First, a rant. My kindle broke. I've only had it for 5 weeks and it's done for. No idea why - it's stuck on some weird gray-shadowy-screen and won't turn on with no real explanation for why it would do that. I'm calling Amazon support ASAP, but waaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!! I've been taking notes on my ms and now they're LOST. Did I mention waaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!??

Okay, on to the actual post for the day: There are a lot of reasons to feel dejected during this game we call writing. There are even more when it comes to the business of publishing. A friend of mine, one that has been writing for several years and has submitted to agents and editors, has a non-fiction book published, and has lots of partial and full requests under his belt, announced this week that while he will write, he will no longer seek publication. It's just too heartbreaking. Sound familiar, anyone?

Sometimes, though, we feel hope. That's what I wish for you this weekend - to remember those moments of hope and move forward with whatever you're doing right now for your writing or journey toward publication. Think of all the things that writing brings to your life and that - while the business side is, well, yucky - becoming published would be the very bright light at the end of the tunnel. Here are some of my (erica's) reasons to feel hopeful about my future as an author:

-the feeling of "Wow, this is a great idea. I should make it into a book."
-getting past that dreaded 50-page mark and realizing I really am making a book out of it
-writing that last sentence and knowing I made a book out of it (even if there are hundreds of revisions coming up)
-having someone tell me that what I wrote made them happy
-the first partial request
-while editing, thinking "Holy cow, I really made that part better."
-and, of course, the constant dream of my big Oprah moment

(btw, I got a good review from the secret agent at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) Crossing fingers for the announcement of winners on Tuesday!)


when honesty is just plain mean

I'm not one to make waves.  Nor do I like confrontation.  I'm not a woman of many convictions and tend to be easily swayed by other's opinions.  I like to think of it as being open-minded.  BUT I'm often embarrassed that I'm not more opinionated.


sometimes opinionated, or rather, judgemental people are just MEAN.  What opinions and beliefs I do have, I tend to keep to myself.  Cowardly, definitely.  The MC in my contemporary YA novel is going through a simliar dilemma.  How to be true to herself by sticking up for herself by being herself.  And just not worrying whether somebody else will disagree or laugh at her or think she's ridiculous or stupid. 

One thing I admire about Taylor Swift is this:  Plenty of people make fun of her.  Her singing isn't good.  She sings off-key.  She's annoying.  BUT it doesn't stop her from being HONEST in her music and her songs.  She's naive and innocent and HONEST.  Her lyrics are from her heart, her real-life experiences and they hold messages for other young girls. 

She inspires me and my writing.  Her music helps my YA themes and protags.

I'm trying not to worry about what other people's opinions of me will be when they read my writing.  EVEN THOUGH IT SCARES THE S**T OUT OF ME. 

One example comes to mind. Stephenie Meyer is a very successful writer who is not at all well-respected.  I think even if I sold millions of copies of my novel and made an equal amount of money through the sale of books and films, I'd want to crawl in a hole and shrivel up if my supportive writing community bashed my writing, characters and story.  As I sit here and write my first two novels and plot a third, I just want them to be on a shelf one day and hope that a few people read them and enjoy them.  I'm sure that's all she hoped for.  I certainly never plan to be the next JK Rowling or Stephen King.  I doubt she did either.  Yet she's constantly compared.  And found waaaay lacking.  So far the writing community online has been AMAZING, but they seem to have turned on her.  Even if MANY writers dislike her writing, and all it consists of, WHY put her down so much? 

I hope by the time my 12th novel is written and stands a chance at an agent my writing will be stellar (and only because you, my writing friends, will have shown me the way) and I won't have to suffer quite the amount of criticism she has.  THAT SAID, I know there will ALWAYS be reviewers who dislike my work, my style, my characters, my pace, etc.  I KNOW harsh criticism will always be a part of my writing future and life in general.  I KNOW writers need to be thick-skinned.  I guess I was just thinking about it the other day and wondered if she wondered why so many people felt compelled to take the criticism of her work to such extremes.


I've sat at Mother. Write. Repeat.  (see yesterday's post for link!) for the past few hours and have become ADDICTED to reading the queries.  Critiques of the queries are posted online. I don't even comment because I have little confidence in myself as a critiquer.  I'm learning, though.  I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the queries along with the first pages.  The commenters have been honest and helpful and constructive.  AMAZING, like I said before.  Plus, the take of the agent is interesting!  Sometimes in line with the other commenters, and sometimes not. 

A few things I came a way with:

-There seems to be a new trend in starting a story with an accident of some sort (usually car).

-There are STILL some writers who want to start with that all-too intriguing dream scene.  ;0)

-An MC (especially females) need to be strong, smart, good role models (no damsel in distresses). 

This seems easy, I think, but often enough we may tend to play the weak card in the beginning so our MC can grow into the strong person hiding within them.  BE CAREFUL WITH THIS.  It may really turn an agent off to read weakness in your MC in the first page!  Don't make "weak" the character flaw your MC begins with.

