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Thursday, May 31, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
I just finished a new picture book manuscript. It’s a Christmas story. As soon as I finished it, I sent it out to some of my critique friends. The critique process is fascinating. It is rarely what I expect.
I have three critiques back so far on The Innkeeper’s Daughter, each of them unique. I had one concern about my story, and no one commented on that issue. Each critiquer had suggestions, but there was literally no crossover. That’s unusual.
I love to hear what others think of my manuscript, because each represents the thoughts that an editor or prospective buyer might have. I carefully consider every comment. If several readers see the same weakness, then I take a very serious look. If only one person comments on a certain idea, then I weigh that against my own feelings.
Now the sifting begins. Which suggestions will strengthen my story?
As a picture book author, I have specific needs. I don’t need to add detail to the story that can be shown in pictures. I need to keep my word count low. I need to appeal both to an adult audience and a child audience because most picture books will be read aloud to a child by an adult. I need to use interesting language that is accessible without being condescending. If I am retelling a familiar tale, I need to find a fresh approach.
When a reader invites me to add detail that can be shown in illustrations, I know that reader doesn’t understand picture books. When a reader invites me to add detail that will stress my word count, I know that reader doesn’t understand picture books.
When a reader invites me to tighten a phrase, or clarify something that feels confusing, I am excited to try. When a reader invites me to strengthen the ending, the action, the dialogue, that is really helpful. When a reader shows me how to introduce sensory details: taste, smell, sound, sight, feelings, I can take my story to another level.
Do too many cooks spoil the stew? Nah? I love critiques because they make my writing better.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
My lappy isn't working!
The battery charger is dead, and now I have to share my writing time on the family computer (and let's just say that the boys got a new online game...thus my withdrawals).
|I miss you lappy, I miss you so much. *wiping tear from eye*|
I'm trying really heard not to pull out my hair, but if you see a patch missing...you know why.
So, while I am waiting. What'cha up to? Querying? Revising? Drafting? Just hanging around?
And be honest, what do you do when you don't have your compy to write on? Write by hand, write on an Alphasmart, or wait (like me, with balding spots on your head)?
Have a great week everyone. I hope to stop by as many blogs this week, but you know...no lappy. *sigh*
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Do you need a spring tune-up? Have you been putting it off?
I have been putting off some routine stuff. Health stuff. Dental exam. Mammogram. Colonoscopy. You know the stuff. Nobody likes it. Most of us put it off, but hey, I like my life and I like my body. I decided it was time to do myself a favor. It took me a whole afternoon, but I scheduled all those routine check-ups. Time for a spring tune-up.
Monday, the fun began with getting my eyes dilated. I’ve been good about this because of my diabetes. Still it counts. No bad news. Well, no real bad news. I do have the beginning signs of cataract, but the doc assured me that it’s perfectly normal at my age. At my age? What’s that supposed to mean. Is that supposed to be a complement?
Tuesday, I got to visit my brand new dentist to get prepped for a crown. Now I haven’t always hated dentists. I used to be the poster child for great teeth. That was before the diabetes. After the diabetes the word dentist has never been said with a smile on my face.My last dental experience was so unpleasant that I haven’t been back for about two years. It’s a long story, so I’ll spare you the gory details. Let’s just say I couldn’t make myself go back to sausage fingers. Shouldn’t there be a requirement for a dentist to have smallish fingers? Just saying.
Well my new dentist does have smaller fingers, and he’s perfectly nice, but there’s just something awful about losing control of your own mouth. The poking, the pushing, the prying, the poking. Need I say more. Oh and it’s a little freaky looking at someone’s nose hairs close up and upside down.
Question 1: Why does the dentist ask you questions while he has your mouth artificially propped open and his fingers are occupying most of the space in your mouth? Does that make sense to you?
Question 2: Why do they ask you if you’re okay, when you’re obviously not okay? Why do they ask you to tell them what’s wrong, when your mouth doesn’t even work, and you don’t want to talk anyway because you’re trying not to have a meltdown?
To my credit, when the dentist told me I could come back in two weeks to get my real crown, I managed a weak but heartfelt “Yippee.”
The good news is I survived, and the better news is that today I get to go for a mammogram. What a week. I’ll bet you’re excited for me. This is my second mammogram, so I know what I’m getting into. I’ve been diligent about getting a mammogram regularly. Every 15 or 20 years, without fail. I hope that’s not too often.
After today, I’ll be one up on my mom for mammograms. She only had one. Her comment after the first: “If you didn’t have cancer going in, you will going out.”
Besides the mammogram, I also get a bone desity scan. Mom had osteoporosis. I wish there had been bone scans then. They say it's a piece of cake, but then I'm diabetic, so cake is forbidden. Besides that's what they always say.
I love my body, and I am happy to do these things for her. She's always been there for me. It’s the least I can do. Can’t wait for the colonoscopy! Can I get an
amen, I mean yippee.
And now to get my writing tuned-up.
Need a spring tune-up? What are you waiting for?
