name my baby or number sheep for me to count

i'm going to have a baby around christmastime.  is it christmas time?  whatever.

anyways.  he'll be my third boy.  i love him.  although saying goodbye to the visions of one day wedding dress shopping with my daughter and getting manicures and pedicures together and learning how to french braid her hair drew a tear or two.  i'm not gonna lie.

but this little boy is cute even in ultrasound pics.  just ask the technician. she said he was photogenic.  i'm sure she never told that to anyone before us.  and he's a little party animal.  he throws a party for himself every night around 10:30.

so now that i've crossed the names emily and josie off my list, i need to fill it with boy names.  i had one picked out, from before i was pregnant (because i couldn't get pregnant without deciding on a name first), but Hubby doesn't like it.  (Lucas John...the John part stays. it's my dad's name.  Luc John.)  Not that he doesn't like the name itself, but he isn't fond of a person it reminds him of.  Or something along those lines.

Sawyer.  that's today's name.  Reid was another name a few weeks ago.

but i'm open to suggestions.

do you have any two-syllable boy names for me? (two-syllables sounds better with one-syllable John in the middle)

thanks. :0) 


also, you should know, it was very important that i worked on my wip as hard as i did over the summer because now that school is starting i can tell.  it's not going to get worked on nearly as much.

i'm. wiped. out.

besides the stress and hours spent working instead of writing.  i. can't. sleep. 

and let you tell me, the nightless sleeps are keeping me totally awake and when my alarm goes off in the morning i wake up tired.



Mealtime Madness Monday

If you've been around here in the spring and fall before, you know that I (erica) have a big garden. It never fails that I grow more weeds than vegetables, but there ARE some things to eat in there if you look hard enough! Here's some quick, easy, and nutritious recipes for you gardeners (or farmers marketers). Because, you know, a healthy body is a healthy mind (and a big book deal, right?)!

Grilled veggies - cut up wedges of zucchini/summer squash, brush on some olive oil (mix a couple dashes of balsamic vinegar in if you have it), sprinkle with seasoning salt and basil - lemon pepper is also good if you like that flavor. Grill for a couple minutes on each side. (you can also slice thin and do this on the stove - can throw in some onions, green/red pepper and tomato slices for an interesting touch, too - especially on kabobs) (if you're really in a hurry, you can also do it with Italian dressing)

Marinated cucumbers - mix 1/4 cup water, 3 tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp sugar (or sugar substitute), a few dashes hot pepper sauce (optional). Slice cucumbers think and coat with mixture (also good with radishes and onions)

Super easy tomato soup for one - stick a tomato, some chopped onion, and 1/2 cup of V8 juice (or similar) in a blender and puree. Put in pan, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper - top with cheese for an added treat!

Roasted potatoes - okay, this one isn't super nutritious, but it is super yummy - mix 1/3 cup olive or canola oil with a packet of french onion dip mix (the powder kind). Cut 4-5 potatoes into chunks, coat with oil, and bake in a cake pan for 35 minutes in a 425 oven.

In the midwest, it's never hard to find zucchini. By this time of the year, I'm usually begging people to take some because I've eaten so much. So here are some other ideas to fit some veggies in your and your family's diets! Zucchini Bread, Zucchini Pizza, and Chocolate Zucchini Cake!!

I made salsa this afternoon and my husband wanted a hot pepper from his mom's garden in it. It's been eight hours and my hands are still burning - trust me, I've labelled that one good so it doesn't get mixed up with anything I'll be able to eat! And yes, I'll remember the gloves next time!

christy and I are both back to work today. Although, for some reason, that didn't stop christy from coming up with a new account. Check us her out: http://ericaandchristy.tumblr.com/


Come on. Everybody's doing it. You know you want to.

