Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--July 30

A Step in the Write Direction

July 30


I finally got my Caregiver proposal—Prayers, Devotionals, and Practical Hints for Caregivers—out to two publishers. One asked to see it; another that I submitted it to last November said to send it back in six months if I hadn’t sold it. I also submitted a 39-week teachers’ planning calendar—Think-a-Little, Laugh-a-Little, Plan-a-Lot—to five publishers. This calendar has a teaching-related thought and a teaching-related joke for each week, with room for a weekly planning calendar on each page. One publisher—in New Zealand—turned it down. Two are interested—one sending it to committee and I’ll hear in two weeks—and I haven’t heard from the other two yet.

If you have room to add someone to your prayer list, you might pray that I can get rid of the headaches I’ve had since a fall in Oklahoma May 21st. X-rays and cat scan show nothing, so it’s probably just waiting it out. (Doctor said it could take 12 weeks.) Thanks!

Thought for Today:

"Dearest God, feel free to interrupt my agenda today with yours at anytime or in any place" (Jerry Goebel, Sheep without a Shepherd).

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

Time Management Hints (continued)

5. Prioritize Your Tasks

Our pastor told us that if we followed one rule, we could change our lives in a week.
“Every night before you go to bed,” he said, “make a list of what you have to do the next
day, and rearrange the list in order of priority.”

I tried this. I wrote out my list and put the jobs in order of priority, but it didn’t work as I skipped through the list picking out those I wanted to do. Then I tried completing the top three jobs on the list every day. My problem was that the first time I did this, my list included 39 jobs. I did what I could the first day, then recopied the list the second day, adding a few new jobs. Eventually I felt all I was doing every day was recopying the same list, with many additions and very few deletions.

The method that finally worked was to make my list at the beginning of the week, then—depending on my schedule—I assign jobs to specific days. If I’m working on a big project, I break it into smaller pieces for that day’s schedule. This makes completing my list each day more manageable.

6. Plan Your Schedule

Writers who do not work outside of the home often say it is as difficult for them to
find time to write as someone with a 40-hour-a-week job because of the interruptions.
The secret is to plan our writing schedule around those interruptions, or use these
interruptions to our advantage.

For example, I schedule my jobs depending on whether I’m going to be home, what’s
happening at home that week, or if I have to run errands. Jobs that require use of the
computer I schedule for days I’m home. Editing jobs I do in early mornings and late
evenings when it’s quiet. An “office” away from home helps too—perhaps a nearby restaurant or the library. (I’ve found, also, with my husband’s frequent hospital stays in the last few years even an ICU room works!)

Jobs that don’t require as much concentration, such as research, scanning sample
magazines, addressing and stuffing envelopes, or writing rough drafts in pencil, I can do
while I watch a favorite program on TV. And I take advantage of time spent in doctors’
waiting rooms to write, read magazines or books, or edit manuscripts.

(Interruptions can often give us writing ideas too. Neighbors who call or visit too often, in-law problems, financial stress, wayward children, and family illnesses— all are seeds for short stories, personal experiences, or nonfiction articles.)

If you work full time away from home, you can write during breaks or lunch. If you
ride the bus, use the time to write or edit manuscripts. If you pick up your children at
school or your spouse at work, go 15 minutes early and work while you wait.

Use the time you spend waiting in line at the supermarket to study the magazines on the racks. Read the titles on the covers to see what type of articles various magazines use on a regular basis. Watch and listen to the people around you. (You can do this in a doctor’s office or on the bus too.) Fifteen minutes a day, five days a week, adds up to 65 hours a year—and that’s a lot of extra time to write.

(To be continued, or you can read these hints in more detail in A Step in the Write Direction.)

“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).

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--July 23, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction

July 23, 2012


It’s been a busy week, not so much work=wise but family-wise. Son was in hospital for two days with chest pains (he’s okay); daughter having trouble with insulin pump (she figured it out), and I’m still having headaches from fall. But re: writing—I finished the proposal for the caregiver book. It’s 62 pages and 10,000 words, but the publisher who wants to see it will take a partial manuscript. If this publisher accepts it, they like 60,000 words so will send out a call for submissions. This week—if I don’t get any editing or proofreading jobs—I’ll try to find a home for my 5 finished devotional books, 2 gift books, and 5 calendars. Writers, marketing is more than 50% of a writer’s life!!

Thought for Today:

“Daydreaming about something in order to do it properly is right, but daydreaming
about it when we should be doing it is wrong” (Oswald Chambers).

Laugh for Today:

A minister told his congregation, "Next week I plan to preach about the sin of lying. To help you understand my sermon, I want you all to read Mark 17."

The following Sunday, as he prepared to deliver his sermon, the minister asked for a show of hands. He wanted to know how many had read Mark 17. Every hand went up. The minister smiled and said, "Mark has only sixteen chapters. I will now proceed with my sermon on the sin of lying."

Time Management Hints, continued

3. Use Your Time on Hold

More and more phone calls today are answered by a voice mail saying, “Your call is
very important to us. Please hold.” What do we do while the music plays? Sing along
with it? Gripe and complain?

This can be a good time to clean our desk, proofread or edit one of our manuscripts,
or look up a market. With today’s cordless phones, we can catch up on jobs all over the
house. A CNN survey shows that the average person spends 60 hours per year on hold. We can put that time to good use.

4. Check E-mail at Scheduled Intervals

Are you one who hurries to your computer every time you hear “You got mail”? Then,
once you’ve read the latest message, do you feel obligated to answer, even if it’s a “that’s
cute” to a joke you sent, or a “Thanks,” or “Praying for you”?

If so, your Internet is controlling you instead of you controlling it. Unless you are
expecting an important letter or you receive work assignments through the Internet, why
not schedule specific times to go to your “Read” file? And don’t feel you have to answer
every e-mail unless a question requires an immediate reply.

Note: Just to let you know that I am available to edit, proofread, and type manuscripts. A number of books I’ve edited have sold and I have the published copies on my bookshelf. E-mail me for my reasonable rates.

Have a great week spreading the gospel through the printed page.


“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).

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--July 16

A Step in the Write Direction

July 16


This has been another catch-up week. Finished a 200-page editing job, then, having a few days for my own work, I did a lot of house cleaning. Also sent out over 100 brochures for speaking in our area. (If you’re looking for a speaker for your church event, check out my Web site for speaking topics.) Am now finishing up a brochure to send to writing conferences, then back to working on my proposal for my caregiver book. Will take it to my trusty critique group Tuesday.

Thought for Today:

“When you’re in a difficult place, realize that the Lord either placed you there, or allowed you to be there for reasons known only to Him. The same God who led you there will lead you out” (Ira Brown, 7/8/12).

Laugh for Today:

I feel like my body had gotten totally out of shape, so I got my doctor's permission to
join a fitness club and start exercising. I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors.
I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over.

Continued Hints on Time Management:

2. Use 15-Minute Increments

In the past I found it hard to begin work on a project when I had other appointments
that day. On the other hand, if I had an empty day with no obligations, I flew out of bed,
eager to get started. One day, while basically wasting a morning waiting for a luncheon
engagement, the other party called and canceled. I moaned, thinking how much I could
have accomplished in that time.

Often while working at especially difficult and eye-straining proofreading jobs, I
take a break every couple of hours and set my timer for 15 minutes. I am always amazed
how much I can accomplish in that short period: cleaning my desk, attacking a pile
of filing, writing a note of encouragement or thanks, or looking up a market.

Charlotte Hale Allen gives a list of things that can be completed in a year in just 15
minutes a day:

1. Read the entire Bible.
2. Plant and keep up a small garden.
3. Become physically fit.
4. Lean to play a musical instrument.
5. Paint a house.
6. Learn a foreign language.
7. Write a book. (Charlotte Hale Allen, “Just 15 Minutes a day,” Guideposts, December 1978, p. 9. Taken from Full-Time Living (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1978). Italics added in #7.

Note: We likely won’t find these increments of time calling out to us; we have to put
them into our schedule, the same as we would an appointment. Dig out your timer today,
set it for 15 or 20 minutes, and see how much you can get done. (And don’t be surprised
if you don’t want to stop when you hear the timer ding.)

Have a good week spreading the gospel through the printed page.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction

A Step in the Write Direction
July 9, 2012

Thought for the Day:

When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
“Let us,” said He, “pour on him all we can.” (from “The Pulley,” George Herbert; 17th century English clergyman and poet)

Laugh for Today:
A father was cutting the lawn on his birthday when his teenage son came home. Seeing his father at work, he exclaimed, "Oh, Dad, you shouldn't have to mow the lawn on your birthday." Touched, the dad was about to turn the mower over to him when the son added, "You should wait until tomorrow!"

Challenge: The following link gives a list of 100 books you should read before you die. Although I read some of them years ago, I’m going to take the challenge and start at the top.

We develop and produce a wide variety of non-denominational Christian material for individual and church use. We publish devotionals for bulletins, children's coloring and activity books, and greeting cards. Pays $35 upon acceptance. Deadline July 31, 2012. (I got this information from the free writers newsletter Funds for Writers—a great one to subscribe to. Hope Clark also has newsletters for Young Writers and for Small Markets.)

Writer’s Tips: The next few weeks we’re going to pass on some hints on time management. (These are discussed in more detail in my book A Step in the Write Direction. By the way, if you know a young person interested in writing, a student edition of Step is also available with writing assignments throughout. Some adults even like this.)

