Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What am I bid for this Bubble Tape?

It's finally here.  Auction Day.

I teach piano lessons.  All summer the kids earn auction bucks and save them in our Love Notes Bank ( a shoe box full of labeled baggies).  Each student has their own bank account (a baggie with their name on it).

Basically I pay the kids exhorbitant amounts of play money for practicing, learning new songs, and stuff like that.  We start in May and end in September.  Most kids have more free time in the summer, but less motivation, and no routine.  I find that having an auction helps them have a more productive musical summer

Every student will bring two items for the auction, plus I have been stocking up.  I hang out at the dollar store and I have been known to visit garage sales.  My good friend plays auctioneer.  One of the older students takes care of the bank, and everyone has a blast. 

We usually have quite an assortment of auction items.  There is a fair amount of candy.  Toys and games are big sellers too.  Our biggest seller ever was a package of bubble tape.  As I remember it sold for $19,000.00. 

Most of the kids this year have somewhere between $6,000 and $10,000, so  they would have to get together to spend that much.  If it's the last item on the auction block and they have money left in their bank accounts, it could happen.

Once I had a Grandma come to help her grandson spend his money.  He had several thousand dollars, but she held him back on the bidding. She wouldn't let him buy anything. I was getting worried. The auction was nearly over and he hadn't bought anything.  We had to have a little talk.

This year I have six teenage boys.  They are really great piano players.  Teenagers are insanely busy, but somehow they still find time for piano.  I'm not sure what they are going to bid on. Of course they'll bring interesting stuff, but what can I add for them.  Teenagers are tricky, but I'm thinking about auctioning off a big plate of my incredible brownies, and maybe an I-Tunes gift card. 

But just in case, do they still make Bubble Tape?  Where can I get some?

Linda Garner

Monday, September 24, 2012

Perspective on Life

We just got home last night from Portland, Oregon. We have two families living in that area, and it's wonderful to be with the grandchildren. We don't live close to our kids so our contact is through phone calls, letters and the internet.

We went to a Saturday morning volleyball game to watch our granddaughter play, and then hurried over to a soccer game for another grandchild. What a fun morning it was!

Saturday night our daughter was in charge of a daddy-daughter party where young girls and their fathers came for a special date. They learned a Jewish dance, the Mexican Hat dance, and the Virginia Reel. It was so much fun for everyone. The last activity the girls broke several pinatas. I think the dad's had as much fun as the girls.

On the way home, I reflected on the lives our children and grandchildren are leading. The two families living there are very different. Their talents and abilities are not the same. But they are good people, making good choices in the way they raise their children--with the same basic values. What a great blessing that is in our lives. There is nothing better.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Future of Blogging

(So, I posted something that I wasn't done working on. Sorry about that.)

Since we're talking about it, what do you think about blogging?

I had the opportunity to hang out with a group of amazing blogging ladies last week. There was talk about the different social medias out there (blogging, fb, twitter).

But the center of conversation was if blogging was dying.

There was mention that there weren't as many comments or people connecting anymore. Yes, blogging helps us connect with people all over the world, we can speak our minds, and we can inform others of things that are happening not only in our professional lives but also our personal lives.

But then there was talk about time. (Being a writer has taught me how important time is to my career.) Blogging involves writing posts and connecting with other people, but people didn't have time to put in four hours a day into blogging or searching for people with common interests.
There was talk that FB was faster. It only took a few minutes to leave comments and posting only takes a few seconds. Twitter was the same, plus that's where the agent talk is. The cons to twitter is that it can be confusing.

In my personal opinion, I don't think blogging is dying, but slowing down (most of my writing-blogging friends aren't posting each day like they did when they first started blogging). But blogging offers a unique outlet for information. It allows more than a 140 letter message, permitting us to really speak our minds, let other's know what's happening, or post a volume of pictures to embarrass our kids when their older (okay, you can do that one on FB too).

So put your two cents in. What do you think about blogging? Is it on it's way out?  Slowing down? Outdated like an old broken down Gremlin (you know, like that old car my friend used to pick me up for high school in). What do you think?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Can You Count the Cost?

It’s been out for a while. Mother Had a Secret by Tiffany Fletcher.  It’s a true story.  It’s been on my "to read" list for a while, but I didn’t make it a priority, until someone loaned me the book.  I was fascinated by the subject matter.

