Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010, I will miss you.

The New Year always fills me with hope of new dreams for the upcoming year. New hopes, new goals.

This year is no exception. Except I have found myself looking back on 2010 with bitter-sweet feelings.

I didn't get as much done in my life as I wanted. My book is still in revisions, my school work still hangs over my head, my house is just as messy this year as last year. I've lost a few good bloggy friends, but made some that I really care about.

It's been a roller coaster year.

I expect this year will be just as tumultuous.

I've started a new cleaning program (I can do my laundry in 4 minutes flat...with a little pumped up's the most awesome thing ever) (okay, it's a little more like 7, but still, I love it!).

I will get my degree this year. I cannot begin to tell you how difficult this has been for me. I have wanted to give up so many times, but I am only two classes away from smartness.

I've learned that writing vs revisions is something that is both exciting and tedious. A new idea is so amazing to get down on paper, but it isn't until I get into the  description and word building  that the story really comes to life.

So I am looking forward to this new year, hoping to achieve new goals that will teach and mold me.

It's going to be a great year!

What New Year's goals do you have?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Too Difficult for Grownups

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”Madeleine L’Engle

I love writing for children. Some people have the mistaken idea that writing for children is easy. Some think that you water down good literature for children. A few even try to talk down to children. That can never work.

If you think about it, children are, in truth, small people. They are intelligent and have wonderful brains and active imaginations. They are developing understanding and compassion, along with a sense of humor. What they lack is experience.

Are some topics too complicated for children? Not many. Children's minds are capable of understanding more than we give them credit for. As adults, we limit the possibilities because of our lack of understanding.

I love children's books with big ideas and important topics. When writing for children think simplify rather than water down. Distill the story to its purest essence and simplify the vocabulary according to the age of the intended audience. Does this mean you can’t use big words? Not at all. It means that each word should be well-chosen and no word can be wasted. Children love the magic of words. What child has not been captivated by Jabberwocky?

Since I love writing for the picture book crowd, my manuscripts must be under 1,000 words. This leaves no room for fluff. Every word must count. Since picture books are usually read aloud, they must be interesting to adults as well as children. A well-written picture book can captivate readers of all ages.

Picture books are a hard-sell in today’s market, perhaps a side-effect of our media craze. The high cost of publishing a picture book is a factor, and the recession isn’t helping. (Oops! I forgot that the recession is over.) E-readers are just beginning to become picture book friendly. I suppose there will always be room in the publishing world for an extraordinary picture book. What will make it extraordinary? Will it be quirky, delightful, funny, unusual, original, or all of the above?

Excuse me. I’m off to write a quirky, delightful, funny, unusual, original picture book.

Linda Garner

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Working Holiday

Since I love writing every day, the holidays are a bit difficult for me because I want to spend some time with my characters and their journey. But when Aunt Trudy comes calling with her three boisterous boys, time gets away from me. However, I’ve found I way I can continue working while engaged in festive activities.
Number one boisterous boy, belonging to Aunt Trudy, twists his hair (right in the cowlick on top of his head) into a rooster tail. He’s twirled it so much that he has a bald spot on the top of his head. The rooster tail is thinning! What an interesting quirk to give a character.
Aunt Trudy loves to talk. Every sentence either begins or ends with, “Ya’ know, kid,” followed by a little giggle. It would take a unique character to give this idiosyncrasy to, but it’s an unforgettable trait. (Sometimes it does drive me a little nuts! Okay, a lot nuts if I’m around it too long!)
Grandma Gertrude, who is nearing 100, loves to sit in the corner and watch the world of children and activity go by. Once in a while she’ll pull a family member aside to ask them if they can see Uncle Joe (who died 30 years ago) singing in the choir across the room. (Who knows, maybe there is a group of singers from the other side serenading us across the room. It may just be that we are the ones who can’t see or hear them.) An interesting addition to any story.
Now, I’m sure you can think of quirky little traits that your family members have. Jot them down and use them (in disguise of course) in your next story. Better still, share them with us, and I’ll use yours and you are welcome to mine. That way no one will ever trace them. :}
Happy holidays! Christy Monson  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

"I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month." ~Harlan Miller

 I wanted to first thank you all for just being awesome and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas season!!! This dance is for you!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Short but Sweet

courtesy of photobucket
Must. Not. Write. Creatively!

Must. Finish. Homework.

Urge. To. Create. Rising.

So I'm in almost done with homework and research papers, just in time for the Christmas break. But I still have a table full of work to do. So I leave you my friends with a quote, short and sweet.

No one is able to enjoy such feast than the one who throws a party in his own mind. 
~Selma Lagerlöf

Do you agree? 

Have a great week everyone!  Nine more days till Christmas! Woo hoo! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December Morning

December morning robed in white.
Snowflakes gathered through the night,
Gentle reminders of the love
that gathers daily from above.

My heart has saved a sacred place
To think of His redeeming grace,
And on this morning crisp and clear
I seem to feel his presence near.

I’m grateful for the wondrous Man
Who magnified our Father’s plan.
I celebrate His life, His birth,
His perfect love which gives me worth.

On every morn throughout the year
I hope to feel His presence near.
And may I someday grow to be
The woman that He sees in me.

Linda Garner

Monday, December 13, 2010

Plotting My New Book

A couple of young people have been running around in my head, and I had to get them out on paper this week. I’m just getting to know them so they aren’t fully developed, but I find myself in both of them.
The girl is from a single-parent family. (Her father was a pub-crawler in England and abandoned his wife and daughter.) Her mistaken belief is that she has to take care of everything herself. She can’t depend on anyone for anything. I was raised by a widowed mother who did take care of everything herself, so I know how this girl looks at the world and why her belief is mistaken.
The boy doesn’t have great self-esteem, but he’s very dependable. He has an irresponsible friend he has to keep out of trouble. So my boy is going to get caught up in mischief that he would never even think of or participate in if it wasn’t for his friend. My younger brother was able to find trouble when he went looking for it, and I worked to keep him on the ‘straight and narrow.’ I know this point of view and how my young man feels.
I can see myself growing from the writing of this book. Not that I’m a teenager needing to find myself, but some of my deep-seated issues are similar to these characters. What fun to unravel their stories and grow myself from the experience.
What about you? Can you see yourself in the characters you plot? Do you find yourself growing from the experience of writing about them?
John Truby in his Anatomy of Story suggests that a writer will never go wrong if he writes something that will change his life. Do any of you write about issues that you have had or are in the middle of now? I’d be interested to hear your take on this subject.
Christy Monson

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Here's to You

Here's to those who are creative,
Who think outside of the box,
even when the box wants to hold you in.

Here's to those who dream of things to come.
Who work on an idea that comes from thin air,
that see that being creative isn't just a way - it's a way of life.

Here's to those who see magic through the fog.
Who see faeries in old oak trees, life on other worlds, magic shoes that dance,
Those who see beyond normal realms of imagination.

Here's to you my friends-
Those of you chasing the dream.
The dream of creativity.

Because one day those dreams will be caught. 

~written by me. As I do my homework. Because I should be doing my homework, but this is so much more fun.  Woo hoo creativity!

Busy doing homework this week, but the thought came to me - what would I tell a friend who is struggling with his/her writing? 

The best advice I can give anyone would be to keep going. Persistence (and consistency) is the key. What do you think? What advice would you give a friend who is struggling to keep their dream alive?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Time for A New Message

Ever notice how many negative messages you hear in a day? It seems we are constantly bombarded with negative chatter about who we are or aren’t and about countless shoulds and oughts. Trying to measure up can be exhausting and stifling.

