Where I've Been Lately

Since I probably haven't been around to your blog for a while, and believe me I really, really do miss you, I have been around a little bit, but only while researching agents, query writing, and scrolling down the twitter feed.

I know I've said it (too many times) before.  I'm a busy mom of (almost) three.  I'm beyond smothered by papers to grade and behaviors at work this year.  And my house is hideous.  How am I different from you?  I'm not.  So how you manage to keep up with all of that and not have eliminated blog hopping is beyond me.  (SERIOUSLY!  How do you do it all?!?!?!)

You're a SUPERSTAR. 
You AMAZE me.


I'm sorry I've been ignoring you and that one of my compromises to being a mom, teacher and a writer has been to stop blog hopping.  It wasn't intentional.  It just sort of happened.  I'll stop feeding you empty promises that I'll fix it any time soon.  Know that I WANT to blog hop again.  I just haven't figured out HOW to or WHEN to yet.  I know you all have amazing things to tell me.  About getting agents and publishing a book and writing a new WIP and taking a new grad class and about all the great writing things you've learned and about your kids and how cute they are or about links you've found that have been uber helpful and wise and about great books you've read and I'm sure many, many other things that I SHOULD know all about.

I'm also at least 14k behind on my 50k in 50 days goal.  Yes, I've even lost count.  It's that bad.


Here are some of the sites I've added to my favorites lately:

--The reason (I saved them)?  I wanted to bookmark them to go back to later.  Because heaven forbid I take the time to actually read the whole article/post through at the time I found it.--

And here they are:


If you get stuck in the middle of your WIP, check this out!


Getting out of the Slush Pile (Picture books)


New Social Network for Writers, Editors and Agents


(I actually have several(+) more, but I'll save those for another day, another post.)

I hope you found some/all of them useful because then at least if I'm not polite enough to follow you back to your blog today at least I can be helpful.  (I miss you.  I hope you are doing well.  If you tweet at me, I might see it.  Or link to your blog post in my comments and then I'll click on it and say hi.  Really.  Really.  I am naughty and take time out to watch one TV show:  CASTLE and he's, I mean it's, on TONIGHT, so I can visit you while I watch.  I will, too.  You just wait and see if I don't!)

and also, in honor of HALLOWEEN (which is today) i totally wanted to watch THIS movie this year.  i promised myself this year i wouldn't forget, that i'd make the time, but alas, here it is HALLOWEEN  and i've forgotten again.

 i don't do horror.  but i do do CLUE.

~christy  (because erica is a better neighbor.  she sees some of you out and about sometimes)


Need a break?

Here, have a video. Who said vampires/werewolves/zombies were a new trend?? ;)


Temporarily out of service....

since it's my (christy's) day to post and i'm feeling a little bit under the weather (mentally speaking), you get this (for an excuse):

  Well, that's not exactly true.

oh, how i WISH this was true

                                                                                                 yeah, this one is just about right....

(Or, well, the blog will be back up and running when it's erica's turn again on thursday.)

As erica stated in yesterday's post:  We  have parent/teacher conferences this week (and for the next two weeks), so we're busy grading and entering grades and prepearing conference folders.  And while I was going over and over my evening schedules (change in routine=forgetfullness) and dr. appointments (regularly scheduled ones and a three hour glucose test since i failed my one hour one (boo!)), I realized how very, very close I'm getting to having a third child!  And that I need to get my sub plans for 6-8 weeks ready and get all of my online grading organized for January report cards!  Yikes!  Suddenly two months from now seems very, very close!

So, as I was saying:

oh, and while i was searching for these images...this one just happened to be on the same page (for be right back?).  i don't understand it, but also don't mind it.

 i thought maybe you wouldn't either. :0)

(yeah, you're welcome!)


The Truth About Teachers

(note: this blog post is all erica's fault. it does not represent the thoughts of any other teacher, including christy and sometimes including erica. okay, carry on.)

It's time for parent-teacher conferences. You know, those meetings where you go into a classroom and sit in child-sized chairs and stare at a teacher you don't know very well, but who you are a little afraid might know your kid better than you do - and OMG did she just say my kid was disrespectful/talkative/etcetcetc.?? NOOOO!!!!!!

