"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" ~ C. S. Lewis

Friday, December 31, 2010

Top Blogging Moments of the Past Year

I can't believe a whole year has come and gone!

Last year at this time I barely had a blog and there are so many of you that I hadn't met and didn't know! That's the most unbelievable part of all! I can't imagine my life without all of my blogger friends. And even though life has gotten really hectic for me and I haven't spent as much time with you all in the second half of the year as I would have wanted to, you guys are often on my mind. For reals (as Naomi would say :)

And what is a new year for, but to give us a moment to reflect on the old?
So here are some of my top favorite moments - top hits, I guess you could say - of the past year in regards to my blogging life :) - In no particular order. At all.

1) January was my real foray into the world of Twitter. I tweeted fairly regularly, but it wasn't until May that Twitter became a real distraction for me ;) That was when I met Mia Hayson and Simon C. Larter who really dragged me into the full world of all the fun that Twitter can be. I have loved every minute of it since then and there are so many things that I could not have done without my Tweoples. Like taking procrastination to an art form.

2) Debuting Retail Wednesdays! February was my first post in which I made fun of the crazy customers that shop at the bookstore where I work. I intended to keep it going, and I'm kind of hoping that I can work out a schedule and be more regular at posting this semester, but for now it's taken a hiatus. But I had WAY too much fun with it while it was going on. This was one of the things that started to build a little bit of a following over here at Sonshine Thoughts and I love every single one of you, especially those of you that have hung around through all the sporadic-ness of the past few months.

3) The A-Z Challenge in April. This kind of just fell into my lap when Lee popped randomly onto my blog and suggested I check it out. The goal was to post every day (except Sundays) in April, starting with the letter A and going all the way through the letter Z. I had SO much fun with this. Some days the letter was only a springboard to make me think of something completely random, but it helped me to meet some REALLY cool people and made me realize that I could write a blog about pretty much ANYthing in the world.

4) My first OWL contest! In March I hit 100 posts and decided to do a quick and little contest. So I made an amigurumi owl and offered it up. The owl mania swept my blog and I think I've given away 8 happy little owls since then. I love that you guys have gotten so excited about these little crochet critters and I plan on giving away more of them for random reasons in the future!

5) The SUPER SISTER CELEBRATION! Naomi and I had SO much fun reading all of your stories and judging them (not like, I judge you for writing this, but like, I totally love this part of the story you wrote, but I have to pick a favorite, so I guess I will go with this one, but they're all TOTES cool!) and then sending you guys prizes!

6) Dipping my toes in the world of flash fiction. Yup, yup, yup. Did I tell you that my Zombie Luv flash fiction got published in my school literary magazine?! That totally made my day. Flash fiction and blogfests stretched me so much this year and really have helped me to hone my skills as a writer. From the creepy story I wrote for Palindrome's Halloween contest to the strange western Rumplestiltskin to the Invasion of the Bloggy Snatchers 'fest that I hosted, I've learned a lot about pacing and character development and trimming words until you want to gouge your eyes out. It has been really good for me (not the eye gouging, but the writer's growth).

7) Vlogs. Or, well, videos I made for the blog. Naomi and I had a little too much fun with those this year. Only a couple, but enough to show how truly demented we are. There was the epic battle of HumaneBean Vs. BatCabbage and our foray into the "Zombiest Things" wherein we dragged a friend on our journey of insanity.

And that's about all I've got. I know I'll think of something else the instant I post this, but these are the first things that come to mind, so I'll go with it :)

How about you? Any particularly special memories of your bloggering life this year? Do tell!

Thank you all for being an awesomesauce part of this past year and I look forward to all the craziness to come in 2011.
funny pictures of cats with captions

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All

For unto us a Child is born

Unto us a Son is given

May God richly bless you this Christmas day.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Doctor Who?

I grew up watching sci-fi and fantasy. I practically lived with the Star Trek crews - from the original to NG to DS9 to (my personal favorite) Voyager. (we weren't a big fan of Enterprise)

Watched all 3 Star Wars videos until they were warbly (in ye olde dark ages with VHS) and loved movies like Flight of the Navigator, StarGate, and Tron.

We (well, my Mom, Dad, Naomi and I) like to latch onto a tv show and watch it from start to finish on DVD. We recently worked through StarGate SG1, and then StarGate Atlantis.

Then Naomi and I made Mom and Dad watch Firefly (*sigh* Nathan Filion).

Mom, Dad, and I are currently on the 5th and final season of Babylon 5 and Naomi and Mom have been watching Farscape online. But the four of us have now embarked on a journey with the last time lord.

Mom and Dad watched Doctor Who long before the reboot, and I know I saw a few episodes here and there, but it was never something I really latched on to. Then Naomi borrowed season 4 of the new series from the library (it was the only one in our library system) and started watching it with Mom and Dad. I jumped in about half way through and crammed to watch what I had missed before we had to return it. We loved it.

I found season 1 and 2 for a great bundle price and we started from the beginning. Having seen David Tennant as Doctor Who in Season 4, I wasn't sure what to think of Christopher Eccleston in Season 1, but he was fantastic. However, as they say, your first doctor tends to be your favorite. I was actually really sad to see Eccleston go, but Tennant is something really special.

Season 1 was fun, Season 2 had some spectacular episodes (one of my favorite is "The Girl in the Fireplace" - Brilliant!), but Season 3 shows a depth of emotion in the doctor that is absolutely phenomenal as well as just fantastically ... yes, I have to say it again, brilliant episodes! David Tennant emotes such passion and pathos carrying the memory of the events of the season 2 finale and season 3 premier all the way into the finale of season 3. I won't say what the event was for those of you that haven't seen it. I'm very anti-spoilery. But the episodes of season 3 have a richness and a depth that is overpowering.

