Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen began her literary career as a writer and worked with four different publishing houses during the 1970s and 80s. Alas, the time when publishers were eagerly looking for writers is over. In 1990, she realized that none of her previous publishers would accept a book dear to her heart, A Time for Peace, without her changing the target market and, thus, changing the book. Determined that the book she had been working on for years be published, she formed Zion Publishing.
Since then, except for stretches of time devoted to writing Mary has worked through Zion with joy, providing for others what she was given early in her career--a partner to help shape the writer's words into the most inviting book possible.
Her graduate degrees, first in Literary Non-fiction from the University of Iowa and then in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, have deepened, expanded, and diversified the knowledge base she brings to the work of others.
Nilsen, experienced in e-publishing, Print On Demand publishing and print publishing, can advise you on the most economical and efficient way to turn your typescript into a paper and/or e-book. Once your decision is made, Mary will make it happen.
For a complete Vita, keep scrolling.
Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen
1500 Crown Colony Ct. #540
Des Moines, IA 50315
Born October 1, 1938, Fargo, ND
M.T.S. Harvard Divinity School, May 1994.
M.A. The University of Iowa, Literary Non-Fiction Writing, May 1985.Creative Writing and History of the English Language. University of Minnesota 1975-77.
B. A. Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota, 1960.
Has owned and operated Zion Publishing and Zion Publishing Services since 1990, where she partners with writers to help shape the writer’s words into the most beautiful and inviting book possible.
“Nude Truths: An Odyssey in Poetry, Painting, and Prose.” In this innovative art exhibit, lines from the poetry of Denise Levertov have been used to inspire 24 large paintings by Kristi Ylvisaker with prose responses by Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen. The exhibit is being displayed at churches, colleges and seminaries. (see www.zionpublishing.org)
Consider the Marvels: Writings from My 79th Year. Zion Publishing, Des Moines, IA, 2018. Abridged from Marvels: Daily Writings from My 79th Year. Zion Publishing, Des Moines, IA, 2018
A Time for Peace: Daily Meditations for Twelve-Step Living. Iowa City, IA: Zion Publishing, 1990. 2nd Edition with Foreword, 2017.
Shalom: Twelve Step and Enneagram Wisdom: A Guide. Zion Publishing, Des Moines, IA, 2015
Words that Sing: Composing Lyrical Prose. Zion Publishing, Des Moines, IA, 2013. Second Edition, 2016.
Beyond the Dead End: Letters to My Father, text by Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen, drawings by Kristi Ylvisaker. Zion Publishing, Des Moines, IA 2010
Nude Truths: An Odyssey in Poetry, Painting, and Prose, painting by Kristi Ylvisaker, text by Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen. Zion Publishing, 2007
The Blessing of Feelings, Photography by Mary Nilsen, text by Erika Nilsen. Zion Publishing, 2007
The Power of One: A Portrait of Marie Sletvold Ylvisaker. Zion Publishing, Des Moines, IA, 2001.
For Everything A Season: 75 Blessings for Daily Life. Zion Publishing, Des Moines, IA, 1999. Reprint as For Everything A Season: 75 Blessings for Life’s Milestones, 2015.
When A Bough Breaks: Mending the Family Tree. A documentary/novel. Hazelden, 1985; Audio tape reproduction, Hazelden, 1986; reprint, Harper and Row, 1987.
Our Family Shares Advent. Winston Press, Minneapolis, MN, 1980.
“Breath Prayers: Claiming God’s Spirit in the Moment,” Faith@Work,
"Imagination for Transformation," Word and World, Summer 1995.
"Love Wisdom," Lutheran Woman Today, March 1991.
"Reflections of a Former Editor," Iowa Woman, Winter, 1990.
"Johan Olof Wallin," Leaflet Ministry Series, Augsburg Fortress, 1990.
"One More for the Road: A Background Paper on Drunk Driving," The
Advocate, Fall 1989.
"Called to Discipleship," Lutheran Woman Today, March 1988.
"Changing Those Things We Can: A Christian Approach to Alcohol,"
The Other Side, March 1987. Reprinted in International Christian Digest, October 1987.
"Face to Face With God," The Lutheran Standard, April 4, 1986.
"But He's Not a Junkie," The Other Side, October 1982.
"Woman, Language, and Spirituality," Iowa Woman, Fall 1984.
"The Canteen," Iowa Woman, Fall 1984.
"The Suturing of a Bleeding Heart," Iowa Woman, Spring 1984.
C. Book Reviews
Beyond Power, by Marilyn French. Iowa Woman, Winter 1986.
Heart Failure, by Ivy Goodman. Iowa Woman, Winter 1984.
More Work For Mother, by Ruth Schwartz. Iowa Woman, Winter 1984.
Love Story of the Century, by Marta Tikkanen. Iowa Woman, Spring 1984.
D. Religious Educational Materials
Wisdom Literature, Adult Home Bible Study Series. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1989.
Proverbs, Friendship Bible Study Series, student book and leader guide. Augsburg Publishing House, 1987.
The Story of the Church. Thirty-nine lessons: reader, workbook, and leader guide. Augsburg Publishing House, 1983.
The New Testament for Us. Thirty-nine lessons: workbook and leader guide. Augsburg Publishing House, 1983.
The Old Testament for Us. Thirty-nine lessons: workbook and leader guide. Augsburg Publishing House, 1983.
