A busy two weeks, with a new anthology to benefit Robison Wells, the LDStorymakers Writing Conference and the announcement of the Whitney Awards, and Hugo nominations. Also, I spoke with The Good Word podcast about Mormon literature, so take a listen! Please send any news or corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.
Awards, blogs posts, and other news
Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells have organized a science fiction/fantasy anthology called Altered Perceptions, to benefit author Robison Wells, one of the main creators of the Whitney Awards, who is facing high medical bills because of his mental illnesses.
The project, at IndieGoGo, also includes several fundraising perks for sale. Dan Wells’ blog reads, “My brother, the illustrious Robison Wells, was diagnosed a few years ago with a severe panic disorder, was has since blossomed (or perhaps ‘metastasized’ is a better word) into depression, agoraphobia, OCD, and a whole host of other mental illnesses that make it impossible for him to live a normal life. I could talk about this for hours, and in future blog posts I will, but for now I’ll limit it to two main points:
1) Rob’s illnesses have put him into a lot of debt. He writes books, and they are excellent books, but this is not exactly a lucrative profession, and a panic disorder does not work well in an office environment. Watching Rob struggle with disease and debt made me want to do something to help.
2) Mental illnesses are WAY MORE COMMON than most people think. In the US alone, statistics suggest that most of you know someone with a psychosis, and all of you know someone with depression. If you don’t, look harder–you probably know two or three. This is a big problem, and we as a culture and society are not doing nearly enough to help. An American with a mental illness is ten times more likely to be in prison than in medical care. This needs to change.
I wanted to do something about these problems, but I didn’t know what. It was Brandon Sanderson, a good friend of both Rob and I, who came up with the idea: “let’s do an anthology,” he said, “full of authors who know Rob, and use it to raise funds. First we can pay off Rob’s debts, and then if we get enough interest we can keep going and try to help other authors with similar problems.” I thought it was an awesome idea, so we did it. And we put a cool spin on it that I think you’re going to love.
I am proud to announce the science fiction/fantasy anthology Altered Perceptions, which is kind of like a bonus DVD full of deleted scenes and alternate versions of some of your favorite authors’ books. Check out this amazing list:
Ally Condie, the foreword
Dan Wells, the introduction
Annette Lyon, An unpublished chapter from her retelling of the Finnish fairy tale, THE KALEVALA
Aprilynne Pike, TBA
Brandon Mull, Deleted scenes from BEYONDERS 2
Brandon Sanderson, five completely rewritten chapters from THE WAY OF KINGS, where Kaladin makes the opposite choice of what he makes in the published novel
Bree Despain, an alternate ending to THE LOST SAINT, and an alternate beginning to THE SHADOW PRINCE
Brodi Ashton, the first chapter from her YA novel about an unwilling alien fighter who has to rescue the boy she loves
Claudia Gray, a deleted scene from A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU
Dan Wells, the original John Cleaver free-write that inspired I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
Erin Bowman, a deleted scene from TAKEN
Howard Tayler, a creative non-fiction story about life with mental illness
J Scott Savage, three original chapters that led to writing FARWORLD
Jennifer Moore, a deleted scene from BECOMING LADY LOCKWOOD
Jessica Day George, a deleted scene from PRINCESS OF GLASS, where the main character plays poker with a witch
Josi Kilpack, the original opening scene to TRES LECHES CUPCAKE
Kiersten White, an original short story, set in a dystopian, sci-fi world
Larry Correia, a deleted fight scene from SWORDS OF EXODUS
Lauren Oliver, two deleted scenes from PANDEMONIUM, plus a hilarious scene about the plotting process
Luisa Perkins, a short story, “Seeing Red”–a modern-day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.
Mary Robinette Kowal, deleted scene from VALOUR AND VANITY (the scene was cut because readers thought the scene was trying to depict depression)
Nancy Allen, bonus scene from BEAUTY AND THE CLOCKWORK BEAST
Robison Wells, an epilogue to FEEDBACK and the VARIANT duology
Sandra Tayler, a creative non-fiction piece called “Married To Depression”
Sara Zarr, a story featuring characters from one of Sara’s previously published novels
Sarah Eden, “Farewells” for LONGING FOR HOPE and HOPE SPRINGS
Seanan McGuire, The original opening for DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON
Shannon Hale, ”Ravenous,” a previously unpublished scifi short story
SJ Kincaid, the original first chapter of VORTEX, before it was entirely rewritten
You’ll also get to read personal essays and comments from each of the authors, explaining their own connection to mental illness and the many ways it’s changed their lives.”