"The Shakespeare Code" was so much fun. "Family of Blood" really stretched my view of what the Doctor really is and if "Blink" doesn't give you nightmares, well then you're stronger than I am.

I'm really excited to rewatch Season 4 with the history of seasons 1-3 behind me and I really would like to start back at the beginning again, because I have a feeling it will be even better and richer the second time.

So there's my plug for Doctor Who. Brilliant writing and acting. What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A. A. Milne love-fest

Yesterday I came across this link (on the marvelous A. Victoria Mixon's site ... but she's a story for another day) and stayed up way too late reading off of it:

It's a collection of essays by A. A. Milne - a man who is fast becoming my favorite all time writer.

Half of you are thinking who is that?

And half of you are thinking, oh yeah, the Winnie-the-Pooh guy.

Please let me tell you, this man is brilliant.

I first discovered him through the Winnie-the-Pooh stories - Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner - which are funny and sweet and not just kid's stories. If you haven't read them, do yourself a favor. I am a huge classic Pooh fan and I kind of collect what little classic Pooh paraphernalia I can find, but that is not the only reason I love Milne.

I moved on from the Pooh stories to his poetry - When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six are his two collections. Again they are billed as children's poems, but they are rich and the rhyme schemes are brilliant and catchy.

Then, a few years ago, we got in at Borders a book called The Sunny Side, which is a collection of his essays. I devoured it and wished that I could be best friends with him and his family. He has a dry, quirky sense of humor and, even though most of them were written in the 20's they're still so pertinent to today. Some of them are almost precursors to Dave Barry with a wry look at every day life that will have you laughing because you've LIVED it - or at least can relate to it.

After that I set off on a mission to find other stuff that he had written and I stumbled across The Red House Mystery. It's a tongue in cheek Sherlock Holmesian type mystery story that is absolutely charming. It was recently re-released.

I also discovered Once On a Time, a hilarious parody on fairy tales that he wrote for his wife. (I found it in e-books. It hasn't been re-released recently, but there are used copies available) I also picked up a biography, which I haven't gotten to yet, but think I'm going to attack over break.

Go check out the site with some of his essays. They're all short (a lot of them were written for Punch) and it will be a great pick me up for your day.

Have you ever been in the quandary of how to sort and organize your personal library? Yeah, Milne too.

Get frustrated when other people move your things? Check out his essay, "The Old Order Changes."

Or read about the TRUE pleasure of writing!

If you love a good story with a wry sense of humor then please, do yourself a favor and pick up any of A. A. Milne's works. I guarantee you will enjoy it!

Monday, December 20, 2010

NaNo Owlie WINNER!

Hi everyone!

Thanks to all who entered my contest. I had SO much fun reading all of your crazy stories, etc. and I am very proud to announce the winner of happy little Nano....
Yeah! Nano can't wait to go to his new home!

... is ...

LOLA SHARP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah! *throws confetti, passes around cookies*

So e-mail me your address and Nano will be on his way!

Those of you still waiting for your very own owl, keep your eyes open. You never know when I'll have the urge to toss out another contest!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Another Owl Contest!

Yes, you heard that right. I am giving away yet another one of my trademark owls!

This is a very special giveaway for some very special people.

Now you may not think you qualify, so make sure you read the rules before you huff away in disgust at not being able to enter the contest*

This giveaway is for NaNoWriMo WINNERS!


I told you not to huff away. Okay, listen up.

Did you finish your 50,000 words in the month of November? You're a WINNER!
Did you write anywhere between 1 and 49,999 words in the month of November, but couldn't finish for any number of reasons? You're a WINNER!
Did you cheer on friends that were doing NaNo, even though you knew there was no way you could manage it this year? You're a WINNER!

All the rest of you can huff away now. I promise I won't be offended**

So, if you are a NaNo WINNER! then you have the chance to be a SonshineMusic Owl WINNER! too!
Aww... isn't Nano adorable!? He's got a winner flag and a pencil
and a slightly cockeyed expression from writing so much in a month!
All you have to do is comment on this post to enter. School is going to eat my face off this coming week, so this is going to run until next Friday night - the 17th of December.

In your comment entertain me with a tale of your NaNoWriMo experience. If I laugh out loud I will totally give you a bonus entry***

Also, please feel free to steal the picture of little Nano to invite other people to enter and you're welcome to Tweet or Facebook or Blog or Sidebar, because I want to spread the NaNo love!

That's it! go forth and enter and win some owlage.

*because I know that would be your first reaction
**as long as you aren't offended by me
***I am dead serious about this. I need the laughs when I'm in the middle of my 15 page research paper, 8 page final and 30 page case study.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Super Contests!


The League of Extraordinary Writers is having a totally awesome contest this week! 5 prizes - one for each day of the week, and a




So you should go check it out and enter, because these are awesome authors with awesome books coming out next year!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And There was Great Joy and Rejoicing (and a lot of sleep)

Yup! That's right! I did it! All the way, right until the last day, but well before midnight :D

I have a grand total of


words and a full rough draft. Of course there are GAPING plot holes and a number of things that have to change completely because I discovered things (like the fairy godmother's role) as I went along.

But I have a story arc and I discovered SO many things about this story that wouldn't have happened the same way if I hadn't had to just push through and keep writing. A lot of good things.

You bloggy and Twitter people are totally what kept me going.

A random conversation on Twitter led me to a MAJOR plot change, that turned into the catalyst for the climax of the story. Gnomes FTW!

