Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ducks in a Row

One sunny afternoon the kids and I were at Liberty Park watching the ducks swimming around in the lake. One mother duck was out for a swim with her ducklings. They glided around on the silky water in a little cluster. One adventurous little duckling wandered off. He (no doubt it was a boy) swam farther and farther away until he panicked and quacked for his Mom. Mom gathered her children around her and together they swam to his rescue. She brought him back to the family and delivered a stern tongue-lashing.

After rejoining the family, the little duckling stayed with the group just a short while before wandering off again. He again called for help and the Mama duck rescued him with much scolding. We watched this scene repeated over and over again and I thought to myself that ducks aren’t much different than people.

Like that little duck, we sometimes repeat the same behavior over and over again, even though it isn’t really working for us. Like the Mama duck, we who are mothers never stop trying to rescue and we continue to deliver the same message even though no one is really listening. Like the little duck family we know that the family is our greatest security and we put up with each other in spite of all our quirks and we try to be there for each other no matter what.

Oh I know that every family has its measure of dysfunction along with the great stuff. The trick is to let go of the negative stuff and hold fast to the postitive. The family is at its finest we can build each other and strengthen each other in spite of our differences and the stormy weather that often comes.

The family I grew up in has had its challenges getting along. Learning to love each other in spite of painful disagreements isn’t easy. As we have grown older I feel we need each other more. We are separated by physical distance as well as emotional distance, yet we share some common ground. DNA, memories, values are some of the things that unite us. Now that our parents are gone, we see each other less and I sense that time is marching on.

My mother’s siblings quarreled bitterly at times. They left this life with much mending left undone. I do not want to take anger or bitterness with me when I go.

My mother was a wizard with a needle and thread. She could mend anything. She even mended rags. She darned socks until her dying day. I would rather do almost anything than mend clothes. I have to love something a lot to actually mend it.

If only relationships could be mended with a needle and thread. If it only it were that simple. Though the tools are different, maybe the thought is the same. Maybe we have to love a relationship a lot to want to mend it.

The threads that tie us together can be wear a little thin at times. Family can be the source of our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows. What irony. What contrast.

I better go get my ducks in a row. I have some family ties that need repair. Time to catch up on my mending.

Linda Garner

Friday, March 27, 2009

Coming out of the Closet because of Those Wicked, Wicked Ting Tings – don’t worry mom, its not what you think

Every morning (okay, honestly I average three out of seven) I get on my faithful treadmill plug in my ipod and get my exercisin’ done. I have a list of songs that start out in a slow beat and quicken until I am at a full speed run.

One of my favorite songs to start running to is a song by the Ting Tings called That’s not my Name. It’s very catchy and I often find myself singing it during the day while I clean my kitchen. And singing it to my kids when they are all tucked into bed at night and calling me for that third glass of milk. And… singing it to strangers in the library when they ask me if I forgot to pay the fine for that one overdue book. Which really is my name, but…beside the point.

Why do I bring up the Ting Tings and their evil Not My Name song? Well, because Scarlet Knight is not my real name. I’ve been using it as a pen name.

It all has to do with this scary stalker from high school. He would follow me on my dates and you know… and many numerous other things that may give you nightmares if I were to tell you. Yeah, a little unbalanced.

Because of that, I haven’t felt the desire to use my real name.

Unfortunately, it becomes confusing when I go to conferences and try to network with other writers, because I am embarrassed when I have to say, “Hi, my name is Ima Writer, but you might know me as Scarlet.” Plus if I go by Scarlet and somebody calls me by name, I might totally ignore them! “I think he’s talking to you.” (Please see the Simpson's Cape Feare episode. See the attached link). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmsuYeztVbs

So, I have been seriously debating. Scarlet Knight is a very cool name, and my husband helped me pick it out (he’s so cute). It would also make a great name for a wicked rock band or say…a college football team. Not bad, I think. It would look so cool on a red covered book in silver or gold writing. I can totally visualize it.

Plus, when I make mistakes or wrote something stupid on someone else’s blog (hello…which I do all the time), they would know who I am – the real insecure me, and that would be….terrible. I’d have to eat a box full of chocolate bars from Costco just to feel better about myself. And run twice as long listening to the Ting Tings taunt me about their name. Those wicked musicians with music that I love too much. * mumbling under my breath *

Of course my neighbors all agreed. They like the name Foxy Candy and think I should use that as a pen name. I told them no – no more pen names for me.

So there you go, the debate raging inside my head.

