10 Years of a Writer’s Journal

10 years ago today, I started keeping a writer’s journal — it’s a series of notebooks I call A Forest of Thought (FT for short) and I’m on my 9th volume.

It’s where I keep random ideas, names, and dialog, as well as plotting about my various books, and musings about the writing life. There’s something magical about writing out thoughts by hand with real ink, even when typing is faster (and more searchable) these days.

The first couple of years I was very sporadic with it, but I slowly developed the habit of writing down things that came to mind, before I could forget them. (Because you know you will, even if you tell yourself you’ll remember it!)

It took three years to fill the first volume, but these days I start a new journal each January 1st.

Now, I write something in it — even if it’s just a name I don’t want to forget or a line of random dialog or a quick jot about my writing status — every week, and have kept up that streak for two or three years now; not because I feel I have to, but because it’s a habit.

So, it just goes to show, even if it takes eight or ten years, you CAN develop habits and they CAN change your life — writing-related or otherwise.

It’s been an invaluable resource and a beautiful journey so far. They’ve been with me through so much and recorded so many thoughts from the forest of my mind as I travel the road of a writer.

Happy birthday, my FT journals! We’ve come through a whole decade together, and you’ve helped my writing in ways you could never know.

Onward to new horizons! ❤

(P.S. NaNo is going well and I hope to have an update post on that soon!)

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NaNoWriMo Writing Tips & Giveaway!

And creeping up, November came…
We readied, all, our hands and wrists;
Sat down before that pale white screen —
Lost in a Nanowrimo mist.

We’re just over a WEEK away from NaNoWriMo 2018 and I’m panicking eeever so slightly.

Because, well, when you’re going to write 50,000 words of fiction in the 30 days of November and you’re super busy and hardly ready at all . . . a little panic is probably healthy. *cough*

BUT I’m also excited because there’s nothing like National Novel Writing Month’s slight craziness to get the words flowing and to get swept away on an awesome writing adventure and basically live and breathe story for a whole month. 😉

For those who’ve noticed I haven’t been around much since the end of the Silmaril Awards… that’s because I just got back from a two-week roadtrip vacation, and I’m a little scattered right now (hopefully I can bring a new Ishness to y’all soon!).

But since it’s time to get excited (and scared… and prepared…) for NaNo, this post is here, and next week I’ll share what I am writing this NaNo season! I can’t wait to tell you guys. 😀

Anyway, I’ve done a few NaNo tip posts in the past, so I thought I’d revisit a couple of those, and share 3 current writing tips — and if you stick around to the end of the post, you can enter to win a copy of “No Plot? No Problem!” by NaNo founder Chris Baty.

3 Writing Tips

  1. Wordsprints with friends — Seriously, these are magic. I don’t always manage them, due to inconsistent internet in the room I usually write in, but this year during Camp NaNo I re-discovered how amazing they are. I always re-discover it, seemingly, so hopefully this time it will stay discovered. XD With or without someone to write with, the NaNo wordsprint tool is my favorite thing on the site and I use it all the time. ❤
  2. Find what works for you — I’ve discovered that I write out of order, that I write in draft zero bits, that I write to fast music, that I do well with wordsprints, and that I absolutely adore using Scrivener, and my new-found love, the companion plotting-software Scapple (by the same people). But something else may work for you. Whether you’re a pantser or a plotter or a mix (*raises hand*), whether you write best by hand or laptop, whatever software you use… with music or without… Try all different ways and figure out what works best for you and then stick to it.
  3. Go to a write-in — Okay, so if you’re doing NaNo, chances are you’re in a region on the NaNo site. And while there are not write-ins everywhere, there are certainly oodles of them all across the states and the world. I may be biased as an ML (Municipal Liaison, organizer of local events/forums for NaNo), but write-ins are a lot of fun. They help you meet fellow writers so you realize that you’re not the only person on this crazy adventure, and they set aside a time and a place simply for you to focus on your writing. You’d be surprised how helpful a room full of typing writers is to inspire you to keep typing yourself! (And if there isn’t a write-in scheduled in your area… set one up yourself. Just go to a library, bookstore, or coffee-ish place, set up your laptop, and write. You can even post about it in your local forum in case other writers want to join you.)

Below are a few prep posts from my past! If you haven’t read them before, go give them a click — or if you have, refresh your memory if you need some ideas/inspiration. 🙂

NaNo Prep Checklist

Firstly, here’s my by-far-most-popular-ever post:

(And the actual checklist. ;))

Sherlock Holmes + NaNo = Fun

Secondly, if you need some humor, it’s just the right time to dig up my NaNo-as-told-by-Sherlock post.

Draft Zero

Thirdly, check out my Draft Zero solution to just getting the story down on the page — particularly useful during NaNo.

NaNo Survival Tips

4th… check out 10 NaNoWriMo Survival Tips:

Secret Weapons

And, finally, there’s also My (Not-So-)Secret Weapons for Surviving NaNo:

Giveaway

I’m giving away a copy of “No Plot? No Problem!” by NaNo founder Chris Baty to one lucky winner! (There may be a NaNo bookmark and sticker involved. ;))

(I think it’s not the most recent edition of the book but it’s the one I’ve read and I happened to have an extra copy so thought I’d share the love.)

The giveaway runs from October 23 (Tuesday) to October 28 (Sunday), 2018 (closes midnight Central), and is open to USA addresses only (sorry, international peeps! I love you too, but shipping!).

You can enter via the Rafflecopter link, HERE.

The winner will be chosen at random, contacted by email, and announced here in my next NaNo-ish post when I reveal what I’m writing for NaNo this year. Bwahaha.


Talk to me! 🙂

Well, are you doing NaNo? What are your favorite writing tips?

Thanks for reading, and may the NaNo prep be ever in your favor!

Midnight Fear: A Flash Fiction Spooky Story

Hey everyone!

I’m back from vacation (did ya miss me? :P) and I’ll be doing some NaNo-ish posts soon (eek!) but today I’m doing something… different. XD

Jenelle Schmidt has a Spooky Story Challenge again this year (check it out!), flash-fiction edition, aaand I decided to join in.

I’ve been kind of enjoying writing flash fiction — works one thousand words long or less — lately (like We Otter Do It and Mentor Problems). Only problem is, spooky/scary stories are NOT my thing at all. XD

But I did have a flash-fiction piece around that I wrote a few years back and recently rewrote, based on a nightmare I had. I kind of wrote it as “therapy” and after I got it down “on paper,” it didn’t scare me anymore — but I wasn’t really planning on posting it lest it scare other people! 😉

So be warned, if that’s not your thing.

But I decided to share it anyway.

Enjoy!

Midnight Fear

by

Deborah O’Carroll

Night shrouds the world. Black as ink, the dark sky hangs overhead—the roof of a giant safe or vault, locking me into this world of nightmare. A car screeches somewhere. The city block stretches before me, with but a few yellow street-lamps to shine small patches of imagined safety onto the pavement—bits of light, small, pitiful, feebly trying to push back the night.

The wind is on the move. It drives grey rags of clouds across icy stars, slips cold fingers of air down my collar, shrieks relentlessly through the branches of a tree I walk beneath. The twigs chatter together like teeth. I shiver and hasten my pace, casting glances this way and that. I should have been home long ago.

Someone runs up the road—whisks past, a shadow under a street-lamp. He calls back from behind me in a hoarse whisper: “It’s coming!”

I don’t need to ask what “it” is.

I break into a panicked run, clutching my skirt, my shoes pounding a war-drum’s call, my heart a fluttering bird trapped between metal bars. The street stretches on forever. I must reach home before it finds me.

My house appears in the darkness. Relief floods me. But as I near my yard, I freeze. Terror grips me in an iron vice. At the crossroads where my street meets the next, a shadow moves.

Round the corner with slow deliberation pads the embodiment of midnight fear.

The black panther.

It’s twice as big as I had heard. It stops in the midst of the crossroads, shadowy head swinging slowly as if deciding which street to take. Not my street. Not— Motionless save for the twitch of its tail, its gleaming eyes full of quiet malice fix on me.

I stand transfixed as we stare at each other for a short eternity. Then, with slow, measured steps, it pads up the street toward me. Panic breaks me free of my terror-induced paralysis. I tear across the road, stumble up my sidewalk and front steps to my house. Safety lies in wait for me behind the door. I claw frantically in my pocket for the key. Not there. It has to be there—

The key is gone. I can’t get in.

Nowhere to hide. I must find somewhere . . . I dart a glance over my shoulder. The beast still pads slowly up the street. I run across the porch, down the steps, and heave myself over the side of the bed of the pickup truck. I hunker down low with my head down, breath coming in ragged gasps, heart running a marathon. Perhaps the panther will pass by, continue down the street . . . Perhaps it will not find me.

All is quiet. I wait forever. Silence. I dare a quick glimpse over the side of the pickup bed. My heart trips and falls and skips a beat.

I had heard no sound. Yet the panther pads toward me across my grassy lawn, as silent and graceful as any of its smaller kin. In horrified fascination I watch its dark bulk make its slow, sinister way toward me, a deeper black beneath the tree shadows cast by the moon. Instead of leaping, the creature circles the truck. A long wooden plank forms a ramp from the ground up to the tailgate of the pickup’s bed. A path straight to me. The panther sets a fore-paw on the plank and begins its slow relentless ascent, fixing near-hypnotic eyes on me.

I seize the end of the ramp with frantic prying fingers, trying to flip it over. It doesn’t budge. The panther takes another step.

I scrabble desperately about in the dark in the back of the pickup. My hand touches an object. A hammer. I fling it with all my strength.

It strikes the beast between its gold street-lamp eyes.

I hold my breath. The panther pauses, shakes its head once, then comes on. Its teeth glitter under the moon. Its paws tread softly pad-pad-pad up the plank.

In a final surge of mind-numbing panic, I grab the next object my hand finds—a large heavy mallet—and fling that too. Then another—a length of pipe—and another and another, I know not what, flinging them in quick succession. I shut my eyes against the terror and only hope one of them will make it stop coming. Just make it stop coming toward me. I am out of things to throw. Dark despair seizes me, but no claws. I open my eyes.

The panther still stands on the plank. It does not move. Then it sways.

And

The shape of terror hits the ground with a thud. It lies still.

Relief tears a gasp from my lungs as I remember to breathe again. I collapse in the bed of the pickup truck.

***

Time follows in a blur. They come at last to find the beast, and find it dead. I climb shakily down into my lawn. People surround me, despite the midnight hour, praising me and my non-existent bravery for the death of the terror. Voices roll around me, talking of taking me to dinner, of celebration. I don’t listen to them. I can only stand beneath the trees, swaying like their branches, staring down at the panther. It lies on the grass, a sleek pile of black fur, motionless. Dead. But without losing its menace.

Unthinking dread still fills me, and I can’t look away, despite knowing that it’s dead from the heavy metal things I had thrown at it. I wish I’d thrown heavier ones.

I keep staring, half expecting the panther to move.

It does.

Realm Makers 2018 Wrapup + The Greatest Showman

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

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

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

These are a few of my favorite things . . .

The People

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

Some of my favorite memories…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like I said, the people were my favorite thing about Realm Makers. 🙂

Getting My Story Read Aloud

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

Book Festival

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

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

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

Characters from The Electrical Menagerie!! ❤

 

Jamie Foley’s table!

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

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

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

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

I recognize some of these books…!

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

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

Common by Laurie Lucking! ❤

Realm Makers! Books! Oh frabjous day!

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

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

I met Theodore the Dragon! #celebritysighting

Sorting bookmarks and swag afterward

Books I got…

Some more books…

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

The Thing Of Which We Do Not Speak

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

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

Emily Hayse and Mollie Reeder being dangerous and fabulous

Awards/Costume Banquet

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

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

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

Steampunk dragon lady — H.L. Burke!

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

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

Andy Sheehan as Captain America!

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

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

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

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

Keynote speaker Mary Weber being fabulous

And Mary’s epic steampunk goggles!

Finalists for some of the awards!

Gorgeous homemade wings!

Bethany Jennings of #WIPjoy!

Tricia Mingerink as Rapunzel!

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

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

Kara Swanson

Ben Wolf

Gorgeous!!

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

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

Kira Thomas being amazing as Sairu from Goldstone Wood

Eilonwy!

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

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

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

E. Kaiser Writes as the TARDIS! :O

Kendra E. Ardnek as her character Laura, with the Dragon Lady! 😉

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

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

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

Sessions

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

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

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

Be confident. (From several people)

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

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

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

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

“What do you have to lose?” — Mary Weber

Nadine Brandes using The Hobbit as a pitching example

Steve Laube

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

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

Panelists, including Lindsay Franklin

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

Appointments

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

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

Hotel

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

A Gillian Bronte Adams in the wild!

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

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

Roadtrip With Friends!

Highlight moments

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

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

Roadtrip with Claire Banschbach and Kendra E. Ardnek!

Finally back in my own state!

How I Finally Saw The Greatest Showman

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

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

How does this relate to Realm Makers, you ask?

A lot, actually.

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

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

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

Ahem.

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

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

“But it feels like home”

“They can say it all sounds crazy”

“We can live in a world that we design”

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

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

“…to make you smile
On a rainy day”

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

— A Million Dreams (The Greatest Showman)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Random Pictures

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

I love the geeky decorations… XD

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

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

In Closing

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

Fantastic… epic… amazing… a delight?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A million dreams is all it’s gonna take.

So let yours be one of that million.

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

Hey, friends!

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

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

Ahem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I also have Announcements!

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

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

I have an Instagram!

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

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

I have a Facebook page!

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

New Website

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

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

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

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

It’s also hosting my new…

Newsletter!

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

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

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

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

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

Let me tell you about that… 😀

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

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

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

Well it wasn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wattpad and adorable new otter cover

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

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

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

Okay, I’m done now!

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

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

So I will see you then! 😀

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