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The splitting of the blog

As a heads up, in the near future I’m going to be splitting this blog into several. The main reason is that the audiences for the things I want to blog about often have very little overlap, and the ever-present sense of alienating segments of my readers weighs heavy on me and makes me not blog much at all.

Right now, I believe these will be the different blogs (and no consolidated feed in the works at this point):

  • Coding/web/technology (Python, Vim, etc.)
  • Mormon stuff
  • Reading/writing/books (sf&f, history, science, etc.)
  • Design/publishing/typesetting
  • Art
  • Miscellaneous (personal, etc.)

I’ll be writing a new blog engine (in Django) to run this, mostly for fun, and also to fit my workflow better. (This blog is currently on WordPress.)

Also, I’ll be pruning old posts, deleting anything that doesn’t accurately represent me now. Anything that makes me cringe, if we’re being honest.

Expectation is for this all to happen sometime in February. Blog engines aren’t very hard to write (this’ll be my third or fourth), but going through 2,600 posts will take some time.

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Mormon Artist podcast

Back in October we started our Mormon Artist podcast, releasing new episodes every two weeks on Tuesdays. You can subscribe on iTunes or via the RSS feed. So far we’ve interviewed Melissa Leilani Larson, Scott Jarvie, and Blair Treu. (I should add that my involvement is limited to putting the episodes on the web; Katherine Morris does all the interviewing and audio editing.)

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Mormon Texts Project’s new home

I’m happy to announce that the Mormon Texts Project lives on, now under the care of Tom Nysetvold. They’ve already posted a couple new Mormon ebooks to Project Gutenberg, too. I wish them the best.

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Shutting down Mormon Texts Project

I know it was just a month ago that I was getting MTP going again, but I’ve found that I can’t run both Mormon Artist and Mormon Texts Project at the same time. (Which should be no big surprise, since MTP’s death rattle has been shaking for over a year now.)

So, no more MTP books. I’m sorry. If someone wants to take over the project, I’d love that, and I’m more than happy to pass on what I’ve learned and help get other people going with something like this.

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Update on Mormon Texts Project

So … I’ve been very much a slacker in this department. In spite of my negligence, though, there still seems to be interest in these books, so I’m planning to get things going again.

Where I left off

Voz de Amonestacion (the Spanish translation of Parley P. Pratt’s A Voice of Warning) is proofed and I have it formatted in EPUB. All it needs is a final spellcheck, actually. But I’ve been putting it off and putting it off because I don’t know enough Spanish to do it well. But maybe I’ll just release it as a pre-release “alpha” edition and let readers send in typo fixes… (The thing with that, though, is that nobody ever actually sends in typo fixes. And then the book remains full of typos.)

I also need to finish formatting John Taylor’s The Government of God. There’s still a lot of proofing left to be done on Daniel W. Jones’s Forty Years Among the Indians. And in the EPUB/Kindle conversion backlog there are three books left: A Voice of Warning, Succession in the Presidency, and A Rational Theology.

Going forward

Before, I somewhat arbitrarily chose the books we published, but this time round I’d like to focus more on reader demand.

To that end, here’s a list of books I’ve thought about doing for MTP. If you have a preference, leave a comment listing the books you’d most like to see us do. Write-ins are welcome as always. (And sheesh, when did I turn into a total pollster? Positively shameful.) In alphabetical order:

  • A New Witness for God, by B. H. Roberts, published 1895
  • A Series of Pamphlets on Doctrines of the Gospel, by Orson Pratt, published 1884
  • Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, by Eliza R. Snow, published 1884
  • Cowley’s Talks on Doctrine, by Matthias F. Cowley, published 1902
  • Late Persecutions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: With a Sketch of Their Rise, Progress and Doctrine, by Parley P. Pratt, published 1840
  • Leaves from My Journal, by Wilford Woodruff, published 1882
  • Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, by B. H. Roberts, published 1893
  • Popular History of Utah, by Orson F. Whitney, published 1916
  • Prophecies of Joseph Smith and Their Fulfillment, by Nephi Lowell Morris, published 1920
  • Saturday Night Thoughts, by Orson F. Whitney, published 1921
  • The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, by Parley P. Pratt (go figure), published 1874
  • The Bible and Polygamy, by Orson Pratt, published 1892
  • The Blood of the Prophets: Biographical Sketches, by Matthias F. Cowley, published 1902
  • The Gospel: An Exposition of Its First Principles, by B. H. Roberts, published 1888
  • The House of the Lord: A Study of Holy Sanctuaries, Ancient and Modern, by James E. Talmage, published 1912
  • The Latter-day Prophet: History of Joseph Smith Written for Young People, by George Q. Cannon, published 1900
  • The Life of John Taylor, by B. H. Roberts, published 1892
  • The Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, by George Q. Cannon, published 1888
  • The Missouri Persecutions, by B. H. Roberts, published 1900
  • The Mormon Battalion, by B. H. Roberts, published 1919
  • The Mormon Doctrine of Deity, by B. H. Roberts, published 1903
  • The Philosophy of Mormonism, by James E. Talmage, published 1914
  • The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo, by B. H. Roberts, published 1900
  • The Vitality of Mormonism, by James E. Talmage, published 1919
  • The Strength of the “Mormon” Position, by Orson F. Whitney, published 1917
  • Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life, by Matthias F. Cowley, published 1909
  • Women of Mormondom, by Edward Tullidge, published 1877

For write-ins: as you can probably tell from that list, I’m mostly interested in doing historical and doctrinal books, not so much fiction and poetry (at least right now). Books needs to published before 1923 so they’re out of copyright. And this may go without saying, but I’m not interested in doing anti-Mormon books.

