Book of Mormon fiction contest, AML annual meeting

AMV bloggers and friends are taking part in two interesting Mormon literature events this week, and I invite all our readers to participate as well.

LDS Publisher contest

Voting recently opened in LDS Publisher’s Book of Mormon Story Contest. The contest features young adult fiction stories with a Book of Mormon setting by both published and unpublished authors. Theric Jepson and I both submitted entries as did AMV reader/commenter David J. West. A few other AMV readers may also have participated (if so, let us know in the comments). And no, we aren’t going to tell which stories are ours — that’s against the rules.

Now, you may be asking yourself: do I really want to wade through 26 pieces of fiction (16 if you just read and vote for the published authors)? Probably not, but you should anyway — some stories are better than others, but all of them are interesting in how the engage with the Book of Mormon.

AML Annual Meeting

The Association for Mormon Letters will hold its annual meeting this Saturday, Feb. 27, at Utah Valley University Library in Orem. The theme of the program is “”˜One Eternal Round’: Mormon Literature Past, Present, and Future” and AMVers Tyler Chadwick, Harlow Clark, Patricia Karamesines and Katherine Morris will all be presenting. So will other folks whose names should be familiar to our readers — in particular: Lisa Tait, Ardis Parshall, Gideon Burton, Angela Hallstrom, Lee Allred and James Goldberg. If you are within driving distance, you should go — not only because of the interesting presentations and excellent company, but also because the meeting will feature a rare screening of the 1931 film “Corianton: A Story of Unholy Love.”

28 thoughts on “Book of Mormon fiction contest, AML annual meeting”

  1. I entered too. Looking forward to reading the entries. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to engage the Book of Mormon in fiction. It is tricky on a lot of levels. Just a few things I ran into:

    -Names. Boy do I feel stupid making up fake-sounding Book of Mormonish names.

    -The actually geographic location of the Book of Mormon has always been supremely irrelevant to me. I just plain don’t care where it actually took place. I feel the Spirit when I read it, I learn doctrine, and that’s really all that’s relevant to me personally. When writing a Book of Mormon story, though, it’s more problematic.

    3-Then there’s the standard problem with any historical fiction: how do you convey place and setting without having an intrusive narrator tell you stuff that violates the character’s point of view? How do you maintain voice?

    I had a fun time with the story. I am a fiction writing newbie, and I have a lot to learn. My only issue with the contest as a whole is that I do wish that the contest weren’t scheduled smack dab in the middle of when I am also frantically reading all the Whitney finalists.

  2. Cool, Emily. I figured that had to be a couple more out there.

    I also had a fun time writing my story — and it’s the fastest I’ve ever written a story of more thank 2k words. I don’t write YA or Book of Mormon setting stories so I don’t know that I was that successful, but it was interesting tackling the challenge.

    And yes, I completely agree with your three points. In fact, I mentioned to Theric recently: “That’s why I never seriously committed to Book of Mormon fiction — there really aren’t that many characters and that many details to help flesh out a narrative. And then there’s the whole material culture issue…”

    I know that it’s a whole sub-genre of Mormon fiction, but I’ll be honest that my interest in it is less the actual stories and more about how they are positioned in relation to the Book of Mormon.

    Oh, and I should mention that I will definitely reveal which story is mine when the voting is over.

  3. I’ll have to go check out that fiction contest. Thanks for the heads up.

    And thanks for mentioning the AML meeting, too. It should be really great. Just a quick edit, though: the meeting takes place on Fri. Feb. 27, not the 17th. It’s free for students and AML members, but if you join the AML in order to attend ($25), you’ll get a free copy of the last double issue of Irreantum and a subscription to Irreantum in 2010. And, besides, you’ll be supporting the AML, which is honorable in and of itself, right?

    There is also a luncheon, but the luncheon is $12 extra and tickets should be ordered in advance. The luncheon is always fun, plus you get to hear the Presidential address and see all the award winners. You can purchase a luncheon ticket on the AML’s website (linked in your post). Hope to see many of you there!

  4. Oops, sorry about that — yes, it’s the 27th. I’ve made the correction above.

    And: I thought you had Daron but couldn’t remember if you had definitely said that you had entered.

  5. That’s 6 out of 26. I’m liking these odds that at least one of us will get in to the anthology.

    Kristine: it’s probably better to ask the AML directly about having a table at the annual meeting. E-mail: aml AT mormonletters DOT org

  6. Thanks for the mention William. I’m a Book of Mormon junkie so I actually subbed two-that accounts for 7 out of 26.

    I think I have a good idea which one is yours but I have been notoriously wrong in guessing anonymous authors before.