I would like to give a giant thanks to Lindsey aka Dangerous with a Pen and Darby Karchut for being what felt like my own personal cheerleaders. You two commented on pretty much every random post I threw up over this crazy month and I do believe that it is time to reveal the NaNo cheerleader costume, Lindsey *wink wink* Thank you so much for believing that I could do it!

That goes for all of you *group hug!*

I also started playing with Wordle. Mostly now as a treat to myself for having finished. Here are some of my favorites to share with you.

 Um, yes, my main characters are Layla, Tavares and Erandell. How did you guess?

 I like how this one kind of looks like a tree!

And that's a wrap! Now I put my novel aside for a few weeks so I can do real life stuff and survive the end of the semester. At least, that's the plan. I have a feeling it's going to keep whispering at me until I play with it :D

Congrats to all of you that finished! And to all of you that attempted! I didn't even come close last year, but I felt so proud of the work I did, knowing it was more than I would have written without NaNo!
See you in December!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Flash Fiction Challenge

As if I wasn't already doing enough, I decided to join in Regan Leigh's flash fiction challenge. We got a prompt at midnight and had 90 minutes to write and post something. I worked my toe off in NaNo today - nearly catching up - almost to 42,000 - and it was really invigorating to write something that was totally outside of my novel.

The prompt was: DETOUR

So I just started writing and this is what happened - un-edited and done in about 75 minutes. Enjoy! And run over HERE to check out the other people that joined in on the challenge so you can read what they've written!

Update: I removed this for a couple of reasons, so if you happen to be stopping by a post this far back, well, go check out the other entries!

Friday, November 26, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update and stuff

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody! Hope yours was as nice as mine was :) We had our family and then one of my brother's friends hung out with us too. We ate too much turkey and pie as always. Played Apples to Apples and my brothers cheated SHAMELESSLY. It came down to the last point and Joe had been playing random songs on YouTube, so he dropped down his card on Dave's turn and then changed the song that was playing. When Dave flipped over all of the cards, one of them was "Canada." Well, the song that Joe started playing was "O Canada" by Five Iron Frenzy.

Ha! Subtle hints....

Needless to say Dave miraculously chose the right card :)

I got a bunch of reading done for school and then even managed to squeeze in some NaNoWriMo writing.

I'm up to 36,664 words

So I'm still 6,670 words behind, but I want to go remedy some of that deficit right now!

Oh, yeah. And I also changed my background (again) as I'm sure you noticed. I was annoyed by the other one, because I couldn't get the quote at the top to show. And it was rather dark. This one is more cheery :D And I like the dandelions!

Happy Weekend!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Prelude: Yup. I changed my background again. I still don't know if I like it, but the orange was starting to get on my nerves. I like the green, but it's not quite the right green, so don't be surprised if it changes again. Maybe I'll go Christmas in December :D


Here's what I really wanted to talk about.

This is my first year in grad school and I have the amazing opportunity of being a Teaching Assistant in the English Department. The blessing of this particular program is that we are actually teaching freshmen composition. We meet with an advisor weekly, are offered as much help and support as we need, but when 8:00 on Monday morning rolls around, I am the one walking into the classroom, teaching about transitions and MLA format and how to cite sources. I am the one giving the quizzes and grading the papers and fielding the questions.

It can be absolutely terrifying.

I've been through some interesting experiences this semester. I've had to deal with students challenging me over their grade, had to give someone an F, had to have that dreaded talk when a student plagiarizes. I've had a girl cry in my office, had people challenge me in the classroom. I've had the kids that are in class, but aren't actually present. And it's been draining to say the least.

But then. Oh, then....

I had the student tell me that my class was their favorite. Read the paper that blew me away with how much the girl had improved. Had a student thank me for helping them understand a concept. Had invigorating discussion. Watched so many students move forward, deepen in their ability to express themselves, understand that writing isn't just for English majors.

Today I had the chance to go to a musical where one of my students had the lead role. Sitting in the audience I was just struck by what an absolute honor it is to have a chance to make a difference in these kids' lives.

And you know, that feeling is totally worth every single frustration.

Being a teacher is awesome.

Friday, November 19, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 15-17

I haven't been avoiding you because I haven't been writing. I've actually been avoiding you because I HAVE been writing. Night continues to be pretty much the only time that I can fit my NaNoWriMo time in and usually by the time I write as much as I can, my eyes are crossing and my brain has ceased to function and if I came over here to update you would probably get sentences like:

Tuesday Layla gnomed a magic chimney wing and kiwi up the secret asparagus cook.

So you can see why I haven't posted. But I wanted to let you know that it's going.

I passed the half way mark, which completely shocked me. I almost caught up (only 800 words away) and then I flamed out again (stupid research paper). I've introduced the villain, though he hasn't really done anything yet... that we know of. And am now in the middle of a gnome invasion, which is adding a lot of tension, hero development and word count. So all good things.

Quick look at my standings and then I'm off to tap out 100 words or so before my brain falls out.

OH! I also discovered that I can actually TYPE IN MY SLEEP! Isn't that amazing?! The only thing is, that everything I write, though it is real words, makes no sense whatsoever. I was also too out of it to realize that those words needed to be saved for posterity so I could show you all how ridiculous my subconscious is and I deleted the sections before saving and closing - most of which I think I did in my sleep too.


I am at: 27,968
Should be: 30,006
2,038 words behind


That is pretty cool people. Pretty. Cool.

Monday, November 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 14

Great day today, even though a cold decided to move in and settle in my nasal passages.


