Archives For Writing



Write a Better Year End Letter

Rachel Marie Stone

*** This piece appeared as Rachel’s column in our 
Advent 2018 magazine issue (SUBSCRIBE NOW ),
but it was too good not to share online!


It’s a tradition to mock people who send the kind of holiday letters (and accompanying photograph, preferably snapped on a mountaintop or an exotic vacation spot) that seem designed to elicit envy. Their children have always achieved more than yours; they’re in better shape; they know more about food and wine than you do; and are more skilled at framing their own consumption as virtue than you are. They get a lot more done than you do—more books read, more trips taken, more hours worked, or, conversely (perversely?), they are keen to announce just how centered, non-striving, and so not as addicted to screen-time as you are. In recent years, they may have ‘purged’ most of their crap to make room for only the highest-quality things that spark the most joy for them; this coming year, they are likely to have been cultivating a Scandinavian brand of coziness, or style of parenting, or way of living in nature, so prepare yourself: it’s going to be all about quality time and quilts, socks and stews and fireplaces, or else wellness and meditation, or more time in the forest. They will have more of all of this than you will, and theirs will be better.

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Tomorrow (May 19th) marks the birthday of one of our favorite writers, Marilyn McEntyre.
In honor of the occasion, we offer this intro reading guide to her books…


We’ve ordered this list in the order that we think the books should be read, and we offer a brief explanation of why each book was included. We’ve included excerpts of most the books via Google Books.

1)  Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies

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Christian Faith Worth Imitating
A Review of 

Stories of Deeply Rooted
and Transformed Lives

Redbud Writers’ Guild

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Kathleen O’Malley.
A few weeks ago, I asked God to bring a mentor into my life. Whether that meant a new relationship or the deepening of one I already had, I didn’t know. The next day, I began reading Everbloom, and by the time I was twenty pages in, I realized that I held part of God’s answer in my hands.

Books can’t substitute for the intimacy of a friendship. But Spirit-filled stories can change and enrich my perspective—just like a mentor might. There is something about peoples’ life stories that is tough to ignore; their memoirs nestle into my memories until they become part of my worldview. That’s one reason that books like Everbloom are so powerful. Such books let me be touched by the lives of men, women, and children whom I won’t meet in person.

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The Book of Memories


A Feature Review of 

Everlasting is the Past: A Memoir
Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Paperback: Rabbit Room, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  

Reviewed by Joe Krall
*** Read our interview with
Walter Wangerin, about this book


A lonely, despairing graduate student walks and walks out into the countryside till he finds himself before a flock of sheep grazing, placid and content. He is filled with rage, wanting nothing more than to run at them, scare them into stumbling – until a farmer steps out of the woods, makes a “nickering sound in his throat,” and leads the sheep away. The student is alone once more.


“The sight of the sheep had broken my soul. I said, ‘I want to be a sheep.’”


So prays Walter Wangerin, Jr., in his memoir Everlasting is the Past (Rabbit Room, 2015).  There are many beautiful passages in this book, but as for me, this short passage, in its lyricism, in its precision (“nickering” – what a fine adjective!), in its poignancy and spiritual power, is by far my favorite. In our recent interview with him, Wangerin mentioned that he had been thinking about “the episode with the sheep” for a long time. His thoughtfulness shows: the passage, jewel-like in its beauty, caught me on first reading, and reflected its light on what comes before and comes after.

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How to Live a Writer’s Life
A review of

On Being a Writer
Ann Kroeker and
Charity Singleton Craig

Paperback: TS Poetry Press, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Sarah Lyons
My writing desk at the moment is, unfortunately, nowhere to be found. Well, that might be slightly misleading since the desk itself hasn’t moved. But every possible surface is covered with something—piles of paper, photographs in frames, and pieces of clothing pushed to the side or draped over the chair.
I feel embarrassed because my room is actually in pretty good condition, organized in that constantly-unsettled young adult way. It’s just the desk that’s impossible to navigate. I don’t even know what’s on it anymore. And I’m embarrassed because that says my writing life is slowly getting choked out.

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One of the Better Christian Books on Movies
A Brief Review of

When the Lights Go Down: Movie Review as Christian Practice
Mark D. Eckel

Paperback: Westbow, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Gina Dalfonzo


There are those who warn that spending too much time watching movies and shows necessitates the turning off of one’s brain. Mark D. Eckel begs to differ. Movies, for him, open the door to a world of ideas and emotions that can enrich the life of anyone who’s willing to engage them seriously. More than that, movies are an example of God’s common grace, a gift that He gives to everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, from which they can learn and benefit.


Eckel’s book When the Lights Go Down: Movie Review as Christian Practice shares the insights he’s gained from years of watching movies, thinking about movies, and sharing movies with friends, students, and family members. It includes reviews of movies in a number of different genres, as well as interviews with Christians in a variety of fields, from education to media production to blogging to sitcom writing, about their experiences with movies.

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Look at what’s happening in this world. Every day there’s something exciting or disturbing to write about. With all that’s going on, how could I stop?”
– Gwendolyn Brooks, poet
who died on this date in 2000.

The Wake Up CallPoem of the Day:
We Real Cool
Gwendolyn Brooks
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Kindle Ebook Deal of the Day:
Advent Conspiracy: Can Christmas Still Change the World?
By Rick McKinley and Chris Seay

Only $1.99!!!
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*** NOTE: This stated price is for the United States. Unfortunately, this offer may or may not be available in other countries. Sorry!

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The Wake Up Call – December 3, 2014



Tomorrow (September 6) marks the seventh anniversary of the death of Madeleine L’Engle.

Madeleine L’Engle is one of my favorite writers and If it were not for her work, I probably would never have met my wife!

*** Books by Madeleine L’Engle

In remembrance of Madeleine, here are 3 short clips of her discussing the craft of writing…

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Repairing Imaginations

A Review of

Myself and Some Other Being: Wordsworth and the Life Writing

Daniel Robinson

Paperback: U of Iowa Press, 2014
Buy now:   [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Amy Gentile
There’s this odd phenomenon that happens from time to time, where you hear a word, a name, or an idea for what feels like the first time—or at least the first time you really noticed it—and then you start hearing it everywhere, as though you can’t escape it. And it’s so prevalent that you begin to wonder if you really never heard about it before, or if it really is as it seems—that this word or idea is suddenly haunting you, following you around for some purpose.
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For those who are willing to make an effort, great miracles and wonderful treasures are in store.”
– Novelist and Nobel Prize Winner, Isaac Bashevis Singer,
Born on this day 1902

Isaac Bashevis Singer [Happy Birthday]