Saturday, February 27, 2010

Alien Abduction?

No, aliens haven’t abducted me. No, my computer didn’t break down. And no, I didn’t lose the use of my fingers, forcing me to learn to type with my toes.
I have no excuse for my blogging absence. Well, at least no good ones. I could give you a list three pages long of bad excuses, but I’ll spare you.
Over the last six weeks, I’ve been taking a Creative Writing class. It’s been wonderful, and I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing. I’m sad to see it end. Each Saturday, I looked forward to the hour long drive to get there, followed by two hours of class, and another hour to get home. The drive gave me time to think, and reflect on what I'd learned.
I often left the class feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of the writing world. It is not for the weak at heart. I feel a little bit like I’m running a race, only I’m turned the wrong direction and have to fight my way through the crowd, without getting trampled on. I hope I can fight my way through, and not give in to self-doubt.
Frustration is a normal part of a writer’s life. Okay, frustration is a normal part of everyday life, but we’ll stick to writing today. There is SO much to learn. I want to plug myself in to a Matrix-like machine, and upload all the files. If anyone knows how, please leave a comment below.
I figure I’m just going to have to learn it one step at a time, like everyone else. Line upon Line, Precept on Precept…(Are any of you singing the Saturday’s Warriors song, like I am?)
There were so many elements from class that have impacted my writing. I think the one that will help me the most was the concept of “Show, not Tell”. I’d heard the phrase thrown around in the writing world several times, but didn’t fully grasp the concept until now.
Annette Lyon taught the class, and was wonderful. (Check out her website, and read her books.) For one of our homework assignments, we had to write a paragraph that “Showed” an emotion, without “Telling” what it was. The exercise really pounded the idea home, so I thought I’d share it with you.
A Telling (and therefore-BAD) sentence would be something like this:
Brandon sat at the table, feeling frustrated as he tried to write an apology letter.
My Showing scene read as follows:
Brandon sat at the kitchen table, hunched over a blank piece of paper. The pen in his hand tapped the table repeatedly, though Brandon was hardly aware of doing it.
“It shouldn’t be this hard. Just apologize and get it over with,” he said to the empty room.
A moment later, he placed the pen to paper and began to write. The words came quickly at first, then slowed until mid-sentence they stopped. He slammed the pen down and crumpled the paper into a tight ball. He chucked it at the corner of the room, where a trash bin waited to add one more failed attempt to its growing pile.
In the second paragraph, I never said he was frustrated, but you could see it.
Okay, now I have an entire manuscript to revise. Hmmm…better get started.
Thanks Annette, for helping me become a few steps closer to becoming a better writer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Optimistic Mondays – Be Yourself

It's Monday, and I'm running low on creativity (and time), so this post will be short. I recently read a quote that my grandma posted on facebook, and it really it me hard.

"Be a first rate version of yourself,
not a second rate version of someone else."
- Judy Garland

They are words I need to remember everyday. It's hard not to want what others have. It can range from anything as simple as wanting someone else's hair style, to wishing for their life. I look at other more established writers, and it's hard not to want to be in their shoes. But I also know that I need to make the journey myself, so I can appreciate it when I get there.

Heavenly Father did not make us the way we are by accident. We are all His creations, each one made with care and love. When we put ourselves down, we are putting our Creator down.

We all need to stand up and be proud of who we are. There may always be room for improvement, but don't ever forget who the real you is.

Happy Monday!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Critique Group

Help! I need to get into a critique group. Do any of you know of a group that is looking for another member? I'm interested in either an online group, or an in-person group that meets somewhere in the Salt Lake Valley.

I have been writing for about a year, and while I have an enormous amount to learn still, I have improved drastically over the last year. I write LDS Women's Fiction. I'm not necessarily looking for a group of the same genre, but one that is okay with LDS fiction.

Are you looking for a group for yourself? If I can't find an existing one to join, I will look into starting one up myself. Let me know if you are interested. We can talk about specifics, and see if we can work together.

If you know of anyone else who may be interested, please pass this information along. You can comment here, or email me (Kim) at coateskj (AT)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Almost Famous...

