Winners!

Hello, my Roadlings!

I’m just here today to let you know that the Silmaril Awards voting has ended and the winners have been chosen — who those winners are remains to be seen and Presentations begin TODAY, running through September 28 — and to announce the winners of my 5-year blogiversary giveaway!

Silmaril Awards 2018 Ceremonies Schedule

Visit all the blogs over the course of the next several days (I’ll try to update the links as they go live, and I’m sure you can check out the official website as well) to find out who the ten winners of the 2018 Silmaril Awards are! EEP! I’m so excited to find out myself. ^_^

And be sure to come back here next Monday (Sept 24) to find out who has been deemed Wisest Counselor! Be sure to show up for the awards ceremony, and don’t be late, because a wizard is never late, and a certain wizard is present this one, so he might not approve of lateness in others! πŸ˜‰

Also, there are a couple of other cool Tolkien-related parties going on this week online, and Jenelle recapped them in her post, so check those out! πŸ™‚

Giveaway Winners

I’m excited to announce the winners of the epic giveaway I held last week to celebrate my 5 year blogiversary! Thanks for entering, everyone! ❀

The names have been selected by random draw out of my viking helmet (yes, this was a thing)!

The winners of the five books (from me) and the two sets of Electrical Menagerie cards (courtesy of Mollie Reeder) are . . .

*drumroll*

  • The Electrical Menagerie (+ character cards) — Elizabeth Koetsier
  • Magician’s Ward — Arielle
  • Conrad’s Fate — Faith (Florid Sword)
  • The End of the Third Age — Rayleigh Gray
  • If You Want To Write — Donna Darling
  • second set of character cards — Skye Hoffert

Congrats, guys! I just contacted you by email to get your information (so be on the lookout for that, and if you see this and haven’t heard from me, let me know if you didn’t get the email), and I will get your prizes shipped out ASAP! πŸ™‚

Thanks so much to everyone who celebrated my blogiversary with me! You’re all awesome and I wish I could give you ALL something. ❀

But giveaways are super fun, so hopefully I’ll do some more in the future! πŸ˜‰

Also, don’t forget that The Electrical Menagerie ebook is only 99 cents until next Monday, so if you didn’t win the paperback, you can still pick up your very own copy! (I highly recommend it. ;))


Thanks, everyone! You’re the best! ^_^

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5 Year BLOGIVERSARY + Giveaway!

Hi everyone! Guess what’s special about today? πŸ˜‰ (Okay, okay, the title may have given that away. *cough*)

It’s my 5 Year Blogiversary! πŸ˜€

Yes, you heard that correctly.

On this day, half a decade ago, I posted my very first post on this blog!

It’s been a long, exciting journey, and I just started another shiny website too (as well as having a book blog I’ve been enjoying for a few years) — but this is where it all began, and it’s still the heart of my online presence as a writer, and… well… a human. πŸ˜‰

So I’m celebrating with a giveaway (Hobbit-birthdays and all that sort of thing, so read on for that) and general merriment and partying.

*passes out virtual cupcakes and tosses confetti on everyone*

The Stats

  • 5 years
  • 293 posts (as of this one!)
  • 590 followers (plus social media = 1,091 followers, hence the number on the side. ;))
  • 6,700 comments
  • 16,298 visitors
  • 45,789 views

Top Commenters

Commenters are my favorite — this means you! Also, special shoutout to my top commenters of late. You guys are amazing! THANK YOU! (Everyone, check out their amazing blogs! ^_^)

My top 10 most popular posts this year

Thank You

I just want to say thank you.

Thanks to all my lovely readers, followers, and commenters! You make this blogging thing worthwhile. πŸ™‚ It’s been such a joy taking this road with you all. Thank you for joining me in the journey. ❀

*GROUP HUG*

Blogiversary Giveaway

Okay, here’s the part you’re REALLY here for! πŸ˜‰

There are 5 (ish) prizes — because 5 years — and they are (surprise, surprise!) books!

I love sharing books with people, and I also frequent library sales and collect beloved books. So I’ve decided to share a few of my favorites with y’all! ^_^

But just a second, because I’m going to tell you all about one of the awesome prizes. πŸ˜€

Stellar September

I’m extremely excited to be showcasing The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder today!

I won an ebook ARC copy of this book, and loved it so much that I raved about it in a review, got a paperback copy when I got to meet the author at Realm Makers (!!!), and just ordered a second paperback copy just so I could give it away on my blogiversary post today. πŸ™‚

Mollie was also awesome and donated two sets of gorgeous character cards, of the delightful characters from The Electrical Menagerie, for me to share with y’all! (Visit the artist on Instagram.) One set I’m giving away with the paperback (US), and one set I’m offering as an International prize, because I love you peeps too! ❀

But wait, there’s even more delightful news! πŸ˜€

The Electrical Menagerie got a starred review on Publisher’s Weekly yesterday! :O I’m SO excited for Mollie, and so proud of her and this splendiferous book (and its characters. ;))! I just love it so much, and I hope more people will discover it. ^_^

If you’re curious to read it, now is a fantastic time to try it out, becauseΒ the ebook is only 99 cents on Amazon right now, for a promotion Mollie is calling Stellar September. And is it ever stellar! πŸ˜€ So go get yourself a copy! ❀

And, of course, enter to win a paperback copy of this (and other books) below. πŸ˜‰

You can learn more about The Electrical Menagerie, Mollie, and the characters, and sign up for Mollie’s newsletter for a free novelette about Huxley (it’s hilarious, FYI!), at thecelestialisles.com or writeratops.com!

