Monday, February 28, 2011


            Last spring we saw the musical Wicked on Broadway in New York. The story is powerful because in the end both the protagonist and antagonist: Glinda, the Good Witch, and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch, are better people for having known each other.
The girls dislike each other in the beginning of the musical. After somewhat of a struggle, they become friends. In the end Glinda decides to live within the corrupt government of the Wizard of Oz, and Elphaba knows that won’t work for her so they go their separate ways.
The friendship impacts both girls, helping them to become better for having known each other. The lyrics of the closing song: “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good,” is sung in a heart-felt duet by the two.
In fact, I would be hard pressed to decide which one was the protagonist and which one was the antagonist. This is a powerful concept for me. Could I write well enough to create an antagonist and a protagonist that are better people for having known each other? I don’t know. It’s something to think about.
The Wicked Divas sang with the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City last weekend and brought the house down. They were wonderful. Have any of you seen the musical? What do you think about the concept of good and evil influencing each other for the better?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What? You Mean I can Just Wear my Socks?

LTUE rocked!

I have so many notes, rubbed shoulders with so many cool writers (I even got a scary leer from one of the horror presenters—OH, WAIT! That might be bad).

But many of my writing bloggy buddies mentioned that they can’t go to a writer’s conference because of distance, money, etc.

So first, let’s talk about conferences/workshops. Did you know that you don’t actually have to leave home to participate in a conference or workshop?

It’s true! You can be a part of a conference and stay in your living room, walking around in your undies and socks (just don’t let anyone know about that).

 Not only that, but there are tons of online sites that accommodate even the most hermitost-shy writer known to man (Is hermitost a word? I think it should beor there should be some kind of treatment for it).

First, if you don’t know Elana Johnson, you’re missing out. She’s super cool and a great presenter! She and a bunch of writing buds have created the WriteOnCon. You can check it out HERE and HERE and even HERE. They did such a great job last year and it’s completely free. Plus they have events throughout the year. Did I mention they rock? They really do.

If you are looking for writing info, you can't pass up a site that's claims "Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart." (I Checked out the Writing Excuses podcasts. Not only are they informative, but they are entertaining as well. This is especially good for new writers who are learning the craft of writing (there is a craft. Trust me. It’s almost as fun as macraméwhich... I can’t do).

Then there is Muse. I have never attended this conference before…ever…but I remember one of my blogging buddies mention it last year (plus it's the name of an awesome band--but that has nothing to do with writing).  Muse is a totally free online conference. That’s all I know friends. Let me know if any of you have attended and what you got out of it.

There you have it, a few places to start right in the comfort of your own home. Cool, huh?

Don’t forget, you can do it! Now go get dressed (or know- the whole comfort thing) and get started.

Have you attended any online conferences/workshops and how did they go?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sh-h-h Reading

I had never heard of the Whitney Awards a few years ago. Maybe some of you are in that boat. They are selected from books published by LDS authors during the previous year. Anyone can nominate a book to be considered. Next a Whitney Panel pares down the list to 5 finalists in 7 different categories. As a member of LDS Storymakers, I was eligible to vote last year, but didn’t have a clue about the whole process.

This year, I plan to vote. I can’t possibly read 35 novels before the voting deadline. Not because I wouldn’t love to ready 24/7, but because I have a life. I plan to read all five novels in just two categories and vote in those categories. Reading ten novels in about two months will be a big enough challenge for me. I can’t tell you how fun it is to read these books, because they are awesome.

Scroll down to see this years finalists. Even if you’re not eligible to vote, you may want to browse this list and choose something for your reading pleasure. You could read all 35 and choose your own favorites. Call it the Carolyn Award or the Christy Award, or… you get the idea. I have two down and eight to go. I am currently reading Oh Say Can You See by L.C. Lewis. I have already finished Blink of an Eye by Gregg Luke and The Silence of God by Gale Sears. I highly recommend all three.

Until next week. Sh. Reading.

