In my recent series, I mentioned the all-important aspect of continuing to learn about writing through reading books on the topic. Today I want to let my friend, Donna Goodrich, introduce you to her latest book, A Step in the Write Direction. My favorite memory of Donna is walking through a museum with her. Given her expertise with copyediting, she was quick to point out every error she found on the signs describing the museum’s many displays. Wow, she was good!
Here’s my interview with Donna:
Me: First, tell us a bit about yourself and your own writing journey.
Donna: I”m a native of Jackson, Michigan, and began writing around the age of 9. Sold my first poem for $1.40 to our denominational teen magazine when I was 14, and my first short story at 18. When I was 20, I obtained a dream job as secretary to the book editor at the Nazarene Publishing House. (He was an uncle by marriage to Jeannette Oke.) I learned so much at that job: entered manuscripts as they arrived, sent them to various members of the book committee around the country, kept track of them when they came back, and prepared folders for bi-monthly book committee meetings. Had the sad job of writing rejection letters for those that didn’t make it. (In fact, I actually wrote my own rejection letter for a book I had submitted before I got that job.) Those that were accepted, I checked permissions and, after my boss edited the manuscript, I retyped it and sent it to production. I also worked for the denominational magazine a half day a week. During the two years there, I began selling on a regular basis–poems, short stories, and articles.
Through a friend who worked at the publishing house and who lived in my apartment house, I met my future husband Gary. I typed his term paper, he asked me out a week later. We dated for two weeks, then became engaged. It must have been right as we just celebrated our 50th anniversary August 13th. We have one son, two daughters, a great pastor son-in-law, and two of the world’s most beautiful granddaughters.
I began the annual Arizona Christian Writers Conference in 1982 and led it for 7 years before turning it over to Reg Forder who now holds the American Christian Writers Conferences across the country.
I’ve taught one- and two-day conferences on my own in several states, helping to set up writers’ clubs wherever I go. I’ve also taught at the Masters’ Conference, Marlene’s Bagnull’s Philadelphia conference, St. David’s, Wheaton, one in Kansas and Colorado, and the Southwest Writers Conference in Tucson.
So far I’ve had 22 books published and over 700 articles, short stories, devotionals, poems, and book reviews. I’m also a free-lance editor and proofreader.
Me: Tell us about your book A Step in the Write Direction. Why did you write it?
Donna: This 356-page book is also a dream come true. Through the years I’ve had so many people call me and say, “I want to be a writer. How do I get started?” and I didn’t have anything to offer them. Hopefully, all the answers they need are contained in this book–from where to get ideas to income tax preparation. I’ve just finished a student edition which is basically the same except adapted for teens and it includes assignments in each chapter.
Me: Have you had responses so far you want to mention?
Donna: One reviewer said, “[It’s] my most valuable resource. Not only does it have the answers to almost any writing question, it provides great guidance, both spiritual and motivational, in my writing journey.”
Another said, “What an excellent manuscript! The writing was tight and skilled … and the information was comprehensive; nothing was left out. What a treasure this will be for all writers–beginning writers will have a great resource to help them get up to speed, and seasoned pros will come back again and again when they need a ‘refresher course’ for a particular need. A Step in the Write Direction should be on every writers’ must-have bookshelf.”
Me: With so many changes happening in the publishing industry, are you optimistic about a beginning writer’s chances of success?
Donna: Definitely! Editors are always looking for books with a message. Of course, it helps if you have a platform and are able to help market your own book.
Me: Any short, last minute tips or words of wisdom?
1) Stay close to God. Sally Stuart says you can’t write from an empty cup.
2) Join a critique group. Their encouragement and insights are valuable.
3) Know basic English skills and sentence structure. Take a night class if necessary. And, most important,
4) Use a dictionary!!
Me: Thanks Donna. The more good resources we have available—such as your book—the better. Visit Donna’s website and order her book.