Media is a big player. We are encouraged to be thin, sexy, and successful. Don’t forget rich. It sounds good, but in the end we are likely to come up holding the short end of the stick if we measure ourselves against movie stars and models.

Measuring ourselves against anyone is foolish. No one wins. Whether we feel less than or better than we are still going to feel cheated in the end.

The thoughtless words of others can leave painful scars and so can our negative experiences. Everyone has a few scars. Healing is possible, but we must choose it. We can choose to live in pain or we can choose to create a new experience. We do this as we learn to forgive and as we learn to love ourselves.

Letting go of the expectations of others and creating a life based on individual needs and desires is freeing. Learning to appreciate our own gifts and opportunities is the beginning of happier days. Learning to love ourselves can change the way we view our life. It can change our decisions, our relationships, and our future.

People who love themselves do not go around hurting other people. Hold onto that thought the next time someone hurts you. Choose to recognize your own worth. Your worth is incredible. Your worth is unmeasureable. Your worth is infinite.

As we learn to love ourselves we are free to let go of the negative messages that surround us. Our love for others deepens and we are more alive. We feel safer. We embrace truth, light, and possibilities. We are more open to love and less needy. We can reach out to others to lift and strengthen.

If you’re tired of negative messages and the damage they do, start a new trend. Celebrate your worth and the worth of others. Celebrate your purpose. Fill the air with positive messages.

It’s time for a new message.

Linda Garner

For more information on Learning to Love Yourself call me. I have some great ideas for you.

True Refection
Learning to Love Yourself

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weakness and Need

Weakness and Need
I’ve been reading John Truby’s book, The Anatomy of Story. I like to do some reading – ideally every day, but it usually turns into once a week. I want to be sure I’m enhancing my skills as a writer. Otherwise all I’m doing is becoming a better typist (of which I’m already pretty good, and I don’t care if I get any better).
I’m beginning a new story, and I want to get myself on the right track. Truby says that your main character must have a weakness that is messing up his life somehow and holding him back in some way. There is a need inside the protagonist that he or she must fulfill to have a better existence. How is your protagonist going to grow and change?
In A Single Shard will Tree Ear get the opportunity to learn the skill of the potter? Will he satisfy grumpy Min so he’ll be able to continue as an apprentice?
Will Crispin survive after his mother’s death? Will he be able to make his way in the world? Will he learn from Bear the things that are important?
Bud, Not Buddy is desperately searching for family. Will he find them? His ‘mistaken beliefs’ are so funny, the reader cannot help laughing out loud at Curtis’s wonderful character.
Now I don’t claim to be among these great writers, but I know every time I read a new book, the character development, including the weakness and need helps me become a better writer. I just finished Ann Brashares, The Last Summer. It’s a YA and has some unnecessary sexuality in it, but the characters are so needy in the beginning. The young man, Paul, is filled with self-hate. The young girl, Alice, must confront her insecurities. The two grow and change with Alice’s sister Riley as a catalyst.
Look at your characters. Do they have an overarching weakness and need? I’m working to create protagonists that do.
Christy Monson

Thursday, December 2, 2010

You Mean Three Hours of Sleep is Bad for You?

Woo hoo! I'm back! It's so nice to have a little holiday break!

Since I'm back online, I decided it would be a great idea to get organized. 'Cause I like organizing and stuff. I found this awesome calendar feature on my lappy. It has places to schedule things and what priority they are (high, medium, low priorities).

So I went through and organized all my times and activities. It was amazing and beautiful all at the same time. *wiping happy tear from eye*

But when I was done...(scary music here)...I realized not only was my day filled with activities, but every hour on my schedule was filled. (Except for the three hours I left for sleep - yeah, three hours. Sleep is so overrated. (Okay, I really need eight hours or I'm really grumpy. My kids know to stay away from me on those days.)

So I decided to look at what level priority they were. Most of them were high priority (school, laundry, bubble bath - you know that's high priority!)

And I found out I was spending two hours blogging each day. TWO HOURS! I can make three batches of cookies in two hours. Maybe four.

So I'm taking a second look at blogger and how I can improve my time here (because bloggy friends rock).

But I want your advice.

How much time do you spend blogging a day?

How do you keep up with all the awesome followers you have?

Thanks you guys! I'm going off to curl up on the couch now and sleep. (stupid needing-eight-hours of sleep. i have so much to do! i bet sparkly vampires never had a problem like this. lucky stinkin' vampires who don't need any sleep. *zzzzzzzzz*)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

For the Fun of It

Writing is in my blood. I can’t not write. Some days it would be easier to give it up, because, face it, writing can be a very discouraging business. Rejections, broken promises, no recognition, little financial return. If you’re hoping to make a lot of money, you'd better run the other way.

I used to think it was just me, but I hear these same complaints from other writers. Lots of them. The only sane reason to write is because you love it and you can’t imagine not doing it. There are far easier ways to make money.

What I didn’t know when I first published was how much of the promoting would be on my shoulders. Publishers sometimes make some pretty big promises that are difficult to keep. They ultimately promote the books that will make them the most money. Other books are not promoted with the same verve and consequently do not make the big time. Authors are encouraged to do booksignings, school visits, literacy nights, etc. to build their pool of readers.

I love doing events, but does it really build sales? I think it would be hard to build a case that it does. I have done book signings with only a couple of sales. I thrive on chatting with people, so I do it anyway.

I especially love doing events that make a difference. I enjoy school visits. I love public speaking. I would do it even if I didn’t have a book to promote. Does it build sales? Who knows? I’m not allowed to sell my own books at such events so it would be hard to find a correlation. I am seldom invited to talk directly about my book. I usually talk about writing, about bullying, or about self-worth. It’s good stuff. There is no shameless self-promoting. Does it trickle-down? I’m not sure. We can hope.

Writing is rewarding for me. Watching a book take shape is fulfilling. Seeing it in print is satisfying. Talking about wonderful ideas with others is fulfilling, even if it doesn’t directly involve book sales. I love making a connection with my audience and seeing a light turn on in their heads. When I see that light in their eyes, I am in heaven. This doesn't feel like work to me. It's fun.

I guess that’s why I write. For the fun of it.

Linda Garner

Monday, November 29, 2010

Critique Groups

Critique Groups
Because I have published only in the magazine world and do not have a book contract yet (notice the YET), I’m always second-guessing myself in my stories. Have I developed strong characters? Do I have a compelling situation? Does my protagonist have a main goal? Do I have a sneaky, slithery, slimy opponent in the story? Are there enough obstacles in the story?
To answer these questions, I have joined several critique groups. (I NEVER get in over my head.)
The group I have been part of the longest has eight writers in it, and we meet each week. Each person passes out five pages every week for the next week’s discussion. The next week every person comments on their critique for each set of five pages. Wonderful synergistic dialogues ensue in this group. These people are dedicated to learning their craft. One member has two published books and another has a book contract. Several have won writing contests.
Another group I belong to meets monthly to discuss an entire manuscript and render a critical evaluation. There is something to be said for reading a whole book at once. You pick up details and problems you don’t see with just a few pages each week. These writers are dedicated also. Three of them have published in magazines and newspapers, and one has a couple of short stories in a seasonal books.
The last group I belong to is a picture book group. (I LOVE writing picture books!) In this group we email our monthly writing and discuss our critiques from our computers when we meet. (We’re going green!) We have a published author in that group also.
If you are a serious writer, find a critique group to belong to. (You don’t need to join three!) Check with the League of Utah Writers in your area. The feedback you get is very helpful, and you make wonderful friends that really understand the process you are involved in. (They’re great to cheer you up when you get rejections letters and celebrate with you in your successes.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Unlock the Fullness

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. -- Melody Beattie

How I love these inspired words, for gratitude is indeed a powerful but gentle friend.

Sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas is one brief moment for giving thanks. Perhaps we have it wrong. Perhaps instead of giving thanks one day, we should have Thanksgiving week, Thanksgiving Month, or Thanksgiving Year.

In a true celebration of life, gratitude might be our truest friend. Today I celebrate my life, my environment, my companions, my opportunities, and my gifts with gratitude. I invite you to join me. Let's celebrate.

Unlock the Fullness.

Linda Garner

Monday, November 22, 2010


During this time of Thanksgiving when the earth yields up her abundance, I find gratitude filtering its way into my life. Holiday occasions bring appreciation for family and friends – a season to reflect on the wealth of blessings in life. Here are some of my favorite gratitude quotes.
Gratitude is the twin sister of humility; pride is a foe to both.  James E. Talmage
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. Cicero
When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator. Gandhi
We can walk through the darkest night with the radiant conviction that all things work together for the good. Martin Luther King Jr.
Gratitude is the sign of noble souls. Aesop
Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. Henry Ward Beecher.
Gratitude is the heart’s memory. Proverb
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God.1 Thessalonians 5:18
Grateful people tend to generate more positive memories, reminding them of good in their lives. Vaughn E. Worthen
Thanks for being part of my life. I am grateful for you. Christy

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beware! They aren't just for dinner anymore!

So I wanted to post something cute and thankfully-ness for Thanksgiving (because I'm thankful for a ton of stuff), but when I went looking for something to share, this is what I found:



Now I'm just frightened of those crazy turkeys!!!

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving everyone! I'm unplugged for the week...I'm hiding out from those things with a can of cranberry sauce in my hand (you know, back up). They scary me! Has anyone been attacked by a Turkey? Be honest, they are a little crazy aren't they?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tripping Over Ideas

Madeleine L’Engle is one of my heroes. I love the story she once told about ideas for writing.

The most asked question that I generally receive is, “Where do you get your ideas?” That’s very easily answered. I tell a story about Johann Sebastian Bach when he was an old man. A student asked him, “Papa Bach, where do you get the ideas for all of these melodies?” And the old man said, “Why, when I get up in the morning, it’s all I can do not to trip over them.” And that’s how ideas are; they’re just everywhere.

I agree with both Madeleine and Bach. Ideas are everywhere, but keeping track of those ideas is sometimes tricky. I may have three good ideas while driving and two more while I am stirring up dinner, or cleaning a toilet (not at the same time of course). When I sit down to write those ideas have often evaporated.

To help me keep track of ideas, I use a small notebook, one that’s easy to carry and fits in my purse. I use little sticky tabs to create sections. The back page is always for books I want to read or movies I want to watch. It keeps me from wandering around the library aimlessly, or staring blankly at a list of unfamiliar movies.

The front of the notebook is for book ideas. Usually they are one liners describing a topic that I’d like to develop into a book.

Inside the notebook are tabs for other kinds of ideas. Sometimes when I write a story I am stuck for just the right name, so it helps to keep a list of interesting names to draw from.

I have a section of first lines. Sometimes an entire story can be developed from just the write first line. One of the first lines in my idea book is “She was my best friend and my worst enemy.” Someday that will be the beginning of a book.

I love playing with words. Some words are just delightful. I like keeping a list of interesting words that are begging to be noticed. It’s fun just to look over this list and get the creative juices flowing.

The funny thing is that I don’t always have to look in my book to get creative. Just writing them down often anchors them in my memory. And also it keeps me from tripping over them when I get up in the morning.

Linda Garner

Monday, November 15, 2010


I love my critique groups because I learn so much from each person about my own writing. But I also learn valuable lessons from their problems as well.
A dear friend in one of my groups wrote a beautiful novel – a story of family members that suffered great tragedy. The book was eloquently written and the character’s voices poignant, but there was something wrong with the novel. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. At first I defined it as lack of a character arc for the protagonist. Some of the group agreed with me and some didn’t, but still the character arc flat. No one learned any lessons and no one became wiser.
Yesterday as I read Dwight V. Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer, it hit me. There was no conflict in the story – only tragedy in the end. Swain says that stories are made up of scenes which provide interest and move the story forward. In each scene there should be a goal, conflict and disaster (or impending disaster). The character has to have a goal in order to act; something needs to happen to make his situation worse; and disaster usually rears its ugly head the form of new information to hook the reader in.
Is this how your stories play out? What do you think about this story concept? I’d love to know your experience.
Sometimes I wonder if my scenes are compelling enough to keep the reader engaged. Character arc can’t happen unless my hero or heroine gains strength from fighting through conflict and disaster. Writing is wonderful. I learn something new every day.
Thanks in advance for your feedback. Christy
P.S. Sent out three more query letters, got two rejections. I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Carrots, Eggs or Coffee Beans Movie

Have you heard the story of the Carrot, Eggs or Coffee Beans? If you haven't take a look. Thanks to my writing bud for sending this to me.

(If you don't drink coffee, like me, you can just imagine the coffee beans are cocoa beans with lots of sugary goodness and the richest cream in the world calories of course. Yay no calories!)

Good luck with the writing everyone! 

Carrots, Eggs or Coffee Beans Movie: "Carrots, Eggs or Coffee Beans. All of us at one time or another have experienced a difficult situation, had setbacks, or dealt with our share of disappointment. Most things that happen to us on a daily basis we can’t control and I can honestly say (with conviction) that it is not what happens to us that matters but rather, how we choose to respond."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gifts of Autumn

There is something about autumn, isn’t there? Something earthy, mysterious, thought provoking, brave. Today I look out my window at a smoky autumn sky, watching the last courageous leaves flutter in the wind. Change is in the air.

I love change.

I enjoy retreating inward with my thoughts. I dust off my dreams, caress my emotions, and chat with wandering ideas. I get in touch with the girl I used to be and the vision of my future. It’s feels wonderful to curl up inside my head with a comfy blanket of acceptance and breathe the air of change. Oh, summer was wonderful, and spring delightful, but autumn is a time for reflection.

I love questions. They are so empowering.

Where have I come from? Where I am I going? What do I treasure most? Am I honoring my destiny, my hopes, my dreams? Am I honoring my past and my future? Do I know myself? Am I true to my vision?

Am I caught up in the thick of thin things? Am I creating joy? Am I making a difference?

Autumn has many answers, and I go inside to find them. In that sacred space where only I am allowed, I find myself, stripped of worldly nonsense. On this journey I discover many gifts. Joy, love, peace, warmth, trust, desire, and hope, along with child-like delight and wonder.

Such are the gifts of autumn.

May autumn bring you many gifts. May your heart and home be filled with love…to overflowing.

I send you autumn’s warmth, with love.

