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I'm not lost! This is Christy. I'm home. I'm well. I'm beyond blessed!

  Besides lots of feedings and cleaning up after Christmas (we had too many toys BEFORE opening up all of the new toys...Goodwill, here we come!), I've been querying and critiquing. Next week, I'm looking forward to getting back into writing. I have a WIP to continue and a companion novel to the one I'm querying I'm excited to plot out!

I realized recently that although we share lots of advice on querying--most of which says to ONLY include what happens in the first 50 pages of your novel in the query--, I haven't actually taken that advice. My queries have included the main characters, the inciting incident, a few key events and then I jump to the climax and the stakes. Since the climax occurs around page 170 of my novel, that's hardly following the advice we've been given and have handed out.

I was also using the climax as my hook. Whoops. Plus, shouldn't the hook be in the first para? Well, I still don't think I have one of those (I have the first para, of course, just not the hook), but last night I scanned the first 50 pages of my novel and wrote a query that truly encompassed them. I don't know how good it is, but at least I'm doing what I'm told. (Something I constantly tell my kids and students to do. ("Follow directions!")  Teachers are the worst listeners, I tell you!

Have a happy and blessed week. I'll be back again soon, I'm sure.


Merry Christmas to all of our friends

Sorry, I'm a little late this morning. We had a wonderful candlelight service at church last night followed by a prime rib dinner at my sister-in-law's house. It was a wonderful Christmas Eve (although my husband had to work - boo). Then an early morning to get the new TV put together after my husband got home. Now the kids are playing their new Wii game (Harry Potter Lego Years 5-7) on the new TV, my hubby's in bed (he didn't get home until 6:15 am because some dumb guy decided it would be fun to drive past Wal-Mart security at 4:30 on Christmas morning and had to be detained by said hubby), the turkey is roasting (yes, I know, turkey's for Thanksgiving, but for some reason this year we flip-flopped and had ham in November and turkey in December), and I'm drinking Snickerdoodle coffee and wishing you and yours a merry, merry.

I have no idea where christy is. Probably entertaining that baby that keeps taking up all her time. ;)  Let's hope you're not stuck with me and my random thoughts for the next 8 weeks!

Joy to the World, the Lord is Come! It is a belief that christy and I share and we hope you find faith in your heart on this Christmas day and every day beyond. Merry Christmas, friends.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. - Dr. Seuss


A baby has joined us

note: this is not our actual baby

Christy did it. Sawyer John made his way into this world on December 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm. He weighed 7 lbs,  2 oz., measured 20.5 inches - and won hearts the moment he appeared. Mom and son are resting and loving and hugging and smiling and introducing and...they're fine. Probably (definitely) more than fine.

Merry Christmas (and if you're christy - get some sleep!)!


Merry Christmas (and every thing else you celebrate this holiday season)!!

This week we're gearing up for the big holiday break by making crafts with our students, decorating our houses with our kids, and celebrating with our families.

Oh yeah, and Christy's family is about to get a little bigger. Remember that baby bump? It's scheduled to come out on Wednesday. er, he's scheduled to come out on Wednesday. Yay! Yay! Yay!!

Wishing all of you the most blessed and happy season of all. We'll see in you in 2012. (and probably a few times in between) Thank you so much for being our friends!! Here, watch a video:

I love this so much I might not even mind being their neighbors.


a list of recent faves: LINKS FOR YOU

---as in posts or sites i've recently saved in my favorites.  enjoy! 

Susan Says:  Revision, or Helping Me Help You!

Wild About Words:  40 Reasons I Love S.C.B.W.I.

Miss Snark's First Victim:  Baker's Dozen: Reasons for Rejection

Jill Corcoran Books:  Activate Your Story

Oasis for YA:  Writer's Wednesday:  The First 250

Roni Loren-Fiction Groupie:  The (Not So) Dreaded Synopsis:  5 Tips To Set You Free

Kathleen Ortiz:  Synop-what?

The Creative Penn:  Self-Publishing and the Definition of an Indie Author

How I Became a Best Selling Author

happy friday to you all!  have a wonderful weekend.  i hope you get your shopping and wrapping done (if those things are on your to do list!)  otherwise, write, eat and put your feet up!


Wow, that's bad

I recently re-read the beginning of my first completed novel-length ms. Not the first draft - oh, no, that thing has long been deleted (although the long hand version still exists somewhere in the depths of my storage room). It was, um, well, yeah - bad.

