Friday, December 20, 2013

Clouds

I took this picture Thursday evening. The sky was beautiful with its fluffy and wispy clouds reflecting the colors of the sunset.



Monday, December 9, 2013

Snapshot From "Icemageddon"

Twitter has playfully nicknamed the winter storm that blew through on Friday "Icemageddon." Especially in Texas, we don't get nice fluffy snow; we get ICE, which pretty much shuts down the state. Close to 300,000 people lost electricity in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex (me included!), making for a very cold, rather stressful weekend. But I did take this neat little picture up at work yesterday, which shows the more artistic side of this storm I'm talking about.



Pretty neat, huh?


Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Beauty of Transition

Front yard tree
Autumn is such a colorful time. It's one of my favorite times of year. It's ironic to think that the leaves take on such vibrant hues because they're at a time of death, a time of transition...

The transition of the leaves is a good reminder for us to stay strong during transitions in our own life. When we experience death, whether literal or figurative, it can feel cataclysmic. But these times are also beautiful times because our souls have the opportunity to be like the phoenix, who rises from the flames, even more beautiful than before.

It's hard, but transition can be beautiful. Instead of fighting it, maybe we should embrace it peacefully like the autumn leaves...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Don't Fear Silence (or A Realization that People May Talk Too Much)

This weekend, I've come down with an incredibly annoying case of laryngitis. I've been battling a cold all week, and I didn't take enough care of myself when I should have. (I'm am also dealing with some Life Stress, such as my husband losing his good job with the health insurance...not knowing yet if I got into grad school...etc.).

So long story short, I can't talk. I've realized I've taken many things for granted when I had my voice. Simple things like answering someone's question, being able to pick up the phone, grabbing the attention of my hyper dachshund when he's chasing his tail--these are all things I now cannot do. And it's frustrating.

I don't know how long this is going to last. But in my enforced silence, I started thinking about some of the positive benefits of not being able to talk. Let me start off by saying...

I think people talk too much anyway.

Some personal info: over the past couple of months, I've been trying really hard not to speak negatively about anyone just for the sake of conversation/entertainment. (Speaking to a confidant about a personal issue is different.) What I'm referring to are those moments when you're with a friend or your significant other and a small silence ensues, so you panic and immediately think you have to fill it. So you come up with the latest gossip, and you fill that silence with something that's ultimately petty and useless and sometimes even poisonous.

Have you ever noticed how it's the people with the least amount of maturity that can't seem to handle being quiet?

If you think about it, there really isn't a whole lot to talk about on a day to day basis. Sure, there are those times when you have more to say, like when you visit with a friend you haven't talked to in a while, and you catch them up on things going on in your life. It's fine to discuss movies and books and talk about the plans you have for the week, you know, positive, harmless things. It's also cool to have discussions about personal philosophy and life observations. Just don't venture into pointless, negative topics that don't do anyone any good. It can turn into a really nasty habit that is hard to kick.

Another habit of people who talk too much is what I call "The Neverending Problem." These are generally personal problems, often fixable, but they continue to remain unfixed. For whatever reason, the person cannot or does not want to fix this problem. Despite that, the Neverending Problem continues to be talked about every day. OMG. There's nothing worse than replaying that same old "My life sucks, but I'm not doing anything about it" record over and over and over. If you're not going to have respect for yourself, then at least keep quiet about it, for heaven's sake.

Finally, and perhaps the worst trait of the incessant talker, is the problem with staying silent even when others are talking. These are the poor folks who interrupt any and all conversations they walk into, and they sometimes even manage to make that conversation about them. Good grief! That's taking the obsession with talking to a ridiculous degree.

All this silliness could be avoided if we learned how to keep our mouths closed. What's wrong with keeping some of your thoughts to yourselves? What's wrong with simply observing life, quietly, and letting there be peace instead of drama?

When I was a young girl, and even through high school, I was considered by many to be "too quiet." The popular girls would often quip, "You're so quiet, Carrie," like it was a crime. I talk more now than I used to, but I can sense myself slowly returning to my old quiet ways. I've developed a new respect for silence, and I'm not afraid of it.

Anyway, that's my thoughts for today.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dallas Arboretum Pumpkin World (Picture Post!)

To celebrate my 30th birthday this month, my friend Bethany was so sweet to take me to the Dallas Arboretum!


(Actually, there were three of us if you count B's unborn daughter!)