Robison reported yesterday that the anthology has reached nearly $40,000 in sales. The book was featured in a Deseret News article. Many of the authors have blogged about the book and their participation, including Claudia Gray’s interview with Robison, and Shannon Hale’s post about writers and mental illness.
The LDStorymakers 2014 Conference was held in Layton, UT this weekend. Orson Scott Card was the keynote speaker, and the buzz from attendees was that it included several useful pieces of advice, and some digressions into criticism of Mormon culture, rules of propriety, which struck many in the audience as odd. I wish I was there! The Whitney Awards were presented at the closing gala. The winners for best novel in each category were,
General: Mile 21 by Sarah Dunster
Historical: Esther the Queen by Heather B. Moore
Romance: Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
Mystery/Suspense: Deep Cover by Traci Hunter Abramson
Speculative: Dark Memories by Jeffrey S. Savage
Young Adult – Speculative: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Young Adult – General: All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry
Middle Grade: The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Best Novel by a New Author: Pivot Point by Kasie West
Best Novel in Youth Fiction: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Best Novel of the Year: Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
Outstanding Acheivement: Rachel Ann Nunes
Lifetime Achievement: Blaine Yorgason
Rosalyn wrote about her experiences at the conference.
The nominees for the 2014 Hugo awards (for speculative fiction) were announced, and include Larry Correia, Brad Torgersen (twice), Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, the Writing Excuses group (Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler & Jordan Sanderson), and Elitist Book Reviews. The awards will be announced at LonCon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in London, England, August 14- 18, 2014. The awards appear to have caused some controversy on the nets, including pushback against the nomination of the entire Wheel of Time series, which goes back 30 years, as a single “novel”, and the nature of the voting, which some saw as “ballot stuffing”, which perhaps led to a significant number of politically conservative authors to be nominated. Brad Torgersen give his take on all of the issues here and here. Larry Correia defends himself here. And Bradon Sanderson on being nominated and the Wheel of Time controversy here.
Warbound, Larry Correia (Baen) (First nomination)
Parasite, Mira Grant (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Wheel of Time (complete series), Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (Tor)
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
‘‘Wakulla Springs’’, Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages (Tor.com 10/2/13)
‘‘Equoid’’, Charles Stross (Tor.com 9/24/13)
‘‘The Chaplain’s Legacy’’, Brad Torgersen (Analog 7-8/13)
Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean)
The Butcher of Khardov, Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
‘‘The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling’’, Ted Chiang (Subterranean Fall ‘13)
‘‘Opera Vita Aeterna’’, Vox Day (The Last Witchking)
‘‘The Waiting Stars’’, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky)
‘‘The Lady Astronaut of Mars’’, Mary Robinette Kowal (Rip-Off! 2012; maryrobinettekowal.com 2/13)
‘‘The Exchange Officers’’, Brad Torgersen (Analog 1-2/13)
Best Related Work
Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It, Sigrid Ellis & Michael Damian Thomas, eds. (Mad Norwegian Press)
‘‘We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative’’, Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink 5/20/13)
Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary, Justin Landon & Jared Shurin, eds. (Jurassic London)
Writing Excuses, Season 8, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler & Jordan Sanderson
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, Jeff VanderMeer with Jeremy Zerfoss (Abrams Image)
The Book Smugglers
A Dribble of Ink
Elitist Book Reviews
Q&A with “The Garden of Enid” Creator Scott Hales and “The Garden of Enid” Takes Mormon Comics by Storm at lds.net, which appears to be a new Mormon culture website. Hales is also answering some great AMA questions about the comic at reddit.
The Good Word Podcast features an interview with me, Andrew Hall, on Mormon literature. I talk about my background, our adoptions in the US and Japan, the status of the Church in Japan, and a lot about Mormon literature. I summarize the state of the field, things that readers of this blog will be well aware.
The Whitney Award review season wraps up with Theric’s take on the books in the General category Every book is a failure (AMV), and 2013 Whitney Roundup (and a plea for support for its founder) (Segullah).
