3 Books I’m Reading this Winter {And Why You’ll Want to Read Them Too}

Winter read
I love reading year-round but especially so in winter.

Everything about the season woos even the nonchalant reader into its web. Frigid breezes, barren branches, and darker days all invite us to come in, bundle up, light the logs, and pour a cup of tea. What better way to answer the invite than with a book in hand?


3 Favorite Books This Winter
The three books I’m reading this winter are above average, one in particular. Let’s begin there.


Jesus in the Beanstalk…Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life, by Lori Roeleveld.


Jesus in the BeanstalkDon’t let the clever fairy-tale inspired title fool you. This book isn’t for fluff-seekers. It’s for those who, like me, have grown weary of living in a land of giants. Yes, our culture offers a plethora of its own giants but I’m convinced giant slaying begins at home. Every giant-slayer first requires the Word, as Lori points out, but this book is the second thing I read during my time with the Lord. Sometimes it’s a full chapter, other times just a paragraph. It’s not a book to gulp down but to savor. Her questions at the end of each chapter often marinate in my mind throughout the day. Add Lori’s sense of humor to the mix, and you hold a book that will motivate you to pick up a nearby rock and slip out your sling. I can’t say enough about this book and its impact on my life.

One fave quote: “It’s important for Christians not just to believe in God but also to believe God, trust what he says enough to obey him. The enemy has been clever to convince us that what God offers is dry and boring–and it is if we allow the truth to remain on the surface. But if we bury it deep in the soil of our souls and expose it to the light and the living water of Jesus Christ, we find ourselves clinging to the true Vine, Jesus Christ (John 15). We discover that we, too, are giant-killers.”


The Story of With…A Better Way to Live, Love, & Create, by Allen Arnold


The Story of WithThe Story of With may have never crossed my radar except for Lynn Blackburn’s excellent review on Edie Melson’s, The Write Conversation. {Thank you, Lynn}

The first and last part of the book is non-fiction. He unfolds a story illustrating his points in between, which I admit to skipping. I’m sorry. I’m a shoot-it-to-me kind of girl. When I want a novel I’ll read Lynn’s or Edie’s. A quick flip to the back proved to be gold. So many relevant nuggets. For me, the main takeaway is that we often rush off to do God’s work instead of inviting the Holy Spirit into the creative process.

One fave quote: “You can experience a sense of expectancy in the midst of interruptions, knowing the unplanned can lead to something better than anything you could have planned. Imagine stepping into your relationships and creativity with a power that isn’t limited to your solutions or strength?”



Fierce On The Page…Become the Writer You Were Meant To Be and Succeed On Your Own Terms,
by Sage Cohen


Fierce on the PageMy first introduction to author and poet Sage Cohen was her book, “Writing the Life Poetic”. It remains a staple on my shelf. So imagine my delight when I learned of her latest release, Fierce on the Page. The book was still warm when it arrived in my mailbox. Yep, it was hot off the press. With 75 brief but brilliant chapters on using ferocity to transform your craft, there is something for every writer.

One fave quote: “Writing can teach us who we are and what we are called to say. You become the person who could write the poems, as Stanley Kunitz advises, through the writing of the poems–and the stories and articles and essays. Doing what is true for you is the path to becoming your own best expert.”



I’d love to hear your process when reading more than one book at a time. For me, I use Lori’s book most days during my time with the Lord and on other days, I pepper my time with Allen’s. I carry Sage’s book in my purse, snatching extra moments as they come my way.

What are you reading this winter? And I have to ask: Coffee or tea?

**The Story of With is only $2.99 on Kindle right now!

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My Friday Fave: Writing the Life Poetic

On this final Friday of National Poetry Month, I’d like to share one of my absolute favorite books on the art of writing poetry. Perhaps the page tabs peeking out from the top give that away. You should see the pages!

From the back cover:

Poet Sage Cohen invites you to slow down to the rhythms of your creative process and savor poetry by:

  • Offering explorations of the poetic life and craft 
  • Inspiring a feeling of play instead of laborious study
  • Weaving together lessons in content, form, and process to provide a fun and engaging experience
  • Inviting you to add poetry to your creative repertoire

If forced to choose two books on this poetic journey, it would be Writing the Life Poetic and Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook

This is a book to savor, to mark-up, and to soak up. 


“Poetry is just the evidence of life. 
If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
Leonard Cohen

My Friday Faves

It’s plural today—and for good reason.

Both Brian and my favorite organizational guru friend will be proud of me as I get back on track with organizing my house.

Okay, some would argue that I’ve never seen, heard, or even know what that track looks like, but the point is: I’m not giving up!

Sage Cohen’s The Productive Writer (a must have for every writer!) + Target’s new filing system + my renewed desire to organize my house, time, and energy = Friday’s faves for sure.

First Draft Tips

“I always do first drafts of my poems on yellow paper. Because yellow paper means it is just a draft, I am much braver and more wild than I would be on white paper. Those yellow-paper scribbles make me more free than I would be on the computer where everything looks like a final copy.” – Penelope Scambly Schott

Sage Cohen shares the above quote in her book The Productive Writer, in addition to these timely tips for creating first drafts:

Use a special font for first drafts that feels friendly and fun.
Choose a color paper that makes you feel courageous, whether you’re writing by hand or printing them from your computer.
Experiment with inputs and context such as location, music, lighting, time of day, writing medium (such as pen and paper vs. computer) to get yourself in the mood. (Sage shares that she often starts something in a cafe or in bed, two low-pressure environments where she feels relaxed and comfortable. Her serious work can be found at her desk.)

Simple yet effective tips—especially for those of us with an unrelenting and may I add—very annoying “inner editor”.

Thanks (again) Sage!

Now What?

Attend conference ✓
Arrive home primed to write ✓
Reality hits ✓

Now what?

“The Productive Writer” by Sage Cohen to the rescue!

One of my favorite tips in this small practical to-the-point guide:

Keep a separate file for each of the following categories that pertain to your writing and publishing goals. Every day, be on the lookout for inspiring examples that may inform or inspire a step you see yourself taking along your productive writing journey.

  • Publishing possibilities: The names of presses, magazines, journals, or publishers whose published work feels familial with yours.
  • Inspiring Samples: Pieces of writing that you admire.
  • Kindreds: Names of writers (and examples of their writing) woe work feels in some way related to yours.
  • Lessons Learned
  • Books to Read: Reviews, recommendations from friends, and blog posts about books you intend to read.
  • Things to Try: Lessons to learn; classes to take; experiments to try with craft, form, or process—wherever YES takes you.

My favorite chapter hands-down is “Putting Vision Into Action”. Simple productive ways to get the writing gears in motion.

“Vision without action is a daydream.
Action without vision is a nightmare.” -Japanese proverb

Post a (hopefully) helpful blog ✓

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