By Mette Ivie Harrison
I’ve watched as “debut authors” have become more and more hyped over the twenty years I’ve been involved in publishing. When I started out, being a debut author seemed a lot more like being a beginner—people didn’t expect as much of you as when you were more experienced at this. Authors who had been in the business a long time seemed to be the ones who were honored and who got the bigger advances and more marketing promised to them.
But somehow that changed and now, it seems that being an old pro is often the same as being a has-been. You had your chance and it’s time for you to step aside, especially if you’ve never broken out of mid-list author status. If you’re a bestseller, this is less true in part, but there’s a ton of pressure on bestsellers to continue to produce bestsellers. If ever once you produce a “dud,” then you’re back to the list of mid-list authors or potential has-beens. Former bestsellers often end up feeling obliged to change their names if they want to continue publishing. More often, they move on to another phase in their careers. Some become freelance editors. Others move out of publishing entirely. Continue Reading →
The Association for Mormon Letters will present two lifetime achievement awards at the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference Banquet on March 23, held at the Brigham Young University Skyroom Restaurant, 6:30-8:30 pm. Lavina Fielding Anderson will be presented with the Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters, and Robert Kirby will be presented with the Association for Mormon Letters Lifetime Achievement Award. Both authors will be attending the conference in person. There will also be one panel dedicated to each awardee as part of the MSH Conference, held in the afternoon of March 23, before the award ceremony.
Lavina Fielding Anderson
The panel “Lavina Fielding Anderson and Mormon Literature” will be held on March 23, 3:00-4:30, at the Education in Zion Theater in the Joseph F. Smith Building (JFSB) at BYU. The panel will include John Bennion, Dennis Clark, Susan Elizabeth Howe, Bruce Jorgensen, Ross Peterson, and Lavina Fielding Anderson.
Lavina Fielding Anderson has used her extraordinary intellect and talent as a writer and editor to create and promote Mormon literature and letters throughout her long, distinguished career. Continue Reading →
AML social event
The Association for Mormon Letters will hold a dinner, with author readings, on Saturday, March 24, from 5:30, right after the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference ends. Anyone with interest in Mormon literature and arts is invited.
It will be at a home at 2460 N. Canyon Road
in Provo. We will be in the West Wing of the house, a separate apartment from the main part of the house (where a different event will be held at around the same time). We will have fliers at the conference with maps. There will be a light dinner (soup and salad) provided, and everyone is encouraged to participate in the potluck by brining desserts, side dishes, or drinks.
We invite authors to do readings at the event. The AML award winners and finalists will have first priority, but we hope that we will have time for others as well, including the poets at our poetry panel. Please write firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending, and if you would like to do a reading.
We encourage participants to leave their cars at BYU and carpool as much as possible. There is a parking lot for the BYU Intermural Fields on Canyon Road, which is essentially across the street. People could also park in the back lot at Centennial Middle School, walk across the soccer field and come through the walking gate.
AML Business Meeting and Call for Volunteers
AML will hold a business meeting on Saturday, March 24, during lunch, 12:15-2:00, in JFSB B030 on BYU campus, with some board members participating through Skype. If you are interested in volunteering to help run AML, or Irreantum, our literary magazine, we invite you to drop by and let us know.
Donations to AML
Jennifer Quist is a writer, critic, and author of three novels. Love Letters of the Angels of Death (Linda Leigh Publishing, 2013) was long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award, and was a finalist in the General Category of the Whitney Award. On its merits, she was named an Alberta Lieutenant Governor’s Emerging Artist of the year in 2014. Sistering (LLP, 2015) was given the 2015 Association for Mormon Letters Novel Award, and long-listed for the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award. Quist’s non-fiction is published in New Left Review, The Puritan, The Awl, Maclean’s, and The Globe and Mail and on CBC Radio. A graduate student at the University of Alberta studying Comparative Literature and Chinese, she lives in Edmonton with her family.
Jennifer’s third novel, The Apocalypse of Morgan Turner, is being released this weekend. Here is the blurb:
“Morgan Turner’s grief over her sister’s brutal murder has become a rut, an everyday horror she is caught in along with her estranged parents and chilly older brother. In search of a way out, she delves the depths of a factory abattoir, classic horror cinema — and the Canadian criminal justice system, as it tries her sister’s killer and former lover, who is arguing that he is Not Criminally Responsible for his actions because of mental illness. Whatever the verdict, Morgan — with the help of her Chinese immigrant coworkers, a do-gooder, and a lovelorn schizophrenia patient — uncovers her own way to move on.” Continue Reading →
For 2018, the Association for Mormon Letters will not hold its own conference, but will instead join the conference of the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities, which will be held March 23-24 at Brigham Young University in Provo. MSH has kindly offered to host the AML Awards at its dinner banquet, as well as provide AML sponsored sessions during the conference.
THURSDAY, MARCH 22
“LO(l): A Few Items of (Funny) Business” (Education in Zion Theater, JFSB)
Join us for an evening of hilarity and entertainment. Laughter guaranteed. Free and open to the public.
Featuring: Jeanine Bee, James Goldberg, Kristian Heal, Annaliese Lemmon, Laura Hilton Craner Myers, Jonathon Penny Continue Reading →
We are pleased to announce the 2017 Association for Mormon Letters Awards finalists in Anthology, Criticism, and Poetry. The final awards will be announced and presented at the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference, held at Brigham Young University on March 23. The finalists and winners are chosen by juries of authors, academics, and critics. The finalist announcements include blurbs about each of the works and author biographies, adapted from the author and publisher websites (if anyone wants to fix part, please write it in the reply, and I will fix it). These are the last finalists, although we will also announce the names of those to be honored with the Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters, and the AML Lifetime Achievement Award before the conference.