I had totally planned for this to be a short post.  Sorry! (erica interjects - this is great, christy. erica's post tomorrow about mean people will be much worse. Or better. Or different (and completely unrelated). Something. :)


Why I could never be an agent

I (erica) tend to enter a lot of online contests with my query and first page and I've gotten a lot of good advice that way. Since I have a pretty thick skin (and can be critical myself, so I like that in my own reviewers), it works for me, especially while I'm working on my new WIP and not actively querying A New Day.

This week I was lucky enough to enter an "agent inbox" contest (I'm not sure if she calls it a contest, that's just my word) over at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) and so far, so good (I'm #24, btw). I've been told before that I should leave out the information about Lincoln's surgery off the query since it isn't important in the first half of the book, but I've left it in there so far - mostly for sentimental reasons since it's exactly that event that drove everything else in the book, but also because I don't want an agent to read my sweet romance book and suddenly think wth? sci-fi?? But um, yeah, in the comments poor Lincoln has had a sex change and is a probable CIA agent. Something's gotta' change...

And it also showed me (again) why I could never be an agent. I tried to read through all the queries, but it just didn't work for me. I tried, I really did. Now it's 8 hours later and I've done less than half of the 25. No fault to the writers AT ALL - they were all really good and I wish them the best of luck. It's me. I can't read more than one or two and then do something else. It's hard work, man! When I swore I would read 5 in a row without doing anything in between, I resembled this (and I only made it through 2):

How about you? Could you do it? Is your dream job being an agent (or intern) and reading queries over and over and over and...? And what's the ruling on contests? You guys participate? Why or why not?


When Writing Becomes YOU

  • You'll watch tv a lot less.
  • The bookstore will become a wonderland.  You will walk to the section your genre is housed in and stare at a fixed spot on the shelf imagining what will happen the day your book sits there.  You imagine what you might say.  "Have you read this amazing book?"  or  "I.  Wrote.  That."  "I can sign that for you.  If you want."  Until someone who works there, or shops there, or cleans up after hours walks by to ask if you are okay.  Or need help.  Or need an escort out.
  • Your kids will become a lot more independent.  Like your three year old might learn how to climb to the top shelf of the pantry to feed himself.  And his big brother.
  • Your house will be hideous, but you won't care because you'll never invite anyone over.
  • Nor will you go out.  Much.  You'll find excuses why you can't meet your friends after dinner.  Or after the kids are in bed. Or for coffee.  (Don't they know that you write BEST when the sun comes up?  Is highest in the sky?  Is setting?  Has disappeared?)
  • You'll miss an exit off the highway because your mc just whispered the perfect line in your ear and you've just figured out how to move past the writing block in a scene and now you'll have twenty more minutes to imagine what happens next as you drive on and on and on to the next exit just to turn around and get to where you were supposed to be getting.
  • Your best friends know your name and your characters' names and your plot, BUT NOT what you look like or what your voice sounds like or what your house looks like or what kind of clothes you wear or if you have an accent or bad acne or what you used to be like before writing took over your whole universe.  But they understand your innermost dreams and cheer you on and answer questions for you at one in the morning or noon or off and on for three hours at a time, and they read your work and tear it to shreds just to help you perfect it until it sparkles more than a vampire in full sun so you can fold it into a paper airplane and send it off....  And they will be there when you are rejected or accepted or not replied to.  They will never ever say, "Why aren't you published yet?"  or "Didn't you start that book two years ago?"
  • You will have more documents opened and saved on your laptop than you ever thought possible.  You will have notebooks and paper with frayed edges and pens and pencils and post-it notes scattered throughout the house so you will ALWAYS be prepared in case that moment of inspiration hits. 
  • Your mom and husband will wonder why you never finished the 25 page master's thesis you were supposed to write while instead you wrote your first 116, 000 word novel only to rewrite it into a 65,000 word novel in addition to the 40,000 word novel you started to get through the writer's block that kept you from the 65,000 word novel for two months.  (They didn't understand that since starting your master's three or four or six years prior, and had two kids, that you were no longer interested in the topic of the paper and, well, fell out of touch with the university after your advising professor went on sabbatical and recommended you find a new advisor and that you WILL complete your master's.  One day.)
  • Books will take on a whole new meaning.  You may enjoy them less.  OR MORE!
  • You may choose a Kindle over a Nook just so you can annotate manuscripts on it.
  • Some weeks you may enjoy writing your own scenes and characters more than you enjoy reading the ones you bought at the store or won online or uploaded on your Kindle from Amazon.  Because they're YOURS and you can't wait to find out how their story ends.  Because you love them and you have hopes past the moon that one day others will love them as much or more than you do.  Because they'll be on that shelf in the bookstore. And the manager and staff and customers will stand in long, long lines out the door and into the parking lot just to shake your hand and get your autograph and stand next to you saying cheese and to BUY YOUR BOOK!
  • You may exercise less, eat a bit more, and gain a little weight, but feel good about it because your characters love you that way and so do your newest friends.
*MOST of these items have never really happened to me.  I'm just not saying which, except you need to know my kids are always 100% supervised and safe and well-fed and I am a careful driver that you need not fear if you pass me on the highway or any other road.


It's Tuesday already?

