Monday, September 24, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--September 24

A Step in the Write Direction

September 24, 2012

(This blog is a little longer today. Hope you don’t mind!) My husband, bless his dear heart, received another unexpected diagnosis this week. An echocardiogram showed blood clots in his heart so he is now on a blood thinner. This is a new pill added to the 14 he’s already taking.*** Finally received half (183 pages) of the mother/grandmother anthology to proofread. Publisher earlier had said it would be out in September; now he’s saying October, but don’t know when I’ll get the second half to proof. *** I have been working on the devotional book this week on Isaiah 40:31: “Pedestrian Grace—So We Can Walk and Not Faint.” *** I also sent out another proposal on the caregiver book. One publisher wants to see the whole manuscript and sounds interested, but I’d have to agree to purchase 750 books up front.

Thought for the Day:

Today I toiled from morn till setting sun,
And in the gathered night saw nothing done.
My tools and hands were worn without success;
Unfinished tasks but mocked my busyness.
I’d met old age, been greeted by a child,
So oft lost time, by friendship’s call beguiled.
I’d dried an urchin’s tear and tried to understand
The burdens of a man—and lend a hand.
Tonight, aweary, when I knelt to pray,
I begged God’s mercy for the fruitless day.
He whispered that the hours were in His hands;
His interruptions were the day’s real plans.

                                     —Milo Arnold

 Laugh for the Day:

 The city editor had just been informed that a wire had fallen across Main Street in a storm.  He assigned two reporters to the story.  "We don't know whether the wire is live or not," he said, "so one of you is to touch it and the other will write the story."

 Answer to last week’s question on what to do if you find typos in books, etc.:

 One reader’s reply: I worked for years in a healthcare setting. At the end of the year, a very nice report went out to board members and community CEOs on the various departments of the healthcare system. Those of us listed in the annual report received copies along with a letter asking for feedback on any errors. There was a significant error in my department's listing and so I called the one whose name was listed as the contact. The marketing director went ballistic. "Everybody has a complaint," she yelled. "I am so tired of this!" So giving feedback, requested or otherwise, is not always met with gratitude. I believe it largely depends on the temperament of the individual you are dealing with.

In later years, I heard of a department head that had learned how to give marketing feedback that didn't offend. He would use a pencil, rather than a pen, circling errors and making very simple notation if that was needed. He then slipped it in an envelope with no other comments. The same woman who was so unhappy with my call said their department called his method of feedback "soft editing." Lesson learned.

Another view: My take on the misspellings and bad grammar in our paper is twofold: In the Newspapers in Education program, to make it worth the learning, teachers could emphasize that it takes a real person to think. Our class can check what the meanings should be.…If an error is spectacular and would cause ruin, I would speak up in love—first praying about what God would have me say, then writing it down to edit it, and praying again before speaking or sending. (Patti Schieringa, MA in ED.

My view: If something can be done about it, I let the person know. For example, if I’m reading a book and find an error, and feel that the book will probably have a second printing, I write to the Production Manager, not the editor. I have picked up several proofreading jobs this way. However, if it’s in something like a weekly Sunday school take-home paper, I wouldn’t write. (I did, though, in one of my stories where they changed a word in the last sentence that was the crux of the whole story. But I did it with a smiley face! Also, one of my devotionals that told a story about my granddaughter was printed with the name of another Donna. I wrote the editor and, bless her heart, she sent out a reprint—just for me—with the right name on it so I could give a copy to my granddaughter, who was excited to see her name in print.)

Another Reader’s Question:

Last week at my critique group a woman told me that editors look at exclamation marks like I might look at a roach. Is this really true? I am willing to curb it in manuscripts but probably not on FB.

My answer: I've heard that exclamation points are like all caps—you sound like you're yelling at the writer. William G. Tapply says, “An exclamation mark is the author jumping up and down waving his arms. It’s a poor substitute for words…It shouts to your reader: ‘This is really important [startling, surprising, scary, loud, dramatic, whatever], but I don’t know how to convey it with words…or I’m too lazy to try.” Another editor said, "You feel that what you wrote isn't strong enough, so you have to let your punctuation do your writing for you." As for me, I do use them a lot in emails and on Facebook, but very sparingly in manuscripts.

