Writing is my first love. But travel is a close second.
Amalfi Coast, Italy, 2014

Blog Posts About Writing

Vindicating the Vixens

By | Gender & Faith, Women, Writing | No Comments

On March 23 at DTS, I moderated a panel discussion with Dr. Glenn Kreider, Sarah Bowler, Sharifa Stevens, Dr. Timothy Ralston, and Karla Zazueta about women in the Bible whom we have either vilified or marginalized. Vindicating the Vixens (Kregel Academic, forthcoming) is the result of a diverse team of 16 male and female theologians who’ve partnered to take a second look at vilified and marginalized women in the Bible, and we got some of the contributors in Dallas together to talk about our findings. The church has often viewed women’s stories through sexist eyes, resulting in a range of distortions. In this panel discussion, three of us DTS profs and three graduates talk about the women we explored.

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Hillary’s Not the Only Woman to Make History

By | Women, Writing | 2 Comments

UnknownWant a summer read that’s part adventure story, part biography, part introduction to biblical manuscripts, part historical drama, and part faith journey? If yes, check out Janet Soskice’s The Sisters of Sinai.

The main characters are identical twins Agnes and Margaret Smith of Scotland. Their travels lead, among other places, to St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai. There Agnes discovered one of the oldest manuscripts of the Gospels ever found.

The sisters’ staunch Presbyterian father, widowed shortly after their births in 1843, raised his girls as one might raise boys in the Victorian era—educated, physically active, and engaged in the life of the mind. And he kept a promise that whenever his daughters learned a language, he would take them to where that language was spoken. Because the twins loved to travel, early on they mastered French, German, Spanish, and Italian. Their deep interest in the Bible and its languages …

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Sampling of Book Titles Inspired by Bible Verses

By | Arts, Books, Writing | One Comment

My dissertation supervisor told me that the Bible and Shakespeare were the two most-used sources for book titles. How many of these biblical phrases do you recognize?

Absalom, Absalom!                William Faulkner        2 Samuel 19:4

An Acceptable Time               Madeleine L’Engle      Psalms 66:13

A Time to Kill                         John Grisham            Ecclesiastes 3:3

Behold the Man                      Michael Moorcock       John 19:5

Butter In a Lordly Dish            Agatha Christie        Judges 5:25

I Sat Down and Wept             Elizabeth Smart          Psalm 137:1

Clouds of Witness                   Dorothy L. Sayers        Hebrews 12:1

Consider the Lilies                  Iain Crichton Smith    Matthew 6:28

East of Eden                            John Steinbeck            Genesis 4:16

Fear and Trembling              Søren Kierkegaard    Philippians 2:12

The Golden Bowl                    Henry James                Ecclesiastes 12:6

The House of Mirth                 Edith Wharton             Ecclesiastes 7:4

I Will Fear No Evil                   Robert A. Heinlein      Psalms 23:4

If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem    William Faulkner        Psalms 137:5

In a Glass Darkly                     Sheridan Le Fanu        I Corinthians 13:12

Jacob Have

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Restore My Soul: A Coloring Book Devotional Journey

By | Arts, Books, Writing | One Comment
Meditate using this new coloring book by Ann-Margret Hovsepian.

Meditate using this new coloring book by Ann-Margret Hovsepian.

A couple years ago, my employer sent me to the Frankfurt Book Fair to spot trends. We want to prepare our students for what’s coming, not what’s been. Frankfurt is the largest book fair in the world, so I spent hours walking the aisles, talking to venders, and scoping out products. And I came home with a couple of coloring books for adults. I had never heard of such a thing! It was like paint by number only using colored pencils instead of paint—and without the numbers. I got to choose what colors I liked best.

