Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Bibliophile Sweater Tag // The First Tag Created by Yours Truly

Ever since I started blogging, I've been wanting to create my own tag. I dearly love being tagged and answering all the fun, random questions (even if I actually never do the tags I'm tagged for *COUGH*) so I thought it would be cool to create my own someday.

I wanted it to be something autumnal and book-related...and thus the idea of a Bibliophile Sweater Tag was born! This hasn't been done before, to my knowledge, but I did base the format off the Cookie Book Tag, which I did a few months ago and was created by this gal.

Basically, here's the gist of it: I came up with 11 different sweaters and a type of book that "matched" each one. I'm not sure if they all make sense? Sometimes I think I'm being clever and then it ends up just being confusing. xD

With that lengthy introduction out of the way, on to the tag!

Rules (more like guidelines...)

- Give the person who tagged you a never-ending supply of cookies (or just thank them - either works)
- Answer all the questions and use the blog graphic for this tag somewhere in your post
- Pass along the tag to at least five other people
- Wear a sweater (okay, this is optional...but why wouldn't you want to??)

// The Bilbiophile Sweater Tag //

Fuzzy sweater // a book that is the epitome of comfort

This is a hard question (well, yes, I wrote them...but never mind that) because I just have lots of comfort reads. If I were to just pick one off the top of my head, I would have to go with Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I just read this recently for the first time and oh my word. It's so cozy and charming and beautiful. I LOVE THIS BOOK.

Striped sweater // a book which you devoured every line of

I can think of a lot of books that fit this category...namely any book with looooots of action. But A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen is just SO. GOOD. I could not put this book down. With fabulous family dynamics, a rich historical setting, and well-drawn suspense, it's just the definition of good fiction.

Ugly Christmas sweater // a book with a weird cover

(Note: this isn't meant to say that the cover is ugly. Just weird or not to your tastes. ;))

This is the closest I could find for this category. Just...yeah, the sculpture of an old man with glowing eyes is a little creepy. xD

Cashmere sweater // the most expensive book you've bought

I got this for Christmas a couple years ago, and it was probably one of the most expensive books I've been given. (Yes, I know the price - only because I was eyeing it on Amazon before Christmas. xD) BUT IT'S TOTALLY WORTH IT, GUYS. This has to be one of my top favorite books that I own. Ever. The format is the coolest thing ever, and it's just a gorgeous book.

(Plus, Peter Pan. *grins*)

Hoodie // a favorite classic book

This isn't my VERY favorite classics, but it's one of them! It's just so clever and fun and whimsical...I LOVETH THIS STORY. Highly recommended to anyone who likes whimsical fantasy-type stories.

(And can we talk about the illustrations?? I'm lowkey obsessed with them.)

Cardigan // a book that you bought on impulse

(Explanation for this one: cardigans are kind of the sweaters you would impulsively grab before heading out least they are for me. *shrugs*)

I had heard good things about this from a couple friends and was interested in reading when I found it on sale, I spontaneously decided to purchase it.

Let me just say: it was a very worthwhile purchase. *hugs book*

Turtleneck sweater // a book from your childhood

Confession time: I actually wasn't a big reader as a kid. *cue gasps from the crowd*

Yes, it's true. I didn't become a bibliophile until I was about ten or eleven. So while I read some books as a youngling, I didn't have any that I would read over and over again. (I missed out on a lot as child, apparently.)

One book that really does stick out to me from my younger reading years, though, is The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson. I think I read this when I was approximately twelve years old, and it's the book I hold responsible for getting me interested in fantasy.

Homemade knitted sweater // a book that is Indie-published 

THIS COVER, THOUGH. I can't get over the beauty. *stares with mouth agape for daysssss*

I could list a lot of great indie books for this category (The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson, The Reluctant Godfather by Allison Tebo, Martin Hospitality by Abigayle Claire, etc.), but for the sake of brevity, I'll just stick with this one.

To Get to You is honestly one of my favorite books everrrrr. ACTUALLY ALL OF JOANNE'S BOOKS ARE. Joanna Bischof is an mind-blowingly talented author. All of her books have raw emotion, unique premises, fabulous characters...they just have everything, my friends. And this one is the perfect summer read. Gahhhhhhhhh.

