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!


what she said

some days my words and thoughts are insufficient.  today is one of those days.  so, friends, i send you to a place, to a writer who always says it perfectly, whose mind is so deeply saturated with words and beauty and creativity, she can never let us down.

please, visit THIS PLACEyour destiny awaits you. (in order to view your destiny, don't forget to click on the cookies!)

may the odds be ever in your favor.  (sorry, couldn't resist.)  (we once said that when we had nothing to say, we'd at least give you eye candy.)

have a happy day.


That pesky POV

So, I've done it. I wrote all the exercises I could and have started the new first draft of my middle-grade adventure/ghost story/whatever it is. No, I didn't do ALL of the exercises, but I did 70 of them. I still believe in the process I've been following and if I get stuck again, I'll move on in the exercises without a second thought, but for now, I'd like to write based on the synopses and scenes I've already planned out.

If there's been one constant through all my writing and revision and rewriting and plotting of this story, it's that I'm not in control. My main character, Kaleb, either pushes the story along or stops it in its tracks, all willy-nilly like any normal 12-year-old boy.

And what's he done this time? He's asked me to write in 3rd person. I don't know how to write in 3rd person. I've never even written a short-story in 3rd person, even back in 5th grade when I started writing (and yes, I still have some of those stories, so I know). DANG IT KALEB, WHY CAN'T YOU JUST DO WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO FOR ONCE???!!!!

There. Yes, the yelling helped a little. Those of you with preteen children will understand. ;)

So, I'm researching pov. Yes, I know what 3rd person is. Yes, I've read a lot of books written in 3rd person, including some great middle-grade (which is probably what caused this problem in my subconsciousness anyway). But, I figured it can't hurt to do a bit of research before I muck up my first draft again. Or it'll help me convince Kaleb he's okay baring his soul in 1st person. Either/or is fine with me.

I'll share the links here, just in case your characters are being as difficult as mine are. Add to them in the comments - along with suggestions for 3rd person writing!

An intro to POV - and a good reminder that everything takes practice. Another one from our friend Heather

Nathan Bransford on 1st vs. 3rd

Janice Hardy knows all - a great list of her blog posts on POV

Thoughts on "Deep POV" - the post is by a romance author, but makes some interesting points no matter the genre

Middle grade advice from D&G - not necessarily POV, but worth reading

So, all in all, not many links. Most explained what POV was, but no tips on writing it. Guess I just have to, you know write it. haha Thanks for visiting and listening!


Become a Plotter

The reason pantsing a novel is so appealing (perhaps, if you are like me) is you think you can get away with minimum (thinking) effort.  In reality, you will end up spending triple the amount of energy later on, once you hit the horrid MIDPOINT and get stumped. (Hello, Writer's Block.)  It's harder to let yourself go at that point, to let your imagination take over, when you've already spent time and words on the first half of the book.  You're invested.  You don't want to feel you've wasted any of it.  This stress does not help you to let your right brain take over and be creative.  You sit there with your left brain controlling the pen.  Logic and organization will hinder your characters' options.

Spend time, any amount of time (minutes, hours, days, weeks) ahead of time (before starting Draft One), when the idea is still forming, brainstorming and letting your imagination go wild with the images and gut emotions the story holds for you.

The problem I always had with plotting was that my story wasn't tangible.  It was just something indescrible inside my mind. Deep, deep inside my mind.  I could feel the characters, feel where I wanted the story to take them, but words couldn't necessarily describe the journey I knew would unfold once I started writing.  The trouble was, I didn't know enough about a well-structured plot to feel my way through one.

I do believe pansting a novel will work once I've written at least half a dozen manuscripts.  Once I've learned even more about plotting, even more about character arcs--one of the most important parts of plotting.

In starting this 90 Day Novel thingy, I've learned more about plotting than I had through raeding countless blog posts and other writing books I've picked up and perused.

The main things to consider when plotting a novel (even if you plan to pants it out the rest of the way through) are:

What is the underlying issue your character will face?  (I've learned this is NOT the problem(s) your character has and can solve throughout the course of the story.)  A dilemma can not be solved.  Your character will wrestle with it and will either come to terms with it or change their perception so that it is no longer an issue.  Many times this will come through as the theme of your novel.

Whatever the dilemma is, it will shape who your character is and who they will become.  Before writing your first draft, imagine who your character will be in the end.  Then, consider how they are the opposite of that in the beginning.  Show this through their dialogue and their reactions to situations and characters.

One of the most important aspects of story novice writers omit (or go too gung ho on) is the world of the story.  Don't get all purple prosey describing the world around your character.  Tell it like it is.  Say in a few short, simple sentences what (and who) your character sees every time they walk into a new scene.  You must place your characters somewhere.  You must describe it for the reader.  If you feel the need to be poetic about it, use a simile or metaphor on occasion, but make sure the comparison fits with your character's personality and life experience(s).  DON'T FORGET TO CREATE THIS WORLD.  THE WORLD OF YOUR STORY IS AS IMPORTANT AS YOUR CHARACTERS.  THINK OF IT AS A CHARACTER IN AND OF ITSELF.  READ.  READ. AND READ SOME MORE NOVELS IN YOUR GENRE TO SEE HOW WELL-ESTABLISHED, PUBLISHED NOVELISTS USE SETTING  IN THEIR NOVELS.

For more information on what to consider before writing that first draft (especially on what to consider for the dilemma and character arc, as well as other main structure points), please check out the 90 Day Novel, even if you don't want to hold to that schedule or to write a novel in three months time. 


Monday Mealtime Madness

Remember these posts?  We used to do them every Monday.  We forgot, so maybe you did too!

This week, I'll be in Breckinridge, CO with my husband's family.  Every July we get together with his mom, brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces and nephews for a few short days.  He is one of five children, the lucky duck.  (I am an only child.)  Each family takes a turn with making a breakfast a dinner for the clan.  He and his sister are taking their turn together, making a meal Tuesday night.  He suggested a salmon recipe.  Here it is:

Mix together soy sauce (enough to cover the filet), a squirt or three of lemon juice, a sprinkle (or crushed clove) of garlic, and a few tablespoons of brown sugar.  Marinate the salmon in this mixture.  Then, make a tray out of aluminum foil, place the salmon and mixture inside.  Slide the tray on the grill and cook until flaky.  This goes great with baby red potatoes (include onions, butter, asiago cheese--also in an aluminum foil tray) and cooked green beans (steam them or put them in another handy dandy tray on the grill with butter, salt, pepper (and a sprinkle of garlic)!