2019 Highlights!

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

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

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

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

WRITING

In 2019, I:

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

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

READING

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

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

WATCHING

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

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

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

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

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

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

MUSIC

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

Favorite Songs From Them:

Other Favorite Songs:

AUDIOBOOKS

BLOGGING

INSTAGRAM

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

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

My top 9 most popular Instagram photos of 2019

EDITING BUSINESS

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

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

LIFE HIGHLIGHTS

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

CRAFTING

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

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

REALM MAKERS 2019

Books!

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

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

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

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

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

This looked so cool

In a class at Realm Makers

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

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

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

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

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

Hanging out in the lobby at the hotel

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

How gorgeous is this hotel??

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

Overall, an amazing event, my second Realm Makers!


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

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™‚

More Infinity Dreams

a1ef8-infinitydreamsaward

11 Tag (Infinity Dreams Award)

I was tagged by Candice @ O Ye Scribes for this tag quite awhile ago, and the questions look like a bunch of fun! Thanks, Candice! ^_^

Rules

  • Use the Infinity Dreams Award picture
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Tell us 11 facts about yourself
  • Answer the 11 questions
  • Tag 11 bloggers

1. What is the last song you listened to?

Into the Open Air from the Brave soundtrack by Patrick Doyle.

2. What’s your favorite dessert?

Lemon pie or chocolate cake or cupcakes.

3. Do you believe in reading more than one book at a time?

Yes and no. Sometimes I get into a stretch where I am in too many books at once, so I get stressed out and vow to only read one book at a time. Other times I try to read one book at a time but get excited about a bunch of other books which I then HAVE to start! It really depends on my mood. I like both ways at different times.

4. How many books do you plan to read this year?

As many as I can. πŸ˜› (Okay, at least 75, I hope.)

5. Twitter or Facebook?

Twitter because I don’t have a Facebook. πŸ˜‰ (But actually GOODREADS. Goodreads is better than either! <3)

6. Avocados or kale?

Avocados. I don’t like kale. πŸ˜›

7. Where you do like to read?

In my comfy chair in my room, on my bed, or occasionally outside or in the car.

8. What’s your favorite thing about blogging?

Interacting with commenters! Also the moment when I have a post all finished and looking nice and post it. πŸ™‚

9. Who is your favorite historical figure?

Harumph. Um. I’m just going to say Tolkien and move on… >.>

10. What is the best way to deal with writer’s block?

Take a break from writing, or else figure out why you’re stuck and what needs to happen next.

11.Β  Favorite thing about spring?

The world slowly greening and coming out of its long, cold winter sleep.

blogoversary3

So, what about you, readers of mine? Any answers to these? Feel free to answer the most interesting questions in the comments, or take any you like over to your blog and consider yourself tagged!

ο»ΏInk Spill Follow-up

I think a part of the problem is that I really do wish and hope with all my heart to be a published author someday.

But for one thing, I don’t know exactly what that looks like anymore, with publishing being such a tossed-up thing just now. For another thing, I’m not willing (currently) to do what it takes (or what people say it takes) to pursue that to the end.

I suppose yesterday’s rampage was about trying to convince myself that I can still write, that I’m still allowed to, that I can still even claim to be a writer, even if at this season in my life it does not include trying to publish.

There may be another season, someday, but right now my season is to write.

You can’t go straight from winter to summer (unless you’re in Texas… but I digress…). The trees can’t go directly from bare-branched to fully leaved overnight. The leaves have to come in and grow, slowly, from little pale green timid buds to full grown glossy dark green leaves.


I still want to be published. I don’t believe, at this stage, that I ever will be. But someday I may believe again. I don’t know. But right now I don’t have to. I just have to write. And that is a wonderful reminder which I greatly needed. So I’d like to say thank you to those who encouraged me in this way.