Yeah, we um, missed Monday. It was Sunday. And now it's Tuesday. Whoops. (no, drugs were not involved. just families and kids and movies and sunshine)

July and December are heavily rumored to be the slowest months in agenting/publishing. Neither of us are actively querying right now - we both have completed mss that we enter in the occasional contest or query with the occasional agent/editor, but we're concentrating on completing our WIPs by the end of the summer for now. (yeah, we know - we said we'd be done by the end of June. it's nice to have goals...making them happen is a whole different story sometimes! but if you're an agent, don't worry - we'd totally make any deadlines you give us!)

How about you guys? Any July progress on querying or submitting? Are you planning on it yet this summer? We love success stories! Here are some of my (erica's) favorite places to research agents - share yours in the comments and I'll add them:

Query Tracker is an absolute must for any writer. Their database is full of agents you can sort by genre if you're generating a list of potentials, but also more specific information (including a comments section) on specific agents. I do all my, well, query tracking right from their site so I know who I've queried and what their response was. They also have a forums area and their own blog (shout-out to Stina, who contributes to their blog).

Agent Query is another helpful database that includes a little more detail for each agent than Query Tracker does, like their special interests/wants and recent deals from Publisher's Marketplace.

Preditors and Editors is your go-to source for finding out if an agent/publisher is legit. Have someone who contacted you about your work. Check here first!!

Absolute Write water cooler has a lot of topics - you could seriously get lost in there. I like the "Bewares and Recommendations" thread - lots of reader-supplied information on agents and publishers, including turnaround time and examples of responses/form/non-form letters.

Krista V.  has done quite a few agent interviews. Check out her "interview with an agent" tab for a list.

Literary Rambles does the research for you - tons of information on tons of agents (primarily for YA/MG)

Middle Grade Ninja interviews agents for MG authors (most of which will also take YA/children's). The list is on his sidebar (and beneath that is a list of author interviews).

Guide to Literary Agents is chock-full of information helpful to any writer. I especially like his new-agent interviews, which you can find on his sidebar as New Agent alert, although you'll find many other helpful labels there, too.

Happy Monday Tuesday! And Good Luck!


Something that has to be said

There are book snobs amongst us. There are. You might be one of them. Go ahead, admit it. Snobs are welcome here. We love you guys, too. If there weren't a varied reader, there weren't be genres at all.

But once in awhile, even book snobs like to read something that might not be considered "literary" - I'm sure of it. Yesterday, Christy told you guys about the love interest in my YA romance, Lincoln, and how he had a super-secret surgery that made him a bit better than the boy/girlfriends you might have had in high school.

Does that make me a bad writer? Not worthy of your reading? I hope not, but we all get to judge what we like when we like it. Just try not to compare vampires to wizards - they both have their place in books and with readers! 

Here it is - (roughly) page 193 of A New Day - I hope you enjoy it! (set-up: the main characters and love interests are Kenz and Lincoln - Lincoln's mom just gave a speech about nanotechnology, how it helped Lincoln after a battle with illness several years ago, and why her studies have been called unethical. Kenz starts the conversation here):

"What do you think she meant about some people accusing her of making people immortal superheroes?"

We walked several steps before he answered.

"People are afraid of what they don't understand. Like, even though they're afraid of cancer, some people are more afraid of new ways to get rid of it. They'd rather sit through the same awful chemotherapy their friend had than have an injection of something they've never heard of. I've heard my mom say that humans are strange, predictable creatures. I'm almost positive she's right."

"But immortality? It seems like a big leap from curing cancer to finding the fountain of youth. Although people would pay a ton for it."

"No doubt, but think about it this way. If there's no cancer, no diabetes, better treatments for what you do get. . .is there any way to kill us?"

It was my turn to go quiet, walking along, glancing at his face every few steps. It felt so amazingly perfect to be there with him. To have people see us and know we were together. To hold hands and walk and feel pretty.

Strange thoughts floated around in my head, though no matter how much I tried to block them out. He was the only one I could talk to about them. Or, maybe, the one I shouldn't talk about them with.

"What about super-beings? Can doctors use your mom's research to make people better than they were before?"

"I don't know. It seems like it, though." He stopped for a moment, looked at me under the street light, and continued in the direction we came from. "People have had plastic surgery for years, trying to be beautiful forever. I saw a lot of that in California. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. But surgery that can make you better, stronger, younger? I've never asked my mom straight out, but I think it's probable."

"Do you think it's happened already?" I asked, eyes fixed on my fancy golden shoes.

"I think that's possible, too," he admitted. His face looked worried as I glanced up. Puckered or something. "Let's drop it for now, okay? We had a good night and I told my dad we'd beat them home. Ready?"

I wasn't, but I nodded anyway and we went back to the car. We talked casually on our way home. Discussed work and our plans for the week. I was careful not to bring up any crazy ideas, for his sake as well as mine. I had a hard enough time accepting that Lincoln loved me. I didn't need to start thinking he had been turned into some sort of immortal super-human.