Join Rach's Campaign. #writecampaign (to find us on twitter)

What is the Campaign, you ask?
"Basically, the Campaign is a way to link those of us in the writing community together with the aim of helping to build our online platforms. The Campaigners are all bloggers in a similar position, who genuinely want to pay it forward, make connections and friends within the writing community, and help build each others' online platforms while at the same time building theirs."  -Rach Harrie

So you can meet more writers like yourself, whether you write adult, YA or MG fiction.  Why not make more writing friends, gain new followers, visit new blogs, gain new knowledge, make more connections, and who knows what else?  Why wait?  Go HERE now to learn more and join like we did.  You have until the 31st.  Of August.

There will be three Campaign challenges with PRIZES.   (Not that I need to bribe you since you've already decided to join!) 

Oh, and you get to post this on your blog:

For those of you already campaigning, we'll be around to visit you once the first week of school nerves/stress/jitters passes us by.  Thanks for waiting.  We can't wait to meet you! 

And for all of our old followers/best blogging buds, I miss you.  I will visit you sooner than soon.  I appreciate your patience with me over this summer.  When I ditched the blogging world almost entirely for my WIP.  Which I love.  Please don't leave me!  (This is Christy begging you.)


What's Up?

Whether the term is What's up?

Or, yanno, the other one:

I want to know. What's up with you?? Because, well, I walked into school on Monday thinking I had 3 teachers in my department and walked out with only me. (no, it was not my fault!) I'm still short one. And yes, the other two are me. I'm now two separate and distinct teachers. In one body. And a mom. And a wife. And a writer. And, well, a person. Umm...this could be interesting. Thank goodness I'm creative!!

So PLEASE - tell me about all the things you've accomplished lately! I BEG YOU!!! 


And I'm back and giving this blog posting thing a try...

I'm feeling a little rusty getting started on this post.  No worries, though, I'm sure I'll be rambling like my old self by the end of it! ~christy

I'm as back as I can be with the start of a new school year looming.  The first day of school is close enough to choke me with the stress of a pressing deadline, yet far enough away that I'm teased by the hours I think I have left to prepare in.

It had better be enough time. 

I'll make it enough time....

While a week away camping with my family was a spledid hiatus from normalcy, once in a while tendrils of reality crept into my mind.  A moment or two of panic ensued until I pushed off the pesky reminder that my workless summer was coming to an end.

And now here I sit amidst piles of laundry and dirty dishes, no dish soap in sight.  I send frantic emails to my principal and colleagues, hoping one of them will clue me in on my responsibilities for the year.  You see, I teach part-time and my schedule depends entirely on them.  Finally, after days of emailing (while camping...yes.  one of the productive ways I handled the panicked minutes---shooting emails left and right), I got not one, but two replies.  Tomorrow I'll meet with my principal to discuss my hours, pick up my keys and unpack the room I packed up this past June.

Yes, this past May, like the May before that one, I was told I'd be moving to a different building in the district.  So, this past June, like the June before that one, I packed up every teaching item I owned into box after box after box after box (after box, etc.).  Until August, when I learned that I would actually be moving BACK INTO THE ROOM I'D JUST PACKED UP.  Yes.  So tomorrow I will be unpacking and reorganizing and buying name tags and cleaning and buying teaching books and planning.  And not only tomorrow, but Thursday and Friday too.  I'm crossing my fingers the weekend will be free for me to relax and enjoy the remaining weekend of the summer before inservice, and the school year, kick into full gear on Monday. 

I definitely need family time this weekend because my oldest starts KINDERGARTEN next Thursday.  And that means that he starts five full days of school that will continue from next Thursday until he graduates from college.  After which he will (maybe?) work five full days every week of his life.  So, you see, it's the last weekend of his childhood.  (I am NOT sobbing right now.)  AND my baby (well, my baby until our third son is born in December) is starting pre-school.  YES!  I will have two children in school and I am in shock over this rapid progression of life.

With that said, I am going to either read (finish Paranormalcy by Kiersten White) or write (edit and add in scenes for Fixing Shelby) right now.  Oh, that reminds me.  Shelby didn't win Miss Snark's August Secret Agent Contest, but the agent gave me good feedback along with a positive nudge (imo).  Here's what she wrote (it appears I've not yet fully recovered from Overwriting Syndrome):

Secret Agent said...

