Thursday, April 30, 2009

Did I survive Storymakers? I Sure Did.

Last Friday & Saturday, Linda, L.T. and I spent two informative packed days in Provo, Utah attending LDStorymakers. What an experience! They had great authors, fantastic panels, and lots of water. There was a long line in the women’s bathroom.

First I want to give my thanks for everyone who made this event such a great success, the authors, the organizers, everyone. What a great conference!

For those of you who did not attend or who have never attended before, let me give you a run down of what we did.

Friday at 7:30 the three of us got to the conference and picked our tables for bootcamp. Bootcamp is where you meet with a small group of writers and a published author to critique each writers’ work. I went to the teen chic lit/ YA table with Crystal Liechty. She is so awesome! And cute. I was at the table with Cindy, Charlene, Maury, and Emily. Everyone at our table was excellent and I enjoyed everything I read. Good job guys!

After bootcamp we had breakout sessions. Everything from Annette Lyon’s Grammar and Usage to Jeff Savage’s Creating and Maintaining a Character Bible (which I am totally starting! I hate all those crazy loose ends). So many more I wish I could list.

There were panels to choose from (agent/editor panels, mystery panels, to romance panels), book signings, and even a keynote speaker, Dean Lorey, who was an extremely nice guy.

I had a pitch session with Lisa Mangum, who is not scary at all (all those weeks of preparing to meet with a fear-provoking editor, all in vain * I shake my fist and sigh with relief *). She even has her own book coming out this month. I’ve heard buzz about this book! It sounds fabulous (check out Tristi Pinkston's review). I will tell you one thing, I’m totally going to her book signing.

I meet so many incredible writers and authors, plus bloggers. It was just amazing. Josi Kilpack, James Dashner, Stephanie Black. You guys rock! Ashley, Melanie J., Nicole Giles, Kim, Weston Elliot. If I left you out, I'm so, so sorry, but I still love ya! There were just so many excellent writers and authors. It was wonderful!

I also have to give a shout out to Heidi Ashworth, the author of Miss Delacourt Speaks her Mind. She took time out of her busy get-away to meet with some of us. I have been very impressed with how kind she is on her blog (and funny), but after meeting her in person, I like her even more.

Well, there you have it. A superb weekend, a superb group, and superb gelato. What more can a girl ask for? Maybe a tube of fudge. I’m so there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gotta Write!

Last Friday I entered a delightful world. It was a world of authors and editors and lovers of books. It was a world of fantasy, magic, and wonder, as well as a world of reality, substance, and authenticity. It was a timeless world, where word is king, and imagination can take you anywhere. United by our love of storytelling we gathered from everywhere to a special place of sharing.

This was my first adventure into the magical land called LDS Storymakers Convention. I found this place warm and delightful. I met supportive friendly people with stunning ideas and amazing talent. I attended fascinating presentations taught by people who were brilliant and interesting.

I brought home a brand new bag of tools, which is bulging with new things; new ideas, new knowledge, new skills, and new friends. If you were a presenter, I thank you for sharing your time and talents. If you were an organizer, I thank you for the hours of preparation, for the attention to detail, and for that special touch of fun which was liberally sprinkled throughout the conference. If you were a participant, thank you for bringing your unique contribution and creating an unforgettable experience for me.

Writers are an interesting bunch. We are diverse on many levels, yet we have much in common. We have something to say and we need to say it. We gotta write. We don’t just love to write; we gotta write. Deep inside we have a craving that is only satisfied when we write. For me it not really about money, or even about being published. It is about having a voice. It is about making a difference. Sometimes I wonder if I chose writing, or if it chose me.

Thanks to my incredible critique group who are always there for me. I adore them and I appreciate their love and support, and their valuable advice. It was great fun to share the Storymakers experience with them.

Gotta go! Gotta write.

Linda Garner

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Awesome Power of Storymakers or The Sleep I didn't get at the Conference

So, my awesome critique group and I are preparing to attend the Storymakers conference tomorrow. We’ve planned the time we will leave (meaning we have to be up at 5:15 a.m.), what classes we would like to attend, and we’ve gone over the presenters bios (so we can say, “Hey fill in name here how you doin’?” Which either will freak them out a little or will pleasantly surprise them. I'm hoping the second).

Click here to see my highly recommended list of things to bring with you when you go to a conference. Don’t forget the allergy medicine. The pollen count is a mess.