Recap so I can sleep :)

Words today: 3,961 WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!
Words Total: 23,120
Word Goal: 23,338
Words Behind: 218 SWEET MUFFINS!!!!!!

And I would totally make those up right now, but I need to be healthy for the rest of the month! So sleep is calling!

Thanks for being here and cheering me on! It means more than you will ever know so hugs and kisses to you all! (the chocolate ones of course) :D

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 12 & 13

I didn't update yesterday, not because I didn't write, but because my eyes were literally burning and I just saved and slept.

This novel is most probably the WORST thing I have ever written in my entire life. There is way too much telling. The characters are wandering around aimlessly, I have new characters bursting in in very strange places and ways. But it is ridiculously fun to write. Will anything come out of it? Maybe, maybe not. As they're rambling I'm getting to know their stories and their personalities and after November is over, maybe next month, maybe next year, maybe a couple of years from now, I really think I'll come back and see if I can make something decent out of it. For now I'm just enjoying the flow of consciousness thing that's happening and the delight of actually being writing again.

Quick recap:

Words today: 1973
Words total: 19159
Word goal: 21671
Words behind: 2512

Really not as bad as it should be considering everything else I have going on. Tomorrow is another day, as they say! Yeah NaNo!

Friday, November 12, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 11

Happy 11/11 and I hope you had a great Veterans' Day. I would like to take a moment and thank all of those who have served and are serving their country in the armed forces. You have a special place in my heart and I am extremely grateful for all of you that have and continue to put your lives on the line so that we can enjoy the great freedoms we have.
Special remembrance to my grandfather and a dear gentleman from our church, both who have passed away. Also thoughts to my brother-in-law, his brother and many other people that I know who serve in many different ways.

Is that enough space? I feel almost flippant talking about word count after that.

But things are looking up in my WiP! I only had about an hour, but I managed to get some juices flowing again. woo hoo!

Quick stats -
Goal: 18337
Mine: 16035
Behind: 2302
Words TODAY: 2112 *happy dance*

How's everyone else holding up? Need chocolate? Caffeine? Plot bunnies?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 10

1/3 of the way through the month already, but not quite 1/3 of the way through my word count.

Just hit 13,923 words. I should be at 16,570 to be on track, but this week has been a killer for lack of writing time and motivation.

In more EXCITING news! I figured out a giant PLOT HOLE! So that should help to move things along. I just need an extra hour or so...

Anyone have a spare time-turner I can borrow?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 9

Productive day, just not NaNo wise. Oh well, a good day will catch me up :)

hit 13,098 words

1,078 for today. Almost 2000 words behind the "goal" but another day of writing = another day of win!

Monday, November 8, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 8


Not a good writing day, but I got a bunch of other stuff done. I'll have to catch up tomorrow :)

only 276 words and that was striking out a scene and rewriting it, so it was kind of a cheat, but words are words, right? right.

Thank you all so much for the cheerleading and the commiseration and the encouragement. If I finish this year, it will only be because of you guys amazing support! Go NaNoers!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 7

Didn't think I would make my daily word count, much less catch up, because of a family thing this afternoon. But I got in 700 words before church and then just went ripping along just now.

Falling asleep, but here's the quick stats:

Today: 2470
Total: 11744
Goal: 11669
Ahead: 75

Oh yeah, baby!


NaNoWriMo Update: Day 6

6th day of writing

3rd day of completing word goal

1st day of breaking 2,000

2nd day of word sprinting with Twitter friends. I am telling you, that seems to be the ONLY way I can get my juices flowing!

Today - 2539
Total - 9274
Should be at - 10002
Behind by - 728

Not bad at all :D Actually a whole lot better than I expected!

Tomorrow will be rough, since I'm visiting my sister, but I hope to squeak out a couple hundred somewhere in there.

and I have it on good authority* that Lindsey is going to send me a picture of her NaNo cheerleading costume if I hit 50,000 words this month. Isn't she generous ;)

*that would be my ridiculous brain moving after midnight and inventing facts that are in no way representative of reality.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 5

1684 words today bringing my total up to 6735. Woo Hoo! Still "behind", but I've written every single day for five days in a row. I honestly cannot remember the last time that happened, so definitely a WIN!

And thank you all for your kind comments over the last couple of days. I don't expect a comment every day, but I totally would dread coming in and saying I hadn't written anything, so you are definitely motivation for me!

To those of you also doing this NaNo journey, I wish you the best! To those of you who are considering doing it in the future, it's SO much fun! And to those of you who just like watching the rest of us go slightly insane in November, well, I hope you're entertained :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 4

Up to 5051 words! That's 1562 for today. Yippee :)

Today I was supposed to be writing this creepy, scary scene and my main female character, Layla, just wouldn't cooperate, but it made the scene so much better and the next scene an even bigger payoff. Besides, she's establishing her character now and it's a lot more interesting than the personality I had envisioned. This is going to be a fun ride!

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 3

So the day is technically over and I wrote 708 words, but I plan on doing a tad more writing before I sleep, so I guess that'll go toward tomorrow. This brings my total up to 3489 so far. Not too shabby, though I'm over 1000 words "behind". I knew yesterday and today were going to be tough and it'll still be easy to make that up.

On the school front, I did my last in-class presentation, so that's a lot off my mind. Now I just have the papers and the readings to worry about, but those are coming along too.

On the writing front NOT related to NaNo (wait, is there such a thing in November?) I got a chance to meet YA author Martin Wilson today. He came to our school to do a reading and he's just the nicest guy. A group of us from the English Department went out to dinner with him and it was a ton of fun. Well, one of the senior undergraduates was there and suddenly he stopped and asked if I had submitted something to the school's literary journal. I said yes and he said that my two short stories were the funniest things he'd read in a while.

