Monday, January 31, 2011

Main Character’s Self-Revelation

I’ve just started writing a new novel, and I’ve been reading John Truby’s The Anatomy of a story. He says that at the end of a story the main character needs to have a self-revelation. And I should to start backwards from the self-revelation and decide what my character’s weakness and need are. Truby feels that the protagonist ought to have a psychological weakness and a moral weakness.
The psychological weakness just affects the hero, but the moral weakness affects others. In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennett is ‘proud’ of her intelligence (psychological weakness) and quick to judge others (moral weakness). Her opponent, Mr. Darcy, has his own pride, and because of his wealth and the social strata of society is also prejudiced.
As they interact through the story, first they become aware of each other’s flaws and then each becomes aware of their own flaws. Their self-revelation brings them together in the end, and each has experienced an “Ah-ha” moment. (I have also been noticing that there is an “Ah-ha” moment in picture books. There’s so much I don’t know.)
I think I have a handle on this concept, but I’m not sure. I’d like your input as to other examples. Think of other stories that we all know. What is the main character’s psychological weakness? How is that different from his moral weakness? What about the opponent? Does he or she also have a psychological and moral weakness? Truby says that a strong opponent gives you a better story.
I also struggle with showing, rather than telling the reader about my characters. Ahhhh, what fun! Don’t you love it? I do.
Happy writing! Christy

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Warning...You Might Want to Rethink that Title. Just Saying.

Hey guys. 

Well, my littlest decided it was a good idea to jump from the top of his bunk bed yesterday. 

Needless to say....he broke his foot. 

So, today I am carrying him from room to room --since he can't figure out the crutches thing (he thinks they're lightsabers and keeps waving them at his siblings mumbling things about not being the droids they are looking for. Whatever that's about ). So I thought I'd re-post something from years past.  

I'm hoping next week we will talk about conferences, because I'm making my list (and checking it twice)! 

I’ve been sitting her typing nothing for twenty minutes. So I got to thinking, does a title of a book mean that much to the content of a book? Possibly. I mean, what if:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was Chuck and his Culinary Assembly Plan, or even better… Chocolate and the Charlie Factory (I'd totally eat read that book).

The Twilight Saga was changed to The Very Sparkly Vegetarian Vampire Series (very fitting).

A Christmas Carol was changed to Merry Terror Christmas Stories for the Whole Family.

The Lord of the Rings was Circular Metal Devices of Theocrats and the Short Men who Love Them.

I guess that is why titles can change before they are published. That way the reader will (hopefully) be caught by the title of a book and pluck it off the shelf to take home. I mean, would you really want to read The Little Boy with Some Lightening Scar Thingy on His Head? Just not as catchy as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. that I read it again....

Have a great week everyone (and I don't want to hear about any of you jumping from the tops of the bed. Seriously. One broken foot is enough).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Forget All the Rules

Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing. Melinda Haynes

Celebrate writing. What an awesome thought. I really do love to write.

Forget all the rules. When I first began to write, I had no idea what the rules were. I knew a little about grammar and I knew what sounded good to me on paper and what felt good on my tongue when I rolled words around inside my mouth. I’m learning every day, but I still write mostly from instinct.

In truth, I broke a lot of the publishing rules when I wrote Some Secrets Hurt. Some I broke on purpose, others accidentally. Maybe it goes without saying that writing about sexual abuse is taboo. Sexual abuse is a taboo subject. No one wants to talk about it. Let’s pretend it isn’t happening. Let’s ignore it and maybe it will go away. I knew that finding a publisher for sensitive material could be difficult, but I knew what I had to do. I had to write Some Secrets Hurt. It was calling to me.

Picture books are 32 pages. Almost always. Some Secrets Hurt is 64. That’s practically unheard of. That part I didn’t know. Now I not only had to find a publisher who would publish taboo material, but they had to publish it on 64 pages.

My illustrator hadn’t published a book either, so maybe she didn’t know about the 32 page rule. She could have made it 32 pages, but she made it 64. Each of her illustrations are so meaningful and so well matched to the text that 32 pages would have really diluted the impact of the book. Brandilyn went on her instincts too, which proved to be very powerful.

