Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dealing with Disappointment

I think I was more nervous then my son. I even felt like throwing up.

They called the runners up. Not him. It was okay. He could still get first and the scholarship, too. It would be okay.

He fidgeted with his suit in front of cameras and hundreds of people as the announcers paused.

His face fell when they named the winner. I wanted to run up and hug him and tell him everything was going to be alright.
It was a quiet drive home.

Disappointment happens to everybody. But it's not the winning or the disappointment that defines who we really are.

It would have been nice to see my son win. He's worked through a lot (he has autism). But winning never makes him who he is on the inside.

I think as writers, it is easy to get discouraged. When we start, we think all we have to do is write a quick story and everyone will love it. We'll get an agent in a week, we'll be on the best sellers list (because Mom thinks it should be). But we learn there is more to this journey than that.

There is work. Hard work. Revisions, edits, finding agents, writing more books and yes, the occasional chocolate binge. (Which I was just told can be good for you! Yay chocolate.)

But we should not let the disappointments (or the successes for that matter) define who we are.

My son is doing great this week. The award ceremony is in the past. It has changed some things for him (going to a different college), but he is happy and full of excitement for the future. It didn't define him or destroy him. He is continuing to be awesome!

I hope this writing journey finds us all where we dream of, but if not, it's okay. With every door that closes, another one opens.

How have you dealt with disappointment?  Do you think it was for the best?

Have a great week everyone! Good luck with the writing/reading/ laundry cleaning/ whatever! ;)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What Would You Wish For?

Have you read Sylvester and the Magic Pebble?

It's a Caldecott winner from 1969. My copy is quite worn. It has been a family favorite.

The Caldecott award is named for Randolph Caldecott a nineteenth century English illustrator. Each year a book is chosen for its illustrations. Of course the stories are usually wonderful too. I study Caldecotts to see what makes them special and I love using Caldecotts for my elementary school presentations.

We talk about what makes the illustrations unique, and what kind of medium the artist used. William Steig is both the author and illustrator of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.

Animals are the characters in the story, and they wear clothes and live in houses. Sylvester and his family are donkeys. The neighbors are chickens, pigs, and horses. The charming illustrations are a combination of ink and water color.

In the story, Sylvester finds a magic pebble. When he is holding it, his wishes come true. I read the first part of the story to the children and then, I ask them to pretend that they have just found a magic pebble. What will they wish for?

It's fun to hear what they come up with. I ask them to write about it and I take their papers home with me. Some draw pictures.

I tell the children that the best way to make their wishes come true is planning and hard work. Anyone can make their wishes come true if they work hard.

Still, a magic pebble sounds wonderful, doesn't it.

What would you wish for?

Linda Garner

Monday, March 26, 2012

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 Crispin at the Edge of the World. Both the children in this story are needy, and their caregiver, Bear may not survive. Look at your characters. Do they have an overarching weakness and need? I’m working to create protagonists that do.
Christy Monson

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Thank you Photobucket! 
For those of you who have been following me for a while, you know that I've been trying to run for a long...long...long time.

I've always had issues with running (side stitches, shin splints, pulled tendons, chocolate cravings while running...curse you delicious chocolate).

 A month ago, I started running and just ran. I gave myself little goals and marked off each one as I passed it.

 Well, last week I finally had a break through. I ran without getting winded (it's not really's more like dying-I don't feel like dying anymore). I know! I can't believe it either!

The secret: Consistency. 

Instead of being wishy-washy (I'm not talking about my mountain of laundry...although it should be wishy-washy), I set a goal to run 3 times a week and I increased my running time (from like five minute to ten...hee hee, j/k. I run an hour-not all of that is running).

I can't believe the difference it's made! Why didn't anyone tell me sooner? (Evil eye to all my skinny runner friends.) I know I'm not the best runner, but hey...I'll take this victory (with a side of m-n-m's please)!

The same thing goes with writing. If you want to get that book finished, if you want to become a better consistent. Set little goals and achieve them, and then set more.

I know I've been stuck in that writing lull this year and the only way I pulled through it was setting aside writing time and sticking with it. It's done wonders!

