1. #READINGBINGO

    June 15, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Books, Nerd Topics by Kristina Horner

    I don’t know what’s wrong with me – I get an idea in my head and I can’t let it go until it comes out as a real, living thing that people can experience. This is exactly what happened with #readingbingo.

    What is #readingbingo? It’s a readathon, one that I have invented. It’s going to be low key. I’m saying that more to myself than as part of this announcement.

    A little backstory: Probably at least a year ago, I had this idea that it would be fun to pick reading challenges off a bingo board. It gives the participant some agency in deciding what they read, but they’re still within the constraints of picking the challenges that make a bingo together. I also love that there are varying degrees of difficulty, depending on if the participant decides to make one bingo, two bingos, or go for a whole blackout. Bingo boards could also be reused by bringing in other types of bingos as well, like 4 corners or the L shape or whatever.

    Essentially I couldn’t get this idea out of my head, so it’s happening. It’s happening the week before Camp NaNo July, which in hindsight wasn’t the best plan, but HERE WE GO ANYWAY!

    So there you go! If you’d like to participate in the first ever #readingbingo, it’s happening from June 19-25. The best way to keep up is to follow the channel on Instagram. The bingo board of reading challenges is live now, and there will be daily Instagram challenges and other fun surprises over the course of the week. My intention for this readathon is for it to grow and change over time, so this first one is more of a test, and I’d love your feedback!

    My intention for this readathon is for it to grow and evolve over time, so this first one is more of a test, and I’d love your feedback! Happy reading, and thanks for always being down to try out my crazy ideas. Let me know in the comments of this blog post or over on the Instagram account if you have any questions.

    Leave a comment!
  2. Writing Confessions (Wordbound, Week #22)

    June 14, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Books, Wordbound, Writing by Kristina Horner

    This week was a “blogging prompt” week on #wordbound, and there’s really no excuse not to participate on those weeks (for me at least). It’s just so much easier than writing fiction, haha. So here I am! Being productive! Doing #wordbound!

    The prompt is: Make 3 writing related confessions.

    1. There are maybe 3 people on this planet who have ever read one of my book drafts in their entirety, and none of those people are family members or close friends. None of them is even Joe. One is an established and successful YA author I look up to, one lead a company that was thinking of publishing books written by YouTubers back before everyone decided to write an autobiography, and one was the then-girlfriend of a friend I only knew from online that lived in Australia. This is a very, very strange assortment of people and I really can’t tell you how each one came to read my writing. They all read the same book too, which is actually the one I recently dusted off and decided to work on again. I can say with certainty that what they read was not ready for external eyes, but you live and you learn. And then you don’t show anyone else your writing for many, many years. Haha.
    2. I definitely worry that I’ve hyped up my writing and my NaNoWriMo wins for so many years now (a decade!!) that by the time I actually publish something, people will expect something much better than I am actually capable of. I hear all the time that to be actually pro level at something, you have to practice for 10,000 hours. It applies to anything – musical instruments, crafting, cooking, sports, etc. 10,000 is a long time – it’s a lot of hours. 10 NaNoWriMos is also a long time, but I chalk most of those years up to “practice”. I think it’s okay that I haven’t been ready to share yet, but the fear of not meeting expectations is real.
    3. One of my biggest regrets, though, is not being one of the first people to write and publish a book about internet friendships, or fanfiction, or fandom, or cons. I’ve been practicing writing books about these types of topics for years, and they were still pretty novel even just a couple years ago. But now I feel like books about fandom are the new dystopian YA or vampire books, and so many of them are so obviously written by people who are jumping on a trend and not writing their personal truth. These types of books are so pervasive now days that I almost don’t want to write one anymore, even though I know I could definitely write something from a very unique perspective. Maybe I’m just bring a brat, but with the ever-constant desire to write something ‘different’, I feel like that experience has gotten a bit oversaturated in the YA book world.

    What are your writing confessions? I’d love to read them!

    Leave a comment!
  3. Cherry Creek Falls – Hike #1

    June 11, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Hiking, Journal, Seattle by Kristina Horner

    For the last year or so, I’ve had this inkling that I wanted to start hiking. Which is funny, because when I was young I hated when my parents would make me go hiking (“why would we just want to walk around in the woods when there are books to read?”), and I also distinctly remember in college making fun of the fact that the very first thing you’ll see on anyone’s dating profile here in the Pacific Northwest is that they “enjoy hiking”, like there is nothing more stereotypically Seattle than a loud and proud love of hiking.

    But… I mean. I work at Microsoft and graduated from the UW and started hiking and even recently bought my first The North Face jacket, so honestly… maybe I just need to admit that I’m pretty stereotypically Seattle. Maybe I should just embrace it.

    Anyhow, my friend Jenn and I decided to start hiking. We’ve both been trying to be more active lately, including signing up for (and actually going to!) a gym, and signing up for a 5k (The Bubble Run!) at the end of the summer. And yesterday we did our first Pacific Northwest hike, complete with sweet new hiking backpacks.

    And yesterday we did our first Pacific Northwest hike, complete with sweet new hiking backpacks.

    25 foot cherry creek falls hike seattle

    The Hike: Cherry Creek Falls Trail
    Description: A hike along old logging roads to a 25 foot tall waterfall on Cherry Creek just outside of Duvall, WA.
    Length: 5 miles (out and back)
    Elevation Gain: 718 feet
    How long it took us: About 4 hours round trip, with about a 30 minute stop for lunch and pictures at the falls, and Jenn struggling with a hurt ankle on the walk back.

    Thoughts and anecdotes:

    This was a fantastic first hike! The trail itself was moderate to easy, with a few tricky mud puddles to cross here and there. There’s also a point about 2/3 of the way in where you have to cross a literal creek, which added to the challenge and excitement. I’m not sure if it’s because we went early in the season, but there’s also about a half-mile stretch in the middle where the trail is really thin and a bit overgrown, so you spend a bit of time pushing through bushes and shielding your face, which was just a little bit annoying but overall not too bad.

    When you get to the end of the trail, there’s this beautiful viewpoint that overlooks the falls from above, but the real magic happens when you hike down the last steep stretch to find yourself at the base of the little body of water that forms at the bottom of the falls. We were disappointed it wasn’t warmer, because what a place that would be to take your shoes off and splash around in the water. We made due just eating the sandwiches, carrot sticks and chocolate chip cookies we’d brought along which enjoying the view.

    The people we encountered on this hike were friendly and had cute dogs, and even offered Jenn a beer after we passed each other multiple times during her ankle-hurting saga. We respectfully declined, because as savvy new-hikers, we’d already brought our own tiny wine bottles. Because we’re classy.

    The only strange thing that happened on the hike was near the most treacherous mud puddle – Jenn and I were cautiously making our way over when we heard a phone alarm go off. Jenn wasn’t too concerned right away, because she assumed it was mine, but I don’t use a phone alarm. I use the silent vibrate alarm feature on my Fitbit. I assumed it was HER phone, but it quickly became clear it wasn’t coming from her direction. In a few seconds time, I was certain either someone had dropped their phone on the trail, or there was someone waiting just off the path, ready to kill us.

    Once we’d cleared the mud, we walked a few more paces, and a man was just standing at the top of the next hill, by himself. It was his phone. He was holding it in his hands. And he obviously had been able to hear us saying “where is that alarm coming from? Whose phone is that? This is creepy!” from just around the bend but chose to say nothing!

    He was friendly as we passed, and we all laughed about it, but I was still pretty creeped out. I might have to write a scene in a book sometime where characters find out they’re not alone in the woods by hearing someone else’s phone go off loud and clear. Probably at night. Probably when their flashlights have gone out.

    For the record, I packed extra batteries for my flashlight, so this fictional horror scenario would not happen to me. Always be prepared.

    We’ve got our next hike planned for next weekend, and I’m so excited to make this a regular thing! Stay tuned for more blog post updates/reviews of the hikes I go on.

    Leave a comment!
  4. Catching up! (Wordbound, Week #20)

    May 22, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Wordbound, Writing by Kristina Horner

    Okay. I’ll be honest. I started the year with stars in my eyes, and I did (I believe) 9 consecutive weeks of my own writing project, #wordbound. Like, I completed the challenges and posted them on this blog. Then I got sick, and then I got busy, and while I definitely kept posting the new challenges each week on Twitter and Instagram, I fell out of the habit of actually completing the challenges myself.

    Here’s the pattern I saw: When I was doing the challenges each week, participation was high. When I wasn’t doing the challenges, participation dropped off. The last few weeks only a couple people have actually been doing it, and that made me sad — so I decided that was exactly the kick in the pants I needed. I love this project. I love seeing everyone sending in their writing. So I’m back. And I’m going to set a good example.

    I love this project. I love seeing everyone sending in their writing. So I’m back. And I’m going to try to set a good example!

     

    Wordbound Week #20: Subtly mention something strange on a mantle.

    “Cheryl! Can you come down here?”

    I roll over and look at the clock, and the boxy letters read six am. On my birthday.

    I roll back over and stuff a pillow over my face. A girl only turns sixteen once you know. I am owed the right to ignore the trying calls of parental units. I should get to spend this birthday morning in the way I choose. Which is not being awake. Or embarrassed, or surprised, or anything like that.

    I hate being surprised. I hate attention. And I hate that people loooove to do that kind of stuff to you on your birthday.

    I’ve almost convinced my brain to reenter the warm and comfortable dream I’d been having, about kissing Tommy Feldson on a beach, when I hear a stampede of footsteps assault my room.

    “Wake up wake up wake up, birthday girl!”

    Mom is jiggling my shoulders and Dad is tickling my feet, while Emma (the little brat) has climbed clean over me and is jumping up and down and head-banging, with her long stringy hair whipping me in the face.

    “This is the literal worst birthday wake up a person could receive,” I mumble, trying to burrow down deeper in the blankets, but in a flash, they’ve been removed from the bed entirely. Dad is holding the whole bunch in his arms, grinning like a maniac.

    “We have a surprise,” he says, unable to contain himself.

    Of course they do. Of course.

    “Come on come on come on,” Emma says, grabbing my arm and tugging me, her little baby hands cold on my skin.

    Mom moves to help me out of bed too, and I push them all away. “Okay, yeesh. I’m coming.”

    My feet are bare and my nightgown hangs around my knees, but I follow the whole batch of loons out the door, down the stairs, and into the living room. The curtains are shut tight, but the lights are bright and I notice Dad’s left his cell phone on the mantle again. It’s propped up strangely too, like he was trying to take a selfie and then forgot all about it. I chuckle a little to myself, imagining Dad trying to take a selfie.

    Everything in the living room looks completely normal – except, of course, for the three layer cake.

    “You woke me up for cake?” I ask, trying not to sound ungrateful. But in terms of birthday surprises, it’s pretty basic.

    “Sure did,” Dad confirms, and the three of them huddle in the doorway, watching me.

    It’s got light pink frosting, framed with a bit of a teal blue border done with a wobbly hand. It’s definitely homemade. It leans a little to the left. I imagine it could look pretty delicious if it wasn’t six in the morning. But right now it just looks like something I’m not as excited about as I am about sleeping.

    “Cake!” Emma screams in her little sister way, like a battle cry. She has way too much energy for this time of day.

    “You should cut yourself a slice,” Dad says conspiratorily, handing over a plate and a knife he unearths from… I have no idea where.

    “Shouldn’t we start with like… oatmeal? Or eggs? Like a normal family?”

    “Cake,” Dad says, thrusting the utensils into my hands. “For the birthday girl.”

    I’m extremely skeptical, but my family all looks like they took crazy pills, so I do what they want. It’s usually better that way. I’m starting to worry some kind of clown is going to jump out of this strange looking dessert, but it’s six in the morning and my family is all strangely obsessed with a cake much too small for surprise clowns, so what choice do I have? I set the plate on the coffee table next to the cake stand.

    I’m not really sure where to start, so I give my parents one last side eye and sink the knife right through the middle. It glides through easily, straight to the bottom.

    Huh. Maybe it really is just a normal cake.

    Mom and Dad are literally holding their breaths. It’s like they’ve never seen cake before. I don’t get the joke. It’s just a cake.

    “Keep going…” Mom says, and I have to admit this is starting to get a little weird. I wonder for a moment if I’m still dreaming, and will myself to wake up. I close my eyes for a second. The real test is if Tommy Feldson shows up, ready for some kissing. That’s how I usually know it’s a dream.

    “Cheryl!” Dad says, and my eyes snap open. Okay. Not a dream. And still no clowns, no shower of balloons, no kids from school jumping out of the closet yelling “SURPRISE!”

    We might actually be in the clear. It could be a sixteenth birthday miracle.

    Alright already!” I move the knife in an angle from the first cut, making myself a reasonable slice of cake. We’ve never had cake for breakfast before. It’s not any kind of Casey family tradition. It’s not natural. I’m still so skeptical, but we’ve made it this far without incident.

    The knife is halfway down the cake when this time, it catches. No. No. They couldn’t just leave it. There’s always gotta be something. Trick candles. People singing to you in a sombrero. Something stupid hidden in the cake.

    I push harder, just wanting to get it over with – and hear a “beep beep!” outside.

    Wait. What?

    I pause, then push the knife down again. “Beep beep!”

    My eyes widen and I pull the knife out, dropping it, forgotten on the table. I don’t even hesitate – I shove my whole hand inside the cake. At first it’s just cold, and a little slimy, but then my fingers lock on something solid. I pull.

    “Oh my god, you didn’t!” I squeal, like I literally scream, and I jump to my feet and head to the window. I shove the curtains aside there’s a little white car I’ve never seen before sitting in the driveway. Then I look down at the frosting covered mess in my hands.

    “Beep beep!” The lights on the car flash in sync with my pressing of the key fob.

    I turn around slowly, where my parents and even Emma (the little monster) are all beaming at me.

    “This is absolutely disgusting,” I say, holding up the cake smeared keys.

    Mom laughs. “A ‘thank you’ would work as well.”

    I run back to them and pull both of my parents into a hug. “Thank you both so, so much.”

    “Still hate surprises?” Dad asks as I pull away, and I narrow my eyes at him. Mom runs to the hallway, then comes back with an old towel. She hands it to me, and I start wiping the excess frosting from my new keys.

    “You got lucky this time, Dad. This surprise I guess I’m okay with.”

    He chuckles, scooping up Emma (the little piggy) who was sneakily inching toward my cake.

    “Can I drive it to school?” I ask, only then really realizing the car is mine. “I can’t wait to tell all my friends.”

    Dad’s suddenly got that look on his face again, like there’s more to the secret. He sets Emma down and swaggers over to the fireplace, casually picking up his phone from the mantle. “Oh… they’re already going to know.”

    I’m confused for a moment – until I see what he’s doing. He innocently taps on the ‘end video’ button.

    “Don’t you dare,” I warn, but he’s already pulling up Facebook. He’s tagging me in the video. He’s typing “LOL we totally got Cheryl”.

