Mormon artists won three Hugo Awards, including two for Brandon Sanderson. Mormons were all over the Hugos. Rhemelda Publishing is going out of business. Salt Lake ComicCon saw lots of Mormons speaking and premiering works, including two movies. Larry Correia, Brandon Sanderson, and Brandon Mull produced game-related novels. Jamie Ford, Matthew Kirby, Anne Perry, and Kiersten White published national novels. One reviewer did not like men writing about feelings (referring to a new book by Ryan Rapier), and Austenland picked up steam. Please send any news or corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.
Mormon artists won three Hugo Awards, presented on September 1 at the World Science Fiction Convention. Brandon Sanderson won his first fiction Hugo for Best Novella for The Emperor’s Soul. It was actually Sanderson’s second Hugo of the night, as the Writing Excuses Podcast, made by Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Jordan Sanderson won for Best Related Work. It was the group’s third time to be nominated for the award, and first win. Galen Dara won the Hugo for Best Fan Artist. Galen has written for Exponent II, and has done cover illustrations for Sunstone Magazine, and her work appears in Monsters & Mormons. Howard Tayler’s Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia came in second place for Best Graphic Story. It was the fifth year in a row that Tayler’s Schlock Mercenary series was nominated. Elitist Book Reviews came in 6th place for Best Fanzine, the first year it was nominated. Looking at works which received consideration, but were not nominated, Monster Hunter Legion by Larry Correia came in 6th place in the Best Novel nominations, just missing the final five. Brandon Sanderson’s “Legion” came in 9th place in Best Novella, a category that Sanderson won anyway. Howard Tayler’s novelette “Flight of the Runewright,” came in 14th for Best Novelette. The novelette appeared in the anthology Space Eldritch. Howard Tayler also came in 11th in the voting for nominees for Best Professional Artist.
Rhemalda Publishing has announced that it is going out of business on December 31, 2013. Rhemalda is an independent publisher owned and run by an LDS couple, Emmaline and Rhett Hoffmeister. Rhemalda Publishing has announced that it is going out of business on December 31, 2013. On September 3 Emmaline posted the following message on the company Facebook page.
“It is with deep regret that we write to inform you of our intent to close Rhemalda Publishing permanently December 31, 2013. We have enjoyed every moment of the publishing journey with each and every one of you, but we have since found it increasingly difficult to cope with the rapidly changing publishing environment. We have explored many options to stay in the publishing business without much success, and as a result, we are left with no option but to end. The first thing I want to assure all of you is Rhemalda has not gone bankrupt. Rhett and I have never taken a loan against Rhemalda and therefore there will be no legal proceedings that would tie up book rights. So, there is no need to worry on that account. In addition, all liabilities will be paid, meaning that all royalty payments will be made on time, and editors and cover artists will be paid in full. We understand the suddenness of the announcement and the inconvenience the closure will likely cause many of you; however, we want to assure you that we will be with you every step of the way. Rhemalda Publishing is extremely proud of what we have accomplished since January 1, 2010 when we began accepting our first submissions, and it is with a heavy heart that we make this decision. Rhemalda published 39 titles in 3 ½ years. Please understand that Rhett and I will miss working with each and every one of you, as will Diane, Katharina, Melissa, and Amy. We sincerely hope that our paths cross in the future.”
Rhemalda had published 7 LDS authors, as well as many non-LDS authors. The LDS authors are Michelle Davidson Argyle, Amber Argyle, T. J. Robinson, Donna Weaver, Annie Laurie Cechini, Nichole Giles, and Fiauna Lund.
Cedar Fort has canceled their planned publication of the novel Woven, because one co-author, Michael Jensen, asked that a reference to his partner be included in the author biography. The authors went public with the results, appearing on Utah TV news and in the Salt Lake Tribune. Bryce Mortimer, the President of Cedar Fort, responded by saying they had to make the decision because of the policies of the Mormon book stores they work with. 37 Mormon authors signed a letter showing their support of the authors, and asking publishers to base decisions on “content, quality, and commercial viability, not on any other factor.”
News and blog posts
Lots of Mormon authors, artists, and critics attended and presented at the Salt Lake ComicCon this last weekend. Deseret News: “Can hardly wait: ‘Ender’s Game’ anticipation invades SLC Comic Con”. Theric phoned in his presentation on Mormon Comix, so you can watch it too.
Mike Austin. Attractive Lies and Boring Truth (BCC). Austin compares the message of The Music Man to The Book of Mormon Musical. “I was in my 30s before I figured out that the ultimate message of The Music Man—that exciting lies are better than boring old truths—is one that I find morally reprehensible . . . The Music Man insists, just find a good-looking lie and pretend hard enough until it comes sort of true. Which brings me to The Book of Mormon . . . When the play does have fun at the expense of Mormonism, it does so with such a good nature that it would be churlish to take offense . . . Satire is the one literary genre that can never condone even the slightest bit of self-deception. And this is why I believe that The Book of Mormon ultimately fails as satire . . . The writers ultimately come down where real satirists can never be: on the side of illusion and self-deception. Much like The Music Man, The Book of Mormon ends up telling us to find an attractive lie and pretend hard enough to make it sort of true. Both plays insist that we will be happier in life if we let ourselves be conned . . . I do not believe, therefore, that The Book of Mormon presents us with a philosophy that is either coherent or comforting. This is not to say that it is not excellent musical theatre. It is. The music is fantastic, and the lyrics are clever. There are a lot of laugh-out-loud moments in the play as well as the occasional profound insight. I laughed. I cried. And I wanted it to go on all night. For most of the second act, however, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Robert Preston was about to step out from behind the curtain, dressed impeccably as Joseph Smith, and say “I always think there’s an angel, kid.””
LDS Authors Writing Clean Romance for National Market, By Heather B. Moore.
Book of Mormon as literature class at the University of Utah. .
Laurel Sandberg-Armstrong. “Narrative Norms, or “Why didn’t you write this play about men?” Armstrong talks about playing the lead in Melissa Larson’s Little Happy Secrets, and then talks about how people tell stories in Church. “As I’ve pondered that experience over the years, and analyzed the way we tell stories both in the Church and in American society at large, I have to wonder if the real question being asked (and the reason) was, “Why didn’t you write this play about someone I can identify with? I don’t know how to identify with women.” Sadly, this sentiment is not only felt by men. Women (myself included) sometimes have a hard time identifying with female protagonists and viewpoints, because the “norm” for a narrative in both the Church and broader American culture, is most often from a masculine perspective. My series of posts will only focus on Church narratives and my personal experiences and observations in how they have shaped our thinking.”
Travis Sutton. “According to Their Wills and Pleasures”: The Sexual Stereotyping of Mormon Men in American Film and Television.” Master of Arts (Radio, Television and Film), May 2009. University of North Texas. (Wow, I was teaching at UNT when this paper was being written, I am surprised I never met Travis). “This thesis examines the representation of Mormon men in American film and television, with particular regard for sexual identity and the cultural association of Mormonism with sexuality. The history of Mormonism’s unique marital practices and doctrinal approaches to gender and sexuality have developed three common stereotypes for Mormon male characters: the purposeful heterosexual, the monstrous polygamist, and the self-destructive homosexual. Depending upon the sexual stereotype in the narrative, the Mormon Church can function as a proponent for nineteenth-century views of sexuality, a symbol for society’s repressed sexuality, or a metaphor for the oppressive effects of performing gender and sexuality according to ideological constraints. These ideas are presented in Mormon films such as Saturday’s Warrior(1989) as well as mainstream films such as A Mormon Maid (1917) and Advise and Consent (1962).”
