Amateur. It’s an ambivalent word — much like its opposite, professional. On the one hand, bound into its very etymology is the noble notion of doing something out of love, rather than for profit or because it is simply one’s job. On the other hand, there’s the sense that standards of quality are inevitably lower for work that no one is paying for. “Amateurish” is a pretty substantial insult.
It used to be that most of the writing people read for entertainment or information was bought and paid for. And maybe that’s still true overall, or for some people. But not necessarily. There has, I think, been a sea change over the last twenty or so years — one that we are still seeing the fallout from, in terms of its impact on the writing and publishing worlds.
Author, editor, and educator Lu Ann Brobst Staheli, of Spanish Fork, Utah, passed away on February 9, 2015 after an eight-month battle with cancer. She is survived by her husband Mike Staheli and their five sons. Services will be held Thursday at noon at 820 E. Canyon Rd., Spanish Fork. A viewing will begin at 10 AM.
For more information on Lu Ann, please see her own home page/blog, her Goodreads page for a list of her books, a detailed tribute by Heather B. Moore (Heather and Lu Ann were founders and co-senior editors of the Precision Editing Group), and a recent site created by friend J. Scott Savage in order to raise money for Lu Ann’s medical bills. Scott says that the fundraising effort is still open, as the family could use the support. This interview with Tanya Mills also includes lots of information about Lu Ann’s childhood and the stories behind some of her books.
The Whitney Awards Committee announced their 2014 Finalists, five books each in nine categories.
The AML Awards Committee will announce their finalists on February 15. There will be a lot of different categories and different works from the Whitney finalists, which should make for an exciting and diverse awards season.
The announcement reads:
FINALISTS ANNOUNCED FOR 8TH ANNUAL WHITNEY AWARDS
The Whitney Awards program honors the best novels published by Latter-day Saint writers each year. The finalists for books published in 2014 are as follows:
A Plentiful Rain, by Elizabeth Petty Bentley
My Name Is Bryan, by Stacy Lynn Carroll
Still Time, by Maria Hoagland
The Law of Moses, by Amy Harmon
Walking on Water, by Richard Paul Evans Continue reading
Today we feature a guest post by author Pam Williams. Her first novel, Living It Down, was published by Walnut Springs Press in May 2014. Her second, What Took You So Long, is being published by Walnut Springs Press this month. This post is an update of an essay she wrote in 2009.
LDS Fiction: Changing Paradigms
WHERE DID WE COME FROM?
Jennie Hansen’s 2009 Meridian Magazine assessment of the state of LDS fiction shed positive light on what faithful Latter-day Saint writers are producing these days, but it didn’t go far enough. Likewise, Jerry Johnston’s Mormon Times column that year, questioning whether there will ever be a great Mormon novel, was too dismissive. Improvements in this species of literature are evident with every crop of books released. In fact, LDS writers, and especially Mormon-oriented fiction, have grown in significant ways since 25 or 30 years ago when I gave up trying to find something meaty in it that fed my soul. Continue reading
[Hello folks. I've got the first Monday of the month slot, and I totally bailed in January. But February will not get away.]
I wanted to post an update on the conference plans for 2016: while a formal invitation/announcement is still forthcoming (soon, hopefully) I proclaim that the wheels are in motion.
- We are looking at the first weekend in March, 2016. March 4-5 to be exact. If all goes as planned there will be an LDS Writers Workshop running that week as well, February 29-March 4, overlapping with AML for one day.
- The powers that be at BYU-Hawaii have granted us access to campus. Sessions will most likely take place in the ballroom, McKay little theater, and/or some larger classrooms.
- A brand new Marriott Courtyard hotel is set to open this June 2015 in Laie, a block from campus, making it the first major hotel built on this side of the island in, like . . . forever. I have been in touch with some people at Marriott, but they have yet to work out the pricing on a group rate for rooms. I think we’ll be able to settle on something that works, based on the season and on BYU’s arrangements with other hotels. Other accommodations in the area include Turtle Bay Resort (lovely, and $$$$), vacation rental properties (could work out well for a group who wants to split a larger place), Airbnb stuff, begging BYU faculty members to take you in, and camping on the beach (always an option, seriously).
- This time of year is also a decent time to find affordable airfare to the Aloha State, as it is post-holiday/heavy winter and pre-spring break.
- The Hawaii state motto is Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono: The strength of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. Doesn’t that just feel right?
I hope that this conference, and the spirit of David O. McKay (BYU-Hawaii’s founder and that most bookish of prophets), will be able to draw some of us together in 2016. It could be a most memorable and novel occasion.
Hope to have more information soon. In the meantime, I welcome any feedback or input on the conference, as well as ideas for panels or dedicated sessions, etc. Get those proposals ready.
Boyd J. Petersen was named the next editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Another former AML President, Melissa Proffitt, published her first novel. SLC ComicCon is going on, and lots of LDS authors are there waiting for you to meet them. There was a change in the top leadership at Covenant Communications. Michaelbrent Collings is on the preliminary ballot for a Bram Stoker award, and the LDS Poetry Slam winners are announced. Some good news on the Nunes plagiarism case. Among the newly published books are Mary Bradford’s personal essay collection, Michael Jensen and David Powers King’s Woven (the book that Cedar Fort controversially dropped in 2013, and ended up at Scholastic instead), and Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart sequel Firefight (which went to #1 on the NYT YA list). The Maze Runner stays the #1 NYT Children’s Series for 5 weeks in a row. Two films by Mormon directors premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Jared Hess’ comedy Don Verdean, and Greg Whitley’s documentary Most Likely to Succeed. A new Melissa Leilani Larson web series. Jim Bennett writes with bitter humor about his experiences rewriting the outdoor musical Utah! at Tuachan in 2002, and the difficulty of making art while trying not to offend anyone. And speaking of funny, read Steven Peck’s replies to student questions.
News and blog posts
The finalists for both the Whitney Awards and the AML Awards will be announced in the next couple of weeks. Continue reading