And I'm almost positive that it's the version that went out to an agent when I got a partial request on my very first query (on an ms that had been revised and beta-read - yes, I'm a rule follower).

I had the dream. A book that would defy the odds and get published at record pace WITH ONLY ONE QUERY!!!!!

yes, I know. I'm experiencing some embarrassed laughter for me, too.

Here it is. Some stats on my very first - um, well, okayillsayit, bad - first page. Revealing more than the first page might give you a stroke and I can't be held responsible for that. (you know this is erica, right?)

Okay, wait. First I have a couple of awards to give out:

Best dialogue tag ever in a YA novel while the mc is having a temper tantrum: "...my mother replied with a tired voice." (because yes, you'd totally notice that)

Best trait to get someone to want to read your YA romance: mc has a temper tantrum on the first page (but dang it, it was a good one. and totally justified.)

Most -ly words ever used in a sentence that has been revised several times to delete all -ly words: Unfortunately, her face was starting to turn a shade of red she usually saved for unruly clients.

Okay, fine, now for some stats.

Number of -ly words that had been previously edited out but somehow stubbornly remained (crap, there's another one. but stubbornly totally needs to be in that sentence) (crap again) (smile)7

Amount of times a person growls (I mean, people growl, right??): 1

How many times the 17-year-old mc says something that makes someone else think she's acting like a baby (even though the author was very clever in making the adults either roll their eyes at her, grin at her knowingly, or tell her she's acting like a baby to conceal the truth): 3

My personal favorite - how many times I used the word "I": 11

God, I'm glad I'm not an agent/editor/someonewhoreadscrapforalivingwhilelookingforajewel.

Come on, share 'em in the comments. Any cringe-worthy submissions of your own??


a picture is worth a thousand words, but takes so much less time to read

christy with sawyer john (a.k.a the ball-like figure under her shirt)

*oh, and the candles behind me aren't really crooked.  i don't think...
my five-year-old son took the picture for me.  (he's not crooked either.) 
the camera.  it was the camera that was held at a slant.

well, this is your blog post for today.
 i had planned something else to chat at you about, but you get this instead.  i'm laundried, shopped, graded, planned, revised, queried and packed out.  i'm taking a break tonight and am going to lay/lie in my bed.  (i had the whole lay/laid/lie thing figured out, but i guess i forgot it again.) 

i'm 38 weeks pregnant...and as you can see...huge.  i walk s-l-o-w-l-y.  i get sympathetic smiles everywhere i go.  the people at work beg me to take the elevator--i refuse to do this.

 i am was (will be again) a runner.

take a break if you need one.  or get your work done.  totally up to you.

whatever you choose, have a great time doing it!


How to Never Finish a Book

1. Become addicted to anything besides writing. The interwebs make this especially easy. So does deciding to catch up on past seasons of Sons of Anarchy any TV series you're behind on that looks remotely interesting and/or has hot guys in it.

2. Start a WIP that's full of voice. Make it mostly dialogue and add in lots of characters and then twist the plot several times to the point where you have no idea who half the people are or what they're doing. But it would make a really good movie, so keep thinking it over and delete parts and copy and paste. There's a chance you can use it later.

3. Delete your 1/2 done WIP and start over. Better yet, do this every time you get over 10,000 words.

4. Sign your kids up for every sport available. Make sure they're not located in the same town. Also, it's best if they're on at least 3 different days of the week.

5. Volunteer to be on committees and teach Sunday School.

6. Take on extra responsibilities at work. I recommend volunteering to teach regular ed. AND special ed. while also functioning as department manager.

7. Buy a 600+ page book to read. Better yet, make it a series of long books. Harry Potter, Twilight, and Clan of the Cave Bear would all be appropriate for this task.

8. It's best if your family and your in-laws live far apart so that you can maximize travel time during the holidays.

9. Work opposite shifts as your spouse so that you're always either at work or home alone with the kids (or entertaining your spouse for the one night a week you see each other).

And so, by following these simple tips, you too can never finish a book. Good luck!



We are so excited to be a part of Heather McCorkle's Blog Tour this month!  She's an amazing blogger, talented writer, and, above all, a generous person.  The proof is in the blog tour she's doing to benefit endangered species.  To take part, read the information below and you, too, can help these beautiful creatures. 

A special edition of Heather McCorkle’s The Secret Of Spruce Knoll is releasing from Compass Press this month and she’s doing a special tour to go along with it. The special part, a percentage of the proceeds from every special edition sold (in every format) between its release date and 12-12-2012, will go toward Heather’s favorite charity that protects endangered species. Her goal is to make at least $10,000 for the charity.

