Our Co-Writing Jouney, part 4 of 3 (stuff that makes us laugh)

Thanks so much to those of you who are reading the pages of The Text Message right now! We're so excited to this close to the query trenches again (no, that's not the part that makes us laugh. okay, maybe a little!)!

Go ahead. You know you want to watch it. We'll wait.

Over the past year, erica and christy have exchanged thousands of emails, mostly about our kids husbands food ms**. Here are a few taken completely out of context and meant for your enjoyment. Go ahead, laugh - we did! Oh, and we hope you had a great Christmas/Holiday season and we can't wait for the excitement 2013 brings!!

*erica's green*  *christy's blue*

ooh, boy and girl would be fun. i was thinking two girls, but boy and girl would be fun.

How do you not know what donkey basketball is?

3-4 chapters a week. that'd be about 2 months to write all 20 of my chapters and do some revising and editing, right? see? we'll be done by april!!!

Pretty soon I'm going to stand in the doorway and stare at them until they feel uncomfortable and leave.

titilating. is that a word?

I lost everything.. . Have fun with Castle. I'm letting Laptop sleep on it for the night. I'm sure it'll be back to itself in the morning. ;)

oh, and a medium-well steak that mooed at me.

My Amazon "suggested titles" list looks like a porno in the making.

[Son #3] is chewing through power cords.

Tons of bunnies here. A new crop just born this past week.

I'll think of something brilliant to say too!

This email brought to you by "Sentences that start with the word And." :)

Have you ever watched Regis and Kelly?

And finally, I bring you erica's famous last words: We can always fix it later.

**the moral of the story is - if these people can finish writing books, you can, too. :)


Living for Today

As you know, we are both mothers, elementary-school teachers, and Christians. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those impacted by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

The shooter, the school, even perhaps the teachers, will be blamed over the next few weeks. We beg you to act kindly, our friends. Be the difference that changes things. Say hello to strangers on the street. Thank your child's teacher(s). Provide a pair of gloves to someone who is cold. . .be kind.

No one knows the difference one can make. We don't pretend that any of this will end all the problems of the world, but it could help, and that's the hope we cling to.

We - erica and christy - love our children, the children we teach, the families we work with, and all of you.

~erica and chrsity


Our Co-writing Journey (Part three of three): The Query

Well, here it is.  The moment you have (admit it, you have!) been waiting for.  OUR PITCH (not exactly a query because this isn't the version we're prepared to give to agents nor does it have the "business" side of things - comps, etc.):

All seventeen-year-old Nea wanted was for her lazy slob of a younger brother, Derek, to leave her alone, but she didn't mean forever. Now he's missing with only a text message as a lead to his whereabouts. Now she’s committed to finding him. Known for stealing the spotlight, nobody believes she's received even that one clue. As a last resort, she enlists the help of Derek’s quirky best friend, Goon, who is the only one who hasn't turned his back on her. 

Corrupt cops and agents of all types swarm the teens to find out what they know and to steal the evidence they rack up. White vans with the license plate VIPER show up all over town. Derek texts that there is no sign of life in the bubble of land he’s trapped in. All signs point to a government cover up and a man-made world that seems to have swallowed Derek up. Nea and Goon follow the texts, blog comments, and occasional voice contacts Derek is able to send in order to figure out where he’s been entrapped. 

But when the time comes to rescue him or lose him forever, the way they choose to save him is blocked by adults involved in the corruption. Nea finds they can waste time sifting through who to trust, or find an entirely new way to Derek. The two split up and act fast because time in Derek's new world is ticking down to his last few seconds.

THE TEXT MESSAGE, a young adult lite-science fiction/mystery novel of 44,000 words, is an account of an abduction told from two points of view: the abducted and the sister he left behind.

(To see the previous parts of our journey, go here to learn about Christy's view and here to learn about Erica's.)

SO - we have a few things for our blog-world friends. First, like we said above, this isn't our final query. It would be awesome if you'd let us know what works/doesn't work for you in the comments, though! (and yes, we know lite-sci-fi-mystery isn't a REAL genre. we're working on it).

Second, we're looking for critique partners.

Well, not just looking for. We NEED critique partners. We just might need YOU. Leave a quick comment if you're interested (like, "hey, send me 30 pages" or, you know, "I MUST READ THIS SEND IT NOW" and it will go to each of our emails. you'll likely get a response in 4.2 seconds. maybe even 2 responses. ;) We PROMISE we'll reciprocate!!

Third, if there's anything you'd like to know about our co-blogging/co-writing journey, we'd be happy to share.

Lastly, thanks for sticking with us through this process (and all along). We love you all!


Our Co-Writing Journey (Part Two of Three)

erica and christy co-wrote a YA light sci-fi/mystery about a boy who disappears and the sister who does whatever it takes to try to find him, including teaming up with his quirky best friend.

The Text Message
When all seventeen-year-old Nea wanted was for her lazy slob of a brother, Derek, to leave her alone, she didn’t expect to find him missing with only a text message from a mysterious phone as a lead to his whereabouts.

