1. 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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  2. Terrible HP Fanfiction (Wordbound, Week #5)

    February 18, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Wordbound, Writing by Kristina Horner

    Okay – as the creator of this concept, it was my goal to not fall behind in #wordbound, but it’s only February and here we are. In Week #5, I just had a surprisingly crazy week and was feeling more emotionally affected than usual by current events, so I missed it entirely – and then in Week #6 I came down with a cold that basically rendered me useless for like six days. Now it’s Week #7 and I’m a little overwhelmed, but I can totally do this.

    But one of the surprising and wonderful things I’ve seen already in this little community is that people are really big on catching up with week’s they’ve missed, so I’m going to go ahead and say that is a TOTALLY acceptable approach. The weeks and deadlines are just guidelines – the real feat is just making sure you complete them all eventually!

    So… now that I am feeling better, I am going to try to power through these puppies. Expect to see more blog posts from me this week.

    WEEK #5: Blogging Prompt: What is something you’re embarrassed to admit you’ve written?

    So I went back and forth on this quite a bit… was it better to show you actual writing I still have lying around from something terrible and embarrassing, or tell you about something even worse that’s long been lost to the depths of digital time and space? I couldn’t decide, so I’m going to do both.

    First things first: I once wrote a fanfic that could only be described as quintessentially Mary Sue-esque that took place at an American Wizarding School that I named Halfmoon Academy. You might think this is possibly somewhat clever – and I still think the name of the school was perhaps a better choice than “Ilvermorny”, but the crucial point here is that this entire wizarding school only existed as a vessel for myself, my middle school best friend, and the two boys we had crushes on to be wizarding students and inevitably fall in wizarding love. This is the only Harry Potter fanfic I ever wrote that didn’t end up on fanfiction.net, because I didn’t even bother changing the names. I just put my best friend and I in all sorts of wacky scenarios in which we would end up spending magical pre-pubescent time with the boys we had crushes on, and we were all excellent at magic, and it was terrible.

    The second thing I want to share with you is another suspension of disbelief piece – I once wrote a fanfic about how they installed an elevator at Hogwarts, for no apparent reason, for the sole external purpose of it breaking down and causing Harry and Ginny to get trapped inside. You know, so they inevitably would confess their love for each other and make out. The funny thing is, this has to have been the very first fanfic I ever wrote, because I actually really don’t like Harry/Ginny as a couple and didn’t even remember a time when I would write them together, so reading this now just adds even more insult to injury. It is also eleven chapters of cringey-goodness.

    Here is a choice excerpt from the piece:

    Harry put his ear up to the wall and shouted, “We’re stuck up here! Get us out!”
    McGonagall shouted back, “Harry? Who else is up there?”
    “Ginny!”
    McGonagall sighed. “Well, we would be able to get you down, but Professor Dumbledore put a spell on the elevator so that students wouldn’t be able to tamper with it with magic. Well, coincidentally, the spell was too strong and not even the teachers can fix it.”
    Ginny rolled her eyes. “So just send Dumbledore out to fix it! I don’t want to be late for my first class!” she shouted.
    “He’s away at a council meeting with the Ministry of Magic at the moment. He won’t be back for a little while. Don’t worry you two, we’ll get you out. It just may… take awhile.” McGongall finished before closing the shaft door.
    Ginny’s heart fluttered. Alone in an elevator? With Harry? “How long do you think we’ll be up here?” she asked him.
    “A few hours at least…” Harry muttered, sinking to the ground.
    Ginny followed, so that she was sitting across from him.
    “Hey, it could be worse,” he joked. “You could be stuck up here with Malfoy!”

    Ironically, every fanfiction I ever wrote after this piece was Ginny/Draco.

    For your convenience, I skipped a lot of boring will-they-won’t-they and fast forwarded to the good stuff. Here’s more:

    Ron sat in the Great Hall, stewing over the fact that Ginny and Harry were alone together in the new elevator. He’d warned her – she had better not do anything.
    He felt his anger getting the best of him. He didn’t know why it bothered him so much, but it did.
    He ran out to the elevator and kicked the door with his foot. “Ginny!” he yelled.
    When he heard no response, he pulled his wand out of his pocket and muttered a few words.

    Ginny heard the thud, and then heard her name being called. Knowing it was Ron, she just ignored it.
    “Harry?” she asked.
    Then the small elevator started shaking.
    “What the-?” Ginny shrieked.
    “Hold on!” Harry called to her, grabbing her hand with his own.
    It kept on shaking violently, jolting them around like popcorn.

    Outside the elevator, Ron was shaking as well. His eyes had an evil gleam to them, and he could hear the elevator shaking inside the shaft. He felt another wave of anger wash over him.
    Was he doing this? What was going on?