Encouraging Word for This Week:

It seems like our family has gone through a lot this week with illnesses, decisions to be made, extended family members who needed help, and more than usual editing and proofreading jobs (which I appreciate, but with extra doctors’ appointments, telephone calls, etc., this caused a little stress). Wednesday night, while proofreading a book talking about Noah and the ark, a song came to me that my brother and I used to sing—probably about 60 years ago! I thought the words might encourage some of you. (If you want to read more of the words, Google the title “The Upper Window,” and you can also hear it sung by different artists.)

When God spoke unto Noah, and told him to build the ark,
The Lord knew well the vessel would cheerless be and dark,
So God said, “Build a window, with outlook toward the sky,
That when it’s dark and lonesome, you’ll see Me standing by....

“It may be that bereavement will take a loved one dear,
A soul that brought you gladness, real happiness and cheer;
But it will cheer your sad heart, when loved ones from you fly,
When through the upper window, you’ll see Me standing by.”


The storms will come, but fear not, oh, children, I am nigh,
And through the upper window, you’ll see Me standing by.


May God bless you this next week. If you’d like to send any prayer requests, we can include them in this blog too.


Donna Clark Goodrich


Monday, September 17, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--September 17, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction

September 17, 2012

Update: Busy week with two editing jobs and five proofreading jobs; also taking care of a hubby with a bad cough and—something unusual for him—he put his back out Thursday night. Haven’t been to our weekly critique group in 3 weeks, so am looking forward to seeing everyone this Tuesday. I hope to have some pages ready for my Isaiah 40:31 devotional book: “Pedestrian Grace—So We Can Walk and Not Faint.” As I mention later, we also lost another friend this week, a “young” man only 55 years old.

Thought for the Day:

“All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don't get plumber's block, and doctors don't get doctor's block; why should writers have the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expect sympathy” (Philip Pullman).

Laugh for the Day:

            A laddie at college named Breeze
            Weighed down by B.A.s and M.D.s,
            Collapsed from the strain,
            Said the doctor, "It's plain
            You're killing yourself by degrees."

Reader’s question:

“Whenever I read the newest copy of a particular Christian magazine, errors (grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.—even on the cover) pop out at me. For months, I circled them and planned to notify the editor. I meant it as helpful, but then thought it might put a black mark by my name, which could spread throughout the Christian publishing world. What are your thoughts?”

What would your response be to the above question? I’ll list the answers next week, and then tell you what I’d do. This is a good question as we all know that typos are rampant today—in newspapers, TV captions, billboards. Everywhere.

Writer’s Encouragement      

We lost another good friend this week after an 18-month struggle with stage 4 lung cancer. The doctor told him at the beginning that he had only six months to live, but he was a fighter. Two weeks ago he was in church in his wheelchair and oxygen. The father of two teens 14 and 17, he was an inspiration to us all.

We have another good friend in his 80s (I’ve known him since I was born) who comes to church every Sunday even though he doesn’t recognize anyone any more and can barely hear the sermon.

We wonder sometimes why people often live far beyond what we think they will. “Is this really living?” we ask ourselves. It may be that some of you are caring for a loved one who is terminal or whose mental condition has deteriorated to the point where they don’t even know you. And you ask yourself, “Why doesn’t God just take them to heaven?” Maybe the following story from my life will help you:

For Elmer’s Sake

“Lord, why have you let Mother linger so long? You know she’s ready to go.” I prayed these words at two o’clock in the morning in December 1982. Sitting in the tiny, smoke-filled waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit, I thought back over the events of the previous 18 months: my mother’s cancer surgery, the chemo treatments, my eight trips between Arizona and Michigan, and the final surgery that led to the coma in which she now lay.

The week before, the doctor had told me “24 to 48 hours” and I had summoned my brothers and sister who had come—along with some of their children—to be by Mother’s bedside. Day after day, we waited and watched. “She quit breathing,” someone would say and we’d rush to the cafeteria to get a family member. But by the time we returned, her breathing had resumed.

