The Molehill: What Did You Think?

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One of the projects I was most excited about last year was The Molehill Vol.1. Putting it together was exciting and challenging and, in the end, hugely rewarding. I’m proud of it and I hope readers have enjoyed it.

We’re now beginning the process of putting together The Molehill Vol.2, and I thought it might be fun to collect some feedback that could potentially give us some guidance. So I’m turning to you: the readership. What did you like about Vol.1? What do you want to see more of in Vol.2? What do you want to see less of? If you didn’t buy Vol.1, why not? What would make you interested in Vol.2? Did anyone decipher the elvish and dwarvish quotes? Did anyone wonder where the Governor of Ohio’s leg lived?

The floor is open. Let us know what you think.

Profile photo of Pete Peterson

Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.


30 Comments

  1. Jade Payne

    um. This is a bit daunting. I’m going to have to re-scramble my brain and come back because there is no way I can just spin off a review of Vol. I because I loved it so sincerely.

    Words are constantly being scribbled on our family chalk wall from it…

    Ack. Ok. I’m walking away from the computer now.

  2. Heather Rose

    I loved the Molehill. My most favorite things in it are the short story-fiction. Not that I didn’t like the many essays and poems, I just liked the stories the best.
    so I think that if Vol. 2 had more stories, it would be all the more better (if possible).

    Everything about Vol 1. is excellent. I am planning on buying Vol. 2 as soon as it’s online (or hopefully at Hutchmoot?)

  3. Matthew Loftus

    I loved The Molehill Vol. 1!

    The only thing that I would say is that it honestly felt a bit limited in scope. I mean, the recipes and the ghost story were a *very* nice touch, but in the end most of the essays & poems were about the same sorts of things (art/life/faith/community/creativity, all of which are worthy subjects but between here and similar blogs like Art House America it feels like the same themes are retreaded over & over.)

    I am not sure what more diversity would look like, honestly, since I suspect you’ll be drawing on a lot of the similar authors. Perhaps one suggestion would be to narrow the topics so that each volume is about something specific (forcing authors to draw out lots of different things to say on one topic) or just try really hard to say, “is this something that we’ve said before a couple times, and if so is it worthwhile to say it again?”

  4. whipple

    The quotes were fantastic, and I was given to laughing aloud numerous times (being, among other things, a Trekkie – let the reader understand). I did not decipher the elvish and dwarvish, but now that you’ve put such a splinter in my mind, I shall have to do so.

    To begin with, I’ve never compiled an anthology, so my opinions are threadbare as an armchair politician’s. I was glad to delve into the RR’s initial collection, some of which I had read before on the website, and some of which was new. The selection seemed wise to accommodate those who had missed pieces on the site, though anyone who buys Molehill is likely an avid reader of the website already. Vol. 1 was also perfectly evocative of the spirit of the RR.

    I will say that, though I enjoyed the entire collection, I was more excited to read the fiction and poetry of those whose sage essays I had often seen on the website. To be sure, there is a large place for nonfiction, but hard copy seems to be a more appropriate space for stories in my mind. Perhaps, I’m just an old fogey (a likely proposition). That is not to say that I think Molehill, Vol. 2 should exclude essays altogether. Pas du tout! I would merely favor the balance be tipped toward fiction and poetry in print, as it seems tipped in the other direction online.

    The flavor of the Kingdom was also appropriately subsumed. Like well-used lavender, it was present enough to be delightful and intriguing without being overbearing. I don’t want to start an evangelical mudslinger, but I’ve read enough browbeating literature to be disappointed by its ilk. Molehill, by contrast, was conversational and inviting in its tone – so much so, that I happily bought a copy for a Hobbit-loving friend of mine who would be disinclined to pick up most Christian literature.

    Great, great job editing! And to all the contributors (Gonzo excluded, the weirdo!), I doff my hat. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and I can’t wait for Vol. 2.

  5. Anne

    We are overseas and shipping can be costly and customs a nightmare. Any chance you guys would considering making the next volume (and previous ones, too) available in a digital format? Pretty, pretty please.

  6. Nathan Sharp

    My journey through the Molehill has been gradual. I have been savoring every portion, enjoying it as a break from clinical reading and a creative meal. It is a wonderful melange of this and that, and while I think it could be narrowed in type or genre, it has been wildly sufficient. Kudos and kudos, I look forward to more.

  7. Jade Payne

    I thought the same thing “hardcover worthy” and knew that would be your response Pete 🙁 It looks so beautiful by my fireplace in paperback. still 🙂 Your cover is simply fantastic. I suggest doing different hues for different volumes in the same muted motif.

  8. Jonny

    The book as a whole = rich and inviting.
    The short stories = powerful and engrossing
    The poetry = refreshing, thoughtful palette-cleansers between the prose

    I haven’t quite made it through the essays yet.
    My favorite piece, by far, is the poem by Don Chaffer (Don’t have my copy handy at the moment and can’t remember the title but hokey smokes that thing was good).

