Here’s the bad news: I don’t have the time and energy to do a second Monsters & Mormons anthology. I believe that there are a few people who will be disappointed by this. I know there’s at least one: me. I’m sorry. It’s just not going to happen.
Here’s the good news: I’ve been focused the past few years on writing fiction and criticism. See my author blog for a glimpse of what I’ve been working on. Most of that has not been Mormon-related. It’s great fun, and I’m continuing those activities, but I also am feeling the desire to edit again. I’m also concerned about the fact that with the shuttering of Irreantum there aren’t enough venues for Mormon short fiction. I’ve been saying for awhile now that what we need are more one-off projects that don’t require sustained effort — that that’s the best way to grow the body of Mormon short fiction because they don’t require the kind of long-term commitments and resources that most of us just can’t supply. Well, I suppose I should lead by example. So…
My vague thoughts: I’m thinking about editing an e-only short anthology of alternate Mormon history stories. I know for a fact that at least two of the entries in this year’s Mormon Lit Blitz are in the alternate history genre (one of them is mine). I’m guessing there might be more. It’s funny. I’ve been thinking about this for several months and even went so far as to toss some ideas around with Theric. And then Scott Hales recently posted Emily Adams review of D. J. Butler’s City of the Saints series, which is Mormon alt history steampunk. And, well, it just seems like it’s in the air. Indeed, it seems to me that in this post-Mormon moment moment alternate visions of Mormon history could be one of the more compelling ways of expressing our culture and help us think through both our past and future trajectories in interesting and fruitful ways.
Details and timing: I don’t know for sure yet. My best guess is that I’d put a call for entries out this fall with a deadline of early spring 2015 and a goal of having the anthology out in fall 2015. I would pony up the funds for token payments to the contributors. The anthology would likely be limited to 7-8 short short pieces, 3-4 short stories, and 1-2 novelettes with a goal of hitting 45-65k words (Monsters & Mormons is close to 180k). As with M&M, I’d be looking to range across the pulp and literary spectrums, but I’d also be shading a bit more towards the literary (where with M&M we shaded more towards pulp). And with the short short pieces, I’d be looking for a variety of forms of discourse including sermon, journal entry, reportage, personal letter, etc.
Feedback: If I decided to do this, who would be interested in submitting? Or reading? Reviewing? Am I wrong that Mormon alt history is swirling about the current Zeitgeist? What are the promises and pitfalls of Mormon alternate history?
Speak up in the comments below, or if you’d prefer not to be public with your thoughts, email me at william AT motleyvision DAWT org.
But since we missed February, and since I don’t want to compete with Scout Sunday, and since AMV was founded in June (by the way: this is our 10th anniversary), we landed on the second Sunday in June.
Kent Larsen is already on board. He serves in a bishopric so he is able to influence the theme of sacrament meeting. But not all of us serve in a bishopric, so…
Wear a beret or a dark red/maroon item to church this Sunday. Dark red is AMV’s color, but it’s also a good color to represent Mormon Arts Sunday — it’s rich and vibrant and not generally a color that people wear to church all the time. Purple would also work. Wear purple if you’d prefer.
Wear a cockroach accessory (not my personal reference, but see the Scott Hales posts above for an explanation).
If you are talking or teaching this Sunday, include a piece of Mormon literature or visual art in your talk or lesson. The right poem can work quite well for that. One good source for that is the winners of the Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest, which the Ensign used to run.
Bring a work of Mormon art to church or to a home/visiting teaching appointment and share it with someone who you think would appreciate it.
Do this on Saturday, but: buy a work of Mormon art. Something from Zarahemla Books, maybe. Or a Whitney Awards winner. Or from whatever your favorite purveyor of Mormon art may be (tell us in the comments).
Have a special Sunday edition Family Home Evening where you consume and/or discuss a work of Mormon art.
That’s all I have. What suggestions do you have? How else could we observe Mormon Arts Sunday?
Every year there are titles that would be eligible to be judged for the Whitney Awards except for the fact that they don’t receive enough nominations. This sometimes includes titles that are published by major regional or national publishers. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen this year. Here’s how you can help:
Goodreads user Kaylee has set up a list titled Whitney Award Eligible Books 2014. If you are a Goodreads member or willing to become one, please consider adding titles to the list.
However: collecting the titles is only the first step. Even if you don’t have titles to add, click on over and take a look at the list. If you have read any of the novels on the list, please consider nominating them. You can do so via the Whitney Awards nomination form. Note that you can nominate multiple times in one form submission so you could have one tab open on the list and another on the form and flip back and forth between the two. I also recommend not being stingy with your nominations — even if you don’t consider a novel to be the best of the year, it’s important that the judges have a chance to look at all titles that are worthy of consideration.
