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. 🙂

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. 😉

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. 😀

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. 😀

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! 😉 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. 🙂

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. 🙂 (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. 🙂

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. 😛 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! 😉

Jaye L. Knight had more than one costume! I loved this one too. 🙂 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. 🙂

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. 😉

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)

“Stories do not go out of fashion.” — Will Wight

“Your book is not for everyone. But there is always someone who needs your book.” — Nadine Brandes

“Be brilliant all the way through.” — Steve Laube

“What if we acted like children created by the King of the Greatest Fairytale ever told?” — Mary Weber

“What do you have to lose?” — 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… 😉

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. 🙂 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. 😛

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. 😀

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. 😛

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.

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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. 🙂

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! 😀

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. 😛 So if you’re at all interested, you can check out my profile here. 🙂

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… 😀

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. 😀

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. 😀

If you weren’t one of the people in the room listening to it, you can still read it if you’d like. 😉 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. 😛 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. 😉

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! 😀

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. 😉

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. 🙂 (And please forgive any first-draft-ish-ness.)


The Other Half of Everything

He swiveled around. “Oh, 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. “The name’s Teague. Teague Aurelius. A pleasure to meet you.”

Same,” 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.

What 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.

Meridian 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.

Overcompensating, 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.

“What?” Rook asked.

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

Rook blinked. “Why are you surprised at that?”

Xasper shrugged. “Thought you’d be the rules-and-regs type.”

Eying the grubby fingers in question, Rook said carefully, “What 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 Adrian—he would follow and try to get involved and “help” 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.

“Tare—” 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 “Whoa—” 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 him—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, KelseyC.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! 🙂 I want to meet everyonnne!)

Steampunk, Explosions (Almost), & All the Writing: May 2018 Ishness

Well… I’m back!

In the famous words of Sam Gamgee (I was creative about the punctuation, but still). Which most people consider to be the end of The Lord of the Rings — EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS A PERFECTLY GOOD EPILOGUE AFTER THAT WHICH SOMEBODY CONVINCED TOLKIEN TO LEAVE OUT OF THE PUBLISHED VERSION AND WHICH I’VE STILL NOT FORGIVEN WHOEVER-IT-WAS FOR DOING BECAUSE REALLY. IT NEEDED THAT AWESOME EPILOGUE.

Ahem.

Pardon my Middle-earth rabbit-trail.

Anyhoo, I’m back from my May hiatus-of-sorts, and I’ll now proceed to fill you in on aaall the writing/reading/watching/etc. that happened while I was away from blogging!

Including snippets and the time my street almost blew up. Ish.


Writing

I wrote 15,000 words in May, which I’m extremely happy about! Especially since that’s more than I wrote for April Camp NaNo. XD

Most of that was due to a lot of lovely wordsprints during Indie E-Con, which had a week-long word-war… which I won due to my 10K words that week. 😀 I was kiiind of really excited about that! I actually wrote 11.5K words that week if you count Sunday — just over the amount of words I’d written in the entirety of April for Camp, so I’m very pleased!

I wrote parts of a couple other things, but mostly I was working on my steampunk-fantasy novel, The Siren and the Skyship, which is flying along quite nicely! I’m extremely happy about this. 😀 I’ve been writing mostly out of order, just a scene here and a scene there (but they’re connecting, finally!), sometimes in a messy draft-zero form, and the plot is still being stubborn and I KNOW I’ll have to rewrite a ton, but at least I’m making progress and having a BLAST. It’s so much fun and I love this story so much. ^_^

I wrote over 13K words on S&S in May, so last I knew, the story has reached about 67K words. I’m getting to write actual-big-important-scenes and it’s fabulous. 😀

In short, I wrote a TON (for me) this last month, and I’m having the absolute best time, and IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY. ❤


Snippets (from The Siren and the Skyship)

Keller threw up his hands. “You were tracking me? I always knew the stories were right and stepbrothers are evil.”

“It’s stepsisters,” Gerias protested, “and I’m not evil.”

“You put a tracking on me without my permission. What do you call that?”

“People rarely put trackings on people with permission,” Tasmania mused.

Gerias sighed. “No offense, Captain, but you’re not helping.”

Keller pointed at her. “You are, actually. Thanks for that.” He sent a pointed look at Gerias.

***

“You know, we never did get that time hanging out and chatting, just the three of us,” Tasmania said.

Percy’s face dropped. “Oh. I—I forgot. I had that thing and then— I’m so sorry—”

“Don’t. I know you’re busy. It’s just… this is fun, you know? Just getting to chat for a minute. Alone. Ish.”

Ish here meaning in a ballroom surrounded by about three hundred people,” her brother said wryly.

Tasmania wrinkled her nose, but she was smiling too. “That’s exactly what ish means.”

