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Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins

Reviewed by C.J. Darlington

"Positive and encouraging ... an honest discussion of what it takes to be a writer."

Pop quiz. How many books did Jerry Jenkins write before penning the smash hit Left Behind? 0, 4, 17, 58, or 124? Believe it or not, the correct answer is the last one. Says Jerry in Chapter 1: “It shouldn’t surprise me, but it amuses me when people ask if I’ve written anything besides the Left Behind series. I’m tempted to say, ‘No, I hit pay dirt on the first try.’”

Writing for the Soul is more than a writing how-to book (though it does dish up some helpful morsels for writer wannabes). It’s also an autobiography of sorts in which Jerry shares how he got started as a writer and what’s motivated him for the 40+ years he’s been at it. With an easy-to-read and often humorous style, Writing for the Soul’s thirteen chapters cover everything from “What to Write” to “Pursuing Publication”. The nuts and bolts elements are cleverly interspersed throughout the stories documenting Jerry’s trials, errors, and successes.

Also included are nine stories featuring some of the famous people Jerry’s had the privilege of spending time with over the years. Included are Walter Payton, Billy Graham, B.J. Thomas, Meadowlark Lemon, Brett Butler, Mike Singletary and Joe Gibbs, Orel Hershiser and Nolan Ryan, Madeline Manning, and Paul Anderson. These intriguing anecdotes alone make Writing for the Soul a worthwhile bookshelf addition for the glimpse into these lives. I’m coming away with a new appreciation for the evangelist Billy Graham’s humility, for example.

Maybe not as detailed as some writing instructional books (you won’t find query letter how-tos or entire sections devoted to specific techniques), Writing for the Soul is still an inspirational beginning primer for anyone with writerly inclinations. At the end of several chapters is a Q&A section where Jerry answers questions like, “How do you know when a scene or chapter should end?”, “How important is comic relief?”, “How can a young writer succeed?” and more.

Positive and encouraging, Writing for the Soul is an honest discussion about what it takes to be a writer. Jerry’s words say it all: “I’m living my dream as a full-time freelance novelist, writing about things I believe in and care about. And you can too. The path is crowded and the passage long, but the reward is worth it. You can write for the benefit of your soul. And you can write to reach the soul of another.”

C.J. DarlingtonC.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.