Finally, take a look at the list, and if there are any novels on the list that you haven’t read, but seem interesting, go out and get them, read them, and then nominate them. The Whitney Awards are dependent on a community of Mormon readers and authors. I invite you to be more active in that community (if you traditionally haven’t been).
I’m stepping my game up this year too — so join me. It’ll be fun. And thank you Kaylee for setting up the list!
Friends of AMV: you have a singular opportunity facing you — the chance to increase my currently dangerously low levels of humility by beating me soundly in the Mormon Lit Blitz. Mormon Artist is hosting the contest this year. See all the details in the Call for Submissions.
I already have my story written. I’m feeling quite confident about it. That feeling must not stand. Really, you’ll be doing me a favor by entering.
HOW TO DO IT
All you need to do is find 4 hours between now and May 31. You could probably even do it in 3, depending on how fast you can write your rough draft. Here’s how:
Spend 45 minutes coming up with ideas. Remember that you aren’t limited to flash fiction — poetry, comics, plays are all welcome. These 45 minutes don’t even have to be in a row. They can happen in the shower or as you’re driving or folding laundry. Just make sure you have something close to capture your ideas.
Spend 2 hours (also don’t need to be in a row) writing your first draft.
Spend 1 hour revising. It really doesn’t take long to revise 1,000 words (or less).
Spend 15 minutes copyediting and then format and submit.
Have no idea what to write about? Here are some freely offered ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
The story of Balaam and his ass, except Baalam is a PR flack, Balak is a CEO, and the ass is an Audi TT.
Parley P. Pratt: Vampire Hunter
First line: The Bishop’s wife was worried that he was spending so much time on Pinterest.
Title: The Laurel Class President’s Lament
Comic: Nursery toys/books/activities through the decades
A story about a handsome, righteous, well-coiffed commercial pilot for Lufthansa who is inspired to re-route a flight to Istanbul thus avoiding a sudden deadly storm and the political crisis that would have ensued because one of the passengers that would have died is a moderate Turkish general traveling incognito.
First line: As far as she knew, Tiffany was the only Mormon female jockey in the world.
A pair of sister missionaries is contacted by the manager for a controversial female pop star who was raised Mormon and would like to be taught the discussions (and possibly re-activate).
That should be enough to get you started. Feel free to share more ideas in the comments section. But more importantly: get brainstorming.
Fifteen minutes before that rerun, a panel of Monsters & Mormons participants will be publicly talking about their work and what’s become of it. I’m a bit confused over the final makeup of the panel (this story is personally embarrassing, but that’s a story for another day), but expect at least seven people you definitely want to hear from. (220 seats)
Then fifteen minutes after the comics rerun, I’ll be on a Sherlock Holmes panel which I really really hope has no Mormon tie-ins. (400 seats)
Based on the numbers here, I think I should be able to take 10.75 days off teaching and still reach the same number of people. Sweet.
The AML website is unexpectedly down (unexpected by me, at any rate), with a message that the account has been suspended. I’m not able to do anything about it (and don’t know the cause), but am attempting to draw it to the attention of those who (hopefully) can do something about it.
In the meantime, I thought it would be polite to let people know what’s going on — at least, to the degree that I know anything…
During February, Wilderness Interface Zone is launching its traditional month-long celebration of love and the natural world, Love of Nature Nature of Love Month.
To that end, we’re issuing an open call for nature-themed, love-laced writing and visual arts: original poetry, essays, blocks of fiction, art, music (mp3s), videos or other media that address the subject of love while referencing nature, even if lightly. By the same token, we’re interested in nature writing raveled up with themes of love.
If you’ve written artsy Valentine wishes to someone beloved—or perhaps created a video Valentine or made a live reading of a sonnet or lyric poem that’s original to you—or if you’ve written a short essay avowing your love for people, critters, or spaces that make you feel alive, please consider sending it to WIZ. Click here for submissions guidelines.
We hope you’ll join our month-long celebration combining two of the most potent natural forces on the face of the planet: love and language.
In case you haven’t been following the Mormon Poetry Slam at home and have an interest in Mormon poetry (I mean, who doesn’t, right?), here’s an update (which I initially posted here):
The final performance in the slam—which I’ve been hosting on FireinthePasture.org and which as far as I know is the first online competition of its kind—posted last Friday. (You can find the event archive here). Now it’s time to determine the winner of the Audience Choice Award and we need your help with that because, well, the participants need the audience to vote. So, if you would: Take several minutes to consider the slam performances, then vote for your favorite before Wednesday’s end (voting rules are outlined below). For your consideration and reviewing pleasure, here are the fourteen entries, listed in order of appearance: more →