Exhausted, and needing to return home for a statewide Christian writers’ seminar I was leading, I often found myself alone in this little waiting room, praying and questioning God. On this particular night, however, I was not alone for long. A man I guessed to be in his middle 60s made his way into the room, dragging his IV stand beside him. “How are you doing?” I asked him.

“Not too good,” he answered in a low voice. “My doctor told me today I have only six months to live.”

We chatted for a while. “Elmer” asked why I was there and I told him about my mother.

“How did she handle it when they told her?” he asked me.

I shared with him about her Christian faith, which had sustained her all through the years of raising three children alone on a limited income. I also told him that many people had been praying for her.

“I used to pray,” he admitted, “but I don’t anymore. It’s too late.”

“It’s never too late,” I told him. Reaching into my purse, I took out my New Testament and turned to John 3:16. “Listen to this verse,” I told him. I read the words, putting his name in the appropriate places: “For God so loved Elmer, that he gave his only begotten Son, that [if] Elmer believes in him Elmer shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Elmer read the verse again, then looked up and asked, “Does that mean there’s still a chance for me?”

“That’s exactly what it means,” I answered. I explained the gospel message simply and then asked if he would like to pray. He bowed his head and repeated the words I said to him. When we finished, he said, simply, “Thank you,” and left the room.

The next day, walking down the hall, I looked up and saw Elmer coming toward me. His head erect, he shook my hand and said, “It’s okay. I’m not afraid to die now.”

Then I knew why God let my mother linger for so long. It was for Elmer’s sake.


God bless you as you go about your duties this week and may you feel God’s presence and peace whatever you’re going through. Remember, “Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.”

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--September 10, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction
September 10, 2012

I was listening to an interview a week ago with Detroit Tiger pitcher Justin Verlander. He mentioned what a disappointment this season was, that the team was “on again, off again.” I told a friend on Facebook I hoped that didn’t describe my Christian experience. It reminded me of a police car I saw one day with a sign on it “Out of Service.” I want to be in service every day for the Lord, don’t you?

It was a busy, but enjoyable week. Proofread three books for a publisher, then ended the week editing a 340-page novel. A really good story. Wish I were a novel writer. (Maybe I should put all my short stories together!)

Thought for the Day:

"Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life" (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Laugh for the Day:

The Sunday school teacher had on a beautiful new dress and her students immediately noticed it. Mary Jane sat quietly for a while, and then she said, "I suppose it cost a awful lot. But after we've been bringing you money every Sunday morning, I guess you could afford it."


Please send in any writing questions you may have, or even any experiences you would like to share. This is your blog!

Time Management (this one is a little longer, but it’s the last of 12 hints; hope they’ve helped you!)

12. Prioritize Your Life

This isn’t the same as prioritizing your tasks. Now we must determine where writing fits into our life and realize that, at times, we may have to place some things ahead of our writing. These things include:

Friends: A writer friend has a sign above her typewriter that says, “Writing can wait; relationships can’t.” This lady is an excellent writer and has sold many articles. She is also a compassionate person, and people often knock at her door for counseling and prayer. I’m not saying that you should allow others to constantly interrupt your writing time for trivial reasons. You need to be firm and tell them you are working. However, when a friend or loved one has a need that can’t wait, your writing can.

Family: I’ve heard many speakers in seminars say to write two hours a day…or an hour or day…or even fifteen minutes. And you go home feeling guilty because you can’t find
that time. One summer I was in a situation where I wanted to desperately write, but our family was experiencing numerous family illnesses. My husband—who already had nine
diseases—added two more that year. Our youngest daughter was diagnosed with diabetes, and our oldest daughter and her husband—who had multiple sclerosis—were in a car accident resulting in my daughter’s second miscarriage of the year. I literally could not find time to write.

