It’s here at last! The epic wrapup of my 2018 Realm Makers conference experience.
I was thinking of doing a day-by-day recap, but honestly everything blurred together into a whirlwind of amazing, and I don’t remember all the things that happened or necessarily when they happened . . . so I’m just going to break this up into highlights and segments. 🙂
And throw pictures around all over the place. XD (I took SO many, but here is a taste.)
These are a few of my favorite things . . .
My favorite memories from Realm Makers are undoubtedly meeting friends old and new. It was INCREDIBLE to meet so many people I’ve known online, so many authors, and new kindred spirits as well.
Some of my favorite memories…
Having chats with my awesome roomies, Claire Banschbach, Tracey Dyck, and E. Kaiser Writes.
Staying up past midnight in the big room after everyone else had gone to bed, chatting in a big fun circle with Gillian Adams, Mollie Reeder, Tracey Dyck, Claire Banschbach, Emily Hayse, Kyle Robert Shultz, and Andy Sheehan (Captain America) — we talked about Marvel and Brandon Sanderson and it was just one of the BEST times.
Going out for pizza with some of my fellow Silmaril Awards bloggers! (Speaking of which… it’s coming soon! Like, September-soon!) I finally got to meet Madeline J. Rose, Tracey Dyck, Jenelle Schmidt, Kyle Robert Shultz, and Savannah Grace!
Bringing a pineapple for H.L. Burke (long story, but she said she’d trade books for pineapples, because Psych. Of course I had to take her up on that. ;)), MEETING her finally (and Theodore the dragon), and having lunch with her and my roadtrip buddies.
Running into people I didn’t know would be there, like Jacob Parker (author of the AWESOME Kestrel’s Midnight Song), who I’d met before and had fun reconnecting with; and Emily Hayse (author of the new release Crowning Heaven which I’m looking forward to trying).
Getting to reconnect with author friends I’d met before, like my dear blogger friend Christine Smith/Lauri (I had the best time hanging out!) Jamie Foley (who is awesome), Lisa Godfrees, E. Kaiser Writes, Claire Banschbach, Kendra E. Ardnek, Robert Treskillard, and Jacob Parker. Lovely to see old friends again!
Meeting my blogging buddy Jenelle Schmidt, FINALLY, which was amazing, and a new friend Liz Koetsier, and making sure the two of them met each other to talk about Timothy Zahn and the Star Wars EU. XD
Having takeout in a big white courtyard with Jaye L. Knight, Tricia Mingerink, Ashley Townsend, Savannah Grace, Bethany Jennings, Christine Smith, and several other people further down the table who I couldn’t hear (heheh) but it was so much fun!
Chatting with Lindsay Franklin about endorsements, telling her how I read The Story Peddler because of Tracey Dyck meeting her at Realm Makers LAST year (Tracey mentioned her and the book to me and I knew I needed it when it came out!) and fangirling with Lindsay over Mollie Reeder’s The Electrical Menagerie. XD
Speaking of which — MEETING Mollie Reeder, who is as much fun as one would expect the author of Carthage and Huxley would be, and Gillian Bronte Adams (after all this time! I’ve been a fan of her and her writing since beta-reading a couple of early chapters of Orphan’s Song way back like six years ago!). *waves at fellow Texans* ❤
Meeting Ashley Townsend and connecting over her books and how much I love them, my tree necklace (the yew!), and wearing the unicorn-pegasus-kitten socks I won from her years ago when I was one of her early fans. XD
Speaking of being a fan, meeting Hope Ann and fangirling over her snarky character Verus. 😀
Going to Starbucks with a whole lovely group of gals and trading business cards and chatting.
At the costume banquet, meeting Allen Arnold who was talking with Jenelle Schmidt (who sat next to me). I didn’t realize who he was for some reason, but I got to meet him and he asked a little about my writing, and during his talk with Jenelle, which I heard some of, I finally figured out he was Stephen Lawhead’s editor! :O He was talking about editing the Bright Empires books, which are only some of my FAVORITE books EVER. ❤ I had no idea, but it was so amazing!
Meeting Mary Weber a few times, who is THE NICEST HUMAN, and always makes you feel like you matter as a person, and like she knows all about you, and is just so friendly. Telling her about how I found an ARC of The Evaporation of Sofi Snow at a thrift store two weeks before Realm Makers, and having her sign that and my new copy of Siren Song, and joining her and everyone for tacos. ^_^
Getting books that I brought signed by so many authors, including Nadine Brandes (can’t wait to read Fawkes!), Wayne Thomas Batson (I got to “ambush” him at the taco place with friends. XD), Sarah Delena White, Kyle Robert Shultz, Mary Weber, Gillian Bronte Adams, H.L. Burke, S.D. Grimm, Laurie Lucking, Janeen Ippolito, Jaye L. Knight (who’s so delightful), Robert Treskillard, and Serena Chase (who is one of the FIRST authors I reviewed for!).
I also got my notebook signed by Bryan Davis, Will Wight, and Catherine Jones Payne, which was really cool. 😀
All the authors whose books I bought and got signed. All the authors whose books I didn’t get, but wanted to!
Scott and Becky Minor and all the Realm Makers staff being amazing — encouraging, faith-filled, and also full of fun and fantasticalness.
Hanging out in the lobby before leaving, the final day, with so many lovely friends. Sad to say goodbye, but SO MUCH FUN to hang out!
Meeting blogger friends (Mary Liz, Blue, Katie Grace, etc.!), authors (Becky Metcalf, Bethany Jennings, H.A. Titus, Morgan Busse, and so many listed above), Fellowship of Fantasy bookclub members and authors (Heidi Burke, Cathrine Bonham, Kyle Robert Shultz, Pam Halter, Laura VAB, Laurie Lucking, Sarah Delena White, etc.), Goodreads friends (Sierra, Kira Thomas/Athelas), publishing industry people (Kirk DouPonce, Steve Laube, Amy Williams, Janeen Ippolito, Splickety people, etc.), and new friends (Jeneca, Audrey, Rosalie, and many others — including a girl I met during the nerf war who said she likes my blog and my steampunk story! Aww! Made my day. ^_^).
I want to list EVERY person I met at the event, but that would take a very long time, so just know that if I met you and you’re not listed, I love you too! 😉 Everyone was AMAZING and super nice and just a joy to meet and talk with. ❤
Like I said, the people were my favorite thing about Realm Makers. 🙂
Getting My Story Read Aloud
I mentioned it in this post, but my flash fiction short story, Mentor Problems, was a finalist at the Splickety Flash Critique and was read aloud in a room full of people and I still can’t believe it! Hearing something I wrote read aloud like that, picked as one of ten finalists, and having people laugh at the funny bits, was absolutely surreal. ^_^ So grateful to Splickety for the contest opportunity! (If you’d like to read it, you can do so by signing up for my newsletter.)
GUYS. There were so many books! It made me happy, especially since like 70% of the books were ones I knew about. I brought home a ton of new books to read! I also brought over 20 of my own books to be signed by authors who were there. That was INCREDIBLE, getting to meet these authors I love, and get books signed, and so many books I wanted to read, all in a room together. XD
The Thing Of Which We Do Not Speak
(A.k.a. the Nerf War which mayyy or may not have happened. ;))
It was awesome. XD I stayed until midnight-ish and then went to bed before it was over, but the parts I joined in on were a blast.
My phone battery ran out before I could get pictures of EVERYONE at the banquet, which made me sad, but here are some. 🙂
My favorite part about Realm Makers was undoubtedly the people, but since a lot of it was supposed to be about learning things… well… I did take away a lot of good information and enjoyed that too. 😉
I took 30 pages of notes home in my notebook and just finished typing those up. I have a lot of information to chew on. XD
Some notable quotes/highlights (and I’m sorry if any of the quotes are a word or two off; this is how I wrote them)
Be confident. (From several people)
“Stories do not go out of fashion.” — Will Wight
“Your book is not for everyone. But there is always someone who needs your book.” — Nadine Brandes
“Be brilliant all the way through.” — Steve Laube
“What if we acted like children created by the King of the Greatest Fairytale ever told?” — Mary Weber
“What do you have to lose?” — Mary Weber
I had very helpful one-on-one appointments with two fabulous mentors, Grace Bridges (from New Zealand!) and Catherine Jones Payne (with the blue hair!). I took a bunch of notes, and got a lot of good answers to some questions I’ve had.
I, sadly, did not feel like my current WIP was complete enough for any agent or editor appointments. Maybe next year I’ll have something ready to pitch… 😉
The setting itself was GORGEOUS. This charming little hotel and little shop street of restaurants. I hear they’re going to have the event here again next year, and there’s a reason. It was perfect!
Roadtrip With Friends!
- 10-hour roadtrip (each way) with Claire and Kendra on a fun, crazy, awesome roadtrip, complete with epic music, too much caffeine, and silly selfies
- My roadtrip buddies getting me hooked on A Million Dreams and Rewrite the Stars and the fact that I’ve had them continually in my head for a month now
- Crashing at Claire’s apartment and watching Psych and The Greatest Showman
How I Finally Saw The Greatest Showman
So… I finally saw The Greatest Showman. That super-hyped movie I’d been avoiding for ages because I don’t care for musicals and I get reeeally tired of hearing about things when they get this hyped. XD
I enjoyed it. It’s not my favorite thing, but overall I enjoyed it — it was a fun movie (especially to see with friends and popcorn) and that’s all it needs to be. 🙂 And while musicals are still not my thing, I do really love a couple of the songs.
