Tag Archives: writing

Cross Words

crossword puzzles 1

I have had a lifelong affection with words. An avid reader of fiction as a child and teenager gave way to becoming a student of nonfiction as an adult. Along with that goes forty-one years of random writing experience and eighteen as a magazine publisher. It should come as little surprise then, that I also enjoy crossword puzzles.

I'm marveling that a person with orthography issues, such as mine, could so immensely enjoy crossword puzzles. Click To Tweet

When I work a puzzle, I rely solely on the mind: mine and sometimes my family’s.  (I used to tap all available non-human resources, but upon enduring merciless harassment after buying a crossword dictionary, I swore off artificial assistance.)  Unfortunately, I am, quite ironically, a poor speller.  (My “flexible” pronunciation of most words doesn’t facilitate spelling accuracy either.)

My wife often endures the brunt of my spelling deficiencies.  It might go something like this:

“How do you spell Cat?”


“It’s not with a “K?”


“Could it be four letters?  Like K-A-T-T or K-A-I-T?”

“Ah, no!”

I ponder a bit more.  “I can make kitty work if it only has one T.”

“No, there are definitely two Ts in kitty.”

I contemplate the situation some more, but I’m no longer thinking of a 4 letter word for feline.  Instead, I’m marveling that a person with orthography issues, such as mine, could so immensely enjoy crossword puzzles—and generally complete them quite effectively.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

4 Reasons to Set Goals

Set GoalsIt’s important to set goals, both for our work and for our self.

Goals move us forward: Without goals, it’s easy to drift from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year—and nothing really changes. One of my goals is to attend two writing conferences each year. This helps grow me as a writer and meet others in the industry.

Goals give us clarity: Goals reveal what’s important to us. Activities that aren’t relevant to our goals need to be given lower priority or even eliminated. One of my goals is to write every day.

Goals reflect our focus: Without goals we can easily go in four directions at once, never accomplishing anything. Another of my goals is to watch less TV. This gives more time to read, write reviews, and do other things to advance my career as a writer.

Goals facilitate success: I want to publish my books, but that won’t happen just because I wish it. I need to work at it. One critical step is to present my writing to agents and publishers, often in the form of a query.  Submitting a query will not guarantee success, but failing to do so will ensure failure.

Without goals, it's easy to drift from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year—and nothing really changes. Click To Tweet

What are some of your goals?

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

Book Release: 52 Churches: A Yearlong Journey Encountering God, His Church, and Our Common Faith

Book Release: 52 Churches: A Yearlong Journey Encountering God, His Church, and Our Common Faith

The Book 52 Churches is Now Available

52 Churches: A Yearlong Journey Encountering God, His Church, and Our Common Faith, by Peter DeHaan, PhD

Visit fifty-two churches in a year?

Am I crazy? Maybe.

My wife and I spent a year visiting churches, a different Christian church every Sunday. This book is our story.

I’m sure we visited a church just like yours.

And wow, did we learn a lot. Things that will surprise you and make you cringe. And more than a few things that will inspire you.

In 52 Churches, you’ll:

  • Discover the shocking approaches that some churches use.
  • Learn the essential dos and don’ts when you have a visitor.
  • Make sure your church avoids the really creepy things I saw.
  • Uncover traditional church practices that no longer make sense.
  • See what’s not working, and what to replace it with.

You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry, You’ll Wince.

But 52 Churches isn’t a rip at the modern church or a mean-spirited journalistic exposé. Instead it’s a gift that offers encouragement, hope, and ideas on how your church can thrive and be relevant in today’s culture.

52 Churches is ideal for church leaders, church members, and church outsiders. And if you’re still reading this, it’s perfect for you too.

Get your copy of 52 Churches today!

Websites I Can’t Live Without

Please forgive the hyperbole in the title “Websites I Can’t Live Without.” The truth is, yes, I can live without them. However, I use them so frequently that not having them at my disposal would create a void.Websites I can't live without.

Google: I use Google for all my Internet searches and online research. I launch it from my toolbar in Firefox, which takes me to Google for the search results. I can quickly zero in on the exact information I need and only seldom get distracted.

