Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank you Weezer

I know this doesn’t sound very Thanksgiving-ie, but I wrote it last week. So next Thursday’s post will sound very thankful. Thanks for understanding. Oh and Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble, gobble.

If you haven’t heard the new song, Pork and Beans, by the rock band Weezer, you’re missing out (and the YouTube video is a hoot).
“What?” you say, “does Weezer have anything to do with writing?” I will tell you, but first I want to contemplate rejection.

Did you know that Stephen King got so many rejection letters that he nailed them on a spike under a board in his bedroom?[1] When he tried to get Carrie published, the publisher said, “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”[2]
Dr. Seuss’s work was rejected over fifteen times before he found an editor to look at his work.[3]
Madeleine L’Engle was rejected by twenty-six publishers before A Wrinkle in Time was picked up. It is in it’s sixty-ninth printing.[4]
J.K. Rowling was rejected by nine publishers for Harry Potter.[5] Nine times!!!!
Rick Walton writes one-hundred children books a year, only to get a handful published.[6]

What does this mean? Anyone who is in the writing field or publishing field will tell you, rejection is a part of writing. It is at every turn. Critique groups, publishers, editors, …the list goes on and on. But take heart you are not alone!

This brings me back to Weezer. Weezer was working with a label who wanted them to write catchier songs, make themselves more marketable (according to them), and rejected many of the songs they had been working on.[7] Weezer left the label and, with the inspiration of the meeting that day, wrote the hit Pork and Beans. Their video had 3.5 million views before even appearing on MTV.[8]

My favorite line in the song is:
“One look in the mirror and I’m tickled pink,
I don’t give a hoot about what you think.”

So, when that next rejection letter comes, grab your pint of ice cream, take a look in that mirror, and remember it doesn’t matter what they say, you will make it! Remember that persistence thing last week?

Oh and one last thought, if you have heard the song, candy does not taste good in pork and beans! Tried it. Just made it crunchy.


[3] &
[6] Told to us at a writer’s conference. Hey, you wanted to know. =)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Ever want to expose yourself to the world? No, I don't think that going down to the park to play with little children is a good thing. This is about is taking up the pen to write.

Even experienced writers cope with anxiety. Their mouth may go dry, sweat might break out on their forehead, and anything else associated with anxiety may happen. For me, I just go to sleep. Simply approaching my computer is like a sleep magnet.

The things people put in blogs have long-term effects. Hundreds of thousands of people (I hope) are going to look at the way that blogger thinks. Granted, the readers view will conflict with the author’s, but isn't that a good thing? Being able to stand for something adds spice to the world.

Standing strong also adds additional stress for someone who's not used to controversy. "What if the rest of the world disagrees?" they might say. It sounds easy to say, "So, this is my life and my opinion is best. Yours doesn't count." Yet for some, sharing their opinion is like walking on hot coals.

So, why exhibit yourself? Life is much easier when you're doing something for recreation. It’s fun, but when you start to look at sharing yourself with the rest of the world, that hobby takes on a different meaning. What we write reveals our brain and our heart. But to write gives your voice to the remaking of the world. To be silent shows that one does not care.

The advice experts give about anxiety is that the only way to overcome it, is by doing what makes one nervous. The concept of exposing yourself to the world has merit. Everyone’s opinion counts. Add spice by showing your view to all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Voice of Thanks

With only two days until Thanksgiving, today I want to raise a thankful voice. I have been thinking about how blessed we are and yet how much we whine. Well, probably not you. I know you never whine, but some people do. I’ve heard them.

I took a trip down memory lane this week and thought about all the good things in my life. I thought about my Mom and the contrast between her world and mine. Mom lived long enough to enjoy lots of the things I enjoy, but it wasn’t always so. Mom grew up in a world where water was hauled in from outside. If you wanted it hot, you heated it. If you wanted a bath, the bathtub also had to be hauled in and the water heated, one steaming kettle at a time. The bathroom was located outside as well. I heard many a tale of scary late night trips to the outhouse in the dark and cold. Laundry was done on a washboard with homemade soap. It was hung on a line to dry, and then ironed with a little flat iron which, yes, had to be heated on the stove. Eventually Mom got a wringer washing machine which really simplified the chore, but it was still a long process.

My mother loved to write, but she seldom found time when she was young. Cooking and housekeeping were full time jobs which sucked up all her time. We children were the poems she longed to write. Later in her life many helpful servants found their way into her home and then she had time for her passion.