Nice work characterizing the mom through dialogue. Just that one word, "honey," does so much. The set up here is compelling, too, but this entry could use some pruning. One example that would appease my sense of economy and still maintain the tone of things here: "I glared at the purse for a moment before setting it at my feet. I'd rather be home cleaning the toilet bowl with my toothbrush or ripping out my fingernails than primping in the car on the way to my 'best' friend's house. 'You didn't have to drive me, Mom.'"

So, I'm writing with my garden shears in my lap, hoping for inspiration to economize while keeping the tone.  The only problem is I haven't yet acquired the ability to recognize my own wordiness.  Are there special writing glasses out there for that?

Ah, well. 


Titles (and other things that keep me up at night)

We're back! (with one caveat - christy is on vacation and erica is back to work. so consider this a trial week back)

(please note - what appears below is erica's opinion only. and mostly meant tongue-in-cheek since it's my last day of summer vacation and even though I love my job, the start is always a little crazy-inducing)

Book titles. They're hard for me. When I first name my WIPs, it's a placeholder. Take Coyote Hotel for example. I started with my original idea, started a few pages, and saved them in Word as "Ghost Coyote or Coyote Hotel" because those were my two ideas (and Ghost Bed and Breakfast sounded cheesy). I fully intend to change it before querying. I did the same general thing with A New Day, but you know what? The title fits. Is it a little plain? Sure, I can take that criticism. The thing is, I've been told lots of times that titles change. Agents change them. Editors definitely change them. Authors *might* have some say in it, but in the end, it's the publishing house that gets the say. So I was never too worried about it.

BUT - christy and I both noticed at WOC that agents (in critiques and the "ninjas") often left comments that included "this title needs to be changed", "any chance you can improve the title?" and "I'd request this based on title alone." Not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, eh?? Not always true! Pay attention to your titles, friends, because apparently eveyone else is!

Word counts. I won't say a lot about this topic since it's been blogged about by people with a lot more experience than I have. But I will say that the "nothing over 100k" rule pretty much held true, but I was surprised to see a few (non-fantasy) with 80-90k word counts that got agent reviews without a reference to word counts. So, hey, write on, friends! When it works, it works.

Rules that exist only to drive erica crazy. Don't include your genre, word count, or title in your pitch? No problem, full request coming your way. Have a pitch that agents scream yes for? Send in 3 chapters. Have one scratching their heads a little? Full, please. Have a pitch that the agent says is confusing, but since it's a book set in WI, she's willing to take a look at it? A partial would be great! (okay, that last one was my example. I'm very grateful for the request and admit I struggled with my Twitter pitch and knew it was a little confusing. I just figure people were a little mad at me when I got through based on my setting! (I swear, the book isn't a bad as my 140-character pitch!))

Stupid things only erica would do. Okay, seriously, this one's a record even for me. A long time ago, I opened a personal hotmail account to keep track of my writing/blogging/querying stuff. At the time, to get gmail, you needed to be able to receive a text message to accept your account and I didn't (and still don't) have a cell phone. So hotmail it was. Fast forward to the conference we went to in April and I got a few partial requests and decided to try a gmail account again, and it worked (I even tested it by sending something to myself). Nothing. Silence. Crickets. Not one email back. Fast forward (again) to last week. APPARENTLY GMAIL DOESN'T INFORM YOU WHEN YOU GET SOMETHING IN YOUR SPAM FOLDER. ALL my other accounts do. I never once thought I'd have to go searching for the spam folder (until the Miss Snark thing when she recommended it after the autobot didn't respond). When I finally figured out how to check, it had three things I was waiting for (from WriteOnCon, Miss Snark's First Victim, and author Jenny O'Connell since I won a book from her) and several others that really were spam. And anything more than 30 days old is history. So - best case senario, they were still no-responders or form letter rejections. Worst scenario, they were all full requests and now think I'm ignoring them. BECAUSE WHO DOESN'T GET AN EMAIL IN 4 MONTHS, ERICA, YOU DUMMY??!!

These are the things that keep me up at night, people.

Anything interesting happen while we were gone?


