Ishness! February 2020

Hey! It’s March (somehow??) so I’m back with a post about the Ishness that went on in February!

WRITING

I did not write in February. That’s unusual for me, and I’m not gonna lie, it’s kind of getting me down. But I was coming out of NaNo + finishing a novella in December + January hiatus all in a row, so I’m a bit between projects and stuck.

I did write a billion blog posts though (okay, 13), and I did a lot of brainstorming/plotting on about a dozen different stories and ideas. So it wasn’t like I did nothing writing-related. Just no actual manuscript words. XD

  • I had exciting spinoff ideas and new plotting for my steampunk fairy tale series.
  • My otter flash fiction and mentor flash fiction collided and decided they’re in the same world — yay for a novel with a twist on fantasy tropes which I plan to write sometime!
  • I came this close to writing another Glassman, but it didn’t stick; I did make notes, though!
  • And I want to get back to Operation Foxtail (NaNo ’19) but need to do some plotting because I’m stuck.

So that’s where I’m at right now! Many ideas, not a lot of time or focus to do something about it. Maybe in March.

READING

Compared to January’s fifteen reads, I did not, seemingly, read as much. But some of these were a bit longer, and mostly delicious, so we’ll call it a win.

  • Cry of the Raven (Morgan L. Busse) // A new favorite! (My review.)
  • Lifelong Writing Habit (Chris Fox) // Some interesting tips.
  • Fairest Son (H.S.J. Williams) // Delightful novella! (My review.)
  • Green Dolphin Country (Elizabeth Goudge) // Absolutely fascinating!
  • This Year You Write Your Novel (Walter Mosley) // Eh. It was okay.
  • In the Region of the Summer Stars (Stephen R. Lawhead) // Aaahh! This was magnificent! Another favorite. I need the sequel ASAP.

I also did a smidge of editing and read some short stories/serials online, so those aren’t counted here.

‘Twas a good reading month! ๐Ÿ™‚

WATCHING

I watched sort of a random assortment of things this month? Mostly older movies I’d had on my to-watch list for awhile. And re-watching the first Captain America movie, which was fun! (I know the second one is pictured here; that’s the one I own. XD)

And I found the first seasons of Castle and Sue Thomas: F. B. Eye for a couple of dollars, which made me really happy, so I’m in the middle of those right now! (These Castle episodes are re-watches, and I’d seen some of Sue Thomas before but I don’t remember which episodes, so it’s fun discovering/rediscovering!)

I also got back to Once Upon a Time (a few episodes in season 3 — crazy Neverland stuff. XD), and saw a smidge of NCIS (7th season, I believe) and started the second season of Trollhunters. All fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

LISTENING

Continuing my attempt to get back into audiobooks, I’ve been listening to If Wishes Were Curses by Janeen Ippolito (which I started last year and then got distracted) and I’ve been enjoying it! I don’t read much urban fantasy, so it’s been different, but rather fun.

I’m hoping to finish it this week and start listening to the next in the series this month. I’m trying to listen to one audiobook per month this year (since I have about a dozen on my to-listen list right now), so I’m a bit behind, but hopefully I can finish up two this month!

I’m sure I must have listened to music but I’m drawing a blank. Probably Red and Tide Lines, since those are my go-to bands these days. ๐Ÿ˜›

BLOGGING

I’d been very remiss about blogging for . . . several months now. So I’m very pleased that I was able to post regularly on BOTH my blogs, all through the month of February! I had yearly wrapups and #FantasyMonth posts to share, and some reviews, so ’twas a fun month! Very happy with all the catching up I did.

Here’s a list for each blog, in case you missed any and want to check them out. ๐Ÿ™‚

This blog

The Page Dreamer

Reviews posted in February: (Click the GORGEOUS covers to read the reviews!)

LIFE

Blogging + tea. Tiny stone critters from a fair! Farris wheel + ponies also at said fair; no, I did not ride either of them. XD

Not too much exciting happened this month. Just life busyness.

