Sunday, April 7, 2024

I don't know what this post is // HI!

*flies over in a helicopter and rappels down Kim Possible-style*

*drops to the ground and lifts sunglasses*

Well, hey, strangers.

Okay, that was probably a little dramatic, but I've been trying to figure out how to open this post and also what this post even is, and go big or go home, right? So, here I am, once again (feeling lost but now and then-) returning to this blog that's all but dead. (It's been almost a year since I posted. o.o) 

I've said it before and I'm not too proud to admit it again- I don't know why I haven't been posting. I don't have an excuse, other than being lazy and/or bad at time management. I stopped posting regularly back in 2020 when I started college, but now I've been graduated for almost a year and still this little corner of the Internet of mine that I used to love so much (and still do!) sits with dust on it.

I've felt so detached from the voracious writer and reader I used to be. I go in and out of being involved in the writing community, posting/engaging on Instagram or on the blogosphere, and, oh yeah, actually writing and reading. Why? I don't know. It's not like I've gone through a lot of life changes throwing me off track. 

To be honest, I've had many days lately of feeling very lonely and discouraged. I struggle with feeling invisible, like no one really cares what I have to say or what's going on with me and that's why I barely get any engagement on my blog and Instagram. And along with that, I also feel a boatload of guilt, because I know deep down those things aren't true and there are lots of people who care, so then I feel horrible and selfish for not recognizing that. Then I just stay in my little hole of discouragement, not wanting to bother anybody and feeling like there's no point in trying. 

Okay, sorry for getting depressing there for a minute. That's all hard to admit, because I'm NOT good at opening up at all, and hate feeling like I'm seeking attention. But I guess that's a big part of why I've been so absent for so long. My motivation and energy to do ANYTHING has just been at an all time low. I truly do want to get back into blogging and just being involved in the community like I once was. I've allowed myself to get so far off track with everything and I desperately want to change that.

I've also severely neglected my relationship with God for a long, long time. I'm not proud to admit that I've let other things stand in the way of the singular most important part of my life. And then I dare to wonder why I feel so distant from Him. *facepalm* This is something I'm working on, and it's a slow, hard journey. But I know it's worth it, and it's necessary. There are so many things in my life that I desperately need His guidance for, and I've allowed myself to be distracted from His face and His will for too long.

I've also discovered something really unpleasant about myself lately: I really don't like the person I've become. I have an attitude. I allow my temper, my frustrations to get the better of me FAR too often. Mainly at work, where I interact with a lot of exasperating and, ahem, not super smart people daily. I pull back into my shell with most people, not really because I'm shy, but because I have no interest in talking to anybody but my friends, and in getting through the day and going home where I don't have to talk to anybody. And so instead of being a light for Jesus, I come across as an unapproachable, angry little gremlin (yes, I've actually been called that) and most new people think I hate them. It's been humbling and actually quite terrifying to realize that, and it's something I'm working and praying through because I'm not proud of it at all. No, I don't seek to be rude to people, or make them feel bad, or anything like that. But I think sometimes I do it without realizing it, and it's something I'm trying to be conscious about and change.

I find myself stuck in these bad moods that are almost impossible to find my way out of, and I know that if I just allow myself to be positive, force the dark clouds away, pray, and praise, I can feel better. But I don't, because I like sitting in my misery. I like making it clear that I'm unhappy, even though there's literally nothing the people around me can do to change that. I get angry because I don't feel the joy I used to or see God's hand in my life, but IT'S MY FAULT for not LETTING Him give me joy or work in me. God's not going to just press a magic little button and make me suddenly happy, as if I'm dancing in a field of daisies rather than trying to get through a work day that has me on the edge of a breakdown. He's not going to just rain down peace and contentment because He sees that I'm upset. Sometimes I have to fight for it. And that's another thing I'm really trying to work through.

This post is all over the place. WHOOPS. I just kind of started typing and this is what came out. XD But I MISS you all dearly, and I hope to fall back into something of a rhythm here again. 

Currently what's on my mind is Realm Makers coming up! Summer feels far away, but wow, we're already in April and spring always flies by, doesn't it? I've attended Realm Makers for the past three years, but for some reason this year I'm a little extra excited to get back to it. (Also a little sad, because from what I've heard it's very likely this will be the last year at the magical place that is the Sheraton Westport Plaza hotel :( ) I've also scheduled my first pitch appointment??!! With Steve Laube??!

