Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--November 26, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction
November 26

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving Day and that none of you were alone! Our two children, who work at a hospital, brought ham, turkey, and stuffing over here, and we supplied the potatoes and gravy, sweet corn, pumpkin pie, and Jell-O made with pineapple, sherbet, and marshmallows. Then we had a nice talk with our daughter and family in Oklahoma.
I’m beginning to receive submissions for the grandfather/father anthology. I’d love to see some children write something about their dad or grandpa. Pass this on to your family!
Thought for the Day:

“It’s a constant challenge for any church not to become a house of condemnatory judgment in which our wounded are spiritually executed by a firing squad of merciless fellow members” (Lloyd Ogilvie).
Laugh for the Day:

Top Five Excuses if Caught Sleeping at Your Desk (Source Unknown)
No. 5: They told me at the blood bank this might happen.
No. 4: This is just a fifteen-minute power nap they raved about at the management course you sent me to.
No. 3: Whew! Guess I left the top off the Witeout®. You probably got here just in time.
No. 2: Did you ever notice sounds coming out of these keyboards when you put your ear down real close?
And, the No. 1 best thing to say if you get caught sleeping at your desk: Raise your head slowly and say, “. . . In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Book Recommendation
(From C.J. Darlington): I'm writing to let you know about my just released nonfiction ebook. It's called 112 Christian Authors and Publishing Professionals Share Their Best Advice for Novelists. Includes advice from authors like Karen Kingsbury, Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, Jerry B. Jenkins, Josh McDowell, Liz Curtis Higgs, Francine Rivers, James Scott Bell, Terri Blackstock, Randy Alcorn, Melody Carlson, and many more! All for just $2.99. The links to learn more are: On Amazon for your KINDLE:; On B&N for your NOOK:
Sharing Time
While teaching the poetry workshop at the ACW conference this year in Tempe, Arizona, I had only one student, so we had a good one-to-one chat with plenty of time for questions. This took me back to another ACW conference many years ago in Nashville:
At that conference I was also slated to teach the poetry workshop, and again, only one lady showed up. I told her, “If you want to attend another class, I’ll just give you my booklet on ‘Writing and Selling Your Poetry.’” (Secretly I was hoping she’d say OK as I wanted to attend another class.) But instead, she said, “Can we just talk?”
I agreed, and she began to share her story of a broken relationship with her son. Even though he and his family lived just down the block, she wasn’t allowed to visit them or see her grandchildren. Mother’s Day was coming up in a few weeks, and she was heartbroken that there would be no gift or card from them. At the end of the hour, we prayed and I offered a few suggestions.
A few days later she called me. She had gone to their house, knocked on the door, and asked to come in. She then shared some of the suggestions I had given her (with God’s leading). Her voice rang with happiness as she told me of the reconciliation.
The next month I was at another ACW conference in Atlanta, and told this story to Reg Forder, giving the lady’s name. “Oh, didn’t you hear?” he said. “She died a week after the Nashville conference of a heart attack.”
When I think of how close I came to missing out on that answer to prayer…
* * *
In John, chapter 3, Jesus gave the gospel in a nutshell to just ONE person. Is there someone you know today who is waiting to hear from you?
God bless you all this week!
"A Step in the Write Direction--the Complete How-to Guide for Christian Writers"

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--November 19, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction
November 19, 2012

Not much new to report. Excited about the Grandmother, Mother, and Me anthology coming out this week. It was a lot of work, but the book contains such neat stories, poems, and recipes, it was all worth it! Now I’m beginning to receive submissions for the Grandfather, Father, and Me book. If you’d like guidelines, email me at:
I have two proofreading jobs here—321 and 303 pages, and two editing jobs—125 and 150 pages, so looks like this will be a busy week. The hospital where our two children work serve a free Thanksgiving for employees, families, and hospital visitors. My husband can’t walk to the cafeteria, so when our children get off work at 4:30, I’ll meet them and we’ll bring our plates home to celebrate. Praying you all have a Happy Thanksgiving.
Thought for the Day:
Mary Hollingsworth tells a story about the noted director of biblical epics, Cecil
B. DeMille. When they began working on the movie Ben Hur, DeMille talked to Charlton Heston—the star of the movie—about the all-important chariot race at the end.
He decided Heston should actually learn to drive the chariot himself, rather than
just using a stunt double. Heston agreed to take chariot-driving lessons to make
the movie as authentic as possible. Learning to drive a chariot with horses four abreast, however, was no small matter.

After extensive work and days of practice, Heston returned to the movie set and
reported to DeMille. "I think I can drive the chariot all right, Cecil," said Heston, "but I'm not at all sure I can actually win the race."

Smiling slightly, DeMille said, "Heston, you just stay in the race, and I'll make
sure you win."