Would it be so bad for me to come out and say, “Hey, my name is Carolyn and I’m a writer.”


So hey… my real name is Carolyn, and I’m a writer. =) But you can call me C. Vawdrey for short.

Thanks for understanding and still come see me on the blog, even though Carolyn isn’t quite as rockin’ as Scarlet (not on paper anyway).

See mom, I told you it wouldn’t be that bad.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"The Evil League of Evil, is Watching so Beware"

Oh Joss Whedon, you funny, funny man!

On Saturday, L.T. and I had the opportunity to attend a writer’s forum put on by the League. Yes, we are a part of the League (of Utah Writers but if I call it the League, funny songs from Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog come to mind – please see title – which can be purchased on itunes).

Josi Kilpack ,Clint Johnson, and Walt Eddy were the speakers. Each brought a certain element to the forum and great expertise in the writing area.

After the forum, L.T. and I had the opportunity to meet with Clint Johnson, the author of The Green Dragon Codex, which comes out in June. Pre-orders are available through Amazon.com.

Clint was kind enough to talk books with us, critique our work, and he helped me work on a synopsis. Thanks Clint, still workin’ on that thing – I’ve gotta get it turned in! Cha!

I must admit, Clint really knows his stuff. From plotting, to conflict, to word usage, he has done his homework. He has won many an award for his short stories and still is a very nice guy. If you go to his website (listed above), you can find events where he is guest speaking. I recommend it.

I also recommend (if you are a writer) joining a writing league (an Evil League not so much, but it would sound so cool to say, "Yeah, I belong to LEW. The League of Evil Writers." And you could pronounce Evil like Eval...even better).

"Bad Horse, Bad Horse, Bad Horse, He's Bad "

And by the way…L.T. thanks for the gazabes of gum and mints. My breath was stinking pretty bad! She is a lifesaver!

If you've been following my blog, I will post a very "heart-warming" (please use after-school special voice) post tomorrow, or the next week. And really, not so heart warming as heart stopping, chest thumping scary... or maybe not. I can't decide.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Misteaks R Wunnderful Oppertoonities 2 Lern

I once had a t-shirt with that great message. I loved it. I wore it 2 shreds. It started many a lively conversation and often provoked the giggles. It helped me remember not 2 take myself 2 seriously. Occasionally I wore it for my piano students, especially the ones who were paralyzed by fear.

We are sometimes hard on each other about misteaks, especially when we feel we have been wronged. We hang on to our hurt feelings much 2 long and use them as a stick to beat each other up. We may not talk about our feelings, we just carry them around and like a cloud they cover the sunshine and darken our days. We lose so much when we judge each other in this way. We lose clarity, we lose energy, and we lose closeness.

We are especially hard on ourselves when we make misteaks. We drain our energy by dwelling on the “what ifs” and endlessly rethinking ourselves. We may carry an invisible backpack 2 hold this negative energy and 2 store those pesky misteaks. When going through tough times that negative energy weighs us down and those misteaks are there 2 haunt us. Even when things are going great, old misteaks can nag us and cast their shadows of doubt. What does it cost us 2 carry this baggage? It costs us confidence, vision, and growth.

We all hate 2 make misteaks, but after all we’re human. Life is full of choices. With every choice comes a chance 2 mess up. Misteaks come in all shapes and sizes. Some are important, some are silly. Some misteaks are huge and other are miniscule, but most are not life-threatening. With every misteak comes a chance to lern. With every misteak comes a chance to choose again. With a little care, we can lern from our misteaks. We can choose to grow. We can move on with confidence.

When our misteaks cause damage, we must do what we can to repair. Some things can be repaired and others cannot. When the repair is beyond our ability, we must trust a higher source to do what we cannot. Some repairs take time. Let us be patient with ourselves and with others in the repair process. Let us not judge ourselves and others harshly. Let us be gentle with others. Let us be gentle with ourselves.

Is it time to let go of that negative energy? Shall we open our backpacks and take one last look at what we are carrying there? Can we examine each misteak in the light of day and let go of old debris? If an old misteak still needs attention; if there is some repair still needed, then attend to that, with promptness and care. With a breath of kindness, blow all the rest away.

Perhaps in your backpack you R also carrying old hurts from another’s misteak. R you ready to let go of old pain, old sorrow, old judgment? What is it costing you to carry it? Is it worth the price? A warm wind of change is blowing just now. Let it blow through you and carry away those sorrows. R you ready? Let go. Let it all go.

