Journey Before Destination

I did my first endurance race this year. And while it was really fun and I have TONS of great memories and stories from that day, do you know what I also have?

Even more great memories and stories from all the training rides I had to do to achieve that goal of finishing the actual race.

Like the day I was supposed to do an out-and-back on the trail, and got bored and just rode home instead of back to the parking lot. We rode through the "downtown" area (just a post office and hardware store, really), passed by the local winery, and along the train tracks. Lots of fun!

And then the day I went into the nearby "big city" and did the 7 mile loop around the lake. I hadn't been there in years and it was so fun to do it again.

Or the day I did the most popular trail section and trotted the whole trail, breezing past big groups of trail riders while playing dramatic soundtrack music on my phone.

Or getting together with friends and just racing along for a few miles, laughing and enjoying the horses.

The race comes for a weekend and is over, but the conditioning rides will continue.

We published more books this year. I can't believe Sarah and I wrote and published an entire series. How cool is that?? Even better than release day, though, are the memories made during the journey.

Getting our "dis"sertations from Mars Evan, and the laughter and merriment that ensues.

Talking with Sarah over the phone and getting way too excited about a character or plot thread we just came up with or figured out.

Writing or editing a scene and just...GRINNING SO HARD BECAUSE IT'S PERFECT.

"Journey before destination" is one of the core statements of the Knights Radiant order in the Stormlight Archives. SA is a series I read this year, and really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

But journey before destination really hit me, because I feel it. I have done a lot of journeying this year. A lot of my goals have been made, but in other ways, I'm still travelling. I'm still journeying, and haven't quite reached my destination yet.

If the journey lasts longer than you expected, don't give up. After all, it's not the destination that changes you, it's the journey you take along the way.

It's nearing the end of 2021. A lot of us are looking at the goals we had, and some of those goals...they haven't been reached yet. Some might have been tossed out the window completely. We're not where we expected ourselves to be a year ago, for good or for bad.

I'm here to tell you: embrace the journey, no matter how long or hard it is. Look back and see how you've grown. See what has changed. See what progress, however big or small, you've made, and be proud.

Dare to dream big for next year. Dare to try something new. Dare to challenge yourself, push yourself. And accept the journey laid before you.

Journey before destination, y'all.

NEW RELEASE: Rogues, Royals, and Raiding Roc

 Today is the day...the final Pirate Hunter book is out in the wild. You can grab your copy off our website HERE or order from Amazon HERE.

I want to take this opportunity to thank our amazing team of beta readers, Chloe and Samantha especially. Thanks to your help, your encouragement, your advice...these books are complete and published. To everyone who read these books, who left reviews, who cheered us on...thanks, from the bottom of my heart.

What is the book about?

Two queens fighting for a throne.

A king returns to his home.

And the master of the seas.

Three years, and Pirate Queen Bonnie Clearwater still sails the seas. She continues to evade the pirate hunters, and her army only grows stronger until it threatens the whole Alliance of Kingdoms. In a desperate move, Captain Adi sails to the east to look for allies before her cousin begins to march across the kingdoms, one by one.

Meanwhile, Ravin must do the impossible—return to his home country of Arrothray and gain the leadership of the del Mankayl assassin clan. After running from his past for years, the time has come to confront the truth behind his family name.

The Red Wind Legends were once fire-side stories, told by sailors, parents, and travelers. But they continue to grow, wild and free, like the seas themselves. As the Alliance makes a final desperate stand against the Pirate Nation, the legacy of the Master of the Seas holds the key to victory.

Tabor Cover Reveal!

 I first read Golgotha earlier this year (and fell in love with the cover much, much earlier, lol). And then I beta-read the sequel, Tabor (also earlier this year).


Tabor is the second book in the Remnant Trilogy, and it was really fun to read! A diverse cast of characters (from noble Finn to roguish Gunnar to sweet Ama)(and EPIC MORAY) and some exciting plot twists!