Tiffany’s mother had multiple personalities and was pretty dysfunctional.  The cause was sexual abuse at the hand of her father.  Tiffany and her siblings took care of their mother most of their lives.  It must have been a nightmare. 

Tiffany’s dad worked many hours, and so he was only so much help.  The house was a wreck and so were the relationships.  The kids struggled to make things work and resented their mom much of the time. 

When the kids grew up and left home, their lives became more normal, yet the shadows of the past were always with them.  Mom with her many personalities never got enough of the right kind of help to heal, and they always worried about her.  Always did what they could to protect her.

The story is disturbing on many levels, but most of the family eventually find healing.  For Tiffany’s mom the healing does not come in this life. 

The story of sexual abuse is always tragic, and unfortunately it is a common tale.  One in three girls is sexually abused before her 18th birthday.  For boys, it is one in 5.  Most are abused by a family member.  Not everyone who is sexually abused develops multiple personalities, but some do.  The personalities develop to protect the injured child.  Healing is difficult.

Many families have some dysfunction from time to time, yet this story is painful, because there was no reprieve.  Things never changed. 

I suppose the most disturbing thing to me as that no one reached out to them.  The children were made fun of because of their clothes, their mom, their home.  They longed for normalcy.  They longed for acceptance.  Acceptance was difficult to find.  They clung together, because they had nowhere else to go.

Children can be cruel.  So can adults.  Why do we find it easy to judge one another, or to turn on backs on those in need? Why do we withhold acceptance?  What are we thinking? What are we afraid of?

We need each other. 

Tiffany’s mother is not the only one in pain.  Everyone has secrets.  Everyone has pain.  Everyone is fighting their own battle.   What does it cost us to reach out to another person? 

Perhaps the more important question is this.  What does it cost us to withhold the comfort and acceptance we might offer, if we weren’t too busy, too judgmental, or too afraid?

Can You Count the Cost?

Linda Garner

Monday, September 17, 2012

I just reviewed a book for Cedar Fort. Here's the information on it. If you or anyone you know has someone chronically ill in their lives, this is an excellent resource. I really enjoyed the book.


When Someone You love Has Chronic Illness, written by Dr. Tamara McClintock Greenberg, brings the important topic of chronic illness to the forefront, allowing readers to become aware of all aspects of a problem most all of us will have to face in our lives. It is a concise review of every facet of this issue—brought into focus in everyday language with examples we can all relate to.
As a retired Marriage and Family Therapist, I had many clients faced with situations such as Dr. Greenberg describes in her book. I would have loved a valuable tool such as this book to discuss with my clients. It will become a guide and support to all who read it.
Dr. Greenberg discusses the following topics:
1.      Living Longer
2.      How to talk about illness
3.      How to deal with doctors
4.      Addressing denial
5.      Can you give too much
6.      Getting support
7.      Coping with loved one’s pain
8.      Staying connected
9.      Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
10.  Dealing with loss
Thank you Dr. Greenberg for this well-written volume of pertinent research presented with in-depth discussions, and shared through compassionate understanding.
I recommend this book as a healing tool for anyone who has been associated with chronically ill loved ones.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Melody of Love

She asked me to teach her piano lessons.  I teach the other grandkids.  I told her I would when she was ready to listen and follow directions.  A few months later she told me she was ready and we began. 

Since I only see her on weekends, we only got to practice about twice a week.  Progress was slow but steady.  She was cooperative.  She had good hand position and posture.  She listened well.  She memorized quickly.  She seemed to enjoy it.

When her dad moved out, I wondered how to keep her going.  We needed a new routine.  We began picking her up from daycare several times a week and bringing her home to practice.  It's working well, but I know that it may not be sustainable.  She needs a piano at home.

I don’t really have the money to buy her a piano, but I know that someone has a piano they don’t need.  I just need to find them.  I decided to try facebook.

On facebook I said I was looking for a free piano.  In a short time I received a message from a dear cousin.  We were close as children, but didn’t connect much in our adult lives.  Recently we have reconnected. 

“I have my mother’s piano,” she said. “It’s the one I learned to play on.  I don’t use it anymore.” 

My cousin has a lovely grand piano now, but has been storing this old friend for twenty years or more. Her piano friend once belonged to our grandmother, then was sold to my cousin’s mother.  My cousin acquired it after she was married and enjoyed it for many years.

