Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Witness

Ah,summer. Backyard barbecues. Fresh veggies from the garden. Colorful days and starlit nights. Children's laughter. Tangy lemonade. Rhubarb pie.

We spent a summer in Arkansas, where forest was everywhere. Even in the city we were surrounded by gracious trees. We walked daily near a friendly stream where fireflights and locusts entertained us and shy forest creatures sometimes said hello. It was a magic place, and one magic summer day I created this poem.

Summer Witness

What could be so pleasant as a peaceful summer day,
When life slows down a little bit and troubles melt away.
The sun’s a ball of butter and the earth is dressed in green,
While overhead the sky’s the bluest sea you’ve ever seen.
Now and then a puffy cloud floats across the sky,
And all around are buzzing things and things that flutter by.
The stream is just a trickle as it gurgles in its play.
The sleepy river lazily meanders on its way.
The heady smell of blossoms comes softly on the breeze
And all the woodland creatures take refuge in the trees.
Surrounded by this beauty and the joy that’s in the air,
Why do some folks wonder if God is really there?

What could be so pleasant as a starlit summer night,
Watching fireflies dance and flicker underneath the moon so bright,
Stepping in and out of shadows made by giants dressed in green,
Watching for the bashful creatures which by day are seldom seen,
Listening to the chicka chicka of the locust’s rhythmic song,
And the chirping of the crickets, as night birds sing along.
Though the earth is far from quiet, there’s a stillness in the air.
My heart is filled with gratitude. I bow my head in prayer.
I listen for the answer. It comes soft as summer rain.
It warms me and it softens me and fills my heart again.
As summer’s warmth enfolds me, I’m surrounded by His love,
And I know that He cares for me from His heavenly home above.

Linda Garner

Monday, June 27, 2011

Secondary Characters

Sometimes secondary characters are complicated. They can be anything from pasty, cardboard characters to complete scene-stealers. I have had both of these pop up in my writing, along with everything in between. So are there any rules to govern these illusive people? Is there a guide line for us to follow?
In Kathleen Duey’s workshop (see last week’s blog) she talked about these tricky people. Once-in-a-while she’ll have a secondary character enter a story and steal the show. She gave the example of a man supposedly passing by along the street. He came around the corner with a hunch back and a limp. All eyes in the scene turned to him, so she had to cut him. Probably more common is the best friend of the protagonist that is so funny or so emotional or so needy that he or she steals the show from the main character. Kathleen’s solution to this dilemma is to make a deal with this character to give them a work of their own in the future, if they’ll behave in this setting. (She says it works.)
One of the writers in our critique group is finishing a middle-grade novel. The brother of the protagonist is the cutest, funniest boy you would ever want to meet. He comes up with belly-laughing lines that stop the show. Kids will identify with him immediately. The writer has to be careful that he doesn’t steal the show.
Kathleen gave several guidelines for writers to follow so this doesn’t happen. Secondary characters are to:
1.       expose the protagonist;
2.      explain the protagonist and his predicament;
3.      deepen the protagonist’s character.

Good guidelines for me to follow. Check out the secondary characters in your stories. Do they follow these rules? Maybe there are others? Let me know what you think?
Christy Monson

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Miss You Blogger

I know, I know, I know…I haven’t been blogging for like…forever! 
But I have good reasons. I really do.

1.      Spent last week in Capital Reef. And can I say?  Beautiful!!! (Although the six mile hike nearly killed me).

2.      I am on my last class for school. Yes….last class! I just have to get one more research paper ironed out and I’m good (and then I can have proof that I’m smart. Take that fifth grader! )

3.      Good news on the ms. But I can’t say anything yet. But don’t worry. I’ll let everyone know when the time comes (I’m even planning on calling strangers to give them the good news…unless it turns out bad. Then I’m just going to prank call them.)  

So please be patient with me for a few more weeks and I’ll be back to blogging and commenting up a storm. But I miss you bloggy friends. *wiping away tear*

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Under God?

