Posted by: nancyisanders | March 2, 2012

Author Interview: Rachel G. Hackenberg

Meet Author Rachel G. Hackenberg
Blog: Faith and Water
Website: Rachel G. Hackenberg
Facebook: Readers can also like “Writing to God” on Facebook.

Rachel is a United Church of Christ pastor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; a lover of spiced chai tea; and a soccer mom of two. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, she also blogs and leads workshops on her book “Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying with My Pen” (Paraclete Press 2011).

Featured Book:
Writing to God: Kids’ Edition
Author: Rachel G. Hackenberg
Publisher: Paraclete Press

Writing to God: Kids’ Edition invites young people to talk to God about everyday life using everyday language. No prayers to memorize. No “churchy” language. Simply thirty-five tangible prayer ideas (endearingly illustrated) that encourage children to find their own voices in praying about school, nature, emotions, experiences, and more.

Q: Describe a highlight for you personally while you were writing this book.
One of the highlights of writing this book came not from my own pen but from the pens and crayons of children. As the book came together, I invited children to write prayers in response to various prayer ideas from the book, and I was delighted and touched by their responses. From the pure emotion of a young girl writing “Dear God, did you know how scared I was?” … to the straightforward observation of a six-year-old boy saying, “God you were a good thinker when you thought of making water for us” … all of the kids’ prayers were refreshing for me to read! Twenty prayers written by children and youth are included in “Writing to God: Kids’ Edition.”

Q: How do you hope to influence today’s young readers through this book?
I hope to encourage young readers with the message that prayer doesn’t need to feel formidable. Prayer is a conversation with God, and it can be creative, it can be long or short, it can be silly or sad; prayer is not about the right combination of formal church words. I hope kids feel affirmed that you can be yourself with God and you can talk to God about anything. I also believe that “Writing to God: Kids’ Edition” is a great resource for religious education programs, and I hope that it provides church educators with creative tools for engaging children in prayer.

Q: What plans, if any, do you have to help market your new book?
For local (Lancaster PA) readers, I’m launching the new book with a “Pray and Play” workshop — a hands-on unstructured experience of praying in pen, praying with paint, praying on post-it notes, praying with sand swirls, praying with pictures, etc., to invite people of all ages to pray creatively. (There will be cake at the workshop, too!)

Q: What is one word of advice you received as a writer that you would like to share with others?
Literally one word? I’d say “Try.” The step between writing and publishing (whether online, in print, paid or unpaid) is a writer’s decision to try — to dare to put her words in front of others, to attempt to speak to an audience. Sometimes a writer finds courage to try within herself/himself; sometimes it comes from the encouragement of a friend or mentor; sometimes it comes from seeing one’s own words on paper. I received the encouragement to try from a middle school teacher who helped me enter a fictional story in a children’s writing contest; that was my earliest experience with publishing! One of the many things that pleases me about “Writing to God: Kids’ Edition” is that I could encourage some young writers with an opportunity to see their words in a published book.

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