Honestly, I don't expect anything from this appointment book-deal-wise. It was a bit of an impulsive decision, just a little something to push myself a little bit and get out of my comfort zone. My main incentive for doing this was just to have the experience, get it out of the way, so to speak. But I'm still working to get my book in good enough shape TO pitch. It's actually been going quite well, and for the first time in a long time I feel like I'm making good progress on my WIP. Prayers for that are appreciated, as well as for the appointment itself being a good experience!

*taps head like Winnie the Pooh* I think that's all I have to say! If you've gotten to the end of this mess, thank you for sticking around. I know I mainly just dumped out all my emotions and frustrations on you, but, well, I guess sometimes you've just got to get it all out there and that's another thing I'm working on. I hope you're all doing well, having a great spring, and I'll talk to you all soon! (Let me know in the comments what you've been up to/how you've been!)


Monday, May 8, 2023

AT ALL COSTS- Realm Awards finalist!!

HELLO FRIENDS! Long time no see, but I wanted to pop in and share with you some super exciting news- my story At All Costs is a Realm Awards finalist in the Short Audio category!!

At All Costs was originally published with Havok in November 2021, but was featured on the Havok Story Podcast in May 2022. (Actually, the finalists were announced the day after the episode's one-year anniversary!) It was so surreal then to hear MY story being read by a narrator, and to know that it was chosen to be featured on the podcast. And now, it's surreal to see it on the list on Realm Awards finalists. (Someone tagged me on IG with some other finalists and when I saw my name included with some of my favorite authors?? Ummmm, yeah. I geeked out.)

Of COURSE I have to give a huge shout-out to Maximilian Contreras, the narrator who brought my story to life so amazingly, and obviously the people behind Havok and the podcast for seeing my story fit to produce as an audio story in the first place. This was definitely a team effort and I'm so thankful for everyone involved.

Congratulations to the rest of the amazing finalists, both in my category and all the others!! I can't wait to celebrate with you at Realm Makers- in just over TWO MONTHS! (hello?? how is it almost here again??)

And as always, thank you all so much for your support for me and my writing. It means the world and inspires me to keep going. I love you all so much. ♥

Thursday, February 16, 2023

SHADOWCAST by Crystal D. Grant- cover reveal signups!

Happy Thursday, friends!! I have something super exciting to share with you today.

I don't think I've actually mentioned it here on the blog yet, but at Realm Makers back in July, something really special happened. My sister, Crystal, signed a book contract!

Her novel, Shadowcast, is coming out this September 20th with Quill and Flame Publishing House! Shadowcast is the first book in The Gateway trilogy, an epic fantasy series you're not going to want to miss. This has been such a long time coming; I've watched my sister work so hard on this story for so long and I'm so happy it's finally going out into the world. 

Here's the fun part- I'm excited to share that cover reveal signups are now open!! If you want to participate, sign up here! (Yes, I've already seen the cover, and YES, it will take your breath away. So, shoo. *shoos you toward the signup form*)

Also, go add Shadowcast on Goodreads! Here's the link!

Everyone help me get the word out and allll the excitement brewing for this cover reveal and upcoming release!! It's going to be so, so good! 

Thursday, February 9, 2023

On being stuck

Anyone here feeling stuck?

I've felt stuck for quite some time now. In a lot of ways, as I'm sure many of us do. But more specifically, I've felt stuck in my writing, blogging, reading. In the writer community in general. All of these things have suffered over the past two years, and though at times it was necessary to push them back for a little while, that particular season of my life is over. And I'm still stuck. 

I've struggled with finding things to post about on Instagram lately. I want desperately to be as active as I used to be, to see my account grow, to be involved. But because I've felt so creatively dry and burned out lately... I have nothing to talk about. What is there to say when you're a bookstagrammer/writer who's been reading a book a month at the most and has barely made any writing progress? I talk about my personal life sometimes too, but that's not the primary reason I'm there. I'm there to talk about stories.

But I'm stuck. 

And in order to get unstuck, I have to put in a lot of work. And that's the problem.

It's good work, yes. And enjoyable. (most of the time.) I have to force myself to pick up a book and read sometimes. That sounds bad ("don't force yourself to do things you don't want to do!"), but even though getting through the first chapters feels like trudging through mud, I always find that once I break through that wall, my love for reading wakes up and I can't get enough. I suppose my mind has grown lazy, and it's just so much easier when I'm tired at the end of the day to stare at a screen rather than immerse myself in reading a story. So, my screen time vastly outweighs my reading time. And I'm actually really ashamed to have had to write that sentence. 

