I have thrilling news to share on the creative writing front!

Some of you might remember that I've been attending Breathe Writers' Conference here in Grand Rapids for the past five years (this year will be my sixth!).

One of my favorite workshop leaders at the conference, Amy Nemecek, who is an extraordinary poet and book editor, decided she wanted to do more for the attendees than provide breakout sessions; she wanted to offer them a venue in which to submit work.

Back in October, as the conference was drawing to a close, she announced she would be starting Exhale: A Journal of the Breathe Writers Conference — a literary publication for Breathe attendees past and present featuring fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.

I submitted three poems in January and found out last night that two of them, "The Fallow Field" and "Hymn for Hesitation," were accepted for publication in the inaugural issue.

I am beyond excited to hold the journal in my hand this fall and read the beautiful words written by women and men from all walks of life who I've come to know over the past half-decade.

Stay tuned for the big reveal this October!

“A Prayer for Owen Meany,” by John Irving, (William Morrow, 1989) packs a punch. Friendship, love and ironclad faith characterize one of the most unusual fictional characters I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

Owen Meany is small for his 11 years, with a voice “not entirely of this world,” “a strangled, emphatic falsetto,” that sounds like a scream and is always written in capital letters. His big opinions and commanding personality more than make up for his missing inches.

The book is narrated by his best friend, Johnny Wheelwright. When they are boys in 1953 (not a spoiler, it’s on the back cover), Owen hits a foul ball at a Little League game that kills Johnny’s mother.

The rest of the book is divided between snippets from adult John’s life and flashbacks to the years following “the incident,” as Johnny and Owen’s bond remains undiminished even as family dynamics change and the Vietnam War encroaches.

Unbeknownst to his best friend, Owen is preparing for his destiny, a fate he sees spelled out in the unlikeliest of places.

Through a story that is soaked in the mystery of the divine, Irving shows how doubt is the essence of faith, not its enemy — and the most painful parts of life can lead us to the ultimate truth.