The Giveaway Prizes

  1. The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder (paperback) — Steampunk (ish). The rest of these books I got at library sales, but this one I ordered. It’s a recent release, which I may have flailed about a lot. πŸ˜‰ And since I’m writing steampunk right now, and love humor and dynamic characters, it seemed to fit the theme of my giveaway. πŸ™‚ Let me just tell you that if you love The Greatest Showman, or steampunk, or dynamic duo friendships, or humor/snark, or magical worlds (floating islands with sky-trains run by stardust!), you simply have to try this book out! ❀ Included with this book is a set of the 4 lovely character cards!
  2. Magician’s Ward by Patricia C. Wrede (paperback) — Regency Fantasy. You can read my full review here, but this is a fascinating and fun story set in an alternate Regency London, about the fabulous magician (and eligible bachelor) Mairelon the Magician, and his ward, Kit, who is a street-thief-turned-Regency-lady. And yes, this is as fabulous as it sounds. XD It’s technically the second book in a duology, but I read it as a standalone and understood it just fine. (I’ve since read the first book, and enjoyed it, but not as much as I loved this one.) This is an ex-library paperback and is slightly worn — apologies! — but the story inside is lovely. πŸ˜‰
  3. Conrad’s Fate (Chrestomanci Series) by Diana Wynne Jones (hardcover) — Fantasy. You know this had to be on here, because of COURSE I have to give away a DWJ book. πŸ˜‰ Even if you haven’t read any of the Chrestomanci books before, you can start with this one (as it’s sort of a prequel). It’s a lot of fun, and features a teenage Chrestomanci/Christopher Chant, which was AWESOME. It’s also a buddy story, from the point of view of the “servants” at an older, fancy, British-like house, with magical shenanigans and humor. I love it. πŸ˜€
  4. The End of the Third Age by J.R.R. Tolkien (paperback) — This is the tail-end of a series of books featuring some of Tolkien’s older drafts of The Lord of the Rings (edited by his son Christopher Tolkien). But the reason I’m giving away this one is that it has the UNPUBLISHED epilogue of The Lord of the Rings, which never made it into the final version, but which I strongly believed SHOULD HAVE. It’s about Sam and his kids after the end, and makes the end of LOTR not sad, say I — it ends on a better note. There are two versions of the epilogue, both collected in this volume, and even if you don’t read the rest of the book, you HAVE to read them. And I want to make it possible for some LOTR fan to read it, so I’m giving away a copy. πŸ™‚ (Plus, what with the Silmaril Awards going on right now — don’t forget to vote for your favorite characters this week!! — this feels like an appropriate thing to give away. ;))
  5. If You Want To Write: A Book About Art, Independence, and Spirit by Brenda Ueland (paperback) — Nonfiction. This is one of my favorite books on writing. I wrote a whole post about it once, which you can check out to see if it’s the sort of book you would like. And since this is “The Road of a Writer” and I know many of you are writers, it seemed fitting. πŸ™‚
  6. Another set of Electrical Menagerie character cards (INTERNATIONAL) — Because, as I mentioned, Mollie kindly sent along two sets, and I wanted something for any of my lovely non-American readers who would like to enter a giveaway. (Huxley makes a great bookmark. I’m just sayin’. ;))

Giveaway details

  • You must be subscribed to my newsletter, or if you haven’t, your email address will be added to my newsletter, from which you can unsubscribe any time. (But I like to think that the sort of people who enjoy the sorts of books I’m giving away above, will be the sort to enjoy my newsletter. ;))
  • This giveaway is open from September 11 – 15, 2018
  • The books are US entries only (sorry! Because shipping) but the second set of character cards are just for international entries! πŸ™‚
  • There will be 6 winners
  • Winners will be chosen by random draw. The winners be contacted by email, and posted here on or after September 17

You can subscribe to my newsletter here. πŸ™‚

Enter the giveaway in the form below, or, if it’s not working for you, click here!

Giveaway Form

That’s it!

P.S. If you want to follow me on Instagram, I’m hoping to post a different fun picture there each day this week during the giveaway to showcase each of the books, so… there’s that. πŸ˜‰

Whew! I think that’s all the fun I have for you guys today. πŸ™‚ (Special thanks to Mollie for providing the character trading cards for the giveaway!)

Do you want to read The Electrical Menagerie? And which of these books would you most love to win? πŸ˜€ Thanks for joining me in my blogoversary as I celebrate 5 years of blogging! You’re all awesome! ❀

Realm Makers 2018 Wrapup + The Greatest Showman

It’s here at last! The epic wrapup of my 2018 Realm Makers conference experience.

I was thinking of doing a day-by-day recap, but honestly everything blurred together into a whirlwind of amazing, and I don’t remember all the things that happened or necessarily when they happened . . . so I’m just going to break this up into highlights and segments. πŸ™‚

And throw pictures around all over the place. XD (I took SO many, but here is a taste.)

These are a few of my favorite things . . .

The People

My favorite memories from Realm Makers are undoubtedly meeting friends old and new. It was INCREDIBLE to meet so many people I’ve known online, so many authors, and new kindred spirits as well.

Some of my favorite memories…

Exploring the clocktower with some favorite people (Spoiler alert: the stairs didn’t go all the way to the top. XD)

Having chats with my awesome roomies, Claire Banschbach, Tracey Dyck, and E. Kaiser Writes.