Talk about an ego boost! I really needed that because I've hit that point in my NaNo novel where the scenes I'd written in my head are out and now I'm hitting the dreaded middle section where I have a tendency to drag things out and they get boring and then I get bored and then I want to run and scream and I begin to doubt my abilities. This comes at different points in the story, depending on the novel, but this time it came really early and a little compliment goes a LONG way. So yeah! for that.

And now I'm off to write a little more :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 2

1004 words today. Considering I wrote that in about 15 minutes, it's not too shabby. Not to my goal, but I had major research for a class presentation tomorrow, so I'm pretty happy.

That brings my grand word total up to 2781. I should be at 3334 to keep on track, but that's only 553 words off. Easy to make up.

Feeling pretty good.

And like I said, that's 2781 more words than I would have written without NaNo so SUCCESS!

And thank you all for your kind encouragement :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 1

So I did it!

1777 words! And the story has already developed a life of its own. It started in a different place than I intended and introduced a character in the first chapter that wasn't supposed to really come in until much later. Hmmm.... I'm liking it!

Now it's off to bed to rest up for another good day tomorrow :D

Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNoWriMo Hyperventilation

It starts tomorrow. I can hardly believe it. In less than 6 hours (my time) National Novel Writing Month will have officially begun. As it approaches I am beginning to wonder what on earth I was thinking. I am still totally psyched about it, but then I think about the 33 papers I have to grade, the in-class presentation on Wednesday, the 15 and 20 page papers I have to do research for and write and can only come to one conclusion:

I am insane.

But that's okay. I mean, most writers are, right?

I tried last year, but didn't even come close.

I am going to do my best to win, but honestly? I doubt I'll finish this year either.

But that's not the point, now is it? The point is to write. Right now I'm not writing any fiction except for the occasional flash fiction piece for a contest. So if I only write 10,000 words, that's 10,000 more than I would have written without NaNo. If I only write 2,000 words, that's 2,000 more than I would have written without NaNo.

Any writing is good, right? Right!

so if you are a little crazy, or want to just encourage yourself to write a little more than you are now, join in! Click this button
to check out my profile and we can be writing buddies if you're already a NaNoer or we can become writing buddies if you're joining for the first time!

You won't see many posts of substance this month, but my goal is to post my word accomplishments here every night so I am accountable to y'all (and you don't even have to do anything!)

Now I'm off it chill and rest up for that first 1667 words!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why Write? E. L. Doctorow has the answer!

Sometimes I am so amazed at the opportunities that fall into my lap. Our school has authors in to do readings and last night we were blessed to have E. L. Doctorow come. I have class on Wednesday nights, but our professor arranged things so that our class could go. It was so great!

Here's a really horrid cell phone picture of him on stage:

He read a new short story called "Assimilation" that hasn't even been published yet. It's going to be in the New Yorker in a couple of weeks. It was really enjoyable to actually hear the author present his own work and the story was quite interesting (that sounds less enthusiastic than I intended...) The story was great!

The reading was fantastic, but the highlight of the evening for me was the Question and Answer time at the end. He was so funny and gave some fantastic advice that I just knew I had to share with all of you. I was just listening and enjoying until someone asked the question:

Why do you write?

Everyone kind of chuckled and Doctorow waited until the laughter had subsided. Then he leaned in to the microphone and said,

"Why not?"

Applause and laughter. What a great answer!

At that point I thought, this could make a great blog post! So I whipped out my notebook and started furiously taking notes. I think my friend thought I was crazy. It looked like I was preparing for a test. But I got some great quotes for you guys! So here's some of the Q&A:

Q: What authors influenced you?

A: Doctorow's father was a big Poe fan, so he grew up with him. "Poe is our greatest bad writer." When Doctorow started writing in middle school he wrote a lot of things that were heavily influenced by Poe. "'The cellar was dark and dank.' That was one of my great first lines." He read books because the titles interested him. He saw a book called The Idiot and thought, that's a great title. So he picked it up and read it - so he'd be reading Dostoevsky one day and a comic book the next. Some of the other authors that influenced him were London, Twain, Melville, Whitman, Dickens, Hardy, Chekhov.

Then he started writing. He said when a child stops asking "what happens next" when they're reading and starts asking "how is the author doing it," that's usually when you can see they're getting interested in writing. His writing is "just a response to good writing."

"If you want to write novels
you have to read them."

Q: How much research do you do before you let your imagination take over?

A: "Just enough" He went on to say that sometimes you can kill a story by doing too much research, but at the same time you have to do enough to be accurate. When he was writing Ragtime he needed to know if two of the characters could take a trolley from where they were to Connecticut. He didn't know where to find the information and he was wandering around the mid-Manhattan branch of the New York Public Library, not really sure where to go or what to do and he picked up a book that had been left on a table and it was a history of trolley cars.

Q: Do you use an outline when you write?

A: No. Many people do, but he never has. "You want to be in a position where you can find out what you're writing... It begins to tell you what will happen or what needs to be done."

"It's not an entirely rational process
and I don't know if I would recommend it to anyone."

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

A: There is a "continuum between reading and writing. Just read continually."

"Try to write every day." He talked about just sitting there and letting the cursor blink at you on the screen. "Just say anything that comes to mind." Eventually you'll come across "something that interests you. Something that lights up the page for you. That could be the beginning of a story."

"Constancy is the key."

Q: What was the inspiration for Ragtime?

A: "That book came out of sheer desperation."

