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.

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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. πŸ˜€
  • 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. πŸ™‚ I’m hoping to keep up the writing momentum, but we’ll see what happens.

Snippets!

… exchanging the usual niceties one exchanged over tea.

β€œWhat 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,Β 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. β€œDon’t even think about it, Mania,” he said blearily from his half-asleep and bandaged state. β€œYou’re the princess, and as a princess, you can’t go there without causing an international incident.”

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

β€œNot as a Royal Skynavy captain either,” he warned.

Blast. He shouldn’t even be alert enough to notice. β€œAs 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 herselfβ€”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

***

β€œDo 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. 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.

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. πŸ˜› (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. πŸ™‚

  • 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! πŸ˜‰ 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. πŸ˜‰

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! ^_^

Wander With Me

Good morning, my Roadlings! Happy Valentine’s Day! πŸ™‚

I’m doing something different today — reviewing a music CD!

I’ve been curious to try Brittany Jean’s music for awhile, so when I heard about her new album and a chance to review it, I decided to go for it. I’m so glad I did!

Wander With Me is a collection of Americana songs. There are nine original songs by singer/songwriter Brittany Jean — she’s so talented! — and two cover songs (of John Denver’s Wild Flowers in a Mason Jar, and Bob Dylan’s Forever Young) which are quite well done.

It’s like summer and sunshine and the dust of a country road, and heartbreak and laughter and life, and love and smiles and wandering.

My favorite songs are Smoke and Mirrors (haunting), Wander With Me (charming), and one gorgeous part of Rise and Fall (inspiring). I’ve been going around with lines from those three running through my head for a couple of weeks now and it’s fantastic. πŸ˜€ I know I’ve found some new favorites to listen to again and again!

Dear Heart, Like No Tomorrow, and Forever Young, were also lovely. I enjoyed the others too, even if they’re not top favorites. There are always a few that just click best with me. πŸ™‚ But there’s something for everyone, I think!

The instrumentation/style is unlike what I usually listen to (being mostly a Celtic music person with a side of Christian pop/rock) but it was actually neat to try something new for a change.

Brittany’s voice fills all the songs with a sort of down-to-earth, light enchantment. There’s so much spirit and warmth to her singing! And you can just tell the whole thing — the music, the singing, the words, and even the pretty packaging of the CD — is infused with love and care. πŸ™‚

I’ve heard the album a few times and it’s been nice having something different to listen to. The songs feel much more summer-y and it’s a little like some sunshine during this cold time of year. It feels like you should listen to them driving down a dusty country road with the window open and a warm summer breeze in your hair… Or, well, doing dishes works too, and it’s a nice accompaniment to otherwise mundane life chores, I’ve found. πŸ˜‰ Everything’s more fun with a friend, and that’s how I felt listening to this CD.

Anyway, although not all of it was my usual cup of tea, it’s lovely music and I’m so glad I decided to try it out. πŸ™‚ If you’re curious, I do recommend giving it a listen, particularly the title track (Wander With Me) and Smoke and Mirrors. If you like what you hear, check out the rest of the album! Won’t you wander with us?

“We rise / We fall / We climb / We stall / We lose / We win and then begin again /
We overcome / We come undone / We give it all…”

— Brittany Jean, “Rise and Fall” from “Wander With Me”

With thanks to the artist for the free copy of this CD.

You can visit Brittany Jean online at www.bjeanmusic.com or in these places:

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Spotify, and Instagram.

And you can find this album on her website, iTunes, and Amazon.

Well, readers — or should I say listeners? — what do you think? What sort of music do you love? Let me know in the comments! πŸ™‚

Ishness! (First of 2018!)

Iiiit’s time for… ISHNESS!

Because the last time I shared one was the beginning of December, at the end of NaNo season! So it’s high time for another one. πŸ˜‰

Here are some of my ishnesses from December and the first month of 2018!