The future may hold something different, but as the fellow says in the Irish song: “Cares of tomorrow can wait till this day is done.”

ottergrouphugI want to give a heartfelt thanks to every person who dropped me a kind word yesterday or today, or earlier this month when I was going through something similar to this with my not winning the Rooglewood contest… or in fact ever encouraged me. I was so touched and uplifted, and I’m immeasurably grateful.

I often forget that I’m not . . . alone. It may sound strange, but I’m a solitary sort of person, and I’ve somehow, impossibly, come to believe that I am alone and have to do everything by myself.

I imagine I’m a lot more like my solitary character Tare in that way than I ever suspected.

bringmeoutBut he and I, together, are slowly beginning to learn that we don’t have to do it alone. That people, incredibly . . . CARE. About me, about him. No matter how little we feel we deserve it, or how difficult it is for us to fathom. We never imagined what could be . . . never could have dreamed that such people could exist and lift us up in such a way. But the Chess Club are there for him, even when he doesn’t know it (he hasn’t learned this yet, but he may, in time…). And you all have been there for me, even when I little dreamed that there could be such wonderful people in the world. ❀

It’s humbling, eye-opening, and very wonderful indeed to feel supported and loved and encouraged, and it is a blessing of a thing beyond words (and we all know how much I love words, so it must be very far indeed) to know you all.

I’m very grateful for all of you. Thank you very much.

Ishness!

ishness

Happy February!

Wow, I haven’t done a real Ishness post in ages! So it’s time for another one. πŸ™‚ Here’s a look at my January…

Writing

After the insane writing time that was November and December (which I now realize I have STILL to chronicle fully on the blog here…), I was pretty much burnt out on the writing front.

And by “pretty much” I mean “a completely blackened stub of candle-wick at the end of a very gone candle.” Ahem.

So I took a writing hiatus in January. Yup. The whole month off. Which may sound extreme to some, but I really needed it and found it super relaxing.

Obviously, I still blogged… a ton… largely due to said writing break. Because I always need to write SOMETHING, and when I “take off” it generally manifests itself in the form of fiendishly frequent blogging, and starting a book blog only amplified that…

I also cheated a liiittle bit and did writing in my writing journal/notebook, which is something I start every year and use to keep track of my miscellaneous writing ideas etc. So I wrote 25 pages in that. …Which is more than I usually do. Eheh.

OHEcollageAnd Teague and co. from The Other Half of Everything have been steadily bombarding me with ideas this last month, so I’ve been surreptitiously taking notes on that and may have kinda-sorta worked out a rough structure for the story. Which makes me happy.

So this is why I’m not entirely DYING to write just now, which is what usually happens after I take a break and starve myself on words. Instead of starving, I tried to just… cut back and give myself permission to not write. But I’m wonderfully refreshed after my writing hiatus and although I don’t know what I’m going to work on next — so many options! So many books! — I’m excited to return to it.

Oh! And I did write on my writing day. January 20th every year is designated my writing day, because a few years in a row I happened to write something on that day, so I turned it into a tradition. So I wrote a snippet of The Silver Forest. Because Taghdach demanded it. Because he was grouchy and wanted to blow up some diamond trees. So I let him and wrote it. Because I’m nice like that.

Some snippets from The Silver Forest (you’re welcome. XD)

SilverForestCoverFinalWithout warning, he swung round, his head jerking forward and down as if under a great weight, and he flung his arms out to both sides in a violent gesture which leveled the trees around them, at the same time that a howling wind seemed to spring inexplicably up around him, tossing his cloak wildly. At the movement of his arms and the power that brought the wind, every diamond tree within a few feet in a wide swathe around them seemed to constrict for a moment and then shattered, crashing to the forest floor in myriads of glittering, tinkling fragments.

***

His face was carefully sculpted, a cold marble statue under unforgiving moonlight on a frozen night, and no emotion could be found there. But his eyes burned a painful silver steel of starfire. Taghdach’s voice was as blank as his face as he spoke now. β€œHe was my closestβ€”and onlyβ€”friend.” He looked unwaveringly straight into her eyes, his own like ice with not a trace of any thought readable within them, and finished, β€œAnd I killed him.”

