You’re looking for a book


Two Sundays ago, a member of my ward engaged me on the old question of the Great Mormon Novel. We were interrupted before we could finish our conversation so I wrote him an email. (You’ll note references to that conversation in the first couple books mentioned.) But hey—why not send it to you all as well?

The main difference between the email and this post is that I’ve added Amazon links since I’ve already promised to lend my copies to someone else.

Looking for those links, Amazon suggested some other books I might have liked to add to this list. Yup, Amazon. You’re right. I missed a few.  You should all feel free to fill in the gaps down below.


Hello, J*****. Here are some books I can lend you.

My criteria were: Written by a Mormon. About Mormons. Very good. That was it.

First, Magdalene by Moriah Jovan. This is the sex book that takes its shape from the Atonement story. It’s part of a series of novels about a Mormon family that date back to the 1700s up to the present day. You don’t have to read one to understand another, but they do share nice resonances when read together. This is my favorite. And, if memory serves, it’s the only novel here with the bishopric meetings and disciplinary counsels you were asking for. (when I’ve written more about a book, I’ll link to that writing in case you decide you care to read more, like so: more)

The Giant Joshua by Maurine Whipple. This is the 1942 novel we talked about that had Mormon up in arms. The novel has the sort of nuance we talked about, but it was about polygamy at a time we really really did not want to talk about polygamy. Any talk about polygamy was too much talk about polygamy and needed to be shut down. Any book that can be this hated deserves a second look. (more)

Dorian by Nephi Anderson. This one’s even older than Whipple’s. Anderson was working hard to make Mormon art good art, but then he died. It’s almost that simple. Anyway, Dorian is his final novel and although I no longer consider it his best, it’s good. The first time I read it I had an experience similar to the first time I read Jane Austen. Bonus: I can give you a copy of this one, since I have like thirty copies (not an exaggeration.). In short, it’s about a Mormon kid from a small town who’s intellectually ambitious. The only educated man in town is theologically minded and has a plan to combine science and religion into one great whole. Meanwhile, there are two girls and a boy’s got to choose. (more)

The Backslider by Levi Peterson. This is the first novel I thought of when I was trying to come up with Great Mormon Novels that Jordan Might Like. In part, because Peterson is clearly following in the path of people from the Faulkner/Hemingway era and I seem to remember you being a fan of that era of American lit. This is the story of a cowboy with good moral intentions and plenty of moral failures. His groin does a bit too much of the decision-making here, but even more controversial is the theophany at the end of the novel. Which for my money is one of the most beautiful passages in Mormon lit. (more)

Love Letters of the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist. I love this book so much. One of the best books of any stripe I’ve read the last five years. I do think the final pages are a misstep, but they’re the only part of the novel Lynsey liked, so take that as you will. (I handed it to her saying she had to read it that this was a novel about us and—it didn’t take.) Anyway, if you read the title carefully, you’ll catch on to the novels central conceit way quicker than I did. This is the only novel listed here that’s about Mormons but in a way that only Mormons will be able to tell it’s about Mormons. But it’s unquestionably a portrait of a Mormon marriage and one that I find heartachingly beautiful. (moremoremore)

The Death of a Disco Dancer by David Clark. This poor book has the worst cover of the bunch, but it’s a terrific read. Its protagonist is a deacon in Arizona coming of age just as his senile grandmother moves in with the family to die. It’s funny and it’s potent. (more)

City of Brick and Shadow by Tim Wirkus. This is the only missionary story I’m including. mostly because I’ve kind of avoided it as a genre and kind of because the few others I’ve read aren’t that great. But I haven’t read the ones that are supposed to be best so … who knows. Anyway, this one is a missionary / mystery / noir / gangster / magical realism novel. Plus it takes some digs at multi-level marketing, but you’ll be spending most of your time in Brazilian slums, so bring soap. (more)

Bound on Earth by Angela Hallstrom. This I put last because it might not be a novel. It’s a short-story collection about a single family and they tie in well enough for me to consider it a novel, but I leave that as an exercise for the reader. Incidentally, the author also put together the most important / most broad recent collection of Mormon short fiction. (moremore)

Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Wives by Karen Rosenbaum. This is another collection that might be a novel but it’s a little further away from noveldom than the last one. But of course you should read it because you know Karen and because she is an amazing writer. I can give you a copy of this one too because I bought a copy and then she gave me one. I haven’t finished it yet, so it’s not officially on this list, but hey. Karen.

