Monday, January 23, 2006

Book Projects Update

I'm currently working on five book projects at once, three of them under contract:

1) Dearest to my heart is my novel project. It's basically an LDS missionary version of "Brokeback Mountain"--just kidding. It's about a Mormon woman in Boston who meets a man on the subway, converts him, and marries him. But the real story is how some of his past relationships creep into this Mormon woman's life. I just had a blast writing a Wiccan coven scene that the Mormon woman attends (my source was "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft"). I am literally within 1-2 weeks of finishing up a very solid 100,000+-word draft--by solid, I mean that I worked over each little section several times before moving on, so when I go back and read it all, I'm hoping it will hold together much better than a mere first draft. I've been working on it off and on for over five years, and I've been spending 6-10 hours a week on it consistently over the past year. I hope to get it to my agent soon after "Big Love" debuts on HBO, with which it overlaps somewhat in theme. (I've been wondering if Brady Udall is done yet with his novel about a modern polygamist family.)

2) My next most exciting project is "The Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer," a best-of-the-Sugar-Beet collection of satirical Mormon news under contract with a small San Francisco publisher. It's taking some work to categorize the pieces and prepare them, but we're shooting for an October general conference release. This project causes endorphins to release in my system whenever I think about it or work on it, almost as much so as the novel.

3) Holly Welker and I are gathering missionary memoirs so we can propose a collection to a national publisher. We're still a few months away from getting our proposal together, but our agent is excited to show it, and I think it could be a cool project, if we can find enough good writing.

4) I collected and re-edited all the interviews with Mormon authors I did while editing Irreantum (about 25 of them, ranging from Anita Stansfield to Neil LaBute), and Kent Larsen accepted the manuscript to be published by his Mormon Arts & Letters imprint. However, I haven’t heard from him in several months.

5) I'm under contract with an England publisher to write text and gather images for a large, beautiful timeline of Mormon history, from Jaredites to the 20th century. Purchase orders are currently being finalized at Deseret and Costco, and if all goes well it should be out near the end of this year. So far, this is the only one of the five projects that will pay anything worthwhile...

Anyway, that's what I'm currently working on, a little bit at a time each day on whichever of the five projects needs the most urgent attention, either because of a deadline or because I've been thinking about it the most. I think having worked on the Mormonism For Dummies book is helping open some doors for me. Yes, it's just a reference book in an established series and has sold only a little over 6,000 copies in its first eight months, but I know it's helped increase people's confidence in me as an author on all the other projects. Whether or not any or all of these five projects reach their intended destination, it's really a nice feeling to keep the pipeline full.

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