    I lunge at him, but he’s too fast for me. He hits ‘submit’ before I can knock the phone out of his hand. We stare at each other for a moment, both unsure what the other one is going to do.

    Then I reach for the cake.

    Dad howls and yelps backward, and I’m cackling. I manage to get cake in his beard, and he tries to retaliate but instead he gets mom, right in the ear. She shrieks and flails, but she’s laughing too hard to actually fight back. Emma (the little slob) seizes the opportunity and runs to the cake where she proceeds to stick her whole face in it to join in on the fun. This makes everyone laugh harder, which makes her do it again. She’s got cake all in her hair. She starts licking it off her fingers.

    “You guys are so weird,” I say, finally caving and licking a bit of cake off my finger. It’s just as delicious as it looks, even for six in the morning. “And this is the best birthday ever.”

     

    I’m going to pick a week this summer to use as a catch up week for #wordbound – and hopefully make it a week people that will feel inspired to try to do a prompt a day as a way to catch up on any they might have missed. That week there will not be a new prompt – instead, you can pick from any previous ones you haven’t already completed.

    I’m still working out the details. Maybe we’ll do it during Camp NaNo. Stay tuned!

    Leave a comment!
  5. May 2017 Life Update – Wedding Planning and Traveling

    May 21, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Travel by Kristina Horner

    Life has really been a sprint lately. I wrote a blog post recently called Adjusting, about how I’m trying to chill out and not run myself ragged, and I thought it might be a good time to check in on that. Really, I’m still exhausted and super busy, but I do think I’ve made incremental changes that are worth noting and celebrating.

    I’m going to run through a few bigger life categories both to catch up on what I’ve been doing, and to measure if I’ve made any sort of positive progress.

    GENERAL: My biggest hurdle in terms of lowering my stress levels and breaking free from the cycle of “always being busy” definitely falls in this personal fulfillment category. This is where I suffer from guilt for not making videos, for not having an Instagram with a strictly defined visual theme, for having cosplay photos on my computer that I’ve never posted anywhere, for never being up to date on all the good new TV shows, for ever watching TV at all, for not having made enough progress on my book… the list can go on forever, if I let it. My goal this year is to not let it. These things are

    These things are bonus. These things are the cherry on top. And I’m slowly learning how to be okay with that.

    Lately, I’m not sure if people have noticed, but I’ve significantly slowed down making YouTube videos. So far I’ve made 6 videos in 5 months, and honestly, I feel great about it. I have a few more that I’ve filmed but still need editing, and I have some ideas for others, but YouTube has become a hobby again in a bigger way than I’ve ever let it before, and it feels really good. Goodbye, shackles!

    I’m trying to keep this blog at least updated a couple times a month, with one of these larger life updates each month. I’ve embarrassingly behind in #wordbound, but that’s becoming a priority again as we phase into summer. My Instagram is still probably my favorite social account, and I try to keep it updated – including doing Instagram stories, which is new for me! That’s been kind of fun. I’m starting to get it.

    I don’t have any cosplay plans until PAX (end of summer), so that’s a relief. That leaves me to happily work on my book for the next couple of months in any free time I carve out. And to just… hang out with Joe. Play games with my friends. Be a guest on a super fun Sailor Moon inspired tabletop stream. Go to the gym. The things I so often had to pass up or feel guilty about doing, before.

    WEDDING: We’re still 11 months out from our wedding, so I am trying to take baby steps. Make incremental progress. I’m a planner to my very core, so I’d always rather over-prepare and then take a breath closer to the deadline than save things for the last minute, but the wedding industry is one of very mixed messages. I wish people would do studies on the pressures of being a bride, seriously. Maybe they do. It’s a very, very weird space.

    Almost every day I am hit with so many opposing points of view. “You have so much time, you don’t need to be thinking about this yet. It’s too early. Your weight is going to fluctuate, you shouldn’t be ordering things yet. This is your day, do whatever you want and whatever makes sense for you. We don’t even need to meet until fall. You have so much time. Literally stop working on your wedding it’s too early.” And in the same breath, I also get, “What is your wedding theme? What are your wedding colors? Why haven’t your out of town relatives gotten save the dates yet? Where are you going for your honeymoon? You know a dress can take 8-10 months to arrive, and then you need another 2-3 months for alterations. You should really have ordered it by now. This day isn’t just about you so here’s the list of seventy-six traditions you should consider doing arbitrarily because that’s what people expect. Where’s your hotel room block?”

    *falls down dead*

    I am a very organized person, and I’m trying to do this whole wedding planning thing at the rate that makes sense for me. It’s very difficult not to lose my mind sometimes, but I already plan events for work and I feel like I am doing an okay job. I’m just going to keep repeating that to myself.

    For inquiring minds, here is my actual progress: At 11 months out, Joe and I have selected our venue and the date. We’ve talked with a friend about designing our save the dates. We have some ideas about fun things we want to plan for during the wedding reception. We’ve mostly selected our wedding party but we haven’t asked them yet. I’ve picked out a dress, even though I had given myself another month or two to make that decision. And now that I have a decided on a dress, I am pretty sure I am set on our wedding colors.

    Now that those things are decided, I think I deserve a tiny break.

