I could have written a blog post for you today. 

Instead, I wrote my chapter. (A few days ago we posted that we're dedicating ourselves to one chapter per day, no matter what, regardless of writer's block.)

 I thought about writing my chapter in this space and killing two birds with one stone, but decided against it.  Since my posts tend to be chapter-length*, I'm saving you time.  (You're welcome.)With that time, you should move your mouse up to that little X.  See it?  In the upper right hand corner of your screen?  Yup.  That's the one. Close out of the Internet.  Use this time I'm giving you to go and write your own chapter. 

If you want, when it's written, you can come back and share a teaser from it in our comments.  I'd LOVE to have a bunch of teasers to come back to and read.  How fun to find what writing you've all been up to!

I'll get you started.  Once I'm done with my chapter, I'll come back and post a teaser.

Then it'll be your turn.


* okay, so that's one of those pesky hypens again.  i'm never quite sure when to use them and when not to.  in this case?  you tell me.  please. really. help a girl out!

(whoops.  wrote the chapter, fell asleep, and just came back now to post my teaser.  here it is!

I stared at him.  That was not what I wanted to hear.  That would mean my problem was really a problem. )


That's What Friends Are For

We haven't done a post about erica and christy's random emails back and forth lately. Welcome to the place we like to call...dumdumdumdum...The Inbox of Random.

erica's inane comments are in blue. christy's inane comments are in purple. Feel free to add stuff from YOUR inbox in our comments. Or, you know, try to guess what the heck we're talking about down there! **

everybody just up and vanished RECENTLY! didn't see that coming...or the no worms factor...so interesting!!!!

He was the second one in the procession and only lost his ball once.

I have no idea what donkey basketball is.

Weight lifters are not known for their brains.

i'd rather clear things up as i go than have a ton in the end!

I have to pee.

 it's like a win win win win for everyone involved.

Where do we live?

i'm excited to make bad things happen.

If he decides to mentor Kaleb and they end up in some sort of parallel universe where girls aren't allowed - trust me - NO ONE IS MORE SORRY THAN I AM!!!

wrote titally the first time, changed it for you

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

**erica and christy reserve the right to use a language known only to them as "emailspeak". Thank you for your understanding.
*** these are taken from only three threads. see why an explosion would be messy?


writer's block? we can help.

two quick bits of advice on dealing with writer's block, especially when starting a new project:

1. commit to a chapter per day. it'll go faster than you think. then, rather than open your document, stare at it and feel the pressure of 50,000 unwritten words, you'll just have to write a chapter's worth. maybe only 200 words. or 500. maybe your character will put 1,000 words in that chapter. it doesn't matter. that chapter will be done. and in five days, you'll have five chapters done. five more than you would have if you had let the pressure of the unwritten novel freak you out.

2.  write really short chapters.
go.  write.  be merry.
turn your fingers into writer's block
breaking machines!


the next big thing

erica and christy are working on a secret project.

it'll be the next big thing.

it's a little like:

and a little like:

(minus the goblins.  we think.  right, erica?  right?)

and that's all we're going to say about that.




Winners and Losers

In life, there are winners and there are losers. For example, if your name is

you're a winner of the book Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic. If that's not you're name, you're a loser. Okay, maybe not, but, well, you get the idea.

I'm having an angry mommy day week month. My ten-year-old is in basketball and it's not going well. We have coach issues. These issues lead to one angry mommy. Well, to be fair (to myself, apparently), several angry moms and dads. And extremely disappointed 5th grade boys.

Our team has played 12 games and got their butts handed to them in 9 of them. And I don't mean we're losing 25-15. Oh, no. We lost one game 62-7. I didn't even know a 5th grade team could score 62 points. Also, one was 38-2. We made one basket. And why? I'm telling you, coach issues.

On top of that, my son goes to every practice and every game. He tries really hard and even though he doesn't score a lot, he can shoot a mean layup and is one of the best defense guys on the team. This past Saturday, they played 4 28-minute games (yes, butts were handed back in the first 3, as usual). That's a total of 112 minutes (yes, I used a calculater).