Mormon Stories Podcast: A Sense of Order with Jack Harrell. Aug. 13. “As the 10th feature of our Mormon Stories Book Club series, we feature Jack Harrell and his short story collection, A Sense of Order and Other Stories. Jack is currently a writing professor at BYU-Idaho. A Sense of Order and Other Stories contains two award-winning stories (“Calling and Election” and “A Prophet’s Story”); the collection won the award for best short fiction from the Association for Mormon Letters in 2010. This podcast includes a discussion with author Jack Harrell, podcast host Heather Olson Beal, and (very enthusiastic and inquisitive) reader Brent Beal.”
James Goldberg on the Maxwell Institute Podcast. Talks about The Five Books of Jesus with Blair Hodges.
Shannon Hale on Radio West, in a general conversation about Jane Austen’s popularity today.
David Farland. “Barbarians,” is available in the magazine Fiction River, Issue 1, April 2013. A new tale set in the Runelords world, some 850 years before the main series.
Steven L. Peck. “How the Mother of Vampiro Rojo de Satanás Died at the Hand of the Ethicless Thing“. SilverThought. SF short story. “A dizzyingly-advanced android with the power to halt time is pursued and captured by a fanatic bounty hunter and his pit-fighting chicken.” Peck previews the story here.
Eric James Stone. “Love is Orange, Love is Red.” Daily Science Fiction.
David J. West short story. “The Dogs of War” is in Thunder on the Battlefield: Sword. James R. Tuck, editor. Seventh Star Press, Aug. 7. Fantasy warfare. Amazing Stories review: “(West) takes us to the siege of Constantinople and a pair of mercenaries, one a Viking and the other a German, who are the only hope the Crusaders have.”
New books and their reviews
Rebecca Belliston. Augustina. Self, Aug. 5. Romantic suspense. Sequel to Sadie, which was published by Shadow Mountain.
Eric Bishop. The Samaritan’s Pistol. Jolly Fish Press, Aug. 24. Thriller/western. Modern Wyoming cowboy fights mobsters. First novel.
Alicia VanNoy Call. The Vanished: Wraiths and Fables. Self, Aug. 25. Short story collection. “The Vanished collects eight vivid tales of the strange and unexpected from artist and author, Alicia VanNoy Call. Her evocative prose and haunting imagery will carry you to worlds increasingly poignant and surreal; where baby brothers grow up to be hitmen, old men search for humanity’s last hope, an accident changes one man’s life forever, children battle demons and face the end of the world.”
Jaleta Clegg. Cold Revenge. Self, Aug. 29. (Fall of the Altairan Empire #5). Science Fiction.
Renee Collins. Relic. Entangled Publishing, Aug. 27. YA western fantasy. First novel.
Kirkus: “Plot trumps characterization in this Wild West fantasy. When mysterious attackers burn their hometown, survivors Maggie Davis and her younger sister, Ella, seek refuge in a nearby town. Local law enforcement assumes the burnings are Apache attacks against relic-mining communities, as the Apache culture views relic use as religious desecration. Relics are the expensive fossils of magical creatures such as dragons and goblins, and they give the wielder access to the creature’s residual magic. When a few Apaches—including the one who rescued Maggie and Ella from their town’s fire (the first of Maggie’s many rescues)—are captured, Maggie must solve the mystery before they are executed. While local nuns take in little Ella, Maggie needs employment—preferably not as a prostitute. She only barely finds a position at the local saloon when its young, handsome owner—Álvar Castilla, the wealthiest man in town—invents a hostess position for her. She befriends a showgirl/prostitute with a heart of gold and flirts with a heroic cowboy while avoiding a controlling stock villain. The text often tells readers that Maggie is strong, yet more often than not, other characters must push her along through the plot. The ending demands a sequel, but only readers willing to forgive slipshod characterization for the innovative worldbuilding will look forward to it. Simplistic characters undermine an exciting, creative fantasy world.”
Deseret News: “It isn’t often a book set in an alternative reality during the 1860s can be called both a fantasy and a Western; yet “Relic” is both and also very much a romance as well. While it can initially be jarring to realize this novel is not the typical historical fiction, author Renee Collins does an excellent job making her first book not only believable but highly addicting . . . Collins has done a masterful job with her first book. As magical as its namesake, “Relic” is a powerful work of fiction that can entwine readers into its parallel world and make them never want to leave.”
Michaelbrent Collings. The Colony: Genesis. Self, Aug. 14. Zombie horror. Volume 1 of a new series.
Larry Correia. Into the Storm. Skull Island eXpeditions, Aug. 28. Military steampunk. Based on the WarMachine role playing game. “This is set in the world of Warmachine, except I wrote it in a manner that even if you aren’t familiar with the world this is a really good place to get into it. Cygnar is sort of similar to a fantasy Victorian England, and the guys I’m writing about are knights wielding magic mad science lightning swords and giant steam powered fighting robots in a war against a bunch of religious fanatics. I had a lot of fun with this one. I’m really proud of it. It is a cross between Band of Brothers and the Dirty Dozen.” Correia’s 10th published novel.
Jody Wind Durfee. Hadley-Hadley Benson. Covenant, August 1. YA. A non-Mormon family with twin teens, one a chute girl, one a special needs boy, moves next door to a Mormon boy. First novel.
Jennie Hansen: 5 stars. “Well written, thought provoking, without being sappy sentimental. I’m going to give this one to my teenage grandchildren.”
Jamie Ford. Songs of Willow Frost. Ballantine, Sept. 10. General/historical. Set in the 1920s and 1930s, a Chinese-American orphan in Seattle escapes (with a friend) to find an actress he is convinced is his mother. He finds her, and discovers her sad story.
Library Journal: “His new work depicts another star-crossed romance, but the real love here is between mother and son . . . Writing in simple, unaffected language befitting both William and the young Willow, Ford delivers a tale his fans will certainly relish.”
Kirkus: “Ford writes of American life in the 1920s and ’30s, bustling with go-getters and burdened with trampled masses. Often muted and simplified, his prose underscores the emotional depression of his main characters; yet that same flatness tethers the tale, inhibiting lyricism. A heartbreaking yet subdued story.”
Rebecca H. Jamison. Emma: A Latter-day Tale. Cedar Fort, Aug. 13. Contemporary romance. Jamison’s second modern day Mormon retelling of a Jane Austen novel.
Carla Kelly. Safe Passage. Cedar Fort, Aug. 13. Historical romance. “It’s 1912, the beginning of the Mexican Revolution—and the Mormon colonists must flee to the United States.”
Carla Kelly. The Double Cross. Camel Press, Aug. 1. Historical romance. 1780 in Spanish New Mexico. A brand inspector saves a lovely orphan from her cruel relatives and sets out to solve the mystery of her lost inheritance. The first in her new “Spanish Brand Series”. A new publisher for Kelly.