Hope you liked it! Sometimes, it's more fun to read page 193 than the first page for the millionth time. Comment with the favorite part of your ms!!


my character is better than your character


this post may or many not interest you.  it was actually just a random email sent between erica and christy while procrastinating writing on weds afternoon.

info you need to know to follow along:

shelby is the mc from christy's ya contemporary romance manuscript.  she is a 17 year old with a shallow mother and a snooty best friend who decides to make new friends (much to the dismay of her mother and bff).  she also begins dating the guy she's crushed on for years only to decide the annoying guy whose locker is next to hers (dane) is becoming less than annoying and more than appealing.

kaleb is the mc from erica's mg ghost story.  he is an eleven year old who takes money from his parents' house guests' kids (they run a bed and breakfast. the parents. not the guests.  or the kids.) in exchange for showing them a haunted room.  he loves his job.  until the ghosts get out of control and put everyone in danger.  the main ghost, the one turning the others evil, is a coyote.

lincoln is the mc's love interest from erica's ya contemporary romance.  he's hot.  and he underwent an extrememly secretive and highly controversial experimental surgery when younger.  the results and therefore his future are still unknown.  he does seem extraordinarily strong and virile though. and gets accused of having sex with a minor (sexting is involved).

AND NOW.  THE DUEL CONVERSATION  between characters from multiple genres and books and writers (er, the extremely funny email erica and christy had earlier today and wanted to share with you):

shelby: i know everything there is to know about wisconsin fossils

kaleb: i can fight ghosts

shelby: no, you let the ghosts IN. that's not cool.

kaleb: but by the end of the book i can FIGHT them.  AND save the world.

shelby: you mean a bed and breakfast ...NOT world. although to a self-centerd eleven year old, maybe.

kaleb:  HA! you should talk about self-centered! all you do at the end ofyour book is kiss the right guy. way to go you!  so worldly.

lincoln: would you both just shut up! I am a super-hero that will never die. Beat that!

shelby whispers to kaleb: i don't want to beat it, but i sure would kiss it. don't tell dane.

kaleb: *rolls eyes* and rides away on a ghost coyote

lincoln:  *winks* and *snaps a picture of shelby with his cell phone.*  i know of a place with some great rocks.

Come on, friends, you've had this happen to you. When do your characters argue??


How's the weather?

I know, I know. Never start with a discussion of the weather - it's the kiss of death. But Holy Hannah, if you live in the Midwest, you can't go anywhere without talking about it.

The bank? The weather. The store? The weather. The post office? You guessed it. The weather.

This is our weather:

no explanation necessary

I'm sure there are authors who come from Mississippi, Alabama, etc. I have no idea how they do it. Even in the central air, I have absolutely no creativity. Therefore, you get a discussion of weather.

How about you? Any inspiration?


mealtime madness monday and an analogy

plots are like salads

same basic ingredients, totally different story.

each "chef"/each author makes the salad/story unique.

plot "recipe":  ordinary world, inciting incident, first life-changing choice regarding conflict, various plot points, second life-changing choice regarding conflict, big blowout scene with antagonist, finale

basic plot for almost all successful stories, right?  meaning...the same basic ingredients for ALL stories.


the plot premise, the character's goal(s), the conflict(s), the fears, may be unique and creative and with their own twist. 

 add in the characters, the setting,  the writing style, and the voice
and you've got yourself a successful story you can call your own. 
even though the framework is just like everyone else's.

basic salad ingredients:  lettuce, various ingredients, dressing, toppings


what kind of lettuce?  romaine?  spinach?  mix?

one can choose a veggie salad:  (mix in with lettuce) carrots, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumber

add cheese, croutons, sunflower seeds, egg

dressings:  oil and vinegar, french, ranch, some amazing conconction you've put together with a food processor (just got one!  can't wait to try it out and share dressings with you someday!)

or a fruit salad:  (mix in with lettuce)  strawberries, blueberries, apple slices

first of all, what a great array of choices (delish) for a cool, summer salad! 
second, think about how plotting should be sooo the same, yet can be made soooo different. 

lettuce-plot structure (lettuce type-genre, each genre as it's own plot model so the one above may not apply or may need tweaking!)
characters-veggies/fruit (each character as unique as the various ingrdients...apples and oranges, er.)
fear/hope, goals-dressing
writing style, voice-seeds, cheese, croutons

am i stretching this?
(busy, busy weekend, last-minute post, had no ideas what to write about....)
maybe so, but it's a monday, so here are some salad ideas for you
along with a reminder to make sure your plot is strong and includes all the important parts! 

happy writing and eat healthy.  :o)

ps had a great time visiting with michael from In Time!  He drove up and visited me and my fam and we had a lovely time chatting, both in the cool a/c in my living room and in the smothering heat on my deck!  (but neither of us thought to take a picture!!!)


you asked for it part 2 (christy makes a fool of herself)

this is all erica's fault.  she did it, so now i have to too.  :0)  (i say that in the nicest, most respectful way because i adore my blog partner)

but i don't have as much to say as she did because i'm in a post trilogy mourning state and my brain is all muddled and foggy and my nose is all sniffly and sad....that, and my husband are going to have "date night" and watch a rare movie after the kids are in bed, which will hopefully be as soon as i'm done with this post. 