(Maybe I should do mini reviews more often...that totally sold y'all, right??)

Anyways, here's the official blurb:

Five ragtag friends must close the Rifts between the Realms before an ancient war snuffs out all innocent life for good.

King Finnigan’s kingdom is crumbling—traitors plot in his midst, a witch has fled execution, and enemies attack allied lands. When Rifts form between Golgotha and Mazzabah, the ragtag remnants must close them before the ancient warlock, Shafiq, takes control of the realms.

With darkness engulfing both realms, the group parts ways to seek answers about the histories and what can be done against Shafiq. But what they find changes everything. If they can’t fight the darkness, Mazzabah will be lost, and so will every innocent life left behind. But to survive the ancient war, they need help. And with more help comes more traitors.

Preorders open today and all receipts can be sent HERE. Just be sure to do it before 11/15!! The first thirty pre-orders will get: a map, character cards, a bookmark, a customized note, and an exclusive monster art print!

Also, TWO readers who preorder and submit their receipts will be entered to win signed paperbacks of Golgotha and Tabor AND a scented candle inspired by one of the characters (as well as the swag previously mentioned).

For the record, these two books look absolutely beautiful together. I have both covers below as proof. :)

Rumors, Reunions, and Revenge - OUT IN THE WILD

 Beware everyone - krakens have been released!!

Rumors, Reunions, and Revenge is now out and available to purchase off the Order of the Pen Press website, as well as on Amazon (ebooks and paperbacks).

If you like adventure on the high seas, dangerous sea creatures, a touch of ocean magic, and found will love the Pirate Hunter Chronicles!

The amazing Mars Evan did the chapter headings for Rumors, and I could not be more excited about them!!!

I mean...LOOK AT THIS!!! <3

A wealthy duke from a mysterious island.
Rumors of the dead walking.
And siren songs of immortality.

A year has passed, and another Scaera Dumeda is about to begin. Captain Adi and the rest of the pirate hunter crew are escorting the Belfarren nobles when they come across a fleet claiming to belong to the Pirate Nation, led by the last person she ever expected to see again. Perhaps it’s not as easy to leave her past behind as she thought.

As Ravin settles into his new life he begins to consider the del Mankayl clan and others in his family who might want to run away as he did. But when an opportunity comes to rescue a relative, is he truly making a difference or is he only putting his loved ones in danger by bringing a violent assassin on board?




United We Fall Cover Reveal

 It's a busy week over here at Saver of Memories, and it's not done yet! I'm popping in again to share the new cover for Brooke's second book in the How We Rise Trilogy - the AMAZING BEAUTIFUL COVER for United We Fall!

I recently read How We Rise for the first time, and you can read my review HERE on Goodreads. I really enjoyed Brooke's writing voice, and while it's not a genre I read a lot, I did enjoy the plot. I will defintely be getting this book once it's out (if only to stare at the COVER).

Oh. Right. I should probably share the cover. :)

Here's the blurb:

What is Truth? What Are Lies?

It's been two weeks since Raegan's death. Two weeks since a big blow was dealt to the resistance. Two weeks since Peter lost his best friend and perhaps his soul mate. Now, he's out for revenge on everyone responsible, starting with the biggest coward: Agent Specter.

Peter doesn't care what rules he has to break to bring down those who took away the one he loved the most. When someone he never expected comes forward with information that seems too good to be true, he has to make a decision on what to do before it's too late.

Hmmmm. Sounds exciting!! I except an Inigo Montoya-style showdown once Peter finally faces Agent Specter.

Year of Shadow

 It's been a year. August 5th, 2020....

Wait, let me back up. This really started YEARS ago.

In 2008, after outgrowing the Shetland pony, I got my first horse, a Paso Fino named Cordero. He was cute, well-trained and FULL of energy. Little 12 preteen me was terrified to ride him. 

Who knew that someday I would trust this horse more than any other?