Those are the words of God to everyone through a time of tumultuous change: "John,
Mary, Heather, you just stay in the race, and I'll make sure you win." Look for
God's hand. If you cannot see it in the event itself, look for it in the aftermath
when you are putting your life back together. I promise you, God's hand will be
there. (King Duncan, Collected Sermons,

Laugh for the Day:
"What happened to you?" asked the bystander of the man lying on the sidewalk outside of the beauty parlor. The man shook his head groggily and rubbed his bruised chin. "Well, the last thing I remember was my wife coming out of the beauty salon. I took one look at her and said, 'Well, honey ... at least you tried.'"
Reader’s Question:
Question: “I’ve been reading your devotional book 100 Motivational Moments for Writers and Speakers and I see where Betty Steele Everett sold over 4000 manuscripts. Does she have a secret to share?”
Reply: I met Betty once years ago. She sold around 2000 manuscripts the first time, and then sold them again and again as reprints. Truthfully, that’s how most Christian writers make money by selling reprints. I’ll cover that in a later blog.
Interviewing Hints (continued)
10. Writing Spin-Off Articles
Ask the subject if he or she belongs to any religious or educational organizations and, if so, do they have a publication you could submit related stories to?
11. After the Interview
Write your article as soon as possible after the interview while details are still fresh in your mind. I often send a rough draft to the interviewee if the editor allows it. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it is a courteous gesture if you have the time, and especially if you’ve included quotations and statistics you want to verify. Send the subject a thank-you note and a copy of the published article.
12. Conclusion
The most important thing to remember in interviewing is that you’re a Christian first, a writer second. The best rule to follow is the Golden Rule. One author in a book on interviewing says that you get your best interview when you’ve turned off your recorder.
This is the same person who says you get your best quotes when the person says “This is off the record.” I don’t agree. When the subject tells me it’s off the record, it’s off the record; we shouldn’t even have to be told that. We should have an inner sense that tells us when the person is sharing something not for publication.
Treat your subject as you’d like to be treated, and you’ll be welcomed back for a second interview.
Remember, “We are called to write and we will be responsible at the Judgment for the people we could have helped but didn’t because we didn’t write what God laid on our hearts to write” (Harold Ivan Smith).
"A Step in the Write Direction--the Complete How-to Guide for Christian Writers"

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--November 12, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction

November 12, 2012


Not much to report from this last week—a usual busy week: 200-page typing (reprint of a Lloyd Ogilvie book on the Holy Spirit, great material; proofing of a 113-page book for church secretaries, and a 336-page proofing job coming today on “Difficult Bible Verses.” So it looks like I’ll be keeping out of mischief! Our pastor preached a good sermon yesterday on “Prayer and Fasting.” I wonder how many Christians still do this. One interesting point he made is that we don’t do it to seek something for ourselves, but to seek the face of God.

Thought for Today:

"Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself" (Chinese Proverb).

Laugh for Today:

A grandmother was so tickled to learn that her grandchildren were coming for a week that she put a $10 bill in the offering plate.  When they went home at the end of the week, her joy must have been double because that Sunday she put a $20 bill in the plate.

Call for Submissions

I’ll be compiling another anthology of stories, poems, and recipes dealing with fathers and grandfathers. Deadline is March 31, and I’ll be looking forward for your stories. If you have a story about your husband, perhaps one of your children would like to write the story. For guidelines, email me at:
Writing Hints

12 Hints on Conducting an Effective Interview (#7-9; #10-12 coming next week)

7. Take Time to Get Acquainted

This pre-interview conversation can include comments about their house, the furniture, a painting, and so on. Asking to see photos also helps to break the ice.

8. Using a Tape Recorder

I prefer face-to-face interviews as you can more accurately describe the subject—dress, gestures, and so on—and their surroundings. Also people tend to feel more at ease in their own home or office where they have access to photos and other information. Others may feel more comfortable in a neutral environment such as a coffee shop. But whether the interview is in person or over the phone, I record it to avoid any later questions regarding quotations.

If you are taping an interview over the telephone (an adapter can be purchased for this), by federal law you have to inform the subject that this is being done and get their approval on tape before asking your questions.

Test the recorder ahead of time. If you’re not using a digital recorder, take along an extra tape as the interview may turn out to be longer than expected. It’s a good idea to also take written notes during the interview in case your recorder fails.

If it’s a face-to-face interview, it’s important that you conduct it in a quiet environment. I once interviewed a Miss America contestant. Our interview took place in a crowded restaurant and we were seated near the kitchen. The banging of pots and pans and the noisy chatter of the workers filled the tape and made it hard to transcribe.

Ask the subject to spell names of people, places of employment, exact job titles, and any unusual words that will appear in the final story. Also, make sure you quote statistics accurately.

