This Month in Mormon Literature, Mid-March 2017

Several conferences are coming up, including the AML Conference on April 22. New books include the third in the “Mormon Image in Literature” series, a collection of essays from Matthew James Babcock, fantasy novels by D. J. Butler, Brian McClellan, Bryce Moore, and Brandon Mull, the latest YA novel from Jeff Zentner, and a series of Thomas F. Rogers’ collected plays. New plays by Morag Shepherd and Eric Samuelsen are being staged soon. I got this out in less than a month in the first time in a while. Please send announcements and corrections to: mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

News and blogs

The Association for Mormon Letters Conference will be held at Utah Valley University on April 22. The conference schedule will be released soon. A major national author will be among the participants in the conference. Be sure and check out the AML Award finalists in twelve categories.

The schedule for the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference, May 25-27, in Boston, has been released. The theme is “Wisdom”, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Terryl Givens are the keynote speakers. Continue Reading →

This Week in Mormon Literature, March 1, 2017 (Pt. 2, New books and reviews)

Part two of the Month in Review. New books this month include poetry from Neil Aitken, a charming female superhero origin novel from Shannon and Dean Hale, Scott Hales’ second Garden of Enid graphic novel of a “weird Mormon girl”, Tricia Levenseller’s debut pirates novel gets a Publishers Weekly starred review, a new YA romance from Kasie West, and Brooke Williams’ meditations on his Mormon pioneer ancestors and the environment from a post-Mormon perspective.


New Books and their reviews

Neil Aitken. Babbage’s Dream. Sundress Publications, Feb. 8. Poetry book. 70 pages. “In stunningly elegant couplets, Neil Aitken transposes the dreams of machines and humans into musical, sonically deft lyrics that sing songs of creation, vision, possibility, futurity. These beautifully crafted poems—evoking the designs of nineteenth-century mathematician Charles Babbage, who conceptualized the first mechanical programmable computer—explore the tautologies between mathematics and song, science and lyric, the rational and the passionate, dystopia and hope. In the infinite tape loop of memory and imagination, Babbage’s Dream posits a Turing Test in which the reader circles both anxiously and gloriously through aspects of making, maker, and the made.” —Lee Ann Roripaugh, Author of Dandarians. Continue Reading →

This Month in Mormon Literature, March 1, 2017 (Pt. 1, News, Theater, and Film)

It is awards seasons, with finalists for the Whitney Awards out and the AML Awards coming out. Julie Berry and Jeff Zentner were given some of the highest YA honors from the American Library Association, as well as being finalists for both Whitney and AML awards. Tim Slover’s play Virtue was widely praised and quickly sold out. The LDS Film Festival is happening this week. New books and reviews will be discussed in part 2, coming soon. Please send announcements and corrections to: mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

Awards and honors

LDStorymakers, a Mormon author guid, announced The Whitney Awards finalists, awards that honor novels published by Mormon authors. The categories are: General, Historical, Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Speculative, Middle Grade, General Young Adult, Speculative Young Adult, and Best Novel by a Debut Author.

Julie Berry’s The Passion of Dolssa was awarded a Pritnz Honor Prize by the American Library Association. The Michael L. Printz Award annually honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit, each year, it is the Oscar of YA literature. Congressman John Lewis and his collaborators won the main award for their book March: Book Three, a graphic novel about the civil rights movement. The Passion Dolssa was one of four books given an “Honor Prize”, for excellence in YA literature. Continue Reading →

This Month in Mormon Literature, January 2017

We are in a lull after the year-end storm. Mette Ivie Harrison’s third Linda Wallheim mystery is drawing a wide variety of reviews. Josi Kilpack and Shadow Mountain have released their latest “Historical Proper Romance”, and Erin Summerill debuted with a YA fantasy/romance. A second adaption of Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy debuted on a Utah stage for the second year in a row. Tim Slover’s newest historical play, Virtue, about the 12th-century Abbess Hildegard, debuts next month. The schedule for the Life, the Universe, & Everything symposium has been announced, and includes two presentations sponsored by AML.  Please send announcements and corrections to: mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

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News and blog posts

Life, the Universe, & Everything: The Marion K. “Doc” Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy will be held at the Provo Marriot Hotel on February 16-18.. Dan Wells will be one of the Guests of Honor. Other special guest include Larry Correia, Lisa Mangum, Michaelbrent Collings, David Powers King, and Dennis Packard. See the schedule here.   Continue Reading →

This Month in Mormon Literature, December 2016, Part 2: New books

There has been a flood of books the last two months. The Mormon academic presses (The Maxwell Institute and Greg Kofford Books) have started to publish more literary works, including Ashley Mae Hoiland’s creative non-fiction One Hundred Birds Taught me to Fly, and Scott Hales graphic novel The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl.


In the national market for adults, there is Stephenie Meyer’s new thriller The Chemist, Andrew Hunt’s 1938 Salt Lake City mystery Desolation Flats, Amy Harmon’s romantic thriller From Sand and Ash, and Dan Wells’ satirical thriller Extreme Makeover.


As always it is the national market young adult and middle grade novels which fill these columns. They include, on the younger side: Steven Bohls’ Jed and the Junkyard War, Shelly Brown’s Ghostsitter, Shannon and Dean Hale’s The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation, Tess Hilmo’s Cinnamon Moon, and Elaine Vickers’s Like Magic. For young adults, there are strong reviews for Dean Hughes’s WWII drama Four-Four-Two, Aprilynne Pike’s dystopian Glitter, and Carol Lynch Williams’ paranormal Messenger. Please send news and corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

glitterfour-four-twolike-magic Continue Reading →

This Month in Mormon Literature, December 2016, Part 1-News, etc.