    Can’t wait for more!

  9. dustin

    Love what I have read so far, mostly in small portions. Like Ragman and Other Cries of Faith, i need to drink it slowly or I’ll choke. Would music be a possibility? Chord sheets or sheet music somehow put in the mix?

  10. Peter B

    In agreement with Heather Rose, I would like to see more stories. Of course I haven’t finished the volume yet — so many books, so little time — but that’s my limited opinion.

    Oh, and the quotes felt delightfully Reteep-ish.

    Regarding translation: should we use the Sindarin or Quenya lexicon?

    P.S. Very often, I’ll come to the RR, read a post, and comment on it, only to be told “You are posting comments too quickly. Please slow down.” Is one per day considered too many?

  11. Laura Peterson

    More Molehill! Excellent!

    I just picked mine up and paged through it to gather my thoughts. Here they are, in no particular order of importance:

    – While I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that it was all new material and loved Pete’s explanation in the introduction about the growth of the RR contributors and challenging them with something new, I don’t think that a “greatest hits” Molehill is as bad of an idea as the introduction makes it sound. 🙂 Maybe not for Volume 2, but I do think there is good stuff here on the blog that could maybe be compiled in print sometime in the future. Some people (like myself) may have a few of their favorites bookmarked to come back to every now and again, but I would love a more permanent format for those. Just a thought.

    – More visual art would be great! I loved all that was included in Vol. 1.

    – I absolutely love the WNI quotes. One of my favorite things about The Molehill is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    – This is pretty nit-picky, but since you asked…I find the page numbers kinda hard to read. Maybe more contrast between the background leaf and the number would help, if you’re going to keep the same design?

    Looking forward to Volume 2.

    (P.S. Peter B. – the same comment about “posting comments too quickly” has happened to me a few times. I’m going to copy this comment before I hit “submit,” just in case it happens again. Perhaps it’s when two people are trying to comment at the same time?)

  12. Nathaniel Miller

    I love its current format. Each writer brings something different to the table and the end result is a banquet feast – one I haven’t finished yet! My only recommendation would be add one or two individuals not represented in the first volume, just to keep the variety coming.

    Great, great work putting Volume I together.

  13. Carin Meerdink

    Here’s an idea–how about an assignment for non-RR contributors. Winner gets their piece included in Volume 2. = )

  14. April Pickle

    Love, love The Molehill. The cover is excellent (for a paperback). Sturdy and easy to hold, feels good to the hands. The copyright page was a delightful read and had me hooked. Also like that it is printed in the country of its origin on quality paper and with quality ink. I’ve jumped around and haven’t read all of the entries yet. I agree with some of the others about the essays, but I do think they have a place here. They just seem to work better when they are fewer than ten pages. But don’t get me wrong. I would have paid the full

  15. April Pickle

    Love, love The Molehill. So proud of and grateful for our beloved Rabbit Room’s publishing of this quality work. The cover is excellent (for a paperback). Sturdy and easy to hold, feels good to the hands. The copyright page is a delightful read and had me hooked. Also like that it is printed on quality paper and with quality ink.
    I’ve jumped around and haven’t read all of the entries yet, but I think the book is worth buying for The Flintknapper alone. Gosh, what a great story. I was/am in awe.
    I agree with some of the others about the essays, but I do think they have a place here. They just seem to work better when they are fewer than ten pages.
    Looking forward to Vol. 2.

  16. April Pickle

    Sorry about that. Thought I had lost the first version so I typed another one. Can I curse the iPhone now?

  17. James Hollis

    I loved the Molehill! It bred a lot of creative thought and led me to write a lot more the last few months. I liked the balance of everything, fiction, non-fiction, poems, etc.

    IF I had to get something different in volume 2, I would like to see maybe a few more sketches and/or drawings, is photography too costly?

    I really liked the flow and content, though. Bought a copy for a friend as well. Super excited about volume 2! Will be buying several copies to give to people.

  18. James Witmer

    I have not yet bought the first volume, but not for lack of interest.

    I was at Hutchmoot last year, and my head and backpack were already so full of good things I decided to save it. I suspected even then I might not be able to attend Hutchmoot this year, and have been saving The Molehill purchase as a consolation present to myself.

  19. Mark Geil

    I remember seeing the Molehill at Hutchmoot and passing it by, assuming it was a “RR greatest hits” collection, which would still be fabulous, but as James said there is such a disparity between RR riches and my resources at the ‘Moot. Then I heard the concept, looked a little more closely, and it became my favorite purchase.

    I agree that the quality is noticeable and the cover is great. I’ve even enjoyed seeing it as Pete’s facebook picture for a while now. He described the potential to see themes and threads in reading cover-to-cover, so I resisted the urge to skip to my favorite authors and I started at page 1.

