Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My favorite zip code

Ok, so don't hate me, but I'm still working on our big NYC debrief post. It will be up tonight. I promise. But I couldn't let this go a second longer.

I'm sure I'm the only person still watching the trainwreck that is the new 90210 and I have to tell you that you are missing out.

Tonight's episode was a tour de force of unintentional comedy. I won't spoil it for those of you waiting to watch the entire first season on DVD (ha!), but let's just say that this was an episode that only Emily Valentine could have loved. It was so awesomely bad. Please set your TiVo's so I have people to laugh with. You won't be disappointed.

Ok, back to data monkey spreadsheets. Will be back later with NYC fabulosity.

When an Agent Calls...

We're back from NYC and we'll be posting pics and highlights shortly...

In the meantime, go check out Elana's fabulous post about getting "the call" (and I'm not just saying that because we were interviewed, there are other far more talented authors than us who contributed) on the QueryTracker blog.

Elana sent me the questions a couple weeks ago and I didn't really think about how she'd be using them when I responded. I mistakenly assumed that she would post a couple of excerpts and that's it, so please enjoy my brutally honest answers and promise not to call child services on me.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Well, loyal blog readers we must bid you adieu for the next few days because we're off to New York to meet our agent. Right when we decided to sign with her she planted the (dangerous) seed that she was going to be in NYC and if we were looking for an excuse to get to the city we should set up a meeting. Let's just say that she didn't have to ask us twice!

So we're meeting with her first thing Monday morning and we can't wait. We'll be hanging out with friends the rest of the weekend. Let's just hope the Big Apple doesn't eat us alive.

Anyways, we'll be on a short blog hiatus, but hopefully we'll be back with pictures, stories and more on Tuesday.


Just to illustrate how completely out of our element the two of us will actually be in the big city, when we were discussing our biggest fear, getting lost on our way to the agency, one of us (I'll let you guess which one in the comments) suggested packing a Garmin in our purse...just in case. Can't you just picture the two of us on 5th Ave. holding a Garmin and praying that it will get us to our meeting on time? Classic.

The Blues

Thanks to Lisa, the Leap Frog music table is a part of the mess that is our play/living room. Lydia loves it and it keeps her busy, which keeps me happy. If any of you are familiar with the table, I'm sure you can appreciate how annoying the blues trumpet sound is. Duh duh duuuh duh. I wish I could describe it another way, but I can't think of one. Anyways, that sound was repeating in my dream last night. Annoying. But then I came to find out that the blues trumpet was not only a part of my dream, but was actually playing, by itself in the dead of the night. Nice. When I went downstairs to turn the table off, I half-expected a scary baby ghost to be playing with the toy (our new book puts fantastical ideas in my head and it being 3 am didn't help either). Luckily, no such ghost was near the toy and I turned it off and headed back to bed. Thank you Leap Frog.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mystery solved!

I've mentioned this before, but I sort of have this strange obsession with Gwyneth Paltrow's on-line newsletter, GOOP. Our friend Kristen has blogged about it, and then I blogged about her blog post. Anyways it's all very complicated, but the point is I think Gwynie's little newsletter is hilariously bad and I've been dying to figure out what it stands for, and this week the Fug Girls have answered my prayers.

Behold! Everything you've ever (not) wanted to know about GOOP can be found here. The girls are hilarious as always. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Say What?

In their words...okay, my words (and rhyming at that), but you get the idea. Could I get sued for this?

Open up love, and taste this yummy treat
Feed me Heidi, feed me something sweet

Ed, the dog needs a walk, hurry, lets go
Let me just tuck my jeans into these boots, yo!

What? Ankle socks plus gladiator-inspired heels aren’t cool?
And does anyone have a burger? I am one hungry-looking fool.

I hear ya on the burger Gwynn, this Capri Sun’s a little weak
But I guess on my new diet it’s against the rules to eat

My vintage civil-war-era-inspired jacket is fab don’t you think?
Ah, who am I kidding, I look ridiculous, where’s my drink?

Top of the mornin’, it’s a shame my belt has disappeared.
Do these handy-dandy suspenders make me look weird?

Lower, Liam, lower! Burn off that morning snack!
It’s time for us to get our bodies back.

On Multitasking..

People (and by "people" I mean Laura) often wonder how I have time to write, work full-time (well, sort of full-time) and stay at home with the kids. Well, the key is multitasking. For example, right now I'm on a conference call, giving the kids a snack AND composing a blog post. Impressed?

Don't be.

Lately all of this multitasking leaves me wondering what I'd be like if I actually focused on one thing at a time. Let see...

