Is It Talent, or Is It Hard Work? Yes.


This originally appeared on the Breathe Writers site–a great place I am going to be teaching at in October! I am pretty excited about this. If you’re a writer, I would definitely suggest checking it out.

This piece was written for writers–but I know it applies to everyone. Don’t we all have those places where we know, we know, we’re supposed to push a bit more? Heed our mom’s voice in our ear that sounds like, “Did you really do your best on that?”

No? Just me? Didn’t think so.

Everyone told me I was talented—no one dared to tell me the one thing I needed to hear. I was also lazy. No one taught me what Malcolm Gladwell would teach me later—don’t walk in prepared for success unless you’ve also slogged through a lot of hours of ugly, inglorious, hard work.

Read the rest here.


Hollywood Jesus and Hobbits


Well, I am not having another book launch, but while I’m running articles from other sources, it would be terrible of me to overlook the fact that September is, after all, Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday month. So here, from Hollywood Jesus, is an interview to celebrate!

In case you want to know more before committing to clicking over, here is a bit of the interview.

2. Why would teenagers want to read this book?

It might seem that fictional fantasy characters don’t have much in common with real teenagers. But that is so not true. They feel inadequate, afraid, angry, proud, exhausted, hopeful—all the things we all feel. Teens are looking for their adventure in life—how do they fit in this world and what is their task? In Tolkien’s world, it’s all about tasks and unique callings; it’s about normal, average people finding their place and doing great things. How do they do it?

3. How is this book different from all the other ones out there on this topic?

Well, I have a professor who endorsed my book who said in his reply email, “When I first received your request, I thought, ‘No, not another one of those books! Then I read it and loved it.’” So—it’s not another one of those books? Another reviewer called it “delightfully sarcastic and irreverent while deeply spiritual.” I rather like being called that.

Read on here.

Strangers Together

I am not good at making friends. I don’t approach people. I don’t know how to start a conversation. I don’t engage first. When that conversation has to happen partly in charades, I’m ready to bow out and let someone more intrepid than I give it a try.

But those eyes told me she could be a friend. They also told me she needed one.


This week, one of my favorite mot recent pieces on (in)courage. How do we make friends, real friends, across cultural or other lines? I hope and pray you can find such an experience.

Read the whole piece here.

I am so sorry–last week’s link was not in the post. Here it is. Thank you for your patience.


Reading Outside my Norm

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When my kids were in school, I spent about eight years coaching our junior high Battle of the Books team. Think Jeopardy for YA literature. The kids read twenty books and answered competition questions like, “In what book would you find main characters who speak lapin?” (Answer: Watership Down, by Richard Adams.) Oh yeah. The coach still has it.

Several of the books we read were best sellers written by Joan Bauer.

Joan Bauer retweets me.

Yes, this does make me inordinately excited.

Today, I’m over at the Breathe Writer’s blog, talking about underdogs, reading uncomfortably, Joan Bauer, and my new book. 🙂  Join me here to hear the whole story!

I’m also speaking at the Breathe Conference the first weekend in October! I am excited to pack up for Grand Rapids once again–it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite places. If you’re there, say hi! (If you’re a writer–GO!)