TheFreeDictionary: For online dictionaries, this is my favorite. If I’m writing anything, there’s a good chance that I have this site open. It allows me to quickly verify the correct usage of a word, as well as point to synonyms. (Random trivia question that was recently posed to me: “What is a synonym for euphemism?”)

IMDB: For all my movie, television, and actor information, I immediately go to imdb (“Internet Movie DataBase”). I tend to spend too much time there: I suppose that it is my guilty pleasure—no, wait that might be…

BibleGateway: This is a great site to read or study the Bible. Search by verse, key words, or topic. Plus it has lots of related tools and resources. It also has more Bible translations than I knew existed.

The Weather Channel: Yes, I’m fixated on the weather and weather.com is my go-to source. Though lately, I’m more inclined to use their app.

Amazon: As a writer, it seems I’m often looking up books and checking authors. Though I’m not there every day, it’s close.

Social Media: I’m often on Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, and GoodReads. What are the websites you can't live without? Click To Tweet

I use these sites most every day that I’m online—which happens to be almost every day.  I suppose that I could live without them—but why try?

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night.



Book Review: The Napkin, the Melon & the Monkey

The Napkin, the Melon & the Monkey: How to Be Happy and Successful at Work and in Life by Simply Changing Your Mind

By Barbara Burke (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Promoted as “a customer service fable,” The Napkin, the Melon & the Monkey is ambitiously subtitled: How to Be Happy and Successful at Work and in Life by Simply Changing Your Mind. I believe it lives up to its grand intention. The inside back cover notes that author “Barbara Burke is an internationally known consultant, speaker, and author who specializes in the ‘people side’ of customer service management.”

Reminiscent of the classic The One Minute Manager, this fable follows the vocational pursuits of Olivia, a harried customer service representative at the local utility. Starting her position with much excitement and high expectation, it isn’t long before the crush of complaint calls and barbs from angry customers bring her to her breaking point.

Enter Isabel, a wise and insightful veteran of the team, fortuitously comes to Olivia’s rescue. With one simple piece of advice, Isabel changes Olivia’s job outlook and career trajectory. This, however, will not be their only interaction, but the first of many such exchanges between mentor and mentee. Along the way, Olivia records twenty-two “aha!” moments, which have broad application for her work, customer service, and even life itself.

In case you’re wondering how a napkin, a melon, and a monkey fit into this, let me assure you they do, serving as apt metaphors for three key points, the reoccurring themes in the book. But don’t take my word for it. Read The Napkin, the Melon & the Monkey yourself and then share it with your coworkers. It might make a huge difference.

[The Napkin, the Melon & the Monkey: How to Be Happy and Successful at Work and in Life by Simply Changing Your Mind, by Barbara Burke. Published by Front Wheel Learning, 2006, ISDN: 0-9746379-3-9, 137 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan

Book Review: Ditched

Ditched: A Love Story

By Robin Mellom (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Justina’s prom didn’t go at all as planned. After tumbling from a moving car just as the morning light emerged, she finds her prom dress ripped and stained, with no memory of what happened, no cellphone to call for help, and no money – sitting in a ditch. Literally ditched. And that new tattoo – please, please be temporary.

A hopeless romantic, Justina had mapped out every detail of how her prom should unfold: the kiss, the song, the dance – the entire evening. Reality turned out quite different, conspiring to keep her from her dream – or did it?

In this delightful romp into the unexpected, Ditched takes readers on a wild ride, weaving in the surprising, twisting and turning at every opportunity. Meeting a cast of colorful characters – true friends, fickle friends, and lovable losers – Ditched is highschool drama at its best – and worst.

Ditched: A Love Story is a young adult novel – and for those young at heart.

[Ditched: A Love Story, by Robin Mellom. Published by Hyperion, 2013, ISBN: 978-1423143512, 288 pages.]

Note: On March 1, 2015, Ditched was updated and re-released as Perfect Kiss.

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan

What I’m Looking Forward to the Most at the Breathe Conference

This weekend I’m heading off to the Breathe Writers Conference. It will be my third time in three years. There are many things I’m looking forward to, among them:

  • I’m looking forward to my workshop presentation to help and encourage other writers.
  • I’m looking forward to meeting new people and making new friends.
  • I’m looking forward to seeing friends from past conferences, writing groups, and even cyberspace.
  • I’m looking forward to scheduling one-on-one meetings with those who can guide me as a writer.
  • I’m looking forward to buying some books and having them autographed.
  • I’m looking forward to attending the general sessions and many workshops.
  • I’m looking forward to learning more about the art and craft of writing.