Okay, that might just be me. As a parent. Now let me share with you a little bit about sitting in that teacher chair.

I've been recording your child's (um, not YOUR child's, but you know, a collective "your child's") progress every day since the first day of school. Yes, if your kid cried when they got dropped off (reminder: I teach preschool), it was written down. And then typed in. And reflected on.

With each and every skill. Oh, so many notes...

And still, while we sit there in that child-sized chair that we sit in every single day, but this time faced with a parent, we wonder if it was enough. Were all the nights staying at school until supper time, all the weekends spent entering grades/progress, all times we made sure to record two positives for every negative note enough to sit down and talk to these parents? Will this be the one who complains to administration that school is too hard? Or too easy? Or that teachers are too overworked? Or too underworked? Is this the parent who distrusted school their whole lives and I just now have the ability to convince them it's a good thing? Or is this the one who has such wonderful memories of their school experience, I can't possibly live up to them?

So, that's it. It's parent-teacher conference week. Which is probably different for me than for the upper grades. I teach 3-year-olds from low-income and disadvantaged families. I'm sitting across from parents who love and adore their preschoolers like none other. I hope I can do them justice. (but first, I have about 12 hours of note entering to finish today, which is why I'm writing this on Sunday morning. note-writing happens at school. note-typing happens at home.)

What do you have going on this week? Any parent-teacher conference stories to share (from either side of the table)?

Okay, fine, never mind all that. Here's a very scary story my 5-year-old told today:

There was a dark, dark house. And inside it was a dark, dark room with a dark, dark doorknob. If you turn it, you find a dark, dark closet. Inside the closet is a dark, dark box. Inside that is a ...


I mean, really, who can compete with that sense of plot and suspense??
















It's Scary Out There

Ahhh, October. If you have kids or are around kids - or let's face it, ever were a kid - you know what that means. Dental visits. Halloween is coming up.

I (erica) live about 20 miles from any substantive town and FINALLY took my boys costume shopping. Yes, I'm the proud mama of a Red Dragon Ninja and The Evil Emperor.

I know, I know, I'm very lucky. :)

As for me, I'm a bit past trick-or-treating age (except as a chaperone), not to mention partying age (*sigh*), so no costumes for me. But I do love to get scared. By fiction, anyway. Scary books, scary movies - love, love, love. It takes us right out of the scary world out there and right into a corn field with psychotic men who wear hockey masks. What's better than that?

How about you? Any fun Halloween plans? Any great scary recommendations?



First off, if you're doing NANO (which we're not...but go 50k in 50 Days! (Oct-Nov) then you may be planning your posts ahead.  If so, go HERE (chickloveslit).  It (she) may help you plan some/all of your posts. AND it keeps with a (random) theme we've started here @erica and christy as contemporary writers.  KEEPING IT REAL. 

GO CONTEMPORARY!  Shout outs for realistic ficiton...coming your way in November.  :0) 

Mom walks in the door after a long day at work, the kids rush to the door and bring her her slippers and a tall glass of lemondade.  They quietly tell her their homework is done and about how they cleaned their room and dusted the living room.  One changed a load of laundry.  The other fed the dog and made supper.  They kiss her, hug her and tell her how much they missed her.  Each has a gold star in their backpacks from their teachers.

Mom picks up the kids from the sitter and listens to them scream at each other the whole way home.  One wants the windows up,the other wants them down.  Once home, they tear off their socks,which go flying in all directions.  Mom races to the bathroom to change before all hell breaks loose.  She barely has her sweat pants on before they come screaming and crying because one took the other's toy wagon away and the other punched him in the stomach to get it back.  She settles them with a snack, each in separate rooms, and heads to the kitchen to let the dog out, feed the dog and start cooking a supper that she knows the whole family will complain about eating.

Husband walks in the door at 6 PM sharp, breaks up a fight between the kids, kisses them, tells them they're wonderful, feeds the dog, raves about how clean the house is and how wonderful dinner smells.  He tells his wife to sit down for ten minutes while he makes up the plates for dinner.  He tells her he understands how tired she must be and how he envies her for her patience with the children and is amazed by how she maintains such a regimented schedule each and every day.

