Winners! (Of Silmarils & Swag)

Just popping on real quick today to announce the winners for my 6th blogiversary giveaway last week, and to let y’all know that the Silmaril Award WINNER presentation ceremonies are going on this week and next week! (Details below!)

Giveaway Winners

The winner of the paperback copies of Dealing with Dragons and Searching for Dragons iiiis . . .

*drumroll*

  • Maya!

And the four random swag pack winners are . . .

  1. C.B.!
  2. Abigail Harder!
  3. Skye!
  4. Janice Verhoog!

Congrats to all the winners! I’ll be in touch with you shortly through email to get your mailing info. πŸ™‚

THANK YOU so much to everyone who entered and celebrated my blogiversary with me! I wish I could give ALL of you something! *schemes for more giveaways in the future*

Silmaril Awards Presentation Schedule

Yes indeed, the nominations were brought in, the votes were tallied, and only one victor in each category has been chosen in this year’s Silmaril Awards — ten winners in all.

Check out the awards ceremonies linked below, presented by various bloggers and Middle-earth characters, to the most esteemed fantasy characters in 10 categories!

Presentations run September 16 – 27, one per weekday. I’ll update the links as they arrive!

And be sure to come back here on the 25th for my award ceremony for the winner of the Most Silver Tongue Silmaril!

Which category are you most excited to find out the winner? Who are you rooting for? I hope everyone’s been enjoying the 2019 Silmaril Awards!

6 Year Blogiversary + Giveaway!

Just a quick post today (and a giveaway!) to celebrate SIX YEARS of blogging!

*confetti*

Yes indeed, this week I’m celebrating the anniversary of starting this blog half a dozen years ago! I can’t believe it’s been that long. O_O

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who read my online scribblings! I know I’m not the most consistent blogger these days… *cough* Especially this summer, which has been crazy. (I do hang out at my book blog too sometimes and it’s hard to juggle both right now…) And I appreciate you sticking around. πŸ™‚

Your comments and support mean the world to me and I just want to say thanks for hanging out in (or visiting!) my corner of the blogosphere!

STATS

  • 6 years
  • 320 posts including this one!
  • 631 followers (1337 including linked social accounts)
  • 7,331 comments
  • 21,082 visitors
  • 54,180 views
  • 368,000 words written in posts (that’s 7.3 NaNos. O_O)
  • and none of this includes my book blog. XD

But it’s not about the numbers, it’s about sharing ideas and journeying along with ALL OF YOU GUYS and I appreciate y’all so much!

I’ve met some of the absolute BEST people through blogging, and you people improve my life SO MUCH.

Thanks for coming on this crazy writing and bookish fantastical adventure with me so far. ❀

GIVEAWAY

To celebrate, and say thanks, I have a giveaway for you guys!

Actually, two giveaways: one US only and one international.

Firstly, I’m giving away a paperback set of the first two books in Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles, specifically, Dealing with Dragons and Searching with Dragons! This is a fun series and I especially adore the second one, and want to share the love!

Enter paperback giveaway HERE!

(1 winner. Open September 11 – 16, 2019. US addresses only, please.)

***

Secondly, I’m giving away FOUR (4) sets of swag! See, I have quite a few extras of bookmarks and other fun swag like a handful of stickers/postcards/business cards from various authors, from various giveaways and attending Realm Makers two years. (Mostly Realm Makers. XD) SO I thought it would be fun to share the love! Especially for anyone who really wanted to go to Realm Makers and didn’t get the chance.

Please note most of this swag is fantasy or spec-fic or writing-related.

This one is open internationally! There will be four winners for these random swag packs. (One person will recieve the set of bookmarks/swag pictured above, and the other three winners will receive different ones but a similar number.)

Enter swag giveaway HERE!

(4 winners. Open September 11 – 16, 2019. Open internationally.)

***

Those with US addresses are welcome to enter both giveaways if you like.

The winners will be chosen at random via the rafflecopter, contacted by email, and announced here on the blog on September 18! (Winners will have one week to respond and if I don’t hear back, I’ll choose a new winner.)

Have at it and enter away!


And here, have some virtual cupcakes too! *passes them out*

Y’all are AWESOME! Thanks for celebrating with me and being amazing! Love you all!


(P.S. The voting phase of the Silmaril Awards is currently underway, so you have until September 13, 11:59 pm Central to vote for your favorite fantasy characters!)

June Ishness 2019!

June 2019

Oh, hey, look who’s getting an Ishness post up only a week late instead of waiting for several months! *gasp*

I kind of consider June and July one really long Junely “J” month, but anyway, June was pretty cool and I’m here to recap it!

