1. May 2017 Life Update – Wedding Planning and Traveling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    *falls down dead*

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

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

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

    Then we’ll start addressing envelopes.

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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  2. April 2017 Life Update – Cosplay, Writing and Disneyland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Standard obligatory Disney jailhouse photo-op.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  3. 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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  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.

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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. Video Roundup: Thanksgiving Week!

    November 27, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Writing, YouTube videos by Kristina Horner

    I know I said I was going to take a little break from blogging this week for the holidays, but I wanted to compile a short list of the videos I’ve posted recently. YouTube makes it tougher and tougher to find the videos you want to watch, so I think it’s helpful to have a different avenue to look for them. Every video I post will also be mentioned here, on this blog, so please bookmark this page!

    First up is my Thanksgiving video. This was my Fiesta Mission for the month, as well as a party I look forward to every year. My friends are so wonderful and I’m so grateful to be able to share these holidays with them. We talk about our favorite Thanksgiving foods, make hand-turkeys and take you right to the head of the table for our feast!

     

    Next is the “Would You Rather” video I made down in San Francisco with fellow YouTuber Karen Kavett and my writing buddy/housemate Liz Leo. This is a fun one for those of you doing NaNoWriMo or anyone who’s ever tried their hand at writing, because Karen’s silly noveling scenarios were a hoot.

    Lastly, I wanted to point all you Buffy fans in the direction of the new series over on Team Hypercube. Justin and I started playing Chaos Bleeds, a terribly Buffy the Vampire Slayer game we started playing with little-to-no idea what to expect. Needless to say, it had us rolling on the ground laughing.

     

    If you’ve never watched one of our Let’s Play videos, this is a good place to start. Even if you think you’re not very into video games, that’s probably only because you haven’t seen me repeatedly throw a temper tantrum and kick at a locked door that claims that there’s “another way in” for nearly twenty minutes. Trust me. These videos are fun.

    Hope you have a lovely holiday weekend and that your family get-togethers aren’t too crazy. If so, there’s always the internet. 😉

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  10. 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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