The best part about going with the group is that we are spending the night. It will be like a great big sleepover. I’m afraid I won’t be getting any sleep. L.T. makes me laugh with all her funny songs and we just have to break Linda in. I weep for her.

So if you see us there, please come over and say hi! (Oh, and if you know any good songs, let us know! We could always use a new song to sing in the bathroom. Poor Linda.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Not being very sportsy, I haven’t played basketball much. A few days ago I got to watch my 12 years old grandson participate in a basketball camp. It was very interesting to watch. The boys were divided into groups of four with a high school mentor helping them with their skills. There was much attention to detail, such as how to hold your elbow when you shoot; when and how to use your toes; which muscles contribute to the power in your shot. Playing basketball is more than just accidental talent. It takes skills which can be carefully cultivated.

Life takes skills too; skills that can be carefully cultivated. I thought how nice it would be if we could have a little life skills camp. We could divide into groups of four with a carefully chosen mentor and we could practice our skills in classes like Courage For Beginners, Intermediate Trust, or Confidence 101. We could include things like how to deal with disappointment; how to keep trying when we feel like giving up; how to get along with difficult people.

Sometimes life is hard. We may struggle because we have been hurt. Maybe we have been told that we are not good enough. We may struggle under a burden of criticism, doubt, and blame. If we accept this negative programming, the battle will be long and there will be no victors. Perhaps we could learn in our life skills camp how to believe in ourselves; how to enjoy the journey; how to choose again.

Sometimes the enemy is within. We battle our own high expectations, often coming up short. We demand a degree of perfection that we cannot deliver. We may grapple with guilt, feelings of worthlessness, and shadowy fears. We beat ourselves up when we could be building ourselves up. We can be our own worst enemy. Wouldn’t you love a life skills camp that would teach us how to release our negative programming, how to love and support ourselves; how to be true to ourselves; how to remember who we really are.

I once read that most of our programming, both positive and negative, happens by the age of three. It sounds like we have been carrying those negative beliefs for a very long time. Isn’t it time for a change?

Do something kind for yourself today. Be willing to change some of that negative programming. Believe in yourself. Believe that you are good enough. Be your own best friend.


Linda Garner

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I’m Just Sittin’ Here, Eatin’ my Little Bag o’ Chocolate as my Derrière is Getting Bigger

(I hope I didn't confuse anyone yesterday. My scheduled post decided to unscheduled itself and pop up without my consent. Silly post. )

My husband just graduated with an MBA. When he first went back to school, a wise teacher got up in front of his class (Sorry,I can’t remember his name) and told them, “In the time it takes to earn a degree, you will either have your degree, or you won’t. No matter what you do, time will pass.”

He was right. Time passed, most of the people my husband started school with earned their degrees. Some didn’t. Some dropped out.

The same thing goes with writing, no matter what I do, time will pass.

Some days I find myself too busy to sit down and write, sometimes I have other commitments I need to fulfill. But at the end of the week, I always look back and see what I have done to accomplish my writing goals for that week.

This week was a difficult week for writing. I had a goal to finish my college writing course. There was one particular assignment that I was struggled with - writing a chapter for a mystery. I put it off time and time again. But being at the end of my class, I had to finish it.

I started writing it, and as always, my characters turned into teenagers ogling over the new boys moving in across the street. What is up with those girls?

This is terrible writing! I thought to myself. Taking a break I found myself walking around in circles through the house. I grabbed some chocolate (thank you Easter bunny), checked out blogs (you evil blogs, keeping me from my work – but I love so much) and sat back down to invent a murder or mystery of some type.

I reread the page and started typing anything that popped into my mind. Suddenly I could see the scene before my eyes. First, the crime. Second, who dunnit. Third, I began writing the piece with the info I had learned in class. A couple of hours later, I had my first chapter. I chortle with an evil laugh (mwa ha ha ha), I wept (and freaked my kids out a little), and I finished with a victory dance. Then I made dinner because it was two hours late.

That night at my critique group, I showed the girls my piece. They had good things to say (and a couple of helpful things to throw in or fix). I am now finishing it for my polished piece of work for my last, last, last homework assignment. Whoo hoo!

All it took was me sitting on my derrière and working through my writers block.