    Ginny screamed as the bewitched elevator continued to shake. She felt sick. Harry managed to wrap his arms around her, and they held each other close as they got tossed around.
    “What’s going on!?” Ginny cried.
    Harry was about to say “I don’t know” when a blinding pain struck his forehead. He cried out in pain and his scar felt like it was going to split his face in two.
    “HARRY!” Ginny screamed.
    Then the elevator dropped. It kept falling and falling.
    “We’re going to crash!” Ginny cried, as they plummeted downward.
    Then everything went black.

    Later when Ron wakes up in the hospital wing, he and Hermione have a very dramatic exchange of dialogue:

    “Have they… figured it out yet?” Ron asked, groggily.
    “Figured what out?” Hermione asked him.
    “Who broke the elevator?”
    “They don’t think it was a ‘who’, Ron. They think it was just technical difficulties.”
    “It wasn’t technical difficulties, Hermione.”
    “Come again?” she asked him, confused.
    “I broke the elevator,” Ron said.

    I literally couldn’t bear to the rest of the fanfic, but I assume that Harry and Ginny ended up together, Ron was possessed by Voldemort for whatever reason, and in the end they probably decided to remove the elevator from Hogwarts because it was too dangerous and a terrible idea in the first place? I don’t remember. I wrote this thing fifteen years ago.

    I’ll leave you with this:

    “What happened?” the nurse cried when she saw the unconscious students.
    McGonagall shook her head. “We’re not quite sure. It was an elevator accident.”
    Madame Pomfrey’s eyes widened. “Oh dear.”

    Thank you for joining me in this trip down memory lane, and please leave a comment letting me know if you ever put your characters in similarly ridiculous situations in your own fanfictions.

    See you soon for the Week #6 prompt.

    Leave a comment!
  3. Crooked + Behoove (Wordbound, Week #4)

    January 31, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Wordbound, Writing by Kristina Horner

    This week, I officially started work on my new project, which is a rewrite of an old project. And it’s going well!

    I also finally made a video to announce #wordbound to my larger YouTube audience, instead of just the folks who read my blog and follow me on Instagram like it’s been for the past month. The @_wordbound accounts have basically doubled in size since that video went live, which is pretty exciting. So many more writing buddies!

    Here’s the video, if you’re interested:

    I wasn’t quite sure how to utilize the prompt this week because I’ve mainly been working on character and setting study for Miniature. Once I feel like I know my characters decently enough, I’ll start on outlining, and then I’ll dive into actually writing – probably in another week or two.

    But I want to keep up with #wordbound, so I decided to finagle the prompt into my development work in a low-key way. I’m going to write a sentence summary of this book using both of my favorite words.

    I’ve had the same favorite words as long as I can remember. I think I’ve been carrying these around with me since at least high school, maybe longer.

    Favorite word #1 is: Crooked
    This has been my favorite word the longest, and I first really took notice of it when I read a book with it as the title as a kid. It’s a beautiful word. It’s not pronounced at all like it looks. It can mean anything from a villainous bad guy to a picture that’s just the tiniest bit askew. I love it so much.

    Favorite word #2 is: Behoove.
    This word is sort of a sillier favorite word choice, but my 9th-grade science teacher used it so much it really grew on me. I wanted to be the kind of person who said behoove instead of one of the many simpler, more boring ways to get the same idea across. Behoove is so wholly unnecessary a word that I love it all the more.

     

    So, here is my summary. I’m keeping it somewhat vague for now, as I continue to work through what I want to share about this book in these very early stages.

    For Allison and Riley, it would behoove them not to ask questions. It would behoove them to shut their mouths, do their chores, and stay out of trouble. That’s what the residents of New Jellico have done for the past fifteen years. But Allison and Riley have always had trouble doing what they’re told, and they’ll stop at nothing to uncover the crooked truth about their strange new town. 

     

    I’m giggling at how vague and ominous this summary is, knowing much, much more about this story than I’m letting on. But stay tuned, if you’re intrigued! I’ll continue to leak more and more as I work on it. Probably. We’ll see. Happy #wordbound-ing!

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  4. How #Wordbound has already changed the game (for me)

    January 25, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Wordbound, Writing by Kristina Horner

    On Monday, I sat down at my normal weekly writing workshop time. My goal was to write at least 1,000 words of my book Delaney Unlaced, and to work in this past week’s #wordbound prompt.

    The prompt was: There is a door. It is closed.

    This week most of my writing buddies were either out of town or home sick, so I ended up not going to the coffee shop we usually meet at. I instead opted to get my writing time in while sitting in the comfort of my own bed… but that’s not what happened. It should have been an easy scene to write, since I was at a part where Delaney fights with her mom through a closed door. Simple use of the prompt.

    But the words wouldn’t come, and I was frustrated about political stuff I had read on Facebook, so I gave myself the night off. “I’ll write on Tuesday,” I told myself.

    Tuesday rolled around, and I had a few other errands I also needed to accomplish that evening. I needed to sign up for new car insurance. I needed to unpack my suitcase from a trip I’d gone on nearly a week prior. I had to get some financial paperwork in order.