December 2017 Highlights

A lovely day in December: editing a short story, with cozy new slippers and my lovely Jayne-from-Firefly hat and bullet-journal, when it had just snowed outside, with my Tolkien collection at my feet.

  • Went on semi-hiatus post-NaNo but wrote 900 words scattered across half a dozen different stories, and had plotbunny explosions (of course; this is why I shouldn’t go on break).
  • The Siren and the Skyship decided it was a trilogy, so now I have two sequels to write as well as finish it. They’re all going to be retellings (the other two might be two each?) and I’M EXCITED.
  • A couple of my older ideas gained new titles and awesomeness (also retellings) and it’s going to be glorious. I have so many back-burner novel ideas that want my attention, but at the moment they must wait…
  • Edited and posted Tare and the Puppies! ^_^
  • I FINALLY read the much-hyped first book of the Wingfeather Saga, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, and really enjoyed it! SO FUN. I also saw the mini film episode thing online AND IT IS THE MOST ADORABLE THING. Seriously, go watch it if you haven’t!
  • I also read The Stroke of Eleven and alskdjfldkj MY FEELS. I need more Beaumont and Beasley! And I read a few other books, some of them actually Christmassy! (Look at me being all season-appropriate!)
  • Speaking of seasons: THERE WAS SNOW. It only came down for like ten minutes and none of it stayed, but it was sooo pretty! ^_^
  • Watched the second half of Once Upon a Time’s first season, and started the second season. Muchly enjoyable. SO MANY THINGS.
  • Re-watched the BBC Pride and Prejudice, which was lovely. I love both film versions, but hadn’t seen this one in ages, so that was fun. (I still love the book best; sorry! XD) This was one of the three rewards I promised to myself if I finished NaNo. I still haven’t gotten to the other two. *cough*
  • And, naturally, had Christmas, which was quiet and lovely. ^_^

JANUARY

And now on to more recent history: the beginning of 2018!

life

  • Started new journals! Always a highlight of the start of a new year. XD 9th writing journal (yay!). My new bjournal (which is my Nordic-ish abbreviation for bullet journal) is blue and fuzzy and I love it SO MUCH.
  • In December I won a gorgeous mythological creature coloring book, and this year I’ve started coloring for twenty minutes most days for relaxation. It’s wonderful and I love it. I’m trying new productivity techniques, which include some exercise and actually taking care of myself. (I know; shocking, right?)

  • Won a little dragon and his name is Benedict Pendragon and he’s SO ADORABLE and I love him.
  • Went out to see the Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse Thingamy, but apparently got out like 2 minutes too late because it went behind clouds and I didn’t get to see it at all. XD
  • Was cold. (It got down to 8 degrees at one point and just — no. I live in Texas for a reason and that does not include being this cold thank you very much.)

writing

Added 3K words to The Secret of Kedran’s Wood. A little slow but it’s the first real writing I’ve done since NaNo, so I’m just happy to be starting up again! πŸ™‚ And I’d been stuck on this chapter FOREVER. It had dibs and dabs of snippets out of order throughout it, so I finally went through and added to it and filled in the “holes” with “draft zero” writing, and basically have a completed chapter of a patchwork of snippets/draft-zero, so I just need to smooth/turn it into a first draft. But I’ve been stuck on it for a long time, so this makes me happy to have it sewn together! *wonders if any of this makes sense to anyone besides me*

This writing was largely due to my Writing Day. Each year on the 20th of January I write something; it’s a tradition I’ve kept up since 2010. So that got me to sit down and work on SOMETHING, and I’m very pleased. πŸ™‚

Also, The Secret of Kedran’s Wood is officially growing alarmingly large. I’m trying not to worry about that, and just writing, buuut… you know. XD

I also did some plotting on a few stories (including my old NaNo 2013 story, Underground Rainbow, which this month decided to chop itself up as a trilogy, effectively meaning that book one is basically done and book two started; so I accidentally more-or-less “finished” a novel without writing anything. XD).

