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


Zion Publishing

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

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

Retail Price: $15.95 + 3.99 postage and handling

For discounted bulk orders, contact marynilsen@zionpublishing.org

In the early 1980s, the writing of A Time for Peace began, and, thanks to the perceptive comments of a group of early readers, this meditation book has been in print ever since. But it was time for an update. Some meditations have been tweaked. A foreword by The Rev. Donald Nelson, who translated this book into Portuguese for Brazilian readers, has been added, and the book has a new size and new cover with new artwork. But the book contains the same Twelve-Step wisdom thousands of readers have found relevant and meaningful for their daily lives.

A profound gift to all the people of God, A Time for Peace is one of those rare daily meditation books that respects, challenges, and sustains its readers. Faithful to the biblical witness, sensitive to inclusive language, and steeped in the wisdom of the Twelve Steps, Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen offers us a literary work of art—welcome refreshment for all who journey in God’s shalom.

                                                            Bishop Ann Svennungsen, Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA

I heartily recommend this book to all recovering people. Mary Nilsen’s loving embrace of the Bible can only uplift and enhance each of us on our journeys. She helps make both Scripture and recovery “Trees of Life.” Congratulations to her and to all who grow from this work. 

                                                    Rabbi Susan B. Stone, Author of  The Twelve-Steps and Jewish Tradition

We who are tired of the promises of self-help books and programs or simplistic suggestions on how to live are now invited to sojourn in a different place—the world of wise relationships and insightful reflections on the self—and by so doing, experience a time for peace.       

                                                                                     The Rev. Donald Nelson, Garopaba, Brasil, 2017