If I focused solely on my (b-o-r-i-n-g) day job, I'd probably be working with clients, and (no modesty here) I'd be really good at it. I'd make a lot more money and travel a ton. People would rave about my client-facing skills, my enthusiasm, and my sparkling wit (ha!).

BUT, I'd be miserable. I'd never see the kids or Ken and there's no way I ever would have had the time to write a book.

[Real-time update, Jack just asked if the man speaking on the conference call was Daddy. Should I be concerned that the kids are learning more about corporate restructuring consulting today than say, the alphabet? Umm...probably.]

If I focused solely on being a writer, I'd probably go back to school to get my MFA. Instead of writing fun YA mysteries I'd probably write something very serious, with lots of inspired symbolism that would make you ponder the meaning of life. Oh and there would only be one adverb in the entire book and it would have layers and layers of meaning. And maybe I'd even start wearing a beret, I mean don't all serious, literary, authors wear berets?

BUT, I love writing fun YA mysteries with Laura. We started writing together because it was fun and we've vowed to keep it as fun as possible. I mean, this might sound shallow, but what's the point of doing all this if it's not fun? Plus I look really stupid in berets.

[Real-time update, Jack wants me to look at the toilet. He has a love/hate relationship with toilets. On one hand he loves flushing them, on the other he's terrified that they're going to explode. In Jack's world, toilets=active volcanoes, fun to watch, but highly unstable.]

If I focused solely on being a mom, I'd probably do all kinds of crazy stuff, like organize daily crafts and make my own baby food. My kids would never watch TV or eat anything processed. They would be perfectly dressed and potty trained by their first birthday. They'd know how to read and write by 3 and they'd never misbehave in public.

BUT, let's face it, the kids would be a little weird. I mean, if their friends mentioned Diego or Dora they'd have no idea who they were talking about. They'd be forced to smuggle in cookies and fruit snacks from other people's houses and their poor little systems would go into shock if they consumed any type of sugar. Yeah, I sort of like my little sugar addicted, TV obsessed junkies. They're fun.

[Real-time update, Mia has laid her head on my lap and is sucking her thumb and Jack is demanding lunch.]

So I guess my point is that right now it's great to be doing ALL of these things. I think it gives me a sense of balance. And yes it's totally crazy and probably leads to me being exhausted and overextended, but I sort of love it. I mean, I don't love being exhausted and overextended, but I do love everything that I do. Well, except maybe the actual work stuff, but considering I just gave away half my wardrobe I'm going to need some extra funds for shopping, so the job isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Am I the only crazy multitasker out here? Tell me I'm not alone...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The best thing about being a writer...

is that you get to have conversations like this:

Laura (a little bit breathless): I have an idea for the book.
Lisa: Ooh, tell me more.
Laura: Two words for you - ski trip.
Lisa: Love it!
Laura: I mean who doesn't want to go on a ski trip? Everyone can wear cozy sweaters and cute boots.
Lisa: Yeah, and stuff can happen. Lots and lots of stuff.
Laura (sighing happily): Totally.

Yup, this is all just part of our process. Good times.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good: I went to bootcamp yesterday and totally got my ass kicked. Go me!
The Bad: I came home to find that Ken had purchased 4 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Ouch.
The Ugly: 48 hours later only 3 boxes are left. You do the math.

The Good: I cleaned out my closet today and I feel like a whole new person. I can actually see my clothes now. It's fabulous.
The Bad: I gave away 4 HUGE bags of clothes to Goodwill. I can't even stand to think about how much money I wasted on those clothes, some of the stuff still had tags on it! But hey, I'm sure there are people out there that will get good use out of the stuff.
The (F)ugly: I still can't give away my sort-of-see-through, snake skin patterned Kenneth Cole shirt. I haven't worn it since 2003, but it's just nice to know it's there just in case snake skin comes back in style or we're invited to a party where you have to dress like a cave person. Yeah, it's fugly.

The Good: Laura and I are converting our random plot notes into an actual synopsis for Book 2 and it's going to be awesome (sorry, humility isn't one of my strong suits).
The Bad: We still need to work out all of the revisions on Book 1 which is going to require a little bit of research on our end.
The Ugly: I got the book I need to read for research from Amazon today, but it arrived with THE SEASON and THE HUNGER GAMES, two books I've been dying to read. What are the chances that I'll have the willpower to stay focused on the research? Umm...slim to none. Laura is going to disown me.