My son played less than 6 minutes. Total. Never got to take a shot (although he did block a couple). And two other boys played less than he did. One kid was in for 25 seconds before the coach put the starters back in and never got to go in again. 25 seconds?? Really?? With one minute left in the last game of the night (which we actually were winning by 20 points and the starters were STILL IN), I had to go tell the coach that one kid hadn't played at all and deserved to go in. This was the look he gave me:

Eye in frame(I don't know why it's way over there -----> Blogger likes to mess with me) (Just going with it at this point) (pretend I did it on purpose)

So, anyway. Very, very unhappy mommy. 10-year-olds deserve to feel like winners once in awhile, too. So while I can't give you all copies of Never Eighteen (hello, teacher here), I can give you something better than an eye roll. Here, have a cupcake (and a cookie):

isn't he cute? (seriously, why is blogger messing with me? this should be centered)

Happy Monday! And may all your basketball cupcake writing dreams come true! I'm here to say, if you work hard, continue to improve, and ARE FREAKING GIVEN A CHANCE - you'll succeed!! (sorry for shouting)

(I should also mention the coach voluntarily put us in the A league. Which means our team that comes from an entire 5th grade class of 40 kids is competing against A Team Division 1 teams. They're like 6-feet tall, I'm not even kidding.)



Heather Harshman won a copy of FOREVER by Maggie Stiefvater!  Congrats, Heather!  Thanks for participating everyone.  I'll give away more soon and will keep you all in mind...!  <3 christy

Product Details

Scroll down a post to win NEVER EIGHTEEN from erica!  She'll announce a winner on Sunday!

New Release - Never Eighteen

Never Eighteen
It's tiny. I don't know why.

My friend Megan Bostic's book came out this week. You should buy it. Really, you should. Go here to do so. We'll wait.

What? You want to know what it's about first? Just kidding - I know you do. I was super lucky to not only (virtually) know Megan and get to learn a lot about this book before it released, I also got an early copy as part of her Pass It On promotion. It's a short-ish, quick, emotional read, packed with real situations and characters that make you care. Here's its website (with a really cool book trailer).

Megan also has her own website (admit it, you know you wish you had her hair. and eyes. and, well, book contract, but you can't tell that from the picture...) and blog.

So, go buy it now. Where? Here.

Okay, fine, I'll give you one (maybe). Tell me in the comments - what's one thing you wish you did before you turned 18 (or, if you'd rather, something you're really happy you did before you turned 18)? I'll pick a winner on Sunday!

SPEAKING OF WINNERS....Christy has one to announce...and will do so later today! 
So check back.  Or, if you are THE winner, she'll contact you to let you know!


christy's 2011 reads...and BOOK GIVEAWAY!

ah, yes. 2011 had some GREAT books in it.  so great, in fact, i wanted to relive them and share them with you.


i want to share with you.

so, peruse my list and choose one that you missed out on reading.  in the comments, tell me which book you'd love to WIN!  also leave your name, email, twitter or blog--some way i can contact you if you win the book of you choosing.

(feel free to pick a book from erica's book list.  just scroll down a post.)


i'll give you three to five days to enter.  so, a winner will be announced fridayish.

oh, and if you tweet or blog or spread the word and help us gain say, 30 followers, i'll give away the book AND a $10 gift certificate to amazon!  I'll give away the book AND TWO $10 gift certificates to amazon IF we get up to 425 followers. That's right, there'll be THREE WINNERS.  (i can do the point system.  1 pt for following, another for each way you spread the word about the giveaway. so just let me know what you do.)

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details
HERE ARE (most of) THE BOOKS I READ IN 2011 (and January 2012)
(in no particular order) (I feel like I'm missing some....)