Image Enrichment Kit. Usage guide. Augsburg Publishing House, 1982.
Your Life/Your Self. Leader Guide. Augsburg Publishing House, 1982.
Where Word and World Meet. Thirteen lessons, student book and leader guide. Augsburg Publishing House, 1981.
God's Gift of Law. Thirteen lessons, student book and leader guide. Augsburg Publishing House, 1981.
Tending the Family Tree. Minneapolis, MN: Winston Press, 1980.
Real Living: A Small Group Bible Study Based on the Gospel of Luke. 120 lessons (four-year study); student books and leader guides. Winston Press, 1977, '78, '79. Reprinted and abridged by the British and Foreign Bible Society.
Honors and Awards
Listed in the International Authors and Writers Who's Who, Cambridge, England: 10th, 11th, and 12th Editions.
Listed in Outstanding Young Women of America, 1972.
Advanced Writing, Collegeville Institute, 2010-
Putting it on Paper, Collegeville Institute, 2004-
Fiction Writing, Personal Essay, Metaphor, Personal Portrait Writing, Memoir Writing, Prose Style, and Honing your prose. The Iowa Summer Writing Festival, 1989-
Prose Rhythms, Memorable Images: Writing craft for Sermons, Prayers, Liturgies, and Blessing Rituals. Continuing education: Columbia Theological Seminary, 2001, Lilly Foundation Residency Program, 2003-
The Enneagram: For Personal Spiritual Growth and Improved Interpersonal Relationships. Luther Seminary, 2003, 2004. Columbia Theological Seminary, 2005.
Writing for the Web: From Information to Ministry. St John’s Lutheran Church, 2001-2004
Creating a Climate of Blessing Rituals. Continuing education: Luther Seminary, 2001.
Using Metaphor. Continuing Education: Luther Seminary 1999, SE Iowa workshops, 2001.
Prose Style for Religious Professionals. Continuing Education: Princeton Theological Seminary, GTU, Trinity Seminary, Luther Seminary, Columbia Theological Seminary, Wartburg Seminary 1996-
Personal Writing (8W:104). The University of Iowa, (Classroom  and correspondence) 1991-2000.
Expository Writing (8W:10). The University of Iowa, (classroom and correspondence) 1987-92.
Freshman Rhetoric. The University of Iowa, 1982-85, 1988.
Speech (1:01). The University of Minnesota, 1974, 1977.
Senior English. Concordia High School, 1963-64.
Debate and Declamation coach. Oak Grove High School, 1959-60
Certified Spiritual Director, 1999, St. Joseph’s Center, Des Moines, IA
Certified Enneagram Instructor, 1997, Loyola University, Chicago, IL
Web Meditation and Bible Study writer for the St. John’s web site, 1999-
Enneagram Workshop Leader for Church Staff Development, 1997-
Developer and Leader of Shalom Groups: Using the Twelve-Steps and Enneagram for Spiritual Renewal. Zion Lutheran Church, Iowa City, 1986-1998, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Des Moines, IA 1999-.
Developer, writer, and publisher: Literary Prose Style: A Course for Religious Professionals, 1996
Researcher for the Harvard Pluralism Project on "Religious Pluralism in Iowa," 1993.
Developer and Writer: Correspondence Course 8W:104--Personal Writing, University of Iowa, 1990.
Established Zion Publishing, 1990.
Editorial assistant: Philological Quarterly, 1986-92.
Editor: Iowa Woman, a Quarterly Journal of Information and the Arts, 1983-85.
· Lecturer on the Enneagram, 1996-
· Lecturer on religious pluralism, 1994-
· Guest lecturer at Holden Village: Enneagram, 1999, The Twelve Steps, 1991.
· Speaker for local and regional civic groups, 1965-.
· Member, Mercy Hospital Advisory Board, 1978-.
· Fifth-Step Volunteer: MECCA Treatment Center, 1987-1989.
· Teacher of Church Study Groups, 1961-.
· Member, Area Health Care Advisory Board, 1975-79.
· Featured speaker, Weekend Retreats: 1978, 1981, 1983, 1988, 1998, 2002.
· Hosted a weekly radio interview program on civic affairs, 1971-1975.
· Member, Community Development Advisory Board, 1974-76.
· Newspaper columnist, 1971-1973.
· Officer, League of Women Voters, 1970-1975.
· Political radio and television speechwriter, 1968-1980.
· Political precinct chair, 1968-1970.
· Church Library board chair, 1965-79.This is a long form text area designed for your content that you can fill up with as many words as your heart desires. You can write articles, long mission statements, company policies, executive profiles, company awards/distinctions, office locations, shareholder reports, whitepapers, media mentions and other pieces of content that don’t fit into a shorter, more succinct space.
Articles – Good topics for articles include anything related to your company – recent changes to operations, the latest company softball game – or the industry you’re in. General business trends (think national and even international) are great article fodder, too.
Mission statements – You can tell a lot about a company by its mission statement. Don’t have one? Now might be a good time to create one and post it here. A good mission statement tells you what drives a company to do what it does.
Company policies – Are there company policies that are particularly important to your business? Perhaps your unlimited paternity/maternity leave policy has endeared you to employees across the company. This is a good place to talk about that.
Executive profiles – A company is only as strong as its executive leadership. This is a good place to show off who’s occupying the corner offices. Write a nice bio about each executive that includes what they do, how long they’ve been at it, and what got them to where they are.
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