Theric (and Monsters & Mormons) at SLC Comic Con Fan X, Culture and being in, but not of the world (Wm), both at A Motely Vision.
Paul Eckheart was a winner at the L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest. Paul was the 3rd quarter, 3rd place winner for this year, making it further than some several thousand others, and where his winning story, “Shifter” will be published in the anthology series - L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume XXX. Paul is a software engineer, a 2007 graduate of contest judge Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp and a member of the Codex Writers. L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future (Book 30). Galaxy Press (May 6, 2014)
Orson Scott Card. IGMS: Big Book of SF Novelettes.Hatrack River, December 19, 2013. Includes a new essay by Orson Scott Card, “Making Ender Smart” and his story “Mazer in Prison.” It also includes stories by Eric James Stone and Brad Torgersen.
The upcoming anthology Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West (Titan Books, May), edited by John Joseph Adams, will include “Alvin and the Apple Tree”, Orson Scott Card’s first “Alvin Maker” story in a decade, and David Farland’s “Clockwork”.
PW: “Orson Scott Card’s drolly dark “Alvin and the Apple Tree” brings Alvin Maker back to butt heads with Johnny Appleseed over the nature of hope . . . While there’s some repetition of theme and concept, Adams has produced a satisfyingly filler-free compilation.”
Iron Kingdoms Excursions: Season One, Volume Two. Skull Island eXpeditions, March 19. An anthology of three novellas including “The Worthy” by Larry Correia (“travel to Bloodstone Marches with an invading skorne army”) and“Scrap Ante” by Howard Tayler (“Learn how gobber mechaniks spend their free time on the Cygnaran front lines”). Set in the Warmachine, Hordes, and Iron Kingdoms games universe.
New Books and their Reviews
Steven Anderson. From the Four Winds. Wido, April 29. Last days Mormon novel. Second novel, first was a last days novel for Granite in 2004.
Jerry Borrowmen. Assault on Cabriol. Self, April 9. Science fiction. “In a sweeping saga that crosses hundreds of parsecs of space, Assault on Cambriol tells the stories of Pietr Jesik, his first officer Thomas Brighton, and Lieutenants Travis Eaves and Sean Magill as they are called upon to work their way through intricate battles, both military and political. If they fail there will be all-out war between the Earth Descendencies, long isolated from their shared roots in ancient Earth.”
Jennie Hansen, Meridian. “Jumping from a solid reputation as an historical novelist, with Assault on Cambriol he plunges into the distant future and his first science fiction novel. There are many battle scenes and a great deal of space is given to strategy and calculations. The author also devotes a large amount of attention to social organization of his three planets’ populations . . . The characters are generally likable, but are a little stereotypical. The politically correct elements of the plot tend to make it somewhat predictable. This novel will appeal more to science fiction fans than to the general public who may be discouraged by the wordiness of futuristic explanations.”
Brook Booher. Healing Stone. CFI/Sweetwater, April 8. YA Fantasy. “He was abandoned as a baby in a graveyard and his mother was never found—that’s all seventeen-year-old Stone Molony knows about his birth. His mysterious background has never bothered him, though, until a tragic accident changes everything. He was abandoned as a baby in a graveyard and his mother was never found—that’s all seventeen-year-old Stone Molony knows about his birth. His mysterious background has never bothered him, though, until a tragic accident changes everything . . . Set in Kentucky of 1955, Healing Stone explores the effects of racism and corruption hidden in a small town and the redemptive power of hope discovered in one unique boy.”
Karen E. Hoover. The Emerald Wolf. Tin Bird Publications, April 9. Wolfchild Saga #3. YA Fantasy. Series began with The Sapphire Flute. “Jumping from a solid reputation as an historical novelist, with Assault on Cambriol he plunges into the distant future and his first science fiction novel.
Annette Lyon. Ilana’s Wish. Covenant, April 1. General/Women’s. Newport Ladies Book Club #8. Second to last in the series.
Moriah Jovan. Paso Doble. B10 Mediaworx, April 26. Adult romance. Tales of Dunham: La Montange #1. A Mormon woman and a Spanish bullfighter.