Linda Garner

Monday, November 8, 2010

Courage Revisited

I am here to report that I have sent out 10 (that’s TEN) query letters. However, it’s only really eight because two of the web sites rejected the email. How do I feel about my accomplishment? About the same; I still don’t have the confidence in myself I want to have. Thank heavens for critique groups. They carry me through this time of personal insecurity.
When I say my affirmations, I feel like Bill Murray in What About Bob. “I feel good; I feel great; I feel wonderful.” But then I don’t really feel that way. So it’s an uphill battle, but I can feel myself inching up the hill. Each day I have a little more confidence than I did the day before.
The thing I come back to again and again is this: The reason I am writing is because I love to write. It is so much fun to craft a story, and the pleasure I get from it is indescribable. I love my characters – from young grade school boys and girls running across the desert or hiding from the Nazis, my first-graders fooling around with their karaoke machine or trying to control their parrot and my preschoolers resisting bedtime or racing with a giraffe across the Savannah. I have so much fun with them all.
What a great blessing it is to be a writer! What a wonderful opportunity to generate something no one has ever thought of before. My stories are what I think about when I have nothing to think about. I can be waiting in a doctor’s office or sitting in traffic and be having the best time of my life making up a story or crafting a scene. Like I’ve said before, maybe I’m crazy. I have relationships with people in my head that no one knows about. What would a “shrink” say about that?
Since I am a retired “shrink,” I can answer my own question. My creativity is fun, healthy, and I’m having a ball – if I can just keep those query letters going out! Another report next week.
Christy Monson
PS If anyone has any great advice, let me know.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Here's to Re-posts and Rejections

Okay, so I'm a little late on getting my bloggy grove back on. So, I'm doing a re-post. 

I wrote this about two years ago (Oh man! Two years?) But I still find it fascinating!

If you haven’t heard the song, Pork and Beans, by the rock band Weezer, you'll need to check it out (embedded above).
“What?” you say, “does Weezer have anything to do with writing?” I will tell you, but first I want to contemplate rejection. *putting hand up to chin in thoughtful pose*

Did you know that Stephen King got so many rejection letters that he nailed them on a spike under a board in his bedroom? 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.”

Dr. Seuss’s work was rejected over fifteen times before he found an editor to even look at his work.

Madeleine L’Engle was rejected by twenty-six publishers before A Wrinkle in Time was picked up. It is now in it’s sixty-ninth printing.

J.K. Rowling was rejected by nine publishers for Harry Potter. Nine times!!!! Wha....?

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!

Which brings me back to the band Weezer.

Weezer was working with a label who wanted them to write catchier songs to make themselves more marketable (according to the producers), and rejected many of the songs they had been working on. Weezer left the them 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.

So here's to rejection!  Whoop! It only leads to success.

Have any of you had a time when you were rejected, but kept working until the fabulous day came?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Use Your Voice

Don't forget to vote.

Today's the Day.

Make a difference.


See you at the polls.

Linda Garner



Are you ever afraid? Well, I am. This entire week I have been arguing with myself about sending out query letters to agents. Elana Johnson’s workshop at the League of Utah Writers Conference on querying was informative and insightful. I have now written about twenty-five drafts of my letter, and I can’t even tell if it’s good or not.

My letter and my synopsis are both ready to go, I guess. So what keeps me from pushing the SEND button? Well, for one thing, if I send the letter and am rejected then I can’t query that agent again. If I don’t send the letter, then maybe that agent would have accepted me if I had sent the letter. (Silly, I know, but it’s in my head.) For another thing, maybe my writing is not very good, and no one will want to read it. If I said this out loud at any of my three critique groups, they would massacre me on the spot. (So I keep quiet.) Here’s another great argument: I’m used to supporting others in becoming successful – like my husband, kids and friends, but not myself. (I know it’s a lame excuse.)

Okay, so I can identify my irrational thinking. But what do I do about it? Here’s my list:

1.      I run my letter and synopsis by my critique group and get their feedback. (Did it.)

2.      I set a goal and tell others about it so I’ll follow through. (I’m sending six letters this week.)

3.      I get support from my friends by letting them know how I feel. (Thanks for listening.)

4.      I keep positive thinking statements pasted on my computer so I can read them and turn my distorted thinking around.

“If you are lucky enough to find something you love, seek the courage to embrace it.”

 “Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage.” Author unknown.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

Christy Monson

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'm a Fool for You...Blogger

"Sucked into the super massive." ~Muse - Super Massive Black Hole

Blogger: Um…soooo…. *longish kind of short pause* Whatcha doin?

Me: *typing away on lappy* My writer’s block is gone, so *shrugging shoulders* I’m writing.

Blogger: Oh. *Another longish pause—a little awkward*

Me: *Still typing*

Blogger: So I haven’t seen you hanging out for a while... It’s like you fell off the internet. *uncomfortable laugh*

Me: *stopping, looking up at Blogger* I really want to get this revising done. I’m on a roll. It should only take me a few days to be caught up.

Blogger: *pursed lips, tone defensive (a little annoying)* You didn’t even say you were unplugging or anything. I mean…what’s up with that?

Me: I wasn’t planning on unplugging, it just kind of happened that way. *putting fingers back on keys, commencing the writing*

Another awkward pause, really…really…realllly long. Blogger looks a little fumed.

Blogger: Be honest. Are you breaking up with me?

Me: What? *surprised at Blogger’s concern…and honestly, a little perplexed*

Blogger: Is it my hair? I knew it! You hate my hair! *little sob*

Me: Ah….no... It’s not your hair. I promise. I’ve just been so busy with the writing that I kind of…haven’t been blogging.

Blogger: So you’re not breaking up with me?

Me: No you silly. I’m not breaking up with you. I’m just unofficially unplugged. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.

Blogger: So we’re okay then. *wiping away a single tear (for dramatic sake)*

Me: Yes, we are just fine. I’ll be back next week.

Blogger: Whew.

Me: So… *making a funny face, not realizing the strangeness of it all* You have hair? Interesting.

Sorry I haven’t been commenting lately my awesome bloggy best friends. My writer’s block has broken and I’m sucked into the super massive writing hole. I promise I’ll be back next week (or the week after…you know. If this writer’s block stays away.)

But before I run off to write, how do you guys deal with writers block? Be honest, do you talk to blogger when it happens?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Voted

It’s that time of year again. Winter? Fall? No, Election time. The time of year when everyone has a voice...if they choose.

I can’t not vote. I have to. People died so I could have that right. I honor their sacrifice with my vote. Voting is easy. Voting intelligently is hard. It’s hard to see through all the rhetoric to the heart of the matter. It’s hard knowing who to believe, who to trust. Even when I study the issues, I don’t always know what is real. Still, I vote. I love having a voice.

I am often an election judge. I have done this for many years. My first election was held in a home and ballots were counted by hand in a back bedroom after hours. We graduated to voting machines where you punched a ballot with a little stylus. Now everything is done electronically and there are policy and procedure changes every election. Everything changes. This is progress.

If only we could see the same kind of changes in the campaigns. I vote for more honesty and integrity. I vote for less name calling and blame. I vote for clean campaigns. I vote for clarity. I vote for accountability. I vote for real change.

My voice and your voice can make a difference.

One week from today I will sit behind the table looking very official, encoding ballots and handing out I Voted stickers. Be sure to stop by and get your own. You’re always in fashion with an I Voted sticker.

Will I see you there?

Linda Garner

Monday, October 25, 2010

On Being a Writer

I love being a writer! I hate being a writer! Have you ever said this to yourself?
Well, I have.
I love sitting at the computer creating a plot. Where will the twists and turns be? How will I craft a satisfying ending? What kind of people will my characters turn out to be? Will I fall in love with them? Will I hate them? I picture a scene in my head. Can I paint vivid word-pictures of it? What details do I want to add? Will there be any subtleties planted that will come to light later in the plot? My mind – no my whole being – is having a great time creating.
A rejection letter comes in the mail. I feel depressed. Obligations tug me away from my computer. No, they drag me from what I love to do. I feel irritated. Several days go by, and I haven’t been able to write. My stomach has a gnawing emptiness in it. The only thing that will fix it is writing, but I can’t today. A story is running over and over in my head. I have to write it down to get it to stop. I haven’t got time. I feel crazy!
I take stock of my situation. I’m depressed from the rejection letter. My stomach aches because I haven’t been writing, and I’m obsessing over a story in my head. I really am crazy!
I can’t go on this way, so I sit down and lay out a plan. My goal: to write as often as I can. It’s a priority, so I write early in the day before distractions overwhelm me. It’s a priority so I’m creative in working it into as much of my day as I can – a notebook in the doctor’s office; my laptop as I wait for a music lesson; a text message on my phone.
I am happy – a little crazy at times, but happy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy 11th Lenny!

