helping authors give birth to Mormon books
In Nauvoo, women like Ann Carling, Vienna Jacques, and Patty Bartlett Sessions were called to an important work: serving as midwives for the Latter-day Saints gathering from different backgrounds to build new communities and a new identity together. As the Saints crossed the Plains and settled in the West, midwives and others cared for the needs of Zion’s mothers and regularly met in council to discuss women’s and maternal health. Though many converts had left networks of family and community to settle among the Saints, pioneer women were not alone in the work of giving birth.
At the Mormon Lit Lab, we take inspiration from our forebears in the faith. Though a book hardly has the same value as a baby, we recognize that opportunities for support and counsel and ease any creative process. Over the years, we’ve created opportunities for dozens writers to create short work that reflects their identity as Latter-day Saints or plays with Mormon themes and heritage in some way through the Mormon Lit Blitz contest. We’ve connected contest finalists with thousands of readers, who have seen new possibilities for Mormon literature in their work. As the next step in our group’s work as literary midwives, we are launching a new program to support past Mormon Lit Blitz finalists who want to develop a book.
About the Mentoring Program
Applying to the Program
We are currently closed to new mentorship projects. Sign up for our newsletter to receive notification when we are accepting new applications.
Only past finalists from a contest sponsored by the Mormon Lit Lab are eligible to apply. Book proposals should consist of brief responses to the following four prompts:
Tell us about the book you’d like to write.
What does this book offer to Latter-day Saint readers or others interested in Mormon ideas, imagery, and experience?
What parts of the writing, publication, or promotion process are you most interested in getting help with?
What is your anticipated timeline for completing the manuscript?
If they have already started a manuscript, writers may also attach a sample.
Our literary midwife program consists of three main elements:
Goal Setting: Each accepted writer will attend a group orientation and get a one-on-one follow up planning session with an experienced Mormon Lit Lab advisor, culminating in approval of a process and budget plan.
Financial Support: We will match writers with a sponsor or sponsors who provide a small budget, typically up to $1000, to cover costs associated with the book’s production and promotion. Grants will be dispersed in stages, according to the pre-approved plan.
On-going Education: We will hold a series of online council meetings to provide guidance on different elements of writing, publishing, and promotion. Attendance at each will be optional, based on writers’ plan and sense of their own needs.
Writers interested in publishing under the Mormon Lit Lab brand will have that option at the end of the development process. Publishing with us is not, however, a requirement. Writers who are accepted into a given year’s development class retain all rights to their work and are free to submit their book to other publishers. Our interest is helping books come into being.
Support our program
Even a small budget can help make someone’s dream project a reality.
To help bring these new titles into the world, make a tax-deductible one-time or monthly donation to the Mormon Lit Lab today. Whether you are able to contribute $20 or $100, any and every contribution will make a real difference.
Current Mentored Projects - Prose
Mid-Century Murder is the first novel in a mystery series featuring Annette Van Doren, a 54-year-old recently widowed Latter-day Saint. Through Annette’s employment at a business specializing in historic real estate, each mystery will involve different houses and architectural styles. At the same time, the book will explore how a Mormon woman redefines herself after years when her energy was far more focused on family needs.
Target draft completion date: Fall 2021
Luisa’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:
short story collection
César Fortes has been the most popular Portuguese-language writer in the Mormon Lit Blitz. He is working on a collection of autobiographical short stories featuring Mormon experience in his family and ward in Cape Verde. These slice-of-life stories, at turns humorous and poignant, give a strong sense of place and community while raising important spiritual and social questions.
The book is in proofreads stage with Sitio do Livro (a press in Portugal).
César’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:
The Courtship of Elder Cannon
The Courtship of Elder Cannon is a short literary novel about a recently widowed member of the Seventy and a U of U literature professor who are set up on a blind date in 2009 in the wake of scrutiny over the Church’s involvement in California’s Proposition 8. Told through conversations, journal entries, talks, emails, scriptural commentaries, and so on, the novel explores how Mormon conceptions of grief, eternal marriage, and personal revelation impact Elder Cannon’s relationships with the woman he courts, his family, her family, and his identity as a husband, father, and church leader.
William's first draft is complete and awaiting feedback from a trusted reader before a final revision prep it for publication, which will hopefully take place in 2024.
William also was able to use a portion of his grant from the Mormon Lit Lab to acquire software that helps with print and ebook layouts and used it to put an print edition of his first story collection Dark Watch and other Mormon American Stories. In addition, he's written a novella that's a companion or cousin piece to The Courtship of Elder Cannon, and is on track to publish it in late fall/early winter 2023. It's about a female Mormon academic whose initial tenure application at the University of Wisconsin, Madison was denied and her tenure clock reset for another two years and what happens a few months later when she flies out to Utah to give a presentation at BYU on the faith, landscape, and domesticity in the novels of Marilynne Robinson.
William’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:
El periplo de Melitón González Trejo
El periplo de Melitón González Trejo [The Quest of Melitón González Trejo] is a historical novel steeped in magical realism. Based on the life of the primary translator of the Book of Mormon into Spanish, it recounts his travels from Spain to the Philippines to Utah to Mexico during the second half of the 19th century. As an immigrant and translator himself, the author will explore the sense of gain and loss that comes with immigration and crossing boundaries.
This manuscript is in progress!
Gabriel’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:
Current Mentored Projects - Poetry
Marianne Hales Harding,
Halfway to Heaven: Poems Crafted in Utah’s Wild Places
Halfway to Heaven: Poems Crafted in Utah’s Wild Places is a poetic trail guide. Written on hikes in Utah and linked to specific trails, the work lends itself to being read in the space where it was written. Framed by her grandfather’s work as a landscape photographer of Utah’s Grand Circle of National Parks, this book is a tribute to the land and an exploration of how the land has mixed into Mormon consciousness and seeped into our sense of self.
This manuscript is complete and in search of a publisher!
Marianne’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:
How does our view of God relate to our views of money? In a collection of poems about money and religion, Jared Forsyth explores individual attitudes and shared financial structures, looking at both our shortcomings and the possibilities we have to exercise discipleship in our own finances and in our society.
Target draft completion date: Spring 2022
Jared’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:
Hemingway in Paradise and Other Mormon Poems
Scott Hales’ Hemingway in Paradise and Other Mormon Poems is a poetry collection about lives and afterlives. Exhibiting the same wry humor and unique Mormon perspective that made his The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl a beloved webcomic, Hales invites readers to join him at the crossroads of fact and fantasy, memory and invention, and life and death. Hemingway in Paradise is a deep dive into a Latter-day Saint imagination, moving freely from playful engagements with Church history and doctrine to poignant meditations on the everyday incidents and occurrences of Mormon experience.
Scott’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces:
Selina Forsyth is currently pursuing a PhD in social work. She’s interviewing Latter-day Saint social workers and writing a collection that mixes nonfiction with poetry to explore the principles in Matthew 25:31-46. What insights can social workers give us into Christ’s call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoner?
Target draft completion date: End of 2022
Selina’s Mormon Lit Blitz pieces: