1. The Best Weekend Ever

    October 26, 2016 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Travel, Writing by Kristina Horner

    Three incredible things have happened to me over the last couple of days:

    1. I was reunited with my band The Parselmouths at LeakyCon.
    2. I got engaged to Joe Homes, my best friend and boyfriend of 4 1/2 years.
    3. I flew to France to live in a castle.

    If that makes it sound in any way that my life is unbelievable or the plot of a romcom… well… maybe that will help you understand how I’m feeling right about now.

    Last week, there were only a couple things on my mind. Among those were “make sure you’re packed for LeakyCon”, “make sure you’re packed for France”, “make sure you remember the words to your songs” and “make sure you’ve tied up everything you can before 3 weeks away from work.” I was so immersed in being ready that I didn’t really prepare myself for what everything would feel like. So now, as I sit in the sitting room of a castle by the fire we made with our hands, I will go into detail about the 3 days I will never forget.

    Parselmouths Reunion Show at LeakyCon: Let me just get this out of the way first – I never imagined I would ever perform with the Parselmouths ever again. And if I’m being honest, I didn’t really plan to go to a LeakyCon again either, unless it was in a city close to me. Times change, you know? Good things come to an end, and I was full up with enough amazing memories to last a lifetime.

    But when Brittany (sorry, Elle) and I got together for drinks back in the spring and had a great time, and I realized LeakyCon 2016 would be right in her backyard… the gears started turning. The people at LeakyCon were totally down for a reunion show, and then suddenly… it was happening.

    It was super stressful. Like, really, really stressful. Practicing from different states, getting new shirts made, re-learning all the songs, and doing this amidst also planning a 3 week trip abroad – I literally thought I had been crazy to agree to something like this. And for what. A 30-minute set?

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    But I cannot explain how it felt to be on stage again. I’d forgotten the chemistry we have when we perform. How well people know the lyrics to our songs. How much energy courses through you at a place like LeakyCon, onstage. It was incredible, and I was so filled with love and excitement, and it was a part of my life I really never thought I’d get back. I had accepted that some amazing things will only live in the past and was truly okay with that, but this felt… it just felt so real, and so right, and I’m so happy it went as well as it did.

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    Which leads me to…

    Joe Proposed at Wizarding World!: So here’s the thing. I was ALREADY on a high when I woke up on Saturday. Our concert had been amazing, and I was so excited to take Joe to the Harry Potter theme park, because he hadn’t been there yet. We spent the morning poking around in shops, had breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron, then rode the Forbidden Journey ride… and as soon as we got out of the ride, Joe started insisting we all needed to take a group picture. It was a little weird honestly, because Joe never cares about pictures. Like at all. I have to force him to take pictures with me all the time. But he wanted a picture, so there you go.

    After the group shot, he said “can someone take one of just the two of us, now?” Which again – weird – but I assumed Joe must be feeling the wizard love this weekend as well, so we smiled brightly with our wands to the sky. I actually hadn’t even looked at this picture yet to be honest; I had kind forgotten about it. It’s really quite nice!

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    Then after a moment, I saw him reaching into his pocket out of the corner of my eye. It all happened so fast, guys, but I knew IMMEDIATELY what he was doing and I started freaking out. We were at HOGWARTS. And so many of our friends were there watching, and no one had a clue. AND THEN HE GOT DOWN ON ONE KNEE.

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    I was crying and laughing and waiting for him to actually ask me a question to say “YES!” to (we were both nervous, clearly) but it was amazing and magical and my friends were very audibly excited. A lady who was working The Forbidden Journey came and gave us a front-of-line pass. People cheered. I was so shaky and excited and nervous our friends did the only thing they knew how to do – they walked us straight back to the Hogshead and bought us drinks. I can’t think of a better thing to right after getting engaged than drinking spiked butterbeer.