12 Ways to Add More Hours to Your Writing Day

Someone once said, “Some self-employed persons work only half a day. It’s
up to them to decide which twelve hours it will be.” As writers, we are self-employed. However, many writers also work full-time at an outside job. They struggle to fit their writing around this job, along with home and family responsibilities.

If you find yourself complaining, “I don’t have time to write,” it may be that you don’t need more time; rather, that you make better use of the time you already have. How can you do this?

1. Keep Track of Your Time

T. Suzanne Eller tells of a time when she just couldn’t settle down and focus on a
writing project. Watching a favorite television program, she sensed God saying to her,
“You’re restless because you aren’t making good use of your time.” She decided to take
an honest look at her life and her schedule which, at that time, was overflowing with
three kids in college, speaking engagements, teaching a discipleship class for teens, and
volunteering at her church. God showed her that these activities weren’t the problems;
rather, it was the time stealers that had crept into her days.

When Eller looked closer at the flow of a typical day, she realized she operated at a
spastic level—writing for 30 minutes, playing computer games for 30 minutes, starting
a load of laundry, watching a half hour of television, then writing for another half hour.
Eller shared her dilemma with a friend who called the problem “hummingbird head
syndrome”—flitting from one activity to the next but accomplishing little.

After this discussion, Eller decided to tackle the situation head-on, identifying the
time stealers that caused her to squander precious moments. (Suzanne Eller. Used by permission)

Can you relate to Eller? If so, take one day and keep a minute-by-minute account
of your activities—from the time you arise till you drop into bed at night. Include even
minor things such as showering, brushing your teeth, and getting dressed. Also write
down time spent on such things as television, phone calls, computer games, answering
e-mails, and visiting social networks such as MySpace or Facebook.

After doing this for one or two days, you’ll get an idea of where you’re spending your
time. Then comes the hard part of deciding which of those activities you can spend less
time on or eliminate completely.

Have a good week writing (now that you’ll have more time to do it!).

Donna Goodrich
"A Step in the Write Direction--the Complete How-to Guide for Christian Writers"

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction

A Step in the Write Direction

July 2, 2012

I had a strange dream last night. Houses were on fire on both sides of the street and the firemen wouldn’t let me enter. “My granddaughter is coming home from school,” I told them, “and I have to go meet her. She’s all alone.” Then it seemed like a voice said, “She’ll be alone a lot in her life, but she’ll be okay.” Then the same voice said to me, “And you’ll be alone too, but you’ll be okay.” I woke up, and my husband was having one of his times he has sometimes in his sleep where he quits breathing. I thought, “This is it” (as he has many health problems), but he started breathing normally again.

After that I couldn’t sleep, and thought about my granddaughters and the “fires” they may go through in their lives. Then I remembered a conversation I had with a friend many years ago when our family was going through a series of crises. “Do you ever feel like everything’s coming like a flood?” she asked.

“Yes,” I responded, then suddenly a verse came to me and I told her, “But I have flood insurance!” (Isaiah 43:2: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched...”)

That verse—and also remembering how after the three Hebrew children came out of the fiery furnace with not even the smell of smoke on them—comforted me and I went back sleep, knowing that if the day ever came when I would be alone, it’d be okay.

If you’re going through a fire or a flood today, know that even though you may feel alone, you won’t be, and eventually you’ll be okay!

Thought for Today:  I think the above gives you enough to think about!

Laugh for Today:

Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came up to the elderly widow and asked,
”How old was your husband?”
“98,” she replied. “Two years older than me.
”So you're 96,” the undertaker commented.
”Yes,” she responded. “Hardly worth me going home, is it?”

Computer Tip:

Elaine Hardt writes, “If you'd like to mention your readers could get some helps with the Mac computer. I write their blog and have had Mac since 1984.”

Writing Tips:

Here are some more questions that were submitted. Feel free to send any questions about writing you may have.

1) What are “sidebars”?  "Sidebars" are usually numbered lists along the side of an article, sometimes summarizing the article, as in "10 Hints for Detecting Cancer," etc. Sometimes an editor won’t buy the article, but may buy the sidebar.

2) How do I submit my manuscripts—by e-mail or through the postal service? If the guide says they accept manuscripts by e-mail, go ahead and send them that way. This saves postage, envelopes, and paper. But go by their rules. Some want them inside the actual e-mail; others accept attachments.

If you're sending your manuscript through the post office, use an envelope large enough that it doesn't have to be folded (usually a 9x12). If you're sending an SASE, this can be a 9x12 folded; however, on most of mine I just put (between my return address and the title) MANUSCRIPT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE RETURNED. This saves you postage and saves them the job of returning it if they don't accept it. However, in this case, DO enclose a size 10 SASE for their response (or for the check!).

If sending it through the mail, address it to the editor's name (make sure you spell it right!). If e-mailing, put "query" or "manuscript submission" in the subject line.

Have a good writing week!