My internet was out for half the month, which involved traveling to get good Wi-Fi quite a lot. I feel like between that and life happenings I was barely home. My Baggins-ish self was not pleased with that, but I survived. ๐Ÿ˜›

Confused Texas Spring weather ranged from 26 to 80 degrees at random intervals. XD Sometimes sunny, sometimes rain…

I had a fun photoshoot dressing up as Selene Ravenwood from Cry of the Raven. This pic turned out to be my most-liked photo on Instagram ever! :O

My Realm Makers costume had to come out again for this. ๐Ÿ˜‰

More Cry of the Raven pics

Other fun things:

  • Went to a little fair
  • Baking cookies with my sis
  • Visiting a cupcake shop and library
  • Bookshelf reorganizing
  • Chats with friends โค
  • Occasional walks if the weather’s nice
  • Bookmail
  • Instagram photography

Spring + tea + cookies

MARCH PLANS

Image by Kristen @ We Be Reading

I really want to get back to writing this month. All I’ve written this year (decade??) so far is Girls, Spies, and Other Things the Faeries Stole: Part 2. So here’s hoping I can get back to writing something or other!

Also! It’s #MarchMagics! Which is an event hosted by Kristin @ We Be Reading and is focused on celebrating the works of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett. As a super DWJ fan, I’m very excited and hope to do some reading, re-reading, and posting on these subjects. Also, I’m planning to share my DWJ book collection over on Instagram throughout the month, so follow me there if you’re interested! I’ll be posting about my March Magics plans on my book blog tomorrow!

It’s also my birthday month. And I know I have about 8736987491 things on my to-do list, so I’m sure I’ll be busy.

That’s it from me today! Thoughts? How was your February? Thanks for reading and I hope you have a lovely March!

Christopher Tolkien: A Tribute (#FantasyMonth)

It’s Fantasy Month, which seems a good time to talk about the most important fantasy tales in my life.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s works have enriched my life, but I also owe a great debt to his son, Christopher Tolkien; I was saddened to hear he passed on from this world earlier this year.

I love The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. They’re some of my favorite books of all time. But I lived in The Silmarillion.

And The Silmarillion, although it was not in the form J. R. R. Tolkien would have wished, would never have become the land of my youth were it not for Christopher Tolkien editing and publishing it and so many of his father’s other writings and drafts.

The Silmarillion wouldn’t have got far without Christopher. At least, not to us readers.

I breathed the air and walked the lands of Beleriand and Valinor and beyond, alongside the Elves and Men and other heroes. And it shaped me in many ways. I am incredibly grateful to Christopher for sharing these worlds with us.

Backing up slightly. It began with the forging of the great Rings . . . or rather, not unnaturally, it began when I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I remember listening to The Lord of the Rings for the first time, on audiobook, when I was ten years old (having readย The Hobbit sometime before), and I was enchanted.

Which is why, soon after, I got The Silmarillion, for Christmas I think, and so my further immersion in Tolkien’s rich world began. I read and re-read The Silmarillion (and the other books), and I was utterly captivated.

I had lived in and loved other fantasy before, includingย The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, and the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, and others. But here in the land of Arda (which means Earth and includes Middle-earth, Valinor/the Undying Lands, Beleriand, and other regions of The Silmarillion), I found a land which was to be my own for years, and still is — more my own than any others save those which I’ve discovered and written about in my own fiction (and books about old Ireland, I suppose).

I read theย Silmarillion stories again and again.

I pored over maps and knew every hill and river, forest, mountain, fortress, and their names — the city of Gondolin, Nargothrond, the Forest of Brethil, Ossiriand, Mithrim, Sirion the great river, the dread forest of Taur-nu-Fuin, Thangorodrim, Doriath . . . These were places I visited and loved (okay, maybe not the scarier places).

I studied genealogical charts of the heroes who inhabited these places, and drew my own.

I learned small smatterings of Elvish words and invented secret Elvish names I still carry with me to this day.

I learned to write Tengwar, the Elvish alphabet, and would scribble my name and poetry and random writing in it, both in simple pencil and in calligraphy — I learned to use calligraphy pens for this purpose. Tengwar was such fun! I had gone through a code-and-cipher obsession when I was a bit younger, even inventing a cipher alphabet of my own. So discovering Tengwar, which was like that but elegant and a part of this wonderful world I loved, was fantastic.

I had to pull out some of my old Tengwar and notes and books, just to share them in this post. It’s been awhile, but even looking at these again makes me happy.

And all of that aside from simply how the world and the writing and imagery, and the tales, and above all the characters, of The Silmarillion made their way into my inner soul and became mine. I always feel at home there.

