Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Saturday Blogger

Remember the old Primary song “Saturday”? It has a swing that delights young children and goes, “Saturday is a special day, it’s the day we get ready for Sunday…” When I was a child I loved it when we sang that song because our chorister would get out her props—shampoo, nail clippers, and all those other things you’re supposed to use on Saturday—and if I were really lucky, I’d get to go up front and hold one of them up at the appropriate time in the song.

Unfortunately for most of us, Saturdays aren’t so simple anymore. We don’t just have to “brush our clothes and shine our shoes,” we have to do all those loads of laundry and ironing we didn’t get done throughout the week so everyone’s white shirts and dark slacks and pink dresses will be clean and dry and pressed for Sunday morning. We also need to “clean the house and shop at the store”—words that roll off the tongues of singing four-year-olds but somehow cause older children to writhe in pain when their mothers suggest they participate in such activities. (This odd phenomenon can easily stretch tasks that should only take a few minutes into all-day ordeals.)

Then, of course, there are the big projects we couldn’t do the rest of the week, like mowing the lawn, painting the house, and cleaning the septic tank. And there are the fun things we’d love to do with our families that we’ve deemed inappropriate for Sundays, and also don’t fit well into weeknights—visiting amusement parks, going to movies, canoeing, swimming, fishing, building an extension on to the tree house…all these have to be crammed into Saturday as well.

And just when we think we finally have some time to relax, we suddenly remember to prepare the lessons and talks we have to give the next day in church. (Yes, we know we should have been working on them all week. Yes, we really did tell ourselves we’d have more time later. Yes, we really did believe ourselves even though we knew it wasn’t true.)

With all we have on our plates on Saturdays, it’s a wonder that so many of us make it to church the following morning in one piece. Yet there we are, scrubbed and clean and dressed in our beautiful clothes, walking serenely down the aisle of the chapel as the organ plays the prelude music (or, sometimes, the opening hymn…or the sacrament hymn…)

Hi, my name is Katie Parker. I’m the author of the LDS novel Just the Way You Are. And the fact that I have chosen to blog on Saturdays should tell you all you need to know about my current state of mind.

If you never hear from me again, you’ll know I drowned in the Saturday stew.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Freedom Writers (Not the Movie)

It’s happening.

The fireworks stands are being set up on street corners everywhere and pyromaniacs young and old are dropping cash on products with names like Burning Locust, Sparks of Death, and Fire Demon. Red, white, and blue have become the colors of choice in grocery stores. And grill masters everywhere are firing up the grills. Independence Day is here! (Well, almost.)

Ever since I was young, July 4th has run a close second to Christmas as my favorite holiday. I love everything about it: the backyard pool parties/barbecues; the fireworks shows; the fact that it’s encouraged to eat a hot dog, potato chips, and a snow cone for dinner.

But most of all I appreciate the wonderful and hard-won freedoms it stands for. I think sometimes I take for granted that I can write whatever I want to write. I don’t have anyone telling me what I can and can’t put into a story. Except my mom who on first read of my novel, The Icing on the Cake, told me I had inadvertently named a character after one of my dad’s favorite San Francisco Giants and suggested I change it. (I knew the name sounded good for some reason.) It is true that this great freedom, as all things, can be used for less than worthy pursuits, but I appreciate the bounteous good it has facilitated.

So if you’re planning on celebrating this July 4th, take a minute amid the festivities to start a good book (I’ve heard there’s this new one called The Icing on the Cake that’s supposed to be pretty good), sing a good song (no one knows the real words to The Star Spangled Banner, just fake it), or enjoy a good piece of art, and appreciate the incredible freedoms this holiday celebrates.

Wow. It’s late. Off to bed for me. Now that I have The Star Spangled Banner stuck in my head, it might take a little longer than anticipated.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

About Me

Hi everyone,

I'm very excited that The Ink Ladies invited me to join this blogging team. Our founder, Marcia, assigned a day for each of us to blog. Mine is Wednesday.

Here is some information about me in the writing world. I've been writing commercially since the mid 80s. Many of my 900-odd published credits come from working first as a writer, then as an editor for four different regional LDS newspapers. However, I also have managed to publish short stories, columns, and poems as well as two Western novels, The Man from Shenandoah and Ride to Raton. One of my poems won two state competitions and went on to win the national Alice Abel Literature Competition in Poetry. I also contributed to two non fiction books on writing and publishing.

I was the editor and publisher of a newsletter for writers and a small magazine: Aztec Peak and WestWard Quarterly, The Magazine of Family Reading. The latter is now edited by Shirley Anne and Richard Leonard and published by an arm of their Christian ministry, Laudemont Press.

