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Nominations sought for best Presbyterian writer
Looking for best new author
Festival of Faith and Writing
Member updates
PWG online

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Presbyterian Writers Guild Board

President: John Underwood

Past-President and Treasurer: Bill Lancaster

Membership Secretary: Duane Sweep

Recording Secretary:
Jerry Van Marter

Corporate Agent:
Kathy Bostrom

Newsletter Editor:
Eva Stimson

Other Board Members:
Joseph Berry
Cathy Chisholm
Jane Hines
Jack Haberer
Stephen McCutchan
Emily Enders Odom
Barry Shepherd
Martha Evans Sparks
Janet Tuck
Dee Wade

The Writer
December 2013 Edition
Facebook group: Presbyterian Writers Guild

Nominees sought for best Presbyterian writer

 Presbyterian Writers Guild will honor winner at 221st General Assembly (2014)


The Presbyterian Writers Guild (PWG) is accepting nominations for its 2014 David Steele Distinguished Writer Award.

The award is given biennially in even-numbered years to recognize the cumulative work and influence, regardless of genre or subject matter, of a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) writer. The award will be presented at the PWG luncheon at next summer's 219th General Assembly.


Previous winners include The Christian Century editor/publisher John M. Buchanan, The Message author Eugene H. Peterson, former Presbyterian News Service director Marj Carpenter, former Presbyterians Today editor Eva Stimson, novelists Doris Betts and Katherine Paterson, poet Ann Weems, Kansas City Star columnist Bill Tammeus, African-American religious historian Gayraud Wilmore, essayists Kathleen Norris and Frederick Buechner, and journalists Gustav Niebuhr and the late Vic Jameson.


The award is named for R. David Steele, a Presbyterian pastor best known for his whimsical books of poetry and thought-provoking column, "Tuesday Morning," in The Presbyterian Outlook.


Nominations for the award should include the writer's PC(USA) affiliation, a list of published work, and a 100-word essay describing why the nominee is deserving of the award. Contact information for both the nominator and the nominee should be included.


Send nominations to Emily Enders Odom by email; by fax to (336) 299-5304, or by mail to 308 N. Chapman St., Greensboro, NC 27403.


Deadline for nominations is January 15, 2014.

Writers Guild seeks best new author
Award goes to best first book by a Presbyterian writer

The Presbyterian Writers Guild (PWG) is seeking entries for its biennial First Book Award. The award, previously known as the Jim Angell Award, has been presented since 1996 to the Presbyterian author of the best first book published during the previous calendar year.


Nominations are being accepted now for the best first book by a Presbyterian author published during the calendar years of 2012-2013. Books may be of any type: fiction, nonfiction, theological, how-to, photos with commentary, poetry, etc.


The award was established by the Guild and the estate of the late James W. Angell, a prolific and respected Presbyterian writer, as a means to recognize and encourage new writers. It is now sponsored by the Guild and the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation.


Entries may be submitted by the authors or by others on their behalf. Three copies of the book and a brief statement attesting to the author's current active membership in a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation or presbytery should be sent to the First Book Award Committee, c/o Jane Hines, P.O. Box 50832, Nashville, TN, 37205.


Deadline for submissions is April 1, 2014.


The book needs to be the author's first book, and has to have a publication date in 2012 or 2013. Include an email address if the sender wishes to be notified that the books were received. The three copies of the book cannot be returned.


Questions about the award or entry process may be directed to Guild President John Underwood or Jane Hines.


Previous Angell Award winners are listed at the PWG website.

Festival of Faith and Writing
By Susan Baller-Shepard

I've been attending the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College every other year since 2000, along with countless clergy friends. In 2012, our Spiritual Book Club attended, and it was fun to see this event through the eyes of people who had never participated before. We all left feeling filled and renewed.

I first heard about the festival from my pal Ruth Huizenga Everhart, a Presbyterian Writer's Guild member and author of a 2012 PCUSA Lenten Devotional and the book Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land. Now, when I get home from the festival I go to my calendar and write down the dates for the next one. 


My friends and I have great memories of waiting in line for the bathroom behind Anne Lamott, listening to Bruce Cockburn sing, laughing at Luis Alberto Urrea's great stories, and marveling at Krista Tippett's clarity. One year, author Barbara Brown Taylor spoke about the importance of writing through the senses, preaching through the body, and not ignoring the landscape of our physical frame.


For writers, attending the festival is a shot in the arm, a reminder of why we do the craft we do. For readers, it's a chance to hear famous authors and to meet them, face to face. I recall reading my poetry in an open forum at midnight, eating Mediterranean food with two editors, becoming fast friends with another editor, and learning the importance of a writing platform. Some of the best conversations happen in the unscheduled time between events.


Plan now to attend next year's festival, April 10-12, at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Register or learn more at or follow the event on Twitter @FFWgr. Confirmed speakers include Anne Lamott, Bret Lott, National Book Award shortlisted authors Mary Szybist and Gene Luen Yang, as well as David Rhodes, Amy Leach, Christine Byl, Thomas Troeger, Sarah Ruden, G. Willow Wilson, Cornelius (Neal) Plantinga Jr., Andrew Krivak, and Valerie Sayers. Hope to see you there!


Member updates

Kathy Bostrom was honored as a 2013 Distinguished Alumna of Princeton Theological Seminary in October. The Princeton website says: "Bostrom, a graduate of the classes of 1980 and 1983, was recognized for her ministry as a writer and author of more than 30 books, and particularly for her contributions to children's literature and her care for the faith of children through picture books that teach children about creation, heaven, the Bible, Christmas, Easter, and who Jesus is." Her books have been translated into 17 languages, including Chinese, Russian, Finnish, and Italian. She has written two new books for preschoolers focusing on simple stories that teach children about faith: Rufus and Ryan Go to Church! and Rufus and Ryan Say Their Prayers. Both are part of a series she is writing for Ideals. Another book in the series will be released early in 2014 and one in fall 2014. Bostrom also wrote a number of the prayers and devotional questions in the final volume of Daily Feast: Meditations from Feasting on the Word (Year A), which she co-edited. Learn more at her website.


Larry Forcey, a new Presbyterian Writers Guild member from Tustin, California, says, "I am an accountant by day and write when I'm able." His first novel, The Creche, was published in 2011 by WestBow Press. He describes the book as "a Christmas story that invites readers to journey with a family wrestling with philosophical and theological questions in the wake of holiday tragedy." Forcey can be found online at


Donald E. Major, a new member from Irvine, California, writes that he is "not a professionally published writer" but an electrical engineer working at a major semiconductor manufacturer. He notes, however, that he "occasionally writes some book reviews and essays concerning Scripture interpretation, apologetics, and science and faith."


Melissa Tidwell of Decatur, Georgia, announces that her book Embodied Light: Advent Meditations on the Incarnation was published in September. She has recently returned to seminary to finish the degree she began 20 years ago. She is blogging about that experience and the creative process at


Visit Presbyterian Writers Guild online
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Has your email changed? Have you published something new? Send address changes and updates about your writing and publishing for the Member Updates column to Eva Stimson.


Join the Writers Guild Facebook group and post news of your publications at any time. On Facebook, search for the group "Presbyterian Writers Guild" and click to join. 

The Writer is published occasionally by the Presbyterian Writers Guild. Editor: Eva Stimson