Cord was the best horse. If you wanted to lead little children around, he would walk oh so slowly and carefully. If you wanted to gait along, he could corto with the best. And if you wanted to gallop....oh, he'd be flat out running in a second.

This is a pretty decent snow (for NC). And he still is grumpy about it.

He did it all. Show ring. Barrels. Trails. Pony rides at parties. Bareback trips to the river. Stupid childhood shenigians. And all bareback with just a halter, if you wanted.

Cord passed at age 28, and I miss him every day.

The cutest face! <3

A few years passed. I downsized to just one Friesian that I've had since he was a 3 year old. "I don't need another horse," I said. "Pepper is perfect. I don't need a second one."

But, deep down inside, I missed having a Paso. I missed having something small and easy to work with (Pepper is amazing, but he's the size of an elephant). I missed that merry little gait.

So, as one does, I occasionally scour the internet for Pasos. And, at the beginning of August 2020, I found this Craigslist ad.

I mean, why not respond to it??

I called and scheduled a date to see him. When I pulled down the driveway, I saw him. He was tied to a branch, already saddled and bridled, sweating up a storm and anxiously jigging in circles around the tree.

This is where that small inner voice would say "I've heard of stories like this, they're trying to hide something, this horse looks batshit crazy, don't get on him."

Unfortunately, I do not have that small inner voice.

So I rode him. He bucked a few times as we cantered up a hill. He pranced around downed branches and over mud puddles. He tossed his head and side stepped and was a little crazy.

And then I got him on the driveway and let him fly. And y'all. I could feel the Paso Fino Smile spreading across my face. I was crying when I got off. It had been years since I'd last ridden a corto.

But I still wasn't sold on the horse. I didn't need a second one. It wasn't an "instant connection that means I have-to-have-him" deal. There was no love at first sight. Yeah, he was cute, but...he was nuts. He couldn't stand still, he wasn't a color I liked, he wasn't...perfect. I would never call myself a horse trainer, which is probably what he needs. I didn't even bring the trailer, so I would have to go home and think about it.

This was our first ride, the test ride...(hey, I did bring my helmet!)

Then I took the saddle off, and saw his ribs sticking out. I fully took in the bony hips the saddle pad had covered. The thin neck and legs weren't just a case of "I've been riding an elephant for the past year, so of course everything will look little." No, this boy was thin.

Crazy or not, I was bringing him home, and the rest could be figured out later. I came back first thing the next morning, where it took me over 30 minutes to coax him into the open stock trailer (that no horse has ever refused to load into before). But we made it home.

Shadow and Pepper meeting each other for the first time (note the poor skinny boy).

I named him Shadow.

I spent the first week feeding Shadow senior feed in the horse trailer (get weight back and fix that fear of the trailer). We started doing little rides with my local trail group, where he learned how to conquer creeks, rivers, and bushwhacking.

Our DNA tests came back, I was able to contact his breeders, learn what history I could from them, and get papers mailed. I reached out to the lady I purchased him from, and got in touch with the owner between the breeders and the seller.

His history is as follows:

-Paso Fino farm was downsizing; they sold a bunch of pregnant mares.

-Owner 1 buys a mare, she has her foal, they are left in a large pasture with minimal contact for a couple years.

-Owner 2 is told by Owner 1 that if they can catch him, they can have him. They manage to catch him, load him, and bring him home.

-Owner 2 gelds him, breaks him to ride and drive, takes him up and down their road.

-Owner 2 is killed in a driving accident.

-Owner 3 lives down the road, and eventually takes on all the animals (horses and dogs) after Owner 2's death.

-Owner 3 isn't familiar with Pasos and lists him on Craigslist.

-Owner 4 comes along. Me. :)

-I turn Shadow into a lovely trail horse and get him registered.

So it's been a year now. August 4th, I rode him. August 5th I went back and brought him home. We have done the Ride and Tie race, and an Intro Endurance race. We've gone horse camping. Ridden out by ourselves. Ridden in huge groups. He's been through tunnels and over bridges. And our latest trick...riding out with just a halter.