Josi Kilpack. Rocky Road. Shadow Mountain, Sept. 10. Sadie Hoffmiller #10. Culinary Mystery.
Matthew Kirby. Cave of Wonders: Infinity Ring, Book 5. Scholastic Press. Aug. 27. Multi-author middle grade fantasy adventure series. The Hystorians are in Baghdad with the task of saving the writings of Aristotle before the Mongols obliterate the city in the 13th century. The series was created by James Dashner.
Matthew Kirby. The Lost Kingdom. Scholastic Press, Aug. 27. Middle grade steampunk. Set in colonial America where Benjamin Franklin supports a secret society of philosophers and scientists in searching out rumored Welsh clans descended from a Prince Madoc who is said to have sailed for America 300 years before Columbus, settling in what became the Alabama territory. The philosophers explore in a flying machine with lifting power from newly invented vacuum balloons. The British fight the French.
Kirkus: “Edgar winner Kirby deftly combines historical truths with rich, multilayered creative imaginings including mystery, cultural discord and ongoing father-son conflict. While the one female character aboard ship seems disproportionately at fault and the end feels like a crescendo of hodgepodge elements, readers will enjoy the vigorous blend of colonial struggle with a touch of Jules Verne. An old-fashioned adventure story to curl up with on a rainy afternoon.”
Erin Klinger. Secrets. Covenant, Aug. 1. Suspense. Woman’s father is killed, and only the FBI agent who broker her heart can save her. Third novel.
Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine. 5 stars. “Anyone who enjoys the roller coaster ride kind of mystery/suspense story that keeps the reader glued to the pages and staying up until the wee hours won’t want to miss Erin Klingler’s Secrets . . . The secondary characters are interesting and the author shows more of their development and motivations than is often the case in mystery/suspense novels. This adds to the depth of the story. The plot moves well and is filled with rapid action. At several points a particular action is expected; it begins to play out as assumed, then careens off in an unexpected direction. Mystery/Suspense fans will have fun with this one.”
Fiana Lund. Indigo. Rhemalda Publishing, Aug. 1. YA fantasy. Girl has fairy wings, faces danger.
Annette Lyon. A Portrait for Toni. Self, Sept. 4. Romance. Romance between a dancer and an artist. Eating disorder.
Misty Moncur. Fight for You. Eden Books, Sept. 3. YA Book of Mormon historical. Sequel to Daughter of Helaman. A girl among the 2000 stripling warriors.
H. B. (Heather) Moore. Finding Sheba. StoneHouse Ink, Aug. 11. Suspense thriller. An undercover Israeli agent finds the clue that leads to the discovery of the Queen of Sheba’s tomb. Assassination attempts and other intrigue follow. DaVinci Code-type structure. This is Moore’s first time to work with StoneHouse Ink, and independent publisher. “Beneath”, a short story companion story to Finding Sheba, will be out later in September.
Gamila’s Book Review. “Moore admits that her concept for Finding Sheba was inspired by the popularity of Dan Brown’s novels. I think I enjoyed Moore’s attempt more than Brown’s books. As an experienced historical novelist I feel like she does a much better job of blending her historical information into her narrative making her text read smoothly and naturally rather than the stop and go of Brown’s info dumpy style. So I found this to be a really fun read for the historical thriller genre. The concept centers around the life of the Queen of Sheba and her legacy. Her historical legitimacy lends many different countries with the historical context for their claim to political power. I love how twisty and complex that she makes the Queen of Sheba’s life, making it possible for all of the different factions warring for more information to have legitimate claims, or at the very least still preserves that need for more historical information to come to light before any solid conclusions can be ascertained. Yet, we get the meat of a very compelling and interesting story about a strong woman and her leadership. I enjoyed that the author included a point of view from the Queen of Sheba herself so we could hear her story in her own words.”
Frank Morin. “Saving Face”. Wipshaw Publishing, Aug. 23. Speculative novella. “In the near future where the renting of human bodies becomes a reality, Sarah is one of the top-ten most requested donors. Rich old women pay obscene sums to rent her physical form, but despite the huge salary she becomes increasingly unhappy. As strange memories slip into her mind from temporary bodies she inhabits, she faces a terrifying loss of identity. Then Alterego, the company Sarah works for, tries to force her to permanently sell her body to one influential renter. Faced with her worst nightmare, Sarah struggles to escape before becoming the ultimate orphan, but finds her every effort thwarted.”
Brandon Mull. Spirit Animals, Book 1: Wild Born. Scholastic, Sept. 10. Middle grade fantasy. 11-year olds bond with their spirit animals to save the world. Mutli-platform series (linked to video games, like 39 Clues and Infinity Ring), headed up by Mull. Deseret News feature.
PW: “Mull carves out each distinct hero in spare prose that moves the story quickly forward (along with several animal- and superpower-driven action sequences).”
Kirkus: “Unfortunately, flat characters and a predictable plot are evidence that this first installment lacks Mull’s usual creativity and humor. A companion website promising a multimedia experience invites readers to be paired with their own spirit animals. Should satisfy readers hungry for a new fantasy series.”
Anne Perry. Blind Justice. Ballantine, Aug. 27. Victorian mystery. William Monk #19. A young judge is in trouble.
PW: “Set in Victorian England, bestseller Perry’s entertaining, if flawed, 19th William Monk novel poses a complicated moral question . . . The interesting ethical bind Rathbone finds himself facing could have been more sharply framed, and the resolution’s tidiness will be a minus for some.”
Kirkus: “Paring back on her usual period detail, Perry produces her fleetest tale in years. If the courtroom sequences are never exactly surprising, they’re guaranteed to produce the deep satisfaction you feel after hearing a series of particularly rousing speeches.”
Clair M. Poulson. Checking Out. Covenant, Aug. 1. Mystery.
Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine: 5 stars. “The action is fast and the plot line moves nicely. The author shows his familiarity with police procedures in three different areas and the support between offices. Though there are LDS references a few times, this book isn’t as strongly Church related as some of Poulson’s stories. Even though I suspected the killer’s identity early on, there are several twists that gave me serious doubts. Mystery/Suspense readers will enjoy this one a great deal. I did.”
Ryan Rapier. The Reluctant Blogger. Cedar Fort, Aug. 13. General LDS. A widower starts writing a blog to confront his demons. First novel. Author is the brother of Plan B Theare Company directory Jerry Rapier. Rapier was quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune article, Mormon authors back gay writer in squabble with Cedar Fort.
The Selective Echo: “Rapier’s book is certainly a promising entry in an emerging canon of Mormon literature that seeks enlightenment and mutual understanding for the benefit of Mormons and non-Mormons alike. There is a natural sincerity emanating throughout the book in the voice of Todd Landry, a good-natured and wholesomely funny man whose rock-ribbed faith is being continuously tested by trials that only seem to escalate after the death of his wife, which occurs before the book opens . . . Among the most challenging trials arise in his friendships with two men that confront their strict Mormon upbringing and reveal long-held secrets. Jason, whose relationships with women always seem to fail, has secretly enjoyed alcohol since their college days. Meanwhile, Todd finds it near impossible to hold onto a relationship with his best friend, Kevin, who reveals he is gay after leaving his fiancée at the temple on what was to be their wedding day. The book moves quite quickly and can be easily finished in one day’s reading. And, Rapier has some exceptionally insightful passages and phrase turns, emphasizing just how enriching the value of personality can become in the blogging medium . . . in Rapier’s approachable, warm, genuine prose, the book reminds that blogging sometimes might just be the best form of self-medication.”