WRITING: Plots + Wordwars!

I’ve been brainstorming The Skythief and the Secret Tower and KW2.5/Mixup at Kedran’s Wood (which I introduced last week HERE) and making a little progress on those, which is exciting!

I managed to write just short of 6K words of KW2.5 in June, largely thanks to wordwarring with my awesome wordwar buddy, Claire Banschbach (who has a book coming out this month, Oath of the Outcast, one of my favorite recent reads, and it’s Celtic-esque and features outlaws and brothers and my favorite smol floof of anger management issues and is basically AWESOME, so go check it out!)!

Er . . . that was a slight sidetrack. But a necessary one. πŸ˜‰ Because you need Rhys the Mountain Baron in your life.

Anyway.

I’m nearly 10K into my Kedran’s Wood novella and having a blast writing it! πŸ˜€

Otherwise, I’ve been keeping up with blogging (aside from last week because Independence Day *cough*) and trying to prep for Realm Makers, both of which I can count as writing-related, right? πŸ˜‰

READING: Delicious Fantasy!

It was another good reading month! I don’t know why but seeing these books together makes me happy. πŸ˜€

I’ll post brief thoughts about all of them in a Book Ishness post on my other blog later this week, but highlights:

  • The Wolf Prince – Claire M. Banschbach — Brothers + faeries + Rangers + snark + wolves = SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS EPIC STORY!
  • Curse and Consequence – Savannah Jezowski — Regency Fantasy + hilarity + adorable dragons + faery curses + piglets + true love = YOU NEED IT IN YOUR LIFE. (One of my faves so far this year; I read it twice!) Review coming to the book blog tomorrow!
  • Deadwood – Kyle Robert Shultz — Fantasy Western + Todd Crane + Julio the dragon + creepy Pinocchio twist + I edited it = yay, more Afterverse! (It just released and you need this in your life too, and, no, I’m not biased. ;))
  • Conrad’s Fate – Diana Wynne Jones — Chrestomanci re-reads are always awesome! ❀ Where my Chrestomanci fans at?

WATCHING: Holmes + NCIS + Bolt!

  • I haven’t seen many new things lately, though I re-watched a few old favorites like Prince of Persia and Batman Begins. πŸ˜€
  • I did see a couple of new-to-me Sherlock Holmes episodes (starring Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone, respectively) which was fun. I’m always up for some Holmes of any type!
  • I watched Bolt, which was SO ADORABLE! ❀ The dog and the cat and the hamster. XD I loved it! ^_^
  • Also still occasionally working my way through the early seasons of NCIS — just started season 5 and things have been Going Down. O_O (I watch it for the characters and they’re just so much fun. :D)

LISTENING: Cress!

I finally got back to listening to Cress and I’m about 3/4 done now and I’m having SUCH a blast! It’s been keeping me to a semi-regular exercise routine (unless I’m too busy or sick or something). It’s so motivational since I get to find out what happens next while I’m exercising, and I’ve also been bribing myself with a daily chapter of a Chrestomanci book if I get it done. XD

Anyway, Cress and her friends are doooomed but I’m having a blast and I love all of them so much! Especially Thorne because he’s hilarious, and Jacin because he’s verrry intriguing, and Cinder because Cinder, and Wolf because sad puppy, and… well… you get the picture. I LOVE THEM ALLLL. The humor and snark is my favorite, and the retelling aspect is fun too. πŸ˜€

BLOGGING: Success! + Blogging Hacks

Since my plan was to actually blog consistently again this month, and I actually DID, I wanted to share this little success with you guys. πŸ˜€ And share my blogging calendar hack.

I write blog post ideas on sticky notes (color coded for the different blogs: yellow for this one, pink for my book blog, blue for guest posts etc.) and that way if I need to move them around, I can do that without having to scribble stuff out. And since it’s a physical calendar that I keep around, I’m more likely to look at it than at a digital calendar. I can also see at a glance how often I’m posting on my different blogs.

Anyway, it works for me and I LOVE it, and it usually looks like this (minus being crossed out) at the beginning of a month but is usually too ambitious to manage. XD But I did in June!

Reviews

Regular Posts

Guest Post

INSTAGRAM: Daily Posts + Almost One Year!