Shadow is everything about why I love the Paso Fino breed. They're not for everyone. (When I brought Shadow out for his first coggins, my vet gave me a look. "Now, have you ever had a Paso before," she asked, which only made me laugh.) They're smart, maybe too smart. They have brio, which can make some riders nervous. They're sensitive and gentle and maybe just a tiny bit crazy.

Shadow has that Paso Fino fire. He'll spring into a canter at the drop of the reins, and then drop into a halt with just a quiet word. He's got a fun little gait (worthy of that Paso smile). I wish I could have had him and my old Paso at the same time. No horse will ever compare to Cord, but I think Shadow will eventually be able to give him a good run for his money.

He still hates mud, though.

Shadow's first time encountering a river.

My little sister, who learned to ride on Cord, riding Shadow.

Our first Ride and Tie race.

Switching off during the race.

Group ride photo, taken on our most recent trail ride 7/31/21 (Shadow is the gray horse second to the right, Pepper my Friesian is the black beside him).

Cord, the day he came to the farm in 2008.

Crossing a bridge on the local trail system.

Dad being a cowboy with Cord.

Little me, learning to conquer fear and ride outside of the round pen.

Thanks for reaching the end of the post. Here is my little sister riding Pepper the Friesian. Because Pepper is a sweetheart and deserves some attention after having to suffer through chasing down Pasos all his life.

Realm Makers Recap

 How to put an experience...feelings...memories...into a blog post? Well, I'm going to attempt it. My Realm Makers is made up of little moments, small occurrences, that keep it bright and adored in my memory.


Editing my pitch like crazy Tuesday morning before heading to work and re-printing everything out after finding a SINGLE. TYPO.

Not packing until Tuesday night at 11:30pm, while on an energy drink rush. (In my defense, I was testing out the new green tea energy drinks from work.)

Getting up at 6am Wednesday, throwing everything in the Falcon, and stopping by work to hand out paychecks.

True to her namesake, the Falcon not starting back up when I try to leave work.

Driving straight to Sarah's house because my car might not start up again if I turn it off.

Sarah's dad: *opens my trunk* So, what needs to go into the van?

Me: Um....all of it.

Driving with Sarah, jamming, and chatting about anything and everything.

My gps telling me to turn around in the middle of the highway and go in the opposite direction.

Me: *gestures grandly while telling a story while driving
Sarah: One hand on the wheel, please.
Me: What? I was using my knee!

Trying to find a hotel that isn't already booked up, and calling 3 before finding a place to sleep.

Me: Just pull up google maps on my phone.

Sarah: *opens phone* This is all in Russian.

IHOP delivery not putting avocado on my food (making me crave avocado for basically the rest of the trip).

Watching Road to El Dorado (for the first time ever) and simultaneously rolling on the floor in laughter and also being rather horrified. (Also, Sarah and I do know what our costumes will be next year.)

IS THAT AN ARMADILLO????? - me, while driving

Arriving at the Sheraton in MO and careening into the parking lot blasting He's a Pirate with the windows down and the base turned up.

Setting up our book table and absolutely loving the setup (one of my dad's sailing maps was the perfect finishing touch).

Trying to smuggle swords through the hotel elevator.

Is this even legal??

Getting to listen to 5 minutes of the opening keynote before getting emergency work calls, and spending the next hour and a half making phone calls, trying to figure out what's going on, talking down the employees as they panic, and hoping the gas station won't blow up.

Thinking I don't need to set an alarm Friday morning and basically sleeping through Sarah and Nicole getting up...and then waking up to an empty room about twenty minutes before the morning session started. And I still had to shower.

Feeling absolutely horrible during the first class and thinking "oh, crap, I'm getting sick...I'm gonna be the one who gets covid and gives it to everyone at Realm Makers" and then feeling 100% better after eating lunch (probably was hungry)(because I skipped breakfast)(because I SLEPT IN).

Really enjoying David Farland's classes. <3 SO MUCH material that really encouraged and motivated me.

