Review: With a Title Like _Monsters & Mormons_, How Could You Not Have Fun?, Part One

It’s taking me a while to get through  Monsters & Mormons, not because it’s not super enjoyable (because it is!), but because it’s a pretty long book (which, to me, is no flaw. The upcoming Saints on Stage: An Anthology For Mormon Drama which I edited for Zarahemla Books is a behemoth as well). Also when I finish a short story, I feel a temporary sense of completeness, so the book doesn’t always draw me back like a novel does because I’m not left “hanging” so to speak. So I’ve decided to break up my review of Monsters and Mormons over a few different reviews so I can write while the stories are still somewhat fresh in my mind. It will also allow me to address the short stories more individually instead of as a blurred whole.

First, my overall impression of Monsters & Mormons: it’s a winner. A big winner. As some one who has lived in imaginative waters since he was a child and hasn’t been afraid to invite his religion to play in those waters with him, I totally dig projects like this. Now, I’ve never been much of a horror fan, especially when it leads to copious amounts of blood and gore. I mean, like, yuck. Not my thing. However, I do love ghost stories and supernatural monsters (I keep wanting to read some H.P. Lovecraft), and, if it doesn’t lead to too much gruesomeness, I can definitely enjoy stories like this. This is definitely not something I would suggest to some of my less adventurous or conservative thinking family and friends, but it’s something I would suggest to the imaginative Mormon who doesn’t mind mixing fantasy and religion (and I know a number of non-Mormons who would get a kick out of it!) . So let’s get to the individual stories in the first part of the collection:

Continue reading “Review: With a Title Like _Monsters & Mormons_, How Could You Not Have Fun?, Part One”

Resources for the Study of the History of Mormon Literature

English: The in Salt Lake City, Utah. Français...
The Church History Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I’ve tried to study the history of Mormon literature, I’ve realized that we are currently are in a oddly mixed situation. By and large what Mormon literature has been produced through the past 175+ years is easily available to anyone with a good Internet connection, a basic computer and the ability to read and understand English. But when we move to criticism and compilation of this literature, the wonderful new archives of material might as well not exist. Is anyone working with these old texts?

Continue reading “Resources for the Study of the History of Mormon Literature”

Monsters & Mormons is here: details, virtual launch, etc.

Monsters & Mormons has arrived. Buy the ebook or pre-order the trade paperback. Click through for more details on a virtual launch party, Utah book signing, merchandise, etc.

A scant 22 months after a Twitter joke led to the idea for Monsters & Mormons, the anthology has arrived. You can download it in the major ebook formats — Kindle, Epub, and HTML — right now for $4.99.  You can also , which will be out in less than two weeks and costs $23.99 (it’s ~600 pages). Buying the ebook directly via the Kindle should be available within the next day. Although, of course, if you buy directly from Peculiar Pages, we get a larger cut of the pie (and by we I mean our more than 30 contributors, illustrators and editors as well as B10 Mediaworx which is the publisher for Peculiar Pages).

But just because Monsters & Mormons is now available for sale, it doesn’t mean the fun has to end. Here’s what else we have on tap:

Virtual Launch Party on Friday, Nov. 11

We wanted this to launch on Halloween like we promised, but we also realized that, well, some of you may be doing that whole trick or treating thing. So we’re going to have an official virtual launch party on Friday, Nov. 11. If you’d like to participate (and there will be games with prizes and other frivolity), the best thing to do is connect with us on Facebook or Twitter:

Monsters & Mormons Facebook page

@motleyvision (Wm Morris)

@peculiarpages

@thmazing (Theric Jepson)

The party will take place:

  • 10 pm – midnight, eastern
  • 9-11 pm, central
  • 8-10, mountain
  • 7-9, pacific

Activities will take place across Facebook, Twitter, our blogs and other parts of the Web.

Utah signing(s)

We are looking at a Utah book signing for late November/early December with as many of the contributors as possible (and many of them do live in Utah). It’s quite likely that we’ll do two: one in Utah valley and one in the Salt Lake City area. Stay tuned to AMV, but even better connect with us on Facebook or Twitter to stay apprised of the plans.