Of course there are prizes during the tour which goes from December 1st through the 17th. Prizes include:
  •  a symbolic endangered species adoption of the winner’s choice (a $50 donation by Heather to the charity for the endangered species of the winner’s choice )
  • a cute stuffed animal for the winner
  • signed copies of her novels
  •  great swag
For full details, and to enter, go here. http://heathermccorkle.blogspot.com Check out her recent posts with links to all the other tour stops.  There are many animals besides the one we're featuring that need our help!

For the tour Heather has asked each blog host to pick their favorite endangered species.  We chose the emerald hummingbird. 

Christy:  Hummingbirds are magical.  This past summer I finally bought a hummingbird feeder and sat watching it faithfully.  I only spotted a couple all summer long.  Mostly, I fed the thirsty bees in my neighborhood.  While the emerald hummingbird does not live near me in Wisconsin, please help us protect this amazingly enchanging bird!

Erica: The hummingbird feeders at my house have attracted a number of ruby-throated hummingbirds, including a couple that have nested in the same tree for the past few years. (and yes, a number of hornets, too - not to mention ants). My kids have always been fascinated by the little creatures and continue to argue about whether or not they can pet one!

Heather:  This breathtaking hummingbird lives in the arid thorn-forests and scrub of Honduras. Honestly, I had no idea such a beautiful bird existed before this tour and now to find out that it's critically endangered is so sad.

Some secrets change your life, others change your world.  Discover the secret.

Immerse yourself in the story of Eren Donovan as she uncovers the secrets of her new town, Spruce Knoll.  The more she learns about the people of Spruce Knoll, and herself, the more she knows she must try to save the world from its fate:  total destruction.  Through it all, she faces loss, death and love.  Only time will tell if Eren has the power to protect the people she has come to love.

This is a special edition that contains an extra chapter and deleted material not published in the Abbott Press version. But what makes this version special is that a percentage of the proceeds from every copy of the special edition sold~digital and bound book~will go to my favorite charity that specializes in protecting endangered species.

To be a part of the solution for these animals, buy THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL.  To purchase it as an eBook just click on a link below!

click right here:  to buy from amazon  

or here:  to buy from barnes and noble

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  Together we can make a difference (and enjoy a great book)!


Holy crappoli

Yes, I'm here. Seriously, are you sick of me (erica) posting how busy I am? The answer is: Yes, yes I am. er, we are. Hence the title of today's post. Holy crappoli. Yeah. Well. Here is my post...

There's snow here. Lots of it. It's a freaking Winter Wonderland in West-Central Wisconsin. Do I have pictures? No, of course I don't. My camera's charger isn't working and I have to order another one before Christmas. Yep, holy crappoli. (I know, it's a weird phrase. please stick with me. or at least don't abandon me. I'm hanging on a thread here...)

Okay, fine. I'll show you why I'm stressed (okay, one reason. which isn't really a reason. but still.)

Yep, this is my driveway. (last year, but whatever. Holy crapoli, it's not easy to make your way down that.)

Okay, fine. I've been reading books and watching movies and living life and working work. So, well, I offer you one last image. That of my youngest son, who truly is a snow angel. (Holi crapoli. don't tell my husband I posted this. thanks.)


Recent Reads-- With Reviews!

I've been reading one YA Contemporary after another these past two months and what I've found is that it's true:  Many contemporary novels for teens deal with friendship issues.  And boy issues.  So, are those plots overdone?  Or are they just what happens to be realistic in the world of Teen? 

Without adding any paranormal elements into my own contemporary novel (with friend and boy and parent issues), what I need to do is this:  make my MC different.  Make her a page-turning MC.  Make her the difference.  How can I get the reader to care about her when they've already read about a dozen other MCs with the same dilemmas in their lives?

(I so hope you are NOT expecting an answer here.  Not today anyways!)

Because those are the questions circling round and round in my brain these days.

So while I contemplate and frustrate and try not to regurgitate (plot lines)...I'll share these three novel reviews with you.  I hope you have time to enjoy one or all of them! (Er, not just the reviews, but the actual books!)

Getting Caught

by Mandy Hubbard and Cyn Balog

This story is about two girls who used to be the best of friends, but due to a misunderstanding, become enemies.  Not speaking is beyond these two.  They take no longer being friends to a level that is page-turning and funny--at the same time that it's pitiful and saddening.  They are horrible to each other, but it's worth it to see how they up the stakes for each prank they pull to make the other miserable. 