I was friends with Finrod Felagund, Beren and Luthien, Beleg Strongbow, Fingolfin, and all the rest. (I even had the cheek to add Tinuviel, one of Luthien’s names, to my own rather-long sign-off penname in some letters I wrote at the time; a name which also included names of other heroines I admired from other fantasy works).

All of this went on for years and was a part of my childhood and teenage years.

Aside from The Silmarillion, I also started reading others of J. R. R. Tolkien’s works, published posthumously by Christopher Tolkien.

I started reading through Christopher Tolkien’s History of Middle-earth series (which I still need to finish), delighting in the old drafts and beginnings of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers . . . I had been writing for a little while myself, and so reading these beginnings and seeing the stories change and build, captivated me. It was fascinating to see earlier versions of my favorite books of all time, including learning about Aragorn’s earliest beginnings in the story as a mysterious Hobbit named Trotter!

And the unpublished Epilogue to The Lord of the Rings (found in Sauron Defeated or in The End of the Third Age) is fabulous and in my opinion makes the trilogy end less sadly. I wish it had been included in the original book.

I got those History of Middle-earth books about The Lord of the Rings for another Christmas, and it was shortly afterward (February) when I began putting dates on my own fiction writings, which at that time I wrote in notebooks and binders.

You see, a continued lamentation of Christopher Tolkien’s, as he carefully, painstakingly reconstructed the progression of his father’s stories, was that J. R. R. Tolkien rarely wrote dates on his writings. Christopher had often to rely on vague references in dated letters, or the fact that something was scribbled on the back of a term paper or something, or on changes to the text through various drafts with only one dated, etc.

It made me want to write down the date when I wrote my own drafts and plot notes, and so I did. Which is why I know the exact date (March 1, 2007) when I decided I was going to rewrite and finish the draft of my main story at the time, and that I was going to be a writer. Written on that printout which I was marking with a pencil at Barnes & Noble is the date and my own name written in Elvish Tengwar. Both of them because of J. R. R. and Christopher Tolkien.

I’m a very calendar- and date-obsessed person, and it very likely got its main beginnings with The Lord of the Rings andย The History of Middle-earth. I keep track of dates when I write. I love journals. I get really into calendars. I delight in knowing that on a certain day (March 1, for example, is Aragorn’s birthday), certain events in Lord of the Rings happened. I keep track of real-life anniversaries/important days in my life, and from history, too, and I love keeping track of the birthdays of friends and favorite authors. (I always celebrate J. R. R. Tolkien’s on January 3!)

And because I track my writing days, I know special days to celebrate, like the first time I finished writing a novel (August 31), the day I started this blog (September 9), the day I started writing Tare’s series (April 5) — which at the time I had no idea was anything like so important to me as it would become — and so on.

And all of this started probably because I used to read through the Tale of Years in the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings, full of delightful dates and years that I enjoyed puzzling out (ah, that’s exactly how much older that character is than the other character — ah, Faramir and Sam were born in the exact same year — ah, look how old that character is; it’s so delightful to know exactly! — ah, that’s the day when they left Rivendell, how smashing!), and because of Christopher Tolkien mentioning how difficult it was to track the progression of ideas in writings when they were not dated.

I own more books by J. R. R. Tolkien and about him and his writings than I do about any other author, and many of these were books which Christopher Tolkien carefully set out to share with us, for which I am eternally grateful.

While The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit would definitely have been a large part of my life and childhood and forming years, regardless, yet all the other books which Christopher edited and published — from The Silmarillion in 1977 to The Fall of Gondolin, his last, in 2018 (having completed his task to share the Great Tales, as far as they had come, with the world) — have formed an incredible part of my life. I’m so glad that he was able to share the wealth of his father’s work with us and his own contributions to it.

From the beginning, when J. R. R. Tolkien told The Hobbit to Christopher and his other children, as a bedtime story; through the chapters of The Lord of the Rings which he sent to Christopher, who was in the RAF in World War II; to Christopher drawing a version of the famous map of Middle-earth that we all know; and all through collecting and publishing so many hidden gems of his father’s writings, Christopher Tolkien has had nearly as large an impact on we who love Middle-earth and the other realms of this world, as J. R. R. Tolkien himself did.

Namรกriรซ, Christopher Reuel Tolkien.

The Tolkien legacy is a rich treasure to which you added immeasurably.

