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