Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What About Pacing?

What about pacing? 

I thought about pacing a few years ago, when I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  It is a classic and a treasure, but I doubt that it would be published today.  It is a leisurely stroll through family life.  It’s warm and delightful, but…

Most of us don’t stroll through literature any more.

I thought of pacing again, when I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  This was more than a leisurely stroll.  It was a slow moving ship in a glassy sea.  The pace was painfully slow at first, but I grew used to it.   I grew to love it.  It’s a masterpiece.

I value my experience with that book.

Today we look for a brisk read.  We want the first page to grab out attention and we want action on every page.  We want each chapter to end with a cliff hanger, and we want plot twists and turns at regular intervals.
I remember my experience with The Lightening Thief by Percy Jackson.  I am not a big fan of Mr. Jackson’s story, for personal reasons, but I am a huge fan of his pacing.  The action came at just the right intervals, and the cliff hangers kept me reading.  Most importantly I was hooked from the very first sentence.

We allow for some variety in tempo or pacing, but our parameters are limited.  Our tolerance for deviation is slim. 
A few years ago I read a fantasy novel that gave me whiplash.  The plot twists and turns came much too frequently for my taste.  I needed air.  The action didn’t skip along.  It galloped, and I found myself gasping for breath.

Out of kindness, to the author, I won’t mention his name or the title of his book, although you may love it.  In fairness I should admit that fantasy is not my favorite genre.  Perhaps if I was a lover of fantasy, I would have been swept along with the pacing, even if I was hanging on for dear life. 

I’m not into whiplash, but I couldn’t take a steady diet of the classics either.  Though I appreciate them, I need to change things up occasionally.  Crawling is fine, but I also love to dance and run.
Another element of pacing is paragraph length and chapter length.  Readers like short paragraphs.  Readers enjoy short chapters.  My favorite example of this is Michael Vey by Richard Paul Evans.  It has the shortest chapters I can remember and everyone loves it, even reluctant readers.

Recently I discussed Matched with my Granddaughter.  She  enjoyed it, but was used to a faster pace.  I hadn’t noticed the slower pace, because I was so caught up in the language.  I savored it, enjoying each tasty bite.  The story teased me but the gentle voice and the musical words delighted my senses.
I love a leisurely stroll through a beautiful word garden, a daring dance through a  word-forested plot, or a delightful romp in a carefully constructed word city.   The words are the building materials, but don't forget tempo, movement, pacing.
Linda Garner


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Green Eggs and Ham

Today was the day we planned to start excavating for our new swimming pool.  The weather’s a little nasty, so I think we’ll wait a few days.  Imagine how nice it will be to have our own swimming pool.  I can swim anytime I want.  Of course, in the winter I’ll still have to go to the gym.

Our ducks are inconsistent in their laying habits.  We rarely get three, but often one, and sometimes two.  They are hard to find.  The ducks like to hide them.  They are usually green, but today we found an orange one.  I guess the ducks are getting ready for Easter.

We love eating the duck eggs for breakfast.  They are delicious and healthy.  They are larger than chicken eggs, so we usually eat just one each.  The orange one was huge, so we shared it.   We scrambled it and ate all we wanted.  There was a lot left over.
My phone has been ringing all morning long.  I have had calls from two agents and three publishers who all want to get their hands on my latest book.  I guess I’ll have to flip a coin.

I got up this morning at 3:00 and cleaned the entire house from top to bottom, then I wrote five chapters in my latest novel, and sent off three queries.  Next I ran three miles and lifted weights for an hour.  I think I’ll go swimming next. 

I read today that they’ve found a cure for cancer, and they’re narrowing in on a cure for diabetes.  A pill has just been developed that makes you smarter.  And there’s a new wrinkle cream that erases wrinkles on contact.  A special fork has been developed that allows you to eat anything you want without gaining a pound. 