From myself, and those others who grew up breathing the air of The Silmarillion and walking its lands, you have my far-reaching and unfathomable thanks.

One day, perhaps, I’ll meet you in that far green country, on white shores, under a swift sunrise.

Fantastical Realms Blog Tag (#FantasyMonth)

I’m hopping on the February is Fantasy Month blog event (hosted by Jenelle Schmidt) with a tag! (Thanks for tagging me, Jenelle!) Feel free to join in on this tag yourself — you can find the original post here!

Onward to the adventure or questions or both!

The Rules

  • Thank the blogger who tagged you.
  • Include the graphic somewhere in your post.
  • Link back to this blog somewhere in your post.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Tag a few blogger friends โ€“ and let them know theyโ€™ve been tagged
  • Have fun!

The Questions

1. In a strange twist of fate, you are transported into a fantasy realm of your choice. The catch? You have also been transformed into your least favorite fantasy creature. Where are you, and what are you?

Fantasy realm of choice . . . probably Middle-earth, because yes. Least favorite fantasy creature? They have those? O_O Um . . . I guess anything serpent-like would be my least favorite, so I’m probably doomed to be a scary wyrm that some Elf will find and slay. XD

2. What fantasy creature do you wish featured in more stories? What is your favorite story that has that creature in it?

(Verrry old drawing I did)

Gryphons! They are definitely in a few but not nearly enough. I just love them! Favorite book with a gryphon is probably Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. I LOVE all the gryphons in there! They have so much personality. I particularly love Kit. ๐Ÿ˜€ Oh, and I love Gillian Bronte Adams’ Songkeeper series, which also has an awesome gryphon in it!

3. As you are reading this, a voice rings in your ear proclaiming:

A hero true, a leader strong,
A quest is where you do belong,
So arm thyself, and take your stand
With an item to your left your fate is at hand.

Besides the fact that this prophetic voice is clearly incapable of sticking to a meter, what ordinary item do you now find yourself armed with? (And, for bonus points, what helpful magical properties does it now possess that will help you on your quest?)

A large insulated travel mug full of tea. And the magical properties it has . . . well, clearly, it never runs out of tea, and always keeps it warm, and the resulting never-ending caffeine rush helps me power through my quest, although I probably end up jittery throughout the adventure because of that. XD

4. You happen across an ad in a catalogue promising a magical fantasy cruise that will allow you to stop in any three realms of your choice and explore each for several days before returning you home (and the ad promises your safe return or your money back, guaranteed!) Assuming this is not a hoax and that the tour guides will actually be able to cater to your requests, what three realms will you tour and what do you hope to see/who would you like to meet along the way?

*cracks knuckles*

Firstly, I’m going to Middle-earth, and this fantasy cruise clearly also has the ability to travel through time in the same place . . . so I get to see both Lord-of-the-Rings-times Middle-earth and also back in the Silmarillion times in Beleriand etc. Because . . . THE DREAM. I practically grew up in Beleriand and the other realms of The Silmarillion (I’d see Gondolin! and Menegroth! and Valinor while I’m at it! and everywhere!), and who wouldn’t want to visit Rivendell, Rohan, Ithilien, Lothlorien, the Shire, the Lonely Mountain, Minas Tirith, etc. I would definitely want to meet at least Faramir and Aragorn, and Finrod Felagund and Beleg Strongbow and Luthien Tinuviel, and SO MANY OTHERS.

Secondly, I’m going to Ingary to get to hang out in Howl’s moving castle, with Howl, Sophie, Calcifer, Michael, etc. We’re definitely going to have to have some cream cakes from Cesari’s, and I want to go through the door to each of the places it opens up to. (Bonus: I get to visit Wales. *cackles*)

Thirdly, and terribly selfishly . . . I want to visit the world where my own Steampunk fairy tale retelling works-in-progress take place. I’ve completely fallen in love with it and I can’t wait for the day when I can share this world with others. I love the skyships and the cities in the clouds, the lonely rock formation pillars and dangling walkways across misty ravines, the clockwork dragons and tea and clothing and fairy tale retellings. And I would definitely need to get to go to a ball at the palace where Princess Tasmania’s from, and meet her and her twin brothers Percival and Durward, and of course Auren, and sit on a rooftop at night with Rook on top of his flat over the spice shop (as long as there are no assassins), and sail the skies with Gerias and Noya and the Royal Sky Navy (avoiding the sky pirates, unless they’re charming Keller or clever Skalon), and stand on top of one of the rock pillars in the wind and watch the sun set and the stars come out.