We'd like to share the journey we took to get from initiation to typing The End. Today are christy's answers.

(Sorry.  Christy meant to post her answers by Tues or Thurs, but she ended up having an unexpectedly bad week.  Her mom had to be hospitalized and she's pretty drained physically and emotionally.)

(Soon-ish we'll post the pitch and beg you to beta read it for us! We'll reciprocate. Just think: You can get two readers for the price of one!)

How did you two decide to co-write a novel?

CHRISTY:  I think I may have pestered erica into finally agreeing to humor me and write with me.  We were both in between projects and procrastinating from re-writing or re-vamping old manuscripts, so we decided it would be an adventurous and fun deviation from what we were obviously not accomplishing.
When did you begin?  And what did the beginning consist of?  Did you just start typing the story one day or was there more planning involved?

CHRISTY:  We comitted to the project in the beginning of this year.  We threw around a bunch of ideas.  Our brainstorming included references to The  Lake House and Labyrinth. In fact, I think erica may have emailed me links of clips for each of these movies....  Um, I don't think our finished product, or even any portion of it, ever resembled either of these movies.  I have no idea what happened to that.  It's hard to remember way back then.  Erica has some of the email threads saved, so she may remember more of our crazy ideas.  Maybe she'll entertain you with some of them in the next few days!

How do you two predominantly communicate?  Do you ever discuss your writing in person/via skype over the phone?  Does this form of communiatino lend itself well to co-writing?  Did you find anything to be helpful along the way that you could pass along to others who'd like to give co-writing a go?

CHRISTY:  Email.  Many, many, many emails.  Daily, hourly, minutely.  My husband has stopped making cracks about me having an online affair.  Somewhere along the way over these past (three?) years he gave up and came to terms with the fact that a part of every day includes me updating erica on my life and writing. 

Email works well for us.  Also, erica introduced me to Acrobat.com.  I LOVE buzzwords (I think that's what it's called. ?)  Anyways, it's a place to share documents so we can both go into the same document, make comments in the margin (hers are orange, mine are yellow), make changes and save it all online.  We just started using it for editing our completed ms.  For the entirety of the project we emailed chapters back and forth, each saving it and changing things in our own separate documents.  I always worried we would end up with two completely different versions in the end with no way of knowing which one to use!  We'll definitely write book number two using the online document.  That way we can always see what the other person is (or isn't, ha!) doing.

Do you plan to co-write more in the future?  If so, what would you like to change to make the next round go smoother?  What went well that you'd like to continue?

CHRISTY:  DEFINITELY!  I loved every second of it!  We have plans for a sequel.  And even if number one doesn't go anywhere, which I doubt (again, ha!), I want to write it.  It's a way for two people with a bad case of writer's block to keep writing.  For me it was a way to let go of whatever fears keep me from starting a new project, or going back to fix an old one.  I can jump in and take a risk with erica.  I've been struggling on my own.  It's so much fun to see where the other person will take the next chapter and then move on from there. Plus, it's easier, and less stressful, knowing half the book is being written without any work on my part.  Half the time, half the work!  I don't know how anyone would co-write without taking on two distinct characters and voices though.  I think that part of it was a ton of fun. I am very much in love with our characters.  They are more real to me than any I've ever written on my own.

Do you prefer co-writing or writing solo?  What are the pros and cons of each?

CHRISTY:  I love, love co-writing for all the reasons I listed above.  I think writing independently is important too, though, to develop our individual writing styles and to be able to carry a full-length plot through on our own.  I'm in a slump right now and haven't been able to write on my own.  However, when we were in the midst of drafting, my creative juices were flowing and I was actually better able to work on my own writing on the side, while I waited for chapters from erica.  I work best when I have two contradictory projects going on at once.  I feel bad for erica right now.  I'm the one who is gung ho about drafting and now I'm dragging my feet on the editing/revising bit.  She's the opposite.  Another reason we were destined to write together!

Plus, our main character is named after our domain name.  Initally that was to be my pen name.  Now, she's going to make us famous authors.  It was meant to be.  ;)



Our Co-Writing Journey (Part One of Three)

erica and christy co-wrote a YA light sci-fi/mystery about a boy who disappears and the sister who does whatever it takes to try to find him, including teaming up with his quirky best friend.

The Text Message
When all seventeen-year-old Nea wanted was for her lazy slob of a brother, Derek, to leave her alone, she didn’t expect to find him missing with only a text message from a mysterious phone as a lead to his whereabouts.

We'd like to share the journey we took to get from initiation to typing The End. Today is erica's answers and tomorrow-(ish) will be christy's.

(And then we'll post the pitch and beg you to beta read it for us! We'll reciprocate. Just think: You can get two readers for the price of one!)

How did you two decide to co-write a novel?

ERICA: Honestly, I can't remember! I think we first thought of it when we "met" and decided to co-blog, but this past winter we were both between projects and it evolved from there. We had also read some co-authored books back then (Liar Society, Getting Caught, and Will Grayson/Will Grayson come to mind for me) that got us excited about it.

