Creative Writing


July 13, 2007 | 36 comments

All winter I plotted how to improve the garden, my first focal point for exercising “good stewardship” over the acre plus we moved to a year and a half ago. Last year’s garden had gone all right. I loved every minute in it, especially the time spent with animals, like Woodhouses’ toads and cliff swallows, which helped keep the garden in good order. But I got a late start and the harvest fell short. This year, I pushed to start my tomatoes on time along with other herbs and veggies that don’t mind sprouting indoors. I schemed how to... Read more »

MWS: Brandon Sanderson

June 11, 2007 | 12 comments

Brandon Sanderson is the Campbell-nominated author (twice-nominated now) of the fantasy novels Elantris and Mistborn: The Final Empire. His novel Well of Ascension, second in the Mistborn trilogy, will be published in a few months. Other projects (including the playfully titled Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians) are on the horizon. Brandon also recently released another full novel in draft form, Warbreaker, which is available for free at his website. He blogs at and posts frequently on the message board at The Official Time-Waster’s Guide. Brandon graciously agreed to be interviewed, as part of our ongoing Mormon Writers Symposium.... Read more »

MWS: Shannon Hale

May 29, 2007 | 10 comments

Shannon Hale is a Newbery Honor-winning, New York Times bestseller-listed author of youth and fantasy fiction, most particularly Goose Girl and Princess Academy. This week sees the release of her latest novel Austenland, her first adult fiction novel. She is a returned missionary and lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and two under-three-years-old children. Read more »

MWS: Doug Thayer

May 23, 2007 | 15 comments

Douglas Thayer is one of the pioneers of what Eugene England called “faithful realism” in his definitive study of Mormon literature. Besides having taught literally thousands of Mormon writers during his fifty years as a professor of English at Brigham Young University, his short story collections Under the Cottonwoods and Mr. Wahlquist in Yellowstone have become a template for those writing about the interior life of Mormons today. He has also published the novels Summer Fire and The Conversion of Jeff Williams. Read more »

A Mormon Writers Symposium

May 22, 2007 | 18 comments

Thirty years ago this summer, President Spencer W. Kimball gave us his “Gospel Vision of the Arts”: Read more »

Black Comedy

March 20, 2006 | 44 comments

So maybe I missed something, but I’m pretty sure that one genre the Saints haven’t touched is black comedy. I’m not much of a narrative writer, though, so think of the following as sitting on little scraps of paper on a rickety table in my front yard with a hand-lettered cardboard sign next to them reading ‘Free to a Good Home.’ Read more »

Why Jesus Will Not Save You: A Short Spiritual Autobiography

December 20, 2005 | 68 comments

When I look at my life and pick out its most significant spiritual events, one that stands out is a night when, unbidden and unexpected, God told me that he was angry because I was reading the New Testament. Read more »

The Church’s Secret Plot to Undermine the Book of Mormon — EXPOSED!

December 5, 2005 | 26 comments

Apparently some BYU Professor has published an article suggesting that the World Trade Center was brought down by explosive devices, presumably planted by some outside entity, perhaps even by >hushed whisper fraught with unstated menace< the government >/hushed whisper fraught with unstated menace< . John Fowles has posted about it here and Clark Goble followed it up here. As a connoisseur of out-of-control threads, I’d have to give the ensuing discussion at least a B, probably even a B+. Read more »


March 21, 2005 | 110 comments

There is a student on the Georgetown campus that makes me uneasy. He has glasses, a bushy beard, heavy features, long brown hair knotted in dreadlocks. I see him often, and he always seems to be wearing the same thing: a camouflage jacket, brown trousers, and a heavy backpack full, I’m convinced, of books on anarchy. Read more »

In the Cultural Hall

January 14, 2005 | 36 comments

The danger in telling people you write a little bit is that they then assume you can. Last week a friend from my ward called and asked me to write the libretto for a musical show she has been called to coordinate for the stake; a few of the creative decisions had already been made, she told me, but she needed me to write lyrics and a narrative frame for the story. The show is meant to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of our stake, headquartered at the Butler Hill meetinghouse; the stake presidency had designated a “Sound of Music”... Read more »

Very Serious Reflections on the occasion of our first anniversary.

November 19, 2004 | 19 comments

Times and Seasons has turned the searching glare of its inquiry onto itself. We don’t know exactly the question that was asked, but whether the answers are self-parody or just self-indulgence is up to you. Enjoy. Read more »

Some Criticisms of Missionary Art.