And as far as writing... I'm stuck there too. I have this whole first draft, much more well-written than my other first drafts, that's just waiting for me to work some magic on it. I've read through it a couple times and written down the things that need fixing. I know most of what needs fixing, and I have a pretty good idea of what needs to happen to fix it. But every time I open my laptop to work on it, I get, you guessed it, stuck. My brain ties itself in knots and I get so overwhelmed because I don't know where to start. I'm very scatterbrained, so how can I approach this in a way that will keep my thoughts and the story organized? Should I go back to the beginning and read through the book again? Should I start writing the scenes that I know need inserted, or fix the scenes that are already there that just need tweaking? 

I don't know, so I don't do anything. And so for months I've remained stuck. 

I'm also stuck with blogging. Once upon a time I was overflowing with ideas and potential blog posts, and I have no desire to stop blogging, but I'm at a loss. It's the same way with Instagram. I LOVE posting there, but having consumed or produced so few stories lately, what can I talk about?  

Hopefully you haven't read this far expecting this post to turn inspirational, because, OOPS, that's not what this is. It's more of a... "if you feel this way, you're not alone" post. An "I needed to talk about this or I'll implode" post. 

I can't seem to get myself out of the cycle of deciding to change my habits, work hard, do the things I love and the things I need to do; going strong for about three days; and then going right back into my old habits again. I might just be at the least disciplined I've ever been right now. And it's infuriating, because I know why.

I wanted to make this year one of hard work, of getting things done, of seeing progress. In some ways I'm doing that. In other ways I have so far to go, because I don't want to put in the work. 

Honestly, I think part of my problem is that I haven't quite figured out the balance between letting myself rest when I need it, and gritting my teeth and doing the thing. I loosened my grip on some things when I started college, and now I'm finding it difficult to get ahold of them again. It's not always pleasant realizing the things you need to change and the effort you're going to have to put into changing them. It's uncomfortable. It's not fun. 

Like I said, this isn't an "I figured it all out and here's the recipe, you're welcome" post. I definitely am not unstuck yet. But I'm trying to get there. And maybe I won't ever fully be out of the unstuckness, but little by little I'm working through it. 

I hesitate to even post this because it's not super encouraging, or helpful, or positive. But, hey, it's real. It's where I'm at right now, and I guess if you're here that means you're at least somewhat interested in what's going on in my life. Or maybe this resonated with you and you just needed a reminder that you're not the only one struggling with this. 

For some reason, as I was wrapping up this post, I went back to one of my old blog posts, A Letter to My Future Self. I knew I had written a post right before I started college, but I had totally forgotten that it was actually a letter to myself. And as I started reading it, it hit me that I was the intended audience. I wrote that letter to the Emily that had finished college, and that's me. And as I was reading, I started to tear up, because everything I said in it was true. I did cry. I did struggle. I did wonder if it was all worth it. I don't specifically remember throwing anything, but honestly, I'm sure I did. XD And now, looking back on those two and a half years, it really does feel like just a moment. 

It'll be that way with this dry, challenging season eventually. The work I'm dreading putting in will be... well, not a thing of the past, since I'm talking about mainly writing here, and I don't intend on stopping that. But I'll have made progress, put in more effort to kick the procrastination, and regained some of the fire and passion I used to have.

If you're stuck... it's okay. Not to stay there, but to realize that you ARE there. You just need to give yourself a push to get out. ♥

Thursday, January 26, 2023

2022- a look back

It's 2023, and therefore time to look back on what happened in 2022. I'm a little late to the game, seeing as how it's almost February already... but it's been a quieter start of the year for me. I went into the new year with guns blazing only theoretically, but as of yet haven't put much actual change into motion. And I'm allowing myself to learn that that's okay. I've been tired for the past two years. I just finished college. The rest of the year is not going to suffer because I start changing things in February rather than January. 

But ANYWAY! Though there are things I wish I would have done differently, 2022 was a full year, and one to remember. Truly, I think there's more to look back on this year than there has been in a while for me, and I hope I can summarize it without rambling too much. But I am a hardcore rambler, so we'll see. XD


Snow!! So much snow!! I'd much rather be home on a snow day, but this snowfall did bring some warm memories of being bored with my coworkers, and getting frozen mushrooms and potato wedges to cook in our fryers and stuff our faces with.


I can't think of much that happened in February, except that my story Falcon Ledge was published with Havok, and I bought Big Time Rush tickets!


I turned 24! And made the ugliest, most mediocre birthday cake of my life, which I won't torture you with a picture of. XD


I met Johnny Yong Bosch, who played Adam Park, the Black/Green Ranger from Power Rangers Mighty Morphin, Zeo, and Turbo!

I finished the first draft of my WIP, Look for the Flares! All in the same day, I made myself cry with my writing, broke my word count record for a single day, surpassed my highest word count for any of my WIPs, won Camp NaNo, and of course finished my first draft. It was a good day. 


I officially became an MIT (manager in training) at my job, which was SUCH a long time coming. 

My story At All Costs came out on the Havok Story Podcast!! This was such a crazy experience. If you haven't listened to it yet, you should, because the narrator did such an amazing job and I'm still in awe. 


I went to the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois, and saw Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum, aka Clark Kent and Lex Luthor from Smallville. They were so much fun together and it definitely put me on the nostalgia train! I also got to meet George Newbern, who played Superman's voice on the Justice League animated series. My favorite part of this interaction was when he asked where I was from and I told him my obscure little town's weird name and that I was sure he'd never heard of it and he said "I haven't, but that's a great name!" XD (I also came out of that day with one of the worst sunburns I've ever had.) 


July was the biggest month of the year. For one, it was Realm Makers month, in which I attended my second Realm Makers and was reunited with old friends, made new friends, learned a lot, and spent way too much money. I talked to more people than I did my first conference, even got out of my comfort zone and went up to a stranger during one of the classes in which we were supposed to mingle. I met an author who is a big part of why I'm here in this writing community and was able to thank her in person. It was a fantastic weekend. (You can read my recap and see all my photos HERE!)

And because of that trip, I got to see SO many new places! We traveled from Missouri all the way to the East Coast for the conference, which I still can't really believe we did. I got to see nine states I'd never been to before. I visited New York City, saw the Statue of Liberty, and walked through Central Park. I saw the ocean for the second time in my life. I saw Washington D.C. I saw all three 9/11 crash sites. I saw so much and it still hits me every now and then that I did all those things. (I shared more about it HERE!)

In July I also had two more stories published with Havok- An Enhancing Elixir Experience and The Courageous Lyons. These were my first two stories in the Wacky Wednesday and Fantasy Friday categories, and with them I officially became one of a fairly small number of authors who have been published under all five categories!! 

And to wrap up an already great month, the last day of July I saw Big Time Rush in concert, which I'd been dreaming of for literally over a decade, and it was an absolutely amazing, unforgettable night. 


I got COVID again and read five books over the course of like a week and a half. XD


Nothing super interesting about this month that I recall, except fall and Hobbit Day, which was delightful! 


I met Nakia Burrise, who played Tanya Sloan/the Yellow Ranger on Power Rangers Zeo and Turbo

And I started watching Harry Potter for the first time! 


We randomly got a thick blanket of snow?? In November?? It's not unheard of for it to snow that early here, but never enough to cover the ground. And I wasn't expecting it at all, so imagine my surprise when I opened the door and looked outside that morning. XD


I met Catherine Sutherland, who played Katherine Hillard, the Pink Ranger on Power Rangers Mighty Morphin, Zeo, and Turbo!

I finished college! My graduation ceremony's not til May, but I finished and it's SUCH  a relief to be done. 

Aaand I passed my manager certification at work! I was so stressed about this day for so long, and was about 99.9% sure that I was going to fail the first time. Somehow- I still don't know how- I DIDN'T fail, and it was SUCH a huge weight off my shoulders. I'm so thankful that I didn't have that to worry about anymore when the new year started.

So, that was my year. Even with all the fun, exciting things that happened, there was still a lot of room for growth and opportunity. I barely wrote for most of the year, which I can forgive myself for since I was so worn down by other things. 

If I regret anything about 2022, it would be that I neglected reading my Bible and praying possibly like I've never done before, and I'm not proud of it. It's something I'm really working on now. I struggle so much with priorities and focusing on what's really important, and I want to take it way more seriously.

All in all, 2022 was an unforgettable year. In a way, it was a year of the impossible. And I'll forever look back on it fondly. 