Getting a "no, we're not interested, but it does sound really cool and unique, so keep at it" in my first pitch.

Selling the pirate books to a random hotel-goer who wandered downstairs.

Dressing up as Hadrian Blackwater from the Riyria Revelations for the awards dinner, and actually having someone recognize me.

Me: *randomly passing by Captain America while in costume*

Captain America: *salutes* Hadrian, SIR!

Did the great Carla Hoch ask to hold my sword? Ummm....yes....(should I have been scared??)

(Apparently) Intimidating a group of soccer boys while in full costume, causing one of them to accidentally walk into the wall.

People asking to hold my swords.

Getting asked like three times if I was the Witcher (maybe I should have strolled around with mandolin while singing "Toss a Coin...").

Fun facts: My large sword is a replica of William Wallace's claymore from the Braveheart movie, my short sword was originally from Medieval Times and used in their theatre fights, and the "regular" sword is a replica of Anduril, Aragorn's sword from LotR - BUT it has the name "Hirenadaye" engraved on it, which is the name of Duren's sword in The Red War Annals.

Person: Is your sword real?

Me: *turns around to display all three* Which one?

Person: :o

Playing In Dreams with some amazing people (also in full costume). THEY WERE THE BEST!!!!! <3

Getting to see all sorts of cool costumes (Shallan!) (HTTYD family!) (Winter Soldier!) (Peggy Carter!) (Men in Black!) (and so much more)!

Getting admittedly bored by the end of the did kinda go on too long, imo. Reading some excerpts was an amazing idea, but not when there's like, 50 awards to go through...

Stopping by the hotel bar for a drink (while in full costume). Apparently I had no idea that was on my bucket list, but it is, and now I've crossed it off.

The bartender still IDd me.

Deciding that the costume is super cool and comfortable, and wearing it again on Saturday (though I exchanged the 2 swords for a long knife).

Random Kid: Is your sword real?

Me: Yes.

Kid: Can I hold it?

Me: No.

Doing my second pitch (in costume) and getting a request for three chapters!

Discovering that Carla's classes are a meme gold mine.

Random people coming up and asking me to sign their pirate books (can one get tired of that???).

Buying way too many books.

Worshipping with the dear folks at the nearby FCC on Sunday morning.

Chilling with Sarah Sunday night and going for a stroll around the hotel (in full costume).

Driving home in the rain through the misty mountains...while singing along to all the LotR songs. (Such vibes. What mood.)

The Falcon not starting again when I try to leave Sarah's house. Thankfully I have a pair of jumper cables always on hand, and those did the trick this time.

Arriving home to all the family (and animals) really missing me (the dogs didn't eat anything...guess I didn't explain my pattern well enough).

Unpacking and smelling all the new books. Realizing I might need a new bookshelf.

Planning for next year!!

Realizing that I have costume plans for 2022 and 2023. So....yeah.

Comp Titles

Realm Makers is coming up, and I've been preparing my pitch for Rauladin. Which, admittedly, is giving me a little more trouble than I expected, mostly because I have been so busy working on titles for The Order of the Pen Press that I haven't done anything with Rauladin in...*swallows*....YEARS.

*awkward chuckle*

(I do hope the folks I pitch to don't look up my blog and read this one, hehe.)

I jumped right in and tried to make a synopsis and couldn't even remember a POV character's name. I completely forgot about the GRIFFINSSSS. And that Mayra even existed.

But anyway, I'm buckling down and re-reading and going through my editing notes and just giving myself a quick refresher on the story. And one thing I'm doing is figuring out what my comp titles would be.

One thing that's often asked for when pitching and querying is comparable titles. And that makes sense. What books are your books like? What vibes do they give off?

It can be hard. If you say "Lord of the Rings" everyone might laugh, because yeah, sure, you're obviously the next Tolkien - did you create entire new languages and craft three ages of history? Hmmm?? Didn't think so.