September 30, 2004 | 23 comments

I love the Ensign art shows. They are in themselves a kind of art, greater, as the saying goes, than the sum of their parts. I do not love the missionary art show in the October 2004 Ensign. Read more »

Mormon Creative Outlets

September 15, 2004 | 11 comments

I was just thinking that I keep stumbling across LDS creative outlets, and that it might be useful to put a list of these in one place. Here are a few that I’m aware of; please let me know, by comments, of any others that I’m missing and they’ll be added to the list: The church music contest. The screenwriting and movie making contest at LDS Box. Irreantum contest (possibly not continuing). AML unpublished novel contest. Meridian, I’m told, may accept submissions if you ask nicely and have something to say. Deseret Book for music, novels, etc (though perhaps... Read more »

How Mike Fink gets Remanded

August 19, 2004 | 7 comments

Orson Scott Card has Mike Fink and Joseph “Alvin Maker” Smith scrap. I have my friend who loves the old river boatmen and their boasts and Joseph Smith and his. I work in a judge’s chambers with a fine view of the river. And, as Nate O. can tell you, life as a law clerk is just like life on the old Mississippi. Hence this, this, this . . . you decide. How will you feel when you’re poling down the river, the Willamette as it may be, and you foul a boatmen’s poles, and he says, I am... Read more »

Newly-Discovered Tablet Sheds Light on Pre-Existence

June 23, 2004 | 12 comments

Look, my proto-Semitic is a little rusty, but since I found the facsimile online and the real scholars are busy, I thought I’d take a stab at it. It cuts off in the middle, but before that is an interesting little dialogue with some compelling parallels to the doctrine and practices of the Restoration. Someone told me that FARMS is planning a special issue on it in a few months. Read more »

A Plat for the City of Zion

May 6, 2004 | 19 comments

Some works of art are created, and some grow organically from the works of many hands. (For application to LDS art, see here and here). Among these latter, Paul Johnson singles out the modern skyline. The skyscraper city is a creation, certainly, and most beautiful and most recognizable in its fantastic edge against the sky. Skylines have, by slow and unplanned accretions, become signatures. They have also become beautiful. Not only that, but skylines speak to the ethos of the capitalism that created them. Each skyscraper attempts to outdo the others and set itself apart. In so doing, the... Read more »

With precious things build a House

May 4, 2004 | 4 comments

Come ye, with all your gold, and your silver, and your precious stones, and with all your antiquities; and with all who have knowledge of antiquities, that will come, may come, and bring the box-tree, and the fir-tree, and the pine-tree, together with all the precious trees of the earth; And with iron, with copper, and with brass, and with zinc, and with all your precious things of the earth; and build a house . . . I’ve been thinking about the real place that art can have in Mormon life. Yesterday I talked about how Church art shows... Read more »

An Open Letter to the Blue Planner

May 3, 2004 | 9 comments

Dear Blue Planner, So it has finally happened. You’ve gone the way of Mr. Brown and projection films. I suppose I knew that someday you’d be gone, but I’d hoped against hope that you were somehow less transient than other proselyting aids that have fallen by the wayside. To me, you were nothing less than the platonic ideal of Planner. Read more »

A Few Thoughts on LDS Art

May 3, 2004 | 9 comments

A few thoughts on LDS art, in which a wide-thrown net is gradually drawn tighter: I’ve been reading through Paul Johnson’s new art history. He keeps theorizing to a minimum for a better focus on sculptors and sculpture, painters and painting, in short, on art, but he does allow himself a few necessary asides. One such aside is on the question that has launched a thousand books–why did Classical Greece and Renaissance Italy produce such a high flowering of art and culture? He points out that both Greece and Italy were city-state cultures, marked by trade, turbulent politics, and... Read more »

Q: Do you know LDS artists Greg and Linda Christensen?

March 16, 2004 | 3 comments

We missed a fireside the other evening (ahh, the new joys of a screaming baby) given by “well known LDS artists Greg and Linda Christensen,” who apparently created art for the Manhattan Temple. I’ve poked around online, but I couldn’t find any information about them. Does anyone know of info, images, or work they’ve done? Read more »

Did Somebody Say Gay? Gay Mormon Art Stolen from SLC Exhibit

March 13, 2004 | 32 comments
Did Somebody Say Gay? Gay Mormon Art Stolen from SLC Exhibit

An annual exhibition of gay pride-related artwork opened at Salt Lake Community College, and artist Don Farmer’s photos of two RM’s hooking up while wearing their missionary tags became the immediate center of attention. First came shouting matches at the opening, protesters trying to remove the photographs, police being called, and administrators relocating the show from the lobby to a classroom. Then, two days later, the photos turned up missing, stolen. The SLTrib reporter lazily kicks off her article with, “But is it art?” Unequivocally, yes, it is. Is it good or not? Doesn’t matter now; it’s certainly effective. Read more »

A Poesy on the Borders of Poetry

February 24, 2004 | 3 comments

A Poesy on the Borders of Poetry for a Year on the Verge of Spring: Spring has started to crack through here in Indiana. The sun’s come through the clouds, the snow melts, and we can see patches of green grass that have survived the winter. In honor of spring, I give you a poem I wrote a few years back, inspired by a spiritual moment I had while hacking and cursing the dandelions. As you will see, hack is the mot juste. Read more »


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