Odd Ducks on the Move

Hi and welcome,

For the sake of simplification, I’ve moved all blogs under one roof. So if you like what you see here and want more up-to-date stuff, please come on over to my new home Encouragement for Today’s Christian

Be sure to sign up to receive all my posts in your email and receive a free download for greeting cards for kids. We all know how hard it is to find great greeting cards for kids, right? My greeting cards include a hidden picture (my own design), a story, and an encouraging verse. These cards are great for birthdays, celebrations of any kind, get well cards, or a simple, “Hey, how are you doing?” greeting.

Hope you enjoy the cards and my new site.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Loch Success Monster

by Brenda K. Hendricks

While I ponder my next story, I drift into a subconscious state where I. Wanda Wright floats down the Genre River. Her fingers dance over the keyboard, and stuffing story after story into bottles, she launches them into the Sea of Prose.

Without warning, she hits the Rapids of Rejection. Not for us! No unsolicited manuscripts! Wanda clings to her computer. Similar material on hand. Does NOT meet our current needs. Wanda sighs. Barely noticing the rapids have calmed slightly, she opens the last letter. Please make indicated changes and resubmit.
“It looks like she sacrificed my work to some sort of pagan manuscript god.” Wanda says.
“Revise. Revise. Revise,” the wind of perseverance responds.
Perspiration saturates her back as she crops a huge hunk of well written, but unnecessary description. Finally, Wanda leans back and reads her manuscript.
“YES! This is much tighter and clearer. I’m going to revise them all.”
Within 48 hours, bottles of revised stories bobble toward new horizons. As Wanda sails beyond the Rapids of Rejection, her dinghy drifts near a sandbank.
“Look at those rocks.” A voice sails from Writers’ Block Isle.
Wanda stops typing to survey the island. In rowboats much like hers, two writers recline with arms folded.
“Hey, I’m Wanda Wright,” she calls and drifts closer.
“You’ll never make it.” One grimaces. “There are too many better writers and not enough publishers. You might as well stop here ‘cause you won’t get much farther.”
“Never mind Atti Tude. She’s so discouraging,” the other writer says. “Me? I love writing. Why, just yesterday I almost—would you look at those daffodils. I have to pick some. And then, I’ll gather and scrub some of these sparkly stones.” Climbing out of her boat, she meanders across the grass.
“What about writing?” Wanda calls, but the distracted writer is too far away to hear.
“Pfft.” Atti waves her hand. “Lotta Skewses never writes anything. Of course, it wouldn’t do her any good anyway. She’d sail directly into the rapids.”
Wanda turns to Atti and says, “The Rapids of Rejections are difficult, but they can be overcome.”
Atti’s hands perch on her hips. “Do you realize the rejections never end?”
“I don’t mind rejections. And I am making progress.”
“P-l-e-ase.” Atti clicks her tongue in disgust. “Your writing won’t change the course of the world, you know. Besides, people could misinterpret your message.”
“Maybe,” Wanda says. “Hey, why don’t we form a critique group? It would solve the misinterpretation issue. We could help each other with marketing, and—”
Atti huffs, wrinkles her nose, and turns her back on Wanda.
“Sorry to have bothered you. Farewell.” Wanda says. As her dinghy races over the water, she smiles. There are no bad experiences for a writer, just more writing material.
In the distance, an odd-shaped, dismal mound casts an eerie shadow across the sea. An I’m-being-watched feeling ceases Wanda. She rubs down the goose flesh on her arms and resumes writing. When she looks up, the image is gone.
“A mirage, without a doubt.”
A hot puff of air sends chills down her back, and she turns to face the Loch Success Monster.
He snorts. “What if success changes you?”
Wanda cringes and the monster expands.
“What if as you succeed, your editors become more demanding?” The fire from the monster’s nostrils almost singes Wanda’s hair. “You’ll be overworked and never be able to write what you want, that’s what.”
Wanda freezes.
Suddenly, the words from her long-time friend and mentor, Emmon Author, pop into Wanda’s head. To build confidence, seek small assignments on familiar subjects.
Following the advice, Wanda casts a line to several publishers. She works diligently and completes the first project two weeks ahead of schedule.
With a groan, the monster shrinks.
As confidence builds, Wanda accepts assignments on topics she’d like to learn more about. With the completion of each project, the Loch Success Monster shrivels and his voice mutes. At long last, the winds of perseverance blow him away.
As the current eases I. Wanda Wright across the Sea of Prose, I drift back to consciousness eager to launch my next manuscript.