But if you say "The Rise of Aredor" you run the risk of people not knowing what the series is, and therefore also running the opportunity.

So....what do we do?

Here is a simple formula to create some comp titles while also making an elevator pitch while also helping you stay on track plotwise:


There you have it. Ta-da! *dances*

Now you can give a generic idea about what books the story is like, provide a cool answer for the dreaded "what is your book about" question, and keep you on track while you write.

The Red War Annals I would describe as "The Stormlight Archives meets The Books of Bayern." We have an expansive world, with multiple POV characters and an overarching timeline with a softer writing style and characters with a speaking sort of magic.

The Pirate Hunter Chronicles would be "Pirates of the Caribbean meets Assassin's Creed." Comical adventures on the high seas....with assassins. (Footnote: I haven't played any AC games, so....yeah....anyone wanna correct me if I'm wrong??)

And, for the book I'm pitching, Rauladin, we have "The Riyria Revelations meets The Dark Crystal." A motley crew of people with awesome talents trying to wade through politics to save the world, while set in a murky swamp with creepy creatures. Oh, and the people have WINGS!

Anyone else going to Realm Makers this year?? *waves* I AM!!!! In fact, I'm on my way now (well, I'm writing this post in advance, but it posts the day I leave, haha).

Also, drop your comp titles down below, with a brief explanation. I want to hear them!!

If The Lord of the Rings was a YA Fantasy Trilogy

If Lord of the Rings was YA fantasy...

Frodo would be a young woman. Miss Frodo would have grown up on Bilbo's tales of dragons and dwarves, and her heart would yearn for adventure...but young Hobbits don't go off on adventures, of course.

Then Gandalf sends her on an adventure with the garden boy, Sam. Sam is not adventurous, nor brave (in Miss Frodo's mind, anyway), and she is soooooo certain she'll spend the whole trip constantly saving his life over and over again.

Of course, by the end of the book, Miss Frodo realizes she was mistaken about sweet Sam, who is just the golden-haired, soft-spoken hero we all need.

If Lord of the Rings was YA fantasy...

Gollum wouldn't be some creepy, half-shriveled creature....Gollum would be an attractive, morally gray young man. Is he helping them destroy the ring, or does he want it for himself? Miss Frodo begins to fall for this fellow (and is sure he's trying to be good), but ol' Sam knows Gollum has no good intentions whatsoever.

If Lord of the Rings was YA fantasy...

Theoden and Eowyn are at odds...King Theoden is preparing to betroth Eowyn off, and she spites him for it. She would much rather be galloping off on her stallion, firing arrows into, wait, that's Brave. Then she falls in love with Aragorn, and dreams of traveling Middle Earth with the ranger....but he obviously has no interest in her. Despite her protests, Theoden betroths her to Denethor's son to strengthen the alliance with Gondor. Horrified, she rides off into battle, disguised as a boy, and then gets wounded while fighting the Witch King. While in the houses of healing, she befriends a handsome warrior, Faramir...turns out that's the man she was betrothed to all along!

If Lord of the Rings was YA fantasy...

Arwen would have her own plot on the side. Maybe she's learning elven magic, like how to see into the future like her father. Everyone is telling her she is foolish for loving a mortal. But she lets no one tell her what to do, and practices her Elven Magic and probably ends up responsible for the death of Saruman or something. Anyways, her plot never intersects with the Real Plot, but just dances along the sidelines to show that our hero's true love isn't some helpless elf maiden but a Strong Independent Woman.

If Lord of the Rings was YA fantasy...

It would be written in First Person. Miss Frodo, Aragorn, Arwen, Eowyn, maybe even Faramir, would all be the POV characters. We might get some chapters with Denethor or Saruman's villainous POV. But gone would be all those long-winded descriptions and archaic language.

If Lord of the Rings was YA fantasy...

Miss Frodo and Sam would be like, around 18 (and let's not get into a discussion here about human ages vs hobbit ages)(I mean "very young adult" here). Aragorn and Eoywn and Faramir would all be 19-21ish. All young and beautiful and full of angst. Arwen would probably be young and na├»ve for an elf, right?