Byuck by Theric Jepson. I can give you a copy of this too. I have loads. (more, but not by me)

Rectifying by Review: my take on Moriah Jovan’s Magdalene

When Magdalene was nominated to be considered by the Whitney committee for the 2011 awards, Jennie Hansen, a well-known LDS reviewer and writer, posted a review on Goodreads that caused quite a stir in our little LDS writing community. Her review was short and to the point. She wrote:

“Disjointed, sloppy writing. Lacks real knowledge of Mormons and leadership in the Church. Too much vulgarity for vulgarities sake makes this story crude and amateurish.”  If you are interested, you may read and/or comment on this review here. Continue reading “Rectifying by Review: my take on Moriah Jovan’s Magdalene”

More on Magdalene.


Because of my connection to Moriah Jovan’s Magdalene (I edited it), I’ve been loathe to promote it on AMV (even if I did think it was the best Mormon fiction of 2011). But now that it’s been out over a year, I feel less worried about images of impropriety. And the book is again on my mind for a pair of reasons.


Reason 1: Continue reading “More on Magdalene.”

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.

Electronic Publishing: an interview with Moriah Jovan, part II

In Part I of my interview with Moriah Jovan, she provided overview of the electronic publishing market as it currently stands as well as some of the overall issues the e-books market is facing. Here in Part II, we get in to e-books in the Mormon market as well as a some advice for authors and publishers and some prognostication.

Every Sunday, I see both men and women using smartphones or PDAs to read scriptures and lesson manuals. The Church actually does a decent job of providing electronic versions of some of its materials. Do you think e-books could sell in the Mormon market? Why or why not? What types do you think would do best?

I think e-books can sell in the Mormon market as long as people are conditioned to expect products in E. Thing is, storefronts for LDS materials are so few and far between (especially east of the Rockies) that it’s not even a thought in most people’s heads. If your temple happens to have a bookstore nearby, yay, but the pickings might be slim. I live 4.5 hours away from the Nauvoo temple, and invariably get most of my materials there. (I must admit that we have a new bookstore here in KC [not very far from where I live], but I haven’t been there yet. I’m annoyed that they spam email me and there’s only ONE way they could’ve gotten my email address. It’s been a deliberate choice not to go there for that reason.) Continue reading “Electronic Publishing: an interview with Moriah Jovan, part II”

Electronic Publishing: an interview with Moriah Jovan, part I

AMV has already touched on electronic publishing in Theric’s post Those LDS Ladies of Indie Publishing and other comments here and there. Today, I bring back Moriah Jovan, one of “them LDS Ladies,” for a more in depth look at e-publishing. In Part I, MoJo provides an overview of the field plus an in-depth look at some of the e-publishing publishers and storefronts that are committing to the format. In Part II, we’ll take a closer look at the LDS market and some other issues.

BTW: the links below are to provide specific examples of e-publishing endeavors (which are very important at this early stage in the field’s development and a major part of why I approached MoJo with this interview request).  They do not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the editorial choices of the various publishers and booksellers.

Could you provide a brief overview of some of the key issues with electronic publishing with some links for people who want to do further reading?

Key issues:

1. Formats. Too many, with too many variables for too many devices, and no *real* universal format. EPUB is getting there, but I think PDB (eReader) is going to become a serious contender.

2. Devices: One-purpose device versus multipurpose device. Most people want one device to do it all. There are plenty of technopundits who disagree with me, but what’s attractive about lugging around a bunch of devices if your iPhone can do it all? Continue reading “Electronic Publishing: an interview with Moriah Jovan, part I”

Those LDS Ladies of Indie Publishing


Zoe Murdock owns, with her husband, H.O.T. Press, which for years published tech manuals. When she decided to write fiction–the semi-autobiographical novel Torn by God: A Family’s Struggle with Polygamy–she just went ahead and published it herself. (personal website, twitter)

Moriah Jovan started B10 Mediaworx to publish her novel The Proviso. The novel is the first in a six-part series. The second volume, Stay, will be released around Thanksgiving. (blog, novels website, twitter)

Riley Noehren is the author of Gravity vs. the Girl. And, yes, she published it herself under the name Forty-Ninth Street Publishers. (blog, twitter)

Table of contents

On the seemingly larger number of LDS women than LDS men in indie publishing
The future roles of traditional publishers vs indie publishers and traditional distribution vs e-distribution
How to get folks to your site
On editing for publication
On paying the bills
On selling out
What we can expect from them in the future
Back to work

On the seemingly larger number of LDS women than LDS men in indie publishing
The future roles of traditional/indie publishers and traditional/e distribution
How to get folks to your site
On editing for publication
On paying the bills
On selling out
What we can expect from them in the future
Back to work

Now let’s start by letting them introduce themselves: Continue reading “Those LDS Ladies of Indie Publishing”