Staying up past midnight in the big room after everyone else had gone to bed, chatting in a big fun circle with Gillian Adams, Mollie Reeder, Tracey Dyck, Claire Banschbach, Emily Hayse, Kyle Robert Shultz, and Andy Sheehan (Captain America) — we talked about Marvel and Brandon Sanderson and it was just one of the BEST times.

Going out for pizza with some of my fellow Silmaril Awards bloggers! (Speaking of which… it’s coming soon! Like, September-soon!) I finally got to meet Madeline J. Rose, Tracey Dyck, Jenelle Schmidt, Kyle Robert Shultz, and Savannah Grace!

H.L. Burke and her awesome laptop bag — she was one of the first people I met, since I had to bring her a pineapple. πŸ˜‰

Bringing a pineapple for H.L. Burke (long story, but she said she’d trade books for pineapples, because Psych. Of course I had to take her up on that. ;)), MEETING her finally (and Theodore the dragon), and having lunch with her and my roadtrip buddies.

Running into people I didn’t know would be there, like Jacob Parker (author of the AWESOME Kestrel’s Midnight Song), who I’d met before and had fun reconnecting with; and Emily Hayse (author of the new release Crowning Heaven which I’m looking forward to trying).

Getting to reconnect with author friends I’d met before, like my dear blogger friend Christine Smith/Lauri (I had the best time hanging out!) Jamie Foley (who is awesome), Lisa Godfrees, E. Kaiser Writes, Claire Banschbach, Kendra E. Ardnek, Robert Treskillard, and Jacob Parker. Lovely to see old friends again!

Meeting my blogging buddy Jenelle Schmidt, FINALLY, which was amazing, and a new friend Liz Koetsier, and making sure the two of them met each other to talk about Timothy Zahn and the Star Wars EU. XD

Takeout lunch in a gorgeous courtyard with friends! One of my favorite memories.

Having takeout in a big white courtyard with Jaye L. Knight, Tricia Mingerink, Ashley Townsend, Savannah Grace, Bethany Jennings, Christine Smith, and several other people further down the table who I couldn’t hear (heheh) but it was so much fun!

Chatting with Lindsay Franklin about endorsements, telling her how I read The Story Peddler because of Tracey Dyck meeting her at Realm Makers LAST year (Tracey mentioned her and the book to me and I knew I needed it when it came out!) and fangirling with Lindsay over Mollie Reeder’s The Electrical Menagerie. XD

Speaking of which — MEETING Mollie Reeder, who is as much fun as one would expect the author of Carthage and Huxley would be, and Gillian Bronte Adams (after all this time! I’ve been a fan of her and her writing since beta-reading a couple of early chapters of Orphan’s Song way back like six years ago!). *waves at fellow Texans* ❀

Meeting Ashley Townsend and connecting over her books and how much I love them, my tree necklace (the yew!), and wearing the unicorn-pegasus-kitten socks I won from her years ago when I was one of her early fans. XD

Speaking of being a fan, meeting Hope Ann and fangirling over her snarky character Verus. πŸ˜€

Just before going over and hanging out with friends after the closing keynote speech.

Going to Starbucks with a whole lovely group of gals and trading business cards and chatting.

At the costume banquet, meeting Allen Arnold who was talking with Jenelle Schmidt (who sat next to me). I didn’t realize who he was for some reason, but I got to meet him and he asked a little about my writing, and during his talk with Jenelle, which I heard some of, I finally figured out he was Stephen Lawhead’s editor! :O He was talking about editing the Bright Empires books, which are only some of my FAVORITE books EVER. ❀ I had no idea, but it was so amazing!

Meeting Mary Weber a few times, who is THE NICEST HUMAN, and always makes you feel like you matter as a person, and like she knows all about you, and is just so friendly. Telling her about how I found an ARC of The Evaporation of Sofi Snow at a thrift store two weeks before Realm Makers, and having her sign that and my new copy of Siren Song, and joining her and everyone for tacos. ^_^

The Taco Train! A whole bunch of us formed a train with Mary Weber after her closing keynote, and went to the taco place, where we sat outside on the steps while we ate. It. was. awesome. So many friends in this picture!

Getting books that I brought signed by so many authors, including Nadine Brandes (can’t wait to read Fawkes!), Wayne Thomas Batson (I got to “ambush” him at the taco place with friends. XD), Sarah Delena White, Kyle Robert Shultz, Mary Weber, Gillian Bronte Adams, H.L. Burke, S.D. Grimm, Laurie Lucking, Janeen Ippolito, Jaye L. Knight (who’s so delightful), Robert Treskillard, and Serena Chase (who is one of the FIRST authors I reviewed for!).

I also got my notebook signed by Bryan Davis, Will Wight, and Catherine Jones Payne, which was really cool. πŸ˜€

All the authors whose books I bought and got signed. All the authors whose books I didn’t get, but wanted to!

Andrew Winch as the Big Bad(?) Wolf and S.D. Grimm as Little Red Riding Hood — their skit was so fun. XD

Scott and Becky Minor and all the Realm Makers staff being amazing — encouraging, faith-filled, and also full of fun and fantasticalness.

Hanging out in the lobby before leaving, the final day, with so many lovely friends. Sad to say goodbye, but SO MUCH FUN to hang out!

Lunch with some of my favorite blogger people! (Savannah, Mary, Tracey. I wish I had more pics like this of just PEOPLE. But forgetting to take pictures normally meant I was making memories instead, so that’s okay.)

