"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

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!