I work with other writers as a mentor, creative consultant, editor, workshop presenter, contest judge, coach, and teacher. In 1986 I founded American Night Writers Association (ANWA), a network for LDS women writers, and was the facilitator of the group for many years. I served as the first President, and now am serving as the Membership Secretary and Webmistress.

I taught creative writing at Irving School and newspaper writing at Carmel Charter School. I got a big charge out of reading my work at Yavapai College and the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Arizona. Now I'm working on completing the third Owen Family novel, and finishing another novel set in Arizona in the 1890s.

I am a member of Western Writers of America, LDStorymakers, Romance Writers of America, and American Night Writers Association.

I hope you'll visit my website:, my personal blog: Writer in the Pines, and another blog I participate in: ANWA's Founder & Friends.

Whew! What an info dump! See you next Wednesday with a much less egocentric post.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Okay, check it out. I got my photo on this time! So I've never done much of this before ... learning. Thanks for the tip!

Hello everyone!

Well hello there! Looks like this is going to be a fun site. Thanks for including me. I know I'm late getting my first blog on here, but we just returned from a week-long family reunion. I'm still trying to recuperate.
We made two trips up the canyon, climbing over waterfalls and hiking through a river. We spent one full day on the lake water skiing and tubing. We spent another day in shooting competitions and had a fabulous dance! It was a great time, but next year I think I'll just go as a spectator instead of the planner.
A little about me - I'm a writer, of course. I enjoy doing nearly anything that gets a good adrenaline rush. I do enjoy my quiet time as well, which is one reason I wanted to celebrate when my youngest started school last year. I do love my private time during the day. Oh, I'm also a runner. I love to run ... rain, sleet, snow or hail ... okay, sometimes I do take it inside to the treadmill. Of course my running partner just moved so if any of you would like to go for a morning jog, give me a holler.
I'm located in southern Utah, the city of Enoch, to be exact. It was translated once, we can always hope we'll be here when it happens again.
Let's see, I have five children, ages 5-15. The oldest is learning to drive and it's making my husband age quite rapidly. I don't know that she can drive much worse than me (one of my aspirations is to drive race cars), so I'm taking it much better than I believed I would.
Anyway, I really enjoyed reading all the blogs and look forward to getting to know you all better. I also did quick previews of all your websites and must say I'm impressed. I'll check them out in further depth as time permits.
Now, if I can only figure out how to get my photo on here ....

Monday, June 25, 2007

Confessions of an em-dashaholic

This weekend I participated in a critique retreat. Picture a century-old victorian mansion, eight of the brightest and most talented children's writers...and me, coolers full of diet Coke (well, other beverages too, but that was my pick), a table-top of assorted chocolate, nary a kid in sight (mind you, I have 7 at home), and 48 hours focused on the improvement of our manuscripts. In one word—heaven! What an incredible experience. I do believe this was the most productive and insightful writing related event I've been a part of and I highly recommend it.

So that's the good news. The bad—I discovered I'm an em-dashaholic (see, I did it right there)! Truthfully though, I always knew this about my writing—but I can't help myself. The em-dash is so—oh, I don't know—fun, maybe. Seductive—okay, not really. Let's just stick with fun! I LOVE my little horizontal friends. And they're not alone in my secret bag of overused punctuational (is that a word?) vices. Ellipses...parenthesis (don't you just love these little guys) and the dreaded italics. Aaaaaahhhh! Someone—please save me from myself!

Okay, so I'm taking a vow, from this day forward, to restrain myself from over use of my little punctuation friends. I will embrace the comma. The comma is my new friend.

Farewell, em-dash. You're fun, but my overindulgence of you is affecting my literary progress. I'll stop by to visit, but only on occasion when it's appropriate.

Tami *sniff*

What is a Blog?

A year and a half ago, I had no idea what a blog was. I was watching Nancy Grace one night when she was talking about a man who had been arrested and there was incriminating evidence on his blog. And, I said, "what is a blog." I had never heard of the word before. A little after that, LDS Publisher announced her blog and I finally realized what it was. And, I was hooked. I checked her blog every day. My only question was, where was she two years ago when I really needed her.

Before LDS Publisher, there were the LDS Storymakers who I also love. I read both of their books- Publishing Secrets and Writing Secrets. They were both extremely helpful. And then there was the series of questions I e-mailed Tamra Norton about publishing. (I don't know if she remembers those, but thanks for answering them).

Anyway, I just really love LDS Publisher and thank her extremely for her blog. After that, I was hooked on blogs now that I figured out what they were. And thanks to her list of blogs, I started reading Six LDS Writers and A Frog, along with Josi Kilpack's blog and Tristi Pinkston's blog. Then, I was really hooked. And then, the genius ladies came up with Writers in Heels so I could check all my favorite blogs on one site and I have enjoyed the other women who blog there.