Meeting blogger friends (Mary Liz, Blue, Katie Grace, etc.!), authors (Becky Metcalf, Bethany Jennings, H.A. Titus, Morgan Busse, and so many listed above), Fellowship of Fantasy bookclub members and authors (Heidi Burke, Cathrine Bonham, Kyle Robert Shultz, Pam Halter, Laura VAB, Laurie Lucking, Sarah Delena White, etc.), Goodreads friends (Sierra, Kira Thomas/Athelas), publishing industry people (Kirk DouPonce, Steve Laube, Amy Williams, Janeen Ippolito, Splickety people, etc.), and new friends (Jeneca, Audrey, Rosalie, and many others — including a girl I met during the nerf war who said she likes my blog and my steampunk story! Aww! Made my day. ^_^).

I want to list EVERY person I met at the event, but that would take a very long time, so just know that if I met you and you’re not listed, I love you too! πŸ˜‰ Everyone was AMAZING and super nice and just a joy to meet and talk with. ❀

Like I said, the people were my favorite thing about Realm Makers. πŸ™‚

Getting My Story Read Aloud

I mentioned it in this post, but my flash fiction short story, Mentor Problems, was a finalist at the Splickety Flash Critique and was read aloud in a room full of people and I still can’t believe it! Hearing something I wrote read aloud like that, picked as one of ten finalists, and having people laugh at the funny bits, was absolutely surreal. ^_^ So grateful to Splickety for the contest opportunity! (If you’d like to read it, you can do so by signing up for my newsletter.)

Book Festival

GUYS. There were so many books! It made me happy, especially since like 70% of the books were ones I knew about. I brought home a ton of new books to read! I also brought over 20 of my own books to be signed by authors who were there. That was INCREDIBLE, getting to meet these authors I love, and get books signed, and so many books I wanted to read, all in a room together. XD

Me dumping my overly-heavy bag on my bed in the hotel room the first time. Books! Swag! Fun!

Mollie Reeder and her epic table for her epic book! ❀

Characters from The Electrical Menagerie!! ❀

 

Jamie Foley’s table!

Somebody left a pineapple here… (Oh, and look, some books that I edited which are on a table at a BOOK FESTIVAL, being sold. Totally not freaking out here… O_O)

Slightly blurry, sorry. The Uncommon Universes table and the Crosshair Press table, with Mollie and Heidi being Mollie and Heidi

Kirk DouPonce, the guy who does all the gorgeous covers! :O

Sarah Delena White’s jewelry is as gorgeous as her books

I recognize some of these books…!

Jenelle Schmidt’s books! (I went to the costume banquet dressed as her character Princess Kamarie, so that miiight give you an idea of how much I love these books.) Also, pineapple!

One corner of a book room — with an awesome poster!

Common by Laurie Lucking! ❀

Realm Makers! Books! Oh frabjous day!

Had to get a picture of Steve Rzasa’s Star Wars laptop

Robert Treskillard signing his books for me. I met him BEFORE he was published, so it was awesome reconnecting and getting these signed. πŸ™‚ (Look at the awesome sword! He made that hilt! :O)

I met Theodore the Dragon! #celebritysighting

Sorting bookmarks and swag afterward

Books I got…

Some more books…

The book cart I used to haul books around and get them signed at the book festival! So glad I had it. It was kind of heavy. XD

The Thing Of Which We Do Not Speak

(A.k.a. the Nerf War which mayyy or may not have happened. ;))

It was awesome. XD I stayed until midnight-ish and then went to bed before it was over, but the parts I joined in on were a blast.

Emily Hayse and Mollie Reeder being dangerous and fabulous

Awards/Costume Banquet

My phone battery ran out before I could get pictures of EVERYONE at the banquet, which made me sad, but here are some. πŸ™‚

My dear fairies, Tracey Dyck as Cinder, and Christine Smith/Lauri as steampunk Alice in Wonderland!

Serena Chase as the Dread Pirate Roberts — and she’s the author of the epic pirate Cazien!

Steampunk dragon lady — H.L. Burke!

I had to get one with the dragon hood on, too!

TWO Jyn Ersos! (Good friends Claire Banschbach and Jenelle Schmidt)

Andy Sheehan as Captain America!

Mary Liz as Mary Poppins — how perfect is that? (Answer: in every way. XD)

Emily Hayse as Natasha Romanov and Jeneca Zody as Bucky Barnes! (I love it!)

The one and only Kyle Robert Shultz as Superman (I wonder if the S stands for Shultz?)

Shenanigans. πŸ˜› Ashley Townsend pretending to stab Wash from Firefly, with Serenity looking on. XD

Keynote speaker Mary Weber being fabulous

And Mary’s epic steampunk goggles!

Finalists for some of the awards!

Gorgeous homemade wings!

Bethany Jennings of #WIPjoy!

Tricia Mingerink as Rapunzel!

Robin Hood (*cough* Hope Ann) in action!

E. Kaiser Writes, my roomie, dressed as Bilbo with an awesome map apron! :O She wore an epic homemade costume every day and I wish I’d gotten pictures of all of them!

Kara Swanson

Ben Wolf

Gorgeous!!

Ashley Townsend, who wrote some awesome books I love — it was amazing meeting her!

Because I’m not going to go to a banquet and then not take a picture of the food. *cough*

Kira Thomas being amazing as Sairu from Goldstone Wood

Eilonwy!