The book is told from alternating POVs and I loved getting inside each girl's head to find how they really felt about their lives and their ex-friend.  There's a wonderful romance blossoming for one of the girls too, and I don't know about you, but it's love that makes the world go round.  I mean makes pages turn.  This was a fast read and even though it centered around a friendship gone bad, the plot was uniquely done as were each of the characters' voices.

Perfect You
by Elizabeth Scott

The MC of this book has to deal with it all--parent issues, an ex-best friend who can't stop breaking her heart, and trying to figure out if the "hot, everyone wants him boy" is really interested in her or not.  Yup.  Another YA contemporary novel.  See?  It can be done in oh so many ways! 

The unique aspect of this book is in the family situation.  Her dad quits his lucrative, reliable job to live his dream--and sell vitamins in a stand at the mall.  What's worse, she has to help him every spare chance she gets.  All the while, her ex-best friend is living it up with the most popular girls in school and ignoring her. 

I liked that this book showed the reality of how everyone has their own struggles, their own agendas and most times it's hard to make it all mesh.  Nobody can make the others understand.  There won't always be a happily ever after.  Although, some parts of her life will work out and leave you saying ahhhh as you close the book for the final time.

This was another fast read and another book that made me say....sugar, maybe the long-time best friend gone bad because they've grown apart and now one is super mean and nasty and the other needs to get a backbone thing is all been there done that.....  Sigh.

width: 100%
by Chelsea Fine

First Lines:

I’m late for English.
This is not uncommon. I have a tendency to doddle at lunch. ‘Doddle’ is a word my mom would use when she wanted to call me lazy. I never use it out loud, but I use it a lot in my head.


Each chapter alternates between the POVs of Sophie and Carter.  Their lives are NOT typical.  Each wears a mask at school, never letting the other kids know what kind of lives they lead at home.  Carter supports his mother who has fallen apart after the devastation his abusive father left behind.  Sophie is raising her brothers and sister on her own.  The two are neighbors and the only happy time either have is the time they spend on her porch swing each night. 

The two are best friends who rely on each other and I fell in love with each of them while inside the pages of their stories!


People are strong

Strange things happen no matter who or where you are. You can use these to your advantage. After everyone has been determined alive, that is.

Take today.

I (erica) teach preschool (special ed and Head Start). This is my 15th year of teaching. But today (well, yesterday, by your standards), this happened:

It was someone's birthday. Not just anyone's, but one of the most vocal, most happiest, most cutest ever (yes, I can say that, I'm a preschool teacher and everyone is the most cutest, but most especially this one) girl's. She brought Caramel Apple suckers. You know them. They're awesome.
AND THEN????? (dum dum dum dum) (that was supposed to be a drum roll, not a declaration) One of the other girls - who has special needs but can eat everything anyone else eats - clamped down on hers. Like this:

well, but cute. and around a caramel apple sucker.

So, no problem, right?? Just open her mouth and get the sucker out.

That's when it gets tricky. And erica gets scared. Because, see, the teeth can not be opened. The sucker can not be dislodged. erica has now seen this child's death a million times in her mind. Trust me, if you imagine it, you can come up with a million ways to die by sucker.


At which time erica and her aide put said child in a car (yes, in a car seat in a school van, don't you worry now - ha) and take her to the nearest dentist BECAUSE SERIOUSLY SOMEONE HAS TO UNSTUCK THIS CHILD'S TEETH BEFORE SHE DIES!!! (and by she, mostly at this point I mean me - erica - because the heart is seriously going haywire at this point)

The dentist tells me it will dissolve. Seriously. After half an hour of clamped jaw, he tells me it will go away on its own.

I'm dying a little bit more each second. Because what will dissolve first - the inside or the outside??

And who can do the heimlich on a little girl whose teeth ARE CLAMPED SHUT TIGHT????

Okay, fine - it all turned out. The sucker dissolved, mostly. Her mouth opened. I saw the sucker (with part of the stick) go down her throat and plucked it out with the tips of my fingers. In her throat. Umm, yeah.


Don't be worried to make weird things happen in your novels. Weird things happen all the time. And THANK THE LORD we mostly make it out alive.

Oh, did I mention that shortly after my dentist visit with my little cutie patootie, a mad/drunk/drugged man walked down THE SAME STREET waving a gun and threatening to shoot anyone in sight, prompting a big man hunt, complete with agents and assault rifles? Yep. And I live in a town with less than 1,000 people.

Feel free to use that in your next book. I know I can't. No one would believe me. ;)