Photo from photobucket

Why am I posting a day early? Because today is my bloggy friends 11th B-day!!! 
Happy Birthday Lenny!!!!
If you don't know who Lenny is, please check out his most awesome blog. He is an amazing kid. 

In honor of said b-day, I am serving virtual cake.
Thank you photo bucket for your delicious virtual cake stuffs
So have a slice and wish Awesome Cool Lenny a great b-day.
I hope it's the best year ever!  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Come Sit By Me

Was she a bully? I’m not sure. I can’t remember a single time that she was really mean to me, but it was a long time ago. I remember her as a loner. She didn’t fit in. Didn’t have many friends. Was behind in school. She seemed hard and unfriendly.

One day in the swimming pool she snarled at me and said something rude. I retorted with something equally rude. I think she swore. My friend told the lifeguard, who asked me for details. I don’t know why, but I stretched the truth. I made it sound much worse than it was, and the “bully” was tossed out of the swimming pool, not for just the day, but for the season.

She was a lonely girl with not much going for her. In one thoughtless instant, I made her life worse.

I wish I could take it back.

I don’t know her name, or where she lives, but I wish I could tell her how sorry I am. I wish I could say “Come sit by me.” “Let’s go to lunch.” “Tell me how you’re feeling.” “Let’s go for a walk.” I’d like to show her that people can change. I’d like to make her laugh. I’d like to see her smile.

I don’t know how to reach out to her, but maybe I can reach out to someone else.

Come sit by me.

Linda Garner

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pears and Pictures

I love to watch my children and grandchildren interact with each other. It’s fun to sit back at a family gathering and watch relationships form and strengthen. I’ve been thinking about this because of two incidents that brought it to mind this week.
My mother has a wonderful pear tree that bears the most delicious fruit. When her grandchildren were little, they loved to eat the pears fresh in the fall right from the tree. Now the grandchildren are grown and have children of their own, and they live from the east coast to the west and many places in between. They still talk about Grandma’s pears and how much fun they had picking and eating them. Mother and I decided several years ago, when the kids were complaining about not being there for pear harvest, that we could still continue the tradition. Mother and I now pick the pears and slice them onto the fruit dryer. In a few hours they are ready to mail. I send them to all parts of the country, and in the next several days everyone calls up to say they are sitting on the sofa eating dried pears and loving them. (Everyone, except the missionary in southern Argentina. He didn’t get them yet.) Everybody loves the pears, but more than that, they love the connection with their grandmother.
Our daughter has been scanning the old slides and downloading them onto an internet site so they are available to all the family. She put some of the pictures of extended family gatherings on Facebook and let the relatives know they were there. The cousins have had a good reminiscing about old times and catching up on family news. I know some of them haven’t talked since the last family reunion a couple of years ago.
Did you ever think Facebook would be a blessing in your life? I didn’t, but I do now.
Pears and Pictures have brought us closer together. Think of some of the connecting catalysts in your own family. Share your suggestions.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stinkin' Old Wonderful Corner Thingy

"Do you want this? I'm just going to set it out on the curb and wait to see if someone takes it."

In the back of the truck was an old broken armoire, the special kind that can snuggle in a corner. It was dingy and its cupboard doors were off their hinges, its frame torn from it's center.

Oh yeah! A corner wardrobe thingy. I had always wanted one. I had some tools -hammer, heavy duty staples, varnish, time. Maybe I could fix it up. Even if I couldn't get those doors back on.

So the next day, I got to work. I washed, nailed, re-hinged, added awesome new knobs.

And then it was finished (I even got the doors fixed). 

It turned out better than I thought. It was beautiful. (I cried a little.  I also did a happy dance which turned out more embarrassing than I had planned when the mailman walked in front of my window.)

Today, it sits in my front room corner, hiding all my stuff and making my room actually look clean (I love that! Plus I can hide my chocolate chips in there and NOBODY knows- mwa ha ha). All to the thanks of all my tools. Thanks tools!

Sometimes my wip reminds me of that old broken armoire.  I just want to set it on the corner outside and wait for someone to take it away. But deep down I know it can be fixed. I just need the right tools -crit buddies (super loves ya), revisions, rewrites.

It's going to be beautiful one day. And when it's done-I'm going to set that book down, inside the corner wardrobe thingy, where all my special stuff goes and do a super happy dance. I don't even care if the mailman sees me.

So how about you? How do you feel when you are doing rewrites/revisions? Do you feel like you can do it? do you feel like it's worth it?

p.s. I'm unplugging for a few days. The kids have school off and we are going to party (as long as they call cleaning out their rooms partying. Mwa ha ha)!

Have a great week guys!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting in Character by Christy Monson

I'd like to introduce you to Christy Monson, one of my new writer buddies. Christy did a Guest Blog for us a couple of weeks ago. She's joining our blog as a regular, as soon as we can figure out the technicalities of adding her to our blog. Okay, so Carolyn and I are a little technically challenged. (Where are you, Laura, when we need you.) Christy will post on Mondays, so check back for more from her next Monday. I'll be back again next Tuesday. LG

I attended a workshop with Clint Johnson at the League of Utah Writer’s Roundup in September. He had us write an incident from one character’s point of view, and then he asked us to write the same scene from another character’s point of view. In each exercise, the setting was seen from different eyes. The smells and sounds were different. The voice of each carried a unique view of the world. Internal and external dialogue differed according to the person.

When I write my scenes, do I take time to get into each character’s head to really know their world? Do I really let them have their own thoughts and actions?

Relationships with my characters can be tricky sometimes. It takes time for me to become friends with my characters. And, as friends, sometimes we don’t think alike. We have to discuss issues and come to an agreement, and I’m the one who usually has to ‘listen up.’

For instance, in my novel, CLAWING EAGLE, my main character (a Hopi Indian Youth) and his friend go to the Grand Canyon to capture a young eagle. At first I had them climb down a ledge and throw a blanket over a sleeping eagle, but both the boys let me know that wasn’t how they wanted to catch the bird. Besides, didn’t I know the eagle would fly away. Then I had them throw a net over the raptor when he was eating a rabbit, but that wasn’t right either. They informed me that was how you catch fish. Finally, I contacted a raptor expert who told me exactly how to build a blind to catch the bird. The boys constructed a shallow grave and covered it with pine branches. One of them crawled inside to wait. The other tied a rabbit to the cover. When the eagle dove for the rabbit, the boy inside the grave reached between the branches and caught the eagle’s leg. Both boys liked it, and they were successful.

Go figure! Whatever works, I say.

Christy Monson

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You've Got Syle, Baby

I’m back in school and working on the last of my degree. I hope to be finished by the end of this year of school. (Oh please, please. *fingers crossed*)

I‘m also in the middle of revising my dystopian TORN.

Plus, I post here on my blog. Which I love.  (Love ya blogger buddies!)