“Well, you know what? Forget social thingamawhatsits and duties and whatnot; they can go hang,” King Percival said recklessly. “The three of us do need to find a time to just chat—let’s do it tonight.”

“What, after the ball?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“At, like, midnight?” Tasmania raised an eyebrow.

“We’re grownups. We can stay up late,” Percival said bullishly.

Tasmania laughed. “I meant, there’s that whole coronation thing tomorrow morning. Are you sure you want to stay up late talking all night the night before? You’ll be all bleary and half-asleep and red-eyed, and you’ll fall asleep while you’re being crowned or something.”

“Exactly. It’ll be glorious. Why not live a little, I say? And then I can always say anything that goes wrong was your fault, you know,” he teased.

“Just you try,” Tasmania said, smirking.


Reading

I read some lovely books this month!

  • If you’re curious about these, you can click the following links to read my reviews of: Kate’s Dilemma, The Story Peddler, Mythical Doorways, and The Stealthmaster’s Shadow. I really enjoyed all of them!
  • Oh, oh! And Mythical Doorways had some delightful short stories (and it’s FREE, so you should totally pick it up!), including one with my new favorite character, Jayden. I’ve only met him in short stories, but HE’S MY FAVE. If you hear me randomly flailing about him, this is why.
  • Common was SO SWEET. Lovely fantasy/fairytale-esque romantic YA, reminiscent of things like Ella Enchanted. I loved it. ^_^
  • Trial by Song was a FASCINATING modern retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk and was SO INTENSE. O_O *collapses* It also ended on a terrible cliffhanger from which I’ve still not recovered.
  • A Sidekick’s Tale was a hilarious western novella — kind of like if a Bertie Wooster story was a western. XD
  • AND THEN THERE’S THE ELECTRICAL MENAGERIE. People. You need this book in your life. It’s a steampunk (ish) novel with a buddy story (kind of) and snark and humor and show business and illusions and murder and danger and plots, and I can’t really categorize it but IT WAS SO GOOD AAAH. I currently have a book hangover from this delightful book. How will anything ever be this good again? *collapses* The Electrical Menagerie is releasing this week. Anyway. If you’re not sure if you’d like to try it or not, you can check out Arbrook Huxley and the Star-Crossed Lovers to see if you’d like more of the same, since it’s a short story which is free on the author’s newsletter and is HILARIOUS. XD (Butbutbut. Carthage and Huxley. They’re my favorites. :D)

(I’m not going to link to all the titles but if you’d like to check out any of these books, you can find links to them on my Goodreads Reading Challenge page.)


Watching


  • So, I saw Avengers: Infinity War and Solo: A Star Wars Story. And, in an attempt to be a good blogger and share things I thought about them in this post, I wrote up thoughts on both at least three times and erased them and… yeah, no, not going to have opinions because I hate having those (or at least sharing them) and I don’t want to be roasted by (or hurt feelings of) any who feel strongly one way or another. I had mixed thoughts on both, disliked some things, enjoyed others. 🙂 The end.
  • I also randomly re-watched the Lord of the Rings fan-films Born of Hope (THE SONS OF ELROND!) and The Hunt for Gollum. XD
  • And just a few episodes of the usual suspects: Once Upon a Time, Trollhunters, NCIS, and White Collar. And a little re-watching Sherlock. Still enjoying all of ’em in their way! 🙂

Also, speaking of movies, there’s a poster for the next How to Train Your Dragon movie AND AAAAAHH LOOK AT IT!!!! ❤

(I’ll just be over here QUIETLY SHRIEKING about this, thank you. *muffled “squee!” noises*)


Life

I’ve been working on a website and some branding/theme stuff for my writing self, so I’m hoping to share some of that in the next month or so. 🙂


I guess the most exciting thing that happened was my street almost blowing up.

I may exaggerate.

Slightly.

“We may experience some slight turbulence and then… explode.”

Okay, so some roadwork people hit a gas line right in front of my house, and they kinda-sorta evacuated half the block. We grabbed laptops and went down to a cafe thing for a couple of hours and saw reruns of the Royal Wedding, and mostly just hoped they (the road workers, not the royal people) wouldn’t accidentally blow up the block or anything. But it got fixed and we went home and everything was fine. It was just… an interesting day. *cough*


My sis and I have also been jogging occasionally, which has been fun because we’ve named ourselves the “Like a Quick Lady” Writer Fitness Club. Because writers need to get out too.

It’s a reference to a line from Beggar Magic by H. L. Burke:

She started to run, but heard her mother’s voice in her head, “Do you want to be so out of breath you can’t even say ‘hello’ when you find your friend? Walk like a lady.”

Like a quick lady, Leilani decided.

(Beggar Magic is an excellent book I really enjoyed, and if you’re curious to read it, it’s currently the free thing you get if you sign up for H. L. Burke’s fun newsletter. FYI.)