(for those of you interested i just finished the final book Forever in Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Linger, Forever trilogy.  i hate saying good bye.  apparently.  i have an empty kleenex box to prove it.)

'fun' facts about me (christy):
(i'm trying to remember what erica shared....)

1.  i am a germophobe and hand sanitize after i touch a shopping cart, shoes, a student, and wash my hands twice as much as a normal person who is germ conscious

2.  i have a treble clef tattoo on my lower back.  i got it when my cousin turned 18, so i must have been 22.  she got a sunshine on her spine.  hers was more painful.  mine was twice as large as it was supposed to be.  the guy blamed it on my having wanted it in color and not black.  had i chosen black, apparently, it would have been smaller....

3.  um, labor. ?  i've had two kids.  my third is due christmas eve.  i'll let you know how it goes.  ;)  here's a pic of me (last month) only 3 mos pregnant. yes, i am aware that most do not show at this point.  however, and don't tell me otherwise, it appears (plainly) that with the third child the body pops out immediately to complete preggo status.  i showed at 7 weeks and have continued to look two months farther along than i am.  i am hoping this stops in the next month, because otherwise i am not sure what will happen to my stomach, and the skin that is stretched across it, by november.

4.  i am 5'1".  give a little.  in sixth grade i had a growth spurt after which i almost matched the height of my peers.  shortly after, they all had their growth spurts and i returned to being the shortest in every crowd i ever stood amongst.  i also tended to gravitate toward the tallest friends and boyfriends, my tallest being 6'4".  kissing me goodnight must have really strained his back. 

5.  i don't play poker.  i play a mean connect four and beat my five year old every time.  and i get into fierce competitions with my dad when we play double solitaire.

there, i think i covered all the bases (har..erica i put a baseball phrase in there for you!)

we hope you enjoyed getting to know us a little bit better.  please share about yourself in the comments if you dare want to.


How editing is like packing for a vacation

I have a big family reunion coming this weekend and I've been packing. It's 3 days at a campgrounds (but luckily, my parents don't camp and rented us a house!) with about 40 of us - swimming, eating, chatting, birthday-partying, smoreing (I don't care if that's not a word, we're doing it), etc. It's about 170 miles from my house and with gas at $3.80 per gallon (and with a Yukon), it isn't cheap to get there, not to mention the cost of the house and the weekend. SO - I'm trying really hard to pack everything we need so our expenses once there are as low as possible. And then it hit me. Packing is like editing. Here's why:

1. It always takes longer than you think it will.
2. Once you're done, you remember one more thing you forgot to add.
3. You have nightmares about forgetting that one big ticket item that makes-or-breaks the trip/book. You get up at 3:00 am and open your suitcase/document and find it's still there. But, shoot, I forgot the toothpaste/small scene. Spend way too long checking for other small mistakes.
4. Realize you packed way too much. Take a few things out. After all, it's 3 days, we don't need every kind of juice my children have ever expressed interest in.
5. Be prepared for hot days and cold days. Pace yourself and know that if it rains, you can always stay inside and read - it might help you look forward to those sunny/inspirational days.
6. If all else fails, take it all back out and start over. It'll take some time, but you might get it right that way.

Happy editing. And happy almost-weekend! (oh, and I don't know much about soccer, but I am excited about the World Cup. Go Team USA!)


an example of how reading can help your/my writing

Instead of entertaining you with juicy facts about moi, I'm just sharing about a book I read that helped me with an ms I wrote. 

This is because I planned to follow erica's suit for sharing fun facts and a pic and I'm just too lazy to get up and get my camera and plug it in and find the pic and save it to pics and upload it....

So you'll have to wait to see me and my baby bump until  my next post, probably Friday. 

What I will tell you today.  I read Anna and the French Kiss the other night.  In fact I stayed up until after 2 AM (reading in the dark with my nifty, attached Kindle light).  I felt like a teenager again.  I knew I'd regret it when my three year old started tweaking my nose at 6ish, but I didn't care.  It was bliss.  (I could probably have competed for world's crabbiest mom during breakfast, but still. No regrets.)

While reading, or after, I realized what my contemp romance ms is missing.  More conversation between my protag and her love interest.  And more conversations ABOUT the items important in their seventeen year old lives:  interests, post-high school plans, dreams, pet peaves, etc. (sorry if it's peeves.  Lazy, remember?)   I also realized that while my initial "plan" put friends in the love interest's life, I never actually included them in the book.  Um, yet.

Since 2 AM, my protag now loves rocks and fossils and has aspirations in the geological field.  THIS (acually was not way off because her dad had mentioned in a phone convo with her that she was his math girl...now I added in her correcting him by saying, "Science, Dad.  I like rocks.")  led me to a new setting for a scene or two and a way to get my protag and love interest together by tying in a subplot that I was stuck on!  AND two scenes: one with boy who IS love interest and one with boy who is competing for this role to show how one reacts to her interests and how the other reacts..not so well. (don't even tell me this is cliche.)

SO...MY POINT...YAY for me.  :0)

and thanks stephanie perkins and anna and hot english/american boy w/french name (etienne).

that's all folks!


