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