FOREVER Maggie Stiefvater
SHATTER  ME Tahereh Mafi
I AM NUMBER FOUR Pittacus Lore
MARKED P.C. and Kristen Cast
PERFECT YOU Elizabeth Scott and Lisa Fyfe
GETTING CAUGHT Cyn Balog and Mandy Hubbard
CITY OF GLASS Cassandra Clare
CITY OF ASHES Cassandra Clare
CITY OF BONES Cassandra Clare
THE HUNGER GAMES Suzanne Collins
MOCKINGJAY Suzanne Collins
CATCHING FIRE Suzanne Collins

Up Next to Read:

EPIC FAIL Claire LaZebnik
and so, so, so many more!


tell me.


Another book list - and GO PACK GO!!

You know it's coming. A Green Bay Packer post. So, instead, I'm posting the books I (erica) read in 2011. The funny part is my husband kept telling me we had way too many books and I read way too many books and what was with all the books anyway?? So he bought me a Kindle for my birthday. And, well, so did my dad. Yes, it all worked out. :) 

And yes, I read more books than I thought. Here are the links, in no particular order. (seriously, I didn't even realize I read them until I started looking at my Kindle archives, my bookshelf, and some random memories I also didn't exacly recall until I concentrated extra-special hard :)  (yes, some are adult fiction, some are memoirs, some are YA and some are MG. No, I did not indicate. Click on it, you might like it. :) (and yes, I indicated which ones I won through the blogosphere. because blogs are super cool like that) (and yes, I accidentally bought a pretty smutty romance book that I did, in fact, read. no, I will not tell you which one. well, maybe, if you ask...)

(all links take you to Amazon)

Across the Universe by Beth Revis (won in a blog contest)

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (Gae's a friend of mine and I bought my own copy and gave several away, including one on our blog)

Rich Boys by Jenny O'Connell (won in a blog contest)

Marcelo in the Real World by Fransisco X. Stork (won in a blog contest)

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel (got from my hubby for Christmas 'cuz he's cool like that)

Rich and Mad by William Nicholson (won in a blog contest)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (won in a blog contest)

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

(memoir my teaching assistant lent me about the Holocaust - totally can't find the name right now)

Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Writing Fiction For All You're Worth by James Scott Bell

There might be more. There most certainly are more. For all you aspiring authors out there, I am so, so sorry. May no one read your book that is so forgetful as me (unless they pay for it, of course!!).

Oh, wait, I had a point in all this. Let's see if I can find it. Oh, wait, here it is:

Ha, you weren't expecting that, were you? Cuties!


my mistakes

The other day I posted some of the major no-nos (in this post) I've learned through reading line edits by my (uber super and wonderful and awesome and inspiring and brilliant) CP and through critiquing other people's writing (and my own).  I didn't finish.  I also thought it'd be nice to show you places in my ms where wordiness clunked up my sentences, slowed down action, and added to the word count in a way that wasn't necessary.

It amazed me how my CP could take my sentences, my paragraphs, my pages--my story and clear it of wordiness to make it say what it was supposed to say.  Without the garbage words, the pages became clean, sharp and to the point.  She made the voice of my characters, rather than the voice of a newbie writer, shine, stand out, obvious. 

(Note--I say newbie.  I don't know what that term means to you.  For me, it means I've actually passed through the brand new novice writer stage.  I'm a real writer now BECAUSE I'm no longer hung up on all the things I used to be hung up on.  When I write, I write.  I can actually critique writing now, including my own.  I know what to look for.  When I write, I can write better the first time around.  It will still need CPs and betas and revision and editing and WORK, but it's better than the process I went through with my very first ms.)

I can add more to this bullet point from the other day:
  • Stick to BIG. ACTION. IMMEDIACY. (I DON'T mean shoot-em up, explosions and run from the bad guy kind of action. I mean active writing. Active actions.)
And this one:
  • You can elimintate words. You can.
Because I did.  Here are a few examples from my manuscript.  (These are probably not the best examples.  I have so many places where I eliminated unnecessary words or needed to make my writing more active.  But I hope you get the idea.  Learn to recognize wordiness and passive writing in your manuscript and get rid of it!)