The funny thing is…when I write—in my book, for my school projects, on my blog—my tone of writing changes. Yup, my voice changes.

I try to be articulate when I write for school, making sure every word sounds elaborate and knowledgeable. (For example: “The obscure editorial's statistics do not calculate in favor of variation. Therefore, I conclude that it does not work.”)

When I’m writing in my book, I put myself in my character’s head, writing only words and thoughts that she would say. (Like, “Her voice was sweet. Too sweet. And she blinked at him way too many times for her eyeballs to be moistened.” She's a little jealous.)

On my blog, I write in more of myself. I like fun light things, so that’s how I write. (Plus I always add in a little random thought here and there, which sometimes makes no sense at all. But I can do it, because I’m a writer—at least that’s my excuse.)

See? My writing style changes.

I think as writers, when we are looking  more than one character in our wip, we need to look at the style and voice we want to give them. Because no two people are alike, neither are our characters or their circumstances. They talk differently, they act differently. That’s how you can differentiate them and give them style. 

What do you do to make your characters’ voices and style different?

p.s. Thanks Carolyn A (her name totally rocks!) for the awesome Strangely Irresistible ~ Yo Gabba Gabba award! I love it. I will pass it on, hopefully soon. =D

More of God's Post-it Notes

What a busy day. Almost forgot to post these. Enjoy!

Linda Garner

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

God's Post-it Notes

Aren't they cute. I know they're tiny, but if you click on them individually they get bigger. Come back tomorrow for more great thoughts like these.

I hope I don't get in trouble for posting this. It's not my work. It was an email forward. I loved it enough to share it with you. Enjoy. Have an awesome day.

Linda Garner

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Organization, Awards, and Devastating Epidemics

This week I am getting my blog lists organized. Why didn't anyone tell me about Google Reader earlier??? You did? Oh. Well, I love it!  I'm putting all the blogs I follow into little folders so I can find your posts easier. It's awesome.
(If you follow me at Paper and Parchment, please leave a comment so I can follow you! I don't want to leave anyone out!)

I have to thank Quinn for the excellent award! I love the bloggy awards, I need to be better at posting them.
If you haven't read Quinn's blog, check it out (here). Thank you Quinn!

I am passing this award on to a few of my new bloggy buddies:
 Leisha Maw
Lisa M. Potts
Nicole Ducleroir
Terry Lynn Johnson
Ann Best
Charmaine Clancy
Please check out their blogs. They are all going places!

My new bloggy friend Elena Solodow (click here for her excellent blog) has informed me of a terrible epidemic. It' could be raging within your home town right this minute! It's quit frightening-- Please take a look.

(You'll have to go to Elena's blog to view the video. It's awesome! Go do it....) =D
So tell me, what do you think we should do about this awful crisis?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Pillar of Society

The pillar of society. I think it was my mother-in-law that used that term about someone she knew, someone who took a lot of pills. As I grow older, I find myself taking more pills too. Don't worry. All natural stuff. All doctor recommended.

Did you know that magnesium is nature’s tranquilizer, or that arganine prevents stroke? Did you know that niacin strengthens blood vessel walls, or that fish oil fights depression? Did you know that cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar or that carnitine prevents aging. The list goes on and on. Did you know that practically no one in North America gets enough vitamin D from the sun, at least not this far north in North America?

Today as I counted out my pills, I realized that I have arrived. I have become the pillar of society. I guess there are worse things I could be. It seems that there is a pill for everything, at least everything medical. I would like to formulate my own kind of pill to remedy the other ills of my life.

I would like a pill that would help me be kind when I feel irritable, a pill that would motivate me when I am tired, a pill that would help me see a bigger picture, a pill that would make me less selfish and less greedy. How about a pill that would help me balance my budget, stick to my diet, control my temper. Do you see the possibilities?

Always looking for shortcuts, I wonder if we could manufacture a line of writer’s pills. If your manuscript is ailing, we could prescribe the appropriate pill. We could have one for plot problems, another for character development, definitely one for voice, and another for dialogue. With the proper dosage of the appropriate pill, you would know exactly how to nurse your manuscript back to health. Readers would be happy, writers would be ecstatic, and we would be rich.

The "we" I mentioned, is you and I, my faithful readers, because I would let you in on my secret and we could work together and share the profits. We could call our pharmacy Write-Aid, and together we could be the pillars of society.

And if not…there’s always hard work.

Linda Garner

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Forced into Submission. . .

GUEST BLOG POST!!! By my awesome writing buddy Lisa Tolk. Thanks Lisa for joining the fun! =)

Okay, no one actually forces a writer to submit their work to agents and publishers, but when you have captured an idea, worked hard for months (or years!) to get it all down on paper, and actually finished a manuscript that you love and are excited about you want to share it with the world, right? Or at lease have more than three people who aren’t related to you read it.

Which brings us to the submission process. It’s hard. It’s not pretty. It’s frustrating. But it has to be done. I love the writing part. I like to research things I don’t know much about and include them in my story. I like to find a fantastic word to describe an image. I like to try to bring my characters to life and have them sneak into my head while doing laundry or taking a shower or listening to my kids. (okay maybe that last one is inappropriate, but it happens.) But submitting my manuscript is a major pain! Every agent wants something different. This one wants only a query letter. That one wants a query letter, synopsis, and one chapter. This one wants the first five pages posted in an e-mail. That one doesn’t accept e-mail , wants the first three chapters, minus the query letter but with a cover letter and needs an SASE. It makes my head spin just writing about it.

So, I have a couple of tips that have helped me in this process because I have been learning some things as I go. First, there a lot of helps online. My fellow writer and friend, Carolyn, (who also happens to contribute to this blog) introduced Query tracker to me, which is a great site to get organized. I also have purchased the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market guide on selling your manuscript and it lists all of the agents and publishers, what they’re accepting, how to submit, etc. It also has lots of good tips on the publishing world. Because I am a visual person, I still like to write down on paper which agents I’m contacting, the details of what they need, when I sent it, and check things off as I go. That doesn’t work for everyone, but it has helped me. I also created several files in my computer that have different lengths of my story so that I can get things together quickly and more easily when I submit.

For example, I have a file with just the first chapter, one with just the first five pages, the first three chapters, and so on. That way, when an agent asks for a certain length, it’s only a click away. Then I have a couple of different lengths of synopses, depending on what is asked for, a query letter that can be adapted, and a formatted cover letter. Before I did this it was like starting over every time I wanted to submit to an agent. To have all of these options in one place and be able to just copy and paste or print them out when needed has been a great help for me to stay organized and save a lot of time in this dreaded process we call submitting your work. I hope this helps!

Now I’m going to go buy myself a cheeseburger because I just wrote my first blog!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


First I should tell you I have not read this book. But there is a ton of controversy about it lately because a parent wants it banned. All I can tell you, is look into it yourself and find out how you feel about it.

All I can say is, "wow."

Please come back on Saturday. We have an awesome guest blogger! 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Here's to Feedback

Feedback. Gotta love it. That's why I love having a critique group. Feedback. As a writer it's hard to catch everything. I'm good with voice, but sometimes miss important details. I'm also inclined to overwrite. I say too much. As a picture book writer, I've had to work at being succinct. When it feels just right to me, I need to start cutting. At first it seems impossible, and then as I trim away the fat and make the story lean, I am amazed at how much stronger it becomes. Sometimes I don't see the fat, until someone else mentions it.

I've had to develop the ability to take honest feedback. People are sometimes reluctant to give honest comments. They don't want to hurt my feelings. It can be hard at times, because we become so attached to our words. It's easy to take it personally and to become defensive. When I feel defensive, I know that I'm missing the point. I try to be still and just listen. If it doesn't feel right at first I wait, because often they're right.