9. Stick to the Subject

It’s tempting to want to respond to the person’s comments with some of your own, but be careful that you’re not talking more than the interviewee. A newspaper religion editor, speaking to our writers’ group, said, “A good interviewer is a good listener. People want to talk; they’re excited. Ask a leading question, and then shut up.” You can let them know you understand, she suggests, by nodding your head or saying an occasional “Yes” or “I understand.”

Dennis Hensley agrees. “Observe common courtesy. Don’t talk along with them. Don’t cut them off. Don’t finish their sentences.”

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

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--November 6, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction
November 6, 2012
We had an unexpected trip to Urgent Care Thursday night. I saw a red streak on my husband’s arm and called our nurse. She said to get to Urgent Care as soon as possible, that it might be blood poisoning. Luckily it was only a broken blood vessel, which we learned is common for people on blood thinner medicine.
Friday and Saturday was the American Christian Writers conference in nearby Tempe, Arizona. (I founded this conference in 1982 and led it for 7 years before turning it over to Reg Forder who eventually took it nationwide.) Taught two classes on writing devotionals and poetry, and also held 15-minute appointments with writers. Saw some really well-written manuscripts that I think have a good chance of publication. Terry Whalin of Morgan James Publishing ( was an instructor, along with Dave Lambert, formerly with Zondervan, and now with Somersault Publishing Services. Check out their Web site for a great selection of writing tips:
For the second year, I was honored to receive the “Writer of the Year” award. Thanks go to my weekly critique group “Tuesday’s Children” who help me tweak my writing and make it publishable.
Thought for Today:
So on I go not knowing;
I would not if I might;
I'd rather walk in the dark with God
Than go alone in the light;
I'd rather walk by faith with Him
Than go alone by sight.
Laugh for Today:
During a visit to a mental asylum, I asked the doctor, “How do you determine whether or not a patient should be institutionalized?” “Well,” said the director, “we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup, and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub.”
“Oh, I understand,” I said. “A normal person would use the bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the teacup.” “No,” said the director. “A normal person would pull the plug….Do you want a bed near the window?”
* * *
The Christian writers’ world lost a legend last week—Ethel Herr, a prolific writer who taught at many conferences. She also authored the book Introduction to Christian Writing. When someone asked her what she did when she received a rejection, she replied, “First I cry a bit. Then I ask God where to send it next. And I try to get it out in the mail again ASAP—preferably before I go to bed that night. I learned a little saying, ‘Never let the sun go down on a rejected manuscript.’ Once it’s back in the mail, it’s no longer rejected, just getting started one more time.”
* * *
In Shelly Hitz’ guest post, Laura Pepper Wu discusses 13 ways to generate publicity and find new customer...To see 13 ways to find new readers for your books, go to:
Writers’ Tips:
12 Hints on Conducting an Effective Interview
Profile articles are very popular, and many magazines buy profiles of sports figures, celebrities, or just ordinary people who have an extraordinary story. If this is the type of writing you would like to do, the following hints may help.
1. Call for an Appointment
Tell the person approximately how long the interview will take and try to stick to it. This is especially important when interviewing businesspeople or others who are on a tight schedule. You may find, however, that they will be so interested in talking about themselves, they won’t want the interview to end. Older people will welcome your visit simply for the company.
2. Give Reason for the Interview
Let them know why you’re calling. Do you have an assignment and, if so, for who?
What topics will you cover?
3. Confirm Appointment
Call or e-mail the day before to confirm the appointment. I once knocked on the door of a pastor’s wife for a newspaper interview and caught her in her housecoat. She thought the appointment was an hour later. When you call, also repeat the directions to their home or office. You may even want to make a test run to the location.
4. Prepare Ahead
Find out as much as you can about this person, especially if you are going to be interviewing a celebrity. You can find information on the Internet; you can also send for a press kit for singers, authors, or other celebrities that includes biographical information such as: place and date of birth; recordings or books by the individual; photos; schedule of appearances. Don’t waste time asking questions you can obtain the answers to ahead of time.
5. And prepare yourself.
Dennis Hensley says, “When preparing for the interview, always work with Murphy’s Law (“If it can go wrong, it will go wrong”) and be prepared in advance in case your pen goes dry or your mic cord develops a short.”
6. Send List of Questions Ahead of Time
You will get a better interview if the interviewee is also prepared. Sending them a list of questions in advance is especially helpful with what I call “thought” questions: Tell me about the person who had the greatest influence on your life. Tell me about your spiritual mentor. How do you want to be remembered when you’re gone? However, don’t be limited by your list. If the person makes a comment that brings another question to mind, jot that down and come back to it later. If your article is for a magazine, the editor may suggest topics that would interest their specific readership.
(I’ll cover hints 7-12 in next week’s blog.)
Have a good week. Remember, a professional is simply one who didn’t give up!

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