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Mormon Artist is back

After several months in the making, I can finally announce that, like a phoenix, Mormon Artist is back (albeit with some changes). The blog post has more details.


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Hello, 2002

Something rather bizarre happened today. But first some backstory:

My site used to be called Blank Slate, and it lived at blankslate.net. In 2008 I consolidated it and my other blogs into bencrowder.net, which is where I’ve been since then. I maintained the old blankslate.net domain for a while, with a redirect pointing to bencrowder.net, but several months ago I decided to let the domain go. And I did.

Fast forward to today. I was thinking about my old sites and figured I’d see what now lives at blankslate.net. Imagine my surprise when I pulled it open in my browser and saw this:

What the heck? If someone bought the domain (and according to Whois it belongs to a Grygorii Naumov in the Ukraine who runs siteforge.biz), you’d expect either a squatter page or something else entirely, right? Not my own site.

And not just that — it’s not the last incarnation of Blank Slate (which you might expect if this is some crazy four-year-old caching issue). No, it’s the page from when I was on my mission. Ten years ago exactly. (Well, from summer 2002 to summer 2004.) Here’s what my site looked like right before I left for Thailand:

So it’s the same (minus some textual changes once I actually left on my mission), except the current site doesn’t have any images, and all of the links just go to stub pages.

I emailed Grygorii to see if he can shed any light on the matter. I have no idea why someone would buy a domain, go to the Wayback Machine (presumably) and copy the site’s home page from ten years ago. Seems almost more likely that some kind of portal in spacetime just opened up and it’s connected to 2002, depositing artifacts from that year into 2012. Or maybe Grygorii himself lives in 2002 and this is like The Lake House or something. (Shudder.) I asked Grygorii what year it is where he is, and who won the World Series.

I’ll update this post when I either figure out what happened or make contact with my 2002 self. Hopefully the universe doesn’t explode.

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Status update

Not much has happened with the Mormon Texts Project in the last couple months, mostly because of my tendinitis. The tendinitis hasn’t gotten worse (thankfully), but it hasn’t gone away, either, so I’ll have to be careful going forward (writing scripts instead of doing things manually, etc.). I don’t think I’ll have to stop making ebooks, though.

Anyway, MTP is not dead. But we do have some minor changes happening.

We originally started out making plain text Project Gutenberg editions of these books. Then, in March 2011, we added EPUB, Kindle, and web editions to the lineup. (We’re still working on converting our backlog over, by the way. The EPUB of Life of Heber C. Kimball is done and I’m not too far from finishing up the Kindle edition.)

Starting today, however, we’re now focusing solely on EPUB, Kindle, and web. No more Project Gutenberg.

Why? Time, mainly. I don’t have unlimited free time, and the more formats we produce, the fewer books we make. I’d rather focus on EPUB/Kindle/web (which are all based on HTML/CSS) and get more books out there — besides, anyone is more than welcome to take the source files to our books, turn them into plain text (which is easy since we use Markdown as our base format), and submit them to Project Gutenberg. And I hope people do.

As far as specific books go, we’re getting close to completing the initial proofs for William Clayton’s Journal, Emmeline B. Wells’ Hephzibah, George Q. Cannon’s My First Mission, and Parley P. Pratt’s Voz de Amonestacion (the Spanish translation of A Voice of Warning). And I’m slowly finalizing Essentials in Church History, which is one big book (so it’s taking a while).

Tangentially to MTP, I’m also reformatting the Journal of Discourses EPUB/Kindle editions, because I’ve learned a lot about styling ebooks since I first released them. (The newly formatted versions of volumes 1–9 are already available, by the way.) And I’m finally going through the JD word by word, proofing against the original page images and fixing all the typos, which are legion (I got the text from Wikisource and apparently they didn’t check it very carefully). It will probably take a year or so to finish proofing, since there are around ten thousand pages to go through.

Oh, one last thing: I’ve added a section on the MTP page linking to other sources for free LDS books online. If you know of any that aren’t listed there, let me know.

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Mormon Artist Issue 16

Issue 16 of Mormon Artist is now up. This issue features interviews with Tessa Meyer Santiago, Marilyn Bushman-Carlton, Megan Rieker, Elisabeth Bell, Leslie Graff, Sara Webb, and Marilyn McPhie.

And so it ends. (My involvement, anyway.) As you’ll see in the editors’ notes, Katherine Morris is now editor-in-chief and publisher of the magazine, effective immediately. Over the next couple weeks I’ll be migrating the website to her server and handing over the other keys of the kingdom, and she’ll be getting the first few episodes of the new podcast out soon. And it’ll be good.

Three years. Whew.

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Update on Mormon Artist

Remember how I was going to shut down Mormon Artist? I’m still stepping down, but I recently decided to pass the name/domain on after all. Katherine Morris (my literature editor) will be taking the reins after we publish Issue 16. She’ll be doing things somewhat differently — I’ll let her explain that when the time comes — but the brand will live on.

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