    Oh and Marilyn Brown told me she would be speaking at the AML event too.

  7. URL of the AML 2010 schedule:

    One of the bittersweet joys of AML is that in a good year (and from the program, this is looking like it is indeed a very good year) they have everything you want to hear opposite everything else you want to hear. This year there are three sessions each hour.

    I really want to hear Gideon’s and Angela’s presentations, for example, but that’s the same hour I’m presenting … and we three are in three different rooms! (I wonder if anyone would notice if I snuck out of my own paper to listen to Angela) 🙂

    — Lee

  8. .

    That happened to me when I presented at Sunstone. More than anything I wanted to see Margaret Young’s movie. And it ran the same time I was talking about Twilight. Of course.

  9. 1,2.

    Given the limitations articulated by Emily, does anyone have a favorite example of the Book of Mormon being engaged well in fiction (or drama)? OSC’s Homecoming Saga? Eric Samuelsen’s Gadianton?

  10. I entered the story contest, too. And I agree with Emily. It’s not like you can Google what kind of trees were common to Zarahemla, circa 60 BC, or whatever.

  11. .

    I was impressed by David’s book, and the Yorgensen’s book of short stories was thought-provoking, if not terribly well written.

    But I haven’t read much.

    I will say that hangups on placing the Nephites “correctly” on the continent is one of my hangups with the genre.

  12. I loved OSC’s Homecoming/Memory of Earth Saga. The way he transposed the Book of Mormon into a science fiction setting was brilliant. It allowed him enormous leeway for commentary on modern society, individual character, and the Book of Mormon itself in ways that were both extremely faithful and radically thought provoking. I’d love to see more fiction like this, but it does not look easy to write.

  13. So now that voting for the LDS Publisher contest is almost over, anyone want to guess which entry is mine?

  14. .

    It is over and I’m really not sure. There were two I suspected briefly, but ultimately, “Speculations” didn’t prepare me to recognize you in a more conventional format.

    I did pick out both of David J West’s and I think I know which one is Daron Fraley’s but you my friend are a mystery.

  15. It’s okay, Theric. My entry was universally ignored so either I failed miserably (or mediocre-ly) or the exquisite use of language and themes and the careful attention to detail got lost in the experience of reading 16 (or 26 — I actually read all of them and voted in both categories) stories.

  16. .

    I have to say that reading them all in one sitting was a mistake. After the first four, few were able to cut through the noise.

  17. “I have to say that reading them all in one sitting was a mistake. After the first four, few were able to cut through the noise.”

    Sorry, Theric. I’m laughing — not at you personally — but I’m laughing all the same. Hard.

    Welcome to the wonderful _real_ world of publishing. 🙂

    Now imagine you as an editor having to do that every single day at work (and nights at home and on weekends), only it’s not 26 but more like 2600 paper manuscripts stacked up on (and around) your desk (with well past 26 new ones arriving everyday), and you get a rough idea of what one faces trying to get manuscripts past an editor’s slush in the national market.

    Your mss _has_ to cut through that noise in order to even be remotely considered.

    The sad truth is most manuscripts get shoved back into their SASE with only the briefest of glances, if that. (Many of my own manuscripts have met that sad fate.)

    One of the most useful things for me when I started writing was working on the staff of THE LEADING EDGE (BYU’s semi-pro sf magazine) and seeing first-hand the horror that editors face with their never-shrinking slush pile that won’t die, and learning at least what NOT to do. (Learning what TO do is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.)

    — Lee

  18. .

    Yeah, I’m starting to learn that in a much much more real way than I ever had before. And it’s not just the LDSP contest.

  19. I didn’t read any of the entries because I don’t read fiction on blogs. For whatever reason, I don’t absorb anything that way and it annoys me.

    eReader, yes. PDF/Mobi/ePub on the computer, yes. Paper, yes. Blogs, no.

  20. .

    I’m generally the same way. Meant the stories had to be all the better for me to actually read them.

    The first time I looked at David’s “Covenant of the Scalp” (which in the end I think was the best of them all), I could barely skim it. Blogs and fiction are a lousy combination.

  21. Thanks for that Th.

    I only started the second piece when I feared LDSP was only going to have a dozen stories. Personally Covenant of the Scalp is my fav over the one that won.

  22. Last chance to guess which one is mine — a post revealing all will be up in about 20 minutes. Here’s a big hint: think about what my strengths and weaknesses are likely to be as a writer considering my background and in light of what I’ve written so far (Return and Juniper Hands in particular) and then what Emily and Th might have to say about that.

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