When did you begin?  And what did the beginning consist of?  Did you just start typing the story one day or was there more planning involved?

ERICA: I was thinking that we started in April, but I went back to my emails and discovered we started at the end of January and our plan was to get it out to betas in April. Of 2012. Whoops.

How do you two predominantly communicate?  Do you ever discuss your writing in person/via skype over the phone?  Does this form of communiatino lend itself well to co-writing?  Did you find anything to be helpful along the way that you could pass along to others who'd like to give co-writing a go?

ERICA: We email each other anywhere from 1 to 25 times a day. Not kidding or exaggerating one tiny bit. I still don't have a cell phone (also not kidding with that!) but the plan is I'll get one soon and then I'll be able to text and the number will rise exponentially. We haven't tried Skype yet, but we've planned on it. Have I mentioned that between us, our lives are shared by two husbands and five sons AND we're both full-time elementary school teachers? Email works because we can leave and come back to the conversation whenever we need to. Also, if we're drinking wine, it's easier to giggle and email than giggle and talk. :)

We split up the writing duties by doing alternating chapters - I was 2 characters and christy was all the others (I know, I know. She wrote like 75% of the book and still lets me share credit!). I think it was an excellent way to dip our toes in the water, so to say. If we each had to part of one chapter, we'd probably only be halfway through the book almost a year later. We're just not on the same type of schedules most of the time.

Do you plan to co-write more in the future?  If so, what would you like to change to make the next round go smoother?  What went well that you'd like to continue?

ERICA: This book ends with the possibility of another book based on one of the secondary characters. We're definitely keeping our options open on that one. As for having it go more smoothly, I think time is always a factor for us. On my side of things, my kids are older (currently 6 and 11), so it's time for me to make a time commitment to my writing - for example, do my "writing minutes" similarly to them doing their reading (or band) minutes for school. There were days and days and days christy was waiting for my chapters and that wasn't fair to her or the book.

I think what went well was our respect for each other as writers. Christy took the book in a completely different direction (incolving a super-high-tech communication system) than I would have at one point, but I was able to adapt and go with it. Similarly, there was an element to our original idea (time-travel/jumping) that would have needed to be developed in my chapters and I didn't do it - but christy was able to let that go (I think. christy?) :)

Do you prefer co-writing or writing solo?  What are the pros and cons of each?

ERICA: Hmm, prefer? Co-writing keeps me on my toes, that's for sure! I have lots of book ideas that I've started and stalled on for one reason or another. It's a lot harder to tell your partner "never mind, I'm not going to finish it" than to just give up on yourself. The con for me right now is in editing. I don't want to give christy too many pointers (or vice versa) and have our separate voices/characters start to sound too similar. That's why we need betas so desperately!



This Christmas

Christy and the fam in front of this year's Christmas tree.
The baby looking up in awe at the Christmas tree.  He'll be one just a few days before Christmas.  I'm not at all sure where this past year went. 
(And in seeing how I sent a full manuscript from my hospital room the night he was born...and I haven't heard from the agent yet...it's probably a no, huh?)
I think the ornaments toward the bottom could be in trouble.


Monday Mealtime Madness

I tend to make the same meals week after week.  I don't consider myself to be in a rut so much as this boring repetition is easy and requires little thought both in meal planning and grocery shopping.  Plus, I have picky, picky kids, so there's that.  I stick with what I know they'll eat. 

However, a few weeks ago I added a new recipe to my weekly menu:  Yummy Chicken.  It's a little bit chicken cordon bleu, a little chicken helper.

A pound or two of chicken breasts.
A can of cream of chicken.
Thin, deli slices of ham.
Swiss cheese.
Corn flakes.

Lay chicken in the bottom of a baking dish.  Scoop cream of chicken on top and spread across all the chicken.  Layer ham and  swiss cheese across the top of the chicken.  Spread a couple of handfuls of corn flakes across the top. Cover and bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.

I serve this with macaroni and cheese (my kids are loving the spiral kind lately) and steamed green beans.

And, of course, I sometimes enjoy this meal with a half glass of Malbec, but a glass of skim milk tastes great, too!




Dos and Don'ts

I've made (and  continue to make) many mistakes when writing my novels.  I can't always see them when I'm writing, or even when I'm editing, but I can definitely see them when other people do them, and when I'm reading their novels.

And then I read books that I can't put down, no matter how late it is or how early I have to get up and take care of three kids, plus the twenty in my classroom.  The characters feel more real than the people I live with in real life.  I can only hopet that one day I can figure out how to do what they do when I'm typing the pages of my novels.

Because in the past several months I've read some incredible, amazing, and breathtaking novels.  Of course, I've also read some that I choked on and could barely finish, or left unread.

Here are some of the DOS and the DON'TS I came up with while reading these novels.  I hope to commit them to the memories of each and every fingertip so they recall them while typing all future words.

* Include steamy romance with a forbidden love interest.
* Include a comical friend to help the mc along the way.
* Include several hot spots to make the setting familiar and interesting and alive.
* Use humor to show me what the main character is like and looks like.
* Use metaphors and similes to make the world come alive.
* Reinvent an old favorite character trait or theme in a new, imaginative way.