Misteaks R wunderfull oppertoonities to grow. I’m ready to grow. R you?

Linda Garner

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Feelin' a Bit Guilty

Okay, I took off the Devil thing, because honestly, I was feeling a little bit guilty. Everyone's a Devil at times, and now you see how Devilish I am. =)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Love Child

Do you have a love child; a piece of writing that is really special to you; something you’ve bonded with, and you really want to share? I bond with almost everything I write, so I have a lot of love children. Sometimes I really want to find a home for these children and when things don’t work out with a publisher, I am not quite sure what to do with my orphans.

This is just the case with a love child that I will share with you today. This poem feels special to me, but so far no one wants to publish it. This is a religious poem, so it needs a religious home. I have tried all the religious publishers that I am familiar with and, alas, they have all rejected it.

Since no one wants to publish my love child, I have decided to share it with you. I hope that you will enjoy it. I hope that it will remind you of someone who loves you very much and would love to hold you close. I hope that it will remind you of the seed of divinity that is within you.

I imagined my love child as a picture book with beautiful illustrations of the Savior. I had hoped that it would help children to feel the love of Jesus. Perhaps, instead, it is for the child in each of us. You can imagine your own illustrations. Maybe my orphan can find a home in your heart.

How Much Does He Love Me
By Linda Kay Garner

How much does He love me,
Jesus, my truest friend?
He loves me more than words can tell
or mind can comprehend.
For on this earth He walked the path
That showed me what to do.
I want to serve Him all my days.
I promise to be true.

How much does He love me,
Jesus, my powerful friend?
For He commands the thunder
and He commands the wind.
His love is warmer than the sun,
More mighty than the sea.
His voice is gentle as the snow.
His words, “Come follow me.”

Oh how I want to follow.
I promise not to stray.
He has the power to bring me home,
if I can just obey.
And though the days are sometimes hard,
the nights are sometimes long,
And on my own I’m sometimes weak,
Together, we are strong.

How much does He love me,
Jesus, my gentle friend?
He is the one who died for me
that I might live again.
He is the one who bled for me
in Gethsemane’s sacred garden.
He is the one who pleads for me
that God will grant me pardon.

He conquered death. He conquered sin.
It is my favorite story.
He is the shepherd of my soul.
He is the King of Glory.
I do not know how great the cost,
What pain He had to suffer.
He died for you; He died for me;
Our Savior and our brother.

How can I show my love for Him,
My Savior and my King?
What do I have to give to him?
What offering can I bring?
The gifts He gave are mighty.
The gifts I bring are small.
He wants me to remember Him
And share His love with all.

And when I take the Sacrament
I do remember Him.
I think of how He chose to live
completely without sin.
I think about the BREAD OF LIFE
while I eat the bread,
And of the multitudes He taught,
and of the ones He fed.

I hunger for His warm embrace
and for His healing touch.
I promise to be like Him.
I want His love so much.
I thirst for His forgiveness
when I falter and I sin;
And when the cup reaches my lips,
He bids me, “try again.”

and I promise to obey,
To stand for truth and righteousness
at home, at work, at play.
I think of His commandments.
I will try to do my part.
I’ll give to Him my love, my hands,
and most of all, my heart.

Today is a great day to remember Him who heals all wounds, feel close to Him, and remember who you are. Have a beautiful day.

Linda Garner

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Do You Want Some Cheese with that Whine?

So, this week, I was really whiny. Not just to friends and family, but to a few strangers as well. (Hey, if you’re that kid at the movie popcorn stand, I am really sorry for spilling out my life in front of you – I owe you big man. I owe you big).

Maybe it was because of the snow that assaulted my house (didn’t that porcupine say it was spring?). Or maybe it was because this week was Parent Teacher Conference and I spent a billion dollars at the book fair (now I know why they schedule the book fair at the same time as P.T.C. - Conspiracy). But I think I was whiny mostly because of daylight savings.

So yes, I whined. Whined about getting older, whined about my shoes smelling like moldy cupcake frosting, and whined about getting dinner on the table (why do we have to eat so many times during the day? (Can’t they make a pill for that?) (Oh, maybe they do. I think it’s called a diet pill.)

Anyway, I have had my fill of whine; I am ready for the good stuff. So, I’m taking action! I’m starting a new writing project, I’m watching what I eat, and I’m washing my tennis shoes! They have a cool drying rack for that now I’ve been told.