We found an M&M plant in our garden yesterday.  The M&Ms aren't ripe yet.  I am surprised at how well it's doing because its in the shade of our Money Tree.  We'll invite you over to help harvest the M&Ms as soon as the get ripe. 
Oops!  I just found out that the fork thing is a hoax.  The inventor said it was just a joke—an April Fool’s Joke.

Happy April Fools Day!

Linda Garner

P.S.   By the way, the duck eggs really are green, and we do eat them for breakfast.  Takes Green Eggs and Ham to a whole new level.  Inside, they look just like regular eggs.  They taste the same too.




Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I haven’t known that word forever.  I’ve only known it for a few years.  Sometimes my friends ask me what it means.  I don’t know the real definition, but this is what I think.  Dystopian: a utopian society gone wrong.

It sounds funny doesn’t it:  a utopian society gone wrong? How can a society be utopian if it can go wrong.

They always do go wrong.  Utopia is an illusion.  It always means control and loss of freedom.  It has to fail, because freedom is in our blood.  We cannot breathe the air of control. 

Dystopian books are wildly popular and I always wonder why.  I think it is because we see in them a mirror of our own ideals, and our own society.  We see in them our lust for freedom, our distaste for control. 
Sometimes when I read dystopian I feel that it is a little too close to reality.  It’s troubling and frightening.  Is it a warning, or is it just entertainment.

Currently, Friend-husband and I are reading Matched.  We are nearly finished with the first book in a series of three.  We are completely drawn in to the poetry of Ally Conde’s story, the music of her words.  We are invested in the story, the characters.  The characters feel real.  They feel like they could be our neighbors, our friends.
We talk about the motives of the society, and the cunning of their control.  We talk of their experiments, their deceit, their lies.  We can feel the violence coming.  Dystopian stories always seem to come to violence. 

Who is the society?  It is not the people.  Is it the officials?  The officials are polite thugs, courteous bullies.  They are not to be disobeyed.  There are consequences for even slight infractions.  The officials represent the society but reason tells me they are not the society.  Who do they answer to?

Cassia wants to choose her own match.  “Where will it end?” asks the official. “Would people then want to choose how many children they have; where they will live; what vocation they will have?”

"Why not?"  we thunder--we who breathe the air of freedom--we who value choice.

Linda Garner




Saturday, March 22, 2014

Must Write!

Must keep writing...

Feeling hungry (run to fridge).

Must keep writing...

I need to check facebook just once more.

Must keep writing...

Aw look, gotta text from the kids. Look on pinterest? Why not.

Must keep writing...

If I can just do one batch of laundry, than I'll feel like I'm getting something in the house clean.

Must keep writing...

What? It's midnight? *sigh* 

I really need some butt glue.

This had been my week (even with my swollen ankle). I have a deadline *squee* and I'm scurrying though my book, trying to clean it up, rewrite things, and yes...finish my dreaded query.

So if I my post is short today, you'll know that I'm keeping up with the writing! OH, and I totally missed posting on Saturday. I was trying to get ready to write.

Have a great week everyone. =D

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Morning Swim

The water feels slick against my skin.  I stand for a moment and then slide in.  The water gathers me up in her arms and holds me close.  I feel safe, but it may be an illusion, for water is sometimes hungry, and I’ve heard of those who have been swallowed whole.

The water carries me as I move to her gentle music.  My muscles expand and contract obediently.  I cup my hands and move my legs in and out.  Kick, relax.  Pull, release.  Push, glide.  It feels good, this rhythmic dance.
We embrace—the water and I.  We are friends.  We cannot do this alone.  Together—it’s a good word.
The water is reflective, and shiny, but not as shiny as light.  The water is clear but not as transparent as air.  It shimmers.  It waves.  It ripples.   Pull, release.  Hold on.  Let go.  Breathe.

I cut through the water again and again.  Slice, breathe.  Slice, float.  Hold on.  Let go.

There is a nothingness about the water.  Yet there is substance.  What parallel can I find? Perhaps sun-warmed jello.   I imagine that I am swimming in a giant pool of warm colorless jello.  I am the only color in this jello.  I bob and glide through the jello.  Pull, release.
Rhythm.  Movement.  Power.   Is it about water, or is it about life?

