Monday, May 14, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--May 14, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction
May 14, 2012

Thought for Today:
“My old [wrestling] coach used to say that if you were in it for the match, if you were in it for the trophies, you were in it for the wrong reasons…If you presume to love something, you must love the process of it much more than you love the finished product” (John Irving, “The Wrestler,” Time magazine, May 14, 2012, p. 45).

Laugh for Today:
            I remember, I remember
            Incidents of days long gone;     
            I recapture every moment
            As I ramble on and on.
            But my tales would be more pleasing
            And I'd never be a bore,
            If I only could remember
            Whom I told them to before.

                         —Paul Tullen

Donna’s update:

This has been a busy week with a 194-page proofreading job, and two typing jobs—153 and 161 handwritten pages on both sides. I am half done with one, and they both have to be finished by June 1.

However, I’ll be gone a week of that time, as my daughter and I are leaving Thursday, the 17th, to visit our other daughter and family in Cushing, Oklahoma—between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. I’ll be teaching a daylong writing workshop there on Saturday, the 19th, and coming home on the 24th, and our daughter will be staying for another two weeks, then riding home with them when they come here on vacation. (So I may or may not get off a blog next Monday!)

I hope you all had a wonderful Sunday. Since today is Mother’s Day, I thought instead of sending writer’s tips this week, you might enjoy reading a piece I wrote about my mother years ago when she was chosen Mother-of-the-Year at our hometown church in Jackson, Michigan.

Have a good week.

My Heritage

One of my earliest recollections is of Mother getting my two brothers, my sister, and me—the youngest—ready for church every Sunday morning and walking over a mile to the country bus stop.
Sunday meant a day in town. After our morning church service, we would go to a small restaurant for "dinner," then upstairs over the restaurant to a mission for an afternoon meeting. Sunday night found us back in our own church for the evening service. Mother never subscribed to the theory that if children are made to go to church when they're young, they won't want to go when they're older.

When I was seven years old we moved into town. Ours was the "Kool-Aid" house on the block. All the neighbor children were welcome to join our family activities: singing around the piano, experimenting with an erector set, putting jigsaw puzzles together, and answering questions out of a quiz book. At the end of the evening, my mother always offered cocoa or popcorn.

I remember when Mother sold that house. From the proceeds, she bought my two brothers horns, and I received the accordion I had wanted for so long. Wanting her children to be musical, she took in ironings to pay my brothers' five-dollar band fee each semester.

My mother was a woman of prayer. One night our cupboards were empty and my mother did the only thing she knew to do—pray. Within an hour, a friend came by with some money she had owed my mother for babysitting from several years before. It had just "come to her mind" that evening. She was going to bring it by the next day, but something urged her, "No, take it tonight." She arrived before the grocery store closed.

Her prayers also extended to her children. She constantly warned me about dating someone outside our faith, and I remember coming home one night from a date and finding her asleep on her knees.

Mother was "Mom" to a lot of other children and teens who felt they could talk with her about their problems. When I was younger, I was jealous of sharing her attention, but as I grew older, I was proud of having a mother my friends liked.

It wasn't long before the family circle grew smaller. The three older children married, and I moved to another state where I met a seminary student and we became engaged.

On the day of my wedding, as Mother helped me button my long white gown, she expressed disappointment that she could not buy me an expensive gift. But I told her then, and many times afterward, she gave me the finest gift a daughter could ask for—the heritage of a Christian mother.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction

A Step in the Write Direction
May 7, 2012

Thought for Today:
“We are called to write, and I feel we will be held responsible at the Judgment for the people that we could have helped but didn’t because we didn’t write what God laid on our hearts to write” (Harold Ivan Smith).

Laugh for Today:
Like a lot of husbands throughout history, Webster would sit down and try to talk to his wife. But as soon as he would start to say something, his wife would say, "And what's
that supposed to mean?" Thus, Webster's Dictionary was born.

Update on my activities:
This has been a good week. Sale of The Freedom of Letting Go is starting off good, and publisher announced that it is now available on Kindle and e-Book. June 23rd is “Letting Go” day so this would be a good gift for a friend or family member.

