Realm Makers 2018 conference wrap-up

Realm Makers program cover, dark fantasy Red Riding Hood over a slain wolf

I just arrived home from one of my favorite writing conferences, Realm Makers, and I want to do a quick recap of the weekend.

Realm Makers bills itself as “not your grandmother’s writing conference,” which is perhaps unfair to a select group of grandmothers but gets the general point across, given that Realm Makers is a speculative fiction conference for Christian writers. Note that the order of that phrase is very important; this is not necessarily a conference for writing “Christian fiction” (the quotes indicate the genre) but a conference for Christian writers. That may not seem like a big deal, but it can be.

There are friends there who are writing for the CBA book market as well, but it’s certainly not limited to the traditional “Christian fiction” fare. Realm Makers is only in its sixth year but already has about 400 attendees.

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Manuscript Formatting: How To Keep From Making Your Layout Person Cry

manuscript formatting: image of chapter title with kanji, chapter number, small caps first word and opening sentences.

Today I’m going to talk about manuscript formatting and how you can use it to become a favorite writer among editors and their layout minions.

I’m kind of breaking one of my rules here, which is that I don’t generally advertise that I do layout. My time is limited and I am rarely looking for additional work. However, it occurs to me that explaining how to provide cleaner files for layout might actually save me time and effort, and it can certainly save other people time and effort, designers and editors and writers, and that’s good all around.

Note: I am writing this specifically for files I receive for anthology layout, but this manuscript formatting advice is good for market submissions, too. Sending a clean file to an editor makes a better impression than one that looks messy, even if the writing is the same.

So here are some simple guidelines to making your editor and layout designer like you a lot! Continue reading

Paper Marbling

In Shard & Shield, Ariana’s friend Ranne is a bookbinder. Tonight I needed to add a bit of activity, without repeating one of her usual procedures, and so I went off to review traditional bookbinding.

Even though I needed only a single sentence, traditional crafts are so fascinating that I ended up watching multiple videos far beyond my needs. This one I found particularly gorgeous: Continue reading

The “Problem” With Strength and Femininity

So a couple of weeks ago there was a little cluster of complaints again online about why can’t we just have women characters embracing their femininity instead of doing all these hero things.

This could be puzzling at first, because a lot of these complaints come from folks who also espouse things like “motherhood is the ultimate heroic act” which seem to suggest that femininity can be heroic, but of course the actual meaning is about traditional gender roles.

And this is boggling to me, because women can be pretty darned heroic while being extremely feminine.

The Women of Weinsberg. (King Conrad III occupied the town Weinsberg in 1140. The women carry their husbands after being granted to leave and allowed to take their belongings.) Lithograph, c. 1910. Sarotti-chocolate picture.

The Women of Weinsberg.
Lithograph, c. 1910.

I’ve covered a number of historical examples before, so this time let’s take the legendary women of Weinsberg. When their town’s conqueror announced the men would all be executed but the women could leave with whatever valuables they could carry on their own backs, the women marched out carrying their husbands. How many of those husbands, d’ya think, were up there piggyback thinking, “Geez, I wish my wife was more demurely feminine”? Or do you think he might have at that moment valued her extremely feminine protectiveness, strength, and even stubborn defiance of authority? Continue reading

Trial on Mount Koya

Trial on Mount Koya by Susan SpannToday is the release date for Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann, which is what happens when you put Agatha Christie in a blender with shogunate Japan and add a seasoning of ninja.

I had a chance to see this one in advance and I read it in a single sitting. It’s your iconic scenario of a group trapped together without escape (here, in an ancient Buddhist temple atop a sacred mountain) while one of them kills off the others one by one (and in this case, poses the corpses like the Buddhist judges of hell). The race is on to find the killer before he murders the entire cast. Continue reading