V-neck sweater // a book that did not meet your expectations

(This is supposed to be a sweater that has a v-shaped dip in the it could be like a book that dips below your expectations. It works...right? :P)

WELL THEN. This book was NOT my thing. I wrote a whole rambly review on Goodreads the other day about all the issues I had with this, and...yeah. There are a lot. xD Namely the horrible romance. Goodness gracious. *shields eyes*

Argyle sweater // a book with a unique format

This is more in terms of story format, rather than design format. It features two different plotlines, one set during WWII and another in modern times. The author weaves both plots together so seamlessly and beautifully. Kristy Cambron is TALENTED and has the most gorgeous writing style. She's so good at delving into the emotions of her characters - they just feel so real.


Polka dot sweater // a book with well-rounded characters

C' knew it was coming. xD

I raved about this in a review on my blog several months ago, and every word I said was true. THESE CHARACTERS ARE THE BEST. Like...I can't even describe the level of admiration I have for this book and its people. <333 I would totally recommend this to people who don't even read historical fiction. It has a great premise, some of my favorite characters ever, and it deals with BOOKS. #bookception

If you aren't convinced yet, just go read my review. Because I'm obviously the person you go to when you need to make major life decisions. (Aka picking out your next book to read. :P)

/ / /

Now to choose my victims. *evil chuckle*

Evangeline // An Odd Blog
Faith // The Writer's Song
Tracey // Adventure Awaits
Soleil // Thoughts from a Daughter of God
Savannah // Scattered Scribblings
Natalie // Ramblings of a Redhead Girl
Christine // Musings of an Elf
Madeline // Short & Snappy

As usual, there's no obligation to do this tag. I've forgotten or been too busy to do tags maaaaaaany times in my life. xD If anyone else would be interested in doing this, feel free! Just be sure to share a link with me in the comments so I can check out your answers. :D

For copying-and-pasting purposes, here are all the questions again.

Fuzzy sweater (a book that is the epitome of comfort)
Striped sweater (book which you devoured every line of)
Ugly Christmas sweater (book with a weird cover)
Cashmere sweater (most expensive book you've bought)
Hoodie (favorite classic book)
Cardigan (book that you bought on impulse)
Turtleneck sweater (book from your childhood)
Homemade knitted sweater (book that is Indie-published)
V-neck sweater (book that did not meet your expectations)
Argyle sweater (book with a unique format)
Polka dot sweater (a book with well-rounded characters)

WELL I DID IT. I made my first tag! *much flailing* What's your favorite kind of sweater? Are you as ready for fall weather as I am? (It's been SOOOO HOT lately. -_-) Have you read any of the books I mentioned?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A U T U M N Update // First Time Driving + Secret Project + NaNo?

(Hello, yes, I'm totally not ignoring life's problems and homework by posting. *cough*)

HAPPY OCTOBER, WORLD! *throws leaves in the air unceremoniously* One of my favorite months of the year has dawned, and I honored it accordingly on my other blog.

There's been a loooot of stuff happening in my life lately, and I really didn't know what else to do except shout that out to the world so...yeah. Typical Mary logic. *nods*

I recently got a tripod for my camera (!!!!) so I was able to actually give you a decent quality video for once. (Well, it was SUPPOSED to be good quality, but for some reason, it doesn't look that great now in Google Drive? I spent SO long trying to upload it differently, but it didn't work...ugh. :P) Of course, I didn't have a clue what to do with editing so you basically get raw video footage of me being clueless and rambly and tired. You're welcome.

*laughs uncertainly because I look really weird in the thumbnail*

A few things I forgot to mention: I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow (my first well visit in like, six years *sheepish smile*) that I'm really nervous about. Many of you are probably aware of my fear of needles...and I just feel like I'll probably need shots and I'M LOWKEY FREAKING OUT. O_o I...can't handle needles.

I also have a super secret project that I'm working on. It may or may not involve books. But you'll have to wait to find out. *whistles innocently* It's going to take a long time to complete, and it might not actually work out? I HOPE IT DOES. Anyway, look out for a post about that sometime this winter/early spring.

I was going to put something else in this post, but I spent so long trying to figure out the video that I don't have time to spare. Bother. Hope this wasn't too much of a bore. ;)

Are you as excited as I am about fall? Any editing software you would recommend for videos? (I NEED TECH HELP PLEASE.) What have you been reading lately?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Realm Makers 2017 Recap //

Realm Makers.

Where do I even begin?

It was one of the most memorable weekends of my life. 