* Include self-talk in italics more than twice.
* Include an overly sarcastic mc.
* Include boring, every day conversation.  No matter what.  No matter who with.  Delete every day pleasantries in all conversations.
* Include pages at the beginning to tell me the rules of the setting aka society.
* Spell out the personalities, likes and dislikes of the characters.
* String common, boring adjectives together to describe a character.
* Rely on cliches and use them in the same way three or ten other books have.
* Use language too formal and inappropriate (for teens).


* Then entire HUSH HUSH series by Becca Fitzpatrick.  I couldn't read the words fast enough, they were like air I needed to breathe to live.  These are my fave, fave, fave!

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)


Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.---GOODREADS

* The ANEW trilogy (still waiting for the third book) by Chelsea Fine (also the author of Sophie and Carter).  I heart her and everything she writes.  I can't wait to see what she writes next!

Anew (The Archers of Avalon, #1)

Two years ago, Scarlet awoke in the forest alone, afraid, and unable to remember anything. Lost and confused, her life was a mystery...until she met a boy with a familiar voice. --GOODREADS

* CLOCKWORK ANGEL and CLOCKWORK PRINCE by Cassandra Clare.  I love that these include characters that are ancestors to the characters in the Mortal Instruments series.  The romance is unbelievable, and without any possible incest issues!  Love the historical and steampunk-y elements!

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. ---GOODREADS

* UNEARTHLY trilogy (still waiting for the third book) by Cynthia Hand.  Oh my gosh, these books were so good, so refreshing, so romantic.  She turned me onto angel books, totally and completely.  She led me to the HUSH HUSH books.  Thankfully!

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.---GOODREADS




A week ago I posted about Rachel Morgan's FANTASTIC novel.  And promised to give away a free copy to a lucky commenter.  THAT lucky commenter is:

Heather McCorkle!!!!

Yay!  Thanks for stopping by that day, Heather--and everyone else!  Especially since we've been gooooone from our blog for so long.  And I'm glad you did because now I get to send you a free novel that you will love!!! 

I'll email you to get your addy.


Photo Card--and a little cheer

It's that time of year again.  Time to order holiday cards so they will arrive in the mail on time to send them out in the mail....  Also, it's time to order photo mugs, calendars, albums, puzzles...at least that's what I buy for grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, dads, myself....  I also have stock in ellipses.  Anyways, I'm early.  That never happens, so I'll say it again.  I'm early-- in wishing you a happy holidays this year, including Thanksgiving, St. Nick's Day, and Christmas.  NOT that I won't be back before thany of those holidays, but you know, I have the card ready--and I was thinking of you--so... 
Best Gifts Ever Christmas
Personalize your Christmas card at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.


Meet The Author--AND Win a Free Book!

Meet the Author--RACHEL MORGAN!

Rachel Morgan is the author of the Creepy Hollow YA fantasy series.  Rachel was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in a fantasy land of her own making. After completing a degree in genetics, she decided science wasn’t for her—after all, they didn’t approve of made-up facts. These days she spends much of her time immersed in fantasy land once more, writing fiction for young adults.

She is doing a blog hop to celebrate the launch of The Faerie Guardian.  Below is a behind-the-scenes video of her life in South Africa where she teaches and writes.  She's also busy moving and planning her wedding!  I had such fun meeting her (virtually)!  Visit her blog to find more of the blogs she's visiting this week and to learn more about her, her books and her characters.

The Faerie Guardian is the first of three novels.  Initially, Rachel published each of the novel's four parts as novelettes, so since I purchased all four as fast as they were released, I've read it in its entirety (although, The Faerie Guardian has extra scenes included, and you can get it in print edition!!!).  I couldn't get my eyes on the novelette's words fast enough--they were that good!  She creates world so real it's like I'm there.  Her characters are believable, strong and make me laugh.  The romance and action keep the pages turning and turning and turning. It'll be like you're sitting in front of a fan!

(Book 1 in the Creepy Hollow series)

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until a cute human boy who can somehow see through her faerie glamour follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? Not when you factor in evil faeries, long-lost family members, and inconvenient feelings of the romantic kind. Vi is about to find herself tangled up in a dangerous plot—and it’ll take all her training to get out alive.


In case you don't win the book I'm giving away, you can also enter to win it on Goodreads. 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Faerie Guardian by Rachel  Morgan

The Faerie Guardian

by Rachel Morgan

Giveaway ends November 12, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
Once you devour book 1, books 2 and 3 won't be far behind!

(Coming in 2013)

(Coming in 2013)

While you wait, you can order:


Before Violet met Nate, the human boy who followed her into the fae realm and turned her life upside down, she was the perfect guardian trainee. She followed all the rules and did her best to protect her human assignments. Goblins, ogres, trolls—Vi learned how to handle them all.
In An A to Z of Creepy Hollow Fae, catch a glimpse of some of Vi’s past assignments, and experience the life of a faerie training to be a guardian.