    Then we’ll start addressing envelopes.

     

    TRAVELING: Work has been so, so busy lately – so I am extremely happy to have a few trips lined in the coming months. Last weekend, Joe and I went to Vegas with his family, which was a total blast.

    The trip was for a combination of Joe’s mom’s birthday as well as mother’s day, and we did such a unique combination of activities for a Vegas trip. We started with the Beatles LOVE Cirque show, which I’d seen before but not since my 21st birthday. Sidenote – that was a long time ago.

    The next morning we got up very early and headed out to Red Rock Canyon for a morning hike. I was very skeptical of hiking in the desert, but the weather was beautiful and there was a slight breeze, so it was actually kind of a perfect scenario. The trail was pretty bouldery, too – which I think makes hiking a lot more fun.

    We also spent a good amount of time at the pool, in the casino, and eating delicious food. The gambling method of choice for both Joe and I is blackjack and craps, so we partook in just enough that we came home from the trip about even. There were of course jokes and delusions about winning the money for our wedding in Vegas, but unless you can throw a wedding for $-40, that’s a no go.

    One of our biggest regrets is that we didn’t at least try this Dungeons & Dragons themed slot machine. I’m always on the lookout for the funniest slot theme, and this was the trip’s winner.

    I started reading The Book Thief at the pool, and while it’s not the most lighthearted summer read, I’m glad I finally decided to give it a try. I am loving it so far. We also went to an ice bar, where they give you a parka and gloves, and essentially stick you in a very social freezer. Everything is made of ice, including your cup. I would show you pictures, but because it was Las Vegas, we weren’t allowed to take any.

    Only in Las Vegas would they construct a bar made entirely out of ICE in a DESERT and then not even let you take pictures. The whole situation was very, very poetic. Las Vegas is a ridiculous place.

    Upcoming trips include a camping trip for Memorial Day weekend, a jaunt to North Dakota to see relatives, and then a week-long trip to New York a bit later to meet some of Joe’s extended family. I also plan to do some hiking this summer, so I’ll hopefully do blog updates about that as well.

     

    Overall, I’m still a little busier than I’d like to be, but I’m continuing to find the balance. I’m getting there. I don’t think there’s any real “there” to actually ever get though, so it’s just a system of constantly checking in with myself. And right now, I’m okay. 🙂

    Leave a comment!
  6. April 2017 Life Update – Cosplay, Writing and Disneyland

    April 22, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Travel by Kristina Horner

    It’s been a bit of time without an update, so it seemed like a nice little Saturday morning to laze in bed a bit longer and write a blog post. I haven’t been as active online lately, but I’ve definitely been keeping busy! Especially since the weather has been getting nicer (and then worse, but then nice again – Seattle likes to play hard-to-get) I’ve been feeling more energized and motivated lately, which is always a nice shift. You can feel it in the air.

    Wedding: Luckily since my wedding is still over a year away, nothing feels very stressful or rushed yet. I’m hoping I can space things out enough to keep it that way. Joe and I finally decided on a venue (which is probably why I am so much less stressed about this now – that part was killer) and we’re working on getting save-the-dates made. We also asked my adorable cousin to be our flower girl, so I’m feeling good about our progress.

    Writing: I’m about 7,000 words into my Camp Nano project, which is also the new book I am throwing myself into after deciding to put down the last one. This is not nearly as much progress as I was hoping at this point, but I am still proud of myself for continuing to work on it, and I’m hoping to keep up a regular pace even after Camp NaNo is over. My goal is to have a first draft of this book done by NaNoWriMo proper this year, which feels reasonable to me. That gives me 6 months.

    I’ve still been updating #wordbound each week with new prompts, even though I’m a little behind in actually doing the prompts myself. I’m going to get myself back on track soon, and I’ve been so thankful for the folks continuing to write their stories each week for the prompts. You guys are great.

    Cosplay: While Emerald City Comic Con ended up being somewhat of a non-event for my friends I with regard to cosplay (just 2 rewears) we were planning to go all out for SakuraCon. This year was the 20th anniversary of the con, so many cosplayers chose to go retro anime with their cosplays. We jumped on board this train, finally bringing to fruition a long time goal of cosplaying as the colorful and eccentric Amazoness Quartet from Sailor Moon.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever worked harder on a costume than this one, and the days leading up to the con, it’s all we did after work. My living room was a disaster of ribbons, hair wefts, and fake roses.

    And then, on Friday, I started getting a tickle in my throat. I tried to ignore it, but there it was.

    I woke up on Saturday feeling miserable. But I couldn’t let my quartet down, so I groggily put on my wig cap, glued on my fake eyelashes, and affixed the pieces of my tiny costume to my body. And guys – I looked fabulous. But I felt like death.

    cerecere cosplay, amazoness quartet cosplay, amazoness quartet costumes

    We managed to walk around the con for about two hours (which was about enough time to film a segment for a cosplay music video, go to the Sailor Moon meetup and do our personal photo shoot) before I had to give up and go home. I did not see even an inch of the show floor. And I didn’t end up going back on Sunday (when I planned to wear a new Lolita dress). I absolutely adore SakuraCon, so I was pretty disappointed, but I was so sick. Now we have to figure out somewhere else to wear these costumes because we definitely did not get enough use out of them.

