1. Bucket List: The Night of Writing Dangerously

    November 22, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Bucket List, Geek Events, Travel, Writing by Kristina Horner

    For 7 years now, I have dedicated my Novembers to pounding out novel after novel, fighting against the odds to prove that I CAN do anything I set my mind to. And for nearly as long, other Wrimos across the country have gathered in San Francisco for one night of that month to experience this challenge together, with food, drink, and merriment.

    When I started NaNoWriMo, I was in college. So not only was I writing an obscene amount of words in a month, I was doing it amidst homework! Amidst tests and class periods and my part time job! And each year I thought, “Maybe I’ll make it down to San Francisco this year,” but each year threw new obstacles in my way, and traveling for the sake of writing never fit into my crazy schedule.

    But on this, my eighth year of reckless novel abandon, my friend and writing cohort Liz and I decided THIS. This was our year.

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    I have many blog posts already about the road trip, so for this, let’s focus on the event itself. This is also my very first bucket list post! If you want to see the other things on my (still growing) bucket list, you can check that out here.

    Anyway, Liz and I got dressed up (the theme was Noir) and arrived at the ballroom via Lyft. Let me just tell you, this ballroom was gorgeous. It was located in the Merchant Exchange building right in the middle of the city, and the view was fabulous. There were tables everywhere, a little podium up front for speakers, and raffle prizes along the wall.

    The open bar had fun novelty drinks such as the Noveltini, Cosmonovelton and GimLit. The Noveltini was my favorite. There was also a candy bar, where writers could refill a little white bag with enough sugar as they would need to get them through the write-a-thon. Dinner was fabulous and consisted of too many delicious things for me to even remember, and of course, throughout the night, they also served us donut holes and had a late night milk & cookie bar. The food was by far one of the best parts of the evening.

    As far as activities went, sometimes it felt like there was almost too much to do! There was food to eat (as I mentioned), writers to mingle with, staff to meet, booze to drink, and a professional “author portrait” studio set up in back. Anyone attending the gala could get their photo snapped for use on our NaNo author pages, potential book jackets someday, who knows! That was a lot of fun. There were also timed writing sprints over the course of the night, as well as table wars, which encouraged the different tables of writers to get as many words written as they could so as not to let down your other table mates. It was a good motivator.

    I was too excited about everything going on to take many pictures, so instead of seeing the gala itself, you get this selfie.

    I was too excited about everything going on to take many pictures, so instead of seeing the gala itself, you get this selfie.

    Let me talk about the tables for a second. It was a beautiful sight. The people running this event clearly know what they’re doing, as every single table in that ballroom had a powerstrip beneath it for attendees to plug their laptops into. Just try and imagine a gorgeous banquet room filled with people dressed to the nines with their laptops in a circle around their fancy tables. It was a sight to behold; especially when laptops were favored over other items and no one knew where to put their plates, wine glasses or candy bags. It was a juggling act, but made for great conversation. And, as far as I know, nothing was spilled on anyone’s computer.

    After the food, another big highlight for me was getting to finally meet the people behind NaNoWriMo. This event has literally helped shape the last eight years of my life, and so much of that time was spent alone in my room, fingers poised above a laptop. Getting to not only meet and hug the people who created this crazy project, but to be in a room of 250 others who so completely understand what this project means to me was overwhelming. I might have gotten a little emotional.

    I first met Shelby Gibbs and Tim Kim back at LeakyCon this summer, and they are the ones who convinced Liz and I to make the trip to San Francisco for the event. It was so lovely to see them again, and to get to meet Chris Angotti, the Director of Programs, Grant Faulkner, the Executive Director, Tavia Stewart-Streit, the Deputy Director, and so many others! And everyone knew who I was! Writing that NaNoWriMo song was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I had a lot of people come up to me and tell me they listen to it every year to get pumped to start writing. That meant more than anyone could ever imagine.

    I also got to announce the second table war, as well as saying who won when it was over. I had a blast, especially because it meant I got the microphone for a small amount of time. Of course I used that opportunity to ask for a show of hands for who pronounces it my way, “na-no-wree-mo”. I lost, overwhelmingly, but hey! There were at least twenty or so people who raised their hands!

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    Getting to attend this event was something Liz and I have only ever dreamed of doing. We both managed to write about 2,500 words over the course the evening, made friends with our tablemates, stuffed ourselves with food and drink and went home exhausted but so, so happy. The crazy long road trip we took to get there was completely worth it. I am extremely happy with my very first bucket list item, and if everything on that list is as fun as this first one, then I highly look forward to starting to cross them off over the rest of my life.