Moriah Jovan. We Were Gods. Mediaworx, April 26. Adult romance. Tales of Dunham: La Montange #2. A divorced couple reconnect.
Rachel McClellan. The Fractured Truth. CFI/Sweetwater, April 8. Fractured Light #3. YA Paranormal.
Aprilynne Pike. Sleep No More. HarperTeen, April 29. YA Paranormal Mystery. “Charlotte Westing has a gift. She is an Oracle and has the ability to tell the future. But it doesn’t do her much good. Instead of using their miraculous power, modern-day Oracles are told to fight their visions—to refrain from interfering. And Charlotte knows the price of breaking the rules. She sees it every day in her wheelchair-bound mother and the absence of her father. But when a premonition of a classmate’s death is too strong for her to ignore, Charlotte is forced to make an impossible decision: continue following the rules or risk everything—even her sanity—to stop the serial killer who is stalking her town.”
PW: “Unable to bear the guilt of inaction, she’s willing to break every rule if doing so might prevent another death. That she has interfered before, with fatal consequences, has bafflingly little impact on Charlotte’s thought process, and is emblematic of the murky rationales that underlie much of the book. Pike dedicates the novel “to the survivors of Newtown,” which may strike some readers as questionable, given the plot’s reliance on violence inflicted on youth.”
Kirkus: “The story is sometimes predictable and goes a bit too fast in places—readers will quickly lose track of visions and victims—but it’s full of gripping tension, and Charlotte is a self-aware and likable narrator, determined to use her powers for good. Faults aside, this supernatural mystery will appeal to fans of the genre, and the story’s conclusion leaves wide the door for possible future installments.”
SLJ: “Pike’s newest novel is a thrilling paranormal mystery with a hint of romance. Charlotte is a likable and sympathetic character coping with larger-than-life problems. Her situation as an outsider is universal, even while the cause is firmly rooted in the realm of fiction. Teen girls, fans of Pike’s previous novels, and those who are just discovering her will enjoy this unique, quick read.”
Tristi Pinkston. Tulips and Treason. April 9. Walnut Springs Press. Omni Orchids Mysteries #1. Cozy mystery. “The town of Omni has a thorny problem… Two rival crime syndicates have chosen the quiet mountains of Utah as their hideout. Now they want to join forces and become stronger than ever. Meet Jack and Molly, a team of (secretly married) FBI field operatives of experience and skill, sent to Utah to infiltrate said Mafia headquarters . . . his small Mormon community has them flummoxed until Ida Mae and her friends (from the Secret Sisters series) step in to give them Mormon lessons so they won’t blow their cover.”
Jo Ann Schneider. New Sight. Jolly Fish, Apr 22. Adult Urban Fantasy. Girl has dangerously frightening power, which she gradually comes to understand. First novel.
Jacyln West. The Princess and the Prom Queen. Trifecta, will be available on Kindle April 29, paper later.
Natalie Whipple. House of Ivy and Sorrow. HarperTeen, April 15. YA Paranormal. A teenage witch and her witch grandmother keep their identities secret in a crumbling old house, until a curse threatens to destroy them.
Kirkus: “The light romance turns thriller, however, after her long-lost father, controlled by dark magic, appears unexpectedly in Jo’s female-only household . . . As in Transparent (2013), Whipple pays attention to details (but doesn’t get bogged down with them) to create a magical, entertaining world that has the right amount of darkness to keep the story intriguing and the right amount of light to keep readers content. With unwavering BFFs, stolen kisses, red herrings and a variety of spells, there’s something for chick-lit, romance, mystery and fantasy fans alike.”
SLJ: “Unlike many supernatural tales, this one does not perpetuate good witch/bad witch or light magic/dark magic themes. Jo is clear that “There is only dark [magic]. A black pool full of power and pain.” The story also stresses that there is always a price to pay for using one’s powers, even for good purposes, and every character must deal with the consequences of their choices. This is a fast-paced fantasy, with just the right amount of romance and realism. Readers will relate to Jo’s relationships with her family, crush, and two best friends. Despite the current glut of supernatural and urban fantasy, this tale will stand out.”
