Four Out of Four!

“Cute, pithy” and for those “who are new to the publishing game and in need of some friendly, clever encouragement.”

My newest micro Ebook, Skipping the Tiramisu: Becoming the Writer You Were Born to Be, earned these words and a four-star review out of a possible four.

Have you downloaded your FREE copy yet?  It’s quick, easy, and won’t bite!  Promise!

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Up next: Why You Won’t Turn Into a Pumpkin if You’re Not Blogging Every Day (Part 1 of 2).

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Author Interview: Cheryl Kincaid

Every once in a while you get to meet an author who not only writes compelling stories, but whose life is a compelling story in itself.  That’s the case with my lifelong friend Reverend Cheryl Anne Kincaid from the First Presbyterian Church of Clifton, New Jersey.  We grew up in the same church in San Diego.  Although we attended different schools, we both spent many hours at that city’s storied Old Globe Theatre and fell in love with Shakespeare and literature (more about that in Cheryl’s interview).

Pastor and Author Cheryl Anne Kincaid.

Cheryl has authored a Christmas devotional, Hearing the Gospel Through Charles’ Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and a delightful children’s book, The Little Candle That Was Frightened of the Dark, a children’s advent devotion written for children between the ages of three to six.

So, pull up a chair and get comfortable.  Let’s hear more from this this fascinating, multi-talented author and pastor:

Tell us something about yourself.

I am an evangelical Christian.  Since I believe this word has been overused and misused in the public arena, let me define it. The word evangelical is taken from the Greek word   euvaggeli,zw   which is pronounced as euaggelizo which simply means ‘good news.’ This is the term that is used when the disciples are given the charge to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15, Luke 9:6, Matthew 26:13)  So by saying that I am an evangelical, I am saying that I believe in the Good News of the Salvation of Jesus Christ. It is the center piece and foundation of my entire ministry.  But I also have a strong passion for social compassion and justice, which has also put me in conflict with some evangelicals. Both of these convictions come from my childhood, which has greatly influenced my writing.

In the Shadow

I grew up in beautiful San Diego, California in the shadow of poverty and despair. My father was an alcoholic and abusive, my mother was constantly depressed and passively abusive.

I had a strong desire to share my faith since an early age and I think that was the seed of my passion for writing.  I was constantly trying to find limited, earthy human words to describe a mysterious wonder of my relationship Jesus.  I am still amazed at how he saved me from my environment.  Jesus was my sole stability in my otherwise very unstable world. In many ways my church was the saving grace of my life. But growing up on welfare in a conservative community can be painful.

Conflicts and Passions

These conflicts in my world, found a home in my writing.   These conflicts also found a home in my reading as I found these themes reflected in the works of Charles Dickens, and William Shakespeare.  My passion for this literature grew in a most unusual way.

The Junior High that I attended was next door to an outdoor theatre in San Diego called the Old Globe Theatre.  It was a place where I could sneak unnoticed into the rehearsals.  I had dyslexia and reading was not an easy task for me.  While other children my age could freely read a sentence, I had to use my finger under each word to discipline my eyes to move from left to right across the page.  If it wasn’t for my exposure to the spoken word of the theatre, I don’t think I would have ever developed my passion for literature which most certainly has affected my writing.  Those rehearsals gave me the courage to work through ‘Great Expectation” “Oliver Twist”   “King Lear”  “A Comedy of Errors”.  And my writing developed as my reading developed.

What inspired you to write this book?

My book is entitled, “Hearing the Gospel Through Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol” and was inspired my Charles Dickens story “A Christmas Carol”.  I used to watch a black and white version of A Christmas Carol every year after our midnight Christmas Eve service at our church. I knew there was biblical theme in the story but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  Later, in college, I started to use the Advent Wreath in my personal Christmas devotions. I recognized that the readings from scriptures of the themes of Hope, Faith, Peace, Joy and Love complimented the admonitions the Ghosts gave Ebenezer Scrooge. My curiosity was ignited, but while working my way through college, I simply didn’t have the time to research my theory.