*inhales*

Sorry. I got a little carried away. But those are the three worlds I want to visit. ^_^

5. Congratulations! You are a fantasy hero/heroine about to start your adventure. You get to choose a small fantasy creature to accompany and assist you on your quest. Who/what do you choose?

Talking otter secretary, hands-down. *grinning*

(I’m definitely planning to do more with little Gavin the otter, hopefully in a novel one of these days. :D)

Otters are just SO AWESOME AND ADORABLE and one who can be a secretary would be so helpful. Plus, he could fish for me, which has to be helpful. And hey, if he’s a more sentient otter, who can write, that probably counts as a fantasy creature, right?

6. Elves or dwarves?

Elves!

7. Do you prefer your dragons (we had to have at least one question devoted solely to dragons!) good or evil or a mix of both?

A mix of both. Classic evil dragons are . . . well . . . classic. And you can’t really do better for villains than a dragon. (Like Smaug or Glaurung.) But I do enjoy the ones who are on our heroes’ side — not to mention how helpful they are to have on your side! (Like Toothless!) And the ones who are a little more morally grey and initially hard to figure out which side they’re on are probable my favorite, in general. (Hello, Malcolm Blackfire.) I like all the dragons!

8. World building is a complicated undertaking full of many details. As a reader, what is a small detail you really appreciate seeing when it comes to diving into a new realm? What is something that helps you lose yourself in a fantasy world?

Smells are always a good touch and are helpful to bring in. But I think my favorite is when there are myths and stories WITHIN the story, which makes it have a further depth to it. It’s just so cool when characters can reference this myth or story and it effects their own. It can be hard to do well, because sometimes there’s too much of it, or else the reader just doesn’t care. But when it works, it’s brilliant. J. R. R. Tolkien, Joanna Ruth Meyer, and Jenelle Leanne Schmidt — for example — do excellent with this! So does Kyle Robert Shultz, though in that case it’s fairy tales harking back to fairy tales, but they’re always tweaked so it makes them feel real.

9. You have been transformed into your favorite fantasy creature. Problem isโ€ฆ youโ€™re still in your own bedroom and your family is downstairs, completely unprepared for this shock. What creature are you, and how (if at all) do you break the news to your loved ones? (Or how do you get out of your room?)

Oh dear. XD Well, I’m a gryphon, as implied earlier, so that’s cool! I probably wouldn’t break the news — they would probably just arrive in my room and find me sitting on my bed and barely fitting (because gryphons are large), trying to decide if I should try flying out the window or just keep reading. ๐Ÿ˜› I hope I could talk though, so that they wouldn’t think I’d been eaten. XD And I’d probably be freaking out (I would freak out if my hair turned a different color, let alone if I turned into a creature) buuut I like to think it would also be kind of cool? Especially to fly . . .

Tagging

I tag Sarah Pennington, Claire Banschbach, Lauri, and YOU if you are reading this and want to do it! (Absolutely no pressure. XD And apologies if you’ve already been tagged! I am behind on blogs and internet in general. XD)

Well. How was that? I hope you enjoyed my answers! Thanks so much for reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

2019 Highlights!

Even though it’s February, I thought it would be fun to do a sort of mini Ishness, recapping the most exciting things of 2019, since I haven’t been very consistent about doing Ishnesses. XD

But I don’t want it to be super long, so this will be mostly in list form! (And will also include some long-overdue thoughts and pictures from Realm Makers 2019 at the end!)

Because everyone loves lists, and pictures, and highlights, right? Right. Let’s get to it!

Some of the things I wrote, watched, listened to, and did during 2019…

WRITING

In 2019, I:

  • Wrote 102,585 words
  • Finished writing KW2 (The Secret of Kedran’s Wood)
  • Wrote an entire novella: KW2.5 (Double Lives at Kedran’s Wood)
  • Got halfway into Operation Foxtail (codename for . . . something else. >.>)
  • Completed Camp NaNo in April
  • Won my 10th November NaNo — a decade of NaNoWriMos!
  • Went to Realm Makers 2019!
  • Hit one million words since I started tracking my words
  • Completed my tenth yearly writing journal

I also wrote three short stories, all of which can be read online:

READING

I read 140 things in 2019, according to Goodreads, which you can check out here. My own spreadsheet says 175 things, but anyway. XD I hesitate to say “books” instead of “things” since many of these were short — short stories, novellas, picture books, etc. About 20,000 pages read, which seems to be usual for me.

