To the Realm of Makers and Back Again

I am back from another year of Realm Makers, the only place to go if you are a Christian, fantasy and science fiction writer.

But, before I tell you more I’m going to update you on my last post. The Escape anthology contest is over and I can now tell you which story was mine.

I wrote the one titled “Raised in Captivity.” It was number eight on the list. I did not win the readers choice award but thank you to anyone who voted for mine. “Raised in Captivity” will still be published in the anthology so it’s all good. The publishing industry is not for the impatient, however, as the anthology publication date is almost a year from now.

The conference was last weekend, August 7 & 8, 2015, in St. Louis, Mo on the UMSL (University of Missouri at St. Louis) campus. This is the same place it was held in 2013.

The Keynote speaker was Robert Liparulo author of the Dreamhouse Kings series. He gave inspired talks. The first one was about the need to, stop worrying about what others think, and to stop doubting that you’re good enough. The second one was the opposite, GO was the message. Go start writing, go do what you need to do.

I did not have time for any sightseeing this year because the conference tried something new, an extra workshop on Thursday afternoon. The Irresistible Novel: by Jeff Gerke. In this class he talked about the brain chemistry of the reader and literally how to make your writing addictive. All this to plug his new book, of the same title; which naturally, sold out. I loved it, Jeff Gerke is an engaging speaker, and he writes exactly how he talks. Every author should have a collection of his books.

Beyond that though, this Early Bird class really helped to extend the Conference experience. It felt like three days instead of two and a half.

This year continued the tradition of the Splickety critique pre-party. During which I was mortified when my submission was read aloud. Some of the feedback was helpful, but 500 words isn’t really enough to get a good critque.

Another new feature this year was the addition of a third track of classes. Though I like having options I will always miss that first year with only one track, everyone went to the same classes and you didn’t have to worry about missing anything. This year featured three main tracks: World building, Editing, and Marketing. In addition to the main tracks there were also electives that also ran in groups of three and ranged in topics from book cover design to dealing with magic in Christian fantasy.

I feel like Editing is where I am in my writing Journey so I chose this course. David Farland was an entertaining speaker, who was very informed on his topic. He even threw in a lecture on what to do when your book is optioned for a movie. However, his anecdotal teaching style made it hard for me to take notes. This is a course where I think I will benefit from purchasing recordings. (Yes recordings are new this year too.) Also I missed a lot of his talk because I was busy attending mentoring appointments.

The highlight, for me at least, was meeting Donita K Paul the author of The Dragonkeeper Chronicles. I love her books so much, that I spent most of my one on one meeting with her, being star struck. I understand that the mentors set aside time in their schedules to talk to me about my writing, but it’s hard for me to talk about my writing, even with people I’m close to. Put me in front of someone I admire and whose own work has been a big part of my life, I freeze up.

One option I am glad I took advantage of was the opportunity to have a mentor critique the opening of my novel. It was an extra fee but worth every penny to be able to sit down with someone who already had feedback for me. I selected L.B. Graham for my mentor, and I would recommend him to anyone looking to do this next year. He is easy to talk with and his critiques were all very constructive, not to mention, absolutely right.

Every year there is a costume/ awards diner on Friday night. This year I dressed up as a Hogwarts student. I had to stand up front when they announced the winners of the anthology contest. You can imagine how uncomfortable I felt.

Saturday night there was a game room in addition to a Nerf war. I chose the game room. It’s easier to talk over games anyway. This was also the night I went around trying to get the rest of my books signed.

My Realm Makers tradition is to always buy more books than I can afford but never as many as I actually want. Sometimes I just have to say maybe next year to a certain book, or author. But yeah, if the Author is there, why not get it signed? In previous years actual book signings had been held. But this year was a giant game of stalk the author.

Thoughts on the conference experience:

After three years you’d think this would be easy for me, but I am very introverted, and I get crowd anxiety. So the first year was great for me, it was small and easy to navigate. The second year was also good, more people but still manageable. This year, attendance exploded. I am happy for the conference but I felt overwhelmed most of the time. Thank you to everyone who was ok with standing in out of the way corners with me.

I always feel torn, I enjoy the experience and I learn a lot, but honestly I feel better after I get home and start reading all the books I bought. I also like the after conference motivation. I have all this feedback to work with, and ideas to try. The hard part is keeping that drive going. I started my novel after the first conference. I finished the first draft after the second one. ( They were less than a year apart, so it’s not as bad as you might think.) After this one I am going to try for a presentable second maybe third draft before next year. My goal is a book to sell at conference five. Ok, maybe conference six.

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