I just like that line, and “like a quick lady” is something I say when I’m in a hurry. XD So when we’re jogging, we say that a lot, as well as “On your left!” (Because Captain America.) Because what fun is jogging unless there are lots of fandom-y, inside jokes? 😉


Also, fresh apricots are STUPENDOUS, I TELL YOU. That is all.


June Plans

Well… it’s June (HOW??) so Realm Makers is less than a month and a half away, which is TERRIFYING (I mean… exciting, too; but still terrifying), so I really have to get on that to-do list of mine and start finishing up some of the projects I’ve been working on, like my official website and things. 😛

So I’ll be focusing on various writerly pre-conference things and trying to juggle life, while also hopefully keeping up with a bunch of book releases and reviews because some little otter secretary seems to have signed me up for a lot of blog tours and review books right when I need to be busy with other stuff. 😉

But that’s how these things go, and I’m super excited for all the books (you can check out all the bookish things going on this month in my Bookish News post on my book blog!) so yeah. It’s going to be fun! I just feel extremely busy. XD


How about you? Thoughts? What are your June plans? Share in the comments — I’d love to hear all about it. ^_^ I hope you have an amazing summer! Thanks so much for reading. ❤

Camp NaNo Ishness/Hiatus

Hello, reader peeps!

If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to during the last few weeks of relative silence around here, you’re in luck!

It’s time for an Ishness post — hurrah!

In which I recap my Camp NaNo and other Ishnesses of April. It’s been a busy and exciting month! And also to say that I’m taking a bit of a blogging break for May.

There may also be snippets. And photography.

So let’s get to it!

Camp NaNo Writing Adventures

I participated in and completed Camp NaNo!

And it was amazing, guys. So, so amazing. I’ve missed writing.

Thanks to some awesome wordsprints courtesy of Jenelle and Sarah and some other writing friends, I discovered that I can write 1K in 40 minutes’ worth of wordsprints, which led to a whirlwind of Camp writing for me. I’m. so. excited. I had written hardly anything this year and it was so delightful to finally get back into it!

I made my goal of 10 hours of writing/writing-related-stuff-like-plotting-and-editing, hitting 11 hours for the month.

My April writing accomplishments included:

  • 11,439 words of writing.
  • Naming an important character (the hero of book 3 of my Sky Voyages retelling trilogy) — he’s a pirate and his name is Keller. 😀
  • Outlining the next several parts of The Siren and the Skyship.
  • Realizing I need to redo basically all that I’d written of the book during last November, but OH WELL, at least I know. XD I think I’ll try to power through to the end before rewrites… hopefully…
  • I wrote 10K words of The Siren and the Skyship, a mix of rough first draft and draft-zero, some in order, some later on. But it’s the first writing on this I’ve done since last year’s NaNo, so I’m excited to be back to it!
  • My characters seemed to spend a lot of their time meeting at night on rooftops. Okay, then! Also, I’m having the best time writing about my character Rook.
  • I also wrote 1300 words of The Other Half of Everything, finishing and editing the first chapter, which has been in a half-written-out-of-order state for years.
  • GUYS. I’M DONE A WHOLE CHAPTER OF THE OTHER HALF OF EVERYTHING.
  • I have several thousand words of OHE written, but it’s all in snippets out of order. So having a completed first chapter all finished is SO EXCITING to me!
  • Anyway, between plotting, writing 10K of S&S, and finishing OHE’s first chapter, I’m very pleased with what I got done this month for Camp NaNo. 🙂 I’m hoping to keep up the writing momentum, but we’ll see what happens.

Snippets!

… exchanging the usual niceties one exchanged over tea.

“What did you want to see me about?” Rook asked finally, politely but warily.

He was not used to being called on by dignitaries, and was more than usually aware that his new little brother, sitting right at the table with them, was a street thief. Although Xasper had been silent and as well-mannered as could be, he could well be a ticking steam-bomb counting down to something disastrous.

It was all rather alarming, really, and the sooner it was all over with, the better Rook would like it.

The Siren and the Skyship

***

Percival chose this extremely inopportune time to wake up and hear what they were discussing. “Don’t even think about it, Mania,” he said blearily from his half-asleep and bandaged state. “You’re the princess, and as a princess, you can’t go there without causing an international incident.”

Tasmania shooed a hand at her brother. “I know, I know. As a princess, I won’t.”

“Not as a Royal Skynavy captain either,” he warned.

Blast. He shouldn’t even be alert enough to notice. “As you command, my king,” Tasmania said, saluting. But Auren and Noya were giving her Looks which meant they knew exactly what she was thinking.

Fortunately, Percival’s eyes had drifted shut again and he didn’t see.

Well then. Not a princess, and not a captain, either. She would go as herself—even if she had to smuggle herself in a pirate ship to do so.

