Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Has Reading changed you?

I just finished reading a very thought provoking book, and I know that it has changed me, somehow.

I can’t define the change yet.  It’s hard to put my finger on it, but I feel different. 

The book was fiction, but the story was built on truth—tragic, terrible truth.   A lot of compelling stories are based on truth.  This exact story may not have happened, but similar stories have happened.  I’m sure of it.
I am holding in my heart today the truth that what we read shapes us, changes us.  I am reflecting on other books that have changed my thinking, changed my behavior, changed my life.

Some of the books that have changed me have made me angry.  Other books have brought me hope dressed in different clothes, or a new recipe for peace.   If a book is going to change me it may challenge my thinking or put a new twist on what I thought I knew.  Maybe it will turn my thinking upside down.
Books may also validate my thinking and give my values shape and color.  I love this kind of change too.

The book I just read made me angry and also validated my thinking.  There is a new shape and color to my ideas.  It hovers, just out of reach. 

This summer, I read for the first time Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  After visiting the Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum and learning more about how her book shaped public opinion and helped Lincoln free the slaves, I was curious.  How does one create a book with that kind of power?

The Beecher girls were married to preachers.  The were the daughters of a preacher.  They were expected to let their husbands do the talking.  Instead they wrote.

Harriet's book was long and wordy, so different from the books published today.   Instead of a fast food meal, it was a seven course sit down dinner.  It was carefully crafted to sway public opinion, and it changed the thinking of a nation.
I want to write books like that.  Not to be powerful, not to be wordy, but to make a difference.  I love that words have the power to change people. 

The book I just read was The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams.  It is a story of modern polygamy colliding brutally with a thirteen year old girl. She may be fictional, but I will not soon forget Kyra and her experience. 

How has it changed me?  I’m still processing this, but I think it has strengthened my core beliefs.  It has something to do with the value of an individual, the price of freedom, and the right to choose.
Has reading changed you?
Linda Garner


Monday, December 16, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

What Color is Your World?

“Grandma,” she said.  “Were you alive when color was invented?”

“Color?” I asked.  “Do you mean color TV?”

“No.  Not TV,” she said.  “I mean the world.  Was the world in black and white when you were a little girl?”
I stifled a giggle.  I could see where she was coming from.  The old movies and TV shows we sometimes watch are in black and white.  They are old and she knows it.  She doesn’t know that it was TV that changed.  She thinks the world changed.

I explained it all, but she looked skeptical.  I don’t think she believed me.

Imagine a world that was black and white.  Imagine the color washed away.  Imagine dull lifeless scenery with no green and no blue sky.  Imagine being surrounded in flat shades of gray.

I crave color.  I love bright clothes.  I want warm walls, delicious floors, and rich accents.  I want color.
Color makes me feel alive, refreshes me, and makes me smile.  It’s hard to pick a favorite.  There are so many colors to choose from.  I am partial to pastels, but I also love deep jewel tones, and classic colors.  I love them all. 

Yellow makes me happy.  I think it’s the happiest color, the color of sunshine.
Anything in the pink family (think mauve) makes me feel comfortable.  It’s such a cozy color.  It feels warm and sweet.

Blue helps me think, remember, choose.  It calms me.  It’s a bit reflective, pensive.  I like every shade of blue, but adore turquoise and aqua.

Is there anything more exciting that red, or fresher than green, or richer than gold?

We are considering new carpet for our living room.  It is worn in spots, particularly the stairs.  I adore the rich mauve that has greeted me each morning for more than twenty years.  Mauve is hard to come by, just now.  It is not in style.  Can I bear to say goodbye to fabulous and settle for neutral?  Can I live with ho hum?

Our couch is getting a facelift.  Our floors deserve one too, but it is hard to say goodbye to my old friend.  Will I miss her?  Probably.  Can I adjust?  Perhaps.
What color is your world?

Linda Garner




Monday, December 9, 2013

What Agents and Editors Want

What Agents and Editors want:
I was just going over some of my old conference notes and found this. Thought it might be interesting today. At the 2009 SCBWI Los Angeles Conference, editor Courtney Bongiolatti (Simon and Schuster), and agent Dan Lazar (Writer’s House) shared their views on what they look for in book openings.  It all boils down to five main ingredients:
1) Age
Immediately understanding the age of your character helps the agent/editor to get a feel for your book’s market. Age is often communicated through voice, therefore it is essential that your voice matches your intended characters age. Not to mention that the age of your character will change/effect the story you want to tell, so make sure it is appropriate.
2) Voice
Voice will be one of the first things to grab and editor/agents attention. They are looking for a strong and confident voice that  jumps off the page. Voice can make or break your book so nail it from the start.
3) Situation
Start with an undeniable and interesting situation. Don’t begin with a character waking up and starting their day. Get to the action! A great example would be to start with an explosion, followed by a kid falling out of a plane – on page one! Put action and adventure into the first sentence!
4) Tone
You need to know the tone of your book and define it for an agent or editor. The tone will reveal if your book is commercial or literary. If you open with an explosion, then you book is probably commercial. Whereas a book with beautiful descriptions is probably literary. Tone will greatly effect how your book is perceived by an audience.
5) Magic
The magic happens when the reader is drawn in by character, compelling action, or strong voice.

Happy Writing! Christy Monson

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Who Decided?

It was once

 a peaceful day, a family day.

It was togetherness.


We loved the smells,

the delicious conversation.

We enjoyed each other.


We once gave thanks.

And counted our

gifts, our blessings.


Who decided?