Wife checks her phone every half hour past 6 PM, waiting for a call or a text that her husband is coming home late.  Finally, she dumps his cold plate of food down the garbage disposal at 8 PM and puts two overtired children to bed after breaking up several fights and forcing them to eat a dinner that lasted  30 minutes longer than it should have.  Husband walks in at five after nine and complains about his day at work and grunts when his wife tries to get a word in about the horrid day she had at her job.  Husband gets a beer and flips on the tv.  Wife does two more loads of laundry and prepares clothes and lunches for the next day.  She finally flops in bed, where her husband is snoring.


Part of my problem with (writing) YA is that I read it as an adult and probably write it for myself as an adult.  Maybe I don't have my audience in my mind as much as I need to when I'm writing.  You know the quote, If there's a book you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you have to write it yourself.  (Okay, that's not exactly it, but you get the idea. ) 

Well, I'm writing for myself, a 34 year old married mother and teacher.  When I'm having a bad day, and I'm frustrated, and driving with white knuckles on the steering wheel, huffing and tensing my shoulders and jaws...it's because I'm thinking that something is out of my control and should be different than it is.  Why do I think that?  Why do I envision certain stressful situations in a more peaceful, happy alternative scenario?

It's because I'm thinking that everyone else has the perfect life.  (I know it isn't true.)  But when I'm ticked off at my husband, I  picture everyone else's husband as loving and caring and I wonder where I went wrong.  I picture everyone else's husband smiling and up early making the kids lunches, helping out with breakfast, raving about a sumptuous dinner, and praising his wife for folding towels and putting all the laundry away.  Then he takes out the garbage and cleans up the kitchen.  And of course, as soon as he's done trimming the bushes and mowing the grass, he whisks his wife away with kisses to ask about how her day was with listening ears for as long as she wants to babble and/or cry at him.

How is this relevant to my writing?  Well....Maybe I need to write more realistic fiction, in the realest sense of the world, so that young adults don't grow up EXPECTING life to turn out differently that it really does. (Not that that's what happened to me because it isn't.) BUT YA gets a lot of flack in the media for being too real, too dark.  Well, isn't life sometimes that way?  Why shock teens in five years with the reality of life when that's just the way it is? (And some live it now, or have lived in darkness (sadness, violence) for many years already.)

 If one expects that life is going to be tough, won't he/she be better equipped to handle it? Won't reading about the ways other teens handle tough situations help them to model their own behavior after someone else who went through it?  If all they read about it romantic, handsome men with love in their eyes and selflessness in their hearts, won't that cause them TONS of marital strife when their husband becomes fat and bald and would rather flip through tv channels than cuddle and comfort her after a long day's work?  Shouldn't teens know that money stresses cause fights and that not every adult knows how to argue and make up afterward?  Shouldn't they know that parenting is hard and not all cute smiles and balloons and kisses? 

Now, don't get me wrong, I read to get out of the real world. I don't think all fiction should be dark or edgy or deal with real life problems.  I'm all for pretend and fantasy and am a HUGE fan of romance and guys and gals who take every breath for each other.  It's my favorite, actually.  And I like to write that.  BUT real love isn't always like that.  I don't think girls/women REALLY know that, even if they think they do.  A friend of mine fought with her husband all the time because he didn't spoil her with enough "out of the box" surprises or jewelry or other gifts.  She expected the fairy tale on a daily basis and was constantly disappointed.  I fight with my husband too, but it's because I want the garbage taken out or I'd like a phone call before midnight if he's staying at work late. 

Expectations vs Reality.  How can we help with that as writers for teens?


Nothing's ever easy

This is erica. I'm sick. In a if-this-were-eighty-years-ago-id-be-dying-of-tuberculosis type of sick. Or so I keep thinking. Anyway. Nothing's ever easy, eh??

Right now I'm watching my Brewers tank. Boo. (if they win tonight while I'm asleep, I'll enjoy the taste of crow in the morning, don't you worry).

I have parent-teacher conferences as a parent of my 5th grader this week. And parent-teacher conferences as a parent of my kindergartner and as a teacher of 14 preschooolers the following week. B.U.S.Y. With a capital, um, B.U.S.Y.

I decided to take on an edgy YA that's been nigging at my mind for the past several months. It's sad and dark and makes me cry. But man, this character needs to tell her story. I can only hope to do it well.