Purchase The Faerie Guardian

The Creepy Hollow Series
Rachel's Links

Heads up!

We just wanted to let you know that we will be opening up shop this Wednesday to be a part of Rachel Morgan's blog hop as she releases her novel The Faerie Guardian.  It's AMAZING.  So please visit us tomorrow to meet her (virtually) and to learn more about her exciting novel news!  You'll not only get a behind-the-scenes look at the author, but you'll have a chance to WIN her novel because we'll be giving one away! Yay! You can also enter to win her novel on Goodreads here!

Oh, and if you are an of-age US citizen, go and vote!!!


Closed for the Season

Christy started this blog almost three years ago to make some writing friends and share some recipes.

She did that.

Erica joined this blog over two years ago because she thought Christy would be a great addition to her writing team and she (erica) wanted to make some new writing friends, too.

christy was and erica did.

We both wrote this blog while we completed, edited, and queried our first manuscripts. Then we edited some more. Rewrote a couple. Wrote another, and a third. Perfected our crafts and researched agents and editors and writing styles and point of views and yes, even how to craft a sentence (ha!).

We did that, too. Successfully, I should add.

For now, are proud of our accomplishments. However, we have our limits. We are mothers and teachers and wives and daughters.

So are you (subsitute male pronouns and nouns as needed). It's okay to be overwhelmed - well, not okay, so much as "in the same boat as us." No one should feel guilty about that.

The long and short of it is - for now, we are closed for the season. Please know and believe that we cherish each and every friendship we've made here and that we will keep working on everything that's important in our lives.

Until we return, have a cup of coffee on us. We'll meet up again soon.

this is christy's cup. she shares like that.



I should probably start a new blog entitled something like My Three Sons and Me, but you're stuck reading content for that non-existent blog...here at my writing blog.  Lucky, luck you.


Conversations at my house lately sound like this:

"(Four-Year-Old Son's Name)!, you wet the bed!"

"I know that."

"Well, where'd you go?  You're still standing in your wet pjs!"

"I went to get a kleenex to clean it up, but we there was none."

"You went to get a kleenex to clean up a bed sheets covered with pee?"



And this:

"(Six-year-old Son's Name)!  You peed all over the toilet and floor AGAIN?!?"  (Deep breath.)  "That's twice this week!"  (Deep breath.)  "From now on you may stand when you pee at school, but at home you're going to SIT to pee."



The nanny said, "Oh, and I had to put another outfit on him (8 month old) because when I picked him up from his nap, he was just covered in pee.  I had no idea a baby that little could hold that much pee inside him!"


So, that was three for three.

And my mom keeps asking why I don't try for another since the chances are so good I could finally have that little granddaughter for her.

Nope. I'm good.  (Very, very good.)


Love my kids and all their pee.  Well, I could maybe do without the pee.



chairs...and stuff

note the somewhat crazy look behind my tense grin and wide eyes

apparently we've unofficially dedicated september to blogging about how busy we are as teachers and moms and...writers.

allow me to whine at you.

no, really, i insist. let me.

i don't sit down until 9 PM. 
like, literally..
i don't

all day i dream of that moment.

the sitting down in silence moment

 and i dream of opening the wip i no longer remember the name of

(i love that i can type in a search for "sleeping on a laptop" and get hundreds of images)

shut up.  SHUT UP.

at least i encourage writing during the day

im jealous of the writing time my students get

so now that i am finally sitting.  with my laptop.  and my wip is sleeping.  shhh!  i've created this nonsensical post in which i leave you with this very serious question that i hope you take a moment to consider and respond.

which chair are you?  and why?









And so it begins.

I'm sorry that I've been completely absent from my own blog, and from my own home, really. Although I don't need to apologize to you for that.

 A new school year begins tomorrow.  As a teacher, the past month has been hectic.  For the past three years I taught part time.  Starting tomorrow, I'll be in the classroom full time again.  I'm excited, except that I'll be away from my eight-month-old for over eight hours each day.

 I try to make myself feel better by thinking he'll be sleeping for two hours every morning, and another two hours each afternoon.  When I worked part time, I got home about one, had to wake him up to pick up my oldest son about 2:30 and then got home from that about 3:30.  So, since he'll sleep from about 1:00-3:00, I figure, it'll be fine.  Just fine.  He'll be fine.  I guess it's me I'm worried about.

My moving boxes are emptied, and the contents mostly organzied and put away.  (Some ended up getting dumped in file cabinet drawers, in top cabinets and under the rug I dragged there from my basement.  Copies upon copies are made and neatly piled into "first we'll do this"  " then we'll do this"  "then  this"  "and then this" piles.  A lamp is placed on the bookshelf behind my teacher desk.  Table legs are sawed off to fit first graders little bodies.  Name tags are filled out and stuck on top of desks.  Folder inserts are printed and, well, inserted. 

My floor at home is vaccuumed and scrubbed.  The dishwasher is emptied.  Laundry is cleaned, folded and put away.  My bank account is empty from all the materials I bought for the classroom.  I ran two miles, not six.  Lunches are made.  Clothes are laid out.  The schedule is typed.  Emergency phone numbers written.

