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.
Thursday I started with a pre-conference session with the fabulous Tosca Lee, before a colossal kickoff with keynote speaker Mary Weber, who pretty much blew it out of the park with a talk about the need to be authentic and spiritually relevant in today’s world and the role of speculative fiction.
Friday night was the annual awards banquet, traditionally attended in costume. I went as Queen Suzie from the underappreciated Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and I sat at a table with an assembly of steampunk Disney villains and Rurouni Kenshin. Also in attendance were P. T. Barnum, Kaonashi/No-Face, Castiel, Captain America, a TARDIS, an elfin ranger, and many more, including many original characters (we are, after all, writers).
When the awards started, I was pleased to discover that The Songweaver’s Vow had won in the Fantasy category! /delighted dancing/
The five top-scoring books are eligible for the Book of the Year, and The Songweaver’s Vow made it into that illustrious pool with Tosca Lee and Thomas Locke, so I’m quite pleased with that lineup and feel absolutely no sense of loss when Tosca’s Firstborn took the title. Congratulations, everyone!
In the accompanying bookstore, there were a lot of new titles — RJ Metcalf and Mollie E. Reeder both had new launches, and Rebecca P. Minor re-launched her Curse Bearer, and so many more (I won’t even try for a proper list, too many to leave out). You could go home with a whole suitcase full of beautiful covers. My awesome husband held the fort at my table for much of the weekend. I handed out a couple of Super Secret Preview copies of Shard & Shield to selected readers.
The sessions were about craft, and relevance, and using talent in the service of the Creator who made us creators, and the publishing industry, and all the usual writing conference material. But there are some traditional Realm Makers touches, like the fight workshop with Carla Hoch (you might remember her from this post and watch for her again here soon), who does the best fight sessions of any writers fight sessions I’ve seen, and the annual Nerf War, where we blow off steam and let the introverts have their over-peopled revenge by playing war games with Nerf weapons.
There were a variety of stand-out moments for me, from reconnecting with valued author friends, getting to introduce new friends to each other, and winning the Realm Award (of course!) to getting pulled into a small side room to sexually assault Carla so she could demonstrate to another woman how to break an assailant and having a gentleman walk in on our grappling tangle (“I think I know what’s actually happening here, but….”). (Any time, Carla, it’s always an honor to be harmed by you.)
As always, it was an energizing, inspiring few days, with good information, good networking, good encouragement, good enthusiasm, good message, and good fun. If you’d like to join us in 2019, we’ll be in St. Louis again. See you there!