Killer merchandise

Love the cover? Thrilled by the illustrations? Enraptured by the killer concepts in the stories? We’ll be rolling out a series of Monsters & Mormons-related merchandise over the next six-eight months. Yes, t-shirts and posters. But we also have some cool ideas for other items as well. The whole point of this endeavor is to reclaim and re-envision Mormon tropes in pulp fiction. Some merch we can display to the world is definitely in order, I think.

Convention Appearances

Whether official or not, we hope to have Monsters & Mormons presences over the next year at all the major Utah cons (LDStorymakers, CONduit, LTUE, World Horror, etc.) as well as Comic Con (San Diego) and WorldCon (which is in Chicago this year) and others. We will announce those as they get closer.

So that’s the plan. Thanks for all of your support. This continues to be a blast.

Happy reading!

Monsters & Mormons: the final nine

Theric and I are pleased to announce nine more works — and the final set of works — that we will be including in Monsters & Mormons. Everyone who has submitted should now have a decision in hand. If not, email us. But I’m pretty sure we’ve replied to all of our ~70 submitters. Thanks again to all those who sent something in. It was fun reading everything, and we do wish we could find a way to accommodate every work. But editing time and page count and the parameters of the anthology mean we had to make choices. Some tough ones even.

And so we made them. And here are the final nine acceptances:

  • The poem “Water Spots” by Terresa Mae Wellborn — the kind of poem that gets under your skin. And then thrashes around.
  • The short story “Pirate Gold for Brother Brigham” by Lee Allred — A classic ghost tale featuring Brigham Young and the Great Salt Lake.
  • The short story “Bokev Momen “by D. Michael Martindale — Mormonism filtered through the eyes of aliens to humorous effect. Although how the abducted Mormon feels about that “humor” we shall not comment upon.
  • The novelette “Allow Me to Introduce Myself” by Moriah Jovan* — A demon-fighting Mormon nun with some nifty gadgets.
  • The short story “The Mission Story” by Bryton Sampson — What happens when your weird mission companion has a bit of the mad scientist in him?
  • The short story “Bichos” by Erik Peterson — Newlywed couple. The Amazon. Old stories of scary beasts. (And then the fun starts.)
  • The short short story “A Letter from the Field” by James Paul Crockett — the first letter home from an elder assigned to quite the unusual field of work.
  • The short story “Baptisms for the Dead” by Christopher Birkhead — a missionary companionship keeps working through a zombie apocalypse.
  • The short story “Out of the Deep I Have Howled unto Thee” by Scott M. Roberts — A haunted motorcycle in the Utah desert.

For those keeping track that brings us to 29 works and 30 contributors. Depending on how edits go, the whole thing will end up being between 160,000 and 175,000 words (not counting bios/forewords/afterwords). All of it Mormony, Monsterish goodness. We’ll keep you updated. And now, it’s off to work.

*So in the interest of full disclosure, Moriah Jovan will be doing the layout and formatting on the book. She also runs the publishing concern of which Peculiar Pages is an imprint. I can tell you that neither she nor Theric gave me any pressure on accepting the story, and they both know that I would have had no problem rejecting it. But I do like it, and it does fill a need — so it’s going in.

Theric would like to add that, in fact, no one was more enthusiastic about this story than William. Moriah considered withdrawing it and I was about to let her but William refused. And he was right. This story — like every other story listed in today’s announcement — fills a vital need. And now, finally, we feel complete. And boy oh boy but are these tales going to slap you around. Cue your excitement.

Review of _Adventures of the Soul: The Best Creative Nonfiction from BYU Studies_

Title: Adventures of the Soul: The Best Creative Nonfiction from BYU Studies
Editor: Doris R. Dant
Publisher: BYU Press
Genre: Personal Essays Anthology
Year Published: 2009
Number of Pages: ix; 261
Binding: Trade Paperback
ISBN13: 978-0-8425-2739-2
Price: $14.95
Available from Deseret Book and other sources.

Reviewed by Jonathan Langford.

Note: I received a free review copy of this book from the editor.

A good personal essay is like an evening spent in front of a fireplace with a longtime friend. It’s not about drama and high emotion. Nor is it about polished literary style — though there is a style and a demanding literary craft to writing such essays well. The essence of that craft lies in the achievement of a clear, intimate, authentic voice, as if the author were indeed a close and trusted friend. The satisfaction we as readers take from the experience springs in large measure from that sense of connection.