My stomach is in knots and sleep is hard to come by.

Yup.  Every thing is as it should be the night before the first day of school.

I hope you and your children have a wonderful day.  I'm sure erica and I will too.

We'll be back to share stories soon!




Hello Beautiful!

It's the beginning of the school year. So, you know, we have to do our job that actually pays us real money and also allow it to suck all of the creative energy we have and funnel it into arranging our classrooms and writing lesson plans.

That doesn't mean we don't still love all of you.

It's not you, it's us.

I leave you with a story and hope that we run into each other again soon: A teacher I've worked with for several years has been waiting (and waiting and waiting) to adopt. His wife is unable to conceive naturally and his family has some unfortunate genetic abnormalities that have prevented them from wanting to try in-vitro. Several times over the past two years, they have been at the cusp of parenthood, only to lose the child at the last moment. Last year they had a phone conversation with their birth mother during her labor, received by email pictures of their newborn son, and were able to choose his name and purchase their plane tickets. Four hours later, they were informed she would keep the baby.

The grief process was lengthy, especially for his wife.

At the end of the school year, he expressed a very hesitant hope that they may be welcoming a new family member into their home over the summer.

Today I got to meet his children, a 4-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. They are beautiful and wonderful and smart and charming and so very excited to have a forever home and parents who cherish them.

God is good. Let us remember our blessings - we'd love for you to share them in the comments.


It's T minus one week. . .and an update

This is my last week of summer vacation. Like most teachers, I've already spent significant hours in the school and will celebrate the last week by - well, going in at least two days. But I refuse to be there at 7:30 (my normal work time), so there's that. . .christy's done a lot more organizing of her classroom than I have in mine, so she's #gonecamping with her fam.

Scroll down for last week's post on Write On Con, what it is, when it is (psst, this week) and why it's important to us.

Oh, yeah, almost forgot:

It's the happy dance, people? Do you know why??

We're done with the first draft of our cowritten novel, The Text Message. Whoo hoo!!!!

And I totally mean "first draft" here. Maybe three scenes of it are what we had originally planned for, it's about 10k too short, and we have at least 2 big edits in our future. One of our own chapters (yes, we wrote alternating chapters) followed by one of our partner's chapters (that one could sting a little). 

Still - we're very happy that first (big) step is over! It's our first time co-writing, it's in a genre we haven't worked in before, and we have crawled so far out of our respective comfort zones, it just might turn out great. I hope to post our query and *possibly* first page or two at the WOC forums by tomorrow and will come back and add the link then if anyone can stop by! Our user names over there are:

Christy is christy_h
Erica is Erica75
Our pseudonym for our new project is Lynnea West

If you've posted at WOC, add your names in the comments and we'll make sure to visit you, too!

Okay, can't help it - here's one more:



It's WOC time again!

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Many of you who have visited us often, since we started blogging together in the fall of 2010, know that we, erica and christy, met in the August of that year-- at the very first WRITEONCON.

I, Christy, had just started writing the previous October, had finished my manuscript the previous May, and was (not at all) ready to query come that WOC, my very first writing conference.  I was nervous and barely wanted to post a thing in those forums.  But even worse than posting my own work, was having to critique the work of others.  I had no idea what I was doing!  My palms sweat  just thinking about logging in to the forums.

Had erica not found me, and introduced herself as another writer from Wisconsin, there's no guarantee I would still be writing to this day.  Every writer needs to have others who understand the mind of a writer, the journey of a writer, the hopes and fears of a writer.

That's why you should check out WRITEONCON this year. 

--Post your work for feedback. 

--Help other writers out with your unique outlook on life and writing by offering constructive criticism and positive comments. 

--Find critique partners and beta readers. 

--LEARN about the craft of writing, the publishing industry, what agents are looking and hoping for.

--Pique the interest of an agent--yes, they're in those forums too, just checking it all out and looking for talent!

--Enter contests (another way to put your writing in front of agents and publishers!).

The actual conference is next week Tues and Weds (August 14-15).  It's free.  It's online.  But the crit forums are in full swing now.  Post your query, your first page, or your first five pages.  You can post completed work or a WIP.  The schedule for the conference, as well as the agents involved, is posted on the WOC homepage now. 

What are you waiting for?


One of Life's Dramas

The phone rang, for the eighth time that hour, but instead of answering it, she carried the baby through the house to his bed.  She knew he was tired from his shrill scream and they way he was rubbing his eyes.  She finally got him to take his nuk, and the static coming from the toy giraffe seemed to pacify him.  She tiptoed out of their shared bedroom and pulled the door shut with her.  The phone rang again.  She cringed.  Dread and exasperation filled her.  She checked on the other two boys one more time, grabbed the phone and went to make them a snack.  While she opened the pantry to find the crackers, she hit dial.  The phone on the other end rang and she got out the cheese and two small, plastic plates. 

"Hello," her mom said.

"What's wrong, Mom?"


"You've called nine times in the past 45 minutes, and I talked to you twice already since noon."