And next time you come to my door, I’m going to talk your ear off, even if you are trying to get me to buy your new windows with the extra layer of warmth. Yes, you will be begging to get away from my house (and will be warning others of the crazy woman down the street).

So world, beware. I’m on the prowl!

There will be no need for that cheese anymore. I’m throwing that cheese into a great casserole with macaroni (and little cornflakes on top). Ah, the world is looking better already!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What Would I Do If I Was Not Afraid?

Fear is in the air we breathe today. We read fear in the newspapers and listen to it on the 5:00 news. We live in tumultuous times. We hear the evidence crashing all around us. The fear is almost tangible. This is more than a personal fear. This is a collective fear. I refuse to participate in the collective fear, for I have fears of my own.

What would I do if I wasn’t afraid? I read this question last week on Michelle Ashman Bell’s blog. I have been turning it over in my mind every since. What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?

Recently I have been on a personal quest to let go of things that no longer serve me. I want to dejunk on every level. I want to let go of clutter in my home, clutter in my life, clutter in my mind, and clutter in my heart. It isn’t easy, for I have been collecting clutter for a very long time. I have bonded with my clutter. I am emotionally attached to my clutter.

When it comes to emotional clutter I have a long list negative emotions I want to get rid of. I want to let go of anger, judgment, greed, envy, doubt, pride, worry—and yes, fear, to name a few. I want them gone. I want to send them packing. These negative emotions have been with me long enough. Oh, they pretended to be my friends, giving me a false sense of security, while all the while nibbling away at my peace and contentment, but it was all for show.

What is fear? Where did it come from? What am I afraid of? What is it costing me to maintain that fear? Who would I be without that fear? These are hard questions for me. Can I examine them without turning myself inside out?

I am only vaguely aware of fear’s shadow in my life. I have pushed him in a small closet and I pretend he isn’t there. I am a good pretender. Still, a shadow is a shadow, and he can be such a nuisance. What would it be like to have him gone? Where do I begin? What tools should I acquire? Do I need a pick-axe, or a scalpel? A sword, or a razor blade?

I have been scoring small victories in my personal battle with fear. They are little things, but they are adding up and that little closet is shrinking. I would like to build something in its place. Perhaps a spacious room called hope. Perhaps a lovely suite with room for trust and confidence. I’m drawing up the plans.

Last week I had the chance of a lifetime. Friends invited us to tour the tabernacle with a friend of theirs who had restored the tabernacle organ. It was not the twenty five cent tour. It was the twenty five dollar tour. We saw things that few ever see. We saw the wind chamber that supplies the temperature and humidity controlled air that feeds the hungry organ. We saw many of the 11,000 pipes that create the amazing sound of the giant instrument. We saw the view from above, below, and behind the organ. For two hours we saw and heard the intimate details of the life of this magestic musical creature. At the end of our tour, I was given the unlikely invitation to play the organ.

Those who know me well, know that I do not play the organ. Let me say that again. I do not play the organ. I have my own reasons, some of which are more reasonable than others. I am on friendly terms with the piano, but I am really uncomfortable playing it in front of people. I teach piano, but I rarely perform. It is so far out of my comfort zone that it is on another planet.

Imagine my dilemma. I have been invited to play the tabernacle organ in front of people. I do not play the organ—not ever. I do not play in front of people—almost never. This is the chance of a lifetime. What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?

Get back shadow. Close that closet door. Close it tight. Lock it. Throw away the key. You are not in charge here.

I am happy to report that I played that organ. I did not shake. I did not clutch. I was not amazing, but I was adequate, and for a moment or two, I was not afraid. I have a photo of my mother playing that same organ. Wouldn't it be fun to place my photo next to hers. We did not have a camera with us to capture my moment, so memory’s camera will suffice. I hope my mother was watching. Perhaps she had something to do with the invitation. It wouldn't surprise me.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Linda Garner

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Structure and the Cycles of Stories

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the LTUE Writer’s Conference. It was remarkable. I learned so much and got to network with other writers. Some who puzzled and bewildered me, others that astonished and stunned me. There was even one writer who scared the begeebies out of me. Really, all she had to do was look at me and I had a panic attack. (But she was saying hi to me by the end of the conference). It was fantastic (and a bit terrifying).

The days were filled with class after class about writing, podcasts, and panels. There was one class that stood out for me, it was John Brown’s class. You can see his downloads and notes at http://johndbrown.com/ He not only knows his stuff, but he was funny as well (so I didn’t fall asleep – yay!). He taught us about the story cycle…character inciting, problem, reaction, action, disaster (really, you need to go to his website).