    Guys, I did all those things before I even attempted to write. I know that procrastinating writing is a common dance for writers, but car insurance? Nothing is less thrilling than car insurance.

    I was tired, and it was late, so I let myself go to bed without writing.

    This morning, when I was posting the new prompt for the week, I had to really stop and ask myself what happened. Why, when I only invented this whole concept a little over a month ago, was I having so much trouble being #wordbound?

    But then it hit me. I wasn’t having trouble writing. I was having trouble writing Delaney.

    Last week, the short story that I wrote flew from my fingertips. But every time I sit down to work on Delaney, everything just feels wrong, hollow, empty.

    I tried to think about the last time I felt really inspired by this book, and I realized I knew exactly when that was.

    It was November 8th.

    When the world got the news about Donald Trump’s shocking win, I tried to cope by continuing to write. Making art when things feel hopeless is important; it’s a light in the dark. But I started to doubt that Delaney Unlaced was an important enough story, at least for right now. I mean all stories are important, and not every book needs to be in some way linked to the current political climate (obviously), but suddenly I didn’t understand why I was dedicating so much of my time to writing about a person whose biggest problem is not knowing what she wants to do with her life. Delaney is a very privileged person, and part of her journey in the book is recognizing and embracing that privilege to help others – but that’s not really a story that needs to be told right now. That’s not a story I feel passionate about writing, given the world we’re currently living in.

    So today, I decided to stop working on it. Maybe not forever, but at least for now. And I’ll admit: My fingers shook as I symbolically closed the Scrivener file. My eyes filled with tears when I told Joe later over dinner. Because making this decision not only felt like the loss of 2 years of work, it felt like losing a very good friend.

    But I wrote another NaNo novel a couple years back called Miniature that’s been niggling in the back of my mind, and it feels a lot more relevant. It’s something I’m excited to work on again. Something that makes me feel hopeful. So I opened a new Scrivener file, and I called it Miniature Re-write.

    So, this is a little late, but I think I actually succeeded on the prompt for last week after all.

    Goodbye for now, Delaney Unlaced. There is a door. And it is closed.

    Leave a comment!
  5. Kissing Lessons (Wordbound, Week #2)

    January 17, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Wordbound, Writing by Kristina Horner

    Hey everyone! This week’s #wordbound post is coming in hot, mostly because I’ve been on a work trip since early Monday morning and this has been my first few moments of down time. I actually wrote a short story for this week’s prompt on Sunday, but I needed to do one more pass of editing before I was ready to share it.

    A little backstory: I sat down to work this week’s prompt into the novel I am currently working on, and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t do it. So I decided to write something new, which turned into the short story I’m about to share with you in its entirety. After a couple tough months working on my book, it was surprising how easily this story flowed out of my fingertips. Anyhow, I literally don’t think I’ve ever shared this much fictional writing with the internet, so I hope you enjoy. I won’t always share this much, but I’m going to today. Here’s to new things, and to #wordbound!

    This week’s prompt was: “A character writes a secret message somewhere.”

    Kissing Lessons

    My first kiss was a learning experience. No, really! I know everyone probably says that, but mine really and truly was. There were rumors all week about something secret and scandalous happening out back by the old baseball field no one uses anymore, and something about Roger.

    Roger kind of has a reputation, if you know what I mean. Oh, do you not know what I mean? I’m talking about kissing. You must need lessons as badly as I did, if you had to ask about that.

    Anyway, the rumors spread fast, and by Wednesday it wasn’t uncommon to see a steady stream of girls flitting out past the four-square courts, around the tetherball, and straight back to that old baseball field. I don’t think they even used that field when my brother Jimmy went here. And Jimmy’s in college now.

    The girls look like a line of ants, marching off to see for themselves. What is Roger up to? Is it true? Is he really giving kissing lessons?

    I heard from Sarah that he charges a dollar. Emmy said he charges two dollars. I’m not sure if one of them was lying about going over there, or if Roger’s prices have gone up.

    But despite all this, I’m still curious. What’s a kissing lesson all about, anyway? Is it gross? Do I really want to have the same first-kiss as all the other girls at my school? Or will I be inexperienced if I didn’t do it, like how all of Jimmy’s friends went to college except Brian, and now Brian lives in his mom’s basement and talks a lot about his war-gaming miniatures. I don’t even know what war-gaming miniatures are, but Jimmy always gets this sort of sad look on his face when Brian comes up nowadays.

    On Friday at lunchtime, I find my feet taking me out past the four-square courts, around the tetherball, and straight back to the old baseball field. There is one girl, Veronica, standing awkwardly around third base. I give her a small wave, but she seems so nervous she doesn’t even notice me.

    I know at the bank and the doctor’s office you’re supposed to stand back to give other people privacy, and this feels weirdly similar, so I don’t walk any closer than second. I brush dirt off the old, cracked base with my toe, and check my pocket to make sure the two dollars are still safely tucked inside. I had to tell my mom there was a book fair to get money out of her. I hope she doesn’t ask me which book I bought. Wouldn’t she be surprised.

    Erica emerges just then from the dugout, her face flushed. She waves Veronica inside, and I take my place on third.

    “How was it?” I ask Erica, and she shrugs.

    “Weird I guess.”
     
    “But do you like…” I try to convey a largely abstract question with mere eyebrow movement, and Erica doesn’t grasp what I’m getting it. I try again in plan English: “Do you feel prepared now?”
     
    “I guess?”
     
    Erica, you’re never going to get anywhere in life if you just keep guessing about everything. I feel the butterflies flare up in my stomach as she heads back to the courtyard, and then all of a sudden Veronica is walking out too. How long was that? Thirty seconds? I’m not ready!
     
    “You’re up,” Veronica says, finally acknowledging me. I’ve learned from my mistakes with Erica and don’t bother asking her how it went. I take a deep breath, lift my head high and walk into the dugout.
     
    Roger is sitting at the far end, a notebook and envelope beside him. He’s sitting on the bench sideways, one leg tucked under him, and he gestures for me to come over. Then he pats the seat in front of him.
     
    “Did you bring cash?”
     
    I take the two dollars from my pocket and hand it to him. I’m embarrassed that they’re crinkly, but he doesn’t seem to mind as he shoves them into the bulging envelope. 
     
    “Two dollars gets you a full minute.”
     
    “Um,” I say, finally sitting in front of him. I opt for one leg on each side of the bench. He smells like the cologne my dad wears, when he and mom are going out. I immediate associate this scent with babysitters, even though I haven’t needed a babysitter in at least two years. It makes me feel weird.
     
    “I’m your blank canvas. You can practice on me. Use me as your muse,” he says. I have no idea what that means. What’s a muse? When did anyone ever kiss a canvas?
     
    “Are you going to like, teach me anything?”
     
    “Kissing cannot be taught. Kissing must be felt.”
     
    I’ve never kissed anyone in my life, aside from i-love-you kisses with my parents. I know kissing a boy is a lot different, and I’m shocked he wants me to just… go for it. In a dugout. Without any kind of prep. Does my breath smell okay? Why did I have chicken nuggets for lunch?
     
    “Clock starts now,” he says, and sets a timer. A real timer. On his watch. I hear the little beep and everything.
     
    I panic, and instead of thinking – I rush my face at his. Our lips are nowhere near each other, and his nose goes right in my eye. I’m instantly humiliated, but Roger says nothing. His eyes are closed. Thank goodness. 
    I think of the timer.
     
    After a deep breath, I try again. My palms are sweaty and I don’t know what to do with them, so I leave them in my lap. Then I lean forward, make a little pucker motion with my mouth to match Rogers, and touch my lips to his. For a second I am frozen, eyes wide open and way too close to his face, and his warm but sort of chapped lips are unmoving against mine. I don’t think this is what it’s supposed to be like, but I have no idea how to improve upon it. I move my mouth a little, turning a bit to the side like I’ve seen in movies. Then I try parting my lips and it’s a little better, and Roger actually responds by parting his.

    I’m thinking maybe I’m doing it right when his watch beeps again and he springs backward.
     
    “That’ll be all, thank you,” he says, all business. I’m still leaning forward with my mouth slightly open, but he’s already grabbed his notebook and starting to scribble in it. I lean forward to see what he’s writing, but he covers it with his arm.

    He says nothing.
     
    “Do I get any feedback, or whatever? Was I okay?”
     
    He looks up at me, dramatically pausing his note-taking. “You were fine. You get a 50% discount on a second session if you refer a friend.”
     
    “I was fine?” I ask. “I just shared my first kiss with you and all you can say is I was fine?”
     
    “Oh, I wish you’d told me that was your first kiss. I actually charge as extra dollar for first kisses.”
     
    I’m starting to get upset. “What are you writing?” I ask, hands on hip.
     
    “Just some business documentation. You may exit the way you came in. Please send in the next girl.”
     
    I’m mad at him, and so I’m not thinking. He assumes I’m going to leave, but at the last second I pounce and rip the top page from his notebook. He so shocked I even have time to read it before he snatches it back.
     
    “Amelia: kept her eyes open the whole time?!” I yell, incredulous. “You’re taking notes on all of us?”
     
    “Well it’s just good business to keep accurate records of —“
     
    I lunge at him and rip the entire notebook from his hands and start running. As I run around the tetherball and across the four-square courts, I flip through page after page, ripping them out as I go.
     
    Veronica: Beads at the end of her braids kept smacking me in the face
     
    Oh my god.
     
    Erica: Alien tongue
     
    No way.
    Deb: I should refuse service to girls with braces 
     
    Roger is the slimiest of slime buckets.
     
    Samantha: A+ would kiss again
     
    Oh well good for Samantha. 
     
    “Hey! Amelia!” I hear Roger shouting behind me, but I have at least ten feet on him. “Give that back!”
     
    I don’t know what I am going to do with the book. I could try to out him, but I don’t think that’s the best idea. If anyone else sees this, it would just embarrass the girls who trusted him. I don’t want that to happen. 
     
    I just want to end Roger’s kissing career, for good.
     
    He’s gaining on me, so I veer toward the pond at the north edge of the courtyard.
    I’m starting to panic.

    Roger catches up to me and wraps his fingers around my arm, even though there’s people around. I don’t know what else to do, so on a whim, I toss the entire book into the pond.
     
    “You bitch!” He says, and I think it’s the first time I’ve ever been called that. The book sinks below the surface, fading away into the green muck. He stares at it a moment, incredulous, before turning to me.
     
    “It won’t change anything,” he snarls. “I’ll just get another book.”
     
    There’s a few crumpled sheets of paper with names on them still in my hand. He realizes as soon as I do, and I shove them all up my shirt before he can grab them from me. Even Roger wouldn’t be dumb enough to put his hand up my shirt with teachers watching. I think for a moment that Jimmy would be proud of me. He’s been learning about feminism at college, and explained it to me over Christmas. I think he tried to explain it to Brian too, but I don’t think it went well.
     
    “I’ll tell them what you did. The girls. And then we’ll tell the whole school that you’re the bad kisser.”
     
    The color drains from Roger’s face. “That would ruin my whole business.”
    “Exactly.”
     
    He’s having a momentary internal struggle, but then he lets go of my arm. People are starting to stare. “I’ll make you pay for this, Amelia.” His voice is low and serious, but he takes a step back.
     
    “No, you won’t Roger. Because if you stop – right now – I won’t say a word.”
     
    “And if I don’t?”
     
    I grin at him. “I’m not very worried about that, Roger with the chapped-lips.”
     
    He glares at me. He opens his mouth to say something, but then he changes his mind. Then he lets out a frustrated scowl and stalks away. 
     
    I take the loose pieces of paper out from my shirt, rip them into tiny pieces, and throw it all into the recycle bin. I feel light on my feet, and a smile twinges at the side of my mouth.

    For a first kiss… I’m quite proud of myself.

     

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  6. First Week of #Wordbound!

    January 7, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Wordbound, Writing by Kristina Horner

    So technically I already answered the prompt for the first week of #wordbound in my announce post, but I didn’t want to miss out on the fun of using it as an excuse to do more writing this week. So here I am! Writing more!

    First off, the response to #wordbound so far has been incredible. Many of your blog posts have made me teary, and I’m so excited to do this with you guys all year long. And this week wasn’t even a fiction prompt!

    The plan for the year is to start each month with a blogging prompt, something to regularly remind us why we write, what we love about it, and why it’s worthy of making time for. The rest of the month I’ll share “regular” prompts, which are meant to inspire fiction but can really be used for any kind of writing you want to do. There’s already such a staggering number of you following the Twitter and Instagram account – I’m just so delighted!

    My writing goals for 2017:

    • Complete an actual, real, solid draft of my Renaissance Faire book that I am happy with
    • Update my blog more regularly
    • Share some of what I write with the general public – not enough to spoil the book, of course, but a sentence here, an unrelated short story there. I’ve kept my writing in for so long… I want to start sharing more. Even if it’s scary.

    What #wordbound means to me:

    I already addressed this in the announce post, as I said – but I think can elaborate even more. And honestly, it might change for me too, as the year progresses. Right now, I’m realizing that no matter what slew of crazy new hobbies I take on… I always come back to writing, in one way or another.

    I started writing my first book when I was seven or eight. I hand wrote it on special paper I got from school and illustrated it with crayons. When I turned eleven, I organized round robins with a few friends from school, and we literally mailed notebooks to each other over the summer to keep the stories going. In late middle school I discovered fanfiction. In early college I discovered NaNoWriMo. No matter what stage in my life, writing always found its way back in, and honestly – that feels like being #wordbound. I’m bound to my words. They always find me.

    So this year, I don’t want to wait for the words to find me. I’m taking an active role in being the one doing the finding, and I’m going to do it every single week.

    Happy writing, everyone. 🙂

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  7. Introducing Wordbound Wednesdays!

    January 4, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Wordbound, Writing by Kristina Horner

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    Hey everyone! About a month ago, I made a video talking about how I wanted to find a way to commit to myself to keep writing all year long, instead of just during November for NaNoWriMo. There was a staggering number of people who agreed with the sentiment, and seemed to be looking at for me the “but how?” I’ll be honest and admit I hadn’t thought it through that far, at least not when I first made that video. But for the past month my mind’s been churning, and I think I’ve come up with an idea that will at least somewhat help cultivate the feeling of community we all enjoy in November – in a way that will keep us all writing, and working together, and sharing progress.