How does this relate to Realm Makers, you ask?
A lot, actually.
The story behind this is that at Realm Makers, when it was the opening of the conference proper, we were all sitting and watching a screen with a slideshow of previous Realm Makers pictures and this song came on… It was A Million Dreams, but I (because I live under a rock; or, more likely, took refuge under one when bombarded with hype over this movie. XD) had never heard it before and didn’t know what it was FROM.
For all I knew, it could have been a themesong that somebody wrote for Realm Makers; how would I know??
But it was playing, and there was a bunch of applause/cheers and several people started singing along to it, and I didn’t catch all the words but the ones I did catch felt right for Realm Makers. (Now that I know them, I can quote, but at the time it was just a vague sense. XD)
“A world that’s waiting up for me
That I call my own”
“But it feels like home”
“They can say it all sounds crazy”
“We can live in a world that we design”
“Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake”
“There’s a house we can build
Every room inside is filled”
“…to make you smile
On a rainy day”
“I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
…for the world we’re gonna make”
— A Million Dreams (The Greatest Showman)
If that doesn’t sound like writers and Realm Makers, I don’t know what does.
If you’ve heard it, of course you know. (If you haven’t, you can give it a listen here; it’s really pretty and I guarantee it will get stuck in your head. XD)
ANYWAY. I didn’t know what it was but I liked it and then forgot about it until I heard it later.
(I also didn’t realize that Scott Minor’s costume was probably supposed to be from it until afterward, even though I remarked on its fabulousness a couple times.)
On the roadtrip home, it came on and I was like OH, THAT’S THAT SONG. AND IT’S FROM THE GREATEST SHOWMAN? WHAAAT.
So we listened to it again and I heard a few of the others aaand by that time I was addicted to A Million Dreams (and Rewrite the Stars), and anyway, I now associated A Million Dreams irrevocably with Realm Makers and a feeling of sitting in a room watching a slideshow with the event about to start and feeling “I’m. actually. at. Realm. Makers” — so, well, I guess there wasn’t any going back, was there? Even though I’d been DETERMINED not to like it. XD Eheh. 😛
So I ended up watching it; like I said, it’s not my FAVORITE movie, and I didn’t love all of it, but it was in general fun and I liked the heroes’ story, and those two songs particularly. It’s fun and that’s all a movie needs to be. 😀
And, of course, I had heard it was slightly similar to The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder, (WHICH I LOVED) so I mayyy have been positively influenced from that quarter too. XD (If you like The Greatest Showman and haven’t read The Electrical Menagerie, go do it. That’s all I’m sayin’. They’re different but have similarities and just… do it. That is all.)
Some Random Pictures
So ended my Realm Makers 2018 experience, and all around, it was… what was it?
Fantastic… epic… amazing… a delight?
I’m a writer: I should have words for it. I don’t, really.
It was, overall, everything I could have dreamed of. I left with a sense of community and of a new appreciation for every single person out there — all of you, those I met there and who I’ve only met through this screen, and those I’ve yet to meet either way — who I feel that we’re kindred souls. We’re all walking the same road, and we’re all here to help each other along when we stumble.
I felt encouraged in my writing journey, and learned a lot, and there may not be much in this post about the writing aspect or how it influenced me, but that’s because I’m honestly still processing so much of this. Maybe I’ll write a follow-up post someday.
I have no idea if it will work out for me to return another year, but if I can… I’d go in a heartbeat.
If you didn’t get to go this year, that was me last year — hearing about all my friends’ amazing experiences, being happy for them, but also a little sad, thinking it would never happen; that I could never go.
Well, there’s a plan for all of us out there, a road that we’re going to have the ability to travel along if we’re meant to, even if it seems that that road has far too many roadblocks and mountains and possible sudden drops over waterfalls. But there’s a way, and if it’s on your road, I hope you’ll be able to make it to Realm Makers someday too. I didn’t think I could, but here I am, and I’m profoundly grateful and glad that I was able to go.
It was the highlight of my year, and definitely one of the greatest memories of my life so far.
I met with friends, made connections, bonded with fellow fantasy hearts, learned, and was encouraged.
I walked away filled with . . . well, a million dreams.
Whoever you are, reading this, you have one too; and whatever it is, it’s there for a reason.
Think of what the world could be — the world we’re gonna make.
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take.
So let yours be one of that million.