The Good: We think we might have figured out the perfect title for Book 1! Hoorah!
The Bad: We e-mailed the agent about it, but haven't heard back yet. So she's either a) horrified that she has signed two authors who can't think of a decent title to save their lives and working with a bunch of scary lawyers to annul our representation agreement or b) busy. TBD.
The Ugly: We're thinking it might be fun to keep you guys in suspense for a while about the title itself. After all, some fancy schmancy published author might happen by our awesome blog and steal it, right? What you don't think that sounds likely? Well, the truth is that we're starting to learn that titles are a little bit like naming your baby. Sometimes it's best to keep it a surprise so you don't have a whole bunch of judgy people looking at you and saying, "Calliope? Seriously? Are you sure? I once knew a Calliope who was a stripper..."

Ok, your turn. Good, bad, ugly - we want to hear it all in the comments!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Way We Were...

This is our 200th post! Big milestone people. And while many (far cooler) bloggers than ourselves host contests and give away prizes, we've decided to go the sentimental route and share our top 5 favorite posts with our dear readers.

I honestly can't believe we've come this far and I can't believe how much further we have to go. Thanks a lot, Laura. When we first came up with this brilliant idea you said it must be really easy to get a YA book published because half of what you read in your class room was total crap. Hi-larious in retrospect...

Ok, drumroll please...

And the Top 5 Blog Posts are:

5. Our very first post. So optimistic, no naive, we'd never been rejected and we thought we were literary geniuses. Need I say more?

4. The night I decided to CALL an editor. Umm...this is the worst idea ever. Thank God the Flirty Girls turned out to be so cool. And they now have their submissions guidelines posted on their website, so there's no excuse to pick up the phone.

3. My 30th B-day post and Laura's response (including a truly embarrassing picture). Two of our quintessential random blog posts. You really never know what you're going to find over here and for that, I apologize.

2. The timeline of the terrible Christmas gifts. This one will always hold a special place in my heart. I'm sure Ken will love to read it someday...

1. Announcing our agent! Ok, this one was really hard to choose. I was so close to choosing the post right after the inauguration, or maybe one of Laura's celeb poems, or even remembering Mike, but in the end the agent post had to win because it's pretty much the most exciting thing that has happened to us in...well...EVER.

Happy 200th Blog Post everyone!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's Official...

We suck at titles. I've been doing nothing but brainstorming titles for the past week and I'm coming up completely lame. I keep thinking of titles that are already taken. Laura and I will be on the phone and we'll be really excited about a title and we'll plug it into Amazon and find out that it was on the bestseller list last year. Ouch.

We have one, possibility and a lot of really lame ideas. So tell me fellow writers, how do you come up with your titles? What's your secret? And yeah, if any of you have a brilliant idea for a title for our book, feel free to leave that in the comments too.

The good news is that we're cranking on the synopsis for Book 2 and already have a list of potential revisions for Book 1, so that's progress. Can't wait till we get the official revision notes from our agent. I'm itching to get started!

Thank you Authoress!

We sent the most fabulous host of the now infamous Secret Agent contest a little thank you note this week because her contest made our first 250 words about 100 times better than they were originally. And we all know the first 250 words are THE most important part of your book when you're querying agents, submitting to editors and eventually trying to convince readers to buy your book. Face it, if your first page sucks, you're pretty much screwed.

Anyways, for all of you unagented authors out there, you should definitely consider participating in a Secret Agent contest. Authoress hosts one monthly on her blog, Miss Snark's First Victim. It's a little bit traumatic to have your work critiqued on a public forum, but it's definitely worth it. And for those of you who are curious about the contest, you're in luck because there's one going on right now, so pop on over to her blog and check it out. Read through the entries and if you have time, leave a comment for the author. Trust me when I say it's good karma!

For those of you visiting from Miss Snark's, you can read all about our (long) road to finding representation here, read our highly edited first 250 words here and see our original version along with all of the fantastic feedback here.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sending Grandma down a river and other adventures in YA lit...

So, one of my most favorite parts about being an aspiring author is having the opportunity to read other aspiring author's manuscripts. I don't have much experience, but each time I've beta read another person's work, I am left in complete awe at the world they have created, or at the way their sentences are put together, or at how they have developed their characters. Either way, while I was beta reading recently, I was reminded of my past life as a teacher and had to share.

The book I just beta'ed (is that a word?) involves characters traveling down a river towards swiftly approaching rapids (and obviously so much more). This instantly took me back to my days of teaching a book that involved white-water rapids (and not much more) to scores of awkward sixth graders. No offense to the published author, but this particular book lacked the sense of drama and adventure needed to capture the attention of hormonal sixth graders all but wiggling right out of their seats. In a nutshell, the book follows the main character as he travels down a river with his grandma and dog.

Every day, I would strategically leave off at a chapter where I knew the kids would think something big was going to happen. Little did they know, nothing was going to happen. No, Grandma was not going to fall off the raft. No, the dog was not going to bite Grandma. No, the rapids were not going to break apart the raft (although this seems extremely unlikely considering an 11-year-old built the thing himself). And then, before they knew it, the book was over, and they were left with that hangover-type feeling at having wasted so much valuable note-passing time on something as silly as the main character making it to the promised land in one, boring piece.