I met so many friends (!!!), learned a ton of things, got books signed, met real authors, took selfies with aforementioned authors...


day 1 // 7.26.17


My mom and I had a bit of a snag going out the door that morning (her laptop was doing updates for over three hours), but we somehow got on the road only a little later than planned. Upon arrival at the airport, we headed through security. My suitcase set off some kind of warning and they had to search it--most stressful thing ever, wondering what they were going to find and confiscate *gulps.* I think I actually had a panic attack there, and I was shaking for a while afterward. 

Thankfully, that was the roughest part of the trip. Our plane landed in Chicago several hours later, where we killed time during our four-hour layover. AND GUYS. The Chicago airport was the coolest thing ever. There was this rainbow walkway thing, lots of cool architecture, and even a dinosaur skeleton in one terminal. I may or may not have snapped waaaay too many photos. *coughs* 

Our flight was actually switched to a different terminal and that gave us another little scare. The airport in Chicago is MASSIVE, but we were fortunate enough to have plenty of time to make it to the other terminal.

After another rather lengthy flight, we landed in Reno, caught a shuttle to the hotel, and were attacked by the smell of smoke in the lobby. (The casino resort was NOT my favorite part of the trip. :P) We crashed in our room soon after because it was so late--midnight in Reno, but 3 am in our time zone.

day 2 // 7.27.17


We got to sleep in the next day! Well...technically it was only 8:30 when I got up but still. XD There was a pre-conference workshop with David Farland going on, but I didn't sign up for that because #money. ;) It sounds like people really benefited a lot from it, though, so I'll have to consider that if I go again.

My mom and I went out for breakfast at this nifty little bakery, where I got this delicious cinnamon-sugar bagel. The rest of the morning/early afternoon, I holed up in the hotel and wrote up a blog post like a good little blogger. With that checked off, we went down to the conference floor to check in. (And I met Kyle Robert Shultz in the elevator! I had a bit of a freak-out reaction when I realized who he was, and it was rather amusing. XD)

After checking in, I actually met Kara Swanson! Um...offically that is. She was the first person I met at Realm Makers, when we were going up the elevator (yet again) on Thursday. I had no idea at the time that she was actually Kara Swanson--I just looked at her, commented to my mom that she "looked like a writer," and then she actually approached me in the elevator and said basically the same thing. Evidently we just don't like the casino type. ;) I was a bit floored when I found out who she was later that day. But really, she was the sweetest person ever, and I had great fun with her during the conference!

Then it was time for the opening! WHERE I MET PEOPLES. :D After the opening, the teens all had this awesome hangout in the arcade with Jill Williamson and her husband Brad. IT WAS THE BESTTT. I connected with quite a few people due to my Studio C shirt. ;) The night also included a keynote speech by Ted Dekker (which was...interesting), the amazing Fight Workshop with Carla Hoch and her "assistant" Ben (they were hilarious and taught me soooo many things about fight scenes), plus a giveaway at the end. 

Met this sweet girl, Arielle, in the Teen Track! 

day 3 // 7.28.17


The morning started off with breakfast with my dear friend Tracey. It was so surreal sitting down with her and eating muffins together. (And watching her spill coffee on herself. *chuckles*)

We all had an epic table during the opening (with Tracey, Jonathan, Hann, Audrey, Liv, Elise, and a couple other people) and then split off to our respective classes. I was lucky enough to be a part of the Teen Track with Jill and Brad Williamson this year. And wowwww, was that an incredible experience.
I learned a ton of things, including...

- In his mind, the villain is the hero.

- Everyone in your book thinks of themselves as the star.

- Build your storyworld with purpose; only build what you need and make sure that elements of your world actually create conflict and are important to the story.

- The most important step of writing dialogue is knowing your characters.

- Most guys don't typically roll their eyes. (DON'T LAUGH. This is important information, people. I didn't even realize guys don't do this very often. XD)

This course continued over Friday and Saturday. On top of all the great information, Jill gave us all a free book! (Which means she's awesome, obviously.) We also all plotted a story together as a class and needless to say, that got a little insane with sixteen people trying to plot the same book. XD But it gave me lots of cool ideas, and I'm really looking forward to writing that story!

I had two other classes that day, including a worldbuilding one and an editing demo. Both were really great classes, and I especially loved the editing demo.

Some things I learned from those:

Worldbuilding for Middle-Grade with Sally Apokedak //

- Give purpose to quirky details. (Kind of related to what Jill said in the Teen Track.)

- You should create a beautiful world worth fighting for. It makes your readers actually want to visit or live in that world.

- Everything impacts everything; events in your story should have a ripple effect.