Illustrators are always chosen by the publisher. Always. Sending illustrations with the text to publishers is a big no no. Most publishers will not even look at author/illustrator combinations. I actually knew about this rule, but was drawn to Brandilyn. We had just met, and I knew she was right for the book. I knew it could hurt my chances of being published, but I had to go with my instincts.

I was concerned about finding a publisher who wouldn’t dilute my message. I was concerned that a publisher might want to sugar coat the message or water it down. I knew that the message was inspired. The text and the illustrations were inspired. I knew that Brandilyn and I had gotten it right. I didn’t want some publisher changing it up.

We were so blessed to connect with Shadow Mountain, and Chris Schoebinger who believed in the message and gave us a team of creative giants who brought the book to life. They didn’t change the message or the words. They loved the illustrations. They were true to our vision and they agreed to market the book very close to cost so that every family in America could afford to have this book in their home.

There was just one little problem. They didn’t have advertising dollars to spend on this book. Advertising sells books. There is only one way that this incredibly important book can change lives. That is if we can get it into the hands of those who need it most. Parents, children, families, teachers, and don’t forget teenagers.

Most people haven’t heard about Some Secrets Hurt. They don’t know that it can protect and empower the children we love. They don’t know that this little book can help to prevent sexual abuse. They don’t know that their children could be at risk. They don’t know that Some Secrets Hurt should be in every home.

How can we spread the word? Word of mouth. That’s how to do it. Please tell everyone you know about the little book with the big message. Some Secrets Hurt.

Do it Today.

Linda Garner

Monday, January 24, 2011

Starting Over :{

Alright, so here I am starting over on my goals, and I need your advice. (It’s the first of the year and time to regroup!) Last fall I sent out about 15 agent queries for my middle grade Native American novel. I started with it, over my other writing, because it won second place in the State of Utah writing contest for children. I thought that would help sell an agent on it. I got several nice rejections, but many of the agencies have a no-response policy and I heard nothing.
The agents who did reply said they didn’t think they could sell the story about a Native American boy in the desert southwest. I can see their point. In this day and age of fantasy, science fiction and werewolves, an Indian story is not at the top of the selling lists.
So, I have a couple of questions for you.
1.      What should I query next? A middle grade WWII ghost story? (I know it sounds weird, but it’s really pretty good.) I also have some easy readers and a couple of picture books that have won League of Utah writer contests. Maybe I ought to give up on these stories and write a werewolf one, but I’m just not into that.
2.      Is it in poor taste to query agents who didn’t respond to my last query or should I stick to other agents?
Thanks in advance for your suggestions. I really don’t know what to do. I am really looking forward to Clint Johnson’s publication workshop at LDS Storymakers, but I may not wait for his answers. I’ll take your advice and keep on ‘truckin.’
Christy Monson

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tell Your Teacher Friends

I had a great visit last month with a bunch of third graders. I took a stack of picture books with me and talked to them about writing picture books. I showed them my picture book, Some Secrets Hurt, and told them about getting it published. We talked about the elements of a good story.

I read Grudge Rock to them. That’s one of my orphan manuscripts. (Hasn’t been adopted yet.) They were awesome. After we talked about the story, I asked them to help me illustrate it. Here are some of their pictures.

Aren’t these pictures awesome! The first one shows Walker at the drinking fountain noticing that his pebble has grown. In the second one Walker pretends to barf behind Jake the Snake's back. The third picture shows Walker avoiding Jake on his way home. His backpack is killing him. Wonder why?

Besides writing, we also talked about grudges, hurt feelings, getting along, kindness. Good stuff.

I love school visits. Tell all your teacher friends. Who knows, when Grudge Rock gets adopted maybe these pictures will be worth something.