The Accident

In 1993, I was in a car accident which left my left leg paralyzed. It was year after my car accident. I had worked so hard to get into college and move out of the down town area into a nice apartment with my working roommates. With my car accident, all my hard work slipped through my fingers. I was once again living in an apartment with roaches and in an unsafe part of town. Walking to work was no longer an option. I was on disability, which felt like welfare, and the painful struggle with my walker and the bus was an embarrassment for me as people gave me what seemed to me to be looks of pity, that someone so young should be using a walker.

It was at that time that my sister and I went to a production of “A Christmas Carol” at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. It wasn’t safe to for me walk down stairs but the elevator wouldn’t take us down to the bottom floor. We kept going up and down in the elevator before we realized this we were never going reach the bottom floor. No one informed us that we would need an elevator key. These are things you have to learn by yourself when you have a handicap. We finally ended up gingerly walking down the stairs with my sister holding me up and the walker. The walker seemed to let out a loud ‘clang’ with each step. Everyone’s head seemed to turn with each clang.

“A Unique Take”

We finally arrived at the show. It was a unique take on A Christmas Carol.  The Cratchet family lived in Harlem in this production, but the production was close to the story line. When the young actor recited the line from Bob Cratchet, I broke down in tears.

“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchet.

“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”

I used to view that line as corny, something that someone might mock on ‘Saturday Night Live’.  But now I saw it as an honest attempt to ask God to redeem the worst of situations. I notice that Tiny Tim did not ask for healing, he was willing for God to use him where he was and whatever condition that was given to him.  I wept and I knew that this was my book to write.

“Strong Correlations”

In seminary, while studying the Elizabethan prayer book, I noticed strong correlations between the ghosts and readings in Isaiah from the Anglican prayer book.  At that time the structure book began to take form in my mind.   I started to study about Charles Dickens life and faith journey to affirm or disprove my theory.  I pleasantly surprised to find my theory was affirmed in his letters to friend foster and his travel diaries, it was at that time that I started to write my book

How did you choose the title?

The book was originally entitled “Around the Advent Wreath with Ebenezer Scrooge.” But I felt a great reverence as I researched serious political conditions that inspired Charles Dickens to write ‘A Christmas Carol’ and the themes Anglican Prayer Book. My original title seemed frivolous and inappropriate.  I felt I understood what Charles Dickens was trying to do.  He was trying to get the church of his day to ‘hear the gospel’ with their actions and hearts.  So the title of “Hearing the Gospel Through Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” seemed self-explanatory to me, when I finished the book.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

It took a couple of years to get a publisher to take my book seriously.  This is very common for most writers.  Persistence and resilience is a key discipline every writer should cultivate.  I found the scripture in Luke 11:9, to be a great inspiration in this respect.

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Luke 11:9

Remember, in the Greek it is in the perfect present case, so it means, ‘keep seeking, keep knocking’

Reading Sally Stuart’s book, “The Christian Writers Market Guide” was really helpful.  Reading this book should be a priority for anyone who wishes to be published.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I never questioned that I wasn’t a writer; I knew that I was writer because I wrote.  I yearned to write, at times my fingers would itch feel the gentle thump of typewriter keys beneath them.  The desire to become published, however, seemed improvable from the very beginning of my journey.  So I started writing for writing’s sake, understanding I might never get published.  When I felt it was time for my work to be published, I pursued it like my education. I used persistence, and hardened my feelings to the amount of rejections that I received.  I had other means of employment, so my livelihood wasn’t based on my publication.  This gave me the luxury of time, so I continued to knock on doors until a publisher answered the door and said yes.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I need three things to write well: a cup of tea, an Oxford English dictionary, and a quiet room.  Anything beyond these things are welcomed but not necessary.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book?  What?

I learned a tremendous amount about English history from writing “Hearing the Gospel Through Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol.”  I also felt privileged to learn more about the inward storms of Charles Dickens through his personal letters and writings. I resonated with his storms.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

Of course I wished that I could have written the book earlier. But even if I had the time to write the book in college, I don’t think that I was ready to write the book until after my car accident.  Sometimes books, like children, have their own timetable of when they will be born.