I just shared my Top 15 (ish) Favorite Reads of 2019 post on my book blog yesterday, so check that out!

WATCHING

I saw my second-ever play! It was a college production of Peter and the Starcatcher and it was a lot of fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

I went to half a dozen movies in theaters, which is . . . rather a lot. o.o I had mixed feelings, depending on the movie, because I never totally love or totally hate everything about any single movie, but the experience is always so much fun, and I always find things to enjoy about a movie (or a book!). ๐Ÿ™‚

  • How to Train Your Dragon 3
  • Captain Marvel
  • Endgame
  • Tolkien
  • Frozen 2
  • The Rise of Skywalker

I saw a bunch of other movies too, and some of my favorites were:

  • The Secret World of Arietty
  • The Incredibles & The Incredibles 2
  • Christopher Robin

I’ve also been enjoying old seasons of NCIS, and early in the year I binge-watched the first 4 seasons of Merlin, which was a lot of fun! (And select bits of season 5, avoiding sadness. XD)

MUSIC

This year I discovered (or re-discovered and became a super fan):

Favorite Songs From Them:

Other Favorite Songs:

AUDIOBOOKS

BLOGGING

INSTAGRAM

2019 was my first full year of Bookstagram, and I absolutely loved it!

  • 262 posts
  • Hit 500 followers
  • Successfully posted every day for five straight months (aside from skipping one week for Realm Makers) which I was kind of proud of. XD

My top 9 most popular Instagram photos of 2019

EDITING BUSINESS

So, I don’t talk about it super often, but I do freelance copyediting/proofreading. It’s kept me busy, and I’ve been loving it. ๐Ÿ™‚

This last year, I edited (or beta-read, in a few cases) five and a half novels, seven novellas, twenty-some short stories, and two works of non-fiction, for a total of about 700K words. (Not counting reading some of them three or more times.) Y’all, I know some super talented authors. ๐Ÿ˜‰

LIFE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Went to Realm Makers 2019! (More about that in a minute.)
  • Went to a couple of book events and got to meet various authors including Terry Brooks (at Realm Makers) and Douglas Gresham
  • Saw Casting Crowns in concert!
  • Was ML (municipal liaison) for my local NaNoWriMo region for the 7th time
  • Various meetups with authors, writers, and friends (ALWAYS a highlight! I may be an introvert but hanging out with friends who I know well is the best!), and going to a few writing events/write-ins/workshops

CRAFTING

Usually my creativity comes out in writing and not much else, but this last year I enjoyed branching out a little with other artsy things. I think I should do this more often.

  • Two pairs of fingerless gloves (one pair for my costume and one for a friend)
  • Some art quotes for Christmas presents
  • A gingerbread house

REALM MAKERS 2019

Books!

Okay, I know I never did an actual recap post for my 2019 conference experience, for which I apologize. I was worn out afterward, and just never did get around to sorting through all my photos and trying to craft a post about it. I was kind of discouraged about some of the business/industry/publishing side of things, which also made it hard to write about.

Otherwise it was absolutely hands-down my most highlight-ish highlight (shh, I promise I’m a writer) of 2019! Getting to see SO MANY of my dear writer friends, some of whom I’ve only known on the internet (even from as far away as Canada!), and meeting and hanging out with amazing authors (including Jill Williamson and Terry Brooks) and being surrounded by books . . . It was a dream and was even better than the first time in many ways!

While the industry side of it may have been discouraging, I was SO encouraged, on a personal level, by the writers, authors, and friends who I had the privilege and joy to talk with. I’d even go so far as to say that the success of my NaNo was due in part to encouraging conversations I had there. And just the life and atmosphere and joy of being surrounded by authors and books and friends, all of which “got me” is unparalleled. Plus, it was just fun. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m not going to do an entire recap here, but I will share a few pictures, which are long overdue, and seem fitting in this highlights post, since Realm Makers was the brightest star in the sky of my year!