Reviews of older books
Jaclyn M. Hawks. The Sage After Rain (Jennie Hansen, Meridian): “Though I liked the story overall, I found a number of problems with it too. It needs some grammar and spelling fixes, the bad guys are not bad or persistent enough, and the ending is stretched out unrealistically because Taya and Matt fail to communicate with each other. Anytime a misunderstanding becomes a major component preventing resolution the story loses credibility. The long sermon on the atonement is well written, but slows the story down in an annoying way. The characters are likable and the high western desert setting is portrayed well. Having trailed sheep, worked with sheep dogs, and fallen in love with sheep wagons at a very young age, I loved this part of the book. I found the life of a sheepherder an unexpected and clever way for Taya to hide.”
C. J. Hill. Slayers: Friends and Traitors (Bloggin’ ‘bout Books): C. “I have to be honest—I opened Friends and Traitors, the second installment in C.J. Hill‘s Slayers series, knowing I probably wouldn’t like it that much. Not surprisingly, I was right. I had the same meh reaction to this one that I did to its predecessor, Slayers. For me, Hill’s dragon world just isn’t that convincing. Plus, the plot winds all over the place, too much explanation bogs down the story, and the characters are so flat I can’t remember who’s who most of the time. So, yeah. The books have lots of action, but little else. For me, at least, that’s just not enough. Although I have to say, I quite liked Angel Moroni’s cameo appearance :)”
Heather B. Moore’s Ruby’s Secret (Theric, Dawning of a Brighter Day).
Bethany Wiggins. Cured (Bloggin’ ‘bout Books). B-. “Originality is hard to come by in the YA dystopian genre, so it’s really not surprising that the plot of Cured, the second book in Bethany Wiggins‘ Stung series, feels familiar. Still, like I said about the first book, this one boasts stronger prose than many of its fellows. So, while I got a little bored with the same ole, same ole, the characters and action kept me reading. I would have liked more depth from the novel’s cast as well as some plot twists I didn’t see coming (Kevin’s identity is pretty obvious from the get-go, although it takes Jacqui a long time to figure it out). Overall, though, I enjoyed this one.”
Plan-B Theatre Company announced its 2014-15 season, which will include seven world premires by Utah playwrights. One of them will be: April 9-19, 2015: World premiere of Melissa Leilani Larson’s PILOT PROGRAM – What if you were called to serve in the restoration of polygamy? You could blog about it. An intimate look at first love, second wives and last chances. Directed by Jerry Rapier.
BYU took home its 15th and 16th awards from the College Television Awards, also known as the student Emmys, on April 23 this year. “Owned” received first place in the Animation category, while “Chasm” took first place in Music Composition . . . The merge between computer science and animation happened in 2012, when the BYU Center for Animation moved from the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology to the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (Deseret News).
Survivor. John Lyde, director, writer, producer. Jason Faller, Kynan Griffin, executive producers. Starring Kevin Sorbo (Hercules), Danielle Churchran (Little Secrets, Christmas for a Dollar). SLC screening, April 2014.
“What Happened to the Wave of Mormon Movies?” Jim Bennett, Deseret News. Bennett, who acted in “The Home Teachers”, talks about the rise and fall of the Mormon film boom.
April 27, May 4
Shannon Hale. Ever After High: The Unfairest of them All
PW Children’s: #11, #11 (4 weeks). 7177, 10,827 units. 36,846 total.
USA Today: #106, #71 (4 weeks)
NYT Middle Grade: #8, #6 (4 weeks)
Shannon Hale. Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends
PW Children’s: #22, #18 (28 weeks). 4756, 6551 units. 59,634 total.
NYT Middle Grade: #11, #11
Brandon Sanderson. Words of Radiance
PW Hardcover Fiction. #28, #24 (7 weeks). 1901, 1844 units, 51,833 total.
NYT Hardcover: #21, #16 (6 weeks).
James Dashner. The Maze Runner.
USA Today: #18, #18 (21 weeks)
NYT YA Series: #2, #2 (80 weeks)
James Dashner. The Scorch Trials
USA Today: #55, #59 (6 weeks)
James Dashner. The Death Cure
USA Today: #83, #80 (8 weeks)
Brandon Mull. Sky Raiders
PW Children’s: ?, #23 (6 weeks). 3414, 5112 units. 30,087.
NYT Middle Grade: #14, #14
Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game
NYT Mass-Market Paperback: #11, #14 (79 weeks)