Words that Sing
Composing Lyrical Prose

A Writing Text for Advanced Writers 

of Literary Prose


Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen

ISBN: 9781477533925

218 Pages


Both text and inspiration, both craft and art, Words that Sing offers to serious writers, writers who are struggling to be heard, who want to hone their craft, who long to write more artful prose, specific techniques for doing so.  

    Whether studied alone, in a workshop setting, or in a college classroom, these techniques and exercises heighten writers’ awareness of issues of craft and give specific helps in learning stylistic forms of sentences that increase the power of their words. Beyond that, the exercises explore the fundamental importance of com-municating ideas through metaphor. Specific exercises increase a writer’s ability to convey ideas that matter by using language that lingers and perhaps even takes up residence in the reader’s mind. 

“Moving from balances to series, from cumulatives to suspensions, and working with increasingly sophisticated forms of metaphor, the course challenges writers to stretch their stylistic repertoire, to expand their view of sentences, and to see the world as they have not seen it before.  If you hope to increase the gracefulness, the artfulness and the power of your prose, or want your students to do likewise, this course is for you.  If you believe that sentences carefully wrought can touch a reader’s heart and lift a reader’s spirit, then Mary Nilsen had you in mind when she wrote this book.” Dr. Nancy Jones (from the back cover). 

Words that Sing can be used as a text for semester-long writing classes or for shorter, intensive workshops.

Available through Amazon.com or from Zion Publishing

Orders of 10 or more receive a 50% discount when ordered through Zion Publishing


Beyond the Dead End:

Letters to My Father 

A Memoir by Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen

298 pages, $13.95

ISBN 978-145637991

In her memoir Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen reaches out to her father, who died when she was six. Through story-filled letters, she begins, little by little, confiding in him, telling him of her yearning and rebellion, her faith journey and call, her doubts and hopes.

You will find yourself in tears of laughter and sorrow, as you journey with Mary from age 6 to 70, beyond the dead end of her childhood street and the dead ends of her life. You will see through Nilsen's eyes the wisdom of asking tough questions of God and wrestling with others' easy answers. 

You will struggle with her through problems of parenting, marriage and vocation, as she gains resilience and finds meaning and joy in the ordinary and the extraordinary. Finally, you will find inspiration as you seek life beyond your own dead ends.

Can be ordered at Amazon.com 

Bookstore or bulk order rates are available.

Price: $13.95 plus tax and shipping/handling

Click here to order an autographed copy

Zion Publishing

1500 Crown Colony Ct. #540 Des Moines IA 50315 US

The Blessing of Feelings

Text by Erika Nilsen 

Photography by Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen

32 pages, hard cover. Size: 8 1/2 X 7

Designed for ages 3-8

ISBN 978-0-9627147-4-0


This intriguing collection of black and white photographs captures a wide range of feelings that come and go. Children, relating to the faces and the corresponding emotions in each picture, will easily engage in conversation about what situations might cause that feeling and how it can be handled in a healthy manner. The book is based on the premise that a feeling is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong, it just is. After honestly naming that feeling, children can learn to move through it in a constructive way.

Written by Pastor Erika Nilsen, with photographs taken by her mother Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen, this book is an indispensable tool for parents and others working with young children. It will help those children understand their wonderful and sometimes painful and complicated world of feelings.

Single copies of this book can be ordered at: Amazon.com

Retail Price: $10.95 + 3.99 postage and handling

For discounted bulk orders, contact marynilsen@zionpublishing.org