The Arboretum is doing a Fall/Pumpkin theme right now, which is quite the sight to see. It's really magical! Take a look:


Entrance Pumpkins


Pumpkin Path


Flowers and Pumpkins


Pumpkin Labels 


Very Orange Pumpkins


Pumpkin Vine


Jack O Lantern


D for Dallas


Pumpkin House


Pumpkin and Squash Circle


Rows of Pumpkins


Haunting Path


Intriguing Tree Circle


Pumpkin Love

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Celebrating 30 and 60 with the Concert of Concerts: Sarah Brightman!!

This month marks my mom's 60th birthday and my 30th birthday! So I thought it'd be a special treat for both of us to see one of our favorite musicians, Sarah Brightman, in concert this month because she was going to be doing a show right here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. I got some good tickets, and Mom came down to go to the concert with me and spend the night.

Here we are posing in front of my Halloween wreath (and Kaiser, of course, had to join):



Mom said, "Let's look at each other," for one of our poses, so we have a nice little shot here:




And I always like doing bunny ears, so here's my fave pose:




Now...onto the concert!!







While we were waiting, I could barely contain my excitement. Here's the view of the stage before the concert started:


A few fun facts about Sarah Brightman:

- She is the bestselling soprano of all time.
- She was the first Christine in Phantom of the Opera.
- She was married to Andrew Lloyd Webber for many years but is now divorced from him.
- Webber wrote the part of Christine just for Sarah Brightman and her lovely voice.
- In 2015 she will be the first person ever in the history of the world to perform a concert in outer space.


When the concert began, I totally lost my mind and had a "fan girl" moment. There she was! Mere yards away from me! This miracle of humanity whom I have adored for over a decade! SARAH! Singing! LIVE! How could anyone not be just crazy about her???



The acoustics of the place were perfect. Her band was spot-on. And the backdrops were mesmerizing. I thought I was in a dream!








When the organ music from "Phantom of the Opera" started up, I and about half of the audience nearly came up out of our chairs, freaking out. Even though she's 53 years old, she still (as Mom so eloquently put it) "hit notes that made your teeth rattle"! The audience totally erupted in cheers, whistles, and applause when she landed that final note in "Phantom." Woooooow!




I had no idea I could get that many goosebumps! **SIGH**




So, needless to go on about it, it was an experience of a lifetime. I'll close with a video of Sarah singing live from a previous concert so you can see exactly what I mean when I say her voice is AWESOME - make sure you wait until that note at the very end. Have a great week, everyone!



Thursday, October 10, 2013

John Lennon's Birthday

It's John Lennon's birthday. Happy birthday, John, wherever you are now! You were--ARE--truly an amazing soul.

I had the privilege of watching a documentary called LENNONNYC on PBS not too long ago. It was really, really cool, and if you want to learn more about John and who he was post-Beatles in his later years living in the US, then definitely check it out.

I'll close with some Lennon quotes for you to chew on as we remember this remarkable man:

"Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted."

"Love is a flower you've got to let grow."

"The more I see the less I know for sure."

"If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left in the Sixties, that's his problem. Love and peace are eternal."



Friday, September 13, 2013

C.J.'s Top 10 Movies Countdown (#2)

I thought it'd be fun to share my top 10 favorite movies with you. These are the shows that I have to watch at least once a year or I'd go into withdrawal. So in no particular order, here is #2:





If you missed #3, here it is.






Thursday, September 5, 2013

Giving Birth to Characters and Dreaming Details

So...I'm kind of excited. I've been mulling over this new story idea, letting it blossom in my mind for as long as it would. (Some stories wither and die, as they just aren't meant to be written.) But this one I think has a good chance of going all the way.

I conceived a couple of characters a few weeks ago, both 11-year-old boys, and gave them names. But last night I did the thing that "gave them birth," as I like to say: I filled out character charts for them. I rapidly wrote down their every last detail, from their eye color to their order or birth to their bad/quirky habits. For me, I can brainstorm all I want, but filling out the character charts is usually what gets the story ball really rolling.

Here's a glimpse of my two boys' info. I kept it a little blurry so you couldn't cheat and find out too much about them before it's time. ;) (Oh, and thanks, Kaiser, for the photo bomb.)




I'll tell you something interesting that happened after I filled out these two charts. I had a dream last night that one of my characters didn't have the blond hair like I'd given him, but instead, he had red hair. This morning I changed his hair to red on the chart because I'm a firm believer of listening to the subconscious, even for seemingly inconsequential details.

The same thing happened to me when I was writing Wings of the Divided. If you've read it, you'll be familiar with my character the dark angel Malynko. When I first created him on his own character chart, I gave him snowy white hair. Well, somewhere along the creation process of that story, I had a very vivid dream...