"I just wanted to remind you that we have a family reunion tomorrow."  Her voice was slow and confused.

"Mom,  the reunion is Saturday.  Today is only Thursday."

"Oh," she said.

"Mom!  I'm hungry!"  Her oldest son's voice sounded through the house.

She wanted to yell to him to shush.  Instead, she closed her eyes and prayed the baby would sleep through it, if he'd even gone to sleep at all yet.

"Me, too!"  Not to be outdone, her middle son had to be heard, too.

"I'll be right there, boys," she whispered loudly down the stairs.  She cut an apple and placed the slices around the crackers and cheese.  "Are you okay, Mom?"  She asked, though she knew it was pointless.  While listening to silence on the other end of the phone, she filled two cups of water and balanced the plates on one hand and wrist and took the rim of the cups with the fingers on her other hand.

"I'm fine. I was just outside mowing the grass and it was so hot. I'm fine."

She headed downstairs to where the boys were playing football and watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  Halfway down the steps, the baby let out a shrill scream.  Her nerves tightened.

"Mom, I'll come over and mow next time, okay?"

"No, I can do it myself.  I mow it every three days, and I'm just fine.  It's just hot today."

She knew her mom hadn't mowed the grass more than once all summer, and that she hadn't been cleaning or doing her laundry, or even keeping up on her bills.

She handed the boys their plates and headed up to the screaming baby, planning to nurse him again to settle him down. "I'll call you later, Mom, okay?"

"You don't have to.  I know you're busy."

After nursing the baby and finally tackling the piles of laundry that made it impossible to enter the laundry room, the phone rang.


An Interview With One Of My Favorite Authors

The Sky Is Everywhere

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life - and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.

 This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

(Goodreads description)
If you've read THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson, then there's a good chance she's one of your new favorite authors too.  Even Nathan Bransford (former lit agent and author of the Jacob Wonderbar MG series) and Tahereh Mafi (YA author of SHATTER ME) playfully argued about how many stars to give this novel...both agreeing it deserved more than the five star scale allowed for. 

Nelson is a poet who listened to SKY's main character and turned what was supposed to be a verse novel into a prose novel.  Poetry is interspersed beautifully, and heart-breakingly, into the novel. 

I wanted to share this interview with you, because in it Nelson shares the reasons behind her writing decisions, the challenges she faced, and her favorite parts of writing.

Reading about how a favorite author--an incredibly talented author--writes, is inspiring.

Please click this link to read the interview.  I hope it inspires you, too.  And, if you haven't already read THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, please do.  It truly is a must read for all who love to read and write YA fiction.

Jandy Nelson-twitter-website- goodreads


This is what friends are for

You know that friend? That one that makes you laugh? That one that covers for you? That one that makes you a better person?

Here at erica and christy, we're all about that. After all, we're BFFs that have only met in person once, yet we make each other laugh all the time and definitely have covered each other's blog duties (note: this is erica's first post in 11 days. oops.) And yep, I'm saying we're better people because of each other, because that's what friends are for.

It's been too long since we've done an Inbox post. So, here you go - funny stuff taken completely out of context from erica and christy's (completely out-of-control-long) email inboxes*.

It was that bad?

You can do that in a hard working hour!

I wanted to empty some boxes and organize, but instead played wii fit with the kids.

We have a tendency to just throw things in the spare room and shut the door.

 It has to be really bad if you're only going to hint to it like that.

IT'S THE FIRST PLOT POINT! THE most important scene in the first act!

[name redacted to protect the innocent] is destined to be President. Then you can tell everyone about his difficult childhood. . .

I've been eating Special K with fruit and yogurt every day for weeks. . .I had a stuffed baked potato for supper last night.

am i annoying, or what? (don't answer that)

*I only included emails christy and I have exchanged. If you drunk-mailed us, you're off the hook here. Also, we want more of you to drunk-mail us. :)


WRITE CLUB...only a few days before it begins!

D L Hammons is hosting WRITE CLUB again this year!  You have a few days left to sign up on the linky and email your 500 word (or less) entry before the first Write (fight) begins.  Here's the gist (as posted on Hammons blog): 

"The essence embodies simplicity, good-natured competition, and a lot of fun.  Over the course of twelve weeks we’ll be holding weekly bouts to determine winners that will advance to the play-offs, which will ultimately lead to a single champion.  Bouts between who…or what…you ask.  Anonymous 500 word writing samples, submitted by anyone who wishes to take part, that’s who.   The submitted samples should be identified only by a pen name of your choosing (be creative) that nobody has ever seen before.  The writing can be any genre, any style (even poetry) with the word count being the only restriction.  It’s a way to get your writing in front of a lot of readers, without having to suffer the agony of exposure.  We’ll start accepting these submissions today and will continue to take them during the entire twelve week preliminaries, but beginning on July 30th, the first WRiTE will be held." 

Learn MORE about the criteria, details and those from the publishing industry who will choose the winner by clicking right HERE.


Have you ever...?

Have you ever had an ah-ha! moment like I just did?  One that makes the trouble spot in your novel jump up and down and say, "Rewrite me! Rewrite me!  I'm the part that sucks!"