We Miss You Guys

So, we're still busy with WriteOnCon and kids and all that stuff, but here's a quick post so you don't forget us! If you're over there and haven't found us yet, search for Erica Olson and christy_h.

There are tons of great things to find at WOC again this year. I was a little worried that it would be the same stuff as last year, and maybe there are a few, but there's lots of new things. Truly something for everyone.

Since we're all bloggers around here, I thought I'd share a few notes I took on yesterday's live chat with Sara Megibow on Platform. Apparently, it's important. ;)  (and she stressed that these are her viewpoints and not necessarily shared by any/all other agents. Also, she works primarily with debut authors and things likes sales numbers would be more important for established authors)

- Every writer should have a website. It doesn't have to be expensive, but try to include a professional author photo, a bio page, a news page (I'll be at this conference, I got an agent, etc.), and a link to anywhere else you exist in the webosphere. *note to self: get a webpage  Have it BEFORE you start querying.

- Blogs are good, too. She advocates the "be yourself" approach to a blog - post regularly (at least a few times a week) and it doesn't have to be about writing. Having a lot of followers is good, but content is more important.

- For her, if she likes your query and the first few pages, she will google your name and see what she finds. If you don't have a web presence, she will not request a full.

- Group blogs are fine, but have your own webpage. *note to self: get a webpage

- If you can manage it, have a web presence including: webpage, blog, FB, and Twitter. If you aren't going to keep them current, stick to only one or two.

Also, we both made it into the Secret Agent conntest over at Miss Snark's First Victim Christy is #40 and Erica is #31. Come check us out. Because, well, we don't want to be the only ones with no comments and then look dumb.

Erica's also in the agent contest over at Blackbird in my Window. Why yes, A New Day does have two different first pages. Thanks for noticing. (sigh)

Lastly, Erica has 2.5 days of summer vacation left. Crap.


this week @ erica and christy

Let's face it.  We've been terrible neighbors.  We borrow sugar and never give it back.  We never stop over for a chat.  We barely wave when you walk by.

Our landscaping has become an embarrassment.  Our lawn is overgrown and the weeds have overtaken our flower beds.

 It's okay, there's a solution.

Until WOC, we're taking a break. (From our blog.) A writing hiatus.

erica's writing (an awesome mg ghost story with a mc whose strong voice could be enough to scare off the ghosts causing his family trouble) and critiquing christy's ms

christy's editing and sending work out to helpful cps chapter by chapter, (you want this story).

While we're away from the blogosphere, you can come and see us at the WOC forums!  Because even though the formal events don't get underway until Aug 16, the writing forums are open NOW! 

Stop in, register by logging in, and check out Writeoncon2011.  You can introduce yourself and meet MANY other writers, post your query, synopsis, and first pages for critiques, and/or sign up to find another critique partner for your writing!

Hope to see you there soon!  Once we have manuscripts we're proud of, we'll be back here AND we'll stop by your place for a visit.  Until then, happy writing! And we love you!!


Oh, manure!

(why is it that every time I'm going to be gone and decide to pre-schedule my post, it doesn't post. dang blogger)

Okay, so I'm travelling a bit this weekend. Nothing big, just a trip to my parent's TO DROP MY KIDS OFF FOR A WHOLE WEEK!!!!! Let's do a happy dance, shall we? We shall *dances*.

I really do love my kids a lot. But my kids don't see my parents often, so this is good for everyone!

So, anyway, today I'm cleaning my whole house in an attempt to see exactly how clean just my husband and I can keep it for a week without the kids. I figure, pretty clean. BUT - I don't know my exact plans for the week, either, so I'm leaving you with a short story and continuing on my cleaning adventure (really, how do 2 kids create this kind of mess????).

Usually I save my "this would only happen at my house" stories with Christy, but this time you get it, too. Consider yourself warned.