Who chose commerce

over family?


The feast,

once unhurried,

is now gobbled.


The conversation,

once delightful,

is now hushed.


And I am Alone

with the mess

and the silence.



Hurry shoppers!

You may save

 a dollar or two.


In exchange

For mere conversation

And precious connections.
Linda Garner


Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Signings

Marketing is not my favorite activity. I love being out with the public and meeting people. I love to talk to others, but setting up book signings and speaking engagements feels like pushing myself forward, and that's hard for me.

Courage is resistance of fear, mastery of fear, not absence of it. Mark Twain.

So I soldier on with wonderful friends and books that I believe in, and maybe the marking gets easier, but I still feel fear as I go about doing the initial set up.

Here Lori Nawyn and I are having our book launch for Love, Hugs, and Hope When Scary Things Happen. Our good friends Patricia Bossano and Driene Hattingh have joined us.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

More than Sisters

Inseparable as children

We shared everything.

Not just parents.


We didn’t look alike.

We didn't have

the same ideas.


We whispered secrets,

 giggled, told stories,

 and talked in the dark.


Separated by school,

We made our own friends

and chose our own paths.


Things change.

We grew up together,



Distance separates us.

Our lives are full.

We stay connected.


Sometimes we can

slow down time.

And find space for each other.


We choose to

be together

in spite of distance.


We whisper secrets,

giggle, share stories,

and talk in the dark.


It ends too soon.

There is never

enough time.


We treasure

each other.

We are connected.


We are more

than sisters.

We are friends.

Linda Garner



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sweet Connections

I found a treasure today.  It wasn’t lost or hidden.  It was carefully shelved for another day.  I found it while looking for something else.  It slipped from its spot into my hands, as though someone had placed it there.  I was delighted to see it again.  It was an old friend, a message from someone special.

The message was never meant for me, but it was given to me, though not by her.  I treasure it. 

She’s gone now, that sweet cousin of mine, but her words remain. Her poetry, her voice, her thoughts live on.  She recorded joy and pain with pen and paper.  She filled white pages with meaning.  In the day of typewriters her fingers tapped the words that spoke of loneliness and connections. 
I feel I know her better now than I ever did when she was here.  It would be lovely to have her drop by and visit with me.  Instead I’ll listen to her whisper from the pages that she kept.

Her words are beautiful.  She had a gift.  I wonder if her daughters have her words.  I don’t even know their names, but I’d love to share.  Until I find a way, I’ll share with you.  Enjoy.

Embrace your sweet connections.

Linda Garner

I Had Forgotten
by Renee Bosch

Dear Father,
I had forgotten

the beauty and wonder of your love.
I had forgotten
the sweet fragrance of your flowers.
I had forgotten
the gentle warmth of your spring rains.
I had forgotten
the flittering colors of your butterflies and birds.
I had forgotten
the wonder of your sun on my face after a long winter.
I had forgotten
the sweet mystery of the life you gave me.
And then, dear Lord,
You let me see these things
Through the eyes of my children,
And I remembered.

Thank You, Lord,
for your loving kindness,
And for not forgetting me.

(italics added)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Letting a Rejected Manuscript Go

Have you ever written something that editors reject and tell you to rewrite? Well, I have. I’ve been writing some self-help picture books. They have been rejected by agent after agent. Will I ever find someone to promote the books?
I've rewritten the manuscripts according to the suggestions of my critique group, and I feel a little sad changing the focus of the writing. Making the text funnier and move at a quicker pace. All the things that make it better.
The things that has been interesting to me is that there is a grieving process that goes with letting the old manuscript rest, hidden in the documents of my computer. I am sad to not spend time with it every day. It’s almost as if it had a life of its own, and we were very good friends. It has moved on and so have I.
At first the new manuscript and I didn’t know if we ever liked each other. We struggled to get to know one another and begin our friendship. We are better acquainted now and find each other more than tolerable at this point. The story is showing me the way to go, and I’m getting to like it.
I still grieve for my old friend, for it is part of me and I’m part of it. My life is better for having connected with it, and I’m grateful. Sadness still cradles itself in my heart, but it lessens as the days go by.
So here’s a tribute to my rejected writing. I am better for having written. And happy that the manuscript and I can look at the synergism that we created and know we are both standing on higher ground.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Magical Space

I just finished reading Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan. It was written in 1942, and is about Norwegian children outwitting German soldiers during World War II. The children save millions of dollars of gold from falling into German hands.
When I posted it on Goodreads, I was shocked to find that Snow Treasure is still in print. (My copy is from the library, and our library is known to have some pretty old books.)
How would it be to have your book in print for almost 70 years? Seventy years!
Since it was written in 1942, there are some things that wouldn’t make it past editors today. Ms. McSwigan gets on her hobby horse a couple of times. There is some ‘telling’ that could be shown, but as a whole the book is full of tension and keeps the reader engaged.
Chapter endings are cliff-hangers, as they should be. There are adults in the story, but the kids are the ones that save the day. The adults empower the kids to solve the problem and get out of the way so they can do it.
How many children in seventy years have enjoyed this book? I love that magical time when a child is drawn into a story (or even when I’m involved in a story myself). As mothers we see it with little children when we read to them. As a child grows older and learns to read, he engages himself in that magical place by himself. As a writer, my one wish is that I might charm a child into that magical time with one of my stories.
I have this secret wish that I want to be invited into special space and be part of a child’s magic. To me, that’s the ultimate goal of writing.
What’s your secret wish about writing? Do you have one?