So, my point is, THANK YOU aspiring authors for creating magical stories that follow magical characters along a magical journey. Sorry unnamed published author, but the only thing magical about the unnamed book was reading aloud the last line and looking up to see confusion spread across 30+ little faces and the inevitable, "Wait, Grandma is still alive?" questions that always seemed to surface after shutting it. Classic.

Tights...the horror!

New computer. Check.
Internet connection. Check.
Bad celebrity pictures. Check.

This week’s poem is dedicated to bad tights…

We’ve all been there, like Christmas Eve seventeen years ago,
when I wore crème tights which turned even skinny-pre-pubescent thighs into dough.

Bad tights are back and hopefully not here to stay,
plus, isn’t it a little warm for tights in L.A.?

Oh, Gwyneth, poor Gwyneth, iridescent grey tights,
no matter the temperature are just never right.

And Jessica, how dare you? Tights plus open-toed flip-flop looking shoes?
Your toes squished by nylon and shoved out the hole will surely claim abuse.

Lindsay, I’m at a loss. Although I’ve seen you look worse as of late,
whatever destroyed your tights (cat? bear? wolf?) is up for debate.

Miley, this is me pleading, please take off those boots, I’ll even beg,
and while you’re at it, rip the rest of those tights away from each leg.

And last but not least, Britney at the height of trainwreck stage,
looks like she’s been locked for weeks in some body-guard protected cage.

Let this be a lesson to girls who pull on that dress and think twice,
the above tights add at least 10 pounds, don’t keep you any warmer, and do not look nice.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

RUN to Amazon now to leave Elana a review!

Our friend (and faithful beta-reader) ElanaJ has made the quarter-finals for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. This is HUGE. There are thousands and thousands of entries (don't you love my technical stats?) and the competition is fierce. Elana already has two fabulous EDITORIAL reviews (OMG! This really is amazing! Sorry for all the exclamation marks! I just can't seem to contain myself!), but she needs some customer reviews people.

So, please take some time out of your day today to click here, download Elana's excerpt and leave her a review.

Elana, are you Irish? You are SO feeling the luck of the Irish today!! Talk about a pot of gold! Ok, I'll stop. There should be a law against blogging when you're overly excited.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy Chucking St. Patrick's Day!

Say what you will about Gossip Girl, but it's rarely boring. Sadly, last night was an exception. Meh. I couldn't even dig up a decent Chuck Bass quote.

At least today is St. Patrick's Day. Not that I really care, but it's something. And it made for good conversation on the way to preschool this morning.

Jack: Mommy, why are all those people wearing green and walking around?
Me: It's St. Patrick's Day. They're celebrating.
Jack: They have ice cold beers. (Please note, Ken taught him this terminology)
Me: Uh, yeah, there's usually beer involved.
Jack: Green beer? (Ok, now Ken is in BIG trouble.)
Me: Sometimes.
Jack: But beer is yucky. I'm too little for beer, right?
Me: (Relieved) Right.

Good times.

Sort-of-Irish things I plan on doing today:
  • I ate a green shamrock cookie for breakfast. Don't judge.

  • Tried to dress the kids in green, but sadly they weren't feeling the luck of the Irish today.

  • I'm making corned beef and cabbage cooked in Guiness for dinner - doesen't get more festive than that, right?

  • Posting a picture of Chuck Bass wearing a shade of green on our blog. It doesn't sound like much, but it's really hard to find Chuck Bass wearing anything besides purple.

Aside from that I plan on going to the gym and then doing the absolute bare minimum of actual work that I need to do to not get fired from my real job. And then maybe I'll have a Guiness to celebrate. I mean, that's a full day, right? Happy St. Patty's everyone!

Tell me it gets easier!

I'm not sure what's going on, but I swear to you EVERY time I put Lydia down for a nap, sit down, take a breath and grab the computer, she is SCREAMING to get out of her crib (okay, pack-n-play--I guess I would scream too if I had to sleep in one of those.) Maybe a half-hour nap. A half-hour! Hopefully it's just one of those days, but I feel like I can't get anything accomplished. And when she is up, she is into EVERYTHING. Today, I looked away for a second, looked back and she was holding a pair of scissors. I don't even know where they came from. It doesn't help that my house is a huge mess from the longest move known to man and that it is clearly NOT childproofed. Lisa told me one time she threw a pack of baby wipes into Jack's room and he and Mia played with them for an hour. I'll have to remember that, but seeing that I'm down to my last diaper and have about three wipes left in the bag, I don't think I can afford to waste any. I wish I smoked.

