1. 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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  2. 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?

    Leave a comment!
  3. 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.

    Leave a comment!
  4. #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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  5. 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.

    Leave a comment!
  6. PAX West 2016 Wrap Up!

    September 10, 2016 ♥ Posted in: Conventions, Games, Geek Events by Kristina Horner

    Hey everyone! Last weekend was PAX West here in Seattle, and while I am totally and completely exhausted, I have decided I need to do a better job of documenting the stuff I’m doing. So here’s a comprehensive overview of the highlights of this awesome gaming convention.

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    COSPLAY BREAKDOWN:

    Cosplay is always a big part of my conventions, and PAX is no exception. I had actually planned to wear costumes every day (it’s a four day convention so I had FOUR different costumes ready) but I only managed to make 3 happen. I seem to forget each time how much energy costume-wearing really takes. Uncomfortable shoes, pin curls and wigs, carrying around props, stopping for pictures… these are all things I love, but I’ve learned that 4 days of anything just starts to feel like how your life is now, so after 3 days of this – I needed a break. The picture above is the very comfortable outfit I opted for on Monday.

    That being said, here’s what I wore on Friday-Sunday!

    FRIDAY: These costumes were from last year, but we had so much fun wearing them that we decided to do it again! Plus Roosterteeth always has a presence at PAX and the were demoing their new RWBY game, so it seemed fitting to bring Blake and Ruby back. Jenn also remade a big portion of her scythe, so a round two was in order. I downplayed this at PAX, but you’ll notice I opted for slightly more comfortable shoes this time… 😉

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    SATURDAY: This was one of the best cosplay days I’ve ever had. The three of us fell in love with this as a cosplay idea last year at GeekGirlCon when we met the artist (Skirtzzz) in artist’s alley. I’ve always loved Princess Peach but I am not the biggest fan of her basic iconic dress, so seeing such a fun alternative outfit for her instantly grabbed my attention. Luckily Eia and Jenn also loved the outfits, and we vowed to make them for PAX, this year. And we did.

    Fanart Gunner peach daisy rosalina FF-X2 princesses cosplay costume

    People at PAX really seemed to like the costumes, even if they didn’t totally get them. They’re a stretch, believe be. The concept is Mario Princesses wearing FFX-2 dress spheres, in the style of the gunners. I haven’t actually played FFX-2, so I had to have someone explain this to me, but I was relieved when a number of people referred to it as “isn’t that the dress up game?” I’ll take it.

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    Here’s a side by side reference of the costume I was recreating. I this this is my favorite costume group we’ve done yet, and personally – I cant wait to see what new art Skirtzzz brings to GeekGirlCon this year! Maybe we’ll be inspired again!

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    SUNDAY: Maybe it was the Pokemon Go craze this summer, but I was finally, finally motivated to do the Misty cosplay I’ve always dreamed of. I have literally had this Togepi plushie sitting on my shelf for years. Funny story – a fan from Germany actually sent me this Togepi because he thought I might need it if I ever dressed up as Misty. Amazing – and he was right!

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    Eia was in the Pokemon spirit as well, and since we ran out of Indigo League to watch while we were making our costumes and recently started XY, she decided making a Serena costume would be the perfect thing for her Sunday outfit. We had fun representing the old and new of one of our favorite franchises, and Pokemon XY is surprisingly fun. I do miss the old voice actors, though.

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    BEST GAMES:

    We played a LOT of games at PAX. I mean naturally, since that’s what the convention is all about, but I am actually very impressed with how many games we fit in despite how much time cosplaying tends to eat up at cons.

    Here are a couple of my favorites from the weekend:

    Firewatch: First person mystery adventure game that looks like a lot of fun. Played a demo and liked it so much I bought their adorable camp-themed logo tank top.
    Grimm Ecplise: RWBY game. 4 player online co-op hack-n-slash. I’m not usually into these types of games, but getting to play as Blake really sold it for me.
    Complicated Board Game The Card Game: This game was hilarious. It’s a card game about playing complicated board games. It’s like a combination of Fluxx and Munchkin. To be fair, I don’t actually like either Fluxx or Munchkin all that much, but we had a great demo-er and we had a pretty good time with this one. If you don’t like Fluxx though, proceed with caution, because it’s definitely a constant rules-changing card game.
    JunKing: Another card game, and probably my favorite one from the Indie Mega Booth. You play as a… garbage imp? And you basically rifle through the trash to collect prestigious items to raise your status with your garbage tribe. I think you’re essentially a raccoon. I don’t know. It was fun.
    Star Realms: This game was by no means new, and Joe and I actually already owned a copy, but my friends and I spent a good deal of time at the Star Realms booth – and now I think I have everyone hooked. It’s a great game because it plays 2, but if you combine two decks, it can play up to 4. Great versatility in a game! It’s a competitive deck builder set in space and now that we have all the expansions and whatnot, I imagine we’ll be playing this a lot more.
    Captain Sonar: We happened upon this game by chance in a tabletop free-play room. It’s an 8 player game (four on four) and it’s like if you added a ton of skill and strategy to ‘Battleship’. Very stressful, very fast paced, and a lot of fun.
    Costa Rica: This was a cute little game Eia and Jenn and I stumbled upon, and we had a great time playing it. It’s like if you mixed ‘Hey That’s My Fish!’ (hex piece puzzle game) with ‘Zombie Dice’ or ‘Pass The Pigs’ chance-taking gambling game. It was a fun mix of the two, and collecting cute animals from the rainforest was a plus.