You asked for it (aka erica makes a fool of herself)

Okay, you guys said you like us, you really like us. And you want to know more about us. What? You didn't say that? Oh, well, it's Tuesday and today you get - dum dum dum dum - everything you were too scared to know about erica (mostly because I'm watching the home run derby and my guy Rickie didn't do well and now I don't know what to post about and - um, let's get on with it, shall we?):

1. This is me, in perhaps the least flattering picture ever taken in the history of photography (circa 12/11/10). You're welcome for making you feel like a supermodel. :)

yes, that's a carhardt coat and a camoflage hat. no makeup. no shower. no shame. also, no eyes (wth?).

2. I was 5'8" tall in 5th grade and wore pink glasses my mom thought were "cute". You want to write a MG story about a girl who didn't fit in? Interview me.

3, 4, 5, 6. I play in a poker tournament every Tuesday night (which is where I am right now if you're commenting and I'm not answering).  I recently came in first at a small tournament to win part of (yes, part of) a trip to Las Vegas coming up in November. My best finish is 6th out of 120 (I think??) for something like $400. I have never played internet poker and find it uncivilized (or complicated...).

7. I have 3 tattoos. A blue rose on my hip that I got when I was 18 because a group of us girls went to get tattoos and I was not very original. A dragonfly on my shoulder that means something to me based on the movie by the same name (no laughing). And a depiction of the tree of life on my upper arm because it's all cool and stuff (or maybe to remind me and everyone who sees me about the circle of life. one or the other.)

8. I WILL lose 10 pounds before I go to Las Vegas. If not, I post pictures of fat on November 2nd. Don't worry, not my fat. Something funny for you, but really, really demeaning for me. I'll come up with something.

9. I really, really wanted to have my 2nd child underwater (back in 2006). Instead, he came in less than 2 hours after my first contraction - and I live 30 miles from the hospital - at 1:15 am. My dr. delivered him in her Care Bear jammies about 1.5 minutes after she got there. I was on a bed and the nurses were still disinfecting the tub. So much for birthing plans.

10. Christy will be totally embarrassed by this, but will also tell you (and me) how she isn't. It's a fact of life in our relationship and we both totally love it. We make the perfect team. :)

11. In the comments, leave one thing I don't know about you. Thanks!!!!!!


exhausted blog topics and exhausted bloggers

More and more bloggers, it seem, are taking longer and longer breaks from both posting and hopping.  Everyone must be buckling down to complete their first, second, and third novels.  WOC is just around the corner, after all.  That, and many agents take part of the summer off from queries, so many people are trying to get them in before that happens.

Plus, it seems with so many bloggers, perhaps many blog topics have been exhausted. That, or the bloggers are just plain exhausted. Blogging and hopping takes tons of time and energy. We've been through it, too.

So, what do those who still take time to hop want to read about?
How-to writing topics? For us, it seems, most writers we know are at the same level we are, or better, so there's a chance they're sick of those informative posts.  There are also tons of published authors and agents out there who do that, too.
If people are hopping less, then I suppose posts with lots of helpful linkage may not be the right thing either.

On the topic of exhausted topics, perhaps bloggers worry about what they post about.  Worry that an agent or editor will not like what they write.  The content or the critiques or the discussion of WIPs gone bad, rejections, writer's block, the days gone by without writing.  And should we or shouldn't we be posting snippets of work, especially snippets of work we're querying?

So what should we blog about?  World news, politics, religion? (ah, no, not so much) Our daily lives? (boooring!)

Maybe we should cover current events, the facts and our opinions on it.  Although, people CAN just watch or read about the news elsewhere. And probably definitely become a lot more informed that way.
Hmmm...we could do daily tips on food or share inspirational music to write by. Or great inspirational books, poems or authors. Or, you know, funny Youtube videos.
To be honest, we like to post about almost all of the above, but we're curious what you most prefer to read about when you take the time to visit blogs.

What do YOU READERS think? We love that you stop by daily or occasionally. What would you like to read about when you stop at OUR blog? 
We'll take requests. Think of us as your local, friendly, literary radio hosts. (except please don't pick politics, world news, or religion. Thanks)

So, what'll it be?


Quirks, I mean Habits, I mean Themes...

I'm not talking about character quirks/habits here. I'm talking about yours. You know you have them. Quirks, habits, themes - ones that are important to you and make their way into your books and stories every time.

In my case, baseball is always involved. I love baseball - from t-ball games to the majors, I love it. And my characters either watch it or play it, even if it's just a single reference per book. 

Other themes I've heard writers talk about is loving coffee, listening to music, riding a bike, and chewing gum.

How about you guys? Have a recurring theme in your books? What is it and how did it get there? Share in the comments!