Time passes no matter what I am busy with. When I look back at my year, will I be happy with what I did with it? Will I have accomplished my goals? Or will I be ten pounds heavier from eating chocolate Easter eggs and watching YouTube? I guess the choice is mine. (But you must admit, that Easter bunny does buy good chocolate.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just Like Christmas

It was just like Christ-mas. That darling fed ex man left a package on my door. I couldn’t wait to open it, because I knew what was inside. It was the galleys for my book, Some Secrets Hurt. Was it a stubborn package, or was I all thumbs? Friend Husband had to help me.

My heart was dancing as we pulled out the beautiful pages and gazed at them in wonder. My dream is coming true. The artwork is lovely, the layouts are perfect, and the words are meaningful. The message is real and helpful. It is a message of hope and a message of healing. This project was inspired and I really cannot take the credit for it, but I am so grateful to have been included.

In my experience far too many lives have been damaged by sexual abuse. It is a rare family that has not experienced this heartbreaking betrayal of trust. It is time that a caring community steps up to the challenge and begins to put kids first.

According to the Parent Handbook distributed by the Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center Current statistics show that one out of every four girls and one out of every six boys will be sexually abused by the time they reach adulthood. People who sexually abuse children are rarely strangers to the child victim. In fact, the abuser is most often well known to the child (i.e. a relative, family friend, or neighbor). Abusers can be male or female; adult or juvenile; of any race, religion, or socio-economic status.”

If that doesn’t frighten you, you need to read it again.

Some Secrets Hurt is for everyone. It can be a child’s first instruction in avoiding the nightmare of sexual abuse. It can be a tool for a parent who wants to prevent sexual abuse. It provides information for a parent who has discovered sexual abuse and is unsure of the next step. It can strengthen a child who is experiencing sexual abuse, and help them find the courage to tell. It can promote comfort and healing for those who have unresolved issues relating to sexual abuse.

Who is Some Secrets Hurt for? Who is it not for? If you are a child, if you have a child, if you know a child, if you have been a child, Some Secrets Hurt is for you.

Some Secrets Hurt is being published by Shadow Mountain and will be released September 16. Every home should have one. My hope is that it will make a difference for children and families everywhere. Won’t you join me, and stand up now for our kids.

Linda Garner

P.S. My thanks to Brandilyn Speth, my talented friend and illustrator. Her illustrations are magic. You will love them. My thanks to all the wonderful people at Shadow Mountain who are making my dream come true. We would love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us:, Watch for our informative website: Coming soon!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Curse you Sadie Hoffmiller, and your Lemon Tart Too!

If you haven’t read Lemon Tart, by Josi S. Kilpack, Do it! Do it now!

I had just under one hour to sit down and read something inspirational in my holey sweats. There next to me sat Lemon Tart and the cover looked so delicious…I love lemons, so I grabbed it. “Only one chapter,” I told myself. I had already finished chapter one, so I thought I could read chapter two and set it down.

I was so, so wrong. Sadie Hoffmiller and her curious ways had me hooked.

11:30 p.m. was drawing near, but I was only at chapter twenty-nine, curse my slow reading! My husband told me if I didn’t stop reading at the next chapter, I was doomed to finish the book and deprive myself of much needed sleep. He was right. I sneered at him as I closed the cover of the book and slinked into bed, clutching the book close to my chest. (I know, I’m so dramatic.)

As I lay in bed with the book next to my head, I thought, “Just one more, just one more chapter. I can put it down. I can quit. Everyone’s doing it…why not me?” Yes my friends *head hung low*, temptation pulled me in. I read till midnight.

I had to close the book then, but thoughts of Sadie filled my mind. Would she find out who did it? What about Trevor, where was he? Would she make some more of those delicious brownies (recipe on page 165) that I so yearned for?

I though over my activities for the next day and sat up in bed shaking my fist. “Curse you Sadie Hoffmiller! Why do you have to be written so well?” If she were drivel, I could totally ignore her calling to me in my sleep, “One more chapter Carolyn, you are so close to the end, plus, the chapters are short and easy to read. You can survive on two hours of sleep, come on girl!”

I made it through the night, barely. The next morning I rushed my kids out the door, listened as the Ting Tings taunt me on my treadmill, threw some clothes in the wash - not bothering to check if they were dark colors or white (you gotta love pink undies), and picked up Josi's excellently written book.