Tristi Pinkston. “I enjoyed this read. The characters were refreshingly honest, from Dr. Schenk mentally redecorating his office while waiting for Todd to talk to Todd spilling Kool-Aid all over the place at a singles’ dance and then bursting into tears because he realizes he can’t tell his wife about it. I felt as though the characters were real, that I could identify with them. I enjoyed the voice of narration and found it very open and conversational. I especially enjoyed going with Todd on his journey as he learned what he needed to learn and began to see possibilities and understand things about himself.
I give two thumbs up to The Reluctant Blogger and recommend it to anyone looking for a unique LDS fiction novel that easily translates to a national market as well.”
Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine. 3 stars. “I don’t review every book I read, not even all of the ones I like, so I weighed a lot of pros and cons about reviewing this one. There are a lot of things I like about the The Reluctant Blogger by Ryan Rapier and a few I don’t. This is a story that gives the reader plenty to think about and comments from others who have read it lead me to think it is a story that will touch many people . . . I had trouble with some of the characters. For a man, Todd is intensely introspective and spends a lot of time exploring his feelings. He made me feel like I was reading women’s fiction even though he’s a man and the story is written by a man. Todd also has a hair-trigger temper, but he never seems to explode against the people who cause him the most angst–except the scout lady. He’s easily manipulated and I would have liked to see him become a stronger individual. Though he grows some and overcomes his depression, I couldn’t see him anywhere near ready for the book’s ending . . . Most of the book is the blogs Todd writes to Dr. Schenk. The format of the book isn’t exactly a series of blogs and it’s sometimes difficult to tell where blogging begins and ends. Because the story deals with emotional healing, there is more cerebral action than physical action, yet there is a nice plot arc and it holds the reader’s attention. The author doesn’t shy away from difficult topics such as discovering a close friend is gay and does an excellent job portraying the over thirties LDS singles scene. The author has an engaging style and his scenes feel realistic and go beyond the surface to the thoughts and feelings underneath.”
Brandon Sanderson. Infinity Blade: Redemption. ChAIR Entertainment, Sept. 3. Transmedia epic fantasy novella. Sanderson’s second novella based on the Infinity Blade video game. Available exclusively as an iTunes download for now, will be on other platforms later. The first book was set between the first and second versions of the game. This one is set after the second version.
Fortune Magazine/CNN feature on Sanderson and Infinity Blade. “Sanderson, who is writing multiple science fiction projects and has seen two of his books optioned by Hollywood (Mistborn by Paloppa Pictures and Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by DreamWorks Animation), has been collaborating over the past three years with Chair Entertainment on the iOS game, Infinity Blade . . . The second ebook was released this Tuesday and has already hit the top spot on iBooks’ fantasy chart and is No. 2 of all iBooks. This type of collaboration is unique in the growing mobile games business. While the traditional model of having a book turned into a movie and then a console game remains the norm (Sanderson’s own Mistborn book is being developed as a game), this type of collaboration between a bestselling author and a mobile game studio is unique. Mustard said the proliferation of tablets and mobile devices has opened up the opportunity for fans to explore worlds in different ways on the same screen . . . Gamers have loved this universe. To date, the Infinity Blade games remain among the two bestselling games in the mobile space. Over 40 million players around the globe have played the game . . . “One of the reasons I agreed to doing this in the first place was because I’m excited by this prospect of new media,” said Sanderson, who has a traditional hardcover book, Steelheart, shipping on September 23 . . . “It seems like everything is pushing this direction. Your Xbox is no longer just a video game console, it plays movies and even original TV shows like the upcoming Halo series. Your iPad is no longer just this device that you read books, play games, and web browse on. It can hook to your TV and control your house. Everything is blending together with this new generation of technology. “It allows us as storytellers to tell stories in a brand new and unprecedented way.””
Brad R. Torgersen. Lights in the Deep. WordFire Press, Sept. 7. Collection of 11 short stories and 4 essays. “In my last couple of years at Analog, I bought several of his stories, and our readers liked them all. There was plenty of diversity in them, and plenty of food for thought. Sometimes military life and religion, which I don’t usually think of as my favorite topics, figured prominently in his tales, and in his hands—perhaps due in part to his personal background—they became thoroughly engaging. What all his stories have in common (or at least a little of it) is riveting portrayal of memorable but ‘ordinary’ people doing extraordinary things under extraordinary circumstances. And he does all of that with admirably rigorous attention to the details of both human nature and hard science. The effect is often rather reminiscent of Robert A. Heinlein, but it is by no means mere imitation of Heinlein.” — Stanley Schmidt, from his introduction to LIGHTS IN THE DEEP.
McKenzie Wanger. Benotropia: The Stones of Horsh. Cedar Fort/Sweetwater, Sept. 10. Middle Grade fantasy. Benotropia #2. The author is 12 years old.
Kiersten White. The Chaos of Stars. Harper Teen, Sept. 10. YA fantasy. The human daughter of Egyptian gods leaves her screwed up divine family, and tries to lead a normal human life, but her family heritage follows her.
PW: “As a character, Isadora is (by design) fairly arrogant and self-absorbed, but she also has a point: it’s hard to understand why immortal parents would purposely give their child mortality. White (Mind Games) uses her technical prowess with narrative forms to break up the story, and she brings an irreverent sense of humor to Egyptian myth. Parents you’re literally supposed to worship? Gross.”
School Library Journal: “White cleverly uses Egyptian mythology to depict teenage angst and generational conflict in a light, witty style. Although the characters are simplistic, the themes are clear and well executed. Readers looking for a fresh take on paranormal stories will find a lot to love in this romance.”
Kirkus: “The relationship between a teen and her parents is complicated—especially if that family is full of Egyptian gods. Despite the promising premise, this latest from White achieves only demigod status at best . . . It’s never clear just who Isadora is; her voice never fully jells into her own, neither modern girl nor ancient child of the gods. Supporting characters such as Ry are flat and two-dimensional, and the danger to Isis is not compelling enough to catch readers up. This novel won’t gain the Egyptian gods many new worshippers.”
Booklist: “Self-pitying Isadora is hard to like, though she redeems herself by saving her family once she learns how badly she’s misunderstood everything. Unfortunately, most of the excitement happens at the end, with the rest dominated by romantic angst, dream sequences, and Isadora’s flippant mythology lessons. Readers enamored of Egyptian mythology may still like this contemporary perspective.”
Margaret Blair Young and Darius Gray. The Last Mile of the Way. Zarahemla Books, Aug. 29. Revision of the third book in the Standing on the Promises series.