I also wish I could have negotiated a cheaper price for the book.  But first time writers really don’t have a lot of power and I am content that we are putting out a paper back in November.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

The Scriptures are on the top of my reading list.  As I have already expressed, I love the works of Charles Dickens and Shakespeare.  I am inexplicably drawn to Victorian novels such as works by Jane Austin, Emily & Charlotte Bronte.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

 I am currently working on a book called A Hope and Future which is a twelve step devotion for incest and rape survivors.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

My first advice for any writer who wished to be published is to read Sally Stuart’s book “The Christian Writers’ Market Place.”  Move cautiously if you seek to self published, it is easy to loose a lot of money on unethical predators in this market.  Perfect your craft before you seek to get published, if you are writer, write.   And last but most certainly not least, persistence, persistence, persistence!! Don’t give up.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

“Hearing the Gospel Through Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol” is written for an adult devotion.  Anyone who seeks to understand Scripture and get a greater sense of history of Christmas would enjoy this book.  I, personally think that it would make a great gift for pastors.

The Little Candle That Was Frightened of the Dark” is a children’s advent devotion and is written for children between the ages of three to six.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Below are the websites associated with my book:

Hearing the Gospel Through Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

The Little Candle That Was Frightened of the Dark.

Find out more about Pastor Kincaid and her work here.

Author Interview: Donna Clark Goodrich

One of the great things about hosting author interviews and helping other writers is that I get to meet and connect with some truly fascinating and amazingly gifted folks.  Speaker and life-long writer Donna C. Goodrich is a choice example.  Donna has authored over 700 short stories, articles, devotionals, poems, and book reviews and more than 20 books including A Step in the Write Direction – the Complete How-to-Book for Christian Writers and The Freedom of Letting Go.  Let’s get to know her:

Where do you live?

Mesa, Arizona

Tell us something about yourself:

Author and speaker Donna Clark Goodrich

I’m originally from Jackson, Michigan. Moved to Kansas City when I was 20 to take a job as secretary to the book editor (Norman Oke, uncle by marriage of Jeanette Oke) at the Nazarene Publishing House. Two years later, I met my husband-to-be while typing his seminary term paper, and we’ve been married 52 years. Have 3 children, a pastor son-in-law, and 2 granddaughters.

I only have one year of college, but have had a number of writing jobs—associate editor, reporter, etc. , so most of my writing education has been on-the-job training.

I’ve been writing most of my life. Wrote my first poem at the age of 9 for Mother’s Day, another one that year for soldiers (which our pastor put in the church bulletin), and one at 11 when my father left. Sold my first poem at 14 (for $1.40) and my first short story at 18 (for $12).

The three people who had the biggest influence on my writing are: my mother, our children’s librarian in my hometown public library, my 5th-6th grade teacher, and my book editor boss at the publishing house.

Hobbies are baseball (Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks), music (mostly southern gospel), reading, and crossword puzzles.

What inspired you to write your two most recent books, A Step in the Write Direction – the Complete How-to Book for Christian Writers, and The Freedom of Letting Go?

1)    A Step in the Write Direction—the Complete How-to Book for Christian Writers is taken from all the conference workshops I’ve taught over the years. I wanted something to offer all the people who called saying, “I want to be a writer. How do I get started?”

2)     The idea for The Freedom of Letting Go came from the fact it took me 11 years to let go of my mother after she died. Then I realized it wasn’t just letting go of her, it was the whole principle of letting go of many things: grief, guilt, hurts, success, failure, children, material things, worry, doubt, fear, then the book ends with The Land Beyond Letting Go.

How did you choose the title?

The name of 1) is taken from classes and one-day workshops I’ve taught, and 2) from talks I’ve given over the years on that subject.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

1)      The publisher who accepted the “Step” book was a self-publishing house. However, the owner believed in the book enough to publish it on a royalty basis, and later, they also published my student book by the same title, but which has writing assignments throughout.