Three Keys to Creativity

By: Brenda K. Hendricks

Writers and Illustrators belong to the Odd Duck Society

Throughout my trek as a writer/illustrator, I have discovered there are keys that propel our vehicle forward.

1)  Surrender unlocks opportunities to improve.

Surrender to the demands of hours of solitude. As writers/illustrators, our lives are not our own. We have audiences who deserve the very best we have to offer.

Surrender to research. Authenticity is a must whether we’re writing non-fiction or fiction, children’s books or adult literature, curricula or short stories, articles, essays, or poems. The more we understand about our topic of interest, the richer our writings will be.

Surrender to the fact that we are just one piece of the puzzle. There are others like editors, publishers, and agents who are vital to the production and circulation of our work. Let everyone add their piece of the puzzle, and the picture will turn out exactly right.

Surrender to critiques from other writers, illustrators, and readers who are willing to tell you the truth. The ability to cast our thoughts onto the page and project them into the minds of our readers doesn’t come naturally, at least not for most of us. Guess what! Not everyone thinks alike. What appears clear to us may not be that obvious to our readers. We all have “blind” spots when reading our own prose therefore, an extra set of eyes is essential.

Surrender to revisions, rewrites, and manuscript mutilation. As rose bushes bloom better through regular pruning, manuscripts flourish through serious rewrites. It’s inevitable. Our babies are NOT perfect at the moment of creation. They need to be shaped, trimmed, and polished.

Surrender to rejection without accepting defeat. Not everyone is going to want to print our work. Rejection is a useful tool to the serious writer. It forces us to examine our work more intently, to search the market more diligently, and to strive for excellence.

2)  Concentrate on our craft. It’s the secret of every successful person, whether their area of expertise is science, finances, sports, music, or the arts. Deep thinking goes into every experiment, every calculation, every play, every performance, and every stroke of the brush until the very act of concentration is ingrained in the subconscious.

Concentration opens the door to adventure.

Writers perform their duties at their day jobs, thinking about their next manuscript. While their spouses snore beside them in bed, writers lie on their backs plotting their next novel or organizing their next how to article. Muse isn’t always easy to come by nor does it always show up at opportune times, but it does come. And when it does, it compels us to write.

Many great writers remain mediocre because they refuse to commit to the needed practice of concentration. And who can blame them for being reluctant? Exercising concentration can cause temporary insanity. We are caught talking out loud to ourselves and even laughing at a private joke in the bathroom. We answer questions with irrelevant tidbits of information or we don’t hear the question at all. We leave notes all over the house so we don’t lose those really important thoughts. Or worse, those of us who write novels leave notes to our characters on the table, vanity, and counter.

3)  Fascinate, not our audience but ourselves with the process of writing. According to the dictionary, it means to hold one spellbound by some irresistible charm. How long to do we stay with anything that doesn’t fascinate us? People lose all track of time surfing the Internet. Body builders work out six to eight hours a day. Skydivers jump out of airplanes. Why? Those pastimes captivate the participant.

Likewise, the process of painting a picture with words holds writers spellbound. The correct word placed properly in the sentence, strategically located in the paragraph, and positioned just so in the article written on the blank page fascinates us. If it didn’t, we’d be Internet surfers, weightlifters, or skydivers.

Fascination releases a child-like curiosity that inspires us to continue on the journey.

While there may be others on our key ring, these keys are essential to the writer’s and/or illustrator’s odyssey. As we utilize them, may every opportunity unlock powerful improvements, every assignment open doors to adventure, and every child-like curiosity release inspiration not only for us but for our audiences as well.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Author/illustrator of the Bumbly Bee Books