Just to Name a Few: Five Things I’m Loving, Installment #2

Photo by Adi Goldstein via Unsplash

First of all, a big announcement!

The podcast Maile and I are creating officially launches next Tuesday, October 22nd–it’s called The Stories Between Us. You will be able to download and subscribe through any major podcast player, but if you’re a podcast newbie and don’t know what to do, never fear! I’ll post an easy-to-follow link here at the blog so that you can simply click and play.

I am really enjoying the conversations we’ve been having as we record some of these podcast episodes. Maile is so honest–she takes me far out of my comfort zone. But I think it’s important, because there are so many topics surrounding writing, creativity, and trying to do those things while parenting or homemaking or having another job. We’re going to go straight into it. So stay tuned.

Thursday also seems like a good day to give a shout-out to a few of the things I’ve been enjoying lately, so here are five…just to name a few:

A Complicated Heart by Sarah Mae

I can’t wait to read this book, the latest by my friend Sarah Mae. Here is the blurb:

People often ask Sarah, “How did you forgive your alcoholic mother?”

How do you forgive someone who carelessly brushed aside your pain, who caused such destruction, and who doesn’t show remorse? How do you know when to stay and when to go?

In The Complicated Heart, you will travel through Sarah’s story with her, from age 14 and beyond, as she wrestles with these very questions. Prepare yourself: she holds nothing back.


Yes, the ridiculously sour candy. My son bought some with his own money at CVS, let me have one, and now I keep sneaking into his room to have just. one. more. I’ve always been a bit of a sour candy nut.

The Habit Podcast with Jonathan Rogers

I have so enjoyed this podcast over the last few months, as Jonathan Rogers does a deep dive with each of his guests into the realm of writing and creativity. There’s even an episode with yours truly. Anyway, check it out.


When Maile and I needed a last-minute night out last week, we left the kids at home and walked a few blocks to one of the best restaurants in the area, Luca. We sat there and talked and had a wonderful evening. If you’re in Central PA, I highly recommend it–although you’ll need to make reservations ahead of time. We expected to be sitting at the bar, even though it was 9 p.m., but we got lucky and there was an available table.

Hearts and Minds Bookstore

Have you been there? It’s an incredible place, one of my favorite bookstores ever. I’ll be doing a reading there this Saturday night at 7 p.m. Join us!

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Finally, have you heard the incredibly sad news about the passing of Elijah Cummings? What an incredible life he lived. Take a moment today to find out more about him and his work through the years.

The Year of Failure, the First Frightful Step, and a Story You Need to Read

Photo by Aziz Acharki via Unsplash
Photo by Aziz Acharki via Unsplash

Here are some of my favorite articles, videos, and blog posts from the web:


The world’s last night came as a black surprise with its low groan, its fiery canisters, its torch-bearing ants marching. It came ribbonless, boxless, a series of presents carried in the bellies of airplanes. It came and unwrapped itself.


“I’m tempted to declare 2017, The Year of Failure.”


So here are the results of that launch in all the ways I can measure. I share them here because I know that it has always been so helpful to me to see other’s publishing and sales figures as a way of both anticipating costs AND have a benchmark by which to place my own publishing costs and profits. I hope these numbers will help you in the same way.


So, be still.

The first frightful step

Before knowing.


I am conditioned to believe the only reason we should do things is if we know exactly why, where we are headed, and for what purpose.

No wonder we have trouble making decisions.


Most insightful thing I’ve seen in a while: Ta-Nehisi Coates explains why white people can’t say the N-word in rap songs


Funniest thing I’ve seen in a while: Dogs that fail at being dogs

Finding Things (Peace and Books, Just to Name a Few)

I know it’s been rather quiet around these parts lately. I suppose there are a fair amount of reasons for that – we’re currently in NC hanging out with Maile’s family; I’ve also been busy on the book-writing front; and then there’s the scurrying to get ready for the release of The Day the Angels Fell on 9/5 WHICH IS LESS THAN THREE MONTHS AWAY (and which you can preorder HERE, an act which will also gain for you my undying affection).

In the meantime, there are two things I want to tell you about today:

1 – My friend Ed Cyzewski is releasing his latest book today! It’s called, Flee, Be Silent, Pray: An Anxious Evangelical Finds Peace with God through Contemplative Prayer. Ed is such a good guy, a wonderful writer, and this book (which I’ve read and am planning to reread soon) is so timely. If you find yourself feeling anxious about current events or life in general, this is the book for you.

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2 – Today, I am honored to be on Anne Bogel’s (aka Modern Mrs. Darcy’s) awesome podcast, What Should I Read Next? Anne is the author of the upcoming book, Reading People, and we take some time to talk about what I’m currently reading, what I’ve enjoyed, what I’ve not enjoyed, and then she makes some perfect book recommendations. This is one of my favorite podcasts in the world, and I have to admit I was a little nervous in the beginning, but talking books with Anne is always a pleasure. I hope you’ll listen HERE.