Since I am covering two months, I will split this post into two. This first post will have news, theater, film, reviews of old books, and bestsellers. The second post will have the new books which have been recently published.

We mourn the loss of Brent Yorgason, one of the pioneers of commercial LDS fiction in the 1970s. There are lots of end of the year lists coming out. YA authors Julie Berry and Jeff Zentner are appearing the most, including prestigious lists like the New York Times and Publishers Weekly. YA authors Brodi Ashton, Kasie West, and Kiersten White are also appearing quite frequently. Please send news and corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.


In Memoriam: Brenton Gayle Yorgason (1945-2016)

yorgasonBrenton Gayle Yorgason, age 71, was surrounded by family as he passed away on the October 28, 2016 from Parkinson’s with Lewy Body Dementia. He was born in Mt. Pleasant, Utah to Gayle and Beatrice Yorgason, and grew up in Nephi and Provo, Utah. He served a mission in Florida and Puerto Rico, and then attended BYU where he met “the love of his life,” Margaret Yates. They had a whirlwind courtship and married in the Manti Temple. Soon after he was activated in the Army and sent to Vietnam. Yorgason learned to write while serving as a unit typist in Vietnam. After duty, he would write a daily letter to his wife back in Utah. “He wrote me every single day that he was gone,” Margaret says. “I think he developed his talent writing love letters to me. I have a scrapbook with all of these precious letters.” Returning home, he completed his Bachelor’s, Masters, and PhD in Family Science with a minor in Marriage and Family Therapy. He spent several years teaching Seminary, and taught in the Family Science department at BYU. In the 1970s and ’80s, he co-wrote several LDS books with older brother Blaine, including The Bishop’s Horse Race (1979) and Chester, I Love You (1983). The popularity of the books launched both Yorgasons as motivational Mormon speakers in the 1980s and ’90s. He wrote and published 105 books, over 40 of which were biographies. He enjoyed writing many books with his brother Blaine. The paintings they did together were used as the cover of many of their books. Continue Reading →

This Month in Mormon Literature, Oct. 2016 (part 2)

I’m finally finishing the monthly review, following an earlier post that was just about books. This post is about news and awards, short stories, theater, and film.


News and awards

Children’s book author Rick Walton passed away on October 7, from brain cancer. He was 59. His career was discussed in this memorial article.

Jolly Fish Press, an independent publisher based in Provo, UT, has announced that it will be going out of business on Oct. 31, due to financial difficulties. The business was created by publisher Christopher Loke in 2011. It has published over ten books a year in recent years. The announcement on its website read in part, “But even with a collection of note-worthy and great books in our catalog and future lineup, we have not generated sufficient revenues to make the business viable. After a long process of seeking investors who believe in our company and what we aim to achieve, we have, unfortunately, failed to secure the funds necessary to grow and move the company forward.” A article on the closing included many quotes from authors, including some who felt that the company owed them more advance notice before the announcement was made. Continue Reading →

This Month in Mormon Literature, October 2016 (Part 1: books)

It is nearly two months since my last “Month in Review”, and there is a huge backlog of material, so I am splitting this review into two parts. This post will cover newly published books, book reviews, and bestseller lists. Part two will cover literary news, short stories, movies, and plays.

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This Month in Mormon Literature, Aug. 27, 2016

Deseret Book publishes its first book depicting a Heavenly Mother. An independent film based on Dan Wells’ I am Not a Serial Killer opens in theaters and VOD, and Greg Whiteley’s documentary Last Chance U began streaming on Netflix. A new Matthew Greene play, Gregorian, opens in NYC. Nancy Campbell Allen, Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnson, Jennifer A. Nielsen, Janette Rallison, and Kasie West have published new novels, and Loki Mulholland and Angela Fairwell a picture book, to strong reviews. A new genre publishing house has appeared in Salt Lake City. The second LDS Publishing Professionals Conference is coming up. Please send news and corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

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News and blog posts

Immortal worksImmortal Works is a new publishing house that has been created in Salt Lake City. Their website says, “We are a full-service small press that specializes is genre fiction for those looking for an enthralling tale, but don’t want to have to worry about graphic violence, obscene language, or pornographic content. That doesn’t mean our titles don’t have dark villains, irreverent humor, or thrilling romance. It just means that you don’t have to hide our books from your mom, wife, and bishop. Immortal Works publishes mainstream genre fiction in print, as eBooks, and every one of our titles will be available on Audible!” Stoney Beckstead is the CEO, Jason King the Managing Editor, Adam Boswell the Director of Sales/Marketing, and James Wymore the Acquisitions Editor. Continue Reading →

This Month in Mormon Literature, July 2016

We mourn the loss of former AML President Linda Hunter Adams. Michael Allred won an Eisner Award, and Theric and Trevor spoke about Mormons and comics at San Diego ComicCon International. Vault Books, a new specialty publisher, has opened its doors. Boadicea the Mormon Wife, the second critical edition in the “Mormon Image in Literature” series, has been released. Mirror Press, an independent publisher run by Mormons, got a book on the USA Today bestseller list. Michael Collings and Colin Douglas released new poetry collections. Please send any announcements or corrections to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

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News and blog posts

AdamsLinda-Hunter-215x275Linda Hunter Adams passed away on July 17, at the age of 75. Her obituary reads: “An associate professor at BYU for 30 years, Linda taught English and editing, and influenced thousands of students. She was director of the Humanities Publications Center, where she produced hundreds of books and journals. She was associate editor of BYU Studies for 15 years. She managed student journals, including Inscape and The Leading Edge, and helped organize conferences, including Life, the Universe, and Everything. She was an editor for Pioneer Magazine and also spent a number of years working on the Joseph Smith Papers.” Continue Reading →

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