    The rest of the day was pure magic. Joe and I just kept smiling at each other, and he extended his trip so he could stay for the ball. We danced and celebrated and soaked up more of the positive LeakyCon vibes and overall, it was a really solid weekend. I’m just so happy. It was so wonderful.

    But wait! Kristina. Wasn’t there a third thing on your list? Something about living in a mutha-effing castle?

    Oh yes!

    I am now living in a castle: After LeakyCon, I flew home for less than 24 hours. I used this time to unpack, repack, vote, and snuggle with Joe. It was super, super weird to leave him after BECOMING ENGAGED TO EACH OTHER, but he is wonderful and wanted nothing more than for me to go have this adventure. I miss him, but that’s the awesome part about deciding to spend the rest of your life with someone: he’ll be waiting when I get home!

    So, Monday afternoon, I got on a 7 hour flight to Iceland, where I transferred to a 3.5 hour flight to Paris. Then I took a 1 hour bus to Montparnasse station where I got on a 4 hour train to Agen. There Derek, the guy who set this whole #NaNoCastle thing up, picked me up in our big eight-seater van, and we drove the 1 hour to Chateau de Cadrès, where I will be spending the next 3 weeks writing a book. Whew! I am exhausted and I slept for 12 hours after this immense journey, but I made it!

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    Honestly though – way to put living in a castle into perspective, Joe. I really thought this would be the most surreal thing that happened to me this week, but nope! Getting engaged still wins I think.

    A lot of people keep asking me how this whole castle thing came about. The short version is, a group of people wanted to do NaNoWriMo in a castle, so we made it happen. It’s really that simple. But the slightly elongated version of the story is that Derek had a dream to gather a bunch of writerly types and rent a castle for a month to work on stuff together in a really incredible setting. He actually hosted a contest almost a year ago for one of the spots (which I won), which is why I am here.

    Over the past year I’ve gotten to help with castle selection, brainstorm ways to use the time productively, and outlined what I hope will be my best novel yet. There are already two other people here with me in addition to Derek and his wife, and I’m already having a blast. In fact, I am writing this blog post by the fire in our sitting room wearing my new slippers, and it’s amazing. We have a few day trips planned, but we’re setting goals we have to accomplish before we can go on the trips. It’s a great system.

    The castle portion of my adventure is really just beginning. I’ll be taking many more pictures, and I’ll try to keep you all very updated on what’s going on out here in the French countryside. Spoilers: it’ll mostly be writing. But I’m sure I’ll have some stories by the time I leave.

    Stay in touch! Follow my adventures on Instagram and also here on this blog. I really don’t know when I’ll ever do anything like this ever again, so it will be well-documented.

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  2. I Can Feel The Sun Coming…

    March 6, 2015 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Writing by Kristina Horner

    There’s something incredibly magical and infectious about knowing the weather is getting nicer. I realize it’s only March, but here in Seattle the sky has opened up and the sun’s peaking through, and I can feel it in my bones.

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    Seattle’s a funny place, because when the sun comes out, we know our time is limited. The sun is a finite resource here, and when we have it – we use it to its full potential. As soon as those clouds part, the city goes crazy. We plan vacations. We have picnics. We start jogging again. We sit on our decks. We make lists, we spring clean, we dust off old hobbies and vow to start doing them again.

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    This happens to me every year, and I am always thankful for those first, early rays of sun that really get my muscles pumping (both actual muscles and creative muscles). And after a solid three months of adjusting to my new job, I think I just might have started to find some semblance of a life/work balance again, which means I actually might have the capacity to take on these new summer plans I’ve got churning in my mind.

    I am a chronic over-achiever. I mean this in every sense of the word – while I love saying yes, yes yes to everything, it often leaves me with not enough time to accomplish everything I set out to do, stress knots in my shoulders, and a to-do list that would make even the most organized cringe.

    But at least when the weather is nice, I have that extra something on my side. Energy. Motivation. Positivity. The promise of long car rides with friends, inspiring conventions, seeing people we never get to spend enough time with, camping trips, and best of all – getting stuff done.

    I have a lot of things I want to do this year. My convention list has eight events and counting, I’ve got a laundry list of cosplays I want to make, and I’m trying to bite the bullet and finally edit one of my novels. I miss doing Team Hypercube regularly. I would love to take a personal vacation for once. I’m still trying to read 50 books this year, work exercise into my routine, and keep in better touch with the people I care about.

    It’s going to be a crazy summer. But somehow, the sun on my face on this chilly March morning is telling me I can do it. And whatever I can’t accomplish – that’s okay too. Because we’re only capable of exactly what we’re meant to do.

    What are your plans for the good weather season? Does the hint of sunshine ramp you up? Let me know in the comments, and let’s all try to encourage each other!

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  3. I Got a Job at Microsoft

    February 7, 2015 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Writing, YouTube videos by Kristina Horner

    Hello, lovely blog readers!

    As you can see by the title of this blog post… I’ve got some rather big news to share. Life alteringly big news, in fact — and something I’ve kept quiet for the last two months.

    I got a job at Microsoft.

    This is some intense news, so here is a picture of some kittens at a birthday party.

    This is pretty intense news, so here is a picture of some kittens at a birthday party.

    To be honest it feels a little cliched, having grown up in Seattle. If you were raised here, you know what I’m talking about. If your parents didn’t work at Microsoft they worked at Boeing. While I’d mulled over the idea of getting some sort of day job over the last year or so, I always imagined some hip new media company. Not… Microsoft. Not the most obvious place to work in the Northwest.

    But here I am. And to be honest, it is a pretty hip job. I was hired as a Community Manager, which means my responsibilities include a whole spectrum of various types of community engagement for a laundry list of games owned by Microsoft Studios.

    But Kristina!? you’re probably asking. Why did you take this job? I thought you were a professional YouTuber! I thought you made oodles of money talking to your camera!

    First of all, I am flattered if you think that. Alas, while I enjoyed my freelance time immensely, it was really starting to weigh on me. If anyone ever tells you that turning your hobby into your job is the ~American Dream~, then you should just tell them to talk to the hand. Because (let me drop a wisdom bomb on you for a second here) if there’s one thing I have learned in my twenty-seven years of life, it’s this: we have hobbies for a very specific reason. We have hobbies because we are creative animals, and we enjoy making things, doing things, being part of things. Sometimes we even enjoy making things just for the sake of creation, but when you add financial pressure to that, you can literally feel your enjoyment start to deflate.

    I didn’t want to hide sponsorships in my videos anymore. I didn’t want to make videos for other companies’ channels anymore. I didn’t want to wake up every day knowing I had to film videos, or had to write blog posts, or I might not pay rent. And I also didn’t appreciate the ever-present self awareness of “what am I actually doing with my life” looming overhead.

    I am acutely aware, however, of how special a thing I’ve created online. And how lucky I am that so many of you care enough about what I’m doing to have stuck around this long. For a long time, considering getting a different job felt like giving up. Throwing in the towel. It felt like I was admitting I hadn’t “made it”.

    But then I start re-evaluating my goals. Made what, exactly? I starting thinking about what I was actually doing, and what I wanted to be doing. I love making videos. I love blogging. I love my Patrons, and my book club, and I love the amazing community of intelligent, caring people who engage with the things that I do.

    Why would any of that need to change, just because I wanted to get a day job?

    It was at that moment that I realized it wouldn’t change. I could still make videos. I could still read books. I could still blog, and tweet, and interact with people online exactly like I always have. This moment of clarity changed everything and I began applying for jobs. The Microsoft opportunity came at exactly the right time and while I’ve been extremely stressed out as I struggle to adjust to a vastly different lifestyle… not much has actually changed, at least online.