He had finished a book and was completely exhausted and unable to write anything for months. He sat down in his office. He likes his desk to face the wall, not the window. And as he sat there staring at the wall he started to write about it. He talked about the wall and described it and then moved from there to the house that the wall was a part of and just kept moving out from there.

After the Q&A time, they had books for sale in the back and he stayed around to sign books. Here's a slightly better picture of him as I waited in line:
So guess what I got:

Yeah! Another autographed book to add to my collection!

So, Why Write?


Monday, October 18, 2010

And then the toilet exploded



I was at school today and I had to use the ladies' room.

I flushed and stepped out of the stall.

And the toilet exploded.

All right. Not literally. But after it flushed this literal geyser of water ka-plooshed! into the air. Like 3 feet.

If I had been any closer I would have gotten drenched.

Not a good thing when you are a TA/grad student, wearing a skirt at school over an hour away from your closest change of clothes.

It was the strangest noise I'd ever heard.

I spun around and there was water everywhere.

Now I wanted to be nice, and it had flushed before exploding, so the water was all clean. So I mopped off the seat and then realized I had to flush it once more. so I hit the lever and jumped back. But it happily flushed with no explosion.


And that is my TMI story for the day :D

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Yeah! Aren't you all so excited about the winners of the signed copies of the Brandon Mull book? I know I am SO SUPER EXCITED that I can hardly stand it!

*insert my now classic picture of excited alligator*

Or maybe he's a crocodile. Does anyone know?

That doesn't really matter.

What matters is that 2 very lucky people are getting Brandon Mull books! Right? Right!

So without further ado, the winner of the autographed copy of the 1st Fablehaven book is...




Isn't this annoying?




TALLI ROLAND *cheers and applause and pink glitter*

And the winner of the autographed copy of The Candy Shop Wars is...




Still rather annoying, right?



FALEN (SARAH)! *whistles and feet stomping and green confetti*

So, if you could each send me your mailing addresses at sonshinemusic(at)gmail(dot)com I will get those in the mail, probably on Tuesday!

Thank you all for entering! Love to everybody :D

Monday, October 11, 2010


Last Tuesday (yes, it took me a week, but HERE WE ARE!) Brandon Mull! Fantastic author and amazingly sweet guy came to our store to sign books and chat with people! Oh my werd, but he was so much fun!
Yes, that's right, I got a picture with him!

And so did Naomi and her friends!

The opportunity to have him kind of fell into our laps and we were so excited! A dad from a local school was working to get Brandon to come and speak at some of the schools. So he called the store and asked if we would want to have Brandon come in and do a signing.

We were not about to say no to an offer like that. We're kind of a small store, so we rarely have the opportunity to have a big name author come in.

If you don't know (and SHAME ON YOU) Brandon Mull is the author of the fabulous Fablehaven series and the standalone book The Candy Shop Wars and he's got a NEW series coming out, starting in March, called The Beyonders.
Here he is with his books and creatures!
You should totes go check out his website to find out more!


We had so much fun with Brandon in the store. And since I work there I got to hang around and stalk hang out with him and my fellow co-workers. He was willing to sign as many books as the kids brought in and took a few minutes with each one, chatting with them and letting their parents take pictures. So. Nice. He would ask if the kids had any questions for him. One girl thought about it for a moment and then asked if he liked pie. He does (just so you know).

One kid said something about how many people there were waiting and Brandon said, "Well, that's good. It's always nice when you write a book to know that people want to read it."

Oh my werd, but it was just so much fun being there.

AND you guys totally benefit from it TOO! Because I asked him to sign books for YOU! Aren't you excited!?

Here's a group of us Borders people with Brandon Mull!

Leave a comment on this post between now and Saturday night and I will randomly select 2 (yes, that's right) 2! winners.

One person will win an autographed copy of The Candy Shop Wars (ooh, ah!)

And one person will win an autographed copy of the first Fablehaven book!

Aren't you just SO excited!

All you have to do is leave a comment, but if you want to mention it on your blog or on your sidebar I will give you 1 extra entry (because I'm nice like that!) Just leave a linky thingy in your comment or come back and leave a second comment with the link :)

Now go forth and ENTER

Oh, and I will go ahead and open this up internationally, because it's just one book and I think I can swing that :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I'm trying to do some catch up on people's blogs and I came across this genius post by Mia about HOW TO WRITE A QUERY and she made up a query for an imaginary book and it just looked like so much fun that I had to go and write one in her comments. And I had way too much fun with it, so I want to share it here.

So, here is my fake query letter:

Dear Snookums,

Valerie wished that, just once, her brother would refrain from eating her homework. Her teachers never believed her, even after she brought in the shreds from Henry's last stomach pumping. Honestly, having a brother that was part black lab could be seriously annoying.

But then she finds out that Henry's not really her brother and that his parents are part of a canine race from Sirius (yes, the dog star. I know, so cliche, right?) and they're coming back to pick up their son and, oh, yeah, enslave the human race.

It's a good thing Valerie's best friend, Joyce, works at an obedience school, because it's going to take all of their combined know-how and a whole lot of doggy treats to survive this mess.

"Roll Over" is a 90,000 word YA novel that will have readers sitting up and begging for more. Attached are the first five paragraphs. Thank you for your time and consideration.


And now you may all think that I am crazy.

And no, you cannot steal the plot idea :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I think I need a soup can...

Hey all.

I know things have been really quiet over here at Casa del Sonshine.