I was a transition child. I remember the wringer washer, the outhouse, the baths in the number ten washtub. I was young when we traded our outdoor bathroom for an indoor one. I remember playing under the clothesline with sheets and undies flapping in the breeze. It made a nice open tent for us to play in. I remember the line dried frozen clothes being brought in to thaw in winter weather. I remember dampening the clothes and rolling them up to wait for ironing day. Today, I rarely iron, and when I do I use a steam iron or a spray bottle. No more dampening, no more rolling them up, and no more ironing day.

I remember when air conditioning meant opening the windows; when central heat was from a coal furnace which had to be lit each morning and the coal shoveled in. I remember when watering day was when the ditch was full of water and you spent the day irrigating. I remember when going to the movies was a big event and when eating out meant having a picnic in the backyard.

I’m glad for these memories because they help me remember how blessed I am. I am thankful for so many little things that we never think about. Maybe they aren’t little things at all. We don’t think about them, because we don’t need to, but that doesn’t make them little. I wonder how much we would think about them if they weren’t there.

Thank you for the sunset you sent me yesterday.
Thanks for sending me a friend who had kind things to say.
Thanks for time to take a walk and breathe the autumn air.
Thanks for my sweet husband and his warm and tender care.

Thank you for a hundred things that bless my life each day.
Thank you for the peace I feel each time I kneel to pray.
Thanks for friendly neighbors who wave and smile at me.
Thanks for this great country and for my liberty.

Thanks for all the little things I never speak about.
For this cozy cottage that keeps the winter out.
Thanks for my kitchen table, these chairs, and for this bread.
Thanks for blankets, bed, and pillows for my weary head.

I thank you for clean water when I thirst and need a drink.
I thank you for sweet music and for books that make me think.
I thank you for my hands and feet and for my eyes and ears.
I thank you for the laughter. I thank you for the tears.

Thanks for all my memories and sweetness in my life.
Thanks for the adventure that adds a little spice.
Thanks for always loving me and for Thy watchful care.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, for always being there.

May your Thanksgiving Day be warm, delicious, and thankful…full of thanks.

Linda Garner

Thursday, November 20, 2008


There is something to be said for persistence. This wasn’t the first time I took up the pen and paper. When I was in high school, I tried my hand at teen romance. It was pretty good, I thought. I took it to a co-worker who read the first page and then returned it, saying it was, and I quote, “Okay.” That book found the bottom of my trash bin in a hurry.

As an adult, I thought I would try my hand at children’s books. I wrote two of them. Putting so much of my heart and soul into them, I didn’t dare share my stories with anyone for fear of the rejection I would get. I hid them away beside my bed, only to find a few of the pages in the garbage after an afternoon of cleaning.

Years later, the writing bug bit once again. This time I tired to push the urge away and bury it deep down within the soul of my unfinished projects. The urge continued. I wrote my first novel in years, a fantasy about a girl who learns of a secret power she holds within her. It was totally cool. At least I thought it was.

My second book was about a girl dating the wrong guy. This won me my first real rejection letter. I hung it up in the hallway with pride.

After taking writing courses and attending several writers’ conferences, I have learned many-a-thing. First, you have to learn your craft. Second, you need to read, read, read, read, and read. Third, you can’t give up. Someday, somewhere, somebody will be interested in what you have on paper. If it is a well written piece, it will find a home. The only thing that will make you better and get you published is persistence.

If writing is something in your blood, something you love, don’t give up. There were so many times I could have given up... there were so many times I did give up, but writing keeps coming back to me. It has opened a new world to me, given me new bonds with great people, and a passion for a craft that is so widely felt. I am finally going to have a published piece (thanks Nicole!), and yes, I am giddy with joy. Persistence will get you published. If you have to deal with a few thousand rejection letters, just remember….rejection is a great excuse for chocolate cake and a pint of that really good ice cream!

Keep on keeping on,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Life's problems

I've been writing as a hobby for several years. Sometimes I find it very difficult to come up with things to write. So, I would write anything that came to mind to get into the mindset I need. I make excellent progress when I do this. However, I find myself writing my personal history instead of the story that I had wanted to write. I found this helped me get rid of the stress blocking me from my writing.

I became curious of why this affected me. So I did a simple search on the internet. I found studies involving writing as therapy. They reported that writing is literally good for your physical and mental health. It helps control blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, and even helps those with mental disorders.

One of my close friends suffered neglect and physical abuse growing up. She wrote a book about what happened. During this process, she felt much better about herself. She eventually published what she had written to give others an insight of abuse.

Writing about your problems in your life isn't easy. Therapists recommend that if things become too painful you should take a break from writing about that part in your life until you're able to cope with it.

I have suggested to some my clients who suffer from a history of child abuse, drug abuse, stress, and mental health problems, that they should try keeping a journal. People report that it has helped them overcome or at least cope with their problems.