The apocalypse was upon us. Bombs were going off everywhere - bombs that angels were setting off. It was pure chaos. I was in a crumbling house, scrambling to gather my things and escape, when suddenly the doorbell rang. It was strange because the only thing left of the house at that point was the frame and the door. Terrified, I felt drawn to the door - I had to answer it. When I opened it, there stood Malynko. I was too petrified to look up into his eyes, so I was stuck staring at his chest and his mouth, which grinned in that evil Malynko way. He wore his red general's jacket, but instead of white hair, his was long and raven colored.

When I woke up, I promptly his hair from white to black in my notes.


*****

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Monday, August 26, 2013

C.J.'s Top 10 Movies Countdown (#3)

I thought it'd be fun to share my top 10 favorite movies with you. These are the shows that I have to watch at least once a year or I'd go into withdrawal. So in no particular order, here is #3:






If you missed #4, here it is.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Question of the Month



As I grow older, I witness my relationships with people morphing. Old relationships shift with age, and new relationships begin. The cycle of life and death continues in an inner way, and I find myself wondering ...do people change? Or do they merely remove their masks and reveal who they truly are?


Friday, August 9, 2013

Five Fun Facts about SONG OF THE DIVIDED: THE DIVIDED BOOK 3

Just for fun, here are five behind-the-scenes/trivia facts about the third and final book in my Divided trilogy :) Enjoy!



1) I show my love of my favorite rock band, Led Zeppelin, in a couple of ways in this book. One of their songs inspired the name of a planet, and another song inspired a scene near the end of the novel.

2) Even though this book is the longest of the three in the Divided trilogy, it took me the least amount of time to write.

3) Among the many pieces of music that inspired me while I wrote this story, the Return of the King soundtrack is one that provided the most "aha!" moments while I brainstormed.

4) This book made me cry several times while I was writing it.

5) At the very end of the book, I was going to have Laphelle's fate set in stone. But after several years of growth in my own life, I changed it. I decided to give him a choice, as I have grown to realize that we are all a product of our choices.

*****

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

C.J.'s Top 10 Movies Countdown (#4)

I thought it'd be fun to share my top 10 favorite movies with you. These are the shows that I have to watch at least once a year or I'd go into withdrawal. So in no particular order, here is #4:


 


 If you missed #5, here it is.


*****

Add C.J.'s angel trilogy to your library. -->Shop here!<--

Friday, July 26, 2013

C.J.'s Top 10 Movies Countdown (#5)

I thought it'd be fun to share my top 10 favorite movies with you. These are the shows that I have to watch at least once a year or I'd go into withdrawal. So in no particular order, here is #5:





 If you missed #6, here it is.

*****

Add C.J. Sullivan's angel trilogy to your library. -->Shop here!<--

Thursday, July 11, 2013

C.J.'s Top 10 Movies Countdown (#6)

I thought it'd be fun to share my top 10 favorite movies with you. These are the shows that I have to watch at least once a year or I'd go into withdrawal. So in no particular order, here is #6:








If you missed #7, here it is.

*****

Add C.J. Sullivan's angel trilogy to your library. -->Shop here!<--

Friday, July 5, 2013

Jim Morrison, My New Tillandsia

Hi, this is my new plant. I named it Jim Morrison because I just watched Oliver Stone's The Doors this week for the first time.




Doesn't he look cool in his new house:




It'll be really hard to kill him because tillandsias don't require planting, only a light mist of water once a week or so. I got some seaweed emulsion to give him extra vitamins. I think he's pretty groovy.



Here's some of the real Jim Morrison to honor his new home on my desk. Hope y'all all have a great 4th of July Weekend.




Friday, June 28, 2013

At Last!

At last! All three books in The Divided trilogy have been published in both Kindle and paperback formats. This decade-long project has been very near and dear to me, and it has been a personal milestone to both have it published and to get positive reader feedback from around the world. Such an incredible experience!





Also, I saw Man of Steel for the second time today. This time, I saw it with Mom, who even dared to say she liked it better than the old one! **GASP** 





I bought the soundtrack about a week ago, and I can't stop listening to it. Hans Zimmer has made a masterpiece with this score.






Even Kaiser will stop chewing on his bone to have a listen...




One of the many reasons I like Man of Steel is because it's about supernatural beings who either want to help or destroy humanity - they're formidable forces, but they are on a distinct side. (Hey, that's a lot like my angels in my books! Hint-hint!)