See this thing called Grad School happened to me. Where they do things like say, "Here, read a 600 page book by next week. Oh and I accidentally told you to buy the wrong Henry James book, so you have to go find it first." and "Read these 5 articles from the book on literary theory by next week. Oh, and don't forget that there are 6 more links to articles online that you need to read too. And I need your annotated bibliography of at least 15 sources as well."


Okay, I was expecting it to be challenging. And I AM loving it. So. Much.

Then there's also the whole TA thing, where I have to prepare lessons to teach Freshmen Comp 3 times a week. Plus grade papers. Plus try not to go insane.

I am so loving that part of it too. Really. Cause that's what I want to do with my life. I'm even more sure of it now that I've taught for 5/6 weeks (I don't know which it is and I'm too tired to go look it up).

But the really bad, horrible downside is that I have NO TIME.
Like seriously.

So I haven't had much time to post anything (I really should be getting ready for church now, instead of posting this, but hey, I had a couple minutes, I'm going to use them, even though Henry James is whispering that I should really be reading him since I still have 317 pages to read by Wednesday.)


The biggest sadness to me is that I have had virtually no time to come around and visit you guys. I pop in on Twitter occasionally and I'm dying to come see what you all are saying on your blogs. Really. But then I sigh and read Lacan instead (btw psychoanalytic literary theory gave me nightmares. Just sayin')

So now you know the whole story. I haven't been avoiding you, just running like crazy. I keep hoping that I will fall into a rhythm so that I can eke out some bloggery time, but it just hasn't happened yet. Thank you all for sticking around even if I'm not being all that entertaining and I PROMISE I will try to find some time to say hello soon. I've got a day of Fall break coming up, so maybe I'll squeeze some in then.  But definitely know that I still love you all and that I have not fallen off the face of the earth!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eek! I'm SCARED!

I NEVER used to do the whole thriller/horror/scary thing. Like at all. But then I got hooked on Ted Dekker and dude, House is CREEPY. And then I started liking thriller movie things and now I'm obsessed (okay, not really, but kind of) with X-Files.

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNG prelude to say, if you like thriller or creepy or horror or any of that stuffish, (or even if you don't) then you totally need to check out

It's got some of the most coolest of all times writerly prizes. And I'm telling you because it's totes amazing, but seriously, please do not enter, because I swear I'm going to win that tote bag.


*runs off to finish story*

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Muse Returns

I have not talked about writing pretty much at all for pretty much a really long time here.

That is because it was non-existent.

Except for the posts here (which have become more and more sporadic, I admit) I have done virtually no writing.

People kept reassuring me that I would go back to it when I was ready. Saying that it was fine that I wasn't writing anything.

I tried to believe them.

But the problem wasn't just that I didn't feel like writing, it was I had no interest in it. At all. I didn't have a single idea that even tempted me to set pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). My old story ideas seemed dull and stupid and uninspiring.

I read you guys blogs and tweets and how you were writing thousands of words and how characters hi-jacked your lives and all of that stuff and I loved reading about your successes, but it was seriously making me pretty stinkin' depressed that I couldn't even rouse up energy to write a single sentence.

I began to tell myself that apparently I wasn't really a fiction writer. It was just a phase I had gone through. And I'd probably fiddle around with it a little bit more, but it was something that had passed from my life.

Then Thursday night happened.

Naomi and I watched Vampire Diaries together and then put in an episode of Angel.

A song popped into my head as we were watching and I sang it until Naomi and I were giggling over it.

I am not going to tell you what it was, because I am guarding my SHINY NEW IDEA with my life.

That's right. In the middle of the song a SNI attacked my head. I laughed at it and shook it off and watched the rest of the show and went to bed.

Then I was driving to school the next day, playing a CD (the Wicked soundtrack, if you must know) and the SNI attacked my brain again! I literally was forced to turn off the music so I could plot in my head.

It was wonderful, but pure agony, because I got to school, had 2 classes, then a meeting, then had to drive BACK home and grade rough drafts all while the SNI was screaming and whining and threatening to run away.

Finally last night I took a little time before I went to sleep to write. Yes WRITE! It was pretty much the best thing ever. It's a twisted fairy tale and so far is WAY darker than anything I've ever written before and I'm so excited to see where it goes next.

But why couldn't Muse have visited me over the summer when I actually would have had TIME to write? Why did she wait until now when I really don't even have the time to post this, but I'm doing it anyways?

Muse timing stinks :)

*runs back to her cave to grade more rough drafts*

Monday, September 13, 2010

Yeah! Other Entries!

Naomi and I were so grateful to everyone that entered our Super Sister Celebration! We loved all of them and the fact that you actually took time out to write something for us.

So we wanted to mention the entries that didn't place and let you all know the things we liked about them too.

Kulsuma wrote a sketch based on the "Be Happy That... Grass isn't sharp" prompt - laying out a world where the grass is, in fact, sharp and how it affects everything.

One of the lines that struck both Naomi and I was "Lying on the grass in the sun is no fun at all; it's like coming into contact with a fearsome porcupine. But the people where I live don't bother with acupuncture when they're stressed; they lie on the smaller stems of grass, stretch and relax. HAHAHA! Loved it!

Sarah/Falen wrote a piece using the "Be Happy That... You aren't suddenly allergic to pants" prompt. It was about high school girls, a magic wishing star shirt and sweet revenge and I hope she posts it over on her blog for you all to read, because it was a lot of fun.

Naomi and I liked the bit where the MC is talking to the uber popular (and skanky [her word, not mine :}]) Lisa - she stepped into my personal space and I stumbled back. I was pretty sure if she touched me, I would melt. Also her description of Lisa's Posse as a pack of hyenas, waiting for the time when Lisa would fall from the top. Great word pictures!

