Archive for July, 2012


Author, Humorist, Cartoonist

About twelve years ago, I met Ed VanDeMark at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. Right off the bat, I liked this fellow with his easy going mannerisms and crazy sense of humor. Every year since then, I look forward to seeing Ed and his wife Linda at the MCWC every July. This couple always adds more spice to the already lively bunch who frequent the conference every year. One of my favorite times during the week at Montrose is a campfire where a group of us sit around the crackling embers after dark and just shoot the breeze. Ed and Linda are always there to help liven things up.

For you who don’t know Ed, and for those who just know him a bit casually, here is some interesting trivia about our mild-mannered jokester from Owego, NY:

Ed and Linda have three adult children (2 sons and 1 daughter, ages 35 to 42) and nine grandkids. (5 boys and 4 girls, ages 2 to 20)

Ed is retired from 35 years of public service employment for Tioga County Government.

He served one tour of duty with the US Navy. His final rank was LTJG.

Ed’s an active member of the OwegoUnitedMethodistChurch (Currently the chair of the church finance committee).

He played many years of baseball and softball and at one time was an avid bowler. Now his hobbies include lawn work, writing, and cartooning.

He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education from The State University College of New York in Buffalo, NY. Although he was an art major in college, he never took a course in cartooning. There were no cartoon offerings at BuffaloState when Ed attended, but his good friend Arnie (Arnold) Sauther drew Al Capp characters and introduced Ed to them. It wasn’t long before Ed grew tired of drawing other people’s cartoons, so he started creating his own.

Twice he tried to develop a cartoon strip, but his skill had not quite developed professionally; thus, they were rejected for reasons that are readily apparent to Ed now. However, he has had cartoons published locally, in two science text books and in David Fessenden’s book Writing the Christian Nonfiction Book: Concept to Contract.

And what about Ed’s interest in writing? He tells me that he had no interest in writing until he got to ninth grade in high school. He blew off every traditional grammar lesson and had difficulty identifying a noun and a verb. But a teacher impressed Ed and made a difference. His ninth grade English teacher, Helen Pfissner, went beyond traditional English and concentrated on teaching her students to “hear” English correctly. Now Ed writes in much the same way many musicians play music by ear. He admits he’s still sadly lacking with traditional grammar and punctuation, but he’s forever grateful to Miss Pfissner for awakening the writer in him.

What has the Montrose Christian Writers Conference done for Ed? Ed says the various staff members at MCWC over the past dozen years have helped him refine his writing. The three most important writing words he’s ever received came from Patti Souder, the beloved director of the MCWC, who once said, “Make it sing.” Before that time, Ed was in love with his first drafts and wouldn’t think of tampering with them. But because he has strived to “make his work sing,” he’s had some success, having three stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. “Incidentally,” Ed adds, “something I didn’t mention is that I’ve written two screen plays and I’m working on a book idea (of mostly short humor stories).”

Here’s one last bit of scuttlebutt that might interest our readers. When Ed had a day job, he resisted learning to use the computer until his boss and friend Suzanne Horton took drastic measures to make it impossible for him to continue working unless he submitted to her insistence to learn the new tech. Although it seems a lifetime ago, Ed says tongue-in-cheek, “That was only twelve years ago.”

My, have things changed in the tech world since then. Haven’t they, Ed?

Happy writing, blog readers!







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Meet Author/Illustrator Brenda K. Hendricks

(In her own eloquent words …)

All the world’s a football stadium. Beneath that dome, there exists four positions—spectators, cheerleaders, coaches, and players.

Brenda K. Hendricks? She sits in the grandstand filing her nails or doodling on the program. At least until a player’s shoulders slump in bewilderment. Then Brenda bounds onto the sideline. With a keyboard in one hand and a paintbrush in the other like whirling pom-poms, she “shouts” encouragement through words and paintings.

Over a hundred of her devotions have been printed in numerous periodicals and compilations. Her paintings and prints have been bought as visual reminders of God’s love.

While cheering the players to victory, Brenda notices the need for instruction and marches to the players’ bench. Keyboard clicking, brush swirling, she writes and illustrates children’s picture books. Two are currently in print. What’s the Buzz, Bumbly Bee? helps children to become all God has created them to be, despite the impossibilities. What’s Better than That, Seren Dippity? teaches children that sharing makes friends, and nothing is better than that.

Brenda continues to “blow the coach’s whistle” with an online Bible study that can be read at Two Small Fish and through words of encouragement on her blog My Quotes of Encouragement.

Currently, she is illustrating an early reader’s chapter book about the first settlers in Wisconsin, which is scheduled for publication in December. She also is writing a devotional designed for creative people entitled, A Portrait of Christ, an Artist’s Perspective and an allegory titled Tabitha Tuesday.

Although all this cheering and instructing consumes a lot of time, the ball occasionally bounces at Brenda’s feet. She sets her keyboard and brush aside, picks up her helmet, and … hops on the back of her husband’s motorcycle. Together, they sail over paved seas. While enjoying the landscape, Brenda plots her next novel, relates scripture to her adventure, and deciphers how to duplicate the cloud formation on canvas as she settles back into the position of spectator.


Wow, Brenda. A boring life is NOT what you have. You go, girl!

Be sure to visit creative Brenda at her blog sites and order her books for your young grandchildren. They’ll love them.

Happy Writing!

P.S. – I want to welcome any Amish/Mennonite fiction lovers to this site who are interested in my new series, THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY. Volume 1, BACHELOR’S CHOICE, was released by Trestle Press as an e-book on July 2, and is already doing quite well. TEACHER’S PET and LOVE SONG FOR LOUELLEN are slated to be released over the next few months.

In a short time, I’ll have a page on this blog dedicated to just those who love reading the red hot Amish/Mennonite genre! I’ll discuss all things Amish and Mennonite, including their lifestyles,  PA Dutch recipes, and other trivia that will interest any reader of this genre.

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