Have you heard about NBC's outrageous portrayal of The Pledge of Allegiance?

On Sunday they opened their coverage of the US Open Golf Tournament with a patriotic piece. It could have been so meaningful, but conspicuously absent were the words Under God, not once but twice.

Click here to watch the clip and their superficial apology.

If you would like to express your outrage for their deliberate misuse of the Pledge, here is some contact info for you.

National Broadcasting Company, Inc.
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

Chris McCloskey - V.P., Communications
NBC Sports
(212) 664-5598

I don't know about you, but I'd like to keep God around.

Linda Garner

Monday, June 20, 2011

Your Characters

I just got back from Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop in Salt Lake City. I learned many wonderful things from the presenters there, and it was a great experience.
I attended a workshop with Kathleen Duey one afternoon, and I’m so glad I did. She has written for the children’s and the young adult market. She also critiques for  SCBWI every year, and says she finds the same mistakes over and over. Shallow writing with too much “dull stuff.” Her latest works are dark fantasy, which I’m really not interested in reading, but her approach to character is fascinating.
She interviews all her characters very thoroughly at first and keeps a record of it on the computer. Sometimes the interviews are long and sometimes short. She talks with them until she has their story, their inner-most thoughts and their desires. Then she begins to write her book. She lets the protagonist tell his or her story.
She used to outline, but now lets the characters lead the way. If she has someone that tries to take over the scene, she highlights their part, copies and pastes it into another file for later and gets someone else for the part. She directs the action, but lets it flow as the protagonist wishes. It makes for a more powerful story.
She does the same thing with dialogue. She begins by writing just the dialogue. Then she adds the physical setting and grounding, and, lastly, puts in the tags.
I’m going to try her method. I think it will make a much more authentic story. What do you all think? I’m also going to read some of her books—maybe not the recent dark fantasy. But I’ll get the others. Have you read any of her writing?
Christy Monson

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Enjoy the View

We're getting new windows. It's exciting. They started the work yesterday. The look is nice, but I especially love the view. Everything looks crisper...clearer. I have a new outlook. A new perspective.

It reminds me of point of view in writing. Point of vew is the unmistakeable privilege of getting inside a character's head and taking a snapshot of his or her thoughts.

This rarely happens in TV or movies. It is a writer's best friend. I think of it as my secret weapon.

Good writing usually has just one point of view. Some writers use more, but it's hard to pull off. You need more than a point and click camera for this.

When point of view is muddy the writing is not clear. Clean up the point of view and the writing becomes sharper. The story comes into focus. It's like getting new windows. Everything clears up.

Point and click. Enjoy the view.

Now if only these new windows would wash themselves.

Linda Garner

Monday, June 13, 2011

More Social Networking and Marketing

I went to a workshop on Friday at Cedar Fort Publishing. I learned a lot more about social networking. Nate Moller from Moller Marketing conducted the workshop. We learned how to find the best ‘add words’ on google. We learned the difference between ‘buyer phrases’ and ‘browser phrases.’ If you want to sell your book, browser phrases won’t cut it. We learned about “allintitle” add words, and the list goes on and on. Check Nate out. I'm sure he's willing to come do workshops, and I know he does onlinewebinars. His presentation was great!

I thought I was pretty good at facebook, but I’m not. Creating a fan page was lots of fun. Have you ever done that? It’s not hard. I have to go back and look at my notes and practice all this. But, you know, I was really overwhelmed by it all at first, but I’m getting better at it. Maybe by “baby-stepping” along, I’ll get there. Find me on my facebook fan page. I’d love to have you join. Ask me questions in a couple of days—after I’ve put my notes into practice. If I know the answer, I’ll help you any way I can.

Join me also on Goodreads. Now there’s a site that I love. That is one of the most fun things I’ve done in a long time. What a great way to connect with others. I adore reading anyway, and I’m glad to connect with friends who do also. I love their suggestions and am finding lots of new books to read.

