Birthday & Star Wars Week Giveaway!

A little over a month ago I promised that if I reached and kept over 1,000 Twitter followers, I would do a giveaway in December. Well, it’s December – in fact, it’s almost my birthday – and I currently have 1,049 Twitter followers, so here is that promised giveaway – a copy of Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher:

ageeksaga giveaway wishful drinking carrie fisher

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What better way to celebrate my birthday AND a new Star Wars movie, right? This giveaway begins 12/10/17 at midnight (yes, tonight!) and ends in one week (midnight on 12/17/17). The only requirement is to follow me on Twitter, but you can also gain extra entries by tweeting about the giveaway and/or visiting my Facebook page. Best of luck!

A Last Minute (But Awesome!) Day at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival

Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017

I’ve been to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival many times throughout the years…in fact, I’d have to sit down and really think back to figure out the exact number of times.

In the past, I went to eat my favorite samples (escargots from France, fried goat cheese with honey and pistachios from Greece, and the cheddar cheese soup from Canada)…but more than anything, I went to drink, because all those extra Food and Wine Festival booths allowed for a great change of pace for someone who has gone Drinking Around the World as many times as I have.

To be honest, the past couple times I went to the Food and Wine Festival I wasn’t all that impressed with the food samples. They changed the way they served the escargots, the fried goat cheese just wasn’t as good, and while the soup was fine, by itself it wasn’t worth braving the crowds and long lines that have plagued the festival much more than they used to.

I also remember hearing complaints about the portions not being worth one’s money, and while I personally didn’t actively complain about this, I also didn’t disagree. So imagine my surprise when I visited Epcot this past weekend – on the second-to-last day of the 2017 Food and Wine Festival – and experienced not just large portions but also cast members who kept things flowing so that we never waited more than 5 minutes to order (and rarely more than a couple minutes to get our food).

My one rule this year was that I would try different samples, and having someone to share them with allowed me to order a lot more than I have in the past…

epcot food and wine festival 2017

Clockwise from top left:
The Cheese Studio – Savory Caramelized Onion and Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Tart
Flavors from Fire – Smoked Corn Beef with Warm Crispy Potatoes, Pickled Onions, and Blonde Ale Beer Fondue
Refreshment Port – Croissant Donut
Australia – Lamington
Brazil – Pao de Queijo

I also got to taste the Grilled Beef Skewer from Earth Eats, the Loaded Mac-n-Cheese from Active Eats, and yes, the Croissant aux Escargots from France. While none of my samples were bad, the only ones that really stood out were the Croissant Donut (I’ve had “cronuts” before but this one was the best ever, trust me) and the Grilled Beef Skewer (it was a pleasant surprise, especially as it featured apricots and feta).

Overall, I was really happy with the food this year…which does a good job of making up for the fact that the drink options were average at best. In fact, nothing that I drank was particularly memorable; mostly I’m just sad that I missed out on trying the Chilled Coffee from Belgium and the Mmmhops Pale Ale from Block & Haus (yes, “Mmmhops” – it’s from the Hansen brothers’ brewery, and yes, I’m as shocked as you probably are that this exists). But hey, there’s always next year!

Epcot Food & Wine Festival 2017

RunDisney: What I’ve Learned & How I Got Hooked

rundisney 2017 wine & dine 10k

For what seems like half my adult life, I’ve had friends who participated in RunDisney events, but even though I’ve been running on a regular basis since 2004, I never really thought about participating myself.

In fact, I didn’t even run my first 5k until 2012, and while I really enjoyed it and ran several more throughout the years, I never really planned on doing longer races. Between that and the expense involved in traveling to Orlando on top of the cost of the RunDisney races themselves, I couldn’t really justify doing any of them.

Of course, fast forward several years and here I am, once again living in the Orlando area. And yet if it weren’t for the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend, I’m still not sure I would have entered a RunDisney race. But this is me we’re talking about here – obviously I couldn’t pass up doing a Star Wars themed race! I actually wanted to do the 10k, but by the time I heard about these races at all that one was already sold out. (Seriously, that’s RunDisney Lesson #1: Register as early as possible!)

rundisney 2017 star wars 5k epcotThankfully the entire weekend wasn’t sold out, and I was able to run the 5k. Honestly even with the money I paid to run the dang race, I’m still surprised I dragged myself out of bed for it…there were a lot of 5k’s I would have liked to run back in Greenville but could never bring myself to sign up for because they started at, say, 8 AM on a Saturday. (I’m just not one for getting up that early on the weekends.) The race time for the Star Wars 5k at Disney was 6 AM…with participants required to be in their corrals by 5:30 AM.

I live 45 minutes away from Disney. It was a very, very early morning.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! The day before my race I had to go to Wide World of Sports to pick up my bib, and because I didn’t read everything they sent me when I registered, I had no idea that there was a whole expo going on during bib pick-up hours! Tons of running gear and RunDisney merchandise, on-site massages, even freebies here and there – I never thought I’d walk into a marketplace for runners and have to spend the entire time reminding myself that I’m a broke artist who can’t afford $100 compression running tights or an $80 shirt that says “Running + Wine” on it. Talk about RunDisney Lesson #2: You’ll want to buy a lot of stuff, so save up that money! (Or if you can’t/don’t save up money, maybe don’t go wandering through the expo.)

They even had RunDisney vacation planners there! Now, you can’t simply register for the races – they’re there to help you plan a full RunDisney vacation , which I learned only after talking to one of them for about 20 minutes. However, I’m still glad I spent that time talking to them, because if I hadn’t I wouldn’t know RunDisney Lesson #3: If a race is sold out, there’s a chance you can still get in if you book a vacation package with it. In fact, that’s how I was able to register for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February – it was sold out online, but I booked two nights at one of the All Star resorts and was able to snag a race spot along with that. Now I’m just trying to convince myself it’s worth the expense because I’ll get to sleep about an hour longer and not have to drive home right after running 13.6 miles.

rundisney 2017 star wars 5kI’m sure you’re wondering how this is all worth it, when RunDisney race registrations cost three to five times more than your average race registration. The thing is, I know that for most people it’s probably one of those “you won’t understand until you try” things. That’s how it was for me, anyway, even though for years now I’ve had several friends telling me how fun these races were…which I guess makes that RunDisney Lesson #4: You have to experience a RunDisney race firsthand in order to understand it [and likely – possibly inevitably – get hooked].

The excitement was palpable the morning of the Star Wars 5k. There was music, a fun announcer, participants dressed up in fun outfits (and sometimes even costumes)…it was impossible to not be excited. And then along the race course there were photo ops with characters and tons of photopass employees snapping pictures of the runners…not to mention the fun of running through Epcot at dawn.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, at the end you’re handed an actual medal! (No other race I’ve ever run has given out participation medals, and the RunDisney ones are AWESOME!) Not only that, there’s plenty of free bottled water and gatorade, fresh fruit, and snack boxes…and then even more photo ops, both in front of a RunDisney background and with more characters…and in my case those character photo ops were a huge plus because yes, they were Star Wars characters!

rundisney 2017 star wars 5k bb8

rundisney 2017 star wars 5k captain phasma

My one regret from my first RunDisney race was that prior to the run, I didn’t know RunDisney Lesson #5: They don’t time their 5k’s. So just keep in mind that if you want to know your race time one of their 5k’s, you have to clock it yourself.

As much fun as I’ve had running races in the past, none of them even come close to how amazing that Star Wars 5k was…and not just because it was Star Wars. I loved it so much that when I got home later that morning, I immediately signed up for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend (which took place just last weekend) and the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January 2018. For Wine & Dine, I had to sign up for the Two-Course Challenge, as that’s all they had left. This meant running a 10k on Saturday 11/4 and then a half marathon on Sunday 11/5, which seemed crazy at the time and unfortunately still seems crazy now, as I ended up with a bum hip prior to the race weekend and was only able to run in the 10k, anyway.

I keep trying to tell myself it’s okay that I listened to my body and didn’t overdo it by running the half last weekend…and anyway, I’m registered for the half marathon – and only the half marathon – in January. I have over two months to heal and train, and if I’m honest with myself, I need that time in order to run the best race I can for my first half marathon EVER πŸ™‚

rundisney 2017 wine & dine 10kWith the Wine & Dine 10k, I also got to run through another park, as both Hollywood Studios and Epcot were part of the course. And despite the problems I’ve been having with my hip and the fact that the RunDisney courses are far more crowded than most of your average local road races, I ran my first official 10k in 1:13:03. (Although that’s the official RunDisney time; my personal ‘stopwatch’ on my phone says 1:13:00.18!) And as a side note, that brings me to RunDisney Lesson #6: People will cut you off – a lot. Most of the time they aren’t doing it on purpose, but it will happen. People will also pass on the left. I passed on the left. If you’re running in one of these races and care about your time, you will inevitably cut someone off (hopefully not on purpose!) and/or have to pass on the left. If you don’t care about your time, don’t get too frustrated or yell at people for mistakenly cutting you off or for passing on the left. (I personally did not get yelled at for cutting anyone off, nor did I yell at anyway, though I did definitely get frustrated a couple of the times it happened…and yes, I did pass on the left and get yelled at for it.)

I’m sure that I’ll learn more lessons when I run in the half marathon and the Princess half marathon early next year, but for now I’ll leave you with RunDisney Lesson #7: Be prepared for some fun outfits/costumes. And if you’re so inclined, definitely wear one yourself! I personally probably won’t wear a crazy costume, but I have tried to wear fun yet comfortable running outfits for both of my races…and I’m still trying to come up with some more fun outfits for the next two. Any suggestions?

rundisney 2017 wine & dine 10k donald duck

MegaCon Tampa Bay 2017: Come Say Hi To Me This Weekend!

Convention season is starting to wind down (for me, at least), but it wouldn’t be complete without MegaCon Tampa Bay 2017. My booth is located in the celebrity autograph area in the exhibit hall, so make sure you come say hello!

megacon tampa bay 2017 tara lynne a geek saga

I had a great time at the first ever MegaCon Tampa last year, and I’m super excited to be returning as a cosplay guest this coming weekend. Check out my cosplay lineup:

megacon tampa bay 2017 cosplay toothless cersei lannister jessica jones tara lynne a geek saga

Fellow cosplay guest Scarlett Rose is wearing a Daenerys Targaryen cosplay on Saturday, and I decided to reprise Cersei Lannister so that we could get some fun photos together! We’ll also be decked out in party Game of Thrones attire at the live rock band karaoke after party Saturday night, so make sure you get your ticket for that event, too!

In addition to my booth, I’ll be hosting two panels. Both take place in Room 1 at the Tampa Bay Convention Center:

Saturday 9/30 @ 11 AM: Game of Thrones Season 7 Lookback
Sunday 10/1 @ 4 PM: Ladies’ Guide to the Apocalypse

MegaCon Tampa Bay 2017 kicks off at 2 PM this Friday, September 29th. I hope to see you there!

Three Weeks ‘Til Dragon Con 2017!

A lot of my Dragon Con 2017 plans have been up in the air for a while now, but it finally seems like everything is coming together, which means I’m finally getting excited!

First things first, barring any schedule changes on the part of the three tracks I’m working with, my Dragon Con 2017 panels are pretty much set in stone:

Friday 9/1
@ 5:30 PM History’s Vikings S4 Review (ASFFM Marriott Track Room)

Saturday 9/2
@ 11:30 AM Game of Thrones S7 Review (Marriott L401-403)
@ 10 PM ASOIAF/GoT Loony Theories (Marriott L401-403)

Sunday 9/3
@ 1 PM Ladies Guide to the Apocalypse (Apocalypse Rising Westin Track Room)
@ 2:30 PM Game of Toxic Masculinity (Marriott L401-403)
@ 5:30 PM Defenders Unite! (ASFFM Marriott Track Room)

Monday 9/4
@ 1 PM The 100 Fan Panel (Apocalypse Rising Westin Track Room)

Cosplay-wise, I’m in *far* better shape than I was last year around this time – shoot, two weeks before Dragon Con 2016 I still had a couple of costumes up in the air. This year I’m wearing a couple of previous cosplays – a couple of which will have some minor upgrades – and only two entirely new costumes, come to think of it – so anything I have left to do is pretty minor. I’m almost…dare I say it…relaxed about my to-do list.

(Watch me suddenly remember ten things that I’ve totally forgotten about, now…)

Dragon Con 2017 cosplay

Day: Liberty Belle from Glow
Night: Efffie (Hunger Games) for the [Playboy] Bunny Hutch

Day: Suicide Squad style Poison Ivy
Night: Team Casterly Rocket (Pokemon Team Rocket & Game of Thrones House Lannister mashup)

Day: Secret Cosplay πŸ˜‰
Night: “Queen Bitch” Party Cersei

Day: Gwen DeMarco from Galaxy Quest
Night: Steampunk Hufflepuff

Now, last year I planned on having a secret cosplay and then ended up doing a preview of it nearly two months before Dragon Con – that being my original Disney Princess Kylo Ren mashup, of course. But after a very strange case of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery at Dragon Con 2016, I’m keeping my Dragon Con 2017 secret cosplay a mystery. I think I can keep my lips sealed long enough…

dragon con 2017 countdown

Ice and Fire Con: An Ode to My “Family”

ice and fire con family 2017

It’s taken me a while to write this post, because I’ll be honest – it’s almost impossible to put how I feel about the Ice and Fire Con family into words.