Other Writerly Things

  • Did #WIPjoy for OHE.
  • Started my new writing journal, which now has 10 pages in it.
  • Blogged a fair amount.
  • And I did some more business-y things like a bit of freelance editing and making some plans. πŸ™‚

Not a huge amount done, but coming out of a month of hiatus, with NaNo before that, I’m slowly easing back into the writing world, and happy with what I did accomplish!

reading

I read 15 things in January! I’m counting short stories on my Goodreads reading challenge this year, so it’s not as many as it sounds, but still. XD

Re-reads, short stories, non-fiction, new novels… quite the collection. I’m also getting back into my Tolkien hobby and this makes me marvelously happy.

Highlights of the month are DEFINITELY The Last Motley, which I got for review and is my favorite thing I’ve read this year (releasing tomorrow!) — simply STELLAR fantasy; and the first Ranger’s Apprentice book, which is precious and I love Halt. πŸ˜€

watching highlights

  • Once Upon a Time: Season 2 — Just a few episodes of this. Still enjoying it. I think I liked the first season better, but it’s definitely still intriguing. πŸ˜‰
  • Persuasion (1971) — I’d seen two film versions previously, but this one was much longer, and I really enjoyed it! I enjoyed them all, actually, and can’t pick a favorite. πŸ˜› This might be my least-favorite version of Captain Wentworth, but it was my favorite version of Anne, so…? Anyway, ’twas enjoyable. ^_^ Anyone else seen this one?
  • Re-watched some The Deputy episodes (one of my favorite buddy-stories!) and re-watched Zorro (1975) which is my FAVORITE Zorro thing of all time, I think… though I love pretty much all Zorro things to bits. ❀

listening

  • Brittany Jean’s new album, Wander with Me, has been one of my main listening things lately. I got it for review and it’s lovely! Review to come. ^_^
  • Kyle Robert Shultz started a podcast for writers, and while I’m very bad at keeping up with podcasts, I did make sure to listen to the first 3 episodes, and enjoyed them very much. Some great advice. πŸ™‚
  • And in general I’ve been listening to beautiful calming music while coloring/exercising in the morning; it’s been splendid and so relaxing.

Upcoming Plans

Awesome things going on in the next couple of months are February Fantasy Month and March Magics just around the corner… I hope to take part in both to celebrate fantasy and Diana Wynne Jones, two of my favorites!

There are reviews and other posts coming up on the blogs… I’m also doing a couple of hashtag games on Twitter this month: Jenelle’s #FantasyMonth and also #StoryWarriors.

I still have many projects I’m in the process of working on, including some of my writer dreams I shared last month, so we’ll see how those go.

I need to pick a WIP to focus on, but keep thinking about Kedran’s Wood, The Other Half of Everthing, and the (untitled) Siren and the Skyship trilogy, as well as being vaguely aware I have some short stories to write, and other stories popping in to my attention from time to time as well. I just can’t seem to settle on ONE!

Life looks like it’s going to be very busy for the next few weeks (isn’t it always), so I’m mostly just hoping to get through that and still focus on some of my creative pursuits and keep up with my oh-so-many online commitments too! A little overwhelmed right now; wish me luck. XD

So there you have my ishness of late! How about you? How was your January, what have you been up to, and what are your February plans? Can you believe we’re already a month into 2018?? Talk to me! Thanks for reading. ^_^

NaNo Ishness 2017! (My Insane 8th NaNoWriMo, Skillet, and Other Epicness)

IT’S DECEMBER. *cue shocked gasps*

This means that a) we survived NaNo (whaaat?), b) I’m no longer trying to write large amounts of words daily, and c) it’s time for an Ishness wrapup of my 2017 NaNoWriMo!

And, y’know, other things that happened in October and November. πŸ™‚

This is mostly about November, but I’ll touch briefly on October (SO long ago; my goodness, was that even a thing?), to say that I was mostly busy prepping for NaNo, that I caught a cold at the last minute so that I was useless in my NaNo-prep the week before November hit (yay. XD) and that I got to see the band Skillet in concert AND IT WAS THE MOST AMAZING THING.