     

    THORNWATCH:

    I had the pleasure of getting to play a demo of the new Thornwatch by none other than one of the creators himself, Rodney Thompson. Plus, the other players in my demo were Jimmy Wong, Kiri Callaghan and Lauren Bond – fellow creators I know and love dearly! All in all it was an ideal situation for getting to check out an awesome new game, and a big thanks is due to my friend Tara of the GeekyHostess, who set the whole thing up.

    Thornwatch Demo PAX west

    Thornwatch is described as a “graphic novel adventure” and it’s made by Lone Shark Games and Penny Arcade themselves. It played liked a game somewhere between a longer form RPG and a sit-down-and-play board game, which is my favorite kind of game. The coolest part was that so many elements of the game changed depending on which campaign you played – from the pieces of the board used, to which monsters you fought, to actual in game elements like protecting villagers or stopping the enemy from making matches of tokens needed for them to win.

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    Replayability is such an important feature in a game, especially when they are an expensive as full games can be! Thornwatch seems like it can change over and over again, and I seriously look forward to owning this, when it’s out. If Thornwatch sounds like something you’d like, it has a live Kickstarter running right now, which ends on Oct 5. Joe and I already backed for our copy!

     

    PAX was such an awesome time. Getting to run around in costumes, play games with my friends, and take two days off work is an ideal way to spend a weekend, and I can’t wait until next year. Were you at PAX, or have you ever been to a game-centric convention? Tell me about it in the comments!

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  7. What I’m Up To: Summer Update!

    July 16, 2016 ♥ Posted in: Journal by Kristina Horner

    Hello friends!

    I figured there’s enough exciting stuff going on to warrant a little life update, yeah? Here’s a neatly organized list of everything going on with me lately that is noteworthy:

    BOOKTUBEATHON

    It’s Booktubeathon time, starting on Monday the 18th! This means every second of my spare time will be spent on reading, which will be quite difficult this year with Pokèmon Go taking over my life and it being the equivalent of “finals week” at work. But I’m not going to let that stop me! Here are the books I am planning to read, and you should follow me on Twitter and Instagram if you want to keep up with my progress (and slow decent into madness, most likely)!

    POKÈMON GO

    This game is everything. I’m one of those people who actually kept playing Pokèmon between the first game and now, and it’s been incredible to see the world caring again about something I’ve stayed consistently a fan of for almost 2 decades. And while I’ve loved Pokèmon Red, Fire Red, Black, X, Omega Ruby, etc – getting to play it in a totally new way, in just about the closest way it could emulate real life, makes me wish I could go back and tell 11 year old Kristina with her first Gameboy Color “don’t worry that the other girls at school are already starting to date boys… POKEMON WILL START MATTER TO YOU THIS MANY YEARS LATER. AND THEN YOU’LL GET TO EVOLVE YOUR EVVEE INTO A FLAREON IN REAL LIFE, AND IT WILL BE JUST AS MAJESTIC AS YOUR TINY HEART IMAGINES IT COULD BE.”

    Here’s my Trainer (I’m level 12 now, this picture is a few days old):

    POKEMON KRISTINA

    I’m not really sure what my Pokèmon Go life goals are, but right now I am working on making all 3 Evvee evolutions my main fighters, walking twice as many steps as I normally do in any given day, and trying to keep a lock on the gyms around my house.

    And also maybe make the outfit my trainer wears in real life… hey, speaking of:

    COSPLAY

    My friends and I are gearing up for PAX where I will be making anywhere from 1 to 3 cosplays depending on how much time I have. I also got a beaaauuutiful new dress form, so I’m hoping this inspires many more progress photos than I’ve remembered to take in days past.