If you want to read about the nearly famous me, go check out my guest post over at Mormon Mommy Blogs.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Optimistic Mondays – Coughs, Fevers and Runny Noses

Having sick children is miserable. Almost as miserable as having a sick husband. (Oops, did I say that?) My son got it first this time. After about a week, my daughter got it too. Such fun. The other night I swear I got out of bed 15 times during the night. No, I wasn't counting, but I should have. Maybe it was 16. Talk about a long night (or short one, depending on how you look at it).

Since my Monday posts are about looking at the optimistic side of things, I present a list of pros and cons.

Cons of having sick kids:
  • going thru tissues by the box
  • interrupted sleep for the kidlets as well as Mommy
  • keeping track of medicine doses (when/how much?)
  • excessive whining/crying
  • constant need for attention
  • co-pays to the doctor
  • paying for prescriptions (ear infection)
  • keeping track of more medicine
  • grumpy Mommy
Pro of having sick kids (YES, there is exactly ONE pro):
  • extra cuddle time
It is so easy for me to stress about all the things I'm not getting done when my kids are sick. Somedays, none of us even get dressed. The dishes pile up, toys cover the floor, my work is behind and my writing is all but abandoned. It's times like these when it's important for me to remind myself of the bigger picture. The kids need me. Everything else can wait.

When I focus on that important fact, and let everything else go, I can allow myself to enjoy the cuddle time. It doesn't happen very often, and it is so wonderful.

Happy Monday

Friday, February 5, 2010

I should be cleaning...

...but...I'll get to that later. :) Instead, I'm sitting at my computer in the most adorable new apron. I got it for my birthday from a very good friend, and I can't bring myself to clean in it yet. I don't know how I'll ever possibly cook in it. It's just too darn cute. What if it gets dirty? I know, I know, that's what it's for. But not today. Today, it's for being cute, and making me smile.

I think the computer is a safe spot to hang out, and keep it nice and clean. Hopefully my printer doesn't explode and spray ink all over. That would make me cry. I don't know if the ink would come out.

Moving on...

My creative writing class has been having a contest this week, and it's been a blast to see all the entries. It's a Bulwer-Lytten contest, which means its a BAD BEGINNING contest. There have been so many great entries. Just for fun, here's a couple of mine. (Remember, they are supposed to be bad!)

Once upon a time, on a dull and lonely morning, Judith opened her eyes and tried to remember the one important task she needed to do today, but was unable to think of it because of the strange dream she had just had about a flying carpet that was chasing her through the woods-oh, that was it; she was having her carpets cleaned today.

"Stop the train, I dropped my lipstick out the window!"

Life sucks, and then you die, but since I haven't keeled over just yet, let me share my story.

Do you know the feeling when someone is rambling off about something that you could care less about, but they think it's the most wonderful story in the world, and you have no choice but to just sit and listen, hoping it will end soon, so you can talk about something much more interesting, like yourself?

As I've been focusing on bad beginnings this week, it's made me think a lot about good beginnings as well. I'm working on revising my first chapter, trying to get it ready to enter into a first-chapter contest. Just when I think it's ready, I get a little more feedback, and change a few more things. Then I begin to doubt the chapter as a whole, which leads to doubting the entire manuscript. It's a vicious cycle.

My goal for the upcoming week is to focus on first chapters. I plan to read the first chapter, or at a minimum, the first couple of pages, of dozens of books on my bookshelf. Many of them are in the genre I'm writing in, and some are not. I've read them all, but never payed much attention to what goes into a first chapter.

By the end of next week, I'll either know I'm headed in the right direction, or I'll be trying to convince myself not to burn my own first chapter.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Contest Winner

Thank you to all who participated in my "13 Going on 30" contest. I got several new followers, and can count over 30, between a few different methods. I'm excited for the opportunity to get to know more bloggers out there, and have you get to know me. I hope you will continue to follow along with my journey, and that I will continue to grow and meet more of you.

Without further delay, here is the result of the drawing:

My daughter helped select the lucky winner.