“You heard already  that he went out with some woman, Kellie.”  She waited, but I did little other than hint at a nod, so she continued . 


“You heard that he went out with Kellie.”  I nodded slightly, so she continued.

His lips widened into a full-blown smile and he turned it  toward me.
His lips widened into a full-blown smile and he turned toward me.
            “You don’t know why you said horrid things?  Or you don’t know why I’ve been nice?”
            Looking at him confused my thoughts and feelings.  [O3] “Um.  I don’t know.  All of it. Any of it.  I guess you’re just a nice guy so I’m sure you’re nice to everyone.”  I continued to clutch my backpack, but one hand fretted with the hair on the side of my head. 

     “You don’t know why you said horrid things? Or you don’t know why I’ve been nice?”
      “Um. I don’t know. All of it. Any of it. I guess you’re just a nice guy so I’m sure you’re nice to everyone.” I continued to clutch my backpack, but one hand fretted with the hair on the side of my head.

 [O3]Let her words speak for her here.
ORIGINAL: My chest seemed to heave with each breath I took and my heart was beating so fast I could hardly hear him.

CP REVISON:  My chest heaved with each breath I took. My heart beat so hard I could barely hear him.

I wondered what it would feel like had I the chance [O1] to brush them aside with my own hand.

 [O1]Skip and get right to the action.
I wondered what it would feel like to brush them aside with my own hand.


I knelt in front of my locker and rummaged through the contents of the bottom shelf:  a leftover lunch bag, one of the novels from the book store, my running shoes, and a sweatshirt that had fallen off its hook, [O1] all of which  [O2] formed an ant hill of sorts within which I hoped tunneled an opening that held my cell phone[O3] .

 [O1]Don’t need it.
 [O3]I would simplify this a bit “where I hoped I would find my cellphone.”
I knelt in front of my locker and rummaged through the contents of the bottom shelf:  a leftover lunch bag, one of the novels from the book store, my running shoes, and a sweatshirt.  Somewhere in the mess I hoped to find my cell phone.

What are you waiting for?  Go!  Write!  Critique!  Revise!



ABNA = Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

You have nothing to lose by entering (seriously, nothing. it's free). So get your 300-word pitch (don't worry about the description, it can be the same as your pitch), your 3,000-5,000 word excerpt (which you've already perfected), and your ms ready to submit. Submissions open on January 23rd. Details here.

I didn't finish the novel I wanted to submit. Or the other one I decided to switch over to writing when I didn't finish the other one. So I'm submitting the same as last year. And you know what? I'm giving myself permission. The others will be finished soon and I WILL NOT feel bad about it.

There. I feel better. (any confessions? or contests? or words that don't begin with c? leave them in the, well, comments!)



Well. Hello there.

holy crap.  a post from christy.  i know.  it's hard to believe, but here i am!!!!

I've got to have something in this rusty brain to share with you.

Something bookish.

Or writerly.

Something other than tales of heaping laundry piles, baby throw up, and late-night feeding infomercials.  (By the way, there's nothing like channels and channels of beachbody and 60 day buns and 90 day abs and toned bodies to make me want to hit the treadmill.)

(Please, somebody out there tell me you had 3 or more kids and it took longer for your stomach to lose the hard,round baby bump but that you lost all the weight and then some and now look model-like....)

And besides all that.

I haven't written anything new.  I totally miss writing.  I've been busy revising after my CP sent me amazing notes and suggestions and edits.  I'm still contemplating a tiny rearrange of scenes at the end of the manuscript so that the climax scene is a little closer to the final resolution and end of the story.  Right now, it's a few chapters too far away and therefore the chapters after are anti-climatic and may lose the reader. 