Honest feedback is priceless. I take every comment seriously, because it represents what an editor may notice or what readers may feel. Not every comment drives me to revisions, but every comment deserves reflection. I don't want someone to make me feel good, I want honesty.

I think L. C. Lewis, author of the awesome Free Men and Dreamer series, showed great insight in the following comment.

"I am always amazed how six or seven different people can read the same
manuscript and pick out different errors no one else saw. Also, their
questions and insights tighten up the books. I have a pool of people I
use. Some are better at grammar and punctuation, catching errors there.
Some read just to give me a barometer on the story's quality.

I ask them to give me three basic bits of feedback, each on a scale of 1
to 5--- Did the story hold your interest? Was it easy to follow? Was it
well-edited. Chapters that get consistent fives I feel good about and
leave alone. Chapters that score weaker numbers send me back for some

They've saved me a number of times, noticing some small story element I
missed, or an inaccuracy. I appreciate their feedback so much."

I love my awesome critique groups. Here's to Feedback.

Linda Garner

P.S. To find out more about Laurie Lewis and her books visit

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Here's to Rejection guest blog by Christy Monson

Have you ever written something that editors reject and tell you to rewrite? Well, I have. I’ve just finished an early chapter book about Brigham Young. Editors say they want a rewrite. I’m now in the process of modernizing it and sticking some ‘electronic-age’ into it.

The thing that has been interesting to me is that there is a grieving process that goes with letting the old manuscript rest, hidden in the documents of my computer. I am sad to not spend time with it every day. It’s almost as if it had a life of its own, and we were very good friends. It has moved on and so have I.

At first the new manuscript and I didn’t know if we even liked each other. We struggled to get to know one another and begin our friendship. We are better acquainted now and find each other more than tolerable at this point. The story is showing me the way to go, and I’m getting to like it.

I still grieve for my old friend, for it is part of me and I’m part of it. My life is better for having connected with it, and I’m grateful. Sadness still cradles itself in my heart, but it lessens as the days go by.

So here’s a tribute to my rejected writing. I am better for having written. And happy that the manuscript and I can look at the synergism that we created and know we are both standing on higher ground.

Christy Monson, Prophets in Person

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's Catching Like Fire

"Like everybody else, when I don't know what else to do, I seem to go in for catching colds." ~George Jean Nathan

Everything’s fuzzy-my head, my hearing, my nose. Yes my friends, I tried to escape it with mega doses of vitamin C, but…it got me. I have a cold.

And not just any cold. It’s the kind that makes you write really boring stuff. The kind that won’t let you think of any kind of awesome action scene, because…let’s face it…I am just too tired to think of fast paced things right now when all I want to do is crawl under the covers and wish this cold away.

And the comments I’m leaving. Oh, why aren’t they more clever? More brilliant? Well, who can be brilliant with wads of tissue sticking out from their nostrils?

So my friends, if I sound too senseless or if I’m late checking out your posts this week, just remember…I am infested. And be careful, I hear it’s catching on.

So tell me, do you still write when you are sick? Do you sit next to your computer with a roll of t-p wads in your hand like me?

p.s. Sara B. Larson gave me a wonderful award this week. Thanks so much Sara (it’s already in my little award pictures)! You totally rock! Please check out her blog and pass on the bloggy love (not the awful colds). (Sorry Sara, I had that e and o mixed up--silly alphabet).

Have a great week everyone.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Where's That Broom?

Ever have one of those seasons when everything goes wrong? When people disappoint you, friends abandon you, and rejection is around every corner. When your best efforts are criticized, what do you do? When your dreams go up in smoke, and you are left holding ashes, how do you cope?

What are the signs of depression? Loneliness and isolation? Sleeping too much, or not sleeping at all? Overeating, or can’t choke anything down? Tired and achy? Feeling flat? No energy? No interest in….much of anything?

I had a dear friend who had her share of depression. She once said something profound about it. She’s gone now, and I don’t remember her exact words, but here’s the idea:

We think that depression is a negative thing, but really it’s a chance to go inside and reflect. It’s a chance to enter our mind and heart, find out what we’ve stored there, and get rid of things we no longer need. It’s a chance to get to know ourselves better and to do some deep cleaning.

I think I’ll go inside for a bit and wander about. It seems a little dusty in here. There are cobwebs in the corners, and crumbs underneath the tables. What was that I once heard about “a heart swept clean and garnished?” I need a broom.


Linda Garner

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where are the Plot Holes People?

Do you know what really makes me mad?

When you go to a movie, all prepared to pick said movie apart, and there are NO PLOT HOLES!!! What's up with that? I want plot holes people, poor writing, people screaming through the water (because some people forget humans can’t breath hundreds of feet under the ocean). I was truly disappointed.

We took our kids to a movie (I won’t mention which one) and it was good. I mean, the beginning was action packed, the loose ends were all tied up. What is with that?

I wasn’t disappointed at all! Which…is kind of disappointing. j/k

But honestly, there was one thing that came to mind as I was watching "no-plot-hole" movie. You can learn a lot about writing when watching the cinema.

For instance:

Does the movie catch your attention at the beginning?

Do you find your mind wandering in the middle of an “important” scene?

What about the ending, does it leave you feeling, “Oh yeah! AWESOME!” or “Why didn't she just pick up that stick and beat the bad guy with it?" Come on lazy girl! (That one always drives me crazy.)

What about the tension? Does the movie start with little tension and grow as the story continues (You know, do they make their character climb a tree and then start throwing rocks at them? Or do they just throw the rocks in the tree and forget the main character?)

Writing has the exact same elements:
good beginning,
moving middle,
realistic actions
disaster to make the plot great (because no one remembers the fun happy picnic in a story. They remember the picnic when the ants came and ate all the potato chips, which made Little Tommy run over to shoo them away, but instead he tripped and fell over Great Aunt Edna's famous chocolate fudge cake, *gasping for air to keep reading* thus imposing a trip to the hospital where the huge family fight broke out because no one remembered setting Great Aunt Edna's cake on the ground in the first place...That's what the reader will remember--btw, please don't use run on sentences in your writing. They are so hard to read (I'm totally out of breath now).

Okay there you have it. You can learn a lot from the movies and the movie doesn't even have to even be bad.

So what have you learned from the movies lately that can help out a fellow writer?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It Happened Again

It happened again. I have a weakness in my lower back and once in a while it goes a little nuts, and puts me in misery for a few days. When this happens I avoid sitting and start doing my back exercises. If it doesn’t clear up right away, I see my chiropractor which really speeds up the process.

My husband has a little pickup which he dearly loves. It’s handy for all kinds of odd jobs. I don’t enjoy driving it, though, because of my short legs. It puts a lot of stress on my lower back. On Saturday I needed to drive the pickup twice, both short distances. On Sunday, I noticed that my back was wigging out. I know the drill. Avoid sitting. Back Exercises. Rest up.

Of course my chiropractor wasn’t available on Sunday or Labor Day, and to make matters worse he isn’t open on Tuesdays either. I can rest some today, but tomorrow my day starts early and I have lots planned. I wonder how early I can see my chiro.

My chiropractor has told me that I should do those back exercises every day, not just when I’m in pain. Prevention, you know. Maintenance. It’s such a good idea, but one I’ve never really adopted.

There are lots of good habits I could adopt: the habit of reserving judgment; the habit of complimenting others; the habit of reaching out to the lonely.