And the winner is: Andrea, from Networked blogs.
You get to choose between the DVD "13 Going on 30", or a lovely box of chocolates.

I'll contact you by facebook, and get your prize sent out. Thanks for being a follower.

I'm planning more contests soon, so everyone else - stay in touch.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Optimistic Mondays – Tomorrow’s the Big Day

This is it! Today is the last day I can claim to be in my 20’s. Tomorrow I turn 30. As promised, today I will reveal my “Mission Statement”. I’m know you have all been living in suspense. The fan mail has been rolling in. Hundreds of you have begged me to leak the secret, but I’ve been strong. I hope you didn’t loose too much sleep over this. Well, actually I hope you lost a little. That would make me feel important. Are you ready?
First a little explanation. About six months ago, I got this idea. I based it off the fact that successful businesses all over the world have something in common. They have a Mission Statement. It’s something that keeps them on track. It tells the employees what is expected of them, and it helps the clients and customers know what the company stands for, and that they live by a certain code.
I decided that if it works for them, maybe it would work for me too. So without further ado, I give you my mission statement for my 30’s.
"Digging Deeper"

Say what??? Allow me to explain.
I have spent my twenties trying to figure out where I belong. I have started dozens of projects. I’ve tried out new things. I’ve wanted to master them all. You know what I’m talking about. I wanted to be the perfect mother, housekeeper, cook, employee, gardener, photographer, scrapbooker, breadmaker, piano player, Spanish learner, singer, artist, visiting teacher, friend, blogger, exerciser, reader, craft show maker, makeup consultant, and many more I can’t think of right now.
I saw someone else succeeding at something, and I wanted to do it too. But I didn’t just want to do these things casually; I wanted to be the best there was. I never really thought of myself as competitive, I just wanted it for myself. I had a genuine interest. I loved to learn new things.
The problem was I didn’t have time to really focus on any of those things. I got so overwhelmed by the task in front of me, that I would give up, and find something else to master. It was a vicious pattern.
I’m not disappointed about my 20’s. I did a lot of wonderful things. I grew, progressed, learned, and experimented. See last weeks post.
Now it’s time to move on. This time, instead of just skimming the surface, I’m going to be digging deeper. I’m going to pick a few things, and focus on them. I’m going to let go of the rest. I’ll not be completely abandoning them, just not focus on them. For example, I love to take pictures. But somehow I couldn’t just take a picture for fun. I dreamt of being a professional. I’m letting that go.
I don’t plan to participate in craft shows. Instead, I’ll go and support my friends that are in them. Artwork? It was never really in my blood. Easy to let go of. Gardening? I want to have a garden, but no longer want to learn the proper name of each flower. I wont try to plant every variety of vegetable.
Instead, here is where I will list the things I plan on focusing during my 30’s.
1. I am first and foremost a mother. I have a heavy responsibility placed on my shoulders, and feel the weight of it every day. The next ten years will bring many moments of joy, pain, challenge, and worry to my family. My children will be exposed to the world, and things I would rather protect them from. I hope I will be a good enough mom to prepare them.
2. Recently I developed my passion for writing, and have every intention of taking it to higher levels. Sometime in the next 10 years, I hope to become a published author. I hope it doesn’t take the whole time, but even if it does I’m not giving up.
3. I own a piano. It’s a beautiful piece of furniture that sits in my living room. My children play on it every now and then, and I plan to put them in lessons when they are old enough. I used to play it regularly, but with everything else going on, I’ve abandoned it. I plan to get back into it, and regain some of my talent. I hope to be able to start lessons again.
There you have it. It’s a small list, but hey-it’s supposed to be. It’s hard to let go of so many things, but it’s the only way I’ll be able to really focus on what’s the most important for me. I will still do things that are not on my list, but I won’t obsess about them anymore.
I’ve got my shovel (literally, a friend gave me one, see picture above) and I’m Digging Deeper. I can’t wait to look back in 10 years and see what I’ve accomplished. Okay, I can wait. I don’t want it to go too fast. ;)
Happy Monday.