Linda Garner

2010 Whitney Award Finalists

Band of Sisters by Annette Lyon
Blink of an Eye by Gregg Luke
The Cross Gardener by Jason Wright
Finding Mercie by Blaine Yorgason
Lucky Change by Susan Law Corpany

Alma The Younger by H.B. Moore
Oh Say Can You See? by L.C. Lewis
The Sheen on the Silk by Anne Perry
The Silence of God by Gale Sears
Trespass by Sandra Grey

Courting Miss Lancaster by Sarah M. Eden
Cross My Heart by Julie Wright
The Legend of Shannonderry by Carol Warburton
Luck of the Draw by Rachael Renee Anderson
*Meg’s Melody by Kaylee Baldwin

Cold as Ice by Stephanie Black
Crossfire by Traci Hunter Abramson
Murder by Design by Betsy Brannon Green
A Time to Die by Jeffrey Savage
*Wrong Number by Rachelle J. Christensen

Speculative:Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes
Mr. Monster by Dan Wells
Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Youth Fiction—Speculative:
Fablehaven 5 by Brandon Mull
Matched by Ally Condie
*Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
*Forbidden Sea by Sheila Nielson
The Fourth Nephite by Jeffrey S. Savage

Youth Fiction—General:
Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams
Missing In Action by Dean Hughes
My Double Life by Janette Rallison
The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little
*Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler

* Also eligible for Best Novel by New Author

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Mind of Her Own

How are you and your protagonist getting along?
I’ve been having a little trouble with mine. Well, it’s partly my fault. I forgot the color of her eyes, and I think she was offended when I had to look back in the manuscript to find out that her blue eyes had a hint of green in them. She also didn’t like it that I forgot the names and ages of the children she tended. (I told her I have an excuse – I haven’t worked on that part of the manuscript for a while.)
She is also taking matters into her own hands at time. She thinks her ideas are better than mine, I guess. I was going to have a neighbor help her take care of a horse that was given to her, but she wanted to do it on her own. She decided to knock down an abandoned, burned-out barn so she could get to the hay that was left in the loft. (The ladder was charred and she couldn’t climb it.) Yesterday she decided to give the children she tends a ride in a wheel barrow.
What a kid she is!
She does, however, stick with the main plot. (I think she likes the ending.) She hasn’t had a very good family life, and she ends up with the nicest, most helpful guy in the world so I think she’s happy.
Do I sound crazy? Well, I guess I am. Crazy is good. Right? (If you are in my critique group, don’t read this because it gives away the plot.) Well, I guess it’s too late for that.
I’m coming up short all the way around! Oh, well, such is life!
You can find Christy Monson:
Every Saturday at Prophets in Person for unique stories about the lives of pioneer prophets.
Daily at Connections for a quick daily thought or scripture to keep your day positive and peaceful.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Life, the Universe, and Everything delicious (because I can't remember the rest)

If you haven't heard from me this week, it's because I'm Here:
at the LTUE or Life, the Universe & Everything conference.

Yes, it's the kickoff of many fine conferences. So I'm unplugging this week to prepare and mingle with other writes. I'm way excited.

Here are a few things I've packed in the past, and highly recommend to anyone attending a conference this year:

MnMs (because I have a noisy stomach and really, no one wants to be startled by that thing!)

Pencils (even a pen, because I have broken a pencil a time or two and writing with plain wood just doesn’t work well. I did try to chew off the wood, but I had wood shavings stuck in my teeth for a week!)

Paper (To write on… and make spit wads to launch at people who are making me jealous). (j/k I would never do that, and that incident in New York last year - Not me.)

Crackers (Please see MnM’s above).

Notebook (At the conference last year I brought home piles and piles of notes! I expect the same today).

Deodorant (this one is pretty self explanatory).

Couple of chocolate bars (because chocolate is the magical food made by tiny magical creatures from a magical land *sigh * and it’s so, so good!)

A little extra coinage (for silly things like, food, bottled water, gas for car – stuff like that).

Antacid (There is a funny story behind this, I promise, but just not enough time to disclose. So sorry, and if you’ve heard the story * head hung low * you have my deepest sympathies).

So there you have it! My list of stuff that I will be dragging through the halls with other devoted writers, breathing in the fumes of excitement and hope. If you see me, feel free to ask for a handful of MnM’s, hopefully I haven’t eaten them all yet, but it is very possible that I still have a few good sheets of paper left for spit wads.

Are you planning for any conferences this year?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stuff Hurts

The line was unbelievable. I hate lines. We knew where we were going and had raced to get there. How did all these women get there first? Did they not know there were dozens of other classes to choose from? Had they missed the keynote speaker to stand in this line? There were hundreds of them. The line was hardly moving. Our chance of getting in was slim to none. We cast a longing look at the sea of women who got there first and walked away.

It was BYU Women’s Conference. The class was Learning to Forgive. My sister and I were hoping the class would give us a fresh perspective on forgiveness. We were hoping for new tools. One of us was struggling with some particularly thorny issues. We never guessed that forgiveness was on everybody’s "to do" list. It turned out to be the hot button of the conference.

Some years later, I am discovering that forgiveness is still on my “to do” list. I expected forgiveness would get easier with time, but it sometimes feels harder. Have I changed? Is my heart harder? Or have I graduated to harder stuff?