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
I hear mixed reviews on Mother's Day. Some Mom's enjoy it. Other...not so much. Is Mother's Day a day of pampering and appreciation for you, or just another crazy too much to do day? I've had some of both. I'm happy to report that this was a good year for me.
I bought myself a Mother's Day Gift this year. It's called Musings on Motherhood. My friend Susan Corpany wrote it. I'm really enjoying it so far. It's witty, and funny, and best of all it's real. She pays tribute to her Mom, but it isn't overdone or sappy.
A witty example: You might expect a book about motherhood to start off with a heartfelt tribute to my wonderful mother, but I've got to say that my mother is a real loser. It started when we were young. She had five kids and yet never won a single game of Candy Land. What are the odds? Somehow she always got stuck in the Molasses Swamp or sent backwards to the Peppermint Forest just in time for an exultant four-year-old to march on to victory. She was no better at the other games of childhood. Her Hungry Hippo died of malnutrition. Her Cootie was always Quadriplegic. In Chutes and Ladders she alwasy rode that really long chute to the bottom. After all, she wanted her children to grow up feeling like winners.
A funny example: I didn't know that Mom always felt guilty for being a working mom. During the summer, we had a deal that if the house was clean and our chores done when she got home from work, she would take us swimming. We would wait until about a half hour before she was due to come home, and then we would scramble. It's amazing what five kids can do in a half hour when they want to go to the local pool.
And how about real: Housekeeping has never been my mother's highest priority. I think that with a husband and four sons, somewhere along the line she just threw in the towel. It's still in there somewhere under the stuff. We've never found it.
Here's a fun spot:
Yesterday I spent some time with my son, Scott. I asked him what I had taught him that turned out not to be true. He said, "Nice guys win in the end." I told him it wasn't the end yet, so he didn't know tht wasn't true.
Then he said, "I can't think of anything else. Everything you taught me was true." He was rather more effusive in his praise than usual. When I asked about that, he reminded that he'd had a minor surgical procedure done on his knee and was on medication for the pain. "I'm pharmaceutically enhanced." Even if it was the drugs speaking, it put a smile on my face. In fact, I'm still smiling.
Based on what my mother told me, I'm worried my face could get stuck that way.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
I attended a fabulous writing conference last weekend. I learned a lot, but one class in particular was worth my addmission price. It was taught by the amazing Howard Tayler and had a title a mile long. Since the title didn't intrigue me, I'm not sure why I was drawn to the class. It was a last minute decision, and one that will probably change my life.
I have been on a quest to discover the secret of motivation. What motivates people? What makes people tick? And even more mysterious, what motivates kids?
We have raised an entire generation that is not particularly motivated. (Not your kid of course. It's those other kids I'm talking about.) We have raised them on m&m's. Not just m&m's, but all kinds of rewards. What happens when m&m's are not enough and we can no longer afford the rewards of choice.
Rewards have their place, but the motivation is all external. Real motivation comes from the inside. That is the kind of motivation that money can't buy.
We've also put a lot of emphasis on self esteem. We praise kids for their talent, their smartness, their creativity. Sounds great doesn't it? Who doesn't like to be told they are wonderful?
The problem is, it doesn't work. Howard introduced us to some powerful studies that basically say we've been doing it wrong. Kids who are told they are smart are less motivated and more frustrated than kids who are praised for their efforts. Being praised for working hard is more validating than being praised for your ability. Who knew?
This is big. You can read about the studies in an article called How Not to Talk to Your Kids, here. I think everyone should read this stuff. We can shape the future, and it's so simple. In a nutshell, the article says that we can validate kids (and adults) simply by saying "You worked hard on that."
Really? Really. When kids get good grades or do well on a project, it is tempting to say something like "You must be very smart." If you really want to make a difference it would be better to say "You must have worked hard on that."
Children who are validated for being smart may be frustrated when things don't come easy. They often give up. Children who are validated for working hard are not afraid of a challenge. They keep trying. They work it out.
I cannot wait to try this out in my own laboratory. I hope you try it too. Keep me posted.
What if it works?Linda Garner
Monday, May 7, 2012
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
It's a perfect day for a bike ride, and then I will come home and pack for three days at LDS Storymakers Conference. What could be better, spring and a great writer's retreat.
There will be a tempting assortment of wonderful classes, starting with a rare treat. A small group of picture book writers will get to spend a few hours with the Incredible Rick Walton. The four of us have already spend a few weeks critiqueing with him, and now comes dessert. I can't wait to meet him.
On Friday I will be timekeeper for Molly O'Neil, an editor for Katherine Tegan Books, an imprint of Harper Collins. She will be doing pitch sessions at the conference, and Lucky Me, I have one of the pitch spots. Finger crossed. I have spent a lot of time trying to decide which manuscript to take. I'm taking more than one, just in case.
I'll also get to meet old friends, make new friends, and sample the workshops. It's a smorgasboard. I know I'll come home with new ideas. No wonder I'm feeling powerful. It's a great time to bloom.