For my friends and family (tho helpful strangers are not unwelcome)

I’m experimenting with a one-question survey today! Here’s the deal: The book I’ve written—nope, not trying to sell it to you; can’t be purchased anywhere :-)—is so, so familiar to me that I have trouble “seeing” it anymore. I finally put it down in February after staying up until 2AM more nights than I didn’t making “final” (ha!) edits since about Thanksgiving.

This is why there are professional editors, and I’ve also been extremely blessed so far by my half-dozen volunteer editors. My most extreme micro-editor friend Phil was worth more than many a professional would have been, I’m sure of it. And my most extreme macro editor (stuff like chronology, emotion, storyline), Maria, was very insightful, too. One particular chapter ending really bothered her: it seemed out of place. I tried to “see” it then, but it wasn’t until this past week (and I wasn’t anywhere near the book) that it clicked for me: the chapter really would end better if I lost the passage in question. Regardless of how hard I’d worked on it, it was time to see it go. But just as my axe was whistling through the air, an idea came to mind, as if the poor passage was whimpering one final plea: “Why not try me in the Prologue?”


So I did. I changed it up some more and stuck it in. But my old problem came back: everything is so over-familiar that I’m having trouble “seeing.”

That’s where you come in.


1) Does adding the alternate beginning do something for you (e.g., make you want to read the story more)?


2) would you start off where the shorter, original Prologue does?


[Alternate beginning]

I thought we would profoundly change Lily’s life. An orphan? Coming to belong in a family? How blessed she would be. The pain is over, dear child.

But no.

The pain had just begun. For all of us.

Lily would profoundly change my life.


[Original begins here]

The night before I would finally meet her, I wrote Lily a letter.

After all this time, I had a hard time believing I would actually see her.

My Dearest Lily,

I have done little else the past twelve hours other than think of you. The morning will find me on my way to see you! You, of course, won’t recognize me. You don’t know who I am, as we’ve never seen each other. In fact, you may be in for a bit of a rude awakening as your noodles and your chopsticks and your baozi and whatever else your favorites are and your aunties and your friends all disappear! But don’t worry, there will be many, many wonderful things too!

A family.

I will love you for as long as I live, Lily. I know, sounds pretty strange coming from some guy you will see for the first time tomorrow morning! I don’t understand it myself. Thank you for inspiring me. It’s my privilege to love you, although a bit overwhelming and scary sometimes to feel so much when I can’t explain it. I know there are many more chapters of understanding to come.

I will see you in the morning!


For hours I wrote, filling pages while I looked for my heart.

At some points in every adoption journey, all is hope and anticipation and joy.


OK! Vote 1 (both) or 2 (original). Use the comment section, Facebook, or come to China and write on my hand.

Thank you! This is enjoyable for me. And helpful, truly!



11 thoughts on “For my friends and family (tho helpful strangers are not unwelcome)”

  1. Both! I like the curiosity that comes from the alternate and the depth and explanation that comes after with the original beginning 🙂

  2. Experiment = success.
    Thanks, everyone, including those (most of you) on FB.
    Comments are still open, of course, but I’ve already adjusted the above to reflect a suggested deletion (of Heather Petersen’s–her is even younger than this blog) and agreed to by almost every other voter.

  3. I vote for #2 – sometimes people get lost in a long introduction. However, God knows best what is for you. Love & prayers.
    Aunt Doris

    1. Aunt Doris, nice to see you on here. Thank you so much for remembering us.
      I think length will probably end up being the least of my worries–even with both parts it’s shorter than many Prologues. Still thinking, though, so thanks for voting!

  4. Hi Dann,

    1. I think you’re a good writer.

    2. I know you didn’t, but if you had asked me to choose between the two parts I’d have chosen the 1st over the 2nd. They’re both good, but somehow they don’t seem to fit together. Perhaps part 1 could go on the dust jacket. But then what if people threw it out; never mind.

    3. I also agree with the deletion, but I wonder if you could work it back in before the last sentence, to give it a chiastic structure. Maybe something about pain being a blessing. Or “Life is pain!” from The Princess Bride?

    4. Only the last sentences in my part 2 and 3 are sarcastic. You get to vote which one is better.

    1. 1. Means a lot. Thanks.
      2. I agree they don’t flow together, and it’s because they weren’t written together. They’ll keep evolving, and the solution may be as simple as “*****” between them.
      3. I’ll play around with that, though I think simple insertion of such would be abrupt. The parallelism was actually introduced after the sentence already deleted. Earlier it just said “Blessing itself” up above, and has already reverted to that in my draft (though not above). Thanks for all the thoughts–it is always helpful to have verification the impressions are not unanimous. “Pain being blessing” is what I was going for, just didn’t pull it off well. Hopefully the book does 🙂 (and I’ll keep playing with the Prologue).
      4. Princess Bride quote wins, hands down!!

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