Monday Ramblings...

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Not much new on our end. We're waiting to hear back from Catherine on revisions and we had a minor break-through on Book 3 over the weekend thanks to a story from our youngest sister, Stacey and her hubs. Good times!

In other news, we're beyond excited because after we accepted Catherine's offer of representation she oh-so-casually mentioned that she'll be in NYC for 10 days at the end of March and that we could use her for an excuse to visit the Big Apple. Well, she didn't have to ask us twice...we've got our flights booked and loyal blog follower, Sarah, will be putting us up in her fab NYC apartment for a night, so we'll actually get to meet our very own dream agent in person. Talk about surreal! We're very excited and already discussing what to wear. We've decided against dressing in identical outfits. I mean, that would be overkill, right?

(And yes, new blog readers, I'm totally kidding about the matching outfit thing, although how funny would that be? Can you imagine the look on Catherine's face? We could also make every effort to talk in unison to really complete the effect. Hi-larious.)

In other news, set your TiVo's because Gossip Girl is back! And you know what that means....the weekly Chuck Bass post will be back in rotation. I'm sure you missed hearing from our favorite Upper East Side man-whore, so get excited mother Chuckers.

And finally to complete the sheer and utter randomness of this post, please visit Tamra's blog for a fabulous commentary on last week's Real Housewives of NYC. For those of you who don't obsessively TiVo all things Bravo, Tamra is one of the OC housewives and she's a catty, catty bitch, but she's also very funny. Her commentary on Alex and Simon is priceless. I couldn't say it better myself.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

In Pursuit of Perfection

I have a confession to make. I always act like I don’t judge people. I pretend to be really laid back and that I don’t care how other people live their lives, raise their kids or write their books. But there is one thing that’s a deal breaker for me. One fatal flaw that I will never be able to overlook: the perfectionist.

Now, I’m not talking about the people that are hard on themselves or have high expectations for all of the things they do in day-to-day life. Believe me, I’m right there with you. I want to be the best wife, mother, writer, and woman that I can possibly be.

No, I’m talking about the infuriating people that are hell bent on making it appear as though their life is sheer perfection. They’re the mothers that judge you for not making your own baby food from scratch, the women who slowly look you up and down to assess your outfit, your approximate weight and height and whether or not you’ve been vigilant with your visits the gym over the past week. They’re the women who never have a bad day, never fight with their husbands and ALWAYS wake up smiling. Their kids have never watched any television and they probably haven’t had a white carb in the past year. They’re fake and I can put up with a lot of things in friends, but fake isn’t one of them.

I don’t want to hear about how perfect your kids are or how loving your husband is. I want to hear about the days when your son pukes in your face and you wind up sneaking a cigarette in your back yard. I want to hear about the mornings that you’re so tired that you turn on the movie Cars to entertain your kids while you catch an extra hour and 43 minutes of sleep on the couch. I want to hear about the times when your husband comes home from work and has the nerve to ask why dinner isn’t ready and the house is a disaster.

Perfect is boring. Perfect is overrated. Perfect is a waste of time. I prefer reality, thank you very much.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lisa and Laura Roecker - Agented Authors!

Ok, we've practically been bursting with this news, but we didn't want to say anything until we'd made our official decision.

We have signed with Catherine Drayton at InkWell Management to represent our soon-to-be-retitled Young Adult Mystery. We are beyond excited to be working with Catherine. In case you don't know much about her (and you have some sort of aversion to clicking on links), her clients include New York Times bestselling author Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, and future New York Times bestselling author (and our new BFF), Becca Fitzpatrick whose debut, Hush, Hush sounds absolutely amazing. Bottom line, Catherine kicks some serious ass and her vision for our book pretty much blew us away, so we're thrilled/elated/overjoyed to be working with her.

Anyways, because we've been obsessing over other writer's stories about landing an agent for the past 9 months (stories of writers getting "the call" from agents is pretty much porn for aspiring unagented authors) we'll share our story here. Feel free to stop reading at any time because this might get long...

It was a hot, summer night and Laura and I were in the middle of one of our many phone conversations about how we hated our jobs (or lack thereof) and wanted to do something cool with our lives that would still allow us lots of time with the kids. We dismissed several ideas for various reasons including:
  • Opening up a clothing boutique (too much capital expenditure up front);
  • Starting a website to create photo albums for kids (BORING); and
  • Opening up a movie theater that only shows matinees and chick flicks and has childcare facilities (I still think this idea is brilliant and someone will make a ton of money off of it, sadly it just won't be Laura and I).