Reading

january2016read

(I seem to be following a trend of reading books with blue-ish-grey-ish covers? Except for the white one, which is trying to shrink into the background because it’s nonfiction, which I rarely read. Also I feel the need to point out that these are listed in reverse order: I read Fire and Hemlock first and Half-Blood most recently… but Goodreads has these nicely listed — albeit backward — and I’m too lazy to go make a new image collection right now.)

I read 10 books in January. Which was nice, because in the previous four months, I read literally 6 books total and was starved for reading… (More about these books in my Reading Roundup over on my book blog if you’re interested in hearing further about ’em.)

Watching

I saw Sherlock: The Abominable Bride!

…Three times. *cough* (Once at a theater it was showing at, which was awesome — Sherlock on the big screen! — and twice afterward online. Because obviously I’m addicted.)

It was so awesome and I loved it. So many little (and not-so-little) nods to the original story and to the modern ones, all wrapped up in a clever plot. I just LOVE how clever the Sherlock episodes are. They make me happy, and this is definitely one of my favorites… And the setting! It was so awesome to see the beloved characters in that time period. All tidy and neat-looking in their clothes and combed hair etc. XD And so much humor. My goodness. So. Fun. I had a couple complaints (like the creepiness, but a lot of the original Holmes stories are creepy too…) but mostly just ignored those and had a blast. And the interaction and dialog and all the characters and Sherlock and John and Mycroft and Lestrade and Mary and just lskjflkjsdl SHERLOOOCK.

Basically, IT WAS AWESOME!!!

…Can you kinda tell I enjoyed a lot? πŸ˜‰

Listening

January’s song-of-the-month for me was Tell Your Heart to Beat Again by Danny Gokey… yes, I’m still listening to that. I discovered it at the beginning of the month, and it’s been constantly playing — if not actually, at least in my head. I love it so much and it’s sort of my “theme-song” for January that I associate with the month. πŸ™‚

Life-ing

Humm… Not too much of interest going on here… I’ve been really busy (who knew that basically postponing your life for two months in favor of writing piles up??) but can’t think of anything specific of interest. I had a cold there at the end as I may have mentioned… And I’ve been trying to look after myself better, which has included trying to get outside more, which means that I’ve been actually noticing the weather. Which has been insane. Some days it’s freezing cold with a nasty wind and it’s all I can do not to run back inside to my heater instead of taking a little walk. Other times it’s been like 70 degrees, with a soft breeze and hot sunshine when I even *gasp* had to wear short sleeves.

Apparently our weather is confused about the fact that it was January…?

(Of course, one of those days taking a walk with short sleeves this last week, something — I suspect it was a wasp — decided to randomly sting me, so THAT was fun. I am reminded of why I actively try to avoid the outdoors. >.>)

February Plans

I still want to read. A lot. And I have plans of avoiding Goodreads so that I can focus on reading and writing (if you see me on there before March, feel free to yell at me. ;)), and of trying to consolidate my internet time. …We’ll see how that goes. *cough*

I still have a lot of life projects I’m behind on, so I hope to tackle those as well.

Now that I’m off writing hiatus, I hope to get back into writing again! Yay! …How exactly I’m going to do that, I have no idea, but pfft, details. πŸ˜‰ There’s some Tare editing calling my name, and I’m throwing around the idea of working on a couple of different books, but haven’t officially decided what yet. Hopefully February will hold a wondrous return to the writing world, regardless of what exactly that entails!

I know that February’s going to be busy, but hey! At least we have an extra day this month, right? πŸ˜€

How was your January and what are your February plans? πŸ™‚

Also, tomorrow’s Groundhog Day, and on behalf of groundhogs everywhere, I petition you: celebrate on this little-noticed holiday! (I don’t care how. Just celebrate. Because groundhogs. And spring(ish). And glorious things like that.)