(image courtesy of my brother’s phone…)

Colton Dixon (who’s also a great singer whose music I love!) and a couple others were there, which was fun as well! But but SKILLET. They’re one of my favorites, and I especially usually listen to them a lot around this time of year — their fast and inspiring music is so helpful when I’m typing fast on wordwars during NaNo… πŸ˜‰ Anyway, I love their music and they also seem like such FUN people, so seeing them live on a stage with their amazing music and amusingness and just — IT WAS INCREDIBLE. They’re so epic and NICE and faith-filled and funny and I just love them. πŸ™‚ I had an absolute blast, and the whole concert (them and the other artists) was amazing, and I came away so inspired and filled up and happy. πŸ™‚ (I did wear earplugs in my ears the whole time because rock concerts are LOUD; I was still able to hear everything despite that just fiiiine, and consequently still have my hearing. XD) Christian Rock may not be everyone’s favorite, but I absolutely love Skillet and this was definitely the highlight of my October. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Bookish

I read a handful of books in the last two months…

(in reverse chronological order, from a screenshot of my Goodreads Reading Challenge, because I’m lazy)

For my thoughts on them, see the Bookish Post I posted on my book blog a few days ago! πŸ™‚

In Other Book News: New Genre!

Also, the previously un-named genre which we all needed a name for (the kind that’s basically in another world but isn’t TECHNICALLY fantasy because there’s nothing fantastical, and is more like historical fiction but without needing to be historically accurate) was finally named: Kingdom Adventure! So if you read/write this, be aware! This is an exciting development. XD

Watched

Who has time to watch things this time of year?? Ahem. I sneaked in a few in the last couple months, though.

  • Zorro — I watched a few episodes of Disney’s Zorro with Guy Williams because it’s fun. Gracious, I love Zorro things. ❀ ❀ ❀
  • Once Upon a Time — I saw a couple more episodes of this (I’m still not very far at all. XD) and it continues to be intriguing. πŸ™‚
  • Treasure Planet — This was a re-watch, for… er… research. *cough* (Skyships, dontcha know. ;)) Much fun!
  • The Three Musketeers (2011) — Eheheh, re-watching this for research too. XD (Airships yesss.) Also fun, if messy. πŸ˜›
  • Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) — Very… erm… strange. XD But I enjoyed a lot of it… Also, the only reason they had the insane asylum bit was so they could have evil Moriarty. πŸ˜›
  • Thor: Ragnarok — I SAW THIS AT THE THEATER. And have complicated feelings. XD Epic and HILARIOUS (seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the theater laugh that hard, that many times), with lots of fun and coolness, and also a couple things that were Not Okay and which I have still not recovered from. *glowers at film-makers and mouths “how dare you”* But of course, spoilers, so I can’t say. *cough* Anyways, it was generally a ton of fun. XD (Other than, you know, those things. *cough*)

(I just realized I over-use the word “fun” in my discussion of movies I watched. But why would anyone watch ones that weren’t??)

Highlights of My November

  • Went to an epic booksale
  • Saw Thor 3 *shrieking*
  • Met up with some awesome authors! Shout-out to Kendra Ardnek, Claire Banschbach, Kelsey Bryant, Sarah Holman, J. Grace Pennington — I love these talented gals! It was such a lovely time getting to get together for a few hours. πŸ™‚
  • (Those three events were all in the first five days of NaNo! :O So much busy. Awesome, but busy.)
  • Had several fun writing events for my NaNo region and met such fun fellow-writers!
  • This was my fifth year as an ML, and it was a blast. Tiring, but so fun.
  • Thanksgiving happened (one of the best things about which is living on leftover dressing and pies after…)
  • My bullet journal told me what I needed to do each day and kept me sane (well… insane, but at least an organized kind so that I knew what I had to do?)
  • Scrivener is life
  • And so are wordsprints
  • Won NaNoWriMo for the 8th time!