Thank goodness, christy helped me think of something easy. She and I have been channelling recipes lately. Seriously, if one of us says we're making something for dinner, the other one is already making the same thing. It's uncanny. Today, she gave me the website for crockpot recipes and said she already had one in. And guess what? So did I!! Without any recipes, since mine was simple pot roast with carrots and potatoes.

It's almost winter. you know you want the link. Here it is. Enjoy something easy in this crazy world: http://getcrocked.com/category/mains/


Weather...and Life

I couldn't think of anything to blog about, and when that happens, I turn to the weather.  It's like in conversation, when you don't know someone well, or have little in common, weather is a safe topic.  Well, the weather here in WI has been gloriously sunny and warm--until today.  Today the temp dropped into the upper 50s, and on top of that it's rainy.  Perfect timing, of course, for my parents to have finally booked a little cottage in Door County for the two day vacation they've been meaning to take for the past few weeks.  Oh well, they can still go through little shops and eat out when it's raining.

(And now that I've gotten my fingers and brain warmed up, I have something else to say.  Maybe writing about the weather is my quick fix for writer's block.  I'll keep that in mind....)

(*I may have gotten a little too warmed up.  This turned into a bit of a babble fest.  That happens when I'm drunk, or overtired.  (Haven't had wine in months...so.)  Read on at your own risk.  You may be a year older by the time you finish.  In that case, Happy Birthday!)

Have you ever noticed that as you get older, your obligations and responsibilities increase?  And have you ever looked back and wondered why, ten years prior, you thought you were busy, even though now you've added a dozen or more activities to your daily schedule?  Did that even seem possible back then?  I remember days when I got home from work and konked out on my bed thoroughly exhausted.  Now, I wonder what my problem was.  Once work is done  now, it's like a whole new day's work begins, at home.  There is no time to konk out or to even put my feet up!

I've always, always had a problem with being late.  But now that I not only have a job, but also two children (along with a husband and a dog, and let's face it, they require time and maintenance) I have no idea what my problem was when I was child-less and single.  So why,why did I have to drive like a mad woman EVERY day to get to work even five minutes late?  I mean, seriously (as my five year old would say).  All I had to do was get up, shower, eat and go!  I didn't write then, nor did I work out regularly.  If I did work out, I certainly didn't need to cram it in at 5 am because that was the only "free" time I had in the day.  What was my deal?

When I had my first child, I could barely handle the additions to my schedule.  I got up (after maybe 2 hours of sleep here, another hour there), nursed, packed up milk and lunch food for him, showered, ate, packed a snack for myself, dressed and changed him, got him in the car and to the sitter's, went to work, taught for 8 hours, picked him up, nursed him, changed him, made dinner, cleaned up dinner, did laundry, gave him a bath, had some play time with him, put him to bed, did school work, went to bed...and then started all over.  That seemed like all I could possibly fit in my schedule.  Yet, when my kids were little like that, I looked at people with older kids, with whom they were running every night (to dance, swimming, soccer, religious education, sporting events, school events, pto), and my mind reeled.  How would I ever manage to do all that?

But time passed, and routines and jam-packed schedules became the norm, and I adjusted.  Now, my kids are a little older.  We have swimming and soccer and flag football.  I am secretary of their school's PTO.  (I also went part-time two years ago.  I don't envy all the teachers I work with who are full-time.  Writing would never have happened for me.) 

I think I have it all down.  I wish I had time to put my feet up, time when I didn't always feel like I should be doing something else, but I've decided guilt is one big, huge, large, unavoidable "thing" that comes with parenthood.  It's like my shadow, only its there whether a light is shining on me or not.

Now, as I tell you all how busy I feel, I look ahead to two months from now when Baby #3 is born.  And I don't know how, but I know from past experience that somehow I'll get through the changes and I'll adjust.  Hours won't be added to the 24 hour days I'm alotted.  But I'll add feedings every 2-3 hours, I'll add workouts back into my schedule, I'll continue to blog and write as often as I can steal minutes away to, the house will occasionally get cleaned and I won't ignore the other living beings in my home. 