    Work: My job has been keeping me pretty busy lately as well – and as usual I really can’t say much. This is one of the most difficult parts of this job, truly. I am so used to candidly sharing tidbits about my life, but for some reason, I always end up working on projects at Microsoft that are tented, unannounced, or confidential. I still work in HoloLens-land, which is exciting. I’m also shifting focus a bit toward Microsoft’s new mixed reality initiative, which you can read more about here.

    Whenever I can share cool stuff about what I am doing at work, I promise, I will. For now, just trust me – I’m surrounded by awesome technology every day and I feel so lucky. Also, you can follow this Instagram account my team launched if you’d like. It’s gonna be cool.

    Life: My personal initiative to go to the gym at least twice a week took a tiny bit of a backseat because I had to take a week off to finish my costume… and then I got sick, but I already started making up for it by walking around the lake I live by yesterday with Joe. And I’m going to pick it back up again next week when I can breathe normally again.

    Beyond that, I’ve been reading a lot – I read a whole book while I was sick, and Goodreads tells me I am something like 10 books ahead of my reading goal for the year. I specifically set myself a pretty low reading goal this year (only 30 books) because I didn’t want reading to become a stress in any way. And now I’m blowing past the goal, which feels nice!

    I also went to Disneyland a couple of weeks ago with my girlfriends! Jenn had never been, so we needed to right a wrong. We went for two days (one park each day) and I’m pretty impressed with how thorough we were. We hit just about every ride we wanted to, saw the Mainstreet Electrical Parade, the Frozen show and World of Color, hit up two Disney dining experiences and participated in the food and wine fest. It was a solid weekend.

    Standard obligatory Disney jailhouse photo-op.

    belle dress disneybound, live action belle disneybound

    This was the day we decided to disneybound every dress Belle wears in the new live action film. Of course, Gaston was the first person we ran into. Typical.

    anna disneybound, elsa disneybound, anna and elsa

    Eia and I fulfilled a lifelong need to disneybound Anna and Elsa (and seriously, this dress has been hanging in my closet for this sole purpose for YEARS). What better place to immortalize our perfect outfits than in front of the #bluewall?

    It’s funny – when I was in middle school, I went to California Adventure with my friend Stephanie. While we ran around losing our minds on rides, her mom and aunt spent most of the day sitting in the Mendocino Terrace Wine Tasting area, and we thought this was the stupidest way to spend your time at a theme park. Well… my life has come full circle, because we spent at least two hours there on Sunday, mostly because our feet hurt and also wine is delicious.

    We also ate at the Blue Bayou, which was a first for me as well!

    We mostly spent our time shopping, because shopping is great and also Disneyland does that thing where the gift shops are mostly the same but you really have to see them all to see everything. And we decided to be completionists.

    I got sick of wearing that blue Elsa dress about halfway through the day on Sunday so I switched into an entirely new outfit of things I had purchased that day. #noregrets

    Overall it was an amazing weekend of pin trading, spending all our money, eating delicious food and wishing we could do weekends like this more often. I had a great time with my lady friends and I can’t wait for our next getaway.

    Looking forward to summer and some other trips I have coming up with both my and Joe’s families, and I’ll keep updating this blog to keep you all posted on what I’m up to, since I’ve been a little quieter online lately!

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  7. Camp NaNoWriMo Affirmations!

    March 31, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Writing by Kristina Horner

    I didn’t mean to wait until the last minute to do this, but it’s March 31st so here I am.

    Camp NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and it totally snuck up on me. I’ve tried doing the April or June iterations of NaNo a few times now, and I’ve never actually been very successful at it. It’s never had that ~November~ spark for me, like the “real” NaNo does.

    This April, I already have a trip to Disneyland on the books, and a costume I need to finish, and an Anime convention to go to. Things are busy at work, and I’m going to the gym more, and it’s spring so there’s also this underlying desire to spend more time outside – but I’m going to do it. See my previous blog post about why this laundry list of things I’ve already laid out here has has has to be secondary to my goal of writing at least part of a first draft of my new book idea.

    Because after all:

    My Camp NaNo goal is 30,000 words. That’s a big lofty goal for the coming month, but it’s the most important thing so I’ve got to try.

    I’ve been getting a lot of emails from NaNo in preparation for April 1st, and one had a really nice little exercise that I decided to do. I think the intention was probably to do it privately, for yourself, but I thought it would actually be a nice thing to share with others.

     

    “Today, take ten minutes to write three affirmations: one for each of your three biggest fears or anticipated obstacles in starting your April writing project.”

     

    1. I’m afraid I won’t make it to 30,000 words.

    Kristina, that literally doesn’t matter. 30,000 is an arbitrary number that YOU picked and you just need to do your actual best and write as much as you can. Carve out time. Really do it. Whatever happens by the end of April, you can just keep writing in May. <3

    2. I’m afraid I’m going to keep writing books with weak plots and flimsy characters.

    Isn’t that why you’re practicing so much? Isn’t that what practicing is for? Isn’t that why you took that certificate course in fiction writing, to study story structure? Aren’t you already so much better than you were a year ago, and won’t you continue to improve?