We all have stuff. People have disappointed us. Some have hurt us. Broken promises, unfulfilled expectations, disloyalty, dishonesty are a few of the things that pile up in the corners of our hearts. People let us down. It’s part of life. Stuff happens. Unfortunately that stuff can get in our way.

Some wounds are deeper than others, yet I know that my stuff is not world class. My stuff is ordinary run of the mill stuff, probably much like yours. I am positive that it is healthier to let go and I absolutely know that choosing to forgive speeds the healing. Choosing not to forgive prolongs the suffering. Why, then, is it so hard?

Maybe that answer is different for each of us, but I think part of the problem is not knowing how to forgive? A second part is that we tend to bond with our stuff.

“Bond with my stuff?” you ask. “That’s ridiculous.” And indeed it is. Completely ridiculous. Yet we all do it. I’m pretty sure you do it too. Even though our stuff makes us miserable, we cling to it. We protect it. We visit it, and revisit it. We tell our friends about it. Sometimes we give it more than its fair share of room in our heart, crowding out the other tenants. Should we build extra rooms to accommodate it and make it comfy?

I’m studying forgiveness these days. I’d love your thoughts and experiences. Post your thoughts here, and experiences you can send to I'm thinking of writing a book. Of course, the best book on forgiveness has already been written. Maybe you’ve read it. Jesus wrote it.

Stuff hurts. Forgive.

Linda Garner

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dancing in the Rain

Life's not about waiting for the storms to pass.
It's about learning to dance in the rain.
~Vivian Greene
I haven’t really had a storm this week, but I’ve just had the “blahs.” The gray inversion in the air doesn’t help any, but that’s really an excuse.
I guess I’m waiting for something to happen to me. I don’t know exactly what. I’m expecting something wonderful to fall in my lap. I’ve been looking, but nothing’s dropped in yet.
So what’s going on with me? It’s taken the whole week for me to figure it out.
My favorite service project is ending. They are tearing the entire structure down (that houses my service project) and going to rebuild, but it will take three years. So, after this week, I know I’ve got to find another place to expend my energies if I’m going to banish the “blahs.”
What will I do? I don’t even know yet. But now that I’ve figured the problem out, it’s kind of fun to think of new possibilities. It’s like a new vista has opened up for me. Exciting, huh!
I’ve gone from depressed to excited in one “ahaa” moment.
I’m glad I’ve had this experience because now when I give my characters in my book and “ahaa’ moment, I know just exactly what it feels like.
Dancing in the rain is quite a fun thing to do. I can see myself – face upward, allowing drops of water to splash into my mouth and wash over my skin. I’m refreshed and happy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Snow Job

Friend-husband is the gallant type. He loves doing things for people. He also likes hard work. Really. It de-stresses him, and since he is prone to anxiety and worry, hard work is a good remedy. Now, I am not especially fond of hard work, in fact I have been known to avoid unpleasant jobs. It’s not that I am lazy, it’s just that I prefer curling up with a good book and my stash of bonbons. [By the way, what are bonbons? And while I’m at it, is a single bonbon called a bon? I’ve always wanted to know that. …but I digress.]

It’s nice having a husband who would do anything for me, and that includes dishes and laundry. Lucky me. It frees up a lot of my time. [Don’t worry, I help too. Sometimes.] Since husband likes hard work and I don’t there are some things I have never done. For instance I have never mowed a lawn, and until this year, I had never used a snow shovel. Never.

I’ve been struggling with my blood sugar this winter, due to lack of exercise. I traded in my walking shoes for a bike last summer, because of plantar fasciitis. Riding the bike in the cold is not my idea of a good time. Riding a bike in snow does not work well for me. On the odd sunny day, I have considered it, but procrastination has won nearly every time. It occurred to me one snowy January afternoon, when Friend-husband was away, that shoveling snow might be good exercise.

Indeed, shoveling snow is a magic bullet when it comes to lowering my blood sugar. It works every time. Should I pray for snow? Seems a little extreme, but after all my health is at stake.

It just so happens that Friend-husband inherited a non-working snow blower a few years ago when his parents died. Since he loves shoveling snow [ours and half the neighborhood’s] he took his time getting it fixed, but this winter he decided to have our genius friend who can fix almost anything take a look at it. Now Friend-husband has a new snow toy, and I have to ask him to save me a patch of snow. Seems wrong somehow.

You may think this story is a bit of a snow job, but it’s the gospel truth. I promise.