As for blogging? Well, I'm still trying to figure things out. I MISS when I was consistent on here, and I miss talking to you guys. Pulling back and posting a handful of times over the course of two years has really messed with my drive to write and post things, and although it was absolutely necessary, I hate what it's done to my blog. I want so desperately to get back into it- not just posting, but reading other people's blogs, too. Blogging is what brought me into this community, and it's changed so much over the years- most of the bloggers I started out reading don't post anymore, and it makes me sad. But I want to keep my little corner alive.

Anyway. Like I said, I'm still figuring things out. I don't know if I'll stick to a schedule like I used to, or what. We'll see. But if you're here- hi. I'm happy you've joined me or stuck around, and I hope you'll come back. < 3 I pray you're all having a blessed new year so far!

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Havok Flash Peek weekend!!

 Hello, everyone, and happy new year!! I'll hopefully be getting a 2022 recap post up soon, but for now I wanted to pop in and let you know that this weekend only, Havok's story archives are open to the public! This means that what you normally need a subscription for, you can read to your heart's content for FREE! (but only until Sunday night!)

If you missed either of my stories this season, now's your chance to catch up! Feel free to read any of my stories (you can find them all here), but I'd especially love it if you checked out...

An Enhancing Elixir Experience, a story about a girl, a job interview, and some very helpful (?) elixirs. Oh, and there's a tiger. Read it HERE!

The Courageous Lyons is a new twist on a well-known story (you'll have to read it to find out which one ;), involving a hot air balloon and... friends to lovers? Read it HERE!

I'm sure you all know the drill by now, BUT just in case- these stories are potentially in the running to be included in the next Havok anthology, and the more comments and ratings they receive, the better their chances! So, if you have a few minutes, I'd be honored if you'd check out my stories and leave a comment and, if you happen to be a Havok member, a star rating. Your support means the world and helps my stories so much! 

Thank you all, and I'll see you soon! ♥

Thursday, September 1, 2022


If you told me a few years ago that I'd one day travel to the East Coast to attend a writer's conference, I'd probably think you were crazy. 

But in the early morning hours of July 20th, 2022, I got in the car with my brother and sister and started the long drive across the country to Atlantic City, New Jersey, for the amazing Realm Makers conference. After attending last year in St. Louis (basically my backyard), the idea of going this year seemed like a pipe dream. We've never really been get-out-and-do-it people as far as adventures or stepping out of our comfort zones go- not that we don't want to do big things, but we've always just kind of been used to playing it safe. So when plans started coming together and my brother said he was willing to drive to New Jersey, needless to say it was surreal. 


Long story short: this Realm Makers was an experience like I've never had before. From the hours of traveling, to the stress of traveling, to the places and things I got to see, to just the general craziness of being there, it was worlds different from last year. I was a little worried that it wouldn't feel the same, being at a different location and with some dear friends missing that were there last year. But... well, I'll let the recap speak for itself. Prepare yourself for a long post. ;) (I'm starting on the first day of Realm Makers, rather than the day we left, since that day was just driving!)


This was quite possibly one of the craziest days of my life. XD I'll leave out all the travel details, (you can read a bit about that in my July recap post), but long story short, we got lost in New York City  and were cutting it pretty close getting to Atlantic City for the conference opening. And once we got there it was... interesting. The hotel was very different from last year's. The St. Louis location was smaller, magical, beautiful, easy to navigate. Harrah's in Atlantic City was not only connected to a casino, but let me tell you, much ritzier and more complicated than we little Missourians were used to. From accidentally pulling into the wrong spot in the parking garage and having to pay $10 JUST TO GET OUT, to trying to figure out if we were in the right place for valet parking, to a bellhop disappearing with all of our luggage (including our laptops and the many valuable things on them) and not knowing where they were for probably half an hour because the desk misunderstood what room we were in... it was not a fun time. This hotel was nice, but absolutely NOT our scene. All that paired with something else that had come up on the trip (which is more or less resolved now, thankfully) made for a very stressful arrival to Realm Makers, to the point where I was thinking "This isn't worth it. This is crazy. We're crazy. What are we doing here?? Why did we do this?? THIS IS CRAZY." 

The coolest thing about the hotel was the whole light show on the building next to us every night!

