. I think it is the first time that Shadow Mountain has had a nonfiction book on the bestseller list. Beck himself, meanwhile, is at #2 on the Combined Hardcover and Paperback Nonfiction list with The Original Argument.

Deseret Book LDS Fiction Bestsellers this week

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

2 The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill  ↑

3 Shadows of Brierley, Vol. 2: A Far Horizon, by Anita Stansfield  ↓

4 The Great and Terrible Six-Volume Set by Chris Stewart ↑

5 Shades of Gray by Rachel Ann Nunes   ↓

6 Band of Sisters by Annette Lyon  ↑

7 Foggy with a Chance of Murder by G. G. Vandagriff  ↓

8 The Butterfly Box, Vol. 3: The Perfect Fit by Michele Ashman Bell  ↓

9 Attack the Lusitania! by Jerry Borrowman  ↔

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

11 Messiah: A Novel by Toni Sorenson

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3 Responses to This Week in Mormon Literature, July 8, 2011

  1. Thanks for the updates. In case anyone wants to buy the September issue of Analog, it’s important to note that the magazine dates its issues well in advance, so the September issue is on sale now on newsstands and for Kindle. The October issue — which also has two stories by LDS authors — will go on sale at the end of July. (It’s a science fiction magazine: it’s from the FUTURE!)

  2. Andrew,
    This is always so incredibly helpful. Thank you for taking the time to put these posts together.

  3. Th. says:


    I’ve never been so upset to miss Sunstone.

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