In my college writing class, I am learning about structure (I have been doing a synopsis for each story I am working on). With the information from the two classes combined, I have found the perfect structure for a well written story (which also means I have to tweak a few things in my current book – but that’s OK, I only cried for a couple of days).

Which brings me to my point (yeah, it only took me half the morning). There is a trick to a well written story. One can’t sit down and just start writing something (which I used to think was the way everybody wrote – and the way I wrote my 1st book – big mistake). A story must not only be interesting, but the story itself must not go all over the place. It has to have a structure.

If you read a really good book or watch a really good movie you will begin to see the pattern. I highly recommend watching a few movies and picking out the different points that keep the story moving.

Here they are:

Introduction: (the sooner the action and tension, the better) Your main character must make a decision or be thrown into a situation which will take them in one direction or another.

1st disaster: caused by decision or situation.

2nd disaster: keeps the story moving, the problem is out of the main character’s control, but the character has no choice but to continue.

3rd disaster: The final disaster which brings us to the climax of the story and resolves all loose ends, bringing us to the conclusion of the book.

And that’s just the structure and story cycle! There is also character building, tension, character’s desire or goal, or there is so much to learn! That’s why a writer’s conference is so important, plus you get to meet really cool and scary people. It’s so awesome! But next time, I am buying the super gigantic bag of MnMs. I finished mine the day before the conference started. I have no self control with those things.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stolen Childhood

Yesterday I felt so free.
Today I’m not the same.
Life used to be so sunny
and bright before you came

You took away a piece of me.
You trespassed on my heart.
I trusted you. You didn’t care.
My world just came apart.

Doubts and shadows cloud my thoughts.
Fear is my new friend.
A part of me is shattered.
How can it ever mend?

If only you could give it back,
what you took away for free.
Life is different now because
you stole childhood from me.

I’d like to run away somewhere,
a place where you can’t be,
where I can be myself again,
a happy child, carefree.

There’s only one way to be safe.
I know what I must do.
I’ll stand up for myself today.
I’ll tell them about you.

I hope that they’ll believe me.
I really think they will.
They’ve always been there for me.
I’m sure they’ll love me still.

I told them all about you.
They say I’m not to blame.
They’re sorry that it happened.
Alone, you wear the shame.

It’s my body and my life.
I always have a choice.
They listened to me and believed.
I have found my voice.

I know I will get better
though it may take some time.
There are kind people all around
to help me on this climb.

Healing isn’t easy
but I trust in God above.
I know that He is there for me
and I can feel His love.

Brandilyn and I have happy news about our book. Some Secrets Hurt will be officially released Sept 16th. We met recently with Shadow Mountain and were introduced to a wonderful group of people who are going to make our dream come true. We have a team of talented people working for us. We will soon have a website and business cards. The web address is http://www.somesecretshurt.com/. I will tell you when the website is launched. In addition we each have a personal email address for questions and comments about the book. Mine is already functional: lindagarner@somesecretshurt.com . Feel free to test it. I would love to hear from you. Brandilyn@somesecretshurt.com will soon be functional.

We are busily filling out our Author questionnaires and wondering who we can ask for endorsements. It sounds so official. I am doing my homework about stats. Brandilyn is putting the final touches on her artwork. May I tell you how beautiful the artwork is? It is just stunning and full of emotion. I feel so blessed that Brandilyn and I connected. Though Brandilyn and I are two people with different thoughts and ideas, in the book we come together as one voice. We hope that our voice will help children everywhere to find their voice.

We could use help with stats and endorsements. I find that statistics vary widely and are difficult to source. If anyone has ideas about where to find reliable stats, please email me with your thoughts, or you can post them here. Shadow Mountain would like ideas about professionals who might be willing to preview our book and comment for publication. If you have someone to suggest, again please email me or post those ideas here in the comments.

The professionals at Shadow Mountain are so kind and positive that we are thrilled to be working with them. Chris Schoebinger asked us if we had presented our book publicly yet. Brandilyn and I were both surprised at his suggestion that we could do this. We would love to share our book and our ideas with you. If you would like us to do a presentation for your women’s group or other organization, let us know. You know how to contact us. lindagarner@somesecretshurt.com

Stolen childhood is everyone’s concern. We are a community of caring adults. Let’s put aside our differences and stand together. Isn't it time that we all stand up for kids?

Linda Garner