Mostly I’m looking forward to being in the company of other writers, to share and learn, to encourage and be encouraged, and to grow as a writer.

Perhaps I will see you there — and then we can do all these things together.

Peter DeHaan and Jerry Barrett Start Writers Group

The Kalamazoo Christian Writers critique group holds first meeting and generates excitement.

Mattawan, Michigan, July 19, 2012 – Peter DeHaan and Jerry Barrett have started a writers critique group, Kalamazoo Christian Writers (KCW), based in Kalamazoo Michigan. The first meeting was held July 11 at The Point, a non-profit community center located on the west side of Kalamazoo.

KCW materials passed out at the inaugural meeting state, “Though this is a Christian writers group, there is no expectation that all our work must be ostensibly ‘Christian’ writing. Christians who write have a place in virtually every genre, market, and industry; we need to embrace and support that.”

“The response was great,” said cofounder Peter DeHaan. “We talked about the vision for the group, shared the critiquing process, and practiced on a couple of pieces.” Attendees were universally excited about the group and what it will offer to improve their writing and advance their careers.

For some time Barrett and DeHaan have been making an hour drive twice a month to take part in another critique group. When they realized the value of group critiquing and with the uncertainty of winter driving in Michigan, they began making plans to form a local group. Though the two intend to remain connected with the first group, this new endeavor, KCW, will be their focus.

“The main value of a critique group is to help the writer to look at the window of the craft of writing not through it,” said cofounder Jerry Barrett. “The goal of critique is to help one another, as writers, to accentuate what is clear for the reader and to remove possible smudges on the pane.”

The critiquing process is scalable, so there’s no limit to the size of the group – and the meeting room is large enough to accommodate a much larger scope. Regardless of the number present, writers will split into manageable sized groups to maximize effectiveness and minimize time requirements. Critiquing is best when done in groups of four or five, with everyone having a piece to share and everyone providing feedback.

The group meets the second Wednesday of each month. Email Peter DeHaan for more information.

About Jerry Barrett

Jerry Barrett (aka “Jerry Poet”) is a longtime poet and a more recent memoirist. He frequently blogs his distinctive poetry, insightful observations, and compelling commentary at Gerald the Writer. For his day job, he wears a brown uniform and delivers packages. Jerry resides near Kalamazoo, Michigan, with his wife, a dozen kids, and assortment of pets. This all serves to give him much fodder to fire his imaginative writing.
About Peter DeHaan:

Peter DeHaan is a published author and president of Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc. He is an active blogger and frequent book reviewer. His blogs include “Byline” (a blog about writing), “Spiritually Speaking,” “From the Publisher’s Desk” (covering publishing and marketing), and “The Musings of Peter DeHaan.” Many of Peter DeHaan’s articles can be found online at Article Weekly. Peter resides near Kalamazoo with his wife; they have two adult children.


Peter DeHaan

The Work of Publishing Periodicals

I publish four periodicals: two magazines, an e-publication, and an e-newsletter. There is an established workflow to each, with every day requiring that some task be accomplished for at least one of them.

Additionally, one of the magazines has an overlapping production schedule, meaning that sometimes I have to start the next issue before the current one is finished. The result is that at any given time, I am working on four or five publications. Given a bit of discipline, it is all quite manageable — when I am in the office.

Two weeks ago, I missed four days in the office due to traveling to and covering a convention. I began my preparations in earnest two weeks prior to departure, working in advance and accomplishing tasks ahead of schedule to the degree it was possible. Essentially, this meant doing three weeks of production work in two weeks. Some ancillary things, such as blogging, fell by the wayside.

Then I was gone for a week. Then I spent a week getting caught up from being gone. This included doing those tasks that could not be done in advance, responding to issues that arose while I was gone, and following up on everything from the convention.

So, the essence is that being gone for four days required a concerted effort lasting four weeks.

Although this may sound like complaining, it is really explaining — why it has been 21 days since my last blog entry.

[If you are interested, my publications are Connections Magazine, AnswerStat, TAS Trader, and Medical Call Center News.]