So, we were a couple minutes late to Tosca Lee's opening keynote, which honestly turned out pretty well because we avoided the "go talk to 8 people" thing she does. XD I definitely was not in the mood for that at the time. I'll have to go back and watch that keynote again, actually, because I didn't bring anything to take notes with so I don't really remember anything that was said. I was tired, guys. xD

After the keynote we went and actually registered (because we hadn't gotten the chance to when we got there) and got our badges. Then we didn't have anything to do until that night, which was Sara Ella's launch party for The Wonderland Trials

Sara and her fantastic emcee Ashley!

Everyone was encouraged to dress up- whether as a Wonderland character, or with a fancy hat, or whatever they wanted to get in the tea-party mood. I wore a Cheshire Cat-inspired outfit, complete with cat ears that I had to run to Wal Mart for the night before leaving for Realm Makers, because I'm forgetful.

Kara Swanson and husband David winning the award for best hat!

This launch party was so fun! There was a Wonderland-themed escape room, and I was on a team with Anna Augustine, Victoria Lynn, and some other girls I hadn't met yet. And when I tell you we were SO CLOSE to winning, guys- I'm talking like seconds. *sigh* But it was fun anyway, even if I didn't actually do any of the solving. xD

After all the festivities, I had Sara sign my copies of The Wonderland Trials and Unblemished. If you've never had the chance to meet Sara, I hope you can one day, because she is such a sweet, lovely person!

Matching with Unblemished was accidental. xD

Me and my sister in front of the Wonderland backdrop!

That was pretty much the end of day 1! QUITE different from day 1 of last year- still fantastic, just with a lot of added stress. But it was a fabulous start to the weekend regardless!


Heads-up: if you decide to order breakfast at a Starbucks on the East Coast... prepare to pull out your life savings. I bought one latte and a breakfast sandwich, and it cost me 17 DOLLARS. (I'm not sure what's worse, the fact that it cost that much or the fact that I did it again the rest of the weekend. xD)

It so loud in Starbucks and the barista thought I said my name was Evelynn. xD She realized my name was Emily when she saw my Realm Makers badge, haha!

My first class that day was the continuing session I'd chosen: The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass. This was probably my favorite class of the conference. There was just so much good stuff, and by the end of the first session I started rethinking my WIP and having ideas for how to make its beginning stronger. I'd definitely love to rewatch these sessions on the conference replay, because it was just so good.

I'm skipping over all the other classes I took because I lost track of which days they were and it's been too long ago so I don't feel like digging through my notes for highlights. xD

With Sarah and Helena!

That afternoon I had a critique appointment with Andrew Winch! If you guys remember, last year I had a critique appointment (also with Andrew), and I was a nervous WRECK before it. Why? Don't know, because it's not like I was pitching my book or anything. Just getting feedback, and I'd already received my critique ahead of time, so I wasn't even waiting to be told face to face how good or bad my story was. But the general idea of talking to somebody in person, along with the fear of running out of things to say and sitting there awkwardly, just made me super nervous. 

This time, I'm happy to report that I was pretty relaxed. I knew how it worked, I already knew the person I was meeting, and I was just overall more prepared for it. And it went really well! I had sent in the first ten pages of Look for the Flares, and I'd say if I was anxious about anything this time around, it was the fact that we were discussing this story that's become so close to my heart, so special to me. But I left encouraged and inspired to keep writing.

Of course, we all know what comes on Friday night of Realm Makers... the costume banquet/awards dinner!! Last year I went as Peggy Carter, and in keeping with the Marvel theme, this year I was...

Wanda Maximoff!

This costume was so much fun to put together, and I was super pleased with how it came out. I received multiple compliments and was glad that for the most part, people could tell who I was supposed to be. xD Specifically, I was Age of Ultron Wanda, and I went wayyy out of my comfort zone and even went for her makeup look. (more accurately, my sister did it for me. you don't want to see what it looked like when I tried. xD) 

My sister went as Belle, and my brother went as Luke Skywalker. (even though I begged him to be Pietro because it would have been perfect and we would have looked so cool but nooo. >.<)

Going down to where the costume dinner is being held is one of my favorite parts of Realm Makers. I compared it before to stepping into a fantasy world. It's so magical entering the crowd of people dressed as different characters, from so many different books and movies and shows... I just love it.

The awards ceremony was, of course, a delight, and I loved seeing so many beloved authors win awards and celebrate their wins together. I happened to be sitting right behind the table where Kara Swanson, Steve Laube, Morgan Busse, and Gillian Bronte Adams were sitting, so needless to say there I witnessed lots of celebration from there. ;) Kara Swanson won the Readers' Choice Award for Shadow- so deserved- and I got one of my favorite pictures of the weekend:

Kara accepting her award while her proud husband records the moment!

