Happy Anniversary! (and a gift for you….)


Dear Friends,
It’s been a little over a year since The Pen and the Bell arrived in the world. We’ve been so happy to share this book with you, both virtually and in person!

As a thank you to our readers, we’ll be giving away a FREE copy of The Pen and the Bell to one lucky person who leaves a comment here  by June 1. We know most of you probably already own a copy, but it makes a great gift, too!

Your comment can be as simple as “Happy Anniversary,” or as elaborate as telling us what you enjoy about the book, this blog, or your personal writing practice. Any suggestions about what we can offer you on this website are more than welcome!

We’re looking forward to hearing from you. If you’ve been quietly “lurking” for a while, we’d love to hear your voice, too!

With gratitude,
Brenda and Holly



23 thoughts on “Happy Anniversary! (and a gift for you….)

  1. Happy Anniversary, indeed! Congratulations on your wonderful book and blog, and thank you for the on-going inspiration and support…your work has helped me in my writing life in so many ways!

  2. Congratulations and Happy Anniversary! May the book have a long publishing life. I know it will live long in the minds of its readers.

  3. I love your book and have already given a copy to a dear friend. If I win the book lottery, lucky me and lucky other-friend.

  4. I was first introduced to your work and being at Seattle University’s Search for Meaning Festival this year. I was inspired to continue to work on a poem that I drafted in response to reading Li-Young Li’s “Eating Together” poem that was read as a prompt for us to write to. I promised I would share it, and am finally doing that. I, too, lead WritersGathering writing groups and retreats in Seattle and in other areas. It was a joy to be in your presence. Blessings on your work.

    An Old Bay Spiced Shrimp Christmas

    In the black and white speckled pot
    upon the stove
    cheesecloth bundled and tied Old Bay spices
    round lemon slices float
    atop the bubbles.

    I am
    In the living room
    my husband
    four sisters and the two married one’s husbands,
    four brothers and their four wives,
    all fourteen of our offspring
    and three of their fruits.

    We are
    opening Christmas
    cracking jokes.

    The Old Bay spices drift
    into the living room
    smarting our eyes
    tickling our throats
    much in the same way
    as they did when we were younger.

    Only, we have bigger lungs
    Some scarred by life’s exhalations.
    Only the offspring of our offspring cough.

    My brothers, sisters and I
    breathe in the spices,
    ones that sustain us
    years after Mom and Dad have gone
    and wonder
    who will be next to leave the party
    to put the shrimp in the pot.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful poem, Julie. I’m so glad you were inspired by that prompt/poem–and were there in that crowded room at the Search for Meaning Conference. Hope to hear from/see you again!


  5. Walking the streets of Boston in June last year searching for the right building where I could purchase my copy of your lovely book. A flurry of excitement when I realized I was there. Left clutching my copy and smiling. I was traveling in Boston alone. A long way from Australia.

  6. Looking forward to reading your book – it’ll happen regardless of if I’m picked or I buy it!

  7. I’m enjoying the book in the same way I’ve enjoyed Brenda Miller’s essays. I’ll use parts of The Pen and the Bell in the creative writing class for gifted high school students I’m going to teach this summer. I appreciate its stand against all of the many many distractions of our modern world.

  8. A fellow writer mentioned how much the book has helped her with her own work and that of her students. I write fiction, nonfiction and poetry in several different group settings, so I’m very interested to read it and see how I can incorporate your ideas into my own writing habits (which aren’t always particularly diligent).

    • Thanks for responding, Corrine, and thanks to your friend for suggesting P & B, too. We look forward to hearing more as you try it out–and hope you’ll find a writing practice that works for you.


  9. Happy Anniversary! I’ll admit I don’t have your book. I was pointed to your website by another writer friend of mine. Mindfulness is an important topic for me since my son’s therapy involves strategies for him to engage in mindfulness. I will look for your book in the library.

  10. A friend I’d lost track of for several years told me she has terminal cancer. I asked if she was afraid to die. She responded, oh my god, I’ve had this for over a year and nobody’s asked me that. Then proceeded to talk openly about her fears. So I’m grateful to the Pen and the Bell, because it helped me to ask questions of myself that it turns out others are struggling with, too. I was struck by your chapter on solitude, but in every chapter you’ve turned my writing toward deeper honesty, and maybe the conversation my friend is drawing me into will help her die in solitude, instead of loneliness.

    • Thanks so much for sharing this touching story, Dawn. I’m so glad you found Pen & Bell and that it’s helping you navigate this tricky terrain with your friend. That’s one of my favorite chapters, too–such a critical distinction between solitude and loneliness–thanks for this poignant example.

      Wishing you and your friend courage and many blessings,

  11. I just found out about your book from a friend who couldn’t say enough good things about it. After longing to write since college, now at the age of 54 I am going to venture into the world of spiritual nonfiction writing, and your book looks like just the companion to help me get off to a good start. Just looking at the table of contents got me so excited, I can hardly wait to get started reading and following the practices. Thanks for birthing this book whose voice is so needed in this time!

    • Sounds like serendipitous timing indeed, Julianne! We’re so glad you found P & B and hope it will be a good companion as you begin your writing practice. Thanks for sharing this–hope to hear from you again as you try out the practices, too.


  12. Happy to help a fellow writer out and post a comment. Even better, to win one of your books. Happy anniversary. Keep writing.

  13. I’m excited to get my hands a copy of the book! A free copy would be great, but I’m sure a copy will find it’s way into my hands at the right time.

  14. Happy Anniversary!
    I read Brenda’s Q&As at Midge Raymond’s blog. I wholly agree with taking some time away from the desk and especially taking a walk. I find my mind is free and very creative when I walk. “The Pen and the Bell” sounds like an interesting book; I’m looking forward to reading it.