    Honestly, I don’t think I “got” the themes and threads that were supposed to emerge, but I sometimes miss the obvious. It took me a week to slap my forehead and realize that the guy in Sam’s story was still in his brother’s shadow at the end. (I still think I’d like to hear a “Director’s Commentary from Pete regarding the editing and sequencing.)

    By reading cover-to-cover, though, something else happened for which I’m grateful. I tend to go for “easy” entertainment. I’ll watch an action movie before I read a fiction novel before I read a non-fiction book. So I am certain I would have skipped the longer NF essays had I not, at Pete’s behest, plowed straight through. I would have missed so much! I’m even using Ron Block’s intriguing essay as the basis for a whole series of messages I’ll be presenting at a camp this summer. I also forced myself to avoid looking at the contents, so I was delighted at the end of each piece to flip the page and discover the identity of the next author.

    So, I have little to offer regarding improvement for Volume 2. Some of the comics that have been shared on this site make me think a little cartoon could work. I love the idea of a reader addition. I think the prompt would have to be pretty focused, or judging a winner would be most challenging! And I’m game for anything that involves music, thought this is certainly a literary work. I guess I would only encourage the musicians on the roster to avoid the thought that the “performing musician” side of their lives must be compartmentalized out of the stories they share just because this book has words, not notes.

  20. Jess

    I thought the whole thing was brilliant… I read it a couple months ago so it’s not fresh in my mind, but the first things that come to my head are: Ron Block is easier to read in print form (I mean given that some of his comments here on the RR would take up an entire book), Evie’s were the first recipes I ever read through like literature and I want more of them, I laughed until my sides hurt with S.D.’s story, I read AP’s and then went back immediately and read it again, and all I can say is now that I’m thinking about it again I want to go re-read it already. More, more of the same. Although of course I’d love to see a different theme running through the next one, not because this theme wasn’t exactly what I needed to have fed into my soul when I read it, but because I’m satisfied here and look forward to a new feast in Molehill 2. All this to say I have no meaningful feedback but I loved The Molehill to death and feel like it’s a book full of friends.

  21. Bailey

    The Molehill Vol. 1 was such a great find. I found it through exploring the Rabbit Room’s online store and asked for it for Christmas this year. I haven’t made it all the way through its pages yet, but I plan to use some excerpts from it to back up my college thesis this semester. [I especially appreciated Prinzi's "Jesus and the Dragon Question and Peterson's "Integrated Imagination: Fantasy in the Real World."] I love the diversity of the poetry, non-fiction, fiction, artwork, and recipes! Reading it inspires my own creative endeavors for a future literary journal, and I very much anticipate the release of the 2nd edition. 🙂

  22. Carrie

    More Russ Ramsey. And more. And always more Russ Ramsey.

    I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed the essays, especially the personal ones: Russ’ (obviously) stood out to me, but Andrew’s story about coming to love fantasy slowly, and the one from the pastor that talked about speaking in tongues (sorry, my copy is with my sister, I can’t remember author or title for that one).

    I love narrative and would have thought that would be my favorite parts, but it was the personal stories that resonated most with me.

    And be sure to include more Russ Ramsey.

  23. Ben Humeniuk

    I agree with those who suggest some drawings and visual art. Would a color insert be as cost-prohibitive?

    And of course, if you’re going to invite visual art in to play alongside words, then perhaps the editor might be persuaded to include comics? 🙂

  24. Joe Thacker

    One of the things that I liked best about the Molehill, Vol. 1 is how accessible it is for a wide array of people. I read it sometime before Christmas and enjoyed it so much that it became a Christmas preset for some, and then I ended up regretting that I didn’t give it to others. I also recommended it to some friends whose daughter has been “wandering” for the past few years, and thought it would a good read for her, given her literary background. Maybe she would relate to the struggle and questions that others have and express, but who still know that Jesus is trustworthy in the midst of the doubts. For those new to fairy stories, or who may have hesitations about them, Travis Prinzi’s contribution is a fine apologetic. Those well-versed in that world might find Sarah Clarkson’s essay deeply engaging as she explores the mind of C.S. Lewis. So the Molehill has something for everyone. And while there wasn’t a set theme, as Pete mentioned, it seemed to me that all of the essays somehow touched on the theme of identity, knowing who you are (which, in my mind, testifies to the subtle work of the Holy Spirit in the project).

    I liked the size and binding for a paperback. The book opens easily, and stays open without undue stress on the spine. The squarish shape gives it more of an unique look.

    Perhaps one thing that I would like to see added is an essay exploring the Bible’s use of imagery, typology, etc. and how that’s foundational to the narrative of literature, the world in which we live, and our own reading of the Scriptures.

    Genuinely looking forward to a Volume 2.

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