Somehow we always find a way to adjust as time goes by, as we age, as our lives get fuller.  With each opportunity, with each new blessing, with each year that passes, we learn to live our lives the best way we can.  Sometimes looking at other people, and how they live their lives, can be inspiring.  Sometimes it can make us feel discouraged about how we're faring in our own lives. 

Years ago, I had a crush on Elvis (yeah, erica confesses to having crushes on Kirk and Christian, my confession is Elvis...and I'm a year younger than her) and my parents took me to Graceland one summer.  I remember hearing one of his favorite expressions (an adaptation of a famous quote):   “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.”  

Anyways, it's meant more to keep people from criticizing others, which is why I love it, but we can use it to keep from making assumptions about others also, especially when making those assumptions leads us to criticize ourselves.  We can only do our best.  With our jobs.  With angry, troubled, disruptive students.  With our families.  With our one, or hundreds, of obligations outside the home.  With our housework, shopping, cooking, errands, and family events.  We can only do our best.  Not someone else's best.  Our very own. 

This goes for writing too.  We can't look at others' successes, or failures, and compare them to our own.  We have to write.  We have to pave our own path.  Our path to success might go quicker than others, or it may take way, way longer.  We can't let it get us down, or steal our motivation.

Just keep trucking.
And I will too.


10 Things I Never Want to Do-Over

Wow, it's almost the holiday season. Time to dress up like something we totally aren't, but always wish we were (or could be). Like me as a teen.

Er, nope.

Ten Things I Never Want to Do-Over, YA edition (in no particular order, but they'll probably get worse before they get better):

1. Getting my locker open on the first day of high school. (um, yeah, I had the wrong locker. Some girl named Jen, whose last name started with the same darn first letter as mine, was not nice to me about it, either.)

2. Riding the bus. 'Nuff said.

3. Once I got my license, I begged my dad to let me borrow his retro truck because I had this thing (no idea what now, years later) thing going on after school. By the time school got done, the truck lost its hood ornament (a Ram) and got keyed. Lost all truck privileges for, well, never got them back, now that I think about it...

4. My first real grown-up (i.e. tongue) kiss. Well, okay, maybe I'd do that over, but I definitely wouldn't have gum in my mouth. Awk-Ward.

5. Homecoming. OMG. What a flipping nightmare. okay *sigh* I'll tell you about it. (you guys know this is christy, right? er, fine, it's erica. but you knew that.) Senior year. Boyfriend. Dress. Makeup. Hair. Suddenly, no boyfriend. Go anyway so your family isn't disappointed. Get to front door. Semi-friend sees you, knows there's no boyfriend, invites you to party. 2 hours of pure depression and embarrassment. Drive home and pretend you got sick and had to come home early. Sister does NOT buy it. gah

6. Awkward early-teen family dinner moment. Grandpa's brother says, in front of no less than 10 people, "It's okay, Christy, Erica, most beautiful women in our family started out ugly like you." *sigh again*

7. My entire bedroom. I'm sorry to every interior designer in the world. Also, my parents, who let me do the whole tangerine/lime colorscape. And poor, poor Kirk Cameron, who was taped above my bed (yes, the ceiling. yes, Kirk Cameron. in leather. next to Christian Slater. in greasy hair and little else. Talk Hard. [please someone acknowledge they know what I'm talking about]).

8. The meltdown at work after the first huge breakup. Two words explain it: Melt. Down. My boss had to take me into his office, push me onto a chair, and force my head between my knees while counting my breaths and saying "Dammit, Christy Erica, he's a jerk. Get over it." (that former boyfriend is now one of those born-again-types with a wife who only wears skirts and like 10 kids. he SOOOO wasn't like that then. just sayin'.) (no idea what happened to that boss.)

9. Sneaking out late at night through the basement window. In the snow. (yeah, not as stealth as we thought)

10. Hating my sister. I regret it. We're now 36 and 33 and have a lot of fences to mend. And live thousands of miles away from eachother. :(

How about you?? Any Do-Overs (or #notsomuch)??


#ws4u status update

Christy started her 50K IN 50 DAYS personal challenge. 

Day 1:  She wrote just over 1k after debating whether or not to write HIDDEN CHARMS in present tense.  (The decision was made after comparing two paras in past to two paras in present.  She felt  the text in present tense added a sense of danger (or something like that).  It made the writing come alive in a way that past tense lacked.)  The 1k brought her to the end of chapter 2.