Last year I wrote a very heartfelt entry about “my” convention – “Ice and Fire Con: A Goal, A Reality, A Lifestyle”. Now, I put the “my” in quotes because let’s be honest, it’s never been “mine”, at least not outside of the fact that I’m one of the original founders and, of course, a current organizer.

And no, I didn’t do it on my own. There were two other founders who have long since moved on to other things, because that’s what happens when life takes hold of you. There are an additional two prior organizers who are also no longer involved, because sometimes what’s best for an organization as a whole doesn’t quite work for everyone involved. For my part, there are no hard feelings – how can there be, when this thing that we worked together to create and build is still here, still thriving, still growing?

ice and fire con family organizersHonestly, while I did found this convention, the family that has sprung from it is still beyond my comprehension. Ice & Fire Con absolutely would not exist in its current and most amazing form without my good friend and fellow organizer K-K, who saw our Reddit post way back in 2012 and decided to take a chance on the first-ever North American ASOIAF/Game of Thrones convention. Who eventually became one of my best friends, then a volunteer, and finally, an organizer.

Ice & Fire Con couldn’t be what it is without our awesome volunteers, either, and it absolutely wouldn’t be the same without every single person who attends. When I say that we’re a family, I don’t say that lightly, and I’m not sure I can really express how true it is. In fact, even when I go to other conventions, I’m generally more excited about seeing my Ice and Fire Con family (a.k.a. “IaF fam”) than I am about anything else.

ice and fire con family 2017

We are, in so many ways, a very diverse group, but our differences are never problematic – they are honored and appreciated. I am personally very proud of the inclusive, non-judgmental, and *safe* community that we have fostered, and like the mama bear I am, I will do everything in my power to protect that. (Pause to insert “BEARS” chant here)

ice and fire con family 2017It’s not just the success of Ice & Fire Con that brings me joy – it is the community, the *family*, that it imbues in me, and hopefully in others, as well.

We are extroverts. We are introverts. Some of us have been bullied. Some of us have been disrespected. But at Ice & Fire Con, we are, as one of my absolute favorite attendees pointed out, “kings, queens, warriors; dangerous, powerful, beautiful, perfect.”

At Ice & Fire Con, we are family.

I would say “let the countdown to Ice & Fire Con 2018 begin”…but let’s be real, it started when we parted ways on April 30th of this year.

ice & fire con 2018 countdown

(but here’s the countdown anyway, as of 8:56 PM EDT on 7/1/2017)

Suicide Squad Style Poison Ivy Cosplay

tara lynne a geek saga suicide squard poison ivy cosplay
As much fun as I have putting together screen accurate(-ish…) cosplays – or ones that are based on fan art – sometimes it’s simply more fun to let my creative side loose. I have quite a few mashup/AU cosplays in my repertoire, some of which I have yet to write about and one being, of course, my Disney Princess Kylo Ren.

While the Suicide Squad-style Poison Ivy cosplay that I debuted at MegaCon Orlando over Memorial Day wasn’t the first mashup cosplay I’ve put together this year, I’m really excited about it and already have plans for some minor upgrades before I bring it back at Dragon Con. In fact, originally I wasn’t planning on wearing it at DCon, but then I had an absolute blast with it at MegaCon!

suicide squad poison ivy cosplay tara lynne a geek saga

The idea for this particular cosplay came to me after stumbling on some fanart that depicted Ivy and Harley together, with Harley in her Suicide Squad outfit and Ivy in one that was somewhat SS-inspired, but without as much…shall we say…pizzazz…as Harley’s outfit. At first I thought about creating something entirely based on the fanart that I’d found, but then I decided it would be more ‘me’ to put an outfit together that was more closely based on Harley’s outfit…especially knowing that my friend Bekah was going to be donning a SS-style Harley cosplay and was more than willing to tweak it so that instead of focusing on Harley Quinn’s relationship with the Joker, she would be with Ivy (which is hands down a far healthier relationship for Harley, plus πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆπŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆπŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ).

tara lynne a geek saga poison ivy cosplay harley quinn suicide squad

Hence, green lace up boots with heels, green fishnets, green sparkly booty shorts, a raglan-style shirt (but with green sleeves), and a green choker necklace made up my original version of a Poison Ivy cosplay. As you can see I wore the wig down, but for Dragon Con I might go with pigtails…that’s just one of the handful of changes I’m considering, anyway! My plan is to wear it on Friday of DCon, and either shortly before or after that I might even have prints of me in this cosplay available for sale πŸ™‚

MegaCon Orlando in Just One Week!