I love the rhythm of this melody. This is a melody of love.  My cousin is giving a treasured friend to a child who shares her heritage.  A child she doesn't know. 

My granddaughter is getting the piano that once belonged to her great great grandmother--a woman she never met in this life.  She will know little of the memories housed in that seasoned instrument, but she can create her own.

Linda Garner

Click here to see moving day pictures and read about the fond farewell.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Creating a Moral Dilemma for your characters
            I love my DVD’s of Lark Rise to Candleford. It’s a BBC production that had four seasons. The actors are great and the setting is well-defined, but the thing that draws me to the series is the writing. Each episode is set up for character definition, character insight and character growth. Protagonists are faced with moral dilemmas that push them toward personal change.
            For instance: Dorcas, the postmistress, knows the secrets of the two dress-maker sisters that keep the shop next door. Should she continue to keep the secrets as each sister confides in her or should she reveal the truths so that the sisters can work out their problems together?
            Daniel, an out-of-town journalist, has written a slanderous story about the people of Lark Rise. He has promised the Lark Rise parents of the girl he loves that he will not see their daughter until he apologizes to the town folk he has offended. Can he keep that promise?
            Our characters do not grow and change unless we give them hard things to overcome. Linda Garner has written an excellent children’s story about a little girl who is the victim of bullying. She grows and changes as she solves her problem.
            I have to keep this idea constantly in my mind because I’m the queen of dropping tension and solving the protagonist’s problems for them. I need to let them face their moral dilemmas and work through their own troubles. I must trust that they will come through. And, you know what! They always do!
Happy Writing! Christy Monson

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Just a Stage I'm Going Through

Friend-husband and I love a night out at the theater.  Hale Center Theater is our favorite treat. We have never been disappointed.  Hale Center has a magical stage, and they combine it with amazing talent for memorable performances.  We never tire of it.

I once had the opportunity to tour that amazing Theater with a high school group.  We learned some of the secrets of the magical stage, and saw the underbelly of the theater.  We saw rehearsal halls, the costume store, and the green room.  Our hostess also engaged us in some theater exercises.

What I remember most from that visit was a comment made by our hostess, who also directs.  She posed a question.  “If I can choose from a very talented actor who is moody or difficult to work with or a less-talented actor who is agreeable and pleasant to work with, who do you think I would choose?”

Interesting question, don’t you think.

If you guessed talent, think again.  When casting a part, our hostess said,"congeniality wins over talent every time.  I can teach talent.  It is difficult to teach good manners.”

What a powerful thought. 

It’s no fun to work with someone who is controlling, abusive, pouty, or unreliable, no matter how talented they are.  I’ve experienced it.  You have too.  Once burned, we are sometimes more cautious about getting involved with someone who is difficult to work with. 

That’s a valuable lesson.  An even more valuable lesson is…Don’t be that person.  Don’t be the person who is difficult to work with. 

If you think your way is the only way, think again.  Are you a person who is fun to work with?  Would someone go out of their way to spend time with you?

I want to be fun to work with.  I try not to pout when I don’t get my way. I rarely throw temper tantrums   I’m not usually moody or manipulative, except on bad days.   On bad days,  I think it’s...

just a stage I’m going through.
Linda Garner


Monday, September 3, 2012

How do I make a scene live?
I’ve just been reading John Brown’s presentation on Story. He gives such good insightful inspirational information at conferences. I love hearing him over and over because his material is relevant and motivational.
He says it’s the responsibility of the storyteller to create enough tension to make the reader wonder what will happen next. He goes on to talk about showing versus telling. Sometimes I find myself showing a scene and then telling what just happened. I’m getting better at cutting out the telling part, but I still do it some of the time.
Sometimes I get so involved in what’s happening to my characters that I forget to give enough explanation to my reader. They are going, “What?” Then I have to stop and slow down—envision what I want the reader to know, and then explain myself through the picture I’m painting.
Another aspect of story John Brown discusses is how much to reveal. When I first began writing, I was eager to spill all the information and back story pertaining to the characters in the first chapter. I have learned to back off in this area and plan out my reveals. Sometimes I’m still not wonderful at doing it, but I’m getting better.
Isn’t that what we’re all about? Getting better? I hope!
Happy Writing! Christy Monson