Day2:  She ended with just over 2k and at the end of chapter 3. She was worried that Day 3 would be hard to write and decided she needed to address her notes to add more details to know exactly where to take the action and characters next.

Day 3:  As of Monday night (when Castle started) she had 0/1k written. UH OH!

She wrote another query (For FIXING SHELBY), one that may be "it", or at least closer (less of a synopsis, more of a teaser).

She's still struggling at her day job.

OH AND IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO JOIN IN WITH YOUR OWN 50K IN 50 DAYS!!!! If you decide to take the challenge, let Christy know.  She'd love to have others to check in with, report to, and celebrate with! 

Erica finshed edits and revisions on her full manuscript (!) and started a brand new project!

She echoes Christy's report that school has yet to improve.


Any good news to report?



I heard this song on the radio today while I was driving home from the grocery store.

I reminisced about when I first saw Dirty Dancing and how I felt about Baby and Johnny.  And how I loved the whole forbidden love thing and the bad boy goes good thing. 

Then my mind wandered.  (I concentrated on the road, really.)  I thought about the most recent forbidden lovers that make my heart ache.  CLICK HERE TO SEE WHO I MEAN.  And how badly I want to incorporate that emotion (that heartwrenching need for two characters to kiss and realize their undying love--no matter what stands in their way) and that facet of romance into my newest wip. 

Cassandre Claire took the whole forbidden love thing to a new level.  No spoilers here, but I must say, the obstacle she put in her characters' way threw me for a loop and it took me 6 months before I bought the sequel.  But I did and I loved it and just got the third in the series.  Still rooting for Jace and Clary.  No doubt about that. 

I thought, and am still thinking, about what barriers I can throw in my wip to make it THAT hard for my characters to love each other--guilt-free, fear-free.

I tried to come up with more forbidden lovers, or lovers who are too stubborn or scared to admit their feelings, in fiction today.  These are the kinds of stories I am drawn to and want to write!  (Although, I don't tend to read just straight romance novels.  I need the distraction of other plot twists: mystery, intrigue, danger, to make the sprinklings of forbidden romance that much more intense.)

How about these two?

And I can't leave this pair out.
Image Detail

And I'm not talking about a love triangle, although a second love interest may be a factor in why the main lovers aren't getting together. 

There have been some great triangles in both recent and distant past novels.  But the romance struggles for these characters don't necessarily make the pages turn as much as other facets of the plot.

Please, add to my list.  Tell me who your FAVORITE forbidden lovers are.  Or even name another love triangle that broke your heart.


What are you doing today?

Hello. My name is Erica. (hello, erica) I am a baseball fan. Worse, I am a Brewer fan. It's been a rough 30-some years for me (due to the addiction). Even the ups have been quickly followed by downs.

The Brewers clinched the NL Central division last week. That was an up.

Bernie was HA-PPY!

They won the first two at home. Super up - one to go to the NL Championship game!!

Then they lost the next two in Arizona. Downer.

ha. poor Ryan.

So, anyway. Tomorrow they're back home for game 5. Guess where I'll be? Yep, here:

Doing this:

fyi, this isn't me. just what I'll be doing

Almost definitely drinking one of these:

Miller owns Leinie's. I <3 Honey Weiss (in moderation, of course)

And cheering for my boys to eventually win this:

I'd do this whole "why writing is like baseball" or "how writing also has its ups and downs" analogy, but I'm busy packing. What are you doing today? (say cheering on the Brewers. say cheering on the Brewers. say...)



Whoops. Tuesday's Status Report (on Wednesday)

Christy's Campaign Challenge Post is still accepting "Likes" over at Rach's Blog.  To read it (and find the link to vote for it) GO HERE!

We also missed out on participating in Banned Books Week (it was last week).  To learn more about Banned Books Week and censorship (in case you missed it too) click THIS LINK (where you'll find a short list of the most challenged titles of 2010) .  To learn even more, click RIGHT HERE.

And our list of forgets doesn't stop there.

Whoops.  We forgot about the Tuesday Status Report for #WS4U this week!  (Writer's Support 4 You via Facebook).