I had a personal challenge to post on Instagram every day in June, and I succeeded! You can check out my bookish photos here if you like. It was loads of fun. *grins*

Later this week will mark the one-year anniversary of when I first started Instagramming! So that’s exciting. ^_^

LIFE: Editing + Rain + Colds

Nothing particularly striking to report in the life category — just, well, Life, you know. πŸ˜‰

I’ve been:

  • scheming about costumes and in other ways prepping for Realm Makers
  • editing
  • enjoying the rain (which is somehow keeping the three-digit Texas summer weather at bay temporarily)
  • seeing friends
  • and wrestling off a random and very-unwelcome summer cold. πŸ˜›

JULY PLANS: Realm Makers! (+ No Camp NaNo)

I’m not doing Camp NaNo WHICH MAKES ME SAD. But I figure I can’t wrangle that on top of Realm Makers so I won’t try. XD

So that’s going to be the biggest thing for me this month: final preparations for Realm Makers, a roadtrip, and attending the Realm Makers speculative fiction writers conference in St. Louis! I’M VERY EXCITED.

This is my second year going, and since it will be farther afield next year I probably won’t go that time, so I was determined to make it this year again if possible, and I’m so thankful it’s working out!

If you’ll be there, leave a comment and let me know! I’m SO excited to see so many friends, meet new people and authors, find some new books, learn more about writing, and make connections. ❀

(And no, I’m not ready at all, so excuse me while I panic and disappear for a week to frantically get ready for this. XD)

If you’re going to Realm Makers: check out Christine Smith’s fabulous post about getting the most out of this conference!

If you’re NOT going to Realm Makers but wish you were: check out Christine’s amazing post about that.

(Am I redirecting you to her posts instead of saying them myself? Yes. Yes I am. She does an incredible job of saying all of those things far better than I could, and you need those posts in your life.)

I also won’t be blogging or online as much in the next week or two, so . . . just so you know!

St. Louis Book Festival at Realm Makers

Also, if you’re in the St. Louis area on July 20th, you should make sure to swing by the Book Festival that’s open to the public and taking place at the Realm Makers conference! You can check out all the details here but tons of authors will be there signing books, including Terry Brooks, C.J. Redwine, Morgan Busse, and Bryan Davis!

And there we are! How was your June? Read or watched anything good lately? Are you doing Camp NaNo? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a splendid July! ^_^

New Year Calls: 2019 + Writing Ishness of 2018

Happy New Year, my dearest Roadlings! *throws confetti cleverly shaped like little 2019s*

This is the obligatory new-year post but it’s a little different because it’s two weeks late not all goals and accomplishments and resolutions. (Though there’s some of that.)

New Year calls and I’m terribly tempted to pretend like Bilbo that I’m not at home. XD *cough*

We’re already 2 weeks into 2019 and I haven’t figured out all my writing goals yet and . . . I feel a little stressed about that. The pressure is on when the new year hits to figure out All The Things and set goals etc. And I simply haven’t. (Particularly for my writing, which is slightly awkward because this is a writing-ish blog.)

But you know what? It’s okay.

I don’t have to know all the things I want to do this year RIGHT NOW. I do know the next thing I want to do, and that should be enough for this moment.

And if it isn’t, it ought to be.

(*shoos list-aholic self to sit somewhere in the back row instead of booing in the front one* Ahem. >.>)

I’m sitting here wondering why I’m so stressed and thinking how I should let it go . . . and I just glanced at the writing journal I finished minutes before midnight brought in the New Year and it made me pause and reflect, because I’d totally forgotten about it.

Here’s an excerpt of my quietly-excited New Year’s Eve self, inking dreams for the future:

“. . . that the windings of the road of this writer will bring me to wondrous places and tales of the fantastic and of the heart. I don’t know for sure my goals for 2019. But I hope to meet it with a deep breath and a soul ready for the wild adventure of this road that calls me onward to new horizons of pen and paper and imagination — and the love of worlds to touch our souls and show us the stars. Whatever goals and dreams await, onward — let’s rise to meet them with the dawn beyond the horizon. The stars and the sky of imagination await! Happy New Year and may 2019 be filled with words of wonder!”

As I’ve been stressing out these last few days, I’d totally forgotten I wrote that — I suppose that enchanted hour before the turn of the year was closed in the final pages of the book that was 2018 and I forgot to open it and look at it again until just now.

Granted, it’s a little dramatic (I don’t always write like that in my journals, I promise. XD), and may be harking back to my steampunk WIP world, but it’s the feeling that remains.

That girl sitting in the light of the Christmas tree scribbling her soul down before the new year arrived . . . I want to be her. She was so excited and full of hope, and even though the future was strange and she only had a faint idea of what might come next, she was ready to embrace it and make it beautiful to the best of her abilities.