Then one of us (can't even remember who) started lamenting about how cool it would be to write a book. We've always loved to read and Laura taught middle school English, and we had discussed it a few times in the past, but it just felt impossible. I mean, we'd never written anything longer than 5 pages in our entire lives (Ok, at this point I'm praying that Catherine isn't reading this...), but we had this idea for a book and it was a pretty great concept. Plus it was safe. We'd be updating a classic for modern-day teen consumption. Easy-peasy, right? Well, as it turns out it sort of was....we just started writing and writing and writing and within a couple months we had an entire book. We were actually a little shocked by the time we had completed our 55,000 word manuscript.

So we had friends read it. We had our friend's mom's read it. We even had our brother-in-law read it. And then we decided it was ready to send to agents and we were just sure we'd be inundated with offers of representation. I mean, we're funny, the book is highly entertaining (according to all of our blood relations who had actually read it), what could possibly go wrong? Well, after sending over 100 queries, and receiving over 30 requests all of which ended in rejections, things weren't looking good for our burgeoning writing career. Thankfully there were a handful of agents who saw promise in our work. So much promise that they told us what we were doing wrong and how we might fix it and then they asked that we send them any future work.

Well, by that time we were completely hooked on writing and couldn't even fathom the idea of giving up. We had writing friends, we had a blog, and we had a dream, so we were left with only one choice - it was time to write a new book. We went back and forth about what to write next and finally decided to go with a mystery. We both loved the concept and this time the plot was our own, the characters were our own and we carefully avoided all of the mistakes we made the first time around. By the time February rolled around we had a shiny new manuscript to send off to our amazing friends and beta readers (yes, we got real beta readers this time, i.e. people that aren't biologically required to love our writing) and by the end of February we had gone through a few sets of revisions and we were ready to start sending our work to agents.

We started with agents who had expressed interest in our last manuscript or who seemed like they would be a good fit for our work and sent out some test queries. Within a week we had our first offer of representation and two additional offers followed shortly after that. It was surreal and completely amazing.

After a few great conversations with the interested agents, we were completely torn. We connected with each of the offering agents in a different way and it was clear that they all had a lot to offer. But then we spoke with Catherine and after we hung up the phone with her, we immediately called each other.

Laura: So....what do you think?
Lisa: I think we found our agent.
Laura: Exactly!

That conversation was followed by lots of laughing, shrieking and jumping up and down in our respective family rooms. We wanted an agent who loved our book and had a vision for our work. Someone tough, but not terrifying. We want to work with people who will make our work the best it can possibly be and we have no doubts that Catherine is one of those people.

Of course this is just the first step in the process and after we revise with Catherine we'll be submitting to editors and I'm sure we'll be obsessing over rejections and revisions and etc. But we're thrilled that we've made it this far and can't wait to see where this adventure takes us next.

Holy Crap!

You know you say something too much when you hear your four-year-old son saying the same thing. This morning I heard, "Holy crap! There's no toilet paper up here!" shouted from our upstairs bathroom.

I mean I guess it could have been worse. He could have said "&%$&! There's no toilet paper up here!" On the other hand it's a little embarrassing to be faced with the fact that I actually say "Holy crap!" a phrase typically reserved for people who eat at Denny's on a regular basis.

Bottom line, it's great that I don't have a potty mouth (yay me!), but also very, very sad that I'm about one-year away from saying things like "Dag-nabit." Ouch.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dialogue - a writer's best friend

The fabulous Elana has a new post up over at the QueryTracker blog about the importance of good dialogue. We urge you to check it out and not only because she uses an example from FINDING GRACE...well, fine, mostly because she uses an example from FINDING GRACE. But it's definitely worth reading, so go check it out!

Que sera, sera

One of my biggest pet peeves is when something bad happens or you're waiting for big news and people say, "If it's meant to be..." and then their voice will trail off and they'll give you a meaningful/condescending look. Annoying.

And the worst part is, they're actually right. Things do tend to happen for a reason and oftentimes things just sort of work out the way that they're supposed to. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that everything in life works out perfectly, but there are definitely days, hours, moments when the stars seem to align and everything just falls in to place. And today was one of those days.

I'm starting to think that this is all the result of my grandmother's Novenas. It's a well known fact that she has a direct line to God, so if you ever need anything, just have her add you to her list. Seriously. Over the years her prayers have put rings on our fingers, yielded multiple great-grandchildren, scored jobs for our husbands, and most recently secured a dream house for Laura. The woman is down with the G-O-D.

We've had our share of ups and downs since we've started our adventure as aspiring authors and all of the sudden it seems like the stars are aligned and the universe (or maybe my kick ass guardian angel?) is nudging us along, helping us make the right decisions.

