Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Recital

Earlier this week, on my way to a meeting, I stopped at the dollar store to buy candy bars for the piano recital which would take place later that day in my home.
I honor each student at my spring recital and reward them with their favorite candy bar.  I ask the parents to tell me 3 things their student has accomplished during the past year or 3 things they love about their student. 
I have them stand up front while I talk about them.  I tell what I love about them and also share what the parents have written and give them their favorite candy bar.
I never thought about how warm it was in my car, and I left my candy bars in the car during the meeting. Afterward I drove to the grocery store to finish buying candy, since everything wasn't available at the dollar store.  I also bought a gallon of milk to go with the cookies that would be served at the recital.
When I returned to my car, I noticed the heat, and checked the candy bars I had bought earlier.  They were getting squishy, so I jumped in my car and hurried home.  It's just around the corner. 
As I turned into my neighborhood I heard a siren, and sure enough a policeman was following me. Could I have been speeding?  Did I run a red light?  I was in a hurry after all, but I didn't think I had done anything wrong.
Turns out I had left my side door open and the milk had jumped ship.  He thought I'd like to know.  Did he pick up the milk for me.  No.  It might broken.
I went back for the milk, melting candy bars on the back burner temporarily.  Sure enough it had broken and was leaking, but salvageable.  I carried the damaged goods home, repackaged the milk, and placed it in my fridge next to the squishy candy bars. 
It made a great story for my recital but the fun didn't end there.  Two of the candy bars turned up missing.  This was not discovered until presentation time near the end of the recital.  I'm guessing they ran off with the milk, missed the rescue party, and they are now a gooey mess somewhere on the road.
Next year I think I'll give everyone Symphony Bars. It's nobody's favorite, but I can get them all at one store and avoid a gooey mess.  Who could not like a Symphony Bar? Delicious, and it has a nice ring to it.
Linda Garner

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What About Pacing?

What about pacing? 

I thought about pacing a few years ago, when I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  It is a classic and a treasure, but I doubt that it would be published today.  It is a leisurely stroll through family life.  It’s warm and delightful, but…

Most of us don’t stroll through literature any more.

I thought of pacing again, when I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  This was more than a leisurely stroll.  It was a slow moving ship in a glassy sea.  The pace was painfully slow at first, but I grew used to it.   I grew to love it.  It’s a masterpiece.

I value my experience with that book.

Today we look for a brisk read.  We want the first page to grab out attention and we want action on every page.  We want each chapter to end with a cliff hanger, and we want plot twists and turns at regular intervals.
I remember my experience with The Lightening Thief by Percy Jackson.  I am not a big fan of Mr. Jackson’s story, for personal reasons, but I am a huge fan of his pacing.  The action came at just the right intervals, and the cliff hangers kept me reading.  Most importantly I was hooked from the very first sentence.

We allow for some variety in tempo or pacing, but our parameters are limited.  Our tolerance for deviation is slim. 
A few years ago I read a fantasy novel that gave me whiplash.  The plot twists and turns came much too frequently for my taste.  I needed air.  The action didn’t skip along.  It galloped, and I found myself gasping for breath.

Out of kindness, to the author, I won’t mention his name or the title of his book, although you may love it.  In fairness I should admit that fantasy is not my favorite genre.  Perhaps if I was a lover of fantasy, I would have been swept along with the pacing, even if I was hanging on for dear life. 

I’m not into whiplash, but I couldn’t take a steady diet of the classics either.  Though I appreciate them, I need to change things up occasionally.  Crawling is fine, but I also love to dance and run.
Another element of pacing is paragraph length and chapter length.  Readers like short paragraphs.  Readers enjoy short chapters.  My favorite example of this is Michael Vey by Richard Paul Evans.  It has the shortest chapters I can remember and everyone loves it, even reluctant readers.

Recently I discussed Matched with my Granddaughter.  She  enjoyed it, but was used to a faster pace.  I hadn’t noticed the slower pace, because I was so caught up in the language.  I savored it, enjoying each tasty bite.  The story teased me but the gentle voice and the musical words delighted my senses.
I love a leisurely stroll through a beautiful word garden, a daring dance through a  word-forested plot, or a delightful romp in a carefully constructed word city.   The words are the building materials, but don't forget tempo, movement, pacing.
Linda Garner


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Green Eggs and Ham

Today was the day we planned to start excavating for our new swimming pool.  The weather’s a little nasty, so I think we’ll wait a few days.  Imagine how nice it will be to have our own swimming pool.  I can swim anytime I want.  Of course, in the winter I’ll still have to go to the gym.

Our ducks are inconsistent in their laying habits.  We rarely get three, but often one, and sometimes two.  They are hard to find.  The ducks like to hide them.  They are usually green, but today we found an orange one.  I guess the ducks are getting ready for Easter.

We love eating the duck eggs for breakfast.  They are delicious and healthy.  They are larger than chicken eggs, so we usually eat just one each.  The orange one was huge, so we shared it.   We scrambled it and ate all we wanted.  There was a lot left over.
My phone has been ringing all morning long.  I have had calls from two agents and three publishers who all want to get their hands on my latest book.  I guess I’ll have to flip a coin.

I got up this morning at 3:00 and cleaned the entire house from top to bottom, then I wrote five chapters in my latest novel, and sent off three queries.  Next I ran three miles and lifted weights for an hour.  I think I’ll go swimming next. 

I read today that they’ve found a cure for cancer, and they’re narrowing in on a cure for diabetes.  A pill has just been developed that makes you smarter.  And there’s a new wrinkle cream that erases wrinkles on contact.  A special fork has been developed that allows you to eat anything you want without gaining a pound. 

We found an M&M plant in our garden yesterday.  The M&Ms aren't ripe yet.  I am surprised at how well it's doing because its in the shade of our Money Tree.  We'll invite you over to help harvest the M&Ms as soon as the get ripe. 
Oops!  I just found out that the fork thing is a hoax.  The inventor said it was just a joke—an April Fool’s Joke.

Happy April Fools Day!

Linda Garner

P.S.   By the way, the duck eggs really are green, and we do eat them for breakfast.  Takes Green Eggs and Ham to a whole new level.  Inside, they look just like regular eggs.  They taste the same too.