Interview with Donna Goodrich

MARYANN:
Today I have the privilege of interviewing veteran author Donna Goodrich. Hello, Donna. Welcome to The Writer Power.

Donna, please tell us a little about yourself. 

DONNA:

I’m a native of Jackson,Michigan. Moved to Kansas City,Missouri, when I was 20 to take a job at the Nazarene Publishing House as secretary to book editor (Jeanette Oke’s uncle by marriage). Typed a term paper for a seminary student (Gary), and we became engaged three weeks after we met. Will be married 50 years this Au gust. He pastored one year in Michiganbut resigned due to health reasons. We moved to Arizona in 1969. Have three children and two granddaughters. I began holding writing workshops in 1980, and founded the Arizona Christian Writers Conference in 1982 which I ran for seven years before turning it over to Reg Forder, who then took the conferences nationwide (ACW). I still hold 1-and 2-day conferences on my own, and teach at other conferences. 

MARYANN:
When did you know that God had called you to write? Was it a clearly defined moment, or was it a gradual revelation?
 

DONNA:
I always knew I wanted to write, and began writing poetry at about 9 years old. I sold my first poem at 14 and my first short story at 18. But it took a quotation from Harold Ivan Smith at a writers’ conference in 1980 to show me that writing was a calling. He said, “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.
 

MARYANN:

Donna, you are a master at writing devotionals. Where do you get your ideas for devotionals?What are the elements of a good devotional? 

DONNA:

I get most of my ideas for devotionals from everyday experiences. I think the two elements for a good devotional are: 1) a universal illustration that all readers can relate to, and 2) a takeaway that readers can remember later in the day when they’re faced with a trial. 

MARYANN:

Donna, you’ve written several books. Please tell us a little about them. 

DONNA:

My first book consisted of 30 Bible quizzes I developed for children’s church. I sent them to Standard Publishing for their Sunday school paper and they put them into a booklet. My next three were devotional books for Sunday School teachers, women, and children. When the Sunday School book went out of print, I later resold it in a different format. I’ve had two how-to books published by John Wiley based on my 18 years owning and operating a secretarial and income tax business. I’ve compiled two state cookbooks and wrote a book about my songwriting nephew, Dave Clark, who has had 25 songs go to #1 on the charts,and his healing from a disease he had for 19 years that 29 doctors at Mayo Clinic could find no cure for. I also self-published 7 writing booklets taken from classes I’ve taught at conferences. 

My writing dream came to fruition this year with the publication of A Step in the Write Direction–the Complete How-to Book for Christian Writers. I’ve wanted something for years to offer people who called me and said, “I want to be a writer. How do I get started?” This book includes everything from getting ideas, to different genres of writing,, to mentoring,starting a Christian writers’ club, holding a conference, and income tax tips. I’m now in the process of writing a student edition of the book for teens. 

MARYANN:

I own this book, Donna, and it’s definitely a great resource. Thanks for writing it. 🙂 What other kinds of writing do you do? 

DONNA:

I enjoy writing short stories, articles, poems, personal experiences, and profiles, as well as devotionals. I’ve completed 3 gift books and 5 calendars that I’m marketing, and just completed my second dream book, The Freedom of Letting Go, that talks about letting go of grief, children, possessions,failure, success, guilt, youth, health issues, people who have hurt you, control, and the last chapter is “The Land Beyond Letting Go.” 

MARYANN:

I need to buy that book, Donna, as I had a hard time with empty nest syndrome. 🙂 Besides being a writer, you are a teacher of writers. What advice do you have for beginning writers? For seasoned writers? 

DONNA:

My biggest advice for beginning writers is to keep a dictionary handy and, if needed, to take a general English class. I critique manuscripts and am always surprised at wanna-be writers who misuse punctuation and who don’t take the time to look up the spelling of words. Also to join a writers’ group if there is one in their area, reading all the books on writing t hey can find, and attend conferences. 

For seasoned writers:Don’t give up, even in barren times,and stay close to God.I’ve always liked Sally Stuart’s saying: “You can’t write from an empty cup. Keep your relationship to God uppermost.” 

MARYANN:

If you were to choose one chief quality a Christian writer should have, what would that quality be? 

DONNA:

Well, I guess this is two, but besides a close relationship with God, I would say persistence. 

MARYANN:

Do you have a typical w writing day? If so,what is it like? 

DONNA:

I wish I did! Because I do editing, proofreading, and typing for publishers and writers, and am mostly the main breadwinner for our family,as my husband is disable, I don’t have as much time to write as I”d like and I tend to write in spurts.When I get caught up on jobs, I’ll take several days and just write. I also belong to a weekly critique group of published writers, and always try to have something to take each week (even if it means staying up late the night before!). 

MARYANN:

What do you like to do for fun? 

DONNA:

Crossword puzzles; reading; shopping with daughters, granddaughters, and sister; watching TV game shows. And I know this sounds crazy, but Love housecleaning (even though my house doesn’t look like it, because I also do that in spurts),and to me, writing is fun. I’d rather do that than anything else. 

MARYANN:

Who are some of your favorite authors? 

DONNA:

In the Christian market, I like Swindoll and Philip Yancey. In the secular market, I like Swindoll and Philip Yancey. In the secular market, I like Margaret Truman (as I used to work at the Arizona House of Representatives and Senate), Mary Higgins Clark, and Robin Cook. 

MARYANN:

How can the Christian writer best prepare himself to impact our post-Christian culture? 

DONNA:

Perhaps to have more unbelievers in our circle of friends.We’ve been t aught for so long to surround ourselves with Christians, I don’t think sometimes we realize that all t he news we see on TV is actually happening to people in our own neighborhood. Being self-employed, after I sold my secretarial and tax business, I really didn’t have contact with a lot of non-Christians until we moved into a mobile home park.We need to talk to these people and learn about their burdens and hurts if we are to write for them. 

MARYANN:
Thank you so much for being with us today, Donna.
 

DONNA:

I’ve enjoyed it–and hope it helps someone.I would rather be known as an encourager than anything else. 

MARYANN:

I invite our readers to visit Donna’s website at http://www.thewritersfriend.net/ or contact her at dgood648@aol.com.

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