I started my own blog and will probably post there once in a while, but I think I will really enjoy blogging here at the Ink Ladies. I can handle posting once a week, and I like hearing from the others. Blogs are great, now that I know what one is.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cows and Books

Have you seen the American Idol episodes where the singers meet their own music idols and act all wide-eyed and star struck? Well, even if you didn’t, let me just say, I watched them and thought, “If I ever go on American Idol (which, as long as people have ears, I won’t) and I get to meet my singing idol, I will act cool and collected. Top-selling artists are people too.”

Well, my friends, I have a confession to make. When I found out that I, a newly published author, would be posting a blog right after the author of some of LDS young adult fiction’s funniest books, I felt a little wide-eyed and star struck. But I’ll try not to let it affect my blogging abilities.

I come from a smallish town in California, right in the center of the state. The cow part, as I affectionately call it. Seriously. You know that commercial about the “happy cows” from California. I live right by those happy cows. Though I’m not quite sure who decided they were happy. They look like regular cows to me. You know, cowy.

When I was getting married—to the guy you can thank for helping me make sure the guys in my books don’t sound like girls— I had the bright idea to have a wedding reception in the backyard of my parents’ house. In preparation for the big event, I had a Cow-Scent-Factor Log that I wrote in each night. I would go outside every fifteen minutes to sniff the air for, how can I put it, eau de cow, and recorded the results on a scale from 1-10. Things seemed to follow the same pattern every night, and that’s how I decided on a two hour reception from 6-8. I’m sure my guests have no idea I went through so much trouble on behalf of their noses.

But enough about the cow stuff. Let’s talk about books. Ooh, just the word makes me happy! I have loved books my whole life. Back in elementary school, the principal had a reading program. All the kids in the school could check books out of his office and would get prizes when they read a certain number of books. I was in his office seemingly every day picking up another Nancy Drew, Babysitter’s Club, or Sweet Valley High. While I was reading, I was also writing. Lots of stories with “cute, sensitive football players.”

Then when I was diagnosed with a painful chronic disease that has meant lots of time in bed and lots of wondering why I have to continue to wait for the blessing of motherhood, I found reading and writing to be more than just fun—they were powerful. Books became more than just enjoyable—they became little packages of joy and relief.

Suddenly I knew what I wanted to do. It almost felt like what I had to do: Write. Write good, clean, funny, uplifting books for anyone who is ever suffering or tired or overwhelmed or lonely or just in need of the power of books. I try to make sure everything I write combines inspiration with humor. The thing about a laugh is that at the precise moment that it’s escaping from you, that’s all you feel, that rush, that exhilaration, that relief. It’s powerful stuff.

Well, it’s time to see what kind of dinner I can whip up with cornflakes, a mangled-looking leftover chicken, and a box of See’s chocolates. Or maybe I’ll just eat the chocolates while I speed dial my favorite pizza place. Talk to you later.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Group Blogging

A few days ago I was approached by some authors about participating in a group blog. My initial reaction was very similar to when I was finally asked to the Senior Ball—“Yay—someone wants me!” (Okay, so my date’s name was Ralph, and we never went out again after that night, but I have photographic evidence that it took place: . Scan down. I’m the one in the homemade red dress that really was cute back in 1982.) But I digress…

The group blog situation is ideal for me. I suppose now is as good’a time as any to admit that, yes, I’m a group-type person—groupy—groupster. Let’s just say that I enjoy my association with others. And no wonder; I was raised the fifth of eight siblings (7 girls, 1 boy). My life began as a group experience and I’ve never known otherwise. Growing up, I never had my own bedroom, I shared clothes, make-up and every childhood illness requiring pink medicine or Vicks VapoRub—Mom’s cure-all.

Now, in a matter of one generation, I’m in the same situation. I still share a bedroom (although now my “roommate” is devastatingly handsome and has the tendency to snore while sleeping on his back. But if we ever start sharing clothes and make-up, the gig is up!) Oh, and in the Norton household (7 darlings, ages 5 to 21), we recently endured a week-long strep throat epidemic: 3 doctor visits, 1 penicillin shot, a lot of the pink stuff.

Some might ask, “Isn’t writing a solitary endeavor?” Actually, I wish I had more “solitary” to support this “endeavor.” Since we’re homeschoolers and enjoy “Family Home Life,” I snag every solitary moment I can to write. Aside from the midnight hours or hiding away in my bedroom (they always find me), my favorite solitary writing situation is the evening or Saturday afternoon escape to Whataburger where I’m freakishly productive considering the “oldies” soundtrack blaring in the background, and noisy patrons eating and staring at a lady typing with one hand while stuffing fries into her mouth with the other. Hey, if it works...

Regardless of where I write, I’m never alone; I have my characters to keep me company…which is another topic for another blog. It’s late now and time for bed. My guy's already snoring. But first, I have to put on some Vicks VapoRub—I have a cough.