For my writing, I need good habits, too. I need to write a little every day. It isn’t always easy, but it really strengthens my writing when I work at it consistently. Reading is a must, too. I read differently now. I still read for enjoyment, but I’m also on the lookout for good technique. I ask a lot of questions. What makes this exciting to read? How did the author keep that a secret? What makes this character so interesting? So loveable? So human? When does the author get my attention?

Besides polishing manuscripts, I sometimes enjoy writing exercises, such as: Write ten first lines. Write about a time when you felt afraid. Alone. Sad. Confident. Write about someone who made a difference in your life. Write about something that makes you angry. Write a letter to someone you love. Write a letter to someone who is dead?

Good habits can make a difference. What habits would like to adopt?

Linda Garner

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's a Party, a Party, Pary Weekend

Hi everybody! Karen G. is hosting a great party over on her blog. What a great idea! I'm bringing virtual cookies and blogging about keeping a positive attitude. This is so we can meet new awesome bloggy writers, so please check her site for more details.

Okay, the positive attitude thing is... hard. If you read my post this Monday, I kind of left you hanging. Things didn't go quite as I had planned. The national editor wasn't taking any new clients and the other was sick. So I was sent to a well known local publisher who said they wanted my ms, but they informed me they don't publish dystopian.

I was torn. Should I cry because the opportunity I had been working towards wasn't going to happen? Or should I cry because I was finally picked. I did the later. I was so thrilled just to know I had the talent to do it. All I had left to do was polish and query.

Sometimes things don't go the way we envisioned them. Sometimes plans are changed. Sometimes we don't think we can live up to the potential. It gets discouraging, but I believe there is always hope, if we just keep keepin' on.

But how do we keep our chins up as writers? I'm forming a list. So far this is what I have:

1. Eat lots of chocolate (or twizzlers if you aren't a fan of chocolate...although I'm pretty sure chocolate cures anything..except for finding lost shoes. Chocolate never helps with that).

2. Listen to songs that make you want to go out and get it! (Pork & Beans by Weezer, Something Good Can Work by Two Door Cinema.  *grinning* Oh there are just so many good ones I can't list them all!)

3. Spend time discussing (yelling, crying, gnashing of teeth, a little nose blowing) said discouragement with a trusted writing buddy. Writing friends know how it feels. They really do. Most of them have all been there.

 4. Stop whining and start writing. (That's my big one. I took drama as a teen. I can wallow with the best of them.) 

There are my top four. Do you guys have any other suggestions? I'd love to know what helps you get over the writer blues.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lost in the Frenzy of Summer, Looking for Time

Yes, I am back. I've been so busy with summer, I cut down to only posting on my personal blog, but I am back now. And interested in talking writing!

Let's talk time. Time has been my biggest deterrent when it comes to writing. I find things getting in my way: eating, sleeping and the occasional homework assignment (silly college).

How do I overcome the lack of writing time? Here are some suggestions from me and a few of my writer buddies:

1. Block out a chunk of time and use that time only for writing/revising (and the occasional snack eating).
2. Take the lappy with you when you are picking up children. You can get a ton of writing in when you are just sitting. 
3. Write after/before the kids are in/out of bed. The house is quiet and there are no worries.
4. Write on your break at work or for 30 minutes after work.

Each of these methods have worked for published writers I personally know. I mean really? Writing when picking up the kids? Genius!

I personally prefer number one. Blocking out time has allowed me to focus on the writing and get things done. Plus I feel a sense of accomplishment after doing so.

Any other suggestions? What's worked for you?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Garden of Love

My Grandmother's Old Fashioned Garden
Author unknown

My grandmother dear
Has a garden,
Old fashioned and quaint
As can be
The flowers so rare,
That none can compare,
'Neath the plum and apricot
And cherry tree.

Would you like me to
Show you the garden?
Then follow me now
And we'll go
'Round the old grape-vine arbor,
Back of the walk,
Where the birds and the butterflies
And flowers grow.

The daisies and lilies
Are telling
Of grandmother's kind,
Tender care
Sweet william and peas,
Heliatrope and heartsease,
And violets, modest
'Tho fragrant and fair.

I still long for
My grandmother's garden;
With hollyhocks,
Stately and tall
And sometimes in my dreams
I see her, it seems,
My dear grandmother
Standing there close to the wall.

In my grandmother's
Old fashioned garden,
There are flow'rs
Of every hue
Daffodils, pansies,
And hyacinths
And old fashioned pinks
Are there too.

I belong to
My grandmother's garden,
I was picked
From the family tree;
So out in my grandmother's
Old fashioned garden,
If you come there
You will find me.

I was taught to sing this song when I was very young. It was appropriate. My grandmother had a way with flowers. Fragrant lilacs bordered her patio and her zinnia garden was enchanting. Other wonderful flowers graced her yard. I remember watching her make dolls and dresses from Hollyhocks. Her brilliant peonies belonged in a Queen’s garden. I could imagine myself a queen when I walked among them. The pinks and sweetpeas she had likely borrowed from the fairies. Among those fairy flowers lived gnomes and forest creatures which gave our childish imaginations wings. I don’t know where Grandma purchased the little garden statues that I loved so, but I never outgrew their charm. Grandma’s garden was a magical place and I loved being there.

I loved all of Grandma’s flowers, but my personal favorites were the bleeding hearts. They bloomed in early spring. The heart shaped blossoms that hung from delicate lacy looking plants were delightful. I couldn’t get enough of them. I was always sorry when they disappeared in the summer heat. My mother borrowed starts of bleeding hearts for her yard. When I was married and had a home of my own, Grandma was gone and I asked Mother for starts.

My shovel wielding Dad was the one who dug the starts and brought them to me. Mother gasped when she saw how many he had dug. No matter, there were plenty to go around. I planted every start. I couldn’t wait for spring and the appearance of the delicate hearts.

The odd thing about my bleeding hearts, is they never grew in the same place twice. In my mother’s garden, I think they did. I suppose that they behaved themselves in Grandma’s garden. In my garden, though, they had a mind of their own. Since bleeding hearts love shade, I had envisioned them filling a shady spot underneath the eaves. Yet, invariably they chose a variety of random spots to make their appearance. It seems that my particular bleeding hearts prefer sun. For years I dutifully dug them up and transplanted them to my selected shady space. Eventually, I gave in to them, and allowed them free reign of the yard.

A few years ago friend-husband and I moved to Arkansas for a couple of seasons. We rented our home to newlyweds. Not knowing how I cherished the bleeding hearts, they made some changes to our garden. The bleeding hearts were gone. In their place was a bark covered mat, the kind that doesn’t let in light and doesn’t allow weeds, or bleeding hearts, to grow. I’m a big girl, but there was a little ache in my heart at the loss of the bleeding hearts. Oh, I knew I could buy more, but it wouldn’t be the same as having a bit of my Grandmother’s garden.

To my delight, a few brave bleeding hearts eventually grew somewhat sideways out from under the edges of the mat. I carefully transplanted them in friendlier territory. Today they flourish, a lovely gift from my gentle grandma. Was it she who coaxed them to grow from under the mat?

My Grandma’s name was Sarah. Recently I read that her mother, Maraldia, loved bleeding hearts. Perhaps Sarah’s starts came from Maraldia’s garden. And who knows where Maraldia got hers. Maybe the hearts I grow are older than I imagined. Maybe their roots are deep and sure as I want my roots to be. I am connected by birth to women that I admire and love. Some of them I scarcely knew, yet we share many things. In fact, we even share a garden, a garden of love.