This could benefit anyone in my opinion. Simply by my sitting down for 20 minutes to write about my life helps me let go of my problems. It isn't always easy, but it always helps if I put in the time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Children's Voices

I would like to preface today's post with my thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s post “Make a Difference.” Each of your responses was very meaningful to me. My publisher has invited me to share your responses with him, which I am delighted to do. It’s not too late to post your response. Just scroll down this page to the piece entitled Make a Difference and add your thoughts. If you prefer you can respond directly to me at My publisher is moving forward, and I believe that my book will be published. Still, it’s not a done deal, and it may be that your response will make a difference.

My 9 year old grandson, Aaron, entered “The Write Stuff Thanksgiving Essay Contest,” a writing contest sponsored by Mimi’s CafĂ©. His teacher used the contest as a writing assignment. Aaron wrote some tender thoughts about his little sister and about modern medicine. Aaron is one of 15 finalists selected out of over 1200 entries. We are thrilled. Tomorrow he will read his essay at a special gathering at Mimi’s, where all writers will be honored and fed, and three winners will be awarded a $1,000 savings bond.

I would love to share Aaron’s essay with you. I will need to get his permission, and perhaps Mimi’s.

I am grateful to teachers like Aaron’s who nurture the creative voices of children and to organizations like Mimi’s who lend their support in such a big way. I am also grateful to both for nurturing gratitude, in a world that often emphasizes entitlement, and rewards greed. Encouraging young voices is a noble work. Encouraging gratitude is just as noble. I am thankful to those who taught me be thankful as well as those who encouraged me to write.

In honor of the Thanksgiving Holiday perhaps each of us can make a difference, by encouraging a young voice and planting the seeds of gratitude. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, brother, sister, or friend, you can make a difference in a young life today. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

1. Gather magazines, scissors, paper, and glue, and allow kids to create a Thankful Collage. The collage can be on a flat piece of paper or it can be glued on a three dimensional object such as a box.

2. Use the child’s name to form a Gratitude Acronym. The child will write his name vertically on the page and then write down something for which he is thankful beginning with each of the letters. For example:


3. Help the child create a simple Thanksgiving Crossword pattern using their name as the basic structure. This is similar to the acronym except that the name letters can appear anywhere in the thankful words. Don’t worry about vertical lines, except for the name. For example:

my Life
my bedroom

The name letters L i n d a are supposed to line up vertically. In case it doesn't transfer well, I hope you get the idea. It's also fun to use your last name and get everyone involved.

4. Encourage a child to write a Thankful Poem. If he doesn’t know how to start give him a simple beginning and let him take it from there. Here are a couple of starting ideas.

Thank you for the good things that come to me each day.
Thanks for friends I see at school and friends who come to play.
Thanks for…


I am thankful for the sun
And for each drop of rain
I am thankful I can run

Remember that poems don’t always have to rhyme either.

If the child can’t handle the writing, you can be a scribe, or you can create together. Feel free to post your poems on the blog, so that we can enjoy them too.

5. Help a child start a Gratitude Journal. Get a small notebook. At the end of each day the child will list 5 things he/she is grateful for. The list can be one word items or detailed sentences. Each day's list will be unique, according to the events of the day. This is such a great habit for kids and adults. I highly recommend it. It encourages us to look for the good things in our lives, and appreciate our blessings.

6. Encourage the child to think outside of the box. The Thankgiving Day box usually has 4 predictable sides; home, family, food & clothes, friends. Good things to be sure, but let’s encourage the kids to dig a little deeper and think of something a little more personal; a little more specific.

Recently I had this sort of talk with some kids. We talked about digging deeper and giving more personal answers. It was really fun to hear what they came up with. Some of the especially meaningful ones to me were music and hands. The music girl even named a specific song that had touched her life. What profound thoughts they stirred in my head as I realized how deeply grateful I am for these precious gifts in my life. When was the last time you thought to be grateful for your hands?

Today is a great day to be thankful. Today is a great day to encourage a young artist or writer. You can make a difference.

Linda Garner

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why We Write

First, I want to start by welcoming everyone to our blog. It’s a pleasure and a thrill to be writing on the Internet. We as writers are continually trying to improve our writing and what better way then sharing what we’ve learned with one another.

Last summer I had the privilege to attend a fantastic writer’s conference. Since the conference was quite a distance away, I found a carpool with other writers that I had not known before the event. Each night on the way home, we would compare notes and share what each of us had learned in the different breakout sessions.

One night we somehow got on the topic of why we became writers, why we felt the need to share our work with others, and why we don’t keep our writings and rants to ourselves. We finally agreed that once a piece of work is slaved over and completed, a desire builds within us that makes us want to share our creation with the world.