2)      I only sent the “Freedom” book to three publishers. The first one accepted it, but I turned them down as they had only been in business for one year and had only one employee. The second one felt it covered too many topics, and the third one bought it. It was published in May 2012.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I’ve been writing most of my life. Unlike most students, I loved the essay questions. I wrote my first poem at the age of 9 for Mother’s Day, another one that year for soldiers (which our pastor put in the church bulletin), and one at 11 when my father left. Sold my first poem at 14 (for $1.40) and my first short story at 18 (for $12). When I accepted the job as book editor’s secretary, I was near all our denominational publishers, so I sold a lot of articles and short stories those two years. At present, I’ve had 23 books published, and over 700 short stories, articles, devotionals, poems, and book reviews.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Not really. I do editing and proofreading for publishers and writers, and also care for a husband with 12 diseases, so my writing time is limited. But when something burns inside me long enough, I find the time to write it!

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book?  What?

I had collected information for years, and some topics I had previously put out in self-published booklets. The one thing I did learn was to make my copy as professional as possible to send it in as, since I had copied whole booklets into the manuscript, I wasn’t consistent in my capitalization and punctuation, so I had to do a lot of proofreading when the galleys came.

On the “Freedom” book, it was like preaching to the choir as I used so many personal experiences, and it actually helped me to write the book.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

1) As stated above, I’d proofread it better before submitting it, and 2) on the Freedom book I wish I had known earlier the size this publisher published, as after it was accepted, I  had to write 15,000 more words on material I hadn’t collected information for.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

In the secular market, Mary Higgins Clark; religious market, Max Lucado.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’ve had two more books accepted this year: 1) Rhyme-Time Bible Stories for Little Ones (Harvest House Publishers), and 2) Preparing Your Heart for Christmas, a 66-page devotional book (Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas; 10/15/12). I’ve also completed a contracted anthology manuscript of stories, poems, and recipes for mothers and grandmothers which will come out before Christmas this year (Hidden Brook Publishers). At present I’m looking for a publisher for a book for caregivers.

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What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Find a local writers’ group and join. If there isn’t one in your area, start one. Read all the books you can on writing, and try to attend a writers conference. And let go of things you are doing that others can do so you can do what you’re called to do.

Who is the perfect reader for your books?

1)      The “Step” book is good for the beginning writer as it gives all the information they’re looking in one book, and it’s good for advanced writers as there is so much encouragement in it.

2)      The “Freedom” book is helpful for anyone who finds it hard to let go of something: children, grief, material things, failure, guilt, etc.

Find out more about Donna and her books at: The Writer’s Friend.

Visit Donna at her blog: Donna Goodrich

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Are You Writing “On the Way Down”?

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”

—Kurt Vonnegut

Wasn’t school letting out just last week, kids punching the air with “Yessss!” in anticipation of summer vacation?   Where did summer go?

Fall has long been my favorite season.  But it comes at a price – a sigh and a sense of loss – always flavored with amazement, as in, “Where, oh where, did summer go?”

 When You Aren’t Lookin’

Have you noticed?  It’s easy to say the same about writing, isn’t it?  To sigh and say, I was going to finish chapter twenty-two today, but…  I haven’t actually finished the proposal… I planned to, but… thought about… talked about… considered… Well, maybe…

Yet the novel, article, story, essay, or outline sit on your desk or in your hard drive unfinished, poised to creep out the back door when you aren’t lookin’.

Flush and Unfinished

Some writers I know are flush with ideas and unfinished manuscripts.  They talk about writing in sentences punctuated with “one of these days” and “when I get around to it” or “when it slows down some.”

Truth?  If you’re waiting to write until you “have time” or life “slows down some,” chances are you never will.

You Know Why

So, why do some writers have so many unfinished writing projects scattered about, collecting one or more layers of dust?  You know why.

If they work on their writing project, they might finish it.  And if they finish it they may have to do something with it.  And that involves risk.  It’s not easy seeing the work you’ve labored over so long and lovingly returned with a “thanks but no thanks” form letter or ignored altogether.

It Takes Guts

Writing takes not only perseverance and discipline, it takes guts.  Risk is part of the territory.  Staying off the cliff is safe, but you’ll never develop your wings on the way down.

Summer is melting like a popsicle in September.  Don’t let your writing get away from you like summer did.  Stop talking about writing and write.  Not tomorrow.   Not some day.  Now.  You can do it.

What writing project will you finish today? Share in the comments section.

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Up next: Getting It Write By Doing It Wrong.