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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