Saturday, June 10, 2017

"Forty Years" by Jeanna Mason Stay

The last piece in this this year's Lit Blitz is Jeanna Mason Stay's "Forty Years."

What do you think?

Friday, June 9, 2017

"Daughters of Ishmael" Discussion

Today's piece is Annaliese Lemmon's "Daughters of Ishmael."

Scriptures tell us very little about these characters. What do we gain by imagining them in fiction?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

"Walking Among the Legend People" Discussion

Day 10 of this year's Lit Blitz is Marianne Hales Harding's "Walking Among the Legend People."

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"Valley 176th Ward" Discussion

Today's short story is "Valley 176th Ward" by Eliza Porter. 

Mormon satire can be tough to pull off in a way that's effective for a faithful audience. Since there are plenty of people who criticize Mormonism as a whole, some readers may react defensively to pieces that take a position of critique. 

At the same time, of course, Mormonism has a long tradition of encouraging self-reflection, from the scriptural warnings against saying "all is well in Zion" to the Council of Fifty obligation to share concerns and objections about a plan before a vote took place to more current concerns with separating truth from cultural habit. 

How does "Valley 176th Ward" work for you as a piece of satire? Do you have general thoughts on what can help Mormon satire succeed? 

We'd welcome thoughts on these questions as well as other reactions to the piece. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"There Wrestled a Man in Parowan" Discussion

Day 8 is Wm Morris's "There Wrestled a Man in Parowan."

What do you think of the story?

Are there other stories that share enough with this one to share a genre--what are they and what would you call it?

Monday, June 5, 2017

"Worthy World" Discussion

Day 7 of this year's Lit Blitz is "Worth World" by Tanya Hanamaikai.

What did you think?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

"On the Death of a Child" Discussion

Day 6 of this year's Mormon Lit Blitz is Merrijane Rice's poem "On the Death of a Child."

Craft question:
People tend to read poetry more carefully than other forms. Even live, people listen for the nuances of a poem in a way they don't tend to strain for detail in a fiction or essay reading. One way to use poetry, then, is to compress meaning: to evoke a lot of different memories and associations with a single phrase or line.
How does Merrijane do that?

Content questions:
What do you with pain that comes and sits on your chest and stays?
How do you help and stand by someone who is dealing with a major source of pain?

Friday, June 2, 2017

"Spurious Revelations" Discussion

Day 5 is Niklas Hietala's "Spurious Revelations."

This one dives deep into semi-obscure Mormon history and mythos and weaves it together with Western history. It's the kind of piece you're only going to find in a place like the Mormon Lit Blitz.

What do you think of it? And what might the existence of stories like this do for Mormon culture more broadly?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

"Pride" Discussion

Today's Lit Blitz story is Hillary Stirling's "Pride."

There's a lot going on in the piece. We've got an emotional see-saw between two sisters who know how to hurt each other. There's the use of sexting as a plot point, which fits into a tradition of fiction explicitly wrestling with current issues. And there's an ongoing moral/spiritual dialogue between the protagonist and God.

What for you, is the piece most about? And how do the different elements work together to serve a whole?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Germination" Discussion

Day 3 is Sarah Dunster's poem "Germination."

On our podcast discussion of the Lit Blitz yesterday, Nicole and I talked about how we define the "Mormon" in Mormon Lit Blitz. While many pieces have Mormon characters or imagery, like the first two days of this year's Lit Blitz have, we actually think of the "Mormon" label for our contest as defining audience: we want pieces that speak to us in some way as Mormons, that are richer in the reading with a Mormon context.

"Germination" is an example of a finalist without overt Mormon characters or imagery.

Does it speak to us as Mormons in some unique, richer way? Or is it just a great poem that would mean as much to anybody?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"Sonata in Three Movements" Discussion

Day 2 of this year's Mormon Lit Blitz is Jeanine Bee's "Sonata in Three Movements."

It's a cool study in form and content: a piece about music where the language has a musical feel.

What do you think of it in general?

What do you think of it as Mormon Lit?

Monday, May 29, 2017

"Celestial Accounting" Discussion

Katherine Cowley's "Celestial Accounting" is up on the Mormon Lit Blitz site. Take a look!

Then come back here if you'd like to discuss the piece.

A few questions:

-What is the value of statistical data on earth? In heaven?

-What do you make of the depiction of angels with email accounts?

-How many sacrifices do you think are made in your ward? Does a per capita average 1.7 major, 15.5 mid-level, and 200 minor sacrifices sound about right to you?

Look forward to your thoughts on the piece and/or any of the above questions.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

James's Crappy Podcast

Since September, I've started nine blog posts and finished none. 

I had thought that being out of chemotherapy, I would get more blogging done, but it appears I underestimated how much more work a full-time writing job would be in the months after treatment than it was before. Hopefully things will get better and the day will come when I can again write in the office, work on side projects, and fire off the occasional blog post. I've decided, though, to work based on where I am rather than where I want to be or used to be. (And by "decided" I mean that I try to decide this every day, with weekly encouragement from my counselor.)

So I started a crappy podcast

The main advantage of the podcast is that it's hard not to finish an episode. Nicole and I jot down a few notes about what we'd like to cover, press the record button, and stop around the 15 minute mark. I have made a firm commitment to myself not to edit. 

In the first episode, we introduced the podcast and talked about three stages many struggles might be divided into. 

In the second episode, I wanted to share some ideas I've been kicking around about collective guilt and the notion of institutional repentance. But it turned out we had a lot to say, so the guilt piece turned into three episodes. 

I'm planning to do future episodes on TV shows Nicole and I have binge-watched, on 19th century dime novels with Mormon characters, and on what it was like to teach Sunday school together with Nicole for two and a half years. I'm also planning to do an episode with my sister about overlap between my training in creative writing and hers in industrial design. 

For those who enjoy the podcast (if any)...any suggestions for other topics you might want to hear about? 


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