    3. I’m afraid people won’t like my books once I finally let them read it.

    This is a big scary one, but you can’t worry about that right now. Just write. If you like it, someone else will too. And you’ll someday have beta readers to help you make it better, and then an agent and an editor to help to help you make it better, and even when it’s the very best it can be some people still won’t like it. But that’s okay. There are people who don’t like Harry Potter. Remember that.

     

    Camp NaNo starts tomorrow! Who’s joining me?

    Leave a comment!
  8. March Update: Adjusting

    ♥ Posted in: Journal by Kristina Horner

    I’ve been going through a bit of an adjustment lately. I think that’s the best way to put it.

    It’s a few things, actually. I’ve always led a high-intensity life: thriving off of deadlines, challenging myself to fit more things in, trying to be the poster child for “you can do everything!” Then I started burning out. I started to realize I was doing everything but yet feeling like I had little to show for it. I started reading articles about the concept of wearing your “busy schedule” as a badge of honor, and it all sort of coalesced for me in a big ‘for what’?

    I’m learning that’s not actually the life I want. So I’ve been trying to take steps to change it.

    But it’s really not easy to unlearn a decade of bad habits.

    I stumbled upon this quote the other day from Alice in Wonderland, and it really struck me. The quote goes:

    “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”

    That’s the world we live in. I finally saw the spinning exercise wheel for what it is, and I am slowly trying to get off. And to do that, I am trying to figure out where I actually want to run twice as fast, so I can slow down the rest of the time. Stop, even. Rest. Read a book. Watch a tv show for once.

    So here are some of my adjustments. It’s a work in progress.

    1. Job: I never wanted to be the kind of person to say this, but my job has somehow, without my noticing, become one of the most important things happening in my life. I started at Microsoft as a sort of personal experiment, because I love learning and I wanted to know what the 9-5 life was like. I wanted to experience a desk job. A corporate environment. Work on a large team of people.

    A lot of people I know right now are quitting their jobs or stepping back from this lifestyle to pursue personal endeavors, a different path – but I’m the opposite. I’ve never done this before. I’ve embraced it later in life. This is my wild step into the unknown.

    And so I spent the first year or so there with one foot in, one foot out.

    I enjoyed the job – I did! But I rarely ever needed to stay late, I wasn’t very emotionally invested in my projects, I read books on my lunch break by myself.

    Now, that’s changed in a lot of ways. I joined a new team over a year ago that started to feel more like a family, and I had a lot more responsibility given to me. Then I was hired as an actual Microsoft employee rather than a contractor, and was entrusted to help hire the folks that would go on to build a whole Community team for Windows. And then my role expanded to become a much more massive version of what I was previously doing, and guys – I really, really care. I don’t know when it happened, but I do. Work suddenly takes up way more of my creative energy than I ever let it before, but I’m doing such cool things that I realized I’m okay with that.

    And while before, I was very adamant about not letting my job keep me from the “creative things I like to do” – now, trying to do both all the time… it’s killing me. There’s too much. And maybe it’s okay if my creative energy gets sucked up by the legitimately really cool things I do at work.

    That realization, for me – was huge. My job is a massive part of my life now. That.. changes things.

    2. Focusing: Now obviously I can’t become an office drone without any outside hobbies. I’m a creator. I make things. That’s never going to stop.

    But it’s time to focus in on the really important stuff.

    When you are kind of writing a book and kind of making videos and kind of doing regular cosplays and kind of running a book club and mostly keeping up with a writing prompt program and maybe writing blog posts and sort of committing to a laundry list of social and digital obligations, are you really doing any of it?

    Kind of?

    Does it feel powerful? Inspiring? Are you doing your best work? No.

    I still don’t have a working solution for this particular problem, but I know the theoretical answer is focusing. If you want to write a book, that means making sacrifices. I used to view those sacrifices as like, dedicating Monday nights to writing and complaining a lot about never having any other time to write – but the sacrifices can’t all be social. They can’t be minor. If you want to do something big and lofty and hard, you have to make real sacrifices. You have to commit. Wanting to write a book might mean sacrificing making regular videos for awhile. Skipping a convention I like cosplaying at. Realizing I will never have an active Facebook fanpage because it’s too much work and I don’t actually really enjoy scheduling regular content for myself.

    But the problem is, I’ve convinced myself that I have to do all these things. That somehow my whole identity is wrapped up in making YouTube videos and if I don’t, I’ll somehow cease to be me.

    Well… that’s bullshit. Because if I’m not even doing any of it very well, what public image or brand am I really building for myself?

    If I had to strip everything away but one, my singular focus would be on writing. The fact that I know that, in my heart and in my mind and in my gut means I owe it to myself to do something about it. So whatever it takes, whatever I need to cut out – I’m going to effing do it.

    I am going to admit I haven’t been taking my personal vow to write a dang book as seriously as I should, and it’s going to happen.