Reviews of older books
Nephi Anderson. Piney Ridge Cottage (Theric). “I enjoyed this book so much more than I expected to. I shouldn’t be surprised—whenever I read a novel by a long-dead author I’ve enjoyed in the past, I enjoy it more than I expect it to. Somehow, school made even me fear classic literature . . . I found it unwilling to take obvious roads. Even elements that others could choose to interpret as stereotypical Mormon copouts (eg, Chester’s quick conversion) are twisted into unexpected forms. And Anderson’s made some peculiar decisions as well. Back to Chester, Anderson spends so much time developing this character who, in the end, is primarily a foil for a character we barely see at all! Who does that? He’s crazy! . . . As a work of realistic fiction, I feel Piney Ridge is a great success. Unquestionably it is a Mormon book with Mormon theology and Mormon actions, but nothing is as clean or as simple or as certain as it may sometimes appear on the surface. Personally, I still think Dorian is the superior novel, but I would not be surprised if I secretly end up liking Julia more.”
Rachael Anderson. Working it Out (Gamila’s Book Review). “I thought that this was a fun, clean, romance. I really enjoyed the characters and how the author pitted Grace and Seth’s personalities against each other to create some fun romantic tension . . . The author does very well at creating interesting characters and writing a crisp, quick-moving plot. This one is a quick and light-hearted chick-flic read for all romance lovers.”
Sarah Eden. Longing For Home (Bloggin’ ‘bout Books). B-. “It does what a proper romance should—it tells a wholesome love story in a pleasing format that’s not going to make anyone blush. It’s clean, it’s fun, it’s readable. The story’s vintage Eden, just in a more modern setting and with a tragic back story that makes it a more serious novel than her others. Eden’s gift for writing amusing banter between her male and female characters shines especially bright in Longing for Home. Overall, it’s an enjoyable book. I would just leave it at that, but of course, I had a few issues. My biggest beef was Katie herself. Although she’s a sympathetic and courageous character, she’s also a very self-absorbed one. I’m still not quite sure why all the other characters loved her so much—she didn’t really do anything and the things she did do mostly just benefited herself. Add that to a few other irritants—the story’s ending is pretty anti-climactic, one arm of the love triangle doesn’t get any kind of resolution (I know there’s a sequel in the works, but still …), Katie’s inner conflict seems really weak, etc.—and I ended up liking, but not loving this one. I remain an Eden fan, I just hope she works out some of these story wrinkles in the next book.”
Dean Hughes. Through Cloud and Sunshine (FoxyJ). “I read the first book in this series and thought that the present-day story was much less interesting than the story set during the early days of the Church in Nauvoo; I noticed than in this book, more time was devoted to the historical storyline than the modern-day one and I wonder if that will continue to be a trend throughout the series. I’ve honestly never been that interested in early Church history, but Hughes has written some compelling, very human characters and doesn’t shy away from the complexity and difficulties of the Church’s time in Nauvoo.”
Melanie Jacobsen. Second Chances (FoxyJ). “This newest one was one of my favorites–there was a fun romance and a cute story, but also a lot of growth in the main character as she realized why she had been wrong in her judgements about people. I also felt that, compared to some of Jacobsen’s other books, the male love interest was written with a bit more depth as well.”
Krista Lynne Jensen. The Orchard (series #1) by (Kathy, Bookworm nation). 3.5 stars. “I enjoyed this one. I’m a sucker for Persuasion retellings and thought this was a good one. It was a bit more religious than I thought, not a favorite plot device for me. I liked Alisen and Derick, thought they had a cute relationship. It was sad when they are separated, with Alisen clearly being manipulated by her family. I liked that it stuck with the original Persuasion, but had enough differences to make it unique and held some surprises.”
Krista Lynne Jensen. The Orchard (FoxyJ). “Like her last book (Of Grace and Chocolate) I thought this one had potential but ended up falling short. There were some really good parts to the story; I particularly liked the beginning scenes and the way the misunderstanding and reconciliation of the main characters were handled. The end felt rushed and odd though–I later read that the author loves the novel Persuasion and was trying to re-write it in a way, and while that is one of my favorite books I felt that this attempt to remake it didn’t really work. Generally I don’t like remakes very much because they often have the problem that this book, did where the action ends up being forced in a direction that doesn’t make sense with the characters or where you think the book is going to go. It also felt like there was enough going on in the story that it could have been quite a bit longer with much more depth to it.”
Eric Jepson. Byuck (Sarah Dunster, AMV). And thoughts about audience.
Melissa Leilani Larson. Martyrs’ Crossing (Theric). “As I recently noted elsewhere, sometimes I have a hard time seeing a script, in my mind, in the full glory it would enjoy on stage. This was an occasional problem with this reading. The complicated stagins? No problem? The mystical flow of dialogue by the historical characters? Hard to see quite how that could be pulled off. But that’s far less important than the fact that the primary characters—Catherine, Margaret, Joan—and their interactions make terrific sense. Since I’m dealing with three Mormon writers in this post, I should note the choice of having Joan quote the Doctrine & Covenants and the Book of Mormon. I think it’s a smart choice for a couple reasons. For Mormon audiences it has the weight of scripture while seeming exotic and new coming from Joan’s mouth. For nonLDS audiences it would have a similar effect, but balanced differently. To have a mixed audience processing the same line in such similar but divergent ways could well prove weirdly electric. Anyway, I’m quite fond of the play’s decision to keep God absent—at least to the audience—and to allow the great to struggle and stumble towards got just as anyone does. There’s some sort of meaning here. I can taste it.”
Kimberley Griffiths Little. When the Butterflies Came (Bloggin’ ‘bout Books). B-. “I have a connection to Louisiana that draws me over and over again to books about that part of the U.S. From its murky bayous to its creepy cemeteries to its vibrant celebrations of life, there’s just something about The Pelican State that makes it a vivid book setting (bland state nickname notwithstanding). And nowhere does the region come more to life (for me, anyway) than in the books of middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Her bayou novels—which are not really a series, more like loosely interconnected stories—are family dramas set against this lush, intriguing back drop. The setting becomes a character, as charming and complex as any of Little’s others. This is my favorite part about Little’s books, but she also creates intricate plots, studded with enough (but not too much) magical realism to keep things interesting. Her stories are warm, imaginative and well-crafted. I *might* be a little bit of a fan girl When the Butterflies Came, Little’s newest, didn’t, however, win my undying love like its predecessors, The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets, did. Why? Mostly because of the ending. Without being too spoiler-y (I hope), let me just say that something’s revealed about one of the characters that totally changed my opinion of them. And soured me on the book in general. I’m kind of picky that way. Despite my misgivings, though, I did enjoy the book overall. Annoying ending or not, Little just writes books that speak to my heart. When it comes to this author, a fan girl I am and a fan girl I will always be.”
Steven L. Peck. The Scholar of Moab. (David G. Pace, Goodreads). “Peck’s wild and whimsical—some might say undisciplined—scheme is to weight everything equally: philosophy, public TV revelations, evolution, the scientific method (classic and quasi), small-town hysterics, the poetic imagination—and yes, religion . . . Hyrum Thayne is a part of the growing line of memorable Mormon literary characters that extends back through Levi Peterson’s Frank Windham in his The Backslider, Samuel Taylor’s Jackson Skinner Whitetop in his Heaven Knows Why and Maureen Whipple’s Clorinda in her The Giant Joshua, among others. There have already been a handful of breakout or crossover Mormon novels over the years. I think this is the most imaginative to date, perhaps corroborated by the Association for Mormon Letters which awarded it Best Novel for 2011. And if the book doesn’t find an audience outside of Utah, it won’t be because of its local religious content and references. In Scholar one can easily skate over at will the arcane references to home teachers, Lamanites and the LDS lifestyle even while picking up on the essential (and delightful) atmospherics. As it is, The Scholar of Moab tumbles forth, pell-mell, with generosity and a wry eye for the exquisite frailty of our desire to find not only meaning in the universe, but a purpose for our existence. Any answers that are given easily—whether in philosophy, in science or in religion—never seem to be completely satisfying— are often vastly unsatisfying. Only a narrative that is as big-hearted and deftly-written as Peck’s can suggest the whole of the world and our stubborn longing for a unifying theory of truth that will always, thankfully for the purposes of literature, elude us.”