    Introducing, Wordbound Wednesdays! This is a project for bloggers, tumblr-ers, YouTubers – anyone who likes writing and wants to be held accountable! The idea is that each week, I’ll post a new writing prompt, which might be a more traditional idea you can work into a scene you’re writing, or more of a blog or video prompt about writing. Either way, it’ll be a way to give you something to work on each week, inspire new content about writing, and give us a way to see what everyone else is working on. Also, won’t it be fun to see how everyone answers the prompts in their own ways?

    What I love about this idea, is that it’s good for everyone. It might help you out of a writer’s block. It might encourage you to keep working on a project you put down. It might inspire a new project. It might just guarantee you have solid blog or video ideas 4-5 times a month. And it will help your own readers/viewers feel more connected to your writing!

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    The idea behind #wordbound is that as writers, we’re bound to our writing. We’re bound to the words inside our heads and the stories inside our hearts, whether or not they ever see the light of day. This project, and pledging to be #wordbound, is about committing to letting those stories out. Regularly.

    There’s a few ways to get involved with #wordbound:

    • Check out the master list of prompts over here for more info, and make sure to bookmark the page, as I’ll be adding the new prompts each week as they are revealed.
    • Follow the @_wordbound Twitter account to share your writing and see what others are writing each week.
    • Follow the @_wordbound Instagram account to see pretty visuals of the new prompts each week.

     

    I’m extremely excited about this project, and I hope many of you are as well! Leave a comment letting me know you plan to join in the fun, or just follow those social channels above. Thanks, and Happy New Year!

     

     

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  8. Welcome to 2017!

    December 22, 2016 ♥ Posted in: Journal by admin

    Societally, 2016 will be known as one of the very worst years of the modern age – but for me, I actually had a lot of really great highlights. It’s confusing, knowing the year was so terrible on a grand level, but still wanting to celebrate my own successes.

    I’m all about the camaraderie of hating things together, and I know we have our work cut out for us for the next four years… but right now, I just want to take a deep breath and admit 2016 kind of rocked in a lot of ways, too. I saw online someone saying “don’t wish your life away”. So even though there are still 2 days left in this facepalm of a year, I want to take these final two days to be proud for having survived it, rather than rushing it to be over.

    Kristina Horner 2016 Pink Hair

    In 2016, I:

    • Was hired as a Full-Time Employee at Microsoft in May, which is a career path I wasn’t expecting or even necessarily trying to take, but one that’s helped me grow in so many ways I’ve truly lost count.
    • Graduated from my UW certificate program in YA Fiction Writing! This has given me so much more confidence and direction as a writer.
    • Wrote my 11th NaNoWriMo novel in a castle in France, where I met incredible people and learned a great deal about myself along the way.
    • Got engaged to Joe! He proposed in front of Hogwarts castle, with a ring he made himself, and I’m reminded every day how lucky I am to have found such a sweet boy who cares so much for me.
    • Dyed my hair pink! After 28 years of feeling timid, I just decided to take the plunge. I’m a pink girl to the core, and now everyone knows it.
    • Played a reunion concert with my band The Parselmouths! This is something I truly never thought would happen again, but somehow the planets aligned and we did it. And it felt good.
    • Started cooking dinner more regularly thanks to Blue Apron! I’ve learned an insane amount about cooking since we began this endeavor, and the dedicated time with Joe doesn’t hurt, either. Plus it’s all pretty healthy food, which was a previous goal of mine.
    • Ran my first 5k! Microsoft put on a charity 5k, and a bunch of my teammates and I signed up! I only actually ran about half of it, but I was proud of myself nonetheless.
    • Created NINE new cosplays, including Future Twilight, Piranha Plant Girl, Lolita and Pajamas Princess Bubblegum, Taffyta Muttonfudge, Wendy from Lumberjanes, Gunner Peach, Renaissance Tinkerbell and Misty from Pokémon. This was maybe too many, in hindsight, but I had a great time doing it.
    • Read _ books. I’ll fill this number in at the proper end of the year. I’m currently at 41, but there are two days left in this year. Who knows what might happen.

    Last year I set some New Year’s resolutions for myself, so I thought it would be fun to revisit these and see if they worked out, how much I grew, and what to change for next year.