That summer I taught at a Midwest writers’ conference. The first evening a friend asked about my family, knowing some of their medical problems. I gave her an update, then she asked, “How is your writing?” “I’m really frustrated,” I told her. “I just haven’t had time to write. I’ve been busy taking care of my family.” This friend said just four words that entirely changed my attitude and gave me a new perspective on my situation. She said, “God will honor that.”

The next morning I shared this experience with another friend. She began to cry.
“Thanks for telling me that,” she said. “My dad’s been real sick. He lives forty-five miles
away. Every time I sit down to write, he calls and says he needs me. I was beginning to
resent it. He was interrupting my writing and I feel I’m called to write.” Later, in the plenary session, the speaker reminded us that “Families are more important than writing.”

Yes, we may be called to write, but we’re also called to be a wife, a husband, a mother,
a father, a son, a daughter. One of our family’s favorite songs is “We Have This Moment
Today.” In the chorus, Bill Gaither reminds us that yesterday is gone and tomorrow may
never come. Your children are only young once; your parents are aging; your spouse
needs you. Allow room for them.

If your situation permits, it is good discipline to set aside a specific time each day or week. But when your mate needs to talk or your son or daughter comes to you with a problem, take a break. You can always come back to writing; the family won’t always be there. This was vividly brought home to me one day when I was again complaining that I didn’t have time to write (I don’t always learn lessons right away!). The sobering thought came to me: Someday you'll have all the time you want, and you won’t want it!

If you’re going through a situation right now and you cannot write, at least try to keep notes. The day will come when you will have the time and that journal will give you the material you need.

I truly believe that if God gives you something to write, He will help you find the
time to write it.

God: In a conference talk entitled, “Keeping the Sparkle in Your Writing,” Sally Stuart warns, “You can’t write from an empty cup.” What sets us apart from secular writers is that we have first touched God. It’s easy to rely solely on our own talent when beginning
a project, without asking for God’s guidance in what we should write, how we should
write it, and where we should send it. Someone once wrote, “Go to your knees before
you go to your typewriter [or keyboard].” Don’t leave God out of your writing.

Prioritize your life and put writing in its proper place.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--September 3, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction

September 3, 2012

Update: Busy week! Had 3 proofreading jobs—176, 256, and 224 pages, all really well-written and thoughtful books. I also resubmitted the two gift books for mothers and friends that I doubled in size, and finished the father’s gift book that the same publisher said they’d look at. Unfortunately, they turned down all three! But all is not lost. Now that they’re doubled in size, it may make them more acceptable to other publishers. I will look for other markets this week.

My heart aches for friends in Michigan who lost daughter in car accident. She was a children’s minister’s wife with two young daughters and a new baby. Can’t even imagine the pain the family is going through. Also, praying for the family and congregation of a pastor in Kingman, Arizona, who lost his life last week in a motorcycle accident.

Is there someone you know who is hurting today? Reach out to them in some way—prayer, a phone call, a card. It only takes a minute.

Thought for the Day:

Does Jesus care when I’ve said “Good-by,”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks?
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?

Oh, yes, He cares; I know He cares.
His heart is touched with my grief.
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Saviour cares.

J. Lincoln Hall, 1866-1930

Laugh for the Day:

A boss complained in a staff meeting that he wasn't getting any respect, so he went out and got a small sign that read, "I'm the Boss." He then taped it to his office door. Later that day when he returned from lunch, he found that someone had taped a note to the sign that said: "Your wife called, she wants you to bring her sign back!"

Time Management Hints:

11. Treat Your Writing as a Calling from God

In my writing book I tell about the talk Harold Ivan Smith gave at a conference that literally changed my writing career. Up to that time I had treated writing only as a hobby, to be done when and if I had the time. Then I heard these words: “We are called to write, and I feel we will be held responsible at the Judgment for the people who are hurting that we could have helped but didn’t, because we didn’t write what God laid on our hearts to write.” That took writing out of the hobby category for me and made it a calling.

I have never heard a preacher say, “I don’t have time to prepare my sermon.” He takes the time, because God has called him to preach.

Do we feel our writing is a calling from God? If so, then we should strive for excellence. As Isaac D’Israeli says, “It is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the Excellent lies before us.”

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