Morgan Busse won 2 awards for Secrets in the Mist- which I read recently and can confirm is a fantasic book! ALSO- this was the anniversary (I can't remember how many years) of the day when she first had the idea for the book! How amazing is that?? And Gillian Bronte Adams won 2 awards for Of Fire and Ash- including Book of the Year!!-, which I haven't read yet but have heard amazing things about, and it's pretty high up on my TBR.

Morgan Busse!

Scott Minor dramatically presenting Gillian Bronte Adams with her Realm Makers goblet xD

And just putting this out there... I can't wait for next year when The Wonderland Trials and Nadine Brandes' Wishtress are in the running. (Speaking of Nadine, she surprised everyone and showed up to the conference after previously saying she wouldn't be able to come!! I SHAMEFULLY didn't take a picture with her, but I got to speak with her briefly and I'm just so glad she got to be there again.)

Oh, I also got to see my dear friend Cassie accept the award for a fellow Havok author for her story A Home for Nova, which won the Flash Fiction award! Such a special moment. (Cassie was also a Realm Awards finalist, which I'm so proud of her for!!)

Cassie as Alina Starkov!

Anna as Madi Hatter from The Wonderland Trials!

Scott Minor as Doctor Strange! (because of COURSE the Scarlet Witch had to get a picture with Doctor Strange)

And apparently that's all the pictures I took with people at the banquet. I got more pictures than I did last year, thankfully, but man, it's just so hard to get photos with everybody!! And then you get home and realize half the pictures you did take with people were on someone else's phone... it's a struggle. xD

Moments before the makeup came off. I do not miss it. xD


Ah, Saturday- the final official day of Realm Makers. It's amazing how fast you go from "Awesome, I still have the whole weekend ahead of me!" to "Wait, it's the last day and I'm leaving tomorrow??" 

The day started off in announcements with a rather unsettling realization that there was an ape running around through the crowd... no worries, it was just Andrew Winch, kicking off the morning skit with S.D. Grimm. 

Megan at the Lamplighters Literary Creations table! I bought 9 candles. xD

With Ashley (aka my baking buddy)!

That night was the book festival, where I got to meet a bunch of fantastic authors and get some books signed! My load was muuuch lighter this year. Last year my shoulder was so sore after the conference, because I'd spent the whole weekend lugging around a duffel bag stuffed full of books. I wish I'd weighed it, because let me tell you that thing was HEAVY. xD This year I had fewer books to be signed and also planned a little better, so I didn't carry around a bajillion books everywhere I went.

With Kara Swanson!

I had Morgan Busse sign my copy of Secrets in the Mist, as well as her story in Stories that Sing, which I also have a story in!

With Morgan Busse (and our shared anthology!)

For sure, one of the highlights was meeting Jill Williamson. I, admittedly, have not read any of her books (though I'm now reading By Darkness Hid!), but I'd been looking forward to meeting her because I had a lot to thank her for. If you didn't know, Go Teen Writers was the very first writing blog I ever discovered. From there, I branched out and discovered all the other blogs I follow, which also led me to discover Bookstagram and Realm Makers. And of course, that's how I ended up making so many amazing friends in this community. Would I have discovered all of this without Go Teen Writers? Maybe eventually, but there's no telling. So it was so, so special being able to tell Jill in person thank you for helping bring me into this community. And after I had told her, she said, "Okay, we've got to take a selfie so I can send it to Shan and Stephanie and tell them we got another one!" So that was... a little bit unreal. And that photo ended up on her RM recap on Instagram, too, so there's that. o.o I also had her sign her story in Stories that Sing. It's such an honor to share an anthology with someone who's had such an impact on my writing and my involvement in this community. 

With Jill Williamson! I'm just now realizing you can't even see most of the anthology in this photo. Oops xD

With Gillian Bronte Adams!

One thing I absolutely love about Realm Makers is how many fellow Havok authors I get to see! I met Abigail Falanga this year, though we shamefully didn't take a picture together, as well as Andrew Swearingen, Rachel Kimberly Hastings, and I'm sure a bunch of others but my memory fails me. I had the loveliest of chats with Cadi Murphy, who I saw last year but never got a chance to talk to, and she's just the sweetest. It's so amazing to connect with these other awesome authors, and I'm so thankful for Havok for bringing so many people together and being the start of all these lifelong friendships. 