Seriously, though, I don't want to be obnoxious with this, but I want to thank the people who have believed in Laphelle and company and the story I've told in my trilogy. Your support means the world to me. When I decided to become an English major, I wanted to do so because there were stories out there that had touched my heart. I wanted to study those stories. I wanted to learn. I wanted to write the stories that would reach people on a deeper level than just mere entertainment. And judging from the feedback I've gotten from you all, I have achieved my goal. I know this story isn't for everyone. But it might be for you. You never know! You can find the first one here.

THANK YOU, thank you, thank you... Readers, you keep me going!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

C.J.'s Top 10 Movies Countdown (#7)

I thought it'd be fun to share my top 10 favorite movies with you. These are the shows that I have to watch at least once a year or I'd go into withdrawal. So in no particular order, here is #7:




 If you missed #8, here it is.

*****

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Some Monday Nonsense - Laser Cats!


How do you like my new T-shirt? Pretty awesome, isn't it?

It's a **LASER CAT!** What? You don't know what the heck I'm talking about?

Well! You must watch the Laser Cats The Musical digital short from Saturday Night Live then! It stars Tom Hanks and Sir Elton John in probably their finest television roles. They might even deserve an EMMY for this one.

Have a super Monday, my friends!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

C.J.'s Top 10 Movies Countdown (#8)

I thought it'd be fun to share my top 10 favorite movies with you. These are the shows that I have to watch at least once a year or I'd go into withdrawal. So in no particular order, here is #8:





 If you missed #9, here it is.

 *****

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Some Amazing World Photos

I have to take a moment to brag on my long-time friend and (now retired) college professor Randy Pruitt. He taught me everything I know about news and editorial writing - I give the credit to him for my winning several writing awards back in college. He also introduced me to the author Kurt Vonnegut, who ended up being one of my favorite writers of all time.

In addition to being a writer and a teacher, Randy is also a photographer. He and his wife recently traveled to Europe, and he's added some stunning new photos to his portfolio. Please visit his Flickr page, if you'd like to view his recent and some of his older photography. You can click -->here<-- to be amazed. (If you're curious about the scooter, it's his. He drives it around.)


Thursday, June 6, 2013

C.J.'s Top 10 Movies Countdown (#9)

I thought it'd be fun to share my top 10 favorite movies with you. These are the shows that I have to watch at least once a year or I'd go into withdrawal. So in no particular order, here is #9:








If you missed it, here's #10.

*****

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

'Vengeful Bounty' a Staff Pick :)

Some of you may have read Vengeful Bounty, my futuristic bounty hunter tale that I wrote/published using the name Jillian Kidd. Well, I got the news today from an editor of mine at Untreed Reads Publishing that DriveThruFiction.com has VB up right now on its homepage in the "Staff Favorites" section! That's a pretty nice compliment, eh?? Those of you who are curious about this story (which has a strong, independent redheaded bounty hunter as the heroine and narrator), you can get it in multiple ebook formats:


Check it out!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

C.J.'s Top 10 Movies Countdown (#10)

I thought it'd be fun to share my top 10 favorite movies with you. These are the shows that I have to watch at least once a year or I'd go into withdrawal. So in no particular order, here is #10.







*****

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Why I've Sponsored a Child for the Last Three Years (And Why I Will Continue)

All my life, growing up, I wanted to be able to sponsor a child. Back in 2010, I was finally financially able to do it. I chose to go through the organization Children International. They even let you pick the age/gender/location of the child you sponsor. I chose a 5-year-old boy from Zambia (a country in Africa).

This first child ended up going missing (they didn't give me details, only that this happens sometimes in such a fragile economy). I only sponsored him for a few months. But then they gave me another child in replacement, who is the child I'm sponsoring now. He's also around the same age, and he's from Zambia. His father is deceased, so his mom has to support him and his siblings on something like $30 a month. I chip in some of my money every month so that the child has a chance to go to school and be get some extra medical care.

The program encourages contact between the people who donate and their sponsored children. Some people don't do this, but I really enjoy it. I've written a several letters to my kid and his mother. His mom has been very sweet to correspond with me, as she knows a little English. So far, my child's been too young to write me, but he does color pictures like this one!




One thing I like about Children International is they send reports on any special gift donations (additional to the set monthly donation). In other words, they let you know what exactly your special Christmas/Birthday/Etc. gift bought for your child.




Also something that's really cool is the newsletters about the region your sponsored child lives. This program really does a lot to take you into the lives of the children you sponsor. I've learned a lot about Zambia just via the little pamphlets and updates they send me. I'd really love to go there someday and meet my kid and his mother and experience life in his world.