Since this is a writing blog, I feel like I should mention that in addition to writing 50K words and learning a lot through that, I also absorbed some writing advice from a knowledgeable author at a write-in, and from a brief creative writing class I attended one day, and read a writing book (No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, who founded NaNo), so I feel all steeped in writerliness. ^_^

Oh, Right, the Actual Writing Part of NaNo

I was a bit of a rebel…

I wrote a 6000 word short story called The Dragon of Kedran’s Wood (or) Tare and the Puppies — which I will share on the blog once I edit it!

And I started my YA Steampunk-Fantasy novel The Siren and the Skyship and wrote 44,000 words of that.

I unfortunately had only done a small amount of plotting in October, so I was not as prepared for writing as I would have liked, which necessitated some hasty plotting partway into November. I feel like I did a lot closer to pantsing than usual. (This year and last year both…) So with that on top of how BUSY I was most days, I sometimes struggled to reach the daily goal. I have no clue how people with full time jobs/school manage to do this — I salute you all. O_O

It was a bit of a challenge to make it to the minimum each day, but I stayed on track except for two days early on. I was DETERMINED to stay on track and I did! πŸ˜€ (I fell behind when I was visiting awesome author friends, but I don’t even mind because it was so fabulous. ;)) Sometimes I got ahead and used that to take a break and relax and this was SUCH a good idea. I don’t do really well writing every day for long stretches. It worked out this year that I usually wrote four days and then took one off? Like, multiple times? I didn’t even plan that, it just… happened. O_O Because I love analyzing stats and noticed and I love it. XD

Also, I’ve now written 400K words in 8 years of NaNos and EXCUSE ME WHILE I FLAIL OVER THIS FACT. :O

The novel itself is horribly messy and only half done (if that) and I ran out of plot EXACTLY at the end of the month, so I need to plan the rest of it and finish it sometime, but other than that I’m fairly pleased with how it went. πŸ™‚ I really like the world and characters, and while the Little Mermaid part doesn’t seem to be showing itself as much as it could, the story itself is coming along. SKYSHIPS. ❀ Because I love nautical-ish things, and this is the perfect mix of 18th century ships, modern navy ships, and spaceships… just… better. πŸ˜€ And even though they’re frustrating at times, I do love my characters. πŸ˜‰ *hugs Rook and Tasmania and Auren*

ANYWAY. It’s a mess but I survived and made it this far, and I don’t know how I feel about the whole story, but I was particularly enjoying it later in the month.

And of course I wrote a whole short story first, about my precious Tare-and-the-Chess-Club, which was SO fun. I can’t wait to share it with y’all! ❀

And I stayed on track nearly all month and finished early on the 28th.

I’m calling this 8th NaNo a success!

Quick Version

NaNo was exhausting and confusing and busy, and it’s honestly a miracle I managed it with all the insane running around and lack of plotting, but ultimately I had a mostly really good one and I’m so happy to have made it through to the end with another 50K under my belt! πŸ™‚

December Plans

So, what am I going to be doing this month?

all the blogging and reading and reviewing and basically wearing myself out with my to-do list guilt because I’m two months behind on everything and NaNo’s over so I have no more excuses

RESTING.

…Okay, so you probably know me well enough to know that I probably won’t do neeearly enough of that. But I have SO MANY plans about reading/reviewing/blogging/etc. since I feel like I’ve hardly done any of that for a couple of months due to WRITING STUFF (which was lovely but it will be nice to have a break). So hopefully some of that will happen on top of Christmas busyness and said other plans. I’m ready to chill a little… Doesn’t mean it will happen, but I’m ready for it. XD

I think that’s it?

Maybe I’ll share Siren and the Skyship snippets if y’all want them badly enough. πŸ˜‰

***

WHEW. *collapses* There you are. I hope you enjoyed this little peek at my NaNo and life! Thank you so much for reading! And let me know in the comments how your NaNo (or November. ;)) went! ^_^