With Cadi Murphy!

With Hailey Huntington!

With Megan!

Oh, and by the way, something very exciting happened this year at Realm Makers- my sister signed a contract with Quill & Flame Publishing House! Her epic fantasy, Shadowcast, will be coming out next year, so you should definitely keep an eye out for that!


We had decided to skip the post-conference session this year, since we had a much further way to travel this time and wanted to leave the morning open for whatever. I didn't want to be rushed, since last year I had missed seeing some people. So, Sunday morning, we had the delight of having breakfast with Megan Gerig, Katie Williamson, Rae Graham, and Andi Gregory. We weren't really sure who would still be there, and though I'd pretty much said my goodbyes, it was a little depressing how empty and lonely it was and how it seemed we'd just be leaving without seeing any other Realmies; so I was glad we got to do this. ♥

Here's the weird thing. For months I'd been dreading leaving Realm Makers, because last year I walked out of the building and was in tears by the time I got to the car, and they didn't stop almost the whole way home. (which was roughly an hour and a half drive) So, I was prepared for the emotions to hit this time... but they never did. I mean, I was sad, of course, and I do seem to remember a moment when I was walking through the hotel lobby and no one was around, and I got a bit emotional. But... the tears never came. To this day, I still haven't cried about RM, and last year it seemed like I cried every time I thought about it or rewatched a recap reel. 

And honestly? I think I know why. Last year I came into this beautiful world, met dear friends who I'd only talked to online, and found where I belonged. I felt at home, more at home than I ever had. It was the best weekend of my life thus far, and in a way nothing will ever match it. When I left, I felt so hopelessly separated from my people, from the friends I'd connected with in such a special way over just a few days. I didn't think I'd be coming back next year, so not knowing when I'd see any of them again was really hard. I just couldn't stand the thought of going back to normal life, where the only people who understand me and my writing/fangirling are those in my immediate family. 

But this year? Realm Makers was like coming home. There were reunions, and there were new meetings. It was just as wonderful as my first RM was, but this time there was a whole different feeling... like I truly was just home. Rather than feeling that heartbreaking desperation that hit last year as I was leaving, instead I just had a feeling like... this is forever. Realm Makers is a part of me, and so are all my wonderful Realmies, and returning home can't take that away from me. 

Last year I used the song "Moments Like This" by the Afters for my RM reel. "Here we are on top of the stars, never thought we'd ever get this far..." "Don't want to close my eyes, I'm feeling so alive..." It was so fitting because I was truly on a high from being with everyone, experiencing Realm Makers for the first time, just being a part of the magic. This year, I used "This Is Home" by Switchfoot, because it really encapsulates how it felt returning to Realm Makers, and how different it felt leaving this year. "I've got my memories always inside of me... and I can't go back, back to how it was." "This is home... now I'm finally where I belong." 

Plus, I had found out some very exciting news that kept me from being quite as sad leaing this year- next year, Realm Makers is returning to St. Louis!! I was so incredibly excited about that, because previously we'd thought that it was going to be in Orlando, and after this trip, it would have been a miracle if we'd been able to make it. But in 2023, RM is back in my neck of the woods, at the same magical location it was at last year, and I'm so unbelievably excited. 

And that's my Realm Makers recap, a month and a half late. Props to you if you made it through this whole thing, because I feel like I rambled on and on. xD 

I'm so endlessly thankful to Realm Makers, and to Scott and Becky Minor for making it happen every year. It's truly changed my life, and I know many other writers feel the same way. I leave Realm Makers more encouraged and inspired in my writing than ever, and with a traumatized TBR and bank account. XD

My Realm Makers book haul! Quite an increase from last year, when I only bought one book xD

ALSO, this is unrelated to Realm Makers buuut- today is my fourth blogiversary!! I published my first blog post on September 1st, 2018, back when my blog looked completely different (I think the background was maroon or something??). Thank you all so much for reading my Internet ramblings, and for coming back even after I've been MIA for months at a time. I do hope to get back to more regular posting on here, so stay tuned for more posts hopefully coming soon! I love you all so much! ♥

Now, I want to know- who will I be seeing in St. Louis next year?? I can't wait to be back in what seems to be everyone's favorite location! I hope I'll see some of you then! ♥