Student Step in the Write Direction
Do you have a budding writer in your family or circle of friends. A student edition of Step is available for grades six up through college (or for any beginning writer). It doesn’t contain quite as much information as the original book, but it does have writing assignments throughout. Great graduation gift.

More Microsoft Word Shortcuts:

A couple of new Microsoft Word shortcuts sent by a reader (I’ll use these a lot!):
Insert footnote: alt, control F
Insert endnote, alt, control D

And Elaine Hardt wrote: If you have Mac readers, you might mention that there’s helpful info at the Mac site: She’s been writing their blog since July 2008. (Visit Elaine at

Writing Tips:

10 Ways to Mentor Your Mentor

Mentoring writers is a two-way relationship. Lest you think that you—the person being mentored—receive all the reward, let me assure you that most mentors greatly enjoy this experience. Personally, it is exciting for me to meet new writers at a conference or via the telephone or Internet, encourage them in their writing, and then later open a magazine and see an article or short story written by them, or receive a copy of a published book with their name on the cover.

How do you find a mentor? There are three ways: 1) If you’re fortunate, another writer may recognize your potential and offer to mentor you; 2) a friend may recom­mend someone to you; or 3) you may “click” with a fellow author at a writers’ club or conference. It may even be an editor or agent who sees potential in your work and is willing to take the time to help you in your climb up the writing ladder. Be courageous, take the plunge, and ask if he or she is available from time to time to answer questions and offer encouragement. If the answer is yes, then the following 10 hints will make this a rewarding experience for you both.

1. Before contacting your mentor with a question, look for the answer on the Internet or at the library. You’ll remember it more if you dig for it. Do as much on your own as you can.

2. Make a list of your questions before you call or e-mail. This will ensure you get all the
Information you need, and you can jot down the answers on your sheet next to each question.

3. Be considerate in the timing if you’re phoning. Try not to call on Sundays, holidays, or the
day after a conference. Also, remember the different time zones if you’re calling another

4. If you call, ask if this is a good time or if you should call later. They may have company,
be preparing for a conference, or be facing a writing deadline.

5. If you write your mentor with a question, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope,
along with reimbursement for any expenses they may incur such as photocopies.

6. If you send a manuscript for them to look over, give them a little time. Don’t call three
days later and ask what they thought of it. If you’re using regular mail, enclose a self-
addressed stamped envelope for them to return your manuscript. You might also include a
self-addressed postcard they can stick in the mailbox letting you know they received the
material and the approximate time it will take them to go over it.

7. Whether sending your manuscript by e-mail or regular mail, to receive more complete
feedback, call or write first. (A manuscript with a $400 check once lay in my mailbox over
the weekend. I hadn’t heard from this author in 2 years, so he didn’t even know if I was still
in the business, or if I lived at the same address. The mail carrier left it in a second delivery
which we didn’t know about.) Let them know how many pages it will be and if you have a
deadline to meet. Allow enough time before this deadline to insert any changes your mentor
suggests. Rush jobs should be avoided.

8. If your mentor’s services include editing, type the manuscript double-spaced, with at least
a one-inch margin on all sides. Number the pages consecutively, not chapter by chapter.

9. When you get your manuscript back, go through it and make a note of any weak­nesses
your mentor points out. Correct these weaknesses in future manuscripts you send.

10. Sometimes mentors need encouragement too. A “Thinking of You” card or an occasional
token of appreciation may arrive on a day when their spirits need a lift.

Why would a person be willing to give up valuable time to help a new writer? For me, the answer is that early in my life, many people gave of their time and knowledge to help me. One way of thanking them is to pass on to others what I have learned through the years.

Recently, a friend gave me a copy of her first published book. Inside she had written, “Here’s the product of your encouragement. Thanks for your help and love during this project.” This letter, and others like it in my file, is why I mentor.

Perhaps after you’ve been writing for a while, someone will come up to you and ask, “Will
you be my mentor?” And, of course, you’ll say “yes.”