Editing Demo with Lisa Mangum (aka one of my faaaavorite classes) //

- Don't fix something unless it's wrong. In other words, if a writer has given you their story to edit/critique, don't just change something because it's not how YOU would have written it. Only change it if it's actually wrong.

- Changing the font before you edit can help switch you into "editor mode.'

- Sans serif fonts are easier to read on screens.

- Also lots more stuff but I'm too lazy to recap it all. 'Hem. (Hann gave me all her notes from this because she's AWESOME.)

After all the classes for the day concluded, we all headed up to our rooms to get ready for the costume banquet! This was a highlight of the trip, for sure. I dressed up as Bilbo Baggins, minus his dagger and walking stick. (I figured security would frown upon those items. ;P) We hung out for a while, taking tons of pictures and stalking different people to see who they were dressed up as. Everyone was so nerdy, and it was the best. XD

The awards banquet itself was great fun (even if some of the food was a bit...questionable to my taste buds *ahem*). I sat with Tracey, Arielle, Kara Swanson, and several other people. I almost choked on my food and died of laughter, so I'd call that a pretty successful evening.

The banquet concluded rather late, but I stuck around for a bit and chatted with people. I swear I was the most extroverted that weekend that I've EVER been.

Me and the ever-sweet Tracey! Loved spending time with her. <3
Hann and Jonny! Had so much fun with these two. ;)
Me and Victoria! It was awesome meeting her. ^_^
Our epic table! *thumbs up*
Hann and moi ;)
Group selfie at Teen Track!
The costume banquet! You see the upper half of Tracey's Emma Swan
costume and my Bilbo Baggins costume.
Elise as Elizabeth Swann, Jonny as Robin Hood/random peasant/Peter Pan (let's just
stick with Robin Hood, shall we? XD), Hann as herself, me as Bilbo, and Audrey as herself.
Me, Tracey, Brianna as a medieval peasant, and Lisa as Arwen
Tracey, Liv as a fairy, Lisa, Brianna
Alllll the steampunk!
Steampunk + Toothless = perfection
Jonny and Elise
The two Jonathans ;)
Jonathan and Tracey
Um...don't ask. XD
Snow White and her adorable little dwarf <3
Kara as Anastasia!

day 4 // 7.29.17


SATURDAY WAS THE BEST. And also the worst because I had to say goodbye to all the peoples. *wipes away tears*

I started out the day with delicious breakfast (seriously--donuts and fruit and muffins...what more could we want??) with some of my friends. Afterwards, we had the opening and then split into our respective classes.

Teen Track was the first on the list again. It was actually really sad because it was our last session and we had to say goodbye to Jill and Brad. (Although I saw them that night, too--can't get rid of them. *winks*) I really learned a lot from that class, got fabulous story seedlings, and grew closer to a lot of teen writers. IT WAS FAB.

Then there was the character motivation workshop with Lisa Mangum. Truthfully, she was probably one of my favorite people teaching at the conference. Her classes were SO helpful!

Make Me: Character Motivations + Goals with Lisa Mangum //

- Your readers will believe anything if you give your characters the motivation to do it.

- You should make your characters have to choose between two things that are extremely important to them. (For instance, "nothing is more important than family EXCEPT revenge.")

- Every option the characters face must have consequences or risks.

- Don't promise change in your story that does not occur. 

We took a break for lunch, and I stole away from our table to finalize some book purchases. (I got LOTS of books, folks. Lots. Of. Books.) Afterwards, we attended one of the sponsor spotlights which was all about connecting with readers. I sadly missed part of it because of my critique session, but from what I heard, it was really encouraging and interesting. I'm not published yet, but there are some tips that really are applicable to any writer.

For Authors Who Want to Reach Readers with Suzanne Kuhn //

- An author without readers is just a diarist.

- Never be without a Sharpie. They're permanent and can write on anything. (Like when you're signing your books for people.)

- Know what author your style is like. This doesn't mean copy them, obviously--everyone has their own unique flair that sets them apart. However, readers enjoy reading books with a similar feel to other authors they've read so this is a good thing to keep in mind.

As I mentioned, I had a critique session with Jill Williamson that afternoon. It went really well, and I'm glad I signed up for it! She sent me tips on a piece of my writing that I emailed her before the conference, and when we met up, I chatted with her and asked any questions that came to mind. It was a lot different than I expected. More of a relaxed conversation about her writing experience and tips she had to offer. I will definitely want to do this again in the future, though I will probably want to write out some questions beforehand.