Whatever will be, will be.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monkey Work

Laura and I spent the night outlining the next book in our FINDING GRACE/GMAIL/WE REALLY NEED TO THINK OF A DECENT TITLE AND SOON series. I'll admit that I was concerned that we would struggle to come up with a mystery half as good as the first book and I think we nailed it. Honestly, I think this mystery might be even better. We're so excited to start writing again!

Anyways, after we were done with our rough outline of the plot I told Laura that I had to update a project plan in Excel for my "real job." And Laura had the nerve to call my real job, "monkey work." I laughed so hard that I almost started crying. It was just too perfect and, at the same time, incredibly depressing. Or maybe this is all just a sign that I need to get more sleep.

Either way, off to do my monkey work.

How scary is that monkey in the picture? Yikes.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Notice anything different??

The blog got a makeover! Isn't she pretty?

Let me know if it's taking a long time to load or if you're having any other technical difficulties. I'm so pleased with myself. I feel very tech savvy even though this was pretty much the easiest thing ever.

Thanks Sara for the fab link to all the templates. It really does pay to be friends with people who are smarter than us.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Book Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

As an aspiring young adult writer I'm actually a little embarrassed to admit that I just read Speak for the first time a few months ago. Suffice it to say that it was amazing. One of the best books that I've ever read, and if you haven't read it, stop reading our lame-ass blog and go pick up a copy and read it right now. Seriously. You won't be disappointed.

Anyways, thanks to my fellow Fab 5er, Jill and her amazing blog roll, I happened to see a link to Ms. Anderson's blog announcing that you could request an ARC of her new book Wintergirls via her publisher's MySpace page. Sure enough I sent them an e-mail and a friendly PR gal had my copy FedExed to me the very next day, and I landed my very first ARC. How fancy am I?

Ok, back to the book. Wintergirls follows Lia, a struggling 18-year-old anorexic whose best friend just died. She's a wintergirl, starving emotionally and physically. With a goal-weight of 80 pounds she acknowledges that she won't be satisfied until the scale reads 0. She's haunted by her dead best friend, ostracized from her dysfunctional family and isolated from old friends. Like Speak, the prose is poetic, and yet stays true to the voice a high school aged girl. I found myself marking pages so I could go back and re-read some of the lines.

"I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through. I am the bones they want wired to a porcelain frame."

See what I mean? Her prose is beautiful, haunting, perfect. She makes me want to be a better writer.

I have a daughter who will turn 2 in a couple months and this was a difficult book for me to read. As a parent it's terrifying to think of making some kind of mistake that could trigger an eating disorder or worse. Of course, it's even more terrifying to think that it has nothing to do with parenting at all, that sometimes it just is.

I'm pretty familiar with eating disorders as they were very common in both my high school and college, and Anderson's account is deadly accurate. Wintergirls is a gripping look into the head of a very sick eighteen-year-old-girl, and it should be required reading for parents and daughters alike.

Our favorite Stream Pirate, Sara, has been spilling our secrets. You won't hear anything from us. Yet. But we might have something to report soonish. Like maybe Friday the 13th. Wait, that's not a good date to report good news. We might have to make you wait until the 16th. We'll see...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

God bless the blog...

Believe it or not about 10 minutes after my little post inspiration struck and I think we've got a decent start on an actual plot for FINDING GRACE's sequel. Whoo hoo!

Of course, Laura is in B-more all weekend, so I won't be able to get her thoughts until Sunday. I can't wait to hear what she thinks and what she'll change and add. Ooh, this is going to be good. I can feel it!

Note to self: When writer's block hits, just blog it out baby.

Anyone seen my magic wand?

We're in that weird place that writers go when they've finished one manuscript and haven't decided which project to start next. We have an insane amount of ideas rattling around in our commercially focused little heads, but the most pressing is some sort of sequel for FINDING GRACE. Now, we have lots of ideas for the next book, but we're still fleshing out the main mystery for the book and we're a little stuck. It's really important to us that the mystery driving the second book be as fresh and surprising as the mystery in the original and now I'm left trying to remember how we came up with the plot for FINDING GRACE in the first place.

Laura and I have a random process when it comes to outlining books. It typically starts with texts and e-mails sent in the wee hours of the morning. Stuff like, "We should write a book where a girl gets e-mails from her dead best friend and it's a mystery." and then Laura will write back something like "LOVE IT. Like a hotter Nancy Drew!" And then we'll work up to longer e-mails with more detailed plot points until finally we'll force ourselves to sit down and do a very rough outline for the entire book and eventually a chapter by chapter outline for the first third of the book. Then we write the first third, and when we're done we outline the next third. Yeah, it's a little weird, but it works.