(I’m not heading back this year, sadly, but two years of getting to go has been an absolute dream!)

This looked so cool

In a class at Realm Makers

Wayne Thomas Batson taught about balancing life and writing. His was my favorite class! Helpful, but also funny!

I also loved C.J. Redwine’s class about fairy tale retellings

I cosplayed as Lady Selene from Mark of the Raven by Morgan Busse — and so did the author! Dreamwalker twins. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We’d be here all day if I shared all the AMAZING costumes at the costume banquet, and all of the amazing friends and authors I got to hang out with! (Which is one of the reasons I never got around to posting a whole recap. What if I leave someone out??) But I have to post this one, because it’s Christine Smith, my “Lauri,” who is an amazing writer and also keeps me on track with my own writing — and she’s dressed as Kuzko from The Emperor’s New Groove! XD Partners in uncrime forever!

I got to have lunch with three members of the Phoenix Fiction Writers: Hannah Heath, K. L. + Pierce, and Beth Wangler! Here we’re admiring the gorgeous copies of a book which had just arrived, by another PFW member (E.B. Dawson)!

Hanging out in the lobby at the hotel

Roadtrip! Traveling to and from Realm Makers with fantasy authors Claire Banschbach and Kendra E. Ardnek was a blast — and sometimes I got to sit with the pretty Oath of the Outcast things! Also, note all the buttons on my bag. XD

How gorgeous is this hotel??

I adore the clock tower. I want to live in it.

Overall, an amazing event, my second Realm Makers!


*awards cupcakes to anyone who made it this far* Thanks so much for reading!

Ren: The Girl With the Mark – Season 2 Kickstarter! #FantasyMonth

Hey, friends!

As some of you may know, it’s February #FantasyMonth, and what better time than now to share about one of my favorite fantasy shows?

Namely Ren: The Girl With the Mark, an Indie-made show which can be viewed for free online on YouTube (or on Amazon Prime)!

I feel like there aren’t enough fantasy shows out there, and I absolutely loved this amazing production from Mythica Entertainment — all the more so because it’s short (the first season features five 10-minute episodes) and because it’s an independent production, which just makes it more awesome!

I adore the characters (Karn and Hunter, y’all!), the fantasy world setting which looks so cool (filmed in the UK!), the music (I bought the soundtrack and listen to it all the time!), and of course the excitement and accents and the fact that it’s made by the people who did the Lord of the Rings fan film Born of Hope!

(Check out my post Ten Reasons Why Ren the Series is Awesome if you need more reasons to watch it, because honestly, what are you waiting for? You need it in your life!)


Well, I’m SUPER EXCITED to get to share about the Kickstarter that just launched to provide crowdfunding for new episodes of Ren, so that we fans will hopefully finally get a second season! I’ve been wanting more ever since that epic cliffhanger at the end of the first season, and now it’s up to us fans to help get more of the story onto the screen.

Do check it out! Watch the first season if you haven’t yet (it’s less than an hour in total!), and consider supporting the Kickstarter if you can! (It runs through February 29 and new episodes only happen if it gets fully funded.)

Here is more about it from a recent press release:


Produced and filmed in Cambridgeshire, UK, Ren is a short-form fantasy-adventure series about a young woman marked by an ancient spirit. Itโ€™s the brainchild of Kate Madison, also known for her phenomenally popular Lord of the Rings fan film Born of Hope.

Like Season One, the new episodes will be funded by the general public through the popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. With this system the filmmakers set the target they need to fund their series, then fans pledge their support, and the money only changes hands if the target is hit by the deadline, in this case February 29th.

โ€œCrowdfunding is great because it cuts out the gatekeepers,โ€ Madison explains. โ€œOur loyal community of fans made Season One such a rewarding experience, and through Kickstarter they have the chance to say, โ€˜Yes, I want this show to be renewed!โ€™โ€

You can find out more about Ren: The Girl with the Mark and support the show by visiting kickstarter.com/projects/mythica/ren2


Also, fantasy fans, be sure to check out the fifth annual February is Fantasy Month, hosted by Jenelle Schmidt, to celebrate all things fantasy, as well as a blog tag, Instagram challenge, and giveaway! (I’m hoping to return with more posts throughout the month.)


Who’s excited about hopefully a new season of Ren? ๐Ÿ˜€ *fangirling*