    I’ll have more to say on this in the future, but for now, here’s a picture of Eia and Jenn and I picking up fabric a few days ago for the group cosplay we’re definitely doing at PAX:

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    WORK

    Work keeps me busy! I don’t think I mentioned this here before, but around May, Microsoft actually hired me as a full time employee (previously I was a contractor) which meant a lot of great new added benefits to working there! It also meant lots more responsibility, which has been fun and challenging and exciting – but also, you know, exhausting. It’s always weird figuring out where the balance is on what I can and should say about work, for a number of reasons.

    By nature of working on HoloLens, I’m not actually allowed to talk about some of the stuff I work on, so there’s that. Also, it’s so vastly different from what I normally project as my online ‘persona’ that it feels so.. I don’t know, it just feels like another life. I think coming home to my books and my cosplay and my writing keeps me sane through this new life of the 9 to 5 that I’ve taken on, so I really love keeping it mostly separate. But of course I’ll share some awesome things when I can, and when it’s relevant!

     

    That’s about it for me, for now! I’m wrapping this blog post up because Joe and I made quiches for breakfast and he just took them out of the oven… the smell is wafting into my room and I can’t stay away any longer. I hope you are all doing fabulously, and hopefully, if I have time, I will do a BookTubeAThon recap at the end of the week.

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  8. ECCC and Spring Update!

    April 6, 2016 ♥ Posted in: Conventions, Cosplay by Kristina Horner

    Hey lovely readers!

    I’ve been miserable about keeping this blog updated, but I’ve had to make some personal sacrifices to prioritize working on my novel, and because of that, other writing needed to be lessened. On that note though, editing has been going well! I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, and with a self-set goal of 25,000 words, I am doing quite well. It’s amazing how easy NaNoWriMo feels when you’re only doing half.

    I’ve also been busy making costumes! This weekend is Emerald City Comic Con, and I’ve got a 3 day lineup ready (well, I still have a few finishing touches to add…)

    emerald city comic con, cosplay, cosplay lineup

    I’m also speaking on a couple of panels this weekend, in case you’re going to the con and want to stop by! In fact, I hope you do, because I would love to have a chance to say hello and meet any of you that may happen to be going to the con as well. Here are my panels:

    The Couple Who Games Together: Friday April 8th, 5pm – Sheraton Ballroom A

    The Rise of Booktube in the Northwest: Saturday, April 9th, 1:45pm – T302

    Sorry I’ve been so busy lately, but I can promise you silence on my end means 1 of 2 great things for those who enjoy my work. If I’m quiet, it either means that 1. I am working on my book, or 2. I am working on a cosplay. Or it could mean I am wholly exhausted and watching Netflix or reading a book, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Thanks for sticking with me, and make sure you’re following me on Instagram if you want the most regular updates.

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  9. Welcome to 2016!

    January 1, 2016 ♥ Posted in: Journal by Kristina Horner

    It’s been awhile since I updated this blog, and the very first day of 2016 felt like a good time to fix that. It’s a new year. A whole new year. I have no idea where the time is going but for once, that thought isn’t freaking me out. I’m actually… pretty excited.

    Kristina Horner as a cat on new year's eve.

    This was me on New Year’s Eve, minutes before midnight, pondering if life would be better or worse in 2016 as a cat.

    2015 was a pretty amazing year for me. It had its ups and downs of course, but I feel like I accomplished so many things, made huge life decisions that have set me on a path I am proud of, and will bring me to an even more amazing 2016.

    Last year I:

    • Hit 1 year working at Microsoft, in which time I not only moved to the main campus permanently, I got hired onto a new team where my very specific skills are being utilized in a way I’m really excited about.
    • Started the UW certificate program for YA Novel Writing, which encompasses night classes I love every minute of and really has inspired me to work on editing my novel.
    • Made the concrete decision to edit my 2014 novel to a point where I feel confident submitting it to agents in hopes of publishing.
    • Completed my 10th NaNoWriMo in a row, a goal I’ve been working on for the entire decade comprising my adult life.
    • Celebrated 3.5 years with Joe, the most incredible human being I know and a big reason I am so happy and self-confident these days.
    • Chopped all my hair off and dyed it green! I feel more like myself than I have in a long time, and I can’t see myself growing it out for awhile.
    • Bought a brand new car! This was my first big adult purchase, my first loan beyond student loans, and I’m totally in love with Chip, my root beer colored Mini Cooper.
    • Went to BEA entirely be myself (but as a result got to spend nearly a whole week with the wonderful SuperSpaceChick) and had the most amazing time being submersed in the book industry.
    • Completed FIVE cosplays over the course of the year, including Rapunzel, Blake from RWBY, Wendy from Gravity Falls, Joy from Inside Out and KiKi from the Little Twin Stars.
    • Didn’t have my vocal nodes impact my life in any way that kept me from doing things nearly the entire year. I’m keeping it under control, finally!
    • Read 78 books, something that means more to me than I can even fully explain – but other book lovers get it. Books really filled my soul this year. I’m so happy.