But writing is not an easy task! Tonight for example, I’ve spent a good part of my night trying to write the perfect query letter for a children’s picture book I have finished. To be honest with you, the query is not that perfect. Most of you know that the query letter may be the only thing the agent looks at. If it is written with misspellings - which you will learn I do quit often (oops, I mean quite - just keep reading the blog and you’ll find out). If the letter is not formatted the way the agent wants, it may be looked over completely. And that’s just the query letter! Not to mention the rejection we get as writers after the query letters and manuscripts come back. I figure, once I hit the magic number of 100 rejection letters I may finally be taken seriously. If you have reached 100, I envy you!

But the truth is, we as writers love to write, love to be taken into a magic world of mystery, fantasy, sci-fi and yes, even non-fiction. There is a certain awe that comes with being a writer, for both writer and reader alike. I guess that is why we’ve decided to start this blog. We are sharing a piece of us with each other. Wow, I hope you’ve brought your dictionary and grammar book, ‘cause I’m gonna need them!

Keep on writing!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Make a Difference

I love to write. You might say it is my passion. I love words. I love the sound of words. I love putting them together and listening for the music. In a way it’s like putting a puzzle together and making a word picture. I love the color and texture and shape of words. I like how they feel in my mouth and how they slide through the air and how they touch my heart.

It’s really fun when I get paid to write, but that isn’t what drives me. Part of it is the joy and the magic of words. I love how good writing draws people together. The other part is about having a voice, about making a difference. I guess its that part—the making a difference part—that draws me to topics that most intelligent writers would avoid.

About three years ago, I watched a TV talk show about sexual abuse of children and teenagers. Real kids with real stories were interviewed. I was horrified, and I was angry, and I began to write. What I wrote was a children’s story—a picture book—about sexual abuse. It is simple and direct. It speaks of solutions. It gives hope. It encourages children to speak up if they are being violated. It encourages parents and other responsible adults to be watchful. It tells parents what to look for and what to do if the unthinkable is happening to someone they love.

Just as I finished writing my book, I met a gifted artist, named Brandilyn Speth, who shared my passion for making a difference. She was excited about adding her voice to mine in the form of illustrations. I love the clarity that her work brought to my words. Early this spring we felt that it was time to test the market. Because we were dealing with a very sensitive issue, we knew that many publishers would not be comfortable with our book. Thinking of the destructive nature of sexual abuse gave us courage. Wanting to make a difference for children who are being hurt and families that are aching for support and solutions, we decided to move forward.

In early April we sent our manuscript to a carefully chosen publisher. Our manuscript got good reviews. It is being considered for publication. The children’s book director likes the book. He likes the illustrations. He knows there is a need. However, he is concerned about the numbers. How many copies can he sell? I understand his concern. He needs to make a profit. I need to make a difference.

My would-be publisher calls this a “niche” book; meaning that he doesn’t expect it to sell many copies. It fits a small “niche” of the public. I, on the other hand, feel that abuse is rampant and that there is hardly any corner of the earth that has not been touched by sexual abuse. I imagine my book flying off the shelves and into the hands and homes of children who need its message.

Does it surprise you to know that more than 1,100 cases of child sexual abuse are reported everyday? This translates to more than 400,000 cases each year. Ongoing studies continually confirm that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually molested before the age of 18. Additionally some studies have shown that only 10% of sexually abused children are molested by strangers. One survey showed that "... 50% to 80% of child sexual abuse victims are abused by people they know.”

Clearly we need answers, and we need them now. Children need to be taught that they have rights, that they can say no, and that they can get help. Parents need to know what to watch for and how to respond in a crisis. Both need to know that they are not alone and that they can get help. Our book doesn’t have all the answers but it is a good starting place.

If you think sexual abuse of children is a big deal, I would love to hear from you. Do you see sexual abuse of children as a main stream problem? Is there someone close to you who has been damaged by sexual abuse? How interested would you be in a well written book that addresses this sensitive issue? Would you buy a book like this for yourself? For someone you love? Would you buy it is a gift? Would you buy it only if you were in the midst of a crisis, or would you buy it as preventative education? Feel free to respond anonymously, if that is more comfortable for you. You can also respond to

When people ask me questions about my book, they often want to know what age it is written for. My usual response is, “What age is it not written for?” You see, children of every age have been sexually abused. Babies are not exempt, nor are teenagers, or the handicapped, or elderly. Boys as well as girls are sexually abused. Adult men and women may carry scars from childhood sexual abuse, that never fully healed. Our book is simple enough for a parent to read to a young child, yet profound enough to influence a teenager, informative enough to provide help to a troubled parent, and powerful enough to reach out to a wounded adult.

Linda Garner