Six Reasons to Raise Your Glass and Toast the Internet

Photo by Kats Weil via Unsplash
Photo by Kats Weil via Unsplash

Remember when I started James Street Review last year, a site where kids review kids’ books? And remember how it petered out after about two months because I had too many things to do? Well, my son decided to pick up the reins, and along with his cousins and a few friends, he’s now running James Street Review. Head over there today and show them some support as they release three new book reviews and kick off the summer reading season. You can check out James Street Review HERE.

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I had a great time chatting with Steve Wiens on his podcast, This Good Word. We talked about my recent trip to Iraq, writing, and my upcoming book release. You can listen to that conversation (and explore some other fascinating guests he’s had) HERE.

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From Seth Haines:

“They lean in after asking the question as if I might whisper the same secret life whispered to me just before I left my 12-year career. The question behind the question, the one they weren’t asking, was more akin to this: How did you get the gumption to leave the daily grind, the nine-to-five, The Man?”

Read more HERE.

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From Tsh Oxenreider:

“All me lately. I’ve got a lot of projects on my plate, so I’ve been work work working nonstop. Not good for my soul—or my work either, actually. My work requires inspiration, but if I work too much, inspiration vanishes. Vicious circle.”

“Here’s where I go when I need a jolt of creativity.”

Read more HERE.

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From Emily Freeman, definitely one of my favorite posts I’ve read anywhere in a long while:

“I wonder how the world and our daily lives would be different if we approached our tasks, our relationships, and our everyday work with a willingness to, in the words of the poet Henry Newbolt, build for the years we shall not see?”

Read more HERE.

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And finally, an amazing post about Mr. Rogers:

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Reconciliation and Foot-Washing in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

You Should See This


Here are some of the best things I’ve seen on the Internet recently. Click on the highlighted words at the end of each excerpt to read the post in full.

Also, Bryan Allain and I are launching an affordable writers’ course in the next few months. If you think you might be interested, message me with your email address (using the Contact button at the top right of the page) and I’ll keep you in the loop.

Inside the store, at the counter we inquire about this lost toy. I’m anxious now. Afraid honestly, of what my girl’s response will be when the lady returns empty handed. I’m worried that her budding faith could be crushed by God’s “no” to her prayer. I am not hopeful. I am only afraid and riddled with doubt.

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Unfortunately, many writers today are stuck in a kind of limbo between a perception that writing for a sustainable income means writing in order to get famous. This perception is grounded in an unnecessary reality that has unfortunately become all too normal.

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We sit in a large circle, inmates and a sparse number of volunteers. Black, white, advantaged, disadvantaged, petty thieves, dope-slingers, repentant, unrepentant, guilty, not-guilty–all of us sitting in the round, no positions of prominence. No head of the table. No foot, either.

These are the men of the Elkhart County Jail book club, men who’ve been reading and discussing Coming Clean.

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The Best of the Web

Photo by Paul Summers via Unsplash

Here are some excerpts from a few of my favorite blog posts from the last few weeks. Click on the links to read them in full. And enjoy the rest of your weekend!

I drove my car for three months with a broken tail light, and I was not stopped once. I had the luxury of taking my sweet time getting it fixed. That’s called white privilege.

My friend’s black son drove his car with a broken tail light for 36 hours and was pulled over four times. He couldn’t wait until it was convenient for him to get his car fixed. He had to do it immediately, for fear of getting pulled over a fifth time. That’s called racism.

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I could not be more enthusiastic about this book, but just as Christie should be celebrating this beautiful book, tragedy struck her family. Christie’s brother-in-law, the husband of her sister, was one of the 12 Marines who appears to have perished in a helicopter crash off the coast of Hawaii. Christie has set off to Hawaii in order to comfort her sister and her four nieces and nephews.

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I would really like to leave this place, this financial ledge where our income and expenses are the same number. I would like a place to rest, somewhere we could breathe easy, but I can’t seem to find it. We’re too busy roping our family to the cliff every month.

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For those who are rocking the baby, washing the dishes, cleaning the gutters, shopping for groceries, planning transitions, fighting for justice, or matching the socks again –

Whether you are starting, finishing, or carrying on –

For anyone who wants to pray but can’t quite find the words, may you find a prayer here to borrow that fits your moments just right:

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I’m not here to give you the twelve-step answer to the struggle, or to chide your disbelief. I’m also not here to provide resources for atheist and agnostic twelve-steppers (though they exist). Today I’m writing for a far different purpose; I’m writing to inspire your imagination.