Which, incidentally, was exactly what she planned to do.

The Siren and the Skyship

***

“Do try not to jump; it disturbs the books,” the young man remarked.

— The Other Half of Everything

***

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

“Same,” 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.

The Other Half of Everything

Reading

I… did not read very much this month. Between Camp NaNo and editing and life, not to mention starting about half a dozen books and then not finishing them (I’m in 5 right now; it’s embarrassing) I don’t have much to show in the reading department.

I managed to hit my 50-book goal for my Goodreads Reading Challenge, though! (I’ve been including short stories this year, okay. Don’t be too amazed. :P)

But I did read a handful of things. A picture book, ONE novel (The Lost Castle, which I reviewed), two short stories, and two non-fiction short ebooks about writing. Aaand that’s it. They were all pretty good, and I highly recommend Jamie Foley and Angela Castillo’s Busy Moms’ Guide to Writing even for those who are not busy moms but are still writers. XD

Not pictured but hopefully releasing in the next month or two is Horseman by Kyle Robert Shultz, which I edited and therefore read a couple times this month. It’s hilarious, and is a fantastic magical wild west tale, so watch for that!

Watching

  • I re-watched the first couple episodes of the original season of Sherlock… which was neat to re-visit. XD (They’re so YOUNG, though! :O)
  • I saw a bit more White Collar, which I’m still enjoying aside from the usual bits I don’t care for that all TV has. But it’s still fun. XD Love these characters!
  • I started watching Trollhunters, just a few episodes, which is a lot of fun so far.
  • And a little NCIS and original Star Trek. To keep me on my toes.
  • I also re-watched The Last Jedi and… eh. I’m still mixed on it, but that seems to happen to me with ALL movies these days, so. 😛 (I need a crystal fox.)

Listening

  • I’m still listening to Wander with Me, Smoke and Mirrors, and Rise and Fall periodically from Brittany Jean’s latest album. ❤

  • Jen Ledger, the drummer girl for the band Skillet, started her own band: Ledger! I’m kind of excited because she’s so sweet and I love her voice, so this is great. I’ve been listening to the tracks she just released and having fun with those. 🙂

  • Speaking of Skillet, you know how sometimes you get a song stuck in your head and listen to it all the time because it’s so catchy and the latest thing you love? Well I have that with Stay ‘Til the Daylight (by Skillet), which my character Rook informed me is his theme song for the sequel to The Siren and the Skyship.
  • It’s also been Camp NaNo so I’ve been listening to fast word-warring music and the Ren: The Girl with the Mark soundtrack because it’s perfect for the “feel” of The Siren and the Skyship — gorgeous and epic.
  • And Cara Dillon, because her voice is amazing. ❤

  • (Yes, I’m aware this is a strange mix of music. I have unique taste. *cough*)

Life

  • It’s been quite the busy month, juggling life and various projects/work and Camp NaNo.

  • I won my first writing contest with my otter flash fiction (my goodness, was that this month?)!
  • Camp NaNo kept me on my toes. XD But it was glorious focusing on writing again.

  • I randomly realized “OH, I HAVE A WATTPAD ACCOUNT; I SHOULD USE IT,” and posted Wintertale over there. I may put up another couple of short stories when I have time.
  • Arielle Bailey more or less convinced me that my personality type is probably ISFP even though I’ve tested as a couple other types (INFP/INFJ). I’m going to look into it more but from what she said, it seems legit. XD (Arielle, do that MBTI blog series!)
  • I got to attend a lovely writer retreat; it was fun getting to hang out with a bunch of fellow writer gals for a weekend! ❤ Not to mention appropriate, because it was like a real-live Camp NaNo! 😉 It was amazing. ^_^

sunset

cozy cottage

sunrise from the balcony

May Plans / Hiatus

I’m taking a bit of a blogging/internet break during May.

Before anybody panics (no panicking, okay?), this is not to say that I won’t be around at all. There are, after all, a few exciting things going on this month (like the ones I mentioned in my In Bookish News post on my book blog) which I may (haha, pun!) drop in on. Plus, my hiatuses (hiatusi?) don’t always turn out as hiatus-y (shh, it’s a word) as I plan; but it should help anyway. XD

(Goodness, that was a lot of parentheses. Please excuse.)

I just need to give myself permission to step away a little and breathe. Sometimes everything gets to be a little much, you know?

I’m a little worn out with all the busyness that’s been non-stop for the past four months, and I also need to catch up on things and do some more prep for Realm Makers (which is creeping up on us at an alarming rate!).

So for my own sanity (what’s that? O_O), I’m reining back a little, and if you need to get a hold of me I’m sure I’ll still be checking email. 😉

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a Merry Month of May, friends! ❤ And let me know what’s up with you, in the comments! ^_^