    In fact, that only thing that’s been really tough has been not telling you guys about what I’m doing, which is precisely why I am writing this blog post. So… I work at Microsoft now, 40 hours a week. This probably explains why I might have seemed a little distant lately. It was tough to figure out what to talk about without spilling the beans, but I wanted to give myself time to adjust on my own before I told the whole Internet.

    Oh, it’s also been tough to keep up with my email. I did not realize how much email I got until I wasn’t able to check it regularly. How cow. But that’s another issue entirely.

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    So just to sort of let you know what to expect from me now, my online presence mostly won’t change. You can still count on 2 new videos a week. The Restricted Section book club is still going strong. I’ve got three cosplays planned for Emerald City Comic Con. And this blog will always be here.

    I’m just going to have a bit less free time, and I might complain about traffic a lot more, since my commute is right in the heart of rush hour and includes a toll bridge. But audiobooks are a new obsession of mine, so there’s always a silver lining.

    Whew. I don’t know why I am so nervous to be announcing this. I guess it makes sense, because it’s the biggest change that’s happened in my life in a long time. It’s been sort of a tough adjustment, and I miss having all the time in the world to create things for you guys.

    But I think this is going to be a very good thing for me.

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  4. December Updates!

    December 9, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Books, Journal, Writing, YouTube videos by Kristina Horner

    Hello valiant blog readers!

    I have been terrible at keeping this thing updated. I know. Every time I get busy this blog is the first thing to go, but it’s also one of my favorite things I do online! I don’t understand it! I’m gonna be better. I promise.

    Anyway! Here’s what I have been up to since the last time I wrote a blog post, which was… early November.

    The biggest thing for me was – I finished my 9th NaNoWriMo novel! It was a crazy month, with very little time for anything other than writing, but I DID IT. It felt amazing, and here’s my video documentation of the process if you want to know more about what it was like for me:


     

    I also recently started up a book club on Goodreads if you haven’t heard about that yet. It’s called The Restricted Section and we’ve already got a great group of people involved! Our first book (for November) was Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore (which I loved) and this month we’re reading My True Love Gave to Me, a compilation of holiday themed short stories written by popular YA authors. I can’t wait to dive into it.

    As for this month, I’m currently gearing up for Project 4 Awesome (that’s taking place December 12-13 if you wanna get involved) and then shortly after that is the Christmas BookTubeAThon! I can’t WAIT to find out what the challenges are; I love BookTubeAThon so much. I will likely be making daily videos and shoving everything else on my to-do list way down so I can knock out a bunch more reading before the end of the year.

    It’s also going to be my birthday soon… I turn 27 on the 27th, making it my golden birthday! This will also set my well into my “late twenties”, which is something I am still grappling with, emotionally. Where did the time go? I honestly couldn’t tell you. I was too busy wearing footy pajamas and watching My Little Pony to notice how old I’ve gotten.

    That’s sort of it, for now! I hope you’re all doing well and I will be back very soon with another blog post. Happy December!

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  5. NaNoWriMo 2014 Pep Talk!

    October 22, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Books, Geek Events, Writing, YouTube videos by Kristina Horner

    Hello lovely blog readers!

    Did I just hear a – a chorus of groans? You know it’s coming, don’t you. NaNoWriMo is upon us, and we have just over a week left to prepare. What is NaNoWriMo, you ask? Well, luckily for you, I’ve just posted my annual NaNoWriMo video – explaining the event and giving tips/advice to anyone out there who might be interested in participating.

    Also, if you’ve been watching my videos for at least a year, there’s a chance I may call you out by name. Why? Well… you’ll see. *evil laughter* *more evil laughter* *even more evil – wait I have to write a novel too, I don’t have time for three rounds of evil laughter, I’m off to brainstorm whatever the heck I’m writing this year*

    If you’re attempting NaNoWriMo this year, good luck! Add me as a writing buddy, and let me know in the comments of this blog post if you do!

     

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  6. Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld – Review!

