Some Definitional Thoughts About YA (Mormon) Fiction

Author’s note: This started as a post on my own blog on whether or not No Going Back is a YA novel. I showed it to William Morris, who suggested that I post it here. I quote from his comments: “I know you are worried about readers tiring of hearing about No Going Back, but this blog entry a) is literary criticism, which is the heart of AMV and b) tackles what is becoming a core question for Mormon fiction, imo, because of the huge number of authors finding success with YA and/or work for middle readers — that is, is YA capable of providing real literary value to Mormon letters and if so what level of “˜mature/explicit’ content can it deal with without alienating Mormon readers.”

So I’ve posted different versions (with different titles) in the two places. The version at my blog focuses on the original question of whether No Going Back is a YA novel. The version here retains most of that content, but also considers some more general questions about the nature and status of YA novels, particularly in the Mormon universe.

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The Last 20 Years in Mormon Lit: Major Developments

What are some of the major developments in Mormon literature over the past 20 years? Being under the painfully pleasant necessity of writing a short article (500-1000 words) during the next week on Mormon literature for a forthcoming reference work, this is something I’ve had occasion to ponder. I have an excellent source for up to about 1990 with the articles that were written for the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, but there’s an awful lot that has happened since then.

On Writing a Realistic Novel

I’m cross-posting this from my blog partly because I think it’s relevant to our site focus — and relevant to some other recent posts — and because I don’t think very many people even know yet that my blog exists. Thanks for your indulgence.

It’s interesting being the author of a novel about a topic that matters so much to a lot of readers. Sex and religion are topics that people care about passionately (if you’ll pardon the double pun), and when they intersect, there’s little that’s more potentially volatile.

That’s all to the good when people like my book. I’ve gotten some amazing comments from people, not just about how the book affected them as a story but about the positive good they think it can do in the world. I’d like to believe those comments are all true. But it can be especially unpleasant when people don’t like my book — especially those who share my religious beliefs.

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The Writing Rookie #10: Marketing Thoughts

For the complete list of columns in this series, .

A couple of months ago, I was listening to an interview on NPR with someone who was talking about the death of mass marketing and mass media. I can’t really do justice to the man’s arguments — I didn’t hear the whole thing, and besides, I was paying more attention to the thoughts inside my head, some of which I may write up someday as a post about the future of book publishing.

The other part of my thinking had to do with marketing for my book, which — now that the book is wending its way toward actual publication, past the editing and desktop publishing process — has been taking up an increasing share of my mental attention, as to my dismay I realize all over again that publication notwithstanding, Books Don’t Sell Themselves.

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A Litmus Test for Mormon Literature?

Since I’ve been making a concerted effort to read more LDS/Mormon books and since I’ve started reviewing them and recommending them, I’ve realized something important: I have a litmus test for Mormon literature. I have one overarching criteria that defines all of my Mormon literary experiences–whether it’s a book, the scriptures, or a General Conference talk. Continue reading “A Litmus Test for Mormon Literature?”

News: Most New Titles Now POD

Publisher’s Weekly reported yesterday that most new titles produced each year are now produced using print-on-demand or short-run methods, according to industry service provider R. R. Bowker. During 2008, the number of new titles printed using traditional methods fell by 3%, to 275,232, while the number of new titles printed using print-on-demand or short-run methods rose by 132%, to 285,394. Overall, the number of new titles rose by 38%, to 560,626 titles.

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What About Agreka Books?

Add to the perennial question “What Makes a Book Mormon?” another: “What Makes a Publisher Mormon?” A look at Agreka Books, of Scottsdale, Arizona, may help us at least decide what is not a Mormon publisher.

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