Mia wrote a story that somehow made zombie cannibals (go figure, what a shock) with a lot of humor, car chase stuff and shooting. I hope she posts it over on her blog, because you'll all get a kick out of it.

Naomi and I both cracked up at this section - Justin gets tetchy when I jump-start the engine. I'm not sure if it's because I sacrifice a good paper clip or he didn't think of that. Probably the paper clip. Former librarians never lose their respect of stationary. Ever. HAHAHA!

So thank you again for making our contest a success!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

We Have a Grand Prize Winner!

And one last giant thanks and a group hug
To the wonderful people that entered our

Both here and over at Naomi's blog! We had so much fun and we hope you guys did too :D

So, without further ado, the winner of our Grand Prize Pack including:
Plus a copy of Michelle Zink's second book Guardian of the Gate Plus an OWL Plus a SEKRIT SURPRISE


Drum roll please:

and she's having her own contest right now, so go check it out!

A moving van was parked in front of the brick house next door. Too much was at stake with these new neighbors. The noise caused an earthquake in my chest. I threw the curtains closed and put the chain on the door.
The old colonial had remained empty for a year, and you couldn’t blame the bad housing market. The stories had traveled far enough. The real estate agents couldn’t protect the value of the property. Most potential buyers get turned off by the idea of replacing the floorboards beneath blood-stained carpets.
But my curiosity got the better of me. Leaning over the back of my La-Z-Boy, I pulled the curtain back, barely an inch of glass visible to my eye. The movers were pulling couches and desks from the van, and lugging them up the steep lawn. Nothing seemed abnormal. Even the new neighbor—standing by the front steps, telling the movers where to take each piece of furniture—gave off an air of normalcy.
Until his eyes turned and stared directly at me.
“What’re you…?”
I screamed, jumped, and dropped the curtain. “Josh!”
He rolled his eyes. “You were spying on the new neighbors, weren’t you?”
“Sis, you’re full of crap. Why are you being so weird?”
I rubbed my shoulder, feeling the tingle of my scar beneath my sleeve. I’d never told anyone about my “date” with the previous neighbors’ son—or at least beyond what they expected. Movie and dinner.
I just hadn’t known I was on the menu.
“I’m not being weird!”
“Oh, whatever,” he replied. “First, you try to tell me the Franklins are cannibals. Then you start rumors that keep the house from selling. And now you’re spying on the new neighbors. What do you think? They bought it because of your childish lies?”
He punched my shoulder, barely missing the scar he didn’t know was there. “You’re a sucky liar.” He spun around and dashed upstairs.
I sunk into my chair. Was I overreacting? Was it unreasonable for me to worry that the new neighbors might have a son my age? And he might act normal? And I might like him? And he might ask me out? And he might invite me in after the date when his parents were gone for the weekend?
And he might try to eat my arm? And his parents might have been home despite the lie? And I was supposed to be dinner?
A shiver ran down my back. I had never told anyone what had happened. I’d driven myself to the next town, told them I was a runaway, and asked them to patch up my shoulder. How could I have told anyone, even my parents? “Oh, gee, mom, I know you like Billy, but did he mention his favorite meats are pork and humans?” Josh making fun of me was enough. I didn’t need my folks checking me into the loony bin.
A noise reverberated around me, making me jump again. But it was just the echo of the garage door’s motor. After a minute of steadying my breath and trying to meditate my blood pressure back to normal, my mother came inside.
“Oh, honey, I’m glad you’re here. I thought we could take some of your cookies to the new neighbors. What do you think?”
So much for that meditation! “Um…”
She disappeared into the kitchen, and began loudly rummaging through drawers. “Come on, Angela. You’re not shy. I would think you’d want to meet them.” She reappeared in the doorway, a paper plate in one hand and a roll of plastic wrap in the other. “I think I saw a boy over there this morning. He looked about your age.”
Did she just throw a rope around my neck and pull? Why can’t I breathe? “Really?” I squeaked.
She smiled, mistaking my fear for excitement, and disappeared into the kitchen again to arrange her welcome goodies.
As she walked through the living room, sugar cookies mounded on the plate, the look she gave me said I had no choice. With a silent sigh and trembling knees, I trudged behind her across the lawn.
The freaky guy who had seen me in the window smiled widely, probably considering us hors d’oeuvres. “Oh, how nice of you to bring us a snack.” He examined the plate. “If you don’t mind, can I ask if you used butter for these?”
I frowned. “Uh, yeah. Why?”
His smiled turned apologetic. “We’re vegans. We don’t eat butter.”
I stared at him, letting this sink in. Vegan? “You never eat meat?”
He shook his head. “My son’s never tasted it at all.” He yelled through the door. “Kamil!”
A moment later the son came through the door, radiating hotness.
Damn, am I glad he’s not a cannibal!

DrWhat did we love about this story? A lot of things. It told a great story in a very short amount of space. We both loved the voice of the character, particularly in her exchange with her brother and the list of internal questions culminating in And he might try to eat my arm? Naomi really liked the line He punched my shoulder, barely missing the scar he didn't know was there. And the line Did she just throw a rope around my neck and pull? Why can't I breathe? was one that caught my attention.

The cannibal prompt was definitely a favorite!

So CONGRATS TO ROSIE! E-mail me with your address and as soon as the owls are finished your package will be in the mail!

Everyone else, go check out her blog. I'm new there myself, but it looks like a lot of fun!

And if you didn't see the 2nd or 3rd place winners, keep scrolling down for some more fantastic reading!

Come back tomorrow when Naomi and I talk about some of our favorite things from the other entries!