And I leave you with a picture of my Milwaukee Brewers All Stars. Love these guys. Happy weekend!


don't miss out

hey there!

i've been busy trying to finish up my rewrite. finally.  i may actually do it this time.  and by this time i mean this week.

i'm so sick of talking about finishing this ms.

i've been doing lots of other mommy things too, so the writing doesn't get all that much time.  hence the reason i've been talking about finishing it since...um....january.

i would love an eight hour a day job of writing.

i'm so excited to work on another manuscript. and then another.

i've been to very few blogs recently.  sorry about that.  i thought summer would be filled with so much more time.  apparently...nope.

the few posts erica sent my way, or that i clicked on from twitter or from #WS4U (new facebook group for writing support!  Writing Support 4 U  (you should check it out!)),  have been great and so i'm sharing them with you:

you have until july 15 to enter a story in the cheerios "spoonfuls of stories" contest.  here's the registration form  you could win 5k!

you have until july 9 to take a YA quiz and win awesome arcs like shatter me, bloodlines, and forever right here!  (if you win shatter me, can i have it???)

after reading an article about casey anthony's mother and how she helped to plant the seed of doubt, making it difficult to prove premeditation, i scrolled to the bottom of the online article and found a blog by crime writers here.  i like to read crime novels, but don't think i have what it takes to write one.  maybe one day i'll talk erica into coauthoring one of those....

go here to enter a revision contest with agent natalie fischer...you'll need your logline, second sentence and second chapter...a cool twist on contests!

and just because it's always motivational to read an i-sold-my-book success story, go here to find another book you'll be able to read and enjoy because it will be on bookshelves!

and since i may never know what genre solstice really is and maybe you struggle with the definitions of certain genres like me, go here to learn more (paranormal, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, magical realism)


Taking risks

Let's talk about taking risks. Heck, we're writers, we know all about that, right? Putting your baby out there, for the world to either love or hate (usually, both) is a HUGE risk.

(to prove my point about risks, I just thought about posting a google image of what was supposed to be an ugly baby, but was really very cute, then clicked the link. Yep, it took me to a chat room where "horneygirl2011" asked me to meet up later tonight. with a very explicit photo of her, instead of the baby I expected.) (um, no, I'm not going. ;)

There are tons of risks that happen to us every day, and they should happen to your characters, too. Should they all make their way into your book? No, probably not, but you should know how they'd react if they did. They might act similarly to you - but not if their personality is in direct opposition to yours (which can happen, hey, most of us write fiction, after all).

Think about each following risk as your character would see it and add some more in the comments (I tried for some YA and some adult situations - therefore, I missed a ton):

- You wear your seatbelt *almost* every time. But this time, the guy you really like gets in, starts the car, and takes off before you get your buckle on - and he definitely doesn't have his buckled. What do you do?

- Even though your speedometer reads 61 - and the speed limit is 55 - everyone's passing you. You even caught a guy flipping you off as he passed. Do you increase? Decrease? To what?

- A 16-year-old friend of yours breaks her neck diving into a neighbor's backyard swimming pool. Do you go back to the same pool? If you do, do you dive?

- Everyone says cholesterol makes you fat and causes you to die early. So you quit eating fatty meats. But your dad made bacon special, just for you. Do you eat it and face a craving you're not sure you can quit?

- You're babysitting and your almost-boyfriend (or girlfriend) has his first night off in a week. Do you call to cancel the babysitting gig? Or do you let him/her come over? Or do you say no?

- The news features the death of a local doctor, who took a turn on a motorcycle and died of a head injury. You believe in riding the bike purely - nothing between you and the road. Do you change your mind?

- The party's tomorrow. Do you skip it even though everyone else will be there? Do you go, not drink, and drive your friends home? Do you only have a couple and drive your much-more-drunk friends home? Do you get really drunk and hope somebody else drives you home? Do you get really drunk and sleep wherever "there" is? Do you go, have tons of fun, wake up the next morning in your own bed, and wonder how the heck you got there and how you'll ever find your car?

- Heights are terrifying to you. Even climbing a step ladder makes you sweat where you had no idea you could sweat. Then you're asked to go to the top of a parking structure to watch the local 4th of July fireworks show. You go. People are letting their kids cling to the chain-link that encases it. You can't stop gasping in fear. Even worse, people are sitting on top of the concrete posts, certainly about to plunge to their death - you have to look away. You put your children very safely in the backseat of your car, which is far from the wall, where they protest vehemently until you let them sit on top by the luggage rack, you on one side and your husband on the other, in case they fall five feet to their death. No one else seems to notice the danger. Do you leave? (okay, so maybe this one happened to me a couple days ago. No one got hurt, but I'm still sweating. did I mention my fear of heights?)

Okay, there are way worse ones. Drinking, drugs, smoking, cutting, sex, etc. I know, truly, I do. But these are some every-day risks. How do your characters face them? I think it's something worth exploring!



(Besides breakfast and cleaning after our 4th of July party, I also napped and fed little ones lunch...so instead of having the winners for you later this morning...it's later this afternoon.  Sorry!  Better late than never, right?)


We are happy to announce winners for our second SUMMER GIVEAWAY!

JANINAY, you've won Across The Universe!

JESS, I'll contact you to find out which package you'd like!



Congrats to our winners!

Book Winner(s) Will Be Announced Later This Morning

Sorry everyone!  I was up late hosting a fourth of July party and didn't get a chance yet to pick the second giveaway winners!

