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

Advertisements

One Reason to Blog

A Writer 3Many people within the writing industry insist that writers develop an online presence. One of the first things they suggest is to write a blog.

My question is why. Why blog when there are already millions if not billions of blogs on any given topic you dare to imagine. Here are some of the answers I’ve received.

  1. Blogging connects you with your readers and gives them opportunity to interact with you on a deeper level. Readers like that. And if they like you, they’ll buy your books.
  2. Blogging gives you an outlet to express your thoughts and ideas. It even gives you input from your readers. If they feel they’ve contributed to the content of your books, they’ll buy them.
  3. Blogging provides you with the opportunity to prove yourself as a well-crafted writer. If you write well with a clear message, they’ll buy your books.
  4. Blogging develops your brand. It tells the reader who you are and what you’re about, not only your next project, but you as an author … what you represent. If readers understand who you are and what you represent, they’ll buy your books.
  5. Blogging builds your audience. If you get people reading your blog on a regular basis, they’re more likely to purchase your books.
  6. Blogging creates interest in your cause/message. If you create interest in your cause/message, they’re more likely to purchase your books.
  7. Blogging reaches people around the world with your message. If you reach people world-wide, your books will sell world-wide.

 

At writers’ conferences, the blogging issue can come across with the mindset of selling books. But that’s not the reason why the majority of authors blog. At least I hope it isn’t. The vast majority of authors blog for the pleasure of connecting with their readers and the other part A of the aforementioned reasons above. If our readers buy our books, they have blessed us with more than we deserve. And we should be eternally grateful for their readership.

 

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

My Quotes of Encouragement

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.

Overcoming the Fear of Submission:

 What You May Not Know About Rejection

by: Frances Gregory Pasch

As the leader of a Christian writers’ group for the past 20 years, I find that most writers love putting words on paper, but many of their finished pieces remain in their desk drawers

Mailing or e-mailing my work has always been a fun experience. When I submit regularly, waiting for a response is a highlight of my day. When my mailbox or my inbox is filled only with advertisements, bills or junk mail, I know I haven’t been using my writing gift.

I’ve had over two hundred devotions and poems published and have resubmitted many of them as reprints. But I still get rejections.

No one likes being turned down, but I’ve learned that a large percentage of all submissions will be rejected. Here are some of the reasons:

The magazine just printed a similar article.

Your piece may be well written, but subscribers don’t want to read the same subject matter within the same year.

You didn’t follow the guidelines.

It’s important to send for a copy of the writers’ guidelines for each magazine and read through a few sample copies.

Your article needs to meet the criteria the editor expects: suitable topic, correct word count, right slant, etc.

Inaccurate Research

Be sure to double check your facts. You don’t want to lead your reader astray.

Wrong Format

An editor recognizes that you have done your homework when you submit your piece following the standard format used by writers. If you don’t know how to send in your manuscript, check your local bookstore or library for material to learn the proper procedure. Writing classes and conferences are also great places for learning.

One of the best investments you can make is “Sally Stuart’s Christian Market Guide,” published yearly by Shaw Books. Visit Sally’s website at http://www.stuartmarket.com.

1. Sally’s guide lists magazines by type of market, i.e. women, children, teens, general adult, etc., and their needs. There is also a topical index.

2. Editor’s names, addresses and e-mail addresses are included so you can get guidelines and a sample copy.

3. Sally lists the circulation of each magazine, whether or not the market pays, and what rights it buys. She also states whether the editor prefers submissions by regular mail or e-mail.

4. The guide contains locations and contacts for writers’ groups, workshops, and conferences in each state. Getting together with other writers is a great motivator. If you can’t attend any of these groups, you can meet other writers on line or consider starting a group of your own.

5. Sally lists other resources: editorial services, book publishers, correspondence courses, websites geared to writers, writing instruction on tape, and more.

Locating a suitable market for your polished piece will take time, but when you find one, immediately send your manuscript, along with a short cover letter. If submitting by regular mail, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE).

If you are sending poems, devotions, or short pieces, I suggest including more than one. That gives you a better chance of acceptance.

Keeping track of your submissions is an important part of the process. Record the name of each piece you submit, the date you sent it, and the rights you are offering. Be sure to note the results when you receive an answer. If the publication cannot use your piece, state why. If accepted, jot down when it will be published and what they will pay. Some magazines pay on acceptance, others on publication.

I still keep track of my submissions on index cards. You may find it easier to use a notebook or set up a computer file. Whatever method you choose, be consistent. Many publications take at least ninety days or longer to respond, so while you are waiting., start on your next piece.

Editors are looking for good writers like you and me. Don’t be afraid of them. We just need to use our God-given writing gift to the best of our ability for His glory.

I believe that if you take advantage of these tools and follow these rules, one day you will see your name in print.

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

Never Give Up!

Writers and Illustrators belong to the Odd Duck Society

By
Fran Fernandez

 
 
When you’ve sent your manuscript the rounds and received rejection after rejection, don’t give up. Check it again, tighten it up, and then see if, perhaps, there’s another slant you could give for a different market.
 
Rejection is always a good time to remember the famous words of Winston Churchill, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never, in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”*
 
I had sent an essay around seventeen times—and received seventeen rejections. I think writer’s insanity hit, and I decided—one more time. I took out the fact that I was a mother with children (which didn’t change the point of the essay at all) and tightened it up some.
The incident about which the essay was written had happened on a college campus, so instead of sending it to another woman’s magazine (if there was another left), I sent it to a Christian singles magazine.
 
