What We Are Reading

As a publishing team, we know how important it is to keep up-to-date on what others are reading and the many great resources available. We thought our readers might be interested to know what we’re currently reading.

Here’s a snapshot of the New Growth Press acquisitions team’s recent reads:


Carved in Ebony

Barbara Juliani

VP, Director of Acquisitions
and Editorial

What was the last book you read? 

I’m always reading lots of books, so it’s hard to pick just one. But one of my current favorites is Carved in Ebony from Jasmine Holmes.

What was it about?

Jasmine, a self-described history buff, tells the stories of 10 little-known Black women who lived by faith before and after the Civil War. By faith they fought for freedom, built schools, became missionaries, and shared their faith. Their lives were hard, but their tenacity in loving God and following him didn’t fail. They weren’t perfect women, and they didn’t live in a perfect world. But they didn’t give up in the face of hardship, and so they made a difference in the lives of those around them.

What was interesting about it? 

I love a good story. I often skip the boring parts of a book and just read the stories. So this book was all stories—nothing to skip! I also love reading history from original sources, which is one of the strengths of this book. And then to see how God sustained these women and made them shine for him was so encouraging. Also, this isn’t really about the content, but I love the cover!

How did you hear about it?

I heard about it from Jasmine’s Instagram posts (@jasminelholmes), and also heard her speak at the Gospel Coalition’s Women’s Conference. I read it on the plane on the way home.


The Way of the Writer

Rush Witt

Acquisitions Editor and Manager

What was the last book you read? 

The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling by Charles D. Johnson

What was it about?

The author of this book, Charles R. Johnson, is a scholar and an author of novels and shorter pieces in which he addresses the issues of Black life in America. This book serves as a reflection on his writing career and the art of writing itself. Johnson writes about the process of storytelling and writing while drawing on life experiences. He also includes explanations of his own approach and style. 

What was interesting about it? 

I’ve tried to make a habit of reading books about writing to help me become a stronger writer and storyteller for the purpose of my own writing ministry, as well as my pastoral preaching and counseling ministry. I believe effective writing and broader church ministry can benefit from growth in developing, understanding, and telling the stories of real life. Charles Johnson does that in his writing, which includes Middle Passage, his famous novel about escape from slavery in America. I’m beginning to read this novel next. I have a lot to learn, and I learned much from reading The Way of the Writer.

How did you hear about it?

I think, like many books I read, I found The Way of the Writer as I searched Google for books about improving my craft as a writer. And my interest in understanding Black history probably jogged the Google algorithm to call up this book. I’m glad it did!


The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

Drew Hill

Author of Alongside Jesus

What was the last book you read?

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World by John Mark Comer

What was it about?

Intentionally slowing down amid all of the chaos going on around us.

What was interesting about it?

The first half of the book was extremely convicting in how I handle daily distractions.

How did you hear about it?

I had multiple friends that recommended the book to me.


Devotedly

Irene Sun

Author of Taste and See

What was the last book you read?

Devotedly: The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot by Valerie Elliot Shepherd

What was it about?

This book shares the love story, the letters, and the  journal entries of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. I return to this book again and again because Jim and Elisabeth found words that aptly describe the yearnings in my own heart for the Divine.

What was interesting about it?

I have a personal obsession with individual penmanship. One’s handwriting captures a glimpse of the soul. I love that the two tablets given to God’s people were handwritten by the finger of God (Deuteronomy 9:10). Elisabeth Eilliot is among my spiritual mothers, along with Amy Carmichael (spiritual grandmother) and Lilias Trotter (spiritual grandaunt). Valerie Shepherd generously shares many pictures of her parents’ correspondence. 

How did you hear about it?

I don’t remember, but I bought it in 2020, and it has been sitting on my desk through the pandemic.


Writing Irresistible Kidlit cover

Marty Machowski

Author and Executive Editor for Children’s Resources

What was the last book you read?

Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole

What was it about?

The book helps authors better understand how to write for young adult and middle grade audiences. Since I incorporate fictional stories into some of my books, I thought it would be helpful to learn more about how to reach a middle grade audience. The book also covers young adult literature with the same thoroughness.

The book assumes the reader is planning to write a novel, but the principles Kole covers apply more broadly beyond novel writing. The fictional components I write alongside the theology books for kids are more akin to short stories, and I found the principles she offers helpful.

I have previously written a novel-length allegory for middle grade readers and am toying with the idea of writing a novel for that same age group. The book taught me the building blocks and key issues that are important to this age group. 

What was interesting about it?

Mary includes examples from novels she has read and solicited examples from other literary agents. The examples she offers help you to better understand the points she makes throughout the book and see how to apply them. 

Mary passes on the virtues she’s come to love in excellent books, teaching pointers like developing characters the reader cares about and invests their emotions in. She also discusses the importance of developing an exciting plot that keeps moving to draw in the reader’s interest. None of what she writes is complicated, and much of it is common sense, but to have it all written down in a concise place serves to remind an author of what is important in writing for the middle grades. 

How did you hear about it?

I did a search on Amazon to find the kid’s lit book with the strongest reviews. That is what led me to Writing Irresistible Kidlit.

About the author

Barbara Juliani

Barbara Miller Juliani, MS, is an author, Bible teacher, and retreat speaker. She is also the Vice President and Editorial Director for New Growth Press. Her husband, Angelo, is the pastor of Bridge Community Church, Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. They have four children and eight grandchildren. She is the author and editor of a number of books and minibooks including the daily devotional Saving Grace and the Bible Study, Psalms: Real Prayers for Real Life.

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