Pam Halter, and Sarah Delena White being a magical faerie! ❀

Savannah Grace as Arwen! And Madeline J. Rose in epic steampunk attire!

Audrey Caylin as herself. XD (Or rather, how her characters see her. I love it!)

E. Kaiser Writes as the TARDIS! :O

Kendra E. Ardnek as her character Laura, with the Dragon Lady! πŸ˜‰

Jaye L. Knight had more than one costume! I loved this one too. πŸ™‚ Meeting her was amazing.

Even when not in costume, many people had awesome geeky shirts. I saw at least half a dozen people wearing Captain America shirts — including my roomie, Tracey Dyck. πŸ™‚

Speaking of geeky t-shirts… I love Jeneca’s. XD (“I relate to Steve Rogers because I too would start a Civil War to protect Bucky Barnes.”) Also, is that an Alice in Wonderland reference in the taco place??

Sessions

My favorite part about Realm Makers was undoubtedly the people, but since a lot of it was supposed to be about learning things… well… I did take away a lot of good information and enjoyed that too. πŸ˜‰

I took 30 pages of notes home in my notebook and just finished typing those up. I have a lot of information to chew on. XD

Some notable quotes/highlights (and I’m sorry if any of the quotes are a word or two off; this is how I wrote them)

Be confident. (From several people)

β€œStories do not go out of fashion.” β€” Will Wight

β€œYour book is not for everyone. But there is always someone who needs your book.” β€” Nadine Brandes

β€œBe brilliant all the way through.” β€” Steve Laube

β€œWhat if we acted like children created by the King of the Greatest Fairytale ever told?” β€” Mary Weber

β€œWhat do you have to lose?” β€” Mary Weber

Nadine Brandes using The Hobbit as a pitching example

Steve Laube

Will Wight’s continuing sessions were so delightful, informative, and fun

I didn’t hear all of the talk Bryan Davis gave but what I did hear I loved so much!

Panelists, including Lindsay Franklin

Mary Weber’s closing keynote speech, which was so inspiring

Appointments

I had very helpful one-on-one appointments with two fabulous mentors, Grace Bridges (from New Zealand!) and Catherine Jones Payne (with the blue hair!). I took a bunch of notes, and got a lot of good answers to some questions I’ve had.

I, sadly, did not feel like my current WIP was complete enough for any agent or editor appointments. Maybe next year I’ll have something ready to pitch… πŸ˜‰

Hotel

The setting itself was GORGEOUS. This charming little hotel and little shop street of restaurants. I hear they’re going to have the event here again next year, and there’s a reason. It was perfect!

A Gillian Bronte Adams in the wild!

Love this cozy corner of the lobby. (Serena Chase is there!)

The view out the back from the stairs. I took them to and from my room a LOT because the elevator was so old and slow. XD

Roadtrip With Friends!

Highlight moments

  • 10-hour roadtrip (each way) with Claire and Kendra on a fun, crazy, awesome roadtrip, complete with epic music, too much caffeine, and silly selfies
  • My roadtrip buddies getting me hooked on A Million Dreams and Rewrite the Stars and the fact that I’ve had them continually in my head for a month now
  • Crashing at Claire’s apartment and watching Psych and The Greatest Showman

6 am, about to leave Claire’s apartment and drive all day…

Roadtrip with Claire Banschbach and Kendra E. Ardnek!

Finally back in my own state!

How I Finally Saw The Greatest Showman

So… I finally saw The Greatest Showman. That super-hyped movie I’d been avoiding for ages because I don’t care for musicals and I get reeeally tired of hearing about things when they get this hyped. XD

I enjoyed it. It’s not my favorite thing, but overall I enjoyed it — it was a fun movie (especially to see with friends and popcorn) and that’s all it needs to be. πŸ™‚ And while musicals are still not my thing, I do really love a couple of the songs.

How does this relate to Realm Makers, you ask?

A lot, actually.

The beginning of the conference — that still, excited feeling while sitting in a room full of people and thinking “I’m actually at Realm Makers!”

The story behind this is that at Realm Makers, when it was the opening of the conference proper, we were all sitting and watching a screen with a slideshow of previous Realm Makers pictures and this song came on… It was A Million Dreams, but I (because I live under a rock; or, more likely, took refuge under one when bombarded with hype over this movie. XD) had never heard it before and didn’t know what it was FROM.

For all I knew, it could have been a themesong that somebody wrote for Realm Makers; how would I know??

Ahem.

But it was playing, and there was a bunch of applause/cheers and several people started singing along to it, and I didn’t catch all the words but the ones I did catch felt right for Realm Makers. (Now that I know them, I can quote, but at the time it was just a vague sense. XD)

“A world that’s waiting up for me
That I call my own”

“But it feels like home”

“They can say it all sounds crazy”

“We can live in a world that we design”

“Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake”

“There’s a house we can build
Every room inside is filled”

“…to make you smile
On a rainy day”

“I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
…for the world we’re gonna make”

— A Million Dreams (The Greatest Showman)

If that doesn’t sound like writers and Realm Makers, I don’t know what does.

If you’ve heard it, of course you know. (If you haven’t, you can give it a listen here; it’s really pretty and I guarantee it will get stuck in your head. XD)

ANYWAY. I didn’t know what it was but I liked it and then forgot about it until I heard it later.

(I also didn’t realize that Scott Minor’s costume was probably supposed to be from it until afterward, even though I remarked on its fabulousness a couple times.)