    October 17, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Books, Kristina Reviews Things, Writing, YouTube videos by Kristina Horner


     

    This video is a week or two old, but I wanted to give people a chance to get out and grab this book before posting my review here. I’m talking of course of Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld, a really unique new book that centers around both a girl name Darcy and the character she creates named Lizzie. This book really spoke to me because she wrote her first novel in 30 days, in November, which many will recognize to be NaNoWriMo. I loved reading about someone else’s experience with the project, and I had a lot to say about the book!

    Have you read Afterworlds yet? Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Please leave me comments and let me know your thoughts!

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  7. BookTubeAThon 2014!

    July 11, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Books, Nerd Topics, Writing, YouTube videos by Kristina Horner

    So… I may have done something crazy.

    What could you possibly done that’s so crazy, Kristina? you might ask.

    I may have committed to attempting the Book-Tube-A-Thon starting on Monday, July 14th. For those who don’t know what the Book-Tube-A-Thon is (like me, 3 days ago), all the information about it can be found here. It’s sort of like NaNoWriMo, but for reading. This is scary for a number of reasons, but mainly because I already know I can handle NaNoWriMo, even if I undergo small amounts of insanity in the process.

    But Book-Tube-A-Thon is terrifying. Book-Tube-A-Thon is the unknown. Book-Tube-A-Thon is gonna be GREAT.

    The thing is – writing 1,667 words a day, in a vacuum, is pretty easy. It’s really the challenge of doing it EVERY SINGLE DAY that starts to make you lose your mind. But reading SEVEN BOOKS in SEVEN DAYS? Coming from a slow reader, well, let’s just say it’s going to be a challenge.

    BUT I AM SO PUMPED.

    I’ll be announcing my full TBR list in the first video check-in on Monday (oh, did I not mention? On top of reading seven books in seven days, there are also daily videos. With challenges. Sure, no big deal, next week is going to be a piece of cake) so make sure you’re subscribed to my channel if you want to witness the madness first hand.

    I will end this blog post by revealing the first of my seven books, though:

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    The Selection by Kiera Cass! I’ve heard nothing but good things about this series, even if most of the people reading it were slightly ashamed by how much they liked it. Not gonna lie, I can be a total sucker for those kinds of books.

    You’re probably wondering, after all this, why I am doing this. If it’s so scary, why do it? Well, I have a few answers for you.

    1. “Because it’s scary” is one of my favorite reasons to do anything. It’s why this year will be Year 9 of NaNoWriMo, it’s why I have a YouTube channel at all, and it’s why cave hiking is one of my favorite new hobbies. Nothing helps you grow as a person quite like attempting something that terrifies you, and coming out the other side a victor. Or, alternately, failing miserably. Both are okay options! Both are good for you!
    2. I’m really pumped on books lately, and the BookTube community seems amazing and welcoming and fun. What better way to try to assimilate myself with them than to tag along on their craziest adventure? I hope they like me. Fingers crossed they like me.
    3. How ELSE am I gonna accomplish any of my reading goals this year when there are so many distractions everywhere? I love the idea of a militant reading challenge. I write the most during November and it really works for me. Why not try the same with reading?

    I likely wont be blogging much (if at all) during the Book-Tube-A-Thon, but who knows. It’s only a week though, so be sure to check back after for my thoughts on the whole experience. And if it sounds fun to you at all… feel free to join in the fun! I’ll be talking about it a lot on Twitter, especially since it’s just perfect for #JulyReading.

    See you on the other side! Two and a half more days before THE CRAZY BEGINS!!!

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  8. July Reading Challenge!

    July 3, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Books, Geek Events, Writing by Kristina Horner

    Okay so. The July Reading Challenge. This is just a little idea I had yesterday while thinking about making time for reading. I pitched the idea on Twitter and when the reaction was positive, I kind of got carried away with it.