    • Make at least one more cosplay than the previous year! (Last year I made 5, so this year I definitely hit this goal and more. In fact, because of how busy I’ve made myself, I actually want to think about this next year. Cosplay is fun, but it really has the power to eat up my life, so I want to limit what I attempt to do so I can balance with my other goals.)
    • Finished editing my novel by the end of the year! (This did not happen, but I am okay with that. I decided instead of editing to do a total rewrite, and right now I am 2/3 done with that draft. I imagine I will have another solid draft of this done by spring of 2017, so that’s reasonable.)
    • Read at least 52 books – one per week! (I’m racing the clock on this one, but I did make the executive decision to bump this goal down to 50. I still might not hit it, but I will get close. I really enjoyed the books I read this year, so I am satisfied here.)
    • Invest in professional photo shoots for my cosplays! (I did this… twice, this year. I wasn’t overwhelmingly blown away by either set of photos, so I might just go back to casual photoshoots with my friends. I really want cosplay to just be a fun little hobby, so I think I am altogether backpedaling on my previous goals of taking it more seriously.)
    • Hit year #2 at Microsoft! (Check! My anniversary is Dec 19th, so I’m officially at 2 years!)
    • Find a method of exercising and eating healthy that works for me! (I got halfway there this year! Joe and I have been cooking dinner together regularly, I eat significantly less fast food than ever before, and I don’t crave as much junk food as I used to. This is a slow process, but I am proud of my progress. Exercise, on the other hand… well, that can be 2017’s problem.)

    Here are my new resolutions for 2017:

    • Actually finish your book to an extent where you feel okay sending it to beta readers and then, potentially, agents.
    • For the love of god, start writing a completely different book. (After you finish this one, Kristina. After.)
    • Plan an awesome wedding you’ll always look back on fondly, but also don’t let it make you crazy.
    • Cosplay, or not, but only because you want to.
    • Read at least 40 books. Be mindful of the books you choose to read. Consider #diversebooks and #ownvoices. (My reading goal number goes down every year because I am trying to be kinder to myself.)
    • Continue to de-clutter and minimize possessions/wardrobe. Invest in nicer things, but less of them.
    • Exercise. Please. Even just a little bit.

    In 2017, I want to help others and this planet as much as possible. I want to live a more sustainable life. I want to help raise others’ voices when I can. I want to focus less on possessions and more on experiences. I want to write more, love more, worry less. I welcome 2017 with open arms.

    What are your resolutions?

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  9. The Incident at Notre Dame de Peyragude

    October 29, 2016 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Travel by Kristina Horner

    Today we decided the weather was much too beautiful to stay inside all day, even if we’re being productive – so we climbed into our van and ambled out to a small nearby town called Penne d’Agenais. I’m continuously amazed at how movie-set-like these little medieval towns feel, which I realize is an incredibly American thing for me to say. However, these tiny cobbled streets with old crumbling houses set up on the hills are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The dichotomy between old and much, much older is stark, and I often have no idea what’s crumbling and abandoned and what’s actually a shop or someone’s home.

    This town was awesome, and we decided to just keep following the roads up. There was a small, steep stone staircase we passed, and it looked very residential. One of my castle-companions, a digital nomad named Nicole, told me that “we’re tourists… we can go wherever we want!”

    I’m glad I followed her, because the stairs took us to another steep road, which took us to the most amazing scenic lookout of the sprawling landscapes around us. There was also this gigantic crucifix at the highest point, which was both amazing and creepy.

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    At this point I truly adopted the mantra “explore everything”, so we kept on walking. I’m realizing more and more that you find the coolest stuff when you don’t actually know what you’re looking for. Further along the path, this time going down on the other side, we came upon a literal cave. Like a dark, scary, echo-y cave, set into the rock directly below the crucifix. Most of it was barren and empty, but around the side there was a prayer area, with this angel hanging around out front. She was like “Yo, I guard this cave. Come on in, you’re cool.”

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    Inside there was a bunch of candles, a small bed and a laminated story entirely in French. Even the best French speakers in our group could only make out that it was something about a small boy who was hungry and ran away, and Mary helped him find flour to make bread. Anyway, the point is, the caves of the wall were very porous, and hundreds of people had left little prayers in the crevices. We all took a moment to write something to leave inside the wall.

    As we headed out, I told myself to be thankful I’m not sleeping in a cave next time the castle feels cold at night.

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    Next we found this amazing cathedral. It is called, as my blog post suggests, “Notre Dame de Peyragude.” It was way higher up on the hill than anyone would ever decide to build a communal building in the United States, but it was beautiful and very obviously a popular, regularly visited church. Like, people have to seriously trek up a hill to get here. That’s some hard core religious dedication.

    The Catholic in me loves a good cathedral. The Catholic in me also had to google “jesus on a cross” to remember the word for “crucifix” earlier because I’ve only gone to church on Christmas and some Easters since about high school, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, this church was gorgeous, I feel like my dad and grandma would be proud whenever I visit one on a trip, and I know I enough about Catholic churches to not embarrass myself in one – even if I can’t speak the native language.

    Or so I thought.

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    Look at how pretty it is! There wasn’t mass in session so I was able to just wander around, look at the stained glass, make the sign of the cross with their holy water, etc. I also noted that even when you’re on the opposite side of the planet, all Catholic churches smell exactly the same. It was the first really familiar scent I’ve experienced since I arrived.