*Christy's considering starting an OctoNano this Saturday.  From Oct 8-Nov 30 there are 50 days.  So, 1,000 words per day = a 50k novel. 
50K IN 50 DAYS
She's trying to convince erica this would be a great thing to do. 
Is there anyone else who thinks NANOWRIMO sounds awesome, but is just not ready to commit to that this year?  If so, I'd totally come up with rewards/prizes/something to motivate you. 

*Christy's scrapped another 4-6 queries.  And then wrote 3 more.  And then she (re)read Mary Kole's post "Overthinking the Query".  Um. Yeah.

*Christy's having the worst school year in her 12 years of teaching.  She has students in her class that she is having a difficult time managing and feels like a failure.  She cries and is exhausted. 

*She is behind on critiquing a beta's ms and is feeling guilty and, again, like a failure.  And she's behind on grading.  And figuring out the new online grading system.

(And she didn't mean for this to become a pit party post.  Sorry about that.)

*Christy just wants to write.  Writing makes her feel better.  She has no time to write.  Although, on the plane to and from Colorado (her brother-in-law got married over the weekend), she read City of Ashes and enjoyed it.  The break from reality was MUCH needed.

*Erica is also having a not-wonderful school year.  I don't think she cries about it though.

*Erica is polishing her ms. 

*Erica is considering taking notes to create new characters and a new plot for Christy's OctoNano.  And she's watching  the Brewers.  Who rock.

That about sums it up for this week (and, um, last).

Check out these other members of WS4U!






Get Your Bookshelves Ready!

find all things contemporary:  author shout-outs, book reviews, contests and more!

and of course, there's always THE CONTEMPS!

Up and Coming YA CONTEMPORARY novels you shouldn't miss out on:

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
release date:  October 18, 2011


Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....(Goodreads)
Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
relase date:  October 13, 2011

When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. (Goodreads)

In Too Deep by (Mandy Hubbard) Amanda Grace
release date:  February 12, 2012

In Too Deep

 Revolves around a dark lie which spirals out of control. (Goodreads)


The Importance of a Strong Foundation

Before I start, I want to remind you of where erica and christy build their foundations (reading, writing, living, etc.). Go Wisconsin!!
(look at that cute little tiny icon. but if I enlarge it, it's blurry. so I stuck with cute) 

Faith is not a topic that we talk a lot about here at erica and christy, but it is important to us. No matter your opinion on that, though, I (erica) think the parable I read to my Sunday School kids today was one that can apply to everyone. It was about the importance of having a strong foundation, entitled The House on the Rock. (note, there is a House on the Rock in Spring Green, WI. It is very bizarre. The following picture is not it.)

In the parable, Jesus tells us about the man who built his house on a rock (the word of God) and how it could withstand any storm (problem, etc.). He also tells us of a man who built his house on sand (false ideology), which fell apart as soon as the first storm (sign of trouble) brewed.

So . . . like I said, we're not here to preach faith. But I do think this analogy works for our writing lives - and that of our characters.

First - you and your writing. How solid is your foundation? Do you take care of yourself and your time? Are you able to move forward in your writing life - or are you stuck in analysis/paralysis phase (research, editing, taking the day off, etc. - over and over and over)? Do you feel more like the above picture, or more like this:

(I got this off google images, but couldn't find the original source)

If so, find your foundation, your rock, your belief system. Set small goals. Write a little bit. Then start climbing. You'll find your way - I believe in you.

Now, our characters. There is something I've discovered about my characters during lo, these long months of editing. To prove my character arc, they start out something like this:

And then - wowwie, zowwie - through the magic of my words, they end the story like this:

la, la, la, la, la, la, laaaa, la, la, la, la

Okay, maybe my writing doesn't EXACTLY go that way. But yeah, I get a little carried away in first draft form. Something that will help me clean up those messes a lot faster is thinking about my character's foundation. What do they live for - even in the beginning - that helps them move forward? What part of them stays strong throughout the journey?

Do you guys ever think about the complete backstory (which, of course, can't actually make it into the book. No matter how hard I keep trying...*whistles*)? Do your characters have strong foundations that they are able to stay true to until the end? Or is your story about starting in sand and then climbing out? How do you show that without seeming too weak at the beginning? Any tips?