    There’s still 8 days left of NaNoWriMo! Who’s still in? How much would you like to be able to attend an event like this, dedicated solely to writing and to raising money to help empower others to write books? It was a dream come true, for me. Thanks for reading, and hopefully my next bucket list item won’t be too far off.

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  2. Full House and Alcatraz

    November 21, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Travel by Kristina Horner

    Despite being in San Francisco for specific writing marathon purposes, Liz and I managed to fit a whole lot of sight-seeing into our weekend there. Among these were probably two of the most opposite extremes: landmarks for the family friendly Full House, and a tour through the most notorious Federal Prison in all US history.

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    First we checked out the actual house used at the Tanner residence. It’s just a house that random people live in now, with a “No Tresspassing” sign out front. Clearly they aren’t fans, since they also chose to recently paint the iconic homestead a dark, jarring blue. Without knowing the address of this famed location, you’d hardly recognize it anymore. Whatever happened to predictability, am I right?

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    The Painted Ladies, however, are a San Francisco staple. These lovely houses sit along the ridge of a hill next to a bustling and beautiful park, and can be seen in the intro/theme to Full House, when they’re all having that picnic. Fun fact; apparently aside from an episode when Comet goes missing and they search the streets of SF for him, pretty much every other scene in the show was actually shot in LA.

    Next stop was Alcatraz. I visited “The Rock” as a pre-teen, but Liz had never been there. My memories of the place were fuzzy, so I was more than happy to go back.

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    It was just as I remembered. Cold, creepy, and full of fascinating tidbits. The audio tour is narrated by actual ex-guards and inmates, which just makes the whole experience that much more surreal and spooky. We had such a great time exploring the island, soaking up the history, and learning the lesser known details and uses of this crazy island along the. Sure the place is heavily inflated by bad Hollywood movies, but that doesn’t make it any less of a worthwhile place to visit.

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    Homey, isn’t it? I can’t imagine spending any amount of time here let alone the numerous years most inmates endured. What a strange place. What a massive amount of history locked within the icy grip of the bay. I highly recommend you take the tour if you ever get the chance.

    Next post will be my Night of Writing Dangerously wrap-up, which is also my very first bucket list item! I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on the event with you all.

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  3. Look #24: Enroute to San Francisco

    November 20, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Fashion/Beauty, Geek Events, Journal, Outfit of the Day, Travel by Kristina Horner

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    The outfit of the day portion of this blog post is coming, I promise. It’s a journey we’ll take together, this time.

    So last week Thursday, my good friend and roommate Liz Leo and I set out on the most ambitious roadtrip we’ve ever taken, just the two of us. The trip was for NaNoWriMo and the Night of Writing Dangerously, which we’ve each done successfully for the past 8 years (7 for Liz) but never been to the huge write-a-thon party held in San Francisco each year. We powered down to Springfield, OR, stayed the night, then made our way all the way to Stockton on Friday. There was a lot of music listening, switching off who’s driving and who’s writing (we’re hardcore), appreciating how beautiful our corner of the country is, and hunting down the best roadside places to eat.

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    Then finally, on Saturday… we made it!! San Francisco is a crazy place, andΒ man it feels good driving across the Bay bridge and knowing you earned being there, after 2 straight days in the car. Traffic or no traffic, we had arrived at our destination.

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    Of course the first thing Liz and I agreed to do was go to the Walt Disney Family Museum. I really didn’t know much about it, and we thought we’d just stop by and poke around for an hour or so… What really ended up happening was over three hours whizzing by without us even realizing it. The museum is FANTASTIC. I really enjoyed myself and I’m so glad we remembered to check it out.

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    The weather was beautiful in the city that day; sunny and clear but crisp in temperature, perfect for sweaters without jackets. I wore my brand new floral sweater and black skirt from Forever21, my red ankle boots from ModCloth, and coral colored socks I got from a cute little independent shop on the Ave by UW. It was a perfect outfit for traveling – comfortable enough for a long ride in the car, but fun enough for tourist pictures! I also bought myself some goodies in the museum gift shop, including a few gifts for people, so I wont be sharing those quite yet. If you ever get a chance to check this museum out, please do! It was wonderful.


    Note: This post may contain affiliate or referral links, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Disclosures.

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