If Lord of the Rings was YA fantasy...

Boromir would probably show up in the third book, like "surprise, I didn't actually die!"

So...would y'all be interested in reading this new and upcoming YA release? (jk) Would LotR be more fun if put into a YA format? Or is it perfect when left untouched? (I would prefer to leave it untouched, but I must say, a YA spoof book would be funny, if also written well.)

Also, should I make a "if *classic book/series* was YA" blog post series?

Sins, Sons, and Siren Songs is OUT

Today is release day, and it just feels WEIRD. Like, okay, another book is out. Moving on with life. For the first book, everything was a First. First Time getting a cover, First Time getting the proof copy, First Time seeing it available to purchase..

But now...oh, yeah. The book is out today. Please buy it. I've got signed copies available. *takes a picture of me with the newly published book* Whee. *goes back to work like normal*

I guess it's sad? Like, hey, today I literally have a book that just came out. And I'll be at the restaurant, talking to the customers, helping the girls, eating tacos (Taco Tuesday!!) just like normal.

I'll tell everyone, of course. They'll be excited and happy for me. Maybe someone will buy the book. I'll bring extra business cards, just in case they need to find the website.

But you, blog readers, together we have the power to change the world. 

How? BUY THE BOOK. NOW. TODAY. (while supplies last)

I may even slip a bookmark or two into the package, as an added bonus. 

Signed paperbacks HERE / ebooks available HERE

Realm Makers Flash Mob!

One thing I've noticed about a lot of people in the writing community is that not only are we avid readers & writers, but many of us are also musicians of some sort or another.

So, for Realm Makers 2021, I want to propose a sort of "Realm Makers Flash Mob" thingy-thing.

For the night of the big dinner, let's get as many musicians together as we can, and play a song together in the book room while waiting for the dinner room to open. Or out in the lobby and freak random people out. Or in the dinner room after all the announcements and things have quieted down. Or whatever works, whatever people want to do, whatever we are able to do.

I'm thinking of "In Dreams" (from The Lord of the Rings) as many people will know it (though I am very open to options), and finding sheet music will be simple (I know someone who has copies). And it gives instrumentalists a chance (either melody or backup), as well as vocalists, to shine!

Sarah and I are driving to Realm Makers and will be able to bring extra instruments for those who can play but are unable to bring their own instrument. I also will put together some sort of communications thread for those planning to participate so we can work out instruments, the actual song, and the time. Messenger, google chat, email list, what have you. (I promise I am actually sort of decent at planning things.)

If no one wants to do a fancy flash mob thing, I will happily "settle" for a casual jam in a corner. :) I just thought that everyone getting together in costume to play a song would be EPIC!!!! (Cuz who doesn't want a bunch of people cosplaying all sorts of characters playing/singing a LotR song!)

SO if you are a Realmie musician or happen to know someone who will be there who is a musician PLEASE contact me. There's the fancy little contact button on the left-hand side of my blog. You can also send me a message over Instagram (@julian.daventry).

So whether you are going or not, please share my post! Let's get some musical Realmies hooked up, and maybe plan something awesome! *salutes* Look forward to seeing y'all at Realm Makers! <3

Leatherwood Mountains - A Review (or a Warning?)

Last week marked my 7th trip to Leatherwood Mtns. This is a place close to home where you can camp with your horses or rent a cabin and all that cool stuff. Almost everyone in the area knows about it, and they either love it or absolutely hate it.

I understand. Completely.

First off, they have a MAZE of a trail network. Like, just LOOK AT THIS.

Secondly, not only do they have a maze, but they have almost ZERO signage. And the signs you do come across are often unreliable and downright WRONG.

Thirdly, they do a poor job w/ maintenance. So it's not uncommon to plan your route, only to come across a wash-out, downed trees, or some other reason that makes you have to turn around.