She wrote those words and then went out and stood in the cold under the stars, and watched fireworks ring in the New Year and talked and laughed, and saw a falling star, and the night was full of magic.

So I don’t know my goals. And that’s all right. I have vague inklings of possibilities and I’ll hopefully pick some of them and goal-ify them at some point . . . but here are a few.

Goal Options

  • I know I want to finish The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2), since I’m still a couple of chapters from finishing. I’m so close that I can taste the final scenes but I haven’t quite dared to sit down and actually go for it. The pressure. (New Year’s Eve me thinks I should just get on and DO it already. In time, in time. Tare will make sure it happens, I don’t doubt . . .)

After that . . . I don’t know, exactly.

  • I should like to do something with The Siren and the Skyship, but I don’t know what its next step is — whether that’s working on rewriting it or carrying on with starting the next book in the series. Decisions, decisions.

  • I will probably end up working on something in Tare’s series after I finish KW2, but there are many options there, so again, I don’t know. (I should probably edit KW2 as well, which is a slightly scary thought. At least editing the new parts to be beta-readable . . . which is more doable.)

  • The Other Half of Everything lurks patiently and occasionally tackles me and makes me write a snippet or part of a chapter here and there. So I might work on it more — it always plays second fiddle to whatever my main project is, so someday I suspect it’s going to work its way into the spotlight of my main focus. We’ll just have to see when that might be.
  • And I have a few short stories I’d like to finish.
  • Plus, there are always other novels lurking, in case I’d like to be kidnapped by one of them, although the three above have been my Big Three for the last while.

So you see, I have plenty of options. I just don’t know, after this one goal (last 2 chapters of KW2), which option is going to pick me. (Because sometimes it feels that way instead of the other way around . . .)

Non-Story Goals

  • I’d like to a.) blog a fair amount, b.) actually do something with the newsletter list I started (*nervous laughter*), and c.) I’d love to go to Realm Makers again if I possibly can. (Which raises another question regarding what I should do before then, with which novels, for what next steps, if anything can happen on time — which is doubtful — and all of that’s a little too terrifying for me to want to think about just yet.)
  • Book reviews and my copyediting business will also continue, hopefully, so I’m excited for that. πŸ™‚

It’s all very well to pretend you’re not home when the Sackville-Bagginses come calling, but who knows if 2019 might not be, instead, a whole bunch of dwarves and a wizard, waiting to take us on an adventure? We might miss out. So I think I’ll answer that door anyhow, even if I don’t know my dreams and goals yet. πŸ˜‰

Speaking of dreams and goals, here’s a quick run-down of accomplishments of the last year, from my 2018 dreams post, since I’m curious how I did with them!

Dreams from 2018 that came true

  1. Finish a novel (possibly The Siren and the Skyship) — CHECK! This was definitely a highlight, finishing in the midst of NaNo.
  2. Start Instagramming — Done! I’ve already posted over 100 bookish pictures there since starting in July and it’s the. most. fun. thing. ever!
  3. Start a Facebook pageCheck! Though I should definitely get back to posting on it more . . .
  4. Set up my official website — DONE! This was one of the hugest and most exhausting but also rewarding things. I did it all by myself and it was hard but I’m super happy with how it turned out.
  5. Spend more time writing stories/characters I love most — Check! Tare and The Other Half of Everything and The Siren and the Skyship definitely qualify.
  6. Get my freelance proofreading/copyediting business off the ground — Done! I spent a lot of last year editing fabulous stories for Kyle Robert Shultz, mostly. (My new title is The Editor of the Afterverse.) I’m excited for the projects I have lined up to hopefully edit this year. I adore polishing novels and short stories, catching all the typos in my typo-net. ❀ I’m calling it a very successful first year of editing. πŸ™‚
  7. Have a giveaway or two — Done! I love giving away books so I hope to keep doing that.
  8. Go to the Realm Makers 2018 conference — YES! When I wrote that as a “dream” I had no idea it could actually happen, but it did and was the most amazing experience! (A post and another post about it.)