And sure enough, now they’re everywhere, these books. And my friend Ann-Margret Hovsepian has created a nice one especially for helping us think about what matters. She includes a devotional thought with a verse opposite each coloring page. And the pages are thick enough that …

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Art Saves Lives

By | Arts, Books, Justice, Writing | No Comments

I just finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. The student who brought me the book to read also told me I must listen to an interview in Brainpickings with Gaiman. In it the author tells this story of his 97-year-old cousin, Helen, a Polish Holocaust survivor: “She started telling me this story of how, in the ghetto, they were not allowed books. If you had a book … the Nazis could put a gun to your head and pull the trigger—books were forbidden. And she used to teach under the pretense of having a sewing class… a class of about twenty little girls, and they would come in for about an hour a day, and she would teach them maths, she’d teach them Polish, she’d teach them grammar….

“One day, somebody slipped her a Polish translation of Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the

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Books that Christian Leaders Say Should Be Written

By | Writing | One Comment

In a December survey, U.S. evangelical leaders listed topics for books they would want to be published in the next two years. The topics primarily focused on mission, social action and evangelism. One fourth of evangelical leaders suggested book topics about living biblically in an increasingly pluralistic society, according to the December Evangelical Leaders Survey.

“The proposed book topics speak to the challenges and opportunities evangelicals will face in coming years,” said Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). “Many are concerned with how we will continue to engage in a culture that some feel is increasingly hostile to biblical Christianity.”

One leader provided the title, “Living for Jesus in Modern Babylon.” Another leader suggested a book on “honoring Christian consciousness while living in community with a world of pluralistic values.” One nonprofit executive recommended a book about the implications of a more pluralistic society on the …

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Calvin Festival 2016

By | Writing | No Comments

The Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing, which I consider the best thing since Icarus got wings, happens every other year. This April the Festival rolls around again. And Calvin just announced some of their speakers. These include poet Christian Wiman, whom I have talked about here  in the past, as well as Sarah Bessey, also reviewed on his site. Upon reading the 2016 lineup of speakers, one of my well-read friends asked me, “omGGG! Do you know how gigantic of a deal Zadie Smith is???” (I didn’t.) There’s also Nadia Bolz-Weber, author of Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint. You can listen now to her NPR interview titled “Lutheran Minister Preaches a Gospel of Love to Junkies, Drag Queens, and Outsiders.” And returning is poet Scott Cairns, whom I talked about in the past. Love. The Festival features so many more.

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The Beauty of Books

By | Arts, Beauty, Books, Writing | No Comments

Why does our society still value books so highly? Why do we love and respect them so? We know why. Tweets and Vines have their place, but a book is a slower and deeper thing. Every book is an invitation to spend meaningful time alone with the person behind it—a storyteller you love, a mind you admire, a member of your family. Once you pick up that book, you have that person’s full attention, for as long as you choose to spend in his or her company. In our distracted world, that’s worth a great deal. —Joel Segel, Publishers Weekly,

“Enduring Value,” Jan 30, 2015…

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How to Write a Book Proposal

By | Writing | No Comments

Unknown-2Your novel is ready to go. Your nonfiction book is fleshed out. Now what?

My agent, Chip MacGregor, has a brand new book releasing to help writers who are trying to create the best book proposal possible. Step by Step Pitches and Proposals: A Workbook for Writers is the new book from Chip and longtime editor Holly Lorenz.

This book uses clear, detailed explanations, work-sheets, and annotated examples to walk readers step-by-step through the following: industry terminology, querying, pitching, creating a proposal, and formatting the whole thing. You’ll find helpful information about what to say, who and when to query, and how to find contacts. Suggestions on how to create a pitch are offered, along with sample pitches, as well as advice from a speaking professional on how to deal with a face-to-face pitch.

Inside, you’ll find detailed instructions for building professional, industry-standard proposals, both fiction and nonfiction, using plenty …

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And the Pulitzer Goes to…

By | Arts, Books, Writing | No Comments

Fiction, Anthony Doerr’s  All the Light We Cannot See (Scribner)

Non-fiction, Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (Holt)

Biography, David I. Kertzer’s The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe (Random House)

Poetry, Gregory Pardlo’s Digest (Four Way Books)

History, Elizabeth A. Fenn’s Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People (Hill and Wang)…

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