Book Reviews: Story Craft

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email

Story Craft: Reflections on Faith, Culture & Writing from the Author of Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erickson (Maverick Books and Patrick Henry College)

Fans of John Erickson know he begins his books, “It’s me again, Hank the Cowdog.” The reader understands that chuckles, morals and fun follow, while librarians and teachers recognize that the fiction will be well written.

What makes the tales successful? The Perryton resident shares his secrets in Story Craft. In part one, Erickson tells his own story. In part two, he discusses his faith. In part three, he lists 20 writing tips. The Texan traces his success to the encouragement of his mother who read aloud to him and his wife who stood behind him.

The University of Texas graduate dreamed of writing serious novels. However, to support his family, he worked as a cowboy and wrote for ranch magazines. Eventually, he met an Australian shepherd named Hank and penned a story for The Cattleman from the dog’s point of view.

In 1983, Erickson self-published the first Hank the Cowdog mystery. Although intended for adults, schools discovered the title and sales mushroomed. Today Hank the Cowdog, with 55 books, is the longest running children’s audio book series, and Erickson travels across the nation presenting programs.

Whether or not you enjoy Hank the Cowdog, you’ll appreciate Story Craft and the integrity of a creative author who expresses his Christian worldview through the eyes of a ranch family’s dog. And if you’ve never met Hank, give him a try.

Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president

Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, Waco

The Power of Prayer and Fasting God’s Gateway to Spiritual Breakthroughs, Revised and Expanded by Ronnie W. Floyd (B&H Publishing Group)

True intimacy with God and the power that it brings should be the desire of all of us but rarely is experienced by most of us. Ronnie Floyd shares his journeying with God through prayer and fasting that led him to experience God in powerful ways. His key statement is “God can do more in a moment than I could ever do in a lifetime.”

Floyd writes from experience. His hunger for God led him to understand revival to be simply the manifest presence of God. He shows how King David, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul and Jesus set the example that led to God demonstrating his mighty power. He states that the issue is not if a Christian should fast, but when.

Based on this premise, Floyd gives his definition of fasting as “deny self of what is common, normal, and necessary for a period of time for a spiritual purpose.” He gives guidelines and cautions for those desiring to fast. Have a plan and a reason for your fasting. God should be leading you to do so.

Floyd provides a daily prayer guide, questions and answers, and a guide for a corporate church fast. This is not a book on theory about prayer and fasting but a very real personal testimony of what churches and individuals need in our day. This book will bless you and challenge you to really look at where you are in your prayer life, as well as where your church is. It will inspire you and guide you to experience God in a new dynamic. It is a dangerous book to read unless you truly hunger for God.

Leo Smith, executive director

Texas Baptist Men, Dallas


Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris (Multnomah Books)

In Dug Down Deep, Joshua Harris, senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., encourages Christians to go beyond a superficial knowledge of the Christian faith. Instead of relying on what others say about Christianity, Harris implores individual Christians to go on their own journey of theological discovery.

In a reader-friendly and relatable style, Harris challenges Christians to delve into study and examination of the Christian faith so their spiritual lives will be built on a foundation strong enough to sustain them through the trials and difficulties of life.

In common, everyday language, Harris touches on the important topics of the faith and helps the reader recognize the practical and daily implications of the church’s theology. Christians who never have studied theology before will find Dug Down Deep to be an excellent introduction to the topic. Christians who have studied theology will appreciate Harris’ pastoral heart and openness that are apparent throughout the book.

Scott E. Bryant, lecturer

Department of Religion and Honors College,

Baylor University, Waco


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email

Care to comment? Send an email to our interim opinion editor, Blake Atwood. Maximum length for publication is 250 words.