We live on a farm, right? One with beef cattle. And there are these handy little devices called electric fences that keep them where they need to be, away from us. Only once I looked out my basement window and a cow was RIGHT THERE. Luckily it was one that I've raised from birth and all I had to do was walk out to the pasture and she followed me. And once we got a call at like 10:00 at night that someone saw our entire herd (which at the time was probably only around 15 cows) walking down the road in single file - and once we found them, they were in a corn field munching away, but my husband sat in the back of the pickup and yelled "come, boss" while I drove home, and through weeds taller than the truck in the complete dark, and HOLY COW THEY FOLLOWED US. (pun sort-of intended).

BUT - overall, they stay put. Then came two days ago when my husband said there were tracks in our driveway that looked suspiciously like cowprints. He went and counted our cows (we now have 26 here and 7 at another farm - let's just say there's a bull and breeding stuff going on and leave it at that) and they were all here. So one got out, walked in our driveway, and got back in. Because it never stops raining here in WI (seriously, our woods are now nicknamed "The Rainforest"), the fence posts are starting to lean, so he found the problem and fixed it ASAP.

Then, (I know, you're riveted) yesterday I had to mow the lawn. It takes about 2 hours on a riding mower (which desperately needs to be retired. or turned into scrap metal) and there are a bunch of obstacles in my way. Not the least of which is my son's Fischer Price swingset. As I went around it (this is the action part of the story, people), I was watching my back left tire to make sure I cleared the slide. Then the tires started spinning. I was going nowhere. Then I saw why.

There was a huge cowpie. Right at the bottom of my son's slide. And I was spinning a tire in it, flinging it everywhere. Did I mention HUGE? How about EVERYWHERE!? Put it together and you get: HUGE POOP EVERYWHERE.

No, I won't post a picture of a cowpie. But you do get this:

Sorry I made a doodie. Kisses!

It's a thrill a minute here, folks. A. THRILL. A. MINUTE.

Have a great weekend!!!


Recent Kindle Clippings

Here's another round of Christy's recent Kindle Clippings. 

Since I've been immersed in WRITING DAYS as of late, I haven't read or blog hopped.  And I'm sorry for that (the blog hopping part) because I really haven't been doing my part in keeping up with you and your lives and your writing.  I look fwd to being able to get back to that in the future. 

I'm especially excited for Writoncon this year since that's when I met so many writers last year and hope to see you all there this year.  I'm hoping for the critiquing forums again so I can see all of your work and we can help each other out with queries and first pages! 

Now that my first draft is done, I took a little time to find where I'd stashed my Kindle only to find it dead.  Not as dead as erica's was, but dead as in needing a charge.  Once it was ready to be fired up, I read my plot book, WRITE GREAT FICTION-PLOT AND STRUCTURE by James Scott Bell (A must have for writers.  Seriously!).

Here are a few of the notes I took:

-Great Quote:  "I don't have a name and I don't have a plot.  I have the typewriter and I have white paper and I have me and that should add up to a novel."  -William Saroyan

-The quote fit in with the chapter because you should not write what you know, but write who you are.  This will help you to be original.
-Novelist and writing teacher, Barnaby Conrad said, "Once you get a characer with a problem, a serious problem, plotting is just a fancy name for how he or she tries to get out of the problem."

-When plotting, use the LOCK system.  Lead, Objective, Confrontation, Knockout (ending)

-"Not every idea is of equal value.  To find the best plots, you need to come up with hundreds of ideas, then choose the best ones to develop."

It felt really good to revamp my Christy page at the top of this screen.  Look up.  See it?  Well, I changed it to reflect where I'm at with my writing. 
It felt good to announce the burial of Solstice.  Liberating.  I love being able to move on. 

Espcially with Fixing Shelby getting herself ready to query.  To see my second draft of her query, click here.  You'll also find her loglines.  (I DO know I'm supposed to set it aside for months before editing and revising, however, with WOC coming up, I wanted to get it ready.  In all fairness, I wrote the first 3/4 a year- 6 months ago...so really it WAS set aside.  Yeah?)


Inspirational Tuesday

A lot of our friends have been talking lately about their successes - hooray!! First drafts are completed, edits are simmering, queries are started, agents are being acquired, books are being published - it's been a busy summer!