Tara Lynne ageeksaga saga event planning the geekiary

That’s right, one week from today is the first day of MegaCon Orlando! I’m there as a guest again this year, and while my cosplay plans are always subject to change, these ones are pretty set in stone.

You’ll find me at booth #103 in Artist Alley (hint hint: see the star on the map below!), where I’ll be on hand to talk about cosplay (of course), my ‘Geek Saga’ brand, Saga Event Planning (and therefore Ice & Fire Con and Beach City Con), The Geekiary, and my novels!

MegaCon Orlando 2017 Tara Lynne A Geek Saga

I’ll have copies of both The Way of Reckoning and How to Start Living (in the Zombie Apocalypse) for sale, and I mean *really* for sale – buying my books in person gets you not just the chance to have them signed right then and there, but I price them a bit lower than what you’d pay if you purchased them online.

As for cosplay, my current plans are Liv Moore from iZombie on Thursday, Queenie Goldstein from Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them on Friday, a Suicide Squad-inspired version of Poison Ivy on Saturday, and Melisandre from Game of Thrones on Sunday…

megacon orlando 2017 tara lynne ageeksaga

So definitely stop by and say hello at booth #103 in Artist Alley, or keep an eye out for me wearing one of the aforementioned costumes! Hope to see you next weekend!

2017: The Year of Fun Webcasts (Apparently)

I have so many updates to make to this blog that I’ll never get around to all of them, but as 2017 seems to have turned into the year of fun webcasts, I thought I’d share the ones I’ve been part of so far!

2017 began with the 2-year anniversary special of FEELINGS…with The Geekiary! While it was a more somber episode than we’d originally expected (due to the current political climate), it was still a good time..and I swear, we did talk about things other than politics!


Β We had another FEELINGS episode at the end of February – we had a lot of discussion about TV, both shows that I love (The Expanse) and shows that I am…well, supremely frustrated with (The Walking Dead).

Β Just last weekend, I hosted a webcast on my personal YouTube channel. My friends Adam, Bekah, and Lauren joined me to chat about “The State of the Cosplay Community”, and it turned into a pretty darn positive chat about cosplay bullying (what it is and how to avoid it), why you shouldn’t buy likes for your cosplay page…and a whole lot more πŸ™‚

Β Tonight was actually our “March Madness” episode of FEELINGS, and we talked about Iron Fist (ugh), the shows we’re looking forward to in April (iZombie! Archer! The Handmaid’s Tale! American Gods!), and of course upcoming conventions (Star Wars Celebration, Ice & Fire Con, and SDCC)…

Β So if you’re looking for something to watch, check out the webcasts I’ve been on so far this year…and yes, there will be quite a few more in the coming months!

Convention Season is in Full Swing!

ClexaCon Custom Pops

I just wrapped up my first convention of 2017, and with at least six more scheduled in the coming months, it’s safe to say that my convention season has hit the ground running.

You can find the full list of conventions I’ll be attending on my convention page, and yes, I hope to add at least one or two more as the year progresses (most notably MegaCon Tampa Bay ::fingers crossed::) Next up is Star Wars Celebration (thankfully I live fairly close to Orlando, which is where it’s being held this year), and after that is my absolute favorite convention…Ice & Fire Con! It’s our fifth anniversary year and promises to be bigger and better than ever before…seriously my excitement knows no bounds and I’m counting down the days until I see my Ice & Fire Con family again πŸ™‚

That said, the convention I just attended – ClexaCon – was a first year convention for queer women and their allies, and I had a great time. Part of that ‘having a great time’ was that it was held in Vegas, and we all know how much I love Vegas. Now, while I do wish there had been more vendors (and that I’d had time to watch some of the shows that the featured guests were from), ClexaCon was very well organized for a first-year convention and I love that I got to be a part of it…I spoke on SIX panels, after all: about everything from Steven Universe to writing to webcasting and more.

ClexaCon Queer Representation in Steven Universe Panel

What was different about this convention is that not only did I not cosplay, but there wasn’t much cosplay in general. It was more about a bunch of amazing women getting together and spending a weekend talking about representation and just…living life! And hey, even though I didn’t cosplay, I did get to dress up in other ways πŸ˜‰

ClexaCon ageeksaga

Of course I *will* be cosplaying at basically every other convention this year (except for SDCC because it’s just too much on its own), but yeah, this past weekend was a very different – and VERY fun – convention experience for me…and a great way to kick off my 2017 convention season!