With a sigh of fulfillment, I closed the cover, stood up and placed my hands on my hips in a Wonder woman pose, exclaiming, “Josi S. Kilpack, you are my literary hero!”

But alas, I read the first chapter to the next book…Oh when, oh when will it be out in paperback?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Laughter the Best Medicine

I love to laugh. I love people who make me laugh. It is an art to be sure. Some of the best writing can make you laugh and cry at the same time. I love writing that makes me feel something and invites me to do something. Maybe it invites me to change, but at the same time it lightens my load a little by making me laugh. Maybe it helps me learn to laugh at my self.

I’d like to put more humor in my writing, but I haven’t figured it out yet. Learning to laugh at life is one thing, but writing about it is another. I critique with some very witty ladies. They make me smile. They make me laugh. I don’t know how they do it.

Someday I’m going to write something hysterical and tickle your funny bone, but for now, I’m just happy to have friends that make me laugh.

In spite of the fact that I can’t write funny, I do have a funny story to tell.

My son, Devin got a very scary phone call last Wednesday. Devin is not known for being a good driver. He loves speed. He has never worried about speeding tickets. He enjoys speeding so much that he doesn’t mind paying the fines. Because his tickets were often in different counties or even states, they never really caught up with his driving record, until recently. In December he got one too many speeding tickets and in February he was notified that he had too many points. His license was revoked and he humbly showed up for traffic school to take some points off his record. Without traffic school, his license would be suspended for 3 months and he would be reduced to walking and bumming rides.

We cheered a little at his discomfort, because we had tried everything to get him to slow down. He couldn’t believe what was happening to him. He said, “Why didn’t you tell me they could take my license away? I’d have stopped speeding if I’d known that.” Why didn’t we tell him?

Everything worked out. He got his license reinstated and became very motivated to avoid speeding tickets. Even with traffic school he couldn’t afford any more points for two years. Even a minor ticket would put him over the point limit, with a mandatory suspension of at least 3 months. They only allow you a one time chance at traffic school, so he knew if he got another ticket he was wannabee driver.

Back to the scary phone call. Last Wednesday a woman from the Highway Patrol called and told Devin that he had been clocked at 5 miles over the speed limit several times on I-15 by their aerial tracking equipment. She named the day and indeed Devin had traveled from Idaho to Utah on that very day. The citations for those speeding violations were in the mail and Devin had 24 hours to surrender his license or a warrant would be issued for his arrest. Devin was stunned. He had questions. The woman had no answers, but she gave him a number to call.

Aerial tracking equipment? Five miles over the speed limit? Warrant for my arrest? Devin tried to make sense of this information and finally called the number he had been given. To his relief, the voice on the other end was friendly, even familiar.

“April Fool!” said a familiar voice. That familiar voice was the voice of his girlfriend.

Love that Girl!

Linda Garner

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What? What Do You Mean it’s Wednesday?

So, I’ve been behind a little on my week. I was surprised yesterday to find out it was Wednesday and not Tuesday. So that makes today Thursday and not Wednesday! What kind of April’s Fools prank is this?

Actually there is a wonderful lady in my neighborhood who is sick…so sick…we don’t know how much time she has left. She has some work to be done and has asked a few of us if we could help and get it done before….she passes. So this week, my hubby and I have been helping her out. She has been a very dear friend to me and reminds me so much of my mom. I love her. I am very sad to see her go.

So I am asking a couple of my kids for help.

As you look above you will see my daughter’s math homework. Now if you look close enough, you will see that the man in the middle is surprised. Why is he surprised you ask? Well when I asked my daughter she said, "Mom...He’s surrounded by vampires. Duh." Poor guy. I laughed so hard when I found this in her backpack. I wonder what her new teacher thought?

My son did a piece for English called I Can’t Write a Poem.

I can’t write a poem.
Forget it,You must be kidding.
I’m still half asleep.
My eyes keep closing.
My brain isn’t working.
I don’t have a pencil.
I don’t have any paper.
My desk is wobbly.
I don’t know what to write about.
And besides; I don’t know how to write a poem.
I’ve got a headache, I need to see the nurse.
Time’s up? Really? No kidding?
Thanks a lot.
Would you like to see another one?

What Awesome Kids! And I thank them for their help. Love you guys!Happy Thursday everyone! See you next week, same bat time, same bat channel.