This is a new category, which may or may not appear again in the future. In the past there have been short story collections which have been recognized for awards. 2017 saw three significant anthologies published, one a collection of essays, one a collection of short stories, and one a mixture of both (as well as poetry, art and drama). So the Short Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction judges have agreed to create this ad-hoc category.
Stephen Carter, editor. Moth and Rust: Mormon Encounters with Death. Signature.
In Mormonism we are sometimes seemingly casual about death: it’s a veil or a mission call to the spirit world. But our actual encounters with the reality of death inevitably change us in ways that are difficult to articulate. In this collection, Mormon writers wrestle with mortality and its aftermath. A family sings a hesitant rendition of Happy Birthday to a grief-stricken mother who buried who toddler just a few hours earlier; an agnostic son decides he’s Mormon enough to arrange a funeral for his believing father. Some essays use death as a means to understand faith. One author imagines a world where Heavenly Mother visits her children in the form of their female ancestors, appearing to her descendants in times of grief or pain. Others address practicalities: how do you protect your children from death while still allowing them to experience the world; how do you get through one more nausea-ridden day of cancer treatment? Still others delve into death’s questions: does the overwhelming suffering that occurs in the animal kingdom have a function in the “plan of happiness”? Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always thought-provoking, these personal essays, poems, and stories may never be heard at a Mormon funeral. But they probably should be. Continue Reading →
Of course, not all the existenz philosophen are atheists. Some, like Søren Kierkegaard, are well at home in the churchyard. Others, like Friedrich Nietzsche, could affirm Jesus’s declaration of the kingdom of God while still calling his book The Anti-Christ:
What is the meaning of “glad tidings”?—True life, eternal life has been found—it is not promised, it is actually here, it is in you; it is life in love, in love free from all selection or exclusion, free from all distance. Everybody is the child of God—Jesus does not by any means claim anything for himself alone,—as the child of God everybody is equal to everybody else.
(Section 29, quoted in The Gospel According to Jesus, p. 290-91, by Stephen Mitchell, who says in the young adult abridgment of his book, Jesus, What He Really Said and Did, that Jesus was one of the most beautiful people who ever lived, and that he himself is an atheist.)
“Nietzsche wasn’t an anti-Christ,” Jim Faulconer told me once. “I don’t believe in the same God Nietzsche didn’t believe in,” meaning he saw Nietzsche’s rejection of God as a rejection of a concept, a definition, not a Being. He added that there was no evidence Nietzsche knew Kierkegaard, but if he had perhaps he could have found a definition of God he could work with. Continue Reading →
We are pleased to announce the 2017 Association for Mormon Letters awards finalists in Comics and Picture Book. The final awards will be announced and presented at the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference, held at Brigham Young University on March 23. The finalists and winners are chosen by juries of authors, academics, and critics. The finalist announcements include blurbs about each of the books and author biographies, adapted from the author and publisher websites.
“Comics” can refer to comic books, graphic novels, or on-line comic series.
Lee Allred, Michael Allred, and Laura Allred. Batman ’66/Legion of Super Heroes #1. DC Comics.
In pursuit of the time-travelling criminal known as Universo, the super-powered kids from the 30th Century travel back to the 1960s to enlist the aid of the ‘greatest teen super-hero ever’ Robin, the Boy Wonder. But meanwhile, Batman’s hard-boiled nemesis Egghead has stolen one of their unattended time bubbles and taken off to the Legion’s time period. Looks like Batman has to head to far flung future with one group of heroes while Robin stays in the swinging sixties with another. Holy time paradox! Continue Reading →
We are pleased to announce the 2017 Association for Mormon Letters awards finalists in Creative Non-Fiction and Religious Non-Fiction. The final awards will be announced and presented at the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference, held at Brigham Young University on March 23. The finalists and winners are chosen by juries of authors, academics, and critics. The finalist announcements include blurbs about each of the books and author biographies, adapted from the author and publisher websites.
“Creative Non-fiction” includes memoirs and collections of personal essays. “Religious Non-fiction” refers to a wide variety of LDS religious studies books, including scriptural studies, theology, social studies, and devotional literature. The category does not include histories or biographies, as the Mormon History Association already does a good job of recognizing those books.
Tom Christofferson. That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon’s Perspective on Faith and Family. Deseret Book.
In That We May Be One, Tom Christofferson shares perspectives gained from his life’s journey as a gay man who left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and then returned to it. After having asked to be excommunicated from the faith he was raised in, Tom spent two decades in a loving relationship with a committed partner. But gradually, the love of family, friends, and strangers and the Spirit of the Lord worked on him until he found himself one night sitting in his car in front of the bishop’s house . . . This book is about the lessons Tom, his family, and his fellow Saints learned while trying to love as God loves. It is about the scope and strength of this circle of love and about how learning the truth of our relationship with God draws us to Him. For anyone who has wondered how to keep moving forward in the face of difficult decisions and feelings of ambiguity; for anyone who needs to better understand the redeeming power of our Savior, Jesus Christ; for anyone who seeks to love more fully; this book offers reassurance and testimony of God’s love for all of His children. Continue Reading →