First Trip, December 2010. Brought 4 horses and stayed in a cabin with a barn at the top of the mountain. My dad planned out all the routes we were going to take, and as far as I know, we didn't get super lost (or maybe my dad just pretended he knew where we were going the whole time??). We did, however get snowed in, the non-4WD Suburban got stuck in a ditch on the one-way road in the snow, and we at least got to ride the horses in the mountains in the snow. So that was nice.

The only picture of someone on a horse we managed to take (we weren't skilled at taking photos while on horseback then, haha).

Snowy mountains (view from our cabin).

Horses in the snow.

Second Trip, May 2012. Brought our crappy first camper (the one that caught fire)(not on this trip, though)(which I think I forgot to mention in my fire post...tragic) and our 4 horses. We stayed at the river campground with horses in the barn across the road. Nugget fell off the mountain (because he has no brakes and was a bit cooky in the head) and ended up lame. Had to take him to the vet when we got home and put on stall rest (he did eventually heal fine).

The Ambush Trail (super fun).

Camping right beside the river <3

Nugget doing his thing....NOT walking.

Third Trip, May 2015. For my "graduation party slash birthday party" sorta thing, we went with some friends and did a big ol' horse camping trip. Stayed at the campground with a total of 8 equines. This is the first trip where I know for a fact that we got lost on two seperate rides and ended up just finding a road and taking it back down the mountain both times. Spirit choked on his grain and had to be taken to the vet mid-trip (he came back later that day and was fine, though we didn't ride him out on the mtn again).

The barns (view from the campground).

Heading out to the trails!

Tip-toing around the rocky creek.

Fourth Trip, December 2016. Just the family going for a quick trip. Rented a cabin at the far, far end of the mountain, and kept the horses down at the main barn. Pretty laid back and short trip, we did some new trails. A decision was made that Cord was getting too old for trips like this. Another decision to buy some breeching was made when Pepper's saddle ended up at his ears on a long downhill.

Up on the mountain in the dark, looking down at the lights from the trail barn at the bottom.

Taking a break on one of the steeper portions.

Running along a ridgeline.

Fifth Trip, May 2017. Me, Mars Evan, and Sarah went on our own for a "riding and writing retreat". Stayed in a cute little "cabin and barn" combo building which was really cool. Found a trail that went straight up and ended up turning around half-way bc it kept GOING UP. Actually had a lovely time, though getting a 4-horse trailer turned around in the tiny mountain cabin driveway was rather challenging and left a nice dent in the red trailer. There was a obstacle clinic going on at the main barn at the time, and they let us ride our horses through the course....bc we showed up that evening while going for a quick bareback stroll....

Tree down on the trail - Mars and Sarah lifted it up while I led the horses underneath it.

Going up another steep climb.

Coming back down the mountain.

Sixth Trip, May 2020. Due to covid, I was no longer working, so a friend and I planned a trip. We rented a cabin down at the main barn and went for a few days. Got lost once, and got re-routed due to poor trail conditions almost every time. My mom came and hiked along with us once, and Sarah and Joe came up for a run as well. Our two horses were very well behaved and we enjoyed the trip.

Letting the young-un's go for a ride.

Coming down the hill.

Our little cabin down at the bottom of the mountain.

Seventh Trip, March 2021. Camped at the trail barn across the river (for the first time). After the first ride, Shadow coliced and I stayed up late into the night watching him before deciding to drive him to the vet in the wee hours of the morning. After the vet said he was good (but would need to stay for a few days under surveillance) I went back to camp, had breakfast, and we went out again (but one horse short). We took turns walking and/or riding double. But otherwise, had a good trip. (And Shadow is home now, doing quite well.)

Pulling into ride camp across the river.

Whoops!! We just went down a "double black diamond" trail! (In our defense, there wasn't a sign at the other end....)

Our awesome trail mount line-up!

So, what'cha'll think?? A place you'd like to come experience? Or pass up? MWAHAHAHAHA