On the roadtrip home, it came on and I was like OH, THAT’S THAT SONG. AND IT’S FROM THE GREATEST SHOWMAN? WHAAAT.

So we listened to it again and I heard a few of the others aaand by that time I was addicted to A Million Dreams (and Rewrite the Stars), and anyway, I now associated A Million Dreams irrevocably with Realm Makers and a feeling of sitting in a room watching a slideshow with the event about to start and feeling “I’m. actually. at. Realm. Makers” — so, well, I guess there wasn’t any going back, was there? Even though I’d been DETERMINED not to like it. XD Eheh. πŸ˜›

So I ended up watching it; like I said, it’s not my FAVORITE movie, and I didn’t love all of it, but it was in general fun and I liked the heroes’ story, and those two songs particularly. It’s fun and that’s all a movie needs to be. πŸ˜€

And, of course, I had heard it was slightly similar to The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder, (WHICH I LOVED) so I mayyy have been positively influenced from that quarter too. XD (If you like The Greatest Showman and haven’t read The Electrical Menagerie, go do it. That’s all I’m sayin’. They’re different but have similarities and just… do it. That is all.)

Some Random Pictures

Delicious Tortellini Alfredo and an apple; yes, there were Snow White jokes about whether apples were poisoned or not. XD

I love the geeky decorations… XD

My business card, which I usually forgot to give people. XD It matches my new official website!

Packing to leave this fun time… A bittersweet moment, but I left with my heart so full. ❀

In Closing

So ended my Realm Makers 2018 experience, and all around, it was… what was it?

Fantastic… epic… amazing… a delight?

I’m a writer: I should have words for it. I don’t, really.

It was, overall, everything I could have dreamed of. I left with a sense of community and of a new appreciation for every single person out there — all of you, those I met there and who I’ve only met through this screen, and those I’ve yet to meet either way — who I feel that we’re kindred souls. We’re all walking the same road, and we’re all here to help each other along when we stumble.

I felt encouraged in my writing journey, and learned a lot, and there may not be much in this post about the writing aspect or how it influenced me, but that’s because I’m honestly still processing so much of this. Maybe I’ll write a follow-up post someday.

I have no idea if it will work out for me to return another year, but if I can… I’d go in a heartbeat.

If you didn’t get to go this year, that was me last year — hearing about all my friends’ amazing experiences, being happy for them, but also a little sad, thinking it would never happen; that I could never go.

Well, there’s a plan for all of us out there, a road that we’re going to have the ability to travel along if we’re meant to, even if it seems that that road has far too many roadblocks and mountains and possible sudden drops over waterfalls. But there’s a way, and if it’s on your road, I hope you’ll be able to make it to Realm Makers someday too. I didn’t think I could, but here I am, and I’m profoundly grateful and glad that I was able to go.

My nametag with aaall the genre stickers (okay, most), my tree pin, and the One Ring. πŸ˜›

It was the highlight of my year, and definitely one of the greatest memories of my life so far.

I met with friends, made connections, bonded with fellow fantasy hearts, learned, and was encouraged.

I walked away filled with . . . well, a million dreams.

Whoever you are, reading this, you have one too; and whatever it is, it’s there for a reason.

Think of what the world could be — the world we’re gonna make.

A million dreams is all it’s gonna take.

So let yours be one of that million.

I’m Back From Realm Makers! + Announcements/Updates!

Hey, friends!

I’m back and I have new shinies to share with you!

Including a website and new social medias and *whispers* the time my short story got read aloud at Realm Makers. (Whaaat??)

Ahem.

Backing up… I’m back from the Realm Makers writers conference! *collapses and curls up in a tapestry to sleep for a century or three* *crawls quickly out again because it’s far too hot to do anything of the kind*

Sneak-peek! (Full post coming soon; promise.)

I’ve hardly been home in the last month or so, let alone blogging (sorry, my neglected bloggy and readers!). But although I’m still trying to climb out from under the pile of Things That Need Doing, I’m back, so hurray!

I’m still sorting through Realm Makers pictures and typing up notes from the classes, and trying to get back into the swing of life again. (It’s… taking awhile. Being gone again shortly after getting back from my roadtrip didn’t help things, and then I went kayaking this weekend. So it’s been fun, but it’s nice to be home.)

I’m HOPING that I’ll be able to pull together some kind of Special Edition Ishness for a Realm Makers recap shortly and get that posted next week. Because I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

In the meantime, I wanted to say that I’m back, I had an AMAZING time, met so many author friends, and got so many books. XD (You can see my bookhaul over on my bookblog if you like!)

More details will be forthcoming! But I’ve kind of abandoned my poor little blog for a month and wanted to say hi to you lovely readers. πŸ™‚

I also have Announcements!

Remember back in the day, I had writing dreams/goals for this year? Well, I’m happy to announce that I’ve accomplished several of them! πŸ˜€

See, I wasn’t only busy with Realm Makers — I was also busy kind of polishing up my online writer presense, and it’s time to tell you aaall about that!

I have an Instagram!

*gasp* The shock! Okay, so I’ve had one for awhile but couldn’t post any pictures on it until I recently acquired a smartphone. XD

After getting back from Realm Makers, I’ve been having a blast putting together fun Bookstagram posts. πŸ˜› So if you’re at all interested, you can check out my profile here. πŸ™‚

I have a Facebook page!