The water cradles me.  I enjoy her touch.  I am lost in her arms.  Hold on.  Release.  Hold on.  Let go.

It’s a familiar song.   Hold on.  Let go.  I’ve sung it before.
How do I know when to hold on, when to let go?  I’ve always wondered about that.

It’s one of life’s great questions:  When to hold on, when to let go?
I feel safe, but it may be an illusion, for life is sometimes hungry, and I’ve heard of those who have been swallowed whole.

Hold on.  Let go.  It’s the rhythm of life.
Linda Garner



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It's Not Too Late

I just finished rereading a remarkable book called Sensibility and Education by Haruko Kataoka.  Haruko Kataoka is credited as being the founder of Suzuki Method for Piano.  Shinichi Suzuki developed the method for violin and created a wonderful world of possibility for children everywhere.

I am a Suzuki piano teacher and I owe much to Dr. Suzuki, Mrs. Kataoka, and countless others, for Suzuki Piano Method has enriched my life.
In Sensibility and Education, Mrs. Kataoka tells of an orchid plant she received as a gift.  Orchids are tricky to grow, and seldom bloom in the second year. Apparently only professional orchid growers are able to achieve this.  Knowing this, Mrs.  Kataoka was pleased to see her plant developing buds in January of the second year.
She called an acquaintance—a professional florist, and asked what she could do to help the plant.  She wanted big full blooms. 
Her florist friend replied, “It is too late to do anything now.  To have nice big flowers, how you take care of the plant from spring to summer is the key.  If you didn’t take care of it properly at that time, nothing will work later.  It is just a waste of effort.”
I couldn’t help thinking as I read that story, of many similar things in life, for which there are few if any second chances. 
Mrs. Kataoka related this story to the importance of choosing the best teacher for child’s first piano study.   As I piano teacher I can relate to this, but I am inclined to take it a step farther. 
Is there anything more sacred, more important than the early years and moments of a child’s life?  Sometimes we are too busy, too distant, too distracted to be the best parent, the best teacher, the best friend.  Meanwhile, children’s needs go unmet.  What are we thinking? 
What is the cost?
Those precious moments, once lost, will never return, but it is not too late to make a difference.
Make a difference for a child. Nothing is more important. Don’t wait until you are not busy or distracted.  That day will never come.  Do it today.

Linda Garner

Saturday, March 8, 2014

When Plans Change

ninjas photo: ninjas ninjas.jpgLet's face it. Plans change.
It's sadly...sadly true.
For instance; I have been running for some time now, and I had made a goal to run 3.5 miles at least four times a week. I achieved my goal in February!

Woohoo! *running power*

By the end of February, I was at 4.8 miles four to five times a week. (I know! Awesome!)  And I was feeling pretty good about it.

And then it happened... walking on flat pavement... on a clear dark night... (Oh the gravity of the situation.)

I rolled my ankle.

It didn't even happen in a cool way, like:

"I was attacked by super ninja warriors and as I leaped to kick the last standing ninja (in the face), I twisted my ankle."

or "I was almost to Mordor, about to throw the ring in the volcano, when Gollum attacked me from behind - grabbing my ankle and twisting it until it cracked."

Nope, just a dumb-old "I was walking in the garage and my ankle gave out under me." *sigh*

Now I'm off my ankle for four to six weeks until it heals (yes, I already tried to push myself and re-injured said ankle).
Plans also change when it comes to writing.

When I started writing, I thought I would be published in two years. *ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha* (Sorry, I can't stop laughing.)

My plans changed.

I thought at my first pitch session, I'd have an agent. (Oh, now I'm crying from laughter.)

My plans changed.

But one thing remains the same:

So I am still going to find agents, still working on craft, and still handing my babies over to my crit group. Even though things change, they can still be achieved.

Okay, now I'm off to dust off my weights and find some good routines that will keep me off my ankle. ;)

How have your plans changed? How did you keep going?