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

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.

Are You Stretching Yourself?

By Dave Fessenden

 
There are many times in my ministry as a Christian writer in which I feel like I’m becoming stagnant, like I’m writing with my eyes closed. When I feel that way, I try to counteract it by delving into a genre of writing with which I am unfamiliar. Though this is hard, it can be a great growing experience.
 

No, I don’t always come up with something publishable that way

, but that’s OK; the purpose of the exercise is not necessarily to produce great writing, but to retrain your writing muscles in a new way — to stretch yourself.
 
For me, the stretching often takes the form of switching from non-fiction to fiction. I’ve published three nonfiction books, dozens of articles and hundreds of newspaper stories. So I consider myself something of an expert in the nonfiction area. But when I switch from nonfiction to fiction, I’m really just a rank amateur; it’s good practice for me to wrestle with a short story or novel.
 
I was thinking for instance, of how we often use the passage about Jesus standing at the door and knocking (Rev. 3:20) in an evangelistic sense, calling people to open the door of their heart to the Lord. But the interesting thing is that John was writing to /Christians/! I wanted to write something about how we crowd our Lord out of our lives with so many selfish things that He has to knock on the door and ask to be let in. I was stuck on how to express it in nonfiction, so I switched to fiction, creating a flash fiction piece entitled “A Knock on the Door.” (Which points up another reason for stretching yourself into unfamiliar genres — it’s a sure-fire cure for writer’s block.)
 
Stretching myself is also good for my soul. Anytime I start thinking I’m pretty hot stuff, I just look at my fiction, and it knocks me down a peg or two. Humility is one of those virtues that only seems to come the hard way. When a piece of steel gets heated up, it turns a bright cherry red and glows proudly, but that’s the point at which the blacksmith dunks it into the water and returns it to its true color — a dull gray. It may seem cruel, but it’s the only way to temper the metal.
 

Be Specialized, But Not Petrified

 
Even when I stay in the nonfiction realm, I find that there are particular genres that I am less experienced at, and so it is helpful for me to delve into those areas once in a while, as a change of pace. Many of us get into a particular specialization in our writing, and that is a fine approach. But by all means, do something outside your expertise occasionally. Are you good at devotionals? Try your hand at a how-to article. Do you specialize in biographies? How about writing a Bible study?
 
It may also reveal a hidden talent for a certain type of writing that you never realized you had. Joy Jacobs was a devotional writer with a very poetic style. But she was also a counselor, with a strong burden for the problems of single women. Her publisher encouraged her to team up with an editor, Deborah Strubel, to write /Single, Whole and Holy/, a Christian living book that had a profound ministry in the lives of many women. And all because she dared to try something different.
 
So go ahead — stretch yourself. Step out in faith and let God teach you something new!

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

PUGS Tips for Odd Ducks

By: Kathy Ide

Words and punctuation marks are the tools of a writer’s trade. To be good writers and illustrators , we need to know how to use our tools effectively. While content is important, of course, proper Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling (what I call “PUGS”) can mean the difference between rejection and acceptance from a commercial publisher. It also reflects positively on you in your self-published works.

 
It’s important to use the industry-standard references. Book publishers (and many popular magazines) use The Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Newspaper and journalistic-style magazines use The Associated Press Stylebook and Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Christian publishers also use The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style. Be sure to get the most recent editions so you’re using what the publishers are using.

 
As a full-time freelance editor, I see a lot of PUGS errors. Here are a few of the most common ones I see in the manuscripts I edit. In parentheses after each heading, I’ll give the rule numbers or page numbers for the reference books so you can look up the rules if you want more details.

PUNCTUATION

1. Serial Commas

The “serial comma” is the comma that comes before a conjunction in a series of three or more elements (“his, hers, [comma here] and ours”).
For books, always use a comma before the conjunction. (CMS #6.19 and CWMS page 151.) For newspaper articles, leave out the serial comma unless doing so would cause confusion or ambiguity. (AP pages 329–330.)

2. Restrictive vs. nonrestrictive clauses

A word or phrase that restates a noun or pronoun in different words should be set off by commas. If the word or phrase identifies the noun more specifically, it should not be set off by commas.
For example: “My husband, Richard, took me out to dinner when I sold my first article.” But “My son Michael was born eight years after his brother.” From the context, you know I have more than one son, and “Michael” identifies which one is being referred to.

3. Capitalization of Family Relationships (CMS #8.39 and AP pages 91-92)

“Kinship names” (father, brother, etc.) are lowercased when used generically (“the youngest mother in the group”) or when preceded by a modifier (“my mom”). When used before a proper name, or alone in place of the name, kinship names are capitalized.

4. Terms of Endearment

Terms of affection (honey, sweetheart) are lowercased. (CMS #8.39 and CWMS page 112.)

5. Quotation Marks with Other Punctuation (CMS #6.8–6.9 and pages 344–345)

Closing quotation marks always come after a comma or period. For example:
Placement with question marks and exclamation points depends on whether the punctuation is part of the sentence as a whole or part of the quotation in particular. Examples:
Candy asked, “Do you know the way?”
How can we motivate teenagers who continually say, “I don’t care”?
Tiffany shouted, “Fire!”
I can’t believe he said, “Your story is boring”!

USAGE

1. any more/anymore

any more (adjective) means “any additional.”
“I don’t want to hear any more backtalk from you!”

anymore (adverb) means “any longer.”
“I don’t want to listen to you anymore.”

2. a while/awhile
a while (noun) means “a period of time.”
“Marilynn spent a while editing her manuscript.”

awhile (adverb) means “for a period of time.”
“Mallory asked me to stay awhile.”

GRAMMAR

Dangling Modifiers
When you start a sentence with a modifying word or phrase, the subject (usually the next thing in the sentence) is what must be modified by that word or phrase. A “dangling modifier” is a phrase that does not clearly and sensibly modify the appropriate word. For example, “Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, the Mustang seemed to run better.” A Mustang cannot change its own oil. So you’d want to rewrite that as something like, “Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, Sandra found she got much better gas mileage.”

SPELLING

acknowledgment (no e between the d and the g)
by-product
good-bye
mind-set

Incorporating the PUGS is important for writers and illustrators alike. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. For more, check out my book Polishing the PUGS: Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling. It’s available through my Web site, www.KathyIde.com.

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.