Twitter is still not my strong suit, but I’m learning. I know what a “hash tag” is now, and maybe I know how to use one. Follow me, and I’ll follow you back.
Social networking is a new life that I’m sandwiching in with my other lives. It’s getting to be a lot of fun!! Happy networking.
Christy Monson

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I'm Possessed with Possession

I'm late on commenting today. Not because I don't want to, but because I'm captivated!!!

You see, last night I went to Elana Johnson's book launch of POSSESSION!!! (It was superly-awesome-ness!)

So...You'll have to forgive me ...

(I know, I've posted Julian before, but the video is so awesome. I couldn't resist)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Everyone Has a Rejection File

I heard that Shannon Hale saved all her rejections and had them laminated into one long ribbon. She rolls it up and takes it with her when she does school presentations. My friend told me that when she unrolled that paperwidth ribbon, it ran the entire length of the gym.

I have lots of orphan manuscripts. Picture books are a hard sell, so it's hard to stay motivated about submitting. I write a lot, but am sporadic about submitting. I want to send one submission a week, but it's easy to get sidetracked.

I get the nicest rejection letters. I don't save them all, but maybe I should. Rejection doesn't depress me, but it doesn't motivate me either. Maybe whenever I receive a rejection, I should send two submissions instead of one. If it's a really nice rejection letter, I could send three.

I read yesterday that everyone has a rejection file. I guess I'd better get started on mine.

Off to submit.

Linda Garner

My article called "His Grace is Sufficient" runs today in Your LDS Neighborhood. It's a compelling look at sexual abuse. You can get a sneak peek at it by clicking here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Seeing the World

I just read Kate DiCamillo’s web site. (I am looking at web sites to see how I want mine to be.) She describes a writing class she took in college. Her professor read her essay and asked the class what was remarkable about it. He said it wasn’t the writing; it was the seeing that made Kate’s work stand out. She took time to really see the person she wrote about. He went on to say that it was the responsibility of every writer to see the world they wrote about.
Did Kate do that with Because of Winn Dixie, Mercy Watson, and the other books she has written? I think she has. In Winn Dixie there are lonely children and even lonelier adults. We know this because Kate takes time to show us the characters. They become real to us because Kate sees them and tell us about them.
At critique group the other night part of my feedback consisted of:
Let us see the countryside
What are the characters thinking?
How do they feel?
I was not seeing my writing as clearly as I could. I’ve gone back and redone the pages. I hope I don’t make the same mistakes again, but I’m a slow learner and seem to need to be told over and over. (I hope I’m getting better.)
So here’s to Seeing the World! Let’s each set a goal to see the world in our writing.
Thanks Kate for your advice. Point is well-taken.
Christy Monson

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lenny-Lee Fest

It's no surprise that this sunshine:

represents an amazing 11 year-old named Lenny. If you don't know who I am talking about, you can go meet him HERE. 

Here's to you Lenny. May your sunshine always find a space in our hearts. <3

Thursday, June 2, 2011

E-books vs. Traditional -- Let the Battle Begin *ding*

So there's been a lot of hoopla over publishing in the last few months with e-publishing vs. traditional.

Some say that e-books are the wave of the future. But to be honest,I've read some pretty awful self published books out there.

I, myself, have always had the goal to get an agent and a publish the traditional way, but I have very close friends who plan the e-publishing route.

I am curious to know how other writers are feeling about this. Do you plan to e-publish? Publish traditionally? Why?

Let's here your opinion and/or plans for publishing.

(If you are at Paper and Parchment, please drop over to my personal blog Checkerboard Squares to see the running comments. Click Here)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Time Out

You probably noticed I didn't post yesterday. I think it's a first. I am spending the week with my adorable grandkids. Hiking, reading, movies, games. They live in Idaho and I don't get to see them often enough.

Catch you later.

Linda Garner