Levi S. Peterson. Canyons of Grace (Theric). “Just six stories of varying degrees of excellence. I need to write Levi an email and see if his memory’s fresh enough on this book to discuss the collection title and organization which were, I would argue, much more areligious than a different organization and choosing a different eponymous tale would have created.”
Jenny Proctor. The House at Rose Creek (Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine). “Not many novels handle conversion stories well, but I’m pleased to say new author Jenny Proctor handles this portion of the story beautifully. It’s not preachy and it deals with questions and doubts realistically and as a natural part of the overall story. Both Kate and Andrew have actions in their pasts which could easily be not only deal breakers, but could keep them from fully trusting each other. As Kate learns about the Gospel, she is drawn to the emphasis the Church places on eternally connecting families and feels a real closeness to her own ancestors, especially the journal writer. She also learns the hardest part of repentance is forgiving herself. Kate is an excellent character with a good mixture of admirable qualities and faults. She’s strong and independent, yet has self doubts and reservations that have often caused her to withdraw from her family and meaningful relationships. She becomes a stronger individual as the book progresses, but not without some steps backward. Neither Andrew nor Leslie are as well developed as Kate, and I would have liked to know more about their thoughts and background. There is enough action to the plot to keep readers turning pages and, though this book has both a conversion story and a romance story line, as well as a bit of mystery, I would call this novel general fiction. It will probably appeal slightly more to women than to men, though I don’t think most male readers will find it disappointing.”
Gale Sears. Belonging to Heaven (FoxyJ). “This was another book that seemed to be a bit confused about its message and purpose. It had some lovely parts and I learned a lot about the history of the early days of the LDS Church in Hawaii. But, the structure was somewhat confusing; the first hundred pages or so focused on one particular character, but then he mostly disappeared from the rest of the book as the focus switched to a different character. The book included detailed footnotes (some of which I found rather trivial and unnecessary), but also made use of letters that were not obviously fictional (they were). There were also events that seemed as though they needed larger treatment, but didn’t get it, and plenty of material that easily could have been separated out into equally compelling, more tightly written novels. I kept getting the sense that the author wanted to write fiction, but was afraid to stray too far from a hagiographic view of the past and too far from accepted facts. I thought that was a shame because early Church history outside the U.S. is sorely underrepresented in historical fiction, and while this book is an admirable start, we really could do much better than this. I would rather read a more intimate, character and event-driven novel focusing on one place and time; it would give much better insight into the people of our past and inspire a greater desire to learn more. Instead, after reading this I mostly thought “meh” (well, I did want to go back to Hawaii because the descriptions of the setting were so spot-on).”
Michael Snow. Zion’s Web (Steven Kerry Brown, AML). “I recommend this book as a good mixture of PI fiction, crime, polygamy, and Mormonism. I’m particularly glad it does not take place in Utah. More Mormon crime fiction is needed in places other than Utah.”
Douglas Thayer. The Tree House (Shelah Books It). 4 stars. “I found the darkness of The Tree House to be a little hard to take. Harris felt like a Job character, but without Job’s perfect faith. But Harris’s lack of pure faith was the thing I liked best about the novel. He wants to know and has a particle of belief, but finds it hard to turn that desire to believe into a full-blown testimony. This feels like so many people I know, and often like myself– wanting to believe, but not being able to surrender completely to belief. There were times that I found Thayer’s writing style, with lots of short, Hemingwayesque sentences, and lots of non sequiturs, a little affected. I also wondered if the story tried to cover too much, but maybe I only felt that way because it was so sad (although ultimately redeeming). All in all, I think The Tree House is a story worth reading, and an important work. It’s definitely a serious piece of Mormon fiction, written from the point of view of a Mormon boy becoming a Mormon man who is working out his issues of faith and life right in the thick of Mormonism instead of at the edges, which is where we often find great Mormon writing.”
Margaret Blair Young and Darius Gray. One More River to Cross (Scott Hales, The Low-Tech World). “It was a good idea to revise and expand the Standing on the Promises trilogy. I like that the new One More River to Cross, the first volume in the series, is edgier, less apologetic, and significantly less deferential to the assumed reader’s expectations and pruderies . . . The novel is rather episodic, so it’s ultimately the epic pageantry of the early Mormon ur-story that holds everything together. Personally, I would have skipped the epic pageantry for a more fluid narrative—more Orson Scott Card’s Saints and less The Work and the Glory—but I get the appeal of epic. I also get that this book is the way it is because it is a kind of response to The Work and the Glory and its predominantly white-washed account of Mormon history . . . Standing on the Promises is an ambitious work that covers 10x as many years as The Work and the Glory—but in six fewer volumes. Readers will find that it is stretched to its narrative limits and often trades quantity of information for quality of storytelling. Does it still work? Yes and no. One More River to Cross is not really a good novel the way Young’s Salvador is a good novel, but it is an important one—far more important than Salvador—because of the story it seeks to make accessible to a broad Mormon readership.” Scott’s interview with Margaret Blair Young about the book.
Austenland news and reviews
Box office: It keeps adding theaters, going from 4 in its first week, to 22, to 52, to 58. Its weekly gross rank has gone from #49 to #39 to #36. Gross-to-date: $732,278.
Rotten tomatoes: 34% fresh, 4.9 average score. Metacritic: 45%.
Salt Lake Tribune, Sean Means. 3.5 stars. “Hess manages to hit a sweet spot between Miss Austen’s wry observations and “Napoleon Dynamite’s” blissful wackiness. The results are funny, sweet and utterly charming . . . Hess and Hale produce some pleasant chuckles poking fun at Jane’s happily deluded romanticism, and Russell is quite charming as she lets Jane emerge from her mousy persona to “write my own story.” Russell can’t approach the gut-busting laughs produced by Coolidge’s daffy readings or King’s spaced-out noblewoman, but she delivers in the clinch — as Jane realizes the love triangle she’s caught in isn’t with Nobley and Martin but with reality and fantasy. With “Austenland,” Hess serves a comedy that’s as jauntily off-the-wall as “Napoleon Dynamite,” but with a gooey romantic center that wins you over. It may not be as subtle as Miss Austen’s best work, but it would probably make her crack a discreet smile.”