    There were prayer candles along the side of the church, so I decided to really make my elder relatives proud and get down with my Catholic self. Your prayers get to heaven faster, or something, when you send them with a prayer candle. I wanted to wish good health for both of my grandmas, so I put my 1 euro in the offering box, grabbed a little votive candle, and headed back to the shrine area where the others were already burning brightly.

    I didn’t see any sort of lighting device, which comes standard in a lot of churches. I don’t carry a lighter or anything of the sort so I had a moment of cluelessness. But then I had a stroke of brilliance – light the candle with another candle! Of course!

    I tipped my candle slightly over to the one beside it. It was going well for a second, and then the entire candle fell out of its holder, completely smothering the neighboring candle.

    I was mortified. I didn’t know what to do. I JUST PUT OUT SOMEONE ELSE’S CANDLE. AM I GOING TO HELL FOR THIS? I RUINED SOMEONE ELSE’S PRAYER. I did the only thing I could think of, I picked up the wrecked candle, managed to light it on yet another candle, and then very, very carefully lit mine far, far away from the one I’d nearly ruined.

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    Pictured here is my candle, feigning innocence, right beside its arch-nemesis.

    The candle to the left of the one I am pointing to is the one I almost killed, and the day-saving candle is the one on the top right. Mine is whistling guiltily and trying to blend in while suffering from imposter syndrome. I stayed a moment and said an extra prayer for the havoc I’d caused, then high-tailed it out of there.

    So, Grandma, I’m very sorry. I promise I will never terrorize another Catholic church again. I said that prayer for you, so God knows you’re involved in this disaster. I hope he forgives us.

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  10. #NaNoCastle Exploration pt. 1

    October 27, 2016 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Travel by Kristina Horner

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    Today I went exploring outside the castle with another one of the guests, a girl name Yamile. The weather was beautiful, so we set off early in the day without any sort of plan or goal in mind. We just decided to wander and see what we found, and the grounds here are huge, so it’s really easy to wander aimlessly for ages.

    This little kitty decided to join us, and literally trotted alongside us for over an hour as we clambered over the hillside, ducked under trees and found all sorts of cool old stuff. A few times we were afraid we’d lost her, but she always found her way back to us. To be fair, she lives here, so she probably knows this area like the back of her… paw?

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    We’re going to be spending three weeks together, so we decided to give our cat friend a name. We named her Claire. Claire loves us, and always tries to eat our food or sneak into the castle when we aren’t looking. She’s not supposed to go into the castle. This is hugely distressing to Claire.

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    Here is Claire warning us, “don’t bother looking inside this seriously ominous and creepy little shack. There’s nothing exciting in there.” We didn’t listen to Claire, as we made it our mission to look inside everything, no matter how creepy.

    She was right though. We only found spider webs and some sort of pressure gauge or water heater or something. I actually have no idea what it was, aside from probably ‘covered in spiders’.

    This whole place is old and sort of decrepit and spooky. I really don’t know how many airbnb-ers they get here, especially since a lot of the amenities on the grounds appear worn out and dusty and like no one has used any of it in awhile. It’s totally got that old “abandoned” vibe, like you should film a horror movie here, or take artsy pictures for a viral Buzzfeed list [10 Haunted Places You Can Actually Rent!].

    I’m sort of glad Claire accompanied us on our exploration, because if a cute happy kitty can live here then so can I.

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    This is an old tennis court that I doubt anyone has used in awhile. There was a sign above the opening in the fencing that said “Le Tennis”.

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    This is a boarded up old log cabin we found about a 20 minute walk from the castle. If I’ve learned anything from scary movies, it’s that if something is boarded up – it should probably stay that way. However, I desparately want to know what’s inside. Next time, log cabin. Next time.

    There was also a big row of beehives, like legit ones used to collect honey. I wanted ot take a picture, but I was too afraid to get close. Maybe I’ll brave it on a future exploration.

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    Here’s an awesome side-view of the castle. I wish we could fly some sort of NaNoWriMo flag from those points on top. Why didn’t we think of this?! I was so unprepared for castle life.

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    When we got back, two of Claire’s kittens were waiting to welcome us at the front steps. We really need to name the kittens. “Mom, why were you gone so long?” they mewed at us. “Because,” Claire said, slightly exasperated but still lovingly, “I’m a single mother and I haven’t gone out with the girls in weeks, that’s why.”

    The kittens just chased a bug, already having forgotten they asked a question.

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    Now I am inside, working on this blog post by the fire, and the cat family is taking the “no cats in the house” rule quite poorly. “But please,” Claire is mewling, her soft paws tapping the wood of the door. “After everything we shared today?”

    I’m sorry, Claire. I don’t make the rules here.

     

    Stay tuned for more castle exploration, as well as NaNoWriMo updates as soon as we hit November. I’m having an amazing time on this castle adventure and I love sharing it with all of you! Follow my instagram for more pictures like the ones you see above. 

     

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