Realm Makers 2015

It’s hard to believe that a month has gone by since Realm Makers. I wanted to post sooner about it, but I had to finish Five Enchanted Roses and A Wish Made of Glass before I could, and then craziness descended at home, and I’ve had very little time to do writing of any kind. And then I’m also on Nadine Brandes’ launch team for A Time to Speak, the sequel to A Time to Die.  And of course I had to read that ASAP because I needed for answers after A Time to Die.

So, at long last, my thoughts and feelings on Realm Makers 2015.

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Realm Makers is a relatively small conference (150ish attendees this year), but that’s part of why I love it. Introverted as I am, even with the smaller size of Realm Makers, I was daunted by all the people. Some conferences range in the thousands. Thousands, peeps, THOUSANDS. That’s just craziness. I would probably lose my mind and not recover from the experience until I had four months and twelve days of complete solitude. And even then, recovery is not guaranteed. So, Realm Maker’s smaller size was a huge draw. However, this was only Realm Makers’ third year, and it has been growing at a ridiculous rate.
Anyway, I met so many fantastic people! I was so jazzed to meet J. L. Mbewe in person after “knowing” each other a for a few years online. She’s AMAZING, and I was able to buy her book in the bookstore and get it signed! (!!!!!!!!) And I finally met Nadine Brandes, and I got her book signed too! Nadine introduced me to one of her roommates, Katie Grace, who is on Go Teen Writers. We’d seen each other a few times on the Go Teen Writers Facebook group, but it was fantastic to meet her in person! Another GTWer that I met was Victoria Grace Tucker, and she was pitching her book to the publishing houses! (She gave me one of the one-sheets for her book, by the way, and it sounds pretty groovy.)

And I had three fantastic roommates: Pam Halter, Amy McNew, and Brittany Valentine! Of course, I already knew Brittany, but we hadn’t met Pam and Amy before. I hope I was a fraction of the blessing and encouragement to Brittany, Pam, and Amy as they were to me. We did everything from helping each other with our costumes for the costume dinner to talking until 1:00 or 2:00 every morning to sharing snacks to sharing wisdom and insights about everything from writing to motherhood to tornadoes. We now call ourselves the fantastic four, and I can’t wait to see these ladies again soon!

Also, Realm Makers is focused on a very specific genre: speculative fiction, and that’s another reason why I love it. See, speculative fiction is science fiction, fantasy, and everything that falls between – time travel, alternate history, the list goes on. Basically, anything weird. Everyone from Realm Makers keeps talking about how we found our tribe, our people.

And we did.

Brothers and sisters in Christ. Check. Writers. Check. Weird writers. Check.

I’d never met so many people that think like I do. We all want to write stories that glorify God and proclaim Him to the world. Everything is a possible story, and we could just say it, and everyone was like, “Wow! What a cool idea!” Even at a “normal” writing conference, this is not typical. Usually, everyone has drastically different genres and mindsets that they come from. At Realm Makers, we were different but united. Different blood, different ages, different homes, different lives, but kin nonetheless, bound to each other by the blood of Christ, the ink that runs through our veins, and the vastness of our imaginations.

And get this, we had a Nerf war. Yes, a Nerf war. It was pretty intense, and I likely made it more intense for myself by being a jumpy little hooligan who took it too seriously. But I think we all took it too seriously. A table was thrown on its side and used as a giant shield, chairs were shoved across the floor with people riding on them, and an AIR POWERED MACHINE GUN came out and started mowing us down.

Yeah, Realm Makers are my peeps.

Lastly, I loved Realm Makers because of the amazing sessions. As I mentioned before I left, I chose the wordbuilding core sessions, and they were taught by Donita K. Paul and her son and daughter, J. Case Thompkins and Evangeline Denmark. These sessions were incredible. These three taught me and my fellow writers so much about making an authentic world from building great races to creating cultural depth to symbolism. Unfortunately, I missed about half of the four sessions because I had several appointments, but I was so thrilled to have these appointments.

I had the first ten pages (my first chapter) of Retelling #2 critiqued by Morgan Busse (the amazing author of the Follower of the Word series), and one of my appointments was with her as we discussed her notes on my pages. She was so helpful and honest yet also encouraging I learned a lot from her in such a short time, and I walked away with a giddy feeling as new ideas and ways to tighten my writing danced around in my brain.

Also, I was able to meet with Jill Williamson (she writes tons of spec fic and is one of the Go Teen Writer bloggers)! She was soooo nice and totally rolled with my doddering, stumbling questions (I was just kind of in awe, peeps). She gave me such good advice, and it was like my passion for writing was renewed as we talked about a few different ways I could do my editing. (She also signed my copy of Storyworld First, so that was pretty fantastic too.)

My last appointment was with Enclave Publishing (formerly Marcher Lord Press). The representative at Realm Makers was actually the owner himself, Steve Laube. This would have been a good opportunity for pitching, but I wasn’t there yet, and so I basically just asked him a bunch of questions because he’s been in the biz for, like, ever, and owns an entire publishing house. Those are some pretty solid credentials, and my half hour with him flew by. His answers were so helpful and informative, and I came away from that appointment with the Dune series, On Writing by Stephen King, and Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Brown and King added to my reading list along with some good ideas of what to do when I am ready to pitch.

I’m being exceptionally long-winded today, so I’ll try to wrap this up. Suffice it to say, that all of the sessions I made it to were inspiring, helpful, and chock full of writing wisdom. I’m definitely buying the CDs for all of the sessions!

Of course, there was a bookstore that dragged me in every time I wandered past. I mean, yeah, it would have helped if I hadn’t gotten so close as to see covers of some of the books, but what can one do? I went through that check-out line with a stack of books at least twice in as many days. I think the grand total was eight books: six fiction books and two craft books. It was amazing. I was in bookworm heaven, and I could have easily dropped another hundred bucks, but, alas, train tickets cost money too. PLUS, I didn’t have to feel too weird for smelling the fresh pages because I was at Realm Makers.

Unless something drastic happens (and it has to be pretty darn drastic), I’m so definitely going to Realm Makers next year because Realm Makers is the home of great learning, great books, and my great tribe.

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