Linda Garner

Monday, January 17, 2011

Recognizing Your Multi-tasking Gifts

The last few days of the past week were very busy for me. I just ran from one commitment to another. I loved doing everything I had planned, but I had no time to write. Finally, Friday afternoon I sat down for a few minutes to work on a script. I was trying to get an email, with attached pages, off to Clint Johnson for a workshop at LDS Storymakers. It wasn’t due for a few days, but I needed to send it before the section leader I wanted had a full group.
A few minutes after I started to compose my letter, my grandson called from college and said he was coming for the long weekend. I was VERY excited to have him. What fun! I worked a little longer on my letter and then stopped to see if I had all the ‘fixings’ to make tacos (his favorite) and snicker doodles for dessert (also his favorite). Shortly thereafter my mother called and needed a few things from the store. This was a good because I was out of refried beans. I also love taking her because it gives us a chance to visit.
Four hours later, after shopping, dinner and dessert, I’m back to my email. It took me a minute to find my place, but I did get it finished with my attached pages, so I’m set.
How many times during the week does this happen to you? I love my life and everything I have to do, but I don’t think I would get everything accomplished if I couldn’t multi-task. When driving in the car, I’m either listening to a book on CD or plotting my next scene. I can listen to one child play the piano and read a book to another one. I love walking on my treadmill at night while visiting with my husband or watching a TV show. Sometimes I include others in my multi-tasking. The other night I had to take dinner to a friend who broke her foot so my mom came over to help me cut the fruit for the salad and my husband mashed the potatoes while I cooked the chicken.
Take a minute and think of all the times during the day you multi-task. Give yourself a pat on the back and say a little thank you to the universe for that gift. Because of it, you have time to do your favorite thing - write!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Doing the Unbelievable


I decided to go back to school after my youngest was born. It was something inside of me that always felt…unfinished.

I had over twenty classes to complete what I had started so many years before. My mind told me I couldn’t do it—there was just too much to do—but my soul told me I could.

So I started digging through classes one by one. Studying while babies slept, while teens learned to drive, as children grew into towering stalks.

I took my time, making sure I learned what was being taught, gleaning research that I hoped would be used in the future or even the present.

Math never came easy to me. I used to dream it did when I was a child—when numbers were made of magic. I failed the course—I was defeated.

It was time to quit.

But the fighter in me told me I couldn’t, I had to keep in the battle, even though I was weary and ready for home.

So I fought.

Now I can see it, just beyond the horizon. Waving to me, urging me to keep in the fight, to keep moving forward. The flag—my flag. The one that calls to victory.

And I know it can be won.

(Two and a half more classes to go!!! *squeal*)

What is your fight? Revising, school work, finding awesome writing shoes? 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Girls Night Out or was it Girl's Night In?

It started out as a Girls Night Out with my nieces. It ended up with an unplanned sleep over.

As I was loading up the car to go home, I accidentally locked my keys in the car along with the cell phone friend-husband and I share. Friend-husband was kind enough to come rescue me, even though I was already using his keys as mine had (looking innocent) disappeared. His pick-up was just (I mean JUST) tuned up and given a clean bill of health, however it broke down on the freeway, just a few miles from home.

Two hours later, when he hadn't arrived. I sensed that something was wrong. At first I thought maybe he was searching for the missing set of keys, but after two hours I could imagine all sorts of things. Since I had the cell phone, he couldn't call me. In fact he had walked to McDonalds, in icy weather, to call a neighbor who kindly towed him home.

When we reconnected by telephone, we felt grateful that everyone was okay and in a toasty warm place for the night. I could sleep over and call a locksmith in the morning. He could get his pickup checked out the next day. All was well.

Girls Night Out had become Girls Night In.

By the way, my nieces ROCK. We had fun laughing and talking together. We shared ideas and thoughts about self worth. Everyone had something to say and I'm thinking we all went home feeling better about ourselves.

I love Girls Nights Out. They give me an opportunity to teach about self worth and positive messages. We learn from each other. We empower each other.

Today I launched a new blogsite where you can get a weekly dose of self-confidence and where you can learn to love yourself. It's called Your True Reflection.

I hope you'll join me there, and tell all your friends.

Isn't it time we all learned to love ourselves?