We all find inspiration in different ways. Christy's blogged a couple of times about Taylor Swift's music and how it helps her write her YA books and I've read other bloggers say the same thing about music. Not me, though - I tend to find story ideas in the shower (where I don't have a radio) or the car (where my radio shorted out months ago and I still haven't gotten it fixed) and write in the living room with my kid's watching TV next to me (although Disney and Nickolodeon do have a lot of songs....half of AND was written to the SpongeBob theme in the background).

Inspiration can also be found in pictures (or places, but not all of us can travel the world, so thank goodness for Google images). Here's a few that I have looked at that really motivated me to want to write (nothing ever makes me want to edit, although I do it. begrudgingly)

(and thanks for the well-wishes about the secret agent contest over at Krista's blog this week. I felt like the agent thought my query and first page were good, but didn't end up requesting pages. *sigh*)

I'll leave you with these. Happy writing!

wouldn't this be a great place for a writer's retreat?

African Sunrise

African Sunrise

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
-Thomas Edison


And Then There Were Two

Or not.

(and if the spacing is all wacky on this post, it's not for my lack of trying to keep my lines spaced out the right way.  grrr to blogger.)

I (christy) have news for you.  Well, really just updates on myself.  But I'm excited to share with you!

I have two (recently) completed novels.  (Only I've decided to bury one of them.)

My writing history:

October 2009 Solstice's first words were written.  (I didn't know what genre it was then. I called it Fantasy Romance.)

May 2010 Solstice's 116,000th and final word was written.

September 2010 Solstice's rewrite began.  (Shortly after I began calling it Parnaormal Romance.)

August 2010 Fixing Shelby began.  It's a contemporary YA novel.  In fact, I announced it in this post.  (I was really dorky then.  It was before erica helped me out.)

February 2011 Solstice's rewrite was complete except for the three chapters from another character's POV.

June 2011 Solstice's rewrite was complete except for a couple of scenes that need to be plugged in.  (I started wondering if it was Sci-Fi.)

July 30, 2011 I decided Solstice should never be queried or see the light of day.  BUT, since the protag's story really began with her great-grandmother and the journal she kept (holding the family's secrets), I decided to keep my concept, but start at the beginning. 

SO I wrote 8 pages of notes plotting the novel out and developing my characters.  IN FACT just in case it ever goes anywhere, I've plotted out the complete trilogy, books 2 and 3 having my old protag from Solstice, Dawn.  HOWEVER I will never rewrite Solstice again.  By the time I get to book 2 in that series, it will be fresh.

The problems with Solstice were:

-My original idea for it was contemporary.  Completely in reality.
-It evolved into a mess of complications during the first writing and I was afraid of fantasy.  I was afraid to be creative.  I felt silly creating fantasy worlds and making characters have bizarre and awesome powers.
-During the rewrite I added in even more complications to my characters and the plot.
-I could never nail a query or a logline.  BECAUSE I was never quite certain what the main plot was.  HECK, I didn't know what genre the dang thing was!

Book One (a stand alone novel) will be told from Dawn's grandmother's (as a 17-year-old) perspective, BUT it will take place in the present.  NOT in the 1920s.  IF Dawn ever gets to tell her story, it will be 2067.  WHICH may help book three with the dystopian feel I'd always envisioned for it.

SO my newest protag is Marian Hudson.  She's going to have spunk. And love cheese.  (Har har.  erica, that was for you! ;o)) 

In addition to my 8 pages of notes, I wrote several a query and a one sentence pitch (which needs work).  Just to help me when I'm ready to get writing. 

Seventeen-year-old inter-dimensional Transporter, Marian, fights against time and a rogue Themuran council-member after he infects her friends and family with an incurable disease while hoping to rally rebel Transporters to help him take over the Earth dimension.

July 31, 2011  Fixing Shelby (the unedited version) was completed at 49,000 words!!!!!!  This one I will query once the query is written and critiqued and once the novel is edited and beta-read. 

AND just in case an agent likes it and wants another YA contemporary from me, while in church I thought up another one with a protag named Leslie Adams.  I'll leave the details to that one a secret for a long, long time.