Anyways, right now we're stuck in that early texting/e-mailing stage where we have lots of ideas, but no cohesive plot and it's driving me nuts. Not to mention the fact that we've got some new and very distracting book ideas that are calling to us. The thing is that after writing two books we still don't really know how we do it. The story just sort of comes to us. It sounds really lame, but it's kind of magical. (That sounds so cheesy I can barely bring myself to write it, but it's true...) Now if only I could find the flipping wand to conjure up a killer mystery for Kate's next adventure, I'd be sleeping a lot better at night.

So you tell me, where do you draw your inspiration from? We need to jumpstart our lazy muse.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Vacation stats...

Lisa here, back from the Bahamas, physically if not mentally. Turns out a break from the brutal Cleveland winter, the kids, and work was exactly what I needed. I can't say that I was happy to return home to the snow and 151 e-mails in my work inbox, but I was really excited to see the kiddies.

Anyways, here are some random stats to give you a feel for how the big vacay went...

  • Number of bottles of vodka purchased for the trip: 2
  • Number of bottles of vodka consumed: 1 (not bad for 4 oldish people, right?)
  • Number of fun dresses packed for the trip: 7
  • Number of different pairs of shoes packed to compliment said dresses: 6
  • Number of dresses actually worn: 3 (ok, in my defense, it's hard to know exactly what you'll be in the mood to wear on any given night, ok?)
  • Pounds I wish I had lost before the trip: 7
  • Days spent laying in the sun: 3.5 (one day was only sort of sunny)
  • Number of times we went for a dip in the ocean: 0 (I don't do sand, don't judge.)
  • Number of times we went down a water slide that shoots you through a shark tank: 1
  • Number of videos of my husband and best friend dancing to a Carribbean band made up of the buffet waitstaff: 1 (If they wouldn't permanently disown me, I would totally post it for your viewing pleasure. Trust me when I say it's priceless.)
  • Number of nights I rationalized the amount of cleavage exposed by the fact that we were on vacation: 4
  • Number of people bribed to get us through the Bahamas airport in an efficient manner: 4
  • Number of bags lost on the way back from the Bahamas: 3
  • Number of days it will take me to get back into the daily grind: TBD

My mind is still a little mushy from all the time spent away from the computer, but I managed to read 4 books while I was away, so I'll be posting reviews the rest of the week. Looks like Laura did a good job of holding down the fort while I was gone, but I'm glad to be back. Turns out it's really hard to obsessively check your e-mail and blog when you're in the Bahamas. Who knew?


Okay, so it’s nap time for all three kids. Stacey’s making brownies for snacks when they wake up and I figured I’d write my long-overdue poem. Definitely slow on Us’ website, but I did find this gem…

Sorry…I couldn’t resist.

Spencer: Your long, curly hair’s almost as hot as this car.
Heidi: Thanks Spence, but your sandy waves are cooler by far.

Spencer: What about my leather? Is it bad ass enough?
Heidi: Oh yes, Spencey-pie, you look super-tough.

Spencer: Check it out, H, I’m bringing the peace-sign back.
Heidi: Great thinking S, that’s totally, uh, whack??

Spencer: I love my new car, I bet it goes super-fast.
Heidi: It can’t be much better than lying on the hood, what a blast!

Spencer: The dice on the mirror is a great touch.
Heidi: I thought of it myself, it’s totally, uh clutch??

Spencer: I love the new words, girl, you sound really fly.
Heidi: Thanks bunches Spencey poo-poo, you know how I try.

Lisa's coming home tonight, so rest-assured, the posts will resume. I've been a sorry, sorry replacement. SORRY! In my defense, my new house doesn't have internet yet and I've been watching Lisa's kids. Yeah, I know, there's no excuse.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Random Question...

I used to ask my 6th graders to write the best sentence in the world. Just one sentence. And they came up with some pretty amazing things.

So...what's your favorite sentence? Either one you've written or one you've read?

Here's mine. It's from The Lovely Bones--one of my favorites. It's the kind of book you have to put down for a second so you can cry. That probably doesn't appeal to a lot of you, but it is SO good. Just some background. The narrator is in heaven watching over her family.

"I watched my beautiful sister running, her lungs and legs pumping, and the skill from the pool still there--fighting to see through the rain, fighting to keep her legs lifting at the pace set by Samuel, and I knew she was not running away from me or toward me. Like someone who has survived a gut-shot, the wound had been closing, closing--braiding into a scar for eight long years."

Okay fine, that was two sentences, but you get the idea. So well-written. So if anyone's reading, respond!

Don't call this a comeback

So it’s been a minute. Or 10. Or truthfully more like 2,102,400. At least we think that’s how many minutes there are in 3 years, but let...