Half Accomplished

  1. Start a newsletter — Check! Ish. I set it up but haven’t really sent one out yet, which is slightly awkward. (But it’s terrifying, okay!) Setting up the list itself is a start. I hope to figure out the grand art of newsletters soon-ish. (And hey, if you sign up for it you get a free flash fiction, and will get to read my first newsletter I send, whenever I do! XD)
  2. Just write (no more perfectionism/not-starting) — Sort of? I’d say 50/50 on this.
  3. Letting myself have writing time — Not really? But at the same time I did write a fair amount. I do need to work on these two more, though.
  4. Develop the Siren and the Skyship sequels — Part of me is tempted to say I accomplished this, given that the two sequels have exploded and changed and switched places and also stolen parts of book one. So they’re more developed, but definitely not enough to actually write. So, again, half.
  5. Be open about writing dreams/thoughts on my blog — I did at times, but I also didn’t blog here nearly as much as I usually do, since I was rather busy living life, so I feel like I didn’t have much of a chance to talk about these things.
  6. Get closer to publishing something — The writing, learning, and network building that I’ve done this past year is definitely getting me closer to this elusive goal, but there’s still nothing definite. So I’m calling this half-accomplished.

Didn’t Do

  1. Finish the short stories I started — Nope. But I nearly finished two novels so I’m okay with this. It just wasn’t their time, apparently. πŸ˜›
  2. Figure out what I plan to do about publishing — I’ve learned a lot more in the last year about publishing, both traditional and indie, but I’m still no closer to a decision about what I’m going to do with my own writing.
  3. Write more blog posts — Heheh. Not really. XD
  4. Gather publishing/marketing info as a list of tips — Nope. Would still like to do this someday, maybe?

Well! I’m pretty happy with how many of those dreams I managed to track down and haul into becoming a reality! πŸ™‚

A few other highlights:

Writerly Highlights: 2018

I wrote 103K words in 2018! Which makes me happy. (I usually average around that much but had quite a bit less in 2017 so I’m happy that my slump went away. XD)

This included:

  • 51,600 words of The Siren and the Skyship and finished it at a total of 95K!
  • 42,700 words of KW2 (which is currently at 123K and almost finished. *cough*)
  • 4,000 words of The Other Half of Everything, including finishing the first chapter (even though I have about 18K of the book total; I write out of order . . . it’s complicated.)

Other writing stuff that happened:

  • My 2013 NaNo, Underground Rainbow, decided it’s actually a trilogy and split itself into three parts. (This means the first book is suddenly finished, even though I didn’t write any extra. How beautiful is that?)
  • The two sequels to The Siren and the Skyship exploded and then switched places, so that book 3 is now book 2, and book 2 is now book 3. It broke my brain but I’m excited. I also had major breakthroughs about the Sky Voyages series in general.
  • Tare’s series had a couple of interesting developments regarding side stories.
  • I did some major plotting for The Other Half of Everything.
  • Tare and a KW side character nobody’s met yet, along with the purple-haired painter/artist Kevin Johnson from Undercavern Rainbow, as well as Ivan and Lulin Aurelius from The Other Half of Everything, and a raven-shifter fellow, have all decided that they want an urban fantasy novel mashup with all of them in it, and that they’re going to team up for a magical heist, and EXCUSE ME why did none of you guys tell me your books existed in the same world?? HELLO. O_O (Pushy characters. I tell ya.) Anyway, that happened. It’s called The Portal Heist and I’m super excited. I do, awkwardly, have to finish several other books before I can get to this one, but it gives me something to look forward to. πŸ˜‰

I also:

  • Won a flash-fiction writing contest
  • Was a finalist in another flash-fiction contest
  • Did Camp NaNo in April and passed my 10-hour goal
  • Participated in (and won) NaNoWriMo in November for the 9th time. I wrote 58,323 words, which is the most I’ve written in a single month, ever.
  • Won the Indie E-con word-war with over 10K words in a week. XD
  • Kept my 9th writing-journal and wrote in it every week
  • I mentioned this, but I expanded my online platform with my new website, Instagram, Facebook and Facebook page, and newsletter.
  • Had many lovely get-togethers with delightful writer friends, including workshops, a writer retreat in a cozy cabin over a weekend, Realm Makers (!!), NaNoWriMo events, and just getting together in small groups and chatting. ❀
  • Ran a local NaNo region for the 6th year
  • Wrote 92 blog posts (across my two blogs), including a guest post about Draft Zero
  • And it’s not exactly writerly, but I went on two major roadtrips this last year (one to Realm Makers, one to visit family) and they were both awesome. We can call that research?

Whew! I had no idea so much awesomeness happened. I’m very glad I decided to write this post after all and found out. XD

I’m going to call 2018 an EXCELLENT year in the writing department, and look forward to the new year.

2019.

*tastes how it sounds*

Let’s make it a good one, shall we?

I’ll leave you with my new bullet journal (bjournal, as I Nordic-ly call it) and my new writing journal — a fabulous steampunk cat!

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.