The two of us actually got so involved in our chat that we were really late to the next workshop. #oops xD I caught the tail end of the magic systems class with David Farland, where he shared some things that really stuck out in my mind.

Building Your Magic System with David Farland //

- There's a moral consequence to magic.

- There should be limitations to the magic in your story. It's not an all-powerful cure-all.

- Along those lines, the magic system should be somewhat broken. It shouldn't be easy to use and able to fix everything.

With that, all the actual conference workshops were over. I skipped out on much of the ending keynote by Dekker and chatted with some people during that time. A big group of us went out and ate delicious pizza (with pineapple on it--yesssss) and had deep conversations over dinner. (We also talked about how Jonathan sounded like a valley girl and learned about Canadian money...totally normal.)

Then there was the book signing! AHHHHHH. I got books signed by Kyle Robert Shultz, Kara Swanson, Jill Williamson, Robert Liparulo, Ted Dekker (thanks to Hann for waiting in line for me!), and Laura VAB. We all got an epic selfie with Mary Weber also and enjoyed a chocolate fountain. Basically...IT WAS PURE EPICNESS.

The concluding event of the evening? The nerf war. Oh my word, can you say best thing ever?? I've got to say, this was one of the highlights of the trip. Although I was 1000% clueless and basically hid the entire time, it was a blast. There were hundred-or-so writers gathered in a room with weapons. Was it chaos?

...You better believe it. ;)

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Jonathan and I stayed there until midnight (because let's face it: midnight is the defining point of awesomeness) and I had to part ways with all my friends. *sad sigh* All in all, the perfect way to end one of the best weekends of my life.

The bookstore. (One side of it. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of
the whole place.)

Breakfast *drools*
(For the record, I was NOT ready for this picture. :P)
Forgive the blurry conference pictures aren't the
best quality. 
Selfie with Jill!
Tracey and me :)

Funny story: Tracey actually came up behind me and nearly gave
me a heart attack before this picture
was taken. (Thanks, darling. xD)

Selfie with Mary Weber (yes, this is epic)

I'm actually really obsessed with this picture.

People I Met //


You guys are all fabulous, and it was so cool meeting you! I didn't get to spend much time with some of you, unfortunately, but it was still a great time meeting everyone. :)

Authors I Met //

Kara Swanson
Kyle Robert Shultz
Jill Williamson
Mary Weber
Robert Liparulo
Laura VAB
Morgan Busse (well, kind of--she asked me to take a picture of her and some other people at the costume that counts? XD)

Things for Next Time  (because Katie Grace and Audrey did this before, so it's obviously a good idea) //

- Take more pictures. (I know what you're thinking: "this isn't enough??" Well, I was basically the only person with a big camera to lug around so I felt out of place taking pictures. Thus, next time I'd like to have an iPod/iPhone for more convenience. But we'll see.)

- Save room for books in your suitcase. Um. Let's just say it was interesting packing everything up when we left.

- Write out questions for critiques/meetings/talks with authors. I didn't do that this time, and I regret it. Although I had a great time chatting with Jill during the critique, I really wish I had thought to write down questions I had for her beforehand.

- Get business cards. Because these make you look 10000x cooler than you actually are. XD

- Take pictures with authors. I actually only have a couple pictures with authors and that's sad. NEXT TIME, PEOPLE.

- Do the pre-conference workshop. It's more money, obviously, but I think it would be really valuable. So yes. I'm interested in doing this next time. :D

- Bring a Nerf gun. Because I shall need it. Also, bring a backpack, Mary. The bags I brought to the conference were Very Awkward.

- Pre-write blog posts. News flash: it's actually really stressful to have to crank out blog posts during a writing conference. Who woulda thought. *rolls eyes* :P

Additional Notes //

- I obviously didn't take all these pictures. Photo credit for lots of these pics goes to Audrey, Tracey, and Jonathan. (Thanks for letting me steal all your group shots and candid photos! *salutes*)

- Jonathan learned how to pronounce debut at last. I'M SO PROUD.

- Pizza is good. Pizza with writers is better.


Um. So I hope you enjoyed this post two months late. It took me aaaaaaages to write, let me tell you. I had an amazing experience at RM and miss all my friends. <3 SERIOUSLY RELIVING IT ALL RIGHT NOW AND GETTING ALL EMOTIONAL.

Well, did you survive this enormous post? If so, have some cookies. *hands you some* Will you be going to Realm Makers 2018? (They just announced that it's in St. Louis next summer!) Maybe we'll see each other there next time!