    And that might mean I won’t be around quite as much. It might mean I won’t make as many videos, or respond to emails in a reasonable time frame.

    But I think that’s okay.

    3. New life-affirming extra-curriculars: This is a bit of a departure from the rest of this blog post, but it’s another series of big adjustments that I think is notable enough to include. In trying to build better habits for myself around my personal projects, I started to see… other bad habits. And one by one, I’ve been fixing them.

    I started going to a gym.

    I started seeing a counselor.

    Joe and I cook dinner together, like real food.

    I stopped scheduling out every minute of every day, and I now only put appointments on my to-do list. Everything else (editing videos, finishing that sponsored post, working on cosplay, anything related to my online presence, catching up on email) I can pick and choose (when I have free time) from a casual, separate list. And if it’s not directly related to writing, I’ve decided that it’s all optional.

    These things are making a incredible difference in my life, and even though some of it (gym, regular counseling sessions) actually take up more time.. I’m already finding that the emotional and mental clarity they add to my life more than makes up for that.

     

    So this is why you might not have seen me around as much lately. This is why my Instagram might go a week without a new post. Why my blog posts are sporadic. Why I’ve not been cosplaying as much, or posting as many videos, or even remembering to tweet sometimes.

    I’m trying to do better. I’m trying to do better to the projects I really care about, to my relationships and to myself.

    So far it’s going okay.

     

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  9. Author photo/bio (Wordbound, Week #9)

    March 6, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Wordbound, Writing by Kristina Horner

    Alright. Because of NerdCon, Emerald City Comic Con, wedding planning, and a bunch of craziness at work, I fell a little behind on #wordbound this past month. I’m really trying to be kinder to myself, so I decided to let myself off the hook for a few weeks. I think I am finally on the other side of the madness now though, which feels good.

    I’m going to circle back and do a little catch up pretty soon, but for now, I figured I would skip ahead and actually do this week, because it’s easy and fun.

    The prompt this week was to take an author picture and write an author bio. I didn’t have an actual photographer friend handy, so I stepped away from my desk at work today to take a little author selfie. It’ll have to do, for now. Also, see below for my silly attempt at an author bio.

     

    Kristina Horner is the author of ten successful NaNoWriMo novels, but you wouldn’t know that unless you watch her YouTube channel, because she’s currently published zero of them. She is an aspiring author and life-long lover of words, and is currently working on multiple projects she hopes will actually reach your eyeballs in some sort of reasonable timeframe. Formerly a freelance content creator and musician, Kristina now works full time at Microsoft as a Community Manager. She spends her minimal free time crafting up believable excuses to get out of social obligations so she can stay home and write. She lives in Seattle with her fiance, an embarrassingly large collection of board games, and a menagerie of stuffed animals.

     

    I will be back soon with more actual writing – I’m trying my hand at some short stories this month while I work on the outline for my new(ish) book. I’m planning to share a couple of them, including one that hopefully incorporates a few of my missed #wordbound prompts.

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  10. I made a new video! And it felt great.

    February 20, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Wordbound, Writing, YouTube videos by Kristina Horner

    A few months ago, I realized I had this weight hanging over me that I needed to make regular videos, once a week like I always have, and it was really, really, dragging me down.

    I sort of developed this complex that because YouTube is still my largest audience, it’s the crux of all that I do and I have to keep up with it to make my other projects have value, to keep my other hobbies sustainable in any sort of visible way. I convinced myself that if I didn’t make videos, everyone would forget about me, and no one would care about my cosplay or my writing or anything else I was creating or working on.

    This is an absolutely ridiculous notion, and the moment I realized that, it was surprisingly easy to let it go. I still like making videos, definitely. But I needed to find a way to make it fun again, by taking away the discipline. I needed to let it come naturally, rather than forcing it into any open cracks and crevices in my life like I had for… years.

    Anyhow, I didn’t know that I had President’s day off until a few days ago, which was the greatest gift the universe could have given me. A whole Monday? A whole Monday I hadn’t managed to fill with plans yet? I woke up today and I had a really awesome, amazing thought. I thought, “I should make a video today!” It was such a nice change, to have it be something I was excited and inspired to do.

    So here it is. I think it shows, honestly. This is a video made by a girl who was excited to do it.

    Switching gears… in #wordbound news, I am still catching up on a few prompts I missed while I was sick. If you didn’t catch the fanfiction post I wrote prior to this one, you’re seriously missing out.

    For Week #6, I didn’t actually do any writing with the prompt, but it influenced a medium-sized plot point in the new book I am working on. The prompt was “something gets broken beyond repair“, and I’ve decided that on a road trip, the main character’s younger brother manages to accidently destroy his hand-held gaming device, which completely ruins his plans to spend the whole summer beating a popular new video game all his friends are playing. I’m going to count this as completing it, and cross Week #6 off my list.

    I’m still in the outlining stages of this new book, but I am really enjoying working on it. Things are good. The next couple weeks are a little intense with a lot happening at work, going to NerdCon in Boston this weekend, and Emerald City Comic Con here in Seattle the weekend after – but then things quiet down a little bit for me. And I plan to really dive into a first draft of this book.

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