LDS Cinema Online (Kevin Burtt). C. “Even with the caveat that I’m a guy who perhaps Just Doesn’t Understand, I’m not sure we have a winner here. Austenland is to my eyes a cream-puff-light romantic comedy that skimps on both the comedy and the romance. More puzzling, Austenland seems completely disconnected from the work of Jane Austen herself. A major missed opportunity . . . Comedy is subjective but many of Austenland’s “jokes” (mostly from the seemingly mentally deranged “Miss Elizabeth Charming”, played by Jennifer Coolidge) literally don’t make any sense. Granted, Austenland is from the co-director/co-writer of Napolean Dynamite which had its own ‘off-beat’ sense of humor that many found impenetrable. But where ND was consistent in keeping a deadpan tone that didn’t care whether you laughed or not, Austenland makes the setup/punchline structure more obvious, and the comedic moments fall flat. The logistics of Austenland (the place) are not explained well. Why does Austenland appear to have only three paying patrons, yet dozens of paid servants and actors? (Not exactly a sustainable business model…) Nor does the film explain Jane’s motivations for attending. Is she looking for real romance or fake romance as a role-playing fantasy? . . . When Jane calls a friend at home and says she’s considering returning home early, we’re not sure what she was expecting in the first place. It looks like she got exactly what she paid for . . . My biggest issue with Austenland is how disconnected it is with Jane Austen’s own work. Pride & Prejudice — which Austenland basically pretends is Jane Austen’s only work — features a main heroine who lives in a restrictive society, but whose mind and spirit transcend it. Elizabeth Bennet (as with most Austen heroines) is clever, witty, usually the smartest person in the room, and doesn’t define herself by finding a husband. Jane Hayes has none of the above attributes, and willingly secludes herself in a fantasy world in search of a unrealistic romance. Jane is the exact *opposite* of a Jane Austen heroine. (Elizabeth Bennet, if she were alive in 2013, would NEVER willingly attend a place like Austenland. Why spend time idealizing a restrictive society that she hates, when she could absorb the 21st century freedoms enjoyed by women of all classes and familial backgrounds?) Jane — and by extension, the movie — looks for a modern version of the book Mr. Darcy, without creating the person whom the book Mr. Darcy would have fallen in love with in the first place . . . Austenland may indeed be “for women only” as the producers claim, which would be ironic because Jane Austen herself isn’t. Austen’s novels, like all great works of literature, transcend gender. It’s good to see more female filmmakers (LDS or otherwise), but shouldn’t their films be judged the same way?”
Boston Globe. 1 star. “There’s a great satirical idea in “Austenland,” a comedy about a lovelorn “Pride and Prejudice” fanatic (Keri Russell) who flees to a Jane Austen theme park. Sadly, that idea has the cleverness beaten out of it by Jerusha Hess, making a cartoonish and unfunny directorial debut after co-writing “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Nacho Libre,” two films that are to Austen as Taco Bell is to spatchcocked quail. “Austenland” displays a near-fatal disconnect between its subject (wit) and its style (witless), even if Jennifer Coolidge as a tacky fellow tourist is so cringe-inducing that you end up laughing by default. Hess has made a classic rookie mistake: Any spoof has to be at least as smart as the thing it’s spoofing, and this one’s twice as dumb.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune. 3 stars. “There’s an inspired silliness to “Austenland,” an erratic, entertaining comedy with an inspired premise. It imagines a Disneyland for women besotted with Regency romance in all its bodice-tingling glory . . . The comedic goods are not parceled out evenly. Russell has only one joke as Jane, who tries to go with the program but finds her 21st-century self breaking out inappropriately. Coolidge, a veteran of Christopher Guest’s improv gems, is uproarious as a scatterbrain who can’t do needlework without stitching her lace glove onto the fabric. She is over the top in a way rarely seen outside Looney Tunes. But “Austenland’s” real revelation is Georgia King. King is gorgeous — picture an Amazonian Reese Witherspoon — and a world-class goof. As Jane’s fellow guest and nemesis, King elevates curveball line readings to an art form. She tackles her role with a daffy fearlessness that recalls Johnny Depp’s Capt. Jack Sparrow. There’s not been a romantic rival, or a human being, quite like this onscreen before. King and Coolidge elbow Russell out of her own movie. While I enjoyed “Austenland,” it never jells. It’s like a genial amateur theatrical where you groan and laugh along with the cast members, who know the plot is creaky and the jokes are broad. Its self-satirizing comic-strip oddness keeps it from being boring.”
Washington Post. 1.5 stars. “While Hess laboriously checks off so many familiar scenarios, from characters caught in rainstorms and upper-class idiots blathering on about nonsense to an awkward moment at the pianoforte, the film doesn’t have so much of what makes Austen transcendent. In place of sharp witticisms, we have Jennifer Coolidge, playing rich guest Elizabeth Charming, who tries to get into the spirit by aping an English accent and yelling “tallyho.” . . . The plot feels tenuous and disorganized but also strangely predictable. Whenever Jane takes her leave from the other guests and actors, it’s clear she will immediately run into Martin. And as soon as she bids Martin adieu, she will no doubt cross paths with Mr. Nobley. And although there’s an attempt to throw a twist into the story, it’s readily apparent from the beginning. If nothing else, “Austenland” is a reminder of what continues to make the trailblazing author so wonderful. No matter how bleak things seem, Austen’s characters always manage to find a euphoric and contagious happiness. And that kind of feeling needs to be earned. It can’t be replicated with a checklist of plot points.”
Chicago Sun-Times. 2.5 stars. “Russell, who is riveting in the FX television series “The Americans,” doesn’t really have to prove anything with this role. She strains to do what she can with material that is often flat and overthought. Coolidge’s bawdy character offers a few good laughs but quickly becomes tiresome. When given the right material, she’s an expert at playing the enjoyable ditzy blonde (“Best in Show,” “Legally Blonde”), but here she is over-the-top vulgar with no real role in the story. It’s a cringe-worthy performance and a real waste of talent. Much like the book it’s adapted from, this movie is a trifle; it’s sometimes amusing but more often awkward and lumbering. Yet it also has intriguing and unsettling moments as Jane bobbles between the affections of her suitors. Are the men crossing the lines between acting and what she hopes is reality? She can’t tell and neither can the audience. Hess does a fine job of maintaining this welcome suspense; it’s the comedy that’s just not up to par.”
Orc Wars. Directed by Kohl Glass. Sept 6 2013 DVD, premier at Salt Lake Comicon. Produced by Jason Faller and Kynan Griffin. Highland Film Group. “Looking to leave the world behind, an ex-Marine buys a ranch in the remote American West, where he encounters a strange series of trespassers, including a beautiful elf princess and a Native American mystic. But when orcs invade his property, John must give up his isolation to become a hero, before the orcs sacrifice his new charges and unleash a dark magic on our world.”
Inside. Daryn Tufts, writer/director. Salt Lake ComicCon, Sept 7, 2013 premier. Won several Salt Lake ComicCon awards: Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Editing. Highland Film Group. Prison inmate Mike Barrett is ripped awake in the middle of the night by a horrifying scream. Something is terrorizing the prison, and it is coming for Mike. If he wants to survive the night, he’ll have to find a way out-but how?
Won City Weekly’s 2012 Arty Award for “Best Filmmaker to Watch”. “One of a group of actors who was featured in the curious outburst of Mormon-themed and Mormon-made movies in the early 2000s, Daryn Tufts surprised many of his thespian colleagues by turning into a great director. His first feature, 2010’s My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, revealed a wry wit and a dab hand at both writing and directing. His second outing as writer/director, Inside, with British actor Luke Goss, focuses on an inmate trapped in a cell as a monster rages through the prison. We’re waiting impatiently for this exercise in tension and mystery filmed in, of all places, Provo. All hail the evolution of a genuine Utah auteur.”