I've also been critiquing some writing.  Since revising and critiquing is how I've been spending the majority of my writing time, I'll share some of the major things I've learned through my CP's notes to me about my writing and from critiquing other writer's work:

  • Leave off sentence starters like -I feel, I see, I hear, I feel, I decided....to keep the writing active.  Instead of "I decided to call the snot and tell her off once and for all."  Just have the character make the call.  "I called the snot to tell her off once and for all."  Instead of "I saw her sitting in the front row."  Write "She sat in the front row."  The reader KNOWS it's what your character saw, felt, was thinking, etc.
  • You can elimintate words.  You can.  Offer to critique someone else's chapters.  Be a beta-reader for someone.  It's so much easier to see wordiness in others writing.  Then, when you go back to your own, you'll be amazed at how much easier it is to edit it.  In one of my revision sessions, after receiving notes from my cp (line by line edits) I cut over 300 words from ten -fifteen pages.  That's a lot considering the words I cut were of the short variety:  then, if, it, and, instead, just, really, as, I, etc.  Because in our writing, as newbies, we try to be OVERLY descriptive and detailed.  But what we really do is repeat reapeat.  We are repetetive.  We say the same thing over and over again.  We share every minute detail of our character's moments.  This leads to my next bullet.
  • Stick to BIG.  ACTION.  IMMEDIACY.  (I DON'T mean shoot-em up, explosions and run from the bad guy kind of action.  I mean active writing.  Active actions.) erica once mentioned in a post how many times her character breathed.  Yes, romantic stories tend to have lots of breathing.  Don't do it.  I breathed.  I sucked in a breath.  I sighed.  He sighed.  We all sighed together.  I gasped.  I batted my eyes at him.  I looked at him through my eyelashes.  We stared at each other.  I glanced at him.  Oh, yes.  We look at our love interested a lot too.  I walked into a room.  I sat down.  I picked up a pencil.  WHOOP DE DOO!  Seriously.  How exciting are those last few sentences?  First, eye contact and breathlessness CAN add to tension. Once or twice in a story.  Overdo it and well, it doesn't.  Boring actions are...boring.  Don't tell us your character walked in a room. Tell us what he/she was thinking about while walking in.  Don't TELL us what he/she SAW.  SHOW us what he/she saw or heard or felt. 
  • Only describe the important details.  DON'T describe every minute detail of a setting unless it's important. Of course we want to be able to picture the scene.  Do it concisely.  We DON'T need to know how many knives and forks and spoons and flower petals are on the dining room table.  A brief description of the coloring and types of materials and wood are enough to orient us and give us a $en$e of who might live in that house.  Make sure the descriptions matter and tell us something important about a character.
  • Okay, I probably have more...but I've gotten wordy again.
Happy Monday, reading, writing, revising and critiquing to you! 

Off to feed a hungry baby and play Star Wars and army guys!



We've got a winner, folks

So, it was christy's birthday on Wednesday and erica has to pay for it. haha, kidding. (erica is older than christy, so she pays for it each day. sigh)

(great, now I'm laughing about talking about myself in 3rd person. it's been a tough week back at school, folks.)

Wait, what were we talking about? Ah, yes, winners. I gots me one. The person who gets to choose between uber-exciting $10 gift certificates from either Dairy Queen or Amazon (as chosen by the monkeys who know how to pick a number out of a hat over at random.org) is....

#2!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO #2!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wait a minute. This #2 follows our blog? I had no idea! (#can'tstoplaughingatmyownpoopiejoke)

It's this one. And yes, we love her even more than the, um, other one. or two (way more).



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erica's a terrible friend and how you can benefit

Crappity crap crap. I, erica, forgot christy's birthday. It's today. Here, have some cake:

So, um, yeah, I owe her big time. Which of course means you all get something, too.

Respond to this post by saying "Happy birthday Christy! (and please forgive erica)"* and you're eligible for your choice of a $10 Amazon gift card or a $10 Dairy Queen gift card (hey, at least somebody could get ice cream cake out of this deal). Since I'm guessing Christy has plans tonight (really, she didn't tell me. probably waiting to see if I actually forgot, which, um, yeah, I did), we'll leave this open for 48 hours and announce the randomly chosen winner on Friday.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Christy!!

*you don't really have to say that last part. but feel free if you'd like to help a girl out. :)