Continue reading “Review of _Adventures of the Soul: The Best Creative Nonfiction from BYU Studies_”

Monsters & Mormons: round 3 of admits

Yes, progress is being made, and Theric and I are pleased to announced round 3 of admits to the Monsters & Mormons anthology. These 7 works bring us to 15 total. There is still room for more. And we are continuing to work on figuring out which submissions will make the cut. Once again, until you have been specifically e-mailed a rejection, your work is still in the running. And, once again, we’re not doing this in order of our favorite works to our least favorites or anything like that. This is simply the next round we want to announce and is calculated to show that whole thing about range and depth*. And yet again, we’ve got some pretty awesome authors and works here (in no particular order):

  • The novella Fangs of a Dragon by David J. West — a Porter Rockwell (tall-) tale that draws heavily on late 19th-century Utah history and folk legend
  • The short story “I Had Killed A Zombie” by Adam Greenwood — a zombie post-apocalyptic first person account that riffs off of Joseph Smith’s rhetorical style
  • The short comic “Mormon Golem” by Steve Morrison — a reworking of the Golem legend set in 1838 in Far West, Missouri
  • The short story “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone — space opera of the alien-encounter sort with an unusual Mormon angle that was originally published in Analog
  • The short story “The Living Wife” by Emily Milner — a domestic-drama ghost story with a very Mormon context
  • The novella Brothers In Arms by Graham Bradley — action-packed zombie military sci-fi with Mormon protagonists
  • The short comic “Traitors and Tyrants: A Wives of Erasmus Adventure” written by John Nakamura Remy with art by Galen Dara  — ninja action adventure Mormon polygamy/State of Deseret alternate history steampunk

Note that I use the word Mormon as an adjective a lot in the descriptions above. Part of that is that I don’t want to get too far in to spoiler territory, but it’s also that each of these works very much embrace both the Monsters and the Mormons aspects to this anthology. We’ve got some good ones here, folks. And more to come.

*For example, you’ll notice that we have included at least one novella and two short stories in each class so far. That trend may or may not continue.

More Monsters & Mormons admits

I’m pleased to report that Theric and I are making progress with our reading and decision making for Monsters & Mormons. And we are proud to announce another round of admits. As with our early admit class, these aren’t the four that are the most awesome to the exclusion of all other stories (they are pretty awesome, though), and they don’t necessarily bump any other, similar submissions out of the pile, etc. etc. They simply are the next four that we want to announce and thus give you another glimpse of the range and depth of this anthology as it begins to come together.

The next four admits are:

  • The novella The Mountain of the Lord by Dan Wells — an action-packed, western/horror/superpowers hybrid set in pioneer times. Some of you may already know quite a bit about this story from Dan’s blogging about it. Well we got to read it. And it’s in.
  • The short story/historical Mormon mash-up “George Washington Hill and the Cybernetic Bear” by George Washington Hill and EC Buck — a fascinating retelling of an actual pioneer journal account with a Monsters & Mormons twist to it. And semi-inspired by Kent’s AMV post.
  • The short story “Recompense of Sorrow” by Wilum Pugmire — we have graciously been granted permission to reprint this finely-crafted story that brings a bit of Joseph Smith’s more mystical side in to a classic tale of horror that is firmly situated in the Lovecraftian tradition that Wilum so successfully inhabits as a writer (see comment 11 at that link).
  • Two poems by Will Bishop — a pair of poems that deploy the language and imagery of genre to explore aspects of modern Mormon life. You may recognize Will’s name from his participation in the FOB Bible.

Congratulations and many thanks to our next class of admits.

And to report: we are very much enjoying reading though the submissions. We’re not even close to being done with the admits yet. Sit tight everybody. Theric and I are working as fast as we can.

And I know I’ve said this before, but you all have so totally validated the concept and then some. It has been an intense few weeks (with more to go), but very, very gratifying.

Monsters & Mormons: submissions are now closed!

Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, fellow writers and poets: submissions to the Monsters & Mormons anthology are now closed. Many thanks! And stay tuned.

UPDATE at 7 a.m. CDT, Oct. 2: If you sent something in, you should have received e-mail acknowledgement by now. Thanks again for your submission. We don’t plan on sitting on these for a super long time, but it will take a while for us to wade (a happy wade, though — think children frolicking at the beach) through all of them. Stay tuned. You will receive official word on the status of your particular submission via e-mail from monsters@motleyvision.org.