I knew very well that one of the first things a writer plots for is the INCITING INCIDENT, the moment the mc makes a choice that sets them on a journey they can't turn back from.

However, this, apparently, is NOT enough to make that novel's beginning really work.

Please read THIS post, written by Larry Brooks at Storyfix.com, especially if you struggle with figuring out that great starting place for your novel.

Here are some brilliant snippets from the article to make you want to click on the link and read the whole darn thing yourself. Plus, he's written books on the stuff.  You may want those too!  You can learn more about those at the bottom of his post if you click on that link I gave you up there!


"...unless OTHER things are ignited here, it may simply be just that: a change.  A step forward.  A mission not yet full realized."


"... it FULLY introduces the nature of the conflict, with stakes in place, and thus creates your hero’s goal."


"The FPP launches a problem-solving, goal-specific quest or journey.  There is a bad guy (or force) that will block that path.  And – this is CRITICAL – this all happens in the presence of STAKES and consequences."

Amazingly well put.  Thank you Larry Brooks.  (I thank you and so do my main characters--well, maybe not right away, but once they get out of the messes I put them in and other people besides my CPs read about them they will be incredibly grateful!)

imagine here a picture of a starting line, of racers ready to embark on a two hour long run.
see?  we're writers.  who needs an actual photo when we've got imagination on our side?

on your marks, get set, GO!  WRITE!  WRITE!  WRITE!


writer FAIL

when you realize you forgot all about co-writing a novel, you might send your partner this email:


(and even misspell words in your haste and embarrassment)

you may forget all about your co-novel because this year's WRITEONCON is just around the corner and you are trying to ready a novel for the awesome epicness that is WRITEONCON.

(i am repolotting an old novel and plotting a new novel.  i wonder which will get plotted and written first?  they are duking it out to make it across the August 14 finish line.)

also, i've been reading.

PLEASE CHECK OUT THESE NOVELETTES BY OUR FELLOW BLOGGER AND FRIEND RACHEL MORGAN.  (i totally meant to be a part of her initial book launch, months ago, but i'm hoping it's better late than never as far as plugging a fellow writer's books!  plus, in waiting, i can now say that i have read them and am addicted!  you will NOT be disappointed.) 

1. Receive assignment.
2. Save a life.
3. Sleep.
4. Repeat.

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day's work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone--she's about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until one of her assignments--a human boy who shouldn't even be able to see her--follows her into the fae realm. Now she's broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he's discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? But Nate and Vi are about to land themselves in even bigger trouble--and it'll take all Vi's training to get them out alive.

I am impressed by her writing (read:  clean, descriptive, well-plotted), characters (read:  voice, voice, voice), romance (read:  racing heart and swooning), and artistry (read:  beautiful covers), and marketing (read:  I'm so intrigued by how she chose to self-pub that I want to do it myself!).  The books (Three are out already, a fourth comes out next week!)  are only $0.99.

BUY NOW!                BUY NOW!                 BUY NOW!               COMING SOON!


Camping and - why, hello, Wednesday!

Camping is one of the best ways to spend time with family, right? I mean, seriously, is it? Because this is how it went for me (erica) (no, these aren't my actual pictures):

One tent, complete with thin walls and a solar panel on top:

It hasn't rained in Merrimac, WI for over a month. So it did this as soon as I drove in the parking lot:

Then it turned into 100 flipping degrees in the shade for the rest of my trip:

No shade because all my cousins (it was a family reunion) got there before me and took all the shaded campsites, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE CAMPERS WITH AIR CONDITIONING AND KNEW THAT I DIDN'T (yes, I did shout at them about this, thanks for asking):

No husband because he had to work:

Three boys with me in the tent because I took on an extra:

I only forgot one thing, but it was kind of an important thing. I had to use a rolled up beach towel:

The campground also boasts (okay, they actually keep it a secret) a rare kind of bug-spray-repellent super bugs called chiggers:

The pond at our campground was really low and stinky because of the lack of rain, so no one really wanted to go in it for long, which is a bummer because we go there every year and typically I'll spend some relaxing time on a raft while my kids climb on the inflatables:

So we had to be in the super crowded pool where you could barely swim and I spent an entire 5 minutes of 3 days in it to give the kids more room:

My six-year-old and my cousin's six-year-old did the dunk tank about a million times:

But yet, you'll find me there again next year, doing mostly the same things. Because it brings me closer to my cousins - whom I usually only see once a year - and my boys (there's no room in that tent, so closeness is required!). Plus, no matter what, there's a pool and a pond, and a dunk tank, and freedom to do just about anything they want (as long as there's a lifejacket, in the case of the little one). Next year, though, I'm having my 11-year-old bring a friend. Moody at 11 I can barely stand, but if he's worse at 12 I just might zip myself in the tent and hope for asphyxiation.

Happy Wednesday! Any camping stories?

fyi - my husband draws the line at posting pics of my kids. apparently I have no problems posting pics of other people's kids, but hey, they posted them first!