One of the things that makes the crazy ups and downs of the writing life bearable is good friends, people who understand why we choose to write, people who value the written word, people who commiserate, encourage, and urge us on.  Some of these beautiful people don’t even know how much they inspire me; some of them I go to regularly.  But they are all people I have had the pleasure of spending time with as writers, and truly, they give me strength. So today, I share with you their work with the hopes that you will get to know their words.  

1. Rockaway by Tara Ison – Tara was on the faculty at Antioch University Los Angeles when I attended there for my MFA. She is an amazing person, and her work is equally so. This novel is fun and probing, powerful and light on the eyes.  sheddingskin

2. How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp by Shawn and Maile Smucker – Shawn and Maile are some of my favorite people. They are daring and bold – and profoundly honest and sincere. This book tells their journey across the country with their four children and the lessons they took from that time as well as the questions such an adventure raises. If you want to be inspired and challenged, get this book.

3. The Language of Shedding Skin by Niki Herd – I met Niki at Antioch, too, and I had the privilege of working with her in a class a couple of years back. Her words are strong and clear, her voice like an oracle. This book of poetry was nominated for many awards, and it pushes us as readers. If you like poetry, if you want to be spurred, buy this one.

4. Run With Me by Jennifer Luitwieler – Jen keeps me sane most days. Even though we have never met in person, she and I exchange texts most days, and she is truly one of the funniest people I know. If you’re looking for a book to make you laugh and to make you think, this one is a great choice. Just wait for the section about sports’ stadiums and pockets.

5. A Wild Surmise by Eloise Klein Healy – If there’s a person who is universally loved, I think it’s Eloise. She began the MFA program at Antioch, and she is the great matriarch for all of us who went there. Her poetry is vast, open, and yet very close to the chest. I’m in the midst of reading A Wild Surmise right now, and I’m in love.

6. Into the Garden of Gethsemane, Georgia by Laraine Herring – I’m not actually sure how I know Laraine. She went to Antioch, so I expect someone – maybe Gayle Brandeis (another dear friend whose books you should get) introduced us. But then I took a writing workshop with Laraine, and I was hooked. This is one of her new books, and I’m so eager to read it. So eager.

7. Nightmarriage by Chad Thomas Johnston – Chad is just smart, smart and funny, and a little odd in all the best ways. This memoir shares the story of how he met and wooed his wife (or did she woo him?) and of their new marriage and first moments of parenthood. So funny, so heartfelt. A great gift for newlyweds or new parents alike.

8. Zen And The Art Of Knitting: Exploring the Links Between Knitting, Spirituality, and Creativity by Bernadette Murphy – I don’t knit, but I do love Bernadette. This woman just took a cross-country ride on her motorcycle, and she writes these amazing essays that just break my heart at the same time they give me hope. If you’re a crafter, this book – yeah, this one.

9. Black Peculiar by Khadijah Queen – Khadijah is one of those people who I stand in awe of and have since I first met her Antioch. She’s strong and grace in both presence and word. This book has been on my “to be read” list for a long time, and I hope you’ll add it to yours.

10. The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time by David L. Ulin – David was my mentor at Antioch. He spurred me to think deeply about texts, and he helped take my rough, newly-accepted writer’s voice and make it stronger and smoother. This book – well, if you love books, you’ll see why this book is something you need. Maybe something to buy a few copies of and hand out.

So that’s my list – it’s only partial. There are so many other writers who are my friends, and if I could, I would recommend every one of their books. But this is a start.

Now, it’s your turn.  What books have you written or have your friends written?  Share them below and give us a link to where we can buy them.  (You’ll be helping us out, but you’ll also be helping your friends with more links to their work.) I can’t wait to see what you recommend.


By the way, I’m giving away two free seats to my upcoming Grammar and Writing Etiquette class that starts November 4th.  If you’d like to enter, please enter here — a Rafflecopter giveaway.