Brandon O’Dell began his career behind the camera, literally. His first job out of college was repairing movie cameras. He’s not sure if that counts as a grown-up job or not. Brandon also knows a thing or two about performing in front of the camera. One of his earliest memories is of singing “Germs, My Invisible Dog” as a five-year-old from the front of the sanctuary. He graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Georgia, with a degree in musical theater and has a string of professional credits to his name. But he never thought he’d add the words “kids devotional writer” to the list.
Creative writing for Brandon started as it does for most of us: completing homework assignments for his teachers. But around the eighth grade, Brandon began writing stories for his friends, posing them as the hero or villain and then passing them around just for fun. Not keen on any one genre, Brandon wrote spy stories, soap operas, whatever captured his attention at the time.
Brandon has no “formal” training when it comes to writing. His process is a little out of the ordinary. It starts with a notebook and a walk in circles. Not small circles, but big ones that encompass the park near his house. As he walks, Brandon jots things down and when the last thought has moved from his brain to the page and his legs are tired, he returns home to get to the writing. When he writes, he writes the final draft. If he can’t think of the word or phrase he wants to use, he stays stuck until he gets it out on the page. Sure, he takes breaks, watches something on Netflix, reads, or sleeps, but when he does finally put pen to paper (or fingers to keys), it’s typically to write the words the reader will see. Writing this way, essentially producing the final draft in the initial writing, takes an interminable amount of time.
Gadgets & Gizmos is his first book, and he admits it was a labor, not always of love. Because it’s his first foray into a full manuscript, he agonized over the length, the layout, and just the general “what is this supposed to be” parameters that weren’t necessarily clear at the beginning. But as he pushed through to get the words on the page, a framework began to emerge.
See, Brandon knows that the truths of Scripture, the same ones he learned as a kid, are timeless. But they can be written in a relevant way that captures the heart and imagination of kids today. And while he feels he is in no way qualified to write a devotional for children, deep down he knows that God loves to use the unqualified. Because Brandon is uniquely wired and wonderfully made and he hopes that every kid who picks up this book will know that truth, too.