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?