As soon as breakfast is served and my house is recleaned I will be back with random.org's pick(s)!

See you soon!



four discussion-worthy items

1.  Just out of curiosity, what's your fave classic novel?  Why? 

2. Here's some of my (christy's)  latest 'kindle clippings':

Write Great Fiction-Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

"It's crucial to understand the difference between an initial disturbance...and the first doorway of no return...."

"...the second doorway of no return must send the Lead hurtling toward the knockout ending."

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

"I've no use for talking, would just as soon store paperclips in my mouth."

"I glance up.  They're still peering at me, a tall duet of sorrow and concern."

"Her roses burst with more color than a year of sunsets."

"It's as if someone vaccuumed up the horizon while we were looking the other way."

3.  Bell suggests filling in the blanks to help prepare to write a novel.  Now, two of my novels are more than well on their way, but I'm doing it anyways because, well, they still need mega help.  I could do this in the privacy of my own word document, but instead I'm going to treat torture you do this publicly...just because. 

Rules for this.  DON'T THINK AHEAD.  Fill in the blanks with whatever comes to mind without pause, reflection, self-doubt or intense concentration.

"When readers read my novels, I want them to feel satisfied at the end.  That's because to me, novels are  a way to feel satisfied about a life that can sometimes be unsatisfying.

(manuscript #1)

My lead is a teenage girl.

Her objective is to get into her great-grandmother's forbidden journal.

She is confronted by an ancestor of her great-grandmother's enemy who opposes her because she is a threat to decades of safety from the Transporter Council.

The ending will be a knockout when my lead learns the truth and escapes a fiery forest, set by the antagonist, to set the record straight with the council.

4. You're (also) Invited to My PLOT PARTY (whether you want to be or not.  starts now and ends when you stop reading this post.  join in at any time!  the more the merrier.)

erica and I got the Plot Party idea from the Writer's Institute conference we attended in Madision, WI this past April.  you're supposed to have friends over to actually have a real party to do this with each other, to you know, brainstorm and provide feedback and, well, help each other, but you guys are the only writers i know...so I'm having it with you instead.... (skype plot party anyone???)   :0)

this will have to do.

(manuscript #2)

Goal (what he/she wants)  She wants her mom to leave her alone, her friends to accept her, and to move back to the island where her dad still lives

Motivation (why does he/she want that)  she wants things to go back to the way things were before her parents split up

Conflict she meets girls who seem nice and becomes friends with them, much to the dismay of her old "friends", her old "friends" make it look like she took pictures of her new friends and posted them on a social website, she starts to like a guy she used to despise even after going out with the guy she always wanted

Greatest fear letting go of her life from before, having nobody-- even if that means hanging out with girls who treat her terribly

What he/she does to avoid fear-- gets upset with her parents who are moving on/dating, holds on to the guy she doesn't really like after having a fight with the guy she does, shuts down her social internet site and posts the truth on her "friend's" site

Antagonist-three snotty girls

Reflection/mentor (who he/she goes to to talk things over)  the boy whose locker neighbors hers

UGH. that's a rough idea, I guess.  I put little to no thought into it, but it's the nitty gritty of it so far.  I have no ending, and this didn't help me get there. 

How will I get her from how she's avoiding her problems...to a solution?  I have no ending for this novel.  In looking up at what I did from Bell's novel, I see that after the big confrontation, there will be a KNOCKOUT ending.   I think that's where I'm at.

So. If my lead gets suspended along with snotty girl number 1.  they'll have some time to have their BIG confrontation and a) duke it out b) decide who the true culprits behind the pictures really were...then they can shake hands and come to terms with how they've grown apart, but realize they can respect each other and work together to clear their names and get her friends back.  okay...and the romance stuff I know what I want to do with...hoping it's not too cliche of an ending...ooh but there's one more issue that I'm adding in...and will just have to see how that plays out.  I may be back with more Plot Party catastrophes for you if I can't do it on my own.  THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!  This was definitely worth it.  GREAT PLOT PARTY EVERYONE!  WE SHOULD DO THIS AGAIN SOON!


What did you do yesterday?

I (erica) have a plan to get done with my WIP by the end of July. I've been plotting and note-taking and writing this week to get my mojo back and put those important words to paper (er, laptop).

I also decided that once in awhile, you have to just go with what your gut (and kids) tells you to do. Sometimes that includes these things, all of which we did yesterday:

We slipped and slided.
(although I could've sworn these things were bigger when I was a kid)

We weeded
(yeah, I know we didn't get them all. But it's a big flippin' garden)

We played at the park
(this is actually part of the school playground. I worked, the kids played. But it still counts)

We swam at the beach
(the kids swam while I read on my Kindle. and I'm hiding behind the trees because it's really awkward to take pictures of strangers at the beach)

We sat in the shade on our front porch.
(yes, this is the view from my front porch. it's okay to be jealous, I mean not everyone has a septic system in the middle of their front yard. :)

Then, we napped.
(yes, my 5-year-old naps with a machine gun. you know, in case of the zombie apocalypse)

I wrote absolutely zero words. And I don't feel one tiny bit bad about it. How about you? Done anything fun lately?