Yes indeed, my very own writerly FB page, where I’m planning on sharing (hopefully) writing updates and occasional snippets, as well as… well… probably writerly stuff and my blogposts and maybe some bookish things. I haven’t totally decided. But it’s my new fun place to share stuff when it can’t quite fit on Twitter. XD (If you like, you may like it, and I will like love you for, like, forever. Yikes, that was way too many likes in one sentence. Somebody save me from myself.)

New Website

I have my very own official website, guys!! :O I’m so excited. I’ve only been working on this for MONTHS. *nervous laughter*

At the moment, I’m still keeping my two blogs separate, just linking back and forth to all the things — although someday I might change that and transfer these to my domain. For now though (because that’s scary *cough*) I’m using deborahocarroll.com for a central hub, sort of, which I can link to (instead of trying to decide which of my blogs to link to).

It’s also where I have Important Stuff all in one place, like social media links and About Me and my Reviewing and Editing Services (oh, yes, I’m a freelance copyeditor/proofreader; did you know? :P) and a smol page about my current WIPs and so on.

But I got it done and it looks nice (I think) and I’m SO HAPPY. ^_^

It’s also hosting my new…

Newsletter!

Yes, I actually have a newsletter now! *cue gasps from the astonished audience*

I haven’t done much with it yet but I finally set one up. As of next month, I’ll have been blogging for 5 years (FIVE! :O) and I’ve thought of a newsletter as kind of the next step… so I’m finally taking it!

We’ll see what said newsletters turn out to be like (definitely Deborah and fantasy and writing and book related, though! XD) but in the meantime if you’d like virtual otters/cupcakes and a short story and my eternal love and adoration, you can sign up for it if you’d like to at all. ^_^

I’m planning for it to eventually be my go-to way of reaching my most loyal fans about All The Things so… yeah. (I’ll still, obviously, be blogging as well, though!)

Wait, what was that about a short story, you ask?

Let me tell you about that… πŸ˜€

How My Flash Fiction Was Read Aloud at Realm Makers (and You Can Get It For Free)

At the very beginning of July, I saw a contest held by Splickety for fantasy flashfiction works of 300 words or less… and the winner would be published in the January edition, and that and nine other finalist stories would be chosen to be read aloud in a “flash critique” session at the Realm Makers conference.

So I wrote a little something, sent it in (my third time submitting to a real contest), and figured that was that.

Well it wasn’t.

The winning story was by a blogging friend (CONGRATS, KIRA!!), and my story was one of the 10 — actually the very first one — that was read aloud and critiqued by a panel of Splickety people. *collapses* I. was. so. excited. πŸ˜€

Andrew Winch, Will Wight, and Josh Smith, giving their critiques of the Splickety stories. (Photo credit to Ralene Burke, found here. I was far too gobsmacked to remember to take pictures.)

They said mostly nice things about it and it was read aloud in a room full of people (aaahh!) and everyone laughed at one of the funny parts and just — it was absolutely amazing. πŸ˜€

If you weren’t one of the people in the room listening to it, you can still read it if you’d like. πŸ˜‰ I decided that I’d make it available to my newsletter subscribers as my little opt-in reward thingamawhatsit (I know, such technical terms. *cough*).

Here’s info I wrote up about it if you want to know what it’s about:

Mentor Problems, a 300 word flash fiction story by Deborah O’Carroll, was one of ten finalist stories read aloud at Splickety Magazine’s flash-critique session at the Realm Makers 2018 writers conference. Do you like humor and fantasy tropes with a twist? Then you’ll love this bite-sized read!

So yeah! If you’d like to read it, you can get it by subscribing here! (And of course you’re welcome to unsubscribe at any time; nobody knows how full inboxes can get like I do. πŸ˜› Though of course I’d love it if you stick around!)

Wattpad and adorable new otter cover

I haven’t done a lot on my Wattpad, but I did put a few short stories I’ve had hither and yon on the interwebs over there, including the otter one with an adorable new cover I made. πŸ˜‰

Not sure what I’ll do there in the future, but there it is!

Cuteness. Because you need Gavin the otter secretary in your life.

Okay, I’m done now!

So I may also have tweaked some things around this blog and my book blog, in terms of pages/links/social media/etc., and on already-established social media like my Twitter, trying to get it all tied in together. It’s kind of exciting. ^_^

But that’s all I have to share today. I just had to show you the new shinies! I’m thinking of it as getting my authorial internet house in order, so I can focus on moving forward in whichever direction I end up going… which at the moment is going to look like lots of writing and an epic #RealmMakers2018 recap post hopefully next week! YAY!

So I will see you then! πŸ˜€

What do you think of my new shinies? Are you curious to read my flash fiction? (AAHH, I’m so excited!) And what have you been up to? I’ve missed you guys and can’t wait to chat in the comments! Thanks so much for bearing with me and reading my updates. You’re the best! ❀

The Return of the 777 Writing Challenge

I know I haven’t been posting much, and it’s because I’M SWAMPED GETTING READY FOR REALM MAKERS. *shrieking*

Ahem. (Really excited, though! :D)

If you’re going to be at the #RealmMakers2018 writers’ conference next week, I hope I’ll see you there!

Meantime, I’m stealing this writing tag from the awesome Claire Banschbach because I wanted an excuse to share some snippets. XD (And because it has paragraphs instead of merely lines — huzzah!)

Rules

  1. Open your WIP to the seventh page
  2. Scroll past the seventh line
  3. Copy the next seven paragraphs and paste them on your blog for THE WORLD to read
  4. Tag seven people

Let’s Do This Thing

I’m using my three current Works in Progress, because I’m contrary like that. πŸ˜‰

I’m sharing a bit from The Other Half of Everything, and also from two other WIPs… with a twist.