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    The premise is simple: Just read every day. But the idea is to really pledge to do it, and to hold yourself accountable for it. I’m organizing a little support group for readers on Twitter, so if this idea sounds interesting to you, join in! Use the hashtag #JulyReading and respond to other readers whose posts you find! Encourage each other, share favorite lines from what you’re reading and recommend books to others.

    I was going to make a whole list of questions to answer each day on twitter, but maybe I’ll do this challenge again sometime with more rigid rules. For this first run at it, let’s just keep it casual.

    Make sure you’re following me on Twitter to follow along – I’ll be asking for check-ins each day, asking questions and sharing what I’m reading. I’d love it if you’d respond as well!

    Let me know in the comments if you pledge to read every day in July. We’re going to get so much reading done!

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  9. Patreon – A New Endeavor!

    February 26, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Writing, YouTube videos by Kristina Horner

    Hey, blog readers! I just wanted to tell you about something I’m launching today that’s sort of a big addition to the things I already do. I’m kicking off a Patreon page, and I am extremely excited about it.

    What is Patreon? Well, the best way to answer that is to just show you the video I made on the topic:

     

    Essentially, I’m taking a huge leap of faith for my art. I am inviting anyone who’s ever enjoyed the things I’ve made to become a patron of my work; to help fund my projects so I can focus even more time on creating the type of content YOU like to see, rather than relying on product placement deals to pay my bills. I love giving my honest opinions on the products I love in my videos, and I am tired of having that jeopardized by saying yes to sponsored videos for things I don’t actually care about.

    Patreon will hopefully both make that a reality, and open even more new doors for me. Maybe that’ll mean more frequent videos. Maybe more creative writing. Either way, it’s going to be exciting for everyone involved.

    All of the content you were getting from me before is still free – my videos, my blog posts, outfit of the day pictures, etc. Patreon is just a way to become more involved with that process as a viewer. At certain levels you can even give me topics to write or vlog about! Patreon will hopefully enable me to do more freelance work – doing what I love rather than just work that pays the bills.

    The perk I am most excited about is just at the $5 level – you can take a personality quiz that I wrote myself to find out what kind of Unicorn Warrior you are, and then join a secret Facebook group to meet the others and chat and interact with me on a regular basis. It’s going to be a lot of fun – and that’s just one of the things I am offering!

    Please go check out my page if you’ve ever enjoyed anything I’ve created. This new project is scary and fun and exciting all at once but it’ll only be successful with your support. <3

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  10. I’m Back! December Update.

    December 3, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Writing by Kristina Horner

    Well!

    It has been quite the month. I apologize for taking so much time off of this blog – I really, truly enjoy updating it nearly every day, but that last stretch of NaNoWriMo just made it really difficult to do anything else, not to mention another writing intensive project. But! I made it through victorious, yet again. 2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

    I’ve been working diligently on on editing my “film myself every day of November to show the craziness unfold” video project, and it should be going up on my YouTube channel tomorrow. If you’ve ever wanted to see a first hand account of what true insanity looks like, you’ll probably enjoy this video.

    In other news, I am SO EXCITED about Christmas stuff. My roommates and I are decorating our tree tomorrow night, and then I have my first holiday party on Thursday (with many more to come). There will definitely be ample blog posts about everything I have coming up in the following weeks. It’s been all sweaters and pine scented candles at my house lately, and we’re just getting started.

    I’ve just been in such a good mood lately. Not only was Frozen amazing (Eia and I cannot stop dancing around the house to the soundtrack) but I finished my eighth NaNoWriMo novel and we’re entering the month of parties, parties, and more parties. Also I turn 26 this month. But we’ll get to that later when I have decided whether I’m excited or depressed.

    Please, give me updates on your NaNo experience this month, if you took part in the marathon. Or tell me what you’re most looking forward to for the holiday season. Or what you want for Christmas! I’m having a hell of a time figuring out what I want this year.

    Here’s hoping it snows soon. I love the first snow.

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