So why do I send my money to a complete stranger halfway across the globe? Because I can. Because if I were in that child's position (or his mother's), I would hope some kind person who had enough money would spare a little to better my quality of life. I believe we should treat others as we wish to be treated. This is just a small way in which I can live that philosophy. 

Plus, when we switch to the mind-frame of Giving, it has this uncanny ability to lift our own spirits in the process.

Here's the link again to Children International if you want to check it out and think about sponsoring a child, too. 

*****

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Five Fun Facts about BLADE OF THE DIVIDED

The response to my Five Fun Facts about 'Wings of the Divided' post was so good that I'm doing one for its sequel.



So here are five behind-the-scenes tidbits about BLADE for you to put in your trivia bank:


1) When I wrote one of the scenes in this book, it was Valentine's Day, and the sky was filled with clouds. I looked out my window, and all at once, it started snowing. I immediately became inspired and added snow to an otherwise snow-less part.

2) I got to pay homage to a number of different book/movie genres in BLADE with my various planets. For instance, Belac displays my love for Westerns, Eletin for Medieval Fantasies, and Seguai for gritty Sci-Fi.

3) The planet Belac is my brother Caleb's name spelled backwards.

4) My characters Mannie and Lonnie are loosely based on my Aunt Annie and Uncle Ronnie. I've always adored their very playful, long and successful marriage. Mannie and Annie both make an absolutely delicious chocolate pie.

5) Two of my angel characters in WINGS OF THE DIVIDED were originally supposed to die. One of my beta readers got so angry that I was planning to kill one of them that she insisted I keep him around for Book 2. I'm glad I did because he's ended up being a reader favorite (and honestly, I like him quite a bit, too). Another character I actually did kill off (much to readers' delight because he's one of those villains you love to hate)...but I enjoyed writing him so much that I brought him back for BLADE. He, ironically, ends up playing such an important role in Book 3 that I can't imagine the trilogy without him. Another success of the subconscious mind!

***

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

"This Light Between Us"



 "This Light Between Us"
Armin van Buuren Lyrics: 

Can you see this light between us
Keeps me breathing through the storm
My head above the crowd 
Can you see this light between us
So come a little bit closer now
Its in our eyes
 You and me, we're just believers
Believing what we hold
But sometimes we fall to pieces
In the dusk
 So we should dance like this forever
We're safer on the ground
When a million lights surround you
And you're moving to the sound
 Don't waste another moment
It's waiting for you now
So dive in this new beginning
Let the glowing show you how
 I will take, this light between us
Keeps me breathing through the storm
My head above the crowd 
Can you see this light between us
So come a little bit closer now
Its in our eyes
 We'll take a ride out side together
The streets are lined with gold
Where the good become the wanted not the soul
 Don't waste another moment
I'm waiting for you now
So dive in this new beginning
And let the color show you how
 I will take, this light between us
Keeps me breathing through the storm
My head above the crowd
 Can you see this light between us
So come a little bit closer now
Its in our eyes Its in our eyes
 So dive in this new beginning
And let the color show you how
 I will take, this light between us
Keeps me breathing through the storm
My head above the crowd
 Can you see this light between us
So come a little bit closer now
Its in our eyes
Its in our eyes
Its in our eyes

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Some Musical Childhood Inspiration: The Moody Blues

When I was a little girl, just old enough to sit up, my dad used to put me in front of his stereo system. He had vinyl records then instead of CDs or an ipod. The stereo was a huge set-up with speakers the size of columns (and fuzzy to touch) on both sides of the record player.

So he'd put me in front of this magical music box and put his massive headphones on my little head. The band I distinctly remember discovering at that ripe young age of about two was The Moody Blues. It was like going into another world.

I've always been curious, would I have liked The Moody Blues even if Dad hadn't given me this special, inspiring gift? Or would I have fallen under their spell no matter what point in my life I discovered them? I might never know. But here is a little taste of what came streaming through the headphones and into the budding creative mind of the little girl me... (By the way, I still love this band, and their music still takes me to other worlds and far off times.) Enjoy!





And there's plenty more were that came from. If you like them, just ask me, and I'll suggest some more of their masterpieces. Have a great day, readers ;)

*****

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Look What Just Came in the Mail...



It's the proof! The Divided Book 2 paperback proof! Kaiser is "going flat" in joy that it looks great!

You can get a copy now from the CreateSpace store, and it'll also be available on Amazon in a few days!