See, the part from The Siren and the Skyship that would normally be the 7th page is going to be rewritten, so instead, I’m counting from my writing-since-NaNo which is kind of part 2 of the book.

Similarly, since I shared a 777 snippet from The Secret of Kedran’s Wood already (and then again), I’m counting 7 pages into part 2 for that as well.

Enjoy these glimpses at Teague and Meridian, Rook and Xasper, and Tare and Adrian. πŸ™‚ (And please forgive any first-draft-ish-ness.)


The Other Half of Everything

He swiveled around. β€œOh, where are my manners? Of course,” he said.

I could have given him an answer to that, but I kept a lid on it, because potential job and everything.

He held out his hand and gave a rather absentminded smile. β€œThe name’s Teague. Teague Aurelius. A pleasure to meet you.”

β€œSame,” I said, shaking his hand. What? A girl can’t lie occasionally in the interests of being polite? Somebody certainly needed to be that around here.

β€œWhat was your name again?” Teague asked as he turned away and clambered up a ladder to reach a book on a shelf near the ceiling.

β€œMeridian Brownley,” I said crisply. I’d already told him twice. Politeness was suddenly overrated. I could see why it didn’t do anything for him.

β€œOvercompensating, were they?” he muttered on his way back down, a book under each arm, another tucked under his chin somehow, and a fourth open in one hand, which he seemed to be trying to read while using the other hand to help himself down the ladder. It flashed through my mind that his great-uncle might not be the only person around here to become deceased.


(Note: Xasper is a street urchin and Rook is in the Royal Skynavy. Rook recently discovered that Xasper is his long-lost little brother and tries to take him in — which Xasper has opinions about. This is the first time they have tea together in Rook’s flat.)

The Siren and the Skyship

Xasper was looking at him expectantly over the scone he was munching, as if waiting for him to say something.

β€œWhat?” Rook asked.

β€œI said, I’m surprised you didn’t make me wash my hands before eating these.”

Rook blinked. β€œWhy are you surprised at that?”

Xasper shrugged. β€œThought you’d be the rules-and-regs type.”

Eying the grubby fingers in question, Rook said carefully, β€œWhat you do with your hands is your business. Now that you mention it, I might suggest doing something about it, but I’m not going to shove a lot of orders down your throat if that’s what you’re wondering.”

Xasper watched him for another second, then put down the remains of the scone, hopped up quickly and crossed to the washstand where he cleaned his hands, then returned to the table. He pursed his lips and rubbed a smudge off the pastry before downing the rest of it in one gulp, and washing it down with tea.


The Secret of Kedran’s Wood

And Tare knew Adrianβ€”he would follow and try to get involved and β€œhelp” if he even suspected that Tare had anything as interesting going on as being chased by a gunman. He had to get him out of the way without telling him there was any danger, but make it clear that Adrian was not welcome to follow him around today and pester him with questions or whatever reason he had come looking for Tare. There was no time to explain.

As his thoughts calculated, humming swiftly through his mind, Tare was already moving across the roof toward where the ladder came up, and had almost reached it as Adrian made it to the rooftop and stood upright. His blue denim jacket and tousled blond hair would make a great target in all this snow and lifelessly-gray architecture.

β€œTare—” Adrian began, panting a little from his quick climb. But Tare tuned him entirely out, ignoring whatever words followed, and made straight for him. Before Adrian had quite figured out that Tare wasn’t stopping, Tare practically walked into him, forcing Adrian to back up a couple steps, breaking off with a β€œWhoa—” and holding his hands up.

Tare punched Adrian full in the jaw, sending him reeling back over the edge of the roof. Tare had planned and timed it perfectly. Adrian plummeted directly into the dumpster by the building, which Tare happened to know was entirely filled with mounds of black garbage bags filled with raked leaves, covered in a thick layer of snow.

Tare walked off across the roof, pausing only briefly enough to be sure that Adrian had landed safely where he’d wanted himβ€”he’d be a little sore and likely furious at Tare, but at least he wouldn’t end up getting shot as long as he took the hint and went home.

Glancing over at the alley on the other side of the building Tare stood on, he spied Greg just coming into sight, and let him catch sight of him, fully in view against the sky on the rooftop for long enough to grab his attention, before sprinting off across the roof and leaping onto the next one in the long chain of buildings there. Greg and company gave chase.

Tare stayed out of sight for the most part, to avoid being an actual target, but let them see him just often enough that they knew he was still ahead of them. And he drew them off — away from where Adrian was likely clambering sulkily from the dumpster — drawing them back toward his new escape plan, closer to his lair and the edge of Kedran’s Wood.


Tagging

I tag… Sarah, Skye, Mikayla, Daley, Shantelle, Kelsey,Β C.B., and… I ran out of people in the 7, but I also tag YOU/anyone else who wants to do it! And those I did tag, absolutely no pressure if you’d rather not/don’t have time. ❀

(I’m also not tagging Realm Makers peeps because I suspect you’re as busy as I am, BUT if you’d like to give this a shot at a later date, DO IIIT! :D)

If you do, link back so I can read your awesome snippets too!


I hope you enjoyed that! What was your favorite part, or which character do you like the best? XD Thanks for reading!

(And if there are any fellow Realmies reading this, drop me a line! πŸ™‚ I want to meet everyonnne!)