Linda Garner

Monday, January 10, 2011


I have been sick this week - too much celebrating. I feel like my little four-year-old grandson who (sobbing in his mother’s arms because he was too tired) said, "I’m just having too much fun." I have to rest from too much fun also.
We traditionally set goals this time of year. Sometimes I rebel against doing it, but I know that what I think about and plan, I become. All of us participate in goal setting whether on a conscious or subconscious level. 
We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think. Buddha 
Even if I never set goals, I still invite things into my life by my thoughts.  So I do set goals and have a plan because I don't want my life to be run by default.
One of the things I struggle with is consistency. I can start out with really good intentions and then forget about them after a few weeks. All it takes is for me to have to get a lesson or meeting ready and before I know it, I've thrown my whole energy into that project and forgotten all about my other goals. Summer is also a very bad time for me to be consistent. With kids and family, everything goes out the window for a few months.
So one thing I know about myself is that I won't be consistent all the time, and I now I set a time of reestablishing my goals once a month just to check to see if I got off the track. I ALWAYS have to recommit myself in September after everyone is back in school. 
Be flexible in goal setting. Be willing to change your goals over time. (You may not have to be, but I do.
Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity. Lois Pasteur
            So here’s to flexibility, change and tenacity in your goal-setting!
            Share your ideas with me. I’d love suggestions as to what works for you.
Christy Monson
Connections (
Prophets in Person (

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sorry. I'm Not Posting Today

I'm not posting today, because I can't think of anything to say.

Maybe it's because I have to get a lesson ready for church.

Or that I stayed up way too late last night reading a book that I said I couldn't "get into" and suddenly found myself unable to set it down.

Maybe it's because I feel like I should say something about who I am and am afraid that there is nothing much to say.

Perhaps it's because I gave up chocolate and even though I feel a ton better, I still think about the way it melts on my tongue.

You know it might be because I found that cool new song that won't get out of my head, but I don't really care, because it makes my spirit soar and my lips turn into a smile (even when I'm driving).

It's probably because I have characters mingling in my thoughts and I just can't think of anything more than what I should write about them in the next scene.

So nope. I'm not posting today.

*startled surprise*

Hey, I think I just posted something. Opps. Maybe next week I won't post (but I probably will).

So tell me...Do you find other things coming in the way of posting on your blog? Please let it be writing! *fingers crossed*

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Where's My Paintbrush?

“Beginnings are usually scary and endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts. You have to remember this when you find yourself at the beginning.” Sandra Bullock

I have always loved beginnings. I delight in the start of a new month, the start of a new week, the start of a new year. I get a kick out of a fresh start. I adore mornings. Morning feels like taking a fresh canvas of time and deciding what I will paint on it.

I don’t really do New Years Resolutions, instead I make plans. This year I plan to enjoy myself more. I intend to love more. I plan to connect more. I intend to take better care of myself and my glorious body. I plan to put the disappointments of yesterday behind me and believe in the promise of tomorrow.

This year, I will choose carefully how to spend my gift of time. I will not have time for judging other or for criticism. I will not have time for discouragement or negative thoughts. I will choose to move on when others disappoint me. I will choose forgiveness.

I plan to love myself more completely. I choose to believe in myself and to appreciate my uniqueness. I don’t have to be perfect. I can love myself as I am.

I am planning to see more sunsets, more rainbows, more waterfalls. I am planning to trust more, to give more, to dance more. I am planning to see more, to hear more, to live more.

Life is a curious mix of beginnings, middles, and endings. Today’s beginning signals an end to yesterday. Today is the middle of something. In the middle lie some of Life’s harder choices. Persistence and stamina pay off in the middle, not the end. Today is a beginning, middle, and end. Today brings promise, fueled by choice.

Shall we not embrace the promise? Shall we not believe in choice?

I believe. It’s a New Year. What will I paint on this canvas?

Happy 2011.

Linda Garner

Monday, January 3, 2011

Goal Setting

Each January I like to set goals for the weeks, months and year. Writing goals are tricky for me because my aspiration is to be published by the end of the year. But there are many aspects to being in print that are not under my control, so I have to establish my objectives differently.
For instance, I can set goals to attend writing workshops of my choice, read and study books on writing, attend critique groups and pen so many pages a week. But I can’t plan that illusive “being published” goal. Hopefully the goals I set will lead to that end.
What about you? What are your writing goals? I’d love your ideas and feedback.
I find sharing my ambitions with those around me helps keep me on task. It makes my commitment greater. I also like feedback from others. It helps me stay focused.
Here are some quotes I like to read often.
 “Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.” Aristotle
We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think. Buddha
(I think a lot about writing.)
Goals that are not written down are just wishes. Unknown
 People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going. Earl Nightengale

How have you set goals in the past? What do you like about the way you set them?  What would you like to change? Share with us.
Christy Monson