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