It sold!
 
Even Pearl Buck’s, The Good Earth, went around over thirty times until a publisher picked it up. It became a best seller, and now is a classic.
 
Bryan Davis, the bestselling author of the Dragon in Our Midst series was told time and again that Christian fantasy doesn’t, and won’t sell, and “No thank you, we are not interested.” At the Montrose Christian Writers Conference in July, he showed his audience a big folder stuffed with rejection slips, which Bryan viewed as proof that he was writing. But, Bryan never gave up. Because he didn’t give up, he not only got a contract, his books are selling great worldwide, and going strong. Did you get Bryan’s title – bestselling author? You don’t become a bestselling author by quitting.
 
If you believe in your manuscript—don’t give up.
 
My first book, The Best Is Yet To Come, was published 26 years after I started to write. And I now have four proposals making the rounds—and until there is no place left to send them—I’ll keep on keeping on. Each time one comes back, I make some changes and send it out again. I believe one day each one will find a home. Meanwhile I keep honing my craft.
 
Hey, when each manuscript gets published it will be that much the better for my having tweaked them after each rejection.
 
In His precious Word, God tells us, Let us not grow weary while doing good (as in to keep on writing and sending around no matter how many rejections you receive), for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:9 NKJV)
 
It took from 1981 to 2007 until I got my first book contract and an agent. I now have in my hands a beautiful book and a wonderful agent. What if I had given up writing in March of 2007 and said, “Why bother?” What if I had decided not to go once again to Montrose? I would have missed what God had waiting for me, my Christmas in July that year.
 
Whatever God has put on your heart as a writer, illustrator, or artist, He will bring it to pass unless you give up. God will do it—just be patient. (Yes, patience. Now that’s the hard part).
Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:4-54 NKJV)
 
Tyler Perry the Christian actor, writer, and producer knew God had given him a dream. Ninety days before selling his first play that took off, Perry had been living in his car and sleeping in a motel only when he had enough money. Because Perry didn’t give up and followed his God-dream, from 2007 to 2009 his personal earnings were 125 million dollars and growing. He was an African-American writer who was told he’d never make it. But with God, and Perry’s faith in his dream, he kept on writing and trusting God to bring it to pass.
Stir up your dream again to touch the world with your words. Get passionate about the ministry God has given you and don’t give up!
Looking forward to seeing your byline soon.
 
*Part of address given as Prime Minister of England on Oct. 29th 1941 at Harrow School

To Brand or Not to Brand

By: Beth Shriver

 

Writers and Illustrators belong to the Odd Duck Society

As I navigate through this publishing industry, I’ve learned many things: voice, pacing, motivation, characterization, and internal/external conflict, to name a few. But there is one aspect that I still have a problem with…branding. Although I understand the concept that as a writer or illustrator, to label yourself into a certain genre and style of writing and the reason for doing so is to develop a following of readers who know what to expect from your writing, I’ve had a considerable amount of difficulty doing so.
 
When I started writing eight years ago, the only published author I knew well enough to contact was a romance writer, Shelley Galloway, who informed me that romance is the biggest-selling genre. Although I’d never read a romance, with Shelley’s encouragement, I did. After studying how to put a story together, I wrote a young adult romance, Love at First Flight. Then I wrote a romantic suspense, A Case of the Heart, and another Reclaiming Faith. Two were published, which gave me the motivation to write still another romance, Love is a Rose. But through this process, I realized romance wasn’t what I truly wanted to write. I like a romance as a subplot, but it seemed to leave out so much of the characters lives about which I wanted to write.
 
I decided to try my hand at a historical fiction with strong romantic elements, Remnant of the Fall. This gave me an opportunity to tell more about the first-century Palestine setting and to show what it was like for Christians during that era. I liked the balance, and the romance seemed more real being a part of the story instead of the entire story. My next project, Annie’s Truth, was a women’s fiction. I thought I’d finally found my genre, until a speculative fiction idea, Fear of Falling, came bounding into my head that just poured out of me. Although my manuscript has been requested and has gone to the publishing board a couple of times, the Christian market is still warming up to this new genre in the CBA. So I left my niche and wrote another woman’s fiction, Funeral Hopper,/em>. My agent loved it, and so far it has been well received by editors.
 
Are you dizzy yet? I know my agent is, but she’s wonderfully and patiently waiting for me to settle down so she can brand me. I commend her for doing so. I sometimes feel like a rebellious teenager not wanting to follow the rules of the literary industry, which brings me to the next genre, none other than non-fiction. Yep, you heard me. My absolutely-God-given devotional, Peace for Parents of Teens, was released in May. Inspired by the difficulties my teen went through, I poured out my heart onto the keyboard with the desire to aide other parents struggling with teen issues. I’d never, ever planned to write non-fiction, but He had different plans for me and my writing.
 
After all that you ask, what exactly is a “brand?” Your brand should say something about you. One needs to learn how to create and reflect the brand that you want readers to know about you. Know how to build, to communicate, and to maintain (my weakness) a personal brand. The following steps may help you with this:
 
1. Develop a vision for your brand.
2. Position your brand in order to differentiate yourself from competitors as well as building one’s image using the media as a vehicle.
3. Create a personality for your brand.
4. Articulate the benefits your brand delivers to customers.

5. Define the values your brand represents.
 
It seems there is always something new to learn about the writing industry, and branding has become an important one, one that you and I, as writers and illustrators, need to settle into and find out where we’re comfortable. And that will be where God makes us comfortable, where he wants us to be.