Linda Garner

Monday, February 7, 2011

Creating Sensory Experience

I have a dear friend in one of my critique groups that just finished a novel for us to read. She’s from South Africa and has written a story about her homeland. It was breathtaking to travel down the coast with her protagonist and see the beautiful vegetation growing along the sea shore. I loved looking out into the ocean through her eyes – to see whales chasing a pod of dolphins or watch the waves crashing against the rocks. There was a great lighthouse near a precipice where a wonderful couple dug clams and made delicious chowder with corn bread.
So I say to myself, I live in a boring place. I don’t have anything like that to describe in my book. I haven’t been to any fancy far-away places. But as I look around me at the frosted snow-capped mountains, the drama of the kaleidoscopic sunsets, the delicate lacy snow-falls of winter, I know my world is breath-taking if I will just look. I can hear the sounds of frozen snow crunching under my feet, the dripping of crystal icicles, and the wind whistling through the pines. My fingers feel numb against the cold; my nose turns red and drips. The taste of hot chocolate lingers on my tongue and the smell of bread in the over warms me through & through.
Well, you get the idea. I just have to stop, look, feel, taste and smell the wonderful world around me. If I put myself into the scene, I will take my readers with me. I can do that if I just let myself experience the scene I want to read about.
What kind of memory jogger do you use to remind yourself to add sensory experiences? What kind of sensory experiences do you like to add? Give us an example one of the great sensory passages you have written.
Let’s all have a great getting-in-touch with our surroundings week.
You can find me every Saturday at Prophets in Person for unique stories about the lives of pioneer prophets and daily at Connections for a quick daily thought or scripture to keep your day positive and peaceful.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Come on! Will You Just Put That Book Down?????

Self:  So, you totally slept in today.

Me: Hey, it was only a few minutes.

Self: Yeah. But your eyes are blood shot and your hair... I mean...Look at your hair. Don't you believe in brushing?

Me: *evil glare at Self while setting cup of orange juice down on table* Well...if you hadn't gotten so wrapped up in that book last night, I might not have gotten to bed so late.

Self: *looking down at table, blushing a little*   OH... Well   *nervous laugh*  That...well...

Me:  Don't blame me for sleeping in.

Self: *fidgeting with gross thing on table that didn't get cleaned off from late night reading* I have a weakness. I'm sorry.

Me: *sighing* Fine. You're forgiven. *running fingers through hair, but stopping short when finding big mat of tangle* That was a great book though.

Self:Yeah, it was.

Me: So....*super long pause* what book do you want to read tonight?

Self: Oh, I have a list.

So I finished Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card last night. So good!  Unfortunately, I didn't get this post ready until this morning (or worked on my writing assignments for class, or studied for my final tomorrow, or panicked about the dentist appointment today--oh wait, that's a good one).

Have you ever gotten lost in a book? If so, which one?

Oh, and by the way, this is for my kids.... Need I say more? (you guys crack me up!)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is It a Deal?

Like most—maybe all— writers, I learned to write by writing and, by example, by reading books. ~ Francine Prose

If you want to be a writer, you need to read a lot of books. I really believe that. That’s the quickest way to learn the craft. That’s awesome, because reading is fantabulous. Reading is a delightful journey. Reading is discovery. Reading is escape. Reading is coming home.

I love reading, so that part is easy. Finding the time, that’s another story.

When do I read? Like you, I often sandwich bits of it between other activities. A snatch here and a snatch there. It helps to keep a book in the car for those waiting moments, and one in the bathroom can come in handy. A few pages at bedtime is always a treat, provided I can find my reading glass. I only need them at night, so it shouldn’t be hard to keep track of them, should it?

Long stretches of time for reading hard are to come by, but very enjoyable. Refreshing. Uplifting. Comforting. Restful. I treasure such luxuries. Wrapping up in a comfy quilt and sipping hot chocolate improves the experience, if you can imagine. However, reading in hammock under the summer sun is just as lovely.

There’s no shortage of reading material in my world. I can’t possibly live long enough to read everything I’d like to. It’s my privilege to personally know lots of wonderful authors. I wish I could read all their stuff. Since I have a limited budget, I love, love, love the library.

As a lover of picture books, I frequent the picture book section of the library. I bring home armloads of picture books and devour them, sharing tasty morsels with my family, especially the peanut butter crowd. A well-written picture book is magical. Sharing the magic is unforgettable.

My book club is awesome. We meet once a month over potluck and talk about the book we just read. We have fun and they keep me reading. They have introduced me to authors and books I had never met. Sharing a good book with friends is like hiking a mountain together. It’s a fun path, and the view at the top is incredible.

I read some great stuff last year. I wish I had kept a list. What were your favorite reads last year? You tell me yours, and I’ll tell you mine.

Is it a Deal?

Linda Garner