Season 2 of ‘Pretty Darn Funny’ Web comedy series launches Aug. 19. Deseret News. “Jeff Parkin, associate professor of theatre and media arts at Brigham Young University, and Jared Cardon, an adjunct professor, had worked on “The Book of Jer3miah” Web video series in 2009 that was targeted at teenagers. “It got a really great response,” Parkin said . . . In the first season, Parkin, Cardon and Clark used a writing class to help script the first season’s episodes. For season 2, they brought together a team of writers, including Parkin and his wife, Cardon and his wife, Clark and two other parents.” My recommendation is “Budget Cuts” about the family going to extreme lengths to save money for family pictures. Very, very funny.
Granite Flats is returning to BYUtv in September with four new episodes.
3 women forgo Hollywood’s boys club to make ‘Austenland’. Sean P. Means, The Salt Lake Tribune.
Utah authors see works come to life on big screen (Deseret News).
Carl Bell (script and music, and producer). Deseret: The Musical. Covey Center. Sept 5-23. World premiere of a comedic story of an 1869 frontier town in transition as the golden spike has just been driven, connecting the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads. Allyson Warnick must decide which man and future to pursue, the local farmer, Jacob, or the new charmer from San Francisco, Daniel. Directed by Kymberly Mellen.
Daily Herald feature. “In the late 1970s, Carl Bell brought a pen to paper with a tune in his head and a dream in his heart. A family practice physician and obstetrician with a wife and 10 children to support, time to work toward that dream was not easy to come by. Until — over 30 years and nearly 1,900 delivered babies later — semi-retirement brought with it a little more time for dream chasing. The dream? A full-scale, staged production titled “Deseret the Musical,” which will open tonight on the Performance Hall Stage of the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo . . . With a theme similar to the classic Emily Bronte novel “Wuthering Heights,” Bell said “Deseret” is a musical all about commitment, love and choosing our paths in this life. Set in the late 1800s, the show features life in the Utah Territory for early pioneers and the decisions they were forced to make as drought threatened their livelihood and the driving in of the Golden Spike revolutionized opportunity for travel and expansion.”
Deseret News feature. “Bell has dabbled in writing plays for many years, and one of his plays, “A World and a Way,” was produced at Brigham Young University in 1983. “I’ve always recognized the effectiveness of plays, so I enrolled in a playwriting course over at BYU. Of course, a requirement of the class was to write a play, and I learned quite a lot from the expert professors at the university there,” he says.”
Katherine Gee Perrone is currently a playwright for the Pollyanna Theatre Company in Austin, Texas. She was one of the founding board for New Play Project in Provo. “She specializes in creating and directing works of art with the students, especially teenagers, such as in her play The Window, which explores myths and the power that story has to change lives. She also co-wrote and directed Selkie (2001), a play based on the myth of “The Seal Wife” and intended for high school students. Katherine enjoys exploring the world of myths, legends, folktales, and personal stories in an effort to broaden understanding and promote optimism for life. This passion for stories and teaching children is what led her to be a storyteller and children’s playwright. Katherine currently works as a freelance writer, playwright, storyteller, and musician in Seattle, Washington.”
“The Window” Orem Public Library, June 5, 2013. “a play about many things, but primarily it is about the strangers we meet as we journey from beginning to end—entrance to exit—and the stories that change us as we travel in between.”
“Plus Meets Minus: A Counting Farce”. The Long Center, Austin, TX, May 2013. Pollyanna Theatre Company. “Addy Plus loves to put things together, collecting all sorts of things into larger and larger groups. Addy finds great joy in adding. Minus Takeaway likes nothing more than taking things apart. When these two characters meet, there is considerable confusion and conflict! PLUS MEETS MINUS is a fun, colorful exploration of two very different personalities and the results are many discoveries about both human nature and math. Designed for very young learners, PLUS MEETS MINUS will be best enjoyed by children ages 4 – 7, but is entertaining for audiences of all ages.”
“Plus and Minus: The Vacation Adventure.” Pollyanna Theatre Company, May 2014. “This newest production finds the two friends appreciating their differences and going on their first vacation together. All seems to be going well until they met up with Slash McGillacutty, a guy who insists on cutting things in half. How will Addy and Minus react to Slash? And is there a way to salvage their vacation once Slash McGillacutty arrives on the scene? Come along and find out. This play which brings pre-kindergarten basic math concepts to life, will be enjoyed by audiences ages 4 and up.”
Ben Abbot. Questions of the Heart: Gay Mormons and the Search for Identity. One-man show. August 15-24, Indy Fringe. Indianapolis. Indy Fringe Talk feature. “Ben doesn’t give easy answers. There probably aren’t any to give. But he does know the right questions to ask, and how to break down the sometimes esoteric world of Mormonism into easily understandable, digestible bites. He embodies the spirits of the very different men and women he interviewed and shares their heartbreaking stories of being torn between the people they love and the church that fills a whole inside of them. Questions of the Heart: Gay Mormons and the Search for Identity is thoughtful, moving, achingly sad yet hopeful that one day, there might be a place at the table for everyone. It’s a quiet sort of Fringe show, one that searches for meaning instead of doling it out into convenient life lessons. And for that alone and Ben’s obvious passion for his religion and his friends, it’s worth seeing.”
Mahonri Stewart. Evening Eucalyptus. Zion Theatre Company, Echo Theatre, Provo, Sept. 19-28. Premire. “At the turn of 20th century, Arthur Stevenson self-exiles himself back to his old home of Australia after a jarring tragedy in his life. There his house keeper Abigail; Pindari, an old aboriginal friend from his childhood; and two itinerant travelers called “swagmen” (although one’s a woman); intersect in a mystical tale of Dreamtime visions, magical trees, old secrets, and deep regrets.”
New York Times Bestseller List, August 25, Sept. 1, 8, 15. Also the USA Today (one list that merges all the lists) and the Publishers Weekly lists.
Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game.
NYT Combined Print & E-Book Fiction: #12, #13, #14, #20 (9th week).
NYT Mass-market Paperback: #2, #1, #1, #6 (46th week).
NYT E-Book Fiction: #22, #22, #24, x (9th week).
USA Today #22, #25, #22, #34
PW Children’s #42, #15, #42, #22. 7th week. 2000-2820 units sold a week, 39,236 total.
Anne Perry. Blind Justice.
NYT Hardcover: x, x, x, #20.
USA Today: x, x, x, #131.
PW Hardcover: x, x, x, #25 (1st week). 2653 units.
Christine Feehan. Dark Storm.
NYT Mass-market Paperback: x, x, x, #14 (1st week).
USA Today: x, x, x, #116 (1st week).
PW Mass Market: x, x, x, #16 (1st week). 11,924 units.
THE MAZE RUNNER TRILOGY, by James Dashner
NYT YA Series: #7, #8, #10, x (60th week).
MATCHED TRILOGY, by Ally Condie.
NYT YA Series: x, #10, x, x (15th week).