    My twenties haven’t always been easy. I know that even at the hardest of times I’m still an extremely fortunate person: with amazing friends, a loving family, a house to live in right in a beautiful part of Seattle, a job, good health – these are things I try not to take for granted even a single day of my life. But my view of my own self worth, my personal happiness, my ability to work on the things that matter to me, the removal of toxic people from my life — these are the things that really came into focus for me in 2015. This has been my brightest year yet, and I can’t wait for things to just keep getting better.

    In 2016 I plan to:

    • Make at least one more cosplay than the previous year!
    • Finished editing my novel by the end of the year!
    • Read at least 52 books (one per week!)
    • Invest in professional photo shoots for my cosplays
    • Hit year #2 at Microsoft!
    • Find a method of exercising and eating healthy that works for me!

    2015 was all about working on my mind and spirit. This year I want to be about my body, as well. I’m hoping to make exercise and healthy food a part of my life in a way I’ve never managed to do before. I hope to take more time to relax, to learn more about health in general, and to look and feel great in my cosplays.

    As always, it means so much to me that there are people out there who appreciate what I do, whether that’s watching my videos, commenting on my cosplay photos, reading my blog or just chatting with me on Twitter. I feel so lucky that people care about what I’m doing. I love that I continue to have YouTube as an outlet to keep people updated on my life, and here’s to 2016 involving many, many more projects and memories.

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  10. Vloggerfair and PAX Prime 2015

    August 20, 2015 ♥ Posted in: Conventions, Cosplay, Geek Events by Kristina Horner

    I have a busy couple of weekends coming up – and I figured it was time to fill you in on what’s going on and what I’ll be doing!

    First up is Vloggerfair, a fun little YouTube convention happening here in Seattle this weekend – August 22-23. I will be there Saturday the 20th, on both the “Women of YouTube” panel (happening at 3:15pm) as well as hosting another little book swap (happening at 12:30pm) with the lovely Mallory. Are you going? You should go! It’s going to be a lot of fun, and the more people we have there swapping books, the better it will be for everyone!

    Book Swap Kristina HornerIf you find yourself with a free day on Saturday, swing on by and bring a wrapped book! You can get a discount on your ticket price if you use the code “SPACE NEEDLE”.

    Next up will be PAX Prime! That’s happening over August 28-31 and I seriously can’t wait. It’s a jam-packed weekend for me, as I will be doing things for work, cosplaying, and I’m on a number of panels. If you’ll be attending, I’d love to meet you!

    Here are the panels I’ll be speaking on:

    The Couple That Games Together – Friday, August 28th at 12:30pm in the Sasquatch Theatre.
    Women in the Gaming Industry – Friday, August 28th at 2:00pm in the Chicken Theatre.
    Damsels in Distress: Exploring Tropes in Gaming – Monday, August 31st at 12:30pm in the Chicken Theatre.
    As I said, I will also be cosplaying! I toned it down a little this year (last year I debuted three new costumes at PAX, whereas this year it’ll only be one). My friends and I will be wearing the costumes we’ve made of the main characters of RWBY.
    TeamRWBY
    I am going to be Blake Belladonna, the quiet, sarcastic, book loving badass (and the second one from the right, for those who don’t know). I usually end up picking the bubbly happy characters, so I’m happy to be doing something outside my norm.
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    PAX is going to be great, and I’m so incredibly happy my job let me cosplay at least one day of this con. Thank goodness for Sunday! That’s the day I’ll be walking around in costume, so keep and eye out for me! I’ll be working the other three days of PAX, but I can’t imagine not cosplaying at all. This is such a great convention for cosplaying and I’m hoping this year will be no exception.
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    The last event in my 3 weekend summer extra extravaganza is Faerieworlds (from Sep 4-6), a three day outdoor music festival/renaissance faire/faerie festival/gathering of awesome people. I can’t wait. It’s probably my favorite event of the year, surprisingly.
    It will be a nice break from the craziness of conventions, and I’m taking a day off work to go to it. By then, I’ll need it.
    Let me know in the comments if you’re planning to attend any of these events and if I’ll see you there! I’m going to get back to my costume making now, since PAX is currently 7 days and I’m not finished. Yikes!
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