So tell me, what are your little victories this week? What writing tips do you want to pass on that have helped you get passed the lulls? Anything...anything?

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kids Can Write

Point of View is a difficult subject for grown ups, so why would I teach it to kids. Let's just say I love teaching kids, and I believe in them.

Kids are smart. The thing they lack is experience. I believe they can grasp any topic if you teach it right and give them a chance.

Today I taught second graders about point of view. They were really talkative on Monday, so I first had to talk about behavior. They're never to young to learn respect. It's hard to teach anything without a healthy dose of respect. Maybe some kids are born with it, and maybe some kids learn it at home, but a teacher has to insist on it. Without respect, chaos reigns, and learning suffers.

After the behavior lesson we were able to have fun learning about POV or as I prefer to call it, Voice. As kids analyze a story to find the voice, they can also tell you something about the character. What are his good qualities? What are his weaknesses? What does he want? What is he thinking? Feeling?

Kids are especially good at identifying what the character might be feeling. Kids have empathy. Nice.

I love to share my book, Grudge Rock with them, because they can identify with the feelings of the two main characters, Walker and Jake. They are really drawn in to the story as I pull rocks out of my pockets, to illustrate the story. Often they aren't sure what a grudge is at the beginning of the story, but in the end, they get it. Oh, they get it.

Kids who learn to write will have an edge on those who don't. They may never become writers, but the skill is important in education, in business, in life. I do author visits for the kids, because I want to make a difference. I do author visits for me, because it's fun.

Linda Garner

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekly Ramblings

I’ve just been reading a new book, Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder. So far it is an excellent review on how to set up a story that people will remember and develop characters that readers and movie goers will think about long after the story is over.
I’ve had several friends recommend this to me, and I find it a good read. Pick up a copy at the library or order your own, if you are interested.
This week I’m grateful for my critique group. I get so discouraged sometimes; I need a boost from them. Otherwise, I would have quit trying to get published long, long ago. I need them to listen to me, and then give me a swift kick in the behind to keep me going. I am thankful, thankful, thankful for them.
At our League of Utah Writers meeting this past week we had the Jolly Fish Press ( come talk to us. I was really impressed with the deportment of their members, workings of the small press, and the willingness to talk with groups around the area. I don’t know if you’re looking for a publisher, but these guys seemed to have it all together.
They had a marketing director and a publicist which I thought was great. Also, another plus for small presses is that the authors seem to because good friends and stick together at book signings, etc. There seems to be a great esprit do corps with these groups. Another plug for the small press.
Well, those are my ramblings for the week. Take care and enjoy writing.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Loved This!

Sorry I haven't been around this week. I'm busy putting finishing touches on the ms.

Since, I'm gone I thought I'd share this awesome video I found from our internet news place (yeah, our news puts on cool stuff like this that people have done! Awesome!)

Thanks Soul Pancake!

Have a great week everyone! <3

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Choose Your Voice

I love author visits. I am currently teaching writing classes for first, second, and third grade at a charter school. Yesterday I taught dialogue and tomorrow I will teach about voice or point of view. POV is the way writers usually say it. I like to call it voice.

I like to call it voice, because it reminds me that voice is what lets us know what's going on a characters head. Every story has a storyteller, and the storyteller is the one with the voice. That's the person who lets us into their head.

In books we have the unspeakable privilege of getting inside a character's head. This rarely happens in tv or movies. In books it happens all the time. We hop inside a characters head easily when the book is written in first person. The storyteller is a character and we see the story through their eyes.

Here's an exampler of first person from The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills.

"I sat on a stool back by the woodstove with Clemmie on my lap, so no one would step on us. I couldn't stand it! They all wore black, black like the coal mines that killed my papa. He didn't even like black. He liked all the bright colors of the day. So why were they wearing black, I wondered."

When the storyteller is a narrator, we can also see into a character's head but it happens a little differently. The narrator tells us what the character is thinking or feeling. Usually the narrator only tells us about the thoughts and feelings of one character. Head hopping is when a narrator talks about the thoughts and feelings of lots of characters. It is hard to pull off. Sticking with one is usually a good idea. This type of writing is called third person.

Here is an example of third person from the book Lu and the Swamp Ghost by James Carville.

"My poor swamp ghost! Lu thought. He may have no family, but he does have a friend. Quietly she eased away from the table, loaded a basket, and lifted a key from a hook on the wall."

Recently I started wondering if there is such a thing as second person. It makes sense that if there is a first person, and a third person, there should be a second person.

Voila, I found it. Second person is when the storyteller addresses the audience. It is not very common in fiction, but is often used in non-fiction, especially how to books. Since I am a lover of picture books, I looked for examples in picture books and I found a few.

Here is an example of second person from The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems.

"Oh, Don't worry. I'll take care of it! I promise I'll water it once a month. What?! Everybody knows that puppies need plenty of sunshine and water! Oh...I get it. You don't want me to be happy, do you? You don't want me to take a piggy back ride on my puppy! Or play tennis with it! You just don't understand."

All three styles can be very engaging. Choose your voice. The choice is yours.

Linda Garner

Monday, March 12, 2012

Critique Groups

I love my critique groups. I’ve grown so close to these people because I share with them my most intimate creative self. I wish they would always stay the same, but change is inevitable.
The group I meet with each week and have been part of the longest has had eight writers in it. One of our group members is suffering from depression and is taking a break right now. Another member is having marital problems and can’t come for a little while. It is sad to have these dear friends gone. I miss them, and there is an air of sadness in this group.
Another group I belong to meets monthly to discuss an entire manuscript and render a critical evaluation. A couple of people in this group have had great success with their published book. (Two authors co-wrote a book.) And they have another one coming out shortly. There is an air of excitement in this group. Victory is in the air!
 The last group—my picture book group is just newly formed. It is fun to get to know new people and admire their talents and abilities. This group has an air of friendliness about it right now. It’s just lots of fun!
Belonging is like a roller coaster. There are lots of ups and downs, but what a great experience to know others and be known of them. I wouldn’t trade even the sadness for anything in the world.
Happy Writing! Christy

Friday, March 9, 2012

What Happened to Tuesday?

Oops. What happened to Tuesday. I always post on Tuesday. Well this Tuesday I was hanging out with my Grandson. We've had a great week while his Mom and Dad are gone. I'll be back next Tuesday.

In the meantime, A Valentine Disaster was updated with larger text and a few new pages. If you would like the updated version email Kindle Support and they will switch it out for you. Click here to get there fast.

Linda Garner

Monday, March 5, 2012

Plotting a New Short Story
I think plotting is fun. That’s when my creative juices really kick in. New plot—new scenes! What fun.
I wish I could get rid of that nagging negative self-image in the back of my head. It’s always there, telling me that it’s not good enough or that no one will like it. Any suggestions on how to get rid of it? I’d love to know your secret.
I love to watch Lark Rise to Candleford (BBC series) because the writer keeps each segment character driven and lets the plot come from the character’s actions. He sets the premise and then allows each character to play his or her part. I’m struggling to do that. Sometimes I get action-oriented and forget to give the characters thoughts and feelings. I’m getting better, but am still not wonderful at it.
There is my negative attitude again. Will I ever learn?
I’ll let you know how this piece comes out. It may be in a book of short stories published in the fall.
Take care. Please let me know how to get rid of self-doubt. Happy writing.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I'm a little bit of a slacker this week.

I'm working on the query: TRANSLATE...I'm pulling out my hair and eating too much chocolate (so I'm slacking on my blogging).

I knew queries were hard, but getting my whole book into one paragraph is more tricky than I thought.

I'm also agent shopping (wish it were that easy). I have two that I have in mind (that I really, really, really want). So I'm on query tracker doing my research.  I figure it will take me over a month to get a good list.

I've always believed that you need to be able to work well with an agent. And you want one who loves your work.

So those of you who have agents, what do you love best about your agent? Did you do your homework to get that agent? Those of you who don't have agents, what are your plans to get an agent. And those of you published without an agent, how do you feel about that? Is there more freedom?

I'd love your opinions. ;)

Okay, I have to throw some dishes in the dishwasher and do some more hair pulling.  Have a great week everyone!