Paper Ideas? I Thought You’d Never Ask!

logo-3Every now and then for fun, I spend time coming up with ideas for academic papers that I will probably never write. (Which will tell you something about what I consider “fun,” but let that pass…) More specifically, in light of the recent call for papers on intersections of sf&f and Mormonism at LTUE 2017, I spent a few minutes the other day generating ideas for the kinds of papers I could imagine being delivered at such a session.

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Bad, Honest Advice on How to Write as a Young Mom

by Jennifer Quist. Reposted by permission.


This 25 year old mother of two is me. Lazy butt had written precisely zero novels.

Enough people have asked how I managed to write two novels while at home with my kids that I thought I’d better craft an answer a little more thoughtful than “by being a crap mother.” Here it is, some very honest and probably very bad advice on how to launch a writing career while masterminding a large, young household.

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This Month in Mormon Literature, June 2016

So much Mormon literature, I hardly know where to start. Notice that AML folk are doing a lot of work to perk up this blog, brining in a lot of new content.  The Mormon Lit Blitz winners were announced. Three novelists had their work reviewed positively in the New York Times, and were nominated for youth fiction awards. There is a new Mormon literary novel by Julie Nichols, and a new collection of essays on literature and Mormonism by Jack Harrell. There are four new national novels  of note, by Brodi Ashton, Dave Butler, Charlie Holmberg, and Kiersten White. A new opera by Jamie Erekson. Also a memoir by ex-Mormon novelist Judith Freeman. To tell me news or make corrections, please mail me at mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

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Awards, announcements, and articles

The 2016 Mormon Lit Blitz was a great success, with many great short-short fiction and non-fiction pieces. The readers picked: Grand Prize ($100 prize): “The Back Row” by Kelli Swofford Nielsen. Continue Reading →

Journaling with Kids

By Bryce Moore. Reposted by permission.

I first started keeping a journal with TRC when he was about four and a half years old. I write a journal every day myself, and I thought it would be a fun way to keep track of what he was doing and how he was changing. The process was simple: I’d have him stand or sit next to me and dictate what he wanted to write, and I’d transcribe it as close to exactly how he said it as I could. Here’s the first entry.

January 3, 2009 This week I’m going back to preschool. That’s happening to me. Also we’ll have a story in my journal. It has very scary things. There are so many ghosts that scare me, and there’s one that says this kind of boo: “moo!” That’s a pretty funny thing, right? I did my workbook today. I did A, a and B. You first come the easy things that you color the letters, and you do what it says to do and color up the letters. That’s what comes first. I am four and a half years old now. My favorite color is purple. I like to do my work.

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in verse #66 : “Sic transit gloria mundi”

“Sic transit gloria mundi”[i] is not a bad pun about Gloria Swanson getting sick on the trolley every Monday, as Ogden Nash had supposed, but rather  the first line of Emily Dickinson’s first published poem, which I discussed last month.  It is one we have only as a transcript from the newspaper that published it.  It was published — without her permission — because it delighted some editor.  It may be that experience which soured her on publication, although the following poem, which Franklin dates to 1863, may be expressing disgust with the subsequent theft of three poems, at least one of which is now among her most beloved.  The 4th line of this poem gave last month’s post its subtitle:

Publication – is the Auction
Of the Mind of Man –
Poverty – be justifying
For so foul a thing

Possibly – but We – would rather
From Our Garret go
White – unto our White Creator –
Than invest – Our Snow –

Thought belong to Him who gave it –
Then – to Him Who bear
It’s Corporeal illustration – sell
The Royal Air –

In the Parcel – Be the Merchant
Of the Heavenly Grace –
But reduce no Human Spirit
To Disgrace of Price – [ii]

I would argue that, despite the clarity of this poem, Dickinson was not opposed to publication.  Continue Reading →

Why Blitz? Kaki Olsen on the Mormon Lit Blitz

We are reposting a blog post by Kaki Olsen, who was one of the finalists in the recent Mormon Lit Blitz.

Nine_and_three_quartersFive years ago, the Association of Mormon Letters held its first Mormon Lit Blitz. I entered an essay on my complicated relationship with my parents and never got to the next round. I wrote a zombie apocalypse told from the perspective of a Mormon missionary later and had the same results. When I surprised myself and wrote free-verse poetry about my jerk of an ex wanting to be friends again, I made the semi-finals and was ecstatic. Continue Reading →

Award Winners: Young Adult Novelist Becky Wallace

We are starting a new series, interviews with recent AML Award winners. We start with Young Adult Award winner Becky Wallace, who was interviewed by Amanda Shrum, a Creative Writing MFA candidate at BYU.

storyspinner-9781481405652_hrI recently had the wonderful opportunity to meet and interview Becky Wallace, author of The Storyspinner and recipient of the 2015 Young Adult Novel AML Award.

Becky grew up in West Jordan, Utah before attending BYU-I and BYU where she received her degree in Public Relations. She moved to Chicago and worked for a sports marketing company where she was able to put her writing skills to use. She currently lives in Houston with her husband and four kids.

How did you get into writing? Continue Reading →

Being a Restorationist Writer, and the Quest for the Infinite—11

My Poems, Part 3

A turning point in my development as a writer was the composing of this:

Take, eat: this is my body
—Mark 14:22
Like a deer he comes to me,
parting the ferns,
like a deer with bright antlers.
I chase him across meadows,
beside streams I pursue him,
and he does not weary;
but in the thicket he surprises me,
he lets my arrow pierce him.
He gives me of his flesh at evening,
and in the bright morning
like a deer he comes to me.

It appeared first in Dialogue in 1980 and then was anthologized in Harvest, as “Take, Eat,” and Richard Cracroft told me once that he was using it regularly in his Mormon lit course. It has undergone some tinkering since it was first published in Dialogue, with title, epigraph, format, punctuation, and verb tense (I put it originally in past tense, later realized that it belonged in the present).

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New Voices: Cynthia Whitney discusses the need for diversity in LDS fiction

When I was asked to blog here on AML, I struggled to decide how I could best contribute to discussions. I landed on the idea of voices: we have a lot of discussion here on AML about the state of Mormon Literature, but (I believe) not enough voices in our community. With this in mind, I will be interviewing a different LDS author each month about the LDS writing communities they belong to. I’ll be asking about their experiences working with LDS publishers, as indie authors, or as writers working toward publication. I’ll also be collecting opinions about what they feel is working well in LDS literature, and what they feel could change for the better.

I am hoping that, in bringing fresh voices to the discussion, we will gain ideas about how to broaden AML’s reach, meet some unmet needs in the LDS writing community, and cultivate more diversity in AML.

To that end, I chose for my first interview Lucinda Whitney, an independent author of LDS romance. Continue Reading →

So, Is There Such a Thing as Mormon Literature or What?

By my own rough count, the question in my title has been asked and answered about six thousand and three times in the past 50 years or so. Almost always, the answer has been “yes.” This makes sense. It is not the sort of question that anybody would bother asking if they thought the answer was “no.”

I have not exactly spent my academic career trying to answer the question, but I have made two fairly public attempts at an answer at two very different points in my academic career. As a new Ph.D. student, I gave a paper with the audacious title, “How to Be a Mormo-American” at an AML-sponsored session of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association conference in 1994. Here I argued for a very expansive view of “Mormon Literature” and called on critics to use that view as the basis for